Izuku skipped around near the water’s edge as the summer sun peeked through the clouds, loving the feeling of the sand between his bare toes. It was a slow, late morning at the beach. There were a couple of other families and some high school-aged boys playing beach volleyball. The lifeguard sitting up on his elevated deck watched over a dozen or so people wading into the protected stretch of the ocean. The buoys dipped under the surf with each hefty wave. A couple of nearby high school girls in bikinis giggled at Izuku, causing him to blush and skirt the other direction.
Even though Dagobah Park Beach wasn’t too far away, only an hour and a half bus ride, this was the first time he had ever visited. It was also the first time he had seen the ocean with his own eyes, not on a screen or in some pictures. It was amazing, even if supposedly it wasn’t an ideal beach day with the cold front rolling in that evening. The deep blue waves lapping the pristine sand were calling him.
“Oh, Izuku!” his mom called. He turned his head to look at her while she struggled to set up the oversized red and yellow umbrella against the wind. “Don’t go too far now. I still have to put on your sunscreen!”
Izuku smiled. “Okay, Mom.” He ran over to his mom and helped her with the umbrella.
"Thank you, Sweetie," she said. After they firmly placed the umbrella, Izuku kneeled in the shade and allowed Mom to smear the cool sunscreen on his shoulders and down his back. He could hardly believe he was here, let alone that his father had been the one to suggest it. His dad was always working overseas, so he barely got to see him. He even missed his birthday last month even though he said he was going to be there. But he was nine years old and he was a big boy now; he knew how important his dad’s work overseas was. So despite his initial disappointment, Izuku told his mom that he didn't mind, that he understood. That was why he was so happy when he heard his dad was finally able to visit them and have a family beach trip.
“Aaaand there we go, Sweetie!” Mom said, kissing the top of his bushy hair.
“Mom!” Izuku blushed. His hands flew up to cover his head. He looked around the beach to see if anyone saw, but luckily for him, everyone seemed to be busy doing their own thing.
“What?” she said sweetly. “I don’t want my baby boy to get burnt!”
“Izuku,” his father’s deep voice called out, making both green-haired Midoriyas jump and look to the man as he returned from taking a business call. He shuffled at their expectant looks. "Let's, um, go for a walk?" he asked Izuku awkwardly, tilting his head back toward the rock outcropping at the far end of the beach.
Izuku smiled. "Okay!" He looked back to his mother. "I'll be back later!"
"Okay, sweetie," Mom said softly. She was smiling, but she sternly eyed her husband as she let them go.
As they set off, Izuku peeked up at his father from his peripheral vision. He had his bushy hair and freckles, but otherwise he was nearly a direct copy of Mom down to his baby face. “Um, where are we going?”
“Just walking the beach so we can… talk?” he said, rubbing the back of his head as they continued walking. Izuku huffed to keep up the pace. Every one stride for Dad was one and a half of his. “How’s soccer going?”
“I…” Izuku shrunk, looking down to the bright sand. He didn’t know much about his father, but he did find a photo of him playing soccer in high school. He had such a big grin on face, so Izuku thought if he picked up soccer, they would have something to bond over and maybe… maybe he would smile the same way he does in those pictures. But… “I haven’t played in over a year and a half,” he answered honestly. It wasn’t like he didn’t like it, but he was being bullied by the other players and Mom pulled him out after he came home crying one too many times.
“Yeah.” Silence fell between the two as they continued walking. After a few minutes, Dad tried asking more questions to start a conversation, but it only proved how little his father knew about him.
“How is school?”
“Fine,” other than I’m the residential punching bag.
“You still hang out with Monoma?”
“I see him every day,” as he is calling me a useless waste of space.
Izuku looked around. They were getting to a much more isolated part of the beach. They walked through a rock formation in the overhanging cliffside that brought them into an entirely distinct area. His eyes followed a small path that leads up the shallow cliffside to a large white house that screamed AFFLUENT. He’d know. He saw it in the dictionary.
Wait, was this a private beach?
Izuku’s heart fluttered in his chest. Were they trespassing? He looked up at his father, but he didn’t seem fazed… so maybe this was okay and he was just over thinking things.
“Wow, I didn’t know there was a pier back here,” Dad said, drawing Izuku’s attention to the narrow concrete pier pressed running parallel to the natural peninsula. “You want to walk it?” Dad looked down to him with a small, nervous smile.
Izuku looked around for a moment longer. No one seemed to be around except the two of them, but that didn’t mean it was okay to be here. He looked over to the pier. It was pretty long, but it looked heavy and solid. The metal was wrapped around it, and it was further surrounded by large stones and a chain rope fence set into the concrete around its edges. How much further could he see from the end of it, he wondered. He turned back to meet his father’s eyes again and nodded.
His father nodded in return and started towards the pier, Izuku hot on his tail. The concrete was rough on his bare feet, years of wear causing cracks to form and create depressions that water gathered in. “So,” his father started as they reached the halfway point, “how do you like the beach so far?”
Izuku’s eyes sparkled as he watched the waves crash into the rocks. The mist they created tickled his nose. As they continued further, Izuku noticed the waves were getting stronger as the wind was picking up between the natural rocky peninsula and pier. “I like it.”
“You want to go swimming later?” Dad asked. “Of course when we get back to the swimming area.”
“Yes!” Izuku said excitedly. He had been taking classes recently. He wasn't very good yet, at all, but he really wanted to splash into the salty waves. Supposedly it was easier to float in salt water than fresh, and he wanted to see if it was true.
His dad whistled. “Just look at this,” he said as they reached the end. The vast ocean shimmered in front of them.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Izuku asked, smiling up at Dad before turning his attention back to the waves. “Just imagine what’s out there, Dad! We’re learning about it in school. Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, but that’s not even the cool part about it, we’ve only explored about five percent of our planet’s oceans. We only know a small fraction of all of the marine species, but it’s estimated over ninety percent of Earth’s living species live in the oceans. There is so much we yet to learn about our own planet.”
Dad chuckled hardly. “You looking to be an Oceanographer?”
“I…” Izuku blushed.
“Or maybe you want to be like that All Mighty person on the TV?”
“All Might,” Izuku corrected with a small voice. All Might was Toshinori Yagi’s television stage name of sorts. He was a big man with an even bigger heart who traveled around the world with a smile on his face. His show consisted of teaching children (and sometimes adults) the importance of taking care of the planet and being good to all people and creatures. He was his and many other people's hero.
“We should take a picture for your mother,” his dad said, patting his shorts’ pockets. His eyes widened and he pats his other pockets. “Where did I put it? Shit, did I drop it?” He even clapped his hand to his chest pocket even though it obviously didn’t hold his phone. “That was my work phone.” He looked panicked around, his feet itching back down the pier before his eyes landed on Izuku. He kneeled down to Izuku’s level, hands on his shoulders. “Izuku… stay here. I’m going to go look.” He looked over his shoulder. “It should only take a couple of minutes.” He stood and started to run down the pier, but turned back briefly to shout, “Stay there and don’t talk to any strangers!”
And then he was off, leaving Izuku again. He turned back to the ocean. His fears started to prickle on his back again without his father beside him. He wasn’t supposed to be here. Should he go back? He backpedaled a couple of steps before returning to the chain rope fence. But Dad told him to stay here. Izuku nervously hummed as his feet danced on the concrete in indecision until his eyes widened. The top of a small, blond head was...peeking over the curve of the rocks.
Izuku froze. Was that the owner of the fancy house? He didn’t see anyone enter the water, so were they there the entire time? They must have heard him and his father talking just a couple minutes ago. Should he say something? They haven’t said anything, so maybe it was okay. Izuku bit his lip, his hand tightening around the chain links.
“Um, excuse me?” Izuku asked in a small voice. He waited a dozen or so seconds, but there was no response, so he tried again. “I-Is it okay that I’m here? Um, if not, I will leave right now!” Izuku said a little louder this time and this time the tuft of hair shuffled but stayed surprisingly balanced in the rougher waves even as the wind picked up.
“H-HEY!” Izuku gathered the nerve to yell and the moment he did, a huge wave crashed into the rock and when it receded, they were gone. Izuku’s heart skipped a beat. Did they just go under? Swept away by a rogue wave? Izuku stood on his tiptoes to watch the water, waiting, hoping they would resurface. Minutes passed and they didn’t come back to the surface. Izuku looked around frantically, hoping his father was back by now. He would know what to do. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as his eyes flickered back to the ocean to see the dark, human-shaped shadow below the water. What would All Might do?
His hands shaking, he lifted the chain and ducked under it to step over to the other side. He looked down at the rocks, flat with many footholds to climb closer to the water. “D-Don’t worry. I-I’m coming to help!” he yelled, hoping whoever it was could still hear him. The rocks were wet, covered in algae, and as he descended, more salty spray hit his face with each new wave causing his pace to be slow.
“A-Almost there,” he said when he got down to the rock just above where he saw the blond hair. Another wave crashed just below him. He fearfully looked around the deep blue water, hoping to catch sight of the shadow again.
“There!” Izuku shouted as he caught sight of dark shape again. “D-Don’t worry, I’m…” He couldn’t finish his hero’s catchphrase as shimmering, inky black scales broke the surface. And then the next moment, he was slammed into the rocks by a powerful wave.
Pain erupted from the back of his head and he saw stars. As the cold ocean swallowed him in its grasp, he felt the wound sting as the salt worked its way inside. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t breathe. He had to get to the surface. He kicked his legs and breached the water, gasping for air. Panting heavily and waving his limbs under him to try and stay afloat, e tried to touch the back of his head. He blinked the stars from his vision only to realize he was no longer close to the rocks. The realization came to him just as another wave slammed into him, drawing him under again.
He was spun and flung around, but by some miracle he managed to surface again, spitting up a mouthful of water. He didn’t know where the other person went, but he had to get back to the pier now. Otherwise, he would be swept out to sea at this rate, and he wouldn’t be able to help either of them. The thought of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but waves and creatures with sharp teeth, never to be found, never to see his mom again… he whimpered. But he angled his little body towards the rocks and frog stroked with all the force his short little limbs could manage. Another wave. This one took him deeper, and water was forced up his nose. His vision burned and he wasn’t sure which way was up, but he found his way, breaching the water’s surface once again.
“H-Help!” he screeched. “Daddy! HELP!” He was so far away now, he wasn’t sure he could get back. “DADDY PLEASE COME B-” Another wave crashed into him and he was being dragged under by ocean’s cold hold. He was towed deeper, farther away from the pier by the second. He fought against the current to get to the shore, but it was relentless.
Izuku's lungs started to burn. His ears hurt as he was pulled deeper. He was getting light headed and the corners of his vision started to fade into black spots. His body recoiled for air but there wasn’t any. He fought and fought and kept fighting, but he was getting weaker by the second.
His limbs felt like lead pipes. His eyes made a last ditch effort to look around, only to see...the sun rippling over the surface? This was the last thing he was going to see? It was foolish of him to think a useless waste of space could help anyone. No one wanted to be around him. Even his dad could only stand a single week out of the year and his mom stays because she is too kind for this world. As his eyes started to drift close, he saw a shadow cross the corner of his vision until it completely eclipsed the sun and he was met with beautiful, scarlet eyes.
He was fixated by this dream with what must have been his last moments on this planet. The only reason he knew he was still alive was because of the pain in his lungs and the back of his head. Long, blond lashes framed the sharp pools of red as they looked at him quizzically, judging him. An angel, maybe? Izuku had never seen a human quite like this being, hovering so elegantly above him. He was transfixed as they grew closer and then… he felt something incredibly soft pressed against his lips. Whatever it was coaxed his lips open without letting any more water in, creating a seal between the two. It was like the kisses he sees couples have, but it was a lot saltier than he imagined it being. Something pinched his nose closed, and then he felt the air being forcefully pushed into his body.
Izuku’s eyes widen as he realized what was happening. Fresh oxygen was being supplied to his brain. Someone was saving him. His eyes tried to focus in on the person above him. Their eyebrow raised almost mockingly as they pulled away. Izuku gasped. Bubbles of his essential air escaped his mouth.
The first thing he noticed was the small, dark scales on their cheekbones that led up to fins where their ears should be. The fins spread out and twitched, stretching thin membranes between sharp, bony spines. As his eyes traveled down, he saw an adolescent body. Though they were more athletic than Izuku, they could have very easily been the same age. The very human torso, however, transitioned not into two separate limbs, but a long, scaled tail with two fins erupting from their hips. As they swayed effortlessly in the current, the sun revealed the rims of dark orange creating the illusion of tiny explosions on each small scale. Their tail was large like a fan, once again with the spines that stretched beyond the translucent membrane that looked like it would hurt if he was poked with them.
A mermaid. A merman? Merperson? Izuku actually wasn’t sure what this fascinating being floating in front of him was, but that didn’t really matter. His green eyes fluttered back to his red ones. The mer smirked arrogantly, showing off some very scary pointy teeth and suddenly flared out all their fins at once, causing Izuku to gulp, only barely holding his breath this time. They seemed to laugh as bubbles escape their nose and their short blond hair waved around with the movement.
Izuku felt light headed, from lack of air, blood loss, or both. This couldn’t be happening, could it? He rubbed his eyes. When he looked back up to where the mer was, nothing was there but empty water.
Izuku’s head swiveled around. Did he really just image all of that?! Moments later, he felt arms, small but strong wrap around his chest from behind. Izuku yelped, bubbles fleeing to the surface. His lungs started to burn again and in the next instant, he was being ferried away.
Izuku’s eyes shot open, the image of his father and mother spun above him. W-what was going on?
“OH IZUKU, BABY!” Mom was crying as she hugged him. “Oh thank god, you’re okay.” She started kissing him all over as Dad sighed in relief.
Izuku felt sand under his back, heard the sound of waves splashing on the beach, the cliff face behind him and slowly, he was able to remember what happened. It was fragmented, furry memories. He saw someone in the water and in his attempts to help them got swept away with the current. He was drowning, losing all hope and then he was saved… saved by a mermaid giving him a very salty, first kiss.