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Kid for One

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Fear was a rare experience for All for One.

He may have gotten cocky in his younger years as he accumulated an arsenal of quirks and followers. But as his biological clock ticked, he was reminded that death was an enemy he could never outwit or outrun.

Until he discovered that there truly was a quirk for everything.

Eternal youth. Impenetrable immune system. Dozens of durability and regeneration quirks. He was essentially immortal.

Whatever happened to him after, resources or empires lost could always be recovered. His goals of a better society would be completed, it was only a matter of time.

It would be nearly another hundred years before he could feel fear again. Before he once again had something he could lose. No, someone.

Inko.

When he first met her, it was an entire new spectrum of emotions. She was one of the few people that could still peak his curiosity. She showed kindness without ignorance. She was able to keep the supervillain entertained with interesting conversations.

Inko was clever. And while All for One still believed he was smarter, he couldn’t hide his true nature from her forever.

And with that, the fear had returned. What would she do when she found out? Would she turn in every last piece of information she had gathered on him to his enemies? Would she run and take away with her all those wonderful emotions she’d invoked in him? Would others find Inko and use this new special somebody of his to get back at him?

Inko was a weakness. That’s what his logical side told him. The side of him that clung on to power and kept him alive. The side that always planned 50 steps ahead.

But what was life without taking risks? Greed, that was a sin that certainly had a hold over him. He could afford to go after whatever he pleased with the kind of power at his fingertips. He could indulge in the few things that brought him joy when he knew there was little that could touch him. Maybe Inko would turn on him one day. She would certainly die. But to not enjoy his time with her while he could would be the real crime. He could deal with whatever fallout a betrayal may bring. And any pain from losing her would have to be something he’d move past. Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, right?

Yet there was no betrayal. And she seemed to specifically not peek under the curtain that was the mystery behind her boyfriend that would eventually become her husband. The fear of losing her still occasionally lingered in his head. But it wasn’t as strong as the day it hit him that he was actually in love. That he once again had something to lose.

That was the trade off, wasn’t it? Pure joy and happiness in exchange for a vulnerability. But even if Hisashi hid his quirks, he would always be able to protect her. So long as she was willing to stand by his side, he wouldn’t let anyone harm a hair on her head.

Izuku made that all so much more difficult.

Not only was it another head to keep track of, but the boy wasn’t a fully functioning adult able to survive on their own. He was a squishy little child that could easily get sick, injured, and couldn’t even walk on their own. And even after only a few years, it was clear the boy had a reckless streak about him. Hisashi blamed the hero media he consumed like junk food.

Izuku would need more monitoring. And he would live a much harsher life being quirkless. Perhaps Hisashi could grant him a quirk… but only after his son had grown out of what he hoped was just a ‘hero phase’. No need to hand the boy the noose to hang himself with in that horrid profession. Maybe once he was 12 and had grown out of that obsession, Hisashi could grant him a nice safe and subtle quirk that would keep him from being discriminated against in the future.

All for One’s fears hadn’t been strong enough. The point of fear is a primal urge to keep you safe. And like in his youth, he’d grown too cocky. He didn’t see another wielder of One for All as a threat. He thought he could take care of them like swatting a fly.

All-Might took everything from him.

Physically, his body was in shambles. Death was once again a threat looming over him if he was unable to find a quirk to stop him from deteriorating even further. He couldn’t even wield half his quirks gathered through the years in his new state.

Those he could potentially recover. There was still hope.

But his family was lost to him. That was the part that made him want to make All Might suffer the most. He couldn’t face them in this state. Inko would think he abandoned her. He’d miss out on Izuku’s childhood. Perhaps he could try and keep his distance. Fabricate a story about going overseas. But there was no telling how long it would take to return. Years. Decades. The right quirk could take a while to find, and then there was the question if he’d even be able to use it or would need to be at the mercy of its original wielder for their aid.

With each year that past since the injury, fear’s grip closed around him. No one but his closest associates could see it, but All for One was getting desperate. Hasty. He was racing against his own possible demise. Every month that passed, his family slipped away from him a little further. He had them watched. But he could no longer be there for them. Not until he recovered.

All for One desperately wanted to make All Might suffer for everything that he’d done. But if he chased two birds, he’d catch neither. Returning to his full strength. Returning to his family. That was the priority. Once he was strong again, it would be easier to take care of All Might. He wouldn’t underestimate him again.

As it turned out, the quirk All for One was seeking had yet to exist. It had taken 3 years, but All for One’s informants in the Yakuza had found something promising. A girl with the power to rewind time. Not actually go back in time- that probably would have broken reality itself anyways. But undoing the passage of time on what she touched was more than enough.

While he planned on taking the child by force anyways, considering the conditions she was in All for One was certain he rescued her from far worse a fate. The Yakuza All for One remembered were at least honorable- they wouldn’t hurt their own. They wouldn’t have engaged in those kind of experiments with an innocent child. Not to say that All for One himself wouldn’t have done something similar. But well… His own new experience as a father made him more reluctant to intentionally harm a child.

When All for One found Eri, it was a simple matter of earning her trust. Being a person’s savior from those that hurt them certainly helped. It worked like a charm with Shigaraki, and while the girl’s recovery was a long ways off, she at least trusted her new Sensei.

Of course, it couldn’t be as simple as her simply using her quirk on him. Before he could help her get better control over her quirk, he needed to help her get over that mental block of using it in the first place. That damned Chisaki had her thinking it was some kind of curse. Psychological manipulation like that was the only tool he had to keeping the girl from turning against him. It was far easier to control a child with positive reinforcement, but All for One supposed that was more difficult to manage while you were treating them like a lab rat.

He just needed to help her work toward a goal. Using her quirk to help people. To heal people like him. She needed to see a willing target. One that wasn’t afraid of her or her quirk. Nothing but praise as she turned a decades old tree back into a seed. Show no fear when she tested her quirk out on the unfortunate sap that went from a 40-year old man to a 5-year-old adolescent. And they were paid damn well enough to act just as happy to be alive in whatever state by the time they were done.

But this was good! After a few months of training with her, she was willing to use her quirk. The target was free of any injuries gathered over time, yet their memory was intact. She still couldn’t always control the amount of time that passed, but All for One had decades to spare. He was the perfect test subject for her.

All for One knew he was too eager to return to full health. To return to his family. But he was used to feeling invincible. He was eager to return to that again.

4 years. That’s all he needed her to rewind. And if she overshot, it should be fine. From the looks of the test subjects, it seemed painless. He could feel the years slipping away. The skin regrowing. His eyes… he could see again. It was like being pulled into a rushing tide. He didn’t want to fight the current.

His injuries. They were gone. But now his body felt like it was closing in on him. Like bleeding, except it was bone, skin and muscle being drained from him. Not good. He fought against the current trying to pull his way out. The fear of being rewound past his very existence tugged at him as he struggled against time itself.

All for One knew he should have gotten more test subjects. But he was losing valuable time he could be spending with his family when the solution was right in front of them. He should have realized the phenomenon the Yakuza were studying with Eri’s blood- to rewind the emergence of quirks itself. Rewind didn’t turn back the chronological time that had passed. It turned back the biological age. And while this distinction didn’t make a difference in many other subjects, for All for One who was biologically currently a man in his late 30’s, Eri’s quirk could have potentially turned him to dust like her father.

He supposed he should have counted himself lucky that he’d only been reduced to a teenager.

It was… a shock. He assured Eri that he was not upset with her, and that she had accomplished exactly what he hoped she would do- heal his injuries. Even if her main purpose was accomplished, she could still be useful. Best to continue to keep her happy and healthy.

The question was how to move forward. Literally. All for One had quirks to reverse his age, but he had no reason for one to advance it when that happened naturally. He had plenty of quirks to subtly change his appearance, but with his body like this he’d look like a kid no matter what he did.

He could go back to looking for the right quirk. This time one to advance his age- or at least his appearance so he could shapeshift the bone structure required to appear like an adult again.

On the other hand… this could be an interesting opportunity.

All for One always feared that Izuku and Inko would discover the truth about him and they’d hate him for his crimes. That he’d lead his enemies straight toward them.

But in this form… It was a blank slate. No one would think to look for All for One in the form of a teenage boy. And now, All for One appeared around the same age as his son. He could come into his life through a different route. Stay closer to him and keep him safe better than he could as his father.

From the reports All for One had received, Izuku was still dead set on becoming a hero, even quirkless. He could try and become someone he trusted. A friend that could see the world from his shoes, and possibly convince him of a more beneficial path for him. Doctor, politician, lawyer- anything that could put his head to better use than some kind of celebrity white knight.

Kurogiri would be his one link back to the criminal underground. He could keep watch over Shigaraki and his League, and should All for One absolutely need to step in, he could always use a quirk to change his voice. He already mostly just a voice on a screen to most of the criminal underground over the past few days anyways.

Kurogiri could care for Eri as well- he was the only one he trusted enough to leave her with. The last thing he needed was Tsubasa reopening her up as a human quirk suppressant factory. She could be far more useful to preserve what was precious to him. And as one of the few people that knew his new face... Well, it wouldn’t hurt to continue meeting with her and maintaining that bond.

A new identity was forged. All for One registered himself for Aldera Junior High.

Oddly enough, it didn’t feel belittling for the world’s most powerful supervillain to strut through the halls in a school uniform. It was actually a rather new experience for him. When his quirk emerged, in his day he was a mutant freak. When you were kicked out of your home, attending school wasn’t on his list of priorities so much as survival. It was somewhat refreshing to just be another face in the crowd. A wolf in sheep’s clothing mingling with the flock.

Classroom 2-B. He ensured he was in the same class as Izuku, otherwise this entire schooling would be pointless.

He stood before a sea of children who looked with mild curiosity at the new addition to their class a few months into the year. Putting on a practiced pleasant smile, he tried his best to make a decent first  impression.

“Introduce yourself.” The teacher impatiently asked. Ah, so she wasn’t going to give him any introductions? No transfer student spiel?

“Of course. You can call me Akatani Mikumo.” He needed to get used to this new name. But he’d slipped into plenty of different personas in the past before. He would set Hisashi Midoriya to rest for now. He’d learn to be Mikumo.

“My father’s job had me moving around in the past, but I’ve finally made accommodations to remain in-”

“We don’t need your life story.” The teacher snapped. “Just say your quirk and sit down.”

“My quirk?” Was that really how students introduced themselves today? “Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer my blood type? It’s just as useless of a way to tell everyone about myself.”

The teacher clearly didn’t appreciate the sarcasm. “If you’re so embarrassed about it, just take the empty seat in the back.”

Mikumo gazed across the class. The only seat open was in the far back corner. Three seats to the left and 2 behind his son. He could do better.

“If you see my file, I have specific seating requirements. I just need to trade with someone. Shouldn’t be too difficult.” It was easy enough to get the ear of the principle when your ‘father’ made a few donations.

Not that this incompetent excuse for an educator got the memo. “I’m not changing the entire seating arrangement because of some made up skin condition or whatever you’ve got. Take your seat and stop interrupting my class before we have a problem.”

So that was how it was going to be then? A minor inconvenience. He could dig up or plant something on this woman to get her fired. But Mikumo was supposed to be a normal teenager. Even if he left no evidence linking the incident if he had too many episodes of people being removed around him then it would be too suspicious. But if she continued to be a nuisance, he’d take care of it.

“Wouldn’t want there to be a problem.” Mikumo said flashing a honey sweet smile.

Mikumo paid little attention to the lecture. And from his observations, it seemed like neither did Izuku.

Even a few seats back, a telescopic vision quirk allowed him to easily look at Izuku’s notes, and it was far from middle school mathematics. Not the correct subject, but more advanced. Analysis on a hero by the name of Ricochet. Their quirk appeared to allow them to charge up small projectiles to infinitely bounce off surfaces until they canceled their quirk. Judging by how Izuku was scribbling down about angles and kinetic energy to try and discern the true nature of the quirk, it seemed like he was wasting his time in this class just as much as Mikumo was.

Mikumo drunk in every detail he could about Izuku. After a few years apart from him, he was desperate for whatever direct information he could get. The way he would seem to stare off into space before unleashing a herd of scribbles upon his notebook. How he ran his eraser down to ensure his notebook was kept pristine with all the important details. How he’d continue to flip back to older pages when he thought of any possible new details about how a quirk might be used. How easily he was able to snap out of his own world when the teacher decided to call on him. He did quite the decent job of dividing his attention enough to answer any of her questions.

Mikumo could hear a snicker from next to him.

“Got a crush on useless Deku or something?” It seemed like all his staring hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Deku- that was the nickname Katsuki had given Izuku, wasn’t it? Not a very kind interpretation of him. How badly was Izuku treated within the school walls?

“Rather rude to call someone useless, isn’t it?” Mikumo whispered back to the long-nosed student.

“Just stating the facts. Deku’s got no quirk. Just a heads up before you start bothering with him.”

How lovely. Just a taste of the Quirkless discrimination he was sure to observe in the coming years. He was aware of it- thrived on it in order to recruit new loyal employees. And it seemed like children were set on this meritless mindset early on. It wasn’t like the majority of them would be permitted to use their quirk in their daily life. And most quirks were only a minor modification. That’s where the name came from after all- just a small little oddities to make a person unique. Some had evolved from creating sparks to fireballs, but the majority of the population only had access to minor benefits. Yet lacking the ability to grow your hair twice as fast or make your nails glow? Clearly, how were you supposed to function as a human being without it?

It was probably hypocritical of him to think so with access to hundreds of different quirks, but there was really more you could do with a calculating mind than a powerful quirk. The longest living heroes relied more on their skills than their quirk. But it seemed like humanity was still willing to make a leper out of anyone with a genetic fluke. So much for valuing diversity in an era of green skin and pineapple heads.

“Thank you. Now I know not to bother with you then.”

That shut them up rather quickly. As class came to a close, Mikumo noted how Izuku quickly started getting his things together before the bell rang. Not so unexpected with half the class eager to get out for lunch as well, but it only meant he’d need to be quick to hunt him down.

Especially since he could already start seeing the other students turning his way. In a small school like this, a new student still at least seemed to be an interesting enough event to gain some people’s attention.

“Akatani, right?” A loud voice asked as their hand slammed down on his desk.

Already he was in the crosshairs of the blond haired red eyed menace that had been a nuisance in Hisashi’s home through Izuku’s early childhood.

Mikumo let out a sigh as he watched Izuku use Bakugo’s distraction to try and dart out the door. Well, he might as well get this over with.

“Yes, that’s what I said my name was.” Mikumo replied bored. “And you’re Bakugo Katsuki.”

The blond chuckled. “Some sort of mind reading quirk then?”

Mikumo shrugged. “Maybe. Or I can read the tag your mother left on your backpack.”

A few of the students crowding behind Bakugo snickered. He gave the one the nearest to him a shove.

“You think you’re so smart, why don’t you settle a bet? Tsubasa-kun here thinks your quirk is something embarrassing like your shit smells like roses. Me? I think you don’t have a quirk at all.” Bakugo launched.

There were a few gasps around him. Like he just accused the new kid of being sexually promiscuous. But All for One had endured worse taunts than the one from a school yard bully.

Mikumo looked Bakugo dead in the eye. “My quirk is Explosion.”

The shocked look on the blonde’s face was priceless. He really wished he could just take his quirk. If anyone deserved it, it was him. But that would be another incident that would bring attention to him.

Mikumo nodded and continued. “I’m a living nuclear reactor. If I get too annoyed, BOOM.” He said popping out his fingers like a firework.

“Liar! What’s it really?” Bakugo demanded as he reached out to grab Mikumo’s shirt collar.

Being behind a desk and surrounded limited his escape options without breaking out a quirk. But he could still work with this. He shoved the desk into Bakugo’s gut. A cheap light desk wouldn’t hurt him much, but it certainly stopped his assault.

“Academikinesis. I can control any sort of object or furniture you can find in a school setting.” Mikumo replied in a deadpan voice even as all the students began to back up. They knew how Bakugo could get right before he got ready for a fight.

“Hey! I saw him push that desk, he’s making it up!” Some braniac behind Bakugo noted.

“Of course he is you dolt!” Bakugo shouted guarding his stomach. He turned back to Mikumo who was simply casually grabbing his things like he hadn’t just thrown the hatchet. “Listen up you wise ass- I’m on top of this shitty school, and once I graduate I’m going to be #1 in the world!”

“Ah, world domination. Can’t dissuade you enough on it. Not worth the hassle. And while you seem to have the villain part down, I don’t think you have the management skills for it.”

“JUST SHUT UP!” Bakugo shouted as sparks began to flare up in his hand.

Mikumo’s eyes glimmered at the sight of the quirk use. It was a fairly powerful quirk. He probably could make it as a hero with that alone. And if he was so free to use it now, chances were it hadn’t gotten him in any trouble with adults in the past. Wouldn’t it be nice to watch him stare back in horror as Bakugo’s own quirk ignited within Mikumo’s palms? Maybe one day. But not without planning.

Mikumo abided by Bakugo’s wish, but not without a creepy smile. All for One had certainly masked the art of imposing fear with nothing but his body language. And even if it was trickier in a younger body, he could see by the way the students around him froze that it was still effective enough. No quirk required. Just little ways to trigger a person’s pure instincts.

“Creepy ass fuck.” Bakugo muttered trying to act uninterested as he backed away and left to get his own things.

“Oh? No challenge to meet me at 3 out behind the school?” Mikumo asked with a chuckle. “And I just needed one more hit before I filled out my bully bingo card.”

“You better watch your back.” Bakugo yelled as he refused to look Mikumo in the eye or let him have the last word before walking off.

The other students still remained looking in awe. Plenty of people tried standing up to Bakugo, but none could really match him. Not that any could blame him. They agreed- new kid was ‘creepy as fuck’ as Bakugo noted.

“Is that your quirk?” A nervous voice asked from the classroom door.

Izuku… apparently the commotion had him curious enough to return. Ah… he hadn’t meant for him to see that. Not the kind of first impression he wanted to induce.

Mikumo had half a mind to lie. Some kind of intimidation quirk was an easier pill to swallow. But half the point of him being here was to keep Izuku safe. He was going to see something like that eventually.

“No.” Mikumo quietly answered letting the overconfidence and offsetting aura fade. “But picking the face you put on… it can stop a battle before it has to escalate.”

Acting and melodrama- it wasn’t just for creating dramatic speeches right before the hero’s doom. It was a mask useful for any situation.

Izuku seemed to ease up a bit at hearing that. “Just like All Might.”

Mikumo had to grit his teeth to prevent himself from showing any kind of reaction. Compared to his arch-enemy. Izuku accidentally managed to create a crack in his perfectly constructed mask.

But no one seemed to have noticed. “Excuse me?”

“All Might’s smile… With that alone, he can convince villains to surrender. It’s not just for bringing hope- it makes villains realize they don’t stand a chance!” Izuku’s smile was bright as he talked about his favorite hero.

Mikumo eased up. He couldn’t be cringing every time he heard All Might’s name, and Izuku only meant well by it. “I guess I should be flattered by the compliment then.”

“If you can stand up to someone like Bakugo… I’m sure you’ll make a great hero!” Izuku beamed.

Mikumo almost felt guilty for a moment. Did he even realize what he was saying? Who he was talking to? No, of course not. “Who said I wanted to be a hero?”

Izuku blinked confused. “Oh… I just assumed… I mean, just about everyone wants to be a hero… Sorry! What do you want to be then?”

It was always so easy to fluster Izuku. Part of him was relieved that his son hadn’t changed much in his absence. That he still had a chance to watch him grow. Even if he couldn’t be his father, he could still be in his life.

“Oh, whatever I want to be I suppose.” He answered nonchalantly. “How about I start with, your friend?”

Chapter Text

Mikumo Akatani should have been just another face to fade into the crowd.

And that’s what he intended to be. Except he didn’t expect everyone to be fixated on such a minor detail as a quirk.

He already decided on it before even making the arrangements to enter Aldera. And he wasn’t going to bother to change his mind or paperwork based on a bunch of nosy kids. But he had to admit, he enjoyed keeping people guessing. It was entertaining to be at the center of a huge mystery.

All for One enjoyed being a sort of cryptid as people questioned whether a quirk that could steal other quirks could even exist. But glancing at internet forums and police reports was far different than actually seeing the looks on people’s faces.

Everyone carefully watched him during PE. Mikumo wasn’t in any sort of advanced physical state, but it was hard not to tap at physical enhancement quirks when they were right under his skin and he was feeling out of breath. Nothing outside of human limitations. He never even did anything phenomenal. Just more implied that he could.

Mikumo would tend to match Izuku’s pace, but while the hero fanboy wasn’t phenomenally fit, he usually ended up in the top five when it came to speed or strength despite his size. He might not have a quirk, but he certainly tried his hardest to make up for it in whatever other area he could with sheer willpower. Mikumo kept up effortlessly without being out of breath or looking like he even broke a sweat.

Which probably pissed Bakugo off more than if the creep beat him in every event or sport. Mikumo wasn’t even trying, but he could probably do a hell of a lot better if he actually did.

Any individual events, he simply tried to get a passing score as quickly as he could. He did events like a long jump casually with a skip or flick a ball backhanded and still get one of the highest scores in the class.

A betting pool had already formed as to what his quirk was. 5 had ‘mild strength enhancement’ down.

Academics was about the same. He didn’t ever make perfect scores, but he usually finished exams after only a few minutes. Most of the class was fairly sure he was using a quirk to cheat somehow.

6 for some kind of enhanced intellect quirk, 3 for a mind reading quirk.

Bakugo still stubbornly held on to his vote for quirkless. If he wasn’t showing it off, then it was either terrible, or he was hiding the fact that he had no quirk at all.

Izuku… while he was curious along with the rest of the class, he was more than eager to ramble off about quirks with the first kid his age that was happy to exchange thoughts.

“So… Kacchan’s quirk… it’s pretty versatile, isn’t it?” Izuku noted during one PE session as they watched the blonde go along with his group for the 50m dash. He wasn’t able to use his quirk, but he was bragging about the kinds of speeds he could reach when the ‘idiot teachers weren’t holding him back’.

Mikumo only shrugged. He didn’t have a chance to see Bakugo show it off for himself first hand, so he couldn’t really say. “Elemental quirks can become powerful rather quickly. But depending on how much control they actually have is how difficult it is to wield.”

Someone with hydrokinesis may have a wide variety of attacks to choose from, but it was more difficult for them to take control of that element compared to someone who’s quirk was just ‘shoot a torrent of water in this direction’. Yet while the former might take years longer to study their quirk and learn it right, theirs would be the more versatile one in the long run.

Izuku nodded, pulling a small notepad from under his gym uniform. He sometimes got in trouble for trying to sneak out his full notebook in the middle of PE, but he could transcribe things later on something like this he could sneak away. “It’s not as if Kacchan has full control over fire or sparks, but by limiting it to a certain chemical factor, it gives him a more potent source of energy that he just has to point and aim.”

Mikumo nodded. He had to admit, Izuku had a good eye for this kind of analysis. Even if there weren’t any nepotism involved, he’d still have taken an interest in him. “Simple, but useful for both maneuverability and offence. Plenty of drawbacks though…”

“Water is the simplest…” Izuku pointed out. After years of watching Bakugo, he had plenty of strategies to counter him if absolutely necessary. But just a water bottle didn’t cut it. “If his sweat is diluted, it’s nowhere near as effective. And if the temperature is too cold, he’s not going to be sweating as much either.” It certainly made the winter months easier for him.

“Not just his own quirk’s weaknesses, but the barriers to this kind of quirk- collateral damage. Heroes are expected to do less damage than the villains they’re trying to stop after all. Would he be able to fight someone without blowing their limb off or causing other irreparable damage?” Mikumo looked out toward the field. Would Bakugo be the type to hold back just because he was facing villains? Probably not.

“I’ve seen him knock out trees, so he has the capacity to make a bloody mess of a person. So the fact that he’s used his quirk like that anyways and I’m still in one piece means he does have pretty good control…” Izuku admitted.

But the fact that Izuku seemed to talk so nonchalantly- even practically admiring Bakugo’s quirk use on him made Mikumo’s head to snap toward Izuku with both concern and rage.

“Are you saying… he’s used his quirk on you?” Mikumo wanted to confirm. He’d seen no such markings on Izuku whenever he returned from school as a kid. Was this something that had happened in recent years? Or something Izuku was just extremely good at hiding?

Izuku had been so eagerly talking about quirks that he kind of glossed over that fact without realizing it. He kept it secret from his parents seeing as all they really could do was worry about it or get Bakugo in trouble. And Izuku didn’t really want to be the reason Bakugo was delayed from his dream.

“Ah- well… Kacchan is training to be a hero. Got to get that practice in somehow, right?” Izuku said laughing nervously.

Mikumo’s eyes narrowed. “That sounds more like a way a villain would train to me.”

But even All for One knew if you started using the people you called your allies as training dummies, you’d have trouble forming a loyal army.

Izuku broke away from his gaze. “Kacchan’s not like that… He’s going to be a powerful hero… #1 probably… he just doesn’t like anything standing in his way.”

None of those excuses Mikumo was willing to accept. “So he sees you as a threat then?”

Izuku seemed surprised to hear that. He waved his hands nervously in the air. “No! I’m sure it’s not like that! I mean, he makes it pretty clear how far he thinks everyone is beneath him-”

“Classic overcompensation”

“-And he’s got no reason to be actually threatened be a quirkless nobody. I just… kind of literally stand in his way sometimes when he takes things too far.”

There were so many things wrong with what Izuku was saying. How he viewed himself, how he excused Bakugo’s actions, and how no one even did anything or noticed.

Unfortunately, Hisashi was included in that category. He’d been so eager to spend whatever time he wasn’t cleaning up his subordinate’s messes that he didn’t notice any signs of injuries on his son. Was Bakugo’s control as good as Izuku claimed? Was Izuku just clever enough to hide it at a young age so his father wouldn’t be worried when he was around? Hisashi knew he shouldn’t have been fooled by a small child. But it was easy to get lost in his smile. To want nothing more than to enjoy the time he had with him. Yet he was only sharing the good times with his son and unable to be there for enough of his hardships.

Mikumo remembered how quick Izuku had been to try and avoid Bakugo on the day he transferred in. Yet when it seemed like Bakugo was going to start a fight with the fresh meat, Izuku was right around the corner to observe what was going on. Did he already make his attempts to be a hero even while he barely seemed to be able to defend himself?

“Someone needs to be willing to stand up for you as well then.” Mikumo’s mind was made up, whether Izuku was ready for it or not. “I’ll walk with you home. He’s less likely to try something when you’re not alone.

Bakugo might try something anyways, but at least he’d ensure Izuku wouldn’t take it sitting down.

But before that, it would help if he dealt with his son’s blonde oaf of an arch-enemy. Of all the odd things for him to inherit…

--o--

Mikumo had been at this school a week. Already, Bakugo tried to ‘call him out’ 17 times. Like some kind of barbarian that needed to assert his authority through violence. Much to his surprise, Mikumo had better things to do than have some middle schooler fail to show off to his friends. Mikumo wasn’t looking to declare his dominance- he was mostly hoping the blonde would grow bored after failing to get the reaction he wanted out of the new kid.

Considering his experience with Izuku, it was clear he had yet to ‘grow bored’ of anyone who failed to meekly accept his every command.

Barbaric tactics it was then. Ah well, what was the worst that could happen? Suspension?

“What the hell is this about?” Bakugo said approaching Mikumo’s desk after class with a piece of stationary with finely written calligraphy on it. And with a hint of some kind of citrus scent too? Where did you even buy this kind of crud?

Any students planning on heading home now looked toward the two with interest. What was brewing? Something interesting to be sure. They didn’t crowd around in case something broke out immediately, but they stood eagerly watching like a flock of vultures hovering about a soon to be dead carcass.

Mikumo only looked up at the blonde and smiled. “Well, I had an opening in my busy schedule. I figured I’d throw the gauntlet properly. I believe it’s all spelled out for you. Is 5 o’clock this afternoon a bad time?”

“Screw it. Let’s do it now.” Bakugo spat. He wasn’t going to drag this out any longer.

Mikumo looked at his watch. “Hm… That defeats the purpose of a set time and place, but perhaps we could get it over with.” He turned his head and yelled across the classroom. “Midoriya-kun, would you mind giving me… 15 minutes?”

Izuku looked up from his phone reading off the hero feed he’d missed while in class. “Uh, sure. Wh-” Although seeing Bakugo looming over his new gloomy friend’s desk like a mob boss claiming his loan shark money, he began to panic. “Wait! What’s going on?!”

“I’m squashing this creep against the sidewalk! You got a problem with that you nerd?” He yelled back.

“Kacchan! You can’t-“

“Can it, you worthless Deku!” Bakugo snapped. “You got a problem with it? You’re free to step in. But you’d only be good as a way to give him a 5-second head start.”

“Midoriya-kun. It’s alright. I have this.” Mikumo said calmly getting up from his seat. “Outside? Or did you literally want to do this now? As much as I’m sure you want a show, there’s only so much the faculty will watch before they do anything more than grab some popcorn.”

Said teacher already seemed to be clearing the room, not wanting to bother with these kids for longer than they were paid to.

Bakugo only snickered. “Yeah, sure. Wouldn’t want to get blood all over everyone’s desks.”

“Hm… tell me… have you actually ever shed blood?” Mikumo asked in a calm matter as if he were talking about the weather.

“What?” Bakugo asked confused not expecting that kind of question. “Of course, I have.”

“A broken nose doesn’t really count I’m afraid.” Mikumo remarked picking the dirt out from under his fingernails uninterested in Bakugo’s tough front. “Too easy… Your explosions- at their level, they cauterize whatever wounds they’d cause. Painful I’d imagine, but not enough to do any real serious damage. All flair, no substance. Perfect for you then.”

“You’re the one that’s just standing around talking!” Bakugo exclaimed with his hand launching out with crackles beneath his fingers.

But even with the extra pinch of speed from the explosion, Mikumo easily sidestepped away. Bakugo telegraphed his movements far too easily. “See, if you actually wanted to cause damage-” He grabbed on to Bakugo’s wrist with ease. “-broken bones are an easy way to incapacitate a foe for a while so long as they don’t have access to a healing quirk.”

“The hell!?” Bakugo exclaimed trying to pull his arm back. But Mikumo’s grip hadn’t faltered. His arm didn’t even budge a centimeter. Bakugo launched a left hook at the greasy haired nobody’s face

…Only for that fist to be caught as well. Mikumo swung both arms behind the blonde as he stood behind him. With both hands behind his back, he was able to hold Bakugo down against a desk with one arm. Despite the blonde’s struggles to pull away, Mikumo made it appear effortless to keep him pinned as he slipped another hand into his pocket already bored. He didn’t even need to secretly use any quirk.

“But you? You don’t care about actually putting a stop to your enemies. You want to see them squirm. You want them scared of you. No one’s going to do anything about a few burns that will probably remain hidden against a target that won’t make life difficult for you. No one’s going to stand in your way when you have such a ‘promising career’ ahead of you.”

Bakugo gritted his teeth as he could feel Mikumo putting more pressure down on him, wrapping his hand tight around his wrist. There was no way he was giving this fucker even a grunt.

“And I’m sure you will… but you have yet to learn that there are some battles you just can’t win. When you go around making enemies… well, you’re not invincible. Everyone has their moments of weakness.” He whispered up close to Bakugo’s ear. “All it takes is one… little…”

A crack filled the air. Bakugo let out a scream of pain.

“Kacchan!” Izuku screamed worried as he rushed to his old friend’s side.

Mikumo let out a chuckle as he released the blonde and took a step back. He had to admit, he took a bit of a sadistic joy in this. As far as he was concerned though, Bakugo deserved far worse anyways.

The vultures around them were swarming as they wondered how the new kid was ballsy enough to do any permanent damage in public and in school.

Bakugo still leaned against the desk in pain. He could feel sweat trickling down his brow as he guarded his right hand close to his chest.

“Just a bit of theatrics.” Mikumo commented offhandedly

The supposed thespian fished his hand out of his pocket to reveal a small empty water bottle. A squeeze of it let out a crackling sound similar to what they heard a few seconds ago.

Izuku seemed to ease up a bit at the thought of it just being an act. “Kacchan… are you ok?”

Bakugo shoved Izuku aside. “I know what that felt like! It wasn’t no damn-” And then he realized he just pushed Izuku with both his hands. He flexed his right hand. It was… fine? No broken bones? Not even a bruise? But there was no way that was just a tight grip!

“You really think I’d do such a thing with witnesses around?” Mikumo questioned with a chuckle. “Really, it just seems like you’ve got a low tolerance for pain when it’s turned against you.”

“I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE!” Bakugo shouted.

The audience that Bakugo intended to create to show them all what a fraud this new kid really was had turned against him. It was one thing to lose in a fight. It was another to cry out in pain while not even looking like you had a scratch on you. The faces of their classmates were confused. Was the most promising prospective hero in their class really this weak?

“Your quirk- that must have been it!” Bakugo shouted. Although such claims only made him look more desperate.

Mikumo shrugged his shoulders. “Really? You’d think anyone with a healing quirk would waste their time breaking bones and repairing them? Or are you suggesting I have a quirk that merely lets me simulate pain? Because if I did, I can promise you: it would be far worse for anyone who would dare to continue to target those perceived as weak like you have.”

Mikumo hoped he made the threat clear enough, because he rather not continue to waste his time on such an annoying insect.

“Sorry for the delay Midoriya-kun- Let’s start heading out, ok?” Hopefully he wasn’t too scared off by that little show.

Izuku looked at the new student, still not sure what to make of him. At first it seemed like he was someone that wouldn’t put up with Bakugo’s antics… and it seemed like he was also defending people in his own way… And he hadn’t hurt Bakugo nearly as bad as he hurt anyone else… But his methods… they were worrisome.

Izuku hesitated, but he picked up his pace to catch up with the boy. He’d need a bit more information before he made up his mind.

--o--

Izuku had remained silent. He knew Mikumo had offered to walk him home… to stand between him and Bakugo… But he didn’t know what to make of that show just now.

They had walked a few blocks before Mikumo decided to break the silence.

“Izuku… you know quirkless isn’t synonymous with worthless, don’t you?”

Izuku was taken back by such quick use of his given name by someone that had only known him for a few days. With how easy it was to get along with him when they were talking quirks it felt like they’d known each other for longer. Yet after what just happened, it was clear he hardly knew him.

“You are far from a nobody… you have more potential than anyone in this school. You certainly know more about being a hero than that hot-headed heathen. A powerful quirk is nothing against a clever mind.”

Izuku was rather quiet, not expecting a complement after all of that. “That’s… very nice of you to think so.”

“But you don’t believe it.” Mikumo guessed. He couldn’t just tell Izuku to be more confident in himself.

 Izuku scratched the back of his head, embarrassed about being called out on it. “Well, you’re just being nice.”

Mikumo scoffed. “Where were you the last hour? I don’t bother with niceties.”

“Well…” Izuku seemed to have trouble finding the right words. “You’ve only just got here- just met me. I’m not sure if you can really determine a person’s worth that quickly. I’m not sure why you’d go through all this trouble or say those kinds of things for me.”

The supervillain wished he could pull his own qualifications. All the corporations he’d managed, shadow criminal organizations he’s run, and the rulers he’d placed to lead small nations. That if All for One was saying the person in front of him was worthwhile, then it most certainly was true.

But Izuku didn’t know ‘Mikumo’. Hell, All for One was still working out some of the more intricate parts of his backstory out. He didn’t really have any credentials that he could claim were accomplished by a middle school student. Sure, training in martial arts, specific skill sets, and vast knowledge was one thing. Anyone with internet access could technically know a bit of all these things.

Even then, unless he was someone Izuku directly admired, chances were Izuku wouldn’t believe him. It was his word against a world that continued to shove him down for years. A world that told him that he wouldn’t amount to anything just because he lacked a quirk. Hisashi thought that him and Inko showered Izuku with enough love that he wouldn’t become another quirkless mental health statistic. But he’d overestimated his contribution.

These were things Hisashi should have noticed, but he never bothered to ask. The lack of friends should have been a sign. But he assumed it was out of choice. That Izuku didn’t have anyone in his class with the same interests or Izuku just preferred to be alone. Of course, the boy wouldn’t want to bring up his insecurities to his father. Especially as he was seeing less and less of said father as he grew up and All for One kept being drawn back into the criminal underworld to deal with the messes All Might created.

It wasn’t entirely his fault- that blame was mostly with a society that found it easier to put labels on people rather than evaluate them for who they were. But there still should have been more that Hisashi could have done. Even before his injury, he failed to be there for Izuku when he needed him.

Mikumo couldn’t just tell Izuku that he was worth so much more than he thought he was. And until he could become someone he knew and trusted, Izuku would have to prove it to himself.

There was one way that could help build his self-confidence, but Mikumo really didn’t like the idea of it. It was simplistic, crude, and would probably be more dangerous in the long term. There was therapy, but it was unlikely that Izuku would admit to having a problem with crippling self-worth issues. Besides, they’d probably suggest the same thing Mikumo knew he need to.

“If you won’t believe me, then you need to see it for yourself.” Mikumo already felt disgusted by the words he was about to utter on his lips. “You want to be a hero, don’t you?”

Izuku’s eyes brightened up just at the mention of the word. “Y-y-yes! More than anything!”

“And what kind of preparation have you made to get ready for hero school entrance exams?” Although he already suspected it wasn’t much.

“Oh… well… there aren’t any good prep courses that accept the quirkless. Any that do have low acceptance rates.” Izuku admitted sadly. “I could join a dojo, but martial arts aren’t going to do much compared to some of the flashier quirks… I do a bit of jogging in the mornings and afternoons- which doubles as a way to increase my chance of encountering a hero fight. Studying a battle with my own eyes is way better than just some video online.”

Well, it wasn’t nothing, but it didn’t sound like he had many opportunities to do much better.

Could he turn a peon into an expert assassin within a year? Easily. He didn’t use the name Sensei for nothing.

But he didn’t want Izuku to be some expert warrior. Just to feel proud in his own accomplishments. Besides, a teen wasn’t supposed to be an expert drill sargent anyways.

“Let’s work out a training regimen then. The way you’re going about it, you can’t really see how much progress you’ve made or the results of your efforts. Even little modifications… going from running to parkour… watching other different kinds of combat besides heroes… You just need the right chance to learn some new skills.”

“Are you serious?” Izuku exclaimed.

He still wasn’t sure exactly why the new kid had taken an interest in him of all people. At first he thought Mikumo hadn’t realized he was quirkless yet. Apparently he learned as much before even saying a word to him. No one had messed with Izuku as much while they were still trying to figure out what was the deal with Mikumo. But eventually their usual routine would return. Their curiosity would fade, and chances were his classmates would harass his new friend as well.

“You know… if you spend too much time around me…”

“Then I’m sure to have plenty of interesting conversations.” Mikumo finished before he could finish that self-depreciating thought. “I could probably use a bit more physical training myself.” He probably shouldn’t be cheating with his quirks, even if it was only a few minor enhancements to speed things up.

“No- I mean… don’t you know how everyone around here treats someone who’s quirkless?” Izuku insisted. “Not just Kacchan…”

“Honestly…” All for One hadn’t exactly gotten a typical view of the world. He knew society was terrible, but he wasn’t sure if a middle schooler had really seen the worst of it. “I know it’s terrible… I’ve seen some people do some pretty desperate things because they were quirkless.” Mostly for the promise of a quirk. They were willing to sell their own lives or sell out others for one. “I don’t know why I thought it would be better elsewhere... Hoping really.” For Izuku’s sake. But not all his wishes became reality.

“Are you quirkless then?” Izuku finally asked. ”Because… I’m not sure how else you would give me a chance otherwise.”

“That’s… what it says on my official registration.” Mikumo admitted with a mumble. He intended from the beginning to be someone that could make that connection with Izuku. To show him that someone quirkless could still be someone he respected.

But like this… it felt more depressing. Like he was admitting that his son was truly alone. That the only people that could understand were people in his shoes. And that… that couldn’t be the case. Mikumo wanted to understand. He felt like he could to some extent.

“You don’t need to have experienced what a person went through to understand them. Pain… rejection- that’s something a lot of people can comprehend.” It wasn’t as if he was naïve to think any one person could completely understand the experiences of another. All for One had yet to find someone that truly understood him or his motives. But there were a few unifying factors out there.

“Sympathy.” Izuku attempted to put into words.

Mikumo couldn’t help letting out a chuckle. He didn’t think anyone would accuse All for One of possessing such a thing. “Maybe.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow not sure what the boy found funny. “I guess… you’re kind of right. Knowing what it’s like to feel hurt… helpless… it can help you connect to others… That’s why I want to be the kind of hero that knows what it’s like. Who can reach their hand out to help because I’ve been knocked down before too!”

Too many heroes had forgotten what it was like to feel so weak. Civilians seemed less like people in pain and more like a burden to take care of.

All for One certainly caused more pain but did so intentionally. It came with a purpose rather than negligence. That in the long run, it was all toward creating a world with the most possible amount of happiness and highest standard of living for the most amount of people possible. Causing a bit of suffering down that road was to be expected.

Izuku… his family… causing them any sort of pain was the last thing he wanted. For them to suffer… for Izuku to face a world where quirkless discrimination dragged him down… It was a problem that needed to be addressed immediately.

“The world tries to knock everyone down- weak or strong. It’s the strength to get back up- to try again no matter how many times it takes- that is the power that can shape the future.” It was a strength Mikumo already knew Izuku had.

All for One took many failures before he had people willing to stand beside him. And he took many more as his empires fell before some well-meaning hero. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t stop trying just because humanity didn’t want to evolve past individuals own selfish needs.

“Someone has to be strong for those that are weak.” Despite All for One’s seeming cruelty, he’d always wanted to be a protector. Like he had for his brother- until the fool decided the world didn’t need his ‘protection’. As he grew older, he considered himself a parent and teacher. Doing what he thought was best for the growth of the world. Not that many believed him anymore considering the lengths he’d taken.

“That’s what heroes are there for, aren’t they?” Izuku answered optimistically.

Mikumo scoffed. “That’s what they’re supposed to be for.”

“I know you said you didn’t want to be a hero…” Well, not exactly but it was clear that the dark-haired boy had a problem with heroes. “But in your own kind of scary way, that’s what you were trying to be, wasn’t it? To defend me and anyone else Kacchan messes with.”

Mikumo was mostly doing it for Izuku, but he only gave a shrug and nodded. “I probably could be quite the terrifying hero if I wanted to be… But the world doesn’t need any more heroes. It needs bright minds capable of fixing the problems that heroes only put a temporary stop to.”

“Why can’t you do both?” Izuku asked. “Heroes status gives them a platform stronger than most politicians and activists… You’re strong enough to be a hero.”

Which was surprising if he really was quirkless. Izuku had hoped he could stand as strong, but Mikumo seemed proof that he really could stand up against someone as strong as Kacchan without a quirk.

“If I can… you can too.” If he was going to entertain this thought, he intended to use it for a good cause. “We’ll both become strong then. Defend those in the face of adversity in our own ways.”

Izuku still wasn’t sure exactly what to make sure to make of Mikumo. He was terrified along with the rest of the class when he thought he’d broken Kacchan’s wrist. But… he wasn’t nearly as destructive. And he seemed to have good intentions behind it. Like a knife in the hands of a hunter. Able to kill with the flick of a wrist, but more than likely to use those skills just to survive.

Izuku was scared. But he was also oddly comforted to have Mikumo by his side. Someone that wanted to raise him up rather than push him down.

Scary people like that… it was nice to know they were in your corner.

Chapter Text

All for One had access to a few quirks that could change his appearance. It was simply another way he could easily disappear into the world whenever he wanted.

After Inko though, he regretted presenting himself to her with a fake face. He could easily mold his face like clay and had to run his fingers through his hair to change it’s color to white to present himself as Hisashi, the white collar working family man. Normal hair dye would have lasted longer though. And after later learning of an underground hero walking around that can neutralize quirks? The last thing he needed was to have his disguise melt around him. Not like anyone knew All for One’s real face when it was always behind a mask anyways. Or at least did so and lived to tell the tale.

Of course, there was also the guilt of having to look his wife in the eyes knowing the face she saw wasn’t really his own. That his son didn’t look like his father- just a face he’d probably never see. When he first found Inko though, he never expected to stay in that form for so long and things… well, it would be more difficult to just stop if he decided one day not to put his face on- literally.

When Eri hit the reset button on his body, he made the decision to stick with what he was born with. Much simpler, especially since he intended to keep this persona long term. Just a few modifications needed to be made, and not any needing a quirk. He couldn’t go around looking like he shared half of Izuku’s genes after all.

His hair was the most difficult. A black mess of curls that took a good chunk of his morning to tame. He could always cut it- but part of him enjoyed having it long.

Mikumo sulked toward the bathroom to get himself in order when he felt a light hand reach out for the luscious forest of locks.

“It’s so fluffy…” The high pitched voice whispered, echoing across the small apartment.

“Eri-chan… you’re up early.” Mikumo remarked.

Kurogiri was the only one of his associates who knew about Eri. It was too risky for her quirk to fall into anyone else’s hands, and there was no guarantee the small child would be able to keep her connection to the supervillain private even if she herself didn’t really know who he was. For her, Sensei was just the nice man that rescued her, helped her work on her quirk, and accidentally ended up turning him into a teenager. But depending on who they spoke with, they might connect the dots.

However, Kurogiri was busy and couldn’t always watch her. So, seeing as Mikumo wasn’t always able to spend time with Izuku, he didn’t mind sharing an apartment with the girl. She was curious, still learning and wasn’t a complete disaster to watch over. Less of a pain than Tomura at the very least. Rather cute as well. He would have liked to have a little girl with Inko… Maybe once he found some kind of age advancing quirk…

But there was no guarantee one even existed. No telling how long he’d play the part of Mikumo before he was able to be Hisashi again. Or if he even was able to resume, even with the power to do so. Would his family even want a father and husband that had been absent for so long? He just needed to make sure to find the right quirk soon.

Not once did he blame Eri. The pure young child. A reminder of the kind of future he was fighting for. The proof of how heroes weren’t infallible- how innocents could still so easily become victims.

Admittedly, he still didn’t know what to do with her. She wasn’t ready for normal school. It was slow work eliminating the Yakuza when most of them were supposed to already be dead. A quick purge would bring more attention to the supervillain and destroy any possible leads to the rest of the rats’ nests. With Eri’s mental state and quirk, it might be safer to keep her homeschooled for a little longer.

All for One couldn’t give her a sense of normalcy just yet. But in Mikumo, he could at least give her an older brother. The transition from Sensei to ‘big brother’ wasn’t just helpful to maintain a cover, but it would help her mental state as well. Assure the young girl that there were people that cared about her and wanted to see her happy and healthy. That she could afford to have a family again, no matter how small.

“Do you want to help me get ready for school?” Mikumo asked turning to her with a smile. “I could use a good hair stylist.”

The idea of helping out and playing with such a massive amount of hair brought a slight curve to the girl’s lips. She still had trouble blatantly smiling. As if she were still waiting to wake up from this months long dream. But Mikumo was more than accommodating. She nodded eagerly, taking Mikumo’s hand toward the bathroom.

Eri ran her fingers through Mikumo’s hair a few times before reaching for a comb. “You should just keep it like this! It’s more fun! Like a black sheep!”

Mikumo let out a light chuckle. He had never fussed over his hair as much in the past. He kept it shorter then too. “Well… new me, new look. I rather make as many changes as I can.”

He straightened his front strands so they could fall over the front of his face. The longer hair helped to hide his features too.

Freckles- something that danced across his cheeks when he was originally this age- had returned along with half his face after the Rewind. It felt odd after so long. It reminded him of Izuku. It reminded him of his brother.

Kazuki… with his hair long and straightened out like this, he looked more and more like his adorable younger brother. He thought it would be more painful looking in the mirror like this, but more often than not, it was nostalgic. The simpler he kept it, the happier the memories were. Especially when he was this age. When heroes were just dreams and stories.

Still, he’d keep those memories to himself. A bit of makeup to hide the freckles and styling his bangs to cover most of his face, and there wasn’t much to connect him to Izuku

Eri wasn’t perfect with the blow-dryer, but it wouldn’t do to have the young girl messing with the iron. Still, it was a decent enough job to get him through the day.

“Eri-chan! Outstanding! Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” Mikumo hammed up as he flicked his hair around pretending to be impressed with her work. Positive reinforcement went a long way with kids, especially the younger ones.

He could see a flush of red spread across Eri’s cheeks in the mirror. “Thank you Sen- big brother.”

Mikumo was sure she’d get the hang of it soon enough. Not like she would be tested on it anytime soon. “How about we switch, and I do your hair? Maybe a braid to help hold all your long hair back?”

“A… braid?”

“Yes- it’s a more western style, but it’s helpful for keeping your hair orderly.” Mikumo blew a bit of hot air on the mirror to fog it up a tad so he could trace a swirling helix-like design to show her.

Eri let out a gasp. “Like Elsa?!”

Mikumo raised an eyebrow confused. “Who?”

“The Ice Queen! In the movie Kuro-kun put on!” Eri proclaimed cheerfully. “Yes! Yes! Do it like that!”

Queen? Eh, it had to be a step up from princesses at least. Who knew what Kurogiri was using to entertain the girl when she wasn’t being plugged into one of those online learning programs to substitute for schooling.

“You’ll have to show me some time then.” Mikumo noted as he shifted their positions and began to comb Eri’s hair and section it. Although he was being polite. The last thing he wanted to do was watch any kind of medium targeted at children. But seeing as it was Kurogiri’s idea of what should be for children, and how Shigaraki ended up, he probably should check just to be safe.

“I really like Elsa!” Eri exclaimed. “She’s got a really pretty blue dress! And a really powerful Ice quirk! And she has a really nice singing voice!”

Mikumo tried to resist the urge to groan. He had a feeling he’d like gushing about fantasy cartoon characters about as much as heroes.”Mhhmm….”

“And… she’s scared of her quirk at first… It causes a lot of trouble.” Eri whispered quietly. “But… she learns how to use it… And then she’s able to make everyone happy with it!”

“Ah…” Perhaps he shouldn’t have dismissed the media so quickly. “I can see why you’d like her then.”

“Yeah! She’s great! I want to be just like her!” Eri said extatically. Mikumo had to be careful not to tug on her hair with all her bouncing around.

“Well you’re already on the road to controlling your powerful quirk. Like a queen… Hmm, I could probably see about making you the monarch of a country if that’s what you truly desire… How do you feel about small Eastern European nations in the midst of crisis?” It would be easier to just buy her a dress, but that was far too shallow.

Eri blinked confused. There was a good chunk of words she didn’t understand, but she could get a general idea of it. “You mean… you can just make me a queen?”

“Sure, I do it all the time.” Kingmaking was quite the fun way to play puppet master. Although it did make them a target. Assassinations rotated out the pawns alright. Sometimes he was the one that called the hit in when his pawns got out of line. But he didn’t want to risk such a thing with Eri. “Of course, they don’t tell you about all the boring parts of queendom in the movies. Ruling a nation. Balancing the national debt, electing trusted officials to office, finding that right balance between military state and impossible to maintain utopia.” He could already see Eri’s eyes glazing over with all the words she couldn’t understand.

“My point is… you don’t need to be an actual queen to get what you truly want.” He turned Eri’s head at an angle, so she could get a good look at herself in the mirror. She was looking much healthier than the poor little scruffy child he’d rescued. Her skin didn’t cling to her body and had quickly regained the softness more common of little girls her age. “I haven’t seen this movie of yours, but I imagine what you enjoy about this Queen is when she’s happy… when she’s able to make those around her happy as well. All the smiles. She’s worked hard and struggled through a lot, so she deserves to have a happily ever after, right?”

Eri gave a slight nod. What she really liked was the singing too, but it was easier just to agree.

Mikumo held Eri’s hand to her cheek and turned her toward him so she could face him. “Eri… You’ve faced more than you should have for someone your age. You deserve to be happy. And I will do my best to give that to you. All you need to do is ask, and if anyone can grant your request, I can.”

Sure, it was probably arrogant. But it was true. And should Eri brag to anyone, they’d assume she was a child with an active imagination that thought the world of her brother.

Except while children were quite good at creating fantasies, they seemed to be able to good at tearing them apart as well.

“My dad…” Mikumo already wished he hadn’t taken the role of the fairy godmother.

"When my quirk first emerged... I-"

"You don't have to explain Eri." Mikumo cut her off. No good would come from her reliving her trauma. "I'm afraid that I have yet to find a quirk to bring back those who are..." He had trouble mincing his words with children. Wasn't there supposed to be a bunch of nicer ways to say dead? "No longer with us..."

It had been so easy to make her smile with something as minor as a hair-do. And now that frown was back.

"But... the people we lose are still in our memories. Whether we want them to be there or not. No matter how much it hurts. Don't worry Eri… you can always make new memories. Meet new people. I know the worst is behind you now."

Mikumo tried to flash her a smile. He hated this technique, especially after Izuku had to bring up his 'similarities' to All Might. But a smile had its uses in reassuring the weary that everything would be alright. Even if it wouldn't.

"I still have some time to make us some breakfast before I head out. How about I make you something sweet?"

"Sweets... for breakfast?"

"Oh yes- there's a world of pastries out there. Danishes, jams, pancakes- let's try something new!"

Chisaki's biggest mistake with Eri wasn't the misuse of her blood and abilities when she could do much more. It was thinking long term with how to deal with people. Yes, fear was a powerful way to control a life. But there was only so long you could impose your rule before people mustered up the will to fight back. Like cornered rats, they'd become desperate enough to fight even an impossible foe. Enough bites might actually become troublesome. And when that rat was vital to your operation, you couldn't afford to have it even attempt to break out of its cage.

But if you could convince the rat to stay... convince it that this was the place it was supposed to be... that's what All for One called loyalty. He delivered on their dreams, and in return he'd earned their allegiance. He gave them new purpose when the world only saw them as broken things. He'd turned poor innocent victims into killers. One of them was currently running his operations while he was away. And another was a pawn in a revenge scheme. Someone had to kill All Might to ensure history didn't repeat itself after all.

Eri though... it would do to have her raised in the kind of environment Shigaraki was. The point of him was to create a twisted villain. He kept the brat in poor conditions, exposed him to the worst the world had to offer, and forced him down the road of a cruel and cunning criminal. In Eri, he needed a loving nurturer. One that would loyally remain by his side and those he chose. For that, he needed to love and nurture her in turn. Give her just a bit of attention, and she'd be eager to please her ‘big brother’ in any way she could.

And if it went wrong... well, he could easily give her quirk to someone else. Still, he enjoyed his progress with her so far. She was easy to 'love', if he could really call this relationship that. It was one mutually beneficial to both parties. She received attention, shelter and protection, and All for One received an effective way to ensure even time itself couldn't stand in his way. And considering he'd already had the power of space in the other palm of his hand babysitting the child, he was well on his way to mastering the universe.

She was just a more useful pawn. Not another weakness that was growing on him. He just needed to keep telling himself that.

--o--

Izuku’s longwinded rambles about quirks were easy to get lost in. Not because Mikumo got confused, but because of how Izuku seemed to get lost in his own thoughts. For someone that spent most of their life accumulating quirks speaking to someone who’d never had one, Izuku had some interesting points. But he’d ride that train of thought for hours if no one failed to stop him. And Mikumo hardly ever did. The boy needed someone to appreciate his thoughts, even if they could drag on at times. And they were quite telling of his analysis skills. If he was still actively a villain, quite a few of these heroes he spoke of could expect a cruel takedown with this kind of breakdown.

“Static’s abilities are more useful than just your average elemental blast. With enough of a charge, he can levitate just about any object. Even if it’s a poor conductor, he can work around it by increasing the voltage - it’s hard to tell how much energy he has running through him. Of course, humans make great conductors, there’d just be a tendency to electrocute them. He’d make a scary villain, but that’s true of most strong quirks. But if he’s careful, he can run the charge through their clothes, objects they have on their person, or an easier to levitate object with an insulator they can grab onto. So it’s essentially a powerful energy quirk as well as telekinesis wrapped into one. And he can gather electricity from other sources to use, but there were reports of him ‘short circuiting’ earlier in his career so I’m not sure exactly how much voltage he can take, or if he found a way to work around his limits.” Izuku spoke rapidly and some of his words  were harder to make out, but Mikumo still listened attentively.

Mikumo was honestly curious how long Izuku could go without bumping into anything but judging by how he tended to walk around with his notebook, Mikumo’s assistance directing him wasn’t really needed. Izuku’s peripheral vision must be great by now. Although his situational awareness was still somewhat lacking.

“Well, it seems we’ve arrived at your apartment complex. I’ll see you tomorrow then, Midoriy-”

“Wait!” Izuku finally awoke from his stupor.

“Ah, you want my take on him first? Well, I’m pretty sure without additional generators it would require too much energy to lift anything that wasn’t a good conductor like a metal object. Perhaps smaller objects-”

“No, not that… Although that is a good point… Maybe if there were some kind of power cells-” But he had to shake his head to snap out of it before he forgot. “What I meant was that my mom actually was wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner some time? Maybe after one of our training sessions?”

They had begun trying out a few martial arts in the park to see which one might suit Izuku. Although Mikumo was more than interested in the invitation. The next stage of friendship, and a chance to see Inko that wasn’t from a distance in the middle of a crowd! Perfect! He just had to play it cool and act like this wasn’t part of an elaborately long plan to be accepted as Izuku’s best friend forever.

“Well, I’d need to work out arrangements on my after-school schedule, but I’d be happy to.” He remarked with a smile.

“Oh- have I been keeping you from something?” Izuku asked suddenly conscious of all the times Mikumo had been walking him home and started him on this new regimen. “I’m sorry!”

“No, it’s nothing. I just need to make sure to let my sister know.” He should probably casually sneak that fact in there so it didn’t come as a huge shock or revelation later on. That was satisfactory with people casually talking about their relatives, right?

“You have a sister?” Izuku asked curious. “I’m an only child, so I wouldn’t know.”

Mikumo just shrugged. “Adopted, but yes. Should be fine.”

“What’s her name? Is she older or younger than you? Do you have any pictures of her on your phone? What’s her quirk- or is she quirkless too? Are you close?”

Mikumo stood there dumbfounded, not expecting the huge amount of questions. He knew Izuku was curious, but it wasn’t as if he’d asked him any personal questions before. Or shown an interest in much outside heroes. Was the slight mention of something about Mikumo simply enough to get him jumping for more?

“You know what- let me just ask my mom- I’m sure she’d be fine with you bringing her over too! I’ll text you the details!” Izuku shouted before rushing in the door and shutting it in Mikumo’s face.

Well, it seemed as if his son had inherited some of his less than ideal social skills as well.

Mikumo wanted to use the excuse that Eri was too shy, and that it would be easier just for him to find a sitter. But he was already getting the texts from Izuku eagerly asking about both their favorite foods, how he still wanted to find out how old his sibling was so they could plan portion sizes, and it was hard to rain on his parade.

On one hand, this could be a good experience for Eri. Give her some positive people in her life, and she’d eventually meet them anyways. It would allow for a bit of buffer between Mikumo and them, so the focus wouldn’t be entirely on him and Inko wouldn’t be as aware of the fact that she was sharing dinner with her teenaged husband.

On the other, he wasn’t sure if Eri was ready for this. Mikumo wasn’t sure if he was ready for this. He worked out his backstory, but all the questions on Eri made him think like he hadn’t developed the family dynamic nearly enough. He didn’t have any pictures on his phone, let alone of Eri- was that what teens did while constantly on their mobiles? Snap endless pictures? With Eri, it was best to keep it simple and close to the truth- his “father” rescued her, adopted her, but was busy and mostly left her in the care of Mikumo and an associate caring for them both. He’d practiced a bit with Eri and going along with that story since he had no intention to shelter her from the public, and she’d gone out with him on minor errands acting as the perfect little sister. But was she ready?

Mikumo looked back at his phone. He really wanted to accept that invitation and share a meal with his family again. Eri could either help it go further without as many weird questions or be another complication.

Then again, anything weird that came out of her mouth could just be attributed to children and their imagination or easy ability to get confused.

Mikumo sent the request for this Friday night. He could smell Inko’s cooking already.

--o--

When Mikumo informed Eri that they’d been invited to have dinner at his friend’s house, she’d been reluctant about the idea. Since being rescued, she’d only really talked much with Kurogiri and Mikumo. The handful of times she’d gone out in public, she’d stayed as silent as she could, kept her responses short, and clung to her big brother like a lifeline. It was hard for her to tell who she could trust.

Mikumo assured her the Midoriyas were good people- some of the best. That he trusted them, enjoyed their company, and hoped that Eri would as well. She didn’t have to come if she didn’t want to, but they would be kind even if she wanted to keep quiet the entire time.

Switching up their usual routine, Izuku and Mikumo walked to the latter’s apartment instead to pick up Eri. Kurogiri had already cleared out- probably best for Izuku not to see him just incase the teleporter ended up on the news due to Shigaraki’s antics. Mikumo knocked on the door, just to give Eri a bit of warning before he began unlocking the apartment.

“Eri-chan! I’m here with Midoriya-kun! Are you ready to go?”

While Mikumo did seem to be more at ease with Izuku than he did with any of his other classmates, he did seem much more cheerful when speaking to the young girl. Izuku hadn’t stepped inside, but what he could see from the doorway, everything seemed neat and orderly. A bit too organized for a home with two kids, but he supposed they were both just very disciplined in keeping the place tidy.

A head poked out from a little past Izuku’s waist. Red eyes stared up at him before clinging to Mikumo’s leg.

“It’s alright- he won’t bite!” Mikumo teased.

Izuku knew he said she was shy, but those wide eyes gawking at him made him feel like some kind of giant. He tried his best to be polite.

“Er, I’m sure Akatani-kun has already introduced me, but I’m Midoriya Izuku! Nice to meet you Eri-chan!”

Eri only stared. She seemed to be clutching something in her hands. A box of sort. “So, what have you got there?” Izuku asked trying to be polite.

Continued intense starring.

“It’s alright. Midoriya-kun ends up doing most of the talking anyways” Mikumo said taking Eri at her waist and lifting her up on his shoulders. The young girl rested the white box on Mikumo’s head as they walked in the direction of the Midoriya household. They were both within the same train stop. Far enough away that they weren’t neighbors, but not close enough that it would raise any red flags that Mikumo intentionally picked the location to be near them.

It wasn’t stalking when one of your aliases shared a name with them, right?

“Mom, I’m home! And I brought the Akatanis!” Izuku called out.

“Thank you for having us!” Mikumo yelled as he slipped off his shoes.

“Thank you.” A quiet whisper came from Eri as she stepped forward with the box.

Inko turned from the couch area looking flustered. From up close, it seemed like she’d put on some weight over the years. No matter- Mikumo had defiantly lost plenty more than he should have in contrast. She was still as soft looking as ever, even with her hair in a looser bun than usual. The difficulties of essentially being a single mother, but she bore it well. Her eyes were a refreshing spring despite-

Oh god, Mikumo knew he better stop ogling Inko before he made a fool out of himself. He ducked down to Eri’s level to take the box from her hands, using it to hide his face.

“Glad to meet you Midoriya-san” Like with Izuku, it hurt to go back to less personal honorifics, but it couldn’t be helped “Just a little something the two of us made for you.” He said presenting the box to her.

“Oh, you shouldn’t have! And Inko will be fine!” Inko took the box from Mikumo’s hands and slid it open. “My goodness! Are you sure you didn’t pick this up from a fancy bakery?”

The bright pink cake was elaborately decorated with curls of white frosting. A circle of strawberries rimmed the edges of the desert.

“I helped.” Eri quietly whispered.

“Yes! She read out everything, helped mix the frosting, and was great at managing the kitchen!” Mikumo praised even though he did most of the work. Cooking was much easier when telekinesis was involved.

“Well thank you both. I’m sure it will be delicious.” Inko said bringing it in toward the kitchen. “I’m afraid I haven’t started dinner yet… I thought you and Izuku would be working on school work for a few hours first.”

Izuku shrugged. “We’re all caught up on our studies, and Akatani-kun said he’d never played any of the HeroMon games! I figured I’d show him!”

While Mikumo’s knowledge of modern games may be lacking, he wasn’t eager to get an education in them just yet. Not when there was another opportunity available.

“True, but so long as Inko-san hasn’t started dinner, perhaps I’ll help her in the kitchen. I’m rather handy when it comes to cooking!” As well as just about anything. Hundreds of years of experience and a few quirks that made learning easy, and there was no reason not to dabble in just about everything.

“No, don’t worry about it! You’re our guest!” Inko insisted. “You, Izuku and Eri-chan play the game!”

Mikumo only waved it off. “It would be my pleasure to- you’re the one that’s probably used to cooking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sous chef?” He turned toward Eri. “Would you be alright with playing with Midoriya-kun for a bit? I was hoping you’d get to know each other better.”

Eri looked at Izuku cautiously who flashed her a bright smile. “What about you Eri? Have you played any video games before?”

Eri shook her head, but she stepped toward Izuku anyways. Good, some simple low-input interaction should help loosen her up around strangers.

Inko still seemed reluctant to accept the teen’s help, but he still marched into the kitchen anyways. It had been years since he had the chance to cook with Inko, and he wasn’t trading it for mere video games. Inko began pulling out the ingredients, and without any request, Mikumo began washing his hands and then the fruits and vegetables.

“There’s still plenty of dishes Eri-chan’s yet to try out, but so far she’s taken a liking toward apple curry- thank you for taking her opinion into account.” Mikumo said as he began slicing up the apples like a pro.

Inko’s eyes were focused on Mikumo’s hands, before she began slicing the onions and potatoes beside him. “It’s no trouble… Izuku mentioned that you hadn’t been siblings for long?”

Mikumo nodded. “Only a few months. My father rescued her- it’s why she’s shy around strangers. Her previous guardian… they were a real piece of work.”

“So your father is a hero? Or a police officer?” Inko asked.

“Special forces agent… although he mainly has been taking on more of a teaching role in recent years. He’s still sometimes called into the field. His work has me moving around the world. But hopefully I should be able to stay in Japan longer this time around.” He’d mentioned most of this to Izuku already. A backstory that might help to explain some of Mikumo’s basic training and skill sets, and an excuse as to why he might be out of date with what kids were into currently- different trends in different parts of the world.

Mikumo tried to sneak a glance at Inko whenever she could. Still hesitant. That reluctant about having a stranger cook for her? She certainly deserved it. But he wasn’t expecting it when Inko reached over to move the long bangs away from Mikumo’s eyes. Turning her head, she got a better look at his face.

“You really should tie your hair back when working in the kitchen…” Inko mumbled. She took a small hair tie out of her pocket and offered it to Mikumo.

It shouldn’t have given away too much. After all, he still had his foundation hiding most of his freckles- something that faded from his face for the most part as an adult. Inko had hardly ever seen her husband’s real face. It should all be fine. He nodded and tied his hair back like she asked before going to wash his hands again.

He had not been prepared for tonight in the slightest. Once again, he’d underestimated his opponent. And now he would pay the consequences.

One word from Inko’s lips tore through his disguise.

“Hisashi…”

Chapter Text

“Hisashi…”

Mikumo hung his head low. Damn it. He’d been too overconfident. He’d thought he’d managed to make the perfect façade with Izuku. But Inko had known him longer. Known him better than any other human had managed without actually knowing his past. She knew his mannerisms. How he spoke. How he breathed. How did he think he’d be able to fool her?

“I see him in you.” Inko finally spoke with a faint smile with a warm memory on her mind.

Mikumo stayed frozen, still not sure if she was talking metaphorically or literally.

“There’s still a lot I don’t know about him… I didn’t want to know… I… I should have.” The warmth fell from Inko’s face as it was filled with regrets.

She spoke as if he was dead. In a way, he kind of was while Mikumo existed. He couldn’t be both. Not physically. Well, maybe with some kind of cloning quirk, but it wouldn’t be the same.

“I don’t even know if Hisashi even was his real name.”

“It was.” Mikumo spoke up without even thinking. It was the given name he was born with. Yet it failed to describe him properly as much as All for One did. That power- that was the person he wanted to be. Rising above all with the world at his feet. But when he was with Inko… she managed to make him Hisashi again. The man that just wanted to care for his family.

Inko took a sip of her tea. “Maybe you knew him better than I did… if he stayed with you… your family… Akatani… Was that his real family name, or that of your mother’s?”

Every word from Inko’s lips was a bitter poison. Was that what she thought she was looking at? The living proof that her husband may have cheated on him? That the reason he’d been ‘out of the country’ for so long was that he was with another family?

Would it hurt any less than the truth? That he was a supervillain that had killed hundreds and destroyed thousands of more lives. That he wasn’t with her because he was running his empire on the sidelines. He told himself he was tying up some loose ends. Keeping their family safe. Yet in those months leading up to his battle with All Might, his family saw less and less of him. And with him gone completely… He could always call. But it grew harder with time. His talks became less frequent. The idea that Hisashi had been cheating on her was much simpler. Probably made more sense.

“He didn’t. There was no one else.” Mikumo whispered. He knew he should keep his mouth shut. Go with the simplest explanation. Don’t risk both of his identities for the sake of excusing the actions of one. But it hurt. The idea that the person most important to him was suffering. That it was his fault. Inko was the perfect interrogator for him, somehow able to draw far too many secrets out of his lips

“You don’t need to make excuses for him.” Inko interrupted. She was clearly making the boy uncomfortable. “I’m sorry… I know this isn’t your fault.”

“It is.”

Why the hell was he picking now to be honest with her?! Why did it hurt so much?! Was it these damn teenage hormones pumping through his body? Making him feel greater guilt over one woman than numerous corpses scattered around him.

“Are you him then? You look a little small for my husband.” Inko asked with a playful smile on her lips. She must have thought it was some kind of little joke without realizing how close she got it. There was a slight twitch in her lips though. The longer Mikumo remained silent the more her little joke seemed accurate.

But Mikumo only remained frozen in pain. Damn it. If he could just turn back the clock- or turn it forward right now. If this really was a disguise he could control, it would have fallen apart now.

“I only saw his real face once…” Hisashi could remember the exact instance on that beach. When his face melted away before her and she saw more than just the disguise he’d put on. Would she have recognized him now if he wasn’t so stupidly vulnerable with her then? He wanted to tell her the truth. For her to know the real him. But not everything.

“…And I told him it didn’t matter what face he wore. That it mattered who he wanted to be.”

Mikumo bit his lip, trying to stop the truth from pouring out. Was Inko toying with him? Would she really be saying all this if she thought he was just some bastard child?

“If he chose to be with us… to be the good man I knew I saw when he was with me, none of what came before would have mattered. But he didn’t.” There was that bitterness in her voice again. The pads of her fingers turned red as she continued to clutch the handle of a knife in her hand. Did they really have to have this conversation in the kitchen with all these sharp objects around?!

“He didn’t leave you.” Mikumo tried to speak again. His voice trembled, not sure how much of the truth he could take. Could he really confess to her with this face? Without loosing what standing he’d gained with Izuku? “You were… are the most important person to him.”

He tried to lift his head to look her in the eye. But for as much he liked to claim he was the most powerful being on the planet, he didn’t even have the strength to tilt his neck.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Inko said exhausted. She’d spent enough time waiting. Wondering if he still even cared. If it was something her or Izuku said or failed to do. But she had to believe that it wasn’t them at fault. “He could have stayed… but he didn’t… I don’t know why… I don’t even know if he really was with you or for other reasons. I just know that whatever it was, we weren’t his priority. He didn’t even trust us enough to say why.”

Mikumo gritted his teeth. He wanted to say it again. That she was most important to him. That after he met her, all his work as All for One was simply meant to push that life behind him. That if she knew, she would have hated him, so of course he kept them in the dark.

But… Inko was right. He started off on the path to being a good family man. It was easier not to care what criminal operations were falling apart while he was in that honeymoon phase. Was it that it grew quieter and he longed for more than a simple life? That he kept seeing little things in the world he was desperate to change? That he wanted a better world for Izuku to grow into? That he was like some kind of heroine addict that just couldn’t stay away for long? Whichever it was, Inko was right. He failed them. He proved there were other things ‘more important’ than remaining with his family. Distractions. He knew what he would choose in his heart if given the choice. But life wasn’t some big dramatic crossroads where you knew what you wanted and could choose that path. There were many little choices that led you that way. Every time Hisashi walked out the door, he made a choice. He thought that it wouldn’t matter in the long term. That it was the intent that mattered. He’d return to them, and what his family didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

But every time he chose to step into the underworld, there was a chance something would go wrong. Every little roll of the dice, he could have been caught by a surprise assassination, a quirk he didn’t even know existing, or an elaborate ambush. And because he gambled so often, All Might found him when he’d probably never have caught wind of him if he stayed home.

Without even meaning to, Hisashi chose to be All for One.

Regret… it was so much worse than fear. It was close to loss. But had he lost everything yet?

With tears welling up in his eyes, Mikumo finally looked up and faced Inko. And like many times in his marriage, he asked himself once again.

‘How much does she actually know?’

There was no hate or anger in her eyes. There never was. Just sorrow.

‘What matters is who you want to be’

While being Mikumo, it felt temporary. A snack to last him between meals. When he found what he was looking for, the boy could ‘move away’, and Hisashi could make his triumphant return to his family. He’d already been asking himself if that was possible. Simply for the sake if he could, if he’d be accepted back. Not if he should after what damage his absence had caused. Seeing Inko like this… how much pain had he already brought her?

As much as he hated to admit it, Inko didn’t need him. She had done a fine job caring for Izuku in his absence. Better than he could have alone. She’d been hurt by Hisashi’s absence, but she was still standing. She had given Hisashi something he didn’t even know he needed. And now he couldn’t live without it. He needed her, not the other way around.

Izuku may not need Hisashi either. Inko filled his parental needs quite nicely, and Hisashi had failed to pick up on the things he should have. Failed to be there to comfort him in his times of need.

But as Mikumo… perhaps he could be something new for both of them. Truly start new. Be the second chance he didn’t deserve but wanted to be better for their sakes. Already, his injury forced him to cut back from most of his activities. His only link now was Kurogiri, and he’d been more successful in keeping his connections with the underworld sparse now that he physically could no longer be there as more than a voice from a screen. He could leave that life for good this time.

He has a choice. Tell Inko the truth and loose her for sure for the sake of continuing to explain himself as Hisashi. Cling to her for his own sake. Or… go with one last lie. Be Mikumo. Not for himself. But be entirely there for them. Notice their pain this time. Be better this time around. Listen to them. And actually stay away from criminal activities.

“I’m sorry… when I approached Izuku at school, I wasn’t entirely honest.” Mikumo admitted. And he still wouldn’t be. But lying was something he was usually good at. “You’re right… I do share Hisashi’s genes… But… He hasn’t exactly been with me either.”

This had been one of his backup plans. He just didn’t expect to have to use this story so soon.

Inko frowned and nodded. Mikumo’s eyes were focused on her. How much was she really fine with? How much did she actually believe this time around?

“He never really cared much about me or mom until she was out of the picture. After that, I ended up getting pawned off to whichever subordinate of his was available to care for me over a few months or couple of years. Whatever visions you have of him curling up with some other woman… well, you’re the only woman he talked about whenever I saw him.”

“He talked about someone else’s mother to his son?” Inko asked confused.

Mikumo scratched his head. He probably didn’t think that one through. “Well… is that really the weirdest way you can say he’s acted? He’s not exactly the best with people.” He was honest with himself enough to admit that much.

Inko let out a soft chuckle at that. A sound Hisashi missed so much. “I guess that sounds like him.”

“I hardly ever got to see him… I knew I was the weird bastard child so the fact that I had any support was more than I could have asked for. Better than getting shipped off to an orphanage or foster care system I guess. I just kind of assumed that whatever time he wasn’t spending with me or at work, he was with his real family.”

It was the best compromise he could make with this whole backstory. He knew it was possible with how he looked that Izuku or Inko might make the connection. And if someone ran a DNA test… well, he prepared for this outcome more than he planned for what normal teen hobbies he might have.

Inko shook her head. “Then should have told us. I wouldn’t have liked the idea of it at first-” Especially considered that Mikumo and Izuku were within the same year. “-But you shouldn’t have had to grow up living from household to household like that. Eri-chan too.”

“He should have told you a lot of things.” Mikumo admitted. And there was plenty he still wasn’t going to tell her. But as long as he was going to behave and live the life of a teenage boy, there shouldn’t be any more harm in it. “I… well, I was back in Japan… Wasn’t too hard to do some prodding and figure out where Izuku went to school and get myself registered for however long I’d be here… I just wanted a peek at what he was like. And well… I honestly liked him. He was interesting to hang around. I swear I wasn’t going to cause any trouble for him!”

“I wasn’t accusing you of that… I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to press you… I just…” Inko sighed. “I don’t know what I was thinking…” What she might still be thinking.

“It’s… fine…” Mikumo let out a sigh. He could live with being some illegitimate child. Maybe his relationship with Inko this time around would be shaky. But at least he would actually be here this time.

“So… Is Eri-chan also…”

Mikumo’s eyes widened. “Oh god no.”

Wait… He had made ties with the Yakuza a few generations back. He did have had a biological child get involved, even if they were quirkless. That white-grey hair and red eyes was a little like his brother’s if he squinted…

NOPE! He was not going down this train of thought! Who knew how many decedents he had running around. That did not make him responsible for all of them. Whatever Eri’s biological background was, his reasons for keeping her near were completely different! And Inko and Izuku had earned his curiosity and interest past any genetic ties!

Inko let out a chuckle, cutting the tension. “If you say so…” She began piling the ingredients in a pot. “It just needs time to cook- why don’t you go back and play with Izuku and Eri-chan?”

Mikumo nodded and turned away. A bullet dodged- well, more like grazed him. But he’d survive. It wasn’t the best possible outcome, but it wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t over yet either. “…Are you going to tell him?”

Inko raised an eyebrow. “That he has a half-brother that changed schools to befriend him and figure out how he was doing?”

“Well I was in the neighborhood…” Mikumo mumbled. It was actually far more intense and planned out than that.

Inko sighed. “I really think you should tell him. Everything. He doesn’t need another Hisashi keeping secrets from him and then suddenly disappearing.”

“I… I’m not going to disappear.” Mikumo decided. “Not… not willingly.”

He couldn’t just distance himself from them again, half-way through the grave or not. Hisashi… he would have to remain in that grave for Mikumo to have a fresh start. So he could be there for his family.

“And the secrets?”

Mikumo bit his lip. “Not from here on out…”

“I won’t tell him… But you should tell him the truth.”

Damn it Inko. How could she manage what hundreds of heroes couldn’t? Make him truly hurt. Make him feel guilt. There was no point to those feelings. To regrets. They only held him back.

“Maybe someday…” Maybe he’d tell them everything. Maybe he’d take it to his grave.

Inko watched as Mikumo sulked out of the kitchen. Maybe she was too hard on him.

And maybe her damn husband decided to pull something near impossible and thought he could play around with hers and Izuku’s feelings all over again. No. She wasn’t letting history repeat itself. Maybe Mikumo was some poor bastard child looking for acceptance in the world. In that case, she would give him and Eri the love they needed.

But this time, she would know exactly what was going on.

Chapter Text

It had been a month since the new kid entered school, and yet still no one could settle on what his quirk was. Bakugo wanted to change his bet, but he wasn’t entirely sure as to what. After their little encounter, there were a few rumors circulating about himself as well. That he was more bark than his bite. Which he was happy to settle with anyone that cared to take it outside. Those rumors didn’t last long.

Yet it all seemed to be crushed rather anti-climactically by their science teacher. The students were once again shuffling around their bets after class, and they’d made the instructor curious enough to look it up for themselves. They acted like they weren’t invested themselves, but finding the answer was more disappointing to them with how much gossip it was causing.

“I don’t know what you kids are getting so worked up about. Akatani-kun’s quirkless.”

There was a mix of gasps and chuckles throughout the class. A few looks of disbelief. Mikumo himself wasn’t sure he was more annoyed that his fun was spoiled so quickly or that the teacher was just passing around his private data like it was party trivia. Sure, the “secret quirkless” thing lasted longer than he thought it would. And he never even really intended to hide it. But it had been fun to be an enigma in the class. Not that he wanted or needed their attention. But perhaps it would be easier to go ignored. Mikumo wasn’t here for them.

Still, a good chunk of the class didn’t believe it.

“Wait, but he doesn’t get out of breath in gym- you’re secretly using your quirk, aren’t you?” A blue haired girl asked ambushing Mikumo’s desk.

Damn it, he was getting caught in another one of these crowds. “Propper breathing exercises and regulating your heart rate will take you a long way.” Ok, he had been cheating with a few enhancement quirks at first, but those were just training wheels while he broke this younger form in! He was in less than mediocre shape when he was originally this age due to poor nutrition access, and he needed a bit of time to get a reasonable amount of muscle on him.

“And all the high scores when you’re not even paying attention to class or even spending much time on the test?” A kid with stretchy eyeballs pressed.

Mikumo scoffed. “Intelligence doesn’t require a quirk. This is all bellow my level. I just rather not skip another grade.” Technically, if he determined the age of this body right, he was a year younger than Izuku. But it was close enough to fudge on the paperwork.

Bakugo though continued to be his most adamant tormenter. “You’re a fucking liar. You have something. There’s no way you’re some useless nobody.”

Mikumo glared at his continued insistence on framing the quirkless that way. “You’re right. I’m not. But a quirk has little to do with my self-worth.” At least that was the moral of the day he was going for with this form. His own quirk put him leagues above all the pathetic mortals in this country, but even without it, he still easily trumped everyone in this school.

The subject of the interrogation glanced around trying to find Izuku over the horde of students. Even if Bakugo’s words were directed toward Mikumo, he hoped the boy wouldn’t take them on himself. He stood up from his desk trying to look through the crowd. Izuku hadn’t seemed to have left his own seat, but he seemed to be listening.

“Yeah right. Who fed you that bullshit line? I can get faking having a quirk, but faking not having one? What, you just want the attention rather than people finding out you have a lame quirk? Or maybe you’re just hiding a villainous one.”

Mikumo honestly wasn’t expecting Bakugo to get so close to the truth. But his reasoning was planted less in how Mikumo behaved and more discrimination toward the quirkless. That he couldn’t just be a student that excelled in athletics and academics. That he had to have a quirk to be worth something.

“So what is it? You drain the life out of those around you or something?” Bakugo guessed. What would push this nobody over the edge of everyone else?

“There’s someone in class 2-C who can steal the thoughts right out of your head. Maybe he’s got something like that, but physical- It would explain why I failed the long distance run assessment.” And not the fact that the gossiping long nosed brat came into class as a sleep deprived zombie.

Mikumo rolled his eyes. “I’m not putting up with this witch hunt. But yes, go on thinking that me forging a government form and illegally using a quirk is more likely than a quirkless person deciding to put effort into excelling in places that don’t require quirks- which judging by the fact that you can’t use them except in select professions, that’s almost all of them.”

Yes, he really did just forge a lot more than a few government forms and cheated with quirks whenever he could get away with it, but he was trying to be an example for his son here!

--o--

Despite the awkward first dinner (Mikumo was stiffly silent most of the rest of the night) there were still more to come after. It became quite the nice routine. Izuku and Mikumo would leave school, pick Eri up, head out for some training (which could be anything from a jog with them alternating carrying Eri on their back or sparing in the park as the albino girl eagerly watched) and then cool down on the way to the Midoriya home where Inko would prepare dinner for them. Izuku and Mikumo would study for class after (mostly Mikumo helping Izuku brush up on his weaker points while they both got distracted looking up hero news) while Inko entertained Eri. Sometimes Mikumo would do the cooking and invite Inko and Izuku over to their home. Inko felt flustered, but Mikumo insisted that just because he was young didn’t mean he couldn’t cook for himself and treat his friends properly. It wasn’t fair if Inko had to do the cooking for two extra bodies after all, even if Mikumo started to help with the shopping.

Overall, things had reached a nice calm. Eri’s quirk training had perhaps fallen a bit to the wayside since they were both spending more time with the Midoriyas, but it wasn’t too much of a priority. He wasn’t in a rush to find out if she could possibly turn the clock the other way if he really did plan to stay in this form. She’d have years to get a hold of her quirk. Mikumo just wanted to relax and enjoy his family. Eri could learn over time and it’s not as if she was firing off her quirk accidentally. While physical contact was needed to activate her quirk, it wasn’t always on like Tomura’s was.

This afternoon, it was simple jogging. But through a city environment, it was like a living obstacle course. A game of ‘the floor is lava’ except bumping into a person meant you just got torched by a villain with a flame body quirk. Eri was enjoying herself enforcing their little game.

“Izukkun! That’s your 5th arm you’ve lost!” Eri called out with a giggle from on top of Mikumo’s shoulders.

“Come on, we’re at a stoplight. They bumped into me.” The budding hero proclaimed as he continued to jog in place.

Mikumo was just happy to hear Eri speaking up a bit more and talking comfortably in pubic. “Oh? I’ll let the villains know that attacking you doesn’t count while the light is red then.” Mikumo teased.

Izuku shook his head. “Fine… if I can get home without getting 4 more hits, I can still beat last week’s record.”

“And it would still be twice as many scorched limbs as you actually have.” Mikumo chuckled.

“Well, heroes get fancy prosthetics. Some of them are essentially quirks on their own!”

Mikumo groaned at the thought of that. “Please don’t use that as an incentive to go trading in arms for some kind of plasma sword attachment.”

“I was actually thinking more something like Ingenium- rocket propelled arms!”

“It wouldn’t work on its own. Ingenium also has the joints and altered bone structure to stop his quirk from ripping off his arms every time he speeds across the city.” There was also the appropriate knowledge of physics and balance to stop one from flying into a wall, but Izuku was already starting to learn the former. Maybe if he could keep better control of his movements in the middle of a jog, he could master the later.

Eri began messing with Mikumo’s hair once the hero and quirk talk began. It usually came with a whole lot of words she didn’t understand. A tuft of hair of Mikumo’s curled up in the back. The light changed and Mikumo strutted ahead across the street. Izuku kept up behind, but it seemed like an odd little sight. His hair wasn’t naturally straight? Huh, Mikumo didn’t seem like the sort to worry much about what people thought of him, let alone fuss over his hair. Did he maybe dye it too?

“Keep up, Midoriya-kun!” Mikumo yelled playfully already a half a block ahead.

“R-right!” Izuku stumbled as he picked up his pace a little to catch up to them again. It probably wasn’t good to talk about loosing arms like this in front of Eri anyways. Better to stick with a more light-hearted conversation topic. “Summer vacation is coming up… do you two have any plans?”

“Oh, that’s right, that’s a thing…” Mikumo mumbled. A season off from school. Would it be too odd to continue to spend most of his time with Izuku? He’d probably want more ‘training’. Now that he saw a glimpse of something he could do to better become a hero, he didn’t seem to want to do much else with their free time. Still, whatever time he could get with him was welcome.

“What’s that?” Eri wondered.

“Oh, that’s right- you’re home schooled.” Izuku remembered. Although Inko was trying to convince both the Akatani’s to let her attend a normal Kindergarten come next school season. “From late July to September, your brother and I will have time off from school.”

Eri gasped. “Like Sundays? And Holidays?”

Izuku nodded. “Except for about 2 months!”

Eri was certainly excited, but Mikumo still didn’t exactly have any plans himself. “What about you Midoriya-kun? Isn’t your birthday coming up?”

Izuku scratched his head. “Oh- I don’t really do much. It’s usually just me and my mom… Wait, how did you find out?” Was his mom planning something?

Mikumo was about to claim Inko mentioned it when the sharp screech of rubber against pavement filled the air. The screech of steel grating on steel. Glass shattering. Car alarms blasting through the air. Screams.

Shit.

Izuku’s eyes were wide open. His head darted toward the direction of the noise.

“Don’t even think about it.” Mikumo snapped. Part of having Eri around was as a deterrent. That they wouldn’t go looking for trouble while they had a vulnerable child along. Yet despite the ‘age of peace’ that All Might supposedly brought, villain attacks were still common enough. The last thing Mikumo needed was for any of them to get dragged into one.

“You watch Eri-chan. I’m only going to take a quick look!” Izuku yelled. He weaved through the newly forming crowd, their game of stealthily slipping through forgotten in favor of shoving his way past.

Mikumo remained fuming in place for a moment. His inclusion of Eri backfired- she was a ball and chain preventing him from getting further. He couldn’t just set her down and rush after Izuku. Even if the small amount of remaining Yakuza weren’t a factor, she was still a child in a newly forming crowd and could easily get lost or hurt. But Izuku… he was rushing a whole lot closer to the danger zone. Despite the fact that he was supposed to be old enough to know better, he- like most of the idiot civilians- trusted heroes to the point of treating these battles like a spectacle rather than a serious threat.

 Carrying Eri with him into the crowd could put her in danger as well, but he had to make a choice. The least possible number of bad outcomes. And when it came to Eri or Izuku, he enjoyed the girl’s company but the choice was easy. He’d just grab Izuku and drag him back. It took him less than two seconds to make his decision, but enough people had already cluttered behind Izuku in that time.

“Eri-chan, hold on tight.” Mikumo instructed as he bolted into the crowd. He didn’t care who he pushed or shoved past. He needed to make it to the front where Izuku likely was.

Mikumo already noticed that the crowd wasn’t getting much thicker as he approached. Were the police actually doing their job for once and turning civilians away? Had a hero settled it all that quickly?

Mikumo didn’t care. He still pushed through. He could barely see the green curls hidden up ahead. Izuku was in the thick of it alright. All it could take was one bit of flying debris. A villain deciding to pluck out a hostage from the crowd. Quirks flying all over the place. All for One couldn’t even count the number of civilians that had gotten caught in the crossfire any time he had a decent enough threat on his hands. Was this some kind of karma for his son to suffer the same fate?

No, such a thing didn’t exist, otherwise he’d have been stricken dead where he stood long ago. He had to just focus on getting Izuku and getting out no matter what hero he was eager to watch.

When Mikumo made it to the front of the crowd he didn’t see any police officers quick to make a perimeter. He didn’t even see many people remaining before they turned away. Izuku seemed to be one of the few still watching intensely. Mikumo couldn’t help letting out a stifled breath of relief.

A car crash was less mundane than a villain attack in this era of heroes and villains, but a welcome change to the nightmare scenario Mikumo had been imagining. And while the few standing and watching rather than continuing with their day would only become victims of the bystander effect, Izuku seemed to be the only one with enough sense to call the emergency dispatchers. From the looks of it, a older businessman in one car and a young man in his early 20’s were pinned up against the airbags of each of what remained of their crumpled vehicles. They didn’t seem to be moving. The amount of blood seem to imply injuries would keep them from doing so for a while- if they ever did again. But better them than a villain attack potentially hurting his son.

Finally, Izuku’s speech on the phone shifted from frantic shouts of every little detail to quiet yes and no’s. He whispered a few things about his name and background, but from the little Mikumo could gather, the dispatcher was just trying to keep him on the line. Izuku remained still as his eyes were locked on the wreckage up ahead, but he was breathing faster than he should have. Traffic had slowed, yet cars were already moving around what was surely just a minor inconvenience to their day. It was probably lucky that there were only two involved in the accident. But as Izuku slowly moved his phone down from his ear to his side, Mikumo still feared there was room for one more.

Izuku began to step forward before Mikumo reached out placing his hand on the reckless boy’s shoulder. “You did your part. Let’s go.”

“They- they still need help…” Izuku muttered quietly. He was in shock. It was likely he’d never seen a civilian injured this close. It was quite different on TV. “They’re dying! They’re-”

“-In more danger if you try and move them.” Mikumo quickly snapped. His patience was already at its limits for having to chase Izuku down like this. There was still the slight chance one of those cars could explode with just a spark.  “You have no emergency response training. Even if you did, you lack the equipment. You try and even nudge them, and you could be causing them permanent paralysis if there’s spinal damage.”

Izuku hung his head. Part of him knew that. But in the heat of an incident, it was easy to forget. “I have to do something.”

“You already have. You called someone who can help. Which is more than most of the idiots simply satisfying their curiosity can say.”

Mikumo could see Izuku’s hand twitching. It seemed that reckless urge was beating out logic. Mikumo still hadn’t removed his hand from Izuku’s shoulder trying his best to keep him in place. He wasn’t resisting against the gesture, but his eyes kept daring toward the scene of the accident. Eri was gripping tightly to Mikumo’s school uniform, trying to burry her head in his hair. There wasn’t much gore, but the less blood she saw the better.

Mikumo probably could do something. Even if his medical license hadn’t been renewed in over a decade, he still knew what to do in this kind of situation. And while he lacked the proper equipment, he had a few quirks that could hold each of the victims still as he removed them away from a car that still had a low chance of exploding. But he was no hero. Their lives were less important to him than his identity. After all, they were supposed to just be middle schoolers without the qualifications to help.

“They… still breathing.” Izuku said trying to reassure himself. Give himself reasons not to rush in.

“Then they’ll live for a few more minutes. You can’t do anything more for them. Stop troubling yourself by staying here.” He couldn’t bare to see Izuku go into shock over just the sight as well.

“They could still-”

“IZUKU!” Mikumo snapped turning Izuku away from the crash forcing him to look away. His grip grew tighter. “Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than to risk hurting yourself or the people you’re trying to save. Harder even. But you need to know your own limits.”

Izuku was still breathing heavily, but his hands stopped shaking. “Can we… Can we at least stay until someone comes?”

Mikumo wanted nothing more than to get them all away from this annoying little accident, but it would be more difficult to convince Izuku otherwise. “Of course.” He muttered bitterly.

They remained still, both leaning against each other. Mikumo could feel the moist tears soaking into his scalp. Great, this whole mess had probably impeded Eri’s recovery process. Still, she’d probably have been in a worse state if he just left her. But they wouldn’t be in this situation at all if Izuku hadn’t run into trouble. What was he supposed to do about this impulsive instinct of Izuku’s to attempt to help even when there was little he could do?

 Half a century ago, it probably would have taken around ten minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Instead, after just a minute and a half, a young woman in her early 20’s in a bright pink jump suit and roller skates skid from behind traffic. She wasn’t any hero Mikumo could recognize, and judging by Izuku’s confusion, none he did either. They were likely new and on their patrol.

“Sidekick, Neon-Lights of Team Idaten! Help is on the scene!” She proclaimed. Yet she wasn’t looking toward the remaining onlookers, not wasting a second as she rushed to the closest victim. She quickly assessed their pulse and breathing before quickly rushing to the older man who seemed worse off. She began taking equipment out of a pouch that blended into the back of her costume. A cervical collar and small foldable oxygen mask that she began to start placing on the man. “You’re going to be just fine sir!”

Mikumo humped. False reassurance, yet Izuku was likely to fanboy over them all the same. Still, Izuku’s own breathing was slowing. Finally, Mikumo let him go and moved his head away. He hoped the wave of heroic impulses had washed over him by now.

“Now can we go?” Mikumo asked getting more and more impatient. Izuku was no longer at risk, but this entire incident was already more of an annoyance. Izuku stayed quiet though watching every little move the roller disco-themed sidekick made, hardly hearing his friend’s irritated request.

Once the emergency medical team arrived, the sidekick helped to remove the injured out of the wreckage and onto a set of stretchers. The police weren’t far behind them. The ambulances began to drive away, but the sidekick remained and started giving report to the police.

Izuku, Mikumo and Eri were the only ones that remained watching while all the other civilians took the long way around. Mikumo’s toe tapped franticly really hoping Izuku didn’t want to stick around for the autograph of some grunt.

Still, their report was fairly quick before Neon-Lights turned to the youngsters with a smile. “You must be Midoriya-kun!” She said in the general direction of both the students.

Izuku’s stiff nodding and nervous sweating was still better than the frantic breathing from earlier at least. “Yes-mam!”

“Good work on calling for help! Glad to see everyday people doing their part keeping an eye and ear out for those in need!” She said giving a thumbs up and a literally blinding smile. There were colorful glimmers of greens and pinks swirling in the air, likely a part of her quirk. Eri’s head finally poked up a bit at the shining lights. She stayed quiet around the strange woman, but she at least seemed to have calm down a bit as well.

“Oh! Of course! No problem at all! You’re the one that really saved them!” Izuku insisted.

Mikumo rolled his eyes. Sure, it was the first spandex clad minion to run on the scene that saved the day, not the medical professionals that were still working to ensure neither of the victim’s lungs were pierced or spine was cracked.

“I didn’t realize… Um… Do sidekicks normally act alone?” Izuku asked curious.

“Course not! I’m never alone!” The sidekick was happy to explain. “Got 4 other sidekicks and 1 pro patrolling the zone right now! They got to keep on moving- some villains have been known to take advantage of the confusion and strike elsewhere while they think the heroes are occupied. But any sidekick or pro is also a first responder! We can each act independently to provide basic life support! All part of the job!”

Izuku was used to focusing on the heroes, he usually only saw the sidekicks when they were supporting the pros. Sure, he’d seen plenty of rescues, but little incidents like this weren’t going to make the news- especially when a ‘actual hero’ wasn’t involved.  “Oh… wow… you really do save people too!”

They scratched the back of their head trying to keep on a grin despite the implication that it didn’t seem like the boy realized sidekicks helped save lives as well. “Yeah! Sure do! Might not be flashy as the big names out there, but still got a important part to play!”

Mikumo disliked all the glamour that surrounded pro-heroes but wasting time with a sidekick just felt degrading. Still, if any good could come out of this, perhaps it was an alternate route. Mikumo didn’t want Izuku in the field of heroics, but seeing as he couldn’t stay away, maybe he could at least be curved away from the front lines.

“Sounds like a very rewarding profession… Team Idaten has many sidekicks employed, don’t they? It must be great to have such a wide range of support available.” And hopefully diverse ages as well. Whatever the retirement rate was for sidekicks, it had to be a hell of a lot better than heroes.

“Oh yeah- ya know, I know what people say about sidekicks. ‘The ones that couldn’t make it as heroes’. But it’s not just a second choice! It’s an important profession! The world needs plenty of sidekicks just as much as they need heroes!”

As far as Mikumo was concerned, the world could do of a lot less of both, but the sooner he nodded and agreed, the sooner Izuku would leave.

“But…” The woman could see the way Izuku was responding. “You want to be a pro-hero, don’t ya?”

Izuku’s cheeks flushed. “Ah- no offence or anything! I know what you do is important!”

But Neon Lights waved it off. “Nah, nah- don’t worry your pretty little head off about it. All kids your age want to be heroes, right? I’d say you’re off to a good start!”

The woman fished business a card out of her pocket and handed it to Izuku. “I’m sure you’re not interested in my autograph or anything, but I’ve got your info from the dispatcher! I’ll see if I can swing a signed photo from the boss for ya! He loves doing stuff like that for good hard working kids! You know Ingenium, right?”

Izuku’s eyes gleamed. “Of course I do! His focus on speed and teamwork makes him a really solid hero! We were just talking about him, right, Akatani-kun!”

“Technically…” Mikumo mumbled. His quirk, but there wasn’t anything partially interesting about a man that probably had all his sidekicks and employees doing the work for him while he took the credit.

“Haha, Two shouldn’t be too difficult then.” She looked up at the little head still trying to cling to the middle-schooler’s head. “Did you want a third one?”

Eri didn’t seem scared, but she still wasn’t good with strangers. Yet a quiet whisper still came out of her lips. “N-no thank you.”

“Alrighty then! Well, make sure you all get home safely! I’ve got to keep on rolling!” Neon Lights gave them one last thumbs up adjoined by sparkles of purple and yellow.

“Thank you for your hard work!” Izuku shouted out as the sidekick skated back toward the police and gave the kids a final wave goodbye. How anyone got any work done on such a silly means of transport was a mystery to Mikumo.

Eri eased up a bit once the woman was far enough. “She… seemed nice.”

“It’s her job to be.” Mikumo pointed out bluntly. And while he was being blunt and Izuku was calmed down- “I’m sure Inko-san will love to hear all about today and how you rushed into what could have been a very dangerous incident, Midoriya-kun.”

Izuku’s face flushed once again. “What?! Do you really need to do that?!”

“Are you asking us both to lie to your mother for you? For shame.” Guilt was a great weapon even when the hilt was forged from hypocrisy.

“That’s- I just mean- I told you I’ve watched hero fights before! She already knows!” Most of it at least. His mother thought he safely hung around toward the back rather than pushing his way through the crowd to get a better look.

“Then there will be no problem if I tell her what a great job you did watching from a safe distance and only calling 119. And that you’d never attempt to do anything more while you’re still in school.” His red eyes were cold and firm as the grip he held on Izuku’s shoulder. He was not going through anything like today again any time soon.

“Y-yeah… Right…” Izuku stammered not used to Mikumo’s scary demeanor being turned on him like that.

Mikumo wasn’t above threatening his son with petty things like “I’m going to tell your mommy” so long as it kept Izuku safe.

--o--

It was a stressful week of finals. For most. Mikumo could blaze through effortlessly, but most of his efforts were spent toward helping Izuku study. He was a bright boy and could excel without much help. But he wanted to ‘go beyond, Plus Ultra’ as his favorite hero would say. Which wasn’t too bad of a mindset in this instance. He’d need higher scores than the average to be taken seriously by any school plagued by quirkless discrimination. But Izuku wasn’t pushing himself for the sake of proving himself. He was doing it so he could be his personal best. Which Mikumo was happy to help with in any way he could.

Mikumo glanced at the horde of students huddled around the board posting everyone’s grades. So much tension over numbers that didn’t really matter. Was passing really that difficult? After that, future schools cared more about their own entrance exam scores than individual grades in middle school. The art of posting them felt more like an exercise in shaming your comrades into doing better. Highlight the idiots in the class while putting a spotlight on the ones that would probably be roped into tutoring the former.

Mikumo and Izuku waited from the back for the herd to thin. No use pushing their way through for something they could approach in a minute or two with less difficulty. But while Mikumo would have been fine with just leaving entirely, Izuku was still tense.

“I know I screwed up a few points on the English grammar… That essay section was probably just a mess.” Izuku continued to mumble to himself, but Mikumo knew it was just his way of trying to settle his nerves.

“You did fine.” Mikumo reassured him. “You put in the work. Besides, it’s not the test that matters- that’s just a flimsy way of evaluating that you know the content. It’s like trying to measure the size of a piece of paper by throwing stones and seeing how many hit- a terrible way to judge the target. What matters is that you actually gather knowledge. Which admittedly, the knowledge you gain at this stage isn’t going to be particularly useful.”

“It’s not that easy just to not care…” Izuku was beginning to notice a few of the students glancing their way. Oh no! Did he really screw up that badly? Or were they looking toward Mikumo? He probably scored high and they were looking to snag hum as a tutor. Would they need to change up their afterschool routine if he decided to help the other students?

Mikumo sighed seeing that Izuku’s tensions were high enough. Might as well get this over with. “Alright, let’s rip the band-aid off then.” He said pushing his way through the crowd.

Mikumo looked at Izuku’s results before his own. And then he looked at those of the other students and couldn’t help but smile. Sure, there was no need to compete, but he couldn’t help but feel pride.

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

Izuku stared dumbfounded at the scores. “How… I thought for sure you would have scored higher… Kacchan’s usually the one-”

“Clearly Bakugo didn’t put in as much effort as you or doesn’t have as many brain cells.” Mikumo remarked with a chuckle. “And I’m not perfect. Accept it- you’re officially the smartest kid in class.” Sure, he had purposely gotten a few wrong himself, but he wanted Izuku to have that ego boost. In a fair setting, he earned it. He was sure the only reason Izuku wasn’t being swarmed right now was because students were too embarrassed to ask for help from someone quirkless.

Yet he could still feel the glare in the back of his neck. “Hey creep!” Bakugo called out with his less than creative nickname. “You want to have a chat without your boyfriend?”

Izuku turned red. “It’s nothing like that-”

“Don’t give him the satisfaction of reacting.” Mikumo cut him off. “Try an offhanded deflection like ‘jealous’?” Was ‘takes one to know one’ too childish or just right for this audience?

“Cut the sarcasm. Cut the dead weight already.” Bakugo insisted.

“Because clearly whatever you have to say to me needs to be said in private. Maybe you’re the one confessing?” If he was going to continue to insult Izuku, he’d have to use more than his words.

“Whatever!” Bakugo exclaimed not even having wanted to waste time on this in the first place. “What game are you even playing you damn creep?”

“Sarcasm of course. One of the most entertaining pastimes around here.” And Mikumo needed to get whatever entertainment he could out of this teenage wasteland.

Bakugo pointed angrily toward the test scoreboard. “WHY. AREN’T. YOU. TRYING.”

Mikumo blinked. Was that really what he was upset over? “Are you angry that you lost to Midoriya-kun? Because he-”

“I don’t care about him.” Bakugo and Izuku were used to being neck and neck in grades. It was one area he had to give the nerd some credit. “You could have gotten 100’s across the board, couldn’t you? So why the hell are you slacking off while you go around acting like it’s all so easy for you?”

Mikumo gave out a chuckle. “Is that really all it is? It’s simple- none of it matters.”

“What? So you think you’re better than me and don’t even have to try?” Bakugo translated.

“Well, yes.” Mikumo admitted with a shrug. “I just don’t feel the need to go shouting it to every peon that will listen.” He didn’t need that kind of validation like Bakugo did.

The sparks flared in the palms of Bakugo’s hands. All bark. And Mikumo could handle any bite easily enough.

“Kacchan, it’s not about you, he’s just-“

“Don’t think you don’t piss me off too you damn Deku!” Bakugo yelled. Izuku he knew was a quirkless nobody. But he wouldn’t matter in the long run. Deku would be left in the dust once he got out of this shitty school, and Bakugo already knew he was leagues ahead of him. He was still trying to figure Mikumo out. “What’s your game? What are you even trying to do?”

Mikumo rolled his eyes. “Yes, you’ve caught me. I was just intimidated by you and purposely scored lower- but still fairly high- as not to rival your brilliance oh great Explosion Lord.” The sooner he could get away from this loud mouth, the better. He turned away and began to strut toward the school’s gates. “Come on, Midoriya-kun. Let’s go celebrate your victory. Perhaps we can all go out to eat? My treat? We’ll go get Eri-chan and Inko-san first of course.”

“Stop ignoring me!” Bakugo yelled as he thrusted his fist toward Mikumo’s turned back.

So predictable. His explosions might do more add more kick to his punches, but they also gave off that aura of heat that made it easier to feel the blonde coming. “Stop telegraphing your moves!” Mikumo yelled turning and grabbing Bakugo by the forearm, making sure to avoid the explosions sparking from his palm.

The intention was to flip Bakugo over, but instead the blonde let off a larger explosion while at close range forcing Mikumo to let go and jump back if he didn’t want to return home with a burned uniform. However, more importantly, Bakugo just set off his explosions indoors. And as many budget cuts there were in this pathetic public school (Mikumo was fairly sure there was embezzlement going on somewhere up the ladder) they still had a functioning sprinkler system.

A loud high pitch bell sounded off as screams of annoyed students filled the air. Mikumo grabbed Izuku’s hand and began to make a run for it toward the door before either of them got too soaked.

“We’re not done here!” Bakugo shouted trying to shake the water off his palms. He wouldn’t be able to get his quirk to work as effectively in these conditions.

“You should try out for the movies! Has anyone told you you’d make a great hammy villain! Or a good old fashion school-yard bully! I’m sure you can still pass for a 9-year-old!” Mikumo yelled.

He could already hear an angry teacher approaching Bakugo. That many witnesses? They might not care about him injuring students, but water damage to school property? Oh he was going to face suspension at the very least. Mikumo’s fingers were crossed for expulsion. Let’s see how far favoritism could get him now.

Chapter Text

Izuku was used to awkward birthdays. When his quirk failed to emerge, the lack of kids coming to his party should have been his parent’s first clue that his friend-circle had become a friend-dot. Inko had done her best to transition to parties with just her, Izuku and Hisashi. His dad continued to get busier over the years, but he always made time to be there for him for at least one day.

His 9th was the last birthday he spent with his dad. He didn’t realize it would be the last. Maybe that was a bit too overdramatic to say. It had only been 5 years. That’s only less than a third of his life! It didn’t mean he was never going to see him again. He still called… he was just busy. A call twice a year was more than some kids got. Izuku had to keep telling himself it was better than nothing

His mom still went through the same routines anyways. A big breakfast, packing a fancy bento for school, and katsudon and cake for dinner. It was nice and she did everything she could. But it felt lonely as well with just the two of them. Which he knew was wrong to say. Izuku knew she was more than enough. But he’d feel the same after so long even if his dad were still around. Just after so many years of hearing his classmates whisper birthday plans and never be included, it continued to weigh on him with each year. This might be how it is for the rest of his life. The only people that cared about him enough to acknowledge the day he was born were just the people that were there that day. And one of them was literally phoning it in now.

This year would be different though. Akatani knew, and even Eri seemed to be excited about the coming date. It seemed like he officially had a circle of friends again. And ones that weren’t going to awkwardly try and ditch him once they realized he was quirkless! Someone that shared his interests and pushed him forward toward being a hero! It was like a dream come true! It had taken a month before he decided it really wasn’t some kind of joke or Akatani had ulterior motives. But he was far too eager to talk with someone before then. And now, he wasn’t spending his birthday with just him and his mom. That enough was a gift in itself.

The smell of hot fresh pancakes hit Izuku before his alarm clock did.  Which… wasn’t a good sign. Even if it was only 10-minutes past his normal ridiculously early wake up time, he’d feel weird if he didn’t get his morning jog in. His mom was probably being nice and switched it off so he could sleep in, but he’d gotten used to meeting up with Akatani. It wouldn’t do to be late. Izuku hopped across his room frantically putting on his track suit and shoving his uniform into his school bag.

His frantic worrying came to a halt though when he saw the kitchen table filled with pancakes, whipped cream, broiled fish, and sausage. Mom woke up extra early to put all of this together, didn’t she? He couldn’t just rush out the door.

“This all looks amazing!” Izuku cheered as he slid in front of a stack of pancakes. “I don’t know how I’m going to finish it all”

“Not alone of course.” Inko said setting one last dish down in front of Izuku. “Eri-chan and Akatani-kun should be here soon.”

“Really? I thought it would just be-”

The loud ringing of the phone interrupted their conversation. It was still pretty early in the morning. “Who could that be?” Inko mumbled confused.

Izuku really hoped it wasn’t the siblings canceling. Even if he only heard about it a few moments ago, he’d already gotten his hopes up. Inko frowned as she looked at the caller ID. Ah, well he probably should expect something to come up. Maybe Eri didn’t get up this early or this happened to be the one day-

“It’s your father.” Inko spoke bitterly interrupting his thoughts. She continued to let the phone ring.

Or… that… He usually called in the afternoon after school for his routine birthday call. Guess he wanted to get the awkwardness out of the way early this year then. Or he’d forgotten the time difference again.

“You can speak to him later…” Inko offered. Whether Izuku didn’t want his time to be cut short or to start his day off like this, she wanted to make sure he had the option.

Izuku shook his head. “Ah, no- wouldn’t want to be rude! He’s probably taking time off for just this!” Wouldn’t want to inconvenience him or interrupt his busy schedule. Not like anything important was going on.

Izuku took the phone from the receiver. “Hello?”

“Happy Birthday, Izuku.” A somber voice greeted from the receiver. Huh… usually his dad was big and boisterous, like this call was the highlight of his day. But he was oddly quieter. Was it a bad connection?

“Thanks…” Izuku tried to politely respond. It was always difficult to figure out what to say to a man you hadn’t seen face to face in years.

“You’re doing well?” At the very least his dad seemed just as awkward.

Izuku nodded, although realized he was on the phone. “Um… yeah… Things have been a lot… better?”

Hisashi didn’t seem to be pushing him for details like he usually did though. “I see… That’s good to hear…” He could hear a sigh from the other end of the receiver. “I’m sorry for interrupting you…”

“No! Not at all!” Izuku exclaimed. Even if he wasn’t sure what to say, he still only heard from his father so infrequently.

“No, I am.” Hisashi insisted. “All for the sake of a tradition that isn’t good enough. You deserve more than a voice on a phone.”

Izuku looked toward his mom. Had she been speaking with him? Did she tell him anything? But Inko only looked concerned. It didn’t seem as if she could hear what was going on at all.

“I could have come back.” Izuku’s eyes widened at his father’s admission. What? “It wouldn’t have been easy… I wouldn’t have been able to look you in the eyes.” Hisashi chuckled a bit at some kind of inside joke. “You would have had questions… I imagine you still do… None of the answers are pretty. But I’ve been selfish. I’ve expected you and your mother to be waiting for me when I found the strength to return. After all this time though… I never stopped to ask myself if there’d still be a home I was welcome to return to.”

Izuku’s mouth felt dry. He didn’t understand what his father was saying. Of course, he wasn’t naïve enough to think it was impossible for his father to return. Even if he was busy, people made time for the people they cared about. He had no delusions about his father suddenly returning one day and everything would go back to as it was. But he didn’t think his father would be the one to have them.

“That’s-”

“You don’t have to give me any polite reassurances.” Hisashi cut him off. “I have no good excuse for my absence. I owe you so much more for this lost time. And I don’t know if I can ever make it up… I physically can’t return home… All the gifts and money sent to you and Inko aren’t enough.”

Izuku took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure if he should even bother. His father would likely dodge the request. “An explanation… can you at least give me that?”

There was a pause that felt like it lasted hours. But the numbers on the digital kitchen clock continued to flash the same number. Not even a minute passed before he heard a sigh come from the other end of the phone line.

“One question… I’m not sure I can get through much more than that… And I’m not sure how much I’d be able to tell you.”

Izuku bit his tongue.  “I… I wasn’t expecting some kind of big reveal like this! I just woke up like 5 minutes ago and my head is still drowsy! I need to pick the perfect question! Like a detective! What does he really do for a living? But if it’s too direct maybe he won’t answer. The truth behind his-”

A chuckle came from the other line. “Izuku… you’re mumbling.” But they were amused. “I probably shouldn’t have ambushed you like this… I imagine you have plenty of questions-”

“Why did you leave?” It was probably the one that Izuku asked himself the most frequently. Was it because he was quirkless and slowly drifted away from him like his friends had before cutting off connection completely? Was it because him and mom weren’t enough? Was it just because of who he was?

Another pause that felt like an eternity. “I’ll try and be as honest as I can… It… it wasn’t anything to do with you. It was my fault… I did something I shouldn’t have. A lot of things I shouldn’t have. The end result… I should probably be dead.”

“Dead?!” Izuku exclaimed immediately worried.

Inko’s head snapped around at her son’s shout. “What?! Put him on speaker phone!” She demanded. She wanted to give Izuku his privacy, but this was some kind of life or death situation here! Izuku nervously did as he was asked.

“Ah- I probably said too much… it wasn’t my intention to gain sympathy. But physically… It was months before I could even move… I can’t say I’ve entirely recovered everything I lost. But I still should have told you what happened. I thought… I thought you wouldn’t want to see me in that state. I couldn’t face you. I don’t know if I still can.”

“I swear, if you left over something as petty as appearances, so help me Hisashi I’ll do far worse than ruin your pretty face!” Inko yelled at Izuku’s side.

A sad chuckle came from the speaker. It was hard to tell how he felt about hearing Inko but in. “The problem lies far deeper than appearances… The things I’ve done… You both deserve better.”

“Are… are you dying?” Izuku whimpered.

“Not anymore… Not exactly…” Hisashi replied being as vague as ever. “I… I tried to rush my recovery. And I only prolonged it. And it has had me wondering... Do I even deserve to come back at all?”

“Hisashi… You have to have the nerve to come back and ask that to our faces before getting an answer to that.” Inko wasn’t even sure she had an answer for him. Part of her was scared. Being without him hurt so much. But she’d gotten better over time. Was she only setting her up to be wounded all over again? Wouldn’t it be easier to just cut things off cleanly? But she couldn’t.

“If I came back, you deserve to hear everything… And I don’t think I have the strength for that. I can’t return until I do. Not in the way you want me to. If you heard everything… You’d wish I had stayed away.”

Inko stayed silent. She only knew bits and pieces of her husband’s past. Something he wanted to leave behind. That he was a lot more powerful than some simple businessman. It was difficult not to ask the questions that would tell her exactly what. She wanted to stay as they were- a happy family. For Hisashi to leave that past behind him. Was it truly impossible for him?

Izuku though… Inko had no idea how much he’d questioned about his father. He was a smart boy- would he have questioned exactly what his father did? Or did he care more about the time he was with him to not even think about it?

“I… I just want you to come home.” Izuku whispered into the receiver. Even if he didn’t know what it would mean. “But… If you’re saying you could have… Do you really think we would rather stay in the dark than to know you still care about us? That we wouldn’t want to be there when you’re suffering from… whatever it is that kept you?”

“I do.” Hisashi was quick to insist. “I’ve always cared.”

“Then just come home!” Izuku yelled. Not knowing had to be worse than whatever Hisashi was hiding. It only left Izuku to fill in the blanks for himself. That it was easier to say you cared than to actually do anything about it. That his business was more important than being with his family. Was there even an injury? Or did he just not want to return.

“Izuku… I… I’m sorry… For everything.” It was hard to hear Hisashi’s voice breaking up like this. He was always a strong and prideful man. But why couldn’t they have this conversation face to face? “It’s… it’s not that simple… I can’t return. Not like this.”

“It doesn’t matter.” However complicated it was, Izuku had to believe it was better than a complete absence. “Just tell us. Whatever it is, we still want to see you.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew.” At the end of the day, Hisashi believed he was doing what he thought was best. “I’ll… ensure you’re cared for. That you won’t be alone. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the strength to tell you everything. But I will always love you in whatever way, shape or form I can.”

Hisashi wasn’t someone Izuku could say was good with people. He was clever and always seemed to have a long string of words to prove it, but he never could place them at the right moment. But when he was with his family, it was easy to see that he cared. That he loved them. With his absence, it was beginning to get harder to tell how much he really did care.

“I love you.” Hisashi whispered. A statement of reassurance and last words to leave the call on.

‘I love you too’. That should have been the usual response before Izuku would fail to hear his father’s voice for another 6 months. But Izuku had been tired of being alone. Of thinking that the only person that would ever care for him was his mother and what was now just a voice on the phone. And to hear that Hisashi could come back, but they were scared of him not accepting the truth? When the world was already doing everything it could to ensure Izuku wouldn’t accept himself? Izuku needed every person he could get in his life. And when he needed his father most- when the world continued to beat it’s harsh reality into his skull- Hisashi vanished.

Izuku wanted to be polite. To say the right thing even when the answer was easy. But he’d gotten a taste of having more people in his life. People that showed they cared. The knowledge that he wouldn’t always be so alone. He didn’t need to cling to the hope of a father returning that had already spent too long away from him. Izuku did still love his father. But did his father love him enough to return no matter what the cost?

“Then prove it.” It wasn’t a kind, heroic, or loving thing to say. But Izuku was tired of only getting a voice on the phone. He wanted to be with his father again if he really did care. Izuku hung the phone up on the receiver.

Tears welled from his eyes. “Oh god, what just happened?” Izuku cried out standing at the kitchen. Had he really just said that to his dad?

Inko put her hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “You have every right to be angry with him.” She told him softly. Hisashi deserved far worse words.

“But… what if that’s the final straw for him?” Izuku wondered. They were already distant enough.

“Then clearly you were right to question him.” Inko wasn’t going to let Izuku think this was his fault. “This is on him. Not you. You have every right to want to see him again- and to be angry with him.”

A light tap at the door interrupted their family drama. And Inko was happy for the interruption. “That must be the Akatani’s…” Maybe they’d cheer Izuku up. He deserved to be surrounded by people that cared about him.

Yet when Inko went to open the door, only the small young girl was there to greet her. “Eri-chan? Did you come here all on your own?”

Eri looked confused as well, but she shook her head. “No… big brother walked with me here… But he said he had something important to do. And he wanted me to enjoy breakfast without him.” She looked disappointed as well. But she turned her attention to Izuku behind his mother. “But he said he’d meet Izukkun at school! It had to be something really important if he’s not here! He was really looking forward to today!”

Inko patted Eri on the head. “It’s ok… Why don’t you come in and join us for breakfast?” No need to leave the young girl to worry.

Eri gave a nod, following Inko in. The young girl was clearly still concerned, but she still tried to put on a small smile for Izuku. “Oh… Happy Birthday, Izukkun!”

Izuku did his best to smile back. It wasn’t the kind of morning he expected, but at least he wasn’t alone.

--o--

Akatani wasn’t there for school in the morning. He made it clear how little he cared for the institution, but it’s not as if he’d ever skipped class before. Plenty of thoughts were swimming through Izuku’s head making it difficult to concentrate on class today. Eri and his mom had been nice enough, but the thoughts of Hisashi hanging in the air were too strong. And now he felt alone again at school with just a day without his best friend- only if by default in the fact that he was the only one at this school that showed him a shred of kindness and comradery.

Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten used to it. His birthday was just a day like any other. He’d gotten used to thinking of it like that. And once he treated it like a normal day, any extra attention he got from his mom was a bonus. Now instead he was trying to fight off that crushing feeling of loneliness.

By the time lunch rolled around, Izuku had a big bento his mom prepared for him. Although judging by the size, it didn’t seem like she expected him to spend it alone. Neither of them did. Izuku let out a sigh. It would be fine, he should probably just find a place he could relax unbothered. He just had to rush to grab his things before-

“Deku.”

Of course. And there was the exact thing he worried about bothering him. Izuku tried to block the cubbyhole with his lunch so Bakugo wouldn’t get curious.

“It’s your birthday, isn’t it, nerd?”

Izuku eased up a bit. “Oh… yeah! Thanks, Kacchan!” At least he was still kind enough to remember.

“Which means your mom probably went all out on lunch.” Bakugo extended his hand waving it in a ‘gimme’ motion. “The whole thing is wasted on you.”

Izuku flinched. Of course that’s what this was about. “Well… there’s plenty… we can share it if you want…”

“Does this look like preschool to you? I don’t give a fuck about sharing.” Bakugo’s eyes burned into Izuku. He’d only been suspended for a few days after the sprinkler incident. Clearly he was just waiting for his chance to take it out on anyone he could.

“Do you really have to do this today?” Izuku pleaded. It seemed like Bakugo was starting to back off him.

But Bakugo just chuckled. “Your guardian demon isn’t here right now.” Bakugo reached out to grab his prize from behind Izuku.

But a hand from behind reached out and caught the would-be thief. “Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.” The irritation in his voice should have been enough to tell Bakugo that he wasn’t willing to play around today.

Izuku’s eyes perked up. “Akatani-kun! I thought something came up?”

Akatani only gave a nod as he pulled Bakugo’s arm behind his back. “I had some difficulties to sort through… But it was more important to be here. I apologize for not being her this morning. It seems like I can’t leave the chicken coop unguarded.”

“You creep! You think you can just-”

“I’m really not in the mood right now.” Akatani coldly remarked as he twisted harder on Bakugo’s wrist. Izuku could see Bakugo grimace as he attempted to keep any sounds of pain from escaping his lips. “You can call it quits now, or we can see about getting your more than just suspended. I can’t imagine any future schools will enjoy seeing that on your record.”

Akatani released Bakugo. The blonde flexed his wrist and gritted his teeth wanting to tear the little creep a new one. But not now. “It’s not worth it.” He mumbled turning away. He needed to pick his battles.

Izuku let out a sigh of relief when it seemed like Bakugo was out of sight. “Thanks…”

“Thanks shouldn’t be required.” Akatani mumbled annoyed. “This entire situation shouldn’t be happening.”

Izuku hung his head. “I’m sorr-”

“The blame isn’t on you.” Akatani interrupted him. “Come on, let’s see if we can still salvage our lunch break.” He said heading up toward the stairs.

Izuku grabbed his bento and followed him not sure where he was heading. Was there some kind of secret room or safe place? Akatani hadn’t been at this school as long, so when would he have had a chance to find somewhere like that?

Izuku stopped confused at the door Akatani was waiting at. “Uh… The roof? Are we allowed up there?”

“This school’s neglected enough of their own obligations to protect students. I couldn’t care less if we break a few of their petty rules.” With a hairpin in his pocket, he seemed to have little difficulty getting the door open. Should he really be that surprised Akatani had lockpicking under his set of skills? “I just thought you could use a nice quiet change of pace.”

Izuku simply nodded and followed. This entire morning just felt out of place. There didn’t seem to be anything special up here. Not exactly the kind of secret hideout or gathering of delinquents all the anime and manga wanted to make it out to be. A few old soccer nets, cones and other sporting equipment stashed in a corner for storage was exciting as it got. But at least it was somewhat quiet. The view wasn’t anything to speak of considering the older buildings cluttering the skyline.

While looking out at the city, Izuku heard the flap of fabric behind him. He turned confused to see Akatani laying out a picnic blanket.

“Apologies, there wasn’t really anywhere else on the school grounds we could eat interrupted. I’d be fine with leaving entirely, but I didn’t think you’d want that on your record.” He stated as it was only natural for friends to quietly pull each other aside for elaborate luncheons.

Well, Izuku was the one providing the food. He set his bento down and began unwrapping it. “Um… did you bring anything? We can share?”

“Well, I do expect some form of protection money, but I suppose this will do.” Akatani remarked rolling his eyes. “I’ll admit though… I did forget my own lunch.”

And yet he planned to bring Izuku up here. He was starting to wonder if Akatani did have some kind of crush on him. Izuku began setting out his trays for the both of them, picking out a piece of shrimp tempura to nibble on.

“It’s been a rough morning… but this should have been your day. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.” Akatani apologized.

“Ah, no it’s fine- I’m used to worse!” Izuku insisted.

Yet he still saw Akatani rifle through his backpack and pulled out a red giftwrapped box with a silver ribbon. “Happy Birthday.”

Izuku’s eyes widened. “Oh- You didn’t have to!” He immediately insisted.

“I don’t have to do anything. I wanted you to have something nice because I care about you as a friend.” Akatani said moving the gift in his hands.

Izuku nervously took the gift. Judging by the size and weight… some kind of textbook? No, lighter than that. He could already see Akatani rolling his eyes. “Right! Thank you then!” Izuku said as his hand tried to carefully unwrap the gift as if to preserve the paper for later.

Izuku’s eyes widened as he saw the sleek box. “Woah… Is this… A tablet?!” Wasn’t that going a bit overboard as a gift to a friend?! How rich was Akatani? And if he was loaded, what was he doing at a school like this?!

Akatani only shrugged. “That’s not the real gift- anyone can just buy something fancy. This is just a means to contain it. Start it up.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow. “Not everyone, you know.” Not like most students even owned a laptop let alone what looked like it was powerful enough to do the work of a laptop as a smaller more portable touch screen device. Still, he started it up. It seemed like there were a few basic apps downloaded. Something to keep up to date with hero news. A few of the phone games Izuku already had on his phone.

And then Izuku noticed what was probably the real gift. “Hero Analysis for the Future…” He was already tearing up without even having opened it.

A slight smile creeped up Akatani’s face. “You have no idea how long it took to put this together.”

Izuku tapped and opened the app. It wasn’t just some document file. It was it’s own program with a means to organize all his analysis by chronological order, quirk type, or hero ranking. Meaning there had to be some kind of handwriting to text algorithm planned in. “How did you even make this?” Izuku wondered flipping through his own pages and taking a walk down memory lane.

“Data collection wise? Or physically putting it together? I got Inko-san in on it to help slowly borrow each notebook over time so you wouldn’t notice as I scanned each one. Putting it together… well, I may dabble in some programing.”

“Dabble?!” Izuku exclaimed. This was better than some of the notes apps Izuku had seen on the market. “You have a feature in here to scan in new notes too!”

“Ah, yeah- I wasn’t sure if you’d still prefer to record them manually. This way you can easily transfer and preserve your notes, uploading them to a cloud feature so you’ll never loose them.” Akatani remarked casually as if it was something he managed in his spare time.

“This… this is amazing!” Izuku exclaimed. “You really went above and beyond!”

Akatani scoffed. “You’re the one that made the content. Do you know how much quirk analysis companies charge for this kind of breakdown? And you’re just scribbling it down in your free time. You really need to recognize your own quality work here.”

“T-thank you!” Izuku stuttered. He didn’t know what else to say. “I- I don’t even know when your birthday is! Or how I’m supposed to repay you!”

“April 8th, but-”

“I’ve already missed it?!” Izuku exclaimed panicking. “I should have asked! I need to start working on a late gift! I don’t even know where to start!”

“Calm down, I never expected any response. It’s just a date.” He shook his head. “I just wanted you to have a nice day… Not because I was expecting anything in return. You enjoying it is enough.”

Izuku held it in his hands, looking down at the crisp screen. It was nice. But, the question couldn’t help escaping from his lips. “Why?”

“Because I’m your friend? And I want to show my appreciation for your friendship?” Akatani asked confused as to what the question was.

“Why… all this for me?” Izuku muttered.

It wasn’t the first time he asked something along those lines. Why did Akatani first approach him? Why did he seem to think he was worth talking to compared to everyone else in class? And he had plenty of nice things to say. That Izuku was smart, hard working and compassionate. But it still didn’t explain why he zeroed in on this the first day they met. “Out of everyone in class… Akatani-kun, you’re amazing. You know all these things, you’re confident, and you don’t let anything scare you. Why did you want to be my friend when no one else seems to even catch your eye?”

It was a fair enough question, right? But Akatani seemed to have trouble with his answer. He seemed to dodge the question as he began going at Izuku’s bento, grabbing a slice of tamago

“I imagine you had a troublesome morning even before the brute arrived.” Akatani noted. Not that Izuku had any idea what that had to do with his question.

Izuku was trying not to think about it, but nodded. “And you? I can’t imagine what would have you unsettled enough to just call in sick.” It seemed like his classmate always had everything together. So what got him to cancel on short notice?

“The same trouble you might have had today… A dad with far too many secrets.”

Izuku dropped the shrimp he was holding . “Mom told you?” He wondered confused. Did she want Akatani to check on him to make sure he was ok? “Wait… you too?” Izuku had only gotten brief mentions of Akatani’s father. Some kind of government agent that had him traveling the world. His work had him rescuing Eri, but it also got Akatani moved from school to school. It sounded like it would be lonely, but at least it seemed like he had his dad… and now Eri.

But Akatani shook his head. “No…” He curled his fingers around a lock of hair that had been covering his face. Did his friend always have freckles? “Hisashi did.”

Izuku blinked confused. “W-what?” He laughed nervously. What was he implying. “Do you know my dad?”

“You can say that.” He was trying to stay vague, and it seemed like he wanted to say something, yet was still dodging the question. If he did know his dad, he clearly learned his lack of subtlety when evading questions.

“Did… did he pay you to be my friend?” Izuku wondered half insulted and half confused. That sounded crazy, didn’t it? Who even did that? How much money did his dad even have?!

“What? No!” Akatani instantly shouted. “I sought you out of my own free will.”

“You mean before coming here?” Izuku asked confused.

Akatani sighed trying to figure out the right words. He held his finger up to his lips. “We have a lot in common… An interest in quirk analysis… growing up in a world determined to look down those who are different… half of the same genes-”

“W-what?” Izuku gave Akatani a blank stare.

Akatani bit his thumb. Izuku never had seen him look so uncomfortable. “Long story short… Hisashi was not a good person.”

“And the full story?!” Izuku exclaimed. He couldn’t just drop this bomb on him and expect him to accept that!

“I...” He couldn’t even look Izuku in the eyes. “Wasn’t supposed to exist.”

With how confident Akatani seemed, how could he even say such a thing about himself? “Why do you say that?”

“Because… I lived most of my life without having any sort of father in my life. By the time Hisashi realized I existed, I was just a mistake he tried to make up for while keeping hidden. Passed on from subordinate to subordinate like a dirty little secret to manage.” Akatani bitterly remarked.

Izuku was starting to connect the dots in his head. “So… you’re…”

“Someone who’s lived their entire life trying to simultaneously scream to the world that I am here while remaining hidden away.” Izuku could tell there was a lot more left unsaid. A life fueled on spite.

“I’m… tired of hiding. When the opportunity arose… I had no idea how you’d feel about me… or if I’d ever tell you… but-”

Izuku wrapped his arms around Akatani. There were still so many questions. But there was plenty he could understand, even if he didn’t have all the pieces. “You’re family. That’s what matters."

Izuku still had a lot to unpack about how he felt about this. But he could feel a connection. “I know what it’s like to feel alone… But you’re not. Neither of us are. Whatever happens, we’re both stronger than we think we are- and we’ll get through it together.” They just needed to both convince each other that was the case.

He could hear shaking sobs coming from Akatani. Izuku had never seen the boy cry- he always seemed too strong for it. But if he was really some kind of secret child who now just now found his brother, it was understandable that he’d be emotional after having someone to share their story with.

“I’m not… You still don’t know… I haven’t…” Each word seemed painful for him to say, and the way he gasped it didn’t seem like he even had the breath for it.

“It’s ok.” Izuku tried to reassure him. “It’s enough.”

“It’s not!” He yelled out clutching his chest. The calm and crafty Akatani Izuku had come to know over the past few months was falling apart.

“Hey, just breathe!” Izuku tried to assure him. But it didn’t seem like his words were getting through to him. Akatani’s breathing only got more irregular with each gasp for air.

Izuku had experienced a few panic attacks in his life. It was almost to be expected of someone in his position. Quirkless, bullied, which just led to a whole slew of other psychological issues at tics. No one had even given him a second glance if it happened in school. But now that his best friend- his brother- was going through one right now? He had no idea what to do.

Chapter Text

Mikumo wasn’t sure what had happened today. He made a mess of it all. As Hisashi and as Mikumo. The intention was to use a quirk to disguise his voice as Hisashi and quietly slip that persona out of Izuku and Inko’s life. That had gone terribly wrong. He already planned to tell Izuku about the entire ‘half-brother’ angle today anyways, but it was more important than ever to do so to push Hisashi out of their life. But he couldn’t remain in control. When did All for One lose control?

He cracked. The greatest supervillain in all of Japan- perhaps the entire world- cracked not just to a middle-aged house wife, but to a newly fourteen-year-old boy. He may have picked them, but damn it if that wasn’t telling of how far he’d fallen. How he couldn’t just twist their words and lie to their faces as easily as breathing. He couldn’t take joy in his craft and how simple it was to play people like puppets on strings. As All for One… as Hisashi… it had been easy. He maintained the cover for over a decade. Enjoyed playing the part of the loving husband that he wanted to be. That he could fool even himself so long as he wished it. All while keeping his family at arm’s length, only letting them know as much about him as he wanted to know. From the moment he met Inko, he accepted he’d leave her whenever he liked when he fed her a false identity. That he only allowed himself to have attachments so long as he could cut them loose whenever he saw fit. He loved having them, but he wouldn’t let them have him. That he’d never allow anyone else to carve into him like his brother… like his quirk did for generations. Izuku and Inko were a “break” at best. A momentary reprieve from his life’s work that would continue once they were gone. At the end of the day, he would remain in control. He would decide when he was done. Even life and death would have no hold over his whims.

When did he begin to bleed once more? When did he return to a stuttering mess again? When was anyone able to draw even half half-truths off his lips? When did anyone become capable of hurting him and making him feel guilt and regret? Was it really this body that had weakened him? Returned him to a state where he’d yet to harden his heart to this world? No, he’d confirmed that Eri’s quirk had no effect on memories. If anything, the brain was returned to a state where it could continue to grow stronger than before. Whatever he was now, it had to be better than the near-vegetable state he was before. So why did he feel so much weaker? So much more vulnerable.

Was this hell? That Rewind- or maybe even All Might- actually killed him? That the first circle truly consisted of his loved ones pressing him to confess his sins to their faces? He refused to believe such a ridiculous thing as karma, an afterlife, or any sort of divine retribution actually existed. Or maybe he’d just refuse to actually let it all catch up to him. That he was arrogant enough to think he could even best gods. But he couldn’t even best his wife and child.

He could feel the tears break the damn. He could feel Izuku’s arms around him. He could hear his voice getting louder. But he couldn’t make out the words. The entire world felt like a haze as he felt it slipping away. He couldn’t see or hear straight. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. That each breath didn’t feel like it was enough. His own body was turning against him.

He failed to control Inko and Izuku’s responses. Yet somehow, he was still getting the response he wanted. Their concern. Their love. He had failed this entire operation. He should have been exposed already with all the mistakes he’d made. And yet they were still here.

What did he do to deserve this?

--o--

Izuku broke his friend. Probably his brother? He didn’t mean to and he wasn’t sure how, but it seemed as if the boy was shutting down. He was breathing far too heavily. Were panic attacks genetic? He really was family then.

If that was the case… maybe if anyone saw him like this, they’d call an ambulance. Instead, Izuku ended up calling his mom. The fact that he was calling during school hours instantly tipped her off that something was wrong.

“Mom… I think you need to get here. It’s Aka- …Mikumo-kun. He needs help and I don’t know what to do.” Izuku spoke into the phone. He was still sitting here with Mikumo beside him. He had such a pained look in his eyes. Was this how Izuku looked when this happened with him?

“What’s going on? Are you both alright? What happened?” Inko asked concerned as well now. She’d been taking care of Eri all morning who seemed just as confused about what was going on with her brother, but it was easy to keep her distracted. She’d gotten a quick text from Mikumo about an hour later asking if it was alright for Eri to stay, or if she needed an associate to come pick her up. Inko said it was fine… but she still wondered what was going on for him to leave her so abruptly like this. It seemed like he did care about his little sister- and Izuku. Now this… it had to be connected.

Izuku wasn’t sure how much he should say- how much Mikumo wanted him to keep private. If Mikumo was saying what he thought he was… then was this really the time to tell his mother? “We were just talking… and he started telling me something… well, um… private.”

“Oh god, did he tell you then?”

“Wait- he told you?! Are we talking about the same secret?” Izuku wondered confused. How the heck did he manage to tell his mother before him?! Wouldn’t the existence some kind of bastard child hurt her more than it hurt him?

“I figured out most of it myself.” But then again, there was a chance they weren’t talking about the same thing. “Hold on, I’m coming to pick you both up. Are you both still at school?”

“Yeah… Um… we’re kind of on the school roof.” Now wasn’t the time to worry about breaking little rules.

“Probably for the best… The teachers are probably going to be more harm than help.” After all the good they’d done Izuku, they’d probably try and stick them both into detention for causing a ‘disturbance’ rather than trying to calm him down. “Just stay with him. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

The one good thing about that school was that it wasn’t too far away. While Inko didn’t use her car much, this kind of emergency seemed to warrant it. She brought Eri along hoping that the girl might know more about how to calm her brother down, but she was just as confused and concerned. Apparently, she had never heard of her brother being like this. No kinds of anxiety or triggers that she knew of. It seemed like she thought he was just as invincible as Izuku did. The only time Inko herself had seen the boy so much as unsettled was the first night she’d gotten him talking. Just how many secrets had he inherited from Hisashi?

When Inko came in, she didn’t care who tried to stop her. “You can start checking out Midoriya Izuku and Akatani Mikumo out for early dismissal.” She told the office worker that barely even left their seat. Inko didn’t stop walking past.

“Wha… On what grounds?” They yelled out confused. “Wait- you can only take one of those children! You can’t just grab whoever you want!”

“Watch me.” Inko snapped as she walked up the stairs not caring who they called. She didn’t actually need to take them out, but she’d figure she might as well once they were both calmed down. They both had a lot on their plate to digest. Eri rushed behind her, seeming to understand that her brother wasn’t the only person capable of putting people in line.

No one else attempted to stop Inko as she stormed through the halls. She didn’t even get more than a few odd looks as classes had already begun to resume. The door to the roof was still left unlocked. “Kids? Are you ok?” Inko cried out.

“Mom- we’re fine… he’s… he still not responding much…” Izuku still sat beside Mikumo, holding him in a hug, but he barely seemed to register anything going on around him.

“Mikumo-kun? Can you hear me?” Inko asked kneeling down and sitting beside them as well.

The boy slowly looked toward her. “In…ko?” He was still taking in each breath.

“Do you know where you are?” Inko asked trying to orient him. Mikumo only gave a nod.

Eri was past ‘concerned’ as well, already starting to cry. “Is… is this my fault?”

“No, sweetie!” Inko immediately insisted. She wished she had gotten the number of that associate of Mikumo’s or even see if Mitsuki could take her. But she’d overestimated how often this was an occurrence for Mikumo.

Izuku put his hand on Eri’s shoulder. “He’s going to be fine soon… he’s just kind of… shocked right now.”

Mikumo looked for a moment toward Eri. “It’s not you… it’s me… I… I’m…”

“It’s ok, sweetie, you don’t have to say anything. Just try and breathe in and out.” Inko tried her best to help.

They could hear footsteps coming from down the stairs. Damn it, were the teachers actually doing something about it now? Or were they just trying to stop Inko from ‘abducting a child’ which could bode very poorly on them.

“Izuku, can you bar the door?” Inko asked sweetly with a smile.

“What?!” Izuku exclaimed confused. Was this a siege now?!

Eri seemed to react first, as she nodded and went for the old sport equipment trying to prop a broken hockey stick against the door knob. What the heck did kids learn in online courses today?!

As soon as she did though, there was someone pounding and shoving at the door. “Akatani-sama?! Are you there?!” A loud deep voice proclaimed.

“Kuro-kun?” Eri asked confused. Even Mikumo turned his head toward the door.

“Is that your guardian?” Inko asked. Although seeing the confused look on Eri’s face she re-clarified. “The person taking care of you two?”

With that Eri nodded. “Kuro-kun takes care of me in the day time before big brother comes home.”

Inko sighed and nodded. She supposed the school had got a hold of Mikumo’s emergency contact after she came rushing in- she just hadn’t expected them to get here so quickly. “Alright, you can let him in.”

Eri released the stick propped up against the door as the guardian rushed in. While Izuku knew some foreigners wore turbans for religious reasons this seemed… a bit over the top. The same kind of dark purple turban-like cloth wrapped around not just the top of man’s head, but his entire face and arms as well. Izuku could only assume it was a man from the deep voice. Were they just a burn victim that chose to add some style to their dressings? Or was it a part of their quirk that perhaps needed some coverage from sunlight? They were wearing shades, so maybe. Sure, anything goes in a world where humans could have anything from a head shaped like a race car to tentacle limbs, but this counted as a weird way to dress, right?

“What’s going on- I didn’t expect anyone to call…” The stranger looked toward Mikumo. “What- is this some sort of effects of a quirk?”

“I believe he’s having a panic attack.” Inko answered. “Do you know if he’s had them in the past? What does he usually do for them?”

The man scoffed as if personally insulted. “Never. Of course not.” It was hard to get a read on him, but his posture seemed to read stiff and unsettled. He looked toward Eri. “It has to be a side effect.”

“Of… what?” Inko asked. She stood up to face the man, not liking his accusatory tone. “How long have you been taking care of him?” Maybe he only had seen as much of him as Eri did.

“Years.” The man answered dodging the first question. “Long enough to know that this just doesn’t happen with him.”

“Stop.” Mikumo croaked out. The boy sounded terrified.

As if his fear was contagious, seeing Mikumo like that pushed the stranger toward the edge. “What did you do to him?!” The man that sounded far too angry to have a cutsie name like ‘Kuro-kun’  demanded. They looked between Izuku, Inko and Eri, a golden glow visible even behind their shades.

“Maybe you haven’t known him long enough- or maybe this is the first time it’s happened.” Inko tried to reason. “He’s still in a delicate stage of development- still a child”

“You will not speak about him like that!” The man snapped.

Inko raised an eyebrow. “What? He is. Or should I be speaking about him as if he’s your employer?”

The man flinched. He probably said something he shouldn’t have “I’ll take him home… He just needs a setting he can properly recover in.”

“No, I don’t think you understand what he needs. Is it true that he’s lived his life from caretaker to caretaker? Has he really been bottling all of this up?” Inko shot at him.

“You don’t know anything about him.” The man shot back. “I know everything.”

“You don’t even know what’s going on with him, do you?” Inko accused.

The man waved it off. “I know he’s fine. It’s this setting that must be off. I can take him to his doctor and he’ll figure something out.”

“I don’t think he’s done this before…” Izuku quietly spoke up between the adults arguing. “Really talk about himself… He seemed off today… unsettled… I don’t think there’s anything physically wrong with him. Just that… He’s never shared things with his family, has he?” He could be guessing. And he had known Mikumo for only a few months compared to this man who was supposedly currently standing in as his guardian. But from what he could feel and understand, it felt right.

“He doesn’t need to.” The man continued to insist. He knelt in front of Mikumo, not sure what he was looking at. “This can’t be happening… there has to be something else at work.”

Mikumo only shook his head. “No… just stop.”

The bandaged stranger flinched back. “Are you sure you do not need my assistance?”

Inko still wasn’t entirely sure what their relationship was, and while the man definitely seemed to care, it wasn’t in a parental sense. “Mikumo-kun… whatever is going on, we’re here for you. We’re going to stay with you until you’re feeling better.”

Izuku was still sitting by Mikumo’s side, still holding his hand. “Take all the time you need.”

“Too much…” Mikumo whispered.

Inko nodded. He was probably overstimulated- too many people. “Alright- one person at a time. I’ll stay first. Mr…” She looked toward their supposed caretaker fishing for some kind of name. It told as much how little the Akatanis actually spoke of him.

“Kurokawa.” He replied.

“Settle things with the school so we can take him home without any difficulties.” At least it would give him something to do. She turned to Izuku. “Go with him and look after Eri-chan.” She was already starting to feel iffy about leaving this man alone with the Akatanis.

Izuku nodded taking Eri’s hand. “Don’t you worry- mom’s going to take care of him.”

Inko wasn’t sure if the man was going to accept, but he finally gave in and nodded. “As you wish.” He led the way with the children behind him leaving Inko and Mikumo alone.

Only the light hum of the AC exhaust filled the air.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about.” Inko reassured him, patting the boy’s hand.

“I’m… I feel like… I’m breaking…” He whispered trying to find the right words.

“You can talk about it if you like?” Inko asked. But there was only more silence. “Or not… that’s fine too.” At least he seemed to be breathing a little easier. Inko was perfectly fine with sitting on a middle school rooftop with her husband’s illegitimate child having a panic attack if just having someone to sit with him helped.

“I… I’m so weak…” He finally whispered.

“Everyone has a breaking point… And it’s easier to reach it when you don’t have anyone to share your feelings with.” Who knew how much he kept bottled in like Hisashi?

“I shouldn’t.”

“Well, of course you do. You’re still human-”

“I shouldn’t have people to share my feelings with.” He clarified.

Now that was an entirely different problem. “Everyone should.”

“I don’t deserve it. Not anymore.” His voice was dry and hoarse.

 Inko took a water bottle out of her purse. With the tears that Izuku usually shed, she came prepared to keep them hydrated with more in the car. She handed it to him with a smile. “That’s silly. No one ‘deserves’ company. It’s something everyone should have… Other people- whoever they are- Just having people you care about around you makes you a better person.”

What remained of the bento box she made for Izuku was scattered around them. Inko knew there was more to the boy than being Hisashi’s secret child. But right now, she could only see a scared kid not sure how to deal with their own feelings.

Inko held up a rice ball “Come on, let’s not let all this go to waste. Are you still hungry?”

--o--

Kurogiri was grateful Tomura was never enrolled in the public school system. After five minutes of dealing with those corporate slaves, he really hoped his Sensei never brought him here again. He never expected it to happen in the first place. Perhaps a call about them believing their student was cheating on the grounds of excelling in every field. Maybe even what they’d consider disorderly conduct for speaking outside of the status quo. But never any concerns over his health. Definitely not about a woman attempting to abduct his ‘ward’.

It was quite the amusing situation and reversal of roles. His Sensei had been the one to care for Kurogiri in a somewhat paternal manner when he was a child. And now here Kurogiri was left to do the same with another. He probably was doing a poor job of it with Tomura, but his Sensei reassured him that the boy was growing up into exactly the kind of man he wanted him to be. Now that he was left with Eri for most of her day, his Sensei’s instructions for her were only that she grow up happy and healthy. At the moment, that meant letting the small girl play on his phone and watch videos to try to distract her from the fact that her ‘brother’ and Sensei was going through who knew what kind of disturbance. It was unlikely she’d grow up as another typical child of All for One- those saved by his mercy and privileged to carry on his will and run a piece of his empire. All Sensei wanted was to keep her close for his own purposes.

And then there was his biological heir sitting against the hall corridor beside her. Once again, no orders but to ensure he grew up happy and healthy. He’d occasionally been put in charge of surveillance for the boy, but that was difficult when he couldn’t reveal the reasons why to other subordinates. Kurogiri didn’t need to be told how dangerous it would be if it got out that All for One had a son. The less eyes on him, the better. So despite occasionally watching him, Kurogiri knew very little about him. This was probably the closest he’d gotten. The boy seemed to be reading something on a tablet. Ah- he recognized that. Sensei had him acquire it for him. Made sure it had a privacy screen too as well to prevent prying eyes from looking at his work. He at least knew as much the boy was interested in heroes- it was hard to avoid that fact with how much All Might merchandise the boy surrounded himself with. A cruel twist of fate. Maybe with a more direct role in his life, Sensei would be able to lead him down the right path.

“So… Kurokawa-san… how close are you to Ak-Mikumo-kun?” The green haired boy spoke up. Probably just trying to make small talk.

“Very.” He kept it simply.

“How long?” Midoriya continued to press. “How much has he told you?”

Kurogiri turned to the boy. “If you want me to spill some kinds of secrets about him, you won’t get that information from me, Midoriya-san.”

“I… just want to know more about him.” Midoriya insisted. “He said Hisashi was his father… Probably your boss… If he’s my brother, shouldn’t I know more about him?”

“Biological ties do not entitle you to a connection.” Kurogiri warned. “True… if you’re related to someone you’re more likely to share similar traits with them. You see pieces of someone you remember in their family. But those memories can be deceiving. Every individual is different and must be treated as such regardless of their family or genetics. Our strongest ties come not because of linked blood, but linked experiences.”

Oh god, he was starting to sound like one of those black cloaked nonsense dealers in that Disney video game Tomura likes.

“So what kind of ‘experiences’ have you shared then?” Midoriya asked. “You sound loyal to him... It doesn’t sound like you’re just taking care of your boss’s kid... and you have more respect for him than that, don’t you?”

“Very perceptive.” To be expected of his Sensei’s child. “He would not want me to elaborate on exact events…” Who knew how many holes in his elaborately crafted story he might be poking. “But… He is kinder than he may initially come across as.”

Anyone that came across All for One usually saw the insane level of power and feared it. Rightfully so. But to others… the word ‘hero’ had already been tainted. Perhaps savior was more accurate? That he used that god-like power to defend the misfits of society. He was willing to take so much on himself for the sake of others. Yes, people fell for his cause. But it was all for the sake of creating a better world. But how much of that side would he have shown his son?

“I think I get what you mean.” Midoriya began. “Everyone in class thinks he’s weird or creepy… or standoffish… He says he doesn’t care. But I think he does.”

A puff of mist began to erupt from the back of Kurogiri’s head in confusion. He held his hand over the spot to slowly disperse it unseen. “What do you mean? He isn’t the most popular boy at school?” What kind of narrative was his Sensei painting?

 “What? No! I mean, he could probably be if he wanted to. But he kind of went for the least popular kid in class.” Midoriya let out a nervous chuckle. “It’s a bunch of little things… He’ll complain about someone leaving their belongings all over the place while cleaning them up himself. Or Kacchan- this old friend of mine- He stops him from going too far. He probably could do worse, but I don’t think he wants to stoop to his level. He’s let me sit on his shoulders so I can get a better look at hero fights to keep me from getting any closer- even if we’re both around the same weight! And now he’s like my personal trainer while we prep for UA? He’s weird but… nice. In his own way. And he says he doesn’t care… but he likes it when I thank him or notice what he does. He probably can do a lot of cool things, but it’s the why that’s more important.”

It was all an interesting perspective. A setting that he didn’t really see his Sensei in, but some of his nature coming about all the same. “I agree… I wished more people noticed his intent as well.” Society probably would be a better place if they had.

--o--

They each rotated sitting with Mikumo on the roof while the others sorted things off in the school’s office. Eri asked if she could have a chance to talk with her brother alone. They were fine with it so long as she knew she could switch out any time she wanted.

“Is this my fault?” She asked Mikumo again when it was just them.

He contemplated it for a moment. “I… don’t think so?”

“It could have been my quirk… is part of you still disappearing? Is it part of my curse?”

“No.” Even as fragmented as Mikumo felt, he still wasn’t going to drag her down with him. “This… was probably happening before you did anything”.

“Oh…” Although Eri didn’t entirely sound sure. “Inko-san in the car asked me… if I knew you were their family? What I knew…”

Mikumo tensed up for a moment. A good chunk of his disguise relied on no one questioning the young girl too much.

“I said I didn’t… is that ok?” Eri asked.

Mikumo let out a sigh and nodded. “Just… perfect…”

“But… they are your family, aren’t they… they seem nice…”

“They’re too nice.” Mikumo whispered. “That’s the problem.”

--o--

They didn’t know how long they’d be there, but it seemed like they’d all be willing to stay however long it took. Kurokawa “found” a few folding chairs, but he seemed just as eager to leave. It was hard for Inko to get a read on him. He certainly seemed more invested than any employer forced to watch over their boss’s kid.

“You seem familiar…” Inko remarked trying to pick her brain. “Have we met before?”

The man picked at the fabric covering his skin nervously. “I don’t think so…”

“Now I remember! You were wearing all black at the time! You were Hisashi’s best man at our wedding!” Inko exclaimed.

He seemed to ease up a bit. “Oh… yes, that’s right. It was over 15 years ago.”

Izuku had been glancing through his old notes through his new tablet, but perked up at the conversation. “Wait- you know my dad? Well?” He wasn’t just a run of the mill employee. Then again, most employers didn’t ask their subordinates to be a guardian for their illegitimate children.

“Yes… But I’m not at liberty to give you any details.” He promptly said like some kind of politician at a press conference answering ‘no comment’ to everything.

Inko scoffed. “I imagine. Are you his hit man then?”

“What?!” Both Izuku and Kurokawa exclaimed at the same time.

“Oh, just a little joke.” Inko waved off. Although she wasn’t sure how much she could trust about Hisashi anymore. ‘Kurokawa’- probably not even his real name- was likely to have those answers. But nothing she should be saying in front of Izuku. He had enough big revelations for today. “Still, there has to be some kind of funny office story you can tell us?”

“He has a very strict policy on letting work related matters remain in the workplace.” Kurokawa maintained.

“Huh… I guess that makes sense…” Izuku mused. “If my dad and Mikumo-kun’s dad are the same person… then he’s actually some kind of secret government agent?”

Inko bit her lip. If that was really it, she doubted Hisashi would have told her so little. She always assumed there was some kind of dark past Hisashi was running from. Unless their government had some dark secrets they were hiding and Hisashi was some kind of off the books cleaner… it probably would pay well and explain the nearly unlimited budget he had. Hisashi always claimed to be fine with whatever Inko wanted to purchase from fancy cars to manors if that was her wish. Inko never actually took him up on it thinking he was exaggerating.

“That’s classified.” Kurokawa said with a slightly amused tone to his voice.

This whole investigation was going to take much longer, wasn’t it? “Well, if you’re a friend of Hisashi’s, you should stop by for dinner some time with Mikumo-kun and Eri-chan some time!”

“I’d… need to check my schedule.”

“You mean ask your boss if it’s alright?” Inko questioned rolling her eyes. “If you’re supposed to be looking after Eri, then come in the day with her as well. Even if it’s nothing work related, I’m sure we can find something to chat about.”

Izuku knew that tone from his mother. It was more than just someone seeking out gossip. It looked like his dad had finally been out to pasture for too long. Now, Inko was ready to go out for the hunt. And if she needed to pounce on a few weaker members of the pack to get to him, then Izuku really hoped Kurokawa did have some sort of military training. He’d need it to withstand mom’s interrogation.

--o--

“I’m sorry.” Mikumo whispered as Izuku sat by him again

“For what? Freaking out? I do it all the time!” Izuku tried to reassure him. “Well, not like all the time…” Not like he cried his heart out every day or broke down every few months. “But it’s no big deal!”

“It’s your birthday…” Mikumo pointed out. “I screwed up everything.”

“Yeah, it’s not what I expected… but it’s not just me and mom anymore, so that’s a plus! And you put a lot of thought into your gift for me- the quality of the scans seem really nice! Still probably better than most of the birthdays I’ve had in a while! And I’m sure you’d do the same and sit by me if I had an attack like this! You’ve stood up for me in front of Kacchan more times already than you need to! You’re fine!”

“I’m not fine.” Mikumo mumbled back.

“Well, no. But you will be.” Izuku said patting him on the shoulder. “Maybe not all now… but we’ll get through it!”

“So positive of that?”

Izuku nodded. “You’re my brother now, aren’t you? I can’t leave you to face whatever you’ve still left unsaid alone!”

“My brother…” Mikumo gave out a sad cracked up laugh. “Even if you’re always there… You won’t be there for me.”

Izuku wasn’t sure if Mikumo just had a bad experience with someone he’d called his brother or was just so used to being alone. “Well… I’ve never been a brother before, so I can’t really say I’m good at it. But… you’re someone I care about. So I’m not going to leave you alone to suffer with whatever it is you have on your shoulders. I want to be able to protect you too!”

“Another hero then?” He muttered bitterly like it was some kind of insult.

“I don’t think you need to be a hero to be there for the people you care about.” Izuku knew Mikumo wasn’t a fan of heroes. He was fine with analyzing their quirks, but he always managed to find something wrong with them. That they weren’t doing their job properly or were only there for the publicity. Yet the more he spoke of them, the more personal it felt. “But… was there a hero in your life that failed you?”

There was that sad pained laugh again. Like the universe was playing a joke on him, and the best way he could try and prove it didn’t hurt (even if it did) was by laughing along. “They were the best hero. And the worst. They were willing to selflessly give everything they had- body and soul- despite the world treating them like garbage. They didn’t expect anything in return. But they couldn’t even save themselves… or the people important to them. Now I’m the only one that will remember their name. There will never be another hero like them. And I don’t want there to be. Heroes… The ambitious and greedy rise to the top and are praised as much- if not more- as those who give their lives recklessly without realizing the impact they had on those around them. Without realizing how much better they deserved than to lose their life to a world that devoured them whole. Anyone truly worthy of being called a hero suffers more than they should.” He’d spoken more than he had since this attack started. But talking about this person… it seemed to hurt, but give Mikumo strength as well.

Izuku had wondered before if Mikumo’s dislike toward heroes came from something like ‘a hero didn’t show up to save me’. But he should have known it would be more complicated. That kind of hate… bitterness… the fact that it seemed to be born out of love only made it stronger. Izuku hoped to change his friend’s view on heroes but showing him how many people All Might saved or even being saved himself just wasn’t going to cut it. Even becoming a hero that Mikumo might admire wouldn’t work. Izuku knew in his heart that he’d also be a hero to put the needs of others before his own. Maybe Izuku’s first assessment wasn’t wrong. A hero failed to save him. But it wasn’t from some burning building or cackling evil villain. It was from his own views on the world, heroes, and maybe even himself. How did you save someone from that?

--o--

After Eri’s return, she was back to watching videos on Kurogiri’s phone. Meaning Inko was ready to go to work. “Here sweetie- we wouldn’t want to disturb the classes in session!” She said handing Eri a simple pair of earbuds from her purse. Eri only smiled and nodded as she began listening to her music.

And then Inko went in for her hunt. “How many secrets have you drawn that boy into?”

“Midoriya-san… I believe you have the wrong impression.”

“Oh? So care to tell me the correct one I should be getting? Because ‘normal teenage boy’ isn’t a vibe anyone’s getting from Mikumo-kun.” He was sweet in his own way, but stable he was not. How much of it was due to the people that were supposedly his guardians.

“He’s simply… gifted. And exposed to different culture’s around the world. He’s bound to be a bit eccentric.” Kurokawa tried to excuse.

“He has more stress on his plate than he should, and it’s not coming from school.” So the question was, where? “I think he- and Eri-chan- both need a more caring environment… one I don’t think they’re getting from someone paid to only watch them part of the day.”

“Are you insinuating I’m not properly meeting their needs?” Kurokawa asked coldly.

“From what I can gather… Mikumo-kun does the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry for him and his sister… so what does that leave you to do? Watch while Eri-chan likely sits in front of a screen all day?”

“Akatani-sama is responsible enough that I only need to ensure the amenities are paid for and he has whatever he needs. Eri-san doesn’t need anything else but education, so I don’t see what the issue is there.” Kurokawa truly behaved as if he was just there to check in on them and manage their accounts then. God forbid he actually had children of his own.

“Of course they need more than that! A parent’s job is more than just a servant! Why shouldn’t Eri-chan be attending a normal school and socializing with other kids her age? How much are you talking with them? Whatever he’s going through if you really do know ‘everything’ then you should be talking to him about it!”

“I’m not their parent. Nor do they need one. All they require out of me is to be the middleman for any needs someone their age cannot obtain.” It really was as bad as Inko feared.

“It doesn’t matter how responsible they are! They’re still children- still people! They have more than just physical needs.” But it seemed Inko was talking to the wrong person. “I’m going to make sure they have someone that can care for them. And if Hisashi has a problem with it, he can come say it to my face.”

Kurokawa stayed silent for a moment contemplating this declaration of war. Would he fight her on it though? Now that Inko knew Hisashi was deliberately not returning, there was no way she wasn’t going to use that against him if it meant caring for those he’d failed to.

“I can see why he chose you.” Kurokawa admitted defeat. “The choice is up to Akatani-sama… but you’re right. I can’t provide him with everything he needs. Or Eri-san. I’m… not used to being a guardian. The ‘parent’ part wasn’t required. And perhaps you cannot truly command someone to suddenly be a parent- it’s something one needs to accept. The job was thrust upon me and I still don’t know how to handle it. I do care about them very much… I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

It was hard to get a read on the man seeing as his facial features were mostly covered up. But he did seem to be invested in his wards. He just didn’t know how to show it. “I don’t think anyone’s really ready to become a parent. Or can tell if they’re really doing a good job of it.” Inko couldn’t even say the same of herself. She knew Izuku wasn’t having the best school experience no matter how much he refused to tell her. She’d offered to move him to a different school, but he seemed to think it would be just as bad, if not worse elsewhere. She didn’t know what she could do for him besides be there for him. “Trying… that’s all we really can do. But… it really shouldn’t have been left to you as part of some kind of ‘job description’. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Kurokawa held his hands together. His bandages fell on top of each other where they touched, mingling. Did he even have hands? “Someone took me in when I was young… they didn’t have to either. And yet they gave me everything. Compassion. A purpose. Life. They weren’t exactly a parent… they weren’t always around or was the primary person caring for me, but they were still so much more. I owe them everything. So when the task to care for another like myself came to me… I didn’t think I could ever be like that person that meant so much in my life. I wouldn’t hesitate to do what was asked of me. But… I don’t know how I can give anyone what was given to me. If you can, Midoriya-san… I’d still like to try and be a part of their lives.”

Inko could only make her guesses of what was going on. Distant children raised by distant children in some kind of odd twisted cycle. And where did Hisashi fit into this as their ‘boss’. Another part of that chain? Or deeper into the cause of it all? Inko knew he was possibly older than he appeared, knowing too much for someone his own age. Mikumo was the same way. How many more like them were there? This was bigger than just her own family. Kurokawa might not be willing to share everything, but perhaps he could be more than just a source of information.

“All we can do is try.”

--o--

“I can warp you out of here the moment you give the command.” Kurogiri offered once again. He was grateful Inko even gave him the chance to speak with his Sensei on his own.

Yet his Sensei gave the same response. “No.”

“You should see if it really was the effects of a quirk. These children just fire them off without any notice of their surroundings.” Kurogiri wasn’t sure if it was his chat with Inko or all the time spent with Tomura, but he certainly felt like a worried parent.

“No. It’s me.”

“But… Sensei… This can’t be normal for you.”

“I don’t know whatever gave you the impression that I had a sense of normal. But if I did, I haven’t been so in years.” Had all the time in this body turned him into a sulking teenager? Or was he that devoted to the character?

“Then… has this ever happened with you?” Kurogiri was probably the only person he could truly tell everything to without revealing too much about his true self. Maybe his Sensei really did need someone to talk to.

But just because he could share the fact, doesn’t mean he was entirely willing to. “It was a long time ago… I assumed it was behind me. But it seems as if family continues to be a weak point of mine.”

“I see… so your attempts to distance yourself from them were to prevent this scenario from happening again. A logical response, Sensei.”

“Is that sarcasm I detect, Kurogiri?”

Black panicked wisps escaped the top of the villain’s head “No! Apologies if I came across as such-”

“Calm down. And loosen up. I could use more brutal honesty than polite pleasantries.” All for One remarked holding his finger to his chin. But his eyes still looked far too old and tired for the rest of his body. He may look vastly different, but there was no mistaking it. He was still Kurogiri’s Sensei.

And yet… perhaps it couldn’t remain that way. His Sensei was a god among men. A paragon that did what was necessary, no matter what the cost. The purpose of his time with his family was to reinvigorate him with the strength to move forward, not crush him down. In this form, he may still be the same person, but he felt more… mortal. He was stronger than he had been since his battle with All Might, but his vulnerabilities had been exposed. Kurogiri knew he’d only become stronger from this. But only if he allowed himself to.

“Then we should have more time to engage in ‘brutal honesties’.” Kurogiri ventured. “I know you wished to limit your relations with me and your entire empire as to fully emerge yourself in this new identity and to prevent history from repeating itself. But… perhaps lacking some way to express your sentiments on the abnormal circumstance has led to this as well. Even before as Hisashi, you were able to return to the criminal underworld at any time and speak with those that knew your situation.”

“Are you suggesting for me to resume cheating on my wife and child again with villainy?” All for One asked with a sinister chuckle. Even if it was at his expense, Kurogiri was just relieved to see that his Sensei was recovering from his previous state.

“No… I wish you could return. I am a poor shadow king compared to the true puppet master, and I fear I am unfit to guide Shigaraki Tomura down the path you have set out for him. But you’ve made your intentions clear, and I wish you every happiness that you have earned for your years of service to this ungrateful world.” Kurogiri removed the sunglasses that were part of his disguise to look at his Sensei eye to eye. He was far from his equal. But he hoped he could at least be someone he trusted. “I only mean that we should speak more often. It doesn’t need to be on affairs of business. But even just someone to vent with may help. Someone that at the very least knows who you are, who you have been, and accepts you in whichever form you choose.”

Kurogiri felt his Sensei’s hand upon his shoulder, the gaseous mass closing in on itself like a slightly deflated balloon. “Kurogiri…” The living mist stiffed up his form a bit, his form solidifying afraid that he’d overstepped his bounds. “When did you get to be so wise?”

Kurogiri’s eyes gleamed from the complement. One from his Sensei was rare, but that only meant it was truly earned if spoken. “If I have, it is only because I have learned from you, Sensei.”

“It seems all my children could use more confidence. Don’t discount your own accomplishments… even if you’re not me, I’m sure what’s left of my empire is running smoothly. You’ve grown into a fine man all your own.” A faint smile graced his lips.

The fact that Kurogiri was able to cause it had the villain brimming with pride. Kurogiri’s form loosened, almost dispersing the bandages. Despite the incident, it seemed as if his Sensei was in quite the gracious mood. “I am humbled that you feel so, Sensei.”

“No need to be so formal… Even in private, I want to make this form my own. Mikumo will be just fine.” The ex-supervillain decided. “It’s time for a change… Even if I return to crime eventually, I don’t want to fall into old habits. To forget what’s important. Shiragumo… You’re my family too, aren’t you?”

For a moment the living mist’s face solidified into something closer to flesh than it had been in quite some time. A tear slid down his cheek. “Y-yes Se-Mikumo.”

“I think I’ve worried the rest of my family enough already.” He leaned Kurogiri’s shoulder, solid enough for just a moment to help him stand to his feet. “Let’s return to them.”

--o--

“Izuku… you seem to be holding up pretty well all things considered.” Inko assessed. She’d been worried about her son in the middle of all of this as well, but things were… well chaotic. They were certainly getting better. And Izuku wasn’t falling apart himself so that had to be a good sign. But after this morning… what was going on with him.

Izuku let out a nervous laugh. “Well… I figured it was weird that some guy who seemed good at… everything… wanted to be friends with me. I kept waiting for some kind of catch or to find out that he’s some really specific serial killer… but if it turns out that it’s just because he’s related to me, I think I can live with that.”

“Oh honey… someone doesn’t need to be related to you to want to be friends with you.” Inko almost wanted to unplug Eri from her phone to confirm, but she wasn’t sure how much Izuku would count a four-year-old’s friendship.

“I mean, that’s not exactly the only thing on my mind… But having a secret brother… it’s bad and good, right? He’s already my friend, so that’s good. But he seems to have all his own issues bottled up… and it means dad has even more explaining to do… bad… but we’ll work through it! Mikumo-kun’s dependable, and I’m sure things are going to go much better between us from here on out!” Inko leaned over and hugged her son close to her.

“Do you know how proud I am of you?” Inko asked with a smile.

“Not exactly, but that’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it?” Izuku admitted shirking back a little. “Although… if you really knew before- and I’m not sure how you aren’t madder about all of this on dad’s end-”

“Oh, I’m plenty mad. I just know where to direct my anger.”

“-Then that does explain why you asked how I feel about the Akatani’s staying with us.” Izuku said scratching his chin. It wasn’t like she asked after just a few weeks of seeing them, but after a few months of having them over for dinner and having them stay over most of the time anyways. And she certainly didn’t sound like she was joking. And Izuku wasn’t against it, he just wasn’t sure why. They seemed fine on their own.

Inko nodded. “Well… how do you feel about it now?”

“It’s not like anything’s actually changed.” Izuku admitted. “He’s still my friend… And Eri-chan is growing on me.” He kept looking toward the girl wondering if she’d suddenly pick up on the conversation with her name called. But Izuku had a feeling that the main reason his mom was asking now was because she planned on doing something about it soon. “They don’t have to… but they already feel like family. It could be nice.”

It would be a big change. But it felt right.

The door to the rooftop opened. Inko stood up to switch with Kurokawa again, but Mikumo was following holding his hand. He seemed much better than from when Inko sat with him. Even if he was still having trouble looking both of them in the eye. He let his hair cover most of his face, but he was at least breathing normally. Eri tore out her earbuds to look anxiously at the condition of her big brother.

“I’m… ready to leave now.” He wasn’t ‘fine’. But at least ‘fine enough’ to not continue this in public. “I’m sor-”

“Don’t even trouble yourself with the thought of it.” Inko cut him off. “It just means we get to start Izuku’s birthday party a little earlier… if you’re still up for it that is.”

Izuku hadn’t really skipped class before, but this seemed a good as reason as any. Besides, he was kind of already an hour in to one of their afternoon classes anyways. “I mean, I wouldn’t call it a party… just a get together with a few friends…” They hadn’t planned for much more, but Kurokawa did seem to help Mikumo out a bit “Uh, you can come too if you want to Kurokawa-san.”

The man only looked to Mikumo for an answer. Mikumo nodded. “Yes. Let’s go home.” Although the word came out before he realized what he said. “Oh- not my apartment. I just mean-”

Inko only smiled and cut him off. “It’s fine, dear.” It was good to know he already thought of the Midoriya household as his home.

--o--

The mood shifted entirely once the focus was off Mikumo. Inko didn’t exactly have much planned, but she had plenty of food available. Izuku had a few video games and board games to entertain Eri with while Mikumo quietly participated. Mikumo didn’t even make any complaints when Izuku cracked open his copy of “I Am Here- THE GAME”.

Through the festivities, Mikumo felt more like a passive observer after everything that happened today. It was still difficult to accept. That despite everything, perhaps he could return to his family in this strange way. That they could still respond to him with nothing but love despite the continued secrets. That even with all his failures, they’d continue to want him close. Would they accept Hisashi if they knew everything? That was a question he still hoped to take to his grave. But they did accept Mikumo. He wanted it to stay that way. He wasn’t going to make his mistakes of living a double life for the sake of reveling in his power and having the comforts of a family to return to at the end of the day. For the sake of Inko and Izuku, he’d remain here. He’d remain… human. He just had to accept that maybe he has been all along. Trying to be any more would only cause history to repeat itself.

Izuku had a two-player fighting game set up, yet everyone was cozied up in the living room to watch. Even Kurogiri and Inko took a few rounds in. It turns out that the villain actually did have some experience from being subjected to Tomura’s whims. Mikumo thought reflexes would have some kind of part in it, but it seemed like nothing could beat pure button mashing and dumb luck. It was a short list of things he couldn’t do well, and it seemed like video games were one of them.

“I let you win. It wouldn’t do to beat up a child.” Mikumo teased as he ‘gracefully accepted his loss’.

Eri had a huge grin on her face anyways. “Nuh-uh! I’ve been practicing with Izukkun!”

“Exactly. I allowed you to become more powerful, accepting that one day you would surpass me.” Mikumo passed the controller to Izuku. “Enjoy your victory.”

He sat down on the couch between Inko and Kurogiri as a light smile cracked his face. It was all so simple. Yet peaceful. Yes, he wouldn’t mind living like this for a while. Staying this way come the good, the bad, and the boring. Just be a child. Enjoy the simple joys that came along whether they be staying up far too late debating over which hero would win in a fight or how school life seemed so strange compared to the life he’d led so far. A chance to be a kid that he never really got for himself the first time around.

“It can stay like this if you want.” Inko casually remarked as if she was reading his mind.

Mikumo pursed his lips. “I’d like it to… I can’t say what will happen in the future. But I’d like things to stay this way for as long as I can manage.” Looking around at the people in this room, he found people he chose and people who he’d brought into his life yet didn’t expect to have this kind of hold on him. “I want this. Family.”

“Then stay.” It wasn’t as complicated as all the planning and questions she’d asked behind the scenes. It was simple. It was merely finishing something that had already been started. “Here… with your family.”

Mikumo’s eyes widened at what Inko was asking. Was it really what he thought it was? “You mean… permanently? With you?”

“And Izuku… and Eri-chan… We already feel like a family. We could live as one too.” Inko’s voice was like a calm stream. Nothing spoke like a big dramatic request. Simply a part of nature that was bound to happen eventually.

Tears were already streaming down Mikumo’s face. Everything he wanted in the palm of his hand. This time, he’d be there for them. He leaned into Inko’s shoulder doing a poor job of hiding what must be a ridiculous look on his face. Joy offset by the sniveling tears. Did she have any sort of clue what this meant to him?

“Yes. I’ll stay.” It was a promise Hisashi failed to keep. One that Mikumo refused to break again.

Chapter Text

A surprise she said. A family vacation she said. It seemed like a fun idea. It was a trap.

A long car trip Mikumo could handle. They all woke up in the early hours and Izuku and Eri were already fast asleep. But under a blanket, Mikumo was checking his phone. As kind as it was for Inko to surprise him, he had to know. He could instantly check her credit card purchases through his bank account. He didn’t care so much about how much Inko spent as it was a way to quickly check what his wife might be doing from afar. Make sure she was taking care of herself, occasionally going out to eat or treating herself, and wasn’t shy about her spending. There were far too many hero merchandise purchases for Izuku, but he could live with that.

Except… for the past 3 months there was only a lump sum charge. Rather than scattered small payments to grocery stores or online shopping it was all to one source. That sly witch! She took out another credit card! Did she know he was tracking her spending?! He hadn’t needed to look while they were already so close and often meeting each other while he was Mikumo. But the monthly sums were higher than her usual. Nothing ridiculously expensive, but still almost three times as large as Inko’s usual modest lifestyle cost. Was she sticking it to her husband now that she thought he had an illegitimate son and could have come back to her at any time? Was she stashing money away so she could run off and disappear from Hisashi’s life entirely? (Not that she could escape him, but it was worrisome that she was trying to). It would be difficult for him to subtly find out. But he couldn’t really blame Inko for trying to distance herself when Hisashi did the same long before her.

Mikumo tried to curl up and do what he was supposed to be doing right now- sleep. But as he ducked his head down toward the eyeline level, he could see he wasn’t the only one with a bright glowing screen hidden beneath a blanket. Izuku in the front seat was doing the same. Likely searching hero news or forums.

“Get some sleep.” He whispered to his brother/ son. “It’s going to be a long day.”

--o--

The sounds of excited screams filled the air, jolting both Izuku and Mikumo awake.

“We’re here?! We’re going to Disneyland?!” Eri screamed cheerfully

Oh no. Mikumo could see the spires of the castle beyond the sea of cars lining up for parking. The gilded cage that was the kingdom of the mutant rat. Tokyo Disneyland.

Izuku turned to his mother in shock. “Woah… This must have taken a lot of planning!”

Inko only smiled. “It was a lot easier than I thought it would be actually!” Eri and Izuku jumped out of the car, already helping Inko with the snack bags. But Mikumo just sat in the car dumbfounded.

Izuku came around and opened up the door for him, not sure why his friend wasn’t jumping for joy as well. “Uh… speechless in a good way?”

Mikumo’s gaze was hard. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Izuku chuckled. “What? You got scared by a mascot character at an early age?”

“See- that’s exactly it. No one believes anything actually bad could happen here. A child’s misconceptions or a slip and fall at worst. Anyone that’s able to see something darker underneath would just seem to be crazy.” Mikumo knew he already sounded like a conspiracy nut. “I didn’t believe it either… not until it was too late.”

Izuku blinked confused. “Well… I’m sure nothing could happen in broad daylight. It’ll be fun!”

“That’s what he wants you to think.” Mikumo mumbled. But he accepted his defeat. Eri was already pulling out a plastic princess crown from Inko’s bag and jumping up and down. There was no stopping this. He just had to survive the day. A single day wasn’t going to corrupt them all. It was the continued doses of the proverbial Kool-Aid that consumed the victims here. Mikumo just had to figure out a way to make one bad experience, and they were sure never to return.

If it wasn’t bad enough, past all the bag checks Mikumo could see him in the distance. A bright red and yellow puffy suit that looked like he could be some Fatgum recolor. Only a pair of round black ears was adjourned on top of it all. Inko waited in the long line to get all her snack bags checked, but Mikumo rushed past the crowds without a horde of luggage.

“Traitor.” Mikumo spat in Kurogiri’s face as he poked at the disguised black mist’s side.

The eyes seemed to glow less faintly behind the masked form and the man was stiff. “I… thought you knew…”

“You know how I feel about this place.” It didn’t matter if Inko didn’t tell him about the surprise, he should have known better. “That monstrous mind melting mouse… Tell me, has he gotten to you too then? I know you’ve been showing Eri their introductory brainwashing propaganda, but I didn’t think they’d completely converted you.” Mikumo accused.

“No! I just assumed- Well, even if this place is just a front, it’s entirely safe! Thousands come through every day perfectly unharmed! Everyone comes out so happy… I assumed you wanted to experience that with your family.” Judging by the ears, it seemed like Kurogiri wanted to experience it as well. Curiosity would kill this cat if he wasn’t careful.

“Damn it… this is my fault for not recognizing the threat when he built a new base in my very own backyard decades ago. I should have stopped him while I had the chance. But I assumed it was simply the spread of capitalism- not a cult. I will not let him have my children! Do you understand me?” He knew he wouldn’t be heard over the large crowd, but he was plenty intimidating for the teleporting villain despite his size.

“Y-yes Sensei…. So… are we to leave immediately then?” There was both fear and disappointment in his voice.

Mikumo shook his head sadly. “It’s too late. Turning back would destroy them. I just need to make sure they don’t come back. Just a little harmless sabotage… But without injury, or too much mental scarring. Hm… is food poisoning too troublesome for them? Or not enough?”

The mist seemed to be mustering up whatever courage he could. “Maybe… it won’t be necessary. Perhaps… you’d come to like it if you’re give it the chance?”

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.” Mikumo muttered with a shiver. He couldn’t let his guard down.

The rest of his family were already smiling ear to ear once they passed security. Was there some kind of chemical in the air that forced that on them? …No, that was just popcorn.

“Alright! Everyone gather around for a picture!” Inko said handing her phone to Kurogiri trying to corral them all together in front of a Mickey hedge. Even All for One wasn’t arrogant enough to force nature itself to create a mural of his face. And yet here they were one of the many tourists treating his image like a landmark.

It seemed like Inko was already making use of Kurogiri as her personal servant with him acting as photographer. How much of this had he helped to plan? He’d figure out this entire scheme and find the best place to strike. Maybe even Mikumo posed for the picture before showing it to Inko.

“Um… Mikumo-kun…” Inko said looking it over. “Are you alright?”

Izuku looked over his mother’s shoulder to see what she meant. “Uh… yeah… it looks like that sort of ‘all according to plan’ kind of look an evil villain gives right before they crush all the hero’s hopes and dreams kind of look.”

“Really?” Mikumo asked innocently. “I was going for more of a ‘I can’t wait to have such a wonderful bonding experience with my family’. Must be the lighting.”

Eri looked at him with her big red eyes. “You’re going to do anything bad, are you big brother?”

…Shit why was that girl having a larger influence on him. “Of course not…” He needed to factor Eri not catching him into his sabotage plans as well.

“Perfect!” Eri exclaimed scaling back, starting to become an expert Mikumo climber. “Because I want to do everything!”

“And what do you have planned for today?” Mikumo asked trying to force on a smile as he turned toward Kurogiri.

Kurogiri began to nervously shift, but Inko cut him off before he could answer. “It’s a surprise! But we have nothing scheduled until 11, so let’s enjoy the park! I’ve got those fast tickets for us so we don’t have to wait in the line as long!”

Which likely cost extra. While Hisashi essentially had as much disposable income as he wanted, he didn’t appreciate any of it going toward this monster of a corporation.

After 6 times stopping for pictures, waiting in line for a chance to hug a duck in a mascot costume, getting Eri a “breakfast churro” (which she insisted was a thing enough for Inko not to deny her the sugary treat) and getting distracted by some street performers who Mikumo had no idea how they managed to catch their attention for so long, they finally made it to their first ride. Which Mikumo was at least glad at looking at the hour wait that if he was going to have to spend either his time or money to jump on a spinning space shooter game, he could live with the payment.

With Eri distracted by the bright colors, Inko cleaning the brown sugar off her lips and fingers, Izuku decided to try and pass the time with what he assumed was casual conversation.

“So… what exactly does have you scared about this place? I promise not to laugh… and to hear you out.” Izuku asked. Embarrassing story or conspiracy, he wanted to hear it.

Mikumo sighed. It was noisy enough that they couldn’t be overheard without someone being right next to them.

“You’ve heard of animals that have quirks, right?” Mikumo began.

Izuku nodded. “It’s rare… I know the principal of UA is one of those cases. Besides that, there’s expensive pet stores with glowing or weird looking pets that go for a lot. But what does that have to do with anything?”

“Yes… well, when quirks first emerged, these quirked animals made the best possible test subjects. As much as quirked individuals were hated at the time, human experimentation was still out… at least in any modernized country with the technology to do it properly.” But he shook his head. “You know Nezu as one of the results of those experiments… but there were others. One such case was a mouse with what was dubbed a ‘charisma quirk’. Singing, dancing- any kind of entertainment. Not only did it have the intelligence to imitate it, but it captivated it’s audience. Enough so, that eventually the scientists were willing to serve him and became his lab rats.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow. “What are you… wait, mouse? You don’t mean…”

“Oh yes.” Mikumo said with a chuckle. “His empire started small, but it has grown. The experiments on him increased his intelligence and lifespan so he had all the time in the world to engrain himself in the public’s mind. He took on an already popular image of a cartoon character… Or did he make the cartoon character popular? Pop culture history was hardly as well preserved at the time… But he’s had plenty of time to grow. To spread his influence. It’s likely he aims to integrate all of humanity into his cult of personality. To make a gilded cage they gleefully pay to enter. Maybe it seems harmless now, but do you know how many of these employees actually leave this profession? The majority of them no longer possess the will power to. They continue to dance as puppets on a string for their new master.”

Izuku was having a hard time keeping a straight face. Not because he wanted to laugh. But he really did not want to believe any of this was true. “What kind of conspiracy forum did you find this on?”

“I wish it was just some silly urban legend- although I think he does keep his ‘creators’ cryogenically frozen beneath his headquarters. But that’s beside the point. I’ve spoken with people who’ve gotten out. Their state of mind when they were working, how they could hardly afford to live on those wages, but everyone was just ‘so friendly’ and that it was a ‘fun work environment’. But after leaving, they started to realize how strong the hold was on them. Most of them returned back to what they know. Others returned for the truth. And what they found… well, they knew no one would believe them.” All for One certainly hadn’t. Not until this current base was already built and there was little he could do about it.

“You’re… you can’t be serious.” Izuku stammered.

“No, this entire elaborate hoax has me jumpy today.” Mikumo said rolling his eyes. “How many things have you actually seen me concerned about? Yes, I’m serious.”

“So… what can we do?” Izuku wondered nervously.

Mikumo shrugged. “Honestly… nothing.” If All for One couldn’t step against the global superpower, two supposed teenagers wouldn’t stand a chance. “It’s not as if the kool-aid is actually spiked so to speak- at least not the supply the public gets.” He had it tested in the past. Nothing that could get in the hands of those easily able to go to the press with it. No actual evidence. “We’re safe. For today.” Probably. But he probably already spooked his son enough as it was.

“I just wanted to have a fun family vacation…” Izuku whispered.

Mikumo let out a laugh. “I did too. Until I landed on the demon’s doorstep.” Looking at Izuku’s destroyed face, part of him wished he hadn’t said anything. “Oh come on, I’m sure we can still salvage something from today.”

“But… But…” Izuku then realized they were at the front of the ride queue.

Mikumo slid into his ride cart designed to look like a space ship, accepting that it wasn’t worth having Izuku worried over it. “…It might just be an elaborate theory online. No hard evidence.” There was plenty, just none that he could show as Mikumo.

Izuku seemed to finally let out a sigh. “Oh- so it might all completely be fine!” A little more than eager to discard the theory while he was currently in the jaws of the beast.

“Yes… possibly.” What was one more lie?

By the end of the ride, Mikumo was cursing the horrendously off laser mechanics of the shooter ride. He had experience as a sniper! He should not be losing to a child! Eri’s game was probably glitched in her favor. It didn’t stop the child from cheerfully declaring herself as the best “Space Ranger” in the family.

Overall Mikumo insisted he wasn’t impressed by the rides. The Space Mountain coaster may have had a decent enough light display, but it was hardly anywhere near the rush of going in a rocket. Closer to sticking your head out of a moving vehicle, and he didn’t demand people wait two hours in line for that. Even if they only technically ended up waiting closer to 15 minutes.

When they finally reached Fantasy Land, it was time for their appointment. Mikumo gawked at what he realized Inko had planned. “Please… this has to be too much.”

But Eri was already gawking in excitement. Her eyes were wide and Inko couldn’t keep her on the ground as she vibrated in place. She was more excited than she’d been all day, and she was already more hyperactive than Mikumo had ever seen her. “PRINCESS MAKEOVER!”

It was a rather small corner salon made to look like some kind of magical boutique. Ribbons and models of cute little animals lined the walls. The hair, the makeup, the dresses, and worst of all the glitter. It was already everywhere. Mikumo was sure there had to be some kind of brainwashing involved. “This is a den of lies. They’re no fairy godmothers.”

“Fairy godmothers in training?” Izuku questioned already reading a brochure. “Come on, it’s just part of the experience.”

Inko smiled at Eri. “I got you the full package. Pick out a dress.” She said pointing to the different pictures in the brochure. Although she already knew which one Eri would go for. It was hard to keep her from running toward the actual thing.

Once again, it seemed as if there was no stopping it. “I’m watching all of you.” Mikumo threatened the staff.

Kurogiri sorted through the reservation number he had down, but it didn’t seem like it was necessary. It was a little slower than they intended. As they led Eri to a chair, Mikumo stuck close to her like a shadow.

“My prince, you’ll have to stay behind this line.” One of the ‘fairy godmothers in training’ instructed him. Were they referring to him? Part of the whole act? He looked toward where they pointed. It wasn’t as if he wouldn’t be able to see from there, even without a vision enhancement quirk. But that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be able to try anything. You could easily blend all kinds of chemicals into hair gel and lip gloss. There was only one way to know for sure. “Give me the same package as my sister.”

Inko blinked confused. “Oh- I didn’t realize you were into this kind of thing! So you were jealous?” Inko questioned.

Mikumo insisted to himself he was only doing this for the sake of knowing for sure what they were doing to Eri. He had plenty of quirks that would resist chemical influence or mental brainwashing. But he’d be able to tell if they were doing something to Eri. “I just want to have the full experience…” He mumbled as an excuse.

Inko turned to Izuku. “If they can squeeze you in… Izuku, would you like to join in too?”

Izuku blushed. “No! Nope! I’m good!” He stammered. He was already bullied enough at school without the photos of him in a dress making it to the internet somehow.

“Well, you’re in luck- we have the space today.” One of the frilly dressed glitter dealers urged pulling up her list of the packages. “This is what we have available for princes.”

The list was much smaller than the ones available for Eri. Mostly involving a sash and a toy shield or sword. Nothing like the full treatment given to Eri. “You heard me. I want the same package.”

The woman bit her lip. “Of course… which would you like?” They were all dresses.

Mikumo handed the list to Eri. “Pick me something out.” He was mostly doing this for her anyways.

It seemed as if Eri could indeed get more excited as her eyes gleamed. “This is perfect! I’ll be Elsa, and you can be Anna!”

Mikumo sat up in the chair accepting his fate with dignity. “Whatever you like, my Queen.”

While he hated the glitter, Mikumo had to admit he couldn’t recall the last time he went out to have a spa day. Even if they were low-paid glorified cosplayers, it was nice to have someone fussing over his appearance. And Eri was still grinning ear to ear as they braided blue hair extensions into her locks and fussed over her nails. That was the important part.

Between his already longer than usual hair for a boy his age, the use of makeup and how it highlighted his cheekbones, and the way his hair was styled into small braids with warm ginger highlights woven in, Mikumo probably could pass for Eri’s sister now. But the spring green dress did nothing to make him look warm and friendly.

Inko looked at her phone for a picture of the two princesses- or princess and a queen apparently- that her adopted children were dressing up as. A bubbly girl that was the embodiment of summer next to a regal young woman that could easily be described as a “ice queen” yet still had a calm air of kindness to her. Somehow, despite wearing the same outfits, the Akatani siblings seemed to give off the opposite vibes of the characters they’d chosen. Still, one thing was for sure.

“So cute…” Inko whispered as she got dozens of pictures of the two together.

“Cute?” Mikumo questioned raising an eyebrow. “I look majestic.” He insisted holding his head high. If he was going to wear this dress, he was going to rock it like a queen.

He looked at Kurogiri who also could not resist the urges to take pictures for himself. “Use those at your own peril.”

A low chuckle came from Kurogiri. “Strictly for personal use, your Majesty”

Mikumo was willing to accept the light jab out of the sheer fact that he knew he looked amazing and no amount of pictures or potential childish giggling could take that away from them. More than that, Eri was gazing at the two of them in the mirror hugging her brother’s waist.

“It’s perfect!” The little girl cheered. Even after around a year of being rescued, she still sometimes found it hard to smile. But today? There were so many of them, Mikumo couldn’t help but find it contagious.

He slipped her braid to the side of her face to frame her bud of a horn. “Yes… it is, isn’t it?”

Normally, All for One avoided pictures like the plague. When you were immortal, it didn’t do to have evidence that you were unchanging. But he planned on aging naturally for at least a few years. He definitely wasn’t going to duck out of family photos. But he was surprised that there were plenty of others that couldn’t help snagging a picture of Eri perched on his shoulders. They weren’t many laughing or anything either. Mostly a series of “Awes” as he passed by.

He really should have paid more attention to the movie when Eri put it on for him. He mostly was watching it to see why Eri enjoyed Elsa so much. And the whole being scared of her own quirk? He could get that. Apparently the version they watched was a remake? Not that he was eager to go digging up if the original was much better. From what he saw online there weren’t many differences but it was easier to remake a classic than come up with something original. But it was interesting that the original (or at least the Disney version) was made in the era where quirks were first emerging. No one was actually calling them quirks at the time, but the parallels were obvious. Supposedly a positive view on quirks, yet it seemed to have caused the conflict of the movie, and even today with quirks coming as far as they have you weren’t going to see one that could sustain that kind of state of winter or was versatile enough to go from dress making to making life. Both he and Izuku had to remind themselves that it was just a fantasy and this wasn’t actually how quirks worked as they were shushed by both Inko and Eri when they watched.

As for Elsa’s not as popular sister- even if she was the actual main character… Well, all Mikumo could really gather was that she was happy, lovesick, and her mission was to reconnect with her sibling. He tried to push any thoughts of his brother aside. An ending of being willing to die for the sibling they loved no matter how time tore them apart and magically being brought back by the power of love. A fantasy indeed.

Even if he probably was much more like Elsa, there was no way he was taking that from Eri. Especially after they waited in line for a good hour to see the woman herself. Or at least the character actor. Eri jumped off Mikumo’s back to rush the snow queen.

“You’re really here! All the way from Arendelle!” Eri cheered.

The woman put on a winning smile. Even if most children couldn’t tell, Mikumo knew it was obviously a wig. These actresses were chosen more for their build rather than superficial features after all. “Well, it’s an important occasion. Meeting all the local reagents- like you, Eri-chan!”

Eri gasped. “You know my name?!”

It had nothing to do with the fact that Eri was wearing a button proudly declaring that it was her first visit with her name on it. Mikumo wasn’t going to ruin it for her, but his eyes were certainly going to take a lap around the old socket.

“Of course! I was looking forward to meeting you! It seems like we already have common taste in fashion.”  The actress said while holding her arms out to show off her long flowing cape.

Eri twirled as well, although her dress was sewn to ensure that children didn’t trip over their fancy new ensemble. “It’s not just the dress- it’s our quirks!”

“Oh?” The woman seemed to be struggling to hide a sense of worry on her face. With the amount of kids that got overly excited to meet their idols and fired off their quirks in front of the character actors, it was a disaster waiting to happen. ‘Let it Go’ should not be an anthem for an army of kids with dangerous quirks eager to show what they could do. Not that Mikumo had any concern that Eri would recklessly use her quirk in public- even Inko and Izuku still didn’t know exactly what it was.

“Yeah! I mean, I don’t have any ice powers…” Eri admitted sheepishly. “But- I was scared of my quirk for the longest time… Like you… I tried my best to never use it because I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”

But then Eri had to go and drag Mikumo by the hand up to present him before her role model. “But… like with you, my sibling also taught me that I don’t have to be afraid! That he loves me and it’s going to be ok! I can use my quirk to help a lot of people one day!”

Mikumo failed to resist the tears falling from his eyes. He scooped Eri up in his arms and off the ground. “Maybe there is something worthwhile within these propa- animated films.”

--o--

The rides itself were nothing impressive. They less relied on the newest technology and more the grip nostalgia had on everyone already willing to pay huge amounts of their salary to step through the gates. Izuku was actually getting a kick out of the more practical effects, like a skeptic trying to figure out how a magician performed their tricks. And who was Mikumo to deny him of that joy of figuring out that the ‘ghosts’ were a result of projectors or the scene change turning a pirate hostage situation into a flying boy’s victory was the result of well-placed mirrors?

Eri couldn’t resist the allure of trying on different sets of ear hats with different ribbons or princess crowns adjourning them. Inko made sure to take a picture in each and every one of them, even getting Izuku to try on a few. The green hat and long droopy eared Goofy hat was especially a picture Mikumo was saving on his phone. He was getting plenty of cute photos that he wasn’t just updating his entire family’s caller images, but he was going to have to fight to pick a new phone background. By the time they left the gift shop, every member of the Midoriya family had a set of big colorful ears. Everyone was happy enough that Mikumo was willing to excuse the source of it.

Was it some quirk at work that seemed to wash his initial fears away? Or simply just being with his family and seeing them smile, laugh and take all kinds of embarrassing pictures? This place just seemed to have handpicked all the elements on the stage for a happy family vacation- for a hefty price tag of course, but there wasn’t any price Mikumo wouldn’t pay to see his family smiling.

The day was winding down. Even if Mikumo had Eri on his shoulders most of the day, she was still crashed in his arms. Inko kept asking if he wanted to trade or even get a stroller to put her in. But with a pinch of strength enhancement and warm memories of when Izuku was this age, Mikumo was happy to carry Eri around. The entire family found a nice place to sit in front of the castle as the day wound down. Eri’s head was rested on Mikumo’s lap as Izuku continued to try and chat Kurogiri up to squeeze some kind of info about his quirk out of him. He probably should have just claimed it was some kind of form weak to light, but it was a fun game for Izuku to pass the time. So long as it kept him from asking more on Hisashi, he’d leave the warper to come up with his own excuses.

The sounds of horns and other fantastical music announced the start of the fireworks show disturbing Eri’s nap. She stirred out of Mikumo’s lap.  “Have you ever seen fireworks?” Her brother asked.

Eri pursed her lips. “No… just on TV.”

“Well, it’s going to be loud, but there will be plenty of bright and colorful lights timed to music. I’ve been told that these fireworks are some of the best out there.” Not that All for One had a chance to just sit down and enjoy fireworks- professional or not. There was a festival here or there that might have a few minutes worth of fireworks that he went to with Inko and Izuku, but they were nothing fancy.

The first example lit up the sky with bright blues and golds. Before Eri could have a chance to finish her gasp, more colors shot out above the castle. Different shapes from spirals, different symbols from movies and of course plenty of those three circles that Mikumo was starting to cringe less at the sight of. Everything was perfectly coordinated to soft music that somehow seemed to muffle out the loud sound of each launched firework. Quirks at work? Or simple technology and clever placement to ensure you had the perfect view when you were looking at them right in the midst of the park? Either way, it was a sight to behold.

Mikumo himself had a hard time looking away. But his entire family was certainly captivated. Their eyes were gleaming with each spark of light that filled the air. Maybe no quirks were used, but somehow there was some kind of spell cast with the purpose of making them happy. And sure, it came from spectacle. But it also came from them just being together and enjoying each other’s company.

Mikumo let Eri lean up on his shoulder with Izuku squeezed up on his other side. He reached out and squeezed them both into a hug. It wasn’t how he dreamed his family would be. But he loved it all the same.

--o--

Mikumo had to admit defeat. He enjoyed the day very much despite his initial reluctance. He’d even say he’d be willing to do it again despite the risks of repeat exposure.

He was carrying Eri in his arms again who was back to being dead tired after that short burst of excitement. Even Izuku seemed to be lagging in his theorizing what quirks could have possibly been at work to get everything just right. A yawn escaped his lips with every 10th word. It was hard to read Kurogiri with how much he was covered up, but he seemed pleased with today’s events. Mikumo wasn’t sure where Inko continued to get her energy from, but he supposed keeping her household together almost single handedly had prepared her for this day. Mikumo still had physical energy- a solar powered quirk helped with that even if he still needed to sleep for mental health- but still wanted to make this day last as long as he could manage. Still, it was time for it to come to a close.

“Enjoy your retirement.”

Mikumo’s head whipped around as he heard a voice that was barely even a whisper. He was sure he was the only one to hear it. There was a mascot costume of the mutant rat himself waving goodbye to guests as they left. It wasn’t speaking to anyone, but that was the only source of the possible threat that Mikumo could think of.  How could anyone possibly know? How could he be picked out of a crowd? And for what purpose?

No… he couldn’t think about that. He didn’t want to think about that. This was a nice day. He could worry about the threat of a mutant rat overlord hoarding the minds and souls of the masses another day.

Mikumo was happy with his family. And nothing in this world would take that from him again.

Chapter Text

Things were peaceful, and Mikumo couldn’t have planned it better. Sure, it could be better if he was able to live as Hisashi again without any secrets, but life as Mikumo was easy once the major complications were out of the way. 

The Midoriya-Akatani family had moved into a slightly larger apartment- Inko was much more liberal with Hisashi’s near unlimited budget, especially when it came to her family. They didn’t move out of Musutafu no mater how much Mikumo disliked the neighborhood. Mikumo suspected Izuku still had dreams of getting into UA and wanted to stay close should the opportunity arose.

It wasn’t as if Mikumo discouraged those dreams. He did his best to help Izuku with his practical training, mostly to ensure he could defend himself and could take pride in his own progress. But UA… did his son really have to aim to be at the top of the hero world? Quirkless… it was possible for him to become a hero, but it would take more specialized training for him to be a top hero. Getting into UA wasn’t worth Izuku going through training so intense he couldn’t live a normal life. It was an overly flashy school anyways that was more interested in equally flashy quirks and spectacle. But whether or not they accepted Izuku, Mikumo would be there.

Which is what he continued to try and tell the guidance councilor as he was called in. Why they cared so much was beyond him. The room screamed of hypocrisy. Fluffy posters of cats with platitudes. A bowl of candy that looked at least two years old that no one was desperate enough to buy into. And an uncomfortable chair set out for students to receive judgement.

“You’ve listed UA as your top pick… and then Shiketsu… and a few other hero schools…” The woman read off shaking her head.

“If you want to say I can’t make it because I’m quirkless, I believe my grades speak for themselves.” Mikumo stated bored. Class would be ending soon and he didn’t want to be held late because this school couldn’t manage their time properly.

“Claims that you’re not quirkless aside…” Did the teachers really still believe those rumors too? “Your listings are exactly the same as your classmate’s, Midoriya Izuku’s.”

Mikumo raised an eyebrow not sure why that was a problem. “I wasn’t aware cheating was an issue on high school application lists.”

“There are no ‘right’ answers… but they should at least be your own. Tell me Mikumo-kun, do you really want to spend your life following others? Almost every boy your age wants to be a hero, but is this really what’s best for you?” The woman’s attempts to connect with Mikumo when he’d never even seen her over his time at this cruddy middle school were frankly insulting.

“As someone who’s entire knowledge about me consists of what’s in a file, I don’t believe you can properly make that judgement for me.” Mikumo’s eyes were focused on a fluffy cloud and rainbow clock. The moment the bell rung, he’d be out of here. She couldn’t legally keep him after school hours, could she?

“I’m just saying… you shouldn’t attach your future to someone else. However you may feel about Midoriya-kun… chasing your crush to other schools doesn’t usually work out.” How many people still thought he was romantically interested in him?! He’d blurt out the brother angle if he didn’t want to give them information about his personal life. Not like he was hiding it, but they just weren’t even asking the right questions.

“It’s nothing like that!” Mikumo insisted for what must be the hundredth time. He knew he should probably ignore it, but the possible romantic connection to his own flesh and blood was just sickening. “He is just someone that shares the same aspirations with me, and I hope we can continue cheering each other on together.”

“Just because you share the same aspirations doesn’t mean they’re realistic.” The woman said with a heavy sigh. “Maybe I don’t know you too well or if you have some sort of secret quirk… But Midoriya-kun certainly doesn’t. I can’t imagine him getting into UA… If you’re going there for him, you’ll be severely disappointed.”

Just because Mikumo admitted it would be difficult for Izuku to make it into UA didn’t mean he wanted to hear it from anyone else. Besides, it was clear everyone else thought it was impossible. “I bet you tried to tell him that too… Realistic… now isn’t that a silly word in a world filled with quirks and miracles? If man can fly, shoot fire and cause natural disasters, why can’t a boy get into his dream school despite bigotry and discrimination?”

“You know what I mean.” The councilor said getting frustrated rather quickly. “You should be going to pursue your own dreams! What do you want to do with your life?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I want to make Izuku’s dreams come true.” He slid in his seat glancing at the clock. It was a minute off from ringing. He could stick it out for a bit longer, but this woman wasn’t worth some dramatic exit. He hopped out of his seat. “And as long as that dream is a very dangerous one, I’ll probably need to be his bodyguard as well.”

The woman didn’t bother to stop him. Wasn’t paid enough to care that much. Mikumo supposed she had things he rather be doing afterschool hours as well. Mikumo didn’t have anything fancy, but the simple walk home from school was more than enough for him. Maybe think of creative ways to subtly give that guidance councilor a really troublesome week. Even if she didn’t know why her email would be flooded with spam that appeared important or receive 10 calls an hour from telemarketer bots, it wasn’t as if Mikumo could just let the fact that she’d insulted Izuku slide. It wouldn’t serve as much of a purpose if she couldn’t learn from it… but it made him feel better.

Mikumo walked back toward his classroom expecting Izuku to be there with no reason to rush out the door. He wasn’t expecting too many others to be still crowding around the door. From the looks of it he and his flunkies were just leaving. They hadn’t seemed to notice him as he approached.

“Just pray that you’ll be born with a quirk in your next life… And take a swan dive off the roof of the building.”

Mikumo’s world turned red. He didn’t need to look any further to know who Bakugo was talking to. The bastard would dare say that to someone he loved? Tell them to kill themselves!? It wasn’t a proper thing to say to anyone. Frankly, Mikumo probably wouldn’t have cared if it was anyone outside his family. Hell, if Bakugo had said it to his own face, he would have blown him off. But he said it to Izuku. His vulnerable little boy. His world. His One.

All for One. At this moment, he desperately wanted to show them exactly who they’d just crossed. Mikumo was struggling to keep those feelings in line. To keep himself from tearing apart this entire building just to see the living trash squirm under the rubble. His fingers were stiff as he tried to prevent the elements themselves from bursting out. Focus on all the many different ways he could make them suffer rather than actually doing it. Quirks to turn their entire bodies inside out. To make their skin turn into acid and slowly eat through their muscle and bones. Reduce their minds down to the insects All for One knew they were. Perhaps make them useful and turn them into Nomus? Shoving enough quirks down their throat to give them brain damage was satisfying to watch on anyone. Or maybe something slower. Take their quirks. A nice an ironic punishment- especially for Bakugo. He wouldn’t even have to do anything more- let the world show Bakugo the exact fate he’d tormented his son over. Still, he needed that satisfaction of making him suffer now and as painful as having your quirk removed was, he could only get so many screams before they passed out from the physical shock of the extraction.

When Bakugo and his friends finally realized they weren’t alone with their victim, they weren’t sure how to describe the aura surrounding Mikumo past what their instincts were screaming at them. RUN. Yet their bodies were too paralyzed to take commands. Even their lungs had difficulty catching a breath when faced with the look of pure murderous intent. What started as a flash of rage in Mikumo’s eyes was now slipping into a wide smile with each step. The deranged grin of a psychopath ready to tear them apart piece by piece. None of them had ever seen a villain up close to tell. TV or watching hero battles from a distance didn’t capture that feeling of sheer malice. But each step forward Mikumo took that little voice inside them just knew they were dead. That there was nothing they could do to stop him.

“What… M-m-m-ikumo?”

That soft voice pierced through the berserker rage. Trembling. Scared of Mikumo. He clenched his wrist trying to focus. He couldn’t do any of the elaborate ways to torture Bakugo and his minions running through his head. Not without revealing himself. Not without losing everything he’d gained. He wasn’t a rage filled monster. Just because he could easily have these worms begging for mercy and rightfully suffering didn’t make it worth it. Or… he could. He just had to time it better.

Izuku was just as terrified by what he saw, but him calling out to Mikumo seemed to have cut down the malicious aura by a chunk. Enough for Izuku to muster up the courage to step forward. He told himself that this was his brother. That he wouldn’t hurt him. But there was also so much about him he still didn’t know. Mikumo avoided talking about his life before- just that he moved around a lot. But for him to have this kind of side to him? Exactly what had he been through? Finally, Izuku was able to break through his presence enough to place a hand on his shoulder.

“Are… you ok?” He asked in a choked whimper.

Mikumo tried to focus on Izuku. He was scaring him. He was part of the problem right now. He had to reel it all in. Try and pretend that blond brat didn’t even exist. Although his impact was still there. “I should be asking you that. What he said… I need to ensure he never has a chance to say anything again.”

Izuku blinked confused almost having forgotten what happened considering the way Mikumo seemed like he was about to murder his classmates.

“What that?” Izuku was still reluctant to look Mikumo in the eyes. “I mean, it was terrible. And it hurt… But! I know it’s not true! I’m not going to actually- I would never… Kacchan says stuff like that all the time.”

That didn’t seem to make it much better as Mikumo began to tense up again. Izuku quickly tried to cover it up before he went back into pure murder mode. “Before! A while back before you came along! Things are better now!”

“I step away for a bit, and he swoops in. How much is going on behind my back?” Mikumo insisted. There was no way this was the only time. Even if he was able to deter Bakugo while he was around, he knew he couldn’t be there every second of the day. He needed to permanently fix this problem.

Already, the lackies had used this slight reprieve to scram, but Bakugo still remained staring them down. It wasn’t fear keeping him in place. Too prideful to run, yet still unsure how to approach the situation. Was this some kind of fear aura quirk playing with his mind?

“It doesn’t matter!” Izuku tried to insist. “People have been saying these kinds of things my whole life! You can’t stop everyone!”

That eerie grin gleamed on Mikumo’s lips. “Watch me.”

“Well, I don’t want you to! Please… they’re just words.” Izuku begged.

“Despite the ridiculous adage, words can indeed hurt you. If you think even for a second they might be right, they’ve dealt a blow to your self-esteem. They have these terrible thoughts cloud your mind. They hold you back from being great.” Mikumo looked Izuku directly in the eyes. This wasn’t just pure anger. This was out of love. He didn’t want anyone to hurt Izuku. Wasn’t that enough of a reason?

“Well, yeah they hurt… but what I mean is… They’re not worth doing anything you’re going to regret over.” Izuku murmured softly.

“I won’t regret it.” Mikumo declared confidently.

Izuku bit his tongue. He didn’t even know what Mikumo intended to do to Bakugo. But that look in his eyes… the smile… it certainly wasn’t anything legal. “What else wouldn’t you regret?” Izuku wondered fearfully. “What else haven’t you regretted… I… I feel like I don’t know you right now… I know you think you’re trying to protect me but… You’re acting like…like…”

“You’re a villain.” Bakugo finally spoke up fighting through the fear and letting red eyes meet red. “Cut through all the crap- you’re not just a villain waiting to happen. You’ve already done all kinds of shit, haven’t you?”

Well… it may have taken a while, but it seemed Bakugo finally managed to land a blow on Mikumo. Not a physical one. But to be called out in front of his son and get close to the truth? A quick flash of fear crossed Mikumo’s face.

“No!” Izuku insisted. “It’s not like that…” Izuku desperately tried to defend his brother, but he didn’t know the words. He didn’t know how much of it could be true. “It’s not too late…” At the very least, Izuku wanted to believe that.” Izuku took Mikumo’s hand. “Please… let’s just go home.”

Mikumo turned his head away from Bakugo. He tried not to think of this as a loss. That he was going for Izuku. ‘Later’ He promised himself. Mikumo tried to focus on Izuku’s hand in his. It was nearly the same size as his own in this body. He had truly grown if he was even willing to stand up to him like this. But how much damage had already been done? How much of Bakugo’s words did he believe? About Mikumo as well. “Fine… you’re right. It’s not worth it.” Not here.

Bakugo didn’t even try to get another word in. He had plenty to think on himself. The brothers gathered their things in silence, trying to put the school behind them. But it was still on Izuku’s mind.

“Where… where did all of that come from?” Izuku wondered. “I don’t believe what Bakugo said… But… how did you learn to do that thing? To make everyone scared of you? It’s not really a quirk, is it? Something… something happened to you, didn’t it?”

Mikumo continued to walk and tried to choose his words carefully. More lies to stack onto this persona? How much of the truth should he weave in? “No… it’s not a quirk… and it’s not exactly something you can actively learn. It’s about intent. Letting your feelings be pressed on every fiber of your being and getting them across on the world around you. That your will is so strong, others can feel it as well.”

“But without a quirk? That sounds like something out of some kind of shonen battle anime with chakras and ki.” Izuku admitted.

“Not really… You’ve seen it before in a more positive context.” Mikumo admitted. “Like how Inko’s presence is comforting. Or when Eri’s joy is contagious.”

“Or All Might’s smile letting you know everything is going to be ok!”

Mikumo cringed. He really wished Izuku would stop comparing him to the oaf even if he did consider it a compliment. “Yes… I guess it’s exactly like that.”

“But…” Izuku fiddled with his backpack not sure exactly how to say it. “That’s not exactly what I was asking about… Where did it come from? Where did you draw those kind of feelings from?”

Oh there were a huge box of that for Mikumo to pick from. But the rawest feelings… they were the same ones that Izuku saw. “When my family is hurt… there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.”

But Izuku knew he was still dodging the question. This wasn’t the first time Mikumo’s family was threatened for him to produce that kind of reaction. “What happened?” Izuku repeated.

Mikumo was struggling to find just the right answer with enough of the truth that Izuku deserved, yet without the kind of holes of a life far too long for his physical age. But getting lost in the memories was difficult enough. There were so many times over the years he could instantly unleash a wave of malice against those who threatened his empire. Those he’d chosen to take in as his own. But the first… the source of where his fear turned into an overwhelming wrath against those that would harm what was his.

“I told you the problem I have with heroes. Real ones… My brother… He-”

It was a mistake letting his guard down. Focusing on Izuku so much he got lost in their own little world. They’d walked this route home so many times he could walk it blindfolded. His life had become too peaceful. He’d gotten sloppy. He should have realized the world was still a terrible place.

And now a huge wave of living slime was traveling it’s way down his throat.

Mikumo tried to bring his hands to his mouth to keep the villain out. They appeared so quickly from the sewers, yet were huge enough to grasp around every part of his body as well like a human sized blob of gelatin. He could hear Izuku screaming and could feel him trying to struggle against the villain. Shouting for help. Anyone. Damn it- why wouldn’t he just run and call for help via phone!

“Aren’t I lucky for the spare meat suit! Just the get away I need! And if I leave an extra body choked out behind, that ought to keep the heroes busy.” A slimy voice echoed from within his body.

 “Run- go!” Mikumo tried to gasp out to Izuku with any breath he could manage. It was like a boa constrictor was squeezing him internally and externally. A wave of fire would easily clear this thing from his system. But not without revealing himself. And if he was going to stick with a quirk, the last thing he wanted was to go with fire breathing again. But if Izuku left, at least left he could go all out.

“I’m not leaving you!” Izuku shouted as he slammed his backpack against the villain’s eye.

“Hey! Watch it kid! I’ll get to you just as soon as I’ve got your friend under control!” The villain taunted.

No, this was going too far. He couldn’t keep handicapping himself. Mikumo could feel his arms locking up. He gave in figuring having ‘Hisashi’s’ quirk was appropriate anyways trying to let the flames burn the trash out of him. Yet nothing worked. Shit- what kind of quirk was this?! It wasn’t just going through the empty cavities of his body, but slipping in between the muscle and bone to control him! If it was originally this huge monstrous size yet expected to fit inside a small teenager, it probably would need to take advantage of every nook and cranny to fit. And such flexibility-

What was he doing?! He couldn’t even breathe anymore and his mind rather be analyzing quirks! And his arm… Oh god… He could still see Izuku clawing desperately trying to get rid of the slime villain. Mikumo could feel his own arm being tugged toward Izuku’s neck. No! Damn it, as if being left helpless wasn’t bad enough, was this going to be the last thing he saw?! He always knew his downfall would probably come from an unlucky break like a sniper bullet or quirk gone wild, but this?! He tried his best to struggle but strength had nothing to do with it. So many quirks at his disposal and yet none of them working. Of all times for karma to strike, did it have to be now? And did it have to drag his son with him?

‘Izuku… Inko… I’m sorry I couldn’t make it up to you.’

The lack of oxygen was causing his sight to fail him. And perhaps making him a bit delusional as well. Because it almost seemed as if his old foe were there to send him off to hell.

“Have no fear… you are safe. Now that I am here!”

…Oh yeah, definitely someone in hell adding insult to this already terrible death.

“TEXAS SMASH!”

As he felt the surge of the punch coming at all across his body and the last shred of strength leaving him, he wondered if it would have been kinder if All Might had just killed him 5 years ago.

--o--

None of Izuku’s strength was enough to save his friend… his brother. But maybe it bought enough time for a real hero to emerge. Izuku was knocked back by the gust from his favorite hero’s attack, but was still able to stare up at all of his glory. Even out of costume he was amazing. Heck, not everyone got to catch sight of the rare Civilian-Might!

“A-A-A-ALLL MIGHT?!” Izuku exclaimed eager.

The pro was already leaning over to Mikumo to check his pulse and breathing. “Not to worry! It seems as if your friend is all right!” He said giving Izuku a thumbs up before going to examine the villain scattered around them. He dipped his hand into the sludge body only for it to drip around him. “Hm… I might need to call in a containment unit… “

Izuku let out a sigh of relief. They really lucked out! “Ah- that’s right! You need to make sure he’s restrained first.” But it wasn’t like some rope would cut it. “Um… He seemed to be rather good at fitting into small spaces, so I don’t think you’d need anything too big…”

“Great thinking young lad!” Although he probably already considered that on his own and was being polite. He was All Might after all. “Hand me those bottles from my shopping bag and I’ll package this evildoer to go!”

“Right! Of course!” Izuku exclaimed eager to help, already running for All Might’s things as he began trying to gather what remained of the villain up. He emptied the bottles, still having all the events of what just happened.

But… he also had All Might’s attention. The All Might. Should he? He handed All Might the bottles. They did have a bit of time…

“Um… I was just wondering… Maybe…”

“I’d be happy to autograph whatever you’d like once I’m done young lad!” All Might exclaimed as he crammed the first bottle filled. That villain was the size of a dumpster before! How did he even manage that in a small plastic container!?

“Really?! That would be amazing! I don’t have any posters or cards with me- Would a All Might folder be-” But Izuku realized he was getting swept away by All Might’s glory. He needed to get down to business.

“No… what I really meant to tell you was… You see… I’m quirkless… So I’ve always wondered… Can someone without a quirk… can I still be a hero?” Izuku finally managed to say.

All Might was silent for a moment considering it. But Izuku wasn’t finished.

“Everyone my entire life had told me no. Some… less nicely than others. I think saving people is the most amazing thing a person can do… But everyone says it’s too dangerous. That I can’t be a hero without a quirk.” Sure, the adults tried to sugar coat it. But others like Kacchan… they best that “No” into him every day.

“But… I realized I’d been saying no to myself too. How am I supposed to be a hero if I’m asking others if I can do it?” Mikumo… he was the first person that told him yes. Not just that, but he thought more highly of him than any other pro hero out there. If someone else believed in him… it was time he started believing in himself.

“I’m not asking you if I can be a hero… All Might… you’re my greatest hero… I’ve always looked up to you… So I’m telling you- quirk or not… I’m going to be a hero, just like you!”

All Might turned to see the look of determination in the young boy’s eyes. Coupled with the way that he was so desperate to save his friend in the face of a dangerous villain an idea was beginning to run through his head.

“Tell me… you probably should have run and called for help… Why didn’t you?”

Izuku straightened up nervous. Oh man, this was worse than being called out by a teacher in front of the class- this was his greatest hero! Probably scolding him too! But he couldn’t keep him waiting! “I’m sorry! I know I should have… but I didn’t think the villain would give him that few seconds to live! That if I could just buy him a few more moments- No- I don’t get it either. I know I wasn’t thinking at all- my body just moved!”

All Might couldn’t help nodding. He’d only seen it for a moment when he came on the scene. Maybe the boy was being reckless. But the fact that he was willing to put his life on the line, even without a quirk? Even if he just met this boy, it meant something. “No- it makes perfect sense… Many top heroes- even as children- have claimed to experience the exact same thing.”

The hero seemed like he wanted to say more. But he’d just finished gathering up the villain and seemed to have more on his mind. “Forgive me… when you said you were quirkless… I’m afraid I thought for a moment the same thing as everyone else in your life. But… you’re right. You can be a hero.”

Izuku’s mouth dropped. He told himself he didn’t need that validation. Oh sure, getting told no by his greatest hero would be completely crushing. But actually getting it?! Even if he was just being nice?! “T-th-thank you All Might!”

“I need to finish up matters with this fellow… But before I go- that autograph.”

“R-r-r-ight!” Izuku stammered. He pulled out his English folder with a proudly posing image of All Might in his silver age costume and handed the entire thing to the hero along with the first pen he could find.

Shoot- should he have emptied it out before handing it to the hero? Oh man, he was opening it up now. He kind of wanted the external image of All Might signed. Maybe he should say something? But who was he to correct All Might?! Well, maybe he was just looking for a blank piece of paper inside. Wait, what if All Might looked at his grades? He was actually doing pretty good in English considering he grew up with plenty of videos of All Might when he made his debut overseas. Ahh- what did All Might care about his English scores?! Ok- maybe a sheet of paper would be better anyways since you’d hardly be able to see the signature against the glossy image with a ballpoint pen anyways-

“Not to worry! I did both young… Midoriya, correct?” He said reading off the name inside the folder.

Izuku’s eyes were wide. How much of that had he said out loud?! “Ahh! Thank you so much! I’ll treasure it forever! I’ll make it a family heirloom!”

All Might tucked the bottles securely in his pockets. “Thank you for your support! I hope to be seeing you again soon!”

As All Might squatted down preparing for a launch, Izuku watched eager in anticipation at something he’d only ever seen on TV. All Might leapt with enough strength to go soaring into the sky. Up close it was really something!

He could hear the groans from Mikumo awakening and immediately snapped out of his hero worship. All Might said he was ok so he wasn’t immediately concerned, but it occurred to him now that he missed the whole thing! Even if Mikumo wasn’t All Might’s biggest fan (ok, he was probably his least favorite non-villain fan) he still had to appreciate seeing the man in person. Izuku kneeled down to Mikumo’s level to try and help him up.

The boy seemed out of it for a moment trying to process what happened before realizing where he was. He leapt up and wrapped his arms around Izuku. “I’m sorry! This was all my fault! I should have been more aware of my surroundings! I shouldn’t have let anything distract me! How are we even alive!?”

To say that he lost his cool was an understatement. He hadn’t seen Mikumo this messed up since his birthday. But this was an entirely different kind of panic. “Hey- it’s not like it was your fault. We’re not heroes or anything yet- there’s not a lot we can do if a villain gets the jump on us.”

“Maybe for most people…” Mikumo grumbled.

“Even if we had a quirk, we’d still have had trouble beating him- he seemed invulnerable to most physical attacks-“

“You know that’s not what I mean.” Mikumo sighed and shook his head. “I… I should have been more alert. And because of it we were almost killed.”

“But we weren’t…” Yeah, it was true, but there wasn’t a lot they could do if they were unlucky enough for hope to arrive. “That’s what heroes are for…”

Mikumo flinched. “So that wasn’t just a hallucination… That was really-“

“ALL MIGHT!” Izuku screamed still ecstatic holding up his newly signed folder.

Scarlet red flushed across Mikumo’s cheeks. “I was saved… by All Might?”

“He’s everything I thought he was! He’s so cool! And he did it all in a single punch! And… he said I could be a hero! Even if I’m quirkless!” Izuku had a wide toothy grin. He was still feeling the rush of everything that just happened.

“That’s… great…” Mikumo whispered looking defeated.

Izuku’s grin faltered. “Sorry… I know you must have wanted to see him- But he’s a pro, so of course he was busy and couldn’t stick around. And everything that happened before he showed up was kind of terrible…”

“No… I’m happy for you… At least it wasn’t you that got hurt. And you got approval from your hero…” Mikumo mumbled. Although he certainly didn’t look happy.

“And… it probably wouldn’t have happened without you.” Izuku gave Mikumo a light smile. “I don’t mean that in the needing to get saved part… I mean… I told All Might that I was going to be a hero no matter what anyone said… And after what he saw, he agreed. But I could say that because I’ve had you supporting me.”

“That’s… great.” Mikumo seemed to try to smile back, but he was clearly still conflicted. He tried to gather his things in his bag scattered from the attack, but was still lost in his own thoughts.

Izuku looked down at All Might’s signature. It had been quite the overwhelming experience. He just wished it didn’t have to come with a possibly traumatizing villain attack. Maybe they could talk more at home? And probably not tell mom about this. She would freak…

The quality of the signature on the exterior was poor due to it being a ballpoint pen on plastic. So maybe the copy All Might promised on paper would be better.

‘Thank you for supporting me,

Now I would like the chance to support you!

Dagobah Beach- 6AM tomorrow

Your Hero,

All Might

Izuku’s eyes widened at the page. Did this mean… All Might… He wanted to meet him personally!? What kind of support? Training?! Did All Might want him to be his sidekick?! Izuku hugged the folder close to his chest. Whatever it was- it was a day to remember.

Chapter Text

All Might had to hastily wrap up handing the villain over to the authorities and escaping media attention before running out of time. He was cutting it close. He had to admit… Nighteye was right. He couldn’t keep delaying picking his successor with his time as All Might growing shorter by the day.

After Nana had found him by what seemed like pure chance and their relationship grew, Toshinori thought perhaps it would happen the same way with his own successor. Destiny itself putting someone truly special in his path. He knew Nighteye had been trying for years to find the ‘perfect successor’. Toshinori wasn’t sure if it worked that way- no one could truly be perfect. Nor did they need to be now that All for One was dead. They just needed to be someone with the spirit of a hero. That sort of thing couldn’t be found by looking through files or a database. Nighteye just thought Toshinori was delaying retirement. And perhaps he was… still, the subject of both a successor and his retirement had only drifted the two further apart. When Nighteye said he’d ‘found the perfect future symbol of peace’ and that he’d ‘seen his potential first hand’, Toshinori was reluctant, but at least willing to give him a shot.

Honestly, he’d been swayed more by Nezu who agreed that actively seeking a successor through data wouldn’t produce the kind of successor he wanted, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t be in a position with the opportunity to see as many potential heroes as well. Not to mention give back to the next generation. So why not see Nighteye’s golden boy while he had the chance? Sure it would probably be awkward to see Nighteye again after so many years… and likely lead to another argument… Could they both end up getting kicked out of UA for misconduct?

Regardless, in his powered down form, Toshinori looked out of place at UA despite the visitor’s badge. He was used to just blending in a crowd when he was like this, but especially when he needed to attend events as ‘All Might’s secretary’ he constantly got questioned if he was in the wrong place. Likely the baggy clothes. But he didn’t really have anything that fit properly without ripping when he transformed. Even as a civilian it felt terrible to not be able to aid in stopping a crime in progress without adding a very revealing look on All Might to the tabloid papers. So Toshinori always seemed to find himself looking even more like a living skeleton with his close loosely draped across him. Besides, he hadn’t bought a new wardrobe in years and it would be weird to start now.

Still, even if he did still feel like an outsider, returning to UA after so many years… It still felt as intimidating as before. Back then, he was a recently ex-quirkless kid trying to prove he was worthy of the new power that rested within him. Now he came expecting to put that pressure on someone else and find them among these halls.

But perhaps he’d already found them. It seemed like he’d gotten his wish… a chance meeting with someone that reminded him so much of himself as a kid. Bright eyed with strong dreams and a will that put others lives above his own regardless of what power he lacked. Even quirkless as well… Toshinori was far to tempted to give him that power. At the very least he wanted a chance to get to know him better. And he would. Assuming the kid wasn’t too hard on ‘stranger danger’ after getting his message. But come on, he was All Might! Judging by the kid’s fanaticism, he’d be seeing him tomorrow alright.

For now though, he should at least still give Nighteye’s candidate a look. He wasn’t promising anything, but it couldn’t hurt just to meet the kid. Toshinori arrived in Nezu’s office. It was rather small and humble for the principal such a grand school. Plenty of room for smartboards, computers and books, but it appeared simplistic. No need to brag off any trophies or numerous degrees the super-intelligent bear-mouse-dog most likely got. Even his chair was nothing big or opposing, just simple and cozy with a similar set for his guests. Which was currently one slightly irritated looking Nighteye. But that irritation seemed to slip away when he laid eyes on Toshinori.

“It’s good to see you again, All Might” He whispered quietly.

  Toshinori still felt nervous meeting his eyes. When Nighteye reached out to him, his first thought was that their arguments would all begin anew. But part of him was glad to see him again. He just didn’t want to see Nighteye the way he was when they parted ways. Stubborn and bitter of All Might’s choice. “You too… You seem well…” He said trying to be polite.

“You don’t.” Nighteye said cutting to the chase and as sharp as ever. “Not even enough time to walk here?”

“I er… didn’t want to cause a commotion by having All Might himself stroll through here.” Just because he was right as usual didn’t mean Toshinori was eager to admit it.

“You’ll be causing plenty of that once you’re a teacher here!” Nezu cheerfully pointed out.

Nighteye gave a nod of agreement. Whether or not he actually believed Toshinori’s coverup was unknown. “I’m not sure that’s the best option. Teaching would be a way to closely mentor your future successor, but once you’ve chosen you’ll need to ration your time even more carefully.”

Toshinori sighed. And there was that desire to control each aspect of his life again. “We’ll see…”

Nighteye shook his head. He recognized that tone. “However you feel about me, you can’t deny the fact that you don’t have much time left.” Both in All Might’s dwindling hero time and that dark future that Nighteye predicted years ago.

The foresight sidekick came prepared with a leather bound portfolio. Unsheathing a line graph, he left it on the table. “Your time has only been decreasing since your initial incident… I’d assume that it’s simply decreasing slowly over the years, but I haven’t been able to observe that properly with each stark reduction.”

Toshinori flinched as he looked at the dates marked with each spike downward. Times when a fight pushed him far past his limit and his time was cut by another chunk, marking how much time he currently had at a point in time. “How did you get this information? Was it Recovery Girl?” Wasn’t there supposed to be patient- doctor confidentiality?! Not that he didn’t trust Nighteye… but it was kind of embarrassing.

“If only it were that easy.” That woman was more difficult to break than some of the most dangerous criminals out there. “I’ve tracked your every fight and encounter since your injury. The length of your patrols is a good measure of your current time… Post-battle, it began at 8 hours of sustained hero time. Over exceeding this limit or further intense injuries has led to gradual decreases in max time ranging from 5 to 45 minutes depending on the intensity of the fight. From that, I’d say your limit is currently around 3 hours and 42 minutes.”

Toshinori had to admit he was impressed. There were even some incidents that weren’t worth making the papers and were only in police reports. Not technically illegal to look up, but still tedious. “As meticulous as ever…”

“If you start teaching you’ll need to spend most of your hero time in the classroom. Yet there will be plenty of criticisms from the public that you’re unable to keep up with your hero duties despite the fact that the majority of UA’s faculty are able to continue with expected patrol hours with decent capture and rescue records while maintaining their role as diligent teachers. It’s not just an easy excuse to explain off your cut down hours- If All Might of all people can’t keep up with the rest of his fellow teachers, what will people think?”

“I think you’re overthinking it.” Toshinori said shaking his head. “I’ve never been a teacher before, so I can just say I’m putting more time into learning how to give my students the best possible experience.”

“And that’s another thing! Everyone will expect All Might to be an expert teacher- which is one of the few areas I don’t believe you have enough experience in. You could possibly damage your image. These students will leak something out to the media- And I’m sure they’ll be eager to take a video of All Might himself teaching.” Well, at the very least it seemed like Toshinori was first hand experiencing a lecture of exactly the kind of teacher he didn’t want to be.

“I’ve juggled the media before… finding and training my successor is more important than worrying about my image.” Although he might have already found them. But Nighteye seemed to believe the same.

“But once you’ve found them… you wouldn’t even be able to give them enough one on one attention here at UA. They’d receive just as efficient of an education from any of UA’s fine instructors. Your own private expertise should be reserved for additional training specifically with One for All after hours- Or perhaps Nezu can make alterations to their schedule to allow for more private sessions in the day with you. Once in private, you can conserve your time and use more of One for All for hero work rather than a class of students that aren’t ready to understand your situation.” It was a well thought out plan. But it was only thinking of the future of One for All.

“That’s not the only reason I’m doing it…” Toshinori admitted. “Yes… I want to be close and train One for All… but I want to pass on more than my quirk. To give to a generation of future heroes in general… I can still do more.”

“More?” Nighteye questioned concerned. Not for Toshinori’s plan. But his own wellbeing. He was unlikely to stick to a school schedule and just ignore any possible incidents through the day to save it for the kids. How much more would he push himself? “…How much more do you need to give before it’s enough?”

Everything. Toshinori knew it in his heart. No half measures. Like the motto of his alma mater, he gave all that he had and then some. “My quirk isn’t titled ‘Some for All’”

A light smile cracked on Nighteye’s face at the joke. Even if it was slightly in poor taste, Toshinori still knew how Nighteye was a sucker for bad jokes.

There conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. Nezu perked up- had he timed this perfectly down to the heart felt pleas? “And that should be Togata-kun! Come in!” The principal cried out.

Already when Toshinori got his first look at the boy, he was worried. Nothing to actually do with his health- he was a strapping young lad that just seemed to radiate positivity with the carefree smile on his face despite being called into the principal’s office. But that muscular build… bright blue eyes… the blonde hair… his smile. Was Nighteye looking for the next symbol of peace or All Might 2.0?

“Yagi-san, right?” Togata exclaimed immediately extending his hand. “Sir tells me you’re the secretary for All Might himself! You must get a lot of good and important work done, yeah?”

Well, at the very least he didn’t seem to look down on him like most would have assumed by his gaunt appearance and modest title. “A pleasure to meet you my boy.” He said returning the shake. Firm, yet not tight. So far he did seem like an eager and polite boy. Easy to see why Nighteye took a shine to him.

“Sir says you might have an opportunity for me, but it’s not really up to him… He’s been kind of vague about it. But that it involves All Might himself- and it’s up to him if I’m ‘worthy’? I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m the best at UA-”

“Don’t be so modest, Togata-kun. You’re in the top 5 academically, and when it comes to combat there’s no one who can match you- if you were already licensed, you’d easily be in the top 100 already. And you still have plenty of room to grow. I don’t think there’s anyone at UA that shows more promise.”

Yes, Toshinori had read the file Nighteye sent him. He made it to the final round of his first Sports Festival, and won 1st place this year. Often scoring high marks on exams, his quirk made him nearly invincible in battle. He seemed to turn a difficult to control quirk into quite the force to be reckoned with. Fast, yet precise. Strength that had nothing to do with his quirk as well. Already, it seemed as if he’d take to One for All like a fish in water with little additional training needed. Potential- that was the main thing One for All needed. There were plenty of fine pros out there, but the quirk thrived best in someone still with room to grow. But Toshinori was here to tell him what a file couldn’t.

“But yes… I’m here to discuss a possible opportunity on All Might’s behalf. Sort of an internship.” He had come intending not to tell him too much, but he was curious to learn more about him.

“Oh! With all due respect, I’m quite happy with Sir! I’ve really learned a lot at his agency! And he’s treated me like family helping me become the best I can be! As much of an honor as it would be to learn from the number one hero himself, I owe Sir too much to leave when he’s helped me so much.”

Loyal and good with his words despite seeming care free. The kind of charisma that couldn’t be taught. He would certainly make a fine hero- but would he make a good One for All?

“Well, it wouldn’t be exactly that… Nighteye would still be involved in your training…” Toshinori honestly wasn’t sure what the specifics would be of their arrangement. All Might training him in school while he continued his internship with Nighteye? He didn’t know the details to be able to tell Togata. “Plus, I’d still need to make sure if this ‘opportunity’ is right for you…”

Toshinori wasn’t sure how much more he could dance around words. He gave a light cough, covering up with the side of his arm. A drop of blood. He hadn’t overexerted himself much today, but he was used to the occasional flare up. Before he even had a chance to excuse himself, Togata had a tissue in his hand to offer Toshinori with a smile. No panic over the sight of blood, but the kind of control over one’s demeanor that he had a hard time seeing out of some pros.

“Looks like a chronic condition- must be rough, huh?” The student seemed to guess. “I’m sure you know if you need to get yourself checked out, but just take care of yourself!”

Toshinori gave a nod as he wiped the blood up. Man, this kid was good. He sighed and looked toward Nighteye. “How much do you trust him?”

There was a gleam in Nighteye’s eyes. He wouldn’t have told Togata himself, but he seemed to look like Toshinori was already offering to pass his quirk down. “I trust him with the future.” Nighteye proudly answered.

Did he really have to look so smug? “Alright… then I’ll explain the opportunity a bit more… For one… I’m not just All Might’s secretary… I’m also All Might himself.”

The young blonde’s eyes widened. “Woah!” He was surprised, but he didn’t seem to wonder for a second if it was a joke. He trusted him full heartedly. “It really is an honor to meet you then, All Might! So you have a secret identity and everything! Like those kind of classic pre-quirk era heroes! Only real!”

Toshinori nodded. He wished it was as romantic though. “A sort of side effect of an injury from many years back… It’s the reason why I’m looking for a successor.”

Togata tilted his head. “And you’re considering me?”

“Possibly…” Toshinori still had the other boy in the back of his mind. “You see… my quirk isn’t just powerful. It can be passed on. One for All… strength that has been carried through my master’s hands and theirs before them. And I want to find someone new to continue carrying on that sacred torch.”

Togata’s eyes widened. “Ohhh! You can do that?! That’s incredible!” Although he thought about it more for a moment. “Hm… Does your successor need to have your quirk? Because I think I’m happy where I am.”

Nighteye looked at him perplexed as he seemed to be looking the gift horse in the mouth. “You don’t understand how important this quirk is- it’s been passed on for 8 generations now. You’d become part of a long and prestigious line of heroes!”

“Well yeah, but you don’t have to be related to All Might to get his quirk, right?” He looked toward All Might confused “I’m not your long-lost cousin, am I?”

Toshinori shook his head. “No, it doesn’t need to be passed on through blood in that sense.”

“So, the top heroes in the world don’t need to be related. It’s not some monarchy! Plenty of heroes take on protégés with quirks completely different than them and they turn out amazing! And more than that, they can always take on more than one. The way I see it, I figure I’m already going to be a really great hero… an incredible quirk like All Might’s would make me even stronger, but that seems a bit like overkill, doesn’t it? I’d be happy to accept your help and training… But I think your quirk should go to someone that could be a good hero, but really needs that extra oomph!”

Toshinori blinked. He’d never expected anyone to turn his offer down, even if he hadn’t formally made it yet. “I’m not sure if I can promise that… You see, adapting anyone to One for All is going to take some rigorous training. I’d need to focus on them more as my successor. This quirk can be difficult to learn and adapt to- if not careful, possibly even break their body in the process of becoming a great hero. I’d be happy to continue to eagerly support your future. But I wouldn’t be able to give you the same attention as someone who I pass my quirk onto.”

Togata gave a nod. “Right- I understand… Going to have to definitely ask you to consider someone else instead!”

Nighteye looked heartbroken like a rejected schoolgirl. “But… why? You could be the next symbol of peace! You’d be perfect for One for All!”

“Huh? Well for one, it sounds like I’d have to work from the ground up training a new quirk… it would be like starting all over again, and I think I’ve already got Permeation pretty strong, and I’m only going to get better with it! And more than that, just because I don’t have One for All doesn’t mean I can’t be the next symbol of peace… In fact, it might mean I’ve got a whole lot more on my plate! What’s going to happen when All Might passes his quirk on, and there’s no current All Might?” Togata asked.

“Well… I’ll still be able to wield One for All for a while… But I wouldn’t be able to keep up at the same level as before.” Although he was slowly declining already.

“Right- you’re going to need some time to train up the next in line! And until they’re ready you’re still going to need a symbol of peace out there! I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I’m pretty strong right now- and I’m going to get even stronger! By the time I graduate, I’m going to be rescuing as many people as I can! I don’t need your quirk to make a name for myself. And maybe whoever you do pick is going to be even stronger- but until they’re ready, All Might’s shoes are rather big to fill- You’re going to need all the help you can get!”

Toshinori gave a smile at the boy. He’d only just met him, but he really did have a good heart. He’d have no qualms in passing One for All to him. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want the power, just the chance the help as many people as he could. And he already had that ability.

But there was another who didn’t… That boy that showed to have a hero’s heart, but lacked the power for it. Togata was stepping aside partially because he wanted to give someone else ‘that extra oomph’. If he met Midoriya, would he root for him as well?

Nighteye hung his head. It didn’t seem he could doubt Togata’s logic or his decision. “It seems I picked too good of a candidate.”

Toshinori let out a light chuckle as he turned to Togata. “But I am still eager to support your future in any way I can. You have a good heart, and I hope to find a successor capable of rivaling you once you make your debut.”

“I can’t wait to see them for myself!” Togata cheered pumping his fist into the air eagerly. “Forget the symbol of peace! How about a whole bunch of them! There’s going to be so many awesome heroes coming soon that the villains won’t even be able to catch their breath once you pass that torch!”

Toshinori smiled. “That’s exactly the idea I had in mind… that’s why I wanted to be a teacher at UA. I don’t know if I’ll have as much time to spend on you exclusively- but I’d like to help as many promising young heroes as I can.”

A light smile cracked Nighteye’s lips. He hadn’t gotten exactly what he wanted, but he wasn’t exactly leaving empty handed either. Toshinori had considered his request. And unlike when he’d refused to listen to him about his retirement, he did seem to be thinking about his future. “Whoever you decide to pick… I’d like to support them as well.”

“Glad to hear it, old friend.” Toshinori wasn’t sure with how critical he was if Nighteye would approve of a successor with no quirk at all. And while he still hadn’t made up his mind yet, Midoriya was currently looking like an excellent choice. But it was Toshinori’s choice to make, and he was glad to have Nighteye’s help as well in training the next generation.

--o--

Toshinori hadn’t planned to meet young Midoriya as All Might. While he was 80% sure he wanted to make the boy his successor, that was no reason to pour all his secrets out just yet if he didn’t have to. He still needed to find out if he was as trustworthy as he was… well, worthy. He could have time to train him, and whether or not he gave him his quirk, he could still have taken part in the future of a promising youth. And by doing so as Toshinori, he wouldn’t attract the same attention as All Might or use up his valuable hero hours that weren’t really necessary with pure strength training.

As he saw the green haired boy running toward Dagobah in the distance, he wondered if he should have been more specific in his autograph. He never said explicitly for Midoriya to come alone, but having to say so just would make it sound creepy as if he doing something ominous. Toshinori just expected the training to be more personal. Well, it seemed to be the boy he’d rescued yesterday with him. Perhaps he hoped to thank All Might personally or a chance to meet him since he was knocked out before he took off? But while Midoriya’s enthusiasm seemed almost contagious, the black-haired boy looked as if he had better things to do than waking up before the crack of dawn.

The pair seemed to be running the beach and frantically searching. Maybe a more specific location on the beach would have been better too. “Are you sure this wasn’t some kind of prank? What would All Might be doing in a trash heap like this?” The grumpier of the two questioned

“He’d never! Clearly, he just wanted somewhere more private to meet! I’m sure he has to dodge all kinds of media attention!” Midoriya insisted. Well, a positive mind was another point in his favor at least. As the only other person on the beach at this hour, the young lad eagerly ran up to him. “Uh- excuse me sir- I know this is going to sound crazy… But you wouldn’t happen to have seen All Might anywhere around, would you?”

More and more a vague message was starting to seem like a mistake. But Toshinori hadn’t made up his mind entirely as to what he wanted to do at the time. The darker boy seemed to be burning holes into his face with his glare as if he had some kind of evil-eye quirk. Right- probably should explain things. “Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Yagi Toshinori- All Might’s secretary!” He exclaimed extending a hand.

Midoriya reluctantly shook his hand. Unlike Togata’s, it was hesitant yet gentle. “Ah… I guess I kind of jumped to conclusions… I’m Midoriya Izuku… although I guess he might have already told you that?”

“Not that he isn’t eager to see you again!” Toshinori quickly claimed. “But… He didn’t think he’d be able to give you the kind of personal attention you deserve. See, he asked me if I’d be willing to train you to prepare to enter the hero school of your choice.”

“Izuku already has a personal trainer.” The red-eyed grouch proclaimed. “One that knows him better than any hero or their support team could hope to- Akatani Mikumo.” He introduced himself. Although he didn’t bother to extend a hand or any friendly gesture. So, either he didn’t come to give his thanks, or he was perturbed that All Might didn’t seem to be coming.

“But- they’ve been asked by All Might himself- he has to be good!” Midoriya exclaimed. “Come on, it can’t hurt, right?”

The look in Akatani’s eyes said otherwise, but he finally let out a sigh. “What kind of training regimen do you have in mind?”

“Well focusing on endurance training as well as building up muscle, I was hoping to wrap some community service in as a lesson on being a hero!” Toshinori indicated proudly to the beach.

Akatani raised an eyebrow. “A clean up? How cute.” He said unamused. “Is that all?”

This boy was oddly hard to impress. Usually having any link to All Might was enough to get any kid as starry eyed as Midoriya was right now. Instead, he seemed to have as overly critical an eye as Nighteye. “I also have an adjusted diet to match his new work out routine!” Toshinori pulled up a sheet with the listed changes in nutrient requirements for Midoriya.

Akatani looked over the diet. Toshinori wasn’t sure why he was curious if his work met the approval of a small child. He had planned out plenty of regimens for himself through the years. He’d dug up his own that Nana had planned for him even… only for the boy to crush the paper in his fist and toss it behind him. Midoriya scrambled to catch and read it over himself.

“Complete trash… This isn’t accounting for Izuku’s current size and a steady growth rate at all. You didn’t even ask for his current weight or diet to start slowly making the adjustments.” Akatani declared as if he were some kind of expert in nutrition.

Why did Toshinori feel the need to defend himself? “It’s an intense program- the idea is to put on enough muscle in time for the UA entrance exams.”

The boy had the nerve to laugh in his face. “Muscle? That’s worth a dime a dozen! A lot of good that’s going to do him. Speed and agility are more useful when it comes to both combat and rescues. Any amount of muscles he gains won’t be enough to compete with the majority of flashy quirks out there and the rate you’ve projected his gain at could possibly stunt his growth!”

Toshinori knew that if he were really training a quirkless boy, that might be somewhat true. But he was also training him to be a wielder of One for All. He needed to have the right build, or the quirk would destroy him. “How have you been training before?” All Might wondered curious. Neither boy looked particularly muscular, but it was hard to tell under their school uniform.

“Izuku is still in an important development stage, so rather than rush his physical growth in the short term, I’ve had more of a moderate level of intensity- stamina with jogging and flexibility with parkour- coupled with more focus on strategy- Izuku already shines when it comes to quirk analysis. So we’ve been working on extending that quick thinking to scenarios where a quirked foe isn’t the problem- rescue strategies, moving through a city- was well as figuring out how to use your environment and whatever you have on you to target your opponent’s weaknesses.” The boy spoke articulately, like he took himself as a teacher. And he had to admit, it was an interesting approach.

“You do know him better than I do…” Toshinori sheepishly admitted. Someone that seemed to be his best friend with how close they were would know him more than someone that had just seen Midoriya off the street. “But I do still think he could increase his intensity safely. UA’s entrance exam is quite rigorous- he’s going to need more muscle to survive the kind of blows he might be dealt.”

Midoriya looked at his friend eagerly. “We only have a few months left before the exam… I need to be giving it everything I have! This is someone that works with heroes on a regular basis! We should hear him out!”

Akatani was still reluctant, but he let out a sigh. “Alright… let’s see if we can work out a compromise.”

The boy’s trust seemed hard earned, and while he didn’t have it yet, he was at least willing to start. “Then let’s start with some warm ups! How about a light jog?”

Midoriya nodded. “Right! Got it Yagi-san!” He began breaking off into a run. Not too bad for a boy his age.

Akatani began following him, only looked back for a moment and stopped. “You coming?”

“Ah… I’m afraid I’m not in the shape I once was. Do about 10 minutes worth.” Toshinori instructed. Maybe he should try and revise Midoriya's diet with those suggestions.

Akatani only seemed to roll his eyes. “We’re doing this princess style!” He shouted out to Midoriya up ahead.

Midoriya stopped in his tracks. “What?! How heavy is he?!”

“Don’t worry about it- I’ll take care of it until we can adjust. You wanted higher intensity, right? Don’t hold up for me!” Akatani shouted back. He turned down leaning down with his back toward Yagi. “Do you mind?”

Toshinori blinked confused. Wait, were they suggesting carrying him around the beach? Sure, it wasn’t much heavier than the kind of stuff he expected Midoriya to lug around, but combined with running? Although it wasn’t too different from what Gran Turino sometimes had him doing. But there was a size issue as well as weight. “Do you think you can?” After all, he’d been the one complaining about possibly stunting growth.

The boy huffed and answered him by picking Toshinori up by the ankles. Even Toshinori was having a hard time trying to balance himself, but Akatani didn’t seem to have too much difficulty standing. “You’re lighter than you look. I carry my little sister like this all the time- you shouldn’t be much of a problem. Extra training, right?”

“This defeats the purpose of a ‘warm up’ you know.” Toshinori pointed out. You didn’t lug over a hundred pounds worth of weight in a jog to start out. With how strict the boy was about Midoriya’s health, you’d think he’d consider his own.

“I know my own limits.” Akatani answered simply as he adjusted his position.

It seemed the ‘personal trainer’ wasn’t just a support role himself. “Do you have some kind of strength enhancement quirk?” Toshinori asked as the boy began to pick up speed. Not enough to catch up to Midoriya, but enough that he was at least moving which was more than most people could say with a grown man on their back.

“Why does everyone have to be so obsessed with quirks?” The boy complained. “No- quirkless if you really must know. Which means we have to work twice as hard.”

Toshinori understood that far too well. Before Nana found him, he was the same. Eager to prove himself despite his quirkless status. In this day and age, it seemed statistically unlikely for two quirkless kids to end up in the same school.

They seemed to be an odd pair. One bright eyed, eager to give it his all and with the heart of a hero. The other cautious and planning yet not to be taken lightly himself. Both planning to be heroes, and yet both lacking the quirk required for the field. He wasn’t considering Akatani at all for One for All- he was far too cynical to become someone to give people hope with a smile. But he seemed determined to support Midoriya at any cost. Yes, this world would need more than just a single symbol of peace. And Toshinori was eager to aid as many as he could to becoming part of that brighter future.