Neito doesn't know who his parents were. Neito knows who his grandfather is.
Neito will never be like him.
He grows up in an orphanage for the first few years of his life. The caretakers are nice if overworked, and provide him with gently-used toys and clothes, make sure he and the other children don’t harm each other.
At five, he throws a tantrum, angry because it wasn’t his turn to clean the playroom, he’d done it yesterday and Maki was being lazy , and when the youngest caretaker drags him to the corner for timeout, she grabs him by the arm. He’s so angry, wants to do something , and then suddenly his skin is erupting into spikes, piercing skin and making her shriek.
Her own arms erupt in return.
Two years later, a man appears at the orphanage and says he’s looking for his nephew. That he should be blond with grey or green eyes, and if he had a Quirk yet, be able to mimic something. The caretakers are dubious at first, eyeing this newcomer with suspicion, because this is new, this is something they’ve not dealt with. Most here don’t have any family left to collect them, nor ones that look well-acquainted with deep coffers.
Neito, hiding round the corner with two other children, looks between his friends and feels that he shouldn’t, either. The only thing he knows about his family is that they don’t exist in the eyes of the registry.
So who was this man?
Eventually, inexplicably, suspiciously , the head matron calls him into her office, giving him a smile that seems a touch absent. The man from the door is sitting in a chair in front of her desk, and when Neito enters the room, his eyes zero in on him. It makes him want to cower away, hide under his bed, but he can’t do that. He won’t do that. He’s better than that. So he stands tall and clambers into the chair beside the man after politely bowing to him.
He doesn’t think he imagines the man’s smile widening a little.
This is your uncle Daichi, the matron says, and he’s going to be taking care of you now. Neito doesn’t react for a moment, because there’s so much in that sentence that he doesn’t know how to.
I don't have any family, he says. You found me outside the orphanage, he says. Weren't there steps to this? He continues, parroting what other children have told him, Checks, home searches, supervised meetings-
This is your uncle Daichi, the matron interrupts, and he's going to be taking care of you now.
Neito leaves the orphanage with the clothes on his back and a bag full of what little he could call his own. He climbs into an old, if gently used, car, and watches the orphanage shrink behind them.
Daichi-san, he says.
Oji-san, the man corrects. Neito doesn't speak up again.
The apartment he's taken to isn't big. It's fairly normal, in fact; two stories, overlooking what may be a bar or a shop, and a decently-maintained front. He stares at it all with nothing less than suspicion. A black man greets them at the door, skin matte and light seemingly being sucked into it. Neito shrinks back from him, for all that he is polite and doesn't touch the boy.
I'm not your uncle, the man says as they step inside, and really , Neito would have never thought-
I'm your great-grandfather, he continues, and. Oh.
That's not possible.
Daichi-san smiles at him patiently, and says that it very much is.
A Quirk to take others. A Quirk to mimic others.
Neito hadn't been interested in heroes or villains before this, knew at best that All Might was most popular and fights between the two usually caused property damage.
Neito's interested in them now.
He's taken shopping not long after his... adoption. Kurogiri-san is the one to take him, and he avoids the sections Neito used to go to when the orphanage went shopping. Suddenly Neito's surrounded by formal clothing, the sort he saw on adults or rich kids or private school students, the sort he saw the people on the news wear.
Kurogiri-san says he can choose what he wants, so long as it isn't too mismatched. Neito takes this and runs with it. If they're going to trap him in their plans, the least they can do is give him cool stuff.
He leaves in a small button-up and slacks, and feels at least five times better than he did coming in. The high lasts as long as it takes them to go back to the apartment.
He gains a family name to go with his first, different from what the caretakers had given him.
Monoma . “Among things”, or maybe “Mimicry” if you were getting creative.
Neito doesn’t see it as very creative. Then again, coming from people named “Black Mist” and “Great Wisdom”, maybe he shouldn’t have expected much.
There's an older boy often at the bar and apartment. He's pale and quiet, always dressed in dark clothes, and looks at Neito like he's a small animal he wants to chase. He comes and goes with Daichi-san , always with a hand clamped on his shoulder, restraining. Neito is introduced to him and told his name is Tomura, and that he is an older brother, of sorts.
Neito trusts him as much as he does anyone in this place, and keeps his distance. It’s tense and silent whenever he’s left with the albino. He can’t puzzle out just what a supervillain would want with all these kids.
And there are many. Most older than him, thin teens who look twitchy and angry, whom he’s told to follow around sometimes. He’ll follow them through homeless shelters, back alleys, past hospitals where people trot in and out wearily. Some will talk. Rant, really, about unfairness and pain and Daichi-san saving them, somehow, about how he needs to help them.
He never responds, tells them that he’d rather get back to his own life, to the orphanage. They never notice his silence.
He doesn’t go to school anymore. Doesn’t talk to kids his own age, play with others, learn from teachers. Instead, what he does is read. Read, fill out worksheets that reappear marked, do essays on laws that barely have any meaning to him. Helps Kurogiri-san out with his bar, polishing glasses and learning what to say to people who are upset with you, what colour goes with which cut, what vein makes a man bleed out quickest.
It’s a haphazard education. It’s barely one at all. It’s a cage at points, his only interaction with Daichi-san or Kurogiri-san or Tomura, the customers that come in or the employees at random stores.
Thankfully, blessedly, they don’t stop him from going on the computer. He goes on forums, social media sites and while he can’t say anything specific, knows mentioning his situation would be a death knell, he can bask in the fact there are people out there who look at him . Not his Quirk, Daichi-san, or his usefulness.
He finally looks up All for One. There are vines of ice round his spine for hours afterwards.
At ten, Daichi-san disappears for half a year, All Might for half that time, and there’s news of a huge battle in Tokyo with Toxic Chainsaw, a brief respite for recovery.
Kurogiri is tense, silent most the time. Tomura is infuriated, disintegrating the television the one time All Might’s face appears. Daichi-san-
There is nothing from Daichi-san. Not a word, message, peep. Neito, for all that he-
-resents, fears, wants to forget the man-
Is terrified. Even when he resurfaces half a year later, hiding behind a laptop screen. Even when he consoles a shivering, nervous Neito, standing next to an ecstatic Tomura.
The board’s shifted. He doesn’t know what’ll happen now.
Things settle. He doesn’t know his place still, know what’ll happen with Daichi-san- injured, crippled, dying?- and his ambitions, vague as they are, left up to Kurogiri and Tomura. He doesn’t know what’s expected of him.
It’s fine. It’s alright. He’s perfectly okay with staying in his bubble, greeting patrons with a bland smile and friends with a sharp tongue.
What piece is he what will they do what does he want what does he want -
He asks one day, at fourteen and after a long stretch of serving people who appear on the wrong side of broken, just why Daichi-san took him from the orphanage. What they plan to do now, now that he needs to hide behind screens, now that Tomura is steadily declining more and more. Kurogiri doesn’t correct him when he uses the name.
You are meant to help him, he says after a long pause. Tomura is going to be under his wing, learning how to lead his followers, steadfast in his beliefs, and you -.
I’m what , Neito asks, angry, nearly slamming the glass down but not because he was taught a gentleman didn’t lash out. Kurogiri looks at him with foggy eyes.
You are meant to be their ear in the system, he finally finishes. The one to tell who is weak, what is planned. To give Tomura an upper hand. Neito stares at him.
They want him to be a hero.
They want him to be a villain.
If they want a hero, someone cunning enough to fool, who is he to disappoint them? Neito smiles to himself as he sits in his room, sketching out hero costumes, names, ideas. It’s- it’s direction, focus, something he can do. It’s not killing or stealing or, or building monstrosities like those that have been appearing in the basement, teens-now-adults disappearing at the same rate.
It’s a chance to set himself apart from them all, declare that they can’t claim ownership to all of him.
He’ll take it.