Izuku comes home smelling of rotten eggs with red eyes and a quiet demeanor. Inko doesn’t think anything of it, because his friend from class apparently just had his Quirk develop, and there’s… a myriad of explanations in that simple fact. The explosions inherent in Katsuki-chan’s Quirk, the fact Izuku doesn’t have one. So she isn’t surprised when he comes home quiet and smelling. She isn’t suspicious.
But then it happens again. And again.
And then the bruises appear.
And he stops talking about his friends.
About everything, really.
It’s when his grades begin to drop that her worry dives down into full-blown panic, and she calls Hisashi over the phone, using her break to babble out everything that’s been happening.
He’s on the first plane to Tokyo when she says she’s scared she won’t be able to handle whatever’s going on by herself.
Hisashi’s hair has more grey in it than the last time she saw him and the wrinkles around his eyes are more pronounced, but he still smiles at her like she hung the stars, wraps his arms around her and engulfs her in warmth. Inko kisses his cheeks between giggles as he rubs his hands along her sides.
There’s a sound of scuffling in the hallway before a sudden squeal, and they part in time for Izuku to dive at his father, caught just in time to be swung around. Hisashi grins and perches him on his hip, gets him laughing in minutes. Inko smiles at the two of them and lets herself fade into the background as Izuku babbles. Things would be alright.
The moment Izuku’s bedroom door closes that night, the smile on Hisashi’s face drops along with the temperature in the room. Inko had been expecting this of course, and isn’t as immediately alarmed as she would be. Instead, she’s weary as she starts the kettle and sets out two cups of tea. It’s going to be a long night, after all.
“He’s getting bullied, not that that’s what he called it,” Is the first thing Hisashi says as he dumps a good pile of sugar into his cup, “Tried to write it off when I pushed, of course, because he didn’t want me worrying.”
Her stomach swoops, for all that she had known it was likely. She’d hoped… but no, of course not. Izuku’s life would never be that easy. Inko sighs and takes her own seat, blowing on her cup.
"Quirkless, Inko. It isn't a curse or some damnation, you can say it." She flinches before recovering, because he's right. Her hesitancy towards approaching the issue probably hasn't helped any of this.
"Quirkless. They're bullying him because of that? The principal said the teachers would handle it as, as best they could."
Hisashi sips at his tea, not answering for a moment. "How did they phrase it?"
"She said-" She pauses herself, stomach sinking. "She said the teachers had worked with Quirkless students before and knew what to do."
"So nothing about actually stopping bullying and making sure he doesn't see himself as suddenly less than his classmates." He sighed, leaning his chair onto its back legs as he stared at the ceiling. "Fuck. You'd think people would remember that not even two centuries ago everyone was Quirkless."
They digest that new revelation in silence, fan whirring in the background.
"What do we do?"
Hisashi purses his lips before lighting up, grinning at her.
"Why doesn't The Firebrand pay them a visit and see if there are any Support hopefuls?"
The school is decent, a newer one meant for middle- and lower-class families in the area to send their children for years one to nine. The two of then had picked it for its record and proximity to the apartment, close enough that Izuku would be able to walk home if he ever needed to in his older years.
Hisashi looks at it and resists the urge to sneer. Instead he adjusts the wire snaking down to a recorder under his suit.
The principal is next to him babbling on, and he hums and says something every once in a while with enough scientific and political bullshit in it to make her smile and nod fervently in clueless agreement. She doesn't know his civilian name, and Izuku doesn't know he's here. It's the perfect opportunity for him to see what's going on without them censoring the issue.
They walk around the school, peek into the computer and chemistry labs to watch students as at work. The principal will point out students showing promise and he actually makes note of their names, if only so he can give them to the scouters for later. Most don't know who he is and curiously watch the adults fall over themselves to talk to him, while some stare in slack-jawed disbelief. He watches one smack their friend and grab their Quirk biology textbook, flipping to the back. He leaves that classroom before the realisation can spread.
Finally, though the principal wants to write off the younger years as pointless to visit, they head to the primary section of the school. The classes are out for recess right now, and they watch through the windows as the children play. Some already show promise academically according to the principal. Privately, Hisashi wonders if she expects children to stay static for the whole of their life and not change at all.
From here, he can see one class in particular, the teacher he’d met three months ago standing off to the side. From here, he can see Izuku by a tree, reading a book. He can see a group of children quickly surround him, hear the yelling, see the book go flying as they start playing keep away.
He sees the teacher glance at it then away, shaking his head before going over and gently separating the children, ushering Izuku away to the door. The group that’d been harassing him isn’t so much as looked at afterwards.
“That group over by the tree- your teacher’s not punishing them.” Your teacher’s proving himself to be a failure of a human being. “You condone bullying here?”
The principal quivers before sighing exaggeratedly, shaking her head. “That group, I swear; it’s an ongoing problem, but something we expect, unfortunately. The boy Haru-sensei sent away is, well. His family discovered he’s one of those types , who’ll never develop a Quirk. A little bullying is the least he’ll have to deal with.”
“So you decided it’d be best for it to continue, so he’d get used to it?”
Her first mistake is nodding, expression oh so earnest . Her second is continuing to speak. “It’s in his own interests that he develops a thick skin- our previous Quirkless students all did. And frankly, it’s not worth it for the teachers to intervene when it’ll continue regardless. They should be devoting their time to encouraging the students who will, well, amount to anything. I’m sure you understand, being who you are. You must know better than most how it’s going for the Quirkless.”
He hears steps down the hall, remembers suddenly the restrooms they’d passed on their way. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see a small, green head, downturned as he trots down the hall.
Hisashi smiles. The principal freezes.
“I hope you’re alright repeating that to my lawyers, ma’am. They’ll certainly be interested once I tell them you’ve been essentially encouraging discrimination and harassment at your school.” She sputters, starts gaining an angry look, but the last damning piece falls into place before she can protest much. Izuku had finally looked up.
She pales to a sickly, horrified white. Hisashi ignores her to lean to the side, beaming at Izuku.
Inko is the one to take over at this point. Especially after Hisashi admits to coughing up smoke while talking to Izuku.
The school is in a panic trying to justify its actions and backtrack when she files a formal complaint, even saying at a point that the two of them are lying , but it’s quite easy to pull out the recordings Hisashi had made. It’s easy to pull eyewitness testimony, parental concerns, confessions from terrified teachers who looked at their polite expressions and realised the danger they were in.
They dug their hole long ago, and they’re only now realising the walls surround them and not their victims. She’s all too happy to close it back up on top of them.
So they lodge a formal complaint with the school, and then, when they deny any wrongdoing and then try to place the blame on them for Izuku- turning out like this, not being “thick-skinned”, they go up to the school district.
The education director says the principal was well within reason with how she handled the situation, and insinuates that it doesn’t matter since Quirkless people are a “dying breed”.
Hisashi lights the man’s desk on fire when he says that. She stops him from turning that fire onto the director himself next, and they both pull Izuku out of school as soon as humanly possible. Until they find a school they’re satisfied with, it looks like they’ll be homeschooling him.
From there, it’s… a division. She can’t take on the case herself since she’s emotionally compromised, so she passes it off to Shun-kun, who’s been following the situation with a disapproving eye. He’s all too eager to take over, having listened to her retellings of what had been going on. She watches him drip ink onto his desk and feels a small smidgeon of guilt for the board of education before remembering Izuku's face as he flinched away from the antibacterial spray.
No, they didn't deserve any pity.
But there's another issue tied up in all this, complicating it. While the school had never stopped the bullying, damn near encouraged it, they weren't the ones doing it, and weren’t likely to finally intervene despite the new threat. So they need to approach the parents of the children, who likely had no idea what their kids were doing, or worse, knew and didn't care.
She isn't looking forward to this.
Izuku bursts into tears when they ask him and don't let up about the bullying and Katsuki-kun and his teachers. It's a sudden thing that bursts into full-out sobs, different from his usual teary-but-still-coherent weeping.
Inko hugs him close and says he's the best son they could have, Quirk or not, and Hisashi says he'll show him the ways to be the best hero, better than All Might, all without a Quirk.
They stitch back together and heal some. It’s the first step in a long process.
Hisashi hums under his breath and crosses another address off their list, waving at Tsubasa-kun's parents. The boy likely hates them and Izuku now, more so than whatever middling derision he had before, but he'd never be able to act on it. His parents would make sure of that.
"It's amazing how many people don't pay attention to their children," He says idly. Next to him, Inko sighs and shakes her head, signalling for Wang-san to start driving.
"They don't expect their children to be relentlessly bullying another. What's more, with the excuses they've given today, it sounds like they're being lead by another child more than... taking any sort of initiative."
Hisashi makes a derisive noise, glancing down the list at the name they'd heard multiple times today and before, during playdates, dinners, car rides.
"We'll have to see just how Katsuki-kun is, eh?"
The Bakugous live fairly close to them, only a few blocks away; it's half the reason they saved them for last. The other half is that it's likely this will take the longest.
They both knew about Katsuki's newly discovered Quirk and how proud he was of having it. Izuku had certainly talked about it enough for them to at know. But they don't know how the boy's family is, how he acted outside a few playdates, anything that could help them understand... well, the apparent 180 in his treatment of Izuku.
Personally, Inko thinks it's likely the school at fault; they praised him enough during their backtracking that it's obvious they place him on a pedestal for his supposedly strong Quirk. Take that, the dismissal of Izuku, and add in the understanding of children, and you got derision, isolation, and assumptions.
Just another thing to add to the schools' faults.
So they knock on the Bakugous' door and expect a slog, explaining painstakingly that No, your child is not some tiny angel, and he’s been tormenting ours .
A woman the carbon copy of him opens the door, look them up and down, and purse her lips like she’s tasted something unpleasant.
"You're the guys from the school wanting to talk about Katsuki's behaviour, right? Come in, I want to get this over with."
They trade looks. This isn't going to be pleasant.
Inko leads, keeping one hand on Hisashi's shoulder. The inside of the house is clean with smatterings of personality, toys and magazines scattered here and there. What must be the husband of the family is sitting at the dining table, sipping tea with a decidedly... resigned expression. Inko has the feeling he doesn't have much say in the situation. When he sees them, he nods in greeting, though his eyes stop on Hisashi and widen slightly. He knows his reputation, then.
What's different than some of the other families is that Katsuki-kun is there, eating at the table; it's a difference to the families who insisted on their children being out of the room, either so they couldn't interrupt or couldn't get upset. He blinks when he sees them, expression going blank.
"This is likely something you don't want your son being present for, Bakugou-san-"
"Nonsense. If it's about Katsuki, then he can listen. It's not like the brat won't know any of it anyways." They trade another look. The husband gives a small, soundless sigh and shakes his head slightly, enough for Inko to notice. They're not going to win this one, apparently.
"I know he's got an attitude problem, so if that's all you're here to talk about, you may as well leave." Bakugou-san glares and plants a fist in Katsuki-kun's hair, gaining a shout and a few swears."The brat doesn't listen when I try to set him straight, but what can you do?"
Inko clears her throat and takes a seat at the table. There's a moment where she's contemplating how to phrase this, because it's important to make sure it suits who she's speaking to, before she gives up and goes blunt.
"Your son has been the ringleader of the bullying and harassment my own has faced, which is to the point that he doesn't talk anymore and has gone from top student to middling at best. It's obvious it is Katsuki-kun leading it as well, as all their classmates have corroborated the fact, and Izuku frequently comes home with handprints burnt into his skin."
"Izuku-kun, right?" Ah, so Katsuki did talk about him. Inko opens her mouth to respond, but Bakugou-san continues before she can. "Honestly, I don't know what else you expect with that kid. You found out he's Quirkless a year ago, didn't you?"
You could have heard a pen drop in the following silence. Hisashi stirs in the cold spot behind her.
" And , the kid's not going to get much out of life anyways. He's at the bottom of society, he's going to get kicked around no matter what. He may as well get used to it now. He's a good kid with a good head, but that's not going to be much help soon enough."
Another pregnant pause. The husband- their names had been on the sheet, wasn't it Masaru?- slowly pales as he watches them all, and she knows it's no coincidence his eyes frequently flit back to Hisashi.
"Mitsuki, don't you think that's going a bit far? Izuku-kun is a, a bright boy-"
"A bright boy who'll probably end up working in a convenience store because no one wants to be near a Dead End. I'm not surprised he's getting bullied- though really Katsuki, did you need to fucking start it when he's your friend- "
"Ma'am," Hisashi's voice is perfectly pleasant, a contrast to Inko who's starting to make things float after that- that disgrace of an name- "You may wish to stop speaking for your own good."
" Excuse me? "
"Mitsuki, he's one of the most prolific researchers into Quirks and genetics in Asia." Masaru sounds pained, has a hand over his face as he sighs. "And is Izuku-kun's father ."
"So he should know-"
"That Quirkless people being cesspools for genetic deformities and sickly children is completely wrong and based on superstition? Why yes, I do. But if you'd like to keep operating on baseless information so you can continue to be a disgrace of a human, please continue."
Mitsuki-san finally falls silent, looking appalled. Inko can feel puffs of smoke hitting the back of her head, sees Katsuki-kun sinking into his seat with a scared expression and carefully, deliberately sets down what she's picked up with her Quirk. She stands, backing Hisashi up and disrupting the convection he had going. Looks at the Bakugous with as polite an expression she can muster, which isn’t much going by Masaru-san’s flinch and Mitsuki-san’s narrowing eyes.
"It's obvious that our views are too different to reach a satisfying conclusion, Bakugou-san. At the very least, take this as a warning that unless you want to be pulled into trouble down the road and possibly your own discrimination suit, Katsuki-kun needs to shape up his behaviour, and quickly." She pauses, before adding, acidic yet sugary sweet, “I’d suggest the same for yourself, but I’ve the feeling it’s not worth the effort someone would waste keeping you in line.”
They leave as quickly as possible after that. Wang-san wordlessly hands Hisashi a pack of ice when he pulls up to the house, and he goes through the whole thing in ten minutes popping piece after piece into his mouth.
Inko spends the ride with her mind in a cloud of static.
The thing about this sort of battle is: it's well-worn, dug into humanity through millennia of oppression of those who didn't fit the current societal mold. It's tiring, slow, and any results still aren't enough for those currently fighting.
The thing about this sort of battle is: If it's noticed by certain eyes, it detonates.
They're halfway to a meeting, Shun-san compiling sheets and notes on past students and bullying noted by parents as well as what seems like an inordinate amount of interviews, when Lin from Testing and Analysis texts Hisashi, yelling at him to turn on the radio to Put Your Hands Up! .
" ...It's just DIS-GUS-TING , you know? Here's a kid who already has to be struggling, parents who are doubtlessly trying to support him, and the system responds by spitting in their faces and letting him get stomped on! Just who the hell do they think they are? "
Inko leans back shakily. Hisashi himself can't stop staring at the radio.
"Is that Present Mic? Am I hallucinating?" He hears a sigh and glances over at Shun-san, hunched over his papers with a pained grimace. Inko does too and pauses, leaning forward to peer at him in the front seat.
"Look, you've met Fermi, you know he rants to his coworkers-"
"Do you usually share case details with your friends?”
"When it's related to my employer dealing with degenerates misusing the system against her, yes."
Hisashi snorts. Inko puts her head in her hands and whines.
"And now our case is being broadcast to all of Japan . Oh gods."
He rubs her back sympathetically, but gives Shun-san an approving nod while she's not looking. "Look at it this way, sweetie, at least he’s condemning it. And it can only be good publicity, what with his popularity.”
She doesn't look like she believes him. That’s alright. The effects will show soon enough.
Present Mic isn’t the last hero to speak up.
Inko wakes up to news reports of Musutafu’s “Legacy of Discrimination”- which isn’t very far off if one considered those outside the Quirkless and pre-Quirk history- and impromptu interviews with low-level heroes.
Then she goes into the office to messages of well-wishes, people saying she’s fighting too hard, parents giving their own accounts. Hwan-chan saves those, deletes others, and orders flowers for the rest, thank you cards tucked inside. Inko saves some of the messages left and sits in her office, staring at the cases she has to review.
She checks her phone’s news app for lack of anything better to do, sees All Might’s face above the words “HEROES SPEAK UP ABOUT QUIRKS AND QUIRKLESSNESS”, and exits out the app.
She doesn’t get any work done that day.
That night, Hisashi is pacing when Inko comes home. It’s a nervous tic of his, established after the last times he both set the apartment on fire and used all the ingredients in the pantry. Baking was all well and good until it emptied their bank account, so… Pacing it was.
“ All Might ,” Is all he says when she closes the door, leaning back against it. She glares at him, shaking her head vigorously.
“Not one word. I want to pretend none of this has happened for at least tonight.” He snorts at that, glancing at Izuku who’s working on his kanji at the table. He doesn’t watch the news. Thank god he doesn’t. Hisashi doubts he would have taken his hero essentially calling him handicapped well, and damn him for doing that, because clearly he’d never been in the position they were, with a Quirk like that-
He breathes in and out, steam curling from his nose. Right. The apartment is supposed to be their haven away from all this. Clapping his hands, he spins to the stove, slipping a grin onto his face.
“Who wants katsudon?”
“Oh, I do!!”
They fill the home with the smell of cooking and giggles the rest of the night. It eases the lines around their eyes and slump to Izuku’s shoulders.
The trial is done over multiple days, weeks thanks to all the evidence and witnesses to present and press attention. It’s not simply about Izuku, after all; it’s the students whose actions were ignored, previous alumni punished for something they couldn’t control, teachers who stood by and watched. This trial determines just how much of the educational system of Musutafu is overhauled, and the result will have echoes throughout Japan.
That of course doesn’t mean Inko won’t make sure she gets her pound of meat. No one lets this happen to her son and gets away with it.
So she puts Shun-kun up as their lawyer, and sits quietly with Hisashi and Izuku as he absolutely eviscerates the principal sitting in the chair. He pulls out records of “problem students” who were in actuality those who fought back against bullying, records of injuries that became worse and worse the older the student, interviews between anonymous parents who reported teachers encouraging bullying that, in more cases than not, lead to bloody ends by the students’ or victims’ hands.
The principal tries to sputter out excuses whenever given a chance to speak. Shun-kun gives her flat stares that shut her up most times and let the lawyer poke numerous holes in her logic without interruption. His cool demeanor compared to the director's sweaty nervousness is enough performance for the court to murmur in unease, because here was the one deciding their children’s futures sweating like a pig, terrified despite supposedly being innocent.
Inko’s smiling at the end of the first day, running a hand through Izuku’s hair as he listens to Shun-kun explain court procedure.
There are paparazzi hounding them at every opportunity, because of course there are. Most know who Inko is, based in the city, while few recognise him thanks to his face rarely showing up alongside his work. He’s guiltily grateful, since it means there’s more accusations of bias- poor Shun-san- than there are of human experimentation.
He’s well-aware of how people see his hyperfocus on the development of Quirks. Useful it may be in classes and hospitals, it comes off as unnerving, disturbing. To them, “turning” his son Quirkless would just be one step away for him.
Of course, the paparazzi hounding them still means invasive questions, prodding, having to coordinate how they travelled so Izuku wasn’t too bothered. Paparazzi still means walking out of the hotel where Li is staying and having people swarming him asking what he thought of all the heroes speaking up about the situation.
Hisashi blinks at the cameras flashing in his face and has the feeling that the buzzing in his pocket is one of his coworkers. Or Li. Poor Li.
“Well, most of them are inoffensive. I’m happy for the ones getting a bit crasser, since it means I don’t have to.” He smiles at the scattered laughter, keeping it fixed on his face as he continues. “Though to be honest, some of them are full of shit. Like All Might. Insinuating he was handicapped like this- give me a fucking break. As his father, I can say that’s wrong just with how determined Izukkun is. As a person… there’s more to you than a Quirk, which is something I think All Might has forgotten.”
He whistles as he shoulders through the stunned reporters, ducking into the waiting car. Li stares at him with despair in the rear-view mirror.
“What did you say.”
Hisashi smiles innocently at him. Li whimpers and starts the car engine, turning the radio volume all the way up. It’s fine by him; the classic rock blaring out drowns out any lasting anger as he sits back and watches the buildings pass.
Inko makes him sleep on the couch for a week after she hears the stunt he pulled- and literally, since the cameras the paps were holding had recorded everything. Izuku watches them with uneasiness in his eyes, constantly shuffling and looking as though he wants to speak. Inko finally asks him to talk, say whatever it is he wants to say, and he mumbles at first, shrinking further into his chair when they make him speak up.
“I keep causin’ trouble for you an’ Papa. You had to pull me outta school and then go to everyone’s parents an’ deal with law stuff and now you’re fighting. I-” His lip wobbles and oh no they were going to get the full waterworks, “I’m sorry for making you fight and making you two sad an’ unhappy-”
“Oh darling, Izuku, no, no, don’t think that.” She kneels down, taking his hands in hers and smiling at him. “It’s not you, or dealing with this. Your papa’s just an idiot sometimes, and it’s making me a bit mad right now.” Hisashi makes a wounded noise and places a hand exaggeratedly over his heart, pouting at her. She places her hands on her hips and glares back, puffing out her cheeks. It gets Izuku to giggle, covering his mouth, and they both relax a little in relief. Mission success.
“You promise I’m not making you sad and stressed?” She turns back to Izuku, letting her face soften again as she pulls him close for a hug.
“I promise, sweetie. We just want you to be happy and safe.”
“Some of our Quirkless have gone on to be perfectly successful, or live perfectly happy lives-”
“Perfectly happy in that they’re not severely disabled or dead, sure, but that doesn’t mean that they’re living their fullest thanks to the foundation your schools have set.” Shun cocks his head, frowning severely at the director. “Not even mentioning that exceptions to the trend do not completely change it. If ‘some’ children in a group weren’t killed in an earthquake and the rest were crushed or put in the hospital, would you still say their situation overall was completely fine?”
There are mutliple breaths sucked between teeth in the room. Shun doesn’t let up, backtrack. Only keeps his severe glare as the director baulks.
He doesn’t have an answer to the question.
The lashback to him speaking on camera is…substantial. People don’t want to believe what their idol said was wrong, or that someone who insulted him may be right. They’re likely lucky their address isn’t known, with how some people online are. Hisashi writes those sort off though; they’ve been there since they started this, and they aren’t about to disappear. Instead, he focuses on the ones agreeing, picking apart All Might’s words, his own. People are finally connecting him to his work, and a good many are wondering whose words hold up more: a man who’s dedicated his life to picking apart the controversy, or the hero who’s protected them for decades.
It’s a fight between logic and heart, in his eyes. He wonders which one will win out for the public.
Inko doesn’t push for any of them to testify- refuses to, because this should be their choice, to air themselves out to the world. Some won’t want to, settled in their lives and living under the radar, friends and coworkers not knowing their “shame”.
Inko is stunned when almost every person she contacts agrees, pushes for it.
One, a recently graduated student with blue hair and a nervous face explains it to her as they fiddle with their hair, trying to tidy it up for the upcoming meeting.
“It’s, I dunno- we can speak out, so we’re gonna, you know? Like, I feel terrified about doing it and I don’t wanna stand up in front of all those people, but if it helps kids like us and Izuku-kun, I want to.” Fuwakuma-kun smiles weakly at her, shrugging.
They may only be a decade younger than her, but she feels her heart melt. They don’t mind when she hugs them, and the ensuing meeting between witnesses is far more relaxed.
“It’s- we were ignored, right? It didn’t matter if we were having people throw our bags into the lake, or getting our gym clothes destroyed- t’be honest, I think they wouldn’t have done anything unless we were hospitalized. Or at least, that was the sort of attitude they gave off.” Fuwakuma-kun doesn’t look up from the pew, grimacing at their lap. “It’s- we, we were on our own. And it was like a, a chokehold.”
Shun-san’s expression doesn’t break from professional passiveness, but Hisashi can see the ink under his gloves turning a burnt red, flowing faster. How he can keep calm, he doesn’t know. He barely manages on good days.
The witness interviews go much in the same vein, students talking about being ignored and left to suffer. It’s the parent interviews that get him most, though, hit him where it hurts, because- they’re not there because their child doesn’t want to testify.
“She was- such a sweet girl. Loved talking and singing and would go to the archery range with her father every other weekend. When we found out she was Quirkless, we didn’t care. It was still her.” The man on the stand doesn’t look younger than fifty, hair grey and stress lines making him years older. He looks down at his hands, avoiding the eyes of the judges and lawyers. “The school didn’t see it that way, I guess.
“She’d come home talking about her friends being mean, her books being ruined. We’d have to buy her new supplies just about every week once she hit seven. After that, she stopped talking about friends as much. Wouldn’t want to go out or tell us how school was doing. By thirteen, she barely came out of her room and we had to sit her down and make sure she actually did her schoolwork. One day-”
He cuts himself off, has to swallow a few times. Hisashi closes his eyes, because he knows what’s coming, and it’s not going to feel any less like a pick to the heart to hear it. They left Izuku with a family friend today for a reason.
“One day we came home and didn’t think about why the house was quiet, because it’d been like that for years. When she didn’t answer the knock on her door, we weren’t worried. It was only when she didn’t come out for dinner that evening we wondered what was wrong.” His voice goes flat as he says,
“We opened her door and saw her hanging there, and we didn’t even realise what we were seeing at first. Why would we? We thought everything was going to be okay.”
She watches the officials get less and less confident during the trial, judges more and more severe. The judge already seems to know where the case will end, and she’s of the same mind; at this point with all the evidence already stacked against them, the board of education won’t be making it out of this whole. The rest of this trial is just procedure.
Public opinion isn’t quite so focused on them anymore as it is the bigger picture, what this means for their children and society. The system isn’t going to stay the same once this is all settled, which means figuring out how it should be restructured in the first place.
She’s all too happy to suggest modifications while continuing to watch Shun-kun decimate them. Nedzu-san, when he contacts her, seems very interested in the changes she proposes for general and heroics schools to prevent something like this from being needed again.
The man in front of them is blond, huge, and Hisashi wonders just how no one realises this is All Might hiding in plain sight; his bangs may be limp and his face softer but it’s so him.
He has to resist the urge to bare his teeth.
They’re on their way to the courthouse, following paths only heroes usually take for privacy; thanks to the media attention, taking civilian roads hasn’t exactly been the wisest option. Thus, it’s no surprise they end up seeing the man. That doesn’t mean he can’t curse internally as they slow to a halt after the man calls out.
“...All Might…?” The hero glances at Izuku and gives him a secretive smile, holding a finger up to his mouth. Izuku claps his hand over his mouth, nodding seriously. It’d be cute if he wasn’t so furious.
“Is there something you want?”
All Might startles, looks surprised at how abrupt he is, but he doesn’t want to bother with being nice or putting up airs right now. They’re almost finished, and they’ve both exhausted their goodwill after going through the dregs of society with this case.
“Ah, I simply wished to speak to you, Midoriya-san. After the er, impromptu interview you had, I thought-”
“I’ve got nothing to say to you, and you nothing to me.”
All Might’s smile ticks into something even more plastic and his gaze drifts from him to Inko. Hisashi has the feeling he’s measuring them up, seeing just how far he’s willing to fight this. He doubts the hero is willing to come out and bluntly say anything in front of Izuku, but he can’t be too sure. The man’s too fake onscreen for him to be sure of anything.
“...I’ve said my piece already.” He doesn’t tip his head or do anything as obvious as point at Izuku, but it’s obvious what he means anyways. “You can’t think it’s smart, do you? It’s reckless at best and dangerous at worse, asking for trouble. You’ll just end up terrified for him.”
“So? It’s what he wants. It’s something he can be, so long as he puts the effort anyone should into it.” Inko pipes up, speaking sharply. Izuku is looking between them now, and Hisashi’s heart sinks as he sees that he’s realised exactly what they’re talking about.
“All Might, you don’t think I can be a hero?” It’s practically whispered but the hero still hears it, looks down at Izuku with sympathy.
“Maybe one day, if you put all your effort into it and stick to rescue, my boy. But it’s not something you should put all your heart on, with how far ahead others will be. The world is simply built for Quirks now.”
Izuku’s face stills, crumples as he processes that- because at seven he isn’t stupid, he’s been dealing with this for three years at this point and they’ve been hearing the worst things from humanity for half of that- and he barely holds the tears back as he shuffles behind Inko, not catching sight of the guilt unfolding over All Might’s face.
How dare he.
How dare he.
Ignorance, obliviousness or well-intended condescension it doesn’t matter what’s ruling his actions because Hisashi is going to eviscerate him.
“It's not some disability or handicap, you excuse of a hero.” All Might’s head snaps to him, eyes widening. Hisashi snarls, steps forward just to see him step back. Good. “You have no idea what it's like, do you? To sit there and be told you are nothing , you'll be nothing , and you shouldn't expect anything more. You- you just fell into the lap of opportunity.”
All Might flinches like he’s been struck but the man doesn’t let up, ignores Inko’s intake of breath and grip clamping down on his elbow. What is important is Izuku, quiet, watching with eyes that are wet still. He turns back to the man after looking at that face, voice dropping and stomach still boiling.
“Let me tell you this: Izuku is brighter than any other little brat I've had the misfortune of dealing with since the beginning of this all. He's picked up my mind, and his mother's wit, and he'll be two- ten more of any of you condescending husks, I guarantee you that.”
All Might looks between the three of them, Hisashi furious, Izuku weepy, and Inko tense, and seems to finally realise he won’t win this one. Or maybe something gets through his thick skull, Hisashi can’t say. He steps away and bows, bangs sweeping towards the ground.
“My apologies, Midoriya-san. You’ve… given me much to think about.”
Hisashi fights the urge to sneer. Bows back and sweeps past him, ushering Inko and Izuku into the courthouse. Today is the most vital day of all, and they can’t afford to be more wound up than they already, after all.
It’s bad enough Izuku will be going up to the stand alone. They don’t need to add to it.
Izuku looks small in the witness’ chair.
The judges are looking at this- child, little boy that had started all this. She wonders what they think, seeing his freckled face, eyes darting this way and that. She thinks she’s proud, prouder than she’d ever been. He doesn’t need to do this, even if he’s a vital witness- it’s entirely voluntary.
The judges look at him kindly as things begin to kick into gear. Murmur to him about what he’s learning right now, how it’s like spending so much time with his parents, if he’s a fan of All Might thanks to his shirt. Izuku smiles at them and gushes as the rest of the crowd files in, lawyers settling at their respective tables and Shun going over the last of his notes. He doesn’t need to, not really, because he’s known the bones of this ever since Inko came into the office and sent the pen holder into the ceiling plaster.
The court is called into session. Inko settles in and listens.
He starts out quiet, voice not projecting much. Talks about wanting to be a hero, being friends with Katsuki and not many others, thanks to how he tends to ramble when he’s excited. Talks about finding out he didn’t have a Quirk, never would, and everyone finding out. Teasing him. Taunting. Bullying, hurting, pushing him to the outside until he had no one.
Being scared to tell his parents- them , because he thought he had already disappointed them turning out like this, thinking he couldn’t be a hero couldn’t be anything because of what his classmates and former friend said and the teachers not arguing even when it was yelled across the classroom.
His teachers telling him when he asked for help that he just needed to put up with it.
His parents telling him that was wrong , he deserved the same as anyone else, and that he could be anything he wanted.
“A lot of people want me to… not be there, I think. Because they don’t think I’m as good as them. Or they think I can’t do the same as them because I’m different.” He bites his lip, is no doubt thinking of their meeting with- with All Might not two hours ago. “But that’s not fair. And I don’t need to be treated that way, because I deserve to be happy as much as them.” Sniffs, glances at his parents. “I’m just as good as them.”
The judges look between each other solemnly. Inko sees one dabbing at their eyes, and knows it’s settled, once and for all.
After the day's session, Hisashi grabs Izuku and hugs him tight, whispers that he's so proud, so proud of you, Izukkun. That night, they have his favourite foods for dinner, Inko bringing out a plate of cookies Hwan-san had made for the occasion.
They celebrate, and it may be a bit early, but they can't help it.
The conclusion of the trial happens on an overcast day, three months past Izuku’s birthday and a year after this all began. They wake up tired and spend the morning sleepily getting ready, Hisashi cooking breakfast while Inko packed their bags and Izuku half-heartedly tried to tame his hair.
It doesn’t feel real that this is all coming to an end. Not really. And it won’t, technically, thanks to all the changes that will need to be made to the system, lashback to whatever verdict is made, and Izuku’s life being irrevocably changed. They can’t say what it would be like if this had never happened. Frankly, after all the people they had met, they don’t want to.
At seven on the dot they leave the house, clambering into the car where Li’s waiting, ready to drive them to the courthouse once more. He, mercifully, has somehow held up through this all, making sure Hisashi doesn’t cause incidents the times Inko is away and keeping Izuku distracted when they’re both busy. Today, he talks to Izuku about the recent book he’s read, asking if he liked the ending while they murmur to each other.
The streets around the courthouse are no doubt going to be crowded, not even mentioning what it’ll be like when they walk in. Hisashi suggests bellowing until they have a wide berth, and Inko smacks him upside the head for it, rolling her eyes as he whines.
They arrive all too soon. Duck through the heroes’ and employees’ hallways again to avoid people, slipping into the courtroom to see Shun already there and the judges talking among themselves. The representative of the Board is there as well, whispering with their lawyer. Inko gives them a stiff nod when they meet eyes, while Hisashi ignores them completely in favour of greeting Yaoyorozu-buchou who smiles and talks about her daughter.
At half past eight they call the court into session. The judges take one more moment to mutter among themselves before Yaoyorozu-buchou clears her throat, shifting a particular paper in front of her.
“It is the decision of this court, regarding the civil suit filed against the Musutafu Board of Education by Midoriya Hisashi and Midoriya Inko, that the defendant has been found guilty of multiple cases of willful neglect of its wards, discrimination against multiple persons, and gross misconduct among its various institutions. The guilty are ordered to pay reparations to the affected parties, and investigation will continue into individual employees and their suitability as instructors.”
Inko lets out a long sigh, slides down her chair. Hisashi barks out a laugh and warms the space around them, grabs Izuku and makes him shriek as they hug. Shun smirks and paints his temple green, and the prosecution sucks in a deep breath and doesn’t let it go, the representative shutting their eyes in resignation.