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Komorebi

Chapter Text

When Midoriya Izuku was just 4 years old, his world was shattered. He was deemed Quirkless by a rather heartless doctor. The fact that not everyone was born equal was a tough lesson for him to swallow. But he did manage it eventually, it doesn’t bother him now. That was years ago. This was now… and he should really be paying attention to where he was going.

He stumbled to a stop in front of an ornate building. Spotlights danced across the stone stairs. People dressed in their finest clothing slowly ventured inside. A giant blue and red banner proclaimed, “Welcome Endeavor Hero Agency!”.

Izuku pulled nervously at the collar of his white button up with his left hand while smoothing down his emerald vest with his right. This was definitely going to be a task. He was going to be in the same building as the Number. Two. Hero! But… he was not here to fanboy. No, he spent a healthy chunk of his allowance to be at this event to track down an artefact! A magically powerful artefact. If he wanted to be a hero, he needed to get a tracker placed on the artefact… in a crowded museum… full of… cameras… There was no way he was going to be able to do this.

“This is such a bad idea… this is such a bad idea!” he muttered fearfully to himself as he stumbled away from the entrance.

He had been tasked with marking an enchanted object known as a komorebi prism. It was a type of scurrying device that broke down the components of spells, potions, wards, and the like. It allowed those with the knowhow to reverse engineer whatever the komorebi was used on. It was considered too dangerous to be left within reach of the public. As part of his initiation rite, he had to complete this task. Once it was marked, a more experienced Archivist would come and replace it with a fake. The original would be taken back to the Archives for safe-keeping.

See, Izuku belonged to a small coven of witches. It was still wild for the boy to think about even now. He learned of their existence not long after he was deemed Quirkless. He had spent days holed up in his room watching All Might’s debut over and over again. When his mother finally confronted him about it, he had tearfully asked if he could still be a hero. Her only reply had been a tearful, “I’m sorry,”. He had initially believed that she was saying sorry he could not. It was about 3 years later that Izuku learned what she had actually meant.

His mom, like him, had been born Quirkless. She had been deemed a lost cause when her Quirk did not emerge at the expected age of 4. She was later shipped off to live with her grandparents on their small farm. At the age of seven, she discovered some books of magic buried in the attic of her grandparents’ home. Her grandmother caught her.

After much begging, the woman relented and told her all about magic and witches. She explained how magic was as old as humanity itself, existing in the time before Quirks. That magic permeated everything and that people could make use of it, if they just took the time to learn. Eventually, it was decided that magic and Quirks were going to become a dangerous combination. Witches went underground and took most of the knowledge with them.

Most witches were only allowed one or two spells to use freely. They were often passed off as “quirks” even if said witch had an actual Quirk. His mother’s attraction of small objects was one such deception. Anything else a witch knew was kept private.

The only exceptions to these rules were known as Archivists. These witches more or less worked as magical police officers and archeologists. They made sure that there was no unauthorized magic use and kept a sharp eye out for magical objects and such. There were several still being traded and uncovered all over the world. It was the Archivists’ job to keep them out of the wrong hands. He had become interested in them when he realized that he could use his magic to make up for his lack of a quirk.

His idea was hamstrung when his mother informed him that it was forbidden to use magic so openly unless one was an Archivist. If he became one then theoretically he could become a hero using his magic. But he had to be accepted and nominated by a coven.

Witches weren’t born into a coven, they were accepted. It took Izuku several long months to convince his mom to at least put the idea forward. Thankfully, he was easily accepted by his mom’s coven. Their numbers were dwindling due to old age and few young members. Eventually after picking up a few spells and books worth of knowledge, he petitioned to join the Archivists. It was a nerve wracking fight, but he was allowed to train and become a Hero if he was accepted to a hero course. After all, Heroes had access to more information than most people, which would be very beneficial in the long run.

That was two years ago; Izuku was now 13 and an Initiate. He had to prove three things before someone would take him on as an apprentice: his mind, his body, and his heart.

To prove his mind, he had to prove his knowledge of magical history, spells, potions, and laws. He passed that exam easily with record high scores. The second thing he had to do was prove his body. This came in the form of testing his ability to apply what he knew. That was what tonight was all about. He was supposed to mark the prism and tie it to a paper tracker that he would send off without being seen or recorded. When it was confirmed that the piece was properly retrieved without anyone being the wiser, only then would he pass. His third task was cryptic. They had not mentioned how they would test his heart yet.

Izuku shook himself from his thoughts. A quick glance at the entrance showed more people were arriving. He took a quick look at his phone. It was 7:30 at night and freezing, the event had kicked off at 7. Izuku was hoping that he would not stand out as much if there was a larger crowd. He really should have worn a jacket. But it had felt too stifling due to nerves so he left it behind.

Izuku checked his spells and supplies one more time. Once he was sure he had everything, he made his way into the building while casting a light reflection spell on himself. The spell would cause light to reflect off of him, rendering him invisible to the human eye and some cameras. But he was still going to have to be careful; he was still tangible, meaning someone could still bump into him and a hard enough disturbance could cause the spell to drop. The ticket he had bought was simply for insurance purposes and maybe some later fanboying if he had the time. But his major task was the prism.

It was on display as one of several pieces donated to the museum’s hero collection by Endeavor’s agency. All Might’s was two weeks ago, but alas Izuku had priorities. His inner fanboy was still crying over that.

The pieces were taken from the evidence locker. They were being shown off tonight before being placed in the archives until another proper showing time. And there it was. On a crimson cushion, sat a small emerald obelisk with gold spider webbing around it. It gave off an otherworldly glow as the soft lighting bounced off of it. Izuku could feel the magical energy wafting off of the object. It settled in his skin, making his Initiate mark throb in response. He absentmindedly rubbed at the inside of his wrist.

He did not make his way over immediately. There was a small group of people talking by it and he needed a clear shot to cast the spell without any complications. So, he edged around all the clusters of idly chatting patrons.

Movement out the corner of his eye drew his attention. A few jugglers were entertaining guests in another show area including Endeavor himself! Izuku squished himself into a corner that still allowed him to see and watched for a few moments. They were quite good. The routine was finished and everyone clapped politely. The tall gentleman in the brown hat had seemed especially skilled, although the mask hanging off his face was a little unsettling. He had rather interesting brown eyes, too.

Izuku tore his eyes away from the dissipating spectacle. The object was still perched delicately on its gilded cushion. He wandered over to some wall art as a couple moved into his corner to have a private conversation. They were remarking on the Number Two Hero’s fashion choices and tapping away at their phone screens. Fashion reporters, maybe? Izuku personally didn’t care. Besides how fashionable can one be when you require fire resistant clothing…?

The MC for the evening had begun to announce the next event on the agenda as Izuku continued to wander along the wall gazing absently at the paintings. Suddenly, he was landing on the floor in a tangle of limbs. Something—or more than likely someone— heavy had landed on top of him. Air was forced from his lungs. Izuku wheezed in annoyance and pain, a string of curses beginning to well up in the back of his throat. They vanished like smoke when his eyes met a riot of color that was in no way displeasing.

On top of him was an almost ethereal being. Pale skin was crowned with a two-toned silky halo. One side a violent ruby, the other blinding diamond. The mysterious person planted their gloved hands on either side of Izuku’s body and pushed themselves up. Their eyes met and Izuku was pinned by piercing blue and sharp silver.

Izuku blinked slowly. Time had slowed to a crawl along with the young witch’s thoughts. He was almost convinced it was a trick of the light when the pale apples of the stranger’s cheeks ripened to a bashful red. Izuku could feel his own cheeks flushing in response. Oh. Well now… aren’t you a work of art… He thought offhandedly. The intrusive thought finally shocked him out of his trance by sending white hot embarrassment shooting through his body to explode on his face.

“U-Um… excuse me.” He finally managed to squeak out. The other person was still staring. “U-ummm… excuse me…?” Sir? They were wearing a gray suit after all, but there was also no law against women wearing them.

Before Izuku’s’ muddled thought could wander any farther afield, the person shook violently as if coming out of a trance. Their eyes widened and the blush spread from their cheeks to the rest of their face. Izuku felt his heart squeeze. They quickly scrambled to their feet. Izuku sat up properly and watched as the stranger dithered about what to do.

They seemed torn between running and helping him. They would look at him, blush harder, and then turn to look back to probably look at all the people that were now staring at them. Izuku blushed harder at the thought. Eventually, they mumbled an apology and made themselves scarce. Izuku blinked dazedly. Did that just happen? Izuku eventually picked himself off of the floor and hastily apologized to the other event goers for the disturbance.

As he quickly made his way to the other side of the room, he noticed something was off. He looked back to the Komorebi display. It almost looked blurred out. What was happening? Had he hit his head when he fell? Wait… it almost looked like… Shit! Shit! Shit shit shit!!! Izuku screamed mentally.

His heart shot up into his throat and trembled violently. He fucked up! The Komorebi was gone! He cast furtive glances around the room. No one else seemed to find anything out of place. It was a med level glamour he was dealing with then. Most of the Unversed were completely convinced that nothing was wrong. Meanwhile, Izuku could see the outline of the false image. He had almost missed it. Whoever the thief was, they were a witch. A decently Versed one, too. A flash of color out of his peripheral vision derailed his mental diatribe. He looked over in time to catch strands of ruby and diamond vanishing out of an exit.

Izuku cast a quick glance about. The other patrons seemed to be decently distracted again. He quickly mapped out where the cameras were and moved into a blind spot. Izuku hastily reapplied his reflection spell and dashed to the exit. It seemed to lead to a small patio area. It was thankfully empty. The street across from it was the same. But which way had that stranger gone?

The more time he took to decide on a direction to take the further away the possible thief got. Suddenly, Izuku got an idea and wanted to slap himself. He closed his eyes and prayed that they weren’t too far away and that they were the only other witches about.

Izuku reached out with his mage senses and tried to feel around the area. Izuku was actually shocked at how many magical animals there were. Their lights felt different from humans. Suddenly, Izuku spotted what he was looking for in a western direction. Two human lights, one duller than the other.

He opened his eyes and started running. Izuku quickly realized that without the training he and Kacchan had been doing, he definitely wouldn’t be in any shape to do this. However, running two spells at once was draining him more than jogging a few blocks. He really needed to train his magic more. The two lights were getting closer. Then suddenly the brighter one vanished altogether. What in the…?” Izuku sped up.

As he passed an alleyway, the sound of shuffling footsteps caught his attention. He stopped and entered cautiously attempting to squint into the dark. He dare not use his enhanced vision as it caused his eyes to glow. That would definitely draw the thief attention and that was last thing he wanted. The silhouette of a person slowly came into focus as some of the glare from the street lights finally began to wash over the advancing figure.

“You!” he suddenly whispered in surprise and immediately cursed himself for it. The person stopped. He was still wearing his costume from before. The mask was now fully in place but the brown eyes from before just looked like tar pools behind the lifeless white mask. The juggler from before. How had Izuku not sensed him?

“Who’s there? I have already dealt with one over enthusiastic fan…” he sneered from behind the mask. Izuku gulped.

The other aura that vanished… could that have been the person he saw leaving? The teen that nearly flattened him at the exhibit? Were they… dead?

Izuku shifted his weight from one leg to the other as he debated about what to do. He was still unsure about what happened to the other person and he still had no clue what the juggler wanted with the Komorebi. His current partner, Nimue, had assured him that they were probably the only ones that knew what the Komorebi actually was.

As he studied the juggler a bit more, he noticed something. There were two dull magical lights in his right fist… were those weapons? He focused harder and swore he could feel the weak vibe of the prism. But why was it so small now?

Izuku was in over his head. He had no concrete answers for any of the dozen questions that were floating around in his head. He was not even sure if he was Versed in enough magic to beat this other witch. But he knew one thing, he had to act.

He focused on calling on his shadow magic. He could see his shadow pooling around his feet. He directed it to the juggler. The shadow crept up along the wall as the juggler called for Izuku to show himself. It slunk from the wall and embedded itself in the juggler’s shadow. It covered his whole body like an inky gossamer wave before settling back around Izuku.

Suddenly, Izuku felt a tug behind his navel. It felt like there were 3 hooks pulling him forward. His shadow based bonding spell worked. The juggler seemed unaware of the spell he cast. They scoffed before heading out of the alleyway and making their way down the street. This was a sloppy bonding by far, but casting it that way made sure that Izuku could eventually relocate the juggler and whatever those objects were he had. Especially, if one of them was the Komorebi. Izuku’s ears perk up as the juggler mutters to himself as wanders away,

“Ridiculous! You almost cost me, brat. However, if it wasn’t for your clumsiness, I would have never noticed the baby Arc following me. So, I may just leave you here… rather than tossing you in the nearest body of water like I planned…” Izuku frowned. What did he mean? And who was he talking to? The juggler haphazardly threw something down the next alley he passed before vanishing from sight.

Izuku could still feel the man as if he were still in front of him, but he knew that he was drawing away from him as the presence grew fainter. The hooked feeling behind his navel shifted and twisted. The objects were still close enough to feel so Izuku could feel the direction they were traveling in. Two of the three he had in his web were headed in one direction, while the other was stationary in the next alley over. He would have to contact Nimue about following up on the guy.

But first, he was curious about what the juggler had thrown in the alley. He made his way to the next corner, and snuck a peek, his jaw dropping. There was a person.

Izuku practically materialized next to the teen as he dropped his reflection spell and knelt down. They were splayed on the dirty ground. Their hair covered their face, but Izuku immediately recognized the two tone hair. The gray suit was now covered in dirt and spills, torn in some places.

Izuku tried to turn them over to see how hurt they were. It took all his strength to move them. Geez, all this magic use must have really taken a toll on his energy levels!  He thought with a grunt. But, the teenager was now on their back. There was a pretty nasty gash on their head and their eyes were closed. Izuku felt his eyebrows draw together as he shook the person’s shoulder. After a moment, they shifted and moaned softly.  

“That’s it!” He encouraged. “Wake up,” He continued to gently nudge them awake. Eventually, one blue and one gray eye slowly rolled back into focus behind lidded eyes. They were still just as striking as before despite being dulled by pain and confusion. Izuku helped them to sit up. They blinked slowly and frowned. Eventually, their focus tracked back to Izuku.

“What… happened?” they mumbled as they reached up and gingerly touched their head hissing in pain.

Izuku winced in sympathy. The wound suggested that they must have landed head first… but how? The discrepancies in the situation finally slipped back into the forefront of his mind. The juggler had thrown a small object into the alleyway, not a person. So why were they here now? Had they been in the alley and got hit by the object?

Izuku tried to squint into the darkness to find the object. He quickly gave it up as useless. He instead focused on the tracer that he had attached to it. The links for juggler and the prism were dull. They were nowhere close to him. The other one was right next to him apparently. The alley was not well lit. He would probably never find it. He looked back at the other teen. They were still looking a little out of it. Maybe he should focus on helping the innocent bystander first.

“Hey. Are you going to be okay?” he asked. He was pinned again by those dangerous eyes. Izuku could spend quite a bit of time getting lost in them. Izuku, you useless bi, focus! This person is bleeding, dummy! Izuku shook himself.

“My head hurts, but I think I am fine? How did you get me out?” they asked.

Izuku’s heart twisted. Their voice was rich, like hot chocolate. They spoke softly, their words drifting against Izuku like a warm hint of vanilla wafting from the mug. Izuku barely caught the last question, it snapped him back to reality.

“Out?” he managed to squeak. He was pretty sure he was blushing again. Pull yourself together! They nodded carefully, averting their eyes.

“Yeah. That man trapped me in something. It was cramped and dark. Then I was falling and you woke me up.” They explained shyly.

Izuku was shocked… so he hadn’t been wrong… there had been a small object. He dropped his head into his right hand as he thought. He knew of no spell that would do such a thing… so he was fairly certain it was a quirk. It also explained the nasty head wound. If they came out of the prison in the air… then yeah… Izuku winced in sympathy.

But something about the situation was still not sitting right with him. What was it? A weird tugging behind his navel drew him out of his head. What? He focused on the one that was moving. It was the one in the alley… why was it moving? Izuku looked up to see the teen was stumbling towards the entrance of the alley. Izuku’s heart plummeted. Oh. Oh no. He thought stricken. I bound them by mistake when I cast that bonding! I assumed they were both objects! Shit!

The night couldn’t get any worse. He had lost the object, then he actually roped an innocent bystander into this mess… which was probably going to get him in a ton of trouble. Suddenly, Izuku heard police sirens. Another thought crossed his mind at that some moment…

Illusions fail if their source of magic fades away… Oh shit…

Chapter Text

Izuku’s head was full of cotton. His heart was pounding its way out of his chest. This was undoubtedly his worst night. How was he going to fix this?

A scuffle followed by a muted thump caught his attention. The Unversed was slumped against the wall in the mouth of the alley. Izuku felt his blood leave his face and dashed over. The teen was pale faced making the blood sluggishly sliding down the left side of their face look almost black. They were trembling. Izuku tried to rouse them again, but they did not respond.

Probably a bad concussion. There was a fair bit of blood running down the side of their face. Izuku dug his fingers into his hair and pulled. He was so frustrated! This teen clearly needed help and Izuku had no idea where to start. How useless was he?! He couldn’t help a single person without needing help! Wait… help. Izuku swallowed weakly against the knot of anxiety and shame in his throat. He could call Nimue. She could probably clean this mess up, but he would have to face his mistakes that much sooner. He sighed. This other person clearly needed assistance, and by the Earth he was going to give it. He quickly pulled out his cell and dialed her number.

“Hello, who calls?” came a soft contralto. Izuku’s mouth had gone dry. He opened his mouth to speak and nothing more than a squeak came out. He coughed and tried again,

“Well met, Nimue-san. It’s Domoiri.” There was a surprised hum on the other end. His already racing heart began to gallop even harder against his ribs.

“Well met, Domoiri.” She finally replied after a moment. “Have you completed your task?” Izuku hurriedly switched hands and wiped the enormous amount of sweat off his palm before taking it back into his other hand.

“N-no, Mistress. I have not. It was stolen…” Izuku finally exhaled. As soon as he started talking it was like he couldn’t stop. He spilled the entire awful night to the woman. “Please, I know I messed up, but this kid needs help and I don’t know how to get it for them without making things worse.” He pleaded at the end. Tears had started making their way down his face.

“Stay where you are, Initiate. I am coming to you.” She said sternly and the line went dead. How fitting, given that his dreams were long dead now. The only bright spot that he could cling to was that the poor kid that got caught up in this would more than likely live through this ordeal.

Suddenly, the shadows over the mouth of the alley seemed to shift and writhe like living curtains. They parted suddenly and a woman strode into the alley. The shadows faded back into ethereal sheers, clinging to the walls again. He… needed to learn how to do that... like pronto. Because that was badass and probably pretty convenient.

Izuku once again found himself pinned by a pair of sharp blue eyes. The Archivist was wearing a cloak that was obscuring her face, but her aura washed over him in a comforting wave. He was familiar with it. He had memorized it when they were paired.

“Nimue.” He breathed.

She did not scold him but simply patted his shoulder as she moved to kneel in front of the unconscious Unversed. She gently turned their head so she could get a better look at their head wound. After a moment, she clicked her tongue in distaste before placing a hand on the child’s wound. A green glow surrounded her hands and sank into the teen then faded away. She pulled her hands back and there was no evidence of their head wound, not even a scar. Even their clothing was clean and patched up. Izuku could only gape at the magic on display. Clearly she was a powerful witch.

She then blew a cloud of violet smoke over the prone teen. It settled into their skin. Violet sparkles began to dance around them and they began to float. The energy continued to streak along their body, growing brighter and brighter. In a final flash of light, they disappeared.

Nimue gasped and toppled forward.  Izuku grabbed her shoulders to keep her from falling over. She patted his hand and took a moment to gather her bearings, rocking back on her heels to stare at him. Izuku froze. Now, it was finally time for him to face the music. He was pretty sure that this was her Avatar form. Most well Versed had magical forms that connected them with their magic more intimately. He could not make out any distinguishing facial features other than the glowing eyes.

“Sorry about that, Domo,” she sighed as she got to her feet. “It’s been awhile since I had to cast a spell of that magnitude. But I’ll be fine. So… how did you end up in such a predicament again?” Izuku swallowed.

“I had managed to infiltrate the showing. But there was another Versed there. He must have cast an illusion and then stole the Komorebi. I noticed it after another party attendee bumped into me. They left. The probable thief had snuck in with a troupe of jugglers and acrobats. I think I watched them perform?” he said softly. He jerked his head up when he heard her gasp.

“Was he tall? Brown eyes… striking ones?” she asked haltingly. When she said striking, Izuku’s brain helpfully supplied him with a pair of gray and blue ones. He mentally smacked himself and nodded his head in affirmation.

“Yes, at least from what I remember. He also has a Quirk.” Izuku added. Nimue hissed.

“That bastard! And she’s probably sulking around in the background, too!” Izuku blinked in confusion.

“I don’t know what you are talking about…” muttered Izuku.       

Nimue reached into her cloak and pulled out a black feather. Izuku frowned. What was she planning on doing with that? She brought it to what he assumed was her face. After a moment, gray smoke came from the hood, and brushed across the feather. Several more black feathers suddenly floated out of her hand. They fanned out into the air, pirouetting like dancers. They spun in a tight funnel, coalescing into a vague human shape. Izuku gaped silently. The feathers melted into shadow. In a soft flash of light, there was a man in their place.

“Nimue, why are you calling?” he grumbled.

“There has been an incident. Compress has stolen a Komorebi.” She answered. The man sighed heavily.

“Do you have any idea where he went?” he grunted.

“No, I need you to clean up the museum, Zepher. No one can clean up a scene like you can. I need to see to the Initiate and get a head start on finding Sako Atsuhiro.” Explained the woman. The Shadowy man grumbled something under his breath but eventually disappeared from the alley. She turned back to Izuku with a sigh.

“Don’t mind him,” she said teasingly but Izuku heard an undercurrent of weariness in her tone. “He is just a grumpy cat. As for you, tonight clearly did not go as you planned.” Panic forced the boy to speak out of turn.

“I am so very, very sorry!” Izuku placed his forehead on the ground as he bowed in apology. “Please allow me to make up for my mistake.” Tears had begun pouring down Izuku’s face again. He could not lose his dream now that he was so close. He couldn’t bare it.

“Initiate. I can’t allow you to clean up my mistake. I should have kept a better eye. I should have known that the Redeless would probably be skulking about. We were lucky that Compress was unaware of you tailing him. He would have had few qualms about permanently removing you.” Said Nimue. She placed her hand on his chin and forced him to look up at her.

“Please, I need to pass… I…” he continued to plead through his sobs.

“Don’t worry, you will get another chance when another Artefact appears. It will be ok. You haven’t failed.” She soothed. That did nothing to reassure, Izuku. According to his mom, Artefacts appeared sporadically. That meant that he would either get another chance somewhere in between next week or practically never. If he did not complete this now, he could kiss Yuuei goodbye. He would more than likely miss the Entrance Exam.

“I can’t pass the Entrance Exam without the Archivist clearance, please just let me try!” he wept.

“Exam? Ah. Right they did mention you wanted to be a Hero. Don’t worry, you can always rely on your—” Izuku’s despair turned into frustrated anger.

“I don’t have one!” he spat. “Magic is all I have! My dream is over if I don’t complete this! Please! I-I know how to find this guy… I performed a bonding spell! I can track him! I can—”

“You what?” Nimue blurted. Izuku took a moment to gather himself with few a few deep breaths.

“I performed a bonding spell. It was rather blanketed in its application, but I know what direction he and the Artefact are in.” Izuku admitted.

“How did you manage to cast two different bonding spells in the spans of a few moments without them canceling each other out?” asked the Archivist quietly. Izuku frowned. What did she mean?

“I am sorry? I am not sure what you are asking me. I just cast a shadow tracer on all the magical signatures that weren’t animals and tied it back to me through my shadow.” He replied. Izuku watched those luminescent eyes blink at him several times.

“Mother bless… how can you even—I know the coven mentioned your talent and potential but this is incredible!” Nimue started rambling. Izuku was left feeling lost again. Honestly, if anything his spell was sloppy. They weren’t very specific and could probably be easily broken and/or detected.

“I am sorry. But I really don’t know what you are asking me.” Izuku sighed. Nimue pinned him with her eyes again.

“You cast a catch all bonding spell on very specific targets. You could even tell them apart. That is amazing.” She said.

“Wait… I thought it was just basics. I mean can’t everyone tell magic signatures apart?” he asked. She shook her head.

“No, they can’t. They can read strong magical auras, but they can’t tell what they belong to unless they are told or see them.” She explained. “Why do you think there are so many repeat spells? Most witches can’t separate differences between human and non-human magic.” He blinked in shock. Was it really that rare of a skill? His mom did it all the time, she had been the one to teach him how to do it.

“If what you say is true, then you wouldn’t be able to trace him by my spell would you?” he asked softly. 

She shook her head and sighed.

“Okay, kid. I guess we’re at an impasse. I really can’t move forward without your help,” she said, “And you ambitious little thing have a deadline.” Izuku’s heart fluttered hopefully.

“You mean…” he whispered.

“Ok, this is now a joint case now. Your job is to see if you can get a bead on Compress and the Artefact he stole. Even better, if you can figure out what the Redeless want with it even. But under no circumstances should you engage with Compress or his accomplices. This is still a stealth mission.” She finally replied. “Do you accept the change in your mission?”

“Yes, senpai!” he said. She nodded.

“Very well, inform your mother of the changes. She will be equipped to give you all the information you need. As for me, I’m going to assist Zephyr with the clean-up. That is if he hasn’t finished it already.” She said as she made to leave the alley. As all the tension and emotion drained from his body, a question entered his mind.

“Wait. What happened to the Unversed…? And what are Redeless?” he asked as he followed the woman.

“The Unversed was transported home. They will think it nothing but a dream. As for the Redeless… they are complicated. Your mother would be better at explaining it than me.” She answered and, with a swirl of her cloak, she vanished. Izuku sighed. What a night…

A train ride later and Izuku was walking down a street filled with local shops. Most of them were closed for the night. He finally stopped in front of a two story building. The outside was unremarkable, it looked like most of the other shops. Large bay window on the left side. There were two oil lamps on each side of the door next to the window. Hanging from an iron post over it, was a wooden sign: Mystery and Magic. Izuku unlocked the door and breathed in the familiar scents of sage and lavender. He closed the door and locked it. He slipped through the familiar aisles with no trouble. Before he was aware of it, he stood before the door to the flat he and his mother shared. Izuku changed his shoes mechanically and entered the home.

“Oh, you’re back! I thought it would be a few hours more. So, how’d it go?” his mother rambled from the sofa as Izuku entered the living room. She had clearly been up waiting for him. Izuku sighed as he sunk into the cushions beside her. He let his head slump onto her shoulder.

“Terrible.” He mumbled. She patted his head in sympathy.

“What happened? Are you hurt?” she asked as she turned to get a better look at him in the dim light of the television screen.

“I’m fine, mom. And some guy called Compress got the jump on me and stole the Artefact. I managed to place a shadow based tracer on him. He hurt an Unversed, too.” Answered Izuku tiredly.

“Compress?!” his mother whispered. Izuku looked up at her. Even with the light shining on her face, Izuku could see that the color had drained from it. Her eyes were wide, she almost looked haunted. A chill ran down Izuku’s spine as he felt his mother’s magic wash over him in waves. It made his own buzz on his skin like ants.

“M-mom?” he choked out. Izuku had only seen his mother lose control of her magic in times of extreme distress, usually anger. But never fear. His mom was a worrier, sure, but when she needed to act, she was always calm. This was different. His mom was terrified and that had Izuku wondering if he was in over his head.

“D-Did he see you?” she blurted. She stared desperately into his eyes as she squeezed his shoulders tightly. Izuku swallowed hard,

“N-no. He didn’t.” Her tense visage melted away. Izuku watched the change that had come over his mother. Something about this man frightened her. “Mom, what’s wrong?” She sighed from the depths of stomach. Her grip slowly loosened and she traced his arms as she reached for his hands.

“There is… there is so much still left for you to learn. And I am not sure you’re ready for it.” She whispered quietly. “I-” her voice cracked, “I don’t think I am, either.”

“Would one of those things be the Redeless?” he asked quietly after a moment. His mother’s hands trembled in his lap and her head dropped between her shoulders. A taunt silence stretched over the room. A quiet,

“Yes.” Finally snapped the tension. Izuku took in a shaking breath and waited. “You must understand—things were and are still very complicated…” Izuku nodded slowly. “You know the Rede, yes?”

“If it harm none, do what you will…” Izuku answered. She nodded.

“Yes… that is the oldest form. The Redeless want to go back to that form with some caveats… I guess you could call it.” Inko sighed.

“What? Go back to…?” Izuku threw out.

“The Rede is casually used among Witches to refer to the Codes that bind our magic usage to the shadows. Not the old philosophy. We—The Redeless wanted the Codes to change, not to abandon the philosophy… at least we didn’t.” Izuku froze. We. His mom had been a part of the Redeless? But…

“Why?” he rasped. Tears gathered in the corner of his mother’s eyes. She looked away from him, swallowing hard. She opened her mouth to speak, but her voice cracked on the way out. She pursed her lips and her nostrils flared as she took a deep breath through her nose.

“When I was young, magic opened up my life. It gave me something to fill the void where my Quirk—no. Where my parents used to be. I could finally do things that people with Quirks couldn’t! And then I was told that I had to lie about it. I was…. angry. I finally could do something amazing and yet I had to hide from people I wanted to prove wrong! I can imagine you would understand why.” She admitted in rough chunks. Each word seemed to be pulled from a painful place deep inside her.

It was a painful place that Izuku knew well. It was a place carved out of thoughtless words and cruel taunts. Stonewalled opportunities and broken promises. Intentionally forgotten birthdays and never missed beatings. Apathetic strangers at best and gleeful tormentors at worst. It was a trench that took every ounce of strength Izuku had on some days to crawl out of, but was very easy to fall into. He had definitely hovered over the edge of it earlier tonight. But the second chance that he had been granted by Midnight had kept him from toppling over.

“Yeah, I definitely do,” Izuku muttered. The two talked some more. She explained that when she was young, she too became an Archivist as Izuku did. She had been taken under the wing of a woman named Minami. The woman had a forceful personality and a grand vision.

“Equality through magic, she called it,” Inko had whispered. “She wanted magic open so that people like you, like me, could defend ourselves. At least that is what she said.” His mother’s breath hitched, “Your father… tried to warn me. But I couldn’t see past my pain…”

“Mom…” whispered Izuku thickly.

“Lies! All of it! She just wanted to have power over people and that could potentially upstage those with more powerful Quirks.” She choked out. Izuku was taken aback by the forcefulness of his mother’s voice. “Her ideas had merit but her execution cost a lot of lives… including…” Here his mother lost the battle with her tears and burst into her heartrending sobs. It was painful for Izuku to listen to. He gently wrapped her up in his arms and held her. He decided to leave the past alone for now. They both had suffered through a long night.


The next morning, Izuku woke up early and helped his mom open the shop rather than heading to school. It was a Sunday. So, he spent his morning checking the herbs and product stock. Making sure nothing needed replacing and that everything was lined up nice and neatly for the customers.

As he was straightening some woven dream cloths in the window display, he felt a shift in the tracing spell. He could feel one of the markers getting closer. His heart rate picked up. He wasn’t sure which of the two mobile marks it could be. Whoever it was, they were closing in on the shop. He continued to check the display, trying to seem casual as he swept his eyes over the mostly deserted street. Suddenly, his eyes caught on bright white.

Coming down the street, was someone close to his age. They were dressed in a flowy blouse and long skirt that swished softly around their calves as they walked. They were carrying two wicker baskets in one hand. A floppy, lavender hat was perched on their head. Izuku tried to get a glimpse of the person’s face but unfortunately due to the angle of the hat, it was impossible. Then the person slowed as they neared the shop, they turned to stare at one of the elemental flags hanging in the window. Izuku could only stare.

It was a young woman. She had lovely gray eyes and long white hair. Izuku would easily describe her as heavenly in appearance. She eventually looked over and caught him staring. Izuku blushed at being caught and nervously waved at her, offering up what he hoped was a nervous smile and not a grimace. She flushed a lovely pink, like a flower. She gave an equally brief wave before continuing on down the street, hair flowing behind her like penchant.

Izuku blinked, breaking the mild trance he had been under. Only then did he realize that the marker had passed the shop. Wait… he thought. The girl. She was Marked by his spell. Could she have been in disguise that night? As the many possibilities rushed through Izuku’s mind, the young woman drew further and further away…

Chapter Text

Chizue continued hurrying down the street with her cheeks burning. What were the chances? She had run into the strange boy from the museum party. She thought she had dreamed him up. Her memories regarding that night were still hazy at best. She had woken up in her room, with little recollection of how she got there. But she clearly remembered going to the party, just not returning home.

She also remembered practically flattening another museum guest with her clumsiness. Her cheeks burned even more as the embarrassment from that encounter flooded her veins. The boy possessed the same brilliant emerald eyes. He had caught her staring at the flags in his window. He must have thought she was weird. She groaned at her own social awkwardness. Well, it’s not like it’s entirely my fault. Father doesn’t like me out and about much… she thought offhandedly. Yeah, because you’re an embarrassment… sneered her own dark thoughts. She hunched her shoulders a bit more at the thought.

Todoroki Chizue was born Todoroki Shouto. She preferred being called Chizue, though. But her father would never bother. He would be appalled and even angrier than he usually was. That was saying something, given that her very existence bothered the man to no end. There was nothing more that Todoroki Enji hated than a useless person. At least villains provide me with a job! He would often bellow while he was berating her for failing at one thing or another.

If Chizue was anything, she was useless. She was useless as a male, heck she was even useless with a Quirk. She was supposed to be her family’s answer to All Might. She was supposed to have the Quirk that would make her powerful enough to challenge his ranking. And she did… for about two years. In the midst of the mandatory, all day sometimes, training Chizue’s Quirk vanished. No doctor or Quirk expert could figure out why. One day it was there and then the next it wasn’t. It was embarrassing and disheartening to say the least. They suggested that it just might be Quirk anxiety and that it might come back on its own.

In desperation, her father’s training had just turned into straight beatings. He was hoping to force her Quirk to work again. But despite his efforts and her pain, Chizue’s Quirk remained hidden. Though, two scars eventually made their appearance. They were thin and not very noticeable, unless they were glowing. They glowed every time she tried to call to the ice or fire within her Quirk. They would burn, sending searing pain radiating up her arms.

With time, both her and her father gave up. She was only kept around to keep the manor clean and maintained. She made sure there was dinner and such whenever he was home. Other than that he loved to pretend that she did not exist. Like everyone else he had cast out of his home and heart. The only thing she had was a roof over her head. Oh, and her sister’s bank account… but she would much rather have Fuyumi back. She sighed heavily at her sad thoughts.

She turned her mind away from them and tried to focus on the rather lovely weather Musutafu was experiencing instead. It had been sunny and warm despite winter closing in on them. She was glad she was able to make it to the market today. She preferred to cook with fresh ingredients, like her sister used to. Thinking about Fuyumi brought her mood down again.

Thankfully, the brightly colored stalls of the market caught her attention. It was the same as always, humble and vibrant. She closed her eyes and let the essence of the gathering wash over her. The scent of various spices and fruits danced on the air, teasing her nose. The warm air wrapped around her like a warm hug. The voices of the sellers and customers came together in a soft melody that Chizue never got tired of listening to.

“Chizue, dear! It’s lovely to see you!” called the elderly Shuzenji Asuda. Chizue opened her eyes and trained them on the spry old woman that ran a small honey stand that she and her sister loved to visit. The lady had been kind enough to give them a small bee box and starter colony. Chizue had been working hard to take care of it.

“Hi Asuda-san!” Chizue said warmly as she made her way over. She tried to bow to the woman but Asuda swept her up in her arms the moment she was close enough. Chizue sighed happily as she settled into the hug. The woman was like the grandmother she never had… a sometimes foul-mouthed but kind and stern grandmother.

“Has that old bastard hurt you anymore?” she immediately asked as she released the teenager.

Chizue shook her head. Even after her disastrous crash during the museum party, he hadn’t so much as raised his voice at her. She had been walking on eggshells around the man nonetheless. She eventually had determined that he was too busy fuming at the fact that his exhibit had been robbed under his nose to care about her latest disaster. That suited Chizue just fine.

“He is far too busy trying figure out who had the balls to steal from him.” sighed Chizue as she eyed the wares in Asuda’s stall. Oh! She made gummies this time! Chizue made a mental note to get some before she did any serious shopping.

“Ha! I wish I knew! I’d shake their hand! Just wish they had taken that ass’s massive ego with them… surely that would have netted a nice sum for them!” chuckled Asuda.

Chizue shook her head as a wry smile pulled at her lips. Asuda had little use for ‘arrogant fuckers’ who thought they knew everything, but in reality, ‘they knew fuck all’. Endeavor fell firmly in that category for the woman, hero or not. He was even deeper on her list because of his less than stellar domestic performance.

“Oh, Asuda-san.” Laughed Chizue. The old woman winked roguishly, before changing the subject.

“So how are the little darlings doing?” she asked as she made herself comfortable behind her stall once more.

“They are doing great. I am not sure if I should find a bigger box! Moving them to the community garden was an excellent idea. They are producing way more honey and their numbers have doubled!” chattered Chizue excitedly.

She had gotten the idea to move her bee box to the small community garden that she had a plot in. There were more flowers in a smaller area for the bees to forage from. When she brought the idea to the garden manager, they were willing to give it a try. So far it had been a great success. Not only had her bees thrived, but the flowers were blooming better as well.

“That is wonderful, Chizue-chan! Be mindful that they might start swarming soon.” cheered the older woman.

The two quickly fell into a chat about beekeeping. Chizue was still trying to decide what to do with her plot come winter, she mostly kept flowers and a few herbs in the plot now. Mainly as food for her bees. She was tempted to grow a few gourds or more winter resistant vegetables. Eventually, more shoppers started to show up and Chizue decided to move on so that Asuda-san could conduct her business in peace. But she managed to purchase a small bag of the gummies that she had her eye on before she left. She also slipped the letter she had brought for her sister in the woman’s purse.

The young girl meandered her way through the maze of booths, stopping every now and then to admire one thing or another. She was really intrigued by a set of handmade calligraphy inks and paper. She loved writing and she found calligraphy to be a relaxing pastime. But she just sighed longingly and moved on. She only had enough money for the week’s vegetables. At least, of her father’s money.

She still had the money in the account that Fuyumi had left her. The girl had not known of its existence until a year ago, Ms. Asuda had wormed her way into the prison to see her older sister and had brought a letter back for Chizue. She had cried for weeks after receiving it. Eventually, they had started trading letters once every few months or so. No need for anyone to catch on that the two were still in contact.

Fuyumi had made Chizue, well Shouto, promise that the money would be used for what they wanted. So, that is what Chizue did. She started transitioning. If she was careful, she could maybe continue to stay on treatment until she was 18. She had already arranged a drop for her next set of hormone pills. They weren’t cheap, either. She had been taking the pills for nearly a year now and was already starting to see some changes. They were subtle, though.

So, as much as she wanted the calligraphy set, her transitional meds weren’t going to pay for themselves. Eventually, she was going to need a job. But she had no real place to start… after all her education was nonexistent. When Chizue’s Quirk vanished, Endeavor pretty much confined her to the manor. She had a tutor until about the age of 9 and then he stopped paying when it was looking like her Quirk was not going to return.

Fuyumi had picked up the slack afterwards, she had even been studying to be a teacher so that she could help more, but the fight happened and Fuyumi went to jail, vanishing from Chizue’s life just like their mother. The teen shook away the thoughts and focused on trying to find the shallots she wanted for dinner. She found them with little trouble once she was focused. As she went to grab some, another hand brushed past hers. She started like a hare.

“A-ah! I-I’m sorry! I was not paying attention!”

“F-forgive me, I am just clum-” Chizue started to apologize before she got a look at who she was speaking to.

Two lush green eyes were boring into hers. They were partially hidden under wild green hair that looked like fresh spring grass growing out of sun kissed earthen skin. Freckles were scattered over a kind, round face like seeds dropped by passing birds. Oh… heavens… he’s—

“Beautiful…”

“Gorgeous…” The two jumped and practically blushed in tandem at voicing their thoughts aloud.

Chizue and the boy started stuttering and stumbling through apologies. Unfortunately, they kept cutting each other off which only started off another round of apologies. Suddenly, a bubbly sound broke their cycle. Chizue could only gape as the boy doubled over laughing. It was an infectious sound that had her giggling softly to herself.

“Oh, how cute! Young love!” cooed an older lady as she passed by. The two stole a quick glance at each other before dissolving into another round of giggles, cheeks flushed. After a moment, they calmed themselves. The boy offered an awkward smile and suddenly recognition hit her.

“You are the boy from the—window!” she blurted. She stumbled on the last word because she was going to say ‘museum’ but changed it at the last second. No need to out herself by accident. The only person that knew that she was Shouto was Shuzenji-san and as far Chizue was concerned, she would remain the only one for a while.

“O-oh! Y-yeah! T-that’s me! I hope I haven’t weirded you out o-or anything?” he rambled, wide eyed for a moment. Good going, dummy! You scared him.

“No! No! Of course not, I was the one staring like a weirdo…” she said hurriedly, scuffing her boot on the concrete. She really, really sucked at socializing.

“No! I get it. The tapestries are really pretty. They were passed down through my mom’s family.” He said quietly, but his tone was full of sunlight. Warm and bright.

“Oh? That must be nice.” She replied quietly.

She wished her family had such nice things to pass down. But anything with no practical use did not last long in the Todoroki household. Enji made sure of it. Chizue had worked hard to hide all of her things where the man couldn’t find them.

“Yeah, it is. So, I think I interrupted your shopping? Sorry, again,” he said with a shaky chuckle, scratching at the back of his head. Chizue smiled, it seemed that she was not the only one nervous.

“Oh, it was not a problem. I probably cut you off anyway. My head was lost in the clouds.” She said softly.

“Midoriya Izuku.” The boy suddenly blurted. Chizue blinked in confusion. The boy’s face turned a lovely shade of cheery. “My na-name, I mean. I am Midoriya Izuku.” Oh!

“I am Chizue, just Chizue.” She responded, hoping to stave off questions about her last name. The color slowly faded from Midoriya’s face.

“Chi-zu-e-san.” He said quietly; slowly, like he was tasting the syllables. Chizue shivered at the sound of her name on his lips. This was not part of her plans for the day. But the girl found she couldn’t truly complain about the turn of events.

“Yes, it is a pleasure to meet you, Midoriya-san.” She said, letting her hair cover her face, hiding bashfully behind the curtain of white.

“It was nice meeting you, too, Chizue-san!” he replied, forcing her to look back up into his lovely viridian eyes.

She nodded weakly. Her heart jackhammering away in her throat had robbed her of speech. He waved, a boyish grin on his face, before wishing her a good day and leaving. Chizue watched him walk away until he vanished into a small crowd of shoppers. A shaky breath left her in a rush. She slowly turned back to the shallots and numbly gathered some.

She went through the rest of her shopping trip in a daze. The boy’s—Midoriya’s smile and laughter swam around in her head for the rest of the day. Eventually, she got everything she came for and with a heavy sigh made her way home. The manor was empty when she made it back, but there was nothing new about that. She carefully put the food away before heading to her room to change.

Her room was bare save for a closet and a futon. She went and folded the futon. Chizue ran her hand over the floor, searching for the groove to her hidden compartment. Once she found it, she moved the cover out of the way. The only thing in it was a trunk with a lock on it. With a huff she dragged the trunk out. She quickly turned the combination lock and opened it.

There were clothes, shoes and other accessories. Most of them had belonged to Fuyumi. She had managed to save some of her sister’s things before her father had the room stripped. She sighed as she gently pried the white wig from her head. She placed it in a silk bag then in the trunk. She quickly removed the blouse, skirt, and shoes, which also went into the container. She would have to clean them all once her father was out of town for a bit again.

She closed the trunk and hid it once again. Making her way to the closet, she opened and changed into more appropriate clothing. She ran a hand through her disheveled and unkempt hair. That was something else she had to do at some point, too. She was surprised that her father hadn’t said anything about it. She went to the bathroom and fished out the contact container hidden in the back of the medicine cabinet. She opened it and carefully removed the gray costume contact from her left eye. It was placed inside and the case closed. She hid it once again before closing the cabinet. She snuck a glance at her reflection in the mirror on the door.

Red and white hair hung in oily clumps around her slightly round face. Dull blue and gray eyes peered from under the unruly fringe. They were separated by a bright red scar that ran diagonally from the top of her right eye and continued to the bottom left cheek. It was from an accident long ago. It crossed a flat, slightly misshapen nose. It had been broken in the same incident. Chizue turned away. She was not a pretty sight as she was constantly reminded by her father.

Beautiful… the boy—Midoriya’s voice echoed briefly in her head. It was accompanied by the image of him blushing at the market and at the museum. She sighed in frustration. That was something that always puzzled Chizue, her father constantly called her ugly and yet complete strangers would often comment about her appearance, usually about it being pleasing. She had long put it down to pity or something. Because clearly, her face was a mess. She shook off her thoughts as she headed out of the bathroom, intending to start cleaning the more unused areas of the house.

As she cleaned a window, her eyes caught on the scar on her left wrist as she wiped it down. She remembered what had caught her eye about the tapestries in the window! One of them had symbol that looked just like the scar on her left wrist. What did it mean? Something in her felt like if she could get the answer, that she could maybe fix her Quirk situation. But she would have to look into it another time. The manor had to been cleaned in preparation for a garden party at the end of the next week. She snorted in derision at the thought.

Her father was still seething about the robbery. So, he was trying to recover some pride by showing off his gardens, which Chizue cared for, and his ‘collection of artifacts’, which she also maintained, to a bunch of Pros and media hounds. All the while, she would be stuck in the kitchen making food, while her father got all the praise.

For the briefest of moments, she allowed her indignation burn through her heart and throat. The man was like a forest fire, burning through everything… taking and devouring leaving nothing but light and destruction behind him. She… hated it. Yet, she depended on it. He had no qualms about reminding her of that.    

She did not ask to be born in the situation she was in, all she could do was survive as best she could. But her father worked hard to make sure that her only option for survival was him. She was as good as Quirkless, which was already a handicap. He made sure her education was next to nonexistent. That was vital to getting a decent job and an income she could support herself with. He held on to all money that entered their home. It was just luck that he had not discovered her account. Lastly, he had removed anyone that would dare to try and help. Her mom was cast out of the home back when the training first started. Chizue still remembered her mother’s screams as she was dragged from their home. She sometimes wondered where she ended up… was her mother still alive somewhere out there?

When Fuyumi started taking up their mom’s missing role in Chizue’s life, their father began hounding the elder sister more. But Fuyumi, like mom, never backed down or away. But she too was taken away. Their father had been in rather foul mood and proceeded to beat Chizue for breaking a plate. That fight had led to Chizue getting a rather large gash across her face and a broken nose. Fuyumi had attacked their father over it. The coward had called the police and blamed Fuyumi for it while Chizue was unconscious. His sister was sentenced to spend 15 years in prison. Chizue had cried for months, but she learned her lesson. She gave up trying to escape the man. That did not mean that she did not hate him and what he had done.

When the clock began tolling the hour, Chizue realized that time had gotten away from her. She finished up the current chore, before she started on dinner. She finished it up just as Endeavor returned home from work. He ate without comment other than to ask about the preparations for the party. She informed him that they were on schedule and that she would need to purchase perishables like meat and such the day of. He was satisfied with that.

“What about wait staff? Even if the party itself is for 50 or so guests, I can’t cook and serve,” she offered up shyly. When he glared at her, she hastily added, “Not that I am unwilling to t-try… It would just be more professional.” He said nothing, but continued to eat.

Once he was done, he dropped his utensils and exited the room with nary another word. Chizue sighed. She was going to have to change the menu at this rate. There was no way she was going to be able to essentially cater this event with no help.

As she cleaned the leftover dishes, she tried to think of ways to make this thing more manageable. Unfortunately, she was coming up with little. She hated these moments. Something would piss off her father and she would bear the brunt of it until whatever the situation was resolved or his smarting pride was satisfied. When she was younger, she would blame herself for whatever happened and fully take whatever the cruel man would dish out. As she grew older, she quickly realized that she was not always the one at fault. But she dared not contest it out loud.

She cringed as she remembered exactly what happened when she had confronted him after one of their many spats. She absently rubbed at the burn scar on her left side. She was well trained at this point, she rebelled only when she knew he would not catch her… the low self-esteem and self-hatred continued to cling to her like chains around her ankles. Her recent attempts at being closer to who she wished to be were the  biggest rebellion Chizue had ever undertaken. The meds were a huge step.

The last dish was dried and put away. Chizue then leaned against the counter and munched on the leftovers from dinner. Once she cleaned her things, she headed back to her room…

Two days passed and Chizue had finally managed to find some time to go work on her plot and check on her bees. So, she had donned a pair of old pants and a long sleeved shirt. The wig was styled into a simple bun and her contact was in place. She wandered out to the garden shed and retrieved her beekeeping gear. It was all carefully stored in a duffle. She then headed for the gardens.

It was another nice day, no clouds but pretty chilly. She arrived at the plots to find someone pulling weeds from around some poppies. She also saw some lavender and mint, too. What an interesting assortment. She thought. Carefully, making her way around the plots, Chizue made her way to the bee box in the back. She could see a few bees were out and about, but the cold weather might be slowing them down. She placed the duffle next to the plot that she kept her plants in and opened it. She pulled out her face guard and gloves. After putting them on and making sure there were no gaps in her clothing for the bees to crawl into, she started her inspection. Everything looked normal, not as many eggs, though.

Since winter was coming, that was to be expected. The bees slowed down, and the queen stopped laying in order to conserve resources for the winter. She spent some time going through frame after frame. Once she was satisfied with her inspection, she went back to the bag and placed her gear in it.

Turning her attention to her plants and flowers, she found them starting to die from the cold. She made a mental note to check on her winter seedlings in the garden shed’s small windowsill. She was hoping to replace her dying spring garden with heartier winter ones. She glanced up at someone sighing. A familiar head of wild viridian locks caught her attention. Once again she found herself staring at Midoriya Izuku like a witless idiot. He lifted his head.

“Oh! Chizue-san! Hello!” he said, a soft smile on his face. Chizue worked her jaw as she tried to squeak out a response.

“H-hi… Midoriya-san.” She finally whispered. The smile widened.

“I didn’t know you had a plot here. Or bees for that matter.” He said, clearly trying to make conversation.

“I didn’t know you did, either,” she answered.

“It’s nice to see you again.” She watched as the boy stood, wiping his hands on his pants.

It was clear that he had been at work for a while. There was dirt on his knees and his t-shirt. She actually stared at the shirt for a moment. Did it say ‘work clothes’? It did. She couldn’t help the laugh that fell from her lips. She covered her mouth, but they wouldn’t stop. She just prayed that it would hide that her voice was not very feminine.

“I-I am sorry, Midoriya-s-san. It-your shirt.” She finally managed to squeak as the giggles died down.

He had been staring at her the whole time, something unidentifiable in his expression. His cheeks were tinged pink, like a newly opened flower petals. The overcast skies making his hair look dark like a deep green flower stem. She had never met someone who reminded her so much of the very Earth itself. It was this energy about him. Chizue was being drawn in like one of her bees to nectar. It was ridiculous, really.

“O-oh! Ha ha! Yeah… I like them… I think they’re pretty funny. I never met someone else who did.” He laughed nervously after a moment.

He scratched at his cheek, a lopsided grin pulling at his lips. In that moment a small break in the clouds allowed a small beam of light to fall on his face, warming his skin and making his eyes gleam. Chizue’s breath stuttered in her chest. Fae… was the only thought that pervaded her nearly frozen mind.

“Chizue-san?”

“Yes?” she blurted drawn from her trance by his voice. It was soft, yet energetic like water babbling down a stream.

“I was saying it was lovely seeing you again. I have to go, mom is probably finished with dinner… and I kind of need to shower.” He replied.

He shifted and placed one hand behind his head. She suddenly noticed that he had well defined arms despite having such a lean build. Her mouth went dry and her heart throbbed. Someone kill me please… she thought.

“Y-yes. It was nice seeing you again, too. I hope the rest of your day goes well.” She said, bowing. He bowed as well, before gathering his things and leaving with a smile.

Chizue eventually shook herself from her daze, blushing at her own social ineptitude. She quickly finished her own garden work and headed for home. She grabbed something to eat on the way…       

Unfortunately, that was the last day she really had to herself. The next few days were filled with running about picking up the various things needed for the party from linens to the tables they were supposed to go on. She spent time picking flowers and making arrangements to go on said tables. Double checking the food and menu, along with everything else. She eventually found herself having an unexpected, but needed break when her father had shoved a credit card in her hands saying for her to ‘get a proper uniform’ while he had a meeting with a partner the following day in another prefecture. This left her with a promised day to herself and some spending money.

She woke up that morning eagerly, got dressed as herself, smiling as she brushed the white hair softly. Chizue was planning on enjoying the day as much as possible. She would probably buy the requested uniform first and then spend the rest of the day doing her own things.

Buying the uniform didn’t even take an hour. The mystery of the symbols and the tapestries had continued to plague her. She had recalled that the shop she saw them in had been called Mystery and Magic . Chizue had figured that the shop was a magic shop or at least a naturalist shop. She got the crazy idea that maybe the symbol was related to magic. It was a farfetched idea but it wasn’t like she had any alternatives. All the methods the medical and Quirk knowledge had been exhausted trying to fix her Quirk. Farfetched or not, it was the first idea she had in years.

So, this was why Chizue found herself at a neighborhood library. She had been hoping to find some books on magic, maybe it could lead her to some answers. She was in full dress today, not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to herself as Todoroki Shouto… not with the party so close. Thankfully, her father had relented and gotten a bartender and a professional waiter for the event. The only thing she would have to be focused on was the food. She could do that.

Right now, though, all of her focus was on a book she had found. It was titled An Apprentice's Guide to Sigil Work by a woman named Maki Naemi. It was one of those cheesy layman guides to magic or nature work or whatever they wanted to call it. It seemed to be the most promising out of what she found. She had found a page baring different symbols. Different from the ‘Nordic Runes’ and such people liked to talk about. Her eyes were glued to one particular symbol, or sigil, as it was called. It was the symbol for ice. She stared at the faint lines on her right wrist. They matched the ones on the page.

She quickly looked at her left wrist and scanned the page for the same marks as the ones carved in her flesh. She found it. It was fire.

Chizue’s head swam. It had been a long shot, but it had worked. She may have a good lead on how to fix her Quirk. The only problem was… no one was going to believe her. As far as anyone else was concerned, magic… wasn’t real. She thought such closed mindedness was silly… Quirks existed after all. Who was to say magic couldn’t as well. But knowing her father as she did… he would not take a gamble on such a thing, he put too much stock in Quirks. But Chizue was willing to try.

“Interested in magic?” came a quiet voice. She jerked her eyes from the page and found herself lost in eyes the color of foliage in the summer. It seemed her fae prince had returned. Fae prince…? Dear lord… she thought.

“Umm… maybe.” She finally managed to reply. Midoriya’s eyes lit up eagerly.

“Really? Why?” he asked, settling into the chair across from her. Chizue fumbled for an answer that wouldn’t give away too much but not make her seem crazy. Chizue stared at her cloth covered wrists. A variation of the truth might get her out of this.

“When I was young… there was an accident. When I woke up I had these.” She said quietly, as she pushed back her sleeves. Midoriya’s eyes widened. She could literally see the wheels turning in his head.

“Ice and Fire… such an interesting combination… but why like that? I mean if I didn’t know any better…” Midoriya started to ramble, slowly dissolving into a mess of soft muttering.

“Ummm…” Chizue mumbled. This could be bad. While on one hand, he seemed to buy her story, on the other, he was far more curious about it than she had expected him to be. He even knew what the symbols were without even glancing at the book… He knew the symbols!

“Midoriya-san… do you practice… magic?” she asked hesitantly. He nodded softly.

“I do. My mom, too. Hey! Maybe you should come by the shop some time! Perhaps mom might know something about your scars.” He said enthusiastically. “O-of course, if that is what you want…” he added with a weak grin that made her knees equally weak. She is really, really pathetic. But he is otherworldly and Chizue might be falling just a bit.

“I would like that, visiting your shop…” she finally said after a moment.

“Ok! We are open every day but Wednesday! Drop by anytime!” he said, beaming.

“Ok,” Chizue replied, smiling.   

Chapter Text

“Ok,” said Chizue, smiling softly.

Izuku felt his heart throb. She was gorgeous, but so confusing. He had been following her for the past week, mostly at a distance. The more time he spent around her, the more confused he became. Chizue herself seemed genuine and kind. Izuku could easily commiserate about the social anxiety she seemed to have. She was soft spoken and hesitant, but pleasant. Izuku definitely wanted to see her more, especially now that he knew she was interested in magic.

“Ok! Great! I looked forward to seeing you!” he said excitedly, voice low.

A lovely flush spread through her face. Izuku felt his heart squeeze again. Dear heavens, he was falling fast. You don’t even know her! After all, she could be an accomplice to the theft, you idiot. The two chatted quietly for another few minutes. Eventually, Chizue had to leave saying that her father had a big party planned for his job and that she needed to return home to help finish setting up details.

“It was lovely to see you again, as always.” Chizue said with a bow, the book held in her arms.

Izuku’s eyes followed her as she left. He was surprised to see that her shadow was happier than usual. He was even more surprised when it seemed to turn back and look at him. It bowed, before being dragged away as Chizue moved further away.  Izuku stared at the ceiling. The white haired beauty with eyes the color of storm clouds was truly baffling him. On one hand, he knew next to nothing about her, on the other hand, something in him was being drawn to her. And no, it just wasn’t the just trace spell, either. He moaned. More than likely it was his ‘saving people thing’.

Every time he had seen her before, her shadow looked troubled. It was always curling in on itself, trying to hide or its shoulders slumped like it was carrying a great weight. Once, he had just followed along behind her trying not to cry as he watched her shadow seem to weep and wail as it followed along in her wake.

Shadows were interesting. They held all of people’s secrets. If one was well versed in how to read them, they could learn to read what those secrets meant. Not only that, they made great weapons. Izuku had taken up studying shadow magic after he learned that it was his father’s secondary element. It called to him in a way that fire did not. He remembered his Awakening. It was a ride to say the least.

Awakenings were a rite of passage that many witches looked forward to, especially Archivist aspirants. This was a special meeting between a witch and the elements themselves. It usually took place while the witch was in a specially induced trance that came after their initiation rites were completed for an Archivist or a witch completed their training under a Mage. That is if the person wanted to.

But, the original version of the Rite had been simply through dreams. The witch would accidently make contact with the spiritual realm and be visited by guides. In order to be guided back to the Mortal realm, the witch must promise the elemental representative a favor of sorts. Then the guide would lead them home and then imbue the witch with a connection to that guide. The connection would boost a witch’s ability tenfold.

Thus the Rite was highly sought after. But it was a dangerous one. After all, the person was putting their very soul on the line. The person undergoing the rite could get lost before reaching the spirit realm. They could reach the spirit realm but find no guides. They could be attacked by malevolent spirits.   

Izuku, according to his mother, had been the second witch from their coven to have a True Awakening and also the youngest. A True Awakening was an awakening event that took place in a dream as happened in the olden times. This meant two things: the witch was powerful and they were chosen by the elements. Of course, Izuku was ignorant to all of this until he started his Archivist training and his mother told him when he was becoming disheartened by not having a mentor for a while. She had explained that they were looking for a viable mentor for Izuku and that it was taking a while.

His Awakening had come at the age of seven after a particularly vicious fight with Kacchan and his lackeys. The boy had gone to bed cursing his Quirklessness and the awful change in his friend. Before he knew it, he had awakened in a ring of cypress and cedar trees. He was lying in a patch of burgundy lilies and camellias of white and yellow. He looked around curious. But he wasn’t afraid. The place had felt calm. He could sense others moving beyond the ring of wood. He suddenly remembered his mother talking about a similar ring of trees and how some spirits visited there.    

Izuku had not been surprised when the Kitsune (Fire), Kame-ishi (Earth), and Fujin (Wind) had shown up. He had been familiar with those creatures as his parents had connections to them. His mother was a wind witch, but she was also a heavy Earth user, too. His father had been a fire user.  He had been surprised by the Enenra (Shadow), and Raijin (Lightning), though. He had only read about them. At first, he had been curious about the Raijin, but frightened of the Enenra. He could not remember either of his parents having a connection to that element or the Raijin for that matter. But the Enenra seemed very interested in him. As the animals came to stand before him, Izuku slowly sunk into a small bow before straightening up.

“What can I offer you?” he asked as he had been taught.

The animals all looked at him and then at each other. The Raijin, a rather large onyx weasel stepped forward and seemed to study Izuku for a moment. He hesitantly held out his hand for it to sniff. The spirit nibbled at it, before settling down next to him on his right. Izuku had blinked but didn’t move. The Kame-ishi, with a grey but firm looking shell, also moved towards him. It sniffed his other hand before licking it and settling down next to him on the same side. The little boy had been confused but delighted.

Finally, the Enenra moved closer, almost shyly. A hissing rattle leaving its… mouth? Its form kept writhing and shifting. He was not sure if it had a body. But while the turtle and weasel continued to lay next to him, the Enenra continued with its rattling wail. What was it trying to say? Izuku wanted to understand. He felt bad that the only one attempting to speak to him could not be heard. Suddenly, the hissing died away and he could faintly hear what sounded like his name as if it were being called through a harsh wind.

“Izuku…Izu ku …. Please.” It rasped. Izuku had blinked in shock, but gamely answered,

“What do you need?” The creature released another weary cry. It shuffled forward a little more. It was hovering before Izuku and the others.

“Pain…” it sighed, “help me…” Izuku frowned.

He had never read or heard of anything like this happening before. Usually, the guide remarked on something about the person. Like I need your strength or patience or something to that extent. Never an outright plea for help. That didn’t mean that Izuku was not going to try.

“How? How can I help? Are you hurt?” he had asked. The creature swayed back and forth before him.

“No… they… hurt… so much. They hide… so much. But we shadows see… but we cannot act. You… can.” It suddenly hit Izuku. The shadow creature wanted Izuku to help others… not itself. Izuku would be honored to do such a thing.

“Ok.” He whispered. “I always want to help. If it will help you for me to help people then I will. I will act for you.” The Enenra’s energy changed.

It almost seemed relieved. The other creatures made to leave without a sound. However, the turtle and weasel remained where they were, resting next to Izuku. He thought that was a strange thing as well, but was too preoccupied with the Enenra to bother dwelling on it.

The creature had begun folding in on itself, turning into a simple plume of smoke. The smoke darted towards Izuku startling a cry from him. It brushed over his shoulder and disappeared into his shadow. Izuku blinked, before a current of power seemed to surge through his body.

Unfortunately, he woke up not long after that, so he never got to see what happened after that. However, he discovered that he now had a smattering of freckles on his shoulder that vaguely resembled the sigil for shadow. That and his shadow had changed. It was darker and seemed livelier. It would twitch or flail if he stood still too long. It would act out at things even if Izuku did not. Other people’s shadows were also different to him. They were dark and just as animated as his was now. Izuku had almost walked into things on several occasions as he gaped at all the shadows. He eventually got used to it as he trained more.        

His mother had been ecstatic when he told her that he had his Awakening. She had served him breakfast and plied him with questions. When he explained his interaction with the Enenra, his mother’s face crumpled.

“What? You… but why? I never… and Hisashi… he never… oh.” She rambled for a moment before freezing. “I had forgotten about that. And, of course, you would say yes. Oh Izuku, what am I going to do with you,” Izuku had been confused and about to cry, thinking he had done something wrong. But his mother had hugged him and said that it was fine. It just meant that he was destined to do something good, but hard.

She had not been wrong. Izuku had spent a lot of time comforting people that were hurting. Stopping those with ill intentions. It was exhausting sometimes but he always did his best. And now it seemed like another tough situation had been put in front of him.

What was Chizue-san hiding? Was she magically trapped by the thief? What was with those marks? He had so many questions and seemed no closer to finding any answers. He finally returned to the present to find that he had long left the library and had started making his way home. In just a couple of more blocks, he would reach the shop he and his mother lived in.

“Izuku!” called his mother from the cash register as he stepped in the door a few minutes later.

He grinned delightedly and allowed his previous thoughts to fall away as his mother’s love wrapped around him. He truly did love her. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked over and laughed. His shadow was being gleefully hugged by his mother’s, squeezing back in the embrace. Izuku slipped behind the counter after a moment, and the two were soon mimicking their shadows.

“Hi Mom!” he said as he released her. “How was the shop today?” She smiled as she went back to counting the till down for the day.

“It was good, steady customers. So, we did far more than break even today!” she answered brightly. Izuku beamed, a good day at the shop was always a good thing.

“How was your day?” she asked in return. Izuku sighed as the thoughts from earlier began to nudge at his consciousness.

“I saw Chizue-san, today,” he started. His mom shot him a look over her shoulder.

“Oh? How is the dear girl?” she asked as she shut the drawer with a snap.

“She seemed happier today,” he said unsurely. He added nothing else, watching his mother put the money and till into the safe for the money drop later in the week.

“Something troubling you, Izuku?” she asked, eyeing him in concern.

“I just—there are so many pieces and none of them seem to fit.” He finally huffed as he leaned against the counter. His mother hummed thoughtfully as she moved to lock up the shop for the day.

“Well, you can tell your mother what is bothering you and maybe I can help you make sense of it all.” She offered as she led him up to their apartment.

“Well, I sense no ill will from her. Her shadow seems far more troubled than malicious. What I don’t understand is what her role in all of this is.” He answered as he tailed her up the stairs.

“The thing might be that she has no role, Izuku…” suggested Inko as she opened the door. A delicious smell permeated the small dwelling. Izuku’s stomach growled in impatience. “I put something in the crockpot this morning.” She added with a laugh. Izuku chuckled and scratched at his head.

“But I found her in the alleyway and she looked different then, too!” he added as he put his hand down.

“That is fair, I suppose, but it might be circumstantial. Maybe she saw the thief and went after them herself.” She suggested as she went into the kitchen.

Izuku frowned. It was possible. But the man had cast a medium level glamour. No one else was even paying attention. If she had seen that something was wrong, that meant she knew about magic… So, she may have not have necessarily been with the thief. After all, the thief even remarked that he hadn’t known about Izuku. So, it could have been a coincidence that both he and Chizue had gone after the thief.

“Ok, that is possible but something the thief said makes me wonder…” muttered Izuku as he followed his mother. “He said that it was thanks to her that he knew I was at the party.”

“Hmmm… that is strange. Maybe she is a reluctant accomplice or even an unknowing one.” Mused his mother as she stirred the stew.

Izuku thought back to the party. He had not been tailed by anyone malicious… his shadow would have informed him. The only thing that had happened to him was bumping into Chizue and falling. Perhaps, she did tell the thief he was there but not on purpose. Instead, he may have seen their awkward collision and knew what he was from experience.

“Well, regardless of what her role in all of this is, I will try to find out more about her before making any final decisions.” Izuku said resolutely. “She has an interest in magic anyway and I invited her to the shop at some point so I may get my answer eventually.”

“Oh, really? I would love to meet her. After all, I have to vet her first before we discuss anything in depth… as I am sure you remember.” His mother said firmly. Izuku gulped

“Of course,” he replied. The two eventually settled down for dinner before turning in for the night…

Three days passed and Izuku found himself loitering around the Musutafu train station. He was planning on checking out a small festival in Hosu that was featuring the acrobatics troupe that performed at Endeavor’s event. His mother had persuaded him to focus on the task at hand and take a more active role in hunting down the thief, Sako Atsuhiro, otherwise known as Compress. Izuku agreed.

As much as he was drawn to Chizue-san, he had a job that needed doing. Despite following her for a while, she never came in contact with Compress or the Komorebi. So, he needed to set his sights on the object. So, he looked at some stories on the exhibit robbery and discovered the troupe’s name. From there it was easy to track the group’s movements. He happened across the small advert for a Hosu City community day event featuring a bunch of small acts. The troupe was among them.

Thus, Izuku found himself spending more of his figurine money to take a trip to Hosu. He had a bag with snacks, a couple of notebooks, several pens, and some spare cash. He was also wearing a protection spell his mother insisted upon him wearing. It was a small bottle with a potion in it made of geranium rose, basil, pine, and vetivert oils with a few black peppercorns floating within.  His mother was a bit of an anomaly. She was a Wind and Earth witch that was a renowned Potions Mistress.

Izuku often wondered why she turned to potions when she would have had more effective power working with candle or talisman magic. Given what he learned about her past recently, he was thinking that something went wrong when she was part of the Redeless. Maybe she turned to potions as a way to cope? He would never know.

The crackle of the loudspeaker jarred Izuku back to the rest of the world. They were calling for his train. He made his way to the platform. He showed his ticket and was allowed past the turnstile. The train was already carrying passengers but it wasn’t too crowded. He picked a window seat in an empty aisle and put his bag on the floor in front of his feet, pulling out some headphones, his hero analysis notebook, and a pen. He would use the couple of hours to Hosu to catch up on some analysis work by viewing fight videos and news segments.

An hour into the ride, they made a stop at a smaller station. Izuku had only noticed because he felt the train slow. He pulled out one of his earbuds and looked around slightly worried. Once the announcement was made, he relaxed back into his seat. He went to turn on another news segment, when movement caught his eye. There’s no way! He thought. But, despite his denial, the sun glinted off of hair the color of quartz stone and made eyes of diamond sparkle. Those same eyes widened in surprise, before a sweet smile pulled at her lips. She slowly glided towards him.

Izuku prayed he wasn’t gaping like an idiot, because he wasn’t sure he could do anything about it. His body was frozen, possessed, by the beauty in front of him. She stopped at his row and eyed the empty seat beside him before hiding behind her gossamer curtain of hair.

“Oh, you can s-sit here,” he managed to squeak out. She looked at him and smiled again, carefully sitting down and placing her bags on her lap. “H-hello again.”

Chizue giggled softly, a little wispy sound. It delighted Izuku nonetheless. His shadow was practically melting into a puddle before Chizue’s. Her shadow acted bashful under the attention.

“Did you drop something?” she asked. Izuku tore his eyes from the kabuki spectacle on the seats in front of them.

“Ah yeah, it was just—one of my spare pens.” He lied as he pretended to look down at the floor. The heat in his face made his voice crack. That in turn made him blush more. She’s gonna kill me, he groaned mentally, but I can’t say it would be a bad way to go…

“Oh, should I move so you can find it?” she asked politely. Izuku immediately waved his hands in front of his face.

“No, no, no! I h-have several! Besides the train is about to take off soon. Please make yourself comfortable, Chizue-chan—san!” Izuku wanted to die. Chizue tilted her head in a concerned manner. Izuku heart skipped several beats. K.O. Izuku was about to die of a coronary when Chizue spoke,

“A-are you sure, Midoriya—kun?”

Izuku felt like he was going to float away at that. He actually felt his behind leave the seat. Oh no! He took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Finally, gravity returned and dragged his lovesick ass back into the chair. Thank goodness for the seatbelt. He may have floated into the ceiling. That would have been fun to explain… especially to his mom.

“Yes, yes! It’s fine, Chizue-chan,” He said. She beamed at the honorific, blushing.

She smiled and pulled out a book from her backpack. It was the same book from the library. His eyebrows rose. She was still reading, huh? He began to wonder if his mother’s theory about her being unwittingly involved in magic was correct.

It was not unusual for people with powerful Quirks to be born with powerful magic, too. After all, people with powerful magic could pass for having a very powerful Quirk. So, the genes often intermingled. Chizue could not only have a powerful Quirk but powerful magic. The urge to question Chizue came back full force. If he could get her perspective on the museum incident… that would clear up half of his questions.

Because it could have been that like him, she had seen the thief take the jewel or noticed that it was missing. Even powerful witches that were Unversed could feel and even sometimes see the effects of magic. That would easily explain Chizue’s presence in the alley.  But once again, those pesky Codes got in the way. He sighed. He would just have to wait until she and his mom met.

“Still enjoying the book?” he asked after a while. She nodded.

“Yes! It’s fascinating. It is a different way of looking at the world that is for sure.” She said.

“Well, you know… the offer’s still open… to visit the shop. We have everything from over the counter stuff to natural remedies, too. We make talismans and charms too!” he rambled. Chizue’s eyes lit up.

“Oh, yes! I really do want to visit, it’s just—I stay so busy.” She huffed.

“Ah. No rush! Like I said we are open most days! So, are you running an errand or just taking a break?” he asked turning his full attention to his new friend . The thought made his insides squirm happily.

“Running an errand, unfortunately.” She sighed before lifting up the smaller bundle on her lap. “My father works in Hosu and I am bringing his lunch to him.” She admitted with a rueful smile. Movement caught Izuku’s attention. Chizue’s shadow was stomping her foot angrily and seemed to be having a rather spirited conversation with his own. His shadow’s shoulders were hunched, fists balled at his side. Something more to this story, hmm? He thought.

“I—get the feeling this happens a lot?” he ventured tentatively.

“Too often.” She huffed, rolling her eyes. Izuku smirked. “But I don’t mind too much. It gets me out of the house.” Izuku choked as he watched Chizue’s shadow out the corner of his eye. She stomped her foot a final time before seeming to throw herself on floor in a crossed legged position and folding her arms.

Izuku fidgeted. His own need to help and pressure from his promise to the Enenra was pushing him to alleviate her pain in some way. But he was also prying into someone’s life. A person that just tentatively considered him a friend.

“I see. Well, I am on my way to a community day event in Hosu! Some local heroes will be there. I may stay awhile and then go to Shibuya to look for some fights.” Izuku decided to try and change the subject to something else. Hoping that maybe some small talk would improve her mood. It was the best he could do.

“The community day sounds fun. I did not know Hosu had them. Also, why would you want to find a fight? Are you an adrenaline junkie?” she asked. Izuku made a strangled noise. She was a blunt one, huh?

“N-not exactly. I like to watch h-hero fights and make notes. I want to be a hero, so I analyze Quirks and fighting styles.” He answered. Chizue’s eyes widened.

“Ah! That is clever! I take it that is what the extra pens are for?” she teased. Izuku grinned and nodded.

“So, what about you, Chizue-chan? What are your dreams?” he asked. He watched the girl perk up slightly, before her eyes dimmed and her shoulders slumped. She fidgeted with her hands before combing her hair in front of her face.

“I-I don’t know, really… I’m rather usel—I mean… I used to think I c-could be a hero…” She whispered brokenly.

Izuku flinched. He could see so much of himself in Chizue in that moment that it hurt. He was also well aware that she almost called herself useless. How many times had he referred to himself in such a manner? Even now, with a “Quirk”, he still felt completely out of his depth at times.

“I am sorry,” he muttered, “I did not mean to upset you…”

“No! No, its fine. It’s something I have come to accept. I-I guess that is why I don’t think about my future much. I just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.” She said.

Izuku studied the shadows once more. Chizue’s was holding out her hands, his own shadow watching curiously. Something started to appear around her hands, before sparks danced around them. Her shadow flinched and clutched her hands to her chest. Her image hunched over as if she was in pain. Izuku frowned. There was something going on with his new friend. He quietly swore that he would get to the bottom of it.

“I don’t think that your future is completely lost because you can’t be a hero…” said Izuku. He only winced a little at the hypocrisy.

“Hah! Tell that to my father,” she muttered quietly.

Izuku felt something dark flood his soul at those words. Between the shadowy dance being performed on their seats and the young girl’s words, Izuku was beginning to wonder if Chizue home life was okay.

“Look, I really am sorry for upsetting you. How about once you finish your errand, we hang out at the festival… I’ll even buy lunch. I could even go with you to your father’s job, if you like.” He offered.

It was a risky compromise. On one hand, he truly did feel remorseful over his nosy prying. On the other, he would be spending more time trying to do just that… He longed to kick himself.

“Oh! T-thank you for your kind offer! It’s just… my father… works for En-in a hero agency and I have clearance but the public can’t just—” she stuttered in reply.

The one gray eye he could see was wide and her visible cheek blazed red. Izuku interest went from a mild burning to an inferno. Did she say her father worked for a hero agency?!

“Oh! That’s pretty cool.” He said offhandedly as he tried to rein in his curiosity.

“Yes… I guess, it would seem that way…” she mumbled thoughtfully. “But… if you give me the address… I would love to join you at the festival… if it’s no trouble.”

Her fragile smile at him as she came out from behind her hair turned the air in Izuku’s lungs to ice. All he could do was nod. His shadow was hopping up and down in excitement and Chizue’s seemed to be laughing at him.

“We could exchange numbers and I can text you the details… and we can call when you get there!” he said after a moment.

She nodded. He gave her his number and she texted him. Then he sent her the details and the two slowly returned to their previous tasks. Chizue looked absorbed in her book, while Izuku was distracted. There was so much to unpack. But he couldn’t afford to get distracted.

There was another 30 minutes or so of their ride left and Izuku needed to finish brushing up on the people he was going to watch. He pulled up a few videos of the troupe he was going to go investigate. They seemed relatively talented and entertaining. But he needed more info on the thief among them, Compress. From what he had seen the man was quite the entertainer and loved being the center of attention. None of his acts seemed to incorporate any use of magic that Izuku could perceive.

However, one video did catch his attention. He hid a small object under his handkerchief and made it disappear.

Izuku was somewhat familiar with those sort of palming tricks. His father used to dream of being an amateur magician when he finished with his job. He had always performed small tricks in their home. He had even taught Izuku some of them.  

Compress made a strange shape with his hand when he made the object disappear, but the handkerchief distorted slightly. Was he using magic? Or something else. He watched the video over and over again but couldn’t seem to find the cause of the distortion. He lucked out and found a video from another angle. For the briefest of moments, Izuku could see the object shrink and then Compress palm the object. His eyes blew wide.

His mind flashed back to the alleyway and the small objects. Then it flashed to him finding Chizue on the ground. That’s his Quirk! He thought triumphantly. He can shrink things… wait no… He remembered how weak the signals coming from Chizue and the Komorebi were. It was like they were in a barrier of some sort… He grunted in frustration.

“Something wrong?” Chizue asked. Izuku looked up from his phone.

“Oh… nothing, just a video with a bad angle. I just wanted to see the Quirk in action better… it was in Shibuya not too long ago,” he fibbed slightly.

“Ah! Ok. I guess that would be a little frustrating. Do you have a friend who lives there that might know more?” she asked. Izuku froze while his shadow face palmed. How could he have been so dense? He could have just asked his mom or Nimue!

“Thank you! I think I do!” he said quietly. He rapped out a quick text to his mom and waited.

Mom: He called it Compress. He could store things in these little marbles. He has to touch the object.

Izuku blinked at the screen. Well the night at the museum made more sense now. He can only blame his lack of follow through on having a rattled head. But it fit now. Chizue, whether intentionally or accidentally, had come across Compress and the thief had imprisoned her. He must have also used his Quirk on the Komorebi, too.

Ok, so one, Izuku definitely needed to stay out of his reach then. He could do that. He could easily follow the man with his shadow if need be. But he had to tread carefully. Izuku was not sure how Versed he was. Two, the Komorebi was bound to be held inside of a marble rather than easily identified case or bag. Getting to the object was probably going to require some thought, if he wanted to avoid being in the range of the man’s Quirk. Izuku sighed and stared out the window, idly watching as Hosu got closer and closer…

Chapter Text

Eventually, the train pulled into the station. The two swiftly gathered their things and departed the train. Once they were outside the station, they agreed to meet up a little later.

As Izuku watched her leave, there was a weird tug behind his navel. Suddenly, all three of his traces started humming with energy. What the…? Izuku turned about hoping to get a bead on the direction, because it looked like not only was Compress in Hosu, but the artefact as well. Once Izuku got a feel for the correct direction, he slowly weaved his way through the crowd.

When he finally emerged from crowd, he followed the rest of the people walking down the sidewalk. A sudden break in a cluster of bodies revealed that Chizue was heading in the same direction. Izuku cursed. He was beginning to wonder if this was a fate thing. He scoffed at the offhanded thought before focusing on keeping an eye out for Compress. He could feel that he was getting close. Chizue was shuffling along, idly looking at the city.

They were getting really close to the other beacons. A spark of worry burst in his chest. He wondered what the man was doing. If he would recognize Chizue despite the change in her appearance. He knew that he could not follow Chizue into the agency but maybe she would not be opposed to letting him wait outside? He was really worried that she would be hurt again.

Chizue suddenly went into a small restaurant. Izuku blinked in confusion. He slowed down in front of the establishment. The other two beacons were still pretty far away but coming closer. Why would she stop at a restaurant now? Izuku tried to look like he was lost and not just loitering around. After several moments, Chizue returned but she was different and was wearing a different set of clothes. These were more masculine than what she was wearing before. But she still had the same bento and book bag, though.

Her hair was a little shorter. It reached just past her chin and it was split down the middle, two different colors. She looked just like she had the night they ran into each other. But her shadow was still the same with flowing hair and the same feminine gait and dress. Confusion settled in his stomach. Why a disguise?

Then it hit him.

Shadows always hold what people don’t want seen, which in a way made them far more honest. Was Chizue a trans person? It would explain the change in clothing and her rather shy and skittish nature. Izuku checked that Compress and the artefact were still a ways off, before continuing to follow Chizue. She made her way further into the city. They passed Ingenium’s hero agency and a few smaller businesses, before she finally entered a building. Izuku could only gape in wonder.

It was one of Endeavor’s satellite offices. Her father worked for Endeavor . Oh, boy. Izuku now had questions about all of this again. He had been leaning towards the idea that Chizue had just been an accidental witness to the theft. But now, he was once again uncertain. The coincidences were just a little too perfect. She probably would have known about the exhibit ahead of time and could have given the information to someone. Izuku wanted to curse. This wasn’t getting any easier.

Several moments later, Chizue exited the building free of the lunch bento she had before. Izuku quickly ducked in between two buildings. He watched her pass by. Izuku followed her at a distance. She returned to the restaurant and reappeared dressed as before. She continued on heading in the opposite direction of the agencies. Where was she going now? Izuku was torn.

Compress was still on his way, and he was probably close to the agencies by now. That was an easy 10 minute walk from where they were. Izuku still had no idea if Compress was there for the troupe’s show or if he had other plans. Chizue was moving farther away. Izuku growled but let her go. He would have time to talk to her later… after all, they had made plans to meet up at the event. Compress was a different story. Izuku may never see him again.

Izuku found a hiding spot near the restaurant and waited. He felt the beacon get closer and closer. A bus pulled up to the stop near the restaurant and then continued on. A few people had gotten off, one was a tall man with brown hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a simple suit. Nothing looked out of the ordinary with him. However, Izuku could feel Compress’s aura. The beacon made it feel like the man was right next to Izuku. The buzz of the Komorebi was sending a tingle down his spine.

Izuku waited several moments before following the man. They continued down the block for several minutes, then veered down a side street. It was mainly deserted. Izuku took care to use a proper concealment spell this time. It made him invisible to people’s eyes and silent to their ears. It was a mind magic skill, different from the light based skill he used at the museum. The light spell made him invisible to cameras and people. He did not need to worry about making noise because the party itself was loud.

But now he had to be careful. He could get his objective completed with time to spare for training. Compress continued down the side street and stopped at a bar. It was a small place, quaint rather than seedy-looking. The man headed inside. Izuku hastened his steps and just barely made it in as the door slammed shut behind them. The thief gave a nod to the older bartender and continued to the back of the building. They exited through a backdoor.

There was an open space and some dumpsters, also an opening to a possible alleyway. Izuku kept an eye on the opening, it might make a decent escape route. What caught his attention though, was that they weren’t alone. There were two other people talking quietly. One was a stranger with red hair and sunglasses. They were leaning on a large bar of metal as they talked. The other person was Chizue.

Izuku swallowed his gasp of surprise. Well then. That answers my questions. He thought disappointedly. The redhead looked up and saw Compress walking down the stairs.

“Oh! You’re early.” They said.

Izuku watched as Compress’s eyes narrowed. The man thrusted his arm out and Chizue was pulled towards him. The girl shrieked in terror until she vanished when she fell into Compress’s hands. A simple white marble remained between his fingers. Izuku resisted the urge to try and take the marble. He had to wait, even though it killed him to do so.

“I said to come alone!” the thief snarled. The redhead paled but snarled right back,

“You came early! And the girl wasn’t a part of this! She was another of my customers! She was just picking up her meds and leaving! You’re not the only bastard that operates out of here!” Compress snorted.

Izuku got a crazy idea, it would be tricky but he needed to record this conversation, but the magic in use would interfere with his phone. But he could use a bit of magic to patch Nimue into the situation. Though keeping up two spells at once was going to give him a hell of headache.

He reached out across the slight connection he had with the other Archivist. Probing at her mind. A curious feeling skittered down the boy’s spine. He had her attention. He coaxed her back along the connection until he could feel her in the same space. It felt like she was right next to him.

Watch. He tried to convey as they continued to talk.  

“Fine! I will release the girl when we are done… no need for anyone else to overhear.” He grumbled as he pocketed the marble.

Izuku’s eyes widened. How long would it take for Chizue to run out of air? Izuku could feel the other Archivist’s panic in the back of his mind.  

“Until we’re done? She could suffocate!” they protested.

“Well, we better talk fast…” Compress said. “This is the object I promised to talk to you about.” The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a deep green marble. With a flick of his wrist, the Komorebi was in his hand.

“All this secrecy over a statue?’ the stranger blurted.

“Not just any statue, this is a Komorebi… a magical item that can analyze spells, Quirks and objects giving you a complete read out. Observe.”

Compress pointed the artefact at the redhead. They balked as a beam of green light exploded from the tip of the obelisk and hit the bar. The object glowed green for a moment. Then a green copy of the same object began to take form right next to it. It was made of green light. Words and symbols began to take shape all around the copy.

“What the—”

“Amazing right? This object can perform the same function on people and their Quirks. Imagine being able to see people’s Quirks before they have chance to use them! Pinpoint the Heroes’ weaknesses before they realize what hit them. This object can grant you that kind of power. It doesn’t even require a Quirk to use.” Said Compress grandly.

He was selling the Komorebi? What for? It was practically useless for an Unversed. Sure, he was technically right… the Komorebi doesn’t require a Quirk to work, but it does require magic and knowledge. One of which an average villain would not have. Was he just toying with people to make money off of them or does he have another plan up his sleeve?

Izuku continued to observe the two as he tried to find a way to free Chizue and get away. He had already concluded that he only could get one out at this point. The artefact or his friend. A person or his objective. Izuku made the decision with little hesitation. He could feel a spike of something from Nimue but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.

“Ok. I have to admit that thing is not just a statue, but I am not sure Mother would be into this sort of thing. She is more of a safety net and vigilante hub, not sure if something like what you are proposing would be of interest to her.” Said the redhead, warily.

“How would you know unless you ask?” Compress pushes.

Izuku took in the new information. There is some vigilante gang boss named… Mother? He was going to have to look into that. It seemed that this was news to Nimue too as a flash of shock came from their connection. Or maybe she was familiar with this Mother person?

A sharp twinge of pain shot through Izuku’s head at that moment. He was starting to reach his limit. He was struggling to make out what the two men were saying but he had to get the most information he could.

Let me go… give me the rest later when I come by your mom’s shop ok? You focus on rescuing your friend and getting out of there, Initiate. I will see you soon. Izuku wanted to protest the order but it made sense. His ears were ringing and his vision was beginning to blur. He slowly severed the connection between his mentor and himself. He took a deep, quiet breath. The relief was immediate.

“… have them meet me then. Name somewhere on your own turf. I don’t mind. I would like for my customers to be at ease.” Purred Compress.

Izuku wanted to gag, whether it was from Compress’s fake, oily tone or from the creep of magical exhaustion, Izuku wasn’t sure. However, he kept his attention the last of the discussion.

“That is funny given my customer is not,” snorted the redhead.

Izuku watched their shadow momentarily. They were hysterically acting out, desperately reaching for the white marble in Compress’s pocket. They slumped in defeat, pulling at their hair in anguish. So, this person cared about Chizue, clearly. They were talking with her when they arrived, after all. So, they were more than acquainted with one another. Hmmm. I may be able to use that to my advantage.

“Look, I said I would let the girl go… just name a place and we can all be on our way…” Compress pressed. The redhead looked pained but finally sighed.

“Mother gets a little skittish with non-affiliated folks selling things on her turf… is there somewhere else?” they asked.

Compress’s shadow jumped for joy. The bastard was enjoying this. It was probably his plan from the get go. He was not going to let this person leave until he had a potential client. Izuku was almost sure if it was not for the fact that he had Chizue as a hostage, he would have used magic or his Quirk on the person to get what he wanted. He was a menace.

“Of course, I am having another showing in Shibuya later on tonight, 9 pm. A swanky place called Rei Zero.” He said. The redhead seemed to try and stare through the thief for a moment before they nodded softly.

“I will send someone around. Can’t promise who but I will try,” they said, “now let the girl go.” Compress smiled cruelly.

Izuku’s heart and stomach sank. His mind went into hyper drive. How could he get to her before Compress left…? He was probably going to vanish into a car or crowd as soon as he left.

“You said you would let her go…” the redhead growled. Compress thrusted his hand forward, a burst of psychic energy blew the redhead off their feet and into one of the dumpsters. They hit it with a bang and slumped to the ground.

Izuku moved.

He reached out with his own shadow and took control of the unconscious redhead’s shadow. He directed it to hold Compress’s in place. The shadows melded into one that spanned the space. Compress seemed to be interested in the strange shadow play. Izuku reached into his connection to the Earth.

Earth was his third best magic type. He was still wondering if that had to do with his Awakening… but now was not the time to do so. He reached out with his magic and felt for the marble that contained Chizue’s magical signature. He wrapped it around the marble and yanked.

It took a couple of tries but it worked. The white marble popped from the man’s pocket and zoomed into his still concealed hand. He closed his fist and dove for the alleyway. It was open on the other end much to Izuku’s relief. But there was a fence near the street. However, there was some discarded trash and a dumpster near it. Time to put his budding parkour skills to work.

A sudden tearing pain shredded his stomach. Izuku screamed as he crumpled to the ground. His concealment spell vanished. Compress must have torn himself free of the shadows. Izuku stumbled to his feet, the marble still clutched in his hand. He continued running for the fence. Pain radiated from behind his navel throughout his body. His head was pounding. He probably had a magical injury. Mom is going to kill me, he thought hysterically.

He was closing in on the dumpster. All he needed was a good running leap and he could make it onto the lid and scramble over the fence. Izuku felt a wave of magic wash over him right then, but before he could panic, a bright warm glow surrounded him. The magic pulsed outward and there was a shriek from behind him. The small vial containing the protection spell had shattered. The contents evaporating under the heat and power of the spell. Thanks mom! He leapt and managed to grab the top with one hand and pull himself up. Thank you, Bakugou for all the pull up races! He thought with a laugh. He launched himself over the fence.

He didn’t stick the landing, though. His knees buckled from the force of him hitting the sidewalk and he fell. The marble popped from his hand and bounced once on the sidewalk. Chizue popped out with a strangled cry. She looked around wildly. Izuku managed to struggle to his feet. He hobbled over to her, hissing,

“Get up! Get up! Get up! He’s coming, run!” The two stumbled to their feet. Izuku dragged Chizue through the crowds, crying out pardons as he did so. He could feel a growing distance between him and Compress, but he was pretty sure that would change once the man recovered from the unexpected attack. They had to keep moving.

“Bus!” Chizue cried.

Izuku looked up and sure enough there was a bus coming. They continued to push their way forward. Izuku wasn’t sure they could make it to the nearest stop before the bus passed. Izuku cursed as he felt Compress following them. The two tried to keep up with the bus, but Chizue was starting to flag. Damnit! Izuku hissed. They were not going to catch that bus. They were not going to catch the bus. Chizue tripped and dragged them both to ground.

“I’m—sorry!” she gasped, scrambling to her feet.

Izuku said nothing just helped her up and continued pulling her along. The train station was not far… but the crowd was thinning out and the man was catching up. Izuku was well aware that he was going to do whatever it took to keep the knowledge of the Komorebi limited. He was definitely going to take care of Izuku. He knew the boy was a training Archivist after all.

The two continued trying to get away, but it was futile. They were going to have to delay him again. But how? The man was powerful. Not insanely so, Izuku had managed to keep him in place while only using half his magical power on the spell. But he was strong. He was going to need a space with a lot of shadows… he might be able to trick him or at least prepare an ambush…

“Come on!” he said as he led them into an alleyway with shadows draped along its interior like spider’s webs.

“Wait! He’ll catch us!” Chizue squeaked, hysterical.

“I know. But we can’t outrun him. The next bus is minutes away… not to mention even if we hopped the next train leaving… there is no guarantee that he won’t have a chance to follow us. Besides we don’t even know when the next train leaves.” He huffed. He reached the midpoint of the alley and began to gather the shadows to him. Chizue gasped.

“Is… is this your Quirk?” she asked.

“Sort of,” he gritted.

The pain behind his navel increased. Yep. The bastard really did a number on me… He might not be able to hold this long. But it might be enough to buy them some time. He slowly started stitching the shadows together, then carefully draped the shadowy fabric across the alleyway, obscuring them from view. He pumped a little mind magic into the “fabric” to hide their presence.

He hoped it would be enough. He didn’t think he had it in him to fight the man for long.

The beacon grew closer and closer. It slowed down a few feet from the alley. Izuku was holding his breath. His heartbeat was thudding in his ears. He could feel heat rolling off Chizue behind him. The beacon continued forward. It stopped at the opening of the alleyway. It slowly came towards them. Damnit. He decided to be thorough!

Izuku pushed more magic into the shadows and wrapped them tightly around Compress. The man let out a squawk of surprise. He began to struggle against the binds. Suddenly, Izuku could feel the increasing pressure of psionic energy. This guy was a mind mage. It made sense. He dealt in illusions, he pulled Chizue into his hold, and threw the redhead into the dumpster. Izuku poured more energy into the shadows’ hold. Izuku’s head was pounding and his insides were burning.

“Ack!” he cried in pain. Another wave of psychic energy forced him to one knee. He gasped and moaned. A small tear began to appear in the cocoon, standing out white against the black. “Chi—Chi-chan… run! Go! I-I can’t—” he moaned.

“What? No! You saved—I—come on! Please… come on! Come on!” she pleaded. What is she doing?!

“Chi! Just—”

A sharp sound cut Izuku off. It was like the rushing of water over a waterfall, a deafening roar that trailed off into a low groan. A frigid cutting wind blew his hair over his face. He felt something massive sweep around him. Then all was quiet. Izuku took a swift swipe at his hair, pushing it out of his face. His breath was freezing on the way in and turned into crystal dust on the way out. He looked at where Compress was to find him frozen in a glacier of ice. It rose up to his shoulders. The man looked stunned. The rest of the glacier rose up majestically behind him. How?

Izuku let the shadows go, he was sure it would be a minute before Compress could break his way out. He sighed in relief, turning to Chizue and feeling his heart hit his throat. Her right arm from the elbow down… was covered in thick rivulets of blood. Her poor arm was covered in tears. It was like her Quirk forced its way out. It had to be her Quirk, magic did not do that. At least as far as Izuku knew.

The girl swayed dangerously. Izuku rushed forward and caught her. He wasted no time in lifting her up and escaping from the alleyway. He immediately set his mind to seek out the first police officer or hero he could find.

“I am going to get you help…” he said. Chizue immediately balked.

“No!” she said. The sound of her voice froze him. It sounded different, fuller and deeper almost.

“They’ll call my father… if he—” she whimpered, wincing in pain, “sees me like this, he’ll—” Chizue trailed off into a sob.

So… she was trans after all and still mostly in the closet. It all clicked for Izuku, right then. She was hiding but not because she was involved in something shady, but because her father was likely a transphobe.  

“O-ok. At least… but your arm,” he protested. Chizue winced.

“I know somewhere…” she whispered. Izuku relented.

“Ok… where?”

He followed Chizue’s quiet direction until they reached a small house. It was sitting just outside the city limits. By now, the blood flow had slowed. Chizue was quiet and pale. He was growing tired and worried. He climbed the stairs slowly. Even then, the girl slipped and almost crumpled to ground. Izuku managed to hold her up and make to make it to the door.

He banged on it. He could hear someone approaching the door. They opened the door a crack. A turquoise eye and a lock of red hair peeked out,

“Who is it?” they asked.

“She needs help. She brought me here.” Izuku panted.

The person opened the door a bit wider. It was an older man, probably early 20s. He had red hair with black tips and a pale scar that ran horizontal across his lower jaw. He was wearing a black turtleneck and ripped jeans. His eyes widened when they landed on Chizue.

“Oh, shit!” he hissed. He rushed forward and swept Chizue into his arms. “Follow me and shut the door!” he barked. Izuku did just that.

“What’s with the racket, Jest?” asked a lizard-like person. Mutant Quirk. Izuku thought.

“Chizue… baby girl, what did you do?” he hissed as he brushed passed the person and laid her on a cot in the corner.

Izuku was surprised to see so many people. They had just been milling about until they saw Chizue. All of them burst into motion. Someone ran off screaming for a ‘Himiko’ and a ‘Spindle’. The others chattered nervously… others muttered about checking the perimeters for attacks as they made their way out of the room.

“I f-forced… it. I—he was going to hurt us. He hurt Magne… I think… lost her. Trapped. Appeared… street… Izu…” she babbled, her eyes rolling in her head.

“You Izu?” he snapped, eying Izuku. Izuku gulped but nodded.

“This man called Compress burst in on Chizue and Magne’s meeting. He trapped Chi in a marble and then slammed Magne into a dumpster. I managed to get Chi from him and we ran. I tried to hide using my Quirk. It failed. Then I tried to hold him off for Chi to run but she attacked him instead.” He explained. The man frowned.

“Spinner take Twice and…” he looked back at Izuku, “Were they at a bar?” Izuku nodded again. “Take Twice and go look for Magne in the usual spot… hopefully the bastard that attacked them is still frozen. I swear if anything happened to her… the bastard will have no place to hide,” The one with mutant Quirk gave a rough salute and vanished.

A moment later a girl about his age bounced into the room with a spider woman in her wake. The girl was carrying a bowl of water and several towels. A toolbox was hanging from her pinky at the bottom. They both took one look and went pale. The girl carefully arranged the supplies on the ground. The spider woman leaned over Chizue humming distractedly.

“I can patch this. But we will need to give her some blood and fluids. What is your blood type, dear?” she asked.

“O-O…” Chizue gasped.

“That is going to be hard to get a hold of, especially outside of a hospital.” She clicked. Izuku perked up.

“I’m O-!” All the adults turned to look at him.

“Oh! Himiko! Go get the supplies quickly. Bring some saline back with you too!” said who Izuku assumed was Spindle.

The spider woman began pulling some silk from her spinner. The redhead moved to the bowl and towel. He dipped the towel and started cleaning the blood from girl’s arm. The gashes were deep. But not beyond the realm of what a few stitches could fix.

Himiko returned to the room with some packages and tubing. She asked Izuku to sit in a chair. The girl worked quickly and chatted to him the whole time never letting him get a word in edgewise. Before he could process it, he felt a rather large pinch and his blood was flowing freely into the bag she was holding.

“So, Izu-kun! How did you meet our dear, Chizue-chan!” she asked, just as bubbly as ever.

“Umm… we met at a m-market! Near my family’s shop!” Izuku answered. She nodded, humming eagerly. “We accidently ran into each other a few times. We were planning to attend the Hosu Community Day event together.”

“Oooh… how cute! Ne, ne! Jester-kun! Our Chizue-chan has a suitor!” she sang. Izuku went red. He resisted to urge to flap his hands as usually did, instead he stuttered,

“No! No! I mean—She is a friend—It’s not like that!”

Himiko just laughed and continued to sing. Izuku groaned. A few minutes later, Izuku let Himiko take the needle from his arm and bandage it. He tried to stand up, but a wave of dizziness overcame him and he slumped back into the chair. Once he realized that he was not going to be fit to travel anytime soon, he texted his mom that he was fine and would be home in a few hours.

The adults continued to work on Chizue as Izuku took slow sips of the water that Himiko brought him a little later. An hour later, Chizue was patched up and resting. The other two men returned with the redhead from the bar limping between them. Izuku was relieved to find that they were ok. They were equally relieved to see Chizue was ok as well.

The man they called the Jester grilled Izuku and Magne about the encounter with Compress. Izuku made up a fib about waiting for Chizue to finish and hearing her scream. He then told them of the rest of the harrowing journey to the house. Magne talked of the meeting with Compress and his want to meet with Mother. The Jester’s eyes had narrowed at that.

“If the bastard wants her, he’ll have to go through me… we’ll deal with that later. Thank you for helping them. Magne and Chizue are like family.” The Jester said. Izuku squirmed uncomfortably.

“I-it’s no problem, really,” he squeaked.

Chizue slowly sat up after a moment. Izuku started to greet her but froze. Her wig had finally slipped off, her mane of ruby and diamond on full display. She blinked dazedly back at him. Izuku quickly shut his gaping mouth. Chizue's confused face only twisted further. Jester frowned and turned to look at what was causing Izuku's strange behavior. He jumped to his feet and raced over to the cot, staring at Chizue with a broken, lost expression.

 

“Shouto?” he croaked.  

It was now Izuku's turn to be confused. Then it hit him. Shouto was Chizue's birth name. He had already pieced together that his friend was trans after she freaked out about possibly having to contact her father. But what left him puzzled was that no one here knew what she looked like outside of her preferred dress.  

“What?” she blurted.

Jester reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. The young man pulled a yellowed photo from it. He showed it to Chizue. Her face lit up in comprehension. She slowly reached out and grasped at the air, her eyes glued on the picture.

Izuku suddenly understood. He got up slowly and when he was sure he wouldn't collapse, he retrieved Chizue's backpack. He brought it over to the girl. She finally tore her eyes away and took it from him. She rummaged around in it for a moment before removing a small white case.

She carefully opened it and then removed a contact from her eye. She placed it in the case and dropped it in the bag. She looked up at Izuku and Jester. Her mismatched eyes sparkling like they had in the museum. Jester’s eyes filled with tears before he pulled Chizue into his arms, weeping.

“Nii-san,” Chizue sobbed. He stroked her hair, muttering,

“I’m here, nee-chan.” Izuku only watched with a surprised but melancholy smile on his face.