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Crossroads

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Izuku had been nervous as hell as he called Kacchan.  He knew that the last time he had talked to the blonde had been one terrible final argument between them.  But Hitoshi, the tiny quirked Espurr, was in his arms.  The greenette gently squeezed the pokémon, his new partner , as a source of comfort.

Hitoshi purred for him as he dialed the number.  As nervous as he was to call Kacchan, he was even more terrified to call Mom or one of his Aunties.  

But, he should at least warn one person before he shows back up home.  And he needed to go back home for Hitoshi’s sake.  Izuku didn’t have a trainer’s ID to properly link his new pokémon friend to him in case of emergencies.  So… 

His impromptu pokémon-less journey ended here, as Izuku breathed between the rings.

The line picked up with a click.

“Oi, who the hell is calling?”

Izuku tightly gripped the receiver.  “Hey, i-it’s been a while.”

“Izu…?”  Oh.

Oh.  He hadn’t heard that nickname in forever, and he was starting to tear up and cry.

Izuku took a deep breath and tried to muffle his sob.  It didn’t work.  “I’m, I’m coming home.”

“What the fuck does that even mean, nerd?  Is this a good thing?  A bad thing?  Did something happen?  Do I need to come over and fucking murder a bitch on your behalf?  Damnit, I need details, Izuku!”

What?

Kacchan… Kacchan wasn’t mad at Izuku.  The blonde was angry on behalf of Izuku?

What the hell happened while he was gone?  If the reaction wasn’t so obviously Kacchan, Izuku would’ve accused him of being an imposter.  It was just…

Such a relief.  To not have Kacchan scream at him for leaving.  Izuku really thought the blonde was going to hate him.  But he didn’t.

Hysterical laughter rose unbidden from his throat, and tears of stress fell from his eyes.  “Y-you’re not up-upset at m-me, K-Kacchan?”

The blonde scoffed into the receiver, but Izuku could hear the repressed emotions that caused Kacchan’s voice to waiver slightly.  “Why the fuck would I be, Izu?”

But… Izuku had—!  “I-I said g-goodbye, for forever!”

“Yeah, and I missed you!  And I do care.” 

Izuku couldn’t hold back his sobs this time.  He slid down the side of the telephone booth to curl up on the floor.  Hitoshi purred louder and pressed himself against Izuku in an effort to make the greenette feel better.  

His pokémon was truly the best partner Izuku could have found and gained.

“M-missed you too, Kacchan!  T-thank you!  ‘M s-sorry!”

“Why the fuck are you saying sorry?!  I should be the one apologizing, nerd!”  Izuku heard a faint sniffle on the other side of the line.

“But—!”

“No, we’re having this conversation later.  Not over the phone.  I fucked up and was a bad friend.  I’m gonna give you the best fucking apology ever, just you wait!”  

Izuku heard the sheer determination in the other’s voice, and he felt like having a mental breakdown.  But in a happy way.  

Kacchan had changed too, while Izuku had fucked off away from home and discovered himself.  Everything finally seemed, like it was going to be all okay again.  “O-okay, Kacchan!”

“Now, details.  Spill.  Why the sudden change of heart about being a feral cryptid?”

Izuku laughed again.  Kacchan snorted at his own words too, not letting himself fully laugh.

The greenette was… extremely nervous, to say the least.  So much had happened, and he still wasn’t sure how Kacchan would react.  But Kacchan wasn’t angry!  He actually wanted to apologize, so Izuku could tell him all about his adventures.

That didn’t stop Izuku from talking in a barely comprehensible nervous ramble of words.  “I, um!  W-well, I still wanna be a feral cryptid!  But, uh, I kinda maybe sort of have a pokémon partner now!

There was… a very long pause.  Either Kacchan was processing or he didn’t hear what Izuku had said.

Oh no!  Had Izuku broken Kacchan?!  That would be really bad!  Especially since it seemed like they were fast-tracking to best friend status again.

After a few more seconds, Kacchan did manage to string some words together again.  Just very slowly.  “You caught.  A pokémon?”

“Yup.”

“In a pokéball?”  Kacchan’s voice totally squeaked.  

It really did!

Izuku laughed again, definitely hysterical this time.  “Yeah!  I did!  I can use pokéballs without exploding them anymore!  Or well, I can make them only explode when I want them to now.  It's a long story.”

Kacchan made a strangled noise like an angry squeaky toy.

Izuku continued as the blonde was… probably having a mental breakdown.  “So, yeah, I have to go home to get a pokédex.  To properly register him.”

The greenette didn’t even know Kacchan could mimic keysmashes until now, but he wasn’t going to make fun of his childhood friend for it.  Izuku would’ve had the same reaction if someone had told him that he would successfully capture a partner pokémon a few months ago.

That’s why Izuku was patient, and he volunteered more information.

"You can ask about it, Kacchan.  I know I'd be dying of curiosity too."

"What kind of pokémon?  Name?  Basic info?"  Kacchan blurted out the second he was given permission.

Izuku giggled as he gave Hitoshi some proper affection in head scritches.  "In a funny and ironic turn of events, he has a quirk.  He's an Espurr, a rescue, and his name is Hitoshi.  I would kill for him."

Hitoshi was a positively adorable source of comfort as he looked up with his purple eyes at Izuku and meowed.  Izuku chuckled and made a prrb noise before Hitoshi’s purring reached jet engine levels of loud. 

Kacchan was… quiet for a long moment.  But eventually, Izuku heard the blonde laugh softly too.

"In a funny and ironic turn of events, I also got a pokémon partner.  His name is Mace, also a rescue, he's a Magikarp, and he's blue.  I would also murder for his scaly ass."

And just…

"Wow… You're so amazing, Kacchan!"

The intensely familiar words just fell out of Izuku’s mouth.  

“You’re amazing too, Izu…”  Kacchan said it with such soft fondness.  

Izuku sobbed as he was caught completely off guard at his words being reflected back at him.  Kacchan really had changed , and the greenette felt like his heart was explode.  Kacchan, with all of his tsundere tendencies, had just sincerely complimented him?!  

The teen felt like he was going to melt from sheer overwhelming sunshine-y joy.  He… let himself feel hope again.  Because it… it sounded like he had his best friend back again.  Izuku had been so damn scared that the harsh discrimanation that all of the teachers and their classmates had indoctrinated the other and driven a permanent wedge between the duo.  The arguments about Izuku trying to be a Hero instead of a Ranger certainly hadn’t helped.  

The greenette wanted to ramble and spill all of what happened during his journey to the other.  Because he finally had his Kacchan back, and he trusted the other.  He felt like he could talk all about getting adopted by a community of wild pokémon and how Lucario trained him in the ways of Aura.  Confess his worries about revealing the crackling energy he could hold in his hand to others, because it felt like he was losing his quirklessness.  He wanted help deciding on what to do , because he still wanted to identify as quirkless.  Because he still was , but Izuku wanted to use his Aura techniques and abilities freely in public.

Izuku wanted to talk about how his dream had shifted a bit, from Hero to Aura Guardian.  It was a future he could picture so vividly he could almost taste it.  Wandering around and working alongside legendary pokémon to save people and pokémon alike from various disasters.  He’d be somewhere between a Pokémon Ranger and a Hero, funnily enough, and he’d have a really cool cloak to match.

Actually, he had already had a cool cloak that reached his waist that was a repurposed and tailored version of Dragon Champion Lance’s!  Sure, the man’s Altaria had stolen it from the man and altered it to fit Izuku as a welcome gift as he was declared a member of a secret society of crime fighting bird pokémon known as the Bird Mafia, but Lance had approved after he actually met the man during said Bird Mafia shenanigans.

But… as much as Izuku wanted to talk about his entire journey, it wasn’t the type of conversation to have over the phone…

So instead…

“Yeah, thank you, Kacchan!  I… I think I finally figured that out for myself, while I was out here.”

All of the people he had met on this journey, both humans and pokémon, had done wonders for his self-esteem.  From Lucario and Lance, to Blue, to Hitoshi and Era and Tsuno.  The old lady that gave him a knife and the trio of Nurse Joy women, along with an actual Pro Hero, all thought he was amazing and destined for great things.

How could Izuku not believe them all?

Kacchan chuckled.  “Oh?  Guess that journey did wonders for you, huh?  I’m glad that you know that you’re amazing, Izu.  But you’re still a nerd.”

“Well, that’s what journeys are supposed to do, Kacchan.  Help you find yourself and become a better version of you.”

Kacchan hummed in agreement.  

A silence grew between them, and while it wasn’t awkward, Izuku still wanted to fill it.  “So… I can’t tell you about all the awesome shit I did over the phone, but I might have bitten a terrorist.  Or two.”

“What the fuck, Izuku!?”  Kacchan was laughing, and Izuku couldn’t stop grinning.

“Okay, it was actually only one, because the other guy used his Abra to rage quit before I could bite him.  But I got to participate in a full scale battle between two different factions of vicious bird pokémon.  All hail the Bird Mafia, because they led me to a group of poachers, and I got to throw hands with several people.  Kinda hard to convince yourself you’re not a badass when you’ve kicked a terrorist in the face.”

Kacchan was fucking dying of laughter on the other side of the line.  “Wait, birds!?   You became friends with the birds !  Like, those same fuckers that caw ominously in the woods behind the park!?”

Oh.

“Dear Arceus, probably !  Oh, that’s terrifying.  There’s Bird Mafia members that knew me as a little baby.  I am fear.  They probably gossip to the other groups when they do a full meet up.”

“There’s several groups!?”

“Totally.  They have several executives that are the leaders of different groups that live in different places.  I’m fairly positive the Bird Mafia is a intelligence gathering group that works with Dragon Champion Lance to wreck the shit of any human that dares to fuck with and hurt pokémon.  Or they take out the human scum themselves.” 

“Wack.”

Izuku burst into laughter that time.  “Yeah, it totally is!”

“Okay, but I’m fairly positive I sacrificed an MLA supporter to our local group.”

“Oooh!  I sacrificed an MLA goon to a group of ghosts!”

Silence rang between the two for a few tense seconds.  Like a staring contest, except over the phone.

Kacchan broke first with a strangled scream.  “Okay, you have to fucking give me the low down on all that shit when you get home.  I need the deets, Izu!  I’ll fucking die if you leave me hanging like this, nerd!  What’s your ETA on getting your ass back here?”

Izuku thought long and hard for a moment.  “I… don’t know.  I got lost on the way here, and I’m probably going to get even more lost on the way back.  Especially since I’m avoiding main routes like the plague because humans yucky.”

“Humans yucky!   Honestly… mood.”

The greenette was actually memeing with Kacchan.  This was the best day ever.

“So yeah, I have no clue, could be two week or it could be two months.  I don’t know.  My sense of direction might not actually work.”

“Alright, well, I guess there’s no helping that.  But… you better not die on the way back, nerd!”

“I won’t, Kacchan!”

“And put your pokémon on the line!”

“I… okay…?”

That was… a really strange request, but Izuku complied and gave the receiver to Hitoshi.

The Espurr meowed.

“Okay, now listen here.  You’re Izuku’s partner now, and I’m trusting you to get his reckless ass back here.  We live in Musutafu.  If you get really lost, ask the local pokémon for the direction of the Pokémon League or the Indigo Plateau.  Once you reach that area, our city is directly south of there.  If any humans harass Izuku, because they’re all complete assholes that are the scum of the Earth, hiss and growl and get them to back off.  Izuku probably still has issues sticking up for himself, so bite or telekinetically yeet any person that wants to harm him.  You got all that?  Meow once for no and twice for yes.”

To Izuku’s sputtering shock, Hitoshi nodded with determination as Kacchan essentially gave him marching orders.  “Meow.  Meow.”

“Good kitty!  Could ya hand the phone back to Izuku?”

“Mrrwp.”  Hitoshi handed the receiver back to Izuku with a shit eating fucking grin.  He was the most adorable snarky little shit Izuku had ever seen.  

Izuku couldn’t even find a reason to protest the two ganging up on him for his bad tendencies.  Still didn’t feel fair though.  At least the pair were getting along.  “I’m being called out, and I don’t like it.”

Both of them snickered at him.  

“So… should I tell the folks you’re headed home?”

Izuku hesitated with the answer.  “I… Is it bad that I want it to be a surprise?  I don’t want them to worry about me any more than they already are.  And I know that the anticipation will lead to anxiety, at least with Mom.  I just want to show up without worrying about expectations.”

“Yeah, I can keep this a secret, nerd.”

“Thank you.”

Silence reigned between again, tense because this was…

“This isn’t goodbye, Kacchan!  It isn’t!  Not… not this time.  This is just a… see you soon.”

“Yeah… I’ll see you soon, Izuku.  Next time.”

Neither of them had the courage to hang up.

Kacchan took a shuddering breath.  “Can that… can that be a thing?  Always just a… see you next time?”

Izuku nodded, tears in his eyes.  “Yeah… I… I’ll see you next time, Kacchan!”

“S-see you next time, nerd.”  

The phone clicked.  Not on a goodbye.

But on a “next time”.

Izuku pulled himself together after that incredibly emotional phone call, and Hitoshi gently batted at his chest and mrowed at him in concern.

“Yeah, I’m alright.  I just… miss him all the more.”

The greenette kissed Hitoshi on the top of the head, and he curled up around the Espurr in his arms.  The purrs from his tiny purple friend cheered him up after just a few seconds.

Izuku laughed wetly, and he stood up and collected himself.  He cradled Hitoshi closer, and he started walking.  Out of the phone booth and onto the streets, he put one foot in front of the other.  

The pair soon stood on a hill overlooking Lavender Town, just on the outskirts where everything faded into wilderness.  This wasn’t goodbye.

On a silly whim, Izuku waved to the town.

“See you next time, Lavender Town.”

Hitoshi waved too.  The pokémon might not have liked the place, but he would miss some of the people there.  

“Guess it’s time for our first adventure, even if it’s just going home.”

The Espurr hummed, and Izuku hummed back.

The connection of their minds clicked into place, familiar and practiced and comforting.

[Yeah, but we’ll have so many more together.  And so many more “see you next time”s!  Right, Izuku?]

Izuku laughed, indescribably fond of his partner.  The pokémon that had decided to stay.  The one that had asked and begged to be Izuku’s partner, despite knowing the danger Izuku would chase in the future.  

“Yeah, we definitely will!  This is just the beginning and the end of our very first journey together!”

Hitoshi purred in delight, and Izuku held the Espurr close as he took their first steps as a team.

Izuku was looking forward to this adventure!