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You and What Army

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Earlier That Day


Izuku’s day hadn’t been worth much note until after school ended at which point it went straight to hell.

There was a hero fight on the way to school, which granted was pretty great. Izuku got some notes on a debut hero, but things got weird and uncomfortable when her gross fans showed up so he hadn’t stuck around much past the takedown. 

Kacchan was in a pretty mellow mood up until their last period when the homeroom teacher went through the barest motions of collecting their future goals worksheets. That went about as well as anyone could have hoped. Fuze-sensei reacted to Kacchan’s boasting by casually reading off the other students applying to UA, which was pretty much just Izuku. Even though everyone wanted to be heroes they’d set their sights a bit lower when it came to highschools. 

The teachers in their middle school weren’t bad, exactly. They just didn’t really care much anymore and were way more casual with the student body than the faculty at other, better ranked schools would be.

Despite his fears, Kacchan hadn’t made a big deal over Izuku applying to UA even after the little speech he’d made over the cheerful booing of their classmates. He’d just looked over his shoulder and sneered a bit. “Good luck, nerd.

Izuku hadn’t been able to say anything, not with the whole class looking at him. They weren’t laughing at him, but they were laughing. 

He didn’t have a lot of friends or any friends, really. Kacchan was the closest thing he had and maybe the two guys who followed him around. They didn’t talk to Izuku and Izuku definitely did not talk to them, but they let him stand with them in line and eat with them at lunch and after school they all walked together until Izuku turned off towards his apartment. Kacchan and the others went off to do --something. They never told Izuku what, but he knew he wasn’t invited.

Not that his schedule would permit any such thing. 

Ugh, which reminded him that it was Thursday and Thursday was ‘quirk’ training day. That meant a lot of meditation and moving stuff with his brain while his mom shot at him randomly with a laser needler. He could feel the headache starting already so he wasn’t really paying attention as he packed up his stuff to go.

In his defense, Kacchan and the others didn’t really talk to him unless he was dragging behind or if they were having an argument and wanted someone to be the tie breaker.

“Oi, Deku.” Kacchan shoulder-checked him hard. “What’s this about UA? Why’m I just hearing about it now?”

Izuku felt his face go hot. “I hadn’t made up my mind.” He lied. He’d always known he wanted to go to UA. He’d just spent the year trying to talk himself out of it, but hadn’t managed to; not even at the last minute. He wanted it too badly, even though he knew it was dumb. He had too much to hide and he didn’t think he’d be able to hold anything back in the nation’s premier Heroics program. “I went back and forth until we had to hand the forms in.”

Che.” Kacchan huffed at him, starting to bristle. That was the first sign of imminent violence. “Did you not hear me? I’m going to be the only kid from this school to get in.”

This, at least, was familiar territory.

“It’s the top school in the nation and it’s kinda weird to think no one here is going to apply just cause you say so. I’m going to pursue my own goals and you can’t stop me, Kacchan.” Izuku put the slightest Force pressure behind his statement; just enough influence to simmer the other boy down before any explosions got started. This was the Force ability he liked least, but he’d figured out ways to use it that didn’t make him feel quite so gross. He pulled himself back before adding, “...but if you’re that worried about me then I guess you could aim to take first in the exam as a back-up plan.”

Kacchan stared at him for a moment before shaking his head and snorting. “Whatever, nerd. Hurry up and get your shit together. We’re leaving.”

“I don’t want to hear someone who was just bragging to the whole class about how good they did on a mock exam call me a nerd, nerd .” Izuku snapped back on reflex and Kaachan flipped him off as he walked past.

They didn’t really wait for him, but they weren’t walking so fast that Izuku couldn’t catch up either. They split up a few blocks from school as usual. Kacchan and his mooks wandered off towards the open air vending machine drink shop and Izuku turned off towards home. He didn’t have a lot of time to make a snack, eat, change, and still meet his mom at the warehouse on time.

His mind was wandering through the contents of the pantry at home as he passed under the old foot bridge that marked the outermost border of his neighborhood.


Later


Inko woke up on her couch when something cold and wet touched her face. She startled upright and nearly crashed her forehead into that of the man leaning over her. 

The damp washcloth he’d set on her head flopped over into her lap.

“Oh, excuse me!” She gasped while reaching for it, but All Might was quicker and plucked it off her before the cloth could do more than speckle the fabric of her jeans.

“It’s understandable.” All Might tossed the cloth to Izuku who’d been hovering on her other side. “People have had worse reactions to seeing ...that.”

How humiliating. She hadn’t fainted in years except for dramatic effect. “I’m very sorry, Mister… All Might?”

She didn’t really need to ask why he was in her apartment. She remembered him saying something about Izuku insisting and… yes. She’d have panicked and run for her master too at his age if she’d met someone who looked the way that man did. 

All Might grimaced. “Yagi Toshinori, please. If you know this much, you might as well know the whole thing.”

Izuku lost his patience. “Mom, you need to look at his side.” He was dancing in place with agitation. Inko realized he’d changed out of his school uniform and frowned. She couldn’t have been out that long. Come to think of it, she could smell something. It wasn’t quite like garbage. There was a coppery aspect to it that made her think of other times and worse circumstances.

“Just a moment.” She heard her tone change from ‘overwhelmed mother’ to ‘suspicious master’ without conscious effort on her part. “What happened to your clothes?”

Her son blanched and All Might coughed nervously. “That would be my fault, ma’am.” He tried to explain. Inko didn’t need to touch his mind to know he was fixing to tell her an enormous lie.

“There was a villain, mom.” Izuku broke in. “An amorphous heteromorphic type with a possession a-ability…” He paused and gulped under the weight of her expression. She noticed he had a narrow swatch of road rash on one cheek, still bleeding sluggishly. “...it...he might have attacked me? All Might saved my life. I changed because I got sewer gunk all over me. It was starting to smell.”

Her baby had been in a sewer with open wounds

Inko pointed. “Shower. Now.” She ordered him. “Get the hibiclens out from the medicine box and scrub anywhere you broke skin. Then I want you to put a bacta patch on that scrape.”

“Mom, wait…” Izuku flailed at her and pointed at their guest, too overwhelmed to form words.

“Is he dying?” She asked flatly. “Dying this very moment?”

“N-no…?” Izuku squinted at All Might. Worryingly, he didn’t seem convinced. “I don’t think so.”

“Then he can wait for you both to get cleaned up.”

All Might straightened up and held up his hands. “I appreciate the offer, ma’am, but I…” He stopped and swallowed hard as Inko turned to look at him instead. “... but I’m happy to wait my turn?”

Inko took a moment to look the man over, trying to see what had her son so panicked. It was just as bad the second time around, but Inko was prepared for it now. The damage the man on her couch had suffered was catastrophic, but he seemed to be stable despite that. His condition hadn’t deteriorated any in the few minutes they’d been speaking and that seemed impossible, but might be accounted for by his quirk? 

Hadn’t Izuku mentioned something about All Might’s side?

“Izuku said you’d saved his life.” Inko tried to wrap her head around that. She wasn’t often worried about her son out by himself. He could handle himself around the sort of purse snatchers and petty thieves you saw in Aldera. Street murders just didn’t happen in their district. She’d made sure of it. “Explain to me what happened.”

All Might -no, Yagi, he’d said- “It’s not a pleasant story, but… your son was the true hero today. I’d like to establish that at the beginning.” He told her as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He sighed and it sounded so very tired.

Inko remembered being that tired once and something loosened up in her chest. It was easier to listen after that as All Might explained -sometimes haltingly- just what had happened that afternoon.

Izuku emerged from the shower shortly after Yagi-san finished his story; pink-cheeked from the water and much calmer. Inko had gone to call Mitsuki so she knew to scrub Katsuki-kun’s hide raw too and then made some tea as she sorted out her feelings.

“The-the shower is free, All Might.” Izuku managed to stay somewhat in control of himself despite the overwhelming idea of his personal idol using their tiny old bathroom that neither of them were all that good about cleaning regularly. 

“It’s all right, my boy.” Yagi reassured him. “Your mother let me off the hook. My skin doesn’t break so easily anymore. I wasn’t exposed the way you were. In fact, she and I were talking…”

That put the wind up Izuku’s back again and he whipped around, upset all over again. “Did you look, mom?”

“I did.” Inko had spent some time observing Yagi and had figured out what her son was upset over. He had excellent instincts, but not a lot of medical knowledge. There were many ways to be a Force user and he wasn’t too inclined towards medicine, but he picked up on things that surprised even her sometimes. “Is the keloid what’s bothering you?”

“Ah… hum.. What?” Yagi stumbled after having been interrupted. His hand moved incriminatingly to his side. He hadn’t shown her his wound, just made vague reference to a nonspecific career-impacting injury.

“I don’t think it’s a keloid, mom.” Izuku insisted. “His muscles are all hard around it, like his quirk is constantly activated in that one area. I saw him transform twice and that forces his quirk to redistribute through his body. Then stuff starts coming out of that little red core. S-sir, could you show her?”

All Might looked uncomfortable, but lifted his shirt to show her his side just below his ribs, which stood out like the sprung staves of a barrel. It was a mostly healed impact injury for sure. His muscles were sort of twisted and almost caved-in around this odd little reddish core; the false keloid.

Inko set her mug down. “Does it now?” She hadn’t been able to observe that part. All she’d been able to determine was that even though it was doing a credible job of posing as the sort of excess collagen that sometimes developed in a healing wound, the keloid itself wasn’t actually part of Yagi’s body. It was more like a plantar’s wart or comedo. In person it looked like a hard little red ball and Yagi’s body had been forced to grow around it. The seam where his skin ended and the keloid began was subtle, but present. She could tell by the way his undamaged muscles sort of curved around the perimeter of the keloid and his skin extended underneath it. 

Part of it was exposed to the air; shiny, taut, and red. It pulsed slowly as she examined it. It was breathing through the exposed bit, she realized; cutaneous respiration. That was how it was fuelling itself. She’d assumed it was a parasite of some kind given how starved All Might appeared to be, but it was actually self-supporting. That must have been how it was still 'alive' otherwise she did not doubt All Might's quirk would have starved it out. 

It had probably started out very small otherwise she couldn’t imagine that the team responsible for the health of a hero like All Might would have missed it. If it had developed in the wound later, like the keloid it was posing as, his doctors would have likely left it in place. It wasn’t a tumor. It wasn’t growing out of control and they would be hesitant to put a patient in as delicate a state as Yagi through an unnecessary surgery.

“Are you able to transform again?” Inko asked, curious by that point.

“I… yes?” Yagi fidgeted, but suddenly expanded into the person she knew from the television. She set aside her questions about the mechanics of that kind of transformation and focused her attention on the keloid. “I can’t hold it for long.” Yagi warned her, but Inko had seen what she needed to see.

“Change back. Do it now.” She snapped. An old familiar heat coiled in her stomach and she was forced to spend a moment acknowledging her anger, investigating it, understanding it, and releasing it. What a horrible thing to do to someone. 

“What did you see?” Yagi was back to cupping his side. Touching the malevolent little thing wouldn’t hurt him. Izuku had been correct. All Might’s quirk contained the problem when he was depowered, but it was consuming the bodily energy he needed for recovery and with his digestive and respiratory systems in such catastrophic condition he had no excess to spare so his body was slowly devouring itself.

“That’s no keloid.” Inko stood up, full of fruitless energy. She went back for her abandoned tea cup. “It won’t affect you while you’re like this.” She gestured at his thin, starved state. “You’re an enhancer, correct? Your quirk is --quarantining it, I suppose? I believe it’s a biochemical factory of sorts. It produces very small, nigh microscopic amounts of what appears to be a virulent neurotoxin. If your condition has been progressively worsening then that’s why. Every time you transform more of it gets past your quirk’s autoimmune response and into the rest of your body where it’s harder to contain.”

Yagis' expression shuttered, which was disappointing but not really surprising. Men like him didn’t accept diagnosis from women like her on this planet. He seemed nice, but he was used to people in white coats. Preferably male people. Medical authority was strictly coded on Earth and she did not fit the role. “Ma’am, who exactly are you?”

“No one, as far you’re concerned.” She smiled her harmless ‘just a homemaker' smile. “And that’s what you’re going to tell people when you go get a second opinion. I’m just an anonymous source.”

That seemed to … reassure(?) him on some level. His expression softened and for the first time Inko realized he’d probably been a very attractive person once before he’d been reduced to two dehumanized extremes. 

“Somehow, ma’am, I find that hard to believe.” He said. “With respect, I will be getting that second opinion, but I can agree to keep your involvement confidential.”

“Do. I can’t help you with it.” Inko admitted. She could, but in ways that would expose her and her son to scrutiny she’d rather not deal with. If it came to a choice between Yagi’s life and her son’s safety then it was no choice at all. Oddly, she rather thought Yagi himself would agree if he knew her situation. “Do you need to rest? I understand why my son brought you here, but it probably took you out of your way. You must have somewhere you need to be.”

“Ah.” Yagi had a habit, she’d noticed, of trying to make himself smaller. He didn’t do that on the television so she was forced to conclude that this was just what he was like when he was himself. He drew himself upright then with his shoulders back and put himself more into the attitude of his alter ego, thankfully without puffing himself up again. “I did allow him to bring me here, but this is the only place I have to be right now. You see, I came to Japan for a reason.”

Inko did not like where this was headed. 

“You are correct. My powers are fading. Until I met you, I had no real explanation --other than slow organ failure due to my injury.” He added that last bit wryly. “I can only work as a hero for a few hours a day now. The end of my career has been looming ahead of me and…” He shot a worried look at Izuku. “...you must understand that what I’m about to tell you is a secret. It is a secret people have killed over.”

‘Oh, Izu.’ Inko thought sadly. ‘Why couldn’t you have taken after your father? Why did you have to take after me that way too?’

Well, actually Hisashi was a trouble magnet too. It was how they’d met after all. So maybe Izuku had been doomed from the start.

Judging by the way her son was shifting guiltily around, he already knew. Telling Yagi to go away and take his secret with him wasn’t an option. Ignorance wasn’t going to help. It never had so no surprise there.

“I understand.” She sighed.

“My quirk can be passed on. It’s called One for All.” Yagi paused for effect. He was a good speaker, she’d give him that. It would explain the weirdly intelligent way his quirk had reacted to the fake keloid. If it was less of a quirk and more of a symbiote, which was the only way Inko could see that working, then it would be motivated to keep its host alive. “I am the eighth person to carry it and my time as All Might is coming to an end. I came back to my hometown to look for a successor.”

...and most likely to die , Inko realized. He could have found a successor anywhere. The only compelling reason to go back to Musutafu was sentimental. Men like him only went home to bow out in familiar surroundings.

“You’re Japanese?” Izuku sounded skeptical.

“I pass for white pretty well, don’t I? I grew up in Musutafu; in this very district. It wasn’t as nice then of course.” Yagi chuckled and pushed his hair out of his face. His eyes, Inko noticed, weren’t shadowed. His sclera were actually black and his irises glowed even in the strong daylight. Humans had a wide morphological range, especially those on Earth with quirk-related mutations, but that seemed even stranger than usual. “I take after my father and my mother was of mixed descent as well. I took advantage of that fact to obscure my own history.”

“You want my son to inherit your quirk?” Inko wondered if the man was sane. He looked ---well, no. He didn’t look terribly sane, but then no Pro Hero she’d ever met had.

“He…” Yagi wilted a little, robbed of his speech. “Yes. It’s egotistical perhaps, but it’s a very powerful quirk. It began as a spontaneous mutation between a stockpile quirk and a quirk that allowed a person to pass their genetic information on to someone else. My heir would inherit the combined strength and abilities of me and everyone who came before me. I feel that kind of power belongs in the hands of a very specific type of person. Young Midoriya is the one I’ve been looking for, but he would not consider it without your permission.”

Annoyingly, Inko had to agree with the man. Her son was a dream of an apprentice; hardworking, kind, empathetic, and determined. He never gave up, even when he ought to. Moreover, it wouldn’t be a bad deal for Izuku. They were both walking a tightrope in terms of the abilities they had to pass off ‘quirks.’ 

Jedi recruiters didn’t often come to Earth. They might not ever come again. Inko had taken the only star chart in the archives that showed it with her when she left the Order that first time. She’d meant to use it as part of a research project in her spare time, but the war expanded to fill all her hours. It wasn’t until afterwards when she had personal time again and was looking for a dark corner of the universe to disappear into that she rediscovered the data crystal among her things.

Earth was located out beyond the outermost rim of settled space and was not part of the Republic. She theorized it had started out as what had probably been an undocumented little Seperatist colony. The modern day inhabitants had no memory or record of it, but near as Inko could tell Earth only had about 5,000 years of recorded history and there were human colonies in the core system that had been in the Republic for over 25,000 years so Earth was clearly a lost settlement. As a result, there were very few charted or reliable hyperspace lanes leading to Sol system.  

That did not even factor in the asteroid belt. It did little to prevent starships from approaching the inner planets but did make it dangerous to approach at hyperspeed. Any ship that came to Earth did so at sublight speeds, which would add months and untenable expense to the journey. 

It wasn’t however, as her own presence on the planet would indicate, impossible. She'd originally thought she had the only map, but she'd encountered a handful of other Republic expatriates on Earth over the years. They'd all been criminals and refugees, people who would have been very careful about leaving a trail behind them, so she'd decided to stay and make herself as invisible as possible.

One for All would solve a lot of problems for her child and possibly any children he might then have assuming he had any. A recruiter might forcibly remove the child of a renegade Jedi from the planet, but they didn't actually -despite what anti-Jedi propaganda would have you believe- steal children. So long as she could pass for a native human then Izuku would be safe. She'd already made herself unrecognizable, but she had to take the long view as well. If Izuku had any quirk other than telekinesis that would go a long way towards keeping his secret after her eventual death.

It was just too bad. Some things came at too high a price to be worth paying.

“Out of the question.” Inko shook her head as Yagi gaped at her. “Whether or not you believe me, that quirk is the only thing keeping you alive. If you give it away you will die within a year; slowly, painfully, and you will be out of your mind by the time the end comes with no idea who or where you are. You have a chance at recovery if you get rid of that ...thing and if you find someone able to remove the toxic particles already circulating through your system. Once you’ve been through cell therapy for neurotoxicity you might even be a viable candidate for organ transplants. Your symptoms would be less severe at least. You have a chance to live out the rest of your natural life. Why would you ask a child to take that away and leave you to die in agony?”

“I can’t make assumptions about the time I do or do not have left.” Yagi considered his hands and made a sad noise. “I’ve had a long life and career for someone in my position. I would prefer to head into my end knowing that I passed on the legacy entrusted to me.”

She considered softening her response, but decided subtly was wasted on All Might. “That’s stupid.” She held up a hand to forestall his protest and looked to her son. “Do you want this?”

“I…” He swallowed hard and looked down even as he turned to face his own personal hero. “...I’m honored you chose me, Yagi-san, and I want to... but I…” Oh, there were the tears. His eyes were shimmering with them and he gripped the fabric of his shirt in a failed attempt to hide the way his hands were shaking. “...I believe my mom. Please don’t ask me to do that to you.”

Yagi stared at them. “What if I seek treatment?” He asked, unexpectedly.

Inko cocked her head in a mute question.

“Spiritually, young Midoriya is the perfect successor for One for All.” He explained. “Physically, there is… well, work that needs doing. He is in very good shape for his age, but the transition would be less stressful if he put on some more muscle and he’d be less likely to injure himself while learning to wield it. Ideally, I would like him to enter high school with One for All. That way it would take a lot of work for anyone to discover that he had a different quirk to begin with and proving it would be nearly impossible. UA does a great deal to obfuscate the history of their student heroes prior to highschool. Their quirk registrations are sealed. After that any public knowledge of their quirks is either guesswork or whatever information their agencies choose to circulate. Here is my offer; allow me to train him for a year. During that time I will spend as much time with my care team as you dictate. I’ll even consult with you regarding my treatment decisions.”

Ino squinted at the man. “Are you holding your own health hostage?”

Yagi did not flinch. “If I have to.”

“You seem so sane on television.” Inko knocked her lukewarm tea back in one shot and sighed. He was determined and she was starting to see the hand of the Force in the whole ridiculous scenario. They said that gods might work in mysterious ways, but in her experience the Force was more likely to employ outrageous coincidence and stubborn idiots. 

“Counter offer; I will oversee my son’s training.” No way was she handing supervision of her only child and last padawan to some unknown muscle-bound moof milker. “You can set goals and consult with me. You may even observe.”

Yagi thought about it and looked her over -dwelling a moment on the satin bunny applique on her pink sweatshirt and her fluffy yellow house shoes- before he nodded. “If he’s not meeting goals, I reserve the right to take over.” 


Izuku’s phone bleeped at him right as he finally fell into bed. It had been both the best and the crappiest day. Either way, he just wanted to sleep… but he knew curiosity would keep him awake if he didn’t check his messages.

He grabbed his phone, hoping it was text spam.

Kacchan >:[ : Hey asshole

It wasn’t text spam.

Izuku: kacchan it’s almost midnight

Kacchan >:[ : Why didn’t you tell the cops that thing attacked you first

Izuku groaned and rolled over in bed. It wasn’t worth wondering how Kacchan had found out he’d been attacked too. Izuku’s mom shared almost everything with Aunt Mitsuki and you could hear Aunt Mitsuki’s phone conversations from the street. 

Izuku: They didn’t get to ask me a lot of questions. Death Arms and Kamui were too busy yelling.

Kacchan >:[ : Che

Kacchan >:[ : Well why didn’t you fucking tell me then

Kacchan >:[ : I had to find out when the Hag attacked me with iodine out of nowhere

Izuku: I didn’t want to think about it. It jumped me from behind and I lost consciousness for a minute. 

Izuku: All Might probably told them. He was the one who pulled it off me.

Kacchan >:[ : How the fuck did it get away from ALL MIGHT

Izuku: He put it in a soda bottle. It got out when no one was looking. It opened the cap like an octopus inside a jar.

Kacchan >:[ : lame

That got an unauthorized snort of laughter out of Izuku. Trust Kacchan to put things into perspective; a unique perspective to be sure, but better than what it had been before. 

Izuku: I think he was grocery shopping. He was carrying a conbini bag with him. It was real weird.

Kacchan >:[ : When I’m #1 I am not doing my own shopping. Fuck that.

Izuku: Right?

Izuku: Sorry I didn’t say anything. You’d just gotten attacked and I didn’t want to make it about me.

Kacchan >:[ : Suck it up next time nerd. Telling my ma ‘I don’t know’ when she asked me if your mom had taken you to the hospital wasn’t any better an experience.

The conversation paused just long enough for Izuku to start to drift off.

Kacchan >:[ : I still fucking smell it.

Kacchan >:[ : I took two showers and I keep smelling it like it’s in the room with me

That… Izuku swallowed hard. Kacchan didn’t admit to weakness. No wonder he was still awake. He had to be climbing the walls if it was bad enough for him to make that kind of confession and to Izuku of all people.

Sympathy would just make it worse.

Izuku: I put some mint ointment under my nose.

Kacchan >:[ : brb

That time Izuku did fall asleep before Kacchan came back and Kacchan had probably passed out around then too because there were no messages waiting when he woke up.

Kacchan was waiting, though, at the usual corner. He was alone for once and smelled like menthol.

“Where’s Ojiro and Kashima?” Izuku asked as Kacchan pushed away from the wall he’d been leaning on. He wasn’t real surprised that they hadn’t shown their faces in front of Kacchan that morning, but he had expected to spot them on the way to school.

“Fuckers finally got caught smoking.” Kacchan gritted out. “Ojiro’s ma called mine. Tried to blame it on me like I haven't been on their asses to quit all fucking year.” A brief, feral smile split his face. “Wrong night to pull that shit. The hag damn near reached through the phone and wrung her neck.”

“That’s what they did after they took off?” Izuku tried to picture how that would work: your friend gets attacked by a villain and you run off and… what? Chain smoke in a corner?

He could kind of picture Ojiro doing that. His homelife wasn’t awesome and he’d invent any excuse not to go back before he had to. Meanwhile Kashima didn’t have many original thoughts. It would have been better for him if Ojiro wasn’t around and he only had Kacchan to do his thinking for him, but Kashima liked Ojiro’s brand of rebellion better and copied him like a little kid even though he knew Ojiro often made bad decisions on purpose. 

Kacchan shook his head. “They were smoking before. Public safety officer smelled it on them and Noodle Neck had his smokes stuck in the outer pocket of his bag in full view. Now they’re both suspended.”

That officer must have made a big deal about it if their principal had gotten involved. Aldera Highschool’s reputation was already borderline and if the principal could ignore trouble then he absolutely did. If nobody saw it then it didn’t happen. If it didn’t happen then he didn’t have to explain it to the Musutafu Board of Education.

“That was dumb.” Izuku started walking because Kacchan was still glaring at his feet. It worked. Kacchan stomped after him, still fuming. “Fuze-sensei’s probably going to make us take notes for them.”

“Hell will fucking freeze over before I help those dicks ever again.” Kacchan grumbled.

Correction, Izuku would be taking notes for them. Oh well. 

Kacchan stuck close for the rest of the day. At first it was because they usually walked together, but word of the villain attack had gotten around by lunchtime and people started wandering by to stare, which put Kacchan’s hackles right up. Kacchan generally liked attention, but he hated being stared at so it was no surprise when he dragged Izuku out to eat on the lawn where it was harder for their classmates to find reasons to hang around.

They made it through the second half of the day without Kacchan snapping or Izuku having to intervene with the Force, but only just. By the time school was over even Izuku was on edge and very tired of being watched like an animal at the zoo. Thankfully neither of them had club duties. Some schools had Heroics prep clubs, but not Aldera so it wouldn’t look weird on their transcripts.

Kacchan was the one slouching out of the classroom behind Izuku for once. They walked their normal route quietly until they reached the point where Izuku usually veered off to prepare for his afterschool activities.

“Wanna get coffee?” Kacchan asked suddenly and didn’t quite inflect it like a question.

Izuku had enough time to change, eat, and make it to the warehouse. “I can’t. I got a thing.”

“Thing?” Kacchan cocked his head. “What thing?”

“I’m training with mom tonight.” Izuku was positive he’d told Kacchan before, but Kashima and Ojiro tended to talk over him. Izuku had suspected for a while that Kacchan didn’t track multiple conversations real well so he’d probably stopped listening to whoever was quietest.

“Since when do you train?” Kacchan circled around him, looking interested in anything Izuku had going on for the first time practically ever. “My ma offered Auntie a discount coupon once to the quirk gym we go to and she said she didn’t need it.”

“We got our own place in Manaan.” Izuku bit his tongue too late. There was no rule that he couldn’t talk about the warehouse. He’d just always understood that it was a place just for him and his mom. “It’s just an old warehouse, but it’s private property so we can train with quirks.”

That got a savage lopsided smile out of Kacchan; the first one Izuku had seen on him all day. “Yeah? I wanna see.”

“O-oh, um…” Izuku dropped his gaze and squirmed. They were starting the muscle-building regimen Yagi-san had cooked up with his mom today. He’d peeked at it and knew he was for sure going to get nauseous. It was the reason he hadn’t wanted coffee. He almost didn’t want to eat dinner, but Yagi-san had left his mom a draconian diet plan. Worse still, she’d read it over nodding in approval the whole time. “...that… is… probably not a good idea… maybe later?”

He didn’t expect the flat expression that settled over Kacchan’s face as he stuck his hands in his pockets and turned away. “Yeah, whatever.”

Izuku played his response back in his head and winced. That had sounded an awful lot like ‘I don’t want you to come’ in disguise. Maybe a little bit of it was resentment at being Kacchan’s default option once Thing 1 and Thing 2 were out of favor. 

Still, Kacchan had never asked him to hang out before. Even when they’d been closer as little kids he’d always told Izuku they were hanging out. Asking was kind of a big step for him and Izuku wasn’t so resentful that he was going to chase the guy off just because it wasn’t the perfect overture he’d been wanting. 

“Kacchan, wait!” 

The surly kid just stomped off faster. Izuku gave up pretending like he had pride when Kacchan got involved and ran after him. He did stop when Izuku caught his sleeve.

“I’m sorry! It’s a physical conditioning day.” He blurted out. “I’m for sure gonna barf and I didn’t want you to see!”

It was at once the best and worst thing he could have said. Kacchan stared at him and apparently decided Izuku wasn’t lying because he bared his teeth in a grin that made the other boy wonder if he should have just let him leave in his huff.

“Oh, now I’m definitely going.” 


Inko was not surprised when Katsuki showed up with Izuku to training that evening. Mitsuki had called ahead to warn her that he’d invited himself along and had asked her to put up with it. He’d apparently had two other friends with him at the time of that villain attack who’d run off and left him. 

Mitsuki didn’t like interfering with her son’s relationships even when she thought he’d made bad choices, but those boys or one of their parents had done something that made her change her mind. She was hoping to use the opportunity to maneuver Katsuki into cutting them loose and hanging around Izuku more. Katsuki, for once, didn’t seem to need much maneuvering. 

“This is it.” Izuku was showing him around the ropes course, which was much more complex than her first sorry attempt. They’d both changed into workout clothes. Izuku was wearing his usual tshirt and baggy short, but Katsuki’s father had Thoughts about what his child wore. It was the one area where he could outpersist his wife and son. Katsuki had a tight tank black top on and baggy harem trousers that looked like they’d be miserable to run in. “We kind of have a shower in the back, but the water pressure is really sad. You might want to wait until you get home.” He paused and rubbed the back of his head. “Usually I’m flat on my back at the end of the night and mom just turns the hose on me.”

“Fucker, you’ve been holding out on me!” Kacchan accused him without heat. He put on a slightly more respectful face when he saw Inko was listening. “Auntie, thanks for letting me come.” He said it like he was reading a script, which he probably was; direct from Mitsuki’s lips.

“Of course, dear.” She patted his face. “You’re welcome to come along with Izuku on the nights when we aren’t quirk training. It’s not a good time for non-telekinetics to be around. We’re trying to increase the number of objects Izuku can control at one time and sometimes things go flying.”

“Yeah, Deku said.” Katsuki looked embarrassed, but it was telling that he didn’t pull away. “I got quirk coaching on those nights anyway.”

He didn’t originally, but Mitsuki had jumped to reschedule him when Inko had explained the training timetable she had laid out for Izuku. Whatever Kashima or Ojiro’s mother had said to her sure had her fighting mad. She seemed determined to keep her son so occupied that neither boy would have the opportunity to wiggle back into his good graces.

“That’s good.” Inko smiled. “Now, I want you to be careful not to push yourself. This isn’t a time to risk injuries.”

Katsuki sneered. “I can handle anything he can.” He jerked a thumb at Izuku, who contemplated the ceiling with a neutral expression. “Just watch.”

An hour and a half later, Inko considered the two vacant-eyed boys lying prone on the asphalt outside the warehouse. “Check your pockets for electronics.” She warned them and got two affirmative groans in response. “All right, brace yourselves!”

She turned on the garden hose in her hand, pressing her thumb into the nozzle so it produced a wide and fine spray. Izuku made a noise of relief as the water washed over him and then flopped over so she could get the other side.

“Why aren’t you even sweating?” Katsuki accused her once he’d revived enough for outrage. 

She’d been doing everything they had, but the truth was that she’d been cheating by increasing her stamina through the Force. She had a certain silhouette to maintain, after all. Normally she’d have had Izuku doing the same thing, but Yagi needed him to bulk up and the fastest way to do that was to restrict his use of the Force and focus on his material body for a while. 

Katsuki was already quite fit up top, but she thought he might benefit from working his core and stamina a bit more. 

“I wonder?” Inko replied like she had no idea. 

Mitsuki pulled her little red Honda into the parking lot just then. She leaned out the window and grinned at the puddle containing her son. “Hey, you wore him out!” 

Katsuki found the strength to raise up one hand with the middle finger extended and she barked out a laugh. 

“All right, tough guy.” Mitsuki cooed once she’d parked and emerged with the big towel Inko had warned her to bring. “Say goodnight and we’ll go home.”

“Fff… thanks Auntie.” Katsuki dipped his head in a reluctant bow. “Gonna kick your ass next time, Deku.”

“You can try. We’re doing ropes tomorrow.” Izuku offered with a tremulous smile that Katsuki, miraculously, returned. 

“Yeah. Sounds good.” He waved one hand as he stumbled off with his mother. “Night.” 

“I think that went well.” Inko said to her own weary child. “Katsudon tonight?”

“Yeah.” Izuku pulled himself to his feet and staggered towards the bathroom to change into dry clothes, still smiling.

“Oh my.” Inko murmured to herself, thinking of a certain bet she and Mitsuki-chan had made years and years ago when the boys were still velcroed together at all times. 

She might end up having to pay out after all.