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Heir Of The Covenant

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Izuku had memories of summery sunshine and green, living things everywhere. His mama, calling to him, maybe to walk, maybe to fly – she loved either. She loved his human body, and his strange, growing wings. She did not mind that he considered eating strange and passing waste even stranger. She did not mind his animal friends and visions and dreams that told of the future.

Papa minded.

Papa restricted him to their little farm, for all kinds of thieves and sinners would be after him. Mama agreed, for she knew this truth, but was much more gentle.

Papa did not say anything of his flying, only reminded him not to go too far. He never approved, nor hated; he seemed wholly consumed with making sure Izuku was safe. Izuku thought that a strange way of thinking, but he could understand.

Papa did like hearing of animal chatter, though. What the sheep planned to do that day, if the goats were feeling especially ornery, if the pigs were less hungry than usual. He loved their funny stories. He would ask for the forest news over dinner, and Izuku would chatter and talk until bed. Those days were sweet, surrounded by fun, laughter, and love.

And then Mama laid in bed more, ate less. Slept yet more, ate near nothing. She paled, skin losing rosy softness and becoming weak, sullen, though her smile didn’t dim.

Papa took one of Izuku’s feathers, every day. Mixed them with a broth, fed her. Every day, Izuku was assured by his words of his importance, his power – he was the key, he was told. The key to healing Mama. Izuku shed tears, some from sadness, some from pain, and Papa collected those too, and put them to use.

Mama's condition didn’t improve. Izuku didn’t think he had any power, let alone the power to save her. His papa prayed long and hard. Izuku did, too, begging for the power of the angels, which he now knew he didn’t have.

The farm suffered, even as they worked more to keep their minds free from worry. Disease took the pigs and goats, and the sheep that lived were eaten by starved wolves. The crop barely brought back enough to last the year, let alone supply for winter.

Mama died six months after.

Izuku dreamed of her in Heaven, crossing the holy gates almost every night and meeting her. A hug, a kiss, “I love you.” then, goodbye. Izuku learned that missing her was not what she wanted, wouldn’t make her happy, watching over them. She’d want them happy without her, moving on.

Papa did not listen. He gathered up his old knight things – mounted Beaut, the poor old girl, and she told Izuku sadly she never wanted to go back to the kingdom of Roppingi again. Still Papa rode on, and disappeared into the forest, with food for the journey and no Izuku.

Izuku waited months. He was no more aware of his strangeness than during these long days. No food was needed, so he’d never starve. He’s never been sick before, so sadly, he’d be fine without the things necessary for a human to survive. He felt like a foreigner to himself.

He worked the dead fields till they refused to even sprout a weed, picked berries from the wood for the remaining horse. Still, the old boy died, and Izuku prayed for his soul, covering him with a tarp until Papa would come back to dig a grave.

The animals cried for Mama, spit after Papa. They soothed Izuku in tearful hours, and played with him in rare, joyful ones. Izuku had visions of dancing with Mama in Heaven, and his loneliness was soothed.

One cold, December day, he told the animals goodbye, and set forth from the desolate farm. He didn’t look back.

He folded his wings carefully under a hood, a satchel, and a big shirt. He set forth in the world, for the first time. He couldn’t very well stay on the farm for forever. Mama would want him to see and marvel in the world She created.

So he set off. He meandered down the forest path for a while, a hundred generations of wagons marking deep grooves into the grass. As the trees cleared out, he came upon a fork in the road.

Where did he want to go? He heard from Papa that the right path led to salty water, and the left led to town, the market, and, eventually, Roppingi. The king wasn’t favored, Papa said, but he certainly did his job well. He was close to him, in his past, as a Royal Knight.

He was a startling man of large stature and even larger reputation; he was unforgivably rude, and all feared being near him, lest he lash his tongue or, more rarely, throw his fist in anger. His children and wife are never seen in the same room as him, outside of royal events.

Yet, he took care of his lands, and the citizens never cried of unfair policy or cruel neglect. He was a king wholly concerned with his kingdom in the most uncaring way possible. It was funny to Izuku. But he was more interested in the High Cabinet.

The High Cabinet was a collection of priests. They wielded the Goddess’s power with their staffs, made of only the finest steel from blessed anvils. They say that the King's Blade, a sword passed down through the generations of kings and forged with the same steel and anvil used for priest staffs, glows with holy power. Izuku wanted to see the High Priests, and their glowing staffs, and the King's Blade, a legendary relic said to have cleared acres of barbarians in one night; and to be so blessed that it cleaned men of their sins and sent them to the holy Mother in paradise.

And most of all, Izuku wanted to see his Papa. He was no angel – after all, he hadn’t the power to save Mama – and maybe that is what drove him away. Disappointment, in him, born with wings that deceived. Izuku wanted to apologize.

So he took a deep breath, dug his bare toes into the green earth, and took the left path, to Roppingi.

 


 

Izuku walked and flew for three days and three nights before he came upon another person.

The animal companions he picked up along the way warned him of them; “Stranger ahead!” “Thief! Knife! Blood!” “Hide!”, and Izuku would take their advice, if they were not walking through a wide and coverless plain. Aside from the sparse, bare trees and low hay-colored grass, there would be no living things here. He felt awfully exposed.

The thief ahead appeared on the horizon, trudged nearer to Izuku as if wounded, and continued beyond him. Izuku felt a shudder.

…Still, if he was hurt, and wasn’t intending to hurt Izuku – then he might appreciate help. Izuku had nothing on him for dressing wounds, because he healed well, but a rag or two made from his too-large tunic would do.

“Uhm, hello? By chance, would you need any help?”

“…” The man turned. He towered over Izuku, much wider, obviously stronger than he. Izuku gulped.

“…Yes, actually.” He said, voice still strong, though also giving the impression of being much weakened. “I’ve traveled from Furaha, a province to the east of Roppingi. I’m here to give a message to one Hisashi Midoriya.”

A bird tittered high over Izuku’s head. “Thief! Thief! Danger! Hide, fledgling, hide!”

“It’s of urgent importance,” The man continued, as if the bird wasn’t twittering wildly over Izuku’s head. “The border's been seized by brigands, and all Royal Knights, inactive or not, are to report to Todoroki Castle in Roppingi.”

“Papa’s already at the castle,” Izuku felt himself saying. “He left months ago.” Oh, why did he say that? Now the thief was going to ask him more questions, and would take even longer to leave him.

The man seemed to straighten at this, though only a little. “You say? Then, young man…” He limped closer to Izuku, till he was not but a few feet away. “I’ve gotten myself into quite a pickle, what with this knife wound into my side potentially numbering my days. If you wouldn’t mind putting me up in your home…”

Izuku had no valuables at home, except for his Mama's casket, six feet under where the chicken coop used to be, for she loved them so. His satchel held all he treasured. His Papa may be angered by the jousting trophy Izuku left, that he wowed Mama with – that was part of the story of how they met – but Izuku wouldn’t miss it much, either. He wouldn’t walk into the trap. Their home was the only one in those woods; he’d find it along the path without Izuku. He didn’t need to lead him. There’d be nothing he could take that would hurt the boy.

“I'm on urgent business, too,” Izuku said, tearing the lengthy bottom of his tunic off, careful to keep his wings hidden. “I can’t spare the three days' travel back home. But, I can give aid here. I’ve no balm or ointment, but I can offer a washing and a clean covering. Please, allow me.”

Izuku pulled out the tin of water he reserved for baths and thirsty animal friends, and walked forward to help. The man, in a flurry of motion, grabbed the front of Izuku’s shirt, and said, with hot breath on Izuku’s face:

“You should know better than to hide yourself. An angel has no place among humans.”

And he let Izuku go, hobbling off quicker than he came, the dark brown spot that he was holding on the side of his tunic growing yet larger.

Izuku stood in blank confusion. “Angel...” He mumbled to himself. “…My wings are mistakable for an extra satchel under my shirt, or as a particularly large humpback-“

“Fool!” The man shouted, far down the road. “You’re hiding them yet – invisible to normal eyes, those you don’t want to see – but I, a blind man, see more than anyone else! I see the unseeable! I see demons, angels! I see you as the angel you are, boy! I see none of the unnecessary human parts! As should you! Though, for the blind masses, it’s the other way around…they call me daft…”

The man continued muttering until his voice left earshot. Izuku…was pretty sure he was daft. But there was no mistaking the cloud in the man’s gaze, which never focused on Izuku, even when he pulled him close. And yet he saw his wings. Izuku refused to believe that this blind thief knew more about him than he himself.  There was no way Izuku was an angel.

Izuku prayed for the man that night, prayed for his sight to return, for his wounds to heal, for his safe passage back to his home in eastern Roppingi, and for him to forget his fantasies of angels and demons on earth. The Goddess knows he needs to.

 


 

Izuku knew so little about the world outside of his wood. Playing with rabbits and deer in the forest seemed like such a long time ago – ten long years have passed since he was a small child of four, and it was but four years since he felt the carefree happiness of childhood. Four years since Mama started losing stamina quickly, needing to sit in the shade outside more, instead of tending to the cows and horses as she loved to.

He hadn’t dreamed of her in months. He wished he could again, just one more night…her hugs were so dear to him. The world felt so big, and his animal companions were nice, but simple. He wanted the companionship between humans; between he and his mom.

He missed her, still. And he felt so wicked, because she’d hate for him to be sad. She’d hate to upset him. And he hated to upset her. He had to push on – find new companions, new happiness. For her.

The grassy plain became tended, ground softened by past plowing under the first snowfall. Sheds dotted the field, then a few shacks along the path, that developed into houses, roofs covered thick with whiteness. Children ran around in the snow, reveling in the pure freeze in their warmest clothing. Some parents stood by, gazes filled with mirth and love. It felt like Christmas.

A town seemed to grow as naturally as a sapling from the earth. The ground went from patted down dirt and snow to stone and pebble that were rough on Izuku’s feet.

The town street was just as Izuku imagined from Papa’s tales; people bustling by, bumping into each other, not apologizing, ignoring each other. People on the side of the road stood behind tables or blankets laden with items, shouting – “Legendary sheep horn, two hundred gold! Cures plague, forgetfulness, arthritis!” – and some stopped their bustle to buy from them, but most shuffled on. Izuku was pushed up against a wagon, forced to walk quickly or be crushed by the wheel rolling at his back.

“Tired, tired…”

Izukj looked up at the horse. A magnificent, strong stallion, reminiscent of Papa's Beaut, but not quite as large or beautiful as him. “Hello?”

“Oh?” The horse's eye turned to him lazily, around the large cart. “Human talked. Or…not human. Hello, colt.”

“Hello! Could you slow down a little? I’m kind of stuck-“

“No problem.” The horse's clopping slowed. The man guiding him huffed, but said nothing. Izuku’s poor feet could ease on the hard stone, finally.

“Thank you. I wish I had something for you-“ Izuku reached into his satchel, pulled out a bunch of berries he picked from the wood, that old Finn at home loved before he died. “-here.”

Izuku hurried around the front wheel and reached out to give the nice horse a few berries. As he licked them from his palm, the man jerked to attention.

“Hey, kid! Wha'd'you think you’re doin', feedin' my horse those berries? You feed your horse at home those?”

“Yes sir, I did,” Izuku said nervously, knowing it wasn’t what the man expected to hear. “Before he died of old age. He had no stomach distress, and lived to fifty. A strong show stallion. My Papa took him to castle Roppingi in his jousting matches, and he told me the days after I fed him were his best ones.”

“Joustin'? What be your Pap's name?”

“Hisashi Midoriya, sir.”

The man stared at Izuku for a long moment. Izuku’s feet were hurting, keeping up with the wagon.

“The Hisashi Midoriya that happens to be the champion in the year of our Goddess three hundred?”

“Yes sir.” Izuku dug in his satchel, pulled out the medal his Papa got that came with the trophy. It was a shiny silver, and engraved with his name and the royal insignia of the Todorokis in the middle; a depiction of the Covenant, a flaming torch with a star behind it. “Papa got this from the match.”

The man looked at it for a long time. Finally, he said, “Well, son, where's a small boy like you headed?”

“Roppingi. I…wanna travel places. See things.”

The man whistled. “It jus' so happens that I’m on my way there m'self. Hurry boy, hop on!”

Izuku found the step between the wheels, and did. The wagon was loaded with hay and wheat. Izuku thought thatthis poor horse might have a rather bland diet.

“Now, you don’t hear many a' folk nowadays sayin' they wanna 'travel places and see things' 'cuz many a' folk swear on their grave that there ain't many good things to see in this world. It’s mighty refreshing to hear a bright and chipper soul like you excited for the kind Mother’s creation.”

Izuku didn’t know what to say, so he hummed. From up here, he could see over everyone’s head. It seemed even more suffocating from above. Heads and hats crowded so close to each other that Izuku feared someone would trip and everyone would go falling after them. No one looked up, so concerned with themselves. Izuku figured he didn’t much like towns. And Papa said Roppingi was even more crowded, even more unfriendly. Izuku couldn’t help but consider going back to the kids and their families, though it didn’t sound quite right to barge in on someone else’s happiness for himself.

The crowd only thickened, the road widened, and the town yet grew. Buildings gained floors, became shops and stores. No one who glanced at Izuku looked at him for more than a moment, and no one looked at him in shock from his wings. Seems the blind thief was right; “invisible to normal eyes". He hoped the man was only right about that.

“Roppingi's a good few weeks ahead,” The cart driver said. “Gotta get through this here Kita and tiny Yukimade next over. Bigger towns, and Roppingi castle town's a plain city there. The stench from them piss pots…other than that, a grand place. You plan on hitchin' all the way there, or hoppin' off at the sight o' somethin' shiny?”

Izuku smiled. “I’m going to Roppingi,” He said. “My Papa's there.”

The man smiled right back. “There’s a boy,” He said, and continued forward. “There’s a boy…now, you got things so figured out, where d'you inten' on sleepin' tonight?”

Izuku didn’t know. If he couldn’t find a tree to cuddle in the boughs of, then he slept on the ground. Though, the streets here didn’t seem all that welcoming…“I don’t know…”

“How's about you gimmie that there medal, and I'll cut you a gold coin for a night at an inn?”

Izuku reached for the medal in his satchel. The sun was beginning to set. The medal was the only thing left of his Papa he had. “…Sorry, I…I can just find somewhere else…”

The man shook his head. “'Tis a shame,” He said. “A right shame. You hear of thieves in this area? Thugs, who knows what else, harmin' those wishin’ for a free night out? Sleepin' free's a trouble indeed. You got a pinch on you, for nothin'? Not even shoes?”

“No sir.” Out in the field, Izuku flew when his feet hurt too much and listened to the birds' warnings. Up here, though, he guessed that wouldn’t be possible. “I’ll be fine. I’ll keep moving on, if you have to stop for tonight. Thanks so much for the ride!” Izuku jumped off, stumbled a little on the hard stone, and petted the man's horse. The velvety skin ruffled with pleasure under his touch. “Bye, old boy…catch a nap when you can.”

“I will.” The horse snorted lightly. The man looked down at Izuku with a wrinkle in his nose. “Boy, can’t you see'n a folk's tryna look out for you? I’ll trade that medal for coin, and you ain’t gon' sleep nowhere but in the mouths of the wolves or in the hands of thieves without coin.”

Izuku shuddered. He pulled out the medal, saw it glint in the light. Papa…

Another person – a kid, a little taller than Izuku but with bright eyes – ran up to the cartman's horse and said, over the din of the crowd, “Y'all lookin' to stop at this here Kaminari Inn? Free board and feed for your horse!”

“Yes, in fact – tell this here boy that sleepin' free in these parts's suicide.”

“Yessir,” The boy nodded. “You see all these inns around here?” Izuku looked around, but couldn’t tell one building from the next, let alone which ones were an inn and which weren’t. “These show up by demand, not just because the owners set them up all willy-nilly. Folks sleep in those inns, not on the street, not in the field a ways behind. Which only means one thing.” He jerked his thumb behind him, at an open door. “If not a single smart soul is sleepin' outdoors, then why should you?”

Izuku frowned deeply. “I don’t have any money,” He said. “And I wanna keep my Papa's medal…”

The boy fell quiet, as the cartsman laughed. “Oh, boy! You plan on selling it further along the road? For an 'mergency? Why, you ain’t gonna counter anythin' as deadly as this 'sitation! I’m tellin' you, I'll take that medal off your hands for two – no, four gold coins! Four gold coins'd get you a week in one o' these here inns and the best service in town! This’ your only chance-“

“Four gold coins?” The boy cut in suddenly. “Why, that medal's pure silver – a joustin' honor, right? I heard they’re holy, too. More expensive than all the swords in the kingdom as one. You better start promisin' four hundred before he gets his money's worth.” The boy smiled, tipped his hat to Izuku. “This old fella should put a knife to your throat and make it a honest robbery. I think I could put you up in the attic for free, if you don’t mind the small space and the bats and the mice.”

“I don’t mind,” Izuku said hurriedly. He glanced at the cartman – four hundred gold or not, he wasn’t selling it for anything – and went to the open inn door.

Inside was large, grand almost – people milled about in company, enjoying each other’s presence. Some stood off alone while others flit from table to table to person to person, laughter loud and voices joyful. It felt wonderfully friendly and kind.

“Wowie, he’s upset,” The boy said, catching up to him. “You gotta watch for types like him. They’ll rob a thousand gold offa you for six bronze coins. Slippery as the Archdemon. I for one wouldn’t take your Papa's medal if I could sell it for ten thousand gold. I take it your Papa means a lot to you, and I’d slit my throat before I take what you got left of him.” The boy smiled at him. “Name's Denki. Denki Kaminari, of Kaminari Inn. What’s your name?”

“Izuku Midoriya.” He frowned. “Isn’t he coming?”

“We’re full at the moment,” Denki said, and chuckled. “'Least, that’s what I told him. We'll get other customers. In the meantime, you gotta hide from ma – she’d skin my hide if she found out that I was bringing in free customers. Unless…” His gaze was the kind of shifty look Papa got when he was planning on surprising Mama. “How much do you know about this here town?”

“Uhm, nothing…”

“Great!” Denki shook Izuku’s shoulders excitedly. “Here’s the story; you’re Ejirou's cousin visiting from far away, and you plan on paying to stay at this here lodge soonas you scrounge up the coin, got it? That way, you can stay in my room for a night or two while you rest up! Now, all I need is Ejirou…”

“Ejirou?” Izuku blinked. “Cousin? Rest up? I don’t need to rest up, I need to get to Roppingi.”

“Roppingi? What’s the rush to get there?” He looked Izuku up and down, and Izuku flushed. “'Sides, you ain’t gettin' nowhere without some decent shoes and more than a shirt on your back 'gainst the winter ice. You gonna die of cold and the blood comin' out your feet 'less you get proper clothing on, and I ain’t got no spares. Forget sleepin' free – how about you get yourself a job here?”

Izuku opened his mouth, but Denki had already taken his hand, leading him though the inn, weaving between tables to a bar counter – and around it, through a door in the back, to a kitchen.

“Ma!” Denki called. A minute of silence, then; “Huh?! What’s the problem, Denki?!

“Got a new worker!” Denki called. To Izuku, he hissed, “How old're you?”

“…Fourteen years-“

“Fourteen years, my age! Willin' to work for nothing but enough to get clothes on his back, shoes on his feet, and a roof over his head!”

Well, that’s just fine! Put him up to workin'! I see idle hands, he’s out!

Denki grinned at him. “Looks like you just got a job.”

 


 

All that afternoon, Izuku was bustled around – told to get this, get that, clean this, clean that – take them their food, clear the empty tables – but at last, the sun set, and business dwindled to a few singles taking their time, sipping beer. And then night fell.

The attic he was staying in was small, indeed, but having the whole space to himself was nice. The bats clicked and chittered to him excitedly. He prayed that night, for a good work ethic and strength and good shoes – to wear indoors, splinters were entirely new to him – and went to bed with some spare blankets, wrapped in warmth against the winter cold that seeped in.


 

Izuku woke to whiskers tickling his face, mice squeaking a morning greeting. “Pup, pup, wake up, wake up. A stir, lots of humans – below-“

A door slammed. “Izuku!” A bright voice – Denki – shouted. “We'dn got brigands!”

“…Brigands?” Izuku said sleepily, rubbing his eyes. “Those're damned to hell for all eternity…what're demons doing here…?”

“Not much difference between demons and brigands, but you’re a bit off anyway! Get up, it’s our job to defend the place till soldiers come-“

Izuku was being jerked up by his arm. Cluelessly, he looked around. “Brigands,” He said. His alarm grew, suddenly realizing what he was talking about. “Brigands-! There're brigands?! Where-!?”

“At the front step – we gotta get a move on – how good're you with a blade?!”

“I’ve never held a blade in my life – brigands?! How are we gonna defend against brigands?! They’ll kill us-“

“With our lives, that’s part of the job! What, you suggest bein' all coward-like and runnin' off?! No chance! We’re fightin' 'em!”

Brigands were bloodthirsty soldiers from other kingdoms, or even countries, that thieved from people and killed for fun. Izuku remembered stories from his father – bloody armor, swords still coated with intestine, brain in their scraggly hair, teeth gnashing with anger and sin, eyes lit with the fires of hell-

Mama didn’t like the stories much. Izuku didn’t, either. If there was anyone in the world who'd want “angel blood" the most, it’d be them.

And yet here he was, rushing downstairs to the main hall to face his doom. The door was already falling apart, swords slashing through the wood and shouts of anger and excitement coming through.

“Lil' Denki,” A tall, sturdy woman, donned with a bloodied apron and a rusty sword spoke. Her voice was strong, demanding, but shaking. “Them brigands come in, I want you to run your little self and that boy there 'cross those back alleys and don’t stop till you find freedom. You hear me? Don’t stop till you caint be found. Don’t come back till the last snow 'o winter.”

“Can’t do that, Ma,” Denki said, standing at the ready with his little dagger. “I ain’t no coward.”

“I'm tellin' you,” The door was caving. Izuku grabbed Denki's arm, hands clammy, and pulled as hard as he could. The other boy didn’t budge. “runnin's the bravest thing you can do. Go now, boy!”

“Ma! With all respect, I ain’t leavin' you, nor this inn we built with Pa-“

Go, Denki! I ain’t gon' tell you again!

The door fell in, and metal crashing and clanking and men's shouting came through the inn's threshold. With a mighty heave of sudden strength, he jerked Denki back, and pulled him all the way back to the kitchen – through a back door, and out to a narrow back alley. They tripped over trash and old scraps, but broke into a run quickly. Feet pounding with his heart, Izuku could hear a faster pace behind them – metal clanking, hard breathing, teeth gnashing-

He grabbed Denki's hand, and, with a powerful push of his wings, willed himself to fly.

A moment of breathlessness passed, wind rushing by. And then, Izuku gasped. He was flying! With someone! The most he ever flew with was birds – and he was flying while holding someone! 

The town extended for another mile, but Izuku could see where it thinned out, and where plain forest began. He aimed for there, pushing himself to go faster than ever before.

Birds decided to flank up to his side, sailing over his wide wings. “Fledgling! Fledgling, hello! You flying with us?”

“No,” Izuku said to them. “Running away – or, flying away from danger. Can you please take me to a place with no people – humans?”

“Of course, of course! Safe place for fledgling, safe place! This way!” They banked left. Izuku followed them, careful to keep his grip on Denki strong. He wondered if he was okay, or fainted from shock or something – he chanced looking at him, and their gazes met. Denki had a look of almost surprise, though more subtle than his relaxed and wild expressions from before. He must be in a little shock.

The flight was short and quiet, but Izuku finally made it deep into a wood, at a clearing with a pond. He landed at the edge of the clear water, and sat Denki down. He was still staring at Izuku, with wide eyes. He hoped he didn’t shock him too badly.

“Are you okay? I’m sorry – I probably shouldn’t’ve done that so suddenly – your arms don’t hurt, do they? Are you okay?”

“…” Denki blinked. He frowned deeply in confusion, tilted his head, scratched at it. “…Lemme get this straight,” He said. “You’re…an angel.”

“No,” Izuku said immediately. “I dunno – I’m not holy or anything – I have no power, so I know I’m not an angel – but humans don’t have wings, so-“

Denki snorted suddenly. The his snort grew into chuckles, then giggles, the laughter. Izuku was concerned; did he go mad? He went on laughing and laughing, till he was clutching his sides on the ground, wiping tears.

“My, Izuku Midoriya!” He said. Izuku blinked. “You eat at all?”

“No…”

“You piss? You shit?”

“No…and no place for it…”

“Ohh-“ And he laughed more. Izuku stared in confusion. How was he going to get Denki back to his senses…? He was obviously going mad. They just barely escaped brigands with their lives – Goddess bless Denki’s mama, Izuku would pray with all his might that she was safe - and the other boy just discovered Izuku wasn’t human. There was nothing funny.

At last, Denki wiped his tears, heaved enough air to speak. “Oh, Midoriya Izuku. Who’s been lyin' to you? You a real-life angel. Ain’t nothin' between. That back there was a powerful miracle, if I’ve ever seen one!” He snorted. “Now I know my ma's okay, with an angel in her inn! You blessed us, Izuku!”

“I – I can’t bless-“

“Aw, forget those lies.” He gripped Izuku’s wrist. “These twigs you got for arms – ain’t nothin' but heavenly grace that got you to fly all this way holdin' me.” Laughter passed, he smiled gently at Izuku. “If it wasn’t for you, ma'd have no one to help with the inn once this whole thing passes. Thank you.”

Izuku frowned. Denki looked so happy – dead-set in this lie everyone convinced themselves of, that he was an angel. Why? It didn’t make any sense. Hopefully, Denki would realize it one day.

“So, what’s the plan?” Denki laid back on the grass. “We gonna go to Tacha, the town on the other side of this here wood? Or're we gonna stay outta the heat for a while?”

“…I’ve had it with towns,” Izuku muttered, laying back on the grass next to him. “I’m good here.”

Denki nodded. A long silence passed between them. Izuku stared up at the pale winter sky, reminded of days waking napping bears and bounding with deer.

“Still,” Denki said. “I was wondering how your feet're all healed up, how you could live out in this cold with naught but a shirt and some pants…” He shivered. “I might journey to that town myself. I got a few gold here in my boot. Some travel grub, a good coat, and some good shoes for you'd be a good way to spend it.”

Izuku hummed. “I don’t know if I could pull off carrying you again,” He said. “I could have an animal friend go with you…”

“Hello?” Izuku called, with the mind-voice he used for animals. “Are there any wolves around here? I need some help…”

“Animal friend? You talk to animals, too? Really, what's got you believin' you anythin' but an angel…”

Slick as shadow, two large wolves slipped from the brush. Denki hopped up, but Izuku soothed him. “They’re here to help,” He said. “Kind wolves, my friend here – could you protect him on his way to the next human town?” He needed some incentive for them – wolves were creatures that only stuck to their own, unless they gained something from helping others. “I could watch your young ones while you’re gone!”

“Fine,” The wolves said. “Tell human to follow.”

“Denki, follow them – they’ll take you to Tacha. No brigand would mess with wolves, I hope – they’re protecting you.”

Please be gentle with him – I’d be extremely grateful-“

“No problem, pup. Go to den and rest, tired pup.”

Izuku could do that easily. As Denki went, nervously, watching the wolves warily, Izuku called for a bird to guide him to the wolf den. In a easily-missed burrow, there were sleeping pups. Izuku wasn’t anywhere near small enough to fit, so he sat next to it, wrapping his wings around himself for warmth from the bit of cold he was able to feel.

He hoped Denki would be okay. He prayed for his mother’s paradise, his father's wellbeing, Denki's ma's safety, that blind thief's sanity and safe return to his home, and Denki's safe passage to Tacha and back. He hoped his prayers would be answered this time.