Tenko Shimura is four years old when he decides he wants to be a hero.
He walks to school silently, gripping the straps of his bag tightly, and sees All Might. On a screen, through the window of a shop, but All Might nonetheless. He almost ends up late because of how he stops to stare in awe. There are others here, too, and he hears them converse about the hero’s past achievements.
“You know, I met him once.”
Tenko freezes in excitement.
“What?! No way!”
“Totally! He carried me on his back and saved my ass from a villain. Didn’t leave a single person to die.”
Tenko almost starts vibrating. He wishes he could meet All Might, wishes he could show his dad how cool he is, how he’s not a bad person. Maybe then he’d let him become a hero.
How cool, he thinks plainly, he didn’t leave a single person to die.
Tenko wants to grow up to become a hero just like that.
Looking at the two kids sat in the corner of the playground while the rest of the class plays, he guesses he should start his path to becoming a hero now.
The class leaves them out while they play tag or something, but Tenko is focused on the two kids in the corner, how they sit silently and sadly. He thinks back to the people on the road, to All Might, to what they said about him.
‘Not a single person.’
For the first time in his life, Tenko takes a step towards heroism. He slowly walks over to them, watches their eyes widen in disbelief, and reaches out a hand.
He ends up having a great time, too.
They play ‘Hero’, and they even let him be All Might. It goes on for the entirety of break, and he finds good friends in them both. He wonders why they were left out in the first place. He asks if they want to have turns being All Might, but they say it’s fine.
“Because you played with us!”
“Just like All Might would have done!”
He beams with pride.
When he goes home, he tells his mother all about it.
His father doesn’t like heroes.
“I’ll teach you what a hero really is,” he says one day. After Hana had shown him their grandmother, after Hana had promised to become a hero with him.
His father thinks they’re good for nothing.
Why? Why? His day was going so well, he’d made new friends, he...
“In order to save a bunch of strangers…” He continues, ignoring the way Tenko’s eyes beg for forgiveness, ignoring the way he knows he’s just a child, he knows he doesn’t deserve it.
His father hates him.
Hana lied, he didn’t ask. Why did she lie? His mother and grandparents stare. Why don’t they do anything? He wants someone to help, someone to give him a hand… he wants a hero.
“...they hurt their own family.” He finishes, and Tenko feels his whole world tip over.
Tenko is five years old when he thinks that honestly, with a family like this, maybe saving a bunch of strangers is the better option.
He can’t take it anymore.
They had locked him outside again. In the dark, the cold, he sits and sobs. His only companion is his dog, Mon-chan. He sobs and he sobs and he sobs, and the itch won’t go away, and he hates them.
They won’t let him in until he apologises, but he refuses to. He still wants to be a hero, he still wants to help people, he wants to show his dad that he can be better.
But he feels the distant sting on his cheeks, the dull pain on his head, and begins to cry again.
Suddenly, everything is red.
He didn’t mean to do it.
He didn’t mean to, he’s sorry, he-
He thinks of the feel of her shirt, the way her body split like it was cut. He thinks of the sound of her scream, the horror on her face, and cries.
Mother, who had reached out to him. Even as she disintegrated, she held her hands out to him. Her last moments, she had tried to embrace him.
She didn’t get the chance.
He stumbles through the night of the city, searching for someone, anyone , to save him. There’s no one here, and the people that do pass look away from him.
This is the real world.
He retches out a sob, vomit staining his shirt, and stumbles down more roads.
Hero, he begs silently, I need a hero.
Where is All Might?
As he makes his way down streets, his eye briefly catches something red in an alleyway. He pauses, glistening red eyes turning to stare into the darkness, and sees a boy.
Curled in on himself, hair a blazing red, he hears sobs… and is reminded of himself. It’s… hot. He can feel the heat from here, emitting from him, and he wonders if it’s the boys quirk.
He wonders if the boy is the same as himself.
Suddenly, the boy is looking up, and Tenko feels a shiver run down his bruised spine as icy blue eyes meet his piercing red ones.
He doesn’t know how, but he ends up sitting next to the boy in the alley. It’s warm next to him, and the night is cold, so he sits in silence and just waits to be told to go away.
The boy has put his head back on his knees after Tenko had joined him, but now he finally becomes silent.
“...who’re you..?” His voice asks after a bit, raspy and choked, and Tenko doesn’t have the right to judge. His voice is probably exactly the same.
“Tenko,” is all he says, leaning his head back on the wall behind him. He’s too exhausted to say anything else, too tired of the world and its inhabitants.
“...Touya.” It’s a whisper, he hardly manages to hear it, but he nods when he does.
That’s all it is.