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 Having an older brother as a Class S hero, as all things did, had its ups and downs.

Zenko knew that better than anyone. Not a day went by at school where people gawked at her, their mouths hanging open like they were pretending to be zombies.

"She's Metal Bat's little brother," they whispered. "The sister of a Class S hero!"

At first, Zenko didn't mind it. She was getting attention from students and teachers alike. Everyone wanted to be her friend.

And then she realised they didn't want to actually be friends, they only saw a chance to get popular through her.

Zenko hated it. She'd made 'friends' in the past, who'd begged her to let them meet Metal Bat. She'd obliged, thinking that's what friends did for each other. After they'd gotten his autograph and taken a few pictures, they'd ditched her.

It got so bad to a point Zenko had to ask her brother specifically not to wear his superhero costume when he came to pick her up from school, just so the crowds of fan boys and girls didn't clog up traffic.

Zenko didn't want to be known as 'Metal Bat's little sister', she wanted to be known as Zenko.

...

As usual, class was painfully boring.

Zenko was a diligent worker who did do her homework, but there were some classes she could not stand. Such as maths, for instance.

The teacher droned on and on about perpendicular angles or other such mathematical nonsense and Zenko couldn't care less. Or understand, for that matter. She copied whatever numbers were on the board, not knowing what any of them meant.

Well, she was much better than her brother when he was at school. He got terrible grades and was in detention half the time, either for starting a fight or yelling at the teacher. It was easy to assume he could be called a 'trouble student'.

The teachers were relieved his sister wasn't so aggressive.

The teacher said something or other about a group project, making Zenko groan. She hated group projects, mainly because she ended up doing all the work, or was constantly pestered with questions about her brother. They seemed to act like she bragged about him 24/7.

She rarely even talked about him, let alone brag. Why couldn't they leave her alone?

She already saw a mob of kids walking over to her. She glanced around for any other kids who didn't have a group, and spotted a young girl sitting by herself in the corner of the classroom. She looked like she was dreading this lesson even more than Zenko herself.

Bingo.

"I've already got a partner," Zenko told the mob. She pointed to the girl in the corner. "Right over there."

The kids looked stunned. Before they could say anything else, Zenko walked over to the girl in the corner. The girl looked up, surprised that someone actually wanted to commune with her.

"Hey, we're partners now," Zenko said.

"Okay…" the girl replied, her voice just above a whisper. She had pretty blue eyes, and curly brown hair that was almost light enough to be blonde. A pale red streak went through it. It was tied into a high ponytail with a little red poppy. Her face was covered in freckles.

"What's your name?" Zenko asked her. "Are you good at maths?"

"Poppy," the girl answered. She stared at her small hands. "And, I, um… not really."

"'Tis fine," Zenko replied, sitting in the seat next to her. Poppy fiddled with the strands of her long, curly hair. She noticed Poppy's notebook was covered in doodles of various things, mainly flowers. They were all incredibly detailed.

"Do you draw?" Zenko asked.

"Sometimes," Poppy answered, timidly, like talking tired her. "I'm not very good at it."

"What are you talking about?" Zenko asked. "Those drawings are awesome!"

Poppy flushed. "They're just doodles."

"Then I wanna see your good drawings," Zenko said. "I bet they'd be amazing!"

Poppy's face had gone a deep crimson. "Um… sure, if you want… I'll bring my drawing book tomorrow."

Zenko nodded. "Can't wait! Anyway, we should get started on the project."

Throughout the lesson, Zenko learned that Poppy was also not a maths genius. She wasn't very good at writing and reading, either. However, working together seemed to solve the problem, and the project was well-underway. And plus, Poppy really knew how to make the project look pretty.

After class, Zenko decided to invite Poppy to play with her during lunch. Turns out, Poppy had no one else to play with, so she accepted. Poppy was a quiet but kind person, Zenko came to learn. She was fun to play with, and she had a big imagination.

Best of all, she treated Zenko like a normal person. She never asked about Metal Bat, just about Zenko herself. She was one of the few people at school that Zenko was starting to respect.

Then, the two got into a conversation about the end of the school day.

"Who picks you up after school?" Zenko asked.

"Usually my parents," Poppy said, then added quietly, "if they feel like it."

"If they... feel like it?" Zenko asked.

"My sister sometimes picks me up," Poppy continued. Zenko noticed a strange, cold look came over Poppy's face for a brief moment.

"You have a sister?" Zenko asked.

Poppy nodded.

"Is she nice?" Zenko asked.

"Not really." Poppy said, an edge of hurt in her voice. She cleared her throat. "Who picks you up, Zenko?"

"Oh, usually my grandpa," Zenko replied. "Though, sometimes my brother does, too."

"That's nice," Poppy said, looking away for a moment. "Do you and your brother do anything together?"

Zenko nodded. "He takes me shopping. He also buys me ice-cream, since my grandparents won't let me have it." She scowled at the thought of how much healthy food her grandparents made her eat. Nothing but veggies and lean meat. Disgusting. They didn't take her shopping, either.

"That's… nice," Poppy replied, her voice cracking. She reminded Zenko of a radio: sometimes she was full of energy, but other times you could barely understand her. She stared at her hands, biting her lip.

"Can I tell you a secret, Zenko?" Poppy asked.

Zenko leaned forward. "Sure, what is it?"

"My sister is in the hero association as well," Poppy whispered.

"Really?" Zenko asked, eyes wide. "What hero is she?"

"Her name is Lily of the Three Section Staff," Poppy replied. "She's the Blizzard of Hell's personal assistant." She sighed. "She's not an S-Class hero. She's just some low rank B-Class hero, but… I still don't want people to... compare me to her."

"Yeah," Zenko nodded. "I hate it when people compare me to my brother. Don't they know I'm stronger?" She grinned, flipping her hair.

Poppy chuckled.

"It's not funny," Zenko said, narrowing her eyes. "I actually am stronger than him. If he picks me up after school today, I'll show you."

Poppy raised her brow at Zenko's seriousness. Needless to say, she was hoping Metal Bat would show himself so Poppy could see Zenko kick his butt.


After school, both girls got lucky.

Badd was waiting outside the school gates as he always did when picking up his sister. He tried to pick her up as much as he physically could. Seeing her whole face light up with joy and surprise when she ran towards him at the end of the school day was the stuff he lived for.

From what she'd said about school, she didn't have many friends. Why, Badd didn't know. She was an amazing girl - she should've been queen of the school! Badd didn't want her to be lonely, definitely not. He was tempted to go up and threaten her entire class to be her friends, but realised she wouldn't want that. She'd want to make friends by herself.

So it was a pleasant surprise when he saw Zenko talking to another young girl her age as they approached the school gates. They were smiling at each other, like good friends would. Badd folded his arms, leaning against the school gate, as he always did when picking up his sister. The pose had become recognisable for her. He was wearing casual clothes and his hair wasn't in its pompadour, at the request of his sister. While he found the mob of children asking for his autograph endearing, it quite upset his sister, and adorable young fans aside, he didn't want her to be upset.

He still had his metal bat attached to his hip, though.

Zenko grinned wide when she saw him, and grabbed the arm of her friend. She dragged the young girl towards her brother.

"We got lucky!" Zenko told her friend. "He came!"

"Lucky, eh?" Badd asked, raising his brow. "Who's your new friend, sis?"

The friend immediately flushed under his gaze.

"This is Poppy," Zenko said. "She's a bit shy, but she's really nice. Say hi, Poppy."

"Hi," Poppy said, her voice so quiet Badd had to strain his ears to hear it.

"And this is my big brother, Badd," Zenko told Poppy, "but you probably know him as Metal Bat. Say hi, Badd."

"Hi, Badd," Badd replied.

Zenko slapped him.

"Okay okay!" Badd waved his arms. "Nice to meet you, Poppy."

Poppy nodded. The poppy on her head seemed to flower a little more.

"Anyway, so I was going to prove to Poppy that I'm stronger than you." Zenko said.

Badd actually looked nervous for a moment, though Poppy guessed he might've been putting up that expression for his sister's sake.

"Sis," he said. "You know that I-"

Zenko then proceeded to knee him in the guts, making him fall over.

"Wow," Poppy said, amazed. "You are stronger!"

"So strong…" Badd muttered, rolling around on the floor. "So proud…"

"Come on bro, get up," Zenko said, but not rudely. "You're embarrassing me!"

Zenko helped her brother get up.

"Dummy," she chided. She then proceeded to give him a big hug. Poppy didn't show it, but she suddenly found it harder to smile. Zenko was lucky to have an older sibling who actually cared about her.

Speaking of older siblings, she saw her older sister Lily standing a few meters away, hurriedly chatting to someone on the phone. Probably Fubuki.

Poppy frowned. She couldn't remember a time where Lily wasn't on the phone.

"Poppy?" Zenko asked, catching Poppy out of her thoughts.

"Oh, sorry," Poppy said, quietly. "My sister is here. I should go."

"Your sister?" Zenko asked, excited. "Can I meet her?"

"Um… sure," Poppy said, trying to keep up her smile.

Zenko noticed Poppy was leading her over to a smartly-dressed teen girl on the phone. Those business clothes sure did look expensive. The teenager had long, black hair tied back with a lily flower. A bright blue streak ran through her hair. In her free hand was a blue three-section staff. Zenko realised the girl was familiar from somewhere after all. She'd definitely seen her around the Blizzard of Hell.

From a distance, Poppy didn't look anything like her sister. Lily had dark hair and pale skin, while Poppy had brown-blonde hair and freckles.

When they stood together, however, they looked much more similar: same hairstyle, adjourned with flowers. They also had the same eyes.

"Sister," Poppy said, tugging on her sister's jacket.

"Just a minute," Lily said, raising her finger. "Yeah, so, I'll be there at 5 tonight. Yes. I can handle it. You can never have too many jobs."

Zenko and Poppy awkwardly waited for Lily to finish her phone call. After what seemed like forever, she finally did.

"We're meeting Fubuki in twenty minutes," Lily told her sister. She checked her watch. "We're already behind schedule, so we have to leave now."

"But sister!" Poppy argued. "I wanted to introduce you to my new friend!"

Lily briefly glanced over Zenko, like she was something silly a little kid had found and was showing their parents. "That's lovely, Poppy. Nice to meet you. Now if you excuse us, we have to go."

Poppy looked like she wanted to argue more, but her sister was already dragging her away.

Zenko just watched. It wasn't like her to be so quiet.

"Your friend seems nice," Badd told her.

"She is," Zenko replied. She paused for another moment, then stared at her hands. "Come on, bro. Let's go to the mall."

 

Chapter Text

"Ooh, what do you think about this one, big brother?"

Badd grunted his response to the pink dress his sister was pointing at. He was already carrying three shopping bags, and boy they were heavy. Why Zenko wanted all this stuff, Badd didn't know, but he was happy to buy it for her. Some might say he was spoiling her, but hey, hero duties took up a lot of his time, and he knew his grandparents were strict on Zenko. She deserved a break, right?

"I like the red one, too," Zenko said, frowning thoughtfully at another dress. "Which one should I get?"

"How 'bout both?" Badd asked. Why not? Otherwise Zenko would have a meltdown over which dress she wanted.

Zenko excitedly picked up the two dresses. "Yes! That's a great idea!"

Badd slung the dresses over his shoulder, his sister skipping after him. After paying for those, the siblings visited a few more shops. Zenko seemed to want to visit every shop the mall had to offer, and only after trying on some high-heels that were way too big for her did she decide it was time for a break.

The siblings were walking over to a couch, when Zenko stopped and gasped, pointing at someone.

"Bro, look!" she cried. "It's Poppy!"

She was pointing to the young girl in question, who was standing nearby her older sister. Lily was on the phone, and Poppy couldn't have looked more bored.

"Poppy!" Zenko yelled. "Hey, Poppy!"

Poppy looked up, and her face lit up with joy when she spotted Zenko. The two girls waved at each other. They then ran over to give each other a hug. Badd was so moved his sister was making new friends he almost started crying. He blinked quickly and wiped his eyes when he saw his sister running back. She gave him an odd stare.

"Big bro, were you crying?" she asked.

"No way," Badd replied hastily. "How's your friend?"

"She's good," Zenko said. "Can she come shopping with us?"

"Sure," Badd replied. "She'd probably better tell her sister, though."

"Right," Zenko agreed. She turned to Poppy and yelled, "Hey, my brother says you can come with us, but you should ask your sister first!"

Poppy sighed. She walked over to her sister and tugged her sleeve.

"That's going to cost $1000," her sister said into the phone, seemingly ignoring Poppy. "Just add it to the group tab."

"Sister," Poppy, again, tugged on Lily's sleeve. "I'm going shopping with my friend and her brother. Is that okay?"

"Yeah yeah, that's great, have fun," Lily said while waving a hand dismissively, not even making eye-contact. She went back to discussing finances.

Poppy shrugged at Zenko. "Let's, uh, just go."

The kids (and teenage boy) visited many different shops. They tried on lots of silly clothes, some of which definitely did not fit them.

"Bro, take a picture of us!" Zenko told her brother, giving him her phone. The girls were wearing some very frilly and colourful dresses. Zenko put her arm around Poppy as Badd took a picture of them. He was almost brought to tears again since his sister and her friend looked so cute together.

Badd cursed himself. Why was everything his sister did so cute?

The girls saw some hero-inspired outfits which got them talking.

"Who's your favourite hero?" Zenko asked Poppy.

"I'm not sure," Poppy admitted. "Sweet Mask, maybe?"

"Sweet Mask is my favourite too!" Zenko cried. "Isn't he so cool?"

"That guy is so overrated," Badd grunted.

"No way," Zenko gushed. "He's so dreamy! I wanna meet him some day!"

"Me too," Poppy agreed, eyes glazing. Badd rolled his eyes. What people saw in that pompous idiot, he really didn't know.


"I need to go the bathroom," Zenko said, after the girls had gotten back into their regular clothes.

"It's right next door," Badd replied. "Want me to wait outside for you?"

"Nah, stay here," Zenko shook her head. "I'll be right back!"

She ran off to the bathroom, leaving Badd alone with Poppy. Poppy was staring wistfully at a mildly-expensive t-shirt.

"You want that?" Badd asked her.

"Huh?" Poppy jumped. "Oh, uh, no, I was just, um, looking."

Badd had been around his sister long enough to she was lying. "Hey, if you want it, I can get it for you. You've made my sister very happy - it's the least I can do."

"Really?" Poppy asked, her face once again lighting up. God, the excitement of children was contagious. Badd found himself smiling as well.

"Yeah," he said. "Don't you ever go shopping with your sister?"

The joy drained out of Poppy's face. "Not really. She's always too busy."

Badd tilted his head. "What about with your parents?"

"They don't want to," Poppy replied, her face sagging.

Badd was about to say something else, but was interrupted by Zenko coming back.

"Can we go get lunch?" she asked.

Badd nodded. The trio headed over to the food court. There were a ton of different places to choose from, but Zenko and Poppy wanted to go to some fast-food place.

"What are you girls gonna get?" Badd asked, as they waited in line.

"Burger," they both said, simultaneously. They started laughing.

Badd made it up to the register. The employee seemed a little distracted. Something about her seemed very familiar as well.

"What can I get you today, sir?" she asked.

"Wait," Poppy stared at her, and her eyes went wide. "Lily?"

"U-uh," Lily went bright red. "Maybe?"

"You work here?" Badd asked.

"Yep," Lily replied, still very red. She was wearing the restaurant's red and black uniform with the logo on her right breast pocket. A cap, also with the logo, was sitting on her head.

"You never told me you worked here, sister," Poppy said.

Lily shrugged. "Well, I only got the job last week. Why else did you think I wanted to come to the mall?"

Poppy groaned. "You already have two jobs!"

"Fubuki-sama needs the money so we can buy another car," Lily retorted. "The first one got destroyed by a monster."

"Of course, because Fubuki-sama said it," Poppy muttered.

Lily sighed. "Look, sister, I have customers to deal with. Are you going to order?"

"Whoa, girl, Lily," a random employee in the background laughed, taking a sip of his water. "You know these people?"

"Yeah," Lily replied. She pointed to the group. "That's my sister, her friend, and Metal Bat."

At the mention of 'Metal Bat', the employee began choking on his water.

"Damn it Christopher!" another employee yelled. "Not again!"

Lily sighed, the lily flower on her head deflating in defeat. "Just give me your orders."

After getting their food, Badd and the girls sat down at a table.

"So your sister works here?" Zenko asked. "Do you think she'll give us free food?"

"I hope," Badd muttered.

"She probably won't," Poppy said. "She takes her jobs very seriously. She won't give us free stuff just because we know her."

"Wow, she's harsh," Zenko said, eating her burger. "Uh, no offence."

"None taken," Poppy replied, quietly. She'd barely touched her burger, which sat in a sad pile with a small bite taken out of the side. Badd stared at her for a bit. He wasn't an expert on emotions, but he spent a lot of time around another little girl. He could tell something was up.

"You seem down," he told her. "You okay?"

Poppy nodded, pushing her food away. "I'm just… not hungry."

Badd didn't believe her, but he didn't push it. Kids were sensitive, after all.

After lunch, Badd took the kids to a playground in the centre of the mall. They spent some time running around, laughing, and having fun. They also spent time curled up inside a little tunnel, away from other screaming kids.

"Your brother is so cool," Poppy told Zenko.

"He's not always cool," Zenko replied, waving her hand. "A lot of the time he's busy with hero stuff. And he always cries at my piano recitals."

Poppy laughed. When she stopped, her voice had that hurt edge to it. "At least he's there."

There was a silence.

"Your sister seems cool too," Zenko said, quickly.

Poppy frowned. "She's not. She doesn't take me shopping, or hang out with me, or buy me stuff…" She sighed. "You're so lucky."

"I'm sure she really cares about you," Zenko replied reassuringly, putting on a smile.

Poppy's face sagged again. "I think she cares more about the Blizzard of Hell."

Zenko decided to change the topic. "We should have a sleepover sometime."

"A… sleepover?" Poppy asked.

"Yeah!" Zenko agreed. "My grandparents won't mind. Well, they might, but I'll convince them! We can stay up all night!"

Poppy almost smiled. "I'd like that."

The girls climbed out of the tunnel, still talking about sleepovers. Badd immediately felt nervous when he heard such discussion.

"You two wanna have a sleepover?" he asked.

They both nodded.

"At my house!" Zenko cheered. "We're gonna stay up all night!"

Badd wanted to laugh. They'd probably try to stay up all night, but fall asleep by ten. Kids were like that.

Suddenly, a familiar teen girl in a business suit ran up to the group, panting heavily.

"There you are!" Lily panted. "I've been! Looking all over!"

"Aren't you meant to be at work, sister?" Poppy asked.

Lily breathed out, grabbing her knees. "We finished early. Christopher got a heart attack when two other Class S heroes showed up."

Zenko gasped. "Is he okay?"

"He'll be fine," Lily replied. "He just has a weak heart." She looked up. "Anyway, Poppy, we need to go. Right now."

"What?" Poppy asked. "Why?"

"I can't explain," Lily said, firmly, but she let out a quick shiver. "We just need to go."

Poppy tilted her head. "Is it because of M-"

"Hey, thank you for looking after my sister, it's an honour to meet you, etc," Lily interrupted, quickly shaking Badd's hand. He just stared at her. "But we really need to go. Have a nice day!"

Poppy kept protesting as Lily grabbed her hand and dragged her away.

"I feel like that's going to happen a lot," Zenko said.

Badd nodded. "Yeah. I get that."

Chapter Text

 


Zenko grabbed her brother's hand tighter as she saw a monster in the distance, across the river. Her brother was taking her home from school, and as usual, it had somehow become chaotic.

"Don't worry, sis," Badd said, using his other hand to hold up his bat threateningly. "That monster ain't comin' anywhere near us."

The monster fled at the dangerous tone in his voice. Badd swore he could see someone familiar over there as well, but they disappeared behind a tree. He ran his hand along his bat, gritting his teeth.

He was suddenly drawn to the sound of a horrified yelp from his sister.

"Huh?" he asked. "What's wrong, sis?"

Zenko whimpered and pointed to the river. In there was a box, floating gently on the surface. In the box were two kittens.

"Oh, shi-shiitake mushrooms!" Badd yelled. "I got it!"

The hero stripped down to his underwear and jumped into the river, his bat in-between his teeth. He speedily swam across the river, taking deep breaths as he approached the box.

He was not expecting to meet someone else also reaching for the box.

"Garou?!" Badd asked, his bat falling out of his mouth.

Garou frowned. "Metal Bat?"

"What the hell are you doin' here?!" Badd asked.

"I could ask you the same question," Garou replied, raising an eyebrow. "I, for one, came to save these kittens."

"So did I," Badd replied. He glared at Garou. "And I'm getting 'em first."

"Ha ha," Garou laughed. "No you're not."

The two began fighting. Metal Bat swung his bat at Garou, who moved out of the way, quick as lightning. Garou splashed large streams of water in retaliation.

"Garou!" a young boy on the opposite side of the lake cried. Zenko swore she'd seen him in her class. Wasn't his name Tareo or something?

"What's taking so long?!" Tareo asked.

"Big brother!" Zenko scolded. "Don't use any violence!"

"I was here first!" Badd yelled. He swung his bat into the water, causing a big explosion of water. "Dragon thrashin'!"

"No, I was!" Garou argued, coughing up some water. He began moving his hands quickly, creating streams of water. He launched his fists at Badd. "Water stream rock smashing fist!"

"Brother!" Zenko whined. "The kittens!"

Badd turned his attention to the box of kittens. They mewed helplessly.

"Ha!" Garou yelled, punching the hero in the jaw. "You really are just a stupid goon!"

Badd coughed up a mix of blood and water. He bared his teeth, whamming his bat into the water. He created a tidal wave, while grabbing the box of kittens. Garou disappeared into the water.

"Garou!" Tareo cried.

Suddenly, Garou emerged from the water, hungry for revenge.

"This isn't over!" he yelled, trying to punch Badd again. The hero held the box of kittens in the air, away from his reach. Garou launched his fist towards Badd, causing him to accidentally throw the box.

The kittens flew out like ballistic missiles. One landed in Zenko's arms, and the other landed in Tareo's.

Zenko gazed at the ginger kitten in her arms. It stared at her with big blue eyes, its fur somehow only a little bit wet.

"Hello, kitty," Zenko cooed, kissing its forehead. "What am I gonna name you?"

While Zenko cuddled her new friend, Tareo was happily petting the kitten on his side of the lake. Badd emerged from out of the water, trudging up to Zenko.

"I hate that guy," he muttered, coughing up some water. "Stupid mother fu- I mean, um, big dummy."

"Isn't she cute, big brother?" Zenko asked, showing Badd the kitten.

"Adorable," Badd grunted, trying to put his t-shirt on. The water all over him wasn't making it much easier.

"Can we keep her?" Zenko pleaded.

Badd sighed. "Look, Zenko, you know Grandma and Grandpa won't allow it. They-"

"But she's sooooooo cute!" Zenko interrupted. "Look at her face! And besides, I think she likes you!"

Badd had to admit, the little ginger kitten was adorable. She was soft and fluffy as well, and Badd couldn't help but smile at her. And then he remembered his grandparents again.

"She is really cute," Badd said, wistfully, "but Grandma and Grandpa hate animals. They'd never let us keep her. Sorry, sis."

Zenko began crying.

"No no, don't cry," Badd said quickly, waving his hands. "Look, um, we can take her to the animal shelter, and you can visit her there whenever you want. How about that?"

Zenko cried harder, hugging the kitten closer to her body.

Badd muttered a curse under his breath. "Um, I, uh…" He ran his hands through his hair. This was one of the times being a big brother was not fun.

"Okay, okay, fine!" he said, waving his hands with exasperation. "I'll talk to Grandma and Grandpa, and try to convince them to let us keep her."

Zenko cheered.

"They might say no," Badd warned.

Zenko began crying again.

"Okay okay! They won't say no," Badd corrected himself. Ah, great. Now he had to convince his animal-hating grandparents to let them keep a pet. This was going to go down well.

"Yayyyy!" Zenko cheered. "Welcome to the family, kitty!"

Across the river, Tareo was petting his new friend. Garou squeezed the water out of his shirt.

"Almost had him, damn that bastard," he grumbled, giving the stink-eye to Metal Bat.

"He's so cute," Tareo gushed, the kitten purring. "Can I keep him?"

"Well, kid, that depends," Garou shrugged. "Can you look after him?"

Tareo nodded eagerly. He hoped his parents would feel the same way. If not, he could always get Garou to convince them.


It took a lot of convincing, bribing, and pain, but he actually did it: Badd convinced his grandparents to let them keep the kitten.

Of course, there were conditions:

1. Badd would have to pay for all the cat-food, kitty litter, vet bills, and so on.

2. Badd (and Zenko) would be responsible for cleaning up after the kitten. This included toilet-training. (Oh boy, Badd was not looking forward to that.)

3. Badd and Zenko would have to be the ones to entertain her if she got bored.

4. If the kitten knocked over something expensive, Badd would have to pay for it. (Badd really hated this one.)

5. The kitten was not allowed to enter the grandparents' rooms.

6. Many more annoying regulations…

"And if even one rule is broken, she'll be going straight to the pound," the grandmother threatened. "Understand?"

"Yes, Grandma," Badd replied, nervously. That kitten was really going to keep him on his toes. But she'd have to stay around, otherwise Zenko would have a temper tantrum and give him the cold shoulder for ages. And God, there wasn't anything more frustrating than a little girl giving you the cold shoulder treatment.

Badd entered his sister's room, where she was sitting on her bed with Tama, a big smile on her face. She looked so happy that even though the vet bills were probably going to be a nightmare, it'd be worth it for that smile. And besides, that little kitten was adorable. If only she had a name...

Chapter Text

Carly Diamond was easily the 'Queen Bee' of the school.

She was popular, pretty, and had had many different boyfriends. She turned heads, made jaws drop. She'd dated most of the school's 'hottest' boys by now. She could be called a player, or even something much more derogatory, but she didn't care. She'd got the school wrapped around her finger. She lived for that popularity. To her, it was like a drug. She was the queen, and the school was her castle. Right now, she had her eye on a new target. Her future boyfriend.

The Class S hero, Metal Bat.

She'd be even more popular if she managed to become his girlfriend. Yes, the whole world would know about her! She'd basically be seen as a Class S hero herself!

Carly began to put her plan into action. She stalked Metal Bat around from class to class, staying inconspicuous as possible. Normally she was not good at being sneaky - she liked to be the centre of attention. But she could make an exception! Her whole world was about to be changed, after all.

Carly had to admit, Metal Bat acted like a delinquent. Heck, he was a delinquent. He was very loud, and got into fist-fights with other delinquents. He was definitely no teacher's pet; he was what you'd call a 'problem student'. Carly didn't mind, though. She thought it was hot! She definitely wanted a bad boy as her boyfriend.

At the end of the day, she saw the hero talking to some of his friends. Most of them were goons, but there was one sassy-looking girl. Whatever. They were all losers. Once Carly was dating Metal Bat, she'd convince him to ditch them. They seemed to be talking about what they were doing over the weekend, and places they'd be visiting. Carly smirked.

Perfect.

Suddenly, she saw Metal Bat racing out of the school at top speed. She sighed. She'd never catch up with him now. So she decided to try plan B. She approached his friends, flicking her hair.

"Hello, gentlemen, and lady," she said in a seductive tone, hastily adding the last part. She brushed her hair through her fingers and blinked daintily.

"Whaddya want?" one of the goons asked. She saw him looking at her chest for sure, and smirked.

"Well, I've got a little question for you," she said, smiling sweetly. "Answer it, and you'll be in my debt."

"What is it, then?" the girl asked.

"I saw you and your dear friend Metal Bat having a nice conversation moments ago," Carly replied, "and, well, I was just a little curious, but… where is Metal Bat going to be this weekend?"

The girl scowled. "Oh. Ugh. Not another one."

The boys shook their head in disappointment.

"Aren't you going to tell me?" Carly asked, grabbing the top of her school shirt and leaning forward. "I'd really love to know."

"No way," a boy replied. "Metal Bat may be a Class S hero, but he deserves some privacy."

"Aww, come on," Carly said, puckering up her lips. "If you do, I'll reward you handsomely."

"Get lost," a different boy scoffed.

Carly clenched her fists. "Excuse me, I-"

"Let me guess, you wanna ask him out," the girl interrupted.

"How did… how did you know?" Carly asked.

"You're not the first," the girl sighed. "We've had tons of people asking us all about Metal Bat. And, I'm just gonna say, don't even bother asking him out. He's going to say no. He's not interested."

Carly laughed, rudely. "No one can resist me! I'm the Queen Bee! He's probably had feelings for me all along - after all, who hasn't?"

The friends started laughing.

"What are you all laughing at?!" Carly snapped.

"You," a boy said, through tears of laughter. "You're just… so stupid!"

"What?!" Carly screamed.

The girl wiped her eyes. "Look, it doesn't matter if you're 'Queen Bee' or not, he's not interested. Lots of different types of people have asked him out and he always says no. You're no different."

Carly cried out in pure rage, looking like she was about to punch the girl in the face. The group stopped laughing.

"How about this?" Carly growled. "I'll make a deal with you idiots, just to prove how confident I am. I will ask out Metal Bat on the weekend, wherever he is. If he says yes, you all have to become my personal servants for the rest of the year."

"You really are crazy," the girl said, raising her brow. "Fine, then. If Metal Bat says no, you have to stop harassing people, never bother us again, and just stop being a horrible person in general."

"And also give us all 500 yen," a boy added.

"That too," the girl agreed.

"Then do we have a deal?" Carly asked, smirking.

"Yeah," the girl said, smirking back. "We have a deal."

The ladies shook hands, glaring at each other.


Ah, the mall. This place had driven Badd up a wall more than once, he'd admit. Slow walkers, shop employees in your face, trying to get you to buy some 3 million yen pair of shoes, and of course, complete strangers asking for your autograph. Badd didn't mind giving out a few autographs, but God, those slow walkers. Didn't they know anything about speed?

Naturally, all worries went away when he saw his sister jumping up and down with excitement at all the dresses she could try on. How could he resist that cute little face?

The siblings were currently at some fancy dress store, Eternally 22 or something, and Zenko had run off to look at some colourful skirts. Badd was about to follow her, but he was interrupted by a shrill, high, voice screaming:

"Ohhhh Batty-dear!"

Out of nowhere, some girl around Badd's age wrapped her arms around him from behind. He jumped. His hero instincts kicked in and he almost whacked her with his bat. Seeing she was instead just some random girl, he just shoved her off. She seemed to be some very revealing clothing, and making quite a fuss by bouncing on her toes. A lot of people were staring.

Carly smirked. Excellent. With all these witnesses, Metal Bat would have to say yes to her! If he didn't, she'd simply paint him as an abuser. And with all these strangers watching, news would spread fast. She would win. She always did.

"What the Hell?!" Metal Bat asked, staring at her. "Who are you?"

The girl looked mortified. "You don't recognise me, Batty-poo?"

"Don't call me that," Metal Bat growled. He frowned, and crossed his arms. "Uh… yer in one of my classes, right?"

Carly was horrified. Was he really that out of the loop?

"I'm Carly Diamond," she replied, "Queen Bee of the school!"

Metal Bat kept frowning. "Never heard of ya."

Carly gritted her teeth against her frustration. "Well, that's a shame. I am the most popular girl in school."

"Yeah, sure, great," Metal Bad said, turning away. "I gotta find my-"

"Wait!" Carly desperately grabbed his arm again. "I wanted to ask you something."

Metal Bat groaned internally, shaking her arm off. "What is it?"

"Well, you see, my house is free this weekend," Carly gushed, leaning towards him. She lowered her voice to a seductive whisper. "If you came over, we'd be all alone."

Metal Bat groaned externally.

"Are you askin' me out?" he asked. "How many times do I have to tell you girls? I'm not interested!"

"Oh, but I'm not like other girls," Carly insisted. "You'd have so much fun with me."

"I said no, lady," the hero replied, turning away. "Now, please, leave me alone."

Carly held up her hand. "But-"

"Hey!" a young girl squeaked. "He said no! Go away!"

Carly glared at the young girl, who happened to be Zenko. Zenko glared straight back at her.

"Who let this little brat in here?" Carly scoffed.

Metal Bat glared at Carly, gritting his teeth so hard he thought they might shatter. It took all his willpower not to throw this infernal woman at the 3 million yen shoes.

"That's my little sister," he ground out.

Carly went bright red. "... oh."

She was surprised. Most older siblings found their younger ones rather annoying, but it seemed Metal Bat took a lot of offence to Carly calling his sister a brat.

Someone started snickering in the background. The laughter dragged Carly back into reality. She composed herself. If she couldn't win Metal Bat the normal way, she could get through to him using his sister. Perfect.

"Hello there, sweetie," Carly said, kneeling down to Zenko's height. "Aren't you the cutest little thing!" She held out some candy. "Would you like a lollipop?"

"No way!" Zenko replied, slapping the lollipop out of Carly's hands. "Besides, Big Brother says I shouldn't take candy from weirdos."

Carly spluttered. Weirdo?

"Now go away!" Zenko repeated, grabbing onto her brother's arm. "You're interrupting my shopping time!"

Carly cursed the world, her face going an even brighter red. There was no going back now. It was time for the final straw, her trump card.

She turned on Metal Bat. "You sick freak! You think you're all that? Wait until I tell them how you assaulted me!"

"What the Hell did you just say?!" Metal Bat asked.

Carly held up her phone and walked over to Metal Bat. She kept her voice low. "I've been taking pictures of us. With a little Photoshop magic, your career is ov-"

Someone threw a shoe at Carly's hand, causing her to yelp and drop the phone in surprise. The girl from Metal Bat's school emerged from behind the clothes rack.

"You?!" Carly screamed, glaring at her.

"Luminare?" Metal Bat asked. "What are you doin' here?"

"Saving your butt," Luminare replied. She picked up Carly's phone, and glared at the girl in question. "Hey, I win, so you can't ask me to give this back to you."

Carly roared in rage. She chased after Luminare, screaming curse words. They ran out of the store. There was an awkward silence. Even the witnesses didn't say anything.

"Badd, what just happened?" Zenko asked.

"I have no idea," Metal Bat replied, wiping his eyes. "Let's just get out of here, Zenko."

After paying for Zenko's new clothes, the siblings walked out of the store. Zenko found herself pondering a question. She grabbed her brother's free hand.

"Why don't you want a girlfriend, big bro?" she asked.

"I don't have the time," Badd replied. "I've gotta do hero stuff, school stuff, and look after my baby sister. And besides," he smiled, and ruffled her hair, "you're the only girl I need in my life."

Zenko rolled her eyes. "You're so cheesy, big bro."

"Yeah," Badd laughed. "I know."

Chapter Text

 


'Nervous' was an understatement. And telling whom was more nervous was a downright challenge. Well, at least, not to the naked eye.

"You've practised, right?" Badd asked his sister, sweating profusely.

Zenko rolled her eyes, running her finger across the piano keys. "Of course I have, big bro."

"You remember all the parts, right?" Badd asked. If she didn't, that was okay. He'd remembered them too, and he could easily recite them to her.

Zenko sighed, staring at the all-familiar sheet of music. "Yes, Badd."

"Okay, good," Badd said, trying to soothe himself. It was fine. She remembered. She'd be fine. Still, he couldn't stop himself from pacing around. He didn't want his sister to embarrass herself on stage. She wouldn't - she'd trained so hard! But still...

"You're going to be there after school," Zenko asked, quietly. "Aren't you?"

That stopped Badd's pacing. Being a hero was a great job, but as with everything it came with a cost. Such as he never knew when he'd be called to action. This was usually the main topic whenever the siblings had a dispute. Zenko tended to have a meltdown when her brother was too busy with hero business to carry her shopping bags.

He didn't want to bring that up, though. He didn't want her to worry.

"Of course I will," he said, reassuringly. "Don't worry."

Zenko smiled at him, then took his hand. "Come on, bro. You're gonna walk me to school, right?"


Being a hero had its perks, too. Such as leaving school early.

Badd told his teacher that he had 'hero duties' to attend to. In actuality, he was going to buy a bouquet of flowers for his sister's performance, and still have time to run all the way to the venue. Luckily the florist wasn't too far away. After getting out of school, he bolted all the way there, still in his uniform. He burst open the doors, almost collapsing on some dandelions.

"Hello, sir," said the employee behind the counter. "How can I help you?"

Wait a second. That employee was… familiar.

"Lily?" Badd asked, staring at the employee.

"Um," Lily chewed her nails. "Hi, Metal Bat."

"You work here too?" Badd asked, bewildered. "How many jobs do ya have?!"

"Well, I poured coffee all over my 10000 yen jacket after, um, accidentally setting myself on fire," Lily explained, biting her lip. "Miss Blizzard got upset, so I told her I'd make enough money to buy three new jackets in a week to make it up to her. And so, here I am."

"Hold on," Badd stared at her. "Did ya say accidentally setting yerself on fire?"

Lily blushed. "It's a long story. A-Anyway, did you need help with anything?"

"Gimme the biggest bouquet of flowers you have," Badd replied.

A few minutes later, Lily was hauling over a giant bouquet of roses that actually looked bigger than her. She was drenched in sweat.

"Will…" she panted. "Will… these… do?"

"Yeah," Badd nodded. "Those will do."

Badd slung the flowers over his shoulder and bolted out. Lily stood there in silence for a few moments.

"Oh my God," she said. "An… An S Class hero remembered my name…"

And then she passed out.

Meanwhile, Badd got to the venue just in time. He stood outside the entrance to the place, and took a moment to breathe. That's when he noticed the fancy brass doors had a sign on them.

"Hm?" he asked.

Plastic bags and such, which would cause any noise, may not be taken inside because the concert will be recorded.

"What the…?" Badd asked, scowling. Great. He put the bouquet outside the door, and placed a quick note on it saying DON'T STEAL OR I'LL KILL YOU!

He then entered the audience seating, glancing at the stage where his sister would be performing. Right now, some other kid was playing on the piano. They were pretty good, but Badd knew Zenko was better. He sat down, breathing out nosily in relief. Some guy gave him a weird look.

"The hell you lookin' at?" Badd asked him.

The guy went back to minding his own business.

Finally, the kid was done performing, and the audience applauded them. Badd grabbed his pants leg in fright, sweat dripping down his face. Now it was his sister's turn.

"Please welcome Zenko to the stage!" the announcer yelled. The audience clapped as Zenko, with a flower in her hair, walked over to the piano. Badd, by far, was clapping the loudest. Finally, the clapping quietened down. Zenko began to play.

The sound was beautiful. Zenko played it so well, so smoothly. She'd improved so much from when she first began. Back then, she used to yell at the keyboard, and call it a lot of rude names. Now, like it was a lion, she'd tamed it. Mastered it.

Safe to say, Badd was extremely proud of her. Maybe a little too proud. He had a bad habit of… crying at his sister's piano recitals. And not just silent weeping. No, full on bawling. It tended to be disruptive and a little embarrassing.

Don't cry, Badd chided himself, sweating profusely. His eyes felt like they were going to explode. Scratch that, his whole body felt like it was going to explode.

Mustn't make any noise, Badd thought. He pinched himself. A single tear slid down his face. You've come a long way, Zenko…

"That man is scary," a boy whimpered to his mother, gazing at the hero.

"Shh," she replied, "don't look."

Zenko swore she could hear her brother from down there. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and just continued playing. That guy was such an idiot sometimes.

Soon, she finished her song. She stood up and took a bow. The audience clapped, and as usual, Badd was the loudest, tears streaming down his cheeks.


Thankfully, no one had stolen the flowers, so Badd didn't need to beat anyone up.

Only until she was standing next to them did Badd realise the bouquet was actually bigger than Zenko herself. She didn't seem bothered though, grabbing the flowers and slipping them over her shoulder. Badd took her hand, using his other hand to carry his bat.

"Big bro," Zenko asked. "Did you cry?"

"Haha," Badd answered, "no way."

Zenko didn't believe that for a second. "Dummy. I totally heard you."

"No ya didn't!" Badd protested.

Zenko just rolled her eyes again.

"The flowers are pretty," she said. "Thanks, bro."

"Only the best for you," Badd said, smiling at her. "Y'know, yer friend's sister was workin' at the florist's."

"Really?" Zenko asked. "She sure does have a lot of jobs."

Badd nodded. "She's crazy."

"Hey, Badd," Zenko's tone became more sombre. "Do you ever think… Grandma and Grandpa will want to come to one of my recitals…?"

Badd frowned. "Oh, man… I don't know, sis. Ya know they hate goin' out. It's hard enough to get 'em to pick you up from school."

"They hate everything," Zenko muttered. "Why can't they be more like Mom and Dad were?"

Badd felt a pain in his chest. He squeezed her hand. "It doesn't matter, Zenko. I'll come to as many of your piano recitals as I can."

Zenko didn't say anything. She just watched the clouds fly overhead, and enjoyed the smell of the roses. Hopefully, she'd win the concert. And maybe it would drag her grandparents out of the shadows.

Chapter Text

It was a gorgeous day out in the city. Birds were chirping, tomato plants were growing. People were busily walking by, minding their own business. Zenko was no exception. She was waiting for her brother to show up so he could carry her shopping bags. He was late, as usual. He'd probably been held up by some kind of hero-related thing.

Zenko decided to just enter the mall herself since Badd was taking too long. It was just across the crossroad. What could go wrong?

Zenko began walking across the road. Time seemed to slow down. Suddenly, a car came speeding towards her. The driver had lost control of his car. He yelled out, trying to stop his car, but failed. Zenko turned around with horror. It was too close to run. She opened her mouth to scream…

… only to get pulled aside by a hero.

Zenko looked up at her saviour. He was completely bald. He had red rubber gloves and boots, attached to a yellow jumpsuit with a zipper on the front. A white cape billowed out behind him. He looked familiar; Zenko had seen him on TV. He was in Class B, she believed. Wasn't he meant to be a fraud or something?

"Whoa…" she gasped, staring up at him.

"Be careful around the road, kid," the hero warned. "Things can come out of nowhere."

He turned to walk away, but Zenko grabbed his cape.

"Wait!" she cried. "What's your name?"

The hero shrugged. "Oh, it's Saitama."

"Saitama," Zenko repeated. She smiled. "Thanks for saving me, Saitama."

Saitama nodded. "Sure."

He walked away, leaving Zenko staring in awe. Wasn't that guy a fraud? He didn't seem like a fraud to Zenko…

Zenko stood up, staring at Saitama's retreating figure. What a weird hero.


Shopping for a pet was hard, especially when you'd never owned one before.

Badd wandered around the supermarket for a while, looking for the pet products. Somehow, he kept ending up in the bathroom aisle. Zenko tugged his hand.

"You passed them, dummy," she said. "They're back that way."

"Right." Badd grunted. "You lead the way, then."

Zenko led her brother back to the pet food aisle. That's when Badd noticed some familiar faces.

"What the…" he muttered. He saw the Demon Cyborg, King, and a semi-familiar bald guy standing nearby the meat section.

"Hey!" Zenko jumped up in front of her brother. "Are you coming?"

Badd blinked. "Huh? Yeah. Comin'."

"Hold on," Zenko's eyes widened, heading over to the meat section. "Is that… the Demon Cyborg? And King? And Saitama?"

Before Badd could say anything, Zenko ran over to the heroes in question.

"Master," Genos said, holding up a pack of sausages. "Getting these, as well as the pork ones, will save you an extra 500 yen."

"Yeah, but the other ones are so good," Saitama protested.

King sighed. "Can we hurry this up? I have a dating sim I need to update."

"Hey!" Zenko chirped, grabbing Saitama's cape. "Remember me?"

"Huh?" Saitama asked, staring down at her. "Who are you?"

Zenko pouted. "You don't remember me? You saved me from getting hit by a car."

Saitama frowned. "I did?"

"Master, I believe that is Metal Bat's younger sister," Genos told Saitama.

"Who's Metal Bat?" Saitama asked, scratching his head.

"I'm Metal Bat," Badd said, walking over to the group.

"Oh hey," Saitama waved. "Aren't you the one that controls all the robots?"

"That's Metal Knight, Master," Genos corrected.

"Right," Saitama agreed.

"So, you guys all go shopping here?" Badd asked.

"Master Saitama wanted to get a specific kind of meat banquet," Genos explained. "He wanted to do it while the meat sale was still on. King and I came along to help him pick which meats would be suitable."

"Actually, I came along because I was forced," King muttered.

"What brings you to this supermarket, Metal Bat?" Genos asked.

"We just got a cat," Badd answered, "so we're gettin' pet stuff."

"But big brother got lost 'cause he's dumb," Zenko added.

Badd scowled. "Zenko!"

Zenko made a face. He sighed. If anyone else had called him dumb, he would've done their head in. She was unknowingly lucky.

"The pet aisle is that way," Genos said, pointing in said direction.

"Yeah, we got it," Badd replied. "See ya, weirdos."

"Wait, big bro!" Zenko chirped. "I've gotta get their autographs first!"

Badd sighed. He waited while King and Genos signed his sister's notebook.

"So, Baldy," he turned to Saitama, "you saved my sister from getting hit by a car."

Saitama scowled. Why did everyone have to call him that stupid name? "Maybe."

Badd glanced at his bat, leaning against the wall. "Hey. That… means a lot. So, uh, thanks."

Saitama shrugged. "It's what we heroes do, right?"

Badd just smiled. "Sure. When the Hero Association isn't throwing workloads on your ass."

"Big bro!" Zenko ran up to her brother. "You'll never guess what! Saitama has a group full of heroes!"

"That's cool," Badd said.

"Can I join it?" Zenko asked. Badd almost fell over.

"Whoa, kid," Saitama intervened, stepping in between the siblings. "My, uh, 'group' is full of adults."

"But it sounds soooo cool," Zenko whined.

"No way I'm lettin' ya join a group full of adults," Badd said, frowning.

Zenko pouted. "Please, bro?"

Badd scowled. "No."

Zenko began crying.

Badd began to panic. He kneeled down to her height. "Hey, whoa, don't cry! It's because… I don't want ya to be around… people ya don't know."

"But I do know these people," Zenko whimpered. "King, the Demon Cyborg… Bang will be there, too. And the Blizzard of Hell!"

"They're adults," Badd repeated.

"I don't care!" Zenko argued. "Please, bro? They're not gonna do anything… weird. They just play video games and such."

"If you wanna play video games, then I can buy ya some," Badd said. "Ya don't need to join a whole group for it."

"But Badd," Zenko whimpered, "it's a hero group! And besides, Lily is there… sometimes."

Badd still didn't look completely convinced, so she put on her puppy-eyes.

Badd felt his will crumble. "Alright, fine, ya can go to this… Saitama group… but I'm gonna go with ya. And it's only gonna happen once. Got it?"

Zenko nodded eagerly. "It'll be great, big bro!" She held out her arms. "Piggy-back ride?"

Badd let her crawl onto his shoulders. He stood up as she wrapped her arms around his neck. The other three heroes, not used to seeing Badd being, well, affectionate, just stared at him.

"What are you all lookin' at?" he growled.

The heroes went back to minding their own business.

Badd grunted. He turned away, muttering curse words.

"Bye-bye!" Zenko waved at the heroes. She gasped. "Bro! I know what to name our cat!"

"What?" Badd asked.

"We'll call her Tama," she replied, "short for Saitama!"

"You really like that bald guy, huh?" Badd asked.

Zenko nodded. "He's a lot stronger than he looks."

Badd rolled his eyes. "Better him than Sweet Mask."

Zenko slapped his head. "Brother!"

Chapter Text

Mother's Day. Aside from Father's Day and another date he didn't want to think about, Badd could not think of a day he hated more.

All the shops went over the top with Mother's Day advertisements. Buy this for Mom, they all screamed. She'll love this $300 perfume!

Badd wanted to laugh. What gift could you buy a dead woman?

Zenko didn't seem to like Mother's Day either. She'd been so young on… that night. She was probably even more traumatised by it than Badd himself. It was natural she seemed uncomfortable on Mother's Day. It made sense. Mother's Day wasn't the same without a mother.

Still, a grandmother counted as a mother… sort of. So Badd ended up having to buy her something to get her off his as- uh, behind. Zenko just made her a homemade card. All parents loved those things.

Yet, even Zenko couldn't be as… outgoing as she usually was. She was quieter. Except when Badd got a call from the Hero Association (typical), she didn't want him to go. Even more so than usual. She wouldn't let go of his arm. Even multiple promises about shopping at Eternally 22 wouldn't get her off. In the end, he had to get his grandparents to coax her off.

The day finally finished, and night came at last. Badd pretty much flopped into bed, Tama curling up beside him. He was glad the day was over. Now he wouldn't have to put up with it again for an entire year. He began to close his eyes…

… until he felt something crawl into his bed.

He almost flipped out and bashed it with his bat, until he realised it was just Zenko. He sighed in relief, putting his bat down beside his bed. He turned the lights on.

"What's wrong, sis?" he asked. The shock had woken him up. He was a little annoyed, but he wouldn't take it out on Zenko. Especially when she looked like she'd been crying; her eyes were red and puffy. He made a face. He had a feeling he knew what was happening here.

"Had a bad dream?" he asked.

She nodded.

He sighed, letting her sit on his lap. "Yeah, it happens. What was it about?"

Zenko stared at her hands. "It was about…" She sniffled. "... that night. Mom..." she paused, wiping her nose. "Mom and Dad were there, then that monster… came and… you were there too. You… you…" She began sobbing.

"Hey, hey, it's okay," Badd said, trying to be as soothing as he could. He held Zenko close as she cried into his shirt. A side to him no other person saw. "It was just a dream. It wasn't real."

"You went all… crazy," Zenko continued, sniffling. "You… hit Mom and Dad with your bat… and they… and you killed…" She paused again. "Then… you turned to me with your bat… and… I woke up before anything happened. I almost thought you were gonna…"

She kept crying. Badd hugged her a little tighter.

"I'd never do somethin' like that," he told her. "You know that, right?"

"You promised," she whispered, clenching his shirt in her fists. "You promised you'd never show me violence…"

"I did," Badd agreed. "I'd never hurt you, Zenko. I freak out when I see ya cry, y'know?"

"And you cry at all my piano recitals," Zenko added, tearfully. "Big dummy."

"I do not," Badd teased, half-heartedly.

Zenko blew a raspberry at him. She then wiped her eyes. "Do you miss… do you miss Mom and Dad?"

"'Course I do," Badd answered. Now he felt like crying. Those thoughts haunted him... "All the time."

"I hate Mother's Day," Zenko grumbled.

"Me too, kiddo," Badd agreed. "Thank God it's only once a year, eh?"

Zenko nodded, still clinging onto his shirt.

"It's late," Badd told her. He kissed her on the cheek. "Let's go to bed."

He reached over to turn the lights off, only to get Zenko grabbing his arm.

"Big brother," Zenko interrupted. "... Do you worry about me?"

"All the damn time," Badd answered, which was true. After all, his grandparents were retired. And while they took care of Zenko, they didn't want to take her out to do anything other than school. That's where he came in.

"You're the most important thing in the world to me, sis," Badd told her. "Y'know that? I don't care about anythin' else!"

"What about Tama?" Zenko asked.

"'Course I love Tama," Badd replied, scratching the cat in question behind the ears. She purred. "Who else is gonna meow at me at 4AM?"

Zenko giggled, also petting Tama.

"What about Grandma and Grandpa?" she asked.

"They like ya way more than they like me," Badd answered. "They think yer a little angel."

"Because I am," Zenko replied, smirking.

Badd ruffled her hair. "You sure are."

Zenko rolled her eyes, yawning. Her voice sounded tired. "What am I gonna do with you, big brother? I guess you need someone to look after you..."

Badd just laughed. "Alright, lil' Angel. I think it's time for bed."

Zenko slumped onto her pillow, still holding her brother's hand. "Goodnight, Badd. I love you."

"Love you too, Zen," Badd replied, switching off the lights. Safe to say, it was one of the best sleeps he had.

Chapter Text

 


"Foolish humans!" the monster that was shaped like a humanoid tooth, known as Enamel, cackled. It towered above the civilians, its bulging eyes wide. "You've been consuming endless amounts of sugar, rotting away your teeth! Now your teeth will rot away you!"

People ran around in a panic, screaming. Sirens blared and echoed. A little girl fell over, hurting her knee.

"Mommy!" the young girl screamed. "Help me!"

"Bwahaha," Enamel cackled, towering over her. "You will be the first, child!"

The girl screamed and covered her face. Just as the monster was about to attack the girl, a hero wielding a metal baseball bat appeared. He slammed the bat into the tooth's top layer, creating a gaping hole in its surface. The monster roared, steam pooling out of the hole. It groaned, falling over in defeat. An eye dangled out of its side.

The crowd of people cheered. The little girl ran over to her mother, who sobbed and scooped up her daughter into her arms.

"That's Metal Bat, right?" someone asked. "He's a Class C hero!"

"Wow!" another person added. "He's really strong for Class C!"

"You're amazing, Metal Bat!" the little girl cried.

The people kept clapping and cheering, yet Metal Bat didn't seem to be paying attention to them. Instead, he was staring at the broken metal bat in his hands, which now looked more like a metal banana.

"Tch," he groaned. "Again…"

How many bats was he going to break? It seemed he was getting a new one every week. He sighed with annoyance, walking through the cheering crowd of people.


A few weeks later, Metal Bat got a letter from the Hero Association. Apparently, they wanted to discuss something important.

He headed over to the fancy building. After a short wait, they invited him to a pristine room that looked it had been vacuumed one too many times. He sat down on a sofa, eyeing three executives that came up to him.

"Good afternoon, sir," said one of them, a man with bleached-blonde hair. He sat down in front of the hero. "Thank you for coming. Was it a pleasant trip here?"

"Yeah yeah," Metal Bat waved his hand. "Get on with it. I promised my lil' sis we'd go shopping later, and I'm not gonna be late 'cause of small talk with you."

The executives stared at each other.

"Very well," said the blonde man, wiping imaginary dust off his chest. "C-Class Hero, Metal Bat. We have decided to promote you to S Class, after witnessing your superb combat ability. All the heroes will look up to you. You will be treated differently from now on."

"If there's a weapon or equipment you'd like, just tell us," a female executive added.

"Whatever you want, we will arrange it for you." a dark haired man agreed.

"For example," the blonde man continued, "we've provided Darkshine with custom-made super heavy barbells. Pig God requested high calorie lunches on a daily basis. If it's for the sake of hero activities, anything is fine! We can even make you your own weapons. Our technicians will implement your ideal weapon based on your description."

"'Kay..." the hero said. "A bat."

"Eh?" the blonde man asked.

"Gimme a bat that doesn't break," Metal Bat said.

The executive blinked.

"I want a metal bat that doesn't break no matter what." Metal Bat repeated.

The blonde man sweat-beaded. "Okay… a bat. We can do that."

"So, we done here?" Metal Bat asked, shifting to stand up.

"Well, you've heard what you needed to hear," the executive said. He held up a form. "But we'd love to hear your feedback on the official Hero Association-"

"Yeah, no," the hero interrupted. "I'm out."

He got out of there before the executives could make him answer any more questionnaires.


"So you're in S Class now?" Zenko asked her brother, as they walked around the mall.

"Yep," he replied. "I guess this means no more of those shi- uh, crappy weekly quotas."

"I've heard that S-Class heroes get whatever they want," Zenko mused. "Like weapons, or food, or something. Is that true?"

"Pretty much," Metal Bat shrugged. "They said anything's fine."

"What'd you ask for?" Zenko asked.

"A bat that doesn't break." Metal Bat replied.

Zenko glowered at him. "Big bro, if anything's fine, you should've asked for Sweet Mask's signature!"

The hero sweat-beaded. "Sorry, I forgot! N-next time…"

Zenko rolled her eyes. "Big dummy. You owe me!"

Chapter Text

Tareo couldn't wipe the grin off his face. He couldn't believe he hadn't realised that Metal Bat's little sister attended his school! Now he could get an autograph from another Class S hero! He couldn't stop bouncing on his toes thinking about it.

"Hey," he nervously approached Zenko, who was talking to another girl. "You're Metal Bat's little sister, right?"

Zenko looked suspicious. "Yeah. What 'bout it?"

Tareo held up his copy of the hero guide. "I'm trying to get a signature from every single hero in the association. So far, I've gotten signatures from some of Class A, lots of Class B and C, and only one from Class S. I don't want to bother you, but it'd be really cool if you could get your brother to sign my book!"

Zenko frowned, thoughtfully. The girl beside her shrugged at her.

"Okay, fine," Zenko decided. "I'll get him to sign it. But you owe me!"

Tareo's face lit up. "Thank you so much!"

Zenko flipped through the guide. She gasped. "Seriously? You got Sweet Mask's autograph? How come you managed to get it and not my dumb big brother?"

"I went to one of his concerts and got lucky," Tareo explained.

Zenko groaned. "Big bro is so getting it!"

"Is Sweet Mask your favourite hero?" Tareo asked.

Zenko nodded, eyes shining. "Isn't he so dreamy?"

"He's amazing," Tareo agreed. "But all heroes are cool, don't you think?"

"Yeah," Zenko nodded. "Except my brother when he's being a dummy."

Tareo snickered. "No way! Is he really a dummy?"

Zenko nodded, rolling her eyes. "The biggest. But he's still my big bro."

The bell then rang, signalling the end of lunchtime.

"Aww man," Tareo frowned. "What was your name?"

"Zenko," Zenko said, offering her hand. Tareo shook it.

"I'm Tareo," he said, grinning at her. "See you later, Zenko!"

Zenko waved at him as she ran off to class.


Unfortunately, Badd couldn't pick up his sister from school due to some Hero Association meeting, so Zenko got picked up by her grandfather instead.

"I saw you with a boy," he teased. "Going out already?"

"No way!" Zenko protested, Tareo's hero guide in her lap.

Her grandfather laughed gently. "I'm only joking, Zenko. You are far too young for romance. Your silly brother doesn't seem interested in it either." He shook his head.

"Big brother says I'm the only girl in his life," Zenko replied.

Her grandfather sighed. "Your brother loves you very much, you know. Don't take that for granted - not everyone will be the same."

Zenko glanced over the hero guide again.

"Well, someone's gotta look after him," she said. "Right?"

Her grandfather chuckled again. "Indeed."


It was late evening, and Badd still hadn't come home. Either the meeting was extremely long or something else had come up. Zenko was playing games on her phone. She'd finished her homework, thankfully. It was challenging, but she'd managed to finish it.

She wished her brother could've helped her with it. Usually it was more to spend time with him rather than actually doing homework, since he really wasn't the brightest person alive.

She frowned. She missed her brother.

She kept glancing over at Tareo's hero guide. She was still jealous that he'd managed to get Sweet Mask's signature and her own brother, a Class S hero, had not. She had her own copy of the hero guide, which included a bunch of stupid comments from her brother.

Zenko thought about what her grandfather had said. Would she ever get a boyfriend? Have kids of her own? The thought made her feel grossed out. Who would want to have kids?

Eventually, her brother did show up, but it was quite late. Zenko could tell from all the noise in the living room.

She rolled her eyes. She was starting to get tired, so she didn't get up to see him. Instead, he came to her. He creaked her bedroom door open, letting a stream of light come in.

"Big bro," she yawned.

"Sorry, yer sleepin'," he said. "I'll go."

"No, I wanna talk to you," she replied.

"Whatcha wanna talk about?" he asked, sitting on the end of her bed.

"I made a new friend at school," she said.

His face lit up. "Really? That's awesome, sis! What's their name?"

"He's a boy," Zenko replied. "His name is Tareo. He wanted you to sign his Hero Association guide. It's on my desk."

"Got it," Badd nodded. "Is he nice?"

"Obviously," Zenko answered. "Grandpa thought he was my boyfriend."

"I hope he ain't, yer way too young for that stuff," Badd told her.

"Eww, no way," Zenko replied. "Boys are gross." She paused. "But if I did get a boyfriend, what would you do, big bro?"

"Scare him off," Badd answered.

"Badd!" Zenko scolded.

"Yeah yeah," Badd waved his hands. "If you were old enough, I'd be happy for ya."

Zenko watched her brother as he went to sign Tareo's hero guide. She then remembered Sweet Mask.

"Big bro!" she whined. "Tareo got Sweet Mask's autograph before I did!"

Badd sweat-beaded. "Sorry, sis. I-I promise, I'll get his autograph next time I see him."

Zenko scowled. "You always say that! Stop beating around the bush."

"I know, I know," the hero replied. "Next time, I swear."

Zenko sighed. "Did you sign the book?"

"Yep," Badd patted the hero guide. "That'll make your friend happy."

Zenko nodded. "Anyway, how was the Hero Association meeting?"

"Really boring," Badd groaned. "They went on for hours 'bout some big monster attack that was supposedly gonna happen, how we needed to be ready, 'get out your weapons', blah blah blah. And then that annoyin' Tornado brat took care of the whole thing in ten seconds."

Zenko didn't respond, and instead, looked away.

"What's wrong, sis?" Badd asked, kneeling beside her bed.

"You know what's wrong!" she whined. "You were away all day, again!"

"It's work, Zenko," Badd sighed. "Y'know there's nothin' I can do about it."

Zenko glared at him. "You could've at least called!"

"I'm really sorry," he told her, grabbing her hand. "Seriously. Big bro doesn't have a choice, sometimes."

Zenko continued glaring at him. "You said I was your top priority!"

"You are," Badd assured her. "It's just… Grandma and Gramps don't work. That's why I've gotta do it. I gotta earn money for us. I gotta be able to pay for Tama's stuff and yer piano lessons. And yer school stuff as well."

"Why don't they pay?" Zenko asked.

Badd scowled. "Long story. Don't worry yerself over it."

"I wanna know now," Zenko whimpered. "Tell me!"

"Look, you're too young to understand," Badd said. "I'll tell ya when yer older."

Zenko turned over and pulled the doona over her head.

Badd sighed, standing up. "Night, sis. Love ya."

He left Zenko to sleep. She watched him leave, and sniffled.

Chapter Text

 


Tama was acting weird. She wouldn't eat her food, and she kept throwing up. Zenko wasn't sure what was wrong with her. Her brother was busy with hero duties, so he wasn't around. She talked to her grandparents instead.

"She might be sick," her grandmother said. She handed Zenko a mop. "Wait until your brother gets home, and we'll figure something out."

Zenko sniffled. What if Tama was dying? She didn't want to wait. She wanted to do something now. So... she called her brother.

"Hey, sis, big bro's a little busy right now," he told her, not unkindly. "Is this important?"

"Tama's sick," Zenko told him, tearfully. "I wanna take her to the vet but Grandma and Grandpa won't let me!"

"She's sick?" Badd asked. He sounded worried. "Can't do anythin' about that now, Zen. I'll try and finish up here, as quickly as I can."

"Hurry up!" Zenko told him. "Please," she added quietly.

"See ya soon," he replied, hanging up.


An hour later, Badd came home, bat over his shoulder.

"Big bro!" Zenko cried, as he entered the house. "Finally!"

"Hey, sis," he said. "Where's-"

He was interrupted as Zenko grabbed his hand and dragged him to her room. Tama was lying on the floor, looking tired.

"Hey there, kitty," Badd said, kneeling down to scratch her behind the ears. She purred, meekly. He turned to Zenko. "How's she been feelin'?"

"She was throwing up before," Zenko said. "And she won't eat any food."

Badd pulled out his phone.

"What are you doing?" Zenko asked him.

"Bookin' a vet appointment," he told her, standing up. He called the vet and talked to them for a bit. It was a busy vet, but it was a good vet, so he'd deal with the wait. Zenko nervously petted Tama, whose eyes seemed to be full of mourning.

It was going to be okay, wasn't it?

"Booked it," Badd said, kneeling down beside his sister. "We're goin' in tomorrow."

Zenko nodded. She clung onto her brother's arm. "Will she be okay?"

"'Course she will," Badd answered, "she's got fightin' spirit!"

Zenko looked like she was going to cry. Badd (secretly) felt the same way. If Tama really was… so sick that… euthanasia would have to occur, he didn't know what he'd do. Who was going to sleep on his desk while he fumed over algebra? Who was going to cuddle up on his bed and make him temporarily forget all his worries? Who was going to wake him up at 4AM by mewing in his face?

He hated to admit it, but he'd even miss that last one.


The siblings went to the vet the next day. It wasn't the first time they'd been - Tama'd had to go there to be neutered. Zenko was still annoyed about it. She had wanted a whole litter of kittens (or 'baby Tamas', as she called them) - unfortunately, her grandparents had not.

The vet smelled like animal pee and was completely white, aside from various posters about flea treatments. The siblings, with Tama in a cat carrier, sat down in some hard, plastic seats. There were some other people there, such as a kid with a bird, a few dogs, and some other cats. Tama's meows mixed in with the other sounds of the animals. Zenko tried to poke her fingers through the bars of Tama's cage, hoping it would calm her down. Sadly, Tama kept meowing. Zenko decided to focus on something else.

"Look, big bro, that girl over there has a piglet," Zenko said, pointing to a young woman, that indeed, had a pet pig on a leash.

"What'd you want a pig as a pet for?" Badd asked. "Waste of bacon."

Zenko slapped his arm. "Badd! That's not funny!"

"I was kiddin', I was kiddin'!" Badd exasperated, waving his arms.

Zenko rolled her eyes. "You're so dumb, big bro."

Suddenly, a familiar teen girl, dressed head to toe in a active wear, walked into the vet, holding a leash with 6 dogs attached. They were all yipping away.

"All of you, shush," the girl told them, firmly. She pointed at a grey poodle. "Muffin, bad girl. Don't bite Sir Winterbottom's, well, bottom."

"What the…" Badd stared at the girl. "Lily?"

Lily looked up, turning red, and stared at him. "Oh! Uh, hi! Metal Bat! And Zenko!"

"That's a lot of dogs, Lily," Zenko said, genuinely impressed. "Are they yours?"

Lily shook her head. "These are my neighbour's. He looks after these rescue dogs, and I take them for walks. He pays me for it. It's my new job. Yeah, I know. Another one. Ha ha."

There was an awkward silence.

Lily coughed. "Anyway, he wanted to take them to the vet for a check-up today, but had to go to some important meeting so he wasn't able to. I offered to take them for him since I was going to take them for a walk anyway and he accepted. So here I am."

"Right," Badd said, staring at all the dogs. "Seriously, girl. How many jobs do you have?"

Lily's face went a deeper red. "Just a few."

"Tama?" a vet called, holding up a clipboard. "We're ready to see you now."

Badd and Zenko stood up. Tama mewed some more from her cat carriage.

"Good luck!" Lily told them. She glared at the dogs at her feet. "Raspberry! For the last time, sit!"

Badd and Zenko followed the vet to a small room. In there was an examining table, a desk, and other things found in a medical environment. The vet sat behind her computer, while the siblings sat in some seats beside her.

"Alright, there we go," she said, finishing whatever she was typing on her computer. She faced the siblings. "What seems to be- oh my god. You're Metal Bat." She gasped, eyes going wide. "Oh my god. Holy crap. Can I have your autograph?"

"Hey, lady, I'm here ta' find out why my cat's sick," Badd growled, "not to give out autographs."

The vet blushed. "Um, r-right. S-Sorry. I lost track of myself there." She cleared her throat, smoothing out her shirt. "Let's get Tama here onto the examining table, huh?"

Badd managed to coo Tama out of the carriage. He was glad she got to get out of there - he hated seeing her stuck in there. It felt like animal cruelty.

The vet began to examine her.

"She's a little bit overweight," the vet said. She frowned. "How's she been, these last few days?"

"She's been throwin' up," Badd told her. "Not eatin' food, either."

Tama mewed, stress-fully.

"Calm down, kitty," Badd told her, in a gentle tone, scratching her behind the ears. "Yer fine. Mama's here."

"Hmm," the vet mused. "Let me take her temperature."

She went and picked up a thermometer.

Badd cringed. "Don'tcha have to put that thing in her…"

The vet nodded, smiling sympathetically. "You don't have to look if you don't want to."

Badd covered his sister's eyes.

"Big bro!" she whined.

After the vet checked Tama's temperature, she turned back to the siblings.

"She's a normal temperature, and judging by her weight, I believe she may be eating food too quickly," the vet said, staring at Badd. "How much, and how often do you feed her?"

"Well, my little sis feeds her as well when I ain't around," Badd said. "I usually feed her when I get home from school, and in the morning. What 'bout you, Zen?"

"I feed her at night," Zenko answered, "and if she meows at me a lot."

"And how much do you feed her, per serving?" the vet asked.

"No idea," Badd admitted. "I don't really pay attention."

The vet made a face.

"Big bro!" Zenko scowled. She rolled her eyes at the vet. "Sorry, he's as dense as his bat."

"What?" the hero asked.

"She eats about a cup a day," Zenko told the vet, ignoring her brother.

"As in, a measuring cup?" the vet asked.

Zenko shrugged. "Just a normal cup, that you'd drink out of, I guess."

The vet frowned thoughtfully. "I see. You are overfeeding her, and she is eating too fast. You should only feed Tama around twice a day, and make sure she always has water. If she keeps putting on weight, there's a chance she may get diabetes."

"Knew I was spoilin' her," Badd admitted. "Sometimes I feed her at nighttime as well."

"And you bought her an expensive cat bed from Petfarm," Zenko added. "That thing is more comfy than Grandma's couch!"

The vet sighed. "Don't overfeed Tama. If you stick to only feeding her twice a day, she should stop vomiting."

"Got it," Badd said. He petted Tama, smiling. "Yeah, kitty? Yer so cute, aren't ya? Good girl."

"I think we're done here," the vet said, smiling. She blushed, and bowed. "I-it was an honour to meet you, Metal Bat sir, and I'd be really grateful if I could get your autograph."

Badd scowled.

"Never mind," the vet turned away, still blushing.


Once Tama (and her owners) got home, she curled up on Grandma's couch, while the siblings sat next to her.

"I bought her a damn expensive bed and she still prefers this old thing," Badd grumbled.

"Smells weird, too," Zenko commented.

Badd snorted. He petted Tama again, who purred. His will crumbled. "Aww, I can't stay mad at you, kitty."

Zenko rolled her eyes. But hey, neither could she.

Chapter Text

1#

Being the little sister of a Class S hero wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Some people were nice to Zenko just to meet Metal Bat, or to get in his good graces. Some people were scared of her because they were scared of her brother. And some people were perverted and/or greedy.

Zenko could feel a pair of eyes on her back. She was standing still outside the grocery store. Her brother had run off to deal with some monster that had appeared, and she was waiting here in a safe place for him to return.

She couldn't see anyone spying on her… was she being stalked? It wouldn't be the first time. Some crazy people knew that she was Metal Bat's little sister, and unfortunately tried to 'kidnap' her for ransom money or something like it. Thankfully, her big brother's temper came in handy, and those idiots had strayed far away after facing his wrath once.

Most of the time, anyway.

Zenko was feeling more and more uncomfortable. A drop of sweat fell down her cheek. There weren't that many people around, since most of them had fled due to the monster. She really hoped her brother would come back soon.

"Hello, little girl," said a creepy voice. A man approached her from behind, some kind of twisted emotion in his eyes. He raised his hands threateningly. "Why don't you be a good child and come with me?"

He put a hand over her mouth, a sick grin on his face. Zenko tried to kick him, but he was too strong. He tried to drag her away, but was interrupted by a loud, angry voice.

"HEY YOU!" Badd roared, holding up his bat. He was practically shaking with rage. He looked just as dangerous as a monster himself. It wasn't hard to see why people were so scared of him.

"The hell are you doin' to my sister?!" the hero demanded.

"Oh, shit," the perverted man cursed. He let Zenko go and ran for his life.

"GET BACK HERE YOU BASTARD!" Badd yelled, chasing after him.

"Big bro!" Zenko shouted. "Wait!"

Badd turned and stared at her. "Zen, I gotta-"

"Don't leave me alone," Zenko said, her lip trembling.

Badd's expression softened. "I won't."

He picked her up, where she clung onto him like a baby koala. He continued searching for the man. He wanted to rave about how much he wanted to smash the creep's head in, but feared his sister wouldn't like it. Despite that, she'd seemingly wiped off her fear and instead put on a brave expression. She looked around for the man.

"He's in that alleyway," Zenko whispered into her brother's ear, as they approached the alleyway in question.

"Good eye," he told her. He put her down, gently grabbing her shoulder. "Big bro's gonna need to get a bit violent with that guy, so I want you to look away, okay?"

Zenko frowned. "No! No violence!"

"Zen, that guy's a very bad person," her brother replied, calmly as he could. "He needs to go to jail, or he'll hurt more people. He's gonna resist or run away again, so I don't have a choice."

Zenko pouted. "Fine! Just… be quick about it."

Badd nodded. Putting his bat over his shoulder, he approached the alleyway.

"Stupid dumbass," the perv muttered, hiding in the shadows. "He'll never find me here!"

"You wanna say that again, buddy?" Metal Bat asked him, cracking his knuckles.

"Goddammit," the man cursed. He turned to run away again, but the hero grabbed his shoulder.

"You ain't goin' anywhere," Badd told the sweating man. "Lucky for you, I told my sister I'd make this quick."

The man laughed nervously. Badd knocked the guy out with his bat, then called the police. As he waited for them to arrive, he sat next to his sister.

"Did you make it quick?" she asked.

"'Course," Badd replied. "I just knocked the guy out." He wanted to do much, much worse, but for Zenko's sake, he'd passed it up. He hoped the police could at least do something.

"Why do they have to pick on me?" Zenko asked, sounding a little sad.

"They probably want somethin' out of me," Badd replied, putting an arm around her. "Don't worry 'bout 'em. I won't let any of 'em hurt you."

Zenko smiled, just a little. And that was enough to make her brother smile too.


2#

There were a lot of monsters running around. Badd had got a call to go to City S to fight off some of them.

Zenko was starting to worry about him. He'd been gone since the early morning, and he still hadn't come back. She knew he was a Class S hero, and he was very powerful, but she just felt… nervous. She couldn't bare the thought of him being hurt.

She rang him, but he didn't answer. Now she was even more fearful.

She decided she couldn't sit with this feeling anymore. She was going to go out and find her brother.

"I'm going out to find big bro," she told her grandparents.

"It's too dangerous," her grandmother said, shaking her head. "Stay here."

"No way!" Zenko exclaimed. "Big bro could be hurt! I have to go out and find him!"

"Zenko…" her grandmother began, but the child was already out the door. The elderly woman sighed.

"She's just as stubborn as her brother," she commented, shaking her head.

Zenko went out into the city. She was independent enough that she knew how to catch public transport by herself. She'd insisted on learning how to do so, so she could reach her brother if he wasn't at home, or go somewhere else.

She arrived at City S. She looked around the expansive city, searching for her brother. While looking, she saw a dead monster, making her tense up. Up ahead were even more dead monsters. She frowned thoughtfully. She followed them like they were a trail.

Then she saw him. He was leaning against the wall of a bank, covered in blood. His hair was a mess, and his torn clothes were stained with blood. He looked as if he was having trouble staying awake.

"Big brother bat!" Zenko yelled, running over to him.

"Huh?" the hero looked up. "Zenko, get outta here… alotta monsters are around…"

"You're hurt!" Zenko exclaimed.

"I'm fine," he told her, pushing himself off the wall. "Go home."

"No way!" Zenko replied. "I'm not gonna let you. You're bleeding, and your clothes are all ripped!"

Badd leaned against his bat. It seemed most of the monsters had disappeared, but he wasn't letting his guard down. Especially around his sister. Still, his spirit was draining out. He was tired.

Zenko grabbed his arm, tugging it. She had an intense look in her eyes. He sighed, and kneeled down beside her.

"So messy," Zenko sighed. She pulled out a handkerchief, and began wiping the blood off his face. "That's why I need to look after you, big dummy."

"S-Sorry," he apologised, dumbly. What else was he supposed to say?

"You need to stop getting yourself hurt!" Zenko told him, wiping his cheek.

Badd sweat-beaded. "Sorry…"

Zenko sighed. "Dummy."

Badd found himself smiling, oddly. "Ya know, yer just like Mom."

Zenko paused. "Huh?"

"She used to do this kinda stuff too," he continued. "Yer probably too young to remember, but when I was around yer age, I used to play fight with other kids and get covered in dirt." He laughed. "Mom would get so annoyed, after she'd clean me up I wouldn't hear the end of it for days…"

Zenko had a solemn look on her face. "Oh…"

"Did I make you sad?" Badd asked, sweating. "Sorry! I didn't mean to. I was just-"

"No, it's okay," Zenko told him. "You just don't talk about Mom much."

Now Badd was solemn. "Yeah. Well… it… it's painful for big bro to think about, Zen. I don't like talkin' 'bout that stuff."

Zenko glared at him. "Well, it's painful for me when I think about you getting hurt!"

Metal Bat sweat-beaded again. "Sorry…"

Zenko rolled her eyes. She then gave her brother a hug. "Let's go home, big bro."

He returned the hug. "Sure thing, sis."

Chapter Text

 Zenko had a big grin on her face. Somehow she and Poppy managed to do well on the maths project! Poppy herself seemed to be quite surprised by it. The girls were discussing it as they were leaving maths class, the last class of the day.

"I… I never get good grades," Poppy told Zenko.

"Not even in art?" Zenko asked. She'd seen Poppy's sketch book. Safe to say, she was a wizard when it came to drawing.

"Except art, I guess," Poppy shrugged.

Zenko nodded. "Yeah. No offence, but your handwriting is kinda hard to read."

Poppy sighed. "I'm really bad at writing…"

"You can practice, right?" Zenko asked.

Poppy frowned. "Every time I try to write something, the letters go all squiggly. Then I spell all the words wrong. I just… can't remember anything to do with writing."

"Sounds like Dyslexia," a new voice said.

The girls turned around to see Child Emperor standing there, sucking on the lollipop he always seemed to have. He was wearing his regular blue shirt, and holding something that looked like an iPad.

"Child Emperor?!" Zenko gasped. "What're you doing here?!"

"I teach at this school, didn't you know?" Child Emperor asked. He paused to lick his lollipop. "After school, on Tuesdays. Thought your brother would have mentioned it."

Zenko shook her head, reminding herself to yell at her brother later. "He never said anything about it."

"Um, Mr. Emperor…" Poppy asked, quietly. "What did you mean by… Dyslexia?"

"It seems you have a lot of the symptoms of Dyslexia, from what I heard, anyway," Child Emperor answered. He tilted his head at Poppy's expression. "You don't know what Dyslexia is, do you?"

Poppy shook her head, embarrassed.

"It's a learning disability," Child Emperor explained. "The symptoms of it mainly involve delayed reading abilities, difficulty spelling, difficulty memorising and understanding… in other words, you're not great at reading and writing, or remembering things." He waved a hand at Poppy's shocked face. "That doesn't mean you're stupid - you've got normal intelligence, you just have trouble with linguistics."

Poppy frowned. "That sounds like me… is there any way to cure it?"

"It's not a disease, it can't really be 'cured', per say," Child Emperor said, "you'll need to have therapy, a tutor, and see a specialist for an actual diagnosis. Do you have a parent or carer of some sort that knows about all of this?"

Poppy shook her head. "My mom always said I was stupid…"

Zenko swore she noticed poppies blooming nearby Poppy's feet.

Child Emperor scowled. "Damned adults. They always act like they're all that." He shook his head. "If all else fails, you're always welcome to come to one of my classes. I've taught people with disabilities before. You'll be fine."

"Wow, uh… thanks," Poppy said, blushing.

Child Emperor nodded. "Of course. Tuesday, after school." He began to walk away, but turned back. "Try and see a specialist, if you can, Poppy. There's more than one way to sneak around adults." And with that, he left.

Poppy just stared at where the hero had been for a few seconds. Finally she said, "... How did he know my name?"

Zenko shrugged. "Heroes are weird. I should know; my big bro is one!"

Poppy nodded in agreement. She and Zenko walked to the school gates in a strange silence. A trail of poppies followed the former, while a poppy vine seemed to be growing around her arm. She hid said arm behind her back.

"Hey, um," Zenko stared at her friend. "Did your mom… really call you stupid?"

Poppy nodded, looking away. Zenko clenched her fist. Poppy had a disability, that didn't make her stupid. She wanted to find Poppy's mom and yell at her, but her thoughts were distracted by a certain someone.

Badd was leaning against the school gates, as he always did. This time he was in his uniform. He'd had to run here from his high school before the teachers could try and give him another after school detention.

"Heya, Zen," he waved. "How was school?"

Zenko slapped his leg. "Dummy! You didn't tell me Child Emperor tutored here!"

"He… does?" Badd scrunched up his brow.

"Yeah!" Zenko replied. "He said you knew about it!"

"That's bulls- um, bull crap," Badd grunted. "He never said anythin' 'bout it!"

Zenko pouted. "Whatever. Can we go to the mall?"

"Yeah, sure," Badd said, glancing at a text on his phone, "Gramps says we have to be home by 6, though."

"Aww," Zenko frowned. "He's gonna make me eat broccoli again!"

"Don't worry," Badd waved his hand, "we can get ice-cream at the mall." He winked. Gods, if his grandparents knew how much he spoiled his sister at times, they'd ban him from seeing her, then make him eat broccoli.

Zenko's face lit up. "Let's go, big bro!"

Poppy waved, a wistful look on her face. "Bye-bye…"

Zenko stared at her friend, and frowned. She turned back to her brother. "Can we take Poppy with us?"

"Yeah, sure," Badd nodded. "She'd better get permission from her sister or somethin' first."

"My sister isn't here," Poppy said, sighing. "My mom might come, though... maybe."

"Maybe?" Badd asked.

Poppy shrugged. "Sometimes she takes a while to get here. Or she doesn't come at all…"

Poppies began blooming at Poppy's feet.

"Where'd they come from?" Zenko asked, staring at the poppies.

Poppy shrugged. "I don't know… flowers follow me around." She pulled out her phone. "I'll call her."

Poppy went aside to call her mother. Zenko noticed her brother looked… concerned about something.

"What's wrong, bro?" She asked him.

"Eh, it's nothin'," Badd waved it off.

"It's not 'nothin'," Zenko said, glaring at him. "I know you're upset about something. Tell me!"

Badd sighed. "Well… I got a call from the Hero Association durin' my maths exam 'bout some monster... actually, that was the best part of my day. Now I don't have to do the stupid exam!"

Zenko face-palmed. "Actually, you'll probably still have to do your exam, bro. Just at some other time."

Badd scowled. "Damn school."

"Tell me the bad stuff," Zenko begged her brother. "Why are you upset?"

Before Badd could answer, Poppy returned. She looked a little pale.

"She… she said I could go," she said.

Badd and Zenko glanced at each other.

"Let's go!" Zenko said.


The mall was full of the after school crowd, and a few people recognised Badd by his, well, bat, and pulled him over for autographs and photos. He had to oblige of course - the Hero Association would never let him hear the end of it if he didn't.

Zenko was annoyed of course, but she stopped complaining (well, didn't complain as much) when she got her ice-cream. Poppy didn't say much at all. She still got embarrassed when Badd bought her an ice-cream of her own.

The girls went to one of their favourite clothes shops. As expected, it was one of the expensive ones.

"It's so expensive," Poppy murmured to Zenko, staring at the ridiculous price tags. "Your brother's already spent so much money on me… I don't wanna make him spend anymore."

"He doesn't mind," Zenko said. She looked up at her brother. "Right, big bro?"

"Are ya actually gonna wear any of these things?" Badd asked, also staring at the ridiculous price tags. Only his sister would want to spend 20,000 yen on a pair of sneakers.

Zenko blew a raspberry at him. "Of course! Now come on, they've got new t-shirts!"

Zenko picked up some shirts she wanted to try on. Poppy, still feeling guilty (and a bit dazed), said she didn't want anything and was fine to watch Zenko get dressed up. Zenko went to the change rooms to try on some sparkly t-shirt. Badd and Poppy had to wait outside the door.

"Ya don't have to feel bad, y'know," Badd told her. "If ya want something, I'll get it for you, kid."

"You're too nice," Poppy replied, smiling. "Zenko's lucky to have an awesome big brother like you. My sister never buys me anything."

Badd was about to reply, but he was interrupted by Zenko, naturally.

"Bro!" she chirped, sounding tearful. "Help! The zipper won't come out of my hair!"

"Open the door," Badd told her.

"No!" Zenko cried. "I'm... not wearing any pants!"

"No one's gonna see ya," Badd tried to soothe her. "And if there are ANY PERVS WATCHING," he raised his voice, glaring at the people around him and holding up his bat, "I'LL BASH THEIR HEADS OPEN."

Everyone there immediately either left or crawled backwards. One woman actually passed out.

"That's… a bit extreme," Poppy commented, quietly.

"We had an… incident this one time," Badd told her. He gritted his teeth, staring at his bat. "Long story short, some dic- uh, big jerk tried to perv on my sister. Pretty sure he's still in hospital."

"Don't remind me of that!" Zenko cried. She lowered her voice. "The door's open."

"Yeah yeah," Badd said. He went into the stall, and his and Zenko's conversation became much quieter. Poppy turned around, and that's when she noticed someone coming towards her. Well, two people, to be exact: her older sister and Fubuki.

Poppy hurriedly scrambled underneath a chair, poppies growing around her arms. She got there just in time, so the two didn't see her. She noticed Lily was wearing a blue suit and a fancy fur coat.

"Was that Metal Bat yelling?" Fubuki asked, raising her brow.

Lily shrugged. "I don't know. What would Metal Bat be doing at this place?"

They both laughed at the thought.

"Anyway, what do you think of that suit?" Fubuki asked.

"It looks great, Miss Blizzard," Lily said, her eyes glazing over with admiration.

"Oh, Lily dear, you always compliment me," Fubuki waved a hand. "Tell me your real feelings."

"I really think it's great, Fubuki-sama," Lily insisted. "Anything you wear looks great."

Fubuki laughed. "You flatter me, dear. Now come on, that suit won't pay for itself."

Lily blushed. "You want to… buy it for me?"

Fubuki nodded. "Of course! You're my personal assistant. And my personal assistant deserves only the best clothes."

Lily looked like she was about to burst into tears of joy. Poppy felt the same, but the opposite way around. She was suddenly small and insignificant, trapped under the chair. Poppies were all over her arms now, and she swore she could taste them in her mouth. It was bitter. Bitter, like hatred.

Poppy watched as her sister and Fubuki walked away. She crawled out from under the seat, just as Badd and Zenko emerged from the changing rooms. Zenko was wearing the glittery shirt. However, her hair was a mess, and glitter was all over her face.

"I hate this shirt," she declared.

"Me too," Badd agreed. He dragged his hand down his face. "Yer gonna need a shower when we get home, kiddo." He looked at Poppy. "And you look like you've seen a ghost. Where'd all the flowers come from?"

Poppy stared at her hands. "I don't know…"

Badd's phone suddenly rang. The hero scowled and answered it.

"What?" he snapped at the poor sod on the other line. "I'm with my little sister, so this better be damn important! ... seriously? Can't 'cha get another hero to handle it? ... oh fine, I'll go."

He tch-ed.

"Sorry, kiddos," he said, slipping his phone into his pocket. "We've gotta go. Hero Association's callin' me."

Zenko stomped her foot. "But I wanted to go to Eternally 22!"

"We can go there some other time," Badd told her. He grabbed her hand. "C'mon, kids. Don't cry, Zen. Alright. I promise we'll go to Forever 22 on the weekend, yeah?"

Zenko sniffled. Then she tilted her head. "What about Poppy? Are you going to take her back to her house?"

"I'll get Gramps to do it," Badd replied. "Haven't got time myself."

Poppy looked away. Secretly, she was relieved to be leaving - this place was making her uncomfortable. She prayed to whatever god was up there that they didn't run into her sister and Fubuki.


Badd dropped Zenko and Poppy off at his grandparents', quickly explained the ordeal to said grandparents, then raced out the door to deal with the Hero Association's demands.

"Grandpa says he'll drop you off at your house" Zenko told Poppy. Her friend nodded. She stared off into space for a moment.

"You're lucky," Poppy whispered.

"Huh?"

Poppy didn't say anything more. She just continued staring off into space.

"Are you okay?" Zenko asked her, frowning.

Poppy shrugged. "I don't know… I just… saw something at the mall…"

"What was it?" Zenko asked. "The thing about the perv? That was scary, but my big brother wouldn't have let any pervs hurt you."

"Not that," Poppy said. She sighed. "Something else…"

Zenko wanted to ask what, but her grandfather came into the room, dangling his car keys on one finger. Zenko and Poppy followed him out to the car.

As they got to the car, Zenko realised she was holding something that had just appeared a second ago.

A dead poppy.

Chapter Text

Sleepovers with little girls were something of a nightmare. Metal Bat was partly considering going over to one of his friends' houses for the night, or that apartment he had in City A. His sister wanted him to stay, though. She was quite insistent about it, as well. And he couldn't say no to her.

The sleepover was happening on a Friday afterschool, so Poppy went home with Zenko from school. Badd was doing hero duties, so he couldn't pick them up. Once the girls got home and got changed out of their uniforms, they hung out in Zenko's room. There was a big pink table in the middle of the room, which the girls sat nearby. Tama was sitting up on Zenko's bed, like she was keeping an eye on the girls.

"Your room is so cool," Poppy told her friend.

"Thanks," Zenko replied, brightly. "I designed it all by myself!"

"What are we going to do now?" Poppy asked.

"Have a tea party, of course," Zenko replied. "I invited some special guests to join us!"

"Special guests?" Poppy asked.

"Zenko!" Zenko's grandmother yelled, outraged. "Who are all these people at the door?!"

"C'mon!" Zenko grabbed her friend's arm. She led her to the front door, where there were a bunch of people: Saitama, Genos, Garou and Fubuki.

"Hey, aren't you that hero hunter guy?" Saitama asked Garou. "Why're you here?"

"I don't know!" Garou shouted. "Somehow, this stupid kid found my contact info and bribed me into coming."

"Bribed you?" Saitama asked.

"She promised I'd get to see Metal Bat in a dress," the villain replied.

"Guys!" Zenko interrupted. She looked at Saitama. "Where's King?"

"He said he had a really intense battle to go to," Saitama replied, shrugging.

"What exactly are we doing here?" Fubuki asked. "I'm a busy woman. This had better be important." She stared at Poppy. "Oh, hello Poppy. I didn't realise you were here."

Poppy didn't say anything. Poppies grew beneath her feet.

"And my Master is a very busy man," Genos agreed. He put his hands on his hips. "If this… event... is pointless, I will personally destroy this house."

"If you try I'll tell my big bro!" Zenko snapped. "And then my grandparents!"

"How about we just hurry up and get this over with?" Saitama asked.

So Zenko led the heroes inside. She made them sit around the pink table in her room. She handed out tea cups and plates.

"We're having… a tea party?" Fubuki asked.

Garou face-palmed. "God, Metal Bat's dress better be worth it…"

"Shhh!" Zenko hissed. "Wait until I'm done!"

"This is a waste of time," Genos said, standing up. "Master, I think we should leave."

"Nah," Saitama said. "I kinda wanna see that Medal Bag guy in a dress too."

Fubuki rolled her eyes. "This is ridiculous."

"No mean words!" Zenko shouted. "I want positivity only at this table!"

Just as she said that, her brother walked in.

"Hey Zen, Poppy," he said. "What're you…"

He trailed off when he saw all the people at the table. He glared at Garou especially.

"What the Hell are you doin' here?!" he roared.

"Your sister invited me," Garou replied, lazily. "She told me you'd be wearing a dress."

Badd held up his bat. "Get the hell outta my house! Or I'll smash yer head open!"

"Big bro, calm down!" Zenko replied. "I invited them all here. We're having a tea party."

"Frankly, I have better things to be doing than entertaining loud-mouthed brats," Fubuki said.

Badd turned his bat on her. "The hell did ya just say, you bit… damn woman!"

"This is more entertaining than I thought it would be," Saitama commented.

Badd sighed. "Hey, Zenko, can I talk to you for a sec? Privately?"

Badd and his sister went out into the hallway.

"So," Fubuki spoke up. "Is anyone interested in joining the Blizzard Group?"

No one responded.

Fubuki sighed. "I tried."

"Look, sis, you can't just invite all these random strangers over to our house," Badd told her.

"They're not strangers!" Zenko argued. "They're the Saitama group!"

"That damn hero hunter guy ain't!" Badd replied. "How'd ya even get his contact info?"

"That's what I was asking!" Garou called from Zenko's room.

"Shut up!" Badd yelled back. "When I'm done here I'm throwin' you out!"

"Big bro!" Zenko snapped. "No violence!"

"Yeah yeah," Badd waved his hands. "But sis… if you wanna invite people over, tell me. Don't just invite 'em without sayin' anything, okay? And definitely don't invite bad guys over."

"I understand, big bro," Zenko said. "But they're my friends!"

"Zenko, they're all more than twice yer age," Badd replied.

"I don't care!" Zenko said, crossing her arms. "They're still my friends!"

"You really gotta be careful," Badd told her. "There are some bad people out there."

"They're heroes, big bro," Zenko argued.

"I know, but heroes ain't always good," Badd warned. "They do alotta dangerous things. I don't want somethin' to happen to ya."

"I'll be fine," Zenko retorted. "I can look after myself!"

Badd had to admit, she was pretty independent for her age. As independent as a young child as herself could be, anyway. The thought of her growing up made him feel… uncomfortable. He knew it was going to happen, eventually, but not right now. Compared to all those idiots back in her room, she was still a baby!

"I'm makin' 'em leave," the hero declared.

"Noooooooo!" Zenko cried, grabbing his leg. "We haven't even started yet!"

"Alright, everybody out!" Badd yelled at the heroes sitting around the table.

"Aww man, no dress?" Garou asked.

"Get out, punk!" Badd repeated.

Garou stuck his tongue out. "You're no fun."

"I knew this would be a waste of time," Fubuki scoffed, folding her arms.

Zenko started crying. "Don't make them leave!"

Unfortunately for her sake, her brother didn't listen, and kicked all the guests out. He didn't mean to make her upset, he just didn't want her hanging around a bunch of grown adults. Plus, some of the guests were definitely not welcome in his house. In the end, only Zenko and Poppy were left.

"You ruined it!" Zenko told her brother, crossing her arms.

Badd sighed. "Look, you can have a tea party some other time. We'll plan it out, okay?"

Zenko kept scowling at him.

"It's okay, Zenko," Poppy said, quietly. "He's right. We'll do it some other time."

Zenko sighed. "Fine! But now we've gotta do something else."

"What is it?" Poppy asked.

Zenko turned to her brother. "You're about to see!"

Badd got, well, a bad feeling. He began to regret not going to his friend's house after all…


An hour later, and Zenko was finishing up.

"There," she said, putting away the mascara. "You're done."

Badd was sitting there in a pink dress with white frills. A golden, heart-shaped necklace was around his neck, the word 'princess' on it. His face was covered in eyeshadow, blush and mascara.

"How did I get into this…" he muttered.

"Oh wow," Poppy commented, trying not to laugh. "He looks…"

"So pretty," Zenko grinned. "Pretty as a princess!"

Only for Zenko would Badd ever have this much tolerance. Well, he supposed he owed it to her, mainly so she didn't start bawling. She was really upset after he'd kicked out all of her 'special guests'.

"Gee, thanks," he said, scowling.

"Big bro!" Zenko scolded. "You're meant to act like a princess!"

"How do princesses act, then?" Badd asked.

"Be formal!" Zenko replied. "Posh and proper!"

"Alright..." Badd cleared his throat. "Oh dear," he said, in a terrible high-pitched voice. "I'm a princess, and I'm very formal. Oh how I love wearing dresses and make-up."

Poppy began laughing, but she hid it behind her hand.

"That's more like it!" Zenko replied. She brushed some hair out of her eyes. "Your Highness, would you like some tea?"

"No thank you, dear," Badd replied. "I'd like to leave the planet."

"Big bro!" Zenko grumbled.

Suddenly, her grandmother walked in.

"Alright children, dinner's..." the elderly woman trailed off when she saw Badd.

"Hi, Grandma," he said, waving.

"What... are you doing?" his grandmother asked.

"We're playing princesses!" Zenko answered cheerfully.

The woman went pale. "And this is why I take my heart medication."


After a mildly eventful dinner, the girls went back into Zenko's room.

"Let's watch a movie!" Zenko said.

"What movie?" Poppy asked.

"I don't know," Zenko said, frowning. "I'll show you the list of them!"

As Zenko scoured for movies, Poppy gazed at a pin board on her wall. There were a ton of pictures on there, most of them being Zenko and her brother.

"What are you looking at?" Zenko asked, noticing Poppy's diverted attention.

"You have a lot of photos," Poppy told her.

"Oh yeah," Zenko said. She gasped. "That reminds me! I have a photo album full of even more photos. Hold on." She went under her bed, pulling out a photo album. It was a thick white book with her name drawn on the front with a puffy font.

"Here we go," Zenko said, putting the photo album on her bed. Poppy sat next to her. Tama stood up, curling into another ball. Zenko began to flip through the photos.

"That's me on the first day of school," Zenko told Poppy. It was a picture of a slightly younger Zenko standing outside the school gates. Her brother was kneeling next to her, tears of pride in his eyes.

"Cool," Poppy told her.

"Ooh, me playing piano for the first time!" Zenko chirped, gazing at a picture of her sitting behind a piano. Naturally, her brother was in the photo too, tears of pride in his eyes.

"Wow," Poppy commented.

"And there's Tama as a kitten," Zenko said. "Isn't she cute?"

Poppy nodded. Even as an adult, Tama was still pretty adorable.

"Oh, and here's me when I was a baby," Zenko said, pointing to a picture of her as a baby. Next to it was a picture of a much younger Badd holding a baby Zenko in his arms.

"Wow, your brother looks really young there," Poppy told her.

"Yeah," Zenko agreed. "He was probably about my current age there."

Poppy stared at another photo. A man and a woman that resembled the siblings were standing behind a young Badd and a toddler Zenko. They had their arms around the kids.

"Who are they?" Poppy asked, pointing to the picture.

Zenko frowned. "That's my mom and dad. They're… dead now."

"Oh," Poppy looked away. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Zenko replied, quietly. She blinked heavily. "Big bro knew them better than I did, anyway…"

"How did they die?" Poppy asked. She blushed. "S-Sorry… I mean, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to…"

"They were killed by a monster," Zenko replied, her lip trembling. "In the middle of the night… a monster broke in, and…"

"I-I'm really sorry," Poppy said, blinking away her own tears. She gave Zenko a poppy. "I… hope this makes you feel a little better…."

"A little," Zenko wiped her eyes, accepting the poppy. "Thanks… but… I'm okay, because I've always had my big bro. He looks after me… and I look after him. I love my grandparents, but… big bro's the one who's always there for me."

Poppy nodded. A vine seemed to crawl around her arm, like a deadly snake.

"Your sister's there for you, isn't she?" Zenko asked.

Another vine began to grow.

"Not really," Poppy said. "She's always busy…"

Zenko gave her friend a pat on the shoulder. "That sucks… she should spend more time with you."

Poppy looked away. She couldn't keep hiding these vines forever.

"Let's watch a movie now," she said, quickly.


The rest of the evening went well, though Poppy seemed a little… down. Badd came to watch the movie with the girls at some point, where Zenko fell asleep on his shoulder. Poppy felt something, watching them. A pain, like the prickly vines on her skin. Some kind of… anger.

Badd carried his sister to bed, like a baby. He even tucked her in. Poppy just watched, her expression apathetic. The feeling grew.

"You all good?" Badd asked her. "Y'know where the bathroom is and everythin'?"

Poppy nodded, avoiding eye contact.

"Alright," Badd said. "If ya need anythin', my room's down the hall. Night, kiddo."

"Night," Poppy replied, quietly, watching her friend's brother leave the bedroom. She sat on her inflatable mattress, and sighed.

She couldn't hide from her feelings forever.

Chapter Text

Today was a big day. A day almost as important as Christmas, and a day Metal Bat took very seriously.

Zenko's Birthday.

As usual, it started with Zenko waking her brother up very early in the morning.

"Big bro!" she climbed onto his bed. "Get up!"

"It's 6AM," he groaned at the clock, rolling over.

"I don't care!" Zenko replied, jumping up and down on the bed. "It's my birthday! We're gonna party all day!"

The hero just put his face into the pillow.

"Get up!" Zenko repeated. She tried to pull him out of bed by tugging his arm. "Come on!"

She had a pretty persistent grip. Badd sighed. She wasn't going to give up anytime soon, so he may as well just get up.

"Alright, alright," he said, sitting up. "Big bro's gettin' up. Stop pullin' my arm."

"Finally!" Zenko exasperated, hands on hips.

Badd wiped his hair out of his face, and gave her a lopsided smile. "Happy Birthday, sis."

Zenko grabbed his hand, suddenly looking serious.

"Big bro, can you promise me something?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied. "What is it?"

"Promise me you won't leave today," she said. "Stay with me."

Badd sweat-beaded. Then again, his sister meant more to him than that damned association. If they had a problem, there were plenty of other heroes they could send.

"I promise," Badd told her, kissing her forehead. "It's yer birthday! I ain't going anywhere."

Zenko smiled at him, then her face went back to planning mode. "Now come on! We've gotta go and get ready for the guests!"

The guests weren't coming for another 4 hours, but Badd knew his sister wouldn't care. She wouldn't be able to contain her excitement.


The party plan wasn't that extreme: Zenko, and some of her friends, which included Poppy, Tareo, and some of her other classmates, would be playing party games, eating party food and whatever else happens at kids' parties. Then they'd have a birthday cake, open presents, and pizza would be ordered.

Call him crazy, but Badd didn't really want to mooch around with a bunch of middle-aged mothers for three hours, so he'd be keeping an eye on the party. He was pretty good with kids, at least, better with them than most adults, it seemed. There was a chance Lily would show up, but knowing what she was like with her jobs, probably not.

Badd helped his sister set up for the party. Their grandparents got up around 8, and pitched in a bit too. Soon, it was ready to go. Brother and sister flopped onto the couch, waiting for the guests to arrive.

"What'd you get me for my birthday?" Zenko asked, sitting on her brother's lap.

"That's a surprise," he told her, winking. "You'll find out later."

Zenko pouted. "Tell me!"

"Aww, but then you'll ruin the surprise," Badd said.

In actuality, he'd been meaning to get Sweet Mask to sign her birthday card, but had totally forgotten. He was thinking of sneaking off to find him while Zenko wasn't looking…

"Is it Sweet Mask's signature?" Zenko asked.

Badd turned red. "You'll see."


An hour later, the guests began to arrive. Poppy was dropped off by Lily, who as expected, ran off straight away to go to her new job, pledging to be back when the party was over. Tareo came shortly after that, courtesy of his father. The rest of the guests came too. Meanwhile, the parents crowded around in a circle in the corner of the living room, glaring at Badd as if they were thinking who let this delinquent hang around my child? Badd had to roll his eyes at them. Why did parents do that?

Zenko invited her friends to the living room, where they played some video games. Badd joined a bit too, only since his sister insisted on it. He didn't mind, he was glad to see her happy. And, he had to admit, the games were sort of fun. They caused a lot of yelling, though.

"I win!" Tareo cheered, as he came first in the match of some puzzle game. Everyone else groaned.

"Not bad, kid," Badd told him.

Tareo blushed. An S Class hero complimented him!

"I've always been bad at puzzles…" Poppy sighed.

"You were fine," Zenko told her. She looked at the other kids. "What game next, guys?"

Suddenly, Badd's phone began ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket. Naturally, it was the Hero Association.

He could feel Zenko's glare on his forehead.

"Yeah yeah," he said. "I'm not gonna answer."

He put the phone in his pocket. Zenko smiled gratefully at him, then turned back to the game. The group decided on some drawing game, which Poppy seemed happy about. Just as they were about to start playing, Badd's phone rang again. The same people, naturally.

Don't, Zenko mouthed at him.

Badd bit his lip. If they were calling him a second time, it must've been something important… no. He promised Zenko he wouldn't leave.

But this was his job for crying out loud.

"Uh, e-excuse me, Mr. Metal Bat," one of the kids said anxiously, pointing at his pocket. "Um… shouldn't you answer your phone?"

"It's nothin' important," Badd replied. "Don't worry 'bout it, kid."

The kid blushed and turned around. The game was beginning at last, and everyone was making usernames for themselves. Zenko was smiling again, thank Heavens. Of course, his phone ringing for a third time had to ruin it.

Badd stood up, holding up his phone. Zenko glared at him.

"Look, I ain't goin' anywhere, I'm just gonna answer it," Badd told his sister. "They won't stop ringing me otherwise."

"Fine, but don't leave!" Zenko said.

"I won't," Badd replied. He moved to the hallway to talk to the Association, and immediately frowned. "Whaddya want? This had better be important, you dumbassases."

"Metal Bat!" a woman's voice yelled. "Thank you for answering. It's an emergency meeting - all S Class heroes are required to come to the Hero Association building right now. Something dangerous has arisen."

"Look, I'm at my lil' sister's birthday party," he replied. "I ain't comin' unless it's threat level God, you understand?"

"It's worse than God," the woman replied. She sounded stressed. "We need all hands on deck. Even Metal Knight is coming. We think Blast might be coming too! Please, Metal Bat - we need you to come."

Badd almost smashed his phone. "It's seriously that bad?"

"Yes," the woman replied. She yelled something at a coworker, and Badd heard a crash in the background. "The world needs you!"

Badd stared at his phone.

Dammit all, he thought. Why'd it have to be today?

He felt like crying. It really must've been bad if Metal Knight actually decided to show his face instead of appearing afterwards with one of his robots like he always did. And apparently Blast was coming too, and the only thing Badd knew about that guy was the fact that he was never around unless it was extremely serious. But… he knew Zenko was going to be heartbroken. She wouldn't forgive him for a long time. He didn't want to make her upset. He'd told her she was his first priority, and that was no lie. But if the threat was really that terrible…

Now he was mad. Whatever that God+ threat was, it was going down. No monster was allowed to interrupt his sister's birthday party.

"Metal Bat?" the woman asked. "Are you there?"

"You'd better be serious about this attack," he threatened, "or I'm gonna quit the damn association, then tear the whole thing down, you understand?"

"Y-yessir," the woman said, gulping.

The hero hung up on the woman, gritting his teeth. Now to face his sister. He slung his bat over his shoulder and walked towards the door. He couldn't help but bow his head.

"Big bro!" Zenko yelled. "What are you doing?"

"I'm so sorry, sis," he replied, "but they told me I had to come in."

"No!" Zenko shouted, standing up. "You promised you wouldn't leave!"

"They told me it's worse than god level," Badd replied, looking away. "They were begging for me to go."

"But it's my birthday!" Zenko protested. She ran over to him, and grabbed his leg. She held onto it like it was a lifeline. "You said I was your first priority!"

Badd kneeled down and kissed her on the forehead. "I love you. Happy Birthday, Zenko. I'm so sorry. I'll make it up to you, I swear it, even if it's the last thing I do."

"No!" Zenko cried, tears streaming down her face. "Badd! You promised!"

Badd tried his hardest to ignore her crying as he pried her off his leg. He felt a tear of his own slip down his cheek as he had to forcibly push her away from trying to grasp onto him again. He dashed out the door, lip still quivering. He could still hear her shouting from the inside.

He sighed. He wasn't kidding about his threat to quit that damned association and then tearing the whole thing down, that was for sure.


The rest of the party sort of fell apart afterwards. Zenko was too upset to want to do anything else. Her friends tried to cheer her up, but it didn't seem to be working. She didn't even want to eat her cake or open presents.

"I know you're upset, dear, but you're just going to have to wait until he returns," her grandmother told her, gently. "Try to forget about it."

"He promised." Zenko replied.

"Yeah, I understand how you feel," Poppy sighed. "On my birthday, my sister walked out too because she totally forgot about her job delivering newspapers to old ladies... it was kinda funny, actually..."

Zenko just kept sniffling.

"Maybe that wasn't helpful…" Poppy muttered.

"Are you sure you don't want to open presents?" Tareo asked. "Or play another game?"

Zenko just glared at a family portrait on the wall.

"Welp," Tareo sighed. "This is going well…"


Badd had to admit, they weren't lying about the threat. It was god level, and it had taken the effort of every Class S hero (excluding Blast, who didn't end up coming after all) to defeat it. It was evening by the time the threat had been neutralised, and everyone was tired.

Badd knew he'd have to go home and deal with his sister. He knew she'd give him the cold shoulder treatment for ages, but it was for the sake of the planet. He walked out of the building, sighing heavily.

"You aren't making a lot of noise for once," a voice said, "thank goodness."

"Beat it, bobby-pin," Badd growled at Flashy Flash, who leaned against the wall.

"Formal as always, Metal Bat," Flashy Flash rolled his eyes. "Aren't you supposed to be going to your little sister's party, or whatever it was?"

"After I bash yer head in," Metal Bat replied, glaring at the other hero.

Flashy Flash raised his hands. "Now, now. I'm not looking for a fight. I was only asking."

"It's none of yer business," Badd replied. "Get lost."

"Learn some manners," Flashy Flash sighed. "Sweet Mask was right. You are very immature."

"What the Hell did you just call me?!" Metal Bat asked, whipping around.

"I'm sure you heard me," Flashy Flash replied. "Well, whatever. I don't have time to fight an amateur."

"YOU ARE DEAD, BOBBY-PIN!" Badd yelled, cracking his knuckles. Flashy Flash rolled his eyes once again, and disappeared in, well, a flash.

"BASTARD!" Badd yelled, holding up his bat. "GET BACK HERE!"

He looked around for Flashy Flash, but the hero had completely disappeared. Badd called him a few more names before giving up and leaving.

"Immature," he muttered. "Well at least I ain't a coward!"

And he had to bring up that idiot Sweet Mask too. Ugh, Badd didn't even want to think about him. What did Zenko like about him?

Hang on a second. Sweet Mask. Her favourite hero.

Badd, for the first time since the morning, smiled. He knew exactly how to make it up to his sister.


Zenko was still miserable. It was quite late but she didn't feel tired. It seemed her brother couldn't even make it home to say goodnight. She sighed, rolling over in her bed. This was her worst birthday by far.

Her grandmother knocked on her bedroom door.

"What?" Zenko grumbled.

"Your brother's home," her grandmother said.

"I don't want to talk to him," Zenko snapped.

"He's brought a very special guest," her grandmother replied.

"Who?" Zenko asked.

"I think you'll have to come out and see for yourself." said her grandmother, sounding a little… cheeky.

Zenko groaned. It was probably just one of her brother's stupid high-school friends with a birthday present. Though, her grandmother had never sounded like that before. Zenko was almost curious.

"I'm coming," she sighed. She got out of bed, and followed her grandmother to the front door. There, she saw her brother waiting. He gave her a small smile, leaning against the wall.

"Happy Birthday, sis," he told her.

"Where's this 'special guest'?" Zenko asked, scowling.

Badd pointed to the front door, smirking. "Why don't ya go out there and look?"

Zenko made a face, but did as he asked. She almost stopped dead when she saw who standing there.

"Oh my God…!" she gasped. "Sweet Mask!"

The titular hero gave her a smile. "Hello there, dear. You must be Zenko. Your brother told me all about you."

"Oh my God," Zenko squealed, her face going red. "He knows my name! Big bro, he knows my name!"

Badd just kept smirking.

"It's lovely to meet you," Sweet Mask kneeled down to her height. "I heard it's your birthday? Happy Birthday."

"Sweet Mask wished me happy birthday!" Zenko cheered, jumping up and down. "This is the best day ever!"

Sweet Mask just laughed. "I'm glad you think so."

"You are the coolest hero ever!" Zenko told him. "Can I take a photo with you?"

"Of course you can," Sweet Mask replied. He put his arm around the child, as her older brother pulled out his phone and took a picture of them. Zenko couldn't wipe the huge grin off her face. Sweet Mask, her idol, was here in person! The real deal! This had to be a dream, right?

"Well, I'm afraid I need to get going," Sweet Mask said, standing up. "Happy Birthday, Zenko."

Zenko nodded, eyes shining. "You're amazing, Sweet Mask! I-I… uh, I mean goodbye!"

Sweet Mask nodded at her, then glanced at her brother. They had some kind of silent agreement, then the Class A hero walked away.

The siblings stood there in silence for a few moments.

"Well?" Badd asked. "What'd you think of your birthday gift?"

Zenko kept smiling. "It was the best birthday gift ever!"

Suddenly, she up to her brother and slapped him.

"You're still a big dummy!" she yelled. "You still broke your promise, but…" She clung onto his leg. "But I love you."

"I love you too," he replied, picking her up. He took her inside. There, she fell asleep almost instantly. He couldn't blame her. Today had gone on for way too long. But at least it had a happy ending.

Chapter Text

A/N: So yeah, I'm divided about this chapter. The ending half gets a bit... violent. Lol. It was heavily inspired by something I saw on Tumblr by someone by the name of paperficwriter. I recommend looking them up!

Enjoy the angst you poopheads...


It was love at first sight.

Of course, that saying didn't always mean romantic love. Who ever said it did?

Badd's mom, for the last few months, had been pregnant. Which only meant one thing: he was going to be a big brother.

He wasn't sure what the baby's sex was. The doctors were saying it'd be a boy, but they weren't for sure. His friends at school had told him that little siblings were annoying, no matter the gender. They almost pitied him. His parents, on the other hand, were very enthusiastic.

"You'll be a great big brother," his mom said, comfortingly. "I know you will."

Badd had to admit, he wasn't sure. His life had been simple up until this point: he was in the baseball team, and sometimes he got into fights with other kids, which usually meant he was covered in bandages and mud. He wasn't sure if he was ready to be a big brother.

But life didn't give him much of a choice.

Time flew by, and at last, the baby was born.

Badd's mom spent a lot of time in hospital. When she finally came home, she spent a lot of time in bed. The new baby sister was put in a cot, where Badd and his father stared down at her sleeping peacefully.

The first thing Badd thought when he saw his baby sister was dang, babies are ugly. Perhaps it was because she was wrapped up in a ton of blankets and looked more like a burrito than a child. She kept crying, too.

"She's gross," Badd told his father, crinkling his nose. "Aren't babies meant to be cute?"

"That's what babies are like, kiddo," his father laughed. "Give her a few weeks, and she'll be much cuter."

Badd frowned. He wasn't sure he believed that.

"What's her name?" he asked.

"Zenko," his dad replied.


Badd's parents spent the next few days obsessing over Zenko. He felt a little… neglected. Jealous. He scowled, thinking about it. What was so good about a dumb baby anyway?

"Don't be angry, dear," his mother told him, seeing his angry expression. "We still love you."

"Sure," he grumbled.

His mother sighed. She glanced at the highchair where Zenko was sitting. Badd had to admit, Zenko was much cuter than she had been when she was first born. She was wearing a bib and had a dummy in her mouth. She kept staring at her mother, wiggling around.

"Why not say hi to her?" their mother suggested.

"Fine," Badd mumbled. He walked over to his baby sister, and stared at her.

"So, Zenko," he coughed. "You're my little sister... well, at least you aren't ugly anymore. Doesn't mean I like you."

He waved his hand in front of her, turning it into a claw shape. Zenko waved back, staring at him expectantly. Badd was surprised. He wasn't expecting her to react to him.

"Okay…" he muttered, curiously. He put his hand towards her tiny one. She grabbed it between her fingers. She then began to giggle, a smile appearing on her small face.

"Aww, Badd," their mother smiled, "she likes you already!"

Badd didn't know what to say. His expression softened.

Perhaps she wouldn't be so bad after all.


Time went by, and Badd's love for his sister had managed to grow.

He'd watched her play with toys and crawl around. She occasionally spouted nonsense, and spoke in broken sentences. She hadn't said her first word, not yet anyway.

"Ba-ba!" Zenko cried, holding out her arms. Her brother stared at her.

"It's Badd," he told her. "Can you say that?"

"Ba-ba!" she replied, as he picked her up.

"Badd," he corrected.

"Ba-ba!"

Badd rolled his eyes. "Fine! Ba-ba."

"Ba…" she said, holding out her hand. "Badd?"

Badd, surprised by overjoyed, gave her a smile. "Yeah! That's it!"

"She said her first word!" his mother exclaimed, watching them. "Oh, Badd! This is wonderful! And what a beautiful thing that her first word was your name!"

"Badd!" Zenko repeated. "Badd!"

Badd just kept smiling. This really was going better than he thought it would.


More time passed, and Zenko was learning to walk. She was wobbling around in her little dress, trying to stand. Her brother, who'd grown a bit himself, was watching her. They were in the playground, their parents watching from afar. Some other kids were playing in the distance.

"C'mon, lil' sis," Badd said, helping Zenko up. "I'll help you."

He let her stand on his shoes, while grabbing her hands. She began grinning as they waddled along. She was still so small, and giggled like the young kid she was.

Badd realised he was smiling too. He was already proud of his little sister, and she was still just a toddler.

"Aww, Badd!" one of his friends teased, making a kissy face. "Didn't realise you were a sweetheart!"

"Shut up, bastard!" Badd yelled at him. "I'll kill you!"

His sister's eyes suddenly filled with tears.

Oh, crap, Badd thought.

"I wasn't yelling at you, sis," he told her, kneeling down to grab her hands. "That was my friend. He's an idiot."

His friend blew a raspberry at him.

"BASTARD!" Badd raged. He chased after his friend, yelling curse words. Zenko watched curiously.


"What does this say, big bro?" Zenko asked. She was sitting in her brother's lap, a book in her hands.

"That says..." Badd glanced over the word. "'Illusionary'."

"What does that mean?" Zenko asked.

Badd shrugged. "No idea."

Zenko then went quiet. She looked away.

"What's wrong?" Badd asked her.

"I'm scared," Zenko said, quietly.

"About what?" Badd asked.

"School," she said, lip trembling.

"Eh, you'll be fine," Badd told her. "School ain't too bad... well, kinda is for me, but it won't be for ya."

"What if the other kids don't like me?" Zenko asked.

"Then they're dumb," Badd said.

She smiled at that one. Her smile was contagious, so Badd found himself smiling, too.

"I'm tired," Zenko said, yawning. "Goodnight, big bro."

"Night," he replied, as she leaned her head against his chest.

"What did I say?" their mother asked. "He's a good brother."


The years went by. Badd spent a lot of time playing baseball, and watching his sister grow up. He felt protective over her, but also… kind. He spent time with her, reading books to her, taking her out and playing with her…

His parents were so proud. Just as they thought, he had been a good big brother. And Zenko was a good little sister.

Everything seemed to be going well. The family was happy. Even when Badd became a teenager and started being more rebellious, it was still okay. Zenko was happy too.

Everything was okay.

Until that one night.

It was a normal evening. Badd was in his room, sleeping. His prized baseball bat was leaning on the wall next to him. It was made of metal, which he liked. His sister was sleeping peacefully, too. So were their parents.

Then it happened.

Badd was woken by… a crash. And then a horrifying scream. He shot straight up. He grabbed his bat and slowly left the room. He crept down the hallway, then stopped dead. His breathing hitched, and a cold sweat passed through him.

His parents' bedroom had been destroyed.

"Mom?" he asked, his voice sounding… meek, for once. "Dad…?"

He approached the mess of rubble which had been their bedroom. He felt his heart racing a million miles an hour.

No. No. No no no no no-

"MOM!" he screamed, trying to dig through the rubble. "DAD! ARE YOU THERE?!"

Suddenly, he heard another noise. An evil laugh. He glanced to his side and saw a monster. It towered above him, with a multitude of broken appendages drenched in blood. Its beady, black eyes stared him down as it licked its charred lips.

"Tasty humans," it cackled, in a sickening tone.

"You…" Badd felt his fists shaking. "YOU KILLED THEM!"

He picked up his bat and raced towards the monster. With an energy he didn't know he'd had, he slammed his bat into the monster. It screamed, flailing backwards. Badd charged towards it, hitting it again. He couldn't see anything but red. He couldn't feel anything but a burning rage.

Blood spurted everywhere, like a red rain. The monster let out a cry, falling to the ground in a heap and crushing the garden.

"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS!" Badd screamed. He hit the monster again, causing it to cry out. He hit it again, and again, and again. He didn't know how to stop, but he didn't care. Rage was the only thing that was fuelling him now.

He kept hitting the monster until it was barely even recognisable anymore. It was a mess now, something that once been alive. Badd cried out in rage. A hole had come through and sucked away their peaceful life. Everything was gone.

Badd kept hitting the monster, whatever it had become, but he didn't feel any kind of satisfaction. He just felt… empty. His heart had turned into a void, a black hole of nothing. He tried kicking the monster's corpse, punching it until his fists turned bloody, but… nothing. He couldn't feel anything.

He was broken. He didn't even care anymore.

Then he heard a sob.

He turned around, noticing a tiny figure standing in the darkness. Oh, God, Zenko. How long had she been there?

She wasn't looking at the monster. She was looking at him, her shoulders shaking.

Badd stared at himself. He was covered in blood, his hair was a mess, and his clothes were ripped up. Now he realised. He was the monster.

"Z… Zenko…" he tried to say, but she was already running away. He felt tears of his own at last. His parents were gone now. No matter how angry he got, they weren't coming back.

But Zenko was still here.

Slinging his bat over his shoulder, Badd ventured into the night and chased after her.


He found her, eventually. She was by the creek in the park they used to visit with their parents. She was sitting on a park bench, bawling. Her cries were the only sound for miles.

"Z… Zenko…" Badd said, gently approaching her.

"Go away!" Zenko sobbed, getting up. "Get away from me!"

"Zenko," he said, trying to find the right words, "I… I got angry, and…"

"Go away!" she screamed, moving backwards. "I hate you!"

"I'm sorry!" Badd blurted out, tears streaming down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry!" He leaned against his bat, continuing to sob. "I lost control of myself! I got so angry that I…" He paused. "That damn monster killed… killed…"

"Mom and Dad are dead," Zenko said, quietly. "A-Aren't they?"

"That monster killed them," Badd replied. "Big bro… I got… really mad."

He tried to get closer, but she moved away again.

"You were a monster too!" she screamed. "Get away from me!"

"I'm sorry," he apologised, again. He used his most gentle tone. "Zenko, please, come with big bro. You know I'd never hurt you. Ever. I want to help you."

Zenko whimpered. "Then promise me something!"

Badd kneeled down to her height. "Anything."

"Promise me you'll do that again," Zenko whispered. "Never show me violence!"

Badd wiped his tears. Through all the pain, he smiled.

"I promise," he said.