Getting Basil into the penthouse straddled the border between hilarity and tear-inducing levels of frustration.
They absolutely woke Izuku up. He came staggering out of his room only half awake with spectacular bedhead only to stop dead at the sight of the giant droid they’d brought home in the dead of night. Toshinori would have felt bad, except the kid wanted to be a hero and that was what hero life was like sometimes. He’d need to get used to weird nights and rude awakenings eventually. Might as well start now.
Basil wasn’t sure about him until Toshinori sort of remembered the alien… or rather, the mando’a word for ‘friendly.’ Fortunately it was a bit like riding a bicycle; the more he spoke the more he remembered.
Inko still had to correct his pronunciation, but the droid seemed to get the idea and unilaterally decided Izuku was its new person. Izuku took it about as well as could be expected considering Basil was about nine feet at its tallest point and wanted to bump into him like it did with Toshinori. Izuku had to grab onto it’s armoured shoulder and let it lift him off his feet. The only reason it could even get around the apartment was because the doors and halls were designed to let Toshinori get around as All Might.
It still would only reliably take orders from Toshinori, but Izuku turned out to have enough mando’a that he could get it to move out of his way if he asked nicely. When Toshinori expressed surprise that Inko had taught him any of it at all she looked at him like he was the weirdo.
“I don’t understand only being able to speak one language.” She sniffed. “The minimum in the Core Worlds is three. In Rim Space people speak at least five and usually understand more.”
Basil meanwhile settled itself on the floor in Izuku’s room like an enormous sleeping dog and refused to budge. Toshinori didn’t quite have the heart to force the issue either and Inko seemed very confident about it not being dangerous so Izuku ended up sharing his new room with a very large new roommate.
Inko waited until they’d gotten both teenager and war droid put back down for the night after they had retreated to the master suite to say, “Well, he always wanted a dog.”
The laugh that escaped him sounded like it belonged to someone else. Toshinori dragged a hand across his face as he sat down on the bed. “Love, please tell me my parents weren’t genocidal maniacs.”
“I highly doubt it.” She turned towards him and her expression said she’d taken the question seriously. “How old were you when they vanished?”
“Twelve.” It was three lonely years before he’d met Nana-sensei. “That was thirty-five years ago.”
She nodded. “Then they were very early objectors. I only know the rumors, but there were some questions about the legitimacy of Mandalore the Ultimate’s right to rule. He was the clan overlord at the beginning of the Mandalorian expansion. There was also a prominent objector at the end of the battle of Cathar, which happened around that time, who argued against exterminating a fallen enemy.” Inko’s gaze turned inwards. “She was gunned down with the last survivors. That triggered another wave of defections. A minority of the Mandalorians felt that went against one of their sacred laws. I hadn’t heard anything about them hunting down their deserters, but this region is considered unknown space. Anyone who noticed wouldn’t have risked reporting it to the Republic Senate even if they could.”
Toshinori had known in his heart for a while that his family was dead, but getting answers after all this time wasn’t bringing him the closure that he’d hoped for. That Mandalore person sounded like a dictator. Dictators weren’t known for letting their traitors live long. It sounded like he was already dead and had died in total defeat, which gave Toshinori at least some savage comfort.
He scooped Inko into his lap and flopped backwards onto the bed. “I’m an alien.” He wheezed. It was slightly less terrifying a concept now that he knew Inko was one too and that Earth wasn’t a tiny bastion of life in an otherwise empty galaxy, but rather a quaint little backwater where frightened people went to hide.
“Maybe not.” Inko patted his chest. “Mandalorians are forbidden from leaving any abandoned children they find. They must either raise the child as their own or reunite them with their family. It’s part of the Resol’nare; the six tenets of Mandalorian culture.”
That word tickled his brain. “I think I remember that.” He squinted. There were a lot of things he remembered from when he was about five or so that his parents suddenly stopped talking about or doing around the time he was old enough to start picking up on them. They’d probably decided to integrate into Japanese culture. “There was this nursery rhyme… Ba'jur bal beskar'gam… Ara'nov, aliit…” He squinted as his already overtaxed memory began to falter. “I can’t remember the rest.”
“ Mando'a bal Mand'alor— An vencuyan mhi. That’s the one.” Inko nodded. “Education and armor, self-defense, our tribe, our language and our leader—all help us survive. They would have explained the tenets more as you got older.” She paused to give him a look-over. “You do look like a heavy worlder though; tall, muscular." She admitted. "You’d need to take a genetic test to be sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“No.” He agreed. That was a terrible idea. The Y.U.R.E.I. labs already went nuts over every tissue sample they got from him even though the results they got were inevitably boring. Whatever he was, his genes weren’t weird enough to have raised any red flags already. He wasn't sure 'illegally adopted by aliens' was better than being an alien himself, but he'd grown into a carbon copy of his father only taller so he doubted it.
He had other things on his mind anyway. The more they talked about it the more things he remembered; one connection led to another and another. “How strict was that ‘find their parents’ thing? Because one time my dad brought home this kid and introduced him as my new brother. My mom just about killed him when she found out and I had to take the little boy to the police station while they fought about it.”
“Some were better than others. From what I understand, having a big family was desirable.” She started tracing a circle on his chest and cleared her throat. “We should probably be more careful about birth control. Izuku was something of a miracle baby, but...”
Toshinori’s ears caught fire as he followed that train of thought. “So, in theory we could…”
She nodded, squeezing her eyes shut as her face went pink. “It’d be much easier than if I tried again with a person native to Earth. Izuku was a rough pregnancy. If I wasn’t a healer then he might not have made it. That said, I’m not really interested in more children at this point in my life.” She added that last one with a pained smile.
Oddly, he felt the same way. Even disregarding the prophecy, he was a bit old to be considering babies and he only had so much time left with his heir. “Young Izuku is a full time job.”
“I love my work.” She agreed, smiling. That smile faded as they looked at each other. “Is… there anything else you’d like to ask me about?”
Right. Laser staff. Mind control. The ability to lift one and a quarter tons of mass and hold it for the space of a ten minute flight seemingly without effort.
“A few.” He agreed. “What exactly is your quirk? Does Akatani know about that staff? Akatani should probably never find out about the bullet-stopping laser staff.”
“He knows.” She shook her head. “It’s a sword, actually. The light saber is a traditional weapon for members of the Jedi Order. The materials to make one are very rare though. Kyber crystal doesn’t occur on Earth as far as I know so they wouldn’t be able to recreate it.” She huffed a sigh as something occurred to her. “I’m going to have to find some eventually when it’s time for Izuku to finish his training. Every Jedi makes their own saber as a rite of passage. I’m not one anymore, but I’d like to give him that experience.”
Something sharp and angry shot through his chest as Toshinori realized he probably wasn’t going to get to be part of that. It sounded like it would be amazing; an actual quest for a magic crystal. That was the kind of adventure his job hadn’t been in a decade.
For the first time he really, truly began to resent the sands draining from his hourglass. He didn’t want to go.
“My quirk is --it’s hard to explain.” She fidgeted some. “It’s harder in Japanese. There are words you just don’t have. There is something, it would be called the ‘Force’ in your language. It’s an energy field created by all living creatures. I can manipulate… no, that’s a bad word. Communicate? That doesn’t work either.” She scrubbed at her hair. “Is there a Japanese word for something that is too big and complex to be a person but is still alive?”
“Not… really.” This was starting to sound like actual space magic.
She sighed. “The Force is like that. It’s too vast to be known, but you can interact with it if you are born with a certain sensitivity. That sensitivity lets us perceive it. Our abilities aren’t unique -although we do all have different aptitudes and talents- so you can’t quite call it a quirk. It's not instinctive like a quirk either. It takes years of study and meditation to learn.”
“Huh.” His girlfriend was a space wizard. Too bad the press could never find out about it. They would lose their minds, but would also make Inko and Izuku’s lives unbearable and that wasn’t acceptable. “So I wasn’t making it up? I bounced back from surgery faster than I should have.”
She nodded. “I did help with cell therapy and managing your symptoms, but most of your post-op recovery was due to the bacta and kolto treatments. You quirk was involved too. I couldn’t tell what it was doing aside from ejecting damaged tissue your body would have usually reabsorbed.”
That last bit was the least surprising thing he’d learned all night. One for All could still catch him napping after all these years.
They relaxed together for a moment before one final question occurred to him.
“What are we going to do about Basil?” Did droids come with a safety? Its whole face was made of guns. People lived in his building who weren’t him. “Do you know how to deactivate its weapons?”
“No.” She made a thoughtful noise. “But I think I know someone who can ask.”
Inko found herself a little disappointed the next morning that Toshinori hadn’t asked her to move in because his kitchen was easily three times larger and more efficient than her own. It was a joy to work in.
When she got into the cabinets and found a set of three bento boxes clearly meant for two men and a small woman she was force to consider the idea that he had meant to ask and then chickened out at the last minute. She’d noticed the night before too that the fridge had been fully stocked for a Japanese cook who used all the same brands she did despite the fact that Toshinori himself did not cook anything except steaks, gigantic cheeseburgers, and oven fries.
Like most Jedi she’d been used to eating either bland temple food prepared by the members of a support cloister or ration bars when she was away from the Order. The Republic’s military rations had actually been a step up for her diet-wise so she hadn’t learned to cook until she came to Earth and Japan was a good place to learn. She hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as she did. Temple life didn’t automatically preclude hobbies, but acolytes were steered away from anything that needed too many materials.
Cooking was useful and necessary, which appealed to her practical nature. Lunch boxes could be a creative outlet and there used to be little passive-aggressive competitions among the mothers when Izuku was in grade school for who could make the best composed, most attractive bento box for their child. Inko didn’t want to think she was competitive, but no one set out to learn to make onigiri that looked like soccer balls for their own sake. It certainly hadn’t been to get her son to eat. Izuku would devour anything she put in front of him so long as it didn’t smell off.
She’d bought Izuku a meal plan due to his new caloric demands, but also sent him off with a ‘snack’ as big as a full sized meal to get him through the long stretch between lunch and the end of the day otherwise he came home crabby and nauseous.
Toshinori meanwhile was still eating small, but frequent meals as he and his new stomach got accustomed to each other. He didn’t need a lunch box because he still had the meal-prep service he’d hired to fuel his recovery diet, but his mind all but glowed with shy pleasure whenever she gave him one -especially if it was cute- so it had gotten to be routine whenever they started the day under the same roof.
She’d started her morning by sending an email inviting D5-N6 to come mediate with the Basilisk. It might not understand much Japanese, but droidspeak was universal. D5 had replied with an instant affirmative and promised to be by as soon as it could arrange for transport. Toshinori had added it to the security whitelist before going back to sleep for a bit so Inko was not surprised to hear the elevator -which let out directly into the livingroom- ping while she was standing on the counter with her head in an overhead cupboard looking for plastic wrap. There were too many things in the deep cupboards and a cloud of it was floating around her head as she searched.
She was distracted and not particularly sensing any imminent danger, which was to say she wasn’t paying attention and thus did not notice that it was a living person and not a droid right away.
“I’m glad you could find a ride so fast!” She heard footsteps approach her and caught a glimpse of a tall, narrow person shape in the periphery of her vision. She held down the roll of plastic wrap to them and concentrated on returning all the bric-a-brac floating around her head. “Could you hold that for me please? I’ll be down in a moment.” The person accepted it. “Thank you.”
“It was no trouble.” They replied in a deeply skeptical tone that did not belong to D5.
Inko yelped and the stuff she’d been holding up with her mind dropped a few inches before she caught it again. She turned to see a tall man with green hair streaked with yellow and pale, pale gold eyes that didn’t seem to have any pupils. He was dressed in a plain suit with a red polka dot tie as the only touch of whimsy about his dour person. He had long, sharp features to go with his long limbs and large hands; one of which was holding the box of plastic wrap she’d just handed him.
Inko squeaked as she remembered that she was wearing the lounge clothes Toshinori had brought back for her the night before. She hadn’t given him any particular instructions because she’d wanted to amuse herself by seeing what he’d pick out on his own. That turned out to be a fluffy sweater and matching over-the-knee leg warmers with pink and white stripes and a pair of white shorts trimmed in lace with a kitten face on one hip that she hadn’t worn in years. She’d been surprised that they even fit. They were definitely tighter than she wanted to be wearing in front of a stranger.
She sent the boxes and containers she’d been holding up back into the cupboard, albeit not as neatly as she’d found them.
“Pardon the intrusion.” The man’s voice was flat, but not wholly unfriendly. It was just mostly unfriendly. “I did not realize he had a houseguest.”
“I didn’t realize he was expecting anyone either.” Inko hopped down from the counter, buoying herself lightly with the Force so she didn’t make noise when she landed. “Can I help you?”
“I…” His gaze flicked up and down as he handed the plastic wrap back to her. “...doubt it.”
Right. He didn’t feel dangerous, but there was a simmering current of hostility running just below his placid surface that told her -unless something drastic changed- they were not ever going to be friendly.
“Well, then would you like a cup of tea while you wait?” She did not want to say Toshinori was in the shower, but he was in the shower. Neither he nor his pro-hero level hair routine would be out anytime soon. Instead she gestured towards the living room with all its comfortable furniture that was not immediately in her face. “I’ve got some things to finish up here.”
He looked at the packed bentos and, dammit, her discarded phone that was still showing the pictures she’d just posted to Instagram of them. Normally she didn’t care about people making assumptions about her and in fact usually encouraged it, but this was different. It was personal and new. Having someone come to sneer at it was --distressing.
“No, thank you.” He said and then went to go stand in front of the giant floor-to-ceiling windows off the launch pad.
Toshinori mercifully came wandering out of the bedroom, hair wet and wearing just his slacks and undershirt, just as she was wrapping the lunch boxes. “Inko, do you remember where that salve got off… to…” He stopped and stared at the man, who had turned to watch him with a stern expression.
“It’s in the fridge.” She retrieved the bacta infused ointment she’d given him for conditioning his surgical scar. “You have a guest.”
“Yes, thank you.” Toshinori didn’t quite put himself between Inko and said guest. She could read the fear that came off him in waves, but not the nuances of it. His body language said he didn’t expect violence, but he was afraid all the same. “Nighteye. I wasn’t expecting a visit from you.”
“Really?” The man, Nighteye, observed coolly. “You must not have seen the news this morning then. It’s fortunate that I have both of you in that case.” He took a phone out of his pocket and held it up to show a news article. Inko beckoned the phone over to get a better look and Nighteye released it with a raised eyebrow.
The headline read ‘ALL MIGHT SPOTTED DURING MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS’ and below it was a picture of the two of them about halfway between the penthouse and the storage unit. It was actually a really good picture, but also damning if Toshinori’s management team wanted to try and deny that he was seeing anyone. Their body language was too comfortable and intimate.
Her back was to the camera, but they caught her leaning into his chest with her hand on his sternum. Toshinori was watching her from the corner of his eye with a soft, fond expression that was not at all platonic.
“It looks like the paparazzi caught a picture of us last night.” She handed the phone up to Toshinori.
“Oh boy…” He squinted at the little phone and then sighed in relief. The picture was from the way out and not the way back when they’d been carrying a wardroid. That would have made for a very different article. The one they got was not ideal, but better than it could have been. “Well, that’s not so bad. Liberty? How is the crowd outside?”
The lights dipped and a woman’s voice sounded from the speakers. “I’d recommend staying inside today, sugar. A bunch of them swarmed in a few minutes after Nighteye came through.” She had an accent Inko couldn’t quite place beyond ‘somewhere specific in America.’ She also seemed to have tons more personality than the other Earth AI she’d encountered heretofore. “There was a crowd brewing at UA too right up until this news broke. Now they’re all headed over here. Principal Nedzu has left a message asking you to let Eraserhead cover your classes today. They were harassing some of the students headed in for early morning duty.”
“In that case please let him know I’ll draw the media fire this way.” Toshinori did something with the phone screen and Inko didn’t realize what until she heard his phone chirp ‘There’s no reason to fear! Why? Because a message is here!’ from the other room.
“Did you just send that to yourself?” Inko asked.
He looked a little guilty. “It’s a really good picture and I want a copy.”
“I hate to interrupt.” Liberty chimed in once more. “Miss Inko, you have some guests coming up from the garage level. I’ve routed them around the hubhub in the lobby. D5-N6 is on the white list, but it seems to have brought two additional guests. Can you confirm that T3-M1 and T3-J7 are friendlies?”
“Oh, he brought the utility droids with him!” Inko murmured to himself and then hurried to reassure the AI. “Yes, they’re quite friendly and won’t cause any trouble. They’ve probably come to see if Basil needs specialist attention.”
“That is what Mr. D5 promised me. I’ll show them in now.”
The elevator doors opened to admit D5-N6 and the two utility droids who had followed her after the Nike was decommissioned. They too had gotten new paint jobs, which was rather surprising for a utility droid since they rarely cared about their appearances and would toodle around in their factory paint job until it flaked off.
“Good morning, mum!” D5-N6 shuffled in with its arms lifted in a very unique protocol-droid gesture of enthusiasm and slightly ahead of the T3s, who booped their own more sedate greetings and added warning about the media scrum going on downstairs. “It is a pleasure to see you again too, sir. Oh, excuse me.” It drew up short at the sight of an unidentified person. The T3s scooted backwards and behind it. “Please forgive my interruption. I am D5-N6, human-cyborg relations, and these are my companions, T3-M1 and T3-J7. May I know your name?”
Nighteye looked at the droids and then looked at Toshinori. “What are you doing?” He asked over D5’s little huff of ‘My! How rude!’
“Come with me and I’ll get you introduced to Basil.” Inko beckoned them over.
“Of course.” D5 answered in Japanese and then switched to Basic. “I am really this close to losing my patience with these natives. How they are able to deny basic courtesy to someone they can clearly have a conversation with is beyond me!”
“They are still a little backwards.” She agreed in the same language and tapped on Izuku’s door. “Sweetheart, there’s some visitors here for Basil. May we come in?”
“Yes!” Izuku sounded a little squished and when she opened the door she found out why. Basil had him penned under the loft and was half-wrapped around him like a protective bulldozer. It must have been able to hear the tension in Toshinori’s voice. “It got upset a few minutes ago. Oh, hello!” He waved plaintively over Basil’s back at the droids. “Sorry, I didn’t see you right away.”
“D5, M1, J7, I would like to introduce you to my son, Izuku.” Inko smiled as the T3s made an excited series of beeps and rocked on their tracks with excitement. “Izuku, these are some old friends of mine. D5-N6 was my XO aboard the Nike. T3-M1 and T3-J7 were part of our support crew.”
Basil lifted its great head and went over to examine the other droids. The T3s booped at it and it made a low series of deeper beeps and whistles in reply. The conversation was a bit fast for Inko to follow all the technical details, but she could tell the T3s had introduced themselves as friendly support droids and were asking for permission to run some diagnostics.
“There’s an empty floor two levels below this one that Toshinori has agreed to let you use.” Inko told them as D5 shuffled past her very intent on Izuku. “If you go to the back of the penthouse Miss Liberty will take you down on the freight elevator.”
To her surprise Basil followed the T3s without balking. Then again, it had gone 35 years without a tune up. It was probably looking forward to some maintenance.
“Just a diagnostic for now.” Inko called after the droids. “Wait for Toshinori before you make any other decisions, please!”
She got back a chorus of beep-boops that were the droidspeak equivalent of ‘yes, mom.’
“My goodness gracious.” D5-N6 said softly, still focused on Izuku. “He is your splitting image at that age, mum. Oh, please excuse me, Young Master Izuku. I have been serving your mother for many years now. After we settled here I did not think I would ever see another padawan of hers or, dear me, a natural child. I am both honored and pleased to meet you.”
“Me too. Mom used to tell me stories about you when I was little.” Izuku was a bit more natural with AI than the adults she’d met. For one thing he didn’t have much experience with the more limited AI of Earth. She’d raised him with the general attitude of the Republic where anything that could talk deserved courtesy until it started shooting.
“Did she? Why, I am flattered! We did have so many adventures.” D5-N6 shuffled towards her. “Mum, I think Young Master Izuku and I can keep each other occupied for the moment if you care to return to Sir Toshinori. His biometrics were showing high levels of agitation.” It told her that last part as low as it could. “I am reluctant to leave him alone with that person.”
“Thank you, I will.” She looked to Izuku. “Izu, sweetie, you’re staying home from school today. Have you met Liberty yet?”
“I introduced myself this morning and warned him he might want to stay out of sight until Sir Nighteye is gone.” The AI in question spoke from a small speaker on the desk. “I normally trust All Might to handle his own business, but… if you wouldn’t mind playing referee out there, I’d appreciate it. Those two were very good friends once, but they had a falling out and… well. You saw.”
Inko gave Izuku a smooch and left him with D5, who was already peppering him with the sort of busy-body questions droids asked when they met someone they wanted to keep. She’d have to warn Izuku later that droid affection took the form of extreme nosiness.