Chapter 1: Standing on Crumbling Foundation
He pulls out a trash bag from his backpack before he really thinks about it.
There’s not much. Just a few cans and some plastic wrappers. The normal stuff thoughtless civilians are leaving behind as the beach starts to regain popularity.
The rhythm of the routine soothes Izuku though. Pulling him farther away from the events of the day even though his limbs still ache and an empty feeling has taken residence in every millimeter of his body. He’s not quite sure if it’s shame or a side effect from the healing.
Izuku sees a tomato juice can closer to the waves and jogs lightly towards it.
Grabbing it from the shallow motion of water, it slips right through his fingers as his hand quakes violently and refuses to stop.
The liquid still in the can splatters against the bottom of his uniform’s pants and he hugs the arm to his body. He rocks a little-hoping over and over not to break down on the site of his only victory.
This little piece of heroism that he brought into being.
He startles, swinging around towards the road, “All Might?!”
The familiar man is holding a convenience store bag, lingering just on the edge of the beach where the concrete ends. All Might seems to hesitate before walking on to the sand and asks, “What are you doing out here, my boy?”
Izuku feels the pressure build behind his eyes. Knowing his hero hates when he cries, he turns his head towards the ground and hunches his shoulders in an attempt to block the gaze.
A hand comes to grip his shoulder as his body continues to fall in on itself. All Might begins to speak, “Young Midoriya-“
The sob reverberates through his body. A small earthquake that shudders outward leaving his whole form shaking now. The steady hand is the only thing that keeps his knees from giving.
And as tears break through, he stumbles into his words, his body bowing over fully in shame, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry-“
“Young Midoriya, please stop apologizing.” Panic lines his tone, “I don’t know what you’re sorry for.”
“I screwed it up. I’m sorry. I failed the UA exam. I’m sorry.” The last words become a moan of pain as the reality fully sets in.
He worked so hard and failed.
He couldn’t do it, just like Kacchan said he couldn’t.
He failed All Might and everything was over.
Izuku feels All Might’s hand press into his other shoulder as well and hears whatever was in the bag drop into the sand. “My boy, you didn’t- You don’t know that you failed yet and we’ll figure it out if you did. There are other hero programs.” The large hands give Izuku a squeeze in comfort, “We’ll figure it out together. I promise.”
He lifts his head up to finally look his teacher in the eye. “All Might, I didn’t get a single point. I couldn’t move. My body just froze and I broke a bunch of bones on a useless robot.” Small tremors continue to vibrate through his body, but the tears slow to small streams down his cheeks.
The robot wasn’t useless, Toshinori wants to say, You did amazing saving that girl. But he can’t say any of that and only one idea pops into his head. Before he can stop himself, smoke emerges as he puffs into his hero form and he yells, “We’ll practice!”
“Um- I-“ All Might crosses his arms and put a hand under his chin. “I have a lot of paperwork and appointments for the next week-“
The tears seem to come down even faster. The hero quickly shoots his arms out and waves them, trying to stop the younger boy from spiraling again.
“BUT! I always use my hero time so why don’t you come with me around town. Yes… We can go around for an hour or two after you’re done with school and you can see One for All close up. We’ll figure out the control stuff together. How does that sound?”
Izuku stops breathing. Every nerve in his body, that is coiled tightly in despair, curls tighter as excitement quickly takes over. His back straightens perfectly as he just thinks about getting to see All Might fight with his own eyes.
Finally, he starts speaking, “Really, I can come with you? I need a new notebook. Where are we going to meet? What time do we start?” Stars replace the water in his eyes.
All Might really needs to learn to expect reactions like this from Izuku, but he still looks overwhelmed by the speedy change in demeanor. “My boy, calm down. I’ll- I’ll text you the details tomorrow.” He gives a quick look at his watch and sighs, “Actually, why don’t I walk you home?”
Izuku’s whole body feels like it might just melt into the ground in relief. He takes a step back and it’s his turn to wave his hands at his teacher, “I wouldn’t want to impose. You don’t-“
“Yes, I do. Come along, my boy.” All Might lets out a soft breath as his frame loses its bulk and he picks up his grocery bag.
The last embers of the day are beginning to die out and the pair walks off the beach in silence towards the street lamps starting to buzz to life.
Izuku breathes deeply as he suppresses a small smile from growing larger.
All Might isn’t going to leave him.
They are going to figure this out together. It’s weird how much he’d come to rely on the older man’s support over the past ten months.
How comforting having this support is to him.
A few more drops drip down from the corners of his eyes, while a huge smile breaks through despite his not-quite-best efforts.
When they reach the front of the Midoriya apartment, All Might notices the tears streaking down the Izuku’s face. “My boy? I thought- We talked- “ The hero stutters out.
“No, All Might, I’m okay. I’m just- thank you.” Izuku folds over as low as he can without toppling, “Thank you for believing in me!”
As All Might tries to form an answer, the front door opens.
A frazzled Inko steps into the doorframe, “Izuku! Thank goodness, you’re back! It’s so late. I thought something happened…And you brought someone with you…” She lets the statement linger hoping for an answer to her unasked question.
“Oh, Mom, this is…” He pauses trying to think of what to say before All Might cuts in.
“Yagi Toshinori. I’m Young Midoriya’s mentor. We were just talking about how the UA exam went. I’m sorry to have held him up.”
Inko’s eyes light up as she says, “Oh, you made all the meal plans! Please, you have to stay for dinner! Let me thank you for everything you’ve done to help Izuku.”
“I wouldn’t want to impose- plus I already bought dinner.” Halfway through the motion of lifting his convenience store bag up to show Inko, he realizes how insulting he’s being.
Her stare feels like it is drilling into his soul.
A second ticks, the two. Toshinori is not known for giving up – but he does know when he’s been beat.
“I would love to stay.”
Inko just smiles, “Izuku, why don’t you go and set another seat at the table?”
“Of course!” He says excitedly, moving past his mother into the apartment.
Inko motions Toshinori into their residence with a smile. As she closes the door behind him, she speaks to him, head turned slightly over her shoulder so she can look at him while leading him over to the kitchen, “I’m so glad to finally have you over. Izuku has been talking about you since he started bringing home those schedules and recipes.”
“I was glad to help. I’ve never met someone who’s wanted to help people as much as Midoriya does.” He looks over at the steaming plates filled with food and vaguely thinks that they are probably celebrating Midoriya completing the UA exam. “Oh, this might get confusing.”
“You can just call me Inko.”
His cheeks feel red as he stutters out, “If you really – “
“Please, it feels like I’ve known you for months even though Izuku has been dodging my invitations to bring you for dinner.”
Inko turns her head as Izuku flies past them presumably towards his room. When the door clicks shut, she looks straight into his eyes. Something in theory that should be hard for the very short woman.
Her stance and gaze are firm as she says, “I need to thank you.”
“Inko-san – “
“No,” She cuts him off. “Sincerely, thank you so much. This is the happiest I’ve seen Izuku since he was a child. It feels like this whole town turned on us when they found out he was quirkless.” Her gaze moves away. “I couldn’t find anywhere that would let him take self-defense class or a gym that would let him work out, anyone who would help him – let him become a hero.”
He watches her take in a shaky breath so much like her son just a little while before on the beach.
“No one has helped us for a long time so thank you.”
His chest feels tight as he looks down on the teary mother of his student, so he just replies, “It was my pleasure.”
Izuku comes back in now in a T-shirt with the words Sweatshirt across it, holding the pair of uniform pants he had worn all day.
“Mom, I got tomato juice on the bottom of my pants,” He admits sheepishly.
She gives a tiny huffing laugh and replies, “Toss them on to the washing machine. I’ll see what I can do.”
As Izuku walks over to a door only slightly down the hall, Inko grabs a few plates and starts to transfer them over to the table. Toshinori follows her example with the few others left.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, Yagi-san.”
“It’s no problem and, please, call me Toshinori.” When he says it, he realizes he can’t remember the last time he asked someone to use his given name.
Was it David or Tsukauchi?
The train of thought forcefully grinds to a stop before it can spiral into an echoing loneliness he hasn’t felt since Midoriya crashed his way into his life.
He lets himself take in the dinner table instead, full of bright food and set for three. He watches Midoriya twisting around the apartment to fill up drinks and trying to inconspicuously hide the All Might merchandise he sees spattered around the area. There’s a warm feeling replacing the ache that had started to bloom in his chest as Inko gestures at a spot for him. And the three of them come together at the table, passing plates and offering drinks in a smooth tempo.
Toshinori finds himself hoping, maybe, that they will let him stay a little longer.
Izuku can’t stop himself from vibrating in excitement as he sits next to All Might.
Everything is good.
He has katsudon and his teacher and they were going to go out tomorrow and –
And everything isn’t good –
Because he’s not going to UA.
His appetite disappears and he can’t quite bring himself to pick up his head and look at either his mother or All Might. The chopsticks in his hand can’t seem to do anything, but push around the rice on his plate.
“Izuku is something wrong with it?”
He slowly picks up his head, “No, Mom. I’m just not feeling very hungry.”
“That can’t be true,” Yagi says, “Recovery Girl might have healed your injuries, but you need to replenish, Young Midoriya.”
“Injuries?” His mother asks, voice high.
Izuku feels his gaze jerk towards All Might. His teacher only hesitates for a moment, “Wow, I can’t believe we forgot to tell you, Inko-san. During the exam, Izuku discovered he has a quirk!”
“What?” She asks plainly as one does when a lot of information comes in within a very small amount of time.
“I – “ He hesitates because he doesn’t lie to his mother. “– smashed a robot the size of a small skyscraper today.”
“What?” She asks again as one would when a lot of information comes in within a very small amount of time.
“Also, I’m not getting into UA.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I’m very confused about how these pieces all fit together.”
The two adult voice overlap in replies to his statement.
It’s silent as the room processes everything. Izuku can feel All Might holding his breath as his mom’s face scrunches like she’s calculating a hard math problem.
He’s not quite sure how they are going to pull this off. He had hoped by now he could have convinced All Might to tell his mother, but Izuku knew that was his own fault for putting off any kind of talk that the little voice in the back of his head said would make the older man leave.
Her face finally settles into look of awe accompanied by a smile that looks like it might just become tears given a few more seconds, “A quirk?”,
He knows it’s for him because she never cared if he had quirk or didn’t. Mom only cares that he smiles and is happy. Izuku wishes he didn’t need All for One to be happy, but he says with a smile bright on his face and tears stinging his eyes as well, “I saved someone today, Mom.” And feels so happy.
Their happiness reflects back and forth between them like a never-ending illusion of mirrors and Izuku lets himself feel pride for the first time in a long time.
Because maybe he doesn’t go UA, maybe Bakugou is right in some ways, maybe he’ll never be a great hero…
But today, he saved someone.
He cleaned an entire beach and he saved someone.
Two small victories. Two small heroic deeds.
He, quirkless and anxious Midoriya Izuku, step-by-step, inch-by-inch is becoming a hero.
Toshinori is guarding the area near the sink and the mountain of plates when Inko sends Izuku to go get popsicles from the store down the block.
“What would you like, A- Yagi-san?” Midoriya asks, stumbling a bit over his name.
“I would love a strawberry flavored one, if they have.” He replies and softly stops Inko from pushing in front of the sink.
Picking up the sponge, he hunches over the area so that she can’t help wash dishes. What kind of hero would he be if he let the cook clean as well?
You’re a guest, She had said, but he hadn’t had such a nice night in a while and letting it last a little longer wouldn’t hurt, so Toshinori scrubs the plates and allows Inko to dry them off because she won’t hand over the towel.
“I don’t have a husband,” She says once Izuku has closed the door.
Toshinori looks at her with wide eyes, soap covered hands frozen. This is not where he thought the night was going.
“The story is I feel in love with Midoriya Hisashi, we had Izuku, and he works in America.” She takes a breath and lets it out through her nose, eyes focused on drying the plate in her hands. “I lied because I was twenty-two, I was in a new town, and I didn’t want people to make fun of Izuku because he didn’t have a father. That didn’t turn out too well. This jackass doctor told everyone in Izuku’s elementary that he was quirkless.”
Shocked isn’t the right emotion, but he feels unsettled by the honesty. His mind keeps structuring expectations as she speaks only to crash when they’re prove wrong the next second.
He can’t say he doesn’t understand the need to hide information from other people. The general public has always been his priority, but he keeps All Might a clean and almost non-human figure because people will always find something to hate and the Symbol of Peace needed to be more than that.
“Inko-san, why…” The question hangs incomplete.
“Izuku knows.” Inko puts the plate down and turns towards him. “That’s the deal. We don’t lie to each other. Everyone else is fair game, but we are a team.”
“My son has told me about every bruise he got from bullies. He told me about the teachers who turned their heads from him. He told me he’d rather stay there because it would so much worse if it just happened somewhere else. If the bullying only happens in this one school, he could believe that things will get better in high school.”
It’s Toshinori’s turn to look away. He wishes that Izuku had been angrier sometimes about how Toshinori treated him that day and he finds himself mentally swearing that he’s going to apologize again. Everything he learns about the kid makes him stronger and stronger in his head and Toshinori more assured that he made the right choice every day.
The sound of the sponge scraping against the bowl in his hands cuts thickly in the tension.
“When Izuku started working with you, I was worried, but he was so hopeful.” Her voice fills heavy with emotion. “I think you’re here for the long run, Toshinori-san, and I want you to be. Izuku wants you to be. So, as a part of this team, I need you to know we will always have your back.”
This whole conversation feels like a rollercoaster, but he’s sure he doesn’t want to get off of it though. A ball feels like it’s lodged in his throat and he can’t quite get it out to reply to Inko before she starts again.
“We have this saying – if I don’t know what’s happening, I can’t back you up. Whatever secret you are keeping between the two of you, I need you to know that you’re on this team now. I’m not going to demand you tell it to me, but I need you to know I know. I’m a partner at Safeguard. Do you think we didn’t do a genetics test once the first doctor told us that he was quirkless?”
“So, I don’t need to know it, but I’m telling you exactly what I told Izuku when he was old enough to understand. I can’t help you unless I know everything. I can’t back you up in a lie until you tell it to me. I’m going to have your back always and I expect you to always have mine.”
“I- Inko-san,” A small cough finally forces his throat open. “I’ve never been part of a team before.”
Toshinori feels lame saying it as Inko had just poured her heart out and told him secrets no one but Izuku knew. But this is his truth. He’s never had a team before.
With David and Nighteye, it was always…uneven. Support without reciprocation.They supported him, so that he could support America, Japan, anyone who needed saving.
But this…The Midoriya’s want to support him and he wants to support the Midoriya’s too.
“I want to tell you,” Toshinori says truthfully, “But, Young Midoriya only knows because of an accident and I’ve never told someone I haven’t known for years.” He hesitates and looks down at his hands. “I’m going to need some time with it.”
“Okay,” The ease at which she says it startles him, but Inko just plucks the plate from his hands and looks up at him with a smile, “Welcome to Team Midoriya, Toshinori-san.”
A grin breaks across his face before he can stop it, “Glad to be here, Inko-san.”
Izuku takes the jacket and goggles out of his backpack. The pair of items were a gift from All Might earlier today given to him to hide his identity while they were patrolling.
The hoodie’s design looks like All Might’s most recent costume and had been sold out of stores as soon as it was on the shelves. His mom wouldn’t let him camp out at the store because it had been a school night and he’d thought he’d never get a chance to have one until they did a reprint in a few months.
Even then, he would know that it wasn’t part of the original production.
The goggles are alike those you’d see when skiing. They cover most of the top portion of his face and didn’t have anything interfering with his peripheral vision. The dark blue tint kept anyone from seeing more than a reflection in the plastic gaze.
Izuku cannot seem to move his gaze away from the blue tinted version of himself on the bed. The entire afternoon is tinted blue in his memory. The odd coloring just makes it feel more surreal like a bad dream he can wish away or shake off with enough distractions.
He can’t shake this though. Can’t make it go away.
He remembers standing in three separate alleys, watching All Might hacking blood on the concrete.
He remembers his idol making sure to hold the too large costume away from the bloody spray when it pooled too far from his body so that it wouldn’t stain.
He remembers All Might smiling at him and asking if he was ready to keep going like he hadn’t just ran from reporters and civilian onlookers to hide his pain for a third time in the past hour.
While the experience was supposed to help him figure out more about One for All, all Izuku could think about was All Might doing this day in and out.
How was the hero living like this?
After ten months with him, he’d never seen his physical being so worn than in the hour they spent on patrol together.
All Might needs help. All Might needs his help.
As Izuku opens his computer, all he can think about was figuring out how he is going to do it. After all, a hero’s job is sticking their nose into other people’s business.
Two days ago, All Might thought this was going to be a great idea. Midoriya would figure out how to use One for All with his hero analysis mojo and it would keep the boy distracted long enough for the acceptance letter from UA to show up at the end of the two weeks.
All Might is….
Well, he’s just really unsure about how his plan went so, so wrong.
Instead of heroing, with his cleverly disguised mentee, he’s holding a three-ring binder. The five-pound monstrosity contains information for three online high school programs, the legislation that outlines the requirements to take the provisional license exam, and the already filled in paperwork declaring Midoriya his intern stan his signature.
Sitting across from him, Midoriya is oscillating between watching Toshinori’s expression and tapping his fingers and, as the time passes, doing both at the same time.
He really doesn’t know what to do here. God, he should have just told the kid that he got into UA that night on the beach or when he and Inko-san looked like there were going to burst out into tears at dinner.
Maybe he should do that now-
But Nedzu would kill him-
But Midoriya is giving up on UA-
He startles out of his spiraling thoughts and shoves his hands over the younger’s mouth. “Kid, names in public,” he whispers harshly. He lets his hands drop and brings them closer to himself so he can put his face in them.
Izuku can tell that All Might is not reacting well to his proposal, but he doesn’t really remember what he planned if the hero didn’t agree or if he actually planned anything at all on the topic last night or the early hours of this morning.
He probably needs to start making backup plans a bigger priority.
“Sorry, Yagi-san,” he says softly.
Another paper is flicked to the side, he watches as All Might resumes reading and catches that the man just started on the statistics section, which begins with a graph sporting the title, “The Decrease in All Might Appearances Since the Approximate Time of Injury.”
Izuku is proud of that graph and the analysis that follows. He spent a majority of the previous night digging through old hero forums pages and news clippings to confirm sightings and approximate time per incident.
He catches sight of a waitress coming near and his eyes flicker over to his empty mug. Maybe he could get away ordering another cup.
Settling on the best way to explain to All Might why he needs a third dead-eye, he finds that the elder is tracing the graph’s declining trend line with his finger.
His usually intense eyes are soft in a way that you only see after something you knew was inevitable finally happens, “When did you have time to do all this, my boy?”
“Last night…” Finding the coffee spoon, his fingers spin it back and forth, “I just…”
In a soft, almost pleading voice, he asks, “Young Midoriya, why do you think-“ He stops and retries, settling on better words, “Why did you come up with this?”
“I mean, it’s all there. The explanation, the benefits-“
“No, Midoriya, I can see why, but I need more than that. Why did you make this?
“You shouldn’t be hurting like this. Your career is already twice as long as the national average, almost three times if you look world-wide. You should already be retired. It’s not fair that no one is helping you and I just- I was one of those people who expected you to always be there when I needed you and… It’s not right that you’re carrying the weight of Japan and with One for All I can take some of that burden now, so please, let me help. “
Every fiber of his being is filled with the determination to help All Might.
The hero meets his gaze straight on. For a second, Izuku thinks that he has won him over. “Midoriya, you got into UA.”
Izuku flinches back.
The new information seems unreal in the way it blooms into every corner of his mind, stopping every train of thought with, I got into UA.
I got into UA.
I got into UA. I got into UA.
I’m going to UA!
It’s odd though when the dawning realization hits, he’s not sad.
Every second of every day since he learned about UA, he’s longed to go there…
…sometimes though there are things that are just more important.
“I’m not going to UA,” He states.
Izuku doesn’t say it with any anger or indignation because All Might is telling him so he’ll give up.
He states it.
Like every time he told Bakugou or his classmates or the people down the street that liked to whisper about him that he was going to go to UA and become a hero.
It’s just fact.
It’s just what he’s going to do.
“Young Midoriya, please, think about what you’re saying.”
Midoriya just looks at him with the same expression he saw when the boy ran into that fire.
“I- Fuck- We- we are going to – “ Stammering out badly thought through ideas had already gotten him in a deep enough hole, “ – talk with your mother.”
Toshinori really needs some help.
Chapter 2: How We Must Change
“Hello, All Might. Yes, it is I, UA’s principal Nedzu.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Toshinori is astounded by how well Inko is taking this. He vaguely hopes, but isn’t too optimistic, that this calmness is her normal reaction to a problem and not a reaction to him freaking out and knowing at least one of them has to respond to the situation like an adult.
Still, he expected a little more…
… something. Anything, really.
He had in fact run into the apartment, spilled a life’s worth of secrets that he had only just two days ago begged her to grant him just a little more time for, and then proceed to give her no time to process as he went on to explain that he somehow convinced her son to turn down admission to the best school in the country – also a secret – because he wanted to spend his days following him around in a hoodie that Toshinori had given him and wouldn’t she please tell Midoriya he was insane.
Instead, Inko listened to Midoriya explain, took his large binder, and started to read.
She’s a little over halfway through the pages, moving along much quicker than he did, but maybe that’s what happened when the graphs and articles weren’t about the decline of your own life, and Toshinori looks for any kind of hint, but Inko only has professional written into each crease of her brow.
He understands now why Midoriya was so jumpy at the café and gets up. Using his vague knowledge of the kitchen, the man proceeds to locate a tea kettle and sets about putting together a pot after banging around the cabinets for a few minutes.
Making himself busy in the kitchen keeps his hands busy, but not his mind. Had it really been so bad?
Had Young Midoriya really seen what he had become and settled within himself that Toshinori needed this kind of dramatic intervention?
He touches his lips as he puts down the box of green tea near the stove. Has he become so desensitized to the taste and sight of his own blood that he hadn’t thought of the effect it would have on his mentee?
As the water boils on the stove, his knees give a sharp quiver. Locking his arms on the counter, Toshinori refuses to let himself fall.
When had it gotten this bad?
Toshinori is startled by a cabinet closing next to him, the sound pulling the world outside of himself into focus. Midoriya stands next to him setting up a tray for the tea, very pointedly not looking at him, but he makes a point to meet the younger’s eyes. He’s tries to communicate between them that he’s not mad.
Toshinori knows he couldn’t be mad or irritated or annoyed when Midoriya keeps proving that he had made the right decision every single day in new ways.
He gives the boy a smile and transfers the boiling water into the teapot.
The two of them move back into the living room where Inko has finished up the binder and is moving the pages back and forth like she’s looking for a certain fact.
“Toshinori-san, would having help extend your time?”
His ‘time,’ as he estimates it, is based mostly on instinct and the greatest amount he can physically push his body to do. It’s an average of the time he can hold his form while actively hero-ing. An average that had been steadily decreasing for years. In a discernable pattern if Midoriya’s binder had anything to say about it.
Exponential decay. Highlighted bright yellow in the analysis following the graph.
Simply holding his form costs energy, but a lot less than he is used to burning. Having Midoriya run around in circles, while he just stood there could probably at least double his time, but he has never just held his form so he can’t be sure.
“Maybe,” He decides on with a sigh and drops down in a seat across from both Midoriyas.
Inko hums for a second before she turns her attention to Midoriya, “When’s the provisional exam, Izuku?”
“A week before the new term.”
“You know you can’t be breaking your bones in an official exam. That is what the problem is, right?”
Toshinori lets his breath hiss through his teeth and nods in time with the younger who looks like he’s holding back from jumping straight into an explanation.
She hums again, this time considering.
“I’ll figure it out!” Midoriya finally giving into the impulse to defend himself. “I can do this!”
“Inko-san…” Toshinori isn’t sure what he means to add to counter, but he hopes that the worry in his voice is enough.
“I think – “ She cuts, “ – I think we’ve all had a lot of information today. Why don’t we sleep on it and we can talk it out tomorrow night?”
Both Toshinori and Midoriya hold the word But on their tongues.
Gesturing to herself, she says, “I want to hear more about this transferrable quirk. Is the form you use for All Might what you looked like before the accident or did you always puff up like that?” Her finger swings in the air, moving around in circles to reference his form.
The mother of course knows what she’s doing and Toshinori finds himself stuck between two endless questions banks and eating dinner there once again.
No hero is a HERO until Safeguard signs the insurance contract.
For the last fifteen years, Midoriya Inko has inch by inch pulled herself further up the ladder of this company. Joining Safeguard straight after finishing her actuarial exams, she was in the beginning stages of pregnancy and clawed her way to Senior Partner in the Musutafu office without break.
So, her management clearance gives her at least preliminary access to All Might’s file even though she’s triggering five types of alarms in the Tokyo office as she pulls file after file from their database through the VPN.
At most, she’ll have an hour before Yumi calls to figure out why Inko is poking around. This breathing room is more about forethought than luck. While Inko begins work extremely early and leaves early to be home when Izuku is, Yumi is known for coming in at noon, but sending out emails at 3 am and no one wants to piss off the managing partner by imposing on the quiet hours the woman spends taking tea with her husband.
Quickly working over anything that isn’t explicitly blocked for Yumi’s eyes only, she finds the files getting vaguer and vaguer and the security locks higher and higher as the years get more recent.
What she can see is Toshinori’s extremely high insurance rates, his first few yearly evaluations where they broke down his powers into his control versus how much monetary damage he caused, and the slightest hints at how much money Safeguard and the Japanese government have poured into Toshinori to keep him standing.
Inko can see in his records the moment he became ALL MIGHT to Safeguard and not just whoever Yagi Toshinori was before. The change in tone is like a light switch as the writer reporting on Toshinori becomes more respectful and more awed as the files she can access dwindle, but the amount in general double per year.
Inko licks at her lips and has to stop herself from tearing into the sensitive skin. Toshinori had said that the villain that had hurt him was long gone and she has to stop herself from seeing futures that aren’t there, but looking at his primary profiles, she feels like she reading a write-up one of her associates would do on Izuku if given half a chance.
Loyal, self-sacrificing, determined.
High medical risk to self.
Reckless, stubborn, hasty in action.
But there is one thing that would never show up in one of these reports, something that she hasn’t seen stick to her son in years.
Her son is happy and strong and glad to be alive for the first time since he was a child.
Her lip burns as a piece of skin comes off between her teeth and she tries not to use it as an excuse to cry. The beat of her heart is prominent in her chest because she knows what she wants and needs to do.
Inko breathes deeply and counts out reasons in her head.
She starts with the most rational: Japan needs All Might.
And ends with: Izuku is finally happy. How could I take this away?
There isn’t any room for debate – not without burning Izuku in ways she swore never to do.
The landline on her desk rings annoyingly loud and she picks it up, her professional voice at the ready, “Hello, Yumi, I was wondering if we could set up a meeting. Something later in the day, but any day next week is good for me.”
Toshinori just finished taping the acceptance videos and has one more meeting left today with Nedzu and the first years’ primary group of teachers.
His suit pants are held to his hips by hope and a truly incredible belt that David sent over a few years ago and his yellow jacket is thrown over his arm looking more like a blanket with its excessive amounts of fabric.
The work was tiresome, but not mentally stimulating enough to stop his mind from wandering back to his Midoriya-shaped problem and Midoriya-shaped solution which has just led him to spending the day thinking in Midoriya-shaped circles. He’s trapped in a hamster wheel.
Sucking in a breath, Toshinori tries to place everything to the side in his head, to ready himself to focus on the incoming Class A and B with the door to his next meeting in front of him.
“A phone call is here! A phone call is here!” His whole-body jerks in surprise and he scrambles to grab the phone from his jacket pocket, getting lost in the fabric for a moment.
Midnight clears her throat behind him and Toshinori gives her a smile in apology as he moves out of her way still digging through the yellow to find the device.
“A phone call is here!” It echoes once more out into the deserted hallway before he answers it.
“Oh, hello, Inko – “ He turns away from the door as he sees Vlad King working his way towards him. His shoulder meets the wall, turning his back to the meeting room door to muffle his voice.
“How’s your day going?” She asks.
A moment passes as Vlad King hesitates to walk inside the room while All Might is clearly doing something interesting outside, but once he hears the door close he replies, “It’s been long. I think I’m going to bring Midoriya-kun out to the beach for conditioning today. It’s probably been too long without a full body workout and I think I used up all my time already.”
“What have you been doing?”
He laughs a little, “I can’t tell you, but it does look like I can go eight hours if I’m just holding my form.”
“Hmm – good to know.” Inko lets out a small breath that is static in his ear. “I set up a meeting with Yamada Yumi for next Monday. I’m thinking her team would be able to give us the best information for dealing with One for All. Will you be able to get time off?”
“Ah, yes. This is the most important thing right now. Are we taking Midoriya-kun out of school?”
“I was thinking a half-day wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
“I would do anything to get out of school when I was that age. I’m sure he’ll be happy for it.”
The silence is nice for a second as they both prepare to address the elephant.
There’s an underlying understanding that they never said out loud. Apparent in the way this phone call manifested without any previous confirmation.
That, while the three of them would be a team, the two adults need to always had to be a unit. Izuku is too stubborn to take on alone.
“Toshinori-san, I think – “
“I know. It – He – He’s not wrong.” The air is noisy as it sighs out. “But Inko-san, he’s fifteen. Shouldn’t he be around his peers?” This is his last plea.
To Inko. To himself. To the world.
He can’t even add shouldn’t he be safe - not when Midoriya had already broken three limbs and fallen five stories on UA campus before he was even admitted. Young Midoriya would find danger anywhere and everywhere.
She sounds like she’s trying to hold frustration back from her voice, “I know you can’t tell me, but I’m sure that boy got in. Izuku has had this bully for years that just won’t leave him alone. It insults him that Izu wants to be a hero too.”
“Wha – what?”
“His name is Bakugou Katsuki. I was friends with his mother – “
“All Might, are you coming in?”
Toshinori turns his head to find Cementoss looking at him. He replies hurriedly, “In a minute.”
“Oh, you’re busy.”
“No, this is important.”
“I’ll tell you when we have a free moment. Izuku would want you to know, but won’t want to be there to tell you.”
The name is familiar though and scratches at his brain. He just put together a video for that name.
Number One in the exam.
It’s anger or confusion or just frustration because of course the number one hero course would accept a bully. Wasn’t that just what this system he’s holding on his shoulders seems to be becoming.
And isn’t it just another thing that – of course – it would be Midoriya Izuku’s personal bully, so a shaky breath rattles out of him, “Okay – okay.”
“Quickly though, I’m saying if he passes the provisional exam, he can do it. I think our biggest worry should really be the broken bones. He was too nonchalant about it last night.”
He tries to muffle his laugh remembering the way the boy had tried to wave off his mother’s worries last night about his bone breaking quirk. Like he was truly confused about what they were making a fuss about.
Simultaneously though, he’s accepting his future with an ache in his heart, “I – That’s probably best – “
Yellow hair comes into his peripheral vison and Present Mic gives him a big thumbs up before pointing at the door and Toshinori mouths almost done. The other blonde nods and goes inside.
Starting back up again on the phone, “I need to tell Nedzu what I did if he’s going to take the test.”
“Toshinori-san,” Inko says like he doesn’t quite understand, “when he takes the exam and passes. You’re forgetting who you’re talking about.”
This time he can’t keep his laugh small and it booms out through the corridor. He quickly slaps a hand on his mouth as he realizes Eraserhead is watching him with one hand on the door knob.
“I need to go now,” He gets out once he has regained control.
“Okay, we’ll talk more tonight. Actually, can you and Izuku stop by the grocery on the way home? We need some eggs and more rice – oh, and – “
“Why don’t you text me a list, we’ll go by after the beach. I have the truck, so if you need a lot don’t worry about it.”
“There is this protein snack I wanted us to try and make this Sunday for the two of you. I’ll send over that recipe too then.”
“Sounds good, sounds good. I’ll see you later.”
He pushes off the wall and follows Eraserhead into the room.
It’s poignantly silent the moment he walks in and really a bunch of heroes should be better at hiding the fact they were talking about someone than this. So instead of addressing the curious eyes, he gives a large smile to the room at large in a very obvious brush off the way he has done a million times and takes a seat by Power Loader.
Absently he notes down deadlines for lessons that Midoriya-kun will never get to hear Toshinori give and assembly schedules that the young boy will never attend.
Toshinori knows why he’s here. It’s very clear there’s only one reason left where previously there had been three.
He can hide at UA.
Hide the fact that he’s exponentially decaying.
He would have quit ten months ago before the job even started, if not for the ever-pressing problem of his crumbling form. One for All was given and received and Midoriya-kun doesn’t want to go to school here.
All UA is for now is hiding. And maybe that is all it was ever going to be for. A bully, Inko had said.
His thoughts bouncing back to the comment. Finding a new Midoriya-shaped problem to fixate on.
It feels like no matter how much he does. No matter how much All Might smiles, how much he laughs in the face of danger, or gives inspiring speeches, Toshinori just keeps holding the same amount of weight on his back as he always does.
It feels like it’s crushing him now.
Midoriya-kun has given him so much hope in the new generation, but Toshinori can’t help to slam into the reality that he’s running a circular race. Being a hero doesn’t feel like a team sport. It’s just constantly trying to be one step ahead of the heroes behind him and always being one step behind the villains he needs to stop.
He wants so much out of the world and maybe the world doesn’t have it.
Maybe he really does need some help. But why is it his fifteen-year-old mentee the one giving it to him?
As he swallows the lump in his throat, Toshinori knows All Might is going to keep going because one day soon Midoriya is going to inspire the world back into action the way he did for Toshinori, but until then it needs All Might's hands to keep it together.
The teachers are filing out the door at the end of the hour with furtive glances behind them, but Nedzu and he do not move from their seats.
When the door finally shuts, Nedzu asks, “How can I help you, All Might?”
“I need to tell you about a situation going on. I made a mistake – something I take full responsibility for – while trying to fix it.”
“I told Young Midoriya that he got into UA.”
There’s a beat before the small animal clears his voice and says, “All Might, I know you chose him as your successor but that is highly inappro – “
“It’s very likely he won’t be coming anyway.”
“I think you need to explain from the beginning.”
So, he does. Toshinori lays out Midoriya’s plan and Inko’s requirements for acceptance and adds that he doubts Midoriya-kun won’t pass once he sets his mind to it, ending with, “I think it will be best to cut my hours down to three times a week.”
Technically, All Might had signed up to teacher one class a day, six days per week, so that he’d get to be with each hero class at least once per week, but there was always supposed to be a substitute ready in case of emergency and time-outs on his powers.
Nedzu’s eyes narrow, “All Might, while this plan seems fine in theory, I don’t believe – “
Toshinori can feel his own eyes tightening like he hasn’t felt since the last time he’s talked to Nighteye, “Nedzu, I’m not here to debate this with you. His mother and I support Young Midoriya.”
“You’re going to allow him to throw away a UA education.”
“I don’t allow Midoriya-kun to do anything. We can discuss the details tomorrow or another time, but I need to go pick Midoriya-kun up from school.”
When Toshinori turns around, he just misses the calculating gleam in Nedzu’s eye.
His teacher catches Izuku jotting down some of the counter-arguments he’s preparing for tonight. Just a few bullet points he doesn’t want to lose while the wording is perfect in his mind, but when he looks up to find Hisaki-sensei looms over him, eyes looking down his nose above his desk, he knows he’s in trouble.
The man says, “Ah, look at Midoriya-kun here. Thinking he doesn’t need to pay attention because he took the UA exam.”
The entire classroom stares at him with mocking eyes, holding its laughter with bated breath.
“I – I apologize, Hisaki-sensei.”
“Midoriya-kun,” He puts his hands on Izuku’s desk and leans in closer, but allows his voice to still boom out. “You’re going to end up an NNA if you don’t get your head out of the clouds. Sign up for some more entrance exams and for god’s sake pay attention otherwise you’ll end up a bum on the street.”
His face burns red.
NNA means “need not apply.” A term for the kids who refused to take any exams except UA’s, it had become such a prominent problem a few years ago that UA started to set their exam date a week before any other school so that examinees would get their rejections before they lost their chance to get into high school.
People also like to jeer, “na-na-na-na.” Because middle-schoolers suck.
Adults aren’t much better. Izuku thinks as Hisaki-sensei haughtily turns around.
He wants to shout at the teacher’s back, I got into UA. Instead, he lets the feeling burn out in his throat and he keeps his eyes glued on his notes.
Izuku’s slower than usually when they are dismissed a few minutes later, thrown off his routine enough to be caught in the mass exodus instead of the first one out the door. So, he keeps his head down, shoulders slouched, entire form trying to hide behind a pair of girls slowly walking out the classroom.
But he’s not small enough, not quick enough, not – Bakugou slams a shoulder straight into his chest, sending him flying to the ground. His hastily packed bag spills out on to the hallway floor.
“Stay out of my way, nerd!” The blonde shouts and deliberately kicks at his scattered possessions, sending his notebooks and a textbook flying across the floor.
I’ll sign up for the online high school exams tonight.
A crack rattles against his skin as someone steps hard on his pencil case and continues without pause.
We’ll work out a schedule tonight, Izuku thinks, brushing the dirt imprint of a shoe from the cover of his notebook.
What if they don’t – He flinches. The fourteen-year-old feels more than hears the crash of his textbook when it’s kicked into the lockers and tries to keep his eyes dry.
Swiftly grabbing the bent cover, Izuku grips his armful of his school supplies and rushes to leave the hall before anyone can try to knock him over again.
On the other side of the school gate, All Might’s truck is parked at the curb, so he makes a sprint for it, squeezing the pile against where a tight knot is growing on his breast bone.
Clumsily yanking the door open, Izuku drops the pile on to the floor and flings the empty backpack on top of it. Without even trying to sort it out, he pushes himself into the passenger’s seat.
The tall man hesitates for a second to take in the scene before he asks, “Are you okay?”
“Same as usual,” He replies in a faraway voice. Izuku tries not to, but once the car starts moving away from the school, he finds Yagi’s eyes and he can see it. He can see the moment the man puts together that the response Izuku gave him every day was never a lie, but usual is reframing itself in his mind.
Izuku tries not to cry as he feels Yagi’s hand on his head.
When they get to the beach, All Might has him scooping small bits and bobs of trash as he jogs in a suicide-run type warm up. They move on to focus on leg resistance training once Izuku confirms that he has been keeping up his free weights in the mornings with the set the older man had gifted him.
The afternoon drifts off into a pattern of sweat and sand. A few hours that slowly pull the stress from his shoulders.
The sky is working towards a dark blue when they call it quits for the day and get back into the truck. All Might doesn’t start the car when Izuku shut the door, but turns his full body to face him.
Izuku feels his determination settle in, his whole body invigorated from the work out. He knew this was coming and he’s ready for it.
“Midoriya-kun, I chose you because you have the heart of a hero. Over the past ten months, you have earned One for All and I’m proud of you.” He let out a sigh, but a small smile is on his face. “I guess… I forgot over the years that I might need saving too.”
Izuku feels his heart swell as Yagi looks him straight in the eyes like he’s try to force the words to settle deep in his skin.
“But you didn’t.”
“All Mi – “
“Just let me –“ He stops Izuku with a single finger. “I – I would do anything to have been able to learn more from my master – to spend even a single moment more with her. I have no doubt you can and will help me in the field, but this – ” He gestures back and forth between them, “ –This needs to be about you. This arrangement is about you learning and growing first and foremost. If you promise me you will listen to me and that you will make yourself the priority, I would love to have you as my partner.”
Tears had started to leak out of his eyes around the halfway point and he’s trying very hard not to break down into full hysterics, but he throws himself over the gear shift to hug his mentor.
“I promise! Thank you, Yagi-sensei. You won’t regret it.” He says, face buried into the other’s shirt.
He jerks back in realization, “I’m sweaty! I’m so sorry!”
Yagi gives a big laugh, joyful and deep from his chest, but somehow different than the one All Might in known for. Izuku matches his smile as he wipes at his eyes.
“I got it – “
“Midoriya-kun, give me a bag.”
“No, I got it.”
Izuku shifts his arms up and lets the plastic bags slide further up his arms as he adjusts the sack of rice under his arm.
All Might blinks at him, “What are you doing?”
He wiggles his shoulder to move his backpack a bit and says, truthful and serious, “I got this.”
The older man takes out his cell phone and snaps a picture at which Izuku gives a deadpanned look. He huffs and moves past him to lead the way up the stairs, not looking back as he hears Yagi not even trying to cover his laughter behind him.
“Mom!” He says at a little higher volume at the door as he knocks on it with his foot.
“Oh my god,” Yagi’s footsteps pick up behind him. “Don’t make your mother get up. Where are your keys?”
“First pocket in my backpack,” Izuku shifts to bring his bag towards the man. There’s pressure on his back as Yagi rifles through, “It’s the only thing in the pocket.”
“Oh, is this the wrong one?”
“No, no, I get it now. It’s the pocket closest to me.”
“Which one did you open before?”
“The big one.”
“Why would it be there?”
“I don’t know it’s your backpack. In my day…”
“Are you kidding me?”
The jingle of keys stops Izuku from rolling his eyes too heavily as the varying pressure on his shoulders ends and he gives his arms a little shake to relieve the weight of the plastic bags digging into them.
Swinging open before Yagi can fully reach the door, Mom is standing there, her eyes smiling obviously having heard the entire interaction and slightly being her is a small, white –
“Nedzu?” All Might asks from beside him.
“Hello, All Might. Yes, it is I, UA’s principal Nedzu.”
Mom takes the moment to cut in before Izuku can start spouting something inarticulate, “Why don’t we move this out of the doorway?”
Izuku lets Yagi pull the rice out from under his arms and he can feel the sinking sensation of how ridiculous he looks with his arms loaded down with hanging grocery bags. Quickly, he moves towards the kitchen.
“Why don’t I make some tea while Izuku and Toshinori put away the groceries? I feel so rude that I haven’t already made some.”
All three of them move into the tiny kitchen, leaving Nedzu in the living room less than ten feet away. With the small half wall between the rooms, Izuku finds himself shooting a look at All Might, only to find the man already shrugging and making large hand gestures to show his own confusion at his mom’s incredulous expression.
The three of them exchange furrowed brows, raised shoulders, and one very exaggerated eyeroll from Yagi before, at once, they move.
Mom starts the kettle and Yagi starts unloading bags from Izuku’s arms. Once he’s free of his plastic bonds, his mother shoots over her shoulder, “Please, go change.”
So, he walks past the living room quickly giving the principal an acknowledging smile and small bow and returns in a fresh set of clothing to Yagi bringing in the tray of tea and his mom laying down a plate of cookies.
“Nedzu, I thought we were going to talk more tomorrow.” Yagi says as he sits next to the mammal.
“Yes, but I was thinking about Midoriya-kun’s situation and I wanted to review everything with Midoriya-san – ” He takes a moment to look straight at Izuku, “ – This is a very thorough case you’ve made, Midoriya-kun,” Tapping a paw on the binder. “But, I think I have a better idea. Midoriya-san, you said that you’d allow this plan if Midoriya-kun passes the provisional exam?”
Shock runs through him and his head swings to his mom next to him, “Wait! Really, mom?”
She smiles, “Yes, we were going to tell you tonight.”
He turns to Yagi as well feeling like his happiness is shining through them as the hero gives him a smile and nod. Wiping at his eyes nonchalantly, he tries to refocus because he doesn’t want to cry in front of the principal of the best school in the country.
Nedzu takes this moment to continue, “I am proposing waiving UA’s stance on first year interns. This will allow Midoriya-kun to take the exam under UA’s support. He’ll of course be required to keep up with his work, same as all the interns in the second and third years, but it also works as a backup if he doesn’t pass.”
“Yes, Midoriya-kun, UA doesn’t want to lose you.”
“Oh,” Falls out of his mouth as words fail him. He never considered that this was remotely possible or that UA would even care to see him leave.
“Izuku, what do you think?”
“That it sounds amazing.” Excitement hitching in every syllable, but he has to ask, “What’s the downside?”
His gaze finds Yagi who knows the principal and has not let up on the scrutinizing gaze the entire talk.
“None that I can think of,” Yagi says when he notices Izuku’s attention.
“Oh, there is definitely a downside. You need to keep up with the work. While an internship will give you credit from the more hands-on classes, you are going to need to stay up to date with all your schoolwork or you will be unable to continue the internship.”
“I can do that,” He says instantly. He had cleaned an entire beach, doubled All Might’s work out plan, and stayed in the top two in his class this year. He knew he could do this. There isn’t a moment of doubt or second thought.
“I take it we have a deal then. Pass the provisional exam and keep up with your schoolwork and UA will support you.”
Izuku shoots his adults a look and Mom says, “This is your decision.”
“Whatever you choose,” All Might adds in also.
Back straight and gaze locking with Nedzu, he says, “We have a deal.”
The blue of the googles is still throwing off his vision just enough that he thinks he might be missing something, but his pen doesn’t stop moving frantically as he tries to record ever aspect of the fight in front of him.
Izuku’s blocked from the view of the police tucked inside a large alleyway, a perfect side view of All Might fighting. The two-block perimeter was rushed to be setup a few minutes ago once the police figured out the extent of the villain’s porcupine quirk when a spray of needles came unfortunately close to the forming crowd. Expecting he only has a few more moments to watch the fight this close, he’s trying to capture as much of the confrontation as possible and can tell that a hand cramp is probably close to becoming a reality.
The sound of foot fall behind him pulls him away from the fast, consistent pattern of his scribbling and Izuku turns thinking an officer has finally come to barricade this alley from the fight. Instead, he finds a young woman, a university student judging by age and backpack, with large headphones quickly making her way down the path.
The space between the buildings is large and well worn, so she doesn’t notice Izuku, continuing along while he tries to get her attention without touching her – a norm in a society with a plethora of unnoticeable quirks that could easily kill with skin contact.
“Hello – Hi! Miss! Don’t go out there!”
The notebook drops from his hands as she takes a single step out of the building’s shadow. He gets a hand on the back of her shirt, giving her enough of a tug that she stops and realizes she’s standing in the middle of a villain fight.
The problem is the villain also realizes that there are two people standing in the middle of a villain fight.
All Might lets out a warning, “Midori – “ Before cutting off half way as he realizes his mistake and moves to tackle the man just a second too late to stop a spray of dozens of six-inch needles flying towards the pair.
Without a thought, the sparks of One for All pulse through his body.
His foot pivots against the road, his arm linking around the woman’s waist.
One moment, they are in front of the alley.
The next, they are two blocks down in front of the police line.
He’s crouching, one knee grounded on the asphalt, the other leg fully extended out in a way that meant he instinctively used it to create the drag to stop his sprint. The student is halfway over his shoulder, more so held tightly to the side of his waist while he tried to compensate for her greater height.
The hooded boy slowly adjusted his grip to let the woman slide out of his hold until she’s sitting on the road. His bones creak as he straightens into standing, joints grinding back into place. The woman’s eyes are wide and her earphones only by luck are hanging off her shoulder by the cord.
He holds out a hand to her, “Are you okay?”
“I – Oh my god – “ She grabs the outstretched limb and together they get her to stand. With her feet still wobbling below her, she falls into Izuku to capture him in a hug. “Thank you – oh god – thank you.”
The world until that moment had been silent, either by his own concentration or by the held breathes of the crowd he couldn’t be sure, but sounds explodes at his side as the woman’s breathing becomes sobs in his ear.
The scrap of the plastic barricade moving makes Izuku focus on the police grabbing at them in an attempt to get them into a safer position.
Now a few feet closer to crowd, the noise feels like it has been ramped up three levels and he thinks he sees flashes start to go off. His companion finally lets go as a police officer peels her away and Izuku finds himself looking at a young police officer with silver hair and an intense look on his face. The look is reminiscent of the last time he interacted with the Musutafu police department when he also got involved in a hero fight –
Oh, no, He thinks. The fabric of his outfit grates against his skin transforming quickly into a suffocating weight. The band of his googles is squeezing tightly, definitely leaving indents around his eyes, and he moves his head just slightly to check that it had in fact kept the All Might hoodie in place for the entire encounter.
There’s no way that this could look good. Not when he looks like a Crawler wannabe.
All Might takes that moment to slam down next to them, dropping off the bound villain into two pairs of waiting hands.
“Hahahaha, all in a day’s work, right, Officer?”
The silver-hair policeman starts, “All Might – “
But Yagi swings an arm around Izuku and they are in the air before anything else can be said.
As the air pressure around the changes with their ascent, Izuku lets out in horror, “Am I going to be arrested for vigilantism?”
“No,” Yagi laughs as they sail towards the building closest to Izuku’s previous hiding spot.
They land on the roof with a jolt.
“No.” He says again, more to himself than Izuku, but the boy hears some uncertainty creeping in. The wind blows heavily in his ears for a moment and he strains his hearing to hear the older hero mumble to himself, “Maybe I should make some calls.”
“Just put that stuff in your backpack. I’ll deal with this.”
Wrapping the hoodie and googles in a ball in his arms, he takes the elevator down to the bottom floor and steps out of the office building without being given a second glance. He finds his backpack where he left it leaning against the alley wall and tucks his items into it before having to search around for where his notebook had fallen and giving up completely on recovering his Sir Nighteye pen.
Yagi is waiting at the other end of the building when he’s done, changed into his skinnier form with his hero costume stuffed into a messenger bag that hangs across his shoulder. The man has a bloody tissue in his hands and his cellphone tucked between his ear and shoulder.
The pair walks a few blocks and Izuku can see the fight crowd breaking up. He has been keeping an ear to Yagi’s phone call which seems to mostly be him wearing a chastised expression and intermittently fitting an apology in during the other person’s rants.
“Midori,” He hears as a pair of high schoolers pass him. His head whips towards them though it does take a moment to understand that they weren’t saying his name. Izuku finds himself hungry to follow them to listen to the whatever they are saying.
Knowing he can’t do that and also knowing how active the All Might fandom is, he opens his phone to his most frequent hero forum. It’s only been maybe fifteen or twenty minutes since they escaped from the police, but there at the top of the trending posts is a thumbnail of him.
MIDORI…. Totally ALL MIGHT’s kid RIGHT???
Scrolling quickly through the discussion, his pulse picks up in excitement for a moment before his heart plummets.
Sharing information is tricky in a hero-culture world. There are some users that after years of experience Izuku easily picks out as information brokers. He sees at least three of the most active ones weaving in and out of sub-posts asking probing questions and egging on the newer members that don’t understand they need to hold back their analysis as they look for praise and validation.
Yagi puts a hand on his shoulder to guide him along the sidewalk. He hadn’t even noticed he stopped walking, finger and eyes scrolling and processing as much on the situation as he can.
When they get to the car, the older man holds out his hand for the phone, which Izuku gives without fuss and drops it into the center storage.
“You’re fine. Nedzu sent a friend of mine the paperwork for a short-time work experience and he’s going to backdate it at the police station. Though, my friend wasn’t really happy about it.”
“That was fast.”
“Nedzu probably had it ready to go. He’s very good at preparing for stuff like this… But that’s not what has you shaken, is it?”
“People are analyzing a video of me already.”
“Oh, that’s – “
“Young Midoriya, people will always – “
“No, you don’t understand. Every account that I’ve ever even thought was related to a villain or some kind of informant is showing up in the forum.”
“I’m just going to say it, I’m confused.”
“A lot of information gathering nowadays is online. These people don’t have to stalk heroes anymore. They have an army of fans to do it for them. Like how I put together the statistics for the binder. I didn’t do more than a few hours of digging for referencing. Anyone could have put the same thing together if they had an inkling that you were on a timer. It’s – It’s fine, but I’ve never seen this many of them in one forum. I’m not really sure what it means.”
Yagi’s lips press into a line after his explanation and Izuku thinks that the older man seems to know what it means.
The traffic delays them. So, when the pair get back to the apartment, Nedzu is huddled next to Mom over a computer, tea cooling to the side.
The pair together says a small, “We’re home.”
Mom replies back, panic and worry not really hiding in her gaze but in a totally keeping it together kind of way, with a relieved, “Welcome home.”
“What are you working on?” Yagi asks as they walk towards the table.
His mom hits a few more keys in rapid succession, “Safeguard has a code that we use to detect spikes and drops in risk factors by running through the internet, matching key words that come up connected to the hero’s name. The Tokyo Office has a version constantly running for you, Toshinori- san.”
He kisses his teeth and asks, “How’s Young Midoriya looking?”
Nedzu pipes in, “Well, Midoriya-kun, I hope you like the name Midori because I believe that it’s going to stick.” His voice gets tighter. “While public reaction is mostly just in a neutral questioning phase, there’s been a lot of activity in darker corners. Midoriya-kun, I had hoped to get around this by having you backed by a license and UA admission to establish competence before your debut. Without establishing your ability to protect yourself, we’ve just created a target villains think they can exploit.”
“What does that mean?” Izuku finally says.
Mom sighs, “It would be extremely unsafe to link a civilian identity with the Midori image right now.”
“Okay, what are our options?” Yagi asks.
“He can either be Midori or go to UA.” Mom says, sounding like her and Principal Nedzu had already discussed it.
“I can talk to teachers to set up a take-home curriculum, but at the very least we need to lay down a foundation that Midoriya-kun can take care of himself and we need to be careful with the link to Toshinori’s identity. I’d say we keep him out of physical class until the Sports Festival. If working with All Might directly doesn’t calm down the threats, then a good festival showing could do the trick. We just need to hold out until Midoriya-kun is less of a target.”
“And if I fail the exam?” He asks at the same time All Might chimes in, “What if it doesn’t calm down?”
Nedzu sighs, “Then you will have to wait till second year to do the internship, Midoriya-kun. I will not allow any of my students to be put into trouble they are not ready for.”
Mom picks up, “Things like this always calm down eventually. It’s just about controlling vulnerabilities till then. People get bored and villains get caught or warned off. If the Sports Festival is too hot, we’ll revise then.”
Silence settles in. There is no point in any of them debating or arguing or even agreeing. This is the only safe path forward from the situation that Yagi and Izuku have stumbled themselves into.
Izuku watches Yagi nod to himself a few times and open to his mouth.
A pounding at the door stops the words before they leave the elder’s mouth. All four occupants turn towards the noise.
The entire party spends a moment on questioning glances because no one comes to visit the Midoriya’s and no one knew that All Might and Nedzu were there.
Three more knocks ring heavy and Izuku gets up. Moving towards the door, he feels the sparks of One for All waiting for the opportunity to fill his body. His mom is a few steps behind him, but he’s the one with the powerful quirk now, so he opens the door.
A tall woman is standing outside. She has fire red hair pulled back into a ponytail and a clean-cut business suit. Her smile is all sharp teeth and aimed at him as she looks him up and down before pushing past his into the apartment.
Unsure of what to do, he looks to the adults behind him to find All Might pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Toshinori, I can’t believe you never told me you had a child.” The woman says, confident voice filling the apartment.
Izuku shuts the door quickly, worried that a neighbor might overhear.
“He’s not –“ Toshinori tries to start.
She cuts him off and in a more obvious voice says, “Toshinori, I cannot believe you never told me you had a family.”
“They aren’t –“
“Stop right now.” Frustration edging out the very fake happiness. “The only reason All Might works – the Symbol of Peace works is because All Might is above reproach, above scandal, above anything human. Running around with a thirteen-year-old –“
“I’m fifteen.” Izuku feels necessary to add in.
“ – child is not above criticism. That’s your child now.”
“Rika,” The man begins again sounding exasperate.
Instead, the woman addresses the rest of the room, “Hello, All Mighty Family. My name is Rika. I am Toshinori’s manager. We have some work to do.”
Find me at iwillwaitandsee.tumblr.com
Chapter 3: We Cannot Falter
And miles to go before I sleep...
Izuku watches the woman situate herself at the table, following his mother as she moves back into the center of the scene.
“Rika, how are you here?” Yagi asks.
He tracks her hands pulling out a tablet and a lined legal pad that is filled in every space with bullet pointed notes and additional information in the margins with large arrows pointing dramatically to other notes.
Her eyes move upward to give the man a blank stare even as she continues to enter in her tablet password. “I’ve had find-my-friends on your phone since I started this agency, Toshi. The clever part was figuring out the apartment was Midoriya, but since you yelled Midori out super loud it wasn’t that big of a leap when going through the system directory downstairs.”
With everything set up, Rika turns to the rest of the table, but her focus truly rests solely on Izuku and his mother. “Hi, I’m Rika. I’ve managed All Might’s agency since he became a Japanese-based hero little over twenty years ago. We’ve worked hard to maintain what’s necessary to keep Toshinori’s image clean and perfect. No interviews, no social media, no scandals. I keep All Might vague and untouchable. If we want this situation to turn out right, we have to tread carefully and we need to be on the same page.”
Izuku feels his back straighten under her stare. “I’m Midoriya Izuku. It’s nice to meet you, Rika-san.”
“Midoriya Inko. Always happy to have more hands-on deck.” His mother’s hand snakes out from beside him to offer it to Rika. The other woman’s lips pull back into a large smile, once again displaying her shark teeth and responds in kind with a firm shake.
“Okay, let’s start. I – “ She holds for emphasis. “ – believe that the best way to deal with this situation is to dive right in. Play into public expectation and say Izuku – can I call you that?”
Izuku gives a quick nod with an accompanied, “That’s fine.”
“Thank you. Is All Might’s son. It’s the simplest answer with the most benefits.”
Son. She wants him, Midoriya Izuku – quirkless, useless, nothing Deku – to say he’s All Might’s son.
To tell the public, something so enormous and earthshattering, to certify their bond in a way that will never die.
He can’t help, but let a tiny breath escape his mouth, his body quivering to hold in how much Izuku truly wants to have this tangible certainty in his life that All Might will never leave it or, more importantly, that Yagi Toshinori will never leave him.
Izuku can vaguely hear his mother explaining the deal he had struck with her, Yagi, and Principal Nedzu along with how they had been in the process of changing it.
That plan itself had been incredible. Knowing that he would get to work with Yagi every day and getting to claim the place as the only intern All Might has ever had, the whole thing was like every daydream he had ever tried to grasp on to for moments of escape during school, even if the whole thing is turning into a necessary way to keep himself and his mother safe.
Licking at lip, he can’t help, but want what the manager was proposing. It’s above the daydreams. It’s an unattainable fantasy.
His thoughts drift to Yagi coming to dinner every night like he has this week, the two of them going on runs like they have for the past ten months, and Yagi putting his hand on Izuku’s head like yesterday, not pushing for an answer but showing his support.
Izuku doesn’t think that this will stop, not with One for All pulsing through his veins, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a little voice in the back of his head that shouts very loud sometimes that none of this can last.
“What do you mean broken bones? He seems fine to me.”
His ears perk as he hears Rika say this. Vaguely, he knows they were talking about why the pair had been out together today and getting into the intricacy of Izuku’s problems with One for All, but this comment strikes him from his own thoughts.
Because she’s right.
Izuku’s eyes meet with Yagi’s across the table, hands jumping out quickly to pull his mother’s laptop towards him. The video from the afternoon is hidden behind the various, continuously updating charts and, as he brings it forward, he hears the taller man walk around the table to lean in behind him.
The video is short because, between one moment to the next, Izuku just appears in front of the crowd.
He sees the electricity crackling off his skin as he holds the position and the small path of it he left in his wake, before it dies down when he moves to help the woman up.
While it’s fairly obvious Izuku didn’t break any bones, they are in fact his bones and they do in fact feel just fine, but he can’t help but shake out his limbs to just give it a check.
“Oh my god,” Izuku breathes out, giving his arm one more harsh movement to check for pain. “Oh my god.”
“You did it,” Yagi finishes his thought.
The middle schooler leaps out of his chair to give him a hug, “I did it!”
“You did it!”
Yagi wraps him in a tight hug and gives a big pull to haul the boy up into a quick circle before placing him back down. The pair pulls away slightly to just grin at each other.
Behind them, Izuku hears Rika ask, “Are you sure that Toshinori’s not actually his father?”
“At this point, I really wonder. They definitely have the same smile,” He hears his mother reply.
“Okay, enough of that. We have work to do.” The sound of three pointed claps from Rika brings Izuku back to the situation, even as his smile refuses to wipe off his face. “So, I see this whole plan coming together, but I raise you, once again, we say Izuku is All Might’s son, so this does not become a media catastrophe.”
All Might is retaking his seat next to her, “I just don’t see why it’s necessary.”
“If you put aside the fact that it’s weird and questionable that you’re wandering around with a middle-schooler before UA admissions results have come out, so we cannot brush this off as you finding the kid at UA, then think of this: we have a perfect legacy. There’s no who’s or what’s involved. This is the only chance you’ll get to establish a perfect way to pass on the Symbol of Peace.”
Yagi gives a little huff, “I’m sure there are other ways.”
Nedzu cuts in, “Nothing that won’t at least rattle Japan for a bit.”
“Inko,” Rika very obviously moving away from that part of the conversation, “You said you’re a Senior Partner at Safeguard. What the statistics for legacy heroes compared to unaffiliated newbies? Like the Iida’s.”
Izuku watches his mother rub at her eyes for a second. While Izuku can throw out hero stats, his mom can break down risk like nobody’s business, so he knows she’s just taking a moment because Rika is right.
“Legacy heroes with firm family connections in the hero industry are 76% more likely to become nationally famous heroes. They are 48% less likely to get grievously injured and 23% to get sued by victims. They are 87% more likely to make it through the first five years of hero work which is usually when heroes who are unhappy with their position quit.” Mom lets out a long sigh. “They are 39% less likely to die in action, though we haven’t figured out the exact component for why. It could be training-based, backup based, or something like villains just being afraid that the rest of the family will come after them.”
The whole table is quiet and Toshinori’s eyes widen.
His mother ticks her tongue off the top of her mouth and says, “My professional opinion is claim Izuku is your son.”
“And your personal opinion?” Yagi asks softly, eyes not leaving her.
“There’s – There’s a lot of uncertainty about this situation and yes, there’s probably a whole new level of danger involved by claiming to be All Might’s son. We won’t know if that will be a problem though until we get there. What we do know is that Izuku can’t wear a mask forever and he shouldn’t have to, but from there they are going to find,” She just gestures around her and takes a small moment to breath. “If we claim that we are a by blood family, I’m more worried your secret will get out.”
Izuku watches as Yagi lets his eyes fall shut. He looks around to check the reactions of the rest of the table, but the way no one else will meet his eyes, he knows that they had already come this conclusion.
Rika is the most startling to realize this from. The manager had come in with this plan. She had weighed the cost and benefit of it and come back with that the reveal of All Might’s slipping strength is less important than claiming Izuku is his son.
Why would any of them think that this is more important than –
“It was always bound to happen. With One for All in Young Midoriya’s hands, there’s no way this façade could go on forever, which was why you are pushing this, right, Rika?”
“Yes,” Rika says, eyes not giving the man an inch. “You’re going to be found out, Toshi. Might not be this year or next especially now that you’re working at UA, but it’s going to be soon. I know you don’t like to do it until the last moment, but this is how we plan for the future.”
“And you, Nedzu? This is why you approved the internship, ran around to accommodate us.”
“You’ve always been right, All Might. Japan needs a Symbol of Peace. The internship would have been good enough to establish the link between you both, but a father and son bond, that would be even better, less panic in the transition.”
Yagi leans back in his seat and lets his head drop back on to the top of the chair without looking back to the table, he asks, “Inko-san, Midoriya-kun, what do you think?”
There’s no heat in his voice, no fight.
Izuku can tell the man isn’t angry, but like he had been the day he gave him the binder, Yagi just sounds tired.
When he doesn’t go to respond first, eyes cast down on the table, his mother’s hand finds his own and gives it a little squeeze, “I told you, Toshinori, you’re a part of this team, this family. We’ll make this decision together. This comes down to a few things. Izuku will be safer as a legacy hero based on statistics or he could be in more danger as All Might’s son. By saying Izuku is your son, we establish a direct line of inheritance for the Symbol of Peace or by saying he’s an intern, we could destabilize All Might’s image and there could be some overarching problems once you retire. By doing this, there’s a really high chance someone is going to find out about your transformations because we as a family become a lot more visible.”
As they sit there in silence, Izuku can feel all of them waiting on him.
The advantages and disadvantages are weighing on scales in his mind. There are too many what ifs and could happens involved.
But there had been something all the people at the table agreed on, Japan is going to need him.
“I’m not changing my mind about helping you. The son thing –” The thing that just two minutes ago he had wanted so much it felt like his desire was trying to claw its way out of his chest, “– It doesn’t matter. Take it or leave it. But – People are going to get hurt when All Might retires, Principal Nedzu?”
The white animal’s eyes are intense when they meet his gaze, “Yes. No matter how it happens the transition is going to be hard.”
“I’ll do it then.” He addresses the table. “If this way can help more people, keep them safe, then I don’t care about any of the cons.” Izuku finally lets his eyes wonder to his mentor, “Except… Mom’s right. We’re a family. I want to do it, but only if you do.”
“It was always going to end someday, Midoriya-kun. Knowing you’ll be there to make up the difference though, it helps a lot with my worries.” Yagi says, no hesitation in his voice, but eyes soft in barely hidden sorrow. “If you believe that this has a high chance of being safer, Inko-san, then I’m onboard.”
Izuku hadn’t really expected this to happen. From the corner of his eye, he sees his mother nod like she agrees this is the best plan, not like she had been on the fence a moment before.
“We have one more problem.” Nedzu cuts in and Izuku tries not to groan because he really wants tonight to be over already.
“What?” Yagi asks. His head falling into his hands in exasperation.
“Another student got into UA from Midoriya-kun’s middle school.”
“Kacchan,” Izuku lets slip at the same time he hears his mother go, “Of course.”
“I was thinking. Since All Might is already going to be posing as Midoriya-kun’s father…”
The weekend, a normally relaxing time, had wound up Bakugou Katsuki into a ticking time bomb. Not that he usually isn’t one.
While the mention of Izuku even applying to UA last week caused the blonde to let loose a short outburst that ended with Izuku having to replace the entirety of his pencil case and bring to school a textbook with a cover held together with scotch tape and wishful thinking, the enormous wave of noise that accompanied the word “Midori” seems to be cutting his fuse down to the last millimeter and Izuku can tell he’s on the verge of a very large explosion.
An investigative journalist had found the paperwork for All Might’s work shadow Midori, halfheartedly buried to make the professional feel like they got one over on All Might and the police by finding proof that Midori is real and somehow connected to the Number One Hero.
Then All Might’s official twitter, which Yagi had never and will never be allowed to touch, replied to a random fan asking if Midori was his son with a grinning All Might emoji.
The twitter account had prior only posted exclusively press releases and new merchandize announcements.
In other words, there is only one thing the world is talking about that Monday in relation to the being the next Number One Hero and it is not Bakugou Katsuki.
Izuku is relieved when an administrator ushers him out of the classroom before lunch because he is Bakugou’s easiest and most frequent target. Though he does wince a little at the thought of the few other students that Bakugou has taken to pushing around over the years and wonders if maybe he should stay after the initial meeting so that they won’t get hurt. It’s not really an option, but he worries.
His mother and Yagi – Toshinori – Dad –
His mind feels like it might explode at the very thought of calling All Might “Dad.”
Izuku lets out a deep breath.
His parents are waiting for him in the principal’s office.
From the doorway, he can see a bloody napkin clutched in Toshinori’s hand. He’s not really sure if it’s to sell the situation or if the older man is having a rough patch this morning. Toshinori didn’t usually start coughing blood till after twelve if he hadn’t used his powers for the day.
“Midoriya-kun, please, come in. Your parents were just getting me up to date on what is happening.”
He gives a small bow in greeting before shutting the door and grabbing the closest seat at Toshinori’s side.
“I am very sorry to hear about this travesty. What happened? If you don’t mind me asking, Midoriya-san.”
“A hero attack in California. I’d rather not get into the details again in front of my son. I’m sure you understand.” Toshinori replies.
“Of course, Midoriya- san,” The man smiles and turns his attention to Izuku, “Well, you have already communicated with UA about your year deferral then?”
“Yes, sir,” Izuku answers.
“I’m sure they were sorry to get rid of your application before decisions come out, Midoriya-kun. You are the second best academically here after all.”
Izuku takes a long deep breath as the comment rankles through his brain and he sees Toshinori lean forward only for his mother to grab at the man’s hand to stop him.
“That is an end to that then. When you begin applying for high schools again next year, we will be more than happy to provide everything your family needs. It is so heartwarming to see kids taking on responsibility and aiding their parents, especially when a tragedy like this strikes.”
“We are very proud to have him as our son,” Mom says, voice just a touch too soft to be her natural tone. “We must get going though. We do have another appointment in Tokyo.”
Vacating the building as fast as possible, the three of them make a beeline for the car, steps purposeful and fast. Toshinori is mumbling to himself and his mother, “What the hell was that?”
“Deku!” The shout stops the group in their tracks near the gate.
All three of them turn to see Bakugou exiting the front of the school with his usual flanks and the blonde does a double take when he sees Izuku’s mother and the overly tall man with the both of them, stopping as he realizes that Izuku has protection today.
He hears his mother huff out a breath next to him before she’s ushering the group along, but it takes a long moment for Izuku to break eye contact with Kacchan.
Will he hear the story that they are spinning? Will he think that he had finally beaten Izuku into submission?
“Izuku,” Toshinori calls behind him, breaking him from the standoff.
It doesn’t matter, the hero-in-training tries to tell himself. What he thinks doesn’t matter.
He hopes one day that the words will actually stick when he thinks them.
Turning on his heel, he moves forward, they do have an appointment to make.
Yumi’s personal secretary meets them in the lobby of the skyscraper that houses the Safeguard Tokyo Headquarters. The middle-aged woman, who probably is the only one not already waiting upstairs with a high enough security clearance to know they were coming, leads the small group a few floors up into a designated training area with a flick of her badge.
There are a few technicians on this floor that Inko recognizes as Yumi’s favorite group of staff members and some of them stop to shake Toshinori and Inko’s hands or wave as they walk past.
They seem to be preparing for whatever tests Yumi has been setting up for this meeting and with the way Izuku’s head keeps whipping back and forth between all the equipment, her son is a few seconds away grabbing the closest person for an interrogation.
Her boss, a woman in her mid-60s, sits at a table in the corner of the control room with a laptop in front of her and various large binders covering the surface. The corner has a perfect view of the scurrying lab coats and the circular track on the other side of the large piece of glass that is the far wall.
As they walk closer, the woman slowly closes her laptop and shuffles the binders, so that there is enough room for the three of them to comfortably say that they have claim on a piece of the table’s surface.
Once it is organized, Yumi stands up and pulls Inko in for a small hug, “Inko-chan, it seems like forever.”
“We saw each other two weeks ago, Yumi.” She replies as she is released.
“Well, if you had any sense, you’d be working in this office, so we’d be seeing each other every day, but,” Yumi lets out an exasperate, dramatic sigh only mothers can pull off, “You just had to stay in Musutafu.”
“I don’t like Tokyo.” She answers, rolling her eyes a bit at the repetitive argument.
“Then you commute like I do.” She holds out a hand in a stop motion. “Let’s not do this now. We have so much else to cover. Izuku, let me see you.”
Yumi puts her hands on Izuku’s shoulders when he steps closer to the older woman. “Hi, Oba-san.”
“You’re going to be taller than me soon.” She makes a sound at the back of her throat that sounds put out. “You’re growing up so fast. I remember when your mother used to have to bring you into work and now you’re here breaking your bones because Yagi-san doesn’t know anything about his quirk.”
Yumi lets her accusing eyes sit on the taller man and All Might starts to melt under her stare. Inko hides a laugh with a small cough. This version of Yumi is probably the one Toshinori is familiar with.
Inko has been lucky to see the softer side of her boss, but Yamada Yumi did not create the largest insurance company in Asia and continue to run it past the time she could have retired because she was soft.
Yamada Yumi is good at her job. Actually, she’s the best.
“Sit.” The woman demands. “We’ll discuss what’s going on and then we can start up.”
The largest binder in the stack is pulled open in front of Yumi, ready to begin, but Inko has her own agenda to begin with first.
“I’d like to discuss something first actually, Yumi.”
Sharp eyes meet her own, Inko is also very good at her job, so she keeps her voice light and says, “Endeavor burns down more buildings than he saves. How is his insurance premium lower than Toshinori’s?”
Any affection from seeing Inko and Izuku dissipates from her expression. “This is a conflict of interest and you know very well that it is for change in medical status.”
She hums with a wry grin, “Lower the rate or we walk.”
A short, incredulous laugh escapes Yumi, “You’ll lose his bundle of insurance policies and your job? Where will you go Sword and Shield?”
“I don’t think that matters. I’ll take all of Musutafu’s heroes with me as well as Toshinori.”
The older woman’s voice could cut glass as she replies, “Five percent and I don’t take this as a personal insult.”
“Twenty and I won’t take this as a personal insult. He is my husband after all.” She parries with a light, but dangerous tone.
“I’ll give you twelve before the addition of intern insurance that he never took out because I know that’s what you want and we do have other things to do today, Inko,” The little bit of compromise in her voice, the small enjoyment in her tone, is gone. This is the final offer.
She knows when to push and when to hold so she says, not truly a question, “Perfect, we’ll have the contract update in writing before we leave?”
The older woman rolls her eyes, but looks towards her assistant who nods and begins sending messages from her tablet.
When the woman turns back to face her with pursed lips, Inko just smiles, “I wouldn’t be your favorite if I didn’t do things like this.”
“I know, but we don’t have all day, so…”
Toshinori pulls at the collar of the suit, trying to find a little room to breathe in the skin-tight elastic. No matter how many times he wears it, he never really gets how the material, especially with all the wires running through it, doesn’t tear apart as he shifts into his heroic form.
Moving away from the technicians who are hooking Izuku into his own identical bodysuit, he finds Inko and Yumi hunching over the elder’s laptop.
“Yagi-san, are you ready then?” Yumi asks.
“Yes, I just think it’s going to be a second.” He reminds himself that he now has to call his student by his given name, gesturing over to the teenager who has begun a frantic back and forth with the people around him about the equipment, “Izuku has a lot of questions about… everything.”
Inko gives a small laugh and he finds a smile forming on his own face to match.
A small cough draws his attention back to Yumi, so Toshinori turns his gaze away from Inko. “Yagi-san, you said you wanted to update this while you were here. Since we have a minute,” She holds out a tablet for him with a form loaded on the screen.
“Oh, thank you, Yamada-san.”
While he sits down, a little uncomfortable with all the metal lining the seams of the clothing, Yamada turns back to Inko, her voice lining with humor, “You should update your emergency contacts as well while you’re here since your husband has now returned to the country.”
“There’s no reason to be mean to me.” Inko teases back, but looks at the tablet in Toshinori’s hands, “Are you updating your contacts?”
“Yes, I was about to ask. Would you mind? Tsukauchi does work in Musutafu most of the time, but I thought that it would be best to have you added as well. Just in case anything happens, I want you in the loop and for there to be no problems at the hospital.”
“Oh,” She blinks at him for a moment, before she adds hastily, “Yes, of course! I guess I should do that as well.”
“That’s probably for the best, Inko-chan. It does worry me that it will take me a while to get to you from Tokyo, if something does happen,” Yamada adds.
“Uh, how do you know each other again?” Yagi has to question because as far as he knew Inko’s mother had died right before she graduated college and the Midoriya’s didn’t have any other family.
“I recruited, Inko-chan.”
Inko adds the more important facts, “She’s my mentor. Yumi’s been helping me since I was twenty-two. She’s actually the one who helped me come up with the Hisashi lie.”
Yamada’s professional face twisted into a grin that he usually associated with Rika’s shark teeth, “Useless patriarchal standards hold us back as woman. We have to support each other. Do what it takes to get it done, too much of the business is based on out of date customs.”
There’s a challenge in the words. Like she’s expecting a fight about what Inko has done to secure her career and the life she wants for herself and her son out of Toshinori.
He’s careful as he says, “I – I don’t understand, but I’m not saying it was wrong to lie about Izuku’s father. Inko knew what she needed to do better than anyone. I’m just glad that I can support her and Izuku. Pretending -” Toshinori stops because what they’re doing isn’t a lie that will go away. “ – Being Izuku’s father and Inko’s husband is doing what we have to do to support each other.”
“To support this family?” Yamada asks, eyes sharp as broken glass.
“Yes,” He answers, but turns from her to look at Inko who meets his eyes. Her own gaze transforms from something soft and warm to fire and spirit. “We’re a team.”
“Okay, you ready over there?” A voice asks over the intercom.
Both Izuku and Toshinori look over to glass wall separating them from the technical equipment to find half a dozen people in lab coats waiting on them. He spares a quick glance at his mentor, then gives them a thumbs up and a smile.
“The two screens above us are both of you. We’re going to give suggestions on how to do this, but you’re running the show here.”
Two monitors sat above the station pointed towards the pair, but still behind the impact glass for safety. Each one had the outline of a human figure and base metrics like heart rate listed beside it. The only real difference was that each screen sported one of their names, so that they could each claim a figure as their own.
Izuku had spent the last twenty minutes going over every part of the suit’s function with the scientists that are now observing the pair. The components use a mixture of heat mapping and radiation detection to visualize the function of the quirk factor.
Supposedly, they usually tested All Might every few months to set baselines for One for All for an amount of time Toshinori could use the quirk safely.
Your hero, the techs had told him, always blows them off.
“All Might, why don’t you kick us off? Just transform into your bigger self.”
His mother takes the microphone for a moment, “Izuku, watch the screen as Toshinori does it, so you can see the disbursement of the energy.”
So, he watches as patterns of red flood the previously black figure on the screen as Toshinori enters into his heroic form beside him. The figure hits a dark crimson for a moment before settling into an easy yellow that fills the entirety of the figure.
“Huh,” He lets out as his hand comes to his chin.
“Midoriya-kun, why don’t you try to mimic the same state All Might is in?”
Slowly, Izuku pulls at his center. It feels like a tidal wave is moving through him and he struggles to lock the dam and only allow a trickle into his –
Wait, he needs to fill his entire body.
Izuku releases the dam just a bit more and suddenly holding it shut isn’t so hard. The energy moves to take up of every millimeter of space and, when a spark of electricity flies off him, the teenager knows this must be how he did it that day in the city.
Izuku looks up at the screen to find his figure an almost green shade of yellow next to All Might’s, completely filled with energy.
“Oh,” He says.
“I feel like an idiot,” Toshinori says from beside him.
Because it’s just that easy.
He had been wrestling One for All into the smallest places in his body, no wonder it overloaded him every time. Just like Toshinori had said months ago, the vessel needed to be bigger.
“Why don’t we try a few punches?” Comes from the other side of the wall.
“No!” Yumi’s voice comes from over the intercom. “I’d rather not have holes in my building. Start with running around the track then we’ll see about throwing punches.”
Izuku lets a smile bloom across his face and he turns to look at his mentor and pretend father, “Race ya!”
Feeling the energy bouncing below his skin before it crackles into the air surrounding him, the future hero is off before Toshinori can even reply. Excitement matching the rhythm of One for All.
The restaurant is noisy as they slide into the booth. The teenager seats himself across from his parents, not looking up from his phone where he’s switching between two text conversations.
Rika has already convinced him to delete his Twitter, barely used Instagram, and all forum accounts that he has publicly shared his contact information with and is working on claiming Instagram and Twitter Official accounts, but won’t stop trying to get him to pick a better hero name before she does.
Oddly though, he’s attached to Midori already.
While it isn’t forceful like All Might, it’s easy to remember, very recognizable, and the name allows him the excuse of not having to explain to both Rika and Toshinori that when everyone was making up hero names in elementary school of which she’s pushing him to let her work with, he was doodling ‘Small Might’ and ‘All Might Junior’ in his notebook. With everything Izuku knows about Rika, he knows as soon as she hears about his obsession she is never going let it go. The teenager needs to protect himself from the teasing as long as possible. This conclusion isn’t helped by the fact that only one week into this, Izuku keeps finding Rika cackling after loudly proclaiming that she hasn’t had this much fun since Nighteye quit.
A weight settles down next to him in the middle of him shooting back a rather heated text about social media’s influence on rising hero’s popularity because he really wants control over the new accounts, okay? Hawks gets to interact with his fans constantly, why can’t Izuku?
Not that he thinks he’ll have that many fans, but it’s nice to dream.
Rika isn’t so sure though and he promised Toshinori that he’d defer to her since stuff like this is her job.
Looking up, he finds Naomasa Tsukauchi making himself comfortable on the other side of his booth seat. The first time Izuku met the man a few days ago, he had proclaimed he wanted to be called Tsukauchi-oji-san with no exception.
Izuku thought it was mostly for the stumbling and blushing it caused Toshinori, but he has the best All Might stories, so Izuku is willing to play this game for everything he could get out of it.
The detective smiles down at the green-haired teenager before turning his attention to the rest of the table and asking, “So, what everyone do today?”
The adults start exchanging stories, allowing Izuku to finish responding to Rika and switch conversations to find five pictures of slightly varied shades of forest green waiting for him.
Knowing this is the most important decision the boy has ever made, his concentration is singular and he completely misses when waitress comes around. He takes to swiping back and forth, switching between staring at a color for a long minute or quickly moving between two options.
“Izuku-kun, what are you doing?” Tsukauchi asks, drawing his attention away from the task as the pros and cons of each color start to rack up in his mind.
Turning his phone over to the older man to showcase the shades, he answers, “I’m picking the color of my hero costume.”
Toshinori lets out a small laugh across from him and adds, “David and Melissa called last night and we had a long skype chat with them. Melissa refuses to allow anyone else to design Izuku’s suit now. They’ve been at this all day.”
“Oh,” Tsukauchi says, allowing his fingers to switch between the photos, “Do you have a preference yet? You’ve been staring at it really hard.”
Izuku lets his head fall on to the table dramatically with a groan, “Ughhh, no. It’s so important! What if I choose wrong and then all anyone does is laugh once they see me?”
Mom takes that moment to chime in, “Izu, you think Melissa would allow you to run around in something people will laugh at you in?”
“No,” The words muffled by the table.
Toshinori takes the phone out of his fingers and lays it down in the middle of the table, “Let’s figure it out together than.”
“I’m going to tell you the truth, I don’t get why one would be better than another. Why not just choose one at random?”
Lifting his head from the table quickly, “You can’t just - choose one randomly!”
Izuku can tell that the detective is trying to keep from laughing at him as his face twitches before his mother pipes in, “What about this one Izuku? It’s a little blue, so it’s bright.”
“Yeah, but it looks like it will clash with my hair.” He rubs at his locks a little conscious as his opinions come out without thought.
“Okay then that one is out.” Toshinori says and swipes to the next color.
His mentor cuts him off, “No, ‘buts’ it’s a good point.”
“That one’s too bright,” He mumbles instead.
The next one pops up, “Oh, I like this one. It’s the same shade as your hair.”
Izuku bites at his lip. This color is the one he likes the most, but, “Don’t you think it’s too dark?”
“I don’t know about that,” Tsukauchi interjects, “It’s not like you’re going to be out in the middle of the night when you work with your dad. Plus, it’ll be good if you do need to go a little stealthier at night.”
“Isn’t Melissa going to add the same white pattern as Toshi’s suit anyways? That will brighten it up.”
“I agree. Is this the color, Izuku?”
This is why he loves All Might, loves Toshinori. He just knows the little things are important to him, even if sometimes he doesn’t fully understand why.
His eyes crinkle as a smile works its way on to his face, “Yeah, that’s the color.”
“Glad we could help, Izuku. I was thinking about an idea earlier, since we are on the topic of hero stuff.”
A hand comes out to ruffle Izuku’s hair along with a laugh that pairs against Toshinori’s groan across from him, “Because Toshi is on a time limit, I thought maybe I would offer to work with Izuku to help with some of the constraints, keep him busy when needed.”
“An internship with the police department?” Toshinori asks.
“Yes, nothing too much. Maybe block out one fixed day a week for a few hours and then he can come whenever you can’t work the whole day or if he’s bored even.”
“That sounds –“
“Like a lot,” His mother cuts off giving him a pointed look.
He returns it with an embarrassed grin, knowing his mother is worried about him taking on yet another thing.
Toshinori huffs slightly at the two of them shaking his head before turning to Tsukauchi, “How about we get through the first week or so of the schedule and then Izuku can make a decision? If we let him, the kid would be running around fighting crime at every moment of the day. It’s better to make sure everything he’s already committed to is doable.”
“Of course –“ He starts, but cuts off as a dirty blonde head of hair pops over the top of Toshinori and Mom’s head from the booth behind the pair.
“Inko, is that you?” The voice slashes through the packed restaurant’s noise.
Izuku watches his mother’s eyes go wide to match his own, but she takes a deep breath and replies, sugary sweet, “Mitsuki, is that you?”
This restaurant is the kind of popular that tends to attract the same people. It’s the kind of place where you end up knowing everyone at every table and both Midoriya’s forgot that little fact when they had frantically been searching for a place that would meet all of Toshinori’s dietary restrictions and wasn’t too far from the detective’s precinct.
They are paying for that oversight now.
When he was a child, Izuku remembers coming here every Thursday with his mother and the Bakugou family. Sitting around the grill, Kacchan and he were too young to be actually cooking anything, but stealing pieces of meat with wobbly chopsticks had been the height of entertainment at the time.
A game with no real winner and no real prize but the laughing scolding of the three parents.
This little pattern of memories comes rushing back as all three Bakugou’s step around the booth divider and come to stand by the side of the table, Mitsuki leading the bunch dragging Kacchan by his shirt sleeve.
“It’s been so long!”
Izuku has to stop himself as he feels his body start to slip under the table just from the intensity of the glare Katsuki is sending his way.
“Yes, it has been. How are you?”
He turns his eyes towards his phone and thumbs it open, unwilling to spend the conversation wilting under Kacchan’s gaze when he can pretend to be occupied.
“Good – good. Inko,” Izuku can see her looking purposefully back and forth between his mother and Toshinori out of the corner of his eye, “Are you going to introduce us?”
“You don’t…Oh,” She draws out in false surprise. The implication laying heavy at the Bakugou’s feet. “Sorry, I thought you had met at one point or another over the years. Toshinori, this is the Bakugou family. Mitsuki, Masaru, and Katsuki. And, well, this is my husband Midoriya Toshinori.”
His lips press together in a line to hold back any visible reaction even as he slides his gaze up from his phone to watch his mother weave everything into existence.
Naomasa coughs a little into his hand.
“And Naomasa Tsukauchi.”
“Best friend since high school,” The man interjects in.
Masaru looks uncomfortable, but it’s Mitsuki’s expression that has Izuku trying to hold back a laugh. Whatever demeanor the woman is trying to hold is cracking bit by bit, but there’s a sharp gleam in her eye, “I thought your husband’s name was Hisashi.”
The table is silent for a moment before the detective breaks out laughing and Toshinori lets his head fall between his hands in defeat, “You still tell people his name is Hisashi?!”
Mom gives a small laugh, “It was years ago. I really thought they met him after knowing us for so long.”
Toshinori dramatically moves a hand over his face in embarrassment, still hanging his neck like he’s trying to hide his face from view, “It was almost seventeen years ago!”
“And yet?” She responds, like it’s a well-practiced game.
The tall man finally straightens, giving the family standing at the side of the table an apologetic look, “Sorry, we must look ridiculous. When Inko and I met, I accidently pretended to be someone else and it took a little longer than it should have for me to fess up. I’ve never lived it down.”
She makes a show of rolling her eyes. “You make our love story sound so boring, Toshi. I was set up on a blind date by a friend when I was studying abroad in California.”
Toshinori cuts in with, “I had been working there for a few years already.”
“I thought he was who I was supposed to meet and he didn’t correct me. Three dates later, he told me he had no idea who Hisashi was…”
Their eyes connect as Toshinori turns towards her to finish the story.
Eye contact, Rika said, Long eye contact will make it look like you’re remembering together.
“… but I’d change my name if I had to,” Toshinori finishes.
A long moment passes before his mother breaks their locked stares and returns her attention back to the Bakugou’s.
“I used to introduce him as Hisashi to everyone because he always got embarrassed and had to tell the story.”
“Oh, that’s –“
“That’s a great story!” Masaru cuts his wife off as it looks like her temper is nearing its end.
“Tch, I’m going to sit down. Don’t know why I had to listen to this crap.”
“Kat –” Masaru tries, but the boy is slipping away to the booth behind them. The man sighs, already taking a step towards their own table. “We should sit back down. I think the waitress is waiting on us.”
“Have a nice dinner,” She says, perfectly pleasant.
The smile is tight on Mitsuki’s face though and she can’t walk away before adding, “It was nice to see you. We should hang out, it’s been forever.”
“Oh, definitely.” Mom throws back a little harsher than what the two had been faking the whole conversation
As the family slips away, Toshinori not fully understanding what is being left unsaid, throws in, “It was nice to meet you.”
It’s obvious that the trio can hear them through the cushions if they wanted to so Izuku lets his head lay back in exaggerate relief, which gets him a couple of laughs from the adults surrounding him.
They all take a moment to reorient with the after effects of what Izuku knows he’s going to have to explain to both men after they leave.
Realizing they can’t talk about anything they were previously going over, Tsukauchi lets a sly grin come over his face and stares straight at Toshinori. The taller man is about to break the silence, but the detective finally asks, “Have you talked to Gran yet, Toshi?”
“Why?” The Mighty All Might groans out, head falling into his hand in the exact manner he had used to look harassed by his friend just minutes prior. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
They surround the taller man. Each green head of hair pulling at his arms, though Izuku’s strength does generate a small jerk before the man rights himself, they are mostly ineffective. Toshinori lets them struggle against his immoveable pose for a moment until he sees Izuku’s eyes spark followed by his skin and finally allows himself to just be pushed on to the coach so that he and Inko can bracket each side of Izuku.
The projection sparks to life on the coffee table and, while Izuku did know he got in, he’s surprised by the booming voice of All Might that greets him.
Both Midoriya’s slowly turn to Toshinori to find the man bright red, face turned towards the other wall.
Muffling his laughs, Izuku starts, “Dad – “
But the man cuts him off, pointing at the screen, “Pay attention this is important!”
The loud dramatics on the video then switches into All Might’s proud tone.
Izuku watches for a minute and then another.
The video is over before he can really process the information, but he can feel the tears streaming down his face.
What can you do? Kacchan had said.
“I – I can’t believe she did that.”
“Young Izuku,” Toshinori starts slowly, eyes soft and proud as his mother wraps an arm around his shoulder, “Never doubt the effect you have on people and never doubt how your actions echo out into the world.”
“Oi, Deku, I knew you wouldn’t get into UA. You better give up this delusion now. You’ll never be a hero, you quirkless fuck.”
Izuku’s body shakes from ingrained instinct as he’s crowded against the wall, even as his knees lock from the hit that he’s expecting to follow the threat, but the other boy just backs away in a jerky motion and leaving him to watch his back as he marches off.
His voice catches in his throat, held back by mere strands of will to scream, You’re wrong. I am good enough. I am going to be a hero!”
The lie they told administration also works its way to the forefront of his mind, begging to come out and plead for Kacchan to look at him, to use the lie to bargain just a few points in his eyes – just a few more points than worthless.
They’re trying to keep as little lies out there as possible though and telling one more person just adds a little more weight to the risk Izuku’s hoping to never have to deal with, especially when the Bakugou family is just a little too close, too near that they are a worry.
All Might’s secret isn’t worth a few more points in Bakugou’s eyes. Not in a game that even after over ten years of playing Izuku doesn’t know the rules to and Kacchan doesn’t seem to know he’s playing.
Izuku steadies his shaking hands, pushes off the brick wall, and head home and tries again and again and again to make his own words stick.
He’s wrong about me.
The brightness of the paint, the gleaming clean white of the floors, the natural light streaming through the large windows. The first time Izuku was here around a month ago, he spent the whole walkthrough fantasizing, daydreaming of a life here.
Now… now, it just feels empty, which makes sense since it is intersession and the hallways are completely devoid of any student life.
Maybe empty isn’t quite the right word though.
The daydreams that are slowly drifting back to him don’t fill him with joy like they had. They just feel… drained of what used to make them shine in his mind. His old desires just seem to ring hollow now. Izuku has revised his dreams in the past month, affixed them to saving Toshinori and, when the time comes, making sure Japan can live in the aftermath of his retirement. Happy high school fantasies just feel so insignificant now.
It’s odd because a year ago – before All Might, before the exam, before Midori – being a hero had been the far-off dream and happy school days was his most precious desire.
Walking out the back doors, he nods along as Nedzu describes the facilities and, as his group approaches the two figures waiting on an athletic field, he thinks, Being a hero is the reality now and staying out of school is the challenge.
One of the people waiting for them is dressed casually in jeans and shirt, but the other is decked head to toe in loose black clothing, topped with a scarf that Izuku is willing to bet is some type of capture tape.
Finally close enough, Toshinori starts the introductions, “This is Aizawa-sensei and Kan-sensei, they are the two teachers in charge of the first year hero class. Aizawa, Kan, this is my wife Midoriya Inko and our son Izuku.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Kan-sensei says, while the other man just assesses them through tired eyes. “Aizawa,” Kan hisses at him.
“Yes, pleasure.” Shifting his gaze solely to Izuku, he continues, “We’re doing an assessment. All you have to do it touch me once.”
Before anyone could respond, the black-clad man is motioning the others away. Whether eager to start or eager to get it over with, Izuku can't tell.
“Okay,” The teenager reponds, even as the group of adults around him move to the side, Toshinori making his opinion on the abruptness of the challenge clear with the exasperate looks he's throwing Aizawa.
There seems to be no delaying though because all at once the capture tape around his neck raises.
Okay, He thinks, He has a telekinetic quirk.
Except as he lowers himself into a more action ready position, he realizes he can’t feel One for All. There’s no movement under his skin, no pulse in his body.
He doesn’t get much time to think about it though as the teacher takes hold of the capture tape and sends it flying towards him. Izuku rolls out of the way, before regaining his feet and beginning to backpedal, quickly hoping to put some distance between them.
Trying to pull at One for All once again, Izuku is frustrated as it feels like he’s pounding against the dam walls he usually puts up to keep the quirk under control. He’s completely sealed off.
It dawns on him finally as another strand comes flying at him, Aizawa quickly taking back any distance Izuku gained, Nullification. The red eyes hinting that the quick is tied to the man’s gaze.
He pivots on his foot quickly, taking off to the side, no longer trying to keep the confrontation face-to-face. The tape comes for him at neck height this time and he misses the beat, his heel slipping against the ground and his whole body promptly meets it, but for a moment he feels One for All flood back in.
The surge of the quirk gives him just enough power to push off the ground and circle around the man. Izuku has exactly a second with One for All before Aizawa has turned around to meet the student.
He’s already flying towards him though in the middle of his frenzy to get to the teacher before the spark died out. Mid-leap he’s vulnerable though, the fabric of the capture tape easily wrapping around him from shoulder to waist with no quirk to escape with.
Now, hurtling towards the black-clad man in an unplanned manner, Izuku pulls at any idea left in his head.
As soon as his feet hit the ground and he’s close enough to the other that he can see the disappointment creeping into Aizawa’s red eyes, Izuku slams his leg out, to the side, and quickly back in catching the give in the back of the teacher’s knee.
The attack sends Aizawa tripping straight into Izuku. A domino effect that puts them both to the ground, one on top of the other.
The teacher pulls himself off the student and looks down at his bound figure, “You don’t know when to give up do you?”
“No,” Izuku responds truthfully.
“This kid,” He hears the man mutter before the teenager sees a large grin fill his face. Just loud enough to carry to the crowd, he says, “I’ll take him.”
“Damn it, Aizawa! I wanted him!” Kan yells across the field.
The capture tape unravels around him as the teacher steps back a little. Peeling it off, Aizawa looks down at him with an intense gaze before he finally adds, “One day a week of combat practice with me. You can’t always punch things with your quirk.”
“Sure,” He agrees a little dumbfounded and the question that’s been bothering him the whole time quickly tumbles out of his mouth without a thought, “Are you Eraserhead?!”
He’s circling his shoulders as he walks, trying to get used to the material and fit of what he’s wearing. The suit is just a prototype, something Principal Nedzu threw together because Melissa wouldn’t be able to finish their design in time for the exam, so it doesn’t quite fit perfectly, but will do the job.
Waiting for him at the entrance to UA, are a teacher that he hasn’t met yet, but knows to be the hero Snipe, and a student a couple years older than him. Principal Nedzu said there was one other person from UA’s newly risen third year class that is taking this exam as well. The mammal seemed extremely happy about it in a way that should spark his suspicions, but Izuku is just grateful not to be going alone.
The student finally catches sight of him, taking in how he’s clad head to toe in a black hooded uniform with a dark visor, and asks, “Hey, were we supposed to be in costume already?”
“You can change at the exam site,” Snipe answers his student.
“Okay, well then.” The boy turns his attention back to Izuku, “I’m Togata Mirio, it’s nice to meet you.”
Chapter 4: The Labors of Midori
“I just – I know I shouldn’t be here yet and I know I’m pulling you down…”
The wet wheezing sound of Toshinori gasping to regain breath around mouthfuls of blood haunts him though.
The long, bony fingers pulling at fabric so that his weakness wouldn’t stain the image of All Might.
The crimson fluid dripping on to the concrete.
There’s no time to wait, no time to learn. This isn’t a race against the clock like Toshinori seems to think.
The clock has already run out, the race over, they’ve already lost. All Izuku can see here is lost ground to make up – someone that needs saving right now.
“…but I need – I need to pass this exam!”
“I’m – “ Izuku stumbles. When he had first put on the costume, a mismatch of slightly big body armor, a tight fit in the shoulders hoodie, and his own bright red shoes, the teenager stared into the mirror and rehearsed it over and over again, Midori Midori Midori.
But he finds himself bumbling for the name. It feels rocky in his mouth, his tongue hitting his teeth and the words stuck in his throat. The silence is worse though as he tries to put the correct words into order.
Staring at the older boy’s earnest gaze though, Izuku inhales deeply and starts again, slower this time, “I’m Midori.”
There’s no surprise in Togata’s eyes, either the teachers have prepped him or he doesn’t keep up with hero gossip. Izuku does not let his mind focus too long on figuring out which possibility it is though because he can’t be distracted here.
Midori can’t mumble, can’t lose a second to spiraling thoughts, can’t miss a beat.
“It’s nice to meet you, Togata-senpai! Please take care of me!” He continues, giving a quick low bow.
“Call me Mirio-senpai or my hero name is Lemillion.” Mirio laughs a little embarrassed, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I’m glad to have you along actually, Midori, thought I was going to have to take this thing myself.”
Izuku opens his mouth to tell him that he was worried as well, but Snipe gives a small cough to bring the pair’s attention back to him. “You can call me Kusama-sensei, Midori. The two of you can talk in the car, we’re going to be late otherwise.”
Jerking his head towards the black vehicle parked by the gate, the teacher doesn’t waste a moment before moving towards it. Mirio gives Izuku a large grin and is quick to follow after Kusama, leaving the younger boy to scramble after them both.
As he pulls the door closed to the backseat, sliding in next to the upperclassman, he says, “Me – Me too.”
“What?” The older boy looks confused at the delayed response.
“I’ve never done anything like this before.” Well, Izuku had, but really - focusing on how poorly the entrance exam had gone isn’t going to help his already fried nerves. “I’m… anxious about the exam.”
“I have!” Mirio starts, taking a second to buckle his seatbelt before continuing, “Done this before, I mean. I took it six months ago with the rest of my class. It wasn’t too bad. It’s two parts: combat and rescue. Supposedly, it doesn’t change at all.”
The comment shocks him, how does the test not change? “That’s – “
“Lazy.” Kusama cuts in from the driver’s seat, he lets out an irritated sigh, “There’s a reason the provisional pass rate is high and the provisional hero pool is oversaturated.”
“Oversaturated?” Izuku lets slip out.
Mirio answers, giving him a chagrined smile “Yeah, there’s around a fifty percent pass rate for these things and each testing center gets more than a thousand applicants per exam.”
The hero picks up, “It’s a complete disregard for the integrity of being a hero. Just allowing underprepared students to have the ability to involve themselves in situations they could get killed in.”
Izuku finds himself looking into Snipe’s gaze in the rearview mirror. Though the face plate hides the intent, he can still feel the words make their mark pointedly.
A small grunt from his side pulls the boy’s attention back to his senior, who has focused his gaze on his shoes, but before Izuku can make a comment, Mirio straights himself back into the seat and adds in, “It makes finding hero internships really hard too, but also makes them extremely valuable.”
With that said, the conversation stilts to a halt and the tension sits thick in the car. Izuku can feel his shoulders making their way up to his ears. He knows he’s the kind of student Snipe is talking about.
Unprepared, unqualified, and the unsaid undercurrent, going to get someone killed.
Himself, if he’s lucky.
Someone else, more likely.
The teenager had this lesson already drilled into his head by Aizawa over the past few weeks as his to-be homeroom teacher stacked him with rescue procedure manuals, basic first aid lessons, and the sketchy outlines of how to subdue an opponent.
Supposedly, the odds are in his favor to pass. Within the thousands of applicants are hundreds of high schoolers without training. The “certain failures,” as Aizawa had called them, move the fiftieth percentile in the favor of actual hero course students, but begs the question: how did Mirio-senpai fail?
Kusama lets out a long sigh, “I’m sorry, I get emotional about how lax the Hero Public Safety Commission is about giving away licenses.” He pulls the car into a parking space and turns around to look at both students.
He turns his attention to Izuku first, “Midori, Aizawa would never say it, but he wouldn’t have let you have come today if he didn’t think you could pass.”
A warmth blossoms through his chest at even the thought that Eraserhead could believe he would pass, so he lets out a long breath, his shoulders relaxing, and gives Snipe a determined nod.
Switching over to the other student, he says, “Mirio, you needed the extra six months. Think about how much you’ve grown in that time, I believe in you and if that isn’t enough, Sir Nighteye believes in you.”
“Sensei…” Mirio starts, resolve shining through, “Thank you.”
But the words stop Izuku. He had to have heard wrong, except he doesn’t really have a moment to rewind in his head and check as they are corralled out of the car.
“I expect to see you both with licenses in a few hours, so Go Beyond…”
“Plus Ultra!” The boys respond, but even as out of the corner of his eye, he can see Mirio still glowing at the previous praise, Izuku feels the words weigh like dirt on his tongue.
Izuku is no longer worried about the bubbling nausea in his stomach because the organ has dropped straight out of his body.
He’s trailing a step behind his senior, weaving around milling students as they make their way towards a changing room for Mirio.
The one whose calls Toshinori has been ignoring. The original and only All Might sidekick who Izuku has heard Rika’s low threatening voice telling to fuck off. Sir Nighteye that was very specifically never mentioned in planning even when they were listing the people who knew and needed to know things.
Is it that Sir Nighteye? Because he’s pretty sure there isn’t another.
Maybe he had heard wrong and this was just a mix up. Maybe –
Izuku can feel himself spiraling. His thumb twitches like he has a pen ready in his hand and it does it a few times before he realizes he’s hitting thin air. Deliberately, the teenager moves the hand to cover his mouth instead, very aware that his thoughts are probably escaping without notice.
Refocus, He tells himself harshly.
Leaning back on the wall, Izuku allows himself to look around, hand still purposefully sealed over his lower face.
And there’s definitely something else to focus on now. Every single person in the small atrium is looking at him. Most of the stares are settled into glaring daggers and Izuku is grateful for the way his visor hides his startled expression.
What is going on?
Person after person is locked on him. There is no way they know who he is –
Contact on his shoulder startles him, jerking him a few inches before he recognizes the tall figure of Mirio wearing a bright white suit with a red cape and golden accents.
“Don’t look at them,” Mirio says to him, eyes firm.
“Why…” The whisper of a question splutters out before it can fully form.
The other boy understands though, “It’s called UA hunting.” He gestures for them to move out of the atrium and into the main start area.
“What?!” He hisses, trying to keep his voice low and follow Mirio out.
“We’re the only school that televises the students’ powers, so they know what to expect… from me anyways. They probably just think you’re someone from my class.” They stop in front of the podium where a group of people wearing business suits stand, but Mirio seems to catch sight of someone and his grin becomes large, but tight, “Plus there’s a level of hatred for not being able to get in.”
“Are you... talking about someone specifically?”
“Not really, but…” He jerks his chin in the direction he’s staring. Izuku follows it to find a grouping of black clad figures.
They both secure a metal ball on to the belts that have been diagonally strapped across their chests. It’s a good start for a few minutes in, a third of the way to the end goal. But the challenge isn’t supposed to be just locating the three balls they need to pass – it’s keeping them safe and getting them off of other participants.
The pair share a nod and take off towards the center of the battle ground. By now, all the orbs had to have been claimed, looking for any more of them scattered around would just be a waste of time.
Izuku can feel One for All beating excitedly in perfect synch with his heart. Taking and releasing a long breath though, he holds back the raging sea. He still doesn’t have enough control to allow Mirio-senpai to keep pace if he lets the power surge through him.
When the rumble of ongoing clashes starts to pick up, they slow down, holding position at times, while Mirio phases his head through the sporadic upcropping of concrete walls to scout ahead. In one of these moments, right on the edge of what sounds like a free for all, a sharp blast makes impact right over their heads.
The wall explodes on top of them.
The pieces phase right through Mirio, but take his belt and its single attachment with it to the ground, trapping the prize under the rubble. Izuku though feels the impact of a large chunk tumbling on to his shoulder and falls backwards on to the ground.
When they had first entered the area, they were quick to slip away from the majority of the participants, hoping to stave off what Mirio had earlier called UA hunting.
One group in particular they were both hoping to avoid.
One for All pulses through his body, morphing into a sparking Full Cowl as he stands up to greet their assailants.
The quartet from Shiketsu.
Each student is standing with their belt clipped around their waists, a third full as well.
He feels more than sees Mirio slip into a fighting position next to him. Also, he notes, the older boy does not reach to extract his belt from the rubble. There must be no point in grabbing it if it would just get in the way of his phasing.
The girl in the middle, a step in front of the others, whips out her arm, letting loose another blast. This time aimed perfectly at chest height.
As instinct kicks in, Izuku jumps. Green sparks left in his wake.
The blast passes harmlessly under him and straight through Mirio, but Izuku realizes his mistake – too much power.
The older boy is quickly becoming a small dot of white underneath him, which brings him to his second mistake – the roof coming closer and closer at a startlingly fast rate.
Shit shit shit shit
Awareness comes to him in the long seconds of his ascent, a knowledge of being watched, drone cameras zipping quickly out of his way as he rises.
Everything slows, but a thought cuts through his mind sharp as the air flows around him, I left Mirio-senpai alone.
Determination pulls his mind into focus and he kicks his feet out, spinning his lower body above his head. Izuku’s toes touch the roof for a moment before he pushes against it, hurtling himself back towards the ground.
A blast from the Shiketsu student with the wind quirk collides with him though, throwing him back upwards straight into the ceiling for a short painful second before he’s falling again.
She releases another blast towards him while she gains altitude by jumping from what seems to be one invisible platform to another. This time Izuku pulls himself in tight and spins to avoid it, but his change in trajectory intersects right with her next jump.
By instinct, his arms loop around her as she startles at the force. Her own instincts have her reaching out with her quirk as the air is knocked out of them both and their entire fall is suddenly halted when she hardens the air under a reaching hand. They both jerk hard as gravity kicks back in, Izuku’s weight pulling them down, leaving them barely hanging off of the ledge she has made.
The other student kicks out at him, trying to dislodge his grip on her. His weight seems to be keeping her from generating another platform underneath her feet. “Let go!”
The boy feels the metal underneath his grip and replies, “Okay!”
His arms slip from her waist, hand ripping his prize from her belt as he begins to fall.
Izuku hears a frustrated scream follow him down as she realizes what he had done. He lifts his head just in time to see her regain her footing in the air and start the motion to throw another blast.
Without a second to fully think through the decision, Izuku pulls urgently at One for All and flicks out his finger. The two gusts of wind crash into each other, dispersing the worst of the force.
His feet finally hit solid ground. A small crater denting into the flooring. Gripping at his hand, Izuku holds back a shout of pain with a sharp bite to his lip and quickly begins searching for the other Shiketsu students with his eyes.
Except, the only person standing in the area that he had only a minute or so ago left behind is Mirio.
“Mirio-senpai! I – “
Relief is obvious in his eyes when Izuku gets closer, but the older is firm as he says, “Midori-kun, you can’t just go off like that. What was that?”
“I – can’t…” His eyes flick over to the closest drone flitting by to record their movements.
“Let’s get out of here.” Mirio nods slightly, understanding filling his eyes into something sharper than normal. “You can explain in the waiting room.”
“Waiting room? I only got –“ Izuku remembers the ball in his hand and takes a second to attach it to his belt, “ – two of them.”
The upperclassman laughs a little, the tension of the fight fading slightly, “Well, lucky for you, your senpai is very good.” He gives his hair a ruffle before clipping another ball into place on Izuku’s belt and he sees Mirio’s own belt thrown over his shoulder, completely full as well.
Mirio spares a moment to look up, before tugging at the fabric of the younger’s shoulder, “Come on, let’s get out of here before Arisawa and the rest regroup or someone else tries to get us.”
There are a few bags of snacks on the bench between them and their fingers are darting in, snatching at bits. Mirio’s helmet is sitting by his feet and Izuku has yanked the air mask off of his neck so that it sits by his side in a pile with his gloves.
Hiding in a hallway, the pair breathes as the first part of the exam winds into a fifteen-minute break.
Mirio takes a long sip of water before he says, “I know you said you haven’t done anything like this before, but, man, you can’t leave your partner like that.”
“I know!” Izuku ducks his head, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t even think and I left you alone with all those other people. I just start on instinct and I put too much power into my quirk and, oh god, I was flying towards the ceiling before I even realized it –“
The upperclassman cuts into the rambling, “Wow! Calm down, Mido.”
He lets out a sigh and places a hand on Izuku’s shoulder. The older boy’s face is soft and comforting when he turns his masked eyes to him.
Hand giving a firm squeeze, Mirio says, “It’s not the worst thing in the world plus it worked out just fine.”
“I just – I know I shouldn’t be here yet and I know I’m pulling you down…”
The wet wheezing sound of Toshinori gasping to regain breath around mouthfuls of blood haunts him though.
The long, bony fingers pulling at fabric so that his weakness wouldn’t stain the image of All Might.
The crimson fluid dripping on to the concrete.
There’s no time to wait, no time to learn. This isn’t a race against the clock like Toshinori seems to think.
The clock has already run out, the race over, they’ve already lost. All Izuku can see here is lost ground to make up – someone that needs saving right now.
“…but I need – I need to pass this exam!” Another tight squeeze on his shoulder acknowledges his declaration.
“Can… can I ask why you’re here?”
“Control issues,” The excuse spills from his lips.
“Wait, what?” Mirio leans away from him tilting his head in confusion.
Izuku straightens his back and answers, discomfort filling him at the interwoven strands of lie and truth, “I couldn’t use my quirk until recently without the risk of blowing a limb off or even just breaking my bones. Principal Nedzu gave me permission to take this because All Might is going to help me with control, but only if I get my license.”
His eyes turn serious as he replies, “I also needed help with my quirk, so I get that.”
Suddenly, he remembers the panic he had earlier. Trying to disguise the worry in his voice and his suspicious interest, Izuku simply asks, “Sir Nighteye?”
“Yeah,” Mirio agrees easily, shocking Izuku, “I had a work experience with him last year. He was actually the only person to offer me one – I have some problems keeping my clothes on if they’re not made from my hair because of my quirk.”
That does ring a bell and he mentally reviews what he remembers about last year’s Sport Festival. “Wait, I remember you! Oh –” Izuku remembers Mirio’s bright blonde hair, but mostly, like everyone who watched the second-year matches, he remembers his…“ – Oh, no.”
“Mm-hm, you’d never guess it, but a lot of heroes have a problem with someone stripping on international television. Sir helped me a lot during my week there and offered me a full internship after I got my license, but I got lost in the rubble during the rescue portion and it took forever to get out.” He laughs a little embarrassed, “It’s easy to slip down, but getting back up is super hard, so I didn’t get enough points to pass.”
“That – that sounds awful, Mirio-senpai.”
“It was. The rest of my class passed and I had to wait six months to retake it, but - !” Energy starts to fill back into his voice. “Sir gave me a bunch of useful stuff to train. I have a new ability so it will never happen again and now I am ready to pass this thing!” The older boy jumps up from his seat and pumps his fist into the air, “We are going to pass this thing!”
The energy is infectious and Izuku is smiling to match his senior before he really realizes it, the problems of Nighteye being pushed farther and farther from his mind.
“We can do this!” He confirms.
“Together!” Mirio adds.
“Seriously, together - please don’t go flying away again.”
“Sorry, senpai!” He’s halfway bowed over in apology when Mirio’s laughter stops him. Straightening up quickly Izuku tries to look irritated at being made fun of, but upon meeting his eyes, he can’t help but laugh as well. A soft feeling expands in his chest at the easy pattern they fall into.
The parsed down group of students is led back into the same area as before. Previously, the dome’s interior looked like a sparse parkour park filled with random walls and bare gray house like structures. It’s now overfilled with precisely placed debris and blaring sirens. A carefully created mountain sits in the middle in some vague attempt to make it look like an apartment building has crumbled.
While the area is immense, Izuku still finds himself crushed between what must have been a little less than a thousand students in the rush of the start. Linking their hands, Mirio drags both of them from the sea of people with what seems to be a targeted area in mind.
The pair edges their way around the patchwork mountain. A few other groups of students seem to be heading the same way in front of and trailing behind them, so Izuku isn’t really surprised to see the canopy of a white tent halfway around the room.
Once they get close enough, Izuku can make out the telltale uniform of the Shiketsu students milling around the tent.
“Arisawa!” Mirio calls out as they approach.
His enemy from the last portion lifts her head from where she was writing on with a dry erase marker, “Oh, good, you’re here.”
The words even sound like they’re genuine which shocks Izuku. Wasn’t she mad? Didn’t she hate him?
Arisawa pulls a few items out from the stack of bins under the table she was working on. Laying out each item, she identifies them in a serious voice, “Soft stretcher, foldable hard stretcher, radio, basic first aid kit, pack to hold it all.”
Scooping it all into the final item, she hands it to Mirio who automatically trades the bag into Izuku’s non-permeating hands.
“Thank you!” Both boys intone, even as the younger continues to contemplate the Shiketsu student’s lack of reaction.
Mirio starts to talk even as Arisawa turns her eyes to the gridded laminated sheet on the table, “Yaorozu got this set up really quick.”
She spares him a deadpan stare through her black mask, “Yeah because we’re good at what we do.”
The older boy just gives a laugh at which Arisawa rolls her eyes at.
“C 23 to 26. You two good to pair or do you need assignments?”
“We’re good. Phasing and super strength should be fine.”
There’s an interest in Arisawa’a eyes as she finally looks at Izuku. She hums, “Great, you know the deal. Radio in if you need anything.” She pulls out the marker and blocks off their assigned area. “Lemillion and…”
“Midori,” He replies surer than he was this morning.
Her eyes trail up him slowly, but when they finally meet, black mask to reflective visor, she just blinks at him, interest already buried. “Okay,” She drawls, “I’ll be moving to get a bird’s eye for coordination in a few, Inventory is in charge down here.”
“Got it,” Izuku replies, eyes still caught on Arisawa’s.
“See you on the other side then.”
“Wow, that was weird,” Mirio starts once they are out of hearing range, a smile on his face and in his voice, even if his eyes are sharp.
“Yeah,” He agrees. “Mirio-senpai, why was she so nice? Shouldn’t they… I don’t know, be mad about what happened in the last section.” He thinks about how Bakugou reacted to what he even thought was a slight against his talent and bites at his lip confused.
“You can’t be mad at every person who beats you in stuff like this, you won’t have any friends in the real world. Plus, you lose points for letting personal stuff get in the way. This is a rescue, it’s no place for grudges.”
“Oh, that makes sense.” He says with a firm nod, the information sliding like puzzle pieces into place. While it didn’t totally fit with what Izuku thought he knew of people and pride, he didn’t have time to pull every interaction apart. "Wait, how'd you know about the tent?"
"We have a group chat." Mirio replies before he slows down from the slight jog they were maintaining, “This is us.”
And they begin. The upperclassman slips in and out of the rubble, confident and systematic in his approach, while Izuku watches, waiting for his chance to help.
He wonders how many times Mirio has done something like this? How many exercises UA put together for their student until rescue work became second nature?
Izuku squeezes his hand open and closed, his broken finger burning from the action, but the pain holding him from slipping into his thoughts.
Inch by inch, the pair moves through the designated ground. Izuku is piecing together an understanding now of how Mirio could slip into the debris and get lost in the mountain of crumbling slabs. The structure is layers of thick solid materials and how easily it would be to get turned around, unable to find your way out in the dark, comes to him as he stands on the edges waiting for the senior to return.
Halfway through their marks, Mirio’s head comes up through what Izuku had though was just a large piece of concrete on the ground. “Down here! Can you lift this up?”
“Yes!” He rushes, happy to finally have something to do.
Feeling around the edges, he finds enough room to hook his fingers, even as he carefully holds his broken appendage away from the weight. Slowly, the slab is shifted off the hole, Izuku making sure not to lift it too high in case it might destabilize the structure or the debris itself.
Mirio’s voice filters up to him in bursts, calmly going through a series of questions, while a young crying voice seems to be trying his best to answer.
The indention is finally fully uncovered and Izuku moves back to the edge, but stops as Mirio’s words reach him, “Midori, it seems like we have a back injury. Can you get the stretcher and call for backup? We’re going to need another couple pairs of hand to get Hiro-kun out of here.”
“You’ve got it, Lemillion!” He grabs the radio out of his pack and starts, “Midori to Inventory.”
The radio crackles for a second in non-response before a male voice filters through, “Midori, this is Inventory. What’s your situation?”
“We have a potential back injury, but there’s a difference in elevation that will require two more people.”
“I’ll send out a pair that just cleared their area. Standby.”
Radio still clutched in his hand, Izuku moves over to the edge of the pit. Mirio is sitting next to the ‘victim’ who is flat on his back. The older boy is golden and smiling, coaxing small laughs out of the little boy who looks like he’s trying his best to maintain a scared expression for the role.
“Hi,” Izuku says, grabbing the pair’s attention.
“Hiro-kun, this is Midori. He’s my kohai.”
“Kohai? Were you not good enough to pass before?”
The smile that Izuku had pasted to his face falls before he sees Mirio’s own has not moved a centimeter, so he is quick to mimic the other and replace the expression.
“Yep!” The blonde confirms happily. “I wasn’t ready before, but I am now.”
Hiro’s face twitches before settling into a glare, “I want a real hero.”
“Well, we have a few more heroes coming to help us get you out of here. So, you’ll have your pick. Right, Midori?”
“We do,” He confirms, still a little thrown off by the child’s change in demeanor.
The radio crackles to life at that moment, “Inventory to Midori.”
“See,” Izuku says directly to Hiro and gestures to his radio. Bringing the device close, he replies, “This is Midori, Inventory.”
“You have two heroes incoming, Scaredy-Cat and Shadow Puppet. They will take over your area once they have helped you with the extraction, so you can transport.”
“Thank you, Inventory. Can I get that ETA?”
Hiro just sneers up at Izuku, “I don’t want to wait that long.”
“It will go a lot faster than you think,” Mirio cuts in to respond.
The next few minutes continue the pattern and Izuku is happy when he gets to stand up to wave down the other students for the seconds of relief he has.
Jogging over to meet them halfway, he greets them before quickly whispering, “He’s really mean. Be careful.”
The red-clad hero, dramatically rolls his eyes with a groan, “These actors are power tripping.”
“Just smile and be nice, Scaredy-Cat,” The girl who must be Shadow Puppet says, giving the boy an elbow to the ribs, but both have easy smiles on their faces.
“We have around another block east for you guys to finish too once this is over.”
They nod at him professionalism seeping back into their entire pose.
Izuku already has the foldable, hard stretcher laid on the ground next to the pit, so as soon as they reach the ledge, he jumps down to join Mirio.
Narrating the process of moving him into the soft stretcher, Mirio dodges around the personal attacks Hiro continues to make. They slowly lift the hammock they’ve created up to the other pair’s waiting hands.
Izuku gives a little pulse of One for All and jumps up from the bottom up on to ground level once they have the boy secured into the hard stretcher. He leans over to give Mirio a hand with the climb up, only to find the blonde rocketing up from the bottom already.
Is that what Sir Nighteye taught him? He thought only to pause when he finds three pairs of eyes staring at him.
“What did you say your name was?” Scaredy-Cat asks.
A nervous smile creepy on to his mostly disguised face, “Midori.”
“Huh,” The other hero says simply.
Shadow Puppet also has a small dazed look on her face, but pushes forward, more aware than her compatriot of the exam around them, “You guys good? We’re going to continue with the block.”
“Go for it!” Mirio says, slapping a hand on to Izuku’s shoulder. “We’ll get Hiro-kun back to safety.”
There’s silence for thirty seconds while they position themselves, Izuku at his head with Mirio leading by Hiro’s feet, and start the trek back to the Shiketsu camp.
Hiro’s stare has not wavered since they began to move and finally, Izuku looks down and asks, “What’s on your mind?”
The boy seems startled for a second before he whispers, but still loud enough that Izuku thinks Mirio might hear, “Are you really All Might’s son?”
Licking at his lips, his eyes trail over to Mirio’s back and his mind echoes in caution, Nighteye Nighteye Nighteye.
But, looking down at the child that couldn’t be more than nine with wonder in his eyes that is stripped of the previous acting, he wavers and nods a quick jerky motion.
Hiro’s eyes go large and his mouth opens, but Izuku quickly mouths a shhhh.
The little boy mouths back, I won’t tell.
By the time, Mirio and Izuku finish transporting Hiro to what was deemed the ‘safe point’ the test is being called. Hiro himself gave Izuku a wink when they had waved him goodbye, so Izuku can’t help but feel like they can be confident in a passing score.
Izuku leaves Mirio at the atrium so that he can use One for All to return the borrowed equipment to Inventory and his senior can wait for their scores.
When he arrives, he finds the four capped Shiketsu students in the middle of packing up the boxes.
“Oh, hey, Midori,” Arisawa says from where she’s tucking radios away.
“Here, I came to return the stuff we used.” Handing the radio directly to Arisawa, he receives a large smile from her.
Abruptly, the rest of the pack is nabbed from his grasp and he finds himself staring directly into a face with shadows so deep under his hat that Izuku isn’t sure that the other boy has eyes.
A large grin is spread across the face though and the voice that comes out is familiar, “Thank god! No one understands how much money it takes to stock all this stuff.”
“People aren’t returning your things?”
“No!” His arms go wide as he turns around, “They think I can just pull it out of thin air.”
“That’s literally your quirk, Taka-kun,” Arisawa intones, fitting the top of the plastic bin on with a click.
He waves the long material of the soft stretcher out at her, “Yes, but I have to put it into thin air first!”
Taking in Izuku’s awkward form, Arisawa addresses him directly, “We get most of it back, but everything that needs to be replaced comes out of Inventory-kun over there’s support budget.”
“You’re so mean to me, Suki,” The other student hisses. Izuku feels bad for a moment before Inventory adds in with a whine, “I’m never going to be able to afford that bazooka!”
The girl lets out a sigh that turns into a laugh, “Midori, could you take this box and stack it over there with the rest.”
“Yeah, of course.”
The next fifteen minutes go that same way. Arisawa asking him to pile different parts of the camp together as Inventory and the other two students pulled down the tent and sorted out the bags that were returned.
While Izuku doesn’t mind helping in the first place, the whole thing is definitely worth it when he gets to see the entire pile disappear when Inventory touchs it.
The whole way back he questions the other boy about his quirk. In exchange for answers, he demandss Izuku carry back his empty bin, which Inventory tells him with an odd smile is for goods that have yet to be returned.
Waving the Shiketsu students goodbye once they get back to the entrance of the atrium, he switches the bin into Arisawa’s hands, Inventory taking off without anything but a sound that sends a chill down his spine.
Ducking around the packed room, Izuku tries to make his way back to the last place he saw Mirio, but right when he spots a tuff of blonde hair, the crowd surges.
He moves to stand on his toes so he can understand what’s going on as the crowd shifts back and forth as people force their way in different directions. The tops of the dozens of large screens that appeared on the far side of the room have letters printed large.
Izuku deduces the obvious and moves towards the screen that should hold his last name.
His screen doesn’t have too many people on it so the crowd is scarce by it. His eyes scroll through it mentally applauding and cringing at each pass and fail marked off.
But he reaches the end.
Blinking for a second, Izuku restarts his process.
But once again, he finds nothing.
Panic surges through him. Where is his name? Even if he failed, it should have been up there. Did he register improperly? Did they disqualify him? Did they think he chea –
A hand clasps his shoulder. Knowing Mirio-senpai will help, he turns to the person touching him, terror in his eyes.
Only it’s not Mirio-senpai.
The adult is dressed in a business suit and Izuku would say he looks familiar if he had more than a second to process. “Midori, I see you have noticed your name is not on the board. I promise you have done nothing wrong, but I have just been sent to collect you.”
“O – Okay,” He stutters out and allows himself to be guided out of the atrium and up the stairs.
The man finally looks familiar as he tucks himself into formation with the other five proctors. He had seen them at the beginning of each of the parts of the exam.
Shifting his weight between his feet, he stands in the middle of the empty room as the proctors stand in a half circle in front of him. “Did I – did I do something wrong?”
“Of course not!” Responds a proctor in the middle. “We just spoke to Principal Nedzu and All Might, of course, about the importance of your privacy being maintained. As a favor, of course, we decided that it be better you have your license made up here and keep your name out of the public records.”
“O – Okay,” He hesitates. “So I passed?”
Same man says, “Of course, you did, Midori! And what a great performance it was! Of course, it should be expected of someone with your lineage.”
“We are so happy that you pass, Midori-kun. It will be so nice to work with you.” The woman next to the prior speaker adds.
A breath catches in Izuku’s throat. A trap, His mind yells,This is a trap.
He lets the breath out of his throat as quietly as possible and works his broken finger in small movements, “Working with you?”
“Oh, yes, Midori-kun,” She says with a soft smile, “We’re the Hero Public Safety Commission.”
Chapter 5: Persephone and Demeter: Who You Are and Who You Will Become
Notes at the end for the explanation of the chapter title.
*Clears throat* I'M WAKING UP AT THE START OF THE END OF THE WORLD
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sun has barely started to break on the horizon, but the Midoriya household is in full flux.
Toshinori’s suit jacket and briefcase are strewn over the loveseat, while he dutifully scoops protein powder into the blender, the cuffs of his white button-down rolled to his elbows in caution. Inko flits around him putting together the finishing details on breakfast and a stack of bentos sit ready on the counter. Settled at the table half turned towards the open part of the kitchen, Rika fiddles with a newly bought camera.
Izuku finally emerges to the scene with a stuffed gym bag over his shoulder that he quickly chucks to the floor by the loveseat before walking over to kitchen. He looks frazzled as he tugs urgently at the untied fabric around his neck.
The words struggle to come out as he debates Dad Toshinori All Might until what finally comes out is, “All Dad? I mean –“
“Having a hard time, kiddo?” Rika asks behind him, humor edging her tone.
He’s frozen in his tracks when both Toshinori and Inko turn to look at him.
“Oh, Izuku,” His mom says, “Oh, look at you.”
She manages to squeeze him into a hug without bursting into tears, even though she looks close as she pulls away and tries to wipe a small piece of lint from the shoulder of his school uniform.
His own eyes feel like they might water just from watching his mother hold back tears, “Thank you, but uh – Toshi – uh…”
“You should just call him All Dad, that’s fun,” Rika chimes behind him.
“Rika,” Toshinori warns as Izuku’s eyes fall to the floor in embarrassment.
“It’s five am. I’ll be nicer in four hours, Toshi.”
He sighs at her, but over the past few months Izuku has gotten the picture that their relationship consisted of the pair just rolling their eyes at each other.
The man turns his attention to Izuku whose fingers are crumbling the fabric of the tie, “D- Dad is fine, Izuku – in private too.” Quickly, he adds on, “Only if you want though!”
The words catch in his throat before they slip out in a hurry, “I – I want to!” He pulls the ends of the tie a little forward to bring better attention to its undone state. “D- Dad, c-can you help me with…?”
“Of course,” Toshinori walks around him. His hands come over his shoulders and pick up the two pieces. Izuku tilts his gaze down to watch as he smoothly loops together the cloth, each motion practiced and easy until it leaves a perfect tied knot at his throat.
A flash shutters as they finish.
“Aw, that’s a good one.”
“I’ll send it to you,” Rika replies to his mother as Izuku turns to find them both looking at the monitor of the device.
Sitting down at the table, Toshinori asks, “Why the camera?”
The woman flashes her sharp teeth, “The kid convinced me, we’re doing social media now.”
All Might’s social media has always been limited. Press releases and merchandise only. So, as Izuku takes his own seat, Toshinori hesitates, “Wait…”
“Just a little, Tosh. Slice of life stuff – still no fan interaction or long stories or opinions,” The manager reassures.
“Do I – ?”
“No, if you think of touching any account, I’ll murder you.”
“Oh,” He says, “Good, have fun then.”
“Yeah, fun – whatever, on that note, here are the passwords for the Midori accounts, Izuku.” She holds out a hand with a paper before quickly pulling it out of reach when his own comes close, “Don’t make me regret this.”
“Wait, Izuku’s doing his own?”
“Toshinori, do you actually want to run your own social media?”
Rika’s arched eyebrow comes down leaving her stare exasperated, “Glad, we cleared that up.”
As they finish up breakfast, Inko distributes the bento boxes and Toshinori grabs the protein shakes from the refrigerator.
“Izuku, don’t you have something?” His mother reminds, leaving him to turn on his heel and sprint into his bedroom.
Returning, his hands hold a gift bag adorned with All Might coloring and Izuku sidles up next his mother. The pair find themselves waiting for Toshinori to notice them watching him.
When he finally turns around, they yell out in tandem, “Happy first day!”
His eyes are wide as Inko and Izuku present him the gift bag, “What – you didn’t –“
“Just open it!” Inko pushes as Izuku moves the gift into his hands.
The surprise fades quickly leaving his hands full and an ache of happiness settling into his chest. Toshinori blinks rapidly as he looks into the bag, neither Midoriya has cried this morning and he needs to maintain his status as the dried-eyed part of this family. Just in case though he turns his face down towards the present.
Two items are inside. The first he pulls out is a large mug stamped with the words, The influence of a great teacher can never be erased.
His breath hitches in his throat before he pulls out the next. It’s a travel mug this time. The colors are bold red, blue, and yellow and the little trademark show that it is part of the All Might brand, but Toshinori himself never thought he’d receive one, the sides proclaim him Mightest Dad in the World.
He can’t turn his face towards either of them as he leans to put each gift on the table.
All Might has to be a pillar to strive towards. All Might has to be untouchable. All Might has to be more than human.
“Thank you,” He chocks out, trying to maintain that the water on his face is not tears.
But arms wrap around him and it takes him a second to think, maybe, Yagi Toshinori doesn’t have to be any of those things.
The engine cuts off and Izuku is left staring at the small mirror in silence. He gives the beanie one last check to make sure no strands of green hair are visible under the fabric before adding a large pair of reflective sunglasses to his face.
“Good to go?” Toshinori questions.
Turning towards the driver’s seat, he settles determination on to his face even though he knows Toshinori can’t see his eyes and declares, “Let’s do this!”
Stepping out of the car, Izuku takes both protein shakes in hand and shoulders his gym bag, while the other juggles a leather-bound folder, his briefcase, and his new full travel mug with his empty ceramic mug tucked under his arm.
The man flips through the pages of his folder, verbally muttering the checklist of forms he needs to submit for the following day’s lessons as they stroll through the empty, early morning halls of UA. Izuku watches the scene out of the corner of his eye, but readies himself to catch any of the items that seem very close to falling out of his grip. The tick of imminent doom drowning out his own worries.
Entering the teachers’ lounge with a smile on his face, he watches as Toshinori stumbles to put down each item with clumsy grace.
“You know what you’re doing, my boy?”
“Weight room till eight, opening ceremony starts thirty minutes after and ends at nine, then we’re out of here.”
With no care for the stares of the other teachers in the room, All Might booms, “You’ve got it!” Before continuing in a normal tone, “If you need anything just text, but you know where I am.”
“Have a good first day, Dad,” Izuku says.
To which Toshinori responds with a smile and a tight shoulder squeeze, “I’ll see you in a few hours, enjoy the ceremony.”
Izuku turns to leave, but a familiar voice calls out, stopping him, “Just one moment, Midoriya-kun.”
“Good morning, Principal Nedzu,” He greets the animal.
“Good morning, I wanted to tell you that no other students or teachers frequent the gym at this hour so if you wished to exercise without the disguise, feel free.”
“Oh,” He hadn’t even thought about how uncomfortable it would be to sweat in his hat and sunglasses, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Midoriya-kun.”
Izuku is working his way through his free weight sets when the door to the gym opens.
When he had first walked in, recently changed into workout gear after carefully loosening his tie like Toshinori had instructed so he wouldn’t have to redo it, the room had been empty like Principal Nedzu had pointed out. The school weight room at six in the morning on the first day of school is not where Izuku would expect students to be spending their time anyways.
But the metal clank of the door sends a flicker of anxiety up his back. Even though he really only has to worry about Bakugou recognizing him, a one in around six hundred chance he’ll walk through the door, the stress builds in his stomach as he continues to push and pull the weight in his hand.
Izuku’s mind shifts to blankness though as the figure’s reflection comes into view – a familiar tuff of blonde emerging through the doorway.
His beanie and glasses are tucked into his gym bag in the locker room. His only way to cloak his most prominent features completely out of reach.
“Oh, hey! I didn’t know anyone else came here before classes,” Mirio greets, a grin taking over his face.
“I’m new,” He squeaks out as he tries to slow down his raging pulse. Be cool, be cool, he doesn’t know who you are.
“Wow! You’re first day and you’re already in the gym, you’re making your senpai look bad.”
“What?!” He didn’t mean to offend anyone or make anyone look bad. “No! I didn’t mean –“
Mirio gives a hardy laugh approaching Izuku, reminding the younger of the way he had teased him during the exam. “I’m kidding! It’s great that you’re working so hard, it’s the UA spirit!” The third year pumps his fist up in emphasis.
“Th-Thank you,” He stutters out trying to calm his heartbeat.
“No problem, I’m Togata Mirio. Call me Mirio-senpai or just Mirio is fine.”
“I’m Midoriyaaa…” His voice tapers off because Mirio’s head is tilting in recognition and Izuku really should have thought about this.
He can see the laugh building in Mirio’s chest as the other boy prompts, “Midori-ya…”
The stress drains right out of his body and he lets his head hang in front of him. He completes it with resignation, “Izuku.”
“Hey, Mido,” The older boy greets for a second time.
Izuku sighs, refusing to look back up at Mirio, “Hey, senpai.”
Around forty-five minutes after Izuku has left and fifteen minutes into the faculty meeting, Toshinori receives a text message.
His eyes trail around the table to the speaker and they rest on Nedzu as he goes over some initiative or another. Toshinori can feel his jaw locking even as he tries to tamp down on his temper. This temper is new – this furious flame building in his chest had never been there before – not like this.
All Might is a joyous hero. All Might is a hero with an ever-present smile.
He’s finding that maybe Yagi Toshinori isn’t the same in that regard as well.
The glare he locks on the principal doesn’t move from his face for the rest of the meeting. He stays seated when the other teachers move to vacate the room for their own classrooms or to do work at their desks until the ceremony. Nedzu doesn’t leave as well, probably already knowing what Toshinori had been told.
As the door shuts, leaving the room empty, save the two of them, Toshinori starts, “Is my life a game to you? Is Izuku’s life a game to you?”
“All Might –“
His voice is stone. “What gives you the right to do something like this?”
“Nighteye should be involved, especially if the Hero Council is sniffing around,” Nedzu lets out with a sigh.
The volume of his tone does not raise, but the ice slipping in it is tangible, “So, you expose Izuku’s identity to a seventeen-year-old? To force me to talk to Nighteye?”
The animal starts with his best placating tone, “All Might –“
“Stop saying my name like I’m a child, Nedzu. I am not your student. And Izuku is not a pawn for you to use in whatever plot you have planning. Do you think we won’t pull him from UA? We don’t need you.”
“Mirio is a good kid. He’ll be a good friend for Izuku – a touch point,” The principal reasons, trying again to calm down the hero and retake control of the conversation.
He snaps back, “But, more importantly, he was Nighteye’s pick for One for All and his intern.”
Toshinori is used to people making plans around him. Schemes he doesn’t see because he is always going to do what he plans to anyways and he truly believes that it will turn out all right. While he usually just brushes the plotting off, leaving it to Rika to figure out messes he doesn’t care to deal with, Nighteye has become a problem that pisses him off.
Nighteye had been a friend, a companion, and someone that he had heavily relied on for years, but the man burned whatever bridge Toshinori had left open months ago. The hero wanted Nighteye to come back – to help him do this all better, but when he returned years and years after the end of All for One, he had laid down a choice for All Might to pass on his quirk and would take no other.
When Toshinori had decided not to pick Mirio, the screaming match had gotten so bad his neighbors had called the police.
“It was beneficial in multiple ways.”
This stops him. Because Nedzu didn’t know Izuku like he does, he doesn’t understand how his student inspires loyalty. A closed lip smile makes his way on to his face as he remarks, “Mirio already swore to Izuku he wouldn’t tell Nighteye anything.”
The shock is there and then it isn’t. The response comes quick to cover up the principal’s reaction, “Izuku will still have a friend though.”
“Don’t,” He warns.
The door rattles a moment before it’s pulled open and Thirteen pops their head in, “Opening ceremony starts in ten minutes, we need to do the sound check.”
“Of course, Thirteen,” Nedzu responds and follows the hero out of the room, abruptly ending the conversation.
Just take responsibility for your actions! He wants to scream at the closing door.
Instead Toshinori takes a moment, letting the silence of the room calm him, letting himself fall back into being All Might. Then, One for All fills him and he makes own way out.
Izuku finds a seat in the back, mixing in easily with the groups of students running around to reunite with friends that aren’t in their classes.
He had waved Mirio off earlier this morning at the gym when his senior had offered to sit with him especially once he heard that Izuku is in Aizawa’s class – oddly enough, Izuku wants to experience this moment alone.
The teenager has been alone at every school event his entire life and though he desperately used to wish for someone like Mirio to reach out and save a seat for him, he wants to just take it in – the students’ quirks, the teachers trying to corral their classes, the feeling of belonging that accompanies being in this room in this uniform contrasting so sharply to the nervous wreck he was when he had been here last time for the entrance exam.
But, also, Izuku wants to feel alone. He’s not here to make friends or to frantically try to fit in with his class – he’s actively trying to push back the date they are requiring him to join Class 1-A in person.
Having messed up with his identity this morning, Izuku is realizing how hard this is actually going to be. Mirio is directly connected to Nighteye and the only reason the third-year had promised not to tell him anything about Izuku was because he had been verging on a panic attack. The only reason Izuku was able to maintain the secret is because Mirio is nice.
And that isn’t really acceptable – maybe to All Might, who waved it off as something to work on and think about, it is, but not to Izuku.
There’s a goal and there’s no room for mistakes.
So, when the lights dim over his head and light up on the stage, there is no one around him and he thinks, I can do this.
They’ve regrouped carefully at the exit of the auditorium. Toshinori is still holding on to his All Might form, which he maintained during the assembly, and Izuku spent twenty minutes trying not to get swept away in the crowd of chattering students, so he’s just a little frazzled looking underneath his hat and sunglasses.
Neither wants to admit it to the other, but both are happy that they are heading out of UA.
“My boy,” All Might starts, once they’ve moved far enough away from the building walking towards the garage, “Things happen, plans change.”
“Please, don’t…” Izuku sighs, not looking towards the man as they walk across the grass, “You told me the risks and I just blew it. First day – first second.”
“You didn’t blow anything.”
A laugh feels like it’s bubbling in his throat and the worry isn’t staying where he has tried to bury it under his skin. “Nighteye’s intern caught me. What could I have possibly done worse?”
“I promise there’s a lot worse than Nighteye and…” He trails off, but begins again with a sigh, “The Nighteye thing is personal, but please don’t give him any special emphasis – actually, give him less. He already knows about One for All and this whole thing is just an argument that you got placed in the middle of. This isn’t supposed to stay a secret, my boy. It’s just for right now, so if a few people find out, who cares?”
Izuku stops sharply and spins to look at Toshinori. “I do,” He snaps, “Your secret is the one at risk here.”
Hands land on Izuku’s shoulders and the grip is oddly grounding to the student, “We’ll deal with it if it comes to that. Anyways Mirio won’t tell anyone, right?”
“No,” He grumbles, looking away, but not making any move to get out of the hold.
“Then you’ve got someone to talk to without all this stuff on.” All Might gives his hat a good-natured tug further down his face. “Calm down, kid. It’s not like he knows about One for All, okay? Everything is fine.”
“Okay,” He agrees under his breath.
Toshinori cups one hand over his ear and leans down, “I must not have caught that, you’re so far down there. What was that?”
Lifting his gaze up in annoyance, Izuku finds the man smiling at him with humor. Rolling his eyes at the height joke, he says louder, “Okay.”
“Good,” He gives his shoulder a pat, “Come on, I want to see how that costume of yours fits.”
Shaking his head and trying to hold back his own smile, Izuku follows Toshinori as they start towards the parking garage again.
As they round the corner near the training field, they have to stop as a class marches in front of them. The chattering begins as soon as the first student spots them, but it takes a few seconds for the noise to make its way up to the front of the group to the black-haired adult leading the children to the gymnasium.
As Aizawa stops the procession, it only takes Izuku a moment to realize this is his class – Class 1-A.
He pulls the fabric on his head a little further down and tries not to let his gaze wonder out in search of another familiar face.
“What are you all looking at?” Aizawa barks at the students, even as he retraces his steps so that he comes to a stop right in front of the pair. “Iida, you know where the gym is?”
“Yes, sir,” The serious-looking student that called him out during the entrance exam replies.
“Lead them in, I’ll catch up in a moment.”
The boy scrambles to the front of the disorganized line, “Of course, Aizawa-sensei!”
The class follows Iida away, but a few stare a little too long or linger just close enough that Aizawa yells out, “Anyone not inside in the next thirty seconds will be expelled automatically.”
Once the last one has cleared out with a pace like fire is under their feet, Izuku asks, bewildered, “Expelled?”
“I expel anyone who doesn’t show potential,” The teacher replies as if he is reciting a boring fact and even yawns at the end.
“Never mind that,” Eraserhead waves off, “I have the notes from Snipe about your performance last week. We’ll be discussing at our session on Wednesday. There’s a lot to improve on.”
The grin he’s giving Izuku sends a shiver down his spin and suddenly, his excitement for Wednesday has become pure dread.
“I – um, okay?”
“I also expect that paper on the rise of quirks on my desk by the end of the week.”
“Oh,” Izuku perks back up, “I already did that!” Digging through the bag on his shoulder, he pulls out a folder that he had stuffed into it. “I didn’t see you this morning, so I didn’t know where to hand it in and I’m not sure which desk is yours – ”
Aizawa holds up a hand to stop his rambling and takes the paper as it is held out to him with narrowed eyes. He skims his thumb over the side and Izuku can almost see him mentally counting the pages, he might have gone overboard – but the teacher didn’t give him a page limit.
“Fine,” He finally says, “Keep on top of your work. I’ll email you the next group of assignments.”
Turning on his heels, the black-haired man leaves without any other comment.
“Did I…?” Izuku asks, his hands fidgeting at his sides.
All Might, who had not even been acknowledged by the other teacher, just sighs, “No, that’s just Aizawa.”
He fixes the hood by a small hook to the new visor. The fabric lays flat over his head and, even as he gives a jerky shake, it doesn’t dislocate the lock, keeping his distinctive hair hidden from view.
The hooded jumpsuit is a deep forest green that blends well with his hair and has a thick white strip that circles his shoulders before bursting into an uneven diamond in the middle of his chest that matches with the one on All Might’s most recent costume. Echoing throughout the outfit, the white is in the frame of his eyewear and thin accents lining his black gloves and boots.
Izuku pulls his googles away from his face and wipes at his eyes with the rough material of his sleeve. He never – he never thought he’d get here.
Catching himself in the mirror, Izuku watches his reflection as he takes a deep breath, locking gaze with the one visible eye. Willing the emotions he sees to transform into the overpowering determination that always rests inside him, he lets the visor snap back over it and walks out of the bathroom.
All Might is waiting for him on the balcony of his office, staring down at shifts of Tokyo traffic in the early afternoon. When he hears the door open, his mentor turns and looks down at him with a very Toshinori smile.
“You look good,” He says, the underlying pride is shining through the older man’s eyes.
Izuku struggles not to choke on the words at the sight, “Thank you.” Straightening his shoulders, his voice evens into something stronger, “I couldn’t have done any of this without you.”
“You’ve come a long way…Midori. You deserve this because you worked for it.”
A smile breaks across his face and he battles against the tears that are trying to drip into his visor, “I –“ He begins, but cuts off, not sure how to verbalize the happiness, the gratefulness… the excitement.
But Toshinori knows and places a hand on top of his hooded head in acknowledgement, “Let’s see how far you’ve come, my boy.”
His hand slips away and he takes a few steps closer to the railing, leaving the younger to stare at his back. Slowly, All Might slips into a crouch. Turning his head to look over his shoulder, he gives Izuku a large grin and takes off.
Izuku takes a step forward without meaning to.
His breath escapes him just a little as a smile takes over his entire face.
And then he takes a step forward on purpose and then another and then another. His foot pushes him off the ground and his next step falls on to the railing and, suddenly, he’s soaring.
She holds back the urge to cross her arms over her chest.
This is no time for her body language to be weak.
Taking a deep breath, she steels herself and knocks purposefully on the door of the teachers’ lounge.
Present Mic’s loud presence appears as the door slides open, “Yaoyorozu Momo, right?”
“Yes, sir,” She answers, back straight – voice firm.
He sighs, “In Aizawa’s class?”
“Yaoyorozu, Aizawa-sensei has the ability to expel any student he wishes – “
“No!” She says, but realizes her tone and volume were not appropriate and adjusts them down, “I just need to talk to Aizawa-sensei… please.”
“Okay, just give me a moment,” The teacher replies with a sigh and disappears back into the room.
Momo wonders how often students have come to plead an expulsion that Present Mic had looked so ready to defend the other teacher, but so tired of it at the same time.
She doesn’t have a long moment though as the door opens back up after a few seconds and Aizawa is standing in front of her with a raised eyebrow.
“Yaoyorozu, can I help you?”
Her gaze is forcefully kept to match his own and she answers, “Can I speak to you in private, Aizawa-sensei?”
“I’m not going to discuss any way around the threat of expulsion, but you are doing just fine in the tasks so far, so ask yourself is this really worth taking up both of our lunch hours?”
Momo can feel her shoulders give a little, curling in just the slightest, but she’s already here and she can’t walk away from this – she’s supposed to be strong.
Something shifts in Aizawa as she struggles to maintain her façade as she answers, “I – It’s not about that, sir. Please, can we discuss this in private?”
“Of course, there’s a meeting room down the hall,” Though his voice still holds an apathetic edge, the menacing undertone is gone and he leads her a few doors down to a vacated room with only chairs and a large table in it.
Ushering her in, Aizawa lets Momo pick her seat before he follows to sit across from her.
“How can I help you, Yaoyorozu?”
Her eyes are in her lap. She’s suddenly not sure this was the best decision.
Maybe she should have left it, it wouldn’t do to make waves on her first day.
Her thoughts vocalize, “Maybe this wasn’t – Never- “
“Yaoyorozu, whatever happened – Whatever this is about is obviously important to you. I am your teacher, let me help you.”
The tears are streaming down her face before she even realizes they were coming and Momo’s quickly trying to wipe them away so the Pro Hero won’t think less of her.
She gulps around the ball that has settled in her throat and has to work around it, but when the words start to come, they flow, “While you were gone, one of the boys touched me. The one with the purple stuff on his head – And he kept saying things about my…”
Momo hopes she doesn’t have to continue, but she only hears an audible exhaled breath from Aizawa.
Her voice hiccups, “I need to take off portions of my gym uniform because of my quirk and that boy kept – he kept talking about me and then he groped me. Aizawa-sensei…”
When she lets her voice trail off, Aizawa finally replies, “You did the right thing, coming to speak with me, Yaoyorozu. The physical portion of this was during the time I was speaking to All Might, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” She responds, pulling her eyes up to meet his own.
Whatever apathy she has seen from the teacher all day is gone – leached out of him, but there’s not pity in his gaze, nothing that makes her doubt herself for coming to him – the change leaves something comforting there instead, something heroic.
“And the verbal?”
“The entire day.”
“Thank you for telling me this and I will see that something is done, but I need you to understand I will need to check the school security system to make sure everything lines up.”
Her tone is steady again as she says, “Of course.”
“I will handle this, I promise you,” Aizawa reassures.
Momo can only nod her head and try not think what that means at UA. She’s never actually been to a school that has kept that promise.
“Try it one more time,” All Might suggests, “Remember rock from your heel to your toes while you push off.”
Izuku bites nervously at his lip, chancing a glance back at the series of craters he’s already left in his wake.
Heel toe heel toe heel toe – distribute the power evenly – don’t leave a dent
He takes off again straight into the air.
The wind flows around him in a raging rush. It tickles at his skin, pushing underneath his costume until he hits the crest of the leap, the air becoming still for less than a second before the inevitable drop.
Falling back towards the skyscraper where All Might stands, Midori pushes himself into a horizontal position lessening the speed of his fall and counts…
He flips back into a vertical position, aligns his body towards the ground, and thinks, balls of your feet balls of your feet balls of your feet.
This time when he hits the roof, he moves with urge to fall forward pushing his right shoulder down and rolls out on to his feet.
Turning around quickly to check where he took off and landed, he finds All Might already studying the ground.
“Looks good,” He approves.
Izuku lets out a small breath. They have been at this for the past hour since All Might realized Izuku was leaving behind craters on every surface he had contact with.
“Can we…?” Excitement vibrates through him.
“Yes, come on. You’re going to lead the way, I want to make sure you aren’t leaving anymore damage.”
“You can apologize to Yumi-san later while I show you the paperwork for stuff like this.”
“Don’t you leave craters when you…?” He bends down with one knee on the ground, a fist coming to rest in front of it in a classic hero pose.
Amusement dances in All Might’s eyes, “Only on villain scenes and only sometimes. The paperwork is different when it’s part of active hero work instead of just patrolling. Also, you can’t just go around destroying people’s buildings or city sidewalks, Midori.”
“Sorry about the railing,” He ducks his head in embarrassment, while he get up.
“It happens,” He acknowledges with a sigh, “It’s just usually something you figure out in school. You need to be careful, the whole point is to show people you can defend yourself and details like this are the difference between heroes that make it and those who don’t.”
Midori can feel his spin straighten at the mention of school. I need to be more careful. I have to get this stuff down fast and show everyone that I can do this.
“I understand,” Izuku replies.
“Good,” He says, before taking out his cellphone from his belt, “Let’s see what’s happening in the city today.”
He moves closer to the man so he can get a good look at the application that he has opened.
“Don’t you just patrol until you see something.”
“Yes and no.” All Might turns the phone for him to watch as he hit a button that makes his icon turn to ‘available’. “You can patrol and look for crime, which everyone does, but sometimes the police need certain quirks or certain power or skill levels, so this tells them who is available, where they are, and it’s a fast way to contact nearby heroes. Also, it just shows crime in general like…”
Izuku follows his finger on the screen. It shows a number beeping out in large red, four blocks east of them.
“The number means bank robbery and the red means happening now, so let’s go!”
His mind goes blank.
“Yes!” He replies all at once and takes off in the direction the map had shown.
If he listens close enough, he can hear Toshinori’s laugh mingling with the wind.
Heel toe balls of your feet roll with the momentum keep moving don’t hit the roof and stop
All Might’s voice comes urgently from behind him. “Midori, moving! On your right!”
His shoes slide across the roof and he spins his left foot out switching the direction of his momentum.
Feet quickly hitting the ground he doesn’t push any extra energy into his legs as the roof ends and his legs come to tuck up into his stomach before he spins forward sending his course downwards towards the alley.
Midori spots the crowd of police sprinting after three figures as he flips once, twice and then hits the ground running.
The alley way is long and packed in as he nears the police officers.
One for All circles through his body and he bounces quickly between the walls, bypassing the officers.
Within seconds, he’s gaining on the thieves.
He slows just touch when he spots the opening. On the next jump, he braces his elbow and throws himself sideways into the slowest runner.
They crash into each other, but while the thief goes down, Midori maintains his balance on the ground and runs forward to catch up with the other two, while the police grab the fallen.
He’s about to leap on to the next one when they both abruptly stop, hands thrown into the air.
All Might stands at the mouth of the alley, arms crossed and his signature smile on his face.
“Showoff,” He can’t help to whisper next to All Might, while the police pack away the robbers.
The man gives him a small push in retaliation, throwing him off balance. When he regains equilibrium, their stares meet, each sporting a large smile.
A flash breaks their gaze and Midori turns to find paparazzi have flooded the area.
“Time to go!” All Might laughs and quickly takes to the sky.
Izuku hesitates for a second to look at the scene around him.
Police officers, paparazzi, fans, and all.
This is all he wanted for so long. The grin that was already on his face somehow grows bigger.
Knowing he’d probably break a leg if he tried to get to the top of the hundred story building All Might just jumped to in one go, Midori takes off running towards the blocked off alley and carefully picks his way up the building in a series of jumps.
Breaking free of the walls in a final burst, he pushes up farther than the roof and into the air, letting out an ecstatic “Yes!” as he soars upwards in the open sky.
Toshinori is laughing when he hits the roof, but Izuku can see the pride in his eyes.
“I did it!”
He asks excitedly, hands raised by his sides eager to move,“What next?!”
“Lunch,” The older man says.
The excitement vacates him and he can only ask, “Wah?”
“We spent a lot of time going over movement today. They’ll be more crime to fight tomorrow, I promise, Midori.”
“But – “
The man’s new stern face is starting to rival his mother’s, “Food now… and we can go over paperwork during if you’re so excited for more hero work.”
“But after lunch I have to go home,” His disappointment is almost tangible.
“Yes,” There’s no give in his voice, “That was the deal. You need to go home and do schoolwork.”
“No, we agreed on a schedule, remember? And if you want to do Tsukauchi’s offer too, you need to prove that you can get all your work done and prioritize.”
All Might is right, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. The adrenaline still pumping through his veins demands to be fed, but there’s nothing he can do, not if he wants to be able to do more in the future.
“Okay, I get it.” Izuku says frustrated. As he lets out a breath and his heart begins to return to a normal pace though, he finds himself asking, “…But I did good, right?”
“You did, my boy. I am so proud of you that was a fantastic first time out.”
He sucks in another breath as the validation washes over him.
Getting ready to follow his mentor back to the office, Izuku tries to focus on those words, to bury them into his skin and try to erase some of the bullying that has clung on to him over the years – he tries to spare no thought to the murderous eyes he saw at UA.
Shouta sits in the monitor room, fingers tapping a rhythmic pattern into the table. His eyes close as an angry breath vacates his body through his nose.
He should have paid more attention. He shouldn’t have left the children alone at all. He should have –
UA should have vetted this class of students better – all of the students better.
He can’t help, but wonder if he still has time to just dismiss the whole class or even just finally quit. Children need so much work and every time he has a second to breathe he realizes he’s not doing enough.
But, the image of the crying Yaoyorozu today comes to him. With her steely gaze and the iron in her spine still visible beneath the emotions she was trying to compartmentalize.
Who does he trust here to make sure that metal becomes a blade that will never bend?
Midoriya also comes to mind. Who will deal with his stupid, problem child and his stupid, uncontrollable quirk and his stupid, stubborn personality?
His father? No way, it’s obvious who he inherited the recklessness from.
Breaking his bones and hiding them from proctors during exams so he wouldn’t be penalized – the absolute disregard for himself.
No, he can’t give up on this class.
The others have potential, but these two… he won’t give up because of these two problem children have already shown their mettle, have already demonstrated their limitless potential.
Leaning back in the seat, he opens his eyes.
With an expulsion notice to give out and having to find a replacement before tomorrow, there won’t be any time for a nap before patrol tonight.
Already knowing Hizashi is going to be mad that Shouta needs another cup or two of coffee, he gets up, feeling the weight of everything on his shoulders.
All Might @AllMight
There have been a lot of questions over the past few weeks about the hero named Midori. The statement linked below will address everything.
All Might @AllMight
This morning I started out my first day of school with a gift from my family. I hope all new and returning UA students had as great a first day as I did. @Midori thank you for my wonderful gift!
[Image: All Might stands in his yellow sports jacket, his briefcase in one hand and the Mightest Dad in the World mug in the other. He’s holding the cup out as if to present it to the camera.]
Just trying my best out here @WannabeHero
I know I should want to talk about @AllMight heavily implying some super bad villain is after his kid and that’s why @Midori isn’t attending UA and is secret identity-ing us rn, but real talk: I want to know where AM stands on the coffee v. tea debate #Whatsinthemug
@WannabeHero @AllMight doesn’t drink coffee, he’s 100% a tea person because “antioxidants”
Just trying my best out here @WannabeHero
Did @AllMight ‘s kid @Midori just use his first tweet to tell me I am personally going to have to fight a god because I will square up to fight anyone who disses coffee.
@WannabeHero as an avid coffee drinker, I think if we can work together we can take him down.
“Rika,” He hisses into the phone.
“I don’t know why you’re being pissy about this, Toshinori. You had a good first patrol – Izu looked good, the paps loved it and no one is debating us real hard on the press release.”
Toshinori knows she can’t see his lips pressing into a line, but as the silence ticks, he’s pretty sure she understands what expression he’s giving her.
“Look,” She sighs, “So what someone asked you why you hate coffee? And supposedly have a problem with anyone who drinks coffee…” The woman seems to understand how absurd the whole situation is as she trails off.
“Rika, you said this social media thing would be a good idea.”
“Hey! It’s your kid that kept sending me those articles.” Her voice takes an almost whining sound, “They were the nice ones, Toshi. From the super certified places that have nice names like Hero Marketing Association of Everywhere in the Fucking World… I’m weak to proven data.”
His sigh is audible through the call and he knows she can tell he’s about to give up.
“Tosh, this CoffeeGate thing – whatever it is, it took attention off the release. No one is screaming that we don’t trust UA or that you’re a bad parent. It’s only been a few hours, but this… this is good.”
A large breath comes out of his mouth, “If you say so… Social media confuses me. I can’t even drink coffee because of my stomach, I don’t understand how this happened.”
“The youth of today work in strange and mysterious ways, but at least we got each other.”
Shaking his head, he replies, “Yeah, I guess there’s that.”
“Hey!” Rika’s voice is full of offense.
Toshinori doesn’t even try to hold back his chuckles, but as Rika splutters to her own defense, his phone beeps at him.
“Hey, it’s Inko on the other line, I got to go.”
“Okay, see you tomorrow.”
Quickly, he adds, “We’ll be in after I’m done at UA for the day.”
Hitting the button on the screen, the call switches.
“Hi, Inko,” He greets.
“Hi, how was your day?”
“Good,” He replies, taking a second to switch the phone between his shoulder and ear, so he can open the car door. “It was a good first day. Izuku tell you already?”
She laughs a little, but he hears a door shut behind her and his face pulls into a frown as he slips into the driver’s seat.
“Inko?” He doesn’t start the car, just laying down his items in the passenger’s seat as he waits.
“Sorry, yes, he told me that patrol was good, but he seems to be pretty beat up about accidently outing himself? To… Nighteye’s intern?” The last part of the sentence comes out a little unsure.
Toshinori gives himself a second by clearing his throat. He had thought that he had handled it.
“Yeah, I told him it was fine, but…”
“Izuku is Izuku,” Inko finishes for him, acknowledging how hard it is to change the teenager’s mind when he sets it.
“Can I… Can I ask what this is about? Izuku said that you said it was personal.”
His hand brushes through his hair in frustration – not at Inko or Izuku, at Nighteye – at this whole situation he caused.
The air escapes him and he can’t help to confess, “I thought it be a bad parenting move to tell the kid that hid that he broke a finger during an exam so he wouldn’t lose points that Nighteye and I don’t talk because he told me he wouldn’t watch me kill myself.”
“Oh…” Inko’s voice fills with emotion. “Oh, Toshinori.”
The taste of the words that had just rolled off his tongue is disgusting and he can only acknowledge it, “I know.”
“Definitely the right parenting move though.”
The statement sits for a second before they both start laughing, breaking the heaviness that is traveling across the line.
Since he’s already begun, the small admission so relieving, he finds himself continuing without thought, “Inko, I – I keep thinking about that day in the hospital – when he said that to me – and I – I just can’t stop imagining Izuku doing the same and it scares me, but I can’t make myself think of it like that for me.”
There’s rustling and he thinks she is sitting down.
“I worry, I worry a lot – about me, about Izuku, about everything,” She starts, “How about we try something? Maybe it will help you understand.”
“Sure,” The word comes out slow, but he trusts her and the dissonance in his mind is hard. He’s willing to run into the fire himself, but the thought of Izuku doing it – it scares him.
“When you think of the future what do you see?”
Forced retirement, a looming specter of death, people he can’t save, his body getting weaker and weaker.
He doesn’t say any of this though. Silence ticks the seconds away.
Finally, Inko breaks it, “Before the fight, what did you imagine for the future?”
“Saving people,” The answer flows easily around where the previous words stuck, “Avenging my master, finding a successor… eventually.”
“That makes sense. Where you think of the future, you see it in broad strokes. Most of us worry about it in specific details.”
He’s not exactly sure what she means and just prompts her to continue, “Oh?”
Inko tells him, “When I think of the future, I imagine Izuku’s graduation from UA. You watching the two of us crying our eyes out –“
The scene has woven together in his mind and he can’t help, but cut in, “The three of us.”
“All three of us are going to be crying.”
A small amused huff comes through the phone, “I see Izuku one day running out of his room to show you he can finally do his tie without your help.”
Toshinori feels his breath catch.
“I see you being home in an hour for dinner.”
The breath is condensing into a thick rock in his throat, but he works around it, “I’ll be home for dinner.”
“Good,” She acknowledges, “Because that’s not all I imagine. I imagine sitting alone at that graduation and Izuku fumbling around with a poorly done tie because he never finished learning and you never walking into the apartment again.”
Her voice weaves together scene after scene and Toshinori can feel the tears running down his face, but he makes no move to wipe them away.
Laying his head down on top of the steering wheel, his voice cracks as he promises, “I – I’ll be home for dinner. I’ll be home for dinner every night.”
And with the way she says, “We’ll be waiting,” He knows she hears what he didn’t say…
I understand now.
“Can I still mad at Nighteye?”
“Rika says he’s been saying mean things about Izuku, so I’m mad at him too.”
A raspy noise escapes his mouth before he replies, “I’m going to be mad at him for a little longer, but after I’m going to call him and apologize. Just for the hospital – I’ll tell you about the successor stuff when I get home.”
“Sounds like a plan. Toshinori?”
“Do you want me to get a list of trustworthy therapists?”
His immediate reaction is no, but he thinks about Izuku and how this whole situation has been a spiraling mess since the young boy saw him pushing himself to his limit. That this could have been avoided if he could actually abide by the limits set for him.
The final piece that clicks together the building realization that he isn’t the best role model for his… son hurts.
But Toshinori still has time. He can still be better.
“I think that would be a good idea.”
Ochako enters the classroom for the second day of school with a nervous fear that Aizawa’s test will be something they do every day.
She saw how badly those tests went for some students and, even though no one got expelled, she can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t a ruse and, in the next round, she’ll be the one to fail.
While the classroom isn’t full when she enters, it is full of noise. She knows yesterday groups have started to form in the class, but looking around she can’t seem to find anywhere to jump into.
“I mean, have you seen the guy’s quirk?! It’s a cooler version of All Might’s. That electricity, it looks like mine.” Kaminari, she thinks that’s his name, is loud enough that the whole class can hear him talking, so she wanders over to that side of the room.
She hadn’t gotten the chance to check the news though or read the press release about All Might’s son yesterday, so she moves to get a peek around the blonde’s shoulder.
He notices she’s there and moves a bit to give her a better view. Ochako can see the video playing on his cellphone, which seems to be an obscured shot of the takedown from behind since it did happen in an alley.
“Your quirk looks nothing like his,” Rebuffs the red-head to the right of her. “But he is super manly, scroll down on the article and see if they have that photo of them next to each other.”
It’s not a photo, but a gif that appears later in the article. All Might is good-naturedly pushing Midori off balance after he seemed to whisper something to him.
Speaking for the first time, she asks, “What’s his quirk?”
Kaminari turns around to look at her, “Looks like it’s the same as All Might’s, but there’s this wicked electricity that comes off him like there’s too much power.”
“An enhancement quirk?” Ochako tries.
“Eh,” He says, “Probably, but no one knows because All Might doesn’t confirm anything.”
She hums in agreement, but her mind is already far away.
To a boy that she watched destroy an enormous robot while screaming SMASH, that she begged Present Mic to give points to but the teacher said he was fine even though she hadn’t seen hide or hair of him yet and was planning to shake down the teacher about it in English class.
There was a blank space in place of a name as well on the entrance exam scores and on their ranks for the tests yesterday, something none of them had questioned because of Aizawa’s glare.
Someone had taken all the tests, but just wasn’t there.
“Hey, you think he’s the mysterious blank spot?” Ashido asks, voicing Ochako’s thoughts.
“I mean in the press release they did say he got into UA and was doing the curriculum, so it’s gotta be.”
“Ahhhh, that’s so manly! We’re going to be in class with All Might’s son.”
The only person that she knows was in her test group takes that moment to enter the conversation.
Iida stops them all with his serious tone, “There’s obviously something wrong right now if he’s not here. This isn’t a game for Midori. The way the release was phrased there are a lot of threats to his life right now because he saved that woman a few weeks ago. He might never join our class. We need to respect that he is our classmate and he’ll be working at a disadvantage because he’s not her – “
“Shut the fuck up!” Yells the blonde with the bad attitude, silencing the room. “The loser can’t defend himself, so they’re having his dad do it. There’s nothing to fucking respect.”
Everyone in the room just stares at him.
“Dude,” The red-head starts, but the door opens at that moment to show Aizawa stepping into the room.
Everyone scrambles to comply.
She finds that her seat is behind Iida and, while Aizawa is pulling papers off his desk, she can’t help but tap him on the shoulder.
It’s in his eyes and Ochako can tell by the way he’s staring at her too… they both know who the green-haired kid from the exam is.
She also can feel Iida’s speech trickling to the forefront of her mind.
Green-kid… Midori is in trouble.
So much trouble that All Might says it’s safer for him not to come to UA.
And they… they can identify him. They might not know his name or who exactly he is, but they know.
Silently, they come to an accord. This stays between them.
Momo is staring at the desk in front of her. The only desk, besides the one that is obviously for Midori, to be empty since Aizawa called for them to go to their seats.
She hopes and she hopes.
When she lifts her head, the teacher is staring at her. Seeing that she finally noticed him, he gives her a small firm nod.
Oh, She thinks and tension flees from her body so quickly she sags in her seat for a moment before she regains composure.
“Good morning,” Aizawa starts, “We have a vacancy in the class.”
The murmurs begin and the teacher’s eyes narrow at them all. Momo knows what they’re thinking – he said they were safe, that it was all a ruse, but now someone is gone.
“You expelled Mineta?!” Kaminari’s voice rang out over them all, his desk rattling as he stands.
Aizawa’s stare doesn’t change and he simply raised an eyebrow.
“Why?!” His voice shocked and loud, but very particularly not angry – he must understand that anger would be a step too far and put him very close to his own expulsion.
Momo finds herself crossing her arms and keeping her eyes straight to the front of the class even as everyone else’s heads are whipping back and forth between the two.
“Sit down, Kaminari,” The teacher finally responds, “Grounds for expulsion are private and will not be shared for any reason.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she can see the way Kaminari’s hands clench before he suddenly drops himself into his seat.
“Now, that’s over with I will introduce you to the new student.” He walks over to the door and waves the person in.
The boy has purple hair and his eyes are imprinted with his troubles with sleep.
They all wait for more or at least for Aizawa to say he should say more, but as the moment wonders away, the man only says, “You can sit down now. You’re in front of Yaoyorozu. Yaoyorozu, raise your hand.”
She does and Shinsou makes his way over.
Aizawa also sits down and picks up some papers, now ignoring them all completely.
I should be friends with him, Momo thinks.
But then she hears it.
“ – not fair, you can’t just destroy someone’s dream.”
Kaminari isn’t even trying to be quiet. He wants to be heard.
Shinsou’s shoulders seem to be rising as the blonde boy continues to speak to a few people around him.
Momo lifts her hand.
She’s going to tap his shoulder. She’s going to talk to him. She’s going to…
…Put her hand down.
No one – No one else is saying anything. Other people are staring at him just like Kaminari.
Momo doesn’t know any of these people. She can’t…
She can’t decide this on the second day of school.
Kaminari didn’t know Mineta – didn’t know what kind of person he was, but he went straight to outrage. What if he did know what kind of person he was though and just didn’t care? What if the hero class was no different than her middle school about these kinds of things?
Everyone could hate her.
Everyone already hates him, Her thoughts whisper.
“Stop fucking complaining,” Bakugou once again draws the entire room’s attention. “A weakling who got kicked out on the first day shouldn’t be here anyway. It’s not like the new one is any better either – who cares about an extra who couldn’t get in without someone else dropping out.”
She watches as Shinsou’s shoulders shake, but it stops suddenly and his spine goes ridged. His chin lifts up and she can’t help, but feel like she watching what she did yesterday – steeling herself in preparation to fight an unknown.
He turns his head to the side towards Kaminari and she sees the profile of his face. The smile is predatory and his eyes say only one thing, I’m here to stay.
This title comes from something the Head of the Classics department at my old college was researching and it just resonated really hard with me when I deciding on where this story was going, especially with the Greek myths naming scheme.
Persephone and Demeter were two separate goddesses (I hope everyone knows the basic story, so I’m skipping that for the explanation because this is a note), but a lot of pieces of art and culture that my professor was researching showed them less as two separate people and more as two halves of the same person.
Or a cycle.
Persephone the daughter that is innocent and protected in the care of her mother and Demeter the mother that has no way of protecting her children when the father (Zeus) decides to give them. In Ancient Greece, women didn’t have any rights, so you have these two goddesses that reflect the cycle of a woman’s life.
Daughter to Mother, Mother has a Daughter, Daughter becomes a Mother, and so forth
Who you are and who you will become.
As I’ve told people, this story is about the bad habits we inherit from our parents and how we hopefully break the cycle. This chapter looks at a lot of what I will be addressing in the characters and some of the base character growth that has happened and is also the last sort of transition chapter we have into plot, so here we go.
Chapter 6: Fall Where They May
Focus is ice cold in its intensity.
“Villian attack?” Midori asks, but already knows the answer.
The call doesn’t echo into the crowd of police milling around the scene.
It vibrates determinately at his hip. A notification that no one else can see or hear and he can’t help but hope that maybe he could also not notice its urgent sting against his side if he tries hard enough.
But, Izuku knows deep in his chest that he can’t ignore the call. He is already late pushing it off will only make the situation worse.
For hours, he was clinging to each second – hoping that if he ignored the clock he would somehow be able to both get out of the exercise and not have to deal with his father’s disappointment and the threatened punishment.
His own desire to not break the deal he had made had warred with the intense want of not to go anyways, catching him in a limbo where he had found himself lingering at this crime scene without making a coherent decision.
But time does not stop and so, his indecisiveness made the choice for him.
Tugging the phone from his hip pouch, Izuku sees a flash of the time – only a minute or so late – but is surprised to see the call is not from All Might.
The jolly voice of the representative from the licensing exam came through the line crisp, “Hello, Midori-kun!”
“Hello, sir,” He greets again, unsure of what else he could add to the conversation.
The ‘of course’ man, as Rika had mocked him many times, had slipped Izuku his business card after the administrators had led him through the process of printing his license in a heavy awkwardness, while the Hero Committee members watched on with soft eyes and a few added words praising his performance.
There wasn’t really any skill in what he showed – just stubbornness, the ability to keep getting up, and Mirio. Aizawa had lectured him for three hours two weeks ago, but even in the moment, he knew what he did showed nothing amazing next to the rising third years of UA and Shiketsu surrounding him.
Even so, the man had been fierce in his determination to get Izuku to take the number and watched him as he put it into his phone at that very moment and text a message, so the man could get in contact as well.
Rika and his mother made sure he knew about the Committee when he had arrived home.
Mom’s own experience was professional at best, adversarial most frequently. She recounted the story of how Safeguard had issued papers to dozens of heroes canceling their policies due to destructive tendencies, only for the Committee to show up with a soft smile and the words won’t you reconsider flowing from their lips. With the many privacy clauses on his mom’s work, she could only really imply that Endeavor was one of them, but Endeavor was definitely one of them.
Rika, at least, had the power to say, in her own words, “An almighty fuck off.”
All Might didn’t involve himself in politics and, as such, refused to play games with the Committee. This gave Rika the power to send them off with her sharp-toothed grin and cool threats. The Number One Hero had too much power over Japan for them to even think they could threaten him with something.
Though both women had cautioned him, they told him how much or little involved he got with the government was his own choice.
“They have a lot of power, Izuku. They might use it to influence you, but there’s a lot of good to be done there.”
“A lot of good All Might hasn’t been able to do because of his isolation.”
Like his own decision on hero class training, Izuku lingered too long and now time is making the choice for him.
“Midori-kun, Midori-kun, Midori-kun,” The tone is light and airy in a way that seems like it should comfort him, but instead tightens all the muscles in his shoulders. “Please, Midori-kun, call me Juushiro.”
He watches a familiar silver-haired officer hand Naomasa some witness statements and responses in a tilted voice, “I’m not really comfortable with that, Hanamiya-san.”
“Of course!” The answer comes loudly through the phone stinging his ear. “Of course, Midori-kun. That’s fine! I just wanted to reach out. See how everything was going, two weeks since you started with your father and all.”
He hesitates, “Good. It’s – uh – going well.”
The man picks up right after his stilted answer fades, “So wonderful! I just saw the news about today, your first incident without your father watching. Beautifully done, of course!”
“Thank you, sir,” He pulls the phone away from his ear at the mention of his father and checks the time. Only five minutes past, maybe he’s giving him some breathing room to make it. If he pushes, he could probably get to UA in the next ten minutes – make it seem like Tsukauchi held him up.
“Of course, of course, Midori-kun. Now, I was wondering if you would like to come by some time. We can give you a tour of the office, introduce you to some people that do a lot of work behind the scenes – you know, of course, those that make the hero industry what it is.”
“I –“ Izuku starts, thinking and thinking – time ticking and ticking as he hesitates.
The muttering at least freezes on his lips as soon as he feels it bubble inside his mouth.
Where is his resolve? It had been so easy – two weeks ago, two months ago, a year ago to make decisions.
What kind of hero will you be? The question comes to the forefront of his mind.
His answer should be easy, A hero that makes everyone feel safe with a smile on his face like All Might.
But everything conflicts.
The need to protect Toshinori’s identity – to protect his family – for as long as possible, he has to keep them safe.
The need to be the best hero – to dig deep into the industry and see everything that he can to help everyone he can.
The need to follow his father’s footsteps like a path worn into the forest floor.
The all-encompassing desire to be the hero he always wants to be.
It all conflicts.
What kind of hero will you be?
No matter what he has to start making decisions or time will make them for him.
“A tour would be nice, Hanamiya-san, but I have to go I’m running late.”
“Of course, I’ll let you go and I’ll be in touch to set up a time.”
Izuku lets the phone disconnect. A breath releasing from his throat and he looks up to find the silver haired officer looking at him with a lifted eyebrow.
Coughing deeply, he nods at the young officer and walks towards Naomasa.
The recent call log in his phone rings out as he strides through the police scene. It buzzes through once, then twice, before declaring, “The number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please, check the number you have dialed or call back at a later time.”
His step pauses midair.
Slowly at first, panic seeps into his chest, then – at all once – it consumes him.
A charge of One for All sends him flying towards the detective.
“Dad’s phone isn’t working,” The words come stumbling out before he’s even fully stopped.
Naomasa looks around slightly concerned that this conversation is not appropriate for their surroundings. “Midori,” He says low, “I’m sure it’s fine.”
“Tsu – Detective – “ All that follows is just a frustrated sound unable to explain the terror in his stomach that could definitely be an overreaction, but doesn’t feel like it is. Something is wrong.
“Have you tried anyone else?”
Izuku lets out a breath and doesn’t let his mind wander over to how stupid he is for not trying that first.
He dials Aizawa’s number.
Halfway through the automated response, his finger touches the speaker button.
The visor doesn’t allow for his eyes to be seen, but he’s sure that the panic is visible still.
“Go to UA’s main campus. I’ll call Nedzu and call you back.”
“Shouldn’t I go straight to the training ground?”
Strikingly fast, the man responds, “No!” The next words are calmer and low to keep out the ears of the surrounding officers that are starting to notice something is wrong, “If something is wrong – which I don’t think it is – If All Might and Eraser need help, then they’ll need more than you.”
“Okay,” He whispers, more of an escaped breath than anything, “Okay.”
The world is surging around him. Each leap is taking him flying over blocks of the city before he touches down for a moment on the hard material of a roof.
Izuku is sure that he’s leaving imprints of his feet in the concrete again in a very apparent trail of anxiety, but he can’t care to look behind him or regulate the liftoff and drop of his weight even as his knees creak with every impact.
Jamming his finger into the call button again, Izuku tries for All Might then Aizawa, cycling through the two numbers over and over until he’s halfway through the sprint and sure that he will miss Tsukauchi’s call if he keeps it up.
The panic floods and recedes in a pattern like an earthquake followed by a tsunami, each time it quiets a little a new disastrous wave overwhelms him in an entirely different way.
The gray walls surrounding UA’s main campus are in sight, still without a follow-up call from the detective, he doesn’t slow and Izuku’s eyes catch on the gate as he rapidly descends towards the ground. The break-in yesterday that his father had been called in for a meeting about clicks into the puzzle. A picture becoming fully clear.
Each emotion flashes through him again as the newly installed gates part for him and then they freeze into something new. Nedzu and Present Mic stand waiting for him. Izuku’s eyes flow to Nedzu’s slanted gaze and then to the tight press of Present Mic’s lips.
The feeling in him isn’t actually new, but now it’s all encompassing.
Focus, His father told him, Put everything into the moment in front of you and get to the next moment and then the next and then the next.
Midoriya Izuku could never think of only one thing, could never live just in one moment – until right now.
Focus is ice cold in its intensity.
“Villian attack?” Midori asks, but already knows the answer.
Nedzu’s eyes match his own, “Yes.”
His fingers are twitching, alternating between hitting at the air like he’s clicking at a pen and scribbling on pages that aren’t there.
The car is speeding down the path. Wind whips at his hair with the roof down on the convertible and, with a glance out of the corner of his eye, he can see Present Mic’s grip on the wheel is iron tight.
Midori refused to wait for the rest of the teachers to be assembled, so the pair is alone on the way to the isolated facility with the rest to follow as soon as possible.
“Hey, Midori… Midoriya.” Present Mic’s voice breaks through his nervous ticks.
“Go straight to your dad. He’ll know how best you can help. The other teachers and I don’t know your quirk well enough to make the best use of it in the situation… And you don’t know how to work with the other students in your class.”
The teacher isn’t trying to be mean and is making these plans out of necessity, but Izuku can’t help but feel his shoulders begin to rise defensively. He had blown off the combat training with Class 1-A at the end of last week by maneuvering his schedule so that he had an orientation at the police station planned with Tsukauchi during the 1-A class period before his father had figured him out.
Today, Izuku spent most the morning hoping each incident would extend long enough that he could get out of the rescue training. Finally, All Might had called him out on it.
It couldn’t be considered a fight per say, but it didn’t leave a good feeling in Izuku’s stomach when they had compromised that he would go on to take care of the hostage situation across town and allow the teacher to save his time and help Thirteen set up for the simulation.
The teenager promised to make it on time for the training and in exchange All Might wouldn’t pull his internship.
If he hadn’t made such a fuss, if he hadn’t lingered so long at the scene, if he hadn’t made Dad go ahead alone to UA… he would have been there.
Izuku’s gaze drops to his lap, but says clearly enough for the hero driving the car to hear him, “I understand.”
“Good –“ He starts to say, but cuts off as he hits the breaks.
A silver streak is speeding towards them and Izuku unbuckles himself as the car skids to a halt, getting up on the seat with both fists raised, legs shifting to stance as best he could on the small surface area.
The figure is also sliding to a halt and Present Mic seems to recognize him as he waves a hand to stop Izuku from blasting them.
Oh, He thinks. Izuku’s never seen any of his classmates in costume – recognizing the boy from his testing group would be almost impossible with only the glance he got, full suited as he is, but still it feels wrong that he wasn’t able to tell enemy from ally.
“Villians!” The armored boy huffs out, “We – We were attacked.”
The teacher puts his hand on Iida’s shoulder, “We thought so. Your class has been out of touch for the past half hour. Back up is already coming. Can you give Principal Nedzu a breakdown of the situation if I get him on the phone?”
“Of course, sir!” Iida straightens with resolve.
The blonde is already dialing the phone and holds it out to him before turning to Midori.
“We should wait for reinforcements here.”
Izuku’s outrage is already on his tongue, but Iida beats him to it.
“You can’t!” He yells, even with the ringing phone held up to his ear. “The situation’s dire! Every second counts!”
Present Mic looks between Iida and him, eyes calculating, but Izuku meets his gaze and refuses to back down.
“Fine! Both of you in the car! Iida update Principal Nedzu, Midori get ready and pay attention!”
Present Mic leads the way in. Pushing the door open dramatically, giving the hero the second of time he needs to take stock of the situation, he lets out a loud, “Yaaaaaa!”
The entry of the hero and the student following him gives Midori a second of invisibility where he jumps through the highest point of the entry. He’s soaring above the students that Present Mic is taking charge of in a blur of forest green. The scenery around him is obscure at the pace he is moving, but Iida told him that his father is in the middle trying to fight some kind of monster so he knows his destination.
He throws just a little more power into a leg and kicks out. An explosion of air blasts him farther along the area even as the tendons in the limb ache. The resulting noise kills whatever cover he had.
Heads turn upwards, but Midori is already on the ground. Planting his foot, his knee comes swinging out, throwing the joint’s strength into the stomach of a figure covered in hands that is rushing a white-clad student.
He doesn’t stop.
The force throws the man across the field and Izuku moves towards where his father is being held in a twisted body-locking position. His arm pulls back and he aims towards what he thinks might be the thing’s head.
The resulting smash gives All Might just the amount of room he needs to pry out of the hold, but Izuku hesitates at the minuscule reaction and it costs him.
“You,” Izuku hears hissed before the obsidian creature moves out of the portal gates and comes swinging straight at him.
Somehow the punch is a long drawn out moment and the quickest attack Izuku has ever seen. There’s nothing he can do but stand there – waiting as the punch becomes inevitable.
Midori tenses feeling his legs bend to try and brace for impact.
In the tiniest speck of a moment, his dad is suddenly there, arms taking the entire force of the punch.
Through gritted teeth, All Might says, “You were supposed to be here half an hour ago.”
“Really,” Midori responds, walking around to stand next to the hero as he pushes the creature backwards, “We’re doing this now?”
All Might straightens out, the tattered scraps of his gloves falling off his fingers, “You made me a promise.”
“To make it up to you,” He starts a little loudly, making sure the line of three figures – the one covered in hands, the warp gate quirk that is entirely mist, and the creature - staring at the pair can hear him, “The other teachers are following right behind Present Mic and me.”
“No – no – NO! You –“ A frustrated noise breaks from his throat, “You! Sensei wants you, but you’re ruining everything. Nomu, get him! Get him for me!”
The creature moves towards him for a second time at rocketing speeds, but All Might intercepts it once again.
“Midori, Shigaraki can disintegrate with a touch of his hand, focus on him and the teleporter. I’ve got this.” He says and shoots his arm straight into the thing’s stomach.
Izuku can’t help, but flinch at the amount of power he put in it and how little the effect is. How long did All Might have left? This morning was a marathon of villain incidents, but should have been more than enough to cover the hour class period. How much power could he spend on this thing before their secret came loose?
One for All sizzles over his skin and he takes off towards the unmoving pair.
A gate opens in front of him and he spins on the balls of his foot, sliding by it just barely.
Another starts to open again in the path he had switched into, but a flying mixture of black and green blurs by and the portal fizzles into nothing as the sound of explosion hitting metal booms out from his right.
Is that –, Izuku slips into thinking, but cuts himself off there’s no time.
He’s sure that someone is talking either the villains or the student who just helped him – Kacchan, that has to be Kacchan - but with the storms of winds flowing from All Might and Nomu’s battle and the singular need to get to Shigaraki, Midori doesn’t hear it.
Izuku flows straight into a punch even as he pulls One for All back to nothingness – worry about hurting someone with his lack of control still eating at his mind.
Shigaraki dodges under it though. Staying crouched under Izuku’s arm, he throws out his own hand in a sweeping blow. He lurches backwards, the tips of the villain’s fingers barely skimming the front of his costume.
Does it need to be full hand or all the fingers at once? Izuku thinks when nothing disintegrates, back leg catching him in his stumble, the muscle burning in ways he knows he’s going to have to deal with later.
His weight shifts on to the leg, adding to the pain, and Shigaraki digs his nails into the ground.
A crash of glass takes both of their attentions off of each other.
“Nomu,” Shigaraki gapes at the hole, “Nomu! You – I’m going to kill both of you!”
Izuku’s attention is focused on his father’s panting form when the villain explodes off his bent legs, coming at him, hands open in desperate grabs.
Dodging once, twice, a third time, he tries to regain control of the situation, but the other keeps pushing him backward with each jab.
He takes another step back, his straining leg is the one to catch his shifting weight, but something snaps and his knee buckles in pain.
His eyes watch as Shigaraki’s expression, hidden mostly by the hand on his face, morphs into something like glee. An open palm connects with his visor.
The material is crumbling off his face, the fingers inching millimeters closer each second to his skin, but he’s trapped – the pain of his leg wrecking through his body and the fear of death deafening all thoughts of survival.
The movement stops.
Shigaraki’s eyes narrow and he hisses out, “Eraserhead so damn cool.”
A bullet rings out and it catches Shigaraki in the shoulder sending his sprawling forward.
Grasping on to Izuku’s neck, Shigaraki stops his fall and the teenager can feel the villian’s breath hot on his face.
Red eyes track every inch of reveled skin as any remaining pieces of his mask fall to the ground. The molted skin around them creasing into joy as he says, “I know you now. I will track you down and kill everyone you love, Son of All Might. I won’t let you grow into my sequel boss.”
A purple mist starts to engulf Shigaraki from behind and Izuku is sure for a moment that he is going to be dragged along with him. But the dry fingers and long, sharp nails release his neck and Shigaraki disappears into the abyss, eyes never leaving Izuku’s revealed face.
Freed from the hold, Izuku lets his body fall to the side, taking the weight off his injured leg. With the agony from the limb lessened, he finally notices the pain radiating off his face and his hand quickly comes up to tamp down on the ache.
His breath catches. The placement of his hand fits directly on where Shigaraki’s own just was and the sticky wetness of blood is slowly pooling at the spots his fingers land.
Dropping his head, his hood comes to shadow his face and his breath sticks in throat as the blood drips down faster with the help of gravity.
“Midori!” He hears from a voice he doesn’t recognize and he lets just a bit of his gaze peak out from between his fingers.
A red-haired boy is running towards him.
“Holy shit!” The student curses when he finally sees the crimson liquid crawling down Izuku’s hand. “Shit! Teacher! Medic! Someone help!”
He tries to come closer, but suddenly All Might cuts off his path, “Go back to the entrance, Kirishima.”
“What – But –“ Kirishima stumbles out, but the hero is already crouching in front of Izuku.
“Dad,” He says. The words coming out heavily.
“It’s okay, my boy, I’ve got you.”
All Might loops a hand under his back and knees, but when he goes to stand, gravity shifting the balance of pressure on Izuku’s limbs, he’s no longer able to hold it in as agony from his leg burns a sharp path.
A scream tears out of his mouth.
And as quickly as it came, it’s stopped. Izuku digs his fingers deeper into the gaping holes on his face and bites down on his lips, recapturing the anguish behind his teeth.
“My boy,” He can hear Dad whisper, “Just hold on please.”
Wind flows around them in a familiar way, but the coldness of the seconds only tampers down his own dizziness a bit as the taste of blood floods his mouth.
He’s finally placed on to some sort of stretcher, but he refuses to move his hand off his face.
No one – No one can know. Except…
The words tumble around the metal taste on his tongue, “My – He saw – Mom – He’s going to find –”
Izuku can see All Might’s golden, heroic head from where the man is standing with his back turned towards the outside. He’s in an ambulance, he thinks.
From between his fingers he can see his father’s panicked face as he looks back at him.
Nedzu’s voice rings clear, the only thing he’s heard since his father picked him up, “Get him to Recovery Girl. Now. Don’t let anyone else see him.”
A long length of bandages wraps around his forehead where three fingerprints lay, two just above each eyebrow and one right where his forehead slopes into his nose. Two pieces of gauze are attached with medical tape to underneath his right eye and to the cheek on the other side of his face. Supposedly, they won’t scar, but they’ll need a few healing sessions so that the skin will look even.
The brace on his knee is also something that will be fully taken care of in the next few days, but Izuku hates the feeling of it as he limps through the halls of UA.
Covering his hair, the beanie is a bright white with red letter exclaiming, “I AM HERE!” while his glasses are the normal reflective black contrasting rather heavily with the bandages strewn across his face and the plain white hospital mask he gently strapped on when his father told him where he was going to wait for him.
His gym pants bunch up under the brace, but he keeps walking.
With the entire school on lock down, every student is confined to their homeroom. Even Izuku.
So, slowly he totters along, dreading for the second time that day the unavoidable necessity of interacting with his classmates.
This morning comes flooding back to him as he dawdles, though it feels like years since his father and he were racing through town on what had morphed from a short morning commute to a hours long sprint from incident to incident, Izuku was hoping that this break in would stop the need for him to face this fear head on.
He can phrase it as a desire to keep Bakugou from finding out their secret, but in the quiet halls, he can’t make this a matter of words – A lie that isn’t a lie.
Bakugou Katsuki finding out who Midori is could be disastrous, Izuku knew.
But, the thought of Bakugou worming his way into another piece of his life sends chills up his spine.
Midori is the only piece of himself that he had never touched. This experience that has never been stained by Kacchan’s destructive hands.
He had to stay as far away from Bakugou as possible, if not for Toshinori, whose identity would be revealed in the other’s imminent tantrum, then for himself, who could finally breathe without shaking and live without wondering if each day is even worth it.
Izuku just didn’t know how to translate these thoughts in a way that his father would understand that no matter how much All Might said he made sure they were in separate groups or would be there to keep him away, he just couldn’t be in the same room. He is finally worth something, he can’t let Bakugou take it away again. If he opened the door even a little, he couldn’t be sure the other boy wouldn’t kick it in and ruin all he had.
The large 1-A door comes into view. A group of officers are close to it obviously sorting out witness statements and the like from the attacked students.
Tsukauchi would come get him to do his testimony after he is done with Toshinori.
He waves out a hand for the officers.
One nods at him and opens the door sticking his head in, “Eraserhead.”
“What?” Midori questions.
The officer gives a little laugh, “Well obviously, I know who you are, but homeroom teachers have to approve everyone in and out.”
“Oh,” He acknowledges with a small voice.
When it looks like the officer might say something else, Aizawa steps slightly out the door, “Problem Child.”
Izuku just nods a little, not really knowing or wanting to say much.
The teacher just gestures him inside. He finger by finger unclenches his hand from his pants, not know exactly when he had caught the fabric in his grip, and lets out the air through his nose.
He limps into the room and can see that everyone is watching him as he enters. Izuku stops at the front of the room, not sure where to go from there.
“Your leg?” Aizawa asks as he walks the few steps towards him after closing the door.
Slightly muffled by the mask, he replies, “Quadriceps tendon tear.”
The teacher hums, “We’ll be discussing this more later. Your desk is the open one in front of Shinsou.” He lifts his finger to point a student with purple hair he hadn’t seen before.
He nods, but hesitates as he sees who he’s behind.
This is, of course, the nightmare scenario. Bakugou is leaning back in his seat, glaring at him.
It would be middle school all over again if the other boy stuck his foot out to trip him. Izuku’s not sure he has enough energy or maneuverability in his leg to get out of the way if he does.
Aizawa lifts an eyebrow at him.
He starts to walk again, each move awkward and slightly painful and tries to keep his gaze on Shinsou since the teacher had pointed him out.
Almost to the first desk, the door to the room opens up again and he stops, turning his attention behind him.
“Midori,” The silver-haired officer that he had seen at the crime scene today and the day he had saved the university student from the porcupine villain calls out. “You’re needed. Come with me.”
Catching the breath in his mouth before he can reveal that it is a sigh of relief, Izuku moves back to the door.
They are halfway down the hall when he speaks, “I thought Detective Naomasa was going to be awhile longer.”
The officer lifts a brow like he had earlier this morning. He has a severe face, but his eyes are laughing, “He is, but you looked like you were about to have a panic attack going in there.”
“Oh,” The boy lowers his gaze.
“No problem,” The young man says like Izuku should be grateful, but he really isn’t sure how to feel about this. He knows he shouldn’t be scared to spend an hour or two in 1-A. “I need an extra pair of hands for a coffee run and you needed an out. Unless, you don’t want to help me with coffee, then I’m sure you can go back inside.”
“No,” He says probably too quickly.
The officer laughs, “I’m Yukimura Koichi.”
Chapter 7: Amongst the Settling Dust
They had put their money on Izuku – on the future that they saw as uncertain and needed just a little more assurance for – and….
They lost that gamble.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Yukimura twists into the backseat once he parks that car in front of a coffee shop a few blocks from UA. It only takes a second before he straightens out and throws a baseball cap on to Izuku’s lap.
“Ditch the jacket too.”
And Izuku takes that moment to really take stock of himself. Dressed in a UA gym uniform, the only extra pair of clothing the school had on hand, wearing a bright white beanie exclaiming “I AM HERE,” capped with dark sunglasses and a white hospital mask, he is rather… obvious.
Unhooking the mask from his face, he says, “I’m not taking off my hat with you in the car.”
The officer responds by just opening the door and slamming it shut behind him with a flick of his wrist.
Izuku spares a glance to make sure the man isn’t peeking in then strips the fabric from his head and shoves the other hat on. The rim of it hits uncomfortably above his eyebrows, reminding him of the unpleasant fact that Shigaraki had marked him with his fingertips and now knew his face.
Forcefully, he stops his thoughts from spiraling as he readjusts his sunglasses, checks for any hairs coming loose under the cap, and pulls the jacket off leaving him in a plain black tank top.
While not inconspicuous, he’s no longer glaringly a UA student.
So, he opens the passenger door of the police car and somewhat hobbles over to Yukimura who is scrolling through his phone with a scowl that Izuku is starting to think just might be his default expression. The couple of times Izuku has been close to having a conversation with Yukimura prior, he always thought the man was in his thirties with his keen eyes and severe face, but with the seconds of time he’s given to study the other, he can’t help to notice how young he is.
The officer couldn’t be more than twenty-five. Though, the way his shoulders set spoke volumes of something other than years weighing on him.
He looks up when the teenager comes in close and says in a straight-faced cheer, “Go Giants.”
Realizing he hadn’t even looked at what was on the hat, an almost ridiculous shock ran over his body, “Tell me I am not wearing a Yomiuri hat.”
Yukimura lets out a snort, “Your dad works in Tokyo.”
“I have betrayed Musutafu. I have to go change.”
“We’re not doing that,” He pointedly clicks the lock on the car key in his pocket.
“Oh, come on,” Izuku tries, but the other is already walking inside the café.
“No,” The word is thrown over his shoulder and Izuku has no choice but to follow him inside wearing the logo of an enemy baseball team.
When the pair arrive at the register, it only takes a few minutes to see that the barista is slowly losing her ability to hid her irritation as Yukimura orders that five pots of coffee be stuffed into catering boxes so he could take them back to campus. He finishes the order without any sympathy in his voice, “And a latte… please. Kid, you want anything?”
And with a simple question, the entire day comes rushing over him.
It isn’t that physically he isn’t feeling the effects of the past hours, but until now he hadn’t accepted that he could be tired.
Everything in front of him was too important to allow exhaustion to really creep in. The hours of never-ending hero work this morning were followed by the extreme sprint to UA with the epic finale of Shigaraki Tomura almost killing him. Every moment of today was an obsessive flurry of emergency.
Just the thought of ordering coffee is letting his firm grip on his mind loosen.
A breath leaves his body a little heavy and Izuku has to blink several times quickly to make sure the lids of his eyes don’t stay closed. He makes himself walk forward and grabs a sandwich from the side, a hunger also erupting through his body – It feels like a million years since breakfast.
He shoves the food on to the counter, “Can I have a large latte with two extra shots and this sandwich?”
Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Yukimura opening his mouth, but Izuku carries on, taking out his wallet from his pocket and presenting the barista a credit card.
She eyes him warily, “All of it?”
“Yes.” There’s no room for debate in his voice. Glancing back at Yukimura, he says, “Did you want food? On my dad?” There’s as much humor in his tone as he can put in it with the tiredness embedding every word.
The officer huffs a small laugh, but grabs a sandwich to add to the order.
After she rattled off the new order total, the barista says, “It’s going to be a bit to make that much coffee. You know that, right?”
“Of course. Can we get the lattes first and we’ll sit and eat until you’re done?”
She gives a tight smile, but nods her head.
They move to the side and Yukimura stands next to him while they wait by the counter for their drinks.
“You didn’t have to do that.” His tone changes to something both humorous and wry, “Though, I am grateful. My paycheck isn’t exactly anything glamourous.”
“It’s the company card. I was told I could pick up stuff like this,” He pushes off the gratitude easily.
They stand in silence for a few second. Izuku getting more and more twitchy without anything to say.
They cut each other off, before laughing a little at the tangle of sounds.
“You go,” Yukimura offers.
“Ugh,” Izuku’s tongue feels awkward and he’s not really sure it’s a good question anymore. “Why’d you become a police officer? Cause you said… You said the pay isn’t good.”
Out of the side of eye, he watches as the policeman shifts and turns his head away.
“I wanted to be a hero, but didn’t have the quirk for it.” He clicks his tongue a little dismissively, “Just wanted to help people, I guess.”
Izuku can’t see the man’s expression, but he feels himself freeze. The response had been so precise. From the click of his tongue to the need to hide his face…
How many times did this man have to say that answer before it didn’t hurt to speak the words?
Did they still hurt?
“Sorry,” His voice comes out weak.
But Yukimura’s is strong, “Don’t.”
“Lattes,” The barista calls out, allowing them to both scramble for their drinks.
When they finally sit down, Yukimura sighs as he unwraps his sandwich, “What about you?”
“Why’d you want to be a hero?”
He had practiced this response with Rika, just like she had done with Toshinori and his mom for their first meeting story, but it feels more real as he says it to the silver-haired man, “I spent my entire life watching my dad save people, who wouldn’t want to be him when they grew up?”
“Yeah,” Avoiding his gaze, Yukimura confirms, “Who wouldn’t.”
Without a thought, Izuku finds himself adding, “My quirk didn’t appear until I was fourteen. As a self-defense mechanism. Without the correct amount of muscle mass, I would have blown off my limbs.”
Yukimura looks at him sharply. Izuku knows he shouldn’t be telling the officer this, but he just wants to –
He just wants to reach out like no one did for him.
“All I wanted to do was be a hero. When we thought I was going to be quirkless the rest of my life, my dad told me maybe I should think of being a police officer instead.”
Wide eyed, the older huffs a few laughs from the back of his throat. The first ones might have even been genuine, but the rest have a caustic edge, “Yeah, it really is where they throw those that can’t make it as a hero.”
“That’s not – “
“Look,” He cuts Izuku off, “Can I just tell you why I brought you here?”
With the caffeine dripping into his system, Izuku had realized he should question the outing, so, happy to stop fumbling the attempt to sympathize, he nods frantically.
“If you –“ Yukimura kisses his teeth and starts again, “If you really grew up quirkless, you know what it’s like to be looked down on because of quirks.”
Izuku just nods again.
“I wanted to be a hero so badly, but my quirk is that I can change the color of my hair. Totally fucking useless.”
He opens his mouth and words come flying out, “Undercover work?”
His smile is tight in response, “I have a very recognizable face.” Obviously, the man had already thought of it.
“Sorry,” He mutters and focuses on taking a long sip of his latte.
“Yeah, so, useless quirk and desire to be a hero means police. Except a useless quirk is a useless quirk. Did you know I’m the only person three years out of the police academy that still gets sent for coffee runs?”
And this is it. This is the nightmare Izuku saw stretched before him whenever someone would thoughtfully recommend joining the police.
“Look,” He continues, “I’m practically quirkless, so my advancement is mostly contingent on someone wanting me to succeed and guess what? I want me to succeed, so I’m going to do whatever I need to. Even if it means begging a kid ten years younger than me for help.”
And because he’s Midoriya Izuku, he responds, “What can I do?”
“Really?” He breathes the word out, expression melting from guarded straight into shock.
His pace picks up, emotions and words spilling out of his mouth in his desperate excitement, “Just – Just ask for me when you’re doing a case. Like Detective Naomasa is your dad’s go-to guy, make that me for you. And if – if my work isn’t up to par, then you can back out or whatever, but please… please, I just want a chance.”
He realizes, this must be what he looked like that day Toshinori said he could be a hero. So fearful of new hope, but desperate for it to be true.
Izuku has the power to help Yukimura, just like All Might helped him, and he’s never been as grateful to his father because he now has the ability to say, “I look forward to working together.”
Well, he’s tired and he’s afraid and he really doesn’t like the expression on Tsukauchi’s face because it means his best friend is thinking the exact same thing he is.
And, god, does he want to be wrong.
Nedzu closes the door behind him quietly and the three of them don’t speak, just letting the atmosphere of the room sit.
Finally, Toshinori scrubs a hand over his face and starts, “There’s no one else it could be, could it?”
The infirmary seems to hold its breath before Nedzu replies, “It’s very unlikely.”
Every day, he can feel the pressure on his shoulders, but, right now, it’s crushing him. The weight constricting every nerve in his body.
“Toshinori,” Tsukauchi starts, “We’ll figure this out.”
The question isn’t startling, but all three of them know it is one that they all had not wanted to ask or to be asked.
His hand pushes his hair out of his face, “How? I gave everything to stop him. I – I – “ He rubs a harsh circle around his eye and in a soft voice asks, “What am I going to tell Inko?”
“We’ll need to move carefu –“
“That’s not what I mean, Nedzu.” The words come out more sharply than he had meant, but also not sharp enough to demonstrate the surging bungle of emotions beating through his body. “How do I tell Inko that the person that did this to me,” He gestures to his wrapped torso, but is very obviously talking about his old injury, “Isn’t actually dead like I said and we’ve made a huge mistake by letting Izuku work with me because we just put a huge target on his head?!”
“Toshi…” Tsukauchi whispers as he places a hand on his shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze.
“Tsukauchi, what was all this for? What did I do this for?”
The shoulder his friend is touching is a fifth as big as it should be. He looks like a toothpick on a good day, but more like a skeleton on the others. The only thing that gave him any kind of joy is exponentially decaying and… and he’s passing on this mess of a situation when it should be him.
He was supposed to take care of this.
He gave up his life for this. For this one thing.
“What was the point of all of this if I didn’t avenge Nana-sensei?”
He went home to an empty apartment – even emptier now that he spent every morning and evening at the Midoriya’s.
He ate alone – the hole in his chest gaping wider now that he had some of his meals every day with other people.
He worked by himself – the weight of Japan’s justice system falling harder and harder on to him when Izuku went home.
“You’re the Symbol of Peace,” Nedzu said firmly.
Toshinori looks up at him, “What is the point of a Symbol of Peace if it’s just going to fall apart when I do?”
“Midoriya-kun won’t let you down,” The mammal replies.
He wouldn’t, Toshinori knew, but could it really last? Should it?
Should they just keep doing this? Passing the weight from one Symbol of Peace to another?
One sacrifice a generation to hold it all together?
His heart can’t help, but scream out, Not him, not my boy. But who else could it be?
There is no one else who would rise to it like Izuku. That is why Toshinori had picked him in the first place.
He just sighs, “We need to discuss and plan.”
“The Midoriya’s tonight?”
“That should be fine, but I’ll text Inko. She’s going to want to start working on something right away or she’ll have a panic attack. Tsukauchi, can you send someone to grab Izuku? I just want to go home. You can get the statement from him tonight.”
“That’s fine. Be back in a second,” The detective says, slipping his hand off of his friend’s shoulder and out of the room.
When the door closes, Nedzu and Toshinori are alone.
“Why is Bakugou Katsuki in Izuku’s class?”
Nedzu turns his head quickly towards the hero, taken aback by the question as if it came out of nowhere. It didn’t come out of nowhere.
Toshinori continues, “I’ve been thinking about it the past two weeks while Izuku has been avoiding going to my hero classes. Why would you put the biggest threat to his identity in his class… especially when you knew he was afraid of him?”
The white animal coughs into his paw, “The classes were made the same way they always are –“
“Bullshit,” He cuts in, “You’ve accommodated us in every aspect, but not this?”
“You’re already angry with me, even though you and Sir Nighteye are talking again.”
“Talking is a generous way to put it… So, I’m right then.”
“The more work he does with you, the more visible he is, the more experience he gets before you can’t do it anymore…”
The laughter bubbles up the front of his throat before sticking in his mouth, “I think I might hate you.”
“I can live with that. You know what’s going to have to be done now though.”
It’s not a question, but he can’t help but answer, “Yes.”
They stay there in silence. Nedzu standing by the door, Toshinori sitting on the infirmary bed. They have nothing else to say to each other.
A minute or so later, Tsukauchi walks back into the room, a nervous expression on his face.
“What’s wrong? Where’s Izuku?”
“I know where he is,” The detective assures the man.
But his nerves won’t calm, he’s spending way too much time with the Midoriya’s, “Why did you say it like that?”
He hesitates, “So… you know, how you sent Izuku to spend some time in his homeroom?”
“Yes,” Toshinori says sharply, not liking how this is going, but can’t find a surprised molecule in his body.
“Yeah – well – hmmm…. One of my officers told the others that I had asked for him around an hour or so ago.”
His eyebrows have been rising higher and higher as his friend continues to talk. “Tsukauchi, where’s my kid?”
“It looks like Yukimura took him out for the coffee run Sansa made him do.”
Nedzu takes the moment to step in now, “What you’re saying is that without parental consent, one of your officers took a student off campus during a lockdown? A student that was specifically targeted by villains earlier today?”
“Stop,” His voice causes both man and animal to pause, an argument on their tongues. Izuku wouldn’t want whoever this person is in trouble. “Is he safe?”
Tsukauchi nods his head, “Yes, I talked to Yukimura. They’re on the way back already.”
“Okay,” Toshinori says out loud, more to assure himself than anyone else, “Okay.”
Ten minutes later, All Might has covered his bruised and beaten torso with an untorn shirt and is waiting by the entrance to the building for Izuku.
He can’t see any flash of emotion underneath the layer of material he has piled on to his face, but he can see the moment the teenager spots him from the change in his posture.
All Might just lifts an eyebrow as Izuku hands off some catering boxes of coffee to waiting police officers and says a quick goodbye to his companion.
The man doesn’t say anything and just leads the way towards the parking garage where Nedzu organized one of the school’s cars to be waiting for them. Slipping into the car and driving it through the boundaries set up by the police, he continues to hold his silence.
Finally, when they are a few minutes outside of UA, he asks, “Do you understand why I’m angry?”
Out of the corner of his eye, he watches as Izuku slips his fingers underneath his glasses to rub at his eyes before replying, “Yes.”
“I didn’t know where you were. You walked out with a stranger.”
“Yukimura works a lot of the same crime scenes we do!”
His hands tighten on the steering wheel, “You’ve never talked to him before in your life!”
“I – I –“
“Izuku, an hour. I needed you to sit still for an hour.”
The reply is firmer than something that quiet should be, “I knew who he was.”
Toshinori can feel his lips moving into a pursing motion, “You’re not going to apologize, are you? You think you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“No!” He yells suddenly. “No… I know I shouldn’t have… but I couldn’t be in there. I just couldn’t.”
Keeping his eyes on the road, he can feel the guilt tearing away at the anger in his chest.
“I’m sorry, my boy.” He starts slowly, the answer startling Izuku into looking up at him. “I should have figured that the situation was harder on you than I could understand with a few conversations. I just need you to understand that you can’t disappear like that. You might be a provisional hero, but you are still a child and after everything today – Tsukauchi coming in saying that you disappeared with an officer we didn’t know – it scared the hell out of me.”
“I didn’t even think of that,” Izuku says quietly from his seat, his voice also drained of any fight, “I wasn’t thinking about anyone else but myself. I’m so sorry, it was selfish.”
“Hey, selfish is a little overboard. Just… communicate with me. We’re a team, remember?”
“I remember,” He replies but doesn’t sound convinced, “I’m sorry about today. About everything that happened today. I should have been there earlier, I should have been better in that fight and now –“ Izuku pushed the sunglasses off and buries his face into his hands.
All Might lets out a sigh, “I’m not saying that the situation isn’t bad, but this wasn’t your fault. Whoever Shigaraki is… He’s not a simple villain trying to prove himself. We think… I think this is All for One.”
“I thought – “ Shocked, Izuku starts, but realizes he doesn’t know what to say.
Toshinori sighs, “Me too, me too.”
All in a day’s work!
[Image: The top of Midori’s face is pictured. His white beanie is fully covering his hair and forehead, showing off the bright red lettering exclaiming “I AM HERE!” In the reflection of his glass, it shows the hand holding the phone out for a selfie. The picture cuts off at the end of his nose.]
All Might Junior @GreenBean
@Midori stopping half a dozen villain incidents with @AllMight , one hostage situation by HIMSELF, dealing with the UA break in, and giving us the content we deserve all in one day, we stan a legend!
Izuku can hear his mom fretting in the living room as he changes into his own clothing. He knows he should be out there dealing with the situation or at least sitting next to his mom as Toshinori goes over what is happening.
It is his fault after all.
But once he’s gotten changed into his own sweatpants and replaced the brace on his knee, Izuku can’t get himself to move from his seat on the bed. His hands thread through his hair and his eyes don’t waver from the one spot on the floor.
How could he let this happen?
All he had to do was his identity under wraps.
He fucked it up day one with Mirio and now… this.
Why did he think he could ever do this right?
Even after all the assurances from All Might that Mirio finding out would be okay, Izuku had known that it was a sign that he would mess this up – that he wouldn’t be able to rise to the same heights as his mentor. He knew he didn’t deserve this chance and now it is obvious to everyone else as well.
The heels of his palms push into his eyes to try and halt the tears. He’s put his mom in danger, he’s put Toshinori in danger. How could he –
A harsh vibration breaks the spiral of his thoughts.
Grabbing at his phone, Izuku chocks around the halted emotion in his throat, trying to clear it, so he can answer the call. It takes him a few rings before he’s sure of his ability to speak and he hits the accept button.
“Hi,” He says, coughing a little at the end to try and conceal how he’d obviously been crying.
“Hey, Mido.” Mirio’s voice crackles through the line. “I heard you got caught up in the villain attack and wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m – I’m fine, senpai. Just a couple injuries, nothing Recovery Girl couldn’t fix!” He tries to add a laugh to his voice at the end, but the sound of it rattles artificially.
The nickname pushes against him, reminding him that Mirio is only trying to help. Even his voice sounds heroic. It makes his eyes start to prickle again.
Why can’t he be more like, Mirio-senpai? Mirio would have kicked Shigaraki’s ass and been on time and not have revealed his face to the worst person he possibly could have.
“Hey,” The older student starts again, “You can’t think like that!”
And Izuku realizes he’s been muttering out loud. His thoughts running away from him in a habit that he’s been trying so hard to kill.
“I didn’t mean – !”
Mirio’s voice is firm when he cuts him off, “Izuku, do you remember that I failed the licensing exam? The one with a fifty percent pass rate that all my classmates passed?”
The boy rubs at the tears streaming down his face. “Yes, but –“
“No ‘buts’! I did that! I messed up as a second year in the best hero school in the country and it wasn’t even a real situation.”
“You don’t understand. I messed up so badly and if it had been someone else…”
He’s not really sure how to finish that sentence and Mirio can tell.
“’If it had been someone else…’ What would someone else have done? Because from what I heard, you got the teachers to USJ, you held off a bad guy while your dad was focusing on someone else, you were the hero. You can’t think ‘if someone else had been there.’ No one else was there! You were and you did great.”
“But nothing! All you can do is move forward, take responsibility for what happened, and deal with everything that comes next as best you can. You can’t let things trip you. This is a marathon, Mido, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul.”
Izuku could feel his back straightening with every word, his eyes raising from the floor and his tears stopping. The weight of his guilt did not change, but he knew he could hold it.
He knew he what he had to do.
“Thank you, senpai.”
“Hey, that’s my job as your senior. Are you going to be at the weight room tomorrow?”
He spares a glance down at his knee brace. “I have to be cleared by Recovery Girl before I can work out, but if she doesn’t, I can spot you.”
Both boys knew that neither needed a spotter, one with a permutation quirk and the other with a spark of extra strength at his beck and call, but the comfort in their morning routine is too valuable to lose.
“Good! I’ll see you tomorrow then and you can tell me all about that fight, okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you then.”
Hanging up the phone, he breathes in deeply and mentally counts out one two three, rising on the third count his back straight.
“Izuku, come out! Dinner and everyone are here!” His mother calls through his bedroom door.
He strides out of his room and the scene that greets him is his new normal.
Rika and Tsukauchi switching sushi from takeaway boxes on to serving plates, his mom just sitting down, and Nedzu holding a terse conversation with Toshinori across the table.
“Shouldn’t Sir Nighteye be here?” He hears Nedzu ask as he walks closer.
His dad is obviously biting his tongue, “He lives over an hour away, Nedzu. Should I have gotten Gran Torino to come the three hours for this as well or maybe Yamada-san?”
Izuku takes that moment to cut in, moving towards the empty seat at the table that is set for him and loudly clearing his throat. The room slides to a halt and all eyes are on him.
What he sees isn’t what he’s expecting. Each gaze is like a reflection of his own.
The guilt. The knowledge that they had all chosen wrong. And now, this situation has transformed into a monstrosity.
They had put their money on Izuku – on the future that they saw as uncertain and needed just a little more assurance for – and….
They lost that gamble.
This group had allowed All Might’s image to crack at the edges as they weighed the pros and cons of Izuku’s progress verses the world finding out about Toshinori’s secret.
But the facts changed and now they need to scramble to cover the little things that they let slip before it can break the whole image.
All that man needs is a tiny crack. They’d given him plenty.
But they didn’t have the luxury of stewing in the past and it’s time to clean up the mess they’d made.
Izuku stays standing, hands gripping the back of the chair that he’s meant to take and starts, “I’m not competing in the Sports Festival.” When the words settle on the table and, when no one jumps to respond, he adds, “I’m not joining the class at UA either.”
With that, he claims his seat at the table, wanting to stave off a fight for just a few second more even though the determination burns in him. This is the right way – maybe, the only way.
Finally, he turns to look at the face around him, but all he sees is resignation – an acceptance of the inevitable – except...
Toshinori is looking around in an almost desperate plea for someone to say something. The man’s eyes linger on his mother’s face and Izuku thinks whatever they are saying without words only spurs him on.
“Absolutely not. Are you all out of your minds? He’s fifteen!”
“Dad…” Izuku says softly.
“No,” He bites back, “You need school. You need structure. You need –“
The teenager cuts in, “Friends?” Izuku can see the affirmation on Toshinori’s tongue, so just keeps talking. “I haven’t had a friend since I was five.”
“My boy –“
“Now, I have Mirio and Melissa. I have more meaningful connections in my life now than I’ve ever had before. Why do you want me stuck in that class?!” His hands slam heavy on the table and out of the corner of his eye he watches his mother hesitate before holding back from getting involved.
His father’s eyes are a clear blue and Izuku knows what the man wants – he can see it written in everything he does, but he doesn’t need to be restrained by some societal thought that to grow up the right way he needed to be in a high school classroom.
Being a hero means something. Wasting away in school meant nothing.
“Melissa is your cousin,” He fights back weakly.
“I never had a cousin before.”
“You – You can’t just drop out of high school.”
Nedzu breaks in, “He won’t be. We’ll just continue as we have. Aizawa might have a fit about the extra work, but he’ll still be getting a UA education.”
“There’s no other way forward, Dad.”
“Toshinori,” His mother says softly, laying a hand on the man’s shoulder as his eyes meets her own, “We made our choices. All we can do now is deal with the fallout.”
It’s hard to remember that Toshinori doesn’t live here.
He’s here in the mornings and lingers after dinners, but when the apartment empties, Izuku and his mother are alone with the silence.
The pair used to talk after things like this. Exchange little anecdotes about the conversations to make sure the other one knew what they were really saying or thinking.
But, there is nothing to say now. The people who had filed out all had a hundred percent of the truth and getting further into to detail or picking each other’s brains felt wrong without Toshinori.
It’s hard to fall back into the duo act when it’s clear they’re a trio.
After living in this unbalancing silence for a few moments, Izuku gets up and slides the couch in front of the door.
The curtains have already been pulled. The chain clicked in and the deadbolt thrown, but they’re working against a villain who can disintegrate anything and another that can teleport anywhere.
“Izuku,” Mom says as she watches him move the furniture, but makes no attempt to stop him.
He can see the visible shaking in her form. Toshinori had offered to stay… Izuku shouldn’t have let her wave him off.
Tsukauchi said that he couldn’t put a police officer outside the building without probably tipping off All for One where they are and the detective had no power to dictate hero patrol paths. With that line of thinking, Nedzu said they couldn’t move to a more secure building for at least another week or two – just until they could be sure any obvious movements wouldn’t trigger an alert for the villain.
So, the two Midoriya’s are left in their tiny apartment home that never felt so little before.
It’s better to stay here for right now, Rika had offered, Between these three buildings there’s 500 units. I have a tech person who can erase your name from the log downstairs and you’ll just fade into the faces, you know? Plus, Toshi will be here in six hours like he always is.
Izuku grabs his laptop and blanket from his room and makes himself comfortable on the couch. His mother watches him do all this with a sigh before putting herself down next to him.
Hey! Might or might not have had the visor vaporized. What’s the chances of getting a new one?
It’s barely a minute after the text message goes out that a video call pops up on his computer. When the visual patches through, he’s staring at blonde hair and glasses.
“You vaporized the visor?! Oh my god, what happened to your face?!”
His mother looks up from her phone, “Is that Melissa? Tell her I say ‘hi,’ Izuku.”
“Hi, Inko-oba-san!” Melissa replies without prompting, before moving on with, “What happened?”
A small laugh escapes him to try and defuse some of her tension before he launches into the full narrative of the past twenty-four hours.
His fake-cousin ooo’s and aww’s at all the appropriate places and for the first time all day, some of the stress actually melts off him. Yukimura had been a welcome distraction and Mirio provided him a much-needed pep talk, but watching Melissa’s eyes shine as he lays out the story gives him some kind of peace he didn’t think he needed.
Telling her this allowed him to put it behind him. There could be no more what-ifs or could-have’s when the smartest person he knows is nodding along and picking apart every moment with him like he had done alone a million times before for All Might fights.
“This seems like a rough situation, Izu, but I believe in you and everyone else to handle it.”
“Thanks. It – It really means a lot to me that you’re saying that.”
“Well, of course! So, I’ll send you a new visor and I have some new support gear that I want you to test out for me and then we can decide if you should wear it into a fight. I can probably have that to you in two or three days?”
“You’re my hero, Melissa.”
The blonde looks down quickly, hiding her expression.
Worried, he asks, “Mel?”
“I’m fine!” She turns back quickly to assure him, “I just – I just wanted someone to say that to me for so long and it’s been so stressful lately over here – Wait, I think my dad just came in. Dad! Hey, Dad! Izuku is on the computer! Come say hi! Someone tried to kill him and Uncle Toshi today!”
The teenager can hear the background noise of someone else near Melissa before David appears behind her. “What – Melissa, what do you mean?”
“Hi, Uncle David,” Izuku greets.
“Say ‘hi’ for me,” His mom adds in next to him.
“Mom says ‘hi’.”
The brown-haired man leans over his daughter’s shoulder so that the web camera could take in his face. “Hello, Inko. Hi, Izuku, is everyone okay?”
“Yeah, we’re all okay,” Izuku replies, but even in the pixelized view of the camera he couldn’t help to stop and trace the heavy discoloration under David’s eyes.
“That’s good. I’ll get Melissa to update me later, but I haven’t slept in a while so I’m going to head off to bed.”
“Yeah, of course.” He struggles with what to say because he can see the sunlight streaming into the windows on their side contrasting heavily with the ticking midnight hours in Japan before finally settling on, “Get some sleep, David-oji-san.”
“Sleep tight, Dad,” Melissa says and stares at her father’s back until he disappears behind a door.
Izuku can see the worry in Melissa’s eyes when she turns around, “Dad had to fire one of the lab assistants that he’s worked with forever and he won’t tell me why, but a bunch of higher ups have gotten involved and I’m just really worried about him.” Her voice drops to a furious whisper, “There’s even rumors they’re going to reschedule the I-Expo.”
Everything inside Izuku wants to reach out and find a way to help, but Melissa is thousands of miles away from him and he has no idea what he can do.
“I – “ He starts, but hesitates unsure of what he can say to make the situation better.
Except his mom takes that moment to lean into him and enter into view for the blonde, “Melissa, honey, I promise you that everything is going to be just fine, but I’ll have your uncle check in with your father soon about all this, okay?”
The girl’s eyes lighten as his mother steps in, “Would you really, Inko-oba-san? That would be so great.”
“Of course, but I’m making both of you say goodbye now. Izuku needs some sleep and I’m sure you have things you need to do too.”
Melissa laughs a little, “I do have to leave for class. Night, Inko-oba-san. Night, Izuku, I’ll tell you when I ship out your support stuff!”
“Thank you! Bye!”
Ending the call, he looks up to see his mom, “Come on, let’s barricade up in my room and try and get some sleep.”
The heaviness in his eyelids is finally returning and the stress in his stomach is uncoiling and for the first time all day, he just lets himself breath.
Shinsou Hitoshi is holding on to his spot in 1-A by the tips of his fingers.
Academically, he’s doing fine.
Even, socially… Well, he’s been a social outcast since he developed his quirk. Friends are not something he actually needs, so it’s not really a problem.
Physically though is where he is hitting his major road block. It’s hard to match up with kids who can blast their way from one side of a battle field to another or were born being able to deadlift a truck.
But Hitoshi is a chemical mixture of spite and passion – they’ll have to drag him out of 1-A kicking and screaming.
Following Aizawa across the campus, he refuses to think that asking for help after he heard the announcement for the Sports Festival is any kind of giving up. USJ had been a wakeup call. There is no place for pride when all that stands between death is the skills given by a hero school that is used to working with physical monsters.
Asui and he only got out of the Flood Zone alive on a desperate chance of luck and lack of knowledge on the villains’ side.
That cannot happen again.
As the pair enters into one of UA’s many padded gyms, Hitoshi can make out a figure stretching and chances a glance at Aizawa for any clue as to who it is. But the man’s face is still slightly bandaged from the USJ incident and his bored expression is the same as always.
“Shinsou, three laps.”
“Wha –“ He starts, but Aizawa is already walking towards the kid in the middle.
Hitoshi wants more information, but seeing the apparent irritation in Aizawa’s eyes, his self-perseveration kicks in and he’s moving to start his warm up without another second of hesitation.
The purple-haired boy can only hear snippets of the words that his teacher and the boy wearing a beanie that looks like some type of ears are sticking out of his head exchange as he circles the large room. The pieces involve an injury, time-management, and being a “problem child.”
Huffing out a labored breath, he moves towards the pair and manages to hear a final, “… And stop hurting yourself for god’s sake.”
The teacher’s attention refocuses on to Hitoshi. His quiet demeanor taking in his sweating form before seemingly deciding something. He pulls out a pair of boxing mitts from one of the gym’s equipment bags and throws them at the kid with the weird headgear.
Each ear of the hat whips around as he fails to get a grip on the artificial red leather. The mitts fumbling out of his hands with a soft thunk on the floor.
Aizawa’s face wipes clean of all concern that Hitoshi had seen creeping into his expression and just watches the other boy scramble to pick up the fallen objects with a sigh.
“Run Shinsou through the basics, Midori, I’ll be back in a few.”
Midori – of course, this kid is Midori, Shinsou thinks, tilting his head slightly and the ears now seem more like a weird shout out to his father than an impersonation of a green bunny.
“Hi, I’m Midori,” Comes an almost nervous voice.
“Yeah, I got that.”
“Uh – “ The superboy says as he pauses through slipping on the mitts.
“Shinsou Hitoshi, if you don’t remember from class a few days ago. Got to be hard with how popular you are to remember people like me.” His words come out more caustic than he means them to, but now that they’re out there he refuses to step back from them.
Midori scrambles to respond, “I do remember you!”
“You sit behind me!”
“Can we start?”
Midori seems to remember himself and Hitoshi is surprised to note a blush works its way on to the skin visible between the sunglasses and the bad hat.
“Yeah – sorry – of course – I’ll just do call outs and you go for it,” He says lifting the mitts up to wait for Hitoshi’s attack.
The student slips into the basic stance. His knees slightly bent, left leg slid forward, hands up and framing his face.
Hitoshi moves into the quick pair of punches before resetting.
“Left hook, right uppercut.”
The impact of the combo doesn’t reverberate as well as the last and he can see himself grinding his teeth in All Might Jr.’s sunglasses.
“Right front kick, right roundhouse.”
The first kick connects well, but Hitoshi finds himself stopped trying to figure out how to get into the correct position to execute the roundhouse. Finally, he steps back and then finds the right configuration so he can take the necessary step with his left foot to perform it.
“Shut up,” He grinds out.
“I didn’t say anything.” The response is technically correct, but Hitoshi can see the words forming on his lips.
“It’s just – “
“What?!” He yells. “What, Might Boy?! In your infinite wisdom, with your perfect quirk, what can I do better?”
The other boy leans back with every word shouted at him, but in a small voice he says, “You hesitate.”
Hitoshi just looks at him, his glare trying to drill through his head.
“You’re still thinking when you do the basics and your body knows what to do. I know because I’ve done Aizawa-sensei’s training before, so just try and flow through it. Stop thinking that each movement has to be precisely right, you just have to trust yourself.”
“I –“ He promptly shuts his mouth because it’s not bad advice, but he really doesn’t want to admit that. Grudgingly, he bites out, “Fine, restart then.”
This time when they go, they move. No longer is he resetting after every pair, the words are weaving together – the exercise a dance instead of a drill.
Midori moves forward when he steps back. Hitoshi advances on each push.
He can’t hear the call outs anymore. He’s reacting to whatever is being said on a visceral level. His body can feel the next move he should be making and when Midori pushes his roundhouse out throwing him off balance, he stumbles straight into a slide – ducking right in time for the hero’s mitt to brush his hair in a playacted punch and throwing his own cross punch into the other cushion waiting at stomach level.
“Stop,” Aizawa’s voice breaks through.
Hitoshi wipes at his brow. He hadn’t even heard the hero return from whatever errand had taken him away.
“Three laps. Both of you.”
He moves without thought to the start the laps even as he tries to not let out a whine – his lungs still aching from the warm up and subsequent drills. Behind him, two thumps signify Midori dropping the mitts to join him.
The provisional hero falls into step and Hitoshi can see him from the corner of his eye, but even as he knows that the other could have already lapped him, he can’t seem to find any annoyance at being looked down on.
“Thanks or whatever,” He huffs out.
“I’m glad I could help.”
“Why are you here anyways?”
“Oh, I always do fighting lessons with Aizawa-sensei at least once a week. I didn’t come in with any fighting experience and it was really bad at first. I was throwing some awful punches around for a lot longer than I should have been.”
Hitoshi finds his words stuck behind his need for air, but he lets slip an acknowledging hum.
Midori is here for the same reason he is. Midori needs the same help he does. Midori isn’t here to teach his poor, defenseless classmate how to throw a punch.
“Why was Aizawa-sensei mad with you earlier?” He asks abruptly, curiosity eager to be sated.
A nervous laugh starts the response, “My quirk is kind of hard on my body. I just started being able to use it without ripping my bones and muscles apart and Aizawa-sensei is really on me about control. The injury I had from USJ wouldn’t have happened if I was more careful.”
His brain stops.
Perfect All Might 2.0’s quirk is tearing apart his body?
He can remember that bloody scream from USJ. When they had all finally convinced themselves they were safe, the gut-wrenching cry had cut through them to the bone, shattering whatever peace the students had managed to build.
His quirk did that?
How… He’s not supposed to have problems. He’s the Number One Hero’s kid!
“My quirk is brainwashing,” He pushes out between one breath and another.
Midori tilts his head to look at him, “How does that work?”
The blankness overwhelms his eyes as he pulls the strings that now connect them. He holds them tight for just a moment and then lets go.
Good, this will reestablish some distance. Stop whatever sharing fest Midori thinks they’re having. Stop whatever sympathy Hitoshi is feeling towards this perfect hero.
Except… “That’s so cool!” The boy gushes. “Wow, the applications for that in hero situations are endless. You can just talk a villain into giving up!”
“You…” He starts but can’t find what he wants to continue with.
“Crowd control and undercover work. Suicide prevention – “
“Stop,” He says.
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s a habit I’m trying to kick. I just keep rambling –“
He cuts in, “It’s a villainous quirk.”
“Wha – What do you mean?”
“What do you mean? I just brainwashed you!”
“I mean, yeah. It was super cool.” Midori’s whole-body language lights up with realization, “We should do a limits test together.”
He stops running. With half a lap to go, Midori halts as he realizes the purple-haired student isn’t next to him and turns around to find Hitoshi staring at him. He knows Aizawa has also turned his attention towards them.
But, he needs a second.
Academically, Shinsou Hitoshi is fine.
Physically, he’s a work in progress.
“There’s a… cat café that just opened up down the street. Let’s be friends or whatever.”
And the most unexpected smile fills the space on Midori’s face that isn’t covered, it’s the type of smile that only comes out when something unbelievable happens.
Hitoshi would know because he’s trying to stop himself from matching the idiot when Midori replies, “Yeah, let’s be friends.”
I will be waiting for you myself in the lobby at 9 am that day.
Thank you, Hanamiya-san! I look forward to the tour.
“So,” Tsukauchi starts when Izuku closes the door to the man’s office, “I’m in charge of the League of Villains investigation. Which means we are working on the League of Villains investigation.”
An excited determination boils in Izuku ready to burst and he nods at the detective to egg him on.
“We have no resources,” He informs the boy with a sigh and those words make him freeze, “But every hour, I have a new email asking me if I figured out what the hell that Nomu thing is.”
Izuku’s voice cracks a little in his confusion, “Why don’t we have resources? Isn’t this the biggest case… like ever?”
“This isn’t a TV show, Izuku.” The resignation in his eyes is telling. “Funding is always tight around here, most government funds go to heroes and they think our peacekeeping function is out of date, but not many heroes want to get involved with small investigations when they could be drumming up fame in the streets.”
The understanding is there, but Izuku doesn’t want to grasp it, “That’s – That’s not right!”
“No, but it’s how we live. The hero system is an odd mixture of regularized and de-regularized and no one wants to even think that Japan isn’t doing it right since our crime rate is the lowest in the world.”
“But,” Tsukauchi agrees, “All Might is the reason for the low crime rate, not any kind of reform.”
“What can we do then? For the investigation?”
“Well, we investigate.”
“Are we involving other heroes – Mystic Ri –“
The man cuts him off with a sympathetic look on his face like he’s had this conversation with many a rookie, “Heroes have to volunteer to help in investigations. Otherwise, the department has to subsidize their salaries and we don’t have –“
“The funding,” Izuku completes hastily as he rearranges all the piece of this mental puzzle. “And they don’t just volunteer?”
“For an investigation like this, we’d actually have a good pick, but with it being All for One, we need to keep this on the down-low and the high-profile heroes that have volunteered would not only ruin that – they’d want to talk about their involvement and our progress on national television.”
“So…” Izuku leans back heavy in his chair the new information swimming through his mind.
“So,” Tsukauchi repeats, “You and me, kid, think we have what it takes.”
“Yeah, I do.” His answer strong, but his smile a little hesitant. Pausing for a second, he adds, “But do you think we can bring one more to help us? I really like working with Officer Yukimura.”
“Working with… “ Recognition floods his eyes after a moment, “Yukimura who snuck you out of UA while we had the whole campus on lockdown?”
“…Yes?” He tries tentatively.
The detective looks like he’s worried to drop anymore crushing realities on him today so there’s a softness in his voice as he says, “You know he’s trying to use you?”
Izuku’s own voice is bland when he replies, “Yeah, he told me that to my face.”
A single huffing laugh emerges from Tsukauchi’s throat, “Okay, I can respect that.”
Izuku *mentally exhausted and resigned to letting go of his dream of being happy with high school friends and thinks his only hope of helping his father is to isolate himself*: Oh, this person in my class is cool and thanked me for helping him THAT'S NEW
Hitoshi *Gruff child who doesn't need anyone but cats*: Let's be friends or whatever
Izuku *already planning out the colors of their friendship bracelets*: IVE NEVER HAD A FRIEND BEFORE