Actions

Work Header

Feral

Chapter Text

There is a monster in the Musutafu city forest.

This, the locals know.

Enter the forest and you will never return.

This, they claim. 

 

The growth of trees stands tall, dark, and menacing.

Passing nearby sends shivers down your spine and the hairs on your neck spring up as an overwhelming feeling of being watched surrounds you. It puts the person on edge and holding in their breath as they hurry along, eager for the forest to get its sights off them. Eager to get away from the shadows that shift and moves on the edge of your vision, eager to shy away from the flashes of green narrow eyes judging you, eager to block out the tittering sounds that travel through the branches.


One year a group of teenagers enters the forest in a test of courage, unafraid and challenging.


Out of the five teenagers that entered the Musutafu forest, only three returned a few hours later terrified and weeping. 


A few days later the fourth stumbles out of the forest injured, bleeding, and nearly incomprehensible as he blithers and blabbers on about the green eyes that pierce through your soul as he ran and ran. The sharp claws that would slam down in the spot he was just moments before, snapping small trees and branches as though they were nothing more than twigs in its path. The feral grin with its dozens of needle-sharp teeth that twists its face in crackling laughter as he stumbles about on his injured leg, hobbling, as if this was nothing more than a game to the creature.


The fifth, and final of the group was never found. The search parties finding nothing, other than the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, judged.


The locals in Musutafu soon avoid the woodland altogether, in fear of being snatched away by whatever sort of monster resides in its depths.

 



Oh, it’s a beautiful, absolute wonderful day, the green haired boy decides.

He simply loves this time of the season! Where he can comfortably run and jump and play without worry of overheating.

The air has a slight chill to it letting him puff out his fur in a pleased manner. Soon the leaves on the tree will be turning all sorts of colors, falling from their owners and onto the ground where he can jump and nip at them from the air.

He likes to play a game where he tries to catch as many leaves in his mouth in one fell swoop – he can catch four, so far! His highest record that he is rather proud of, but! He is determined to beat it this leaf-fall! This season he will catch five! Or perhaps even six! He has gotten bigger since the last leaf-fall season, with longer legs that will allow him to jump even higher into the air, that will allow him even more time to swipe at his colorful leafy prey.


But, that won’t be for a while yet. The leaves are still very much green, just beginning to be touched by color. Still firm in staying right where they are for yet another few weeks.


The furred creature sighed.


What to do today, he wonders.


It’s a beautiful, wonderful day, yes, this is true. But it doesn’t stop him from being bored, running around loses its luster after a while, of course.


He wonders if he should go to the edge of his territory to see if that two-leg left more snacks about.

But no, he was just there yesterday, wasn’t he?

The two-leg only stops by to drop off tasty cream and small treats every few days. The green haired boy is aware the delicious goodies are meant for the cats that roam around in the forest and city- but he simply cannot help himself! They are too good to pass up! Especially the cream! There is nothing he can hunt or find in his forest that tastes even close to the richness, smoothness, delectable, creamy liquid. He’ll usually greedily guzzle down half the bowl, in his two-legged form, and leave the rest for the forest cats milling about. The substance is intended for them, and they usually get snippy if he leaves them none to drink.


The treats left out are not as tasty as the cream, usually bits of stale meat and small, dry, hard pellets that make his nose scrunch in displeasure. The cats, however, seem to enjoy them nonetheless, so he leaves them be.


The creature shakes his furred head, long ears flapping as he does so. Oh, just thinking about that makes his stomach growl in hunger – perhaps he could hunt? He remembers scenting deer to the north of his territory just this morning, it’s been quite some weeks since he last had a taste of the animal. And they can usually feed him for a few days!

Yes, that sounds oh so very nice, he decides.


He jumps forward on his long slender legs, and dashes past his bushes, trees, and undergrowth, scenting the air for the hints of the hooved animals. With how big his beast form is you would think the boy would be loud, crashing through the forest. But no, he is fast and quiet. Sneaky and swift as his green fur blends him into the background of the forest around him. He runs on silent paws and claws towards the bend of the upcoming river and slows down once he gets closer and the scent of deer, stronger.

There is not many bushes to hide his bulky form near the river, so, he shrinks down into his much smaller form and crouches low to the ground.


His two-legged form is so much weaker than his bigger, stronger, beast form. At its default he doesn’t have his claws, doesn’t have his long ears shooting above his head to pick up the slightest of sounds, doesn’t have his long tail that swishes behind him, doesn’t even have his fur! Other than the shaggy, messy bit on top of his head. Where his creature form is all sorts of shades of green, his smaller form is pink and squishy, and so much colder! He feels vulnerable without the mess of fur that has a constant presence on his bigger form, wrapping around him in a layer of comfort.


But this form does come in handy in the hot season of green-leaf, where so much fur leaves him to feel overheated and exhausted.

Well even so, it’s not like he can’t… alter this form.

He discovered a few seasons back that he can take aspects of his beast form and apply it to his two-leg one. His blunt nails can become sharp and furred, his short pointy ears spring out farther until they trail after his head, his tail sprouts forward from his spine and curls around his leg, his bare chest and back and be covered in the comforting weight of his fur.


His fangs poke at his bottom lip as he grins and inches forward towards the brown animals. His eyes dart around, taking in the group, looking for – there! A single deer near the edge of the hoard, away from the others as it nibbles on some leafy ferns growing near the river edge. The boy silently creeps towards it, avoiding small twigs, and brushing against the long grass, green eyes never straying from its target. The deer completely oblivious to the danger it is currently in.


The small boy is about to pounce forward to slash at the brown-furred animal, when there is a commotion that crashes and echoes throughout the woodland. The heads to the deer shoot up and take off into the opposite direction of the loud disturbance. The green-eyed boy looks on in shock at where the deer had been just moments before. He could easily catch up to them in his beast form, he knows, and even have fun with a chase!


But.


He swallows down his rising outrage and glances in the direction of the still loud noises.


He was bored, was he not?


The boy shifts into his beast form and grins a feral filled to the brim of sharp needle teeth.


Oh, he could make a game out of this, he bets.

 

 

Chapter Text

There was once a couple who loved each other with their very souls.

A woman with hair as green as the pines on trees. Her sparkling curious eyes as green as freshly cut grass. A smile so soft and bright like the morning sun you cannot help but to stare.

A man wild, wild hair, curly and free, black as the night. His sharp, slitted eyes as red and bright as a volcanic eruption. A smile that no matter what, comes out looking just a bit feral with his two long fangs, an ever-presence, plastered upon it.

The two wanted to become three.

And three they became.

But, not for long.

Three, once again, became two.

The third, was a small baby. Just as soft and wild as its mother and father. With its wild, wild forest green hair. Its sparkling sharp eyes that were an explosion of greens. A soft smile that would soon turn just a bit feral, with sharp fangs that would rival the sun itself.

The man couldn’t help but look at the child with a great sadness that spilled over in his grief.

Without the woman he was not sure if he could raise their child, how could he?

But.

The child reminded him so, so much of her.

So, he took the baby home.

That was a mistake.

The child’s quirk came early.

The child already reminded the man so much of the woman, with her soft smile, and bright eyes, but. The greens of which the child wore when it shifted into its quirk, the perfect, perfect combination of both the man and women mingling in something that can no long be, really hit the man hard with a fresh wave of grief and longing at what is no more. Greens as dark as the ever-forest, greens as bright as freshly cut grass.

Green, green, oh so green, covered the child from head to toe.

The man simply couldn’t bear it.

So.

He scooped up his now green, furry, child and coaxed him to shift back with gentle words. The child of course, happily obliged, as it looked to the man with love and adoration in its eyes.

There is a forest nearby, this the man knows. This is where he goes.

He walks there on foot with the child in his arms as it blabbers in excitement, those small, cute fangs on full display.

The man walks and walks until he reaches the edge of the forest, and continues to walk into it, entering.

He walks and walks until the sounds of the city cannot be no longer heard, and even then, he continues to walk.

He walks by the rustling ferns, and swaying trees that whisper sweet nothings. He walks by riverbeds that trickle in its anticipation. He walks by the curious animals that stop, and stare, and watch.

He comes to a clearing and the man stops walking.

He gently awakens the child that had just started to calm and doze in his arms, who blearily blinks its sleepy, green eyes at the man.

The man smiles gently down at the child.

And places it down on the ground.

The child looks at its surroundings, taking in the whole forest in those big, curious eyes of its, before training them back on the man.

“Papa?”

The man’s heart clenched, but he continued in his smiling at his child as he crunches down.

“Papa needs to go somewhere, alright?” the man rumbled, “So, I want you to wait here for me until I come back, ok? Can you do that for papa?”

The child blinked up at the man, “You promise you’ll come back?” it asks a bit hesitantly, unsure.

The man smiles sadly and extends his pinky to his child, his only reminder of what once was.

“I promise,” he whispers softly, as if afraid the forest will overhear.

The child flashes its bright, fanged, smile.

And watches as the man stands up, pats down his clothes, and walks off and out of the forest.

The child sat there and waited for him to return.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Waited until the sky turned dark.

Waited as the child hesitantly called out for the man.

Waited as the forest swayed, and rustled, and chatted, and buzzed.

Waited as the child shivered in the cold night that settled in.

Waited as the child was afraid if he moved, the man wouldn’t be able to find it.

Waited as the sky lightened up once more.

Waited until its stomach growled and pained.

Waited until the forest is casted in shade and light once again. And again.

Waited.

 

 

 

Until it didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Two became one.

 


 

 

Aizawa Shouta is tired.

 This is nothing short of unusual. However today was his day off. A day he planned on using to catch up on some (much) needed sleep, to do some (much) needed shopping to restock his stash of jelly pouches, coffee, and cat food. He would then go out with Hizashi and Nemuri, pretending to be dragged out of his house against his will. Before he goes home and back into his sleeping bag to get ready to teach the next morning.

Or well, that was the plan.

A plan that very much did not follow his wishes.

It started with Bastard deciding that he now has a sudden vendetta against Shouta’s very existence, as he sudden cannonballs from the ceiling fan- (how did he even get up there) -and deemed Shouta’s gut as an appropriate landing area, causing him to jump up cursing and swearing every single piece of hair on the feline himself. Bastard merely gave him a very smug expression as if he had finally fulfilled his destiny in being Shouta’s personal hell machine on legs and walked out of the room with a prominent Meow, as if saying, “You may as well feed me since you’re awake already.”

Shouta mutters under his breath as he stumbles out of his room, irritated and more tired than he did when he fell asleep.

He enters the kitchen and glances at the stove top clock, ignoring Juice Box as he jumps up on the counter and trills in greeting.

5:32 a.m., the oven mocks.

Oh fantastic.

 


 

 

After inhaling more coffee than should be even remotely healthy for the human body, Shouta steps through his apartment doorway and, briefly pats down his jumpsuit to confirm that yes, he has his keys, and closes the door with a click. His footsteps echoes throughout the hallway as he makes his way over to the elevator.

There is a ding! as its doors swing open and Shouta’s nose twists as it is instantly assailed by the smell of burnt fabric. Heavy boots stomp forward and out steps who Shouta recognizes as the Lightening Whip hero, Scarlet.

Dressed in a crop top, combat shorts and boots and armed with not only her famous whip but also a massive broad sword that is more likely to cause blunt trauma than actually slice through anything. The brightly dressed hero grunts in greeting as she passes Shouta by and off to her own apartment for what he guesses is some much-needed sleep.

God, Shouta wishes that was him.

But instead of turning around and falling back into the bliss that is called his bed, he steps in the elevator and selects the ground floor. Metal doors slide shut and the floor jerks before starting its decent downwards.

He would rather get his shopping done for the day so he can have some time to himself before Hizashi and Nemuri come crashing through his door and abducting him to who knows where.

The elevator shutters to a stop and Shouta steps out of it and then through the doors leading to the city.

He stands in front of the build and blinks.

Huh, he muses as the wind smelling of a crisp fall, gently ruffles his hair, it’s going to be a rather nice day today.

Shouta loves autumn. Truly it is the only time of year where he can justify wearing an all-black jumpsuit without either boiling or freezing to death. The crisp smelling air that sends a shiver of absolute content, is only an added bonus.

The dark-haired man hums softly under his breath as he makes his way down the sidewalk, the sun already on its way to climbing up in the sky.

 

Shouta slips in a fourth box of jelly pouches into his shopping basket.

He makes his way along the isle, passing by a muttering shopper. Glancing in his direction he can see the man with his hand covering his mouth while almost glaring at the selection of brands in front of him as if they personally offended him.

He looks away from the indecisive man and towards to cat food that he is making his way towards.

The brand he usually buys is sold out.

Shit.

He purses his lips. His cats are very picky, ungrateful eaters. If they do not approve of their food they will glare at Shouta as if he had tried to feed them the most disgusting filth on the planet, and refuse to even go near their meal until he fixes his mistake.

It’s Shouta’s turn to glare at the store merchandise as he knows he needs to get this choice right the first time to avoid coming back here once again so soon to appraise the devil felines.

He is turning one of the boxes in his hands to get a better look when a gunshot and several screams ring throughout the store.

The Erasure hero slightly curses, because of course this has to happen on his day off, and ducks low to the ground. There is some raised shouting coming from the front of the store and he carefully crawls his way towards the ruckus.

He peaks around from the isle he is crouching behind, making sure he is hidden from view, and takes in the scene.

There, in front of a panicked looking cashier, is a villain pointing a gun and demanding more and more money to be placed in the duffle bag on the counter. The young teenager looking to be on the verge of tears as he fumbled with the register and scoops out the stacks of cash and complies.

The villains back is towards Eraserhead.

The dark eyed hero narrows his eyes and reaches into his scarf to pull on his signature yellow goggles. He carefully snatches a box of Tic-Tacs and stalks his way forward. The candy container goes flying overhead and clatters into an isle off to the side of the two.

The villain whips around to the source of the noise, training his gun away from the kid and, that’s all Eraserhead needs before he is darting forward with his capture weapon, pinning the villain’s arms to his sides. The villain goes tumbling down on the ground with a swift kick to the head, falling unconscious.

“Oh thank god,” the kid sobs with relief, “Oh thank god, thank you. Thank you so much.” He blubbers.

Shouta nods at him, “Call the police, kid.” Grunting, he leans down and unwraps his capture weapon, as he digs through his pockets for zip ties to contain the villain in case he should wake up.

The cashier who most definitely doesn’t get paid enough to be put through a villain attacking their store, nods his head with vigor and fumbles with a phone, as if he can’t dial the number fast enough.

Shouta is just finishing tying the man up when he hears a very sudden gasp and a, “Look out!” Before he gets bashed upon the head from behind.

Eraserhead collapses to the ground hard, and the world r i n g s.

His world is covered in fog as he tries to stumble upright, grasping for purchase.

A figure runs past him and grabs at the bag laying on the counter and bolts out the door. With blurry eyes he recognized the man as the shopper from before.

Eraserhead curses and runs after the villain, calling out the kid once again to call the police before he nearly trips out of the store.

Shit, he might have a concussion.

But he doesn’t have time for that as he catches sight of the runaway down the street and leaps after him.

The Erasure hero is swiftly catching ground to the thief, a fact they seem to be aware of as well as they make a sudden turn down a less populated street.

The man’s arm suddenly shifts and grows rapidly as it is replaced with a long, pink tentacle, that whips to the owner’s side knocked down trashcans in an attempt to slow down his pursuer.

The scarfed hero merely jumps over them, and flashes his quirk, causing the villain’s arm to suddenly shift back into a normal, human arm.

“Fuck!” the walking takoyaki cursed. Swiveling his head from side to side desperately looking for an escape route.

He must have came to a conclusion because he swerved abruptly to the right and run with a new fire in his steps.

Eraserhead studied the path ahead of them and noticed the villain’s path is leading straight into a heavily forested area.

 Is he hoping he’ll get lost?

Shouta’s headache starts to throb and pulse as it splits open between his eyes and a wave of nausea come clawing forward.

He ignores it and pushes on.

The villain glares behind his shoulder back at the dark-haired hero and activates his quirk, letting his arm shift into tentacles to whip at Eraserhead. No longer looking where he is running however, causes him to shoulder-check a tree and lose his balance.

Eraserhead takes this as a chance and grabs at his capture weapon, sending it flying to wrap around the man’s leg, tripping him into the forest floor.

The villain’s hands slam into the earth and Shouta’s grip on the man’s legs loosen as they turn into jelly and slip through the bindings. He curses, annoyed, and erases the man’s quirk once again and dashes forth.

Scrambling on all fours, wanting to get as far as possible from the hero, the villain panickily searches his overcoat for something, anything to get him out of this mess.

Shaking fingers closes around the handle of a dagger and jumping up to his feet he takes a wild swing at the goggle wearing hero.

Grabbing onto the villain’s arm, Eraserhead swiftly twists it as the villain screams in pain. The sudden noise causes absolute agony to shoot up into Shouta’s head, face scrunching as it rings and bounces in his ears.

His grip loosens on the villain’s arm, as he jerkily yanks it from his grasp, the limb automatically shifting and striking the hero with lightening speed. The dagger slashes into Shouta’s shoulder and down his chest, and suddenly the Erasure hero’s back is slamming into the ground as his feet are swept under him.

Grinding his teeth as his nerves alight in an agonizing pain, stars bursting behind his eyes. Cracking them open he rolls off to his side to avoid another swipe of the dagger wielding tentacle, the blade catches in the ground and is retracted with a curse.

The villain throws back his arm once more with a sneer twisting his face, and Shouta needs to dodge. But his vision is blackening around the edges, his head feels as though it’s been stuffed full of cotton, and his senses are assailed with blood coating his mouth, his nose. Raising his head sends the world into triples as it spins around.

There is a crashing thump and a sickening crunch of bone crushing, a shrilling scream that shoots through the air that causes Shouta’s eyes to fly open, not even noticing that he had closed them in the first place.

Thrashing in place is the villain, screaming and grabbing at the maw of some creature. Narrowed slitted eyes green as toxic waste. Sharp pointed teeth that digs just a little bit farther into the man it’s holding as he jerks in its hold, ripping a new scream in an even higher pitch. Green green fur that covers it’s head, shoulders, giant paws, and stops a way down its back. It’s hind legs glistens in the autumn sun and shines in a multiple rainbows of green. A swishing long tail that crashes through the undergrowth powerfully.

The creature drops the now limp form of the villain with a nauseating splat. It looks down at the man’s prone form and takes one of its large paws to nudge him slightly. Getting no response, it huffs almost irritability as if it was not expecting its prey to give up so easily.

It shifts slightly and focuses its very green, dangerous eyes onto its other guest.

Shouta doesn’t dare to look away. Doesn’t dare to move. To breathe.

He doesn’t think he can even if he wanted to.

Through his rapidly spotting vision he can see red, red blood dripping down the beast’s fangs and chin.

Its long ears swivel forward and takes a healthy step over the limp body slowly bleeding out. It stops in front of Shouta and leans its massive head near his, giving him a front row view of those flesh-ripping teeth and eyes freezing him in place. The creature sniffs at him, exhaling hot putrid air into his face and pauses.

It noses at Shouta’s shoulder quickly and he can’t help but let out a muffled groan in pain. Whipping its head backwards, the beast studies him for a moment, eyes glinting. Tilting its head, it leans down once again, mouth splitting open and flashing its white and red teeth and settles around Shouta’s midsection as it straightens back up with him now hanging from its jaws.

Shouta grips at the fur covering the creature’s neck as a new fresh wave of vertigo slams into his stomach. The beast moves abruptly and the world slams black.

 


 

There is a ringing in his ears and an insistent beeping that grates on Shouta’s nerves.

Cracking open an eye he is met with sterile, white walls and an annoying bright cockatoo playing on a Nintendo Switch.

Shouta groans.

The cockatoo snaps to attention, “SHOUTA! You totally missed our very awesome, very fun evening!” tossing the device to the side table Hizashi gives his best friend a pout. “Why’d you have to go get hurt, huh?! A party isn’t as enjoying with only two people showing!”

“I’ll remember that next time I get mauled, thanks” he replies drily, and shuffles in bed until his upper body is vertical.

The living embodiment of a headache snickers and slightly shakes his head, hair loosely following suit. “That’s the spirit!” he punctures with an enthusiastic finger to his non-injured shoulder. “Gotta say though, you had me and Nemuri worried for a bit! A concession and blood-loss isn’t too pretty, and any longer you probably wouldn’t have made it.”

Shouta grunts and rubs at his head, fingers brushing against the bandages that wrap around. Narrowing his eyes, he realizes he doesn’t really remember just what the hell happened.

He says as much to Hizashi.

The blond sombers briefly, “Well, they said you were found outside the forest in Musutafu.” A forest? “A young boy was the one to find you, actually. Locals have been avoiding that area for years now. He went and ran up to people until they followed him back and found you and that villain you must have been chasing, they got ahold of the paramedics pretty soon afterwards and BAM!” he throws his hands out in a dramatic flare “Here you are!” he finishes his tale.

Shouta frowns. Something itching the back of his mind. “What of the boy?”

“I’m not sure.” He hums, “They said by the time the locals called medical help, he was already gone.” Leaning back in the hospital chair he grabs at his gaming device and boots it back up. “Not like I can really blame the kid, there’s some nasty rumors going on about a monster haunting those woods.” He shivered.

Shouta blinks.

Thrashing in place is the villain, screaming and grabbing at the maw of some creature. Narrowed slitted eyes green as toxic waste. Sharp pointed teeth that digs just a little bit farther into the man it’s holding as he jerks in its hold, ripping a new scream in an even higher pitch.

It shifts slightly and focuses its very green, dangerous eyes onto its other guest.

Shouta doesn’t dare to look away. Doesn’t dare to move. To breathe.

He doesn’t think he can even if he wanted to.

His mouth suddenly tastes of blood that is no longer there. He is plunged down into icy waters that sends shivers down his spine. How did he survive that?

“I think,” he starts off slowly, “I think I came across that very monster.”

The living cockatoo slips off his chair with a clatter, screaming.

 “You, WHAT!?”

Ah, the glorious return of Shouta’s headache.

 


 

 

Later that night as Shouta slips his key into his apartment building and enters through the doors, he stops.

He rifles through his items the hospital so graciously threw in a bloody, plastic bag. Ignoring Mocha as she twines around his legs.

Stopping his search after the third attempt he comes to the conclusion that yes, his goggles are in fact, missing.

They must’ve fallen when he got knocked onto his ass.

Thumping his head on the doorway, Shouta lets out a groan.

Chapter Text

Then

 

There is a child in the forest.

This, it knows.

Pitched wails pierce through the air, distressed and desperate.

Humans leaving behind children and friends alike, is nothing short of unusual. Pranks, abandonment, and just foolishly getting lost in its forested depths is only to be expected, as the forest sits back and watches, unconcerned.

But with this child, it’s different.

Where squirrels and birds would take off at the hint of a human getting too close, they instead lean forward, watching. Cowardly deer hesitantly inch onwards, unsure. Frogs cease their croaking. Chipmunks, mice, and rabbits still in their foraging. Foxes disregard the now oblivious hunting. Badgers poke their heads out of their dens and listen. Cats gather to look.

The entire forest stills and holds its breath.

The child’s cries tamper out into whimpers, fragile and heartbroken. For reasons the forest doesn’t understand, it wishes to reach out – to comfort this child who was thoughtlessly abandoned by its very own kin. To make it its own.

And so.

That is exactly what it did.

 


 

[Why are you upset, young one?]

 


 

Now

 

Turning the hard material in his hands the green-eyed boy frowns.

He’s not sure what its purpose is. The two-leg cladded in black carried the item around his eyes.

Why?

He examines it closer.

Bright yellow in color with many indents lining throughout that dip into a cool clear surface on its inside. A thin strap surrounds and wraps around to connect the two sides.

He thinks back to the two-leg and hesitantly slips it over his own head, brushing his fingers over his wild, untamable curls. Holding the strange item by its sides, the boy puts it up to his eyes.

Dark lines obstruct his view. Swinging around still holding the eye gear tightly against his face, he moves around, hoping over dead branches and onto a rather large boulder where he sits.

Humming in the back of his throat he lets go of the yellow eyesore. Where it slips off his head and around his shoulders, too loose for it to stay properly.

Honestly, just how did he fight with that on?  He huffs.  It’s probably the reason he got jumped on in the first place.

The boy’s tail twitches.

He might’ve…. Gone a bit too far when he reached the two-legs.

He only wanted to play! He wasn’t originally planning on showing himself, but rather play a game of hide-and-seek.

Making it obvious that he was there, leaving hints, being barely on their edge of sights as they would whip around trying to locate him.

Sometimes they would shout, stomp, and run about. Other times they would be visibly unnerved, their scent spiking in fear at something they cannot see.

The creature found it a bit amusing.

After the first time he encountered two-legs, the green-haired boy tries to stay a healthy distance away from them.

Furred fingers clutch at the loose cloth material covering his upper body.

Bones crushing under his paws, as he pounces on the body hardly bigger than his own in this form. A scream of agony cut short but a strangled gurgle that reverberates through his skin.

A limp body that now lays at his feet as his companion’s fear spike up to new levels, starring at the forest creature with pure terror in their eyes.

Two-legs were so…... fragile compared to himself.

But part ways there the overwhelming stench of blood sang in the air. For some reason it sent his hair on end as if he vaguely recognized it scent.

He should’ve stayed out of this. It wasn’t any of his business to intrude in on a fight between two-legs of this extent.

Not when it could easily turn on himself.

Arriving on the scene however, taking in the looming two-leg about to go for the kill had him momentarily seeing red as he struck into soft flesh.

Paws softly pad towards him and he side-eyes the white cat that invites itself onto his rock.

[Found a new toy, did you?] The cat, that he has now dubbed White, meows. [You stink, by the way. You reek of blood.]

This was true. He had not yet visited the river to wash off the now flaking bits of blood that dots his back, face, and neck. [I’ll clean up later.] He shrugs. [It’s not my fault if you come unannounced.]

[You say that, but you love it when I do. You like my company!] Came the smug reply.

He absolutely does.

Ever since he was given his own territory, he’s been terribly lonely.

When he was younger, he lived with a large group of cats on the other side of the river. They looked after him, hunted for him, taught him how to survive as he eagerly took in the information. The green furred creature thrived on their affection, their care, their touch. They didn’t seem to mind that he was much bigger than them, only growing more and more as the seasons went by.

No, it was his smell.

Once he grew a certain age, his scent… mutated into something stronger. It clouded their sense and downright made them confused at times.

When he asked about it, the cat looked somewhat shameful as they answered, [You smell like an enemy that makes my hair stand on end. But at the same time, you smell as though you were my own kin. I want to run from you, attack you, and stand by you all at once. I’m sorry, Green One.]

Most couldn’t stand it.

But a few didn’t seem to mind it.

White eyes his green friend. [So, are you aware that one of your toys is trying to break free from your blue pelt thing? Cause it’s about to fall out.]

The cat ducks down to avoid a flying arm as the boy yelps in surprise. He looks down and notices that yes, the blade he looted borrowed from one of the two-legs this morning has broken through the cloth pouch, and precariously starting to fall through its newly made hole.

He grabs at it.

Looking down at the now torn cloth he groans. He loves this pouch, its existence makes it so much easier to carry items and small game around, leaving his hands and mouth free to do whatever he wishes.

Putting the blade in there probably wasn’t his smartest decision, but hey. He was a bit preoccupied getting two bleeding two-legs out of his forest.

He wonders if they’re alright.

[Hello? Are you ignoring me?] An irritable meow rang out. [I asked you if you were up for some hunting, did you eat yet?]

Grimacing, he thumbs the cool surface of the sharp blade. [Ah, no.] He admitted. [It’s been a rather… busy day for me.] He recalled the blood coating his mouth, the temptation to bite harder, down to the bone and let the sensation wash through him. The shame that hit him afterwards. [I’d rather clean myself and sleep, I think.]

Standing up he stretched, arms reaching the heavens, hand still wrapped tightly around the blade’s handle.

Straightening out he examines it, watching the light of the dying sun catching on its reflective surface.

He’ll just have to carry it, he supposes.

White hops down from the rock and waves his tail. [Suit yourself. I’ll just go on my own then] He sniffs. [Go on then, leave me for the company of some fish instead of myself.] With that said, the feline walks off, nose high in the air in mock offence.

A snort escapes fanged lips.

How dramatic.

 


 

Waddling against the weak waters current, the boy slowly makes his way deeper. His blue cloth shedded and laying in a crumpled heap under the new blade and yellow… thing by the river’s edge.

Ducking under, he stays there for a few moments. Eyeing the small fish that follow the rivers path, scanning the riverbed as he strokes his feet over them. The stones are perfectly smooth and slimy.

He liked the sensation.

Head breaking the water’s surface, he takes a gulp of air and slightly shakes his ears, getting rid of the extra droplets.

Cupping water he splashes some to his face and scrubs at it, and the last traces of stubborn blood melt away. He shallowly dips his head under once again and quickly yanks it back, spitting out the excess liquid.

For a while the boy just stays still, floating softly along the river. Listening to the forest as night creeps into its leafy terrain.

He thinks of the black-cladded two-leg.

The boy isn’t still isn’t sure why he interfered like that. Hurting that two-leg all those seasons ago brought scores of other, bigger two-legs that stomped around. Flooding their stink like a miasma.

In and out they came, over and over. For a full moon.

It left the forest uneasy.

He frowns.  

He carried the two out of his territory. The black one in his mouth, and the one smelling of fish onto his back.

It was a bit awkward as the two-leg was very gangly and long. His feet limply scrapping the dirt as he moved onwards.

After removing them, it was only a simple matter of getting another two-legs attention.

Easy, when their land is crawling with them.

The boy blinks.

Nighttime is here in full bloom, now.

Paddling out of the water his feet touches the ground and instantly soaks it. His tail swishing to and fro as he makes his way upstream to gather his things.

Wringing out his floppy ears the boy notices White standing guard over his belongings, a dead squirrel and mouse laying by the feline’s side.  

Perking up at his arrival, White takes a paw and bats the squirrel forward.  

[For me?] The boy replied with amusement as he slips the cloth over his head. The fabric swallows him whole.

White gives him a flat look in return.

Swooping down he picks up the offering, blade, questionable yellow eyewear and tucks them into his storing pouch, sans blade (Not making that mistake again, nope). The pair turns and heads back into the woods, tails held high.

 


 

The creatures den starts off as a small tunnel that allows his tiny, slim form slide right on down it, back scraping loose dirt. Clawed feet reach firm ground as the tunnel opens up in a massive room.

Large enough to fit his beast form three times over, (he learned his lesson after his first growth) the green-eyed boy is rather proud of his den. Days spent digging, dumping, packing dirt laboring away on a nice dry place to sleep at night.

A place to stash the things he’s come across.

All around the den are two-leg items he’s found while wondering the forest, sometimes near the edges of it as well (he’s careful to avoid being seen).

A bright red ball that used to bounce high in the air, but now lays in a flat puddle (He bit too hard into its surface, puncturing it). A colorful small cube that twists and turns (He broke a section of it off one day, the piece laying by the biggers side). A flimsy white item that is round with jagged edges at the top, then tampers down like a stick (It makes for fun patterns in the dirt, he finds). Two soft plush toys, one in the image of a bear, the other a bright blue rabbit. A hard, rectangular shaped thing that’s rather smooth to the touch, opening it up (It’s bigger than his lap!) and you’ll see leaf-thin (And just as fragile) sheets with pictures lining them, front and back. The pictures have creatures similar to himself! …Sorta. They are much, much bigger than him. And rather than being covered in fur, they look scaly, more like a lizard. Some show off them breathing fire, he thought that was really, really cool. He wonders if he can breathe fire (He can’t).

The rest of his hoard has some interesting shaped rocks he’s found here and there, some in strange colors, some more shiny than usual. Lastly, he has- there. A few more blades the boy found near the two-leg settlement.

One is tiny and he has to grab it in a certain way for it to flip outwards. Another is a shiny silver and has absolutely no sharpness to it at all. Is it a blade? Or a shiny stick? Ah, who knows. The third one has a picture of what he recognizes as large dogs. He thinks that one is rather neat.

He places the newest addition to the pile.

[I swear there’s more and more junk in here every time I show up.] White chimes. He’s batting at the large lizard pages with a glint as it crinkles under his paw, making the boy eye him nervously as he pries it away from the feline. He’s too fond of it for it to get damaged, thank you.

Turning back to his pile he dumps the rest of his haul he acquired from today, haphazardly.

Stepping away from his pile, he shifts into his beast form. Long, curly fury bursts out and covers half his body, scales sprout from his hind legs and dot along his tail and back. Furred paws and clawed feet, he stretches out with a sigh.

A massive yawn splits his face and his sharp, jagged teeth reveal themselves. He straightens out and pads over to a nest of ferns, leaves, moss, and various flowers he tore from the ground. He flops onto it heavily and curls into himself. White, finished with looking around, springs onto his massive form and wastes no time in finding the most comfortable spot and position available in his warm fur.

Soon the den is filled with soft, even breathing as both drift off.

 


 

 The long-eared creature wakes alone.

As the feline shows unannounced, he also leaves as such.

He wishes the cat would’ve stayed for longer. It can get awfully lonely, at times.

Leaves crunch under his weight as he shifts in his nest, onto his back and stares at the roof of the den as he lays there.

Emptying his lungs with a heavy exhale he rolls back over and shrinks down. The now-boy hefts himself up and steps out of his nest, ignoring the leaves the cling to his body. He makes his way to the squirrel his friend oh-so generously left him the other day and quickly consumes it.

Burying its remains in the corner he focuses his to the dens entrance.

He passes the black-cladded two-legs obnoxious yellow eye wear, and after a slight hesitation, he scoops it up and continues his path to the dens mouth.

What to do today, he wonders.

Chapter Text

Then

 

Living in the forest was strange.

Living with cats in the forest was… even stranger.

But that was where the child found themselves among of when its father oh-so cruelly dropped it off and never returned.

When the child gagged at the prospect of eating a freshly killed mouse the cats merely shrugged it off and showed the child what plants to eat. And what not to, unless the child wished to get sick. The child had no reason to believe the cats mean it any harm and do as they say.

They take the child into their settlement and move it in. A place where dozens upon dozens of other cats gather to live together, making life easier for them under a system.

Queens and their kits living cozily and well protected. Younger cats running around playing games as they chase one another. Older cats gossiping and returning back with food to deposit into a growing pile for everyone to share.

Happy, content, organized.

It was so, so strange to be put into their routine. But the child wanted to be helpful! The child wanted to thank them for letting it stay with them! So, the child listened extra, extra hard to their teachings. Learned about plants that could help you if you were ever injured. And, after reluctantly biting into a warm, bleeding freshly killed vole, the child learned to hunt for the rest of the group, as well.

The child’s ability to transform into a beast was something that confused the cats, it was strange to them. They claimed no other two-leg could do what the child did. But it was something to soon get used to after having the child around, they didn’t mind. It was a warmer body to cuddle to at the cold of night.

Soon… this style of life didn’t seem so strange to the child. Eventually the child’s father, the one who put it here, faded to the back of its mind. As did the child’s original language as it used it less and less, with no need.

Soon the child forgot it ever lived anywhere but the leafy woodland.


 


 

Now

 

Days have come and gone since the boy found a couple of two-legs fighting in his territory and dragged them out.

Laying on a large boulder that hugs the river softly hugging the rock as it leisurely flows downstream, is the boy with green, bright eyes lazily studying the yellow eyewear he “borrowed”.

Something… has been tickling the back of his mind that he recognized that two-leg from somewhere. But that can’t be right. He doesn’t outright show himself to two-legs unless he has to. And if he’s seen the dark two-leg before he would’ve remembered, right? Exactly! So he hasn’t seen him before!

But. But, but, but.

It itches.

Oh he wants to know so badly.

Where…

The eyewear slips from his fingers and smacks him in the face. Causing him to momentarily struggle to not let them fall into the water below. Quickly snatching the band and hoisting them back to himself, he pauses.

Eyes widening the boy shoves them under his nose and inhales deeply.

Of course, if he’s never seen him, then… he must’ve smelled him before. And smell he did.

 The scent was a bit stale now, but he can still make it out. This is the scent of the two-leg that visits the edge of his forest every few days to leave cream and treats! Tail curling behind him in pleasure that he finally solved this riddle, he quickly shoves the eyewear back over his neck and leaps off the boulder, landing on damp grass that tickles his clawed feet.

Speaking of that… he hasn’t paid that area a visit after that fiasco. Now would be a good as a time as ever.

Pausing, he thumbs the eyewear around his neck before taking it off and shoving it into his pouch.

He doesn’t need to choke himself again when he shifts, no thank you.

Taking his beast form he expertly weaves his way around his territory. He jumps over a badger set and takes note of its location for later. Badgers are usually trouble for cats, and he doesn’t want White to run into any. Not that he cannot take care of himself, the boy imagines the feline hotly replying.

Emerald eyes snap back into attention when they notice the beast is getting close to the edge of his territory and the two-leg settlement. He slows his pace to a trot and shift into his smaller form to avoid detection. Ears swiveling for any sign of two-legs nearby.

None usually hang this close, but it never hurts to make sure.

Exiting the forest, he immediately locates the area the two-leg usually visits, a brown thin cat is already hanging around, cleaning itself.

The boy stops with a frown when he notices the scent is very stale. It doesn’t seem like that two-leg made a visit since.

That’s strange… they usually come by every few days…

Was he still injured? Or… no. No, he should be fine. He gotten help, after all. The boy reasons as he swallows down a bit of panic building in his throat.

The scent is a quarter moon old. Fangs gnaw at his lower lip with worry. Slitted eyes dart to the lone cat, still running its tongue in a soothing pattern cleaning her matted fur. Yellow eyes glance up and warily narrow as she notices him making his way towards the brown tabby. She tenses and prepares to dart away making the boy hastily call to the feline.

[Wait! I just… want to ask a question. I promise I’m not here to cause you harm.]

Yellow eyes blink dumbly at him, but she’s not running away so he counts it as a win and continues.

[The two-leg that visits here, have you seen him?] He gets straight to the point.

Getting over her momentary shock at hearing him speak she simply replies with a curt [No.] And whips around into the maze of the two-leg settlement. Kinda rude, but he got his answer.

Tail swishing the boy anxiously picks at his sleeves, sharp nails briefly catching on the material before pulling out. Should he… go into the two-leg settlement and look for that one?

No. No, no no, absolutely not. Green curls go flying as he shakes his head. He can’t leave the forest, that’s such a stupid idea! Besides, what if the dark two-legs comes back while he’s away? Then he’ll miss him! No, no, he’ll stay in here. That two-leg is sure to come back, after all.

Convincing himself with a small nod, he turns on his feet and back into the woodland.

He’ll just have to wait.


 

Waiting sucks.

Oh, waiting is absolutely agonizing, unbearable, and terrible.

Another quarter moon has slowly trekked by, its minutes, hours, days dripping slowly down onto the ground one by one. The boy has never been one to be patient, he’s one for action as soon as a thought crosses his mind. Energy that would let him run for days on end without tiring, letting his fur light with an electric fire, if he so wishes.

Checking the area at the edge of his territory everyday turns into checking twice, then thrice as more pass by. Still no sign. Still no scent.

Groaning in frustration he slams his bowl down hard into the rivers surface, sending waves of water splashing in all directions. Some hits his face and he quickly swipes his arm across his eyes. Green eyes glare down into the rippling water and he wonders just why he even cares that two-leg hasn’t shown himself.

It shouldn’t matter. He only really knows him through getting free food, which he has plenty of! A whole forest full! So what if he doesn’t get fancy cream every now and then. He doesn’t need it.

…But he is the only two-leg that kept coming back even after the other long left the area alone.

……

He did survive, right?

The eyewear lays heavy around his neck, weighing him down.

Green reflective eyes stare back at him as he continues to watch the river flow on by. Sighing, he finally lifts his hand still griping the bowl and carefully balances it, making sure not to spill the water trapped inside.

The bowl was something he discovered a few days ago. Getting inspiration from the bowl that holds the cream he realizes he could store water in this one. That way, he won’t have to walk to the river every time the boy was in need of a drink.

The amount was only enough to satisfy him when in his smaller form, of course, but it’ll get the job done for now.

Furred hands carefully set the bowl of clear liquid on the grass. He shifts his legs out from under him so he can sit down on the rivers edge and dip his legs into the water, softly kicking and splashing.

Reaching to his neck he fumbles with the eyewear, fingers edging along its smooth texture. The previous owner’s scent, now missing.

Sighing he lifts one leg up high and swiftly crashes it down in the water one last time. He stands up, grabs the bowl, and slowly makes his way back to his den, being careful not to spill even a drop.


 

Later that night, the creature finds himself unable to sleep.

Fidgeting and turning in his nest he can’t seem to get comfortable.

The dark two-leg and his absence invades all corners of his mind, swirling in his thoughts into a murky sludge that seeps through every nook and cranny and sits there, festering.

Groaning roughly, he shifts in his nest for at least the dozenth time, leaves crinkling in his movement.

Nighttime lays like a thick blanket over the forest, and he knows over the two-leg settlement as well.

He knows that while the two-legs swarm their settlement in the masses during the daylight, skirting to and fro like ants on a mission, he knows that at night it’s quieter. More subdue. From what he can tell anyway. Straining what little height he has to peak into the towering buildings from the treetops.

So if he should… just slip into the settlement, he could avoid such a massive crowd. He could skirt around and search for the dark two-leg. It can’t be that hard to find him. The boy could ask around for the cats that live in there for any signs of who he is after.

Then it’s only a matter of confirming that yes, this two-leg is still alive and well, and dash back to his forest. Simple, right?

Of course, if he’s just fine that would mean… he just didn’t want to return anymore? A fanged mouth curved downwards. That would mean he scared off the one two-leg that actually visited his forest. After many, many seasons, for as long as the creature can remember, really.

Honestly that’s probably what happened. He scared that two-leg off and now he doesn’t want to return. That’s all. Get over yourself.

Oh, but what if that’s not the reason?

What if he bled out and died after the boy left him by the forest edge? And he hasn’t returned because he’s dead.

A massive paw slams into the dirt floor, and soft snarls echo throughout the den.

His mind just keeps going in circles! He wants answers! Now! His patience has worn thin from waiting!

Clambering to all fours the beast roughly shakes the bits of leaves and moss sticking to his fur. Giving his tail a massive swish, he reverts into his smaller form to crawl out of the dens mouth.

Once outside he takes his beast form once more and races throughout the forest. Leaves rustle softly in the night breeze; bugs sing loudly in the autumn air as the creature zips past on silent paws.

Slowing once he reaches the border, he knows he can’t take his current form in there. So he shrinks down and stands on his two legs. After a moment of hesitation, he drops the fur and scales from his arms and legs, and shrinks his long, rabbit-like ears, closer to his head. Where he knows they’re still green and furry but hidden by his wild, unruly curls you simply wouldn’t be able to find them in that mess.

Like this, he looks more like the two-legs that he can spy in their settlement. Albeit, a bit shorter, but that shouldn’t matter, right? It couldn’t be strange for their young to roam out at night. He should blend right in.

Bracing himself he eyes the settlement. This will be different from just going to the very outskirts and getting a two-legs attention. No, he’s going in deeper and farther away from his home.

The thought scares him a little.

But! He cannot give up now! If he doesn’t get his answers they’ll fester in his mind, rotting!

So, he puffs out his chest and gives the settlement a determined look.

Without giving the woods behind him a backwards glance, the boy takes the first step into the settlement.  

Chapter Text

Then

 

Big green eyes staring from the shadows. The feeling of being watched from behind, but as you turn nothing is there. You’re all alone but the feeling does not pass.

A figure in the bushes that speedily darts by. The cackling laughter of a child, but it’s twisted and distorted.

Is it a ghost? A phantom? A figment of their imaginations?

Or is there truly something in lurking in the depths of the forest?

For two years the residents that reside in Musutafu have been on edge. And unease seeping into their bodies and lay at the bottom of their stomachs. Paranoia and rumors fly from one mouth to another.

“That place… I heard it’s haunted.”

“I heard giggling when went by! It was super creepy.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t just some lost kid?”

“You don’t understand! Kids don’t sound like that. Like they have static spitting from their voice. Like, like…”

“Like they’re possessed?”

“Right!”

“So it was a ghost?”

Laughter.

“You’re just hearing things, dude!”

“Hey! I’m telling you-“

“Actually… you know…” A hesitant voice interrupts, and the group of third year high schoolers pause and turn, four sets of eyes on the taller boy wearing a comfortable blue hoodie. “I had to go in there a few days ago- you know when it first snowed? Well my brother needed some chunks of wood for a project he’s doing and sent me to fetch some, since my quirk keeps me warm. And I saw, well.”

“Well what?” A girl with interchanging hair inquires, color going from blue to a curious pink.

“I saw paw tracks, except huge, y’know? A tree even had a large gash in it, it seemed pretty fresh too… I didn’t really stick around much longer after I saw that, haha. Bro was rather mad at me for coming back empty handed.”

“It was just a bear then, idiot.” A short boy with yellow hair huffs. “All these ghost stories are bullshit.”

“Bear don’t live here, dumbass!” A snapped reply shoots back, red eyes glaring. “And bears certainly do not sound like that. I’m not making things up and I am certainly not hearing random creepy laughter in my head!”

“Why don’t we just go find out on our own?”

“Huh?” The teenagers look to the last member in their group, a girl with bright yellow eyes that matches her small wings that flutter on her back.

“Listen- it’s probably just some animal with a quirk that made them bigger, y’know? Just some oversized bunny or whatever. It’s not too uncommon.” Teeth flashing, she smiles. “So, let’s find and get rid of it, if it’s making people like Tanaka and Kimura nervous.” She finishes with a smirk, ignoring said boys’ indignant scoffs.

Kimura pouts slightly, “…I don’t think rabbits can make noises like that either, but I’m not against getting rid of whatever it is.”

Punching his shoulder, the pink haired girl, who is now turning a vibrant teal, speaks up. “Well we should be fine with all five of us.” Smiling, she adds, “What’s the worst that could happen?”


Those words flash through Kimura’s head as he watches Tanaka’s spine snap under massive, green paws. A sharp feral smile and natural bright green eyes that sends an icy wave of pure terror vibrating just under his skin.

Its eyes narrow to slits, but the smile doesn’t budge as the creature straightens its body, that’s nearly as long as Tanaka himself, showcasing its wild mane of green curls. A tail swishes behind its body and Kimura realizes it’s scaled, as is the creatures end half. Hind legs that develop into thin scaled claws as they dig into the snow. It had an appearance as if whatever spat it out changed its mind halfway through on just what kind of monster it wanted to unleash horror unto the world.

The now four teenagers stand in frozen terror, before turning tail and fleeing from the scene, a distorted laughter echoing throughout the icy trees, following them.

Tanaka Aito meanwhile, lays unmoving on the ground, flakes of soft snow clinging to his hoodie.



Now

 

Pap, pap, pap.

Feet slapping down with each step on the hard, flat, rock ground, the boy continues on. Following the path this particular piece of stone stretches out. It’s shaped in an unnatural sort of way that he would never be able to find in the forest, but knows it surrounds and fills the two-leg settlement. Why only here? Why doesn’t stone turn out so flat in the woodlands? It was a reality he never really understood.

Looking around he doesn’t really see much green at all. It makes him feel exposed. The boy’s skin crawls at the unfamiliarity of his surroundings. And, stars above, the smell. There are too many scents. Too many fumes attacking his poor, poor nose.

It’s nothing like the crisp, fresh air with a healthy undertone of soil and foliage. No, this is terrible, disgusting. What are these? Putrid, thick, heavy scents. Rotting, decaying, carrion.

Nose scrunching, green twisted eyes glance at a large container filled to the brim of overflowing, vile, rotting, garbage.

Placing a hand over the lower half of his face he turns away from the awful smell, leaving the grey stone path, and onto a wider black one. This stretch of stone feels a bit… weird? Not as rough? Looking down the boy softly drags his right foots along its surface, testing the new type of rock. It feels a bit bumpy… holes? He tilts his head as he continues to test the stone, compared to his hard, scaled feet that do not even react to stepping on the sharpest of rocks in the forest, his soft “two-leg” feet can feel so much more. Every bit of detail that brushes against the tender flesh.

So when the stone under him starts to tremble softly he pauses and narrows his eyes in confusion. Is it supposed to- suddenly the trembling grows almost aggressive and green eyes snap wide open as he remembers his other senses and hears a fast approaching rumbling and bright, bright lights zooming towards his direction as he quickly leaps backwards, out of the whatever the heck that thing was, way. The thing lets out a long, angry HOOONK, as it swerves side to side before straightening out and continuing down the path.

Heart beating rabbit fast against his chest, the boy tensely stares at the thing as it leaves. Waiting to see if it will turn around to come back for him. Instead it vanished off where he could no longer see it and the boy relaxes slightly, long ears that were straining high as they could reach, now droop down.

Looking down he can see that he must’ve shifted instinctively. He dismisses the shift with a sigh, furless and scaleless once again.

He climbs back onto his feet, having fallen down in his hurry, and glances in the direction where that bright thing vanished off to. After confirming that it really was gone, he dashes across the wide black path and onto another thin, gray one. He noticed that thing never left the black path, so perhaps they have that claimed and gotten angry when he carelessly trespassed upon it.

Scowling, the boy silently scolds himself for not paying attention to his surroundings. How stupid of himself! He’s in unknown territory! He shouldn’t get lost into his own head!

He looks up from his walking and freezes.

To his left, himself is looking back at him. He slowly blinks, and his reflection follows suit.

Grinning, he lifts up his arm and flexes his hand, watching his reflection do the same. Glass, his mind supplies, it’s like that piece of glass I have in my den! Except that was tiny, hardly the size of the palm of his own hand. This was several times bigger than himself!

Looking around he noticed that every two-leg den had glass embedded into its hard exterior. What for? What was the purpose of it? To look at themselves as they pass by?

He pays back attention to the wide stretch of glass in front of him and studies it, his reflection showing off his face scrunching in thought.

Bringing his face up close until his nose was squished on the cool surface, the boy let out a gasp. He could- see into the den! He could make out dark lumps and shapes. Two-leg items he wasn’t sure of their purpose. Squinting he can see that the room has a tunnel that leads off somewhere- another room, perhaps?

He’s trying to shift to get a better look when suddenly there’s shouting coming from behind him. He freezes momentarily, before whipping around and catching sight of an adult two-leg waving his arm as he makes his way towards the snooping boy, still shouting in a loud voice.

He looks angry which means bad news- and this green kid would prefer to stay away from such things. So without even glancing back he shoots off like a rabbit who senses its being hunted by a hungry fox, rapidly slapping his fleshly feet on the hard ground and sharply turns a corner- only to stumble with a strangled cry as his toe smashes and twists awkwardly against the hard stone ground.

Throwing his hands out he manages to catch himself on a hard, metal- tree? Stick? It’s shooting ramrod straight out of the ground and at its top a soft glowing light emits from a round ball. He loses interest in it and looks back down to his throbbing toe, blinking back tears gathering in his eyes.

After making sure that angry two-leg isn’t going to show up, he slides down onto the ground for a better look. His big toe and the side of his foot is sporting some skid marks and bleeding sluggishly. Honestly, it’s nothing bad. But man, oh man did it sting.

“Ow…” He gives a little whine. He doesn’t usually have this problem when he’s using his shifted scale feet. What was it about two-legs that made them so fragile? Their bodies are way too weak for being something so big. Shouldn’t their forms be more durable?

The throbbing soon dulls down, and after a moment of consideration, the boy summons scales to sprout along his feet, and stops them a little above his ankles. His round, soft toes, now sharp, and tough. It should be fine if it’s just my feet, right? He wonders.

He shrugs and decides he doesn’t actually care. What would it matter if they saw his clawed feet anyway?

Tapping his foot on the ground briefly he takes another quick glance around. Without leaves and branches that groans softly in the passing wind, and the animals that chirp and cry into the night, the two-leg settlement feels eerily still.

He flinches when another bright-eyes thing crawls along the black-top stone path, but unlike the previous, this one is slower as it lazily continues on its way, ignoring the boy entirely. If his tail was free, he would’ve twitched it nervously. He needs to hurry and find a guide. This place sets him on edge.

Walking farther along, sense straining to pick up the slightest hint of movement that would either alert him of an approaching two-leg or lead him to a- hopefully- helpful cat that could guide him through the settlement, or even better, a direction of where the two-leg dressed in black could be found.

He stops abruptly when he notices one of those things from earlier, idly standing still on the other side of the black path. The other two that the boy has come across so far were bright eyed and breathed a low rumble. This one however, was dim, silent, and gave no signs of life.

Is it dead? He questions himself. After quickly looking in both directions of the black path and seeing all is clear he slowly approaches the thing, getting a decent look at its appearance.

It’s legs seemed to be wheels? How does it move around like that, properly? The child thinks it has to be awkward.

[“Hello?”] He hesitatingly calls out. He doesn’t receive an answer.

Its body is a dark blue color. And wrapping around the thing looks to be glass, similar to the two-leg dens.

It was never alive then, he realizes. But it moved! How does something not alive move around like that?

He circles around the thing, he can see something inside. Maybe he’ll get answers if he looks closer…?

As soon as his hand touches the cold metal surface however, the thing suddenly roared to life and shrieked violently, breaking the silence. Beeping, shrieking, honking, it went on and on and attacked at the boy’s eardrums as he desperately threw his hands over them to block out the sound.

Yelping he stumbles back and away from that metal demon. [“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you up! I’m sorry, please be quiet!”] The begging seems to do nothing as it continues to screech, however. So he stumbles backwards a bit more, hands still plastered to his ears as he spots a few lights switching on and even some heads poking out of the two-legs dens, looking around the boy spots a narrow pathway in-between two dens and quickly yanks himself towards it.

He can tell it’s much darker in this pathway compared to being out in the open, but the child never had a problem with seeing in the dark. There is more foul smelling garbage littering the floor and he scrunches his nose in distaste. Looking ahead he can see the pathway opens back up and makes his way towards it. The farther from the loud shrieking, the better.

It suddenly cuts off however, and the boy pauses and looks over his shoulder, hands lowing from his head. Other than low grumblings, it is blessedly silent. Did it fall back asleep? He lets out a relieved sigh.

Leaning against one of the large containers holding smelly contents he makes to sit down and let his poor ears recover from the persistent ringing.  Only to shoot back up when his seat yowled in anger.

[“Can’t a cat get any sleep around here? Do you have nothing better to do than cause trouble?”] The feline hissed venom.

It shifted in place, getting comfortable as it stared the boy down as if daring him to try something so foolish again. It’s thin matted fur pricking with annoyance. It had yellow eyes and matching pelt with faded orange strips zigzagging along its body.

[“I’m- sorry.”] He apologizes. [“I didn’t notice you.”]

The cat blinks in a stunned silence. The fur starting to lay flat as if it had forgotten it’s previous annoyance. [“Huh.”] The yellow cat finally responds. [“I’ve never met a human who could talk to me.”] Tilting its head, the feline asks, [“Who are you?”]

[“Uh-“] He fumbles slightly, human? What is that? A two-leg? What a strange word for them. [“I live in the forest.”] Jerking his head in what he hopes is the correct direction of his home. [“I’m trying to find someone- who lives here. Um. But this place is confusing and I’m not, uh, having much luck.”] The boy shifts from one foot to the other. [“Could you help me, please?”]

[“well… since you asked so nicely, I suppose I could help.”] The cat replies slowly. [“Who is it you’re looking for? Another stray cat?”] Yellow eyes watch as the boy shakes his head.

[“No, I’m looking for a two- er, I mean human! He’s really tall and wears all black, and has this white-“]

[“Kid!”] The tabby interrupts, [Kid, do you have any idea how many humans I see in a day? They all look the same to me now, I can’t help you with this.”] He informs him only to quickly add in once he saw the child’s face drop in disappointment, [“But, maybe I can show you around? I know this city like the back of my paw, and unlike you I can avoid us getting into trouble.”]

The boy smiles sheepishly as he remembers setting off that loud shrieking alarm call from earlier. The cat certainly had a point. [“That’d be very helpful, thank you.”]

Taking a step back as the cat hefts itself up on its feet, he notices in place of the long tails cat usually have, this one only has a short stump. He wonders if the cat was born like that or if it had gotten cut off at some point. [“By the way…”] The cat starts and the boy tears his eyes off the stumpy tail and takes in how the cat puffs out its chest. [“You can call me Noodle! My old human gave me that name.”]

Noodle seemed proud of the fact and the boy is reminded that some cats here get taken in as pets to the two-legs. A few of the forest cats themselves used to have such a lifestyle. Where they were warm and comfortable throughout all the seasons, and always had easy food just waiting for them. But they had to stay trapped inside the dens and had little freedom in running around outside. That is what he heard anyway. It sounds like a boring life in his own opinion.

But nonetheless he smiled and nodded down at Noodle, following him as the cat trods out of the narrow pathway.

And right into a couple of two-legs.

He freezes up and the couple pauses in surprise, takes in the child’s appearance, and shoves past walking faster, whispering in low voices.

The boy relaxes minutely and blinks, [“That was… odd.”]

Noodle just gives him a look. [“Kid you look like you sleep in a dumpster all day, and no offense, but you kinda reek.”]

Well now that’s just rude. Even if it is true. Through he’s not sure what a “dumpster” is.

Seeing his questioning look, Noodle replies, [“It’s something the human throw all their trash into. It’s filthy and rank. It’s not all bad though, they throw some food in there sometimes.”]

Noodle faces forward and the boy grimaces behind the cats back. Eating food while surround by that smell did not sound appetizing.

They walked on and on, sticking to the gray pathway mostly and occasionally dipping into an alleyway when spotting other cats. They keep receiving the same answer. No ones seen the two-leg the boy is searching for. There is just too many of them, after all.

The boy drags his feet along dejectedly. It seems this trip was going to be nothing but a huge waste of time. This is turning out so much more difficult than he planned. To make matters worse, he’s not even sure which direction the forest is in anymore. He manages to keep his panic down at that fact since he has Noodle to guide him around. The cat would know its way back. Hopefully.

This place seems way too big he notices. Just how much bigger is it than his forest? He nervously fingers the eyewear that’s loosely hanging around his neck. Maybe if he can get a look from above? He eyes one of the branchless trees, unlike the other one that emitted a soft glowing, this one has several strings of rope sprouting from near the top and attaching to other thin trees. It’s strange but he’s starting to see that’s just the overall feeling in this place.

It is high up though. It should give him a good enough vantage point to at least get a decent idea of this place.

As he walks over to it, Noodles stops and looks back. [“What are you doing?”] He feline questions.

[“I’m going to climb this.”] Came his reply. The cat looked at him as if he were insane but doesn’t question farther, taking this chance to sit and groom themself.

The boy summons green fur sprouting from his hands to his elbows, blunt nails curling and sharpening into fine thick points. His tail swishes behind him, happy to finally be allowed free.

Taking a few steps back in preparation, the boy takes a running leap at the stick tree and digs his claws into the wood. He stays still for a moment, getting a basic feel of this strange thin tree. Usually the trees he climbs are two or three times thicker than he is, but with this one he could almost wrap his arms around its truck and meet his hands.

It’s a bit awkward but, the boy digs in his clawed feet and shoots upwards. It’ll do.

Slamming his hands into the wood, and avoiding the strange rope, the boy finally makes it to the very top. He settles there and looks over the settlement, tail swishing behind him in an effort to keep his balance.

At the sigh before him, the boy groaned. Two-leg dens stretched as far as his eyes could see! He lifts up from his crouched position to stand on the heels of his feet, neck straining. Some of the dens were so tall he couldn’t even see over them, why did they need to be so big?!

Craning his neck around, he can see his forest in the west. He knows how to get back at least. He frowns and lets his eyes take in the settlement, a stone dropping in his stomach. How is he supposed to find a single two-leg in this mess? It’s too much!

Discouraged, he drops back down into a crouch and startles when he hears a gruff shouting directly below his perch.

Looking down he meets the eyes of a pair of two-legs.

The two on the ground wait in silence for several moments, awaiting a response. When none came one called up to the boy. His tone sounded questioning to his ears. Probably wondering why he was several feet in the air like this. Well too bad. He cannot answer them.  

Tearing his eyes away from the pair he decides to ignore them. Favoring to look over the settlement like a cat moping the loss of their prey. Unless those two-leg could suddenly grow claws, he doubted they could climb up to him. He was safer up here.

So color him surprised with he saw movement from the corner of his eye and saw one the two-legs shoot rope from his hands and wrap around one of the perches near where he was sitting.

What the- snapping his eyes downwards he can see the two-leg using his hand rope to slowly climb up to him.

Green eyes looked at the climbing two-leg. Then at the hand rope. Back at the two-leg. Then at the thick strings of black rope connecting this tree to another several yards away. The boy considered his odds, and with one last look at the two-leg he sprung up and dashed along the thick string of rope. He ignored as the two-legs let out strangled cries as he desperately trashed his tail trying to avoid falling onto the hard ground below.

If a forest floor hurts when you fall from a tree, he doesn’t wish to find out just how much a hard stone one would.

He arrives to the other stick tree and quickly climbs down its trunk. Clawed feet slapping the ground he looks over his shoulder and sees the pair running towards him, calling out. And really that’s all the motivation he needs to start booking it as well. He runs in twists and turns, slipping into alleyways and quiet darkness, until he’s sure he is no longer being chased.

As he catches his breath, green eyes squeeze shut as he realizes he left his guide, Noodle behind.

Groaning harshly in the alley, he kicks at some trash littering the ground. The piece soars in the air, hitting the wall and floor with a loud metallic clatter that leaves him wincing.

Ice shoots through his veins as he hears a low-voiced rumble from the other end of the alley. He’s afraid that he didn’t end up losing the pair of two-legs until he catches sight of the figures.

It isn’t the pair.

Three figures approach the small boy, two males and one female. He cannot sense anger or malice on their expressions but that does not stop him from taking an uncertain step back, or from his fur prickling in caution.

Instead their voices are smooth as if trying to coax the boy over, assuring they didn’t mean any harm.

He should really run away.

But curiosity has him standing still with a wary eye. What were they doing? An offer to help maybe?

The female and one of the males hang back, letting the one who has been speaking to the boy since the beginning, compared to other two this two-leg was bulky and huge. He easily towered over his smaller form as he stepped closer, causing him to tense up and taking another step backwards.

The large two-leg must’ve sensed this, because he immediately squatted down and held out his hand placidly, voice still soft.

The two-leg reaches his hand out, palm up. Considering the hand for a moment and a glance back his gentle face, the boy smiles up at him and offers his own hand. Maybe he finally found some nice two-legs in his trip?

But when their hands met the larger one suddenly twists and grabs at his arm, yanking him up in the air as he stands to his full height. The air sudden shifts and the boy is washed away with a wave of malice and cruel laughter.

It was a trick! He lets out a sharp yelp as he’s suddenly shaken, an ugly face in front of his own. Baring his fangs, he snarls, [“Put me down!”] And jabbing his free arm he slashes at the foul trickster.

He’s suddenly on his rear as the large two-leg lets him go with yell, holding his face.

For a few moments the alleyway stays in a tense silence.

Then uncovering his face, the huge two-leg looks down at the boy. Face twisted in a snarl and eyes glittering in anger, he spoke low and dangerous. The two behind him started howling in laughter at their companion’s misfortune but start to advance as well.

And the boy? Well he does not like that one bit. He does not like this situation at all. This whole trip has been nothing but disaster one after the other and he would really like to go home now. This was a foolish, stupid adventure.

He scrambles backwards on all fours, before flipping around and aiming for his freedom at the alley entrance. His shot of freedom is short lived however, when a fourth figure stands in his path, blocking his escape route. He hesitates, and when noticing no other is following the newest guest and barrels straight ahead. He has a higher chance of slipping past a measly one, compared to a group of three after all.

The fourth widens their stance and purple smoke snakes itself out of their body, wide green eyes widen in shock as he skids to a halt and tries to scramble out of the smoke’s reach as it grabs towards him.

One of the other two-legs; the female one, makes a motion for his arms. He swiftly ducks out of the way, noticing the smoke harmlessly drifting off his body. It didn’t do anything? He wondered, and then reprimand himself. Of course not. It’s just smoke. Why was he so afraid of smoke?

There is a slight tingling in the back of his skull as he dodges out the way of arms snatching at him and slips under their legs trying to escape to the other side. He only has to outrun them. Only has to get out of this alley and run like a pack of dogs were at his heels.

But why…

His feet sluggishly hit the ground, growing slower with each step.

Why was it getting so hard to move?

The world spins in his eyes, growing blurry as he slams against a wall. His limbs feel as though they were made of lead. His brain as though it was scrambled and being refilled with cotton. Too much cotton. His eyes felt heavy, everything looking nothing more than colorful, blurry blobs of static. Is he even standing? He doesn’t think so. It feels as if he were swimming upstream in the river.

Everything lurches and big blob is suddenly in front of him. He thinks it’s holding him up, but he cannot be sure. He hardly feels the pain of being slammed against the wall, head hitting harshly against the stone. Adding more cotton to an already overfilled container.

He may not have felt that, but he certainly could feel the hot fire of pain that sliced into the side of his abdomen. The fog in his mind faded slightly as he screamed in pure agony, clawing at the arm holding him up. Every bit of movement caused the blade inside him to twist in deeper, deeper. And he wanted it gone.

So he digs in claws in and puts all his strength into it until he hears the arm snap and the boy is dropped to the ground, sending another wave of pain to his side. A quick hand confirms the blade is it embedded into the flesh and he jerkily yanks it free, hot blood spilling onto the ground under him.

Dragging himself away from the wall and the two-leg still howling in pain over his broken arm, he shakily sets himself onto his feet. His vision still blurry but he can see the four figures of the two-legs standing around. He thinks he hears one say something, but it sounds muffled to his ears.

The three unharmed figures start to advance on him.

To the boys back, lays his escape route. All he needs to do is run. Something he is very good at. He just needs to get home. Go home and never return.

Before he can turn around and start running however, he hears a fifth figure land behind him and his heart stinks low, low, sinking into a pit far underground.

He can’t… he can’t handle another one. Tears form in his eyes as he stands there, frozen and shaking, side throbbing and bleeding.

The final figure is almost directly behind him when he remembers.

Oh he’s such an idiot.

He can’t fight in this form, it is way too weak and fragile. But oh, his other form? Well that’s a whole different story, is it not?

Stopping his shaking, he rapidly calls forward his bestial shift. Growing in size until he is the one towering over their heads, fur curling around his head and neck in a magnificent mane, his hands expanding into large paws with sharp claws gouging themselves into the stone, legs lengthening, bending as scales sprout out, dotting across his hind legs. And a long thick tail that promises broken bones if you should have the misfortune of meeting it.

The beast narrows it’s slitted eyes, bares it’s fangs in a snarl and like any cornered animal, it strikes back.  

Chapter Text

Then

 

In a forest is a group of cats that live and help one another. They share their food, they heal the sick and injured, they take care of problems that may affect them, such as fox and badger sightings.

But as any large group there are also disagreements. Fights can break out and well, that’s not quite the spirit of their group now is it? They need to work together to survive. Petty squabbles and being at each other’s throats won’t do the trick.

That’s where the Leader comes in.

The leader will resolve and prevent cats from tearing their own fur out. They will listen and decide, and their decision will be followed. Any big news goes straight to them as they figure out how it will best affect the group. Oh, it’s a big job sure.

But she absolutely loves it.

Leader loves being there to help out in any way, offering a paw. She does her best not to turn any cat down, from the youngest kit to the oldest elder, she will find a solution to best fit their needs.

And the others will dip their heads in thanks, ever grateful.

Leaf-bare is when Leader is stretched to the limits, however. Especially this current one.

Prey is scarce. Water is frozen deeply.

And it is so, so cold.

Cats will go out in search of prey, hoping to find something, anything. But more often than not, come back empty pawed.

Moral is low, and cats are tired, starving, dying.

 Leader cannot do much about this, other than to continue searching.

And speaking of searching…

The two-leg child that has been sharing their camp since two green-leaf’s ago, has been missing for a quarter moon.

Leader knows why he is. The others are secretly relieved.

The child has become a great hunter, splendid really!

But the child eats so much, it needs to.

Feeling guilty, the child slipped out of camp one night to where leader is sure, the other side of the forest where its hunting shouldn’t affect her group. Sometimes leaving a few pieces of prey behind in an area they patrol daily, a way to be sure they come across it to take back to camp.

Leader admits it is very helpful.

But she’s the one who let it into the camp those two green-leaf’s ago, which puts the child in her responsibility.

And she’s worried for the child.

 Hence why she is currently making her way to the part of forest where she is sure he is hiding.

Snow crunches under paw as she lifts her nose up to scent the air, keeping her senses open for prey to take back as well.

Leader freezes when the overwhelming stench of blood floods her nose, too much blood and under the smell of it she can detect the child’s scent as well.

For a moment it feels as if her body was plunged into an icy lake, thinking for the briefest of moments that it was her child’s blood the was staining the air.

But the she picked up another two-leg’s scent.

Leader steeled herself and rounded a bush and towards the clearing where the source is coming from.

There, several feet away lays the remains of some foolish two-leg, blood sluggishly dancing around its corpse, bone visible is some areas poking out to meet the cold air nipping at them, some broken and crunched, large teeth markings littering their surface. From her nose Leader can tell it has been dead for a few days before being gorged upon.

Taking her eyes off the corpse she spots the clearing covered in giant paw prints that she is very familiar with by now, leaving no doubt of who was behind this.

She looks up when the sound of shifting snow and dirt catches her attention. She walks towards the bush it originated out of and poked her head inside it.

A large hole greeted her. And inside that hole was the child she had been searching for, messing with what she recognizes as a blue pelt cloth the two-legs wear.

Leader loudly meows to get his attention and green, wide eyes snap up to her. The child lets out a delighted shout and makes quick work of jumping out of the hole.

[“Leader!”] He beams, tail swishing behind him in obvious pleasure.

Despite this being the child’s second leaf-bare with her group, his two-leg form has yet to grow any bigger than when she first offered her paw forward. Still so tiny compared to the grown two-legs she seen walking in their settlement. Just how long does it take for them to grow up? The child’s second, beastal form has no qualms with growing larger by what seems the moon.

Leader’s eyes soften as she purrs in greeting. [“I missed you, my child. Just what have you been up to?”] At this, she flicks her tail at the dead two-leg.

A sheepish smile makes its way onto the child’s face, twisting the fabric in his hands slightly. [“Oh! Well, um.”] The child squeaks, high-pitched [“There were others, other two-legs like me! A few days ago. They were making a lot of noise and shouting around so I thought that they wanted to play?”] Shifting from foot to foot the child continued.

[“So I stalked up to them and started a game of tag!”] He proudly puffs his chest out at this statement, ears twitching upwards.

[“I caught one really quickly! And then the others ran away, so I chased them! They were pretty slow, actually.] He informs with a tilt of his head. [“So I tried going easy on them by going slower too.”]

He pauses at this, and Leader dips her head in a sign to continue as she sits down.

Snow softly crunches under his clawed toes as he drags them in slow circles as he looks down to watch. [“I might’ve gotten carried away, but it was fun! They all went away later, but… when I came back the first two-leg was still here.”] Something flashed on his face for a brief second before passing.

[“I think I broke him.”] He reveals. [“He was broken and I didn’t want to waste food.”]



Now

 

Papers are scattered across the surface of a wooden table, information and low-quality photos taken by street surveillance cameras of a certain group of people.

Traffickers.

Three days after chasing a villain into the Musutafu forest and encountering the beast that lives there, U.A. was alerted that a second-year support student had gone missing.

The student’s mother calling the school several hours after it had let out, wondering if her child was perhaps still working on a project and forgot to inform her. Receiving a negative that they were in on school grounds she called in to the police with worry.

And so, police and detectives start looking into the matter. Upon they discover through a street camera that the student had been nabbed on his way to school that morning, by what they recognized as some traffickers that keep on slipping from their grasp.

Before this, the group kept a rather low profile in terms of who they kidnapped.

Sticking to the homeless at first, before moving on to neglected children where parents wouldn’t bother to call in their missing status until too late, and adults living on their own in shabby neighborhoods with weak doors and windows.

Suddenly kidnapping a student from one of the most famous hero schools in the world?

It was a huge leap from their usual thing and a very obvious spotlight now resides on their actions.

Several heroes have signed up to look for them and rescue the child and any others that had been kidnapped.

Aizawa Shouta is one of those heroes.

Flipping one of papers over, Shouta examines it.

Shochu Nagaaki stares back at him with sunken eyes. This man is one of what the police believe is the main reason this particular group has been able to effortlessly capture and slip away from scenes.

A gas quirk that once inhaled, messes with a person’s senses. Clouding their minds, limbs becoming heavy and cumbersome, and blurry vision. A very bothersome quirk to defend against.

Shouta has been carrying a small gas mask in case he comes across the man, best to be prepared.

Putting the paper down back on the table to his left, he turns his attention to a rough map that contains sightings and previous kidnapping cases, with Hirota Eiichi’s, the missing support student, circled in bright gold. Previous kidnapping cases circled in green, and any others after Hirota’s circled in red.

Two more had gone missing after Hirota, an adult woman and a middle school boy. Both in possession of a form of shock absorption quirk, most likely the reason they were targeted in the first place. The odds of it being a coincidence are slim.

But why that sort of quirk?

That was the question.

The missing student was easy to guess. Their quirk allowed them to transfigure other materials into something different, including gold. A get rich quick scheme to fund themselves.

Shock absorption was handy if you needed a durable bodies for hard labor.

With most of the cases before the quirks were leaning more on the mutation side, with some random scatterings that don’t seem to collate.

Noises of a pen scritching on paper as Shouta writes down more and more, the paper soon brimming with information.

It seems likely that they were hired long term by another organization in search for these certain quirks, the mutant ones at least. Whether the others a grouped in with them or someone else is still uncertain.

Shouta taps taps taps, the pen tip in thought. Bouncing it onto the table’s surface.

Catching the traffickers would only be the start of it. From there they would have to search and interrogate the members to pry to information from them on where exactly they would have sold off the missing people. And from there another searching game.

Sighing, Shouta leans back in his chair and sets the pen down. He swipes his thumbs over his eyes with a groan.

It has been nearly two weeks since he put himself on this case and it’s been an endless juggle of teaching, research, and patrolling. So busy he was, he sometimes forgot to eat throughout the day. He was almost completely living off of jelly pouches to Hizashi’s disgust.

Not to mention sleep was something that he has been ignoring. Leaving it out on the side of the road as it waits eagerly for him to come back and embrace it with open and grateful arms.  

But sleep will just have to be disappointed. He’s got other things to attend to.

Looking at the clock Shouta notices the time is nearing midnight.

He hefts himself up and shuffles to the coffee machine for one last cup. He swiftly downs it ignoring his burning tongue, gathers his hero gear, and heads out of his apartment room.

The last two kidnappings had been in the southern part of Musutafu, seemingly traveling farther down. So, for the past three days he had been searching along that area thoroughly and taking care of his other hero duties when the time calls.

Another night, another neighborhood to investigate and,

Huh.

His hand pauses on the lobby doorknob. That’ll be near the forest.

Perhaps I’ll stop and retrieve my googles while I’m nearby. He muses.

Opening the building door, and the hero Eraserhead is off.


Feet flying from passing rooftops, Eraserhead observes his surroundings.

A few hours have come and gone, and he has nothing to show for it other than stopping a shifty drug deal.

He lands on a roof and pauses to catch his breath, looking out across the street.

Three people stumble out of a bar giggling to each other as they drunkenly try to call a cab. Slurred words reaching his ears, as he continues to gaze at them through half-lidded eyes.

He looks away and up at the bar they came from and the hero contemplates if he should go inside for a sign or whisper of his targets.

Leaping from the building, he maneuvers himself in the air and lands safely onto the ground. He dusts himself off and saunters to the bar, hands lazily in his pockets.

He is about to open the door when he catches a flash of green in the corner of his eye and snaps his head towards it.

But whatever it was, it had already ducked into an alley and out of sight. Shouta wonders if he should follow and investigate.

At that moment, however, came two people quickly turning the corner. Both were donning a police uniform and seemingly out of breath.

They stopped and paused, gasping for air. One looks up and around and curses. The officer takes a step forward and catches sight of Shouta and waves him over.

Looks like his decision was decided then.

Hand slipping off the door, Shouta strides over to the pair of them as they rush to meet him in the middle.

“Have you-“ One starts, panting. “Have you seen a child run by?”

“It’s dangerous for them to be out so late, but they ran from us when we tried to help.” His partner added in.

Shouta’s lips thinned. Dangerous indeed.

Stepping slightly to the side, Shouta points with his thumb towards the alley. “I saw someone run down there.” He informs them, and then looks back to the pair of them. “I am a hero, allow me to help.”

They seemed relieved a that fact and accepted his offer with gratitude.

Dipping into where he saw the blur disappear into, Shouta sweeps his eyes into the dark. If the child was trying to get away, then they most likely wouldn’t hang around here.

A quick climb up a fire escape and the erasure hero was back to the roofs.

Following along the alley, Shouta keeps a careful eye for any signs of shadowy movement. It soon opens and splits up into two more paths.

A loud metallic crash rings out from the right as Shouta lands on the corner of a building.

Following it towards its source, however, only led him to a knocked over trashcan and a stunned bob-tailed cat that hissed viciously at him before scampering away. Leaving Shouta to stand in the middle of a dirty alley as he fingers his temples.

He turns around continues searching the twisting and turning paths of behind the city without seeing a single hair of a child or well, anyone.

“C’mon kid, where are you? I have other people to look for, you know.” He grumbles under his breath as he comes to yet another dead end.

Shouta considers the possibility of the kid slipping into their house after a night of being chased by law enforcement. With any luck that will hold true and he will have one less potential missing case to deal with as he continues his current mission.

Of course, that won’t stop him from keeping a careful eye out just in case.

Slipping his phone out of his pocket he takes note of the time. Four A.M. is when Shouta will have to head back to his apartment and get ready for the school day. With any luck he’ll be able to squeeze in an hour’s worth of sleep in the teacher’s lodge before homeroom.

But he still has roughly forty-five minutes until then.

It was at that moment a piercing scream rang sharply throughout the night.

Eraserhead wasted no time in jumping into action, straining his legs to race faster as another pained yell makes itself known.

Over there?! Turning hastily on his heel he sprints to his left, the rooftops becoming a blur as his feet flies beyond the concrete.

The shouting and yelling grow in volume as he gets closer, and closer, until finally he skids to a stop and takes in the scene below.

It’s there that he sees a small child. Long rabbit-like ears pressed firmly behind their head as they painfully back away, a tail swishing behind them in distress.

From his angle he can make out the child wearing a hoodie several sizes too big on his small frame, and that they were clutching their side firmly. A sign of injury.

And he can see the cause of what might have happened.

Four adults, although one was still howling off to the side, snarling curses to the child while holding his limp arm.

The other three were slowly stalking up to the little kid who was attempting to escape.

And low and behold from the back of the pack he can make out Shochu, the gas user who has been a key factor in the recent kidnappings.

He’ll be damned if he lets them get away with another one.

Eraserhead jumps from the building and lands directly behind the injured kid, who stiffens immediately, along with the villains.

“Who the hell are you?!” The women of the group snarls.

“Shit- a hero?” Another mumbles. He shares a look with the gas user, who nods slightly.

 Eraserhead reaches into his scarf and slips the gas mask over his lower face as he activates his quirk on Shochu. From the corner of his eye he can catch sight of the kid trembling violently, on the verge of hyperventilating.

“My quirk isn’t working!” Shochu wailed, “That bastard is blocking it!”

“Then charge him!” The villain with the broken arm snarls. Still griping his limp arm, he shoves at the other. “We can’t afford to have a hero on our asses!”

“Get out of here, kid!” Eraserhead demanded, grabbing at his capture weapon. The kid gives no signs that he heard the hero, however. Not moving an inch from where he stands, shaking.

The villains hesitate, but are soon howling battle cries and surging forward, brandishing daggers.

And the kid. Still. Doesn’t. Move.

Shit!

Shouta jerks his arm to his side to grab the kid by the back of his hoodie and to yank him out of the way of danger. His fingers barely touch the fabric however before the kid flinches to action with a small gasp.

And the kid starts to grow.

The transformation takes less than a second before Shouta hears something snap and he is suddenly slammed by a large whipping tail. He is flung across the air and hits a wall with the force of a truck, his shoulder shrieking with absolute agony.  

From his ringing ears he can hear a garbling roar and the terrified screams of the villains. One suddenly cuts short sharply and Shouta forces his eyes open.

It was as if he had suddenly gone back in time. Before him was the monster of the forest he had encountered just two weeks ago.

This time however, it looked every bit of a corner animal.

Crouched low to the ground, as it slowly lowers its forepaw to the ground from where it was stretched out, claws curled. The fur along the beast’s neck bristled to twice its usual size, giving the creature a twisted look with its scaly half. Blood coats and drips from its side, trickling slowly. It’s tail thrashes once more as it whips a snarling face to three of the villains, electric green eyes flaring.

The villains who look very, very pale. Faces painted in pure shock, as the women wails in pitched volume.

“He killed- he killed Gai!” She chokes out.

The creature shifts as it now turns its full attention to the others and as it does, Shouta gets a full view of Gai collapsed onto the cold concrete. Blood gushes thickly out of three long gashes lining along his torso. The brick above him spiderwebbed in his impact.

At the beast’s glare the remaining villains flinch back. Shochu whimpers to himself as he turns on his foot and books it in the opposite direction, seeking escape.

With a crack, the beast leaps after him with outstretched claws. The other two villains scrambling to move out of its path of destruction as it blurs through, paws scarcely touching the ground.

Shochu gives one last look behind him and screams at the sight of what pursues him.

Jaws snap around the gas user and his screams turns into shrieks of pain as he gets jerked from side to side, over and over, its teeth digging, farther, deeper. A horrible squelching filling the alleyway as droplets of blood sprays out and stains the walls, the ground.

Shouta needs to stop this. He needs to stop this creature- no child from killing his leads. A child that was backed into a wall and cornered. A child that was injured.

Supporting himself on the brick wall, Shouta hefts himself upwards. His shoulder protesting. “Kid-“ he starts, but at that moment the child flings Shochu towards him at terrifying speeds, forcing him to push off and away from the wall.

He stumbles to one knee and whips his head back to the rogue child, quirk ready.

Only to find the alley beast-free.

Shouta holds for a few seconds more, but no signs of teeth, claws, or fur reveals itself.

Letting his hold on his quirk drop, Shouta runs for the end of the alley and stops at its entrance, hand gripping the corner of the wall.  

But the child wasn’t on the streets either. If it weren’t for the mix of curious and scared faces glancing in the same direction, necks craning, he would have thought him to disappear entirely.

And if he is not mistaken that direction is…

Turning back into the alleyway, Shouta observes the damage.

The women’s back is pressing against the wall as if hoping to merge into it, gasping sobs wrecking through her body. Unseeing eyes focused on Gai’s unmoving body.

The villain with the injured arm catches sight of Shouta returning and shakily attempts to stand up.

Eraserhead glares at him.

“I’d sit back down if I were you.” He growls. “Unless you want your leg to match that arm of yours.”

The villain flops back onto the ground, defeated.

The hero makes quick work of binding the two with zip ties. Once bound, he digs out his phone and slips the mask off his face. He Sends his coordinates and a request for an ambulance. He then turns his attention to Gai.

He crouches down and puts two fingers to the villain’s neck and purses his lip when no pulse makes itself known.

Standing up, Shouta rummages through his utility belt, pulling out a thick white cloth and bandages as he makes his way to Shochu.

The villain whines and gasps, hands clenching and unclenching, hovering uselessly over his abdomen.

Shouta stoops down and presses the cloth to his wound, blocking the bleeding. He makes quick work of patching him up, the alleyway quiet save for the sniffling of the women and Shochu’s cries.

Soon he can hear sirens growing louder as they arrive towards his location. Three paramedics flood around him, pushing past him as two of them sets up a gurney and hefts Shochu onto it.

Shouta looks away from the remaining paramedic checking over the deceased villain, as something catches his eye.

Padding towards it, he stops. He leans down and gently picks it up to observe.

In his hand laid a yellow item. The strap had been snapped in half, but the item itself was undamaged. If he flipped them around and looked inside, he would see the name of its previous owner. There was no mistaking it, these were his hero goggles.

“Eraserhead!” A familiar voice calls out. Shouta’s dark eyes follow towards the source and finds Naomasa.

The detective jogs up to him, he blinks in shock as the paramedics wheel the two injured villains away.

“Are they…?” He hesitates.

“There was a situation. One is dead, and another critically injured. The other two are relatively fine outside of the male having a what seems to be a broken arm.” Shouta lists off. He slips his goggles into his pocket as he continues. “All four of them are a part of the trafficker group we’ve been tracking down.”

Naomasa nods, looking lost in thought. “Right. We’ll have to bring them in for questions once they’re checked over.”

He then looks back at Shouta. “And what was the ‘situation’?” He asks with a raised eyebrow.

“I’ll have to get back with you on that,” He gruffly replies, “I still have one more thing to take care of, take care of those two for me.”

With that, the erasure hero leaps off, leaving the detective behind exclaiming with confusion.

Before, Shouta couldn’t leave the villains on their own. But now that they are no longer in his hands, he needs to reach out to the child.

The wound on their side wasn’t a pretty sight and a flash of concern races through him.

He runs through the streets, turning when necessary, remembering the direction to which they disappeared.

And really where it was made sense.

When a child was scared and hurt, they would go back to what comforts them, to where they know they would be safe.

Back to their home.

The forest looms overhead and Shouta slows down to a stop.

He sweeps his eyes and quickly spots blood and twigs carelessly crushed.

Following that trial into the forest, he continues onwards. The path was quite clear, having no thought in sneaking or covering their tracks in the hurry, growing more and more sloppy, desperate.

Shouta pulls back the branches of a bush and pauses.

Laying haphazardly onto their side, in a blood of their own blood- lays the child in their beastal form. The sides of their chest rapidly heaving, tail feebly twitching.

As Shouta releases the branches and allows them to snap back into place, an eye snaps open and hazily watches the hero with a lifted head.

Placidly putting up his hand, he tries to reassure the kid with a soft voice.

“I’m not going to hurt you. I only wish to help.”

Clouded eyes study him for a moment longer before slipping closed, head falling back to the earth. And before he can take a step forward, the body shrinks back down to the form of the small child he seen before.

He steps in and applies pressure to their still bleeding wound, and lifts them up into his arms, weighing hardly anything to him.

“Now lets see if we can get you fixed up kiddo.”

Chapter Text

Then

 

The house has a faint hint of smoke in the air.

It tickles at the toddler’s nose and he sneezes, his little body bouncing with it.

He sniffs and tries to sit up, wiping his nose on the sleeve of his onesie. Craning his neck, he can see papa still asleep on the couch.

He was pretty sure he was on the couch with him. How did he get on the floor? Did he fall?

“Papa!” He calls out.

But his papa continues to slumber on, a new snore producing another wisp of smoke threading to the ceiling.

The toddlers nose curls at the smell of it.

He smooshes one hand against his face and pounds the other against the couch, whining out another, “Papa!”

The snoring stopped.

The mountain on the couch shifted slightly as he peeked down onto the floor.

For some odd reason the man’s features were blurry and hazy, except, of course of his eyes.

His bright red, volcanic eyes look down at his son in question.

“Now, what are you doing down there, little demon?”

“I fell!” The toddler squeaked. He lifts up his arms and does a grabby motion with his hands. “Wanna sleep!”

The eyes crinkled slightly as the man gave a low rumbling laugh, but nonetheless he reaches down with one arm and lifts the child back up on the couch and laid upon his chest.

“There,” he says, “Be sure not to fall off this time, alright?”

Nodding with as much strength his head could carry, the boy settles on his papa. He wraps his arms around him in a hug, eyes closed, and cheek pressed against his papa’s chest as it steadily rises and falls. “I love you, papa.” He whispers sleepily.

Cracking open a single green eye the boy looks up at his papa, “Do you love me?”

There is a hand ruffling his green curls slowly.

“Of course. And I always will, m̶y̸ ḻ̶͆ĭ̴̼͖̏t̶̮͐t̷͙̯͛̾l̴̞̩̆e̶͔͌ █̴̟̰̞̣͕̍̊͝█̷̢̤̅̑̉̽͂̈́͜█̷̝̝̫͑͜█̸̨̟̪͇̥͙̣́̒̐̊̇̓̕͝͝█̴̧̨͔̗̥͓̻̗͒̏̅̆█̵̡̣̋.”

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

?

……….?

 

 



Now

 

There is a constant beeping to his right.

The unfamiliar sound grates on his ears, on reflex he tries to twitch them, only to find he cannot.

It takes his sleepy mind a minute to realize they must be in his shrunken form. Which is strange for he usually keeps them long.

Actually, now that he thinks about it, doesn’t he usually sleep in his beast form?

It was safer, warmer, and more comfortable to do so.

And yet, right now he feels warm and more comfortable than he ever has. Whatever he is sleeping on is soft.

So, so very soft. He just wants to slip back into unconsciousness again and sleep the day away.

He is once again reminded of the beeping.

Whatever is doing it is being very rude in his opinion. Like the annoying chatter of birds in the morning when he wants to sleep in.

It continues on, and on, the sound starting to catalogue itself in the form of a headache. His wound from last night is a dull pain that slowly starts to chew at him. And he wants nothing more than to block it all out. Block out the noise, the ache, the pain, the-

The pain?

The boy’s eyes snap open and he shoots to sit up, instantly on the defensive. But the bright, bright white everything burns into his sockets and his sudden movement makes his wound scream at him. He quickly squeezes his eyes tightly shut and curls in on himself with a gasping whine.

He tries again, this time slowly peeking his eyes open against the glaring light.

Wherever this was, it was decorated in excessive amounts of unnatural white. It had several platforms with things he has never seen before. Little containers with even smaller things inside of them. A large glass wall on one side of the den, letting in sunlight from outside. And giant boxes that light up in a series of… lines? One of them stands by where he sits, and the source of the beeping, that seemed to have picked up in speed.

It was strange. It was foreign. And after last night he would very much rather not be here. He doesn’t like this. Not at all.

He reaches to some sort of familiarity, his beast form always makes him feel safer, to feel the comforting weight of the fur, the knowledge that his hard scales will protect him. His ears for sensing danger, his claws to fight off enemies. He reaches and reaches to bring forth any one of these.

 He reaches and reaches and every time he comes back empty handed. He reaches farther, and farther until he realizes he can’t feel it at all.

It’s gone.

Dread claws down his throat, his chest, until his very veins is filled with its icy grip. It’s grip tightens around his throat as he struggles to breathe. The beeping to his side picks up in speed rapidly, but it escapes his notice.

He tries and tries again to grab at his other form, but no matter what he does, it’s just. Not. There!

Suddenly there is a two-leg dressed in white, entering the little room.

The two-leg looks at him and raises his hands and speaks in a reassuring manner.

The same way that bad two-leg did. Right before he got stabbed.

A snarl escapes his lips as he glared at the white two-leg. Does he think he’s an idiot? That he’ll fall for the same dirty tricks?

But no matter how he bares his teeth, the boy simply doesn’t look intimidating. Not without his claws. Compared to the bigger two-leg, he is too tiny to strike fear. He knows this. So when the two-leg continues to walk towards him after a brief hesitation and a small smile, he shrinks back.

No no no no nononono, please stop! He doesn’t. Please just go away!

He scrambles backwards and yelps when his hand hits air and sends him falling onto the floor.

He can hear the two-leg saying something. He can see his feet rounding the soft flat nest he was on. He really, really wishes he wouldn’t.

Trying to crawl away on his hands and knees lead to nowhere as he feels a sharp tug on his arm. Looking down he can see thick tubes attached, leading them under his skin.

The sight of it sends a shiver of goosebumps down his spine. What were they doing to him?

He doesn’t like this. He doesn’t like this he doesn’t like this he doesn’t like this he doesn’t like this!

A hand is in his vision and he doesn’t think. He darts his body forward and snaps his teeth down on the hand, hot blood flowing into his mouth as he sinks into it.

The two-leg gives a shout and the boy flings himself away from them. The tubes give his arm another sharp tug and without hesitation the boy grabs at them and yanks.

And it hurts. It hurts so much, and he can feel tears springing into his eyes as he drops the needle-tubes to the floor.

if he can just get to the glass on the den wall, he could break it. Break it and be free back outside. Where he can go back home and curl in his own den and never, ever leave.

Behind him he can hear voices of more two-legs entering, and he throws himself at the glass. His fists banging on its surface with all his might. He can hear the voices getting closer through the buzzing static in his ears as he slams and slams on the glass.

But it refuses to budge, no matter how desperate he is. The tears in his eyes fall down his cheeks in frustration and losing hope. The dread from before wrapping tighter and tighter around his neck, making his breaths come out in strangled gasps that only grows faster, and faster.

He can feel a presence behind him as he gives one last pounding slam in his mounting frustration and swipes his arms back, fingers curled as he rounds himself to face them with a snarl.

[“Stay back!”] He screeches at them; through his blurry tear-filled eyes he can see there’s now three. Three two-legs wearing white, and he thinks he is starting to hate that color. [“Get away from me!”]

He backs up along the wall, following it, putting as much distance between him and the intruders.

They do not move from where they stand. Through his blurry eyes he can’t see what kind of expressions they hold, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they leave him alone, that they go away.

His back hits a corner and he presses into it, still glaring and heaving.

The figures finally back off and out of his sight, leaving the boy to himself.

And he stands there for a few minutes more, trembling and straining his small ears for any sign of their return.

When they don’t, he slides along the wall and collapses onto the floor with a wheezing sob.

Why is this happening to him? His other form never rejected him before. Is it punishment for leaving the forest? He got too curious, too greedy and now he’s trapped in a strange place, surround by strangers, injured and his power gone.

He coughs, his lungs still screaming for air. He clutches his chest and wills himself to calm down but it’s no use. His panic only climbs higher, further out of his reach. His ears ring and black spots creep up in his vision, tunneling it. He curls into himself and yanks at his tangled hair.

Why why why why did he leave? Was he so desperate for attention he would chase a stranger in a world he didn’t know? Was it worth it? To get yelled at, chased, and hurt? To be trapped? To lose half of himself? He’s made a terrible mistake and he just. Wants to go home. Why won’t they let him go home?

A sudden weight lands on the boy’s head and his hand grabs at it in a crushing grip, digging his nails in.

Whatever it is, simply allows it and-

Strokes his hair?

His eyes snap open, (wait when did he close them? Why wasn’t he watching for them to return!?) but through his hazy tunnel vision whoever was in front of him looked like a black blur. Seeing them made him realize the thing in his hair was a hand as it continued to ruffle his hair, it was gentle and honestly… felt nice.

He loosened his grip on their wrist and hesitated, unsure what to do.

The hand rhythmically stroked the top of his hair, it was calming and relaxing. And as his eyes slipped closed and leaned into the touch, he found out that it was also warm.

They both stayed like that for a few minutes.

The contact grounds him and slowly the roaring in his ears simmers to a halt as his breathing evens out.

And still, he sits there. Perfectly content of this latest development.

Up until he heard a voice and startled.

He warily lifted up his head, looked up and saw-

As soon as he was a decent distance into his forest, he collapsed heavily onto the ground, unable to take another step. He wheezes, his lungs on fire with every strain it takes. His side is a constant throb that made him tremble. Whatever effects his vision was under during that fight had wavered and shifted, throwing the world into an assortment of different colors. If it wasn’t for his nose telling him this was his forest, he would question is he was even in the right place.

His eyelids feel heavy as they slowly drift shut. He wonders if it was the smoke from before that made him feel weird. It happened after that two-leg shot it off, after all. He wonders if his sight is going to be weird forever, or if it’ll go away.

He wonders if White will be one of the cats who’ll find him tomorrow.

……..

…………

Something snaps behind him, struggling to open his heavy eyelids he groggily lifts his head into the direction.

His vision must still be playing tricks on him, because stepping out from behind a large bush is the two-leg he’s been searching for.

He steps forward, speaking in a reassuring voice and the creature knows he should run.

But he is… so tired.

If this is the same two-leg then, well, the boy helped him before, didn’t he?

As he drops his head back onto the ground and finally releases his hold on his consciousness, he can only hope he’ll return the favor.

-In front of him sat the two-leg in black.

 


 

Shouta isn’t really sure what to do.

He arrived back to the hospital where he dropped off the kid from last night.

In fact, he’s sitting right in front of him. Patting his head as the child looks up at him, eyes sparkling in wonder.

When he let his transformation slip last night, the kid still had some features of his quirk present. Such as his long ears and tail remaining, and his arms and legs keeping its fur and scales. He thought perhaps it was simply a mutation base, and it was simply something that couldn’t be removed.

But that obviously isn’t the case as he sits here, quirk suppressed. With those features gone, he looks all the scrawnier. With thin limbs and his hospital gown swallowing him, under that knows every one of the kid’s ribs are visible as a sign of malnourishment.

While he was at school during the day he went through scenarios where the kid might have come from with a poor or abusive home, going into the forest to play and causing rumors to spread without being aware.

But after his outburst at the hospital staff combined with his actions last night, that possibly is looking a little thin. An obvious answer is forming in his mind and he doesn’t like it.

“Kid, where the hell did you even come from.” He sighs tiredly.

The kid in question merely tilts his head at Shouta’s question as he continued to look up at him.

Shouta eyes the injury on the boy’s arm, giving him one last pat on his head before retrieving his hand to dig out some bandages in his belt.

The boy made a sound of complaint as he snatched at Shouta’s hand, grabbing it with tiny hands. He continued to mutter in a series of noises that has Shouta raising an eyebrow at.

“I need that back, you know.” He tells him. But nonetheless, he simply searches for the bandages with his other hand.

Taking them out, he gently holds the boy’s arm still and cleans up the blood. Other than a small pained gasp, he made no attempt to stop Shouta, preferring to watch with rapt attention. Shouta finishes up by bandaging his forearm. The kid takes his arm back and stares at it, twisting and turning it. He stops, looks up at Shouta with a pout, and then takes his hand once again. Examining it and comparing it’s size to his own.

A chuckle comes from the room’s entrance. “Looks like you two became fast friends.” Detective Tsukauchi states as he steps closer into view.

The boy startles and whips around to glare at the detective, softly growing at him when the man gets too close.

Tsukauchi stops, takes a step back and gives the boy a soft smile. This doesn’t seem to really reassure him though, as he continued bristle and bare his fangs at him.

So Shouta took back his hand once again, and placed lightly over the boy’s entire face, cutting off his growling with a, “Rrumpf!”

“Calm down, problem child. He’s not going to hurt you.” Shouta informs him.

Said child grabbed at the hand obstructing his view and removed it, throwing another wary glare at the detective before focusing back on Shouta, now interested in his capture weapon.

“I was hoping to get a statement from him, about last night and find out about his parents. But,” Tsukauchi pauses as he sits down on the hospital bed, watching the boy mutter low noises as if talking to himself as he played and tugged at Shouta’s scarf. “I think that might not be possible.”

Scratching the back of his neck, Tsukauchi sighs. “It’s weird. He’s not speaking in any languages that should be human, but my quirk still picks up on it.”

The boy managed to grab enough of Shouta’s capture weapon to loosely loop around his own neck twice. He lets out a sudden gasp as he looks down, seemingly just noticing the hospital gown he’s been outfitted with and starts examining it.

“If he can’t speak Japanese, then it’s going to be hard to find out just where he came from, if he even remembers. I’ll have to dig out nearly every missing child report we have… and that’s only if he’s a runaway…” Tsukauchi trails off and Shouta looks at him.

“Do you recall any rumors surrounding the Musutafu City Forest?” Shouta asks.

The detective’s eyebrows scrunch in thought. “The forest…? Where you found him?” Shouta nods and Tsukauchi hums. “Well… if I remember correctly, I believe a teenager actually went missing and never returned. That was roughly five or six years ago, however.”

Shouta already knew this after a quick bit of research this morning in the teacher’s lounge.

“From what I’ve found, there has been rumors floating around of a creature living there. They date back all the way to nearly seven years.”

Tsukauchi blinks in shock, his eyes dart to the green haired boy as his lips thin. And Shouta understands. Looking at the boy he doesn’t appear to be much older than the rumors themselves. If he was the cause of them then… just how long has he been on his own?

The door opens, interrupting his thoughts. He turns to look, aware of the kid stiffening beside him.

A doctor with short blond hair steps in and catches sight of the three. “Oh good!” He exclaims. “I’m glad to see you’ve calm down. I imagined it must’ve been scary to wake up here, hm?” The doctor smiles at the boy as the door shuts behind him.

The boy in question gives the doctor no answer, of course. After glancing back at Shouta he seems to disregard him and lifts up his gown to examines his bandages once again, deciding they were more important.

The doctor chuckles. “Not very talkative, eh?”

“We suspect he might not speak Japanese.” Shouta informs him.

“Is that so…” He frowns before turning his attention to Shouta. “Well, in any case. I heard you were the one who got him to settle down, I’d like to thank you for that.” He bows his head slightly.

“Doctor Ishii, his previous doctor, isn’t too keen to check up on him right now, after getting his hand, erm. After his hand was injured.” He fumbles. “But he understands the poor kid was just freaked out. So I was switched over to him, instead.”

He smiles at them. “My name is Doctor Yasushi.” He introduces. “My quirk allows me to secrete calming pheromones in a small area. Perfect for nervous and anxious patients!”

Yasushi crouches down and gives a smile to the green haired boy. “We still need to run some tests, and we need to keep him on the suppressants for now. A small dose of my quirk should help him stay calm while we work on him.”

With how the kid was now glaring at Yasushi, that might be for the best. The problem child probably wouldn’t take lightly with people poking around him.

Shouta shrugged and made to stand up. This action immediately snaps to the boy’s attention as he grabs at Shouta’s sleeve with a whine of complaint.

He was trying to untangle his capture weapon that was wrapped around the kid’s shoulders and arms as Yasushi started letting off a small stream of his quirk. A thin smokey mist of green spreads around the room.

The boy notices it and. Shouta can sense the oncoming danger a split second before it happens. The feeling reverberates throughout his body, causing him to tighten his hold on his capture weapon. And sure enough, with a snarl at the doctor the child throws himself at the man. His form shifting larger in a blink of an eye midleap, the capture weapon snaps straight and yanks Shouta along with him.

Acting fast, Shouta swiftly erases his quirk and sends out more of his capture weapon to wrap thoroughly around the snarling child as he stumbled with the unexpected change, mere feet from Yasushi.

He soon recovers however, as he strains against his bonds spitting and yowling at the poor man who had scrambled backwards and away.

The doctor’s quirk soon takes its hold. The scarf loosening in Shout’s grip as the child stops struggling against it. His face smooths over from rage to blankly docile, blinking slowly.

Tsukauchi was up on his feet looking startled. “Are you alright, Doctor Yasushi?”

“I’m fine! I’m fine, everything’s fine.” The doctor says in a rush waving him off, looking everything but. He looked pale and as though he had suffered three heart attacks in the span of a very few short seconds. His voice trembled slightly as he continued on. “I guess- I guess he wasn’t fond of that. My quirk.” He swallowed. “We can at least get him on- on sedatives, for now yes. Th-thank you for your help, Mr. Hero.”

“Right!” Yasushi claps his hands. “Well, young man, let’s, let’s get you back onto the bed, alright? This’ll be done in a jiffy. You two will have to wait outside of the room for now.” The doctor gestures to the pair, as he leads the boy onto the hospital bed. The boy follows his movements and catches Shouta’s eye, sounding off a small chirp in his direction.

Tsukauchi nods and exits the room, Shouta following.

As the door closes behind them, Tsukauchi turns to him looking troubled.

“This is bad, Aizawa. If having a dangerous, uncontrollable quirk was his only problem then that could have been solve by putting him in a home that specializes with dealing in that sort of thing.” Tsukauchi shakes his head. “But when he doesn’t know how to act around people? When he can’t understand what people are saying to him and attacks in a drop of a hat? Foster parents who take in children with dangerous quirks are constantly filled up, and even with a spot open no one would want to take in someone that unpredictable and start from scratch with him.”

A funny feeling develops in Shouta’s chest. “What is going to happen to him then?”

Tsukauchi looks uncomfortable. “Well... he’ll probably have to be locked away until he is no longer a threat. Until he can be taught how to live with other humans.” The detective looks up at him with dark eyes. “With Shochu dying before he reached the hospital, he’s already the cause of two people’s deaths. Not to mention the possibility of him being behind a missing teenager five years ago.”

“We managed to find Hirota and a few of the other people the traffickers kidnapped, because of him. But things aren’t leaning towards his favor, even if it was in self-defense.” The detective finishes off with a sigh and looks through the window into the room.

The boy was trying to get his hands on Yasushi’s stethoscope, seemingly chattering away as the blond doctor tries to get him to hold still to take his blood pressure. He looks around the room, sees the window and beams at Shouta.

He buries his small smile in his scarf at the sight.

“He seems to like you.” Tsukauchi laughs.

Then pauses.

And looks at Shouta.

“You know, you have a very useful quirk.” He states slowly.

Shouta smells trouble. “No.”

“And you’re a teacher…”

“No.”

“Oh, come on Aizawa! You would be perfect to watch over him! He already seems fond of you, and you could use that to get him to used to other people! To get him to trust them!”

“I have a job; I don’t have the time to babysit a kid.” Does Tsukauchi not realize that?

“Aizawa you work at one of the top schools in the world that houses several gyms and cities on it’s grounds. The school is filled with other pro heroes who are also teachers. Are you saying there really isn’t a place for him to run around for a few hours, away from other students?” The man sounds exasperated, as if Shouta was the one who wasn’t making sense here.

Seeing that the man doesn’t look convinced Tsukauchi adds in, “It’ll only be until he’s no longer a threat. If he’s around someone he would actually be willing to learn from the start his progress could go a lot faster.” He spreads out his hands. “And then we can get him into a home.”

Shouta looks back through the window. The kid was now watching one of the monitors as flashed on screen. His cat-like eyes darting around in fascination.

Looking away, Shouta pinches the bridge of his nose. “Fine.” He sighs.

“I’ll take him in.”

Chapter Text

Then

 

He was being avoided.

She understood why, of course. And it was not like she could blame them for doing so.

Still it broke her heart to watch him try to join in the company of the other cats, only for them to turn away with poor excuses- his ears drooping sadly at their departure.

It was an accident. She and the others know this.

He had killed two of their group.

They were playing together, and the child had gotten too rough in his bigger form, snapping their necks with a misplaced swing of his tail. Throwing the two harshly against the trees before falling limp in a crumpled heap.

The others were instantly on their guards as they leaped in to check on them, a few distracting the boy with a sudden task.

The two limp cats were soon confirmed to be dead after the boy was sent off for hunting. Cats quickly dragged their bodies away for a quick burial.

It was a wakeup call to this small group of forest cats. What they had taken on is dangerous.

But oh, they raised the child for many seasons at this point and they were still fond of him.

But the fondness was overtaken by fear. They love him, yes. But what if this happens again? To them? To their kin?

What happens if it no longer becomes an accident?

They were afraid.

Even so, when the boy came back with his catch, asking where his two friends were at, they didn’t have the heart to tell the truth. They told him the two went off somewhere and would not be back for a while.

He was saddened by not being able to tell them farewell, but soon cheered up at the thought of seeing them later.

He bounced across the camp and settled for some rest, looking like a mossy hill as he curled up.

There was a clear circle around him as the others stepped away- keeping their distance.

From there it was only a matter of time that he noticed everyone’s avoidance.

He tried to ask why they were doing so, only for one to panic and say his scent had become strange and put everyone on edge.

The child accepted that as an answer, but it only saddened him farther.

He was being shunned from those who raised him.

Everyone was on constant edge with him around the camp nowadays, and he was growing depressed as the days went on.

Leader wasn’t sure how to fix this.

Until one day, she did.

[“Little one.”] She whispered to him one night. [“Would you follow me?”]

 

 

She’ll just have to get him a new home, she decided.

 



Now

 

The hospital informs Shouta that it would be for the best if the kid stays with them for another two days, so they can get him sorted out.

With no shots or vaccinations of any kind, they were surprised to see he managed to go so long without catching some disease.

Tsukauchi also requested them to see if they could find out what age he might be after realizing the hospital has someone on staff with such abilities.

“It’ll help narrow down the missing case files if I can get an age to work with.” He informs before taking his leave, getting called away on another matter.

The doctor who the kid almost mauled an hour before, clears his throat and Shouta focuses his attention on the man.

“If you are going to take care of him when he’s discharged then let me inform you that this boy will need to be put on a certain diet.” The blond doctor starts off and at Shouta’s nod, he continues.

“He shows signs of malnutrition and neglect. He hasn’t been getting enough to eat for what looks like years.” Yasushi glances at his clipboard and then back to Shouta. “It’s possible he eats more than on average if his quirk allows him to grow that much with his- other form.” His fingers give off a little tic, nails tapping on his clipboard.

“I’ll make sure to get you a proper meal plan before you leave, but I want you to be prepared if he might require more than what it’ll say. There might be some issues at first, however.” He pauses, moving to the side to let people behind him pass through, before looking back to Shouta. “If he really did grow up on nothing but whatever he found in a forest for years then, he may not be a big fan of most of the foods on the plan. I suggest try starting with low seasoned meats, fruits, and vegetables at first and see where he stands with them. Work your way up with trying new things, and nothing that is too strong in flavor.” The doctor’s pen is flying across the clipboard, scritching it’s surface and picking up speed as the doctor continued on.

“If there’s anything you feel like needs to be added to his diet due to his quirk, just let me know and I’ll come up with an updated one for you. By the time he gets released from our grounds, I am going to send the two of you home with a few vials mixed with my quirk. In case you need to quickly calm him.”

Yasushi stops, pockets his pen as he rips off the page he had been writing on to hand to Shouta, who takes it.

Yasushi smiles at him.

“In the meantime, I’d suggest you child proof your house, Mr. Hero.”

Shouta thinks back to his messy apartment.

Shit.

He still needs to tell Nezu about bringing a feral child onto school grounds.

Double shit.

 


 

One shopping trip later and Shouta’s ice box is filled with meats, fruits, vegetables, and an assortment of other foods to test out.

Shouta is pretty sure this is the first time it’s ever been this full.

Actually, he might have gotten too much. What’s going to happen if the kid doesn’t even like half of this stuff? He would have to throw it out and call it a waste.

Oh wait, He remembers, I need to eat food too.

He shuts the ice box. Bastard is fully revealed as the door shuts, his bastardly smug expression clear as ever.

Mrrrow.” The bastard drawls, as if the feline was able to read his thoughts and Shouta is pretty sure he just got made fun of by a cat. He scowls down at the black menace and turns away.

Now Shouta’s apartment isn’t that messy, no. But there is stuff he doesn’t want a child who doesn’t know any better get into. His hero supplies being some of those things. If the kid transforms in his apartment, then he’ll also need to move things around, so he can have enough space.

So, the first thing Shouta does is move his couches and television stand to be boxed in close to a corner. To avoid a future disaster, he makes a note that he should bolt the tv into the wall.

Stepping away, the living room already looks twice as spacious as it did before. He gathers his hero gear, and carefully organizes them into the living room closet.

Next, he focuses on his bedroom.

He figures he can spend his nights in his sleeping bag- it hasn’t failed him yet- or just take the couch until his home is his own again. For now, he’ll let the kid have his bedroom, giving him a proper bed and privacy.

Juice Box is sleeping on one of his shirts and gives the dirtiest of looks at Shouta as he moves him aside to pick it up. The orange furball gets up and lays upon yet another article of his clothing.

Shouta almost felt bad as his wide green eyes looked at him in indignation and stomped out of his room when he moved him yet again.

His clothes retrieved, hero related documents safely stacked into a box and packed into the closet, his other various personal belongings that took up residence on his dresser top stashed away, and his room is looking tidy and barren.

As he unpacks his clothes from his dresser to be placed somewhere else until he can get a second one for himself Shouta realizes something.

The kid is going to need clothes for himself.

What do kids like to wear?

He makes yet another note to himself to go clothes shopping after work tomorrow and tosses the shirt he was holding into the cardboard box with the others.

Green eyes glare at him as it lands on Juice Box. The cat had slipped back into the bedroom and taking refuge on his clothing once more without his knowing.

“Sorry.” He apologized, giving the orange cat a few strokes. Juice Box leans into his hand and purrs.

 


 

The next morning has Shouta knocking on Nezu’s tall office door, not really looking forward to persuading his boss into letting him bring in a feral child that turns into a giant rabbit monster of some sort. A dangerous one to boot.

But to his surprise however, the principle’s small beady black eyes lit up in excitement nearly right away when he mentioned his little problem.

“I think we can let him stay in gym Beta, for now. It’s the school’s smallest gym, we can set it up in a way to entertain him while you work here, Aizawa-san.” He beams up at Shouta, clasping his furry paws tightly.

Shouta looks at the rodent skeptically. “…Why are you agreeing to this so easily? In self-defense or not, this kid has ended up killing at least two people. He’s dangerous. Shouldn’t you have at least hesitated in accepting him on the school grounds?”

“The gymnasiums are near impossible to leave if locked up correctly.” Nezu informs him, keeping his beady eyes locked with Shouta’s. “Even so, we can keep a teacher on site to observe and prevent him from getting into too much mischief. Not to mention the dozens of cameras that link straight to my own computer, no, no.” He waves a white paw dismissively. “Concern with him coming in contact with the other students is low with preparations.”

Shouta waits, standing in front of the principles desk as streams of sunlight beamed out from the large windowed wall behind it. The light reflecting on Nezu’s white fur, making it seemingly brighter than before as the black haired man squinted at the animal.

“I am curious,” He unclasped his paws and set them flat upon the desk. “About a human not raised by other humans. I would like to study how that effected his upbringings, and how well he adapts to being thrusted into society.”

He gives Shouta a smile, white teeth flashing in his direction and the man knows there is more behind his reasoning.

“Oh! And on that note, I suggest taking Monday off! Let the boy get accustomed before bringing him to another new place so soon. We do not want him to get overwhelmed, after all! A substitute will be assigned in your stead.”

“…Very well.” Shouta agrees. It was, after all, a logical viewpoint to the kid’s needs.

When Shouta leaves UA’s grounds with the granted permission he needed, and a key card to gym Beta weighing in his left pocket, he can’t help but briefly wonder if the kid would have been better off never leaving the forest.

 


 

With an extra set of clothes, Shouta walks through the pristine halls of the hospital.

Passing door after door he keeps his gaze on the numbers slowly ticking upwards.

405…

406…

407…

408…

409…

Until finally, he reaches room number 410.

Opening the door, he steps inside.

A woman with lavender hair glances at Shouta from over her shoulder, a brief surprise flashing in her eyes before turning to greet him. “Oh! Hello! You must be this boy’s guardian?” Eyes flicker to the side, checking over a slip of paper that lies on a small table and then back in his direction. “Aizawa-san, correct?”

“Yes.” He gruffly confirms. Glancing at the kid, Shouta can see he is thoroughly asleep. Curled up on his side, quirk still missing, his little chest steadily rises and falls. Shouta suspects he must still be under the doctor’s quirk.

“He’s an adorable kid, a real sweetheart.” The lady comments as Shouta lightly drops the set of clothes at the foot of the hospital bed. “Doctor Yasushi thought it might be best if he was asleep for the trip back home, he gets rather excitable at times- cooped up in this small room.”

“Oh, Aizawa-san!” A voice interrupts from behind.

The blond head of Doctor Yasushi pushes the cracked door open farther and takes a step inside the small room. “You’re here! Good.”

His startling blue eyes scans and shuffles some of the papers he’s holding, searching for the correct slip.

“You already know about the boy’s malnutrition and a diet plan has been given out to you.” Yasushi starts off. From the corner of Shouta’s eye he can see the lady from before picking up the set of clothes he placed down. “We’ve given him vaccination shots, and he’ll need to return in four weeks’ time for his next set.” Yasushi jerks his pen up and taps it at the corner of his mouth. “As you’ve seen, he has two thin scars on his mouth- as if being clawed by an animal. While they are rather small, is seems inside his mouth is what took most of the damage. His tongue is split and poorly healed as a result. There shouldn’t be too much of a difference with his speech, but some sounds may be hard for him and slightly distorted.”

Shouta raises an eyebrow. “Can that be fixed?”

“Sadly, no. From the looks of it, this was a few years ago. The wound has closed up long since. But as I said, it shouldn’t affect him too much.” Yasushi answers him, waving his pen in small circles. “He has other, smaller scars here and there dotting his body, but nothing major- oh.” His pen stops circling in his fingers and Yasushi looks up at him.

“He has a slightly different blood temperature than normal.” He states. “Almost cold blooded, but not quite. Just enough for the cold to be more pronounced to him than us, I believe.”

Shouta’s mind flashes to the scaly back end of the kid’s other form. Part reptilian then?

“Right, other than that- I do think he’s all ready to go home.” Yasushi announces as he lowers his pack of papers to his side. “Before you leave, there is a small package at the reception desk for you to pick up. Inside is five vials of my quirk’s calming pheromones- for use in case he gets hard to handle. A single dose should be enough to keep him calm for an entire day- oh right.” He pauses, digs through his pile of papers again, and hands one off to Shouta.

“I’ve already informed the detective about it at his request, but here are the results of finding out the boy’s age.”

And with that, the blond doctor then gives a small bow, wishes Shouta a good day, and leaves the room.

Shouta watches him go before turning his attention to the slip of paper, the handwriting was neat and small.

 

 

Name: [Unknown]

Blood Type:  O

Height: 106cm

Age: 10 yrs

Note: My quirk isn’t able to pinpoint exact birth dates, but the patients should be either; late June, July, or early August.

 

 

 Shouta’s eyebrows climbed high as he read the boy’s age again. He quickly looks back to the bed.

The kid was still asleep, his tiny chest steady rising and falling as he slumbers. He was wearing the set of clothes Shouta had brought- a light green shirt and black pants, but they were a size or so too big on him. Making him seem even smaller as he swims in the fabric.

Shouta was already in disbelief that he could’ve been seven years- when the rumors first started, but ten? That… couldn’t be right.

Lips thinning, he pockets the slip of paper and steps to the side of the bed. He thanks the nurse, scoops up the kid- too light- and leaves.

 


 

Exiting the hospital doors, Shouta steps on into the streets of Musutafu. Morning streams of light mixing with the autumn air as holds the kid with one arm, and a plastic bag containing the box of calming vials.

Awkwardly digging in his pocket with the hand carrying the bag, Shouta brings out his phone and calls for a taxi.

It takes a few minutes for it to arrive, with him standing there with the kid’s head on his shoulder- his green wild hair tickling his nose with each breath.

The taxi soon arrives, stopping to a halt to the side of the road next to the duo.

Shouta opens the backseat and readjusts his hold on the bag so he can support the kids back as he ducks down inside the vehicle.

He scoots farther along the backseats, carefully laying the kid down beside himself once situated, and gives the driver the address where to drop them off.

The car pulls away from the tall hospital walls, and onto the busy city streets.

Shouta leans his head back, closing his eyes as he takes a deep breath. There’s no going back from this now. He opens his eyes and looks out the window to his right, watching cars and buildings speed out of sight.

Movement to his left has him looking down.

The kid shifts himself, stirring. He digs his head into Shouta’s black shirt, clutching it with his tiny fists as he does so- before falling limp once again with a sigh. Quiet snores filling the silence of the rumbling car.

Shouta places a hand on the kid’s shoulder and resumes looking out the window.

 

The trip only lasts ten minutes before Shouta is finding himself scooping the child back into his arms, grabbing his bag, and exits the car.

He pays the driver through the window and turns around, walking into the building.

Once inside, he wastes no time in making for the elevator, summoning it.

It dings at its arrival, opening up another occupant walks out- quirking an eyebrow at Shouta and the armful of a child. He steps into the elevator, ignoring their silent question as the doors slide shut cutting them from view.

Pushing in his floor number, the elevator then gives a jerk- starting its upwards journey.

After a few seconds it jerks once more- stopping.

Stepping out, he walks along the deserted hallway. The kid was stirring again, a sign that he may wake soon.

He stills in his arms as Shouta arrives at his door. Fumbling with the lock, he swings it open and three loud meows instantly greets him as he does so.

With care, he deposits the kid on one of the sofas, instantly curling in on himself as he is set down.

Shouta collapses upon the second sofa with a deep weary exhale.

Across from him, Mocha jumps onto the back of the sofa the kid is curled up on. Her violent eyes stare down at the small bundle, before training her gaze onto him with a question he’s been silently asking himself all morning.

 

 

What are you going to do now?

Chapter Text

Then

 

There was a fox in his territory.

He smelled the creature before it slipped through the undergrowth, revealing herself to him.

He lifted his blood soaked chin from the badger carcass he had been tearing into—he had managed to find a large family of them.

The vixen looks hungrily at his catch but forces her gaze upwards- meeting his eyes. She was fidgeting minutely, nervous about approaching. He knows why, of course.

Before, when he still lived with the group of cats a short while ago—he would often have to chase foxes from their territory. To cats, foxes were bad news. Foxes would snatch helpless kits if they wondered too far—or attacking cats if they were few in number. The cats would either be killed or maimed horribly if they were not careful.

But then he showed up.

At first, he was about the same size as a fox, sure, it made them wary, but they still pushed their luck at the cats. But oh, how much he grew and continued to do so. Foxes were less eager to attack and steal when the cats now had a large protector fending them off. Foxes quickly learned to stay away from that stretch of forest, turning away when they caught a whiff of his mingled scent.

But that was then.

Now… well…

His family couldn’t really stand him being around all the time anymore.

He understood why that was, but--!

They visited him in his new area—his new home—often at first. Making sure he was doing well, giving him their company and sharing tongues—chatting up the latest happenings as he basked in having them nearby.

But they showed up less and less, their visits becoming spotty, infrequent, until… Leader had died. From what he was told, she had gotten sick and only grew worse before passing on. After that the visits from the cats altogether—had slammed to a halt.

And he was lonely. So unbearably lonely.

So lonely, that when one day a fox had trodden near him, instead of jumping out to chase it off he had… called out to it. Desperate for company, for conversation—he could understand fox-speak, even if the cats could not. It was strange but he was especially grateful for it now.

It was wary—but curious, stepping up to him. Their conversation was short but that was enough time to learn that foxes liked to live in favors. So, with the promise that as long as they did not trespass upon the cat’s territory, foxes were free to visit his as they wished.

Often, they would come with a trade, an offer—and a repayment of someone the boy could help with.

Which brings back to the attention on the vixen in front of him.

He runs his tongue over the edge of his mouth, swiping off the blood as he ducks his head towards her—eager for what the vixen has to say.

[“There is a child west of here—a two-legged child,”] the vixen anxiously informs. His interest is piqued. [“I believe they are lost and have been all day. With the noise they’re producing it is scaring my young and the nearest prey,”] her tail thrashes once, annoyed. [“Get rid of them, and I will offer a pheasant in return.”]

He accepts the vixen’s request, although he would have even without the reward. Too curious about other two-legs. But pheasants… his stomach growls in anticipation. He has trouble hunting birds, and pheasants are…. So delicious and flavorful on his tongue. He simply could not refuse one if waved under his nose.

Hauling himself to his feet, he questions the direction of where to look and after receiving-- he’s off.

 



Now

 

Something… smells absolutely delicious.

His nose twitches and inhales deeply, taking in that heavenly smell even more, stomach growling in response.

As he becomes more aware of his surroundings, without yet opening his eyes—he can tell where he currently was is not the same as before.

Rather than a room with sharp funny smells that made his nose crinkle in disgust and an atmosphere that set him on edge, here he felt…. Calmer. Warmer. More at ease.

The boy shifts and buries his nose into the soft comforting mass that he lays on. There’s a…. familiar smell coating it, but he can’t… for some reason piece together why it is familiar. Like the past couple days his head feels fuzzy and disorganized.

Although…

It seems to be… less so?

In fact, he can feel it—the familiar energy poking, prodding, trying to free itself--!

A relieved sigh bubbles out as he can feel his ears growing outwards. Fur springing outwards from his arms in bushy disarray, feeling the comforting touch of his fingered pads on his face. Scales pop into existence on his lower legs as his feet morph and sharpen into points, he flexes his toes as the scales grind against each other. His tail… meets some resistance? A very uncomfortable resistance, feeling as though it were trapped with nowhere to go.

Whining in discomfort, he finally cracks open a bright green eye as a furred hand reaches backwards towards where his tail was trapped.

His hand instantly comes in contact with fabric and oh, didn’t two-legs usually wear these on their legs? How did he get this?

He couldn’t help but hate it. Not only was it trapping his tail back, but the contact with the fabric on his scales felt downright uncomfortable.

They kept catching and sticking to the fabric in a way that sends goosebumps down his spine and makes him itch.

He kicks the leg fabric off, disgruntled. It lands on the floor in a wrinkled black heap.

Under that was a shorter piece of leg fabric, this one white in color. Being too far up for it to catch on his scales, he decides to leave it be and shrugs.  

His tail easily slips free with a sigh. With that task accomplished, he then finally takes in his surroundings.

The room did not have a whole lot in it—compared to the white one. But he thinks he much prefers this one.

It was bigger than the white room. The walls were a muted green that was pleasing to his eyes. There was another soft long nest to his left, giving the room two of them. A black rectangular mass hangs high off the floor and on the wall, he can vaguely see himself reflected on its shiny surface. He shifts and waves at his reflected double, watching it following his movements. Giggling quietly, he looks around some more twisting his body for a view behind himself.

And is promptly met with violet eyes gazing back. He pauses, his smile frozen and the remnants of a giggle in his throat.

It’s a cat. A tortoiseshell, violet eyed cat.

The cat tilts her head to the side and the boy copies her. She blinks.

[“I’ve never seen you before…,”] the tortoiseshell murmurs. [“I wonder why Shouta brought you.”]

The boy slowly blinks at that comment. [“Who’s Shouta?”] He asks her, interested.

The cat startles—surprised that he had spoken back. Her wide, shocked violet eyes gazing at him with a renewed interest. [“You can understand cat-speak!”] She gasps out. [“I’ve never met a human that could! And I’ve been alive for many years, mind you.”]

Leaning forward, she sniffs him. [“Where are you from? Your scent is strange.”] The boy slides backwards, away from her nose.

[“I live in the forest,”] he told her. [“I’m not sure where it is from here, though…”] Frowning, a pang of homesickness runs through him like a gust of wind. He hasn’t been back in his forest for what must be days now. After being trapped in that white room for so long, he really is starting to miss the breeze of the wind, the rustling of leaves, and the smell of the forest. He also misses his friend, White. Did the cat try to visit him while he was gone…? What did he do when he arrived at his territory and found his scent stale?

[“The forest huh… I used to live there, for a while,”] the she-cat interrupts his thoughts.

The boy’s face scrunches up in confusion as he takes in the cat fully. [“You did? I don’t—remember you. I’ve never seen you before, and I lived in there my whole life! Maybe you’re from some other forest?”] He would have remembered those startling violet eyes if he had met her before! But no such memory surfaces.

Her whiskers twitch in amusement as she sits up and licks her paw, cleaning behind her ears. [“Well, it was a long time ago. Many, many years.”] Lowering her paw, she settles back down, balancing perfectly on the narrow high strip that rises up on the long nest. [“I only lived there for a short time. Just long enough for my kits to grow up and take care of themselves. Shouta kept showing up everyday at the forest, to leave me food when I was pregnant. He kept coming after I kitted, and if I am not mistaken—he still shows up there every now and then,”] her eyes smile. [I was grateful for the food and decided to make his home my own.”]

The cat bows her head. [“Where are my manners? My name is Mocha. I am pleased to meet you, little boy.”]

The green haired boy closed his mouth on the question that rested on the tip on his tongue. That description of “Shouta” sounded like the two-leg that left cream and food near the edge of his forest. Are they the same? He smiles at the cat, fangs flashing as he greets her properly.

[“Hello, Mocha!”] He chirps at her. He briefly muses if all cats living near two-legs had strange names. First Noodle, then Mocha? How curious. [“Who’s Shouta? He lives here? Where is he? Why am I here? Do you know?”] The questions tumble out of his mouth in an unstoppable stream. He can’t help it! Unlike the white room, this place doesn’t instill any fear into him. Instead he feels at ease. He can tell he is in no danger in being here. And the scent…

It must be the overwhelmingly delicious smell wafting and filling the air, because he cannot pinpoint why the scent underlying the den was so familiar. The unknowledge was starting to make him twitch. He wants to jump up and find out right away.

But that would be rude. He doesn’t want Mocha to turn away and dismiss him when he’s desperate for attention.

So he sits still. Shining green eyes eagerly looking into her amused violet ones.

[“You are just filled with questions, aren’t you?”] She observed with a swish of her tail. [“There’s no need to be so hasty. Aren’t you going to tell me your name, first? It’s only polite, I believe.”] Her expression bore no ill will at him, her eyes remaining soft. But still, the boy frowned.

[“I don’t have one.”] He replied with an air of hesitance. In the forest, no one really… has a name. Not officially. Just titles or a quick nickname to discern your friends and family from others. But most of the time they never stuck.

Mocha looks at him skeptically. [“I thought all human’s had names…? I was under the impression that they did.”] Her ear twitches as her gaze flicks down, and then back to his own. [“What do others call you then?”]

He just shrugs, [“whatever they want.”] He was unconcerned with that now. More importantly he wants to know before he bursts-! [“So? Can you tell me now? Who Shouta is and why I am here? Please?”] Vibrating with unbridled energy, he leans forward- closer to Mocha.

Please, oh please, tell him! He’s going to buzz out of his skin!

His clawed toes curl in excitement as the feline hums. Seemingly put off by his lack of a proper name, but soon recovers. [“Well,”] she starts, looking to the right where another room lies adjacent. [“Shouta is the human that lives here. This is his home. He seems gruff, but he is kind. As for why he brought you here…”] She turns her gaze back onto him, [“I’m not certain.”]

He feels a pang of disappointment at that, but quickly pushes it away. He glances at the entryway to the other room and then back to Mocha. [“Is he in there? Can I see him?”] He says it as a question, but he already finds himself slipping off the raised nest and standing up.

Mocha lets out a mrow of laughter at his impatience. [“I do believe he’s in the kitchen making food.”]

The boy pauses, eyes glazed in confusion, [“kitchen?”] He echoes. [“What is a ‘kitchen’?”]

[This is a kitchen!”] A voice yowls from the other room and the boy startles. He hadn’t noticed there was another cat in the den.

A low gruff voice grumbles from the hidden room, and he recognizes it as the two-leg language. A trill shoots down his spine and he finds himself prodding towards the source on silent footsteps, muffled by the soft floor.

He hears the cat yowl again at the two-legs response but was cut short with dull thump.

Turning the corner and peeking inside he ascertains the sound of the thump was a black cat with white markings landing on the floor. The feline shoots a filthy look at the back the two-leg as it straightens up.

Icy blue eyes meet his own. Replacing the cats disgruntled expression was a twinkle of curiosity. The black cat charges and leaps onto a high platform, right across from him. A sharp tinkle rings out from a golden small ball wrapped around the cat’s neck.

The smell is thicker in here.

Sitting up straight and gazing at him through narrowed eyes- it spoke. [“You’re that child Shouta brought back.”] He pauses, [“you’re awake.”]

Green eyes blink back. He remembers Mocha. [“What is your name?”] He offers.

The cat tilts a black head, [“well, he calls me Bastard- among other choices names.”] Bastard flicked his tail at the two-leg and the boy’s eye dart to it’s back.

With a jolt he realizes it’s the two-leg in black- the one from the forest and the white room.

That’s why the scent was so familiar! How could he forget? He had that yellow thing wrapped around his neck for half a moon-

He stills.

Oh no…

Tail drooping, the boy realizes he must have dropped it that night, because he has no memory of still having it while in the white room.

He had grown rather fond of the strange thing. It was bright in color and easy to imagine himself imitating the two-leg.

Heart dropping lower, he wonders if he’ll be angry that the green eyed child lost his item. He must have known he was the one who took it after dragging the man out of the forest, back then.

He glances back at Bastard, but it seems his attention is back on the two-leg- Shouta, Mocha said- a plot dancing in the feline’s icy blue eyes.

Nails digging into the wall, he pushes himself from it and steps into the- “kitchen”, approaching Shouta slowly.

Mocha said he was “making food”, but he is not sure what that means, exactly.

How do you “make food”? All you need to do is hunt for or gather it. You can’t make it. Where would it come from?

The smell was overwhelming and the air sizzled. He recognized the scent of poultry.

He loves poultry.

With a shimmer of excitement, he disregards hiding his presence and rounds himself to Shouta’s side, peering into the man’s face.

Dark eyes snap to his attention, he hadn’t noticed he was creeping up behind him- he thinks. The boy blinks innocently up at him with his big green cat-like eyes, head tilted, and ears slanted downwards.

The two-leg- Shouta- had a scruffy appearance. Dark droopy eyes, unkept long black hair (but not nearly as bad as his own), and short stiff-looking hairs following his jawline and chin. He was wearing all black but this time missing the white wrap-around his neck. He thought that was cool before, and wonders where it’s at now.

Shouta greets him in that grunting language the two-legs have, and the boy tries to mimic it back.

The man pauses and stares long at the small boy, who smiles sweetly back.

Slowly, Shouta says something else. A sloppy, butchered repeat falls from the child lips with a mischievous smirk.

The two-leg closes his eyes and breathes deeply through his nose. The boy thought he seemed rather tired.

He turned his attention back to the sizzling black mass in the middle of the white shiny ledge. He can feel heat radiating from it and he becomes curious.

Why is it so warm? His tail twitches. He wants to know.

But he’s too short to see properly! Even standing on the tips of his toes gets him no closer in finding out.

He drops back down to his heels with a huff.

[“What is it? What are you doing?”] He asks, circling to the two-leg’s other side. But alas, the same results held true.

He did not get a response, but the boy can feel the other looking at him from the corner of his eye with an air of amusement, looking away when the shorter glances into his face.

His tail thwips behind him.

Well if he’s not tall enough to see then…  

Stepping backwards he sweeps his cat-like eyes around the room. The space was rather… small, but it should be fine.

Energy slips into his limbs as they expand outwards, growing. Soon becoming top-heavy he bends over, his forelegs resting to the floor. His face elongates into an almost fox like appearance, with his shifty eyes and pointed muzzle. Three spines erupt from his lower half as his back legs shift and bend into their scaly masses as they settle on the hard floor with several clicks. The mane of green wild fur settles a comforting weight around his neck and shoulders, fluffing out as he gives his head a quick shake- his long ears nearly slapping him in the process.

[“What the-“] A strangled noises gets caught from behind. From his peripherals he can see Bastard’s shocked expression, his sleek fur spiked out making him look twice his size.

The beastal boy sends a silent apology and looks away. His transforming always shocked cats and foxes who visited him for the first time. They usually get over it, though.

Like this, he was just a bit taller than the two-leg, looming over him slightly.

Leaning forward, he doesn’t miss how Shouta becomes very still.

His large head rests neatly on the two-legs shoulders, and from here he can finally get a clear view on what the dark haired two-leg has been doing.

He blinks.

The smell confirms it is poultry but… is poultry white in color? That is meat, right? It… doesn’t look like meat, exactly.

In a black bowl with a silver stick, was two slabs of the white-maybe-meat-that-smells-like-poultry.

No blood. No feathers.

Well that is… disappointing.

He enjoyed ripping off the feathers from birds on the occasions he managed to nab one. They were entertaining to play with, as well. Throwing a handful into the air and watching them swirl and dance their way downwards, counting how many he can catch before they hit the ground. Or to simply run his hands along the stem, puffing them out as much as he is able. He had his own small pile of just feathers! No way he could throw them out of his den afterwards! Being able to lay in the small pile and plucking feathers out of his hair and fur for the next few days. Even his feline friend, White appreciated his feathered stash.

And as for the blood… well. He was fond of the taste.

Seeing meat without it is… strange. How would you even separate the two?

Still, his stomach rolled at the sight. It smelled really good…

A flash of movement and a hand is suddenly on the underside of his chin, forcing his head upwards. Stuttering in his step, he realizes he must have been leaning too far forward, trapping the two-leg between him and the platform. Whoops.

The two-leg was grumbling as he scooted backwards, giving him room. Rolling his head to the side, sliding it off of Shouta’s hand. As he does so, he remembers the heat he felt from the white platform and leans down to examine.

His whiskers are close to touching the black bowl before the arm is spread out, blocking him. He can feel Shouta’s other arm supporting his scruff, like an awkward hug.

The boy finds this weird for a fleeting moment until with a yelp, he feels his transformation slam back to his smaller form. The grip on him tightens and readjusts to hold him below his arms, feet dangling off the floor.

What… in the stars was that? He blinked, shocked. His transformations were never against his will. Sure, sometimes he gets tired from keeping it up, but that’s only when he stays in his beast form for an entire half-moon without switching back!

Squirming he discovers even his hands, tail, and ears did not carry the animalistic traits he likes to keep up.

Having his transformation snatched away so suddenly was like—Like the white room. He swallows. He was- powerless in the white room and he did not like it one bit.

For a moment he worries that he’s been stripped of his transformation abilities again. But as he reaches inside himself, he finds his power leeching back into his limbs, answering his call. How strange. He wonders, looking at his furry hands.

He hears a long, drawn out sigh and glances up.

Shouta must have been talking to him, and with his momentary freak-out he hadn’t noticed. And well. He would not have been able to understand it, anyway. A conclusion that the two-leg must have come to, as well.

He is placed back onto the floor, and the boy has a suspicion.

Some of the two-legs he had encountered on his little trip had… strange powers. Different too.

One could stretch their arms, and another could shoot off cloudy gas from their body. He could transform into a bigger form and had not seen anyone else with a similar power.

Shouta turns back to the white platform and the perhaps-poultry-meat and the boy studies him with narrowed eyes.

Do all two-legs have a power of some sort, or only some?

He has not seen Shouta do anything different outright, but then again… really the boy isn’t a good judge on that.

But it could be possible that… Shouta could control his transformation, somehow?

The thought it a little frightening.

Actually, scratch that. It is very frightening. This two-leg could make him as powerless as the white room did whenever he wanted.

He put a bit of distance from him after that, taking a few steps backwards, but staying in sight still. He was a touch more wary now, sure, but he was crowding him before.

So he hung back. And waited. Paced around a bit, stopped, and waited some more. He still wanted… to know what exactly the two-leg was doing. And the maybe-poultry-meat still held his interest! He was very hungry, and the smell felt he was being taunted.

He decided to look around this “kitchen” some.

Bastard was still sitting on the platform farthest from the two-leg, near the entrance to the other room he woke up in. The mostly black cat paying him no mind as he set about grooming himself. The boy looked away.

Really, he thought this room was a bit strange. With the platform Bastard is sitting on, there is also the one Shouta is occupying near. Those platforms followed the rooms wall, a half boxed in look. Like the white section, there was also a silvery section right next to a tall white box. The silver had what looked like a bended silver… stick? Jutting from the top, as well as two silver nobs. Above the platforms were a series of wood-brown boxes. He wondered what their purpose were until he saw one slightly ajar, an entrance of some kind. His tail curls. Those brown boxes seemed just his height and he wanted to crawl and explore inside.

Other than that, there wasn’t much else. Just another weird platform behind Bastards. This one being a light brown, shorter, and supported on four sticks. There were three more surrounding it that were much smaller, and had a plank on one of its sides, standing tall.

He thought it looked like a perfect place to sit, at that height.

Movement to the side catches his eye. An orange cat wobbles into the room. The boy has to pause because, well, he didn’t think cats could get that… round.

It was certainly well fed.

Its pelt was startling bright in color. So much that it almost hurt his eyes. The cat was wearing a blue piece of cloth around their neck and had eyes as green as his own. The cat was male, he realized.

The feline did nothing more than spare him a quick glance before hurling itself on a platform near the two-leg and promptly started begging for food.

Well then.

The boy took a step forward, hesitated, and then shrugged, walking back up to the two-leg. He hasn’t hurt him yet or shown signs of malice. Maybe his beast form just made the man nervous.

The orange cat hooked a claw into the fabric of the two-legs arm, the boy hovered close by. [“Shouta please give me some chicken. I haven’t been fed in days; this is terrible, absolutely awful. You wouldn’t starve me, would you? Just a small bite…”] He whined, fixating big, pouting eyes full blast onto an impassive Shouta. Looks like his attempt wasn’t going well.

The boy shoots the feline an alarmed look, [“you haven’t eaten anything in that long?”] He asked, green eyes wide. But he’s so big…

The cat startles, letting go of the two-leg—who looked back questionably at the boy beside him before away again, messing with another silver container on the white platform he didn’t notice before.

Actually, the boy gets a feeling he might just be protecting the food from unwanted attention.

[“Wait how can you—“]

[“Ignore him! He ate an hour ago! He just wants to make Shouta feel bad into feeding him chicken.”] The orange cat was interrupted by a loud call from Bastard, who continued to groom himself. He licked his paw and dragged it over his ears. [“Not that it ever works, anymore.”] He added in.

The orange huffs. [“He thinks I’m getting too big, that’s silly.”] He flicks his tail to the black cat. [“Besides, I bet you were doing the same thing before I came in here. But you got caught before snatching something, I’m sure.”] Bastard didn’t pay the jab any mind and went back to ignoring the two. The orange cat turns his attention back onto the boy.

[“Now, who are you? Humans can’t speak cat. That’s weird.”] He blinks. [“I’m Juice Box, by the way.”]

[“…Juice Box?] Ok that is… by far the strangest name on a cat.

Juice box shrugs his head, unconcerned. [“That is what Shouta calls me, anyway.”]

[“Oh I see… well.”] The boy quickly glances at Shouta and back. He is still turned away from them, but he gets the feeling the man is watching from the corner of his eye. [“I was raised by cats, for a while. I never had any problems understanding them.”]

[“Huh, weird.”] Curiosity somewhat sated, Juice Box went back to bothering Shouta for some “chicken”—the name of the bird maybe?

Shouta sighed and he could feel the heat from before flicker out of existence. He grumbled something under his breath, grabbed Juice Box under one arm, Bastard in the other—who tried to dart away but Shouta was faster—and momentarily left the room.

The boy made sure to scramble out of the two-legs way as he left. Now he stood standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, wondering if he should follow.

But he hadn’t needed to bother, because Shouta soon reentered the “kitchen”, no cat in sight.

He moved out of his way once again as he crossed the room, opening the brown boxes overhead and pulling out two flat discs, bowls, and something else that he recognized as glass.

He watched as the two-leg reached the tall white box and – oh that opens too—pulled out what he recognized as berries and fruit. He stared wide eyed at the box’s insides because—Is that all food? —It was absolutely filled to the brim. His stomach growled at the sight. He’ll need to check that out, for sure. Shouta shut the tall white food-box after pulling out a white container with contents that sloshed inside. The platform where Bastard had been sitting before was right next to the food-box so that was where the items ended up being placed onto.

As soon as Shouta had turned away, the boy stealthily pulled himself up onto the platform—a tricky feat as it was taller than him—propped himself on his elbows and dug his clawed feet into the raised platforms side, his tail thrashing to keep the balance.

With a closer look, the boy confirms that the food was in fact- berries. They’re different than the ones he is familiar with. Fat red ones with green tops and round blue and purples ones. There are even some black berries that he rarely sees on a bush on the far end of the forest during green-leaf and leaf-fall.

Ignoring the white container, he snatches several of the different berries from the clear boxes they were being held in. He grabbed more blackberries than the red, blue, and purple ones since he was more familiar with them.

Unhooking his feet from the platform and deftly hopped backwards, landing on the ground almost silently. A quick peek and he confirmed that the two-leg hadn’t seen him taking the berries. He smirked to himself, a fang catching on his lip.

Leaning against the platform he gobbled the fruit down, relishing in the sweet taste. The round purple berries were really watery compared to the others and left a strange aftertaste in his mouth- but he didn’t mind.

The fruit was gone in no time at all.

Still hungry, he decided to try for more.

Popping his head over the platform again, he froze.

The two-leg met his sudden appearance with a raised eyebrow.

Not breaking eye contact, the black haired man scooped up a handful of berries, placing a generous amount onto one of the two discs. Both had the white maybe-poultry-meat, as well as some grainy white stuff. It reminded him of clouds.

Shouta finished piling fruit onto the discs and stepped around to the brown-four-legged-platform, giving the boy what was an obvious call for him to follow.

The boy looked from the fruit in front of him to Shouta, weighing if he should follow or take more of the fruit from their containers.

His curiosity won over, however. Hoping down, he bounces behind the two-leg. Watching as he places the discs with food onto the brown platform-with-four-legs, both in front of what he thought would be interesting places to sit—and pleased to know his guess was spot on when Shouta made to do so. He fixed a pointed look on the smaller boy, waiting.

He took the hint and with a swish of his tail, he copied the two-leg, sitting down in front of the other disc of food. He was high enough that his feet no longer touched the ground, he swung them as he eyed the food. To his satisfaction, he has more fruit than Shouta. A lot more.

The platform was at an awkward height, so he sat on his knees instead, wasting no time in shoving some of the red berries into his mouth first—stem and all. He inhaled the other berries soon after.

Licking off the juices from his fingers, he eyes the maybe-poultry. Sneaking a glance at Shouta, he watches as the two-leg takes a bite of the white meat, chewing slowly. He’s also using shiny silver sticks to stab at it and bring it to his mouth which is—weird, but whatever. It is all the encouragement he needs to snatch the meat up from his own disc.

He drops it with a gasp.

It was hot. He wasn’t expecting that!

Recalling the heat source, though, perhaps he should have.

He considers the meat with a small hum, picking it up once again, green eyes glinting. Why heat up the meat…? How strange.

Shrugging, he takes a large bite.

It did not taste like how he normally eats meat.

The taste was so drastic he nearly spat it out, but through sheer willpower he kept every bit packed into his mouth.

He wanted to gag. He did gag. It was overwhelming and unpleasant. He wasn’t even chewing it—just sitting there with a full mouth and a tongue wishing to escape this situation.

Shouta was talking and the boy focused on him, cheeks stuffed. The two-leg had a frown on his face. He was reaching over, and the boy knew it was for his food—so he pulled it out of his reach, protecting it. He gave the two-leg a determined look. No way was he going to waste food! It was his!

Shouta pulled away, shrugging and continued eating his own food.

Chewing down the food to more acceptable chunks, he swallows it down, grimacing. Eyes watering slightly, he smacks his lips at the lingering taste, he looks down at the remainder of the meat. He’d rather not eat more of it but….

Pulling a face, he forces the rest down. He really hopes heated meat isn’t common.

Something is thrusted in front of his face. Reeling back a bit, he sees it’s glass, tall, long bowl filled with white liquid—[“Is that cream?”] Ears perking, his eyes light up in happiness. Gratefully taking the tall glass narrow bowl from Shouta.

It was not cream, he discovered, but still delicious. Soothing his throat and washing down the meat. He thirstily gulps the entirety down, some trickling down his chin. Not a drop was spared in the glass. He places the now empty narrow bowl between his knees, wiping his chin with the back of his hand.

There was only one thing left on the disc. The white fluffy grainy stuff.

He was unfamiliar with it, and after the meat he was a little cautious.

He poked it with a furry finger.

It was sticky. A few grains clung to it.

Popping the finger into his mouth, he didn’t find the taste that bad. Grinning, he scooped a handful up and ate the white grains from his palm. Until, finally, not a spot of food remained on his disc (or hand). Shouta was still eating.

He leaves the glass on his seat as he slips from it. Shouta looked like he was going to be eating for a while yet and the boy was still hungry. He did not want to hang around drooling over someone else’s food. It’s rude!

Besides, he is curious as to where Bastard and Juice Box went.

Chapter Text

Then

 

He should have never trusted Kanchan and Makachan.

A small boy of seven scrubs at his eyes. They were puffy and sore, and he was so sick of crying, but he couldn’t help it. Every time he was reminded of his situation hot fat tears leaked from his eyes traitorously. He just wanted to go home!

He wanted to get out of this dumb forest.

Dumb Kanchan and Makachan.

He was so excited that they wanted to play with him. So excited that he didn’t question when they led him off into the forest where his parents told him he should most definitely never step foot in.

He shouldn’t have.

But he thought they were going to be his friends. And don’t friends trust each other?

So, he shoved his worry away and followed them both into the tree filled area.

He should have known better, really.

After walking forever—they stopped near a ditch and waved him over, claiming to see something interesting.

When he got close, however, Kanchan roughly shoved at his shoulder—pushing him over the edge of the ditch.

It didn’t hurt, but with the recent rain it made the ditch very muddy, soaking him and dirtying his clothes and face. The boys above him laughing that they had gotten rid of a villain.

A villain.

He remembered hot rage filling him when he heard that.

Really. He should’ve known better.

He’s an idiot.

“Very funny you two! Now get me out of here!” He demanded, foot stomping in the mud for emphasis.

But the boys just continued to laugh. Makachan sneered down at him cruelly. “Have fun getting home, freak.”

Their faces disappeared from view and he could feel a stab of fear drop down into his stomach.

They weren’t… they weren’t going to leave him here were they?

 “Guys?” He called, shakily. Surely… surely, they wouldn’t….

But no faces poked back over the ledge.

Fighting back panic, he throws himself at the ditch wall. It wasn’t that much taller than himself. But it was too. Dang. Muddy…!

His fingers clawed uselessly at the mud, slipping, and refusing to show purchase until—his butt falls back into the muddy water. He sniffs as tears trail down his face.

Wiping at them, his eye catches on the book he brought with him. It managed to land in a relatively dry spot, away from the water. He must have let go of it in shock when he fell- no, got pushed- down the ditch.

It was his favorite book. One with lots of pictures and told a story about a lonely dragon that got separated from its family.

Oh the irony.

He wiped his eyes again, picking up his book.

Well if he can’t climb over the ditch, then he’ll just… have to find another way around it. How far could it go?

 

Turns out the answer was very far. Far enough that when he finally found an area to jump up, he was thoroughly lost. The ditch had circled around, and he should have followed the edge, but he foolishly did not, thinking he only needed to go one way.

Except he kept getting discouraged. Was this the correct way back…? Everywhere looks the exact same! It was getting dark and he realized that he was lost.

Lost in a forest with no idea what lives out here. What if there are bears or mountain lions?! What is he going to do when he encounters one?! Disregarding that the forest isn’t in a mountain, it could still be possible!

He’s yelling, screaming, hoping someone will hear him. He wants to go home. This isn’t fair!

Stupid, stupid, stupid Kanchan and Makachan.

A twig snaps from behind him and he freezes, heart stiff in his throat.

The rustling of leaves being pushed aside has the heart jackhammering.

Footsteps that have a cold sweat trickle down his spine.

They stop a few feet behind, waiting.

He doesn’t want to turn around. If he ignores it, perhaps it’ll go away.

It’s not going away.

Slowly, very slowly—he turns, fearing the worst, fearing he will see a horrific feral beast?

It’s a child.

A really small one, at that.

He blinks.

What is a child doing here?

He reminds himself he is also a child.

“Um… are… are you lost, too…?” He asks slowly, as if this is a trick.

The child just blinks his startling green eyes and smiles at him, tiny fangs poking on his lip.

Green hair wilder than his own and wearing an oversized blue hoodie, the child looked very, very dirty.

But then again, so was he.

The hoodie kid ran up to him and grabbed his wrist. He flinched at the smaller child’s grip. It was very tight. Almost as if he couldn’t control himself.

The wild looking kid ran forward and he had no choice to follow.

He was dragged throughout the forest that was soon shrouded in a blanket of pitch black darkness. He should’ve been scared but… being in the company of the other kid made him feel safe, strangely enough. The other kid would often look back, checking up on him. His eyes shined brightly in the darkness. He thought it was pretty cool. Could the other kid see in the dark?

He tried to ask the other boy questions, but he never once spoke, only smiled back at him.

Soon, they both stopped.

They reached the edge of the forest and a crash of overwhelming relief washes over him as he steps away from the other boy. This was even close to where he entered in the first place! He’ll be able to find his way home on his own like this.

“Thank you!” He gasped, euphoria choking him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” He repeats, slowly breaking his longing gaze at the sight of civilization to look back at the boy who brought him back. “Where do you live? I could help you ba—”

Shinsou Hitoshi blinks.

The boy was gone.

And, he realizes, so was his favorite book.

 



Now

 

Well that didn’t go too badly, Shouta mused as he wipes his plate off in the sink.

The kid did not seem to like the chicken, though. But as Shouta was not the best of cooks, he was not sure if he mangled cooking it up or if the kid simply wasn’t a fan.

Shouta thought his own chicken tasted fine, but again, not really the best judge. He lived off of jelly packets for the longest of times. Maybe his own sense of taste resides at the bottom of a garbage can, slowly rotting away.

Fruit was a safe fallback, as the kid guzzled those down as if they were to be snatched if he waited too long.

And the rice… well, Shouta needs to teach him how to use silverware. He didn’t hesitate to eat the food from his hands. His furry hands. Fur that is harder to get food residue out of.

Sighing, Shouta sets the dishes on the rack, letting them dry. As he wipes his hands on a dishtowel, he figures next time he should try beef or pork meat. Probably closer to rare than not. It should’ve been obvious, really. If the kid was living in a forest with no other person Shouta doubts he ate cooked meat. He would be more used to eating it raw. If the kid truly does not enjoy it cooked rare—then he’ll switch to raw meat, but for now he wants to hold off on it.

Stepping out of the kitchen, Shouta is greeted with the sight of the kid’s beastal form curled up in a corner of the room with all three of his cats lounging on top of his massive size.

Shouta snorts softly.

Mocha cracks open an eye, stares at him, and slips them back closed, sinking deeper into the mountain of curly fur.

Thinking about it, Shouta should have first checked to make sure the kid wasn’t going to attack his cats before letting him do his own thing. Looks like things went smooth enough.

Actually, they might already like the kid more than him, being cuddled up like that.

Mocha and Juice Box don’t surprise him.

Bastard, however, does. He usually hates being touched and would rather stay three feet away from any human body, if possible. Unless you wanted a bitten hand.

A small smile tugs at his lips as he recalls Hizashi ignoring his warning, frantically waving his hand and shouting colorful language at the smug bastard of a cat.

Well, if the kid was going to nap and also distract his furry menaces, then Shouta was damn well going to take this chance to catch up on grading papers while he has the chance. And the promise of quiet. And the safety of his pens.

Digging out the stack of ungraded papers, he flops them onto the coffee table and sits down on the couch.

He grades them in a calming quiet, the room filled with soft, soothing snores from the corner.

It lasts thirty minutes.

Shuffling and movement catches his eye. Turning, he sees the kid mid-yawn and stretching similar to that of a cat. He shakes himself, banishing away his sleepiness.

He looks up and perks his long ears at the sight of Shouta.

For a second, he dreads for his paper’s sake, that the kid running over while still so huge. He is preparing to scoop them up, but there was no need.

The kid transformed back into his smaller, child-like self in no time flat, taking a running leap at Shouta’s couch and crashing onto it.

Giggling, the kid looks up at him upside down with bright eyes, narrowed in mirth. He straightens up and Shouta can hear him talking in that strange way of chirps and growls he cannot understand.

But as he is staring with unrestrained curiosity at his stack of papers, Shouta figures he wants to know what he is doing.

He indulges him, and pointily continues to write over this particular disaster of an essay in red ink. The kid’s green cat-like eyes twinkle in wonder, already chittering away.

Shouta fishes out a few blank sheets of paper and his green—ha – pen. Depositing the items on the coffee table, the kid watches in fascination as Shouta demonstrates doodling random scribbles, before handing it off to the kid—who takes it gratefully.

He watches as the kid tests the pen himself, looping and scribbling, before turning his attention back to his teacherly duties. Shouta scowled down at a particular horrendous paper. The student went off tangent and derived from the topic, not even attempting to reeling it back in. Shouta bit back a sigh.

After a few minutes of papers flipping and pen scratching, Mocha hopped onto the table meowing a greeting.

“Going to help me with these?” Shouta greets right back, scratching his oldest cat’s head. “Hmm… you probably wouldn’t enjoy it; this one is a bit torturous to read.”

Mocha licked his fingers and settled down, watching the kid’s pen bob and swipe at fast speeds on his paper. The page was almost entirely green.

He paused, green eyes looking up at Mocha. Chirping at her, he looked proud as he showed off his creation. Mocha tilted her head to the side, blinking.

Interesting.

From the corner of his eye, Shouta watched as the kid switched from his paper to his now fur-free hand.

His tail thumped flat on the floor and his eyes shined, a toothy grin stretching on his face as if the markings on his hand were the most interesting thing in the world.

A mischievous look overtook his face, his eyes reminding Shouta remarkably of a cheshire cat as they narrow onto him.

Sliding himself beside Shouta, still on the floor, the kid only hesitated briefly before grabbing Shouta’s arm with a tiny hand. Shouta knew where he was going with this but didn’t bother to stop as the child scribbled on the back of his own hand. There was a bit too much pressure behind it, the pen tip roughly biting and dragging across his skin. Shouta leaned back slightly, avoiding the perked rabbit-like ears from hitting his face.

Pulling away, the kid examined his work with a nod and looks up at Shouta with a blinding, fanged smile. Something pulls inside of chest and oh no this kid is going to be the death of him.

The kid twisted, still holding the hero’s arm, and showed it off to Mocha—as well as his own doodled hand. The cat seemed amused, flicking her tail at them both. A small smile ticks at the corner of Shouta’s mouth.

Shouta is still reeling slightly when the kid lets go and springs onto his feet, grabs his doodled page, and walks off—exploring the apartment.

A paw slapping on his stack of papers catches his attention. Mocha is now sitting up, staring up at him. Shouta reaches out with his doodled on hand and smirks to himself as she gently rubs her cheek on his hand after giving it a good sniff. Shouta turns back to his work. Only a bit more to go.

Shouta was just finishing underlining a final grade when he heard a yowl and a startled yelp from behind. He turned just in time to see Bastard leaping from the top of his bookshelf.

His bookshelf that is tipping forward with a kid clinging to it in a manner that he was attempting to scale it, the books in the process of sliding free.

“Shit!” Swearing, Shouta surged over the couch. He slapped a hand hard on the topmost part of the shelf, catching it, his other hand supporting the kids back preventing him from falling.

The same couldn’t be applied to the books.

Ducking his head inwards towards the shelf, the kid managed to avoid the shower of vast knowledge packed tight in a perfect bludgeoning weapon. Shouta did not have this luxury. About a dozen or so books smacked into his head and shoulders before falling uselessly onto the floor, pages askew.

“Ouch,” He deadpanned as a final stray book took one last hit on the hero’s face.

The kid giggled, though it sounded strained. He hopped off the shelf as Shouta straightened it, much lighter without the weight of books.

He sighs down at the head of wild green hair, who seemed to have settled among the fallen books—opening them one by one and examining. Pulling a face at its contents before closing one and tossing it to the side, uninterested.

Bending over, Shouta makes to pick the books up—only to get his hand slapped.

He quirks an eyebrow at the green menace, who stares determinedly back.

Another attempt yields in another slap to his hand.

This time, however, the kid laid forward on the pile, sporting a pout.

Bending down he asked, “Why are so protective over the books. You can’t even read.” Unshockingly receiving no answer back.

Shouta relented.

 Hefting himself upwards, he sees Bastard looking as smug as ever—laughter alight in his icy eyes at seeing the misfortune of Shouta being pelted in the face with books. Fulfilling the felines ever life purpose of causing grief in Shouta’s life.

Bastard cat.

 


 

He watched as the two-leg sighed and walk away. He felt a tad guilty for snapping at him, but--! He was curious about the stash he was now sitting on.

He wasn’t really… sure what they were called. But he has one similar in his own den, with pages and pictures and a hard outer shell that opened.

These were similar but, different.

For one thing there were no pictures. Just lines and lines and lines. It was disappointing and the boy did not know the line's purpose. They were boring to look at. Once he confirmed that one did not have a picture, he would close the hard shell and toss it to the side, hoping the next one would be more interesting—only to end in failure.

Shouta must really like lines.

[“Why are you so interested in those books that nearly got you squished?”]

Bastard had jumped down from the weird long nests and joined him by his pile.

[“Books?”] He questions.

[“Books,”] The feline confirmed, sweeping his long tail and gesturing. The boy files the name away.

[“I have one in my den, back home. But that one had pictures so I was hoping… these would too,”] He answered with a tugging frown, staring at the book in his hands. [“These… books only have lines, though. Do you know what they are?”] He glanced back to Bastard. He knew they were called books, perhaps he knows what they are…?

But bastard did what he recognized as the cat equivalent of a shrug. [“Read them. I’ve never had to bother.”] The boy makes a sad noise at that. He doesn’t know what reading is.

He really wishes he had his book. There were lines in there too, he recalls.

But there are lots of fun pictures.

He scowls down at the books that have failed him. After he worked so hard to get them from the top, too!

Standing up, he kicks a book and stifles a yelp. Ok, those books are heavy, and they hurt. Bastard laughs at his hopping dance.

He did not yet explore the entire den before. After he ate, he tracked down the two cats into a closed off room, then with food in his stomach he felt sleepy and decided to nap—putting off the rest of his tour.

But now—well rested and curious, he slips into the room again, fully taking it in.

It was smaller than the room he woke up in, but bigger than the kitchen room. Shouta’s scent was much stronger in this room compared to the others, hinting that he must spend most of his time in here. To his delight, there was another nest up against the wall in here as well. But much flatter and more suitable for sleeping rather than the strange narrow ones in the big room.

Looking around the rest of the room it was clear the main purpose was the nest. It took up most of the space. But there was a platform similar to the ones in the kitchen room, but smaller and a deeper brown. Touching its surface confirmed it to be wood, if smooth.

Small black nobs dotted the front of the platform, perfectly lined. A nagging suspicion has him fingering the top nob, its cool metal surface chilling to the touch at first before quickly warming under his hand.

He pulls it.

A compartment opened. His tail curls, delighted at the discovery of a hidden secret.

He continues pulling it, opening it farther—waiting for some sort of resistance as a cue to stop. None came however and he had to jump back when the compartment slips free of the platform and crashes to the floor.

He stays stock still, straining his ears for Shouta in the other room. No sounds of footsteps make themselves known and he allows himself to relax, looking at the fallen compartment and its contents.

It was fabric, similar to what he was currently wearing. Some with longer bits for his arms, some with shorter. They were smaller than the large blue one he wore for several seasons and with a pang he realized none of them had a pouch in the front like it had.

I wonder what happened to it? He wonders, looking down at the fabric piece he was currently wearing.

It felt nicer than his old one. And certainly fit him better. Heck, it even smelled nice. But the blue one was his. It helped him tremendously during leaf-bare, being as think and warm as it was. And the pouch allowed him to store things for later, leaving his hands free to do other things.

It was extremely helpful.

But now it was gone.

A quick rifle shows that it was not with these others. Or the ones in the other compartments.

…There is actually a lot of fabric pieces. Just how many do two-legs need? It was ridiculous.

His attention soon drifted away from the multiple colors of fabrics and onto the rest of the room.

There really wasn’t a whole lot in it.

Other than the large nest and platform full of fabrics was another, smaller room. Large enough for him to stand inside.

He found himself liking it.

It would make an excellent place to hide out in.

Satisfied, he exits the tiny hiding room and pads over to the large nest.

Placing his hands flat on its surface, he presses down. It felt as soft as the long nests in the big room, if not softer.

Unlike the long nests, this one was actually lined properly. However, instead of leaves, ferns, feathers, or foliage of any kind—it was fabrics? But larger and fluffier.

He hoists himself onto the nest, it bounced and dipped under his weight slightly. Shouta’s scent was strong here. As would be expected if this was where he slept.

The nest fabric was crumpled and heaped in a pile, as if discarded without a thought.

On the far side of the nest were two yellow lumps, matching the nest's fabric color.

They were the softest things he ever had the pleasure of handling. The feeling vaguely reminded him of feathers, and he was tempted to tear into one to confirm it.

He held off, though.

He dropped the yellow lump with a dull fwump, and scooted to the edge of the nest, ready to hop down. Hesitating briefly, he came to a quick decision and snatched the nest fabric—taking it with him.

It was Shouta’s, yes, but.

He liked it.

If Shouta wanted it back, he’ll hand it over… maybe.

But until then, he could keep it on him! It’s not like the two-leg is currently using it!

He wrapped it over his shoulders, relishing in it’s comforting, warm embrace. He felt oddly protected in it.

Peaking out of the entrance, he sees Shouta still has his back to him and occupied doing… whatever it is two-legs do. Either way he takes it as a chance to slip out of Shouta’s sleeping room. What if the two-leg wants him to give the nest fabric back right away? He would of course but… he wants to keep it longer.

Creeping along the wall on silent feet, he makes his way to another room. This one being near the corner he slept in earlier.

Halfway there the fabric snags and he almost loses his grip on it.

It was Juice Box. The cat was looking up at him smug. The boy rolls his eyes, reaffirms his grip on the fabric, and continues the rest of the way to the other room, this time dragging the fat orange cat with him.

Entering it he freezes.

For a split second he thought he had stumbled back into the white room and panic bloomed in his chest.

But it quickly flowed away as he realized this room was very different.

It was white, but it looked nothing similar to the white room. It was small and somewhat crowded. There was no nest, but rather three different kinds of… bowls?

One was at his height on a platform. Another was long, perhaps longer than himself, and the final one had a strange shape to it, and he was hesitant to call it a bowl.

But it did have water in it.

This must be Shouta’s source of water then. Or where he stored it, anyway. There did not seem to be very much in the bowl.

There was a lid connected to it, so he closed it, hiding the water. It was pretty neat, he thought.

[“What are these other two bowls for?”] He twists around, looking at the orange cat.

Juice Box wrinkles his nose. [“Shouta summons water from them. He bathes in here.”]

[“…Summon? How do you summon water?”] Is this cat crazy?

[“Through the nozzles, duh,”] The feline replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

The boy pulled a face and turned back to the large, long bowl. He stepped closer to it, Juice Box now sliding easily on the tiled floor behind him.

There were sheets of smooth fabric hanging from the end of it, closer to the wall. The large, long bowl was oval shaped and came up to his waist. It reminded him of a small, dried out pool.

But, according to Juice Box it could summon water… hmm.

Ah, there.

Two nozzles and a silvery, thick stick was jutting from a wall.

Kneeling down, he tugged at the nozzle closer to him.

Pulling outwards didn’t do anything.

Juice Box fidgeted behind. [“Hey you’re not going to—“]

The boy turned the nozzle.

A torrent of rushing water crashes out of the silver tube and onto the white floor of the bowl—a tub? He couldn’t help the wondrous expression that filled on his face and the twinkle in his eyes. This was amazing! Juice Box wasn’t kidding about summoning water. Where did it even come from? The silver tube was only connected to a wall. He does not see how water could be hidden in one.

Then again, two-legs can do some strange things.

So, he shrugged off the question of just how the heck there was water just shooting out from seemingly nowhere, and instead gleefully shoves his hand under the spray.

He still had them without being covered in fur, wanting to see the markings he doodled on them, because of this he could feel the full effects of the warmness the water was giving out.

And frankly, it felt good. He could purr if he was able to.

His companion didn’t share that thought.

[“What is with humans and water? I don’t get it,”] disgust laced deep in the orange cat’s voice, [“It is revolting.”]

The boy, used to cat’s opinion on water as he lived with them once and still gets dirty looks from White, only smirked in amusement. Really, all cats are predictable. Waving his hands under the stream some more, he looked over his shoulder.

[“I bet you never even took a bath in your life,”] he teased.

And when Juice Box predictably turned his nose into the air, the boy wasted no time in flicking his water-soaked hands at the feline, sending droplets flying.

Juice Box sprang off the nest fabric with an absolute betrayed look. Not breaking his green eyed glare, the cat leaped onto the platform near the door, the one with the smaller bowl sunk into it. he immediately started to wash himself, which, the boy found hilarious.

Wash himself of water? How silly.

Steam tickling his nose cause him to look back to the water. The air was starting to smell really thick. Breathing felt a bit strange.

He probably shouldn’t have shoved his hands back into the stream of water, but, well.

He frantically waves his burnt hand, trying to cool it. He didn’t even know water could get that hot, honestly. But, two-legs.

Through curiosity, he turns the second nozzle wondering what it would do.

The answer was even more water.

The stream got harsher, as if it couldn’t get rid of its contents fast enough. He noticed the hot steam soon grew mild and a quick test confirmed the water was lukewarm once again. Which, weird, but ok. Temperature controlled water? Weird.

Even weirder that the water isn’t staying in the tub.

The only source of how the water could be escaping is a small, silver button. He pushes down on it.

Instantly, water starts to properly fill up in the tub and the boy feels a since of accomplishment. Shouta will be so proud that he is stoking up more water.

He watches as the tub fills up a quarter… halfway, before he is tickled with the urge to… step in.

He loves water and hasn’t really gotten a chance at a proper bathing since… well.

He briefly considers taking off the fabric on his torso and legs but shrug. There wasn’t really any dirt in this den to dirty them and cling to so it should be fine.

And with that he steps in.

 


 

Shouta hangs up with a sigh.

The missing second year student, Hirota, was doing fine after being rescued. Only slightly shaken in the whole affair. But should otherwise, return back to school within the week.

It was a relief.

Unfortunately, unlike Hirota, the same couldn’t be said for most of the other kidnapped victims.

A frown tugs at his lips as he opens the refrigerator door, nabbing a jelly pouch.

They haven’t been able to locate them just yet. And according to Tsukauchi, none of the (remaining) villains were very forthright in handing over the information on who they sold them to. Faces pale and eyes panicked, babbling about how their employer would kill them if they handed the information over.

Unlikely. As they would be safe in prison.

Sucking on the pouch in practiced motions, Shouta leaves the kitchen.

And pauses.

Is he imagining things, or does he hear running water?

And does the area around the bathroom look suspiciously wet, or is that just his eyes playing tricks on him?

Running across his own apartment, Shouta’s foot squashes grossly into the wet carpet in front of the door.

It was a mess.

An absolute cascade of water. An unwilling transformation into a local pool park.

The kid catches sight of his arrival and shouts, seemingly pleased at this development. Poor Juice Box was taking refuge on the sink, the highest vantage point available from the mess. He looked pleadingly up at Shouta.

Shouta splashed through his own bathroom and quickly turned the water off. And then with swift movements, yanked the plug open to let the bathtub drain.

The kid looked every bit of a drowned rat as he took notice of the falling water leveled and looked up at Shouta with innocent green eyes.

Ok, leaving the kid on his own devices. Not smart.

Shouta sighs, “problem child, first day here and you’ve already flooded my apartment.”

The kid tilted his head and had the balls to smile blindingly at him, fangs and all.

Chapter Text

Then

 

It had started a little collection. An… assortment of items he managed to find.

He first got the idea after seeing that purple haired two-leg carrying a big glossy square… thing.

He liked how it looked, and the feel of it under his fingertips. The strange pictures were also nice to look at.

So, he sat it in his little clearing that he had found for himself. It was protected enough by treetops and brambles surrounding it that he felt safe enough to call it home. It felt barren and exposed with just him there, though, a problem he never had when he lived with the cats and their several numbers.

He shakes his head clear of the thought.

Back to his “collection.”

It wasn’t really one, just yet. It was still small! He only started it!

But so far, he has one other “two-leg” item and a few shiny rocks he found that he thought were nice. They sparkled unnaturally in the sunlight and he thought that was neat!

Next, he has a small white cat—wait.

[ “Um,” ] he gapes at the cat. Catching a quick whiff of it’s scent he determines it is a male and also, very, very young. [ “…Where is your mother,” ] he asks, because that is probably the most important thing right now. He might have called the foxes off but there are still other animals out here that would snack on tiny kits wandering away from their parents.

[ “Are you the one who used to live with everyone? The green two-leg who could turn into an even bigger green thing?” ] The kit squeaks at him, completely ignoring his question as it trounced near.

[ “…Yes?” ] He answers, bewildered. It’s been several seasons since a cat even came in the direction and the boy couldn’t wrap his head around why this kit would. The only times he sees other cats nowadays is if they cross paths at the cream-and-food spot.

The kit tilts his head, blue and green eyes studying him carefully.

[ “You don’t… look dangerous.” ]

[ “Why would you think I was?” ]

[ “Because everyone says so,” ] the kit replied as if it was obvious.

The boy frowns.

Why would they say that? His chest twists painfully, he doesn’t understand.

He looks down at the kit, who was now sitting patiently in the grass. [ “Why are you here?” ]

[ “I thought it was obvious!” ] The white kit announces, taking a bold step forward. [ “You’re going to be my friend!” ]

The boy’s bewilderment swiftly melted away like snow in new-leaf. Grinning down at the kit, the boy could hardly get his reply out fast enough as he vibrated with excitement.

[ “Okay!” ]

 



Now

 

Shouta grunts awake as a weight suddenly crashes on top of his face from above.

He looks down at the black menace in annoyance. The damned cat even had the nerve to blink ice chipped eyes innocently at him as if he had found no fault in his action.

Bastard then looks away and leaps back onto the green mounded hill next to the man.

And for a second, Shouta is confused. Where did this giant mass come from…? He certainly does not remember having something like it in his apartment.

But as he rapidly blinks the sleep out of his eyes, he realizes what he is looking at and fights off a groan.

That kid.

No matter how hard Shouta had tried to convince and coax the kid to take his bed to sleep on, as soon as Shouta would turn away perked rabbit ears would be right on his heels. He could tell the kid was tired as hell, not even fighting back yawning several times a minute as he followed Shouta around the apartment.

But it seemed the kid refused to sleep alone.

So Shouta eventually gave into his fate and dragged out his yellow sleeping bag. He picked up the kid and placed him onto the couch along the wall, as well as a pillow and a blanket.

When Shouta walked away, the kid perked up once again as if he were about to slip off the couch, but Shouta didn’t go far as he stepped into his sleeping bag and plopped onto the second couch himself.

He could hear the rustling of fabric on fabric for a few moments before it settled down. Shouta hoped the kid finally got the picture and would go to sleep.

His own eyes were already drooping as he felt himself drift off nearly right away.

How on earth the kid managed to slip off and lay right next to Shouta’s couch while in that huge form, he had no idea. He cursed himself for not being more aware of his surroundings and made to awkwardly get off the couch without awakening the large green mass of fur and scales.

He saw that all three of his cats had made their own bed on the kid, nestled snugly in his long curly fur.

Shouta couldn’t help but think it was a bit strange they had all taken to the boy so quickly.

Mocha isn’t too much of a surprise, but Juice Box usually takes a while to shine to new people. And Bastard is, well.

He is pretty sure Bastard doesn’t like anyone. Shouta certainly hasn’t seen it.

And yet, there he is. Already asleep while cuddling into the boy. Weird cat.

Shuffling into the kitchen, Shouta catches sight of the time. It was nearly six in the morning. If he had work today, he would have to be leaving here soon. But, thanks to Nezu, he was granted an additional day off. Woohoo.

He gravitates to the coffee maker like a dying man discovering a river of life saving water for the first time in three days. As a result, the kitchen is filled with the smell of coffee soon after.

Either the smell of the caffeine or perhaps it was Shouta’s absence, but soon enough small clanking on the hard kitchen floor makes itself known as scaly feet enter the room.

He stumbled in, tiny balled up fists rubbing at his eyes trying to banish the sleep from them. His already normally wild hair was even messier in its bedhead state. His rabbit ears were currently nowhere in sight.

One by one, Shouta’s three cats trail into the kitchen after the kid. He watches as Juice Box makes a beeline for the newly deposited cat food, and as Bastard jumps onto the table blessedly ignoring Shouta’s scowl at the action. Mocha seemed content at rubbing against his ankles.

One green eye poked open, upon seeing Shouta he perked up visibly and bounced to his side by the table where he was sipping away at his coffee.

He tugged at his sleeve, standing on the tips of his toes. A trilling kind of noise leaks out of the kid that reminds Shouta’s of a questioning tone.

“This is my coffee,” he tells him, tipping the mug forward a bit to show off the liquid inside, “it’s not for kids.” He is pretty sure caffeine is the last thing this kid needs. Shouta is pretty sure he himself wouldn’t survive the fallout of that incident.

“Min cougfvee ntfur keeds,” he repeats back terribly, reaching out for Shouta’s mug as he lifts it out of his small reach.

“That’s right,” he confirmed, smirking slightly as the kid puffs up with indignation at being denied the drink that would lead to Shouta’s inevitable destruction.

The kid, honest to god, clicks rapidly at him high pitched, leaving the man wondering just how he was able to make that noise with his mouth.

Bastard takes that moment to pipe up lazily, pausing in his grooming.

And the kid? The kid tilts his head and looks over at the cat, and Shouta swears he was replying back to it. And that the cat understood .

Nope, nuh-uh, there is no way this kid is holding an actual, real conversation with my cat, nope. He refuses to believe it. There should be no way that would be possible.

But as Bastard flicks his tail at Shouta’s mug and watches as the kid follows its movements with eyes lighting up in recognition, Shouta could feel his sanity slipping.

He looks down at Mocha who was still residing near his feet. “You’d tell me if the kid could speak cat, right?” He asks weakly.

Mocha blinks up at him, and he nods. “Right, thank you,” he says.

And with that, he dunks down the rest of his coffee and stands up. He has a kid to feed.

 


 

After flooding his bathroom yesterday, Shouta knew he needed to keep a closer eye on the kid if he wanted to prevent anymore disasters.

Not that it was a problem.

In fact, it was easy.

The kid wouldn’t leave the hero’s side.

If Shouta got up, so did the kid. If he sat down so would he. Staying still for too long would lead the kid into poking and prodding Shouta, tugging on his sleeves, grabbing his arms before letting them go.

“What are you doing, problem child?” He’d ask him, and as an answer Shouta would receive some range of a click, trill, or another high pitched noise.

How long has it been for the kid in seeing another person? How long has he been on his own? Shouta’s heart twists. What happened to his parents for things to turn out like this? Did they know? Were they dead? Are they the ones who dumped him off?

Placing a hand on top of the sea of curls, the kid pauses under it and looks up at Shouta with big green eyes. His rabbit ears were still not showing themselves, but Shouta could see a hint of pointed ears peeking from his hair, slightly furred black.

“Hey, kid, you have a name, right?” The hero asks, watching as the green bundle of energy tilts his head to the side, slitted pupils dilating.

Huh.

“You only lived here for a day, but I’m already getting tired of only referring you as “kid” all the time,” Shouta moves the hand on the boy’s head and starts shaking it side to side gently, causing a stream of giggles to venture out from the kid. “You mind telling me what it is?”

He obviously didn’t understand the question, but Shouta wasn’t expecting him to. Still giggling, the kid reached up with his own hands and grabbed at Shouta’s. Like before, the hero was taken slightly off guard at the amount of strength the kid grabbed him with. He was frighteningly strong for someone who probably weighs less than a sack of potatoes.

The grip softened as the kid let go, but Shouta was still determined to get an answer from him.

Another route then.

Shouta introduces himself. Maintaining eye contact, he points to himself. “Shouta,” he slowly announces. He repeats his own name a few times, punctuating each time with a jab at his chest.

It didn’t take long for the kid’s eyes to light up in realization.

“Sho’ta!” He crowed. And, well, that’s close enough.

 “Sho’ta,” he echoes, tail curling.

“That’s right,” Shouta nodded, “my name is Shouta.” The kid grinned up at him, pleased with himself.

“Now, what is your name?” Shouta inquires, now pointing at the kid.

He frowns at his finger, questioningly.

Then slowly, shakes his head.

Shouta feels himself frowning.

“You don’t know?”

The kid continues shaking his head, trilling. And, Shouta supposes that makes sense. How is a young child to remember their name if they lived alone for most of their life? He hopes that he had one, at least.

He’ll just have to wait for Tsukauchi to contact him again with more information, and hopefully, a name.

He sighs, leaning back on the couch. From the corner of his eye he can see the kid looking at him anxiously.

“Sho’ta?”

“Don’t worry about it, kid,” he waves a hand, reassuring, “we’ll figure out what to do later.”

Across from the duo, the tv sits quiet. Shouta figures he may as entertain himself on his given day off.

As it flickers to life, the kids head snaps towards it with a muffled gasp. He scrambles to get his feet under him, the couch slightly bouncing under his weight.

The tv was showing a mediocre news story, but the kid was shouting in amazement, pointing and gesturing wildly. At that moment, Shouta really wishes he could understand just what he was saying. The sight made him smile, nonetheless.

 


 

 

It wasn’t until a few hours later of lazing around watching tv and munching on a few sandwiches (several in the kid’s case) for lunch, that the kid hopped off the couch and bounced to the bathroom.

Shouta let him go. After an uncomfortable an awkward session yesterday, he managed to teach the wild boy how to properly use a toilet so there wouldn’t be… unfortunate mishaps later on. Thank god the kid was smart enough to quickly figure it out, Shouta would rather not ever do that again.

He still kept an ear out, however. He did not need a repeat of yesterday. Or his downstairs neighbors to murder him.

When he doesn’t hear any rushing water, he figures everything is probably fine and he tunes back onto the tv.

After nearly five minutes, Shouta gets a bit worried. Surely, he should’ve been done by now?

Did something happen?

Actually, did he remove the pill bottles from the cabinet behind the mirror? Shouta can’t seem to remember. He did, didn’t he? But what if he only thinks so, and the kid found out how to get past the child lock on the lids? What if he unknowingly ate them? Oh god, he has made a terrible mistake—

But before Shouta could leap from the couch and rush into the bathroom expecting to see a twitching, writhing child on the bathroom floor after overdosing on painkillers, the kid happily trots out of the bathroom. A trail of shredded toilet paper was stuck to his foot, and a few shreds littered his green hair.

Closing his eyes, Shouta breathes in deeply.

He gets up and slowly peeks into the bathroom.

It was hell version 2.

Shredded toilet paper covered nearly every surface of the floor, the tub, and stuffed into the toilet. There was way more than what one roll should be capable of. That is when he notices the cabinet under the sink was left wide open and sure enough, the extra rolls of toilet paper were missing—added into the disaster.

He opens the cabinet behind the mirror. No pill bottles greeted him.

Well, at least that part was good news.

Poking his head through the door, he stares back to the kid, who happily looks back, rabbit ears now visible and pricked forward.

“Do you have something against my bathroom or what, problem child?” He questions, resigned.

The kid only yells back Shouta’s name.

 


 

By the time Shouta surfaces out of the bathroom he had to clean for the second time within 24 hours, the kid was fast asleep in his larger form, sprawled out on his back with his paws in the air extremely similar to how he catches his cats sleeping from time to time.

It was kind of cute.

Shouta has the fleeting urge to take a picture as if he were one of his cats, to show off to Nemuri and Hizashi, but he stomps it down.

Although… the expressions on their faces if he were to oh-so casually drop one in during a conversation and passing the kid off as a new monstrous cat sounds tempting.

Carefully, he slides his phone out of his pocket and snips a quick photo.

Juice Box is snuggled close to the kid, really showing off his massive size. Shouta smirks at himself and saves the picture.

Now, he is faced with a new problem.

They need more toilet paper. Desperately.

Most of what the kid shredded was unsalvageable, too finely torn.

While tomorrow, both him and the kid would pass by the store on the way to UA and back, Shouta was not keen on taking him inside a store just yet. The kid would probably want to touch anything and everything he could get his tiny little hands on and eventually cause some disaster that may get them both kicked out.

Shouta would rather that not happen, as he likes that store. It’s the most convenient, being only around the corner of his apartment, so he never has to walk far.

He looks back at the sleeping figure.

Yesterday the kid took two naps throughout the day and both lasted roughly an hour or so.

He shouldn’t have been asleep for too long yet… if he left now Shouta could be in and out of the corner store in ten, fifteen minutes. Arriving back home with time to spare.

Still, he hesitates.

He would rather not leave the kid by himself.

I won’t be gone long, he tells himself.

Shouta was not too worried about the kid slipping out of the apartment, not when this building was made with sturdy reinforced windows and doors. It was a hero building, after all.

Turning the tv down low, he quietly slips on his shoes and swipes his wallet. Then carefully, so slowly, he opens the apartment door. As he leaves his eyes does not leave the mass of fur, looking for any signs of wakefulness.

But the kid stays asleep.

After locking the door, Shouta stands there for a few seconds more, listening.

When he hears nothing on the other side, he leaves.

Please let him stay like that until I return.

 


 

When his eyes first slip open, he isn’t sure what woke him.

He turns over, stretching his long limbs out.

He tastes the air, searching for any nearby differences. It did not really help much; he wasn’t quite used to the new surroundings to pick those apart.

But he did notice Shouta was not in the room with him.

Shrinking down into his smaller form, the boy hopped up onto his feet, ears pricked.

He first checks the water room, Shouta was spending a lot of time in there before he got tired of watching him and dozed off. But popping his head inside shows no signs of the two-leg.

That’s ok. There are still several more rooms! Shouta likes to move around a lot from what he noticed. He visits the kitchen a lot, where all the food is (and then Shouta gives him food!) Maybe that’s what he’s doing now!

Ducking his head out of the water room he bounced excitably to the kitchen with his tail held high.

But the two-leg wasn’t in there, either.

His heart stutters.

“Sho’ta?” He calls. Other than the noises from the moving pictures box, he hears nothing.

That’s—that’s ok! There are still two more rooms. Shouta would surely be in one of them!

 

Shouta was not in the two rooms, he was not in any of the rooms. He wasn’t even hiding in the hidey holes near the kitchen roof! Or in the one in the water room! He made sure to double check those places—and still nothing! Shouta remained to be missing!

To be gone .

Panic was shoving itself into his throat. He didn’t understand where Shouta went or why is was gone in the first place.

He was pacing fast around the den, still going from room to room hoping he just missed something and Shouta would suddenly show up again. But every look yielded in nothing.

The cats were trying to grab his attention, but he could hardly hear them over the rushing in his ears. Tears were stinging hot at his eyes as everything started to become blurry.

Shouta didn’t leave him, did he? Did he do something wrong? Was it that funny soft paper in the water room? Did Shouta get mad at him for playing with it? He was only having fun! He won’t do it again!

“Sho’ta?”

He wails, [ “please come back! I’m sorry!” ]

Something heavy slams into his shoulder, sending him sprawling onto the floor with a choked gasp.

[ “What—“ ]

A voice hisses into his ear, [ “kid you need to calm down and listen to us.” ] That was bastard.

Sniffling, the boy turned his head, facing the feline.

The cat looked annoyed. His tail was thrashing behind him with jerky movements. The boy laid there, patiently waiting for Bastard to explain himself.

However, it wasn’t Bastard who spoke up.

[ “Shouta leaves here almost every day,” ] Mocha dipped her head, [ “he always comes back, though, don’t worry.” ]

The boy stares at her. [ “How can you be sure? What if he doesn’t?” ] Bastard snorts from his spot on the boy’s shoulder and mutters to himself. He thought he heard something along the lines of “ Wouldn’t that be nice?” But before the boy can question the cat, Mocha pipes back in to reassure him.

[ “I wouldn’t lie to you. And besides, you have us until he returns, if that puts you at ease.” ]

He had to admit, that did make him feel the tiniest bit better.

Bastard jumps off from his shoulder as the boy relaxes and slumps farther onto the floor. He was exhausted after his little freak out. He didn’t even get to finish his nap! Letting out a long sigh, he wished he could go back to sleep. But he knew he wouldn’t be able to catch even a wink until Shouta came back.

He had to be sure he would.

The idea that Shouta left every day didn’t appeal to him. Even more so when it was still a strange place he was being left behind at.

He could hardly even stretch his legs here! It was too tiny for any real exercise, and there was no live prey in the den for him to chase. He longed for the outside air and wind against his pelt and the trees above his head and grass under his paws.

He also longed for Shouta to come back already.

[ “How much longer?” ] He whined.

[ “Kid, it hasn’t even been a minute yet.” ]

[ “But—“ ] He cut off, ears perking. There was a loud voice coming from the other side of the door he was never able to open.

Every muscle in his body tenses as it gets closer and closer.

Throughout yesterday and today, he would hear soft footsteps and quiet voices, but they would always pass and fade—paying no mind to Shouta’s den. At those times, Shouta didn’t seem to be worried about them, so he forced himself not to be either.

But Shouta wasn’t here right now, and the loud voice has stopped right by that unopenable door.

He could feel his fur prickling and scales popping into existence under his panic. But it was, ok. If he couldn’t get that door to open, then neither could an intruder. They’ll give up and leave.

Breath caught his in throat, he watched with tensed muscles as the knob rattles and shakes.

And clicks.

His vision goes red.

 


 

His phone goes off as he steps out of the corner store with a large plastic bag.

Not wanting to waste time, Shouta answered it while keeping a fast pace back home.

Before he can even muster out a simple hello, a loud obnoxious voice greets him.

“Shoooouta! Where were you today?! Why did someone else have to cover for you? If you were going to bail out on work today, you could’ve at least told me! So not very Plus Ultra of you!”

Shouta grimaced, holding the phone away from his abused eardrums as his friend continues to shriek through the receiver with no concept of how volume control on phones work.

School must be over then if Hizashi is calling, did he really spend most of the day doing nothing?

Grunting, Shouta replies, “did Nezu not say what is going on?”

“Why would he? You better not be trying to bail out on us only after a year of teaching, Shouta!” A pause, “and you better not be hurt, either! Or I’ll be the one who’s hurt that you didn’t even say anything!”

“Why did you jump to those conclusions? No, I am not leaving nor am I injured. I had to take care of—”

“I’ll have you know I have a very good reason to suspect you getting injured without saying anything, and that is—because you do it all the dang time! You keep overworking yourself, and then refuse to let your body heal over or to give it the proper nutrients it deserves! You can’t keep surviving off of those jelly packs.”

A shuffling on the other end of the line and the crinkle of plastic on plastic could be heard as Shouta rolls his eyes and turns the corner. His apartment is in sight now.

Hizashi hums. “Anyway, it’s good that you’re not hurt this time, it would have sucked if I had to turn around and race to the hospital when I’m already at your front door.”

Shouta’s steps freezes. “You’re what,” he picks up the pace, cursing, “shit, Hizashi do not go in there!”

“Why not? Are you not wearing any pants yet?”  Hizashi jokes, and Shouta could hear a pout in his voice as he continued.  “Tsk, tsk, Shouta, it’s already almost evening! You can’t laze away foreveEEUGH—”

A snarl and a splitting shriek cuts off as the line goes dead. Shouta curses, now sprinting down the sidewalk as he bursts through the lobby doors.

The elevator would take too long, so he dashes up the stairs, two steps at a time.

When he reaches his floor, a thunder of noise cascades all around him in pure chaos.

In front of his door was Hizashi, screaming curses through his doorway. A few more resident heroes dressed in normal clothes, are stalking forward, quirks and weapons at the ready. Every time they got too close a feral inhuman snarl would split the air, a green massive paw swiping at the crowd—forcing them backwards again.

Rage filled Shouta.

Hizashi built up another scream but ended up choking on air as his voice spontaneously died. A startled look flashing his face before he whips around, catching sight of very pissed off red eyes flashing in his direction. A snarl escapes his lips as he stalks forward, not unlike the beast the group had been facing.

“Just what the hell do you think you're doing?!”

Chapter Text

Then

 

He spat out dirt with renewed frustration.

The two foxes behind him howl with laughter at his sorry attempt of tunneling.

His “tunneling” had left him with nothing but dirt in his mouth and fur as every single one had collapsed so far.

Really, all he was doing was destroying the clearing.

He was glad he took up their advice on starting somewhere away from the place he called “home.” It would’ve been a mess.

Shaking the grains of dirt out of his fur, he looks back over to the foxes. They were calming down now from their little outburst. He found it funny at first, too. But that was hours and many attempts ago.

Now, he just wants to figure out what he is doing wrong so he can stomp home and nap already.

Even White was doing what he already longed for, snoozing away on a large rock that, the boy is certain, is toasting the cat up with the sunlight.

The feline had managed to grow a significant amount in the past two seasons, filling up nicely. He was still saddened every time his friend had to leave for the day, returning back home with the other cats and his family. Maybe one day White will stay the night. The boy is about to have a more protected home after all!

Well, maybe.

He scowls down at the failure hunk of earth. Why can’t he get it right?

[ “Are you sure you do not wish for us to help, green one?” ] One of the foxes offers, their laughter dying down.

The forest beast lashes his spiked tail. [ “I need to learn to do it on my own. What happens if I need a new one and you aren’t here?” ]

[ “Then, we’ll come back,” ] the other fox reasons, [ “we wouldn’t leave you without a dry place to call home.” ]

The creature remains silent. It’s not that he distrusted the two foxes but, well.

You never knew when the last time you’d see the same soul again. Promises can be easily broken, intentionally or not. Survival could be hard to those not prepared enough.

And he wasn’t willing to take the chance of losing a way out of the cold and snow when leaf-bare hits. Not when it seemed every new one was affecting him worse and worse, the cold freezing him to his core.

He sighed, turning to his guests.

[ “Maybe you can show me another demonstration?” ]

 



Now

 

“Are you sure we can leave you alone… with…”

“With a child? Yes, I do believe I will be just fine handling him. I can’t say the same for the boy after getting attacked by five grown adults.” Shouta growled threateningly at the heroes who were hesitantly standing outside his door. One hand gripping his shopping bag with white knuckles and the other on his idiot blond menace’s arm in a vice.

Awkwardly, the heroes hovered nearby, unsure if they should leave or not but under the eraser hero’s glare they dispersed.

Tugging Hizashi inside, he shut his door with a resounding thud. He could feel his friend tense up with a small eep!

The radio star was sweating bullets as he was glared down by the distrusting, furious, overgrown, monstrous rabbit. Mouth drawn in a soundless snarl; his green eyes were mere needle pricks as they refused to leave the nervous man’s form.

Shouta was prepared in erasing his quirk to discourage the freaked out boy from attacking the blond oaf. But then he noticed that the kid had moved from the middle of the room, to the farthest corner away. The top half of his furry body was puffed up and out making the kid look even bigger than he actually is. A similar tactic a frightened animal would do when threatened.

He didn’t look as if he were about to strike out, probably because Shouta was here now, very much not in danger and going as far to invite the person who attacked the kid inside his apartment.

The kid’s quirk must feel like a safety blanket, knowing full well he could protect himself with it. Taking it away now when he didn’t feel safe would only freak the kid out farther.

So, Shouta forgoes forcing the kid to switch back. Instead, his attention draws to the other furious residents in the room.  

“Look at that, even the cats are mad at you,” Shouta observed.

It was obvious who they sided with, pressing up to the kid comfortably and glaring daggers at Hizashi. Shouta sighed and walked over to the kid, checking for any injuries.

“Why was your first thought to attack? You didn’t think there was a reason he was in here?”

Hizashi splutters. “But it— attacked me first!”

“You seem unhurt to me,” came the unsympathetic reply.

Slumping, Hizashi reddened in shame. “I- was caught by surprise.” He bowed deeply at the bristling rabbit form of the kid. “I’m sorry! I freaked out! That was so not a very heroic thing to do! You don’t have to forgive me, but I hope you know how sorry I am, big listener!”

Despite not understanding his words, it seemed like the kid got the general idea. His fur started to lie flat as he relaxed slightly.

He still shot Hizashi a dirty look and grumbled, but he no longer looked as if he were about to pounce on the poor man.

It made Hizashi ease up, at least.

Shouta couldn’t find any injuries on the kid, and he seemed fine, if not a bit ruffled. He relaxed under the hero’s touch, even going as far to nudge his shoulder with a dark muzzle affectionately with a quiet chirp.

Bringing his arm up, he patted his muzzle reassuringly. “That’s just my friend. He’s an idiot but he won’t hurt you.”

Green eyes blink slowly at him, and he took it as a sign that he understood. Giving one last pat, he hefted himself up and slumped onto the couch.

Hizashi hovered before doing the same, his plastic bag crinkling. Shouta remembers his own, and places it onto the coffee table.

“So, what do I owe this sudden visit?” He asked, getting straight to the point.

“Oh! Well—I was worried, you know! You didn’t come to work today, so I thought you may have overworked yourself, so—I brought you some food, proper food!” His friend declares with a flourish, brandishing his bag of goods.

Shouta brushed him off. “I have food here, you know.”

“Jelly packs! Are! Not! Food!” Hizashi declared eccentrically, puncturing each word with a sharp jab of his finger. “And I sure hope you haven’t been feeding your new buddy those, either!”

He gestured to the corner. Green eyes narrow curiously back.

“Which,” the voice hero deflated into the couch, “you need to explain why you are currently living with a monster rabbit in your home.”

Shouta sighs, tired. “He isn’t a monster. He is a child. And as for why he is here, well…” He trails off, explaining his story about the run in with the traffickers and the kid’s involvement in taking them down, the kid’s injury, and then the predicament afterwards.

All the while, he could feel wary eyes boring into his back.

 


 

He didn’t like the bright yellow two-leg.

The two-leg was loud, bright, and obnoxious—not to mention he tried to break into Shouta’s den! Doing that without the den owner to invite them in was a sign that someone was untrustworthy! That they were up to no good! Den break-ins usually led to dead kits and stolen food. Or a slain intruder if they stupidly picked the wrong den to mess with.

And as Shouta couldn’t defend his den, that meant he had to.

That would be how it was in the forest.

But it seems with two-legs, it seems things are different.

Or maybe it was because they were already friends that the two-leg was allowed inside before Shouta. Did they do that often? Or maybe the yellow two-leg had no idea his friend was here?

It’s still rude, he sulks bitterly.

When the loud two-leg’s screeching brought the attention of other two-legs with mean expressions on their faces, the forest child almost freaked out. He was so sure this was going to turn into the situation with the bad two-legs from before and he would get hurt again, but this time be completely trapped in with his only exit being blocked. He wanted to run away so badly. To run, and hide, and be safe from danger.

It was scary . Something it seemed like most two-legs had in common.

But then Shouta arrived and swooped down on the invading two-legs, shooing them off.

Except for the one who started the mess.

As he glared at the new arrival, his nose twitched a mile a minute, taking in the newcomer’s scent.

It was… strange.

If “loud” had a smell, then this would be it. Where Shouta smells null and muted, the newcomer smelled sharp and deafening, overwhelming his senses.

He wrinkles his nose.

And promptly sneezes.

Beside him, Mocha is gently lapping at his fur, murmuring soft comforts into his ear.

The yellow two-leg let out a particularly loud screech not unlike a bird, that had the rabbit hybrid flinching back. Too loud.

This two-leg was eccentric. He was constantly moving, waving his arms with fluid, over-the-top motions, expressions and intent as clear on his face as a cloudless day.

He didn’t… seem bad. He couldn’t be if Shouta was friends with him.

But still, the boy’s fur prickled nervously. He wasn’t sure if he could ever—

The yellow two-leg pulls something out of a white carry-bag that had him perking up straight. He recognized that scent! What held in his hands was oblong, pink, and had the smell of strong copper.

Meat!

 


 

“Hizashi, while the kid would definitely eat that, I doubt he would enjoy it.”

“Nonsense! What kid doesn’t like tacos, Shouta?” The small beef roll nearly hits Shouta in the face as Hizashi waves it about. “Just one taste of my cooking will change that big listener’s life, forever! He won’t be able to resist! How he managed to survive off your cooking is a down right—”

Two tiny green hands shooting between the two interrupts the radio host. They latch onto the beef roll in a firm grip, yank it free, and deftly hops off the back of the couch and into the bedroom before the two could even process what had happened. The bedroom door shuts close with a resounding click .

A beat.

“Who was that?” Hizashi asked dumbly, staring at the door in befuddlement.

“That,” Shouta started, “would be the kid.”

“He stole the hamburger.”

“I saw.”

“And ran off with it.” Hizashi’s face twists then, chancing the question Shouta himself is wondering. “Er, what’s he gonna do with it?”

And, well, Shouta has a sneaking suspicion. It would only make sense, wouldn’t it? For someone raised in nature and around no human contact? Shouta doubts the kid knew how to set a fire.

His mind flashes to the meals he had cooked meat for. How the kid would eat it yes, but never without pulling a face as if he were eating it through sheer obligation.

Getting up, he opens the door where the kid disappeared off into, Hizashi hovering right behind him.

Sitting there in the middle of the room, with one hand halfway to his mouth holding a chunk of hamburger meat, was the kid. Sluggish blood ran down his chin in a thick congealed trickle, his mouth stuffed full until his cheeks bulged out.

On the floor, the packaged, raw hamburger laid torn into, already missing two thirds of its contents.

As Hizashi peeks over Shouta’s shoulder, the kid’s head snaps in his direction, sending a few small chunks of hamburger flying out of his fanged mouth with the movement.

Then, with enough speed to match a high speed truck, the kid swallowed his mouthful on the spot, grabbed the reminder of the meat, and swiftly devoured it within a few famished gulps that leaves Shouta wondering how he didn’t manage to choke during the process.

He finished, and still not breaking eye contact over Shouta’s shoulder where Hizashi stands unmoving, he swipes his tongue over his lips, cleaning himself of leftover blood and fat.

It wasn’t until the kid started to lick his hands clean that Hizashi finally spoke.

“Oh my god, Shouta. Please don’t tell me I killed your child already with raw meat,” he fretted, voice strained.

 


 

A frantic phone call later reassured Shouta that since the kid was most likely of a carnivorous breed of a quirk, that raw meat—as long as it was healthy—is completely fine for him to eat.

That didn’t ease his fears entirely.

If the kid got sick, then that would be on Shouta. He agreed to take him in and watch over him. Keeping him in good health was his responsibility as a temporary guardian.

But he couldn’t deny the fact that the kid actually enjoyed eating the raw hamburger meat more than anything Shouta had placed in front of him.

Genuinely, thoroughly, enjoy.

“I can’t withhold it from him if there are no consequences to eating it,” Shouta grumbles to himself quietly. Carnivorous based quirks required the user to eat meat in their diet as well, or they fall ill.

“Did you say something over there?” His friend calls over his shoulder, pausing in his cooking.

“I did not,” Shouta replied from his spot at the small table. Looking up from his phone where he had been researching carnivore quirk diets, his sights fall to the kitchen entryway.

In his indecision to be near Shouta, but away from Hizashi, the kid compromised by sitting down in the joint that connects the living room and kitchen.

For a while, the kid had been flipping between the pages of a book he snatched from the shelf. Shouta recognized it as a UA textbook he must’ve left on the coffee table.

It was filled with battle and strategy formulas and scenarios for hostages and civilians, among many more. Stuff that would no doubt fly over a child’s head.

Still, with every page turned the kid would stare at it for several moments, taking it in.

It took Shouta a few minutes to realize it was the pictures he was looking at, and he files away to possibly buy a few picture books for him.

Children usually use those to learn to read anyway, don’t they?

It didn’t take long until Shouta realized he hadn’t heard a page turn in a while, so he glances back up.

Leaning against the wall with barely closed eyes, he dozed lightly, his tiny hands curled onto the heavy book on his lap. Having his nap interrupted seemed to have finally take its toll.

Shouta looks away, allowing him to doze.

 


 

Later, after his nap, the kid mellowed out. Even going as far as to sit at the table with Hizashi hovering nearby.

Although… that may just because he can be easily bribed with food, Shouta observes to himself, watching the kid warily eye the extra food the blond is offering him. He slowly takes it out of Hizashi’s hands, and once he was sure he wasn’t going to yank it back from him, the kid perked, chowing down on it happily.

Hizashi beamed.

 


 

He decides Shouta’s friend isn’t that bad.

His change in decision certainly not because the loud two-leg was currently giving him more and more fruit, oh no, not at all.

It was all coincidental, the actions and character judging merely aligned into the same slot. He was never one to turn down food, after all.

Mocha had told him about the yellow two-leg. His name is Hizashi and he is friends with Shouta. Hizashi and a woman named Nemuri often showed up at Shouta’s den, either dragging him off somewhere or hanging and lounging around for a few hours before leaving again.

He didn’t like the sound of someone dragging Shouta away and out of his sight. Him leaving sent a prickle of panic blooming in his chest.

But it seems like Hizashi was doing the latter, and he was grateful for it.

When no more food was distributed and none was left, the boy decided that he could trust Hizashi and not worry about him attacking Shouta.

He hopped off from where he sat, stumbling a little over his feet before righting himself. He could hear Hizashi say something behind him, but figured he was talking to Shouta and paid him no mind as he bounced on his heels to the other room.

[ “He doesn’t seem bad,” ] he informed Mocha, flopping down onto the soft cushiony surface. [ “You were right.” ]

The tortoiseshell cat flicked her tail at him. [ “It was all a misunderstanding, I believe. Granted, that did not make his actions correct.” ]

[ “He is an idiot,” ] Bastard snorts. [ “I like this place because it is quiet. And that banana shaped moron is anything but.” ]

[ “I thought you liked having fun with him?” ] Juice Box pipes up, stretching his forepaws out.

[ “Terrorizing, yes. It is my brand and I need to stay on it.” ] Bastard pointed out. [ “But with his shrieking, it is nearly not worth the effort.” ]

 


 

“What’s up with the toilet paper, by the way? You couldn’t wait?”

Shouta sighed. “The kid shredded every single roll I owned.”

Hizashi stared at him, a beat of silence passes.

“What is he, a cat?”

“Honestly, at this point, I am not sure.”

 


 

A few hours later as Hizashi leaves, he waves energetically to Shouta and the kid who was peeking over the top of the couch.

Shouta watched as his head tilts, then slowly, unsurely raising his own arm and waving back.

Hizashi, delighted, cooed and gave one final wave before sweeping out the door in a flourish, wishing the two a goodnight and a promise he’ll see them tomorrow at UA.

Shouta hummed to himself in the now quiet apartment. From the corner of his eye he watches as the kid grins and waves to Juice Box, still repeating Hizashi’s action.

I should warn the other staff of this kid’s arrival, Shouta muses, I bet Nezu was going to wait until the very last minute to mention him .

That could be a recipe for disaster. The last thing he needed was for grown adults to freak out and in turn freak the kid out when he is still learning to get used to and trust other people.

He wasn’t exactly sure how to inform his coworkers, though. How do you explain the situation Shouta is in? That this six foot tall carnivorous rabbit kid that understands no Japanese was completely harmless if you just keep your heads on?

Shouta thumbs his phone. It lights up and he scrolls and swipes, searching for the correct item.

Behind him, the kid leans against the couch, peeking over his shoulder. “Sho’ta?”

Without looking, Shouta reaches his arm behind him to give the kid a quick pat on his head, still looking through his phone.

He finds what he is looking for, taps on it, and leisurely types before hitting send and putting his phone back away.

That should take care of it, he thinks to himself.

 



 

Flip.

Flip.

Flip.

A pause.

Naomasa Tsukauchi looked at the page file in his hand, a surge of hope flowering in his chest that he may have just finally found what he had been looking for these past few days.

The woman on the page looks back at the detective, green eyes as bright and charming as her smile.

She had long green hair, and a few freckles dotting along her nose and cheeks. In place where human ears would usually be placed, were two green, floppy rabbit ears.

Compared to the picture of a green wild haired, rabbit eared child, the resemblance was similar. Naomasa’s belief ran stronger as he continued down the woman’s information on her quirk.

A rabbit based quirk that was a cross of mutation and shifting. Her appearances included taking on rabbit-like qualities that only affected her ears and an added bobbed tail.

A simple, minor mutation.

But not the full extent of her quirk.

Her quirk allowed her to transform.

She could shift into a gigantic, ten foot tall, monstrous rabbit.

It was a dangerous quirk and labeled as such. As a civilian she had to be monitored despite her having a clean record. Naomasa didn’t understand why. He disregarded that for now.

The file included a photo of her transformation, and while it wasn’t… exactly the same as the little boy there were certainly uncanny similarities.

The first one being, she was very green.

Green, green, green.

Green fur, green eyes, green arms and legs and paws, all so very green.

But where the boy was quadruped, the woman was biped. Where the child had a scaly lower half, the woman’s fur continued down and all around, thicker.

There were differences.

But too many similarities as well.

And in the age of quirks, it was not unheard of for them to mutate in some way or form, depending on the other parent’s ability.

Naomasa was convinced that this must be that boy’s mother.

But as his eyes trail down her file, he frowned.

He stared at it for a bit longer, willing the words to form a different outcome. Give him something that tells him that his search is over.

But they do not magically shift and change.

Naomasa sighs, suddenly exhausted.

This woman’s file was, ultimately, useless.

Instead of putting it with the other discarded files, the detective sets it off to the side. It may still be possible for her relatives.

The child, from the data the hospital gave him, informed him that he was ten years of age.

Not only was Midoriya Inko listed as never married and without offspring, but she was also listed to have died a little over fifteen years ago.

 



 


 

 


 

 

Aizawa Shouta has shared a photo to UA Teaching Staff Group Chat

[ Picture of appears to be a large, green, furry. It is belly up with it’s forepaws tucked to it’s chest while it’s hindlegs are stretched out behind it. The creature is easily as big as the couch it is laying against as it snoozes away completely relaxed. Three cats are curled around it. ]

[Aizawa Shouta]

New cat, what should I name him.

[Midnight]

excuse me, new what?

[Vlad]

Where did you pick that up?

[Power Loader]

You seriously believe he just found it on the side of the street like some stray?

[Nezu]

Oh! Interesting!

[Vlad]

He could’ve.

[Vlad]

What do we know.

[Snipe]

name it Midori

[Midnight]

green? really?

[Cementoss]

It’s a cute name.

[Midnight]

It’s unoriginal!

[Thirteen]

What breed is he?

[Aizawa Shouta]

Big.

[Thirteen]

Thank you for being as helpful as ever, Eraserhead.

[Midnight]

hey!

[Snipe]

Meiji

[Midnight]

is no one going to question that is not a cat!

[Cementoss]

Matcha.

[Midnight]

because it looks nothing like one!

[Snipe]

seaweed

[Cementoss]

Mochi.

[Ectoplasm]

Are you positive you two just aren’t hungry?

[Midnight]

am i being ignored

[Snipe]

Kakigori

[Midnight]

shouta i hope you are prepared for tomorrow, first thing im doing is hounding your ass

Chapter Text

Then

 

[ “What’s the matter with you? Your fur is basically crackling with energy!” ] White complained as the beast-shifted boy turned in his nest for the umpteenth time in the short period.

He pawed at the leaves lining it in an effort to make his nest more comfortable, knowing that isn’t where the problem lays. He lets out an unrestrained sigh. [ “I don’t know! I feel… I feel too much .” ]

His feline friend snorts, [ “What is that supposed to mean?” ] His tone was rude, but the boy didn’t blame him for it, not with how late it was. Honestly, he was annoyed with himself too. He hated being interrupted out of his sleep.

But for some reason that only the stars would know, he started feeling restless as he slept on. Shifting and waking and falling back asleep before waking up all over again. His mind was racing, and his limbs felt like they were being pumped full of adrenaline. Heart beating faster and faster until he was sure the small thing would burst from his chest. He felt like he could run for a moon and never tire. He felt clammy and nauseous from the sudden boost, his pads were hot and damp, and he knew if he switched back to his two-leg form he would be a sweating, jittering mess.

He felt exhilarated.

He felt sick to his stomach.

[ “I need, I need to get out. Now.” ] He wasn’t even sure if the words escaped his too tightly clenched teeth before he hurtled out of his den. If White made a comment or followed him out, then the boy wasn’t aware of it.

He burst out into open air and inhaled deeply, greedily sucking in the fresh sharpness of it all into his heaving lungs.

It wasn’t enough.

He needed to run. He needed to get rid of this foreign energy.

So he did.

He ran and ran, hardly aware of the forest floor passing over his fleeing paws as it rushed under him. The forest blurred, splotches of greens and dark colors against the night.

If he crashed and slammed into trees and rocks or fell harshly into ditches, not seeing where he was going, he didn’t notice. Merely shaking it off as he stumbled to his paws again, lurching forward to continue his fever-induced run through what is probably no longer his territory.

How long he ran, he wasn’t sure. But daylight was streaming down through gaps in the trees as his consciousness slipped back, returning his awareness.

He stood there, heaving for breath and blinking harshly at his surroundings. He ended up in a part of the forest he had never visited before.

He collapsed onto his side and shifted down. He was just. So exhausted now. 

A small chest fell and rose as he laid there, spread eagled on the grass.

Whatever that strangeness that had taken a hold of him was, it was gone now.

Perhaps that worked a bit too well, he couldn’t help but acknowledge with lidded eyes.

He was… so…. tired….

The boy didn’t even have the energy to shift back into his beast form before he slipped into unconsciousness.

 

It wouldn’t be until several days later he would manage to drag himself back into his own territory and nest, hoping that would be the first and last time that random spell of sickening energy would spill into him.

 


 

It wasn’t, of course.

 



Now

 

He awakened to a strangely familiar smell.

It was pleasant and thick; he simply couldn’t inhale the air hard enough to entrap that delicious scent in his nose forever.   

Getting to his paws, he noticed that Shouta was already missing from his nest. For the second day in a row, he was surprised to see it vacant. He prided himself on being a light sleeper, alert for anything that could possibly threaten him. He should be aware when Shouta wakes before him.

But instead, the man skillfully avoided waking him, shimmying out of the nest somehow.

The boy had slept on the floor next to it, right in front of the low point. He always sleeps in his beast form, so there was no way to step over him, not when he more or less has Shouta trapped.

He must’ve left from the sides… they’re lower down than the back of the nest, he observed.

Not that he was trying to trap Shouta, he just thought it would be safer! The boy personally avoided sleeping in his two-leg form because he never felt at ease to. It was too small, too vulnerable. An easy target for coyotes and other larger predators sulking around at night. No one would dare to harm him in his own larger form.

Shouta didn’t have a beastal form, so it would fall onto him to protect the older two-leg, wouldn’t it?

Although… he guesses Shouta is a lot bigger than himself and would be more intimidating than a scrawny kid. And there was also the fact that this wasn’t the forest and the boy has found nothing more threatening around here than Bastard cranky from a nap.

And that yellow two-leg.

A face-splitting yawn breaks him out of his train of thought; he arches his back and stretches his sleep stiff limbs.

Recovering, he shifts into his smaller form and trots into the kitchen.

Shouta sat in there, sipping something from one of those small cylinder bowls that was only reserved for liquids. It gave off the same heavenly scent that he had awoken to.

Shouta looked up at his entrance and greeted the boy, who blinked in response. He could spy some food on one of those discs in the spot he claimed, but he decided to hold off for a few minutes. First, he wanted some of that stuff that smelled so good.

[ “What’s this smell?” ] He asked Juice Box, rousing the feline from a light doze.

The orange cat blinked sleepily at him for a moment.

[ “Coffee,” ] he yawned deeply, [ “Shouta drinks the stuff every morning, usually.” ]

Juice Box must’ve seen how his eyes shone at this new information because he quickly added on, [ “Don’t be fooled by its smell; the stuff is downright awful . I have no idea how Shouta manages to chug that stuff down daily.” ] That last bit was more of a grumble as the cat shifted his paws under him.

 He believed the cat was telling the truth, but the boy just couldn’t see how something that smells that heavenly could be gross! And if Shouta was drinking it then it had to be good, right? He wanted to find out!

So, he marched away from the cat and up to his two-legged companion, stopping right in front of him.

“Sho-ta!” He demanded, pointing a finger at the drink.

Shouta pulled his drink closer to his chest, looking down at him with a raised brow. The dark haired two-leg shook his head and the boy recognized the word, “no,” among some other ones he didn’t.

The boy flicked his tail. “Can ‘ave?” He repeated. Over the past two days, he observed that Shouta liked it when he tried to imitate his words. He suspects that the two-leg is trying to teach him his language, not that the rabbit-eared boy minded. He never had to deal with a language barrier before and it was… frustrating not knowing what was being said. And he really wants to know!

The two-leg repeated the sentence himself, as if confirming. The boy may not know exactly what it meant, but he knew it was along the lines of Shouta denying him.

He doesn’t understand why. He only wanted to try it, too! From the thick, overwhelming smell smothering the kitchen, he could tell there was more than what Shouta had.

Ears drooping slightly, he tugged at Shouta’s leg, looking up at him with pleading eyes.

Shouta shifted, averting his eyes. He gave a sigh when the boy tugged at his leg again. Reaching over the platform where they have their meals, he picks up another one of the tall drink bowls and presents it to the pouting child.

He blinks at it, nose twitching. Inside he can see the white cream drink he likes. His hands momentarily hesitate, tempted to grab it from Shouta and chug it down in one delicious gulp.

He looked at Shouta’s liquid bowl. Then back to his own.

Frowning, he shook his head and pointed to Shouta again. “No,” he urged, [ “I want that one.” ]

The man sighs again; the boy has to scramble backwards as he stands up, taking both drinks with him.

One of those square holes with doors is opened as Shouta rifles through one. Pulling out another drink bowl, the boy watches curiously as he pours the white cream into the new one.

Shouta walks back to the meal platform where the boy was still standing. Hunching over, Shouta offered him the new drink bowl.

Looking between it and Shouta’s, he noticed that it was the same short shape with a small handle off to one side. Ears perking up, he excitedly took it. Shouta walked past him to sit back down, so he followed suit as well.

His first instinct was to greedily chug down the refreshingly cool cream, and he was halfway to doing so until he noticed that Shouta was sipping his own, slowly and often.

Slowing down, he mimicked him, stealing glances between his sips. The tired-looking man made no notice of him, still looking down at that weird light up rectangle that changed pictures.

Licking his lips, he set the drink bowl down and dug into his food.

 


 

He watched as Shouta sorted the stuff in that one room the messy-haired boy could never manage to open himself.

Standing on the tips of his toes, he could see that the room was tiny , a small, tight space jammed pack full of things. His hands itched. He wanted to go in there. It looked like a perfect place to hide and stash. That must be why Shouta keeps his own things in there. If he had his things with him, the boy would waste no time in claiming that small cranny for himself and his hoard. Safely protected, easily guarded.

Instead, he falls back to the flats of his scaled feet. [ “What’s he doing?” ] He asked the nearest cat, Bastard.

Because Shouta was definitely doing something. This was different than yesterday morning; his actions seemed hurried.

[ “He’s about to leave for the day. He usually does around this time in the morning,” ] The cat replied with a shrug of his head.

The boy snaps his full attention onto the feline. [ “Leave? Where to? Why?” ]

[ “I dunno.” ] He gave the boy a cautious look. Flicking his ear, he adds on slowly, [ “He always comes back, later. It’s normal.” ]

He understood that the cat was trying to reassure him, but his mind was on repeat of Shouta leaving . Shouta leaving and him being left alone with the company of three cats. Shouta leaving him in a place he was still unfamiliar with.

Leaving and returning.

Because who is to say he will. Who is to say this will be the day he doesn’t come back, despite what this cat claims? There is always a chance, always a possibility that when someone departs it will be the last you see of them. He lost count of how many times it happened in his forest, his family of cats being his biggest blow.

He doesn’t want it to happen again.

So, that is why, when the worried boy heard that his companion would be leaving—his legs kicked forward.

And he found himself running.

 


 

A sudden weight to Shouta’s back legs caused him to pitch forward. Bracing himself onto the frame of the closet door, he was just able to prevent himself from stumbling into his belongings.

Craning his head downwards, he can see a small hand gripping tightly on his pants. Angling himself more reveals a teary-eyed, ears drooping kid. His eyes held a flame of panic and dismay as his bottom lip jutted out in a quivering pout.

He places a hand on top of those unruly curls. “What’s gotten into you, problem child?” He asks, peering down.

“Sho-ta, no,” the kid whimpered, “no.” No, what?

Did he puzzle out that he was leaving soon?

He must still be freaked out over yesterday, he thought.

“Don’t worry,” Shouta calmed him, still gently running his fingers through green hair, “you’re coming with me this time.”

“Sho-ta, no.” The persistent tugging didn’t cease.

Huffing a sigh through his nose, Shouta leaned down and scooped the kid up with one arm. He straightened up again and turned back to the closet. He was nearly finished gathering his supplies.

The kid fidgeted in his hold. The puff of fur on his tail tip kept brushing and catching in the hero’s clothing, once even poking into his side, giving him an uncomfortable prick as the stiff hairs twitched. From the corner of his eye, he watches as the kid grimaces, forcing himself to go still. Shouta pretends to pay it no mind.

He finishes up, throwing in what is necessary for today’s job and zipping the messenger bag closed. Sliding it off from where it was hung, he shut and locked the small closet once more.

With the kid and his bag in hand, he walks to the couch, setting them both onto it. Green, damp eyes look at him curiously.

When Shouta brought the kid to his home from the hospital, he had been sedated to make the trip easier. People overwhelmed him, and his stay at the hospital had shown how dangerous he could be when pulled taut. That was perhaps to be expected from his situation. Waking up in a strange place surrounded by strangers after the kid had been cornered and attacked the night before would stress just about anyone out.

But the kid has a dangerous quirk. And Shouta lacks a proper way to communicate with the child to trust him completely that he would not transform in the middle of the streets and cause a panic among civilians.

Shouta can cancel the boy’s quirk.

He could give him suppressants if the hero didn’t want to take any chances.

Or,

His fingers tap on the small box he pulls out from his bag.

Inside, laid neatly in a row, were several liquidized doses extracted from that doctor’s quirk, a calming pheromone.

This was probably the better option.

He wasn’t sure how the kid would react to having his quirk voided for several hours while going to a new, unknown place with more unknown strangers. It was his safety net, his way to protect himself. It suddenly going missing may only give him a greater reason to freak out.

So, Shouta would calm him instead. If he can get through this at least once and see that the people outside will do him no harm, maybe he will be more at ease at the thought of being around them in the future. The second time wouldn’t be as nearly scary as the first.

Popping one open, he gives it a little shake in front of the kid, its contents sloshing sluggishly against its container.

“Here, drink,” he told him. When the kid only looked at it with a frown and a twitching nose, Shouta gave a little demonstration. Covering the top with his thumb, he tilted his head back and pretended to take a sip from the vial.

This easily got the kid’s attention. Leaning forward, he grabbed at Shouta’s hand to get a hold of the vial. The hero let him take it from his grasp and watched as he sniffed at it one more time before chugging it down in one quick gulp.

Retrieving the empty vial, Shouta clicked the box shut and dropped it into the safety of his bag. The pheromones were fast acting; as Shouta stood up from his kneeled position, he could already see the kid relaxing, his movements becoming sluggish.

Shouta slung his bag over his shoulder and picked the kid up into his arms.

“Ready for your first day at UA, kid?”

He only received a slow blink in response.

 


 

On their way to UA, after Shouta had managed to wrangle some pants onto the little gremlin, (seriously, what is with his hatred of wearing pants?) Shouta received a ping on his phone.

Shifting the kid a bit so he was holding him with one arm, he fished his phone out of his pocket. As he flashed it to life, the kid scaled his shoulder just a little to view behind him.

They were passing people on the streets, different in their own ways; different sights, noises, scents, a never-ending murmur of the crowd as it pushes and follows. Shouta caught the boy just taking it all in, closing his eyes and inhaling the air as deep as he was allowed. With his hospital visit and being cooped up in his apartment, this was his first visit outdoors in several days, he realized with a twinge of guilt.

Despite his dazed state, the boy was still ever so curious.

Shouta opened his messages.

 

[Powerloader]

Your goggles are all fixed up, stop by later.

 

That was good; he would be relieved to have them on his person again.

All that really needed to be replaced was the back strap that had snapped, which he is sure was quick work. Shouta just didn’t have the opportunity to return to UA to fetch them until now.

He shrugs, slipping his phone back into his pocket.

“Sho-ta?”

“Hmm?” He hummed at the drowsy voice.

A sleepy yawn and a face snuggling into his neck was the answer he received back.

 


 

“Aizawa! Hello! A good morning to you, I hope!”

The kid startled against his neck at the high-pitched, squeaky voice of the principal.

Lifting his head up, the kid looked down with bleary green eyes at the rodent and stared.

Nezu’s grin somehow grew wider. “And a good morning to you, too,” he greeted.

The kid’s eyes bugged. He blinked rapidly, his head swinging from Shouta to Nezu with a look of absolute confusion; Shouta couldn’t help giving a small tick of a smile. When he looked down at Nezu for the fifth time and the rodent had not vanished into a dream hallucination mist, he looked as if he had no idea what to do about this situation, and his eyes glazed over with a vacant stare, the methodical cog turning over in his brain too fast for him to handle.

In the end, the kid decided to just look anywhere but the talking, walking, animal principal. He looked around, taking in the sight of the school grounds, his ears being the only indicator that he was unsettled. Shouta wanted to laugh.

Nezu led the way to Gym Beta. It was the farthest gym from school grounds, more out of the way than the others. Gym rotations may be a bit tight for a while, but Shouta knew no student would complain not walking the extra distance.

Opening the doors, Shouta had to blink to make sure he was actually walking through a building. The kid gasped in awe and Shouta felt a similar sentiment.

Inside, covering nearly every foot of the gym, was a small, wild forest. Leafy undergrowth littered the floor in disarray. Bushes, trees, flowers, grass, it was all there looking completely and utterly untamable. Hell, the floor had been replaced with dirt. How the hell did Nezu manage this in a few short days?

He asked him that exact question, not yet letting go of the increasingly wriggling child wanting to get down and start exploring every inch available to him.

“Once I explained the situation, Cementoss and Kamui Woods were quite cooperative in helping out with the remodeling process. If I am aware, this child grew up in a similar environment.”

“We’re not one hundred percent certain of that just yet,” Shouta pointed out, even though the signs all pointed to yes, he did, in fact.

The quirk dosage must have worn off by now, because the kid was whining up a storm, and it became more difficult to hold him.

Eventually, Shouta gave up and set the kid down, who wasted no time at all in running forward into the makeshift forest. In a blink, he was out of sight, though Shouta could still hear him.

“It would be good for him to get some exercise, I must admit,” Shouta sighed.

Isn’t this a bit excessive, though? the only place that didn’t look like a jungle threw up on it was the entrance way.

Shouta wanted to question Nezu on why he would go through such lengths for this child he never met before, nor knows anything about. Why he agreed to let him inside school grounds in the first place when the kid already killed two adults and possibly a teenager. Why didn’t he express more caution?

But when Shouta opened his mouth to question the principal, Nezu was already escorting him out the door, telling him to come over sometime between breaks, waved farewell, and vanished back inside the building.

…Well… things will be fine.

Probably.

 


 

What a strange place!

Here was a forest, and yet it wasn’t a forest?

It looked like one, but… it felt…

Weird? Fake? Stale?

No other scents of animals, no wind that rustles the leaves on the trees, no sky above that tells of the weather and time, no sunbeams between gaps where you could lay to get warm, no, no, no.

Things were missing and it was strange.

But not really bad?

I missed running around like this , he observed, kicking up into a particularly high tree branch.

He liked Shouta’s den, but… it wasn’t really the best place to stretch his legs.

I saw lots of trees before we entered this tree den, I wonder if I can visit those? He wanted to feel the wind, too!

A wave of homesickness washed over him.

I wish I could go to my own forest.

Would Shouta not agree? Maybe he doesn’t remember how to get back to it. He isn’t even sure how to get back to it.

Thinking about Shouta, the boy feels a bit guilty for running off like that—he should’ve brought the two-leg with him! During the time he spent in his den, that guy hardly moved! Surely two-legs need a good run as well?

Pleased with his decision, the boy turned on his heel and made his way back to the den entrance. It took no time at all to locate it, but when he saw that Shouta was nowhere in sight—he frowned.

Tasting the air was no good—his scent already starting to fade. Did he leave?

His tail gives an anxious twitch. He really hopes Shouta didn’t. As much as the boy is grateful for the chance at some exercise, he still isn’t familiar with this place.

He’ll come back… right?

That was when another scent hit him, this one much fresher and one that sent goosebumps down his arms.

Please don’t be that thing, please don’t be that thing, please don’t be that thing—

He turned, slowly, and saw the creature he had been dreading.

It was… something.

A rodent? A bear? A dog? Its scent was downright confusing. It made his head spin in circles just trying to decipher the offending smell. Prey? Predator? Shouta was talking to it earlier, and he recognized the same sounding language from the creature’s mouth, another one of Shouta’s friends then? He could feel the beginnings of a headache start to form.

The boy wrinkled his nose. He doesn’t look away.

“Sho-ta?” He questions. Will it understand?

It smiles, sharp-toothed, and replies and, ah, right.

He is the one who doesn’t understand.

He recognized Shouta’s name said back to him, though.

[ “Where is-- ] Sho-ta?”

Frustratingly enough, the creature only waves his paws around and gestures for the boy to follow him.

He doesn’t want to, though. He doesn’t even know what this thing is!

It keeps talking, too. A non-stop stream of words not understandable to his ears, it’s voice reminding him of young fox cubs and their high-pitched voices. He wants to be curious and find out just how this thing ticks. Why does it smell like something he would hunt down for dinner but also not?

Eventually, he loses interest in just standing there, listening to the creature chatter continually, and goes over to the den entrance where he leapt from Shouta’s arms and into the makeshift forest. The cats at the two-leg’s den called them “doors.” Said cats were very eager for him to constantly open them to allow them into one of the den rooms, which he gladly helped with. He knows how to open a door.

He does not know how to open a door.

It refused to budge.

First, he pulled on the weird handle. It shuddered under his yank but stayed firmly closed. Pushing against it yielded no successful results either. He frowned.

[ “Is it because the handles are weird…?” ] He muttered quietly to himself. The handles at Shouta’s were circular knobs. These were—bars?

His mind flashes to the small room Shouta was messing with this morning and the den entrance door. He couldn’t open those doors either. Is this one the same? But they just walked through it! How can you only open a door sometimes?

Why are two-leg things so weird?

One of his ears twitches and he lets out a sigh because that thing is still talking.

Maybe there is another way out? He didn’t explore all of the fake forest, there could be something back there.

So, he turned around and rushed back into the thick of the trees. He could hear that thing call out to him, but he ignored it, instead focusing on finally transforming into his beast form. His four legs gaining distance faster than his tiny, twiggy two legs.

It wasn’t a far run; this place was tiny like he suspected. But at the end was… something he didn’t expect.

The forest ended here. In its place were weird, smooth rocks. Tall and twisting in ways the boy didn’t even know was possible. It reminded him a bit of the steep ditches in his own forest that he had to watch out for at night. One wrong move and he would find himself falling and tumbling down several feet. Knocking around and hitting his head and body roughly all the way down. He was lucky if he didn’t manage to sprain anything when he did fall. That was rarer than not, depending on exactly which ditch he stumbled upon.

This area looked a lot steeper, so he turned away from it. What he is searching for doesn’t look like it is over there anyways.

Or anywhere over here.

Do all two-leg dens only have one entrance? In the forest, foxes kept several, ensuring that if one was ever blocked or in danger, they would have another escape route.

Even he had one more exit—just in case. That was more in fear of his entrance collapsing and him getting buried alive, though.

Fangs working at his bottom lip, he wondered what to do. Looking around, he couldn’t see any “ windows” at his level—they were all way high up for some reason. What does that accomplish? Aren’t windows for looking outside?

Maybe I can dig out?

That was no good. The dirt was actually quite shallow, and his claws hit solid rock not soon after he started digging.

There is still that… thing, he thought ruefully, straightening up once again.

That thing didn’t follow him into the small forest, and the boy betted it was still waiting exactly where it was before.

He would rather avoid it, but…

I want out of here and back with Shouta more. If that creature knew how he could achieve that, then… so be it.

 


 

Nezu stood there, waiting and attentive. His attention focused on the small bit of nature before him with his little white paws folded neatly in front of him.

He didn’t move from his place, because he knew he had no reason to. The principal knew it was the best possible route of action for him to partake.

If he had followed the child, then the child may have grown aggravated. He cannot afford for the child to hate him. He needs his trust.

So, Nezu waited, ever so patiently.

He hadn’t needed to wait for very long, either, before the boy returned.

Except, he was no longer a human child.

But a large, humongous, rabbit-related creature. Rabbit do not usually carry scales on their bodies, but quirks worked in mysterious ways.

And despite Nezu’s efforts, the boy still seemed quite annoyed. With his bristling fur, thrashing tail, and pinned back ears, it was the perfect picture of agitation. Nezu could guess the reason as to why.

Even through the leaps and bounds Nezu went through to make this gym as close to the child’s previous home (with some added extra enrichment, may he add!) it wouldn’t hold a candle to the real thing. The space they had to work with simply wasn’t enough to capture it. And on top of it all…

He’s trapped in here, and he knows it.

“So, you have returned! Would you be willing to follow me now?” He questioned politely, keeping his gaze even under the child’s glare. Goosebumps threatened to break out, but he refused to show any cowardice in front of the child. His instincts are crawling, scratching, screaming at him to run, to cower, to flee. That this creature is very, very dangerous.

He held firm, banishing those betraying instincts away. He will not fall into them.

The weight of the glare eased; the creature released tensed muscles as he glanced away. Nezu got the sense he was pouting.

The child transformed back into what he was—a child. He looked so awkward standing there, several feet away from Nezu—not wanting to get closer. Still, his green eyes searched Nezu warily.

Wary. Not hostile.

Nezu could work with that.

It made himself feel better that he was not the only one who was uneasy; Nezu hopes the child is just as curious as Nezu is of the boy.

“Well? Come along, then. I think you may like this, if you are an eager one.” Nezu beckoned again, and thankfully, this time, the child stepped forward. Hesitance was written all over the child, but it was progress, nonetheless.

Nezu grinned.

“Perfect!” He cheered.

He turned, making his way to a small little room separated from the forested area he made out for the child. He made sure his back was always at an angle where he could still keep the child in his peripheral vision, never allowing the boy to fall completely out of sight. The eyes he could feel burrowing into his back spoke of the same.

Cautious, wary, uncertain.

He opened the door to the small room.

“Please, have a seat!” His voice squeaked with confidence. The boy, he already knew couldn’t understand him in full, but Nezu doesn’t believe he is totally clueless. So, Nezu sat on one of the couches himself and gestured to the other just across from him. He watches as the child tilts his head, and ever so slowly, steps into the small room and circles around to sit opposite of the principal. From this angle, the child can see Nezu and the opened door.

Understanding languages to an extent, the child follows clues accordingly. He knows some Japanese already with the use of Aizawa’s name. But there is more to it. The child has a language of his own. This is good news.

“Feral” children tended to not do well once returned back into society, being too far into their state of minds and instincts.

A lot tended to die, after a while. Most were locked away and looked after for the rest of their lives not understanding their fate. It was rare for one to be introduced into society as their own person.

Those that did better than the others were the ones who learned some form of their own language.

It helped, in a way, to learn the things that made them human.

So Nezu read.

“I see you already learned of Aizawa Shouta’s name! An excellent starting point.” Nezu nodded. At the mention of Aizawa’s name, the child visibly perked up, his long rabbit ears standing to attention as he repeated back the teacher’s name questionably.

“From what I understand, neither party knows exactly what your name in question is, just yet. So, we’ll start with mine,” Nezu crossed his legs and folded his paw into his lap. “My name is Nezu; I am the principal of UA High School. Okay? My name is Nezu.

He only had to repeat his own name twice more before the child let out a hesitant little, “… Nd’zu? ” Granting Nezu a smile.

“That’s correct!” He piped.

The principal shifted forward in his seat. There, between the two couches, was a small little table. On top of it laid a neat stack of papers and an assortment of pens, pencils, markers, and crayons. A variety of colors. There was also an envelope full of snaps of pictures of seemingly everyday items.

He pulled the first picture out and grabbed a pen.

“Now, with introductions out of the way, let’s get started on your first lesson,” he declared simply.

 


 

Through some kind of miracle, Shouta had made it to lunch time without encountering Nemuri. Not that he was avoiding her; he just didn’t have the energy for whatever tongue lashing she was willing to inflict on him.

Yes, yes, he should’ve told both her and Hizashi about the kid sooner. If he did, then that disaster yesterday wouldn’t have happened. Probably.

He slinks off towards Gym Beta with a bag full of enough food for him and a horse. That kid ate a lot, he was starting to discover. The small meals he made at home hardly made a dent before Shouta caught the kid’s stomach rumbling not soon after.

Being at UA will help, there’s usually a trove of leftovers.

The gym was locked when he arrived, but that was no problem as he had a key.

Which staff member was currently watching the kid, he wondered? Nezu said something about shifts. Shouta didn’t have a class right after lunch, so perhaps he could grab the next slot and give whoever it was a break.

Hope the kid isn’t too upset with me for leaving suddenly .

With leisure, he unlocked the doors and stepped inside Nezu’s newest insane indoor decorum.

The kid wasn’t in sight, but that didn’t surprise him given all the damn trees.

“Hello?” He called out, “Kid, I have some food if you’re hungry. Come and get it.”

He waved the bag of food for good measure as he eyed the entranceway.

Really, where is he going to sit? Looks like he won’t have much choice other than the dirt floor.

“Sho’ta!”

Shouta could hear a rapid set of footsteps rushing towards him.

Surprisingly, they didn’t come out of the makeshift forest, but from an offset room he hadn’t noticed before.

“There you are,” he hummed, swinging the bag as he made his way to the little room. “I brought you food; let’s eat.”

“Food! Hn’gry? Sho-ta! Hn’gry?” The kid was bouncing around him in obvious excitement and delight. And, relief?

A pang of guilt for leaving the kid on his own prodded at Shouta, but it was quickly replaced with befuddlement.

“Since when did you know those words?” He didn’t teach him that.

“Since today!” A squeaky voice answered him, and Shouta had to bite back a groan as Nezu’s furry white head popped up from where it had been hidden from view on the couch. Shouta couldn’t help but blink when he saw the principal.

The rodent looked like a mess. His usual sleek, well-groomed fur was in a ruffled disarray. If someone could gain eyebags in half a day, Nezu certainly would have accomplished this feat. He looked strained, and he seemed to carry about a certain… twitchiness with his body language.

“Are you… okay?” Shouta asked, somewhat taken aback.

“Of course, of course. I simply…” he paused. “Forgot how it was to teach younger children. Is all.” That ever-present smile never faltered from his face, though it did seem a bit forced. Nezu straightened up the collar of his tiny suit. “I’ll just have to be more prepared next time. We managed enough headway today, I believe, so I’ll let you handle it from here, Aizawa.”

And just like that, he gave Shouta a little nod and left the room, the kid watching as he did so.

Once they were alone, those green eyes focused back on Shouta, squinting in happiness.

“Food?” The kid reminded him.

“That’s right,” he remembered with a little shake of the bag.

 


 

Despite having more food than Shouta, the kid still somehow managed to finish before him.

So here was Shouta, slowly chewing on a turkey sandwich and listening to an excitable kid recite the new words he had learned in a few short hours with obvious pride.

The new words were as followed: “Nd’zu”, “N-me”, “Food”, “Hn’gry”, “Whater”, “Out-side”, “Bed”, “Toy-let”, and “Bath.”

As butchered as some were, the words were simple, everyday basic needs that would already make life just a little bit easier to communicate across with.

A weight suddenly pressed itself against Shouta’s side.

It was the kid, leaning against his shoulder with a curious look on his face. Letting out a questioning chirp, he pointed to Shouta’s neck.

Or rather, what was around it.

“My goggles?” He assumed, fishing them out of his capture weapon.

“Mind gaggls,” the kid repeated back, reaching for the eyewear. The strap pulled at his neck along with the movement.

He studied them for a long minute before a pleased look overcame his face. Warbling to himself, he replaced the goggles with a look of pride.

Shouta wasn’t exactly sure what that was all about, but he couldn’t help but share the kid’s good mood.

 


 

“SHOOOOUUTTAAAAA!”

Shouta jerked awake—when did he fall asleep?— as a heavy body crashed into his back and an inhuman, vicious snarl sounded from his side.

The weight leaped away from Shouta. “Whoa! Sorry, little guy, didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Nemuri,” he sighed, placing a hand on the kid who looked ruffled and somewhat out of it. Looks like Shouta wasn’t the only one who fell into a nap. “What are you doing here?”

When the kid made no more attempts to snap at her, she gave her friend a scornful scowl. “What do you mean, what am I doing here? I’ve been looking for you all day ; you’ve been avoiding me!” She accused.

“Where’s your proof?”

“Where’s my—you haven’t stepped foot in the teacher lounge at all today!”

“Of course I have, and if you’d woken up early this morning, then you would’ve seen me there.”

“Shouta, you know I’ve been dying to ask about—” she gestured to the grumpy child eyeing her warily, “—all this! How could you leave the explaining to Nezu? No—how could you do nothing more than post a picture to the staff group chat and then bounce right off?”

“It’s been a busy few days; it slipped my mind, is all. He’s been a bit of a handful,” he shrugged, though not unkindly. 

“I don’t see how. He looks like the sweetest little thing,” Nemuri cooed over the couch. “Look at his little bunny ears! How adorable!” The kid flinched away from her hand that reached out to ruffle his hair, growling warningly.

“Give him space. He isn’t familiar with you yet.” Shouta cautioned.

The female hero complied without a fuss, switching back to her aweing.

“What’s your name, little guy?”

A flick of his ear. “N-me?” he echoed. It was one of the new words he learned today.

“We’re not sure what it is yet. The kid doesn’t know, either.” Shouta responded for the kid, who glanced at him and then back to Nemuri, who paused her affections.

“No name? What do you call him then?”

“…Kid?”

“Shouta, your creative mind impresses me each and every day.”

That’s funny, she didn’t sound impressed.

“For his sake, let’s hope his name is found, otherwise I’d feel sorry for the poor thing if you had the choice to do so.”

Well, that’s just mean.

Stealing a quick look at her watch, Nemuri suddenly straightens up. “Oh, man, I wasted way too much time trying to hunt you down. I’m going to be late for my next class at this rate.” From her place behind the couch, she pushed Shouta’s head forward into a forced bow. “Next time tell your friends what’s going on! Hizashi and I could’ve helped out, you big idiot.”

Releasing him, she made to reach out to the kid again, but aborted the action partway through and instead gave a friendly wave. “Bye, cutie! See ya, Shouta.”

And with that, she left.

Shouta let out a deep exhale, his head falling back against the couch.

Tilting his head, he peeked over at the kid who now had his full attention.

“So, now you’ve met both of my friends. What did you think?”

Turns out, his thoughts on the matter were curling up again with a yawn. His intentions clear to continue his nap.

Shouta could feel a similar sentiment. 

 

Chapter Text

Then

 

It was easy to communicate with rabbits, he found.

Not in the same way as the cats and foxes in the forest. No, it was more of a… connection. Like he could reach out with his mind and feel the creature.

Their thoughts, their feelings, all was exposed to his own mind. It was an intimate thing.

But as it was, rabbits were simple animals. Even though he could connect with them, he really didn’t get much from it.

Except the fact that it made hunting them very easy.

Most of the time when he reaches out to them, they halt in their tracks and go limp. And all he had to do was swoop in and take its life. Easy prey!

He didn’t understand the weird connection with rabbits (though he did have a feeling it might have to do with the fact that he was possibly one—have you seen those ears?) but at the end of the day, he wasn’t worried about it.

[ “Nice catch,” ] his friend, White commented, bouncing up to him. [ “Saving it for dinner tonight?” ]

[ “No, I’m actually thinking about giving it to this vixen I met the other day,” ] he admitted, [ “she’s pregnant and said she hasn’t had much luck in finding prey, so I thought I could help.” ]

[ “You need to eat too,” ] White sniffed, but didn’t argue any farther.

He understood his friend's concern, the weather was growing colder, after all and prey was becoming scarce. But he liked helping! And the time he spent with the cats made him learn that expecting queens needed a lot of food to keep their strength up so their kits turn out healthy.

Besides, prey wasn’t too rare yet, he’ll find another in no time flat, he’s certain.

So, without further ado, he picks up the rabbit in his jaws and saunters to the side of the forest where he has a vague idea where the vixen dug her den.

By the time he located what he assumed was the vixen’s den, the sun was already in a different position in the sky, no longer at its peak.

He set the rabbit down next to the entrance and softly called out.

[ “Hello?” ]

He stood there for a few beats, waiting for a reply. When he received none, he continued on. [ “I met you the other day, I brought some prey for you!” ]

Still no answer.

[ “The fox scent seems a bit—stale?” ] His feline friend commented from where he hitched a ride on the boy’s large shoulders, the lazy thing.

White was right, though, he realized inhaling deeply. The scent was stale—by at least a day.

He frowned. He’s not an expert on foxes by no means, but they should at least return to their den to sleep at some point, right?

[ “Maybe I can track it,” ] he suggested, hopefully.

The rabbit would only muddle his smell, so he left it near the entrance of the den, making sure to scrape dirt over it first. Maybe the vixen will come back while he searches.

[ “If that’s what you want…” ] White grumbled, shifting closer to the boy.

He understood his friend’s discomfort. Cat’s didn’t usually roam into this section of the forest as it was dangerous for them to do so, especially alone. The only reason he came at all was because no one would dare to attack him while the boy wondered right next to him—beastal or two-legged.

The boy hummed reassuringly, tasting the air once again for a scent trail.

He snags one after a few attempts and chases after it carefully.

He didn’t have to go far.

[ “Oh…” ] The white cat gasped softly as the boy’s entire body froze in place at the sight before him.

A terrible, rank smell hung in the air. It penetrated the boy’s nose and clawed at his insides, squirming, writhing, threatening to slash at his stomach as bile flooded rushed to the back of his throat.

In front of him, was the vixen.

Mouth drawn back in a wordless, gasping, howl, she laid there with her body twisted and limbs splayed out before her as though her last moments were spent writhing in pure agony. To her side, was a puddle of vomit that gave off an absolute awful stench.

With a jolt of horror, the boy realized it wasn’t just vomit, but mixed with it looked like organs .

  Are those hers?

[ “She must have drank that two-leg poison!” ] White hissed suddenly.

Forcing his eyes away from the vixen, he tries to work his mouth over the dryness that seemed to have taken over.

[ “Wh… poison?” ] He asked blankly.

The white cat seemed troubled. He leapt from his spot on the boy’s shoulders and took a cautious step towards the dead animal, sniffing the air.

[ “Yes… poison,” ] he finally growled out after a minute of silence. [ “A season back, a few cats drank some vile stuff found in the two-leg place. They became ill and then eventually,” ] he points to the vixen with a flick of his tail, [ that happens to them. They puke up all their internal organs and die on the spot.” ]

He was horrorstruck.

Can that really happen? The answer should be obvious. The proof was right in front of him.

[ “Why would she go there, though? I thought the forest foxes hated going over there?” ] He argued weakly.

White’s ear twitched. [ “Probably because…” ] he trailed off, then shook his head. [ “It doesn’t matter. Listen, we should bury the body and waste so no one else gets sick off of it, give me a hand.” ]

He wanted to challenge his friend because he knew something, the reason why this vixen laid here unmoving. But the words died in his throat. Swallowing, he moved his paws and dug into the cold earth.

It wasn’t until later that night as he settled into his nest and after they had buried the body and got rid of the poisoned-laced vomit, that he realized why his friend had changed the subject.

If the vixen couldn’t find food in the forest then, where else to look but the two-leg city?

If he had taken prey to her yesterday instead…

And that was when he remembered the rabbit. Left behind and forgotten in another part of the forest.

What a waste, he couldn’t help but to think.

 



Now

 

“Kid.”

Silence.

“I know you can hear me.”

Not even a twitch. The large beast rabbit stayed still, his only movement being the rise and fall of his chest as he snores gently.

But, oh, Shouta knows. He knows the kid is a big, sneaky, faker.

Shouta exhales deeply, his arm flopping back to his side in defeat.

A week has gone by since the hero took in the kid who barely knew a lick of Japanese. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least.

Shouta never knew that, even for a hero, his life had a sense of normalcy. Between home, teaching, patrols, and even with the random outings with his friends from time to time there was a routine in it all.

But that had been torn down from the roots up as soon as he took in someone who had no sense or meaning of the concept.

The kid was curious about everything .

His favorite way to pass the time?

Crawl into small, hard to reach places that Shouta didn’t even think was possible. Sure, the kid was tiny but tiny enough to climb into the cupboard and startle the poor man when he opened it up to grab a cup? Or how about somehow flattening his body and squeezing under the couch and grabbing at Shouta’s ankles when he sat down? Or what about the day where he couldn’t find the kid anywhere in sight no matter where he looked, and it wasn’t until he heard giggling from above that he found the problem child in the vents . (Shouta tried not to think about what a disaster it would’ve been if the kid wandered too far into them.)

Hiding wasn’t the only issue, though. The kid nearly gave Shouta a damn near heart attack when he exited the bathroom and saw that the boy had somehow got ahold of a fork, (didn’t he lock up the utensil drawer??) and was waving it around trying to pry a wall outlet straight off. Shouta had bought those plastic little outlet plugins after the incident, but the thing was, those were made for small toddlers . This kid knew they could be easily peeled off and for some reason was strangely fascinated with them!

The kid understood the concept of no, don’t do that, but sometimes his curiosity would win out and he’d go right back to doing it.

He is antsy, energic, hyper, and too curious for his own good.

And the thing is, Shouta can’t even blame him for it. The kid simply has no concept on how to correctly act and what to do, not yet at least.

With Nezu slowly teaching him how to communicate, things have been getting better.

As tilted and chopped they are, Shouta can at least have some form of talking to the kid and vice versa.

For instance, he wants the kid to sleep on the bed instead of on the floor next to Shouta’s spot on the couch, because that can’t be comfortable.

But the kid refused and made it clear that he would only sleep near Shouta. He isn’t sure why, but he suspects the kid is either lonely or afraid the man might suddenly disappear if the kid didn’t keep an eye on him.

That left him with finding out some sort of middle ground for the time being.

So, with the hope of breaking out of this behavior in the future, Shouta reclaimed his bed and the kid finally slept on a soft surface properly since he got here.

Very rarely did the kid sleep as his normal body. When he did it was usually as an impromptu nap. Every other time he slept as his large beast rabbit body, which wasn’t that big of a deal. It felt like a large dog was asleep at his feet.

No, the problem was waking up.

Specially this morning.

At some point during the night, the kid managed (on purpose) to roll over and sprawl out on top of Shouta, completely and totally—trapping him.

It’s only been a week and he already doesn’t want to go to school, Shouta sighed to himself. Because he is pretty sure that is what this is all about.

Going to school meant Shouta had to leave for hours. And that was something the kid hated.

“We’re going to be late, you know.” 

A snore.

“And then Nezu will lecture me on the importance of being on time, and all that. Is that what you want?”

The kid only snuggled closer, breaking his sleeping façade briefly. And Shouta could only lay there, being crushed under a giant furball.

Embarrassingly, it took him a few minutes to come to a solution.

He erased the kid’s quirk, who flailed and squawked with indignation at the sudden shift. Shouta took the now open chance and rolled off the bed before the kid could gather his bearings.

“Sho’ta, bed,” the kid pouted with big, pleading green eyes. “Bed,” he repeated, patting down on the blankets.

“No bed,” Shouta replied. “It’s time for school.”

A sad whine follows him out as Shouta left the room.

 


 

Snipe was tasked with first watch today. Shouta nodded at the cowboy-themed hero where he resided in the viewing room close to the ceiling.

Him being here meant Nezu wouldn’t show up until after lunch to slowly teach the kid how to speak. Snipe wasn’t in charge of that, and he was only present to make sure the kid didn’t get into any mischief or come across any sort of problem. Given his situation, the kid needed to be constantly under observation. (No need to repeat Shouta’s idiotic move from the week before. Really, what the hell was he thinking? )

The underground hero left before those green eyes could convince him into staying. Still, a trickle of guilt made its way known, nonetheless. He has a job to do, damn it.

“Sensei! Is everything well? You seem a bit out of it,” a student with blue hair questioned, his hand halfway held in the air.

“It’s nothing,” Shouta grunted out automatically, pushing down on his feelings. “To continue off with last time…”

A job. He has a job to do.

 


 

The musical tune of a ringtone sends a pause in Shouta’s grading.

His pen hovers inches above the paper as he fishes out his phone, checking who was contacting him. He raised an eyebrow, seeing it was detective Tsukauchi. Did the man find something?

Excusing himself from the teachers’ lounge, he slipped into the hallway. It was completely deserted, as classes were being held.

“Detective,” Shouta greeted, accepting the call. “Please tell me you found out who this kid is.”

“Unfortunately, I have not.” Tsukauchi informed him, a trace of frustration in his voice. “I thought I had a lead, but, well,” a sigh. “It didn’t lead to anywhere in the end.”

Well that really is too bad, because now it meant Shouta couldn’t strangle whoever the hell thought it would be a good idea to abandon their kid in the middle of a forest and left to possibly die.

“I will still search around, but as this happened years ago, I do not hold very much hope. I am just informing you that since we cannot locate who or where his previous parents are, and due to the nature of his quirk, we’ll need to relocate him into a special foster program that specializes in dangerous or volatile quirks. The only issue is—”

“There isn’t a space available for him, yet?” Shouta finished, remembering their previous talk.

The detective sighed. “Right. And in the meantime, you’re still our best candidate until then, hope you don’t mind.”

“It’s fine,” he grunted into his phone. “We already have somewhat of a routine going on, anyway. I don’t think it would be wise to break it so soon.”

Tsukauchi hums with amusement. “Growing attached already?”

Shouta ignored him. “What about the kid’s name? What happens when nothing can be found? The kid hasn’t a clue what it is.” And calling him kid all the time is getting old, he added to himself.

“Well, as his current guardian the responsibility falls on you.”

Shouta blinked. “You can’t be serious.”

“Afraid so! Please make sure to tell me what his new name is once you pick one out! Farewell!” And just like that, the detective hung up.

Nemuri’s teasing words from before echo in Shouta’s head. She was correct. Shouta does suck at names. He was downright awful with them. Luckily for him, all he had to name were cats.

So how the hell was he supposed to name a human child?

 


 

[Shouta]

I need help.

 

[Nemuri]

tell me something we don’t know lol

 

[Shouta]

I am required to give this kid a name.

It’s an issue.

 

[Hizashi]

That poor, poor child.

He’s going to suffer a fate worse than death!

Being named by Aizawa Shouta himself!

 

[Nemuri]

aw I’m personally looking forward to one day teaching

Coffee Milkshake one day

just think about it

if I say I need coffee am I talking about the drink or

the little boy?

no one will know and we’ll all be as equally confused

 

[Hizashi]

Coffee Milkshake?

 

[Nemuri]

just look at his naming pattern

Mocha? Juice Box?

Coffee Milkshake would be a step up

 

[Shouta]

What’s wrong with Mocha.

It’s a cute name.

 

[Hizashi]

Nothing to say on Juice Box?

Or Bastard?

 

[Nemuri]

maybe you’re first step is changing that kitty’s name

how can you expect a 10 yr old to say bastard

 

[Shouta]

My bad, his name is also Asshole.

Or Slimy Weasel

Or the Bane of my Existence

Even now, that little shit is trying to knock off my mug.

I can see it in his smug little eyes that he knows

  exactly what he is doing.

But this isn’t about him.

Now help me.

Please.

 

[Nemuri]

resorting to begging are we shouta?

 

[Shouta]

Yes.

 

[Hizashi]

Well, I suppose we can help you.

 

[Nemuri]

for the little boy’s sake

 

[Hizashi]

100% for the little listener’s sake.

 

[Nemuri]

entirely not for You

 

[Shouta]

Guys,

 

[Hizashi]

Well, it’s not really our decision in the long run is it?

If you let him know what you’re doing, why not let the little listener

pick his own name in the long run?

 

[Nemuri]

is that wise?

I doubt he has a good grasp on proper names too

what if he gives himself one now and later on it’s like

the equivalent of your Naruto phase but Permanent

 

[Hizashi]

What’s that supposed to mean?

 

[Nemuri]

don’t worry about it

 

[Shouta]

It’s a start, at least.

It would take off some pressure if he likes the name I give him.

 

[Hizashi]

Look up one of those baby naming websites!

That should prevent you from naming the little listener

after a flipping condiment.

 


 

He was watching, what Mocha called it, the “TV”.

The word sounded funny in his head, but he knew better than to question Mocha. She knows so much!

The “TV” was interesting though. Most of the time it showed other, tiny two-legs on the screen talking and doing stuff. There was a lot of fighting and screaming, as well. One time, they got so violent that one of the angry two-legs killed another one, their blood flooding the ground in a way he didn’t think would be possible. There was so much of it that he was disappointed he couldn’t catch a whiff of tangy copper. Shouta changed the pictures on it once he realized what was being shown, to his confusion.

Maybe Shouta couldn’t handle blood?

Right now, he wasn’t sure what it was being shown, but whatever it was, the pictures were colorful and attention grabbing and silly. Every now and then he would catch a word he learned from that weird Nedzu creature and he would swell with pride.

He was doing so well, he was sure!

There were still a bit, no, a ton of words he didn’t understand and it made him more lost than not when watching the TV or trying to hang on to every word Shouta and Nedzu say.

In return, he tried teaching them how to speak his own tongue. But every single time that ended in him getting the weirdest looks! They don’t even try!

[ “I wouldn’t be too upset with it,” ] Mocha said when he told ranted to her about it. [ “Human’s just can’t… understand our tongue correctly. Aside for you, of course.” ]

[ “Oh, that doesn’t stop them from trying .” ] Bastard snickered. [ “They’ll meow back but it’s usually nonsense words. It’s downright hilarious.” ]

One of the boy’s ears twitched uncomfortably. Am I making a fool out of myself? He wondered. He really didn’t have much of a reference point.

Mocha noticed his uneasy expression. [ “Don’t worry, you’re doing fine to my knowledge,” ] she reassured him. [ “Shouta is teaching you directly, isn’t he? That man isn’t usually one to prank someone on that level.” ]

Pressing his lips together, he decided not to say some weird rat creature-thing is the one teaching most of the words he’s been learning. Shouta always seems pleased at his new knowledge when he repeats it back, though so maybe it was fine?

Speaking of Shouta…

The two-leg just walked up to him and plopped onto the empty spot next to him. He was holding that rectangle thing that reminds the boy of the TV, but much smaller.

Brows knitted; the dark-haired man seemed to be mulled something over. Despite knowing he wouldn’t understand, he wanted to know what was worrying Shouta so much.

He was about grab the two-leg’s attention, when he caught a flash of orange from the corner of his eye.

Following it, he watched as Juice Box leapt from the ground and onto a platform connecting to the wall just a few feet above. The cat nosed through the little trinkets lining the platform, somehow avoiding knocking any down during the process. A spot at the end was clear of any obstacles, he circled around it and tucked himself into a tight ball. With an amused flick of his tail, he realized the feline had every intention of falling back asleep, but higher up.

“Kid.”

Shouta was talking to him!

With pricked ears, he questionly turned to face his current denmate.

It seemed the man had finally made up his mind with whatever was bothering him, but he still seemed… unsure? Is it about me?

Did he do something wrong? He doesn’t think so.

Shouta’s dark eyes darted at his rectangle again and back to him. Lowering the rectangle down, the boy was able to catch the word name when Shouta spoke.

He perked. When someone said name, it was usually followed by being introduced to someone new. But, he wondered in bewilderment, no one else is here.

“N-a-me?” He echoed. Maybe he heard it wrong?

But Shouta was nodding along. “Name, your name.”

The boy frowned. His name?

“Na-me, no,” he told him, shaking his head. Didn’t he already tell the silly two-leg this?

Shouta paused. “Give name.”

G-ive? ” Give name? He already told him he didn’t have one, how is he supposed to give Shouta his name?

The adult must have misunderstood his questioning tone, because he was going along as if the boy knew what he was going on about. He repeated about giving name and then looked back down at the weird rectangle thing.

And started listing words off.

What’s he doing? Shouta was looking at him expectantly. When the boy did nothing but blink in confusion, he would then list off another seemingly random word, stop, and look at him, waiting.

And then the realization of what he was doing struck.

Shouta didn’t want him to give his name.

Shouta wanted to give him a name.

Tilting his head, he wondered how he felt about that. He’s had titles, sure, but even during his time with the cats no one outright gave him a name. It wasn’t really needed . If you did get a name in the forest, they were often just used as a throwaway one-time nickname. It’s never bothered him before.

Should he get a name?

Does he want one?

His tail twitched. At his continued silence Shouta listed off another assumed name.

The city is different though. Every two-leg he’s met (and a rat) had a name. The cats too! Was it the influence of living so close to the two-legs? Not only the cats that live with Shouta, but there was also that one loner named… Noodle? He thinks. Having a name here was the normal.

What would happen when he returns to the forest, though? Does he keep it or discard it? Do you change your name when you get one? How do you receive one usually? Pick one out? Oh, but, Shouta is doing that right now isn’t he? Do you only get your name from others? Who gave Shouta his name? And the cats? Did Shouta name them too? Does he want a name? Will he like one?

“—ku.”

He snaps out of his thoughts, focusing back on Shouta. What did he say?

Shouta blinked at his sudden attention. He paused.

“…Izuku?” He repeated slowly, testing the waters.

The base of his tail tingled. Izuku? There was something about the name that the boy really liked. He felt as though something was nudging at his back as though saying, that’s you. That’s who you are. His green eyes gleamed like the sun hitting the river’s surface.

“’Zu-ku!” He echoed. Swiping his forked tongue swiftly over his lips he tried again, “ee-zu-ku, e’zuku!” He shouted with a wide smile.

Shouta smiled at him, relief and fondness visible in his eyes. He chuckled, saying something to the boy but he could only catch the last phrase.

“Your name is Izuku.”

And Izuku preened.

 


 

“I’d like to ask you two a favor, if you think you can handle it,” Shouta asked nonchalantly at Nemuri and Hizashi as they walked up to the Gym Beta. It was the day after he had given the name Izuku to the kid, and the school day was nearly over.

“Who do you think we are! Of course, we can handle it!” Hizashi predictably shouted out in a very Present Mic way. Nemuri rolled her eyes and unlocked the gym for all three of them to pass through.

Instantly, Izuku bounced up to them, his previous wariness of the two seemingly forgotten in his excitement.

“Za-shi, N’murai!” Izuku trilled at the group, stopping in front of them. “My’n na-me, ee- zuku!” He boasted, puffing out his chest.

His friends already knew, of course, as Shouta had told them the night before. But that didn’t stop them with over the top reactions for Izuku’s sake. Praising and repeating Izuku’s name back to the kid, who looked like he was about to burst with pride. Words couldn’t describe just how relieved Shouta was that he had found a name Izuku liked too much. Even the wonder duo said that the name was a good one, and that he had done a good job in picking it (even if all he did was look at naming websites and breaking out in a cold sweat when the kid gave no reaction whatsoever to any previous names beforehand.)

“Oh, my, Izuku, how did you get so dirty?” Nemuri cooed. Shouta shot a quick sweep and saw that she was right, the kid was filthy. Izuku was covered from head to toe in dirt and dust. His green bushy hair was even bushier with little bits of leaves of small sticks poking out.

He must’ve been playing in the mock forest when he heard us walk in , he deduced.

Biting back a sigh of exasperation, he realized Izuku had ditched his pants again and was running around in his boxers. What’s with his hatred of that piece of clothing? Shouta wasn’t looking forward searching for them.

Nemuri leaned down to help dust him off. Izuku allowed her to, only flinching slightly at the first point of contact, but once seeing she meant no harm, he continued to happily say his own name.

Hizashi fell in beside Shouta. “So, what was it you needed?”

He hummed. “I want to pick up patrols again,” he admitted, “but I’m not sure how Izuku will handle it, and the fact he shouldn’t be by himself.”

“So, what I’m understanding is; you want us to be on babysitting duty,” the voice hero guessed.

“Yes. One of you, anyway. The kid’s familiar enough with the two of you.”

“Aw, Shouta! I can’t say for Nemuri, but I’d be down right delighted to watch over the little listener!” Winking one pale green eye, he added, “Just you wait! By the end of the night we’ll all be the best of friends!”

 

Chapter Text

Then

 

It was cold.

So, so very cold.

His body was wracked with involuntary shivering. His teeth clicked and chattered and hurt .

It didn’t matter how far underground he was, or how tightly he curled up on himself, not a single ounce of warmth made itself known. He tucked his ears flat to his neck, where his fur was the thickest, and yet the cold still nipped at them, sending waves of stinging pain.

He couldn’t even feel his lower half. It had already gone completely numb.

Leaf-bare was always the worst. He hated the cold. He would rather lay on a warm patch of grass and sunbathe for hours, soaking in sunlight. That was the best.

But with leaf-bare; daylight was fleeting, and nights were stretched out, never ending. And worse of all, prey was almost nonexistent.

Even now he could feel a whine building in his throat as hunger stabbed at his insides. Why couldn’t that be numb instead of his back legs? What he wouldn’t give for it to just go away .

What he wouldn’t give just for something… anything to eat. To sink his teeth into and tear and rip and ravage. For the wonderful feeling of hot blood dripping down his chin as he nosed into his prey savoring its warmth that was untouched by the cruel freezing cold touch of leaf-bare.

 He didn’t notice the drool flooding his mouth until his clenching stomach brought him back to his harsh reality.

His eyes pricked. Squeezing them tightly shut, he whined loudly. Why did it seem like every leaf-bare was steadily growing worse? The cold used to never affect him this badly!

A thought of shifting down into his smaller form and wrapping himself up in the large blue cloth-pelt popped into his head. But the creature shook it off as soon as it came.

No, the cloth-pelt was getting too thin these days and the torn holes made it hard to keep warm anymore.

His mind drifted, where did he find that again?

Oh, right… from a dead two-leg… that was during the leaf-bare too, wasn’t it?

But it was so long ago. And it was getting hard to think. His brain felt like thick mush, slogging to grasp the details.

That two-leg came during the leaf-bare… he’s pretty sure he ended up feasting on it.

Did he finish it?

Was there any waste?

Will another show up?

If he eats… will warm up?

He sighed longingly, his eyes dropping closed into an uneasy, fitful sleep.

He didn’t have the energy for anything else.

 



 

Now

 

Shouta was doing something very strange.

He was getting dressed in the clothes he wears to that big place, but it was nighttime! Silly Shouta, doesn’t he know they go during the daytime? He should be getting dressed in his bedtime clothes!

Izuku said as much.

 He puffed out his chest with his important news and pointed a small furry finger to the large nest-bed.

“Sho’ta, bed,” He told him.

But Shouta shook his head. “No bed for me.”

Izuku frowned. No bed? He does not like the sound of that. Izuku loves to sleep!

Shouta opened his mouth as if he were going to say more but was interrupted with a knock.

When Hizashi and Nemuri, Shouta’s friends, pranced right on in—Izuku was confused. Why were they here?

As usual, Hizashi was loud—shouting a greeting to him and Shouta with exaggerated flair. Izuku had to bite back a grumble as he reflexively shrank his ears down to avoid the onslaught of noise.

They were both good people, he knew that by now! But they were honestly just too much for him.

The sickly sweet smell of powdered gas grew stronger as Nemuri swooped down to Izuku, whose neck prickled in automatic fear at the scent. He forced the feeling down, ducking out of her reach.

Nemuri pouted but did not try again. She cooed praises at the boy, stopping only when she turned to talk to Shouta so rapidly Izuku couldn’t even hope to catch what was being said.

His tail flicked irritably. Couldn’t this wait until tomorrow? They see each other every day! They get to see each other every day, all day, while Izuku gets dropped off with nothing but the company of a rat for hours on end.

Why do they have to come now and cut into time they could be using to sleep?

His irritable mood was tossed aside when Hizashi reached into his bag and offered the boy a treat that immediately caught his nose.

A green hand instantly snatched it. It was soft under his touch and smelled of sweet honey.

It was absolutely delicious and Izuku would love to have more of whatever this is, please.

“Izuku.”

He paused in licking his honey sticky hands and let out a questioning trill at Shouta, who knelt next to the short boy.

He patted the top of his fluffy head, speaking slowly. Even so, all he could really catch were the words; “stay,” “work,” and “morning.”

He blinked, confused. It only grew when Shouta hefted himself to his feet and walked to the door. Were they going back there again? Is that why his friends were here?

With a flick of his tail, Izuku made quick work of grabbing Shouta’s hand and yanked it. He didn’t want to go back now , he wanted to sleep!

“Kid,” his denmate sighed with a hint of exasperation, “I’ll be back, ok?”

Still, Izuku refused to let go, and showed no sign of yielding. Shouta might be strong but so was Izuku, and he had no qualms with throwing a fit until he got his way.

Unfortunately for him though, he was very easily distracted.

As soon as he heard the crinkling of plastic and smelled that honey sweet scent from behind him, he was on it in an instant.

Shouta slipped out of the apartment unnoticed.

 


 

Little Izuku blinked and looked around after happily stuffing his face full of honey buns. “Sho-ta?” He called, searching with big eyes. How adorable!

“He’ll be back later!” Nemuri chirped. “Shouta has to go take care of important hero stuff.”

Izuku ignored her words however, running up to the door to catch up to Shouta.

“Nuh-uh! I am afraid it's much too dangerous for a little guy like you to do hero work!” Hizashi tutted, blocking the door. “Do not worry though! You have us—your aunt and uncle! We’ll have loads of more fun than that stuffy old Shouta,” he winked wagging his finger. “What do you say to that , kiddo?”

Nemuri didn’t think little Izuku looked even the least bit overjoyed at this. In fact, she could catch the subtle sign of his tail tip bristling in agitation. Something must’ve shown in his eyes as well, because Hizashi seemed to pale slightly before reining back under control.

“Right!” He clapped his hands together loudly. “Bedtime?” He offered weakly.

“Already?” Nemuri questioned teasingly, amused at the helpless expression he shot her.

The amusement died when little Izuku bared his fangs and growled in a way that was near inhuman and Nemuri was reminded that even though he was currently a quarter of her size, he could grow into a monstrous form in a heartbeat.

Ok, shit, think fast.

What do kids like?

Playing outside?

Nope, can’t do that. It’s already dark.

Reading?

He can hardly string a full sentence together.

Getting into mischief?

That’s what they were trying to prevent!

What else, what else?

Oh!

“’Zashi, let him play your switch! Distract him with the power of video games!”

 Face twisting in a hesitant frown, her friend looked as if he did not like her brilliant plan to save their asses. Well that really was too bad for it was the karma of bringing such a device to a babysitting job.

Of course, she forgot to take into account that Izuku has zero experience with any such activities, so their trump card was wasted under his unamused glare. Fuck.

It’s going to be very humiliating if we have to call Shouta back not even five minutes after he left , she couldn’t help but to cringe to herself.

The commotion must have awoken Shouta’s cats, because Mocha rushed into the living room meowing up a storm at the disturbance.

Nemuri felt compelled to apologize.

Mocha’s target seemed to be the steadily growling boy, trotting up to him without a care in the world as she wove herself between his legs.

Izuku looked down at the cat and Nemuri had a fleeting worry that he might attack the small kitty.

But to her surprise it was just the opposite. The growling died down to a mere rumble in his throat, shot Hizashi a dirty look, and then turned on his heel and stiffly curled up on the couch. Mocha followed him and jumped up to sit next to him on the armrest, still meowing softly in his ear.

Did they just get one-upped by a cat?

Izuku seemed to be holding on to Mocha’s reassuring presence, but even so he still sulked gloomily as though his favorite toy had been snatched from under him.

Hizashi was quick to jump into action now that Izuku wasn’t snarling threats in his direction. He flopped onto the couch—an arms' distance from the wary boy—and grinned sheepishly as he booted up his handheld, the title logo chiming.

At first, Izuku was trying to sink away from the man, merging closer to the armrest. But the strategically tilted screen in his direction soon caught his attention and Nemuri could see his green eyes light up curiously. And inch by inch, he leaned closer, eyes darting as he watched.

Grinning, Hizashi offered the device to Izuku, who took it hesitantly, unsure what to do. The radio host was eager to show him though, guiding his hands to the controllers and rolling it around. Nemuri couldn’t help the goofy grin that overtook her face when Izuku gasped in absolute delight at the character moving at his command. Hooray for video games whisking away another victim to its clutches!

Nemuri collapsed on the other side of Hizashi, leaning over his shoulder. “What game did you give him? If it’s a violent one, the sleepless gremlin might just murder us.”

“Spyro!” He said, glancing at her. “Honestly, it’s the only game I have where you do not need to understand what’s going on. The little listener can have fun running in circles and breathing fire all he wants.” With a quick look she could see that, sure enough, that was exactly what he was doing. It was cute to see Izuku having a blast at watching a little purple dragon rolling in the grass and jumping and gliding all over the place.

 Nemuri stretched out her legs before tucking them close, her gaze slipping to the television. It was a rocky start with little Izuku, but all they had to do now was wait for him to be lulled into sleep. And by the time he would awaken, Shouta would be back home. As adorable as it was that Izuku wanted to follow the poor man everywhere, maybe this will open the little boy up to allowing him to go out on patrol every few days.

 


 

Nemuri jerked awake.

The room was dark, the television dull and silent as images flashed mutely.

When did I fall asleep?

She looked up and spotted Hizashi sitting on the other couch, a bored expression on his face as he mindlessly watched his phone.

Nemuri glanced to her side, then frowned. “Where is Shouta’s kid?” She asked, eyes sweeping around the room.

Hizashi startled, surprised at the sudden interruption to the quiet.

“The little listener went to his room,” he said, pointing to the closed door. “He got restless after a while and attempted to go out the door again, but he gave in pretty easily after I told him no, you cannot leave!” A smile twitched on his lips. “I thought it was going to be another fight, but all he did was huff at me! Then he went in there and I haven’t heard a peep since, so I assume he must be on the fast track to snooze land.”

Nemuri nodding along drowsily, not really paying attention.

Sitting up, she stretched, her back popping in a way that couldn’t possibly be healthy.

She got to her feet. A midnight snack sounded nice. Perhaps a cup of coffee too, so Hizashi could have a chance at some rest.

On her way to the small kitchen, Nemuri cracked the bedroom door open, expecting to see a tiny mound on the blankets and to hear soft snores.

She stopped.

And blinked.

Opening the door a bit wider, her eyes strained in the dark, darting from one shadowed corner to the next. In a frantic movement, she blindly shot her hand to the wall next to her and flicked the switch, throwing the bedroom into bright light.

“Hizashi,” she said, not turning around.

“Hmmm?” He hummed distractingly.

“Are you sure Izuku never came out of this room?”

“What?” He asked, finally tearing his gaze from his phone.

Nemuri turned, slow and pale faced until her blue eyes met pale green.

A beat.

Then the peace was shattered.

 


 

“Been a while since we saw ya last, Eraserhead. Where’ve you been?” An officer joked lightly. His pen scritching on a small notepad in rapid note-taking.

“Busy,” Shouta grunted, distractingly. The back of his mind tingled with foreboding. He hopes the kid is alright.

He was concerned, but the hero had to admit it was refreshing to be free for patrolling and doing his part in keeping the streets safe at night.

Eraserhead had stopped a villain just a few short minutes ago. The villain was really nothing more than a petty thief, but the hero had arrived on scene right as the thief had gotten pissed off at her victim, pulling out a rather intimidating dagger.

The erasure hero wasted no time in jumping into action, twisting the dagger out of the thief’s hand and swiftly knocking her out.

He checked and confirmed the victim was uninjured, if not a bit rattled. Eraserhead bound the unconscious thief’s hands together before hefting her over his shoulder.

Nodding to the victim reassuringly, Eraserhead started up a light jog to the nearest station.

He spotted a police vehicle partway, parked neatly at the side of the road, and Eraserhead figures, hey, what the hell, let’s drop the thief off with them, they take her to the station, and Eraserhead can go back to jumping over rooftops. A fast and efficient exchange.

What the hero did not consider, however, was one of the officer’s being extremely chatty and blather on about the most mundane happenings.

 Eraserhead forced himself not to snap at the man to hurry it the hell up , as he regrets not lugging the thief to the station on his own. Maybe he still could.

The chiming tune of his phone rang out and the hero all but leapt to the distraction.

“Excuse me,” he grunted, nodding sharply to the officer as he fishes out his phone.

He steps away, leaning slightly on an adjacent building. A stone dropped deep in his stomach as he glanced at the caller id. Why was Hizashi calling him? Usually the blond texted him with mundane updates or ridiculous jokes. He never rang him up when he was out for patrol.

Did something happen with Izuku?

Hizashi texted him hours ago that he went to bed. Was it something else?

Wasting no time in hitting answer, he brought the phone up with a swift movement, mouth already parted in asking just what the hell is wrong — but he was ultimately interrupted before the words even left his mouth by the piercing, panicked screech that sliced through the night like a knife through paper.

The voice was near sobbing and incomprehensible with rapid blubbering.

Shouta did catch one thing, however.

“What,” he growled menacingly, the voice ceasing with a held breath, “do you mean he lost the kid?!” His growl transformed into a yell near the end, nervous eyes darted in his direction.

 


 

Depending on who you asked, the hour that Hitoshi was awake at could be called early .

Early to start off the new day like any other responsible kid.

Except, it was not early at all.  

In fact, it was very, very late.

As in it was currently ticking past four in the morning and Hitoshi hasn’t received even the slightest wink of sleep.

It has been like this since he was really young, a side effect handed down from his dad’s own quirk—insomnia.

His dad didn’t sleep, he was awake all the time . And Hitoshi thought it was really cool! There was so much stuff his dad could do with the extra time people usually spent on sleeping!

Hitoshi yawned widely. He had insomnia too, but it wasn’t a quirk. Actually, it was really unhealthy.

A second yawn erupts silently from him. Blearily rubbing a small fist into his eye, he tried to will his vision back into focus on his handheld. It wasn’t much use, though, the dim light remained blurry and the words on the screen out of focus, rendering them impossible to read.

He whined pathetically, lowering the handheld to his lap and knocking his head to the cool surface of his window. The fall-chill breeze softly drifts through the small opening, the nightly lull of the city was comforting and familiar.

As he was slipping off into a shallow doze, a sudden clashing clatter jolted him back to awareness. He jumped up, heart thumping in his chest wildly, his handheld fell to the floor in a dull thud.

Blinking rapidly, Hitoshi stands very still, his violet eyes darting to and fro all around his room as he strains his ears. What made that sound?

Another clatter, quieter this time.

From outside?

Carefully and slowly, the boy peers through his window, squinting.

Eyes scanning, he does not really see anything—nothing that could make such a loud noise, anyway.

But another disturbance has him locking his eyes on a fallen trash-can knocked astray. There was a small, shadowed figure struggling to get to its feet. Hitoshi was a tiny bit afraid that this was a villain and was considering if he should close his window and duck out of sight.

But the figure was small and that was enough to send pause to Hitoshi. Was this a kid, like him? The figure was actually smaller than him, which meant it could be even younger than him.

Concern coursed through Hitoshi as he remembered his parents telling him just how dangerous it was at night, and that a child should never, ever, ever go out by themselves.

Swallowing down a lump in his throat, his eyes search quickly for any other figures that may be nearby. Surely a kid wouldn’t be out alone, right?

But he didn’t see anyone, and the small figure was finally back on their feet, swaying. Were they hurt?

I should wake mom up . The thought bounced around in his head. He should tell someone, right? Isn’t that what a hero would do?

The figure turned then, its face visible from Hitoshi’s window.

 A face he recognized.

Suddenly, Hitoshi didn’t find himself hesitating any longer.

A hero reaches out themselves to help!

He breezed through his house like a silent ghost, avoiding the well-familiar creaks of the floorboards with ease.

Exiting his house, the boy’s bare feet slap on hard concrete. Rounding the building, Hitoshi gets a clear view of the knocked over trash-can again. Only, the boy from before was no longer near it.

Confused, he hastily looked around. Did the forest kid wander off already?

There!

Standing precariously close to the edge of the street was the mysterious boy, dark green hair wild and untamable in the autumn breeze as a long tail swishes cautiously behind him.

Wait, a tail? The thought sped past quicker than a freight train already overtaken by the very urgent need of finally, finally meeting the forest boy who guided Hitoshi when he was lost and alone.

“Hey!”

Getting the mystery boy’s attention and having him turn around was expected.

What was not expected however, was said boy rounding on him and baring his fangs with the viciousness of a cornered, dangerous animal.

And suddenly, Hitoshi found himself very, very scared.

Before he can regret his life choices and wonder if he is about to be mauled to death, the boy in front of him relaxes—recognition shining in his emerald eyes.

“Um, h-hi,” Hitoshi squeaked out weakly. His body locks up as the wild-looking boy pushes himself right into Hitoshi’s personal space. He was—

--sniffing him?

“Wha—hey!” Hitoshi pushed on the weird boy, trying to create distance. It did not help much, because the boy was surprisingly strong despite his size.

Hitoshi gave up in his attempt, arms lowering to his chest as he opts to lean away instead. “What are you doing?”

He tried to sound stern but combined with the silliness of the situation and the hairs tickling his neck, sounding firm was soon a lost cause as Hitoshi fell into a fit of giggles. Reeling himself back in, the insomniac boy gave one last attempt at pushing the boy away.

The boy pulled back, to his slight surprise. He bounced around Hitoshi, full of unbridled joy and excitement.

“Hel-lo!”

The voice caught Hitoshi off guard. It sounded rough and broken, as if the speaker’s throat disagreed in being used that way.

“’m ee-zu-ku,” he continued with careful pronunciation.

Hitoshi blinked. Was that his name? “…Izuku?”

'Izuku' crowed in delight, obviously pleased, and then looked at Hitoshi with an expecting look.

Oh! He wants to know my name too , he blinked with realization.

“I’m Hitoshi!” He told him, puffing out his chest. If Izuku gave out his given name, then so would he.

“Hito-shi,” Izuku echoed back. But coupled with his thick accent and ending the word in a sharp click of his teeth, the name came out as “Hito-sh it ”.

His eyes widen. “No, no it’s Hito shi ,” he said, scandalized.

Izuku tilted his head and gave Hitoshi a look that spoke; that is literally what I just said.

Still, he tried again. “Hito- shi . Hitoshit?”

Ok, that last one was way more pronounced and possibly deliberate.

“I—you know what? Close enough,” Hitoshi waved off, “you’re not very good at talking, are you?” Now that he thought about it, Izuku didn’t utter a single word when he led him out of that forest roughly three years ago. It was one of the reasons why the boy almost thought he hallucinated the whole event, if it wasn’t for the fact he lost his book.

“What are you doing here? I thought you lived on the other side of Musutafu by the woods. Where are your parents? Are they coming?” Hitoshi gave their surroundings another quick sweep. There were more cars slowly trickling out onto the streets as weak rays of dawn light starts to brighten up the sky. The city was going to be busy soon.

“Sho-ta.”

Hitoshi looked back to his frowning companion. “Shouta? Is that your dad?” He asked.

A tilt. “F’ind Sho-ta. Wh-ere?”

“Uh, I’m not sure. I haven’t heard of anyone named that,” shuffling his feet awkwardly, he offered; “Do you want me to help you find your Shouta?”

That seemed to be the magic word. Izuku bobbed his head enthusiastically, his tail swaying like a dog who overheard they were going to the park. He threw back his head and crowed to the sky. “F’ind Sho-ta!”

Dirty and curious looks were shot in their direction by early morning passersby at the outburst of shouting. Hitoshi shriveled under their fugitive looks. He wasn’t fond of catching too many people’s attention.

“Ok, ok! I’ll help you find Shouta—but you have to be quiet, ok?” He told the other boy, shushing him. Closer up, he could see two faint scars bisecting his lips as though something sharp had sliced them. Were those there before?

“My Mom will be waking up soon though, she’ll be worried if she sees I’m not in my room,” he admitted, biting his bottom lip in thought. “Maybe you can hang out in my room until she leaves…”

Hitoshi trailed off at his companion’s blank look. He still looked eager but—lost. Does he not know that much Japanese, as well?

Just where did you come from? He sighed. “Well let’s just. C’mon—”

He reached out his hand in front of Izuku, a permission for his own. Green eyes narrowed at it but caught on to what was being asked for and promptly inserted his own hand into Hitoshi’s hold. Long nails poked lightly at the back of his hand as Izuku’s closed around it.

“This way.”

Tugging Izuku along, Hitoshi led the stranded boy to his house.

As he neared it, he couldn’t help but to have doubts.

How was he supposed to explain this to his parents? Bringing a stranger into their home was a big no.

But does Izuku count as one? They did meet before, and the other boy saved him! Hitoshi only wanted to return the favor—was that wrong?

He didn’t think so, that’s what a hero would do anyway.

Still.

Hitoshi really would rather not get scolded. And what if they sent Izuku away? That would make Hitoshi a liar. There’s also the problem with school…

A sharp tug jerked him out of his thoughts so suddenly he nearly tripped over his own feet.

Righting himself, he turned around, the question of why did you stop? on his tongue.

And did a double take.

Just a moment ago, Izuku’s hair was nothing but wild, unruly green curls. But now, cushioning the sides of his head, laid a pair of black and green bunny ears.

A transformation quirk? He blinked, mesmerized.

The ears twitched and flattened. His eyes trailed after them until he caught sight of Izuku’s face.

The other boy was obviously uncomfortable and following his gaze, Hitoshi understood why. The green eyed boy was hesitant to enter a house he was unfamiliar with. It was a basic rule all kids were taught, after all: do not enter a stranger’s home.

But they weren’t strangers. And that rule is to warn about weird adults—Hitoshi wasn’t even in middle school yet! And if he wasn’t, then no way was Izuku either.

“It’s fine,” he told him, “it’s only until we can sneak out and find Shouta.”

Izuku met Hitoshi’s gaze, his cat-like emerald eyes searching tired purple ones. They narrowed, but he must have been satisfied with whatever he found, because after a quick blink Izuku pushed forward, ready to enter the house.

Mustering as much stealth as he could, Hitoshi tiptoed through the entryway. There didn’t seem to be any need to warn Izuku to be quiet as well, because the other boy was doing a better job at being silent than Hitoshi was.

And this was his house!

If he wasn’t holding Izuku’s hand and guiding him to his bedroom, Hitoshi was sure he wouldn’t have a clue someone was right on his heels. It was a bit creepy, honestly.

Rounding the corner, Hitoshi stopped short right before the strip of hallway that leads to his and his parent’s rooms.

Scarcely breathing, he listens carefully. Is his Mom awake yet?

A soft snore. They were in the clear.

The duo practically glided to his door and slipped inside.

Quickly locking his door with a quiet click , Hitoshi breathed a sigh of relief. Stage clear.

He looked back to Izuku about to share their triumph.

Only to see the gremlin snap the head off one of his hero figures.

“What are you doing?!” Hitoshi hissed, snatching the figure out of the boy’s hands. “Don’t do that!”

Wide green eyes blink at him. Did he not realize what he did wrong?

Izuku’s eyes darted over Hitoshi’s shoulder, spotting something. Visibly perking, he watched the rabbit quirked boy immediately become fascinated with his ratty old bookshelf.

Hitoshi turned back to the broken figure in his hand. It was a newer model of Mirko. She didn’t have a whole lot of merch yet, so getting his hands on it was a downright hassle.

To his relief, the head slid back on, clipping into place without issue and quietly stashed the figure out of sight.

By this point, Izuku had already stripped all the books from his small shelf and sat cross legged and hunched over one of the larger ones that was mostly pictures.

“You really like books, huh?” Hitoshi asked, peering over the boy’s shoulder. “You took one of mine that one time.” In exchange for getting home, Hitoshi didn’t mind it too much, back then.

Izuku made a high pitched trilling noise in answer that reminded Hitoshi of an animal more than a person.

An inkling of suspicion worms itself into the back of his brain.

The noises, the lack of understanding Japanese, the fact Hitoshi first saw him in a forest people generally avoided. The—

The…

“Where…,” he started slowly, feeling foolish for not noticing sooner, “are your pants?”

Actually, now that it was brought to his attention, he was not wearing shoes, either. Was he seriously running around the city in nothing but an oversized t-shirt and a pair of boxers? Why?

Despite his limited knowledge of most words, it looked like Izuku recognized that one. He hitched his shoulders up, and flattened his ears along his head, grumbling crossly.

“You don’t like them?”

“No, -ants.”

“What about shorts?” It didn’t look like he had a problem with boxers, after all.

He received a questioning look. So, Hitoshi got to his feet and walked to his dresser.

Rummaging through it, he found a pair of comfortable black shorts that were starting to get on the tighter side to the purple haired boy but should fit Izuku just fine.

“Try these,” he told him.

And threw the shorts across the room, and smacked Izuku limply on his face.

Shaking his head like a wet dog escaping his bath, the shorts fell to the floor in a crumpled heap.

The bunny eared boy picked them up and observed it carefully.

“Put them on,” he tried again.

Izuku shot him an amused look, as though the concept of shorts was a joke Hitoshi was trying to pull on him. But the other boy shrugged and slid them on, nonetheless.

Hitoshi counted it as a win.

 


 

Izuku was in the middle of showing scarily-good skills at solving a rubik's cube in extraordinarily little time, when his ears stood ramrod and stilled.

Then suddenly flung himself under Hitoshi’s bed.

Before Hitoshi can get too bewildered, he hears the telltale sound of footsteps leading to his room and—ah his mom is awake.

The doorknob rattles, stopping when she realizes it is locked.

“Hitoshi?” She called with a soft knock.

Scrambling to his feet, he flings himself at his dresser. “I’m awake!” He shouted back. “I’m just getting dressed.”

A sleepy hum answered him. “Ok, come down for breakfast afterwards, ok?”

Giving his confirmation, she walked away, her footsteps fading down the hall and into the kitchen.

Exhaling a sigh, Hitoshi swiftly pulled his school uniform over his head and knelt down to look under his bed.

“Can you stay up here for a while? I have to pretend to go to school, so my parents won’t know I’m skipping.” Green cat-eyes stare back at him. “I promise I’ll be right back, ok? Then I’ll help you find Shouta.”

Laying his chin flat against the floor, Izuku garbled softly. Hitoshi felt bad for leaving the boy by himself, even for a little bit. But it’ll be worth it if they can find this Shouta, surely?

Smiling reassuringly one more time to Izuku, Hitoshi grabbed his school bag and went to join his mother.

 


 

It’s been a while since Hitoshi left, and Izuku couldn’t help but to be painfully aware of this fact.

Who was it that knocked at his door earlier? It sounded like a two-leg, but that didn’t really mean it was one. The rat at the fake-forest could speak the two-leg language just fine, despite not being one.

Izuku doubts whoever it was, isn’t someone bad though. No fear scent clouded around his new friend—he was nervous yes, but not afraid.

Still.

He has been gone for a while, and Izuku hates staying put.

He really didn’t want to make himself known to this mystery figure though. If Hitoshi wanted him to, he would’ve had Izuku follow him—right?

The back of his neck itched. He should be looking for Shouta—it’s morning now, what if something happened to him?

Hizashi and Nemuri didn’t seem worried . He pushed the thought away. What would they know? Izuku experienced firsthand on just how dangerous the city was at night.

Slimy two-leg lurking in the shadows just waiting to pounce and hurt you as soon as your guard was down.

Shouta went out on his own, who will watch over him? His hands shifted and clawed into the wooden floor.

This wouldn’t have happened if those two just let me go after him! He growled lowly.

Izuku was lucky there was a hole in the sleeping room and allowed him to slip away without catching his watcher’s attention.

Sure, the hole was small, uncomfortable, and downright confusing —but Izuku managed to find the correct way out by smelling for fresh air.

But so much time had passed since Shouta first left and Izuku only had the barest hint of his scent hanging in the air, the city stench already overpowering his sense of smell.

Then Hitoshi found him (that same lost child two-leg from seasons ago!) and Izuku was pretty sure he offered to help him look for Shouta. So, he jumped on the chance, of course.

Only… why haven’t they started looking?

Sure, Hitoshi’s den was fun but Izuku was growing antsy as more time ticked by.

As he was wondering if he should just leave the room and confront the other boy, Izuku’s ears jerked as a resounding slam echoed through the den.

Holding his breath, Izuku did not dare to move. What was that?

Desperately casting his ears forward, the boy strained to hear anything else.

Only to pick up on nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

The den was silent.

He waited a few minutes more in that silence, but when nothing could be heard he slowly dragged himself from under Hitoshi’s bed-nest.

And as quiet as stalking a mouse, Izuku opened the door.

He saw nor scented anyone nearby as it cracked open outwards. Hesitant as he was about snooping around in a den he was not familiar with, Izuku’s curiosity was too strong to ignore.

Izuku stepped into the hallway.

Right away, he could tell everyone had left this den. Their scents, while fresh in another sense, were already growing stale.

Disappointment wormed into Izuku’s stomach. Did Hitoshi abandon him? And here Izuku thought they were becoming friends.

Well, whatever. He will just have to continue looking on his own, then.

Except… looking out of the window, the rabbit eared boy could see there were a lot more two-legs out and about.

He doesn’t really… want to go out there with them. It was nerve wracking enough when Shouta was with him.

Maybe if he shifted?

No, that would only get more attention, and he very much did not want that.

Which means…

He was stuck here.

Groaning, Izuku sunk to his knees, his forehead smacking lightly on the window.

 


 

Hitoshi raced down the street, expertly dodging people walking in the opposite direction.

To his annoyance, the train had taken its sweet time in arriving, making Hitoshi wait longer than he first expected.

But as soon as he and his mom stepped through those doors, it was a race against time in losing her and slipping out without being caught in the act. Being separated during the train ride wasn’t an uncommon thing, so as long as his mother didn’t purposely go looking for him, Hitoshi should be in the clear.

I hope Izuku won’t be upset , he thought to himself as his house came into view. Or left without me .

Rounding the building, Hitoshi ran up to his bedroom window.

Reaching a fist up, he knocked urgently on it, hoping to draw Izuku’s attention.

When a few beats passed without any sign of movement, Hitoshi brought his hands close to his face and peered into his room, squinting.

Hitoshi’s stomach flipped when he saw a giant mass move inside and flung himself backwards from the window, his heart in his throat.

Right when he was about to book it, a face popped into view on the other side of the glass.

“Oh, it was only you, Izuku,” Hitoshi shakily breathed, relief coursing down to his jelly legs. Or maybe it was a trick of reflection?

Either way.

“Can you open up my window?” He called out loudly, mimicking lifting his arms. He watched as Izuku tilted his head, then looked down.

“Hito-shi!” The other boy shouted gleefully as he slid open the window with ease.

“Sorry for taking so long,” Hitoshi apologized, motioning for Izuku to come outside as he threw his school bag through the opened window. “But I can help you find Shouta now! And we gotta leave now, before my dad gets home.” Since the man couldn’t sleep, his dad worked during the middle of the night.

Izuku hesitated at the window, looking unsure. Green eyes glance nervously towards the street.

Following his gaze, Hitoshi frowned.

“Are you scared?” he looked back, purple eyes meeting green. “Don’t worry, I’ll be with you.” Hitoshi reassured, holding out a hand.

Gently, Izuku reached back. And taking hold on his hand, he deftly jumped from the window, landing shortly next to the purple haired boy.

Shooting him another smile, Hitoshi reached over and closed his bedroom window. Don’t want anyone sneaking inside, after all.

Then, giving a light squeeze, Hitoshi tugged Izuku along the busy sidewalks.

 


 

Naomasa only walked into the station a short while ago, and he is already not having a great day.

Why, you may ask?

Because there was a child who doesn’t know any better, loose on the streets with a dangerous quirk.

And they could not find him.

According to Aizawa, the kid had somehow screwed off a vent cap, crawled inside, and is either still stuck somewhere in the building, or he had managed to slip outside and ran off into the night.

It has been daylight for several hours now, and with daylight brings more people, and more people, Aizawa supplied him, only stressed Izuku.

All it would take is one wrong nudge and the boy could shift and cause panic to nearby civilians.

He seems like a sweet kid, and Naomasa would hate to see him get deemed too dangerous and locked up somewhere when he has been making great progress so far.

I wonder if Aizawa is having any luck near the Musutafu forest? Naomasa wondered, tapping a finger idly to his desk.

He glances up at a knock to his door.

“Hey, Tsukauchi.” It was Sansa. “You still lookin for that kid with green short hair and er, rabbit ears?”

Naomasa blinked. “Yes?”

“Well, he’s out in the lobby right now. Some other kid brought him in.”

No way is it that easy.

And yet, as the detective rushed to the front, lo and behold—there was Izuku shyly sticking close to a kid with purple hair almost as wild as his own green curls.

“Izuku?” He questioned, stopping a respectable distance away.

Black and green ears perk in interest, his green gaze now focused on the plain detective who sighed.

“You made Aizawa very worried, kid.” He could feel his bones slumping in relief. Nothing bad happened, they were able to avoid disaster.

“Um,”

A tiny voice piped up. It was the purple haired kid. Naomasa noted his eye’s almost matched Aizawa’s own with how many bags lay hanging there.

“Izuku said he was looking for someone called Shouta,” he blurted out nervously.

“Are you the one who found Izuku?” Naomasa smiled brightly at the small nod he received. “Well, thank you for that! You really saved us by bringing him here. Don’t worry, we’ll reunite him with his guardian soon.”

The boy’s purple eyes shone with happiness.

Motioning for the receptionist to contact Aizawa, Naomasa went to cancel the search parties that had been sent out.

 


 

The first thing Shouta heard as he walked through the doors of the police station was a very loud; “Sho-ta!” Followed by a small body crashing into his own and very nearly sending him stumbling back out the double doors.

“Izuku,” he wheezed, the air knocked from his lungs. Meanwhile, said boy was clutching his leg like a lifeline, his broken voice warbling and chittering up a storm in his own unique language.

Kneeling down, Shouta pulled Izuku away by his shoulders and met his green gaze.

“Problem child, why did you run off?” He questioned sternly. “You shouldn’t have done that; it was a very bad thing to do.”

Ears falling to the side of his head, Izuku whined, long and drawn out. Breaking free of his hold, Izuku flung himself forward and buried his face in Shouta’s neck.

Sighing, Shouta gave the kid reassuring pats. “We’ll go over this later.”

Looking up, the hero saw another boy sitting awkwardly on a bench looking at the two. He quickly looked away when meeting Shouta’s eyes.

“Who are you, kid?”

“Uh, Shinsou Hitoshi,” the kid replied nervously.

“He’s the one who found Izuku wandering around on the streets,” the detective piped in.

“And how old are you?” Shouta asked, nodding once to Shinsou.

A blink. “Ten?”

The same age as Izuku, then.

“Shouldn’t you be in school? Where are your parents.”

Shinsou proceeded to give the hero a very accurate description of a deer caught in headlights. “Uh…”

“…I’ll make another call.” Naomasa said, standing up.

Slumping in his seat, Shinsou pouted dejectingly.

Before Shouta can tell him to cheer up, Izuku stops trying to bury himself into his neck and bounces up to the purple haired boy. Eagerly poking and prodding him until Shinsou cracks up in a fit of giggling laughter. Pleased at his success in cheering up the other boy, Izuku grins widely and cackles along with Shinsou.

Looks like Izuku managed to find a friend out of this situation. 

 

Chapter Text

“A sleepover?” Mrs. Shinsou echoed.

Shouta nodded, awkwardly holding a cup of offered tea in the Shinsous living room.

It was about a week after Izuku had ran away in the middle of the night and was found by Shinsou Hitoshi on the streets.

After a few days of the first disastrous night of babysitting, the trio had decided to give it another shot. (But only after firmly wielding all the vents in the house shut tight) And it had gone just as well as Shouta would have imagined.

Which was to say, it did not.

Izuku threw a fit as soon as he caught wind that the hero would be leaving again. He had screamed and shouted and downright refused to let Shouta step within ten feet of the apartment door, blocking it with his massive rabbit form.

And even after Shouta had erased the kid’s quirk, he still refused to move from his spot in front of the door.

Knowing the night would have gone terribly wrong if he forced the kid to let him leave, Shouta called in and cancelled his patrol. Apologizing that due to circumstances he wouldn’t be able to go out just yet.

He could hear laughter in the voice over the phone and they told him not to worry about it, sometimes kids needed their parents more. And hung up before Shouta could correct them.

It was when the dark haired man brought Izuku along to play with the younger Shinsou (Izuku wouldn’t stop asking about him and Shinsou’s parents confirmed their son was eager to meet the other boy again) that Shouta got an idea.

“I am a pro hero who patrols largely during the night hours,” he told the older Shinsous. “Due to Izuku’s circumstances, he can’t be alone for long periods of time, even when asleep. My friends watch over him when I’m out but, they have a hard time controlling him at best, and have to prevent him from running away again at worst.” He swirls his cup a bit, watching the translucent liquid dance under his direction. “It doesn’t help that Izuku isn’t overtly fond of them.”

“You think he’ll listen to Hitoshi,” Mr. Shinsou stated.

“I do,” Shouta confirmed as he set down his cup. “Besides myself, Izuku hasn’t exactly bonded with another human person. He will tolerate them, but nothing too far beyond that. I think the problem might have to do with the people he does meet being adults.” Leaning back in his seat, Shouta nodded once in the Shinsous direction. “Your son is his own age and has already been successful in dragging Izuku out of his shell. If we could get Izuku to hang out more often with him I feel like it would be a step forward in his progress.”

“That sounds… reasonable,” Mrs. Shinsou said, sharing a glance with her husband.

Mr. Shinsou seemed disturbed. “Did that child really grow up in a forest by himself?” He asked, horrorstruck.

“We believe that to be the case.”

“I see… well, by all means I can’t really find a problem with that,” Mr. Shinsou admitted. “I can already tell you Hitoshi will be thrilled. He admires heroes, you see. He’ll probably faint when he finds out he will be staying in a hero’s home,” he laughed.

At that moment, a loud THUMP sounded from down the hall and was soon followed by a quick yelp!

The three adults in the living room stilled.

And slowly turned in the direction of the noise.

“…you two doing alright over there?” Mr. Shinsou called out slowly.

When they did not get an answer right away, Shouta was almost out of his seat to go check on them himself but stopped as a head of purple hair sheepishly pokes itself into the room.

“Um… Izuku’s foot is stuck in the door.”

“In?” His mother asks with a bit of a tilt. “Like insi—”

“Inside the door, yeah.”

Getting up to see for themselves, they had the clear view of Izuku carefully using the doorknob to balance himself as he hung upside-down by his foot.

The hole went straight through the flimsy wood of the door, and his foot, thankfully, was fully scaled and protected from splintering edges.

Rabbit ears swiveled at their arrival and Izuku looked up. “St-uck,” he said awkwardly and trembling in his effort not to slip off the handle.

Shouta put his face in his hands and groaned. “I’ll pay for a new door.”

 


 

Luckily, Shinsou’s parents weren’t too upset that a feral-raised child put a foot to their son’s door and was still willing to allow the younger Shinsou to stay over.

Which brought to a new problem.

Shinsou did not yet know about Izuku’s bigger form and Shouta did not want him to learn about it while he was out patrolling.

Because the kid would find out about it right away.

Which led to Shouta sitting down Shinsou and explaining to him about Izuku’s quirk.

As it turned out in the end, he didn’t need to worry.

As a ten year old boy, finding out your friend can turn into a large, very easily ridden, creature was pretty much the coolest thing to exist.

Shinsou wasted no time in stroking Izuku’s thick soft fur and to admire how cool his scaled half was as he rapped his knuckles on his hind legs testing their toughness.

Izuku preened at the praises, looking genuinely pleased with himself. It was the first time Shouta realized just how proud the boy must be of his other form.

When Hizashi showed up at the apartment, he was greeted with a small Shinsou Hitoshi riding a shifted Izuku around the house like a majestic steed on their way to war in a room way too small.

Not that the two children seemed to mind as they knocked over books and picture frames off the walls.

 


 

 

Six months pass in what seems like a blink of the eye and little Izuku was a terrifying sight to behold.

The moment Nezu had decided Izuku was far along enough to learn how to read and started to teach him the basics, Izuku pounced on as many books as his grubby little hands could reach at his current level.

Which was, still low and mostly revolved around younger children’s books, but he was starving for them. He was finally able to put a story to the beautiful pictures he would admire for hours on end.

At first, he read silently to himself until Shouta suggested that he read out-loud to help with his pronunciation skills and allowed the hero to correct the curly haired child if he was off. His accent was still thick and snappish, making Shouta wonder if his damaged tongue is causing him more troubles than the doctor originally thought.

But doctor Yasushi told him it was alright, and Izuku didn’t seem too bothered with it himself, so he pushed it from his mind for now as he walks into the police station.

“Oh, good! You’re here!” Came Tsukauchi’s greeting as he walks up to the hero with a steaming white mug in his hand.

“You mentioned you wished to speak to me after my patrol, so I thought I would just drop by on my way home instead of calling in later,” Shouta grunted, sliding off his yellow goggles from his eyes and placing them to rest around his neck.

The detective nods around his drink and waves at Shouta to follow him into his office.

“It took several months, but a spot finally opened up for little Izuku to be placed in a foster home,” Tsukauchi told him as they both settled down.

Shouta’s throat tightened. “Oh?”

“Chiki-san is one of the best for handling highly energetic children who possess strong or dangerous quirks.” Rifling through the files on his desk, Tsukauchi finds what he was looking for and hands over a nondescript beige folder in Shouta’s direction. Opening it up, the folder contained ‘Chiki’s’ photo, information, background history, and her overall dealings with past children that were under her care. As far as Shouta could tell, it was impressive.

“What about his schooling?”

“Chiki-san is able to homeschool children up until their high school years, if necessary. But UA has been doing a great job at it from the reports you’ve been giving.” A thoughtful hum. “If Nezu and the rest of the staff do not mind it, then considering Izuku’s unique circumstances it might work out better if he keeps learning under you.” Tsukauchi smiled and added.

“I don’t think it would be wise to uproot too much at once for him, so I would prefer that as well,” he grunted, but his mind was racing.

Izuku leaving? The concept sat foreign on his mind. He forgot he was only the kid’s temporary caretaker, and that eventually his problem child would need to leave his house in his search for a new, loving family. Izuku deserved one, no doubt.

And yet.

“When does he have to move?” Shouta asked with a vague feeling of a doctor about to tell a patient how long they have left to live before an illness claims them.

“A week. The child that is moving to their new home will be packed and out of there in a few days, and Chiki-san should have the room cleaned up for a new occupant by the twenty-third, roughly eight days from now.” The detective tapped the surface of his desk at an even rhythm with his pen. “I wanted to tell you right away so you could ease him into the news.”

Shouta nodded, absentmindedly.

Was it even possible to be eased into? Izuku is going to be crushed to hear that he will have to move away. Surely it’s too soon?

But the kid has been doing well, already making leaps in bounds in his progress. And if Shinsou was anything to go by, being around other children might be good for his social learning. He needed to be exposed to people closer to his own age more.

So, really, it was for the best.

Izuku can finally get his life on track and Shouta can go back to his sense of normalcy from before.

He does not exactly recall giving the detective a vague wave and saying he’ll sort it all out, nor does he recall leaving the station but he does snap back to reality when the door to his apartment looms in front of him, shut as tightly as a vault door protecting the treasure that hides beyond it.

He unlocked it like a bank robber avoiding detection, wanting nothing more than to slip in unnoticed and desperately hoping that the catastrophe that was sure to strike, wouldn’t.

But the clicking of the door opening may as well be as loud as a gunshot to the keen hearing of a rabbit’s senses, because as soon as Shouta steps through that door a loud THUMP sounds from the bedroom, followed by the scraping scratching of scales scrambling for purchase.

The bedroom door slams open and a small blurry green mass barrels at the dark haired man at impossible speeds.

Shouta, being used to this over the months, widens his stance on autopilot and catches the way-too-hyper-at-this-time-of-the-morning child as he tackles into his stomach.

And as a trained, professional hero, Shouta did not flinch and wheeze as his lung capacity emptied against their will. It simply did not happen.

“Shouta!” Izuku all but shouted in his joy. “Well-come home!”

“Izuku,” Shouta said breathlessly as air worked back into his lungs, “you don’t need to greet me every time, you are going to wake Shinsou.”

“Too late for that,” came a weak groan. Through the opened door Shouta could see a crumpled heap collapsed next to the bed. The source of the loud noise from before?

Shouta ran his fingers through curly green locks, lightly scratching. He should tell Izuku about the foster program. The sooner they ripped the band-aid off the sooner he could soothe the kid into knowing that this is for the best and how close he was to getting a loving family that would cherish him.

But then those wide, shining green eyes looked up at his, sparkling full of trust and mirth, that his heart twinged in his chest.

“Go back to sleep, there is no school today,” he said instead, giving his boy’s hair one last ruffle before nudging him back to his room where Shinsou played the convincing role of a corpse. Izuku shot him a look.

“Shouta too?”

“Me too,” he told him. “I’ll sleep in a bit, I promise.”

Satisfied, Izuku trounced over to his friend, grabbed his arm, and dragged his lifeless body back to the comfort of the mattress. All while reprimanding him about how sleeping on the floor ‘isn’t good, Hito-shi!’

Poor Shinsou, he simply wasn’t one for early mornings.

Giving a nod to Hizashi who was slumped on the couch, Shouta slipped into the kitchen.

Would Shinsou and Izuku still be friends after the move? He doesn’t see a reason why not. From the file, the address wasn’t too far away from the Shinsous residentiary. There should be no problem in letting the purple haired child visit Izuku.

The sink squeaked as the water flow was halted. Shouta graciously chugged down his glass, the cool liquid soothing his throat.

Finishing, he placed the mug down back on the counter, right next to a nearly identical one. Except instead of a black cat design, there was a green bunny happily printed on the side. Gifts from Hizashi and Nemuri.

He looked at the other mug, a faint smile tugging at his lips as he recalled the day he had to switch to giving the kid chocolate milk instead so it would ‘match Shouta’s’ in color.

Gods forbid the day that kid got a taste of coffee proper.

Shouta all but collapsed onto the other couch, taking a page out of Hizashi’s book. Today was the weekend, and that meant Shouta was free to thankfully sleep in. His mind was on Izuku’s bright smile and emerald eyes as he drifted off. And how much he dreads watching them dim.

 


 

“That about wraps it up for today, I believe!” The rat-Nezu declared, clapping two white paws together.

Izuku swished his tail in answer, not sure if he was relieved that Nezu was finally leaving or annoyed because he didn’t get to finish their set today.

Nezu must have seen his expression because he flourished two white sheets of paper seemingly out of nowhere. “I know you are eager to learn, Izuku—just as eager as I am for you! That is why I am giving you worksheets to go over once you return back to your home. This will be a challenge of sorts to test your current knowledge and comprehension skills. I am sure Shouta will be happy to help you through them if necessary.”

The rat’s words bled through Izuku’s ears and oh, how badly he wishes he could turn his hearing off. He doesn’t understand why the rat continues to use words Izuku doesn’t understand yet. He gets the feeling his teacher does it on purpose. To motivate him into learning more?

It worked, of course. It was just annoying.

Izuku shoved his ire down and looked at the sheets of paper with an excited tingle.

What was it Hitoshi called it? Homework?

Sure, he also complained about it all the time but—Izuku never gotten any until now! The knowledge that he and Hitoshi were going to be doing the same thing made his tail curl in pleasure.

The rat hopped off the couch-nest, still going on about something or another. Izuku tuned him out until he was white noise to his ears.

Izuku noticed a pattern after his ‘lessons’. 

If Nezu decided to teach him as soon as he arrived at the fake forest for the day, then by the time he leaves the building another human usually doesn’t take his place until somewhere past five or ten minutes. (yes, he has noticed that someone was always watching him even if they didn’t show themselves!)

So, Izuku has a period of time where he is alone. No one watching him. What is he going to do with this? Easy. He is going to escape.

The fake forest was, no, has been boring for a while now. It was no fun! He longed to stretch his legs in real dirt surrounded by real trees with a real genuine breeze.

But no one wants him to leave the fake forest for some reason! It was especially frustrating because there was an actual one just farther along! He saw it! Why can’t he play over there?

His clawed fingers dug into the sofa, ears pricked for Nezu leaving the fake forest entirely.

Izuku slipped out of the little room he and Nezu usually spend their sessions together and peeked around the corner, watching as the double doors close behind the rodent as he walks away.

Go time.

He shoots from his place and into the fake forest, expertly dodging around roots and trees.

Five to ten minutes. That is his timeframe. He doubts he can actually succeed today, as he has been trying for nearly a week now—but who knew! Today is a new day and Izuku is not easily swayed away.

He slows down as he comes up on a low hanging branch. Ducking under it, the wild-born boy crawls over the few remaining feet to where a bush was slowly taking over the side of the building. Gently peeling the cover back, Izuku reveals a window.

Some interesting things about this window:

  1.     It was thick
  2.     It was tough
  3.     Izuku broke at least two claws trying to pry it open
  4.     Those broken claws hurt a lot

He was positive he could outright break the window if he shifted and slammed into it enough times, but he did not want a broken window. Izuku was sure a broken window was easily discovered. But if he could somehow open it… then the boy could slip through it as many times as he liked, with no one the wiser.

He thought it was a good plan. It wasn’t as if he were planning to do something bad! He only wanted a bit of fresh air!

His tail twitched with concentration as the boy got to work on the lock mechanism that sealed the window tightly shut. He got close, last time. He thinks so, anyway.

Face scrunching up, a forked tongue poked itself from scarred lips. Newly regrown claws poke and dig farther down into the metal as they map out just what makes it tick .

And they do. Before he knows it, his finger suddenly glides easily off to one side as the lock gives out under a soft click . Gently pushing against the window, he tested it.  

The window flawlessly swung open upwards without an issue, and Izuku practically preened at his success.

Do I have enough time to slip out today? He wonders with a shooting glance towards the ceiling. He can’t sense anyone in that hidden room yet. Should be fine—right?

He crouched back under the bush, wiggled his lower body, and jumped through the now open window, landing on his feet his ease.

Sweeping a look around, he could see no humans nearby—perfect! He’ll only step out for a little bit and be back before they even notice he was gone.

Izuku raced away from the building that held the fake forest and shifted once he was a decent distance away, beyond thrilled for the chance of just running under the sun again. He was far from it, but to Izuku it felt like home .

The school forest was too far away to run to and back today, so Izuku gladly settled for gleefully jumping and pouncing around on the fresh cool grass under his paws, pretending beetles were prey as he chased them around.

And then he saw something that made his hunters senses flare with a burning passion.

A mole was snuffling among fallen leaves in search for seeds, just a few mere yards away.

And Izuku, who hasn’t hunted in two seasons now, was ecstatic. He crept forward, inching his large body stealthily towards the small creature.

But with the lack of proper cover, and his over energetic movements coupled with his hunting skills being stale with misuse, the mole froze and that was all the warning Izuku got before it darted in the opposite direction.

Izuku lurched forward, giving chase. It was less about catching food, and more about the thrill of it all. Something the rabbit creature realized he sorely missed.

The mole veered to the left and Izuku pivoted on his paws and propelled himself forward in a magnificent leap.

He didn’t catch the mole as much as he crushed it under the force of his paws, but the boy did not mind a bit of flattened prey. He bent his long neck down, teeth lightly grabbing the small creature before flinging it in the air directly above him. His teeth snap shut as he caught the mole and swallowed the thing whole. A decent snack to go with his exercise.

Pleased, he licked his muzzle. I should probably go back now. He had ended up a decent ways off from the fake forest building, lost in his joy of the hunt.  It probably could’ve ended sooner, but he went easy on the thing!

Lifting his head, Izuku looked around him. Still no sign of humans, good. He shouldn’t have gotten caught then.

The boy bounded towards the fake forest building in long strides aided by his beastal form. Izuku dropped it and shifted down to his smaller as he neared the building, not wanting to cause attention to himself and squeezed back inside through the window.

His body rolled on the dirt and he stilled, waiting for any sign that he had been noticed.

Predictably, nothing happened. Because why would the other humans outside of the rat and Shouta and his friends interact with him? So, he shrugged and carefully closed the window, making it look as if it were still locked. It was frustrating that he had to steal moments of being free, but he didn’t want to take the chance of the rat making it so he couldn’t slip out, or the possibly of disappointing Shouta.

 


 

“So, Problem Child.”

Said child was in his much larger form, laying on his back with his paws tucked neatly under his chin as he tilted his head up at the hero.

“Do you mind telling me why several students claim to have seen a ‘very large green animal prowling near the gyms’? Any idea as to who that might have been?” Shouta listed off, staring down at his charge.

The kid had the nerve to gaze up at him with a look of absolute innocence in his green dappled eyes. Izuku let at a questioning chirp and, that was total bullshit because Shouta knows the kid can understand him now to a point. But only when he wanted to it seemed.

Shouta sighed, watching as Izuku’s tail starts twitching erratically, a sign that the boy was happy.

He didn’t see how his kid could have slipped out. The man had checked every window and they were all shut, and the doors were locked. He should not have been able to get out.

But this was Izuku, and after three more attempted escapes from his apartment all for silly reasons and never completely out of the apartment complex, Shouta was sure the kid got a kick out of it all and slowly turning into some escape artist.

“You are going to be the cause of me getting grey hairs early,” he sighed, petting thick fur. “Now please shift back, you are shedding all over my floor.”

 


 

“Hito-shi, what is your quew—quirr—um.”

“Quirk?”

“Yes!” Izuku nodded with his usual wide eyed smile.

Hitoshi hummed; his eyes glued to the phone his parents had given him a few months after he had met Izuku. “Why you wanna know?”

“Why?” His friend’s face scrunched up. “Ned-zu said a-bout them today.” A chirp. “Weird p-wers?”

“Powers? Yeah some are pretty weird,” Hitoshi agreed.

“Yes! That why hu-mans smell weird. Diff-rent.”

Smell?

Hitoshi looked up at Izuku, who was dissecting his newest book. “Izuku can you… smell quirks?” The other boy looked up at him, tilting his head as he processed the words in his mind, then nodded. And was that normal? No, that didn’t really matter, what he wanted to know was—“What does my quirk smell like?”

Izuku’s face fell into one of concentration. “Um… spinny, twisty?” He moved his finger in a circle, spiraling inwards.

“Spiral?”

Izuku nodded, and what? How do you even smell spirals?

“From your mouth,” he continued on pointing at his own. “And flowers. Purple flowers.”

The purple haired boy snorted. “That sounds nice.”

“Hito-shi smells good,” Izuku agreed with a cheshire grin.

And then looked expectantly at him, waiting. Hitoshi’s smile dropped.

“I don’t want to say my quirk, you’ll think it’s stupid.”

Izuku frowned and lowered his book. “I won’t.”

“Yes you will. Then you won’t want to be friends anymore,” Hitoshi all but bristled. That was how it usually went, anyway. He would make a friend, tell them his quirk, and before he knows it, they refuse to talk to the purple haired child anymore or act overly nervous in his presence. He didn’t want to see that happen with Izuku, not with how far they’ve come.

Said child made a garbled noise in the back of his throat, his face twisted in befuddled confusion. “I won’t ,” he said, distressed. “Hito-shi is friend, my friend.”

He could tell the green haired boy wanted to say a whole lot more on the subject, but his vocabulary was limiting him from doing so. And Hitoshi does realize it is a bit silly to think Izuku would hate him because of his quirk, especially when the boy turned into a giant rabbit monster himself. Hitoshi thought it was cool, but he knows someone other people wouldn’t think so.

But still. The fear of rejection lingers and grips his heart tightly with Izuku shaped claws. Tight and suffocating.

He takes a deep breath, pushing down the lump in his throat. “My quirk lets me brainwash people.”

When a few moments passed in silence, Hitoshi tore his eyes nervously from their place on the floor to his friend. Izuku’s eyes were clouded as he stared blankly at him, and right , small words.

“I can control people,” he tries again with a slight wince, “if they answer me back, I can get them to do what I want.”

Izuku let out a thoughtful trill. “Oh,” he said, his ears rising, “your power is cool!”

Hitoshi blinked. “You think so?” His friend bobbed his head and made a motion in the air with his furry hands.

“Yes! Can stop b-ad guys! Or let prey catch,” he added with a snigger.

“My quirk doesn’t work on animals,” Hitoshi snorted with amusement. The hold on his chest lightened as relief flooded his system. Izuku still thought he was cool.

Dark ears flopped to one side as the other boy tilts his head. “Why? Work on it?”

“If I do that, you’ll get too fat.”

“What is wrong with that? More food good.”

Hitoshi laughed at that. Izuku indignant wacked him softly with his bristled tail. “What is wrong with that? Hito-shi? Hey.”

His tail assault was saved by Aizawa exiting the bathroom as he arranges his scarf in place. The pro hero focused his eyes to the wrestling children and Hitoshi couldn’t help but notice how darker the bags underneath looked, as if he hadn’t been getting much sleep lately.

Aizawa’s gaze lingered on them, his mouth opened clearly wanting to say something. But then he closed it with a blink.

“Nemuri will be here soon, will you two be alright?” The man asked instead.

Izuku chimed in a “yes!” right away as Hitoshi said at the same time “I am going to be mauled to death.”

Aizawa snorted gruffly, with his hand on the doorknob he pointed to the green chaos maker. “Be good. Stay out of trouble. No escape attempts. I’ll see you in the morning.” And then he was out.

It used to be that one of the hero’s friends would have to arrive before he left, not wanting Izuku to be left to himself. But he had started trusting Hitoshi more with keeping his friend under control and the insomniac wouldn’t lie to say that he felt a little proud of that fact. Like he was important.

Hitoshi kicked Izuku off of him. The boy made a noise of fake betrayal as he rolled with the kick and onto the floor, collapsing dramatically.

“Aizawa acted a bit weird, what’s up with that?” He questioned, peering down the scarred boy’s face.

“Dunno,” Izuku grunted. “Weird for,” he looked at his fingers and counted, “four days.”

He paused, letting his hands fall to his chest and Hitoshi could see concern in his emerald eyes.

“Shouta smells sad,” he whispered quietly after a moment. “Try to make him hap-py, but he gets more sad.”

“I doubt it’s your fault,” he reassured his friend. He knows how much Izuku cares for the hero. His heart twisted as Izuku tilted his head in Hitoshi’s direction, his green eyes pools of misery. And he wanted to tell him everything would be alright, that Aizawa will cheer up and this would pass. That sometimes people just get sad for a while.

He opened his mouth to delay all of this, but that was the moment Nemuri kicked the door open in her lively fashion  and started shoving takeout at the duo, saying something along the lines of “please don’t tell Shouta I gave you this, Izuku technically shouldn’t be eating this junk,” as she slammed down some of the most unhealthy, sugar inducing food Hitoshi has seen in his life.

Which meant that it was absolutely delicious, and the smell was heavenly as both boys practically melted into the carpet. Their previous conversation swiped to the side, but not forgotten.

 


 

“It’s maniac,” Shouta supplied, pointing to the worksheet. “Do you know what it means?”

Green eyes narrow down at the paper, thinking. “…angry?”

“In a way,” he hummed, “it is a behavior. Usually when a person is acting wild or obsessive. It can stem from anger depending on the situation.”

“Ob-siss-ive?”

“Something that is always on your mind and you let it overtake you.”

Izuku nodded along, paying attention as he chewed on the end of his pencil. He could see the kid was nervous about something and kept shooting him glances when he thought the man wasn’t paying attention. Shouta would have to kick himself if he said he didn’t know why. Not when he has been acting strange as well for the past few days.

It is day six, nearly a week, since the detective told the hero that Izuku is going to move out soon, and Shouta still hasn’t said a word to the kid.

That’s bad—it was pathetic! He was acting like a complete and utter coward!

He could see Izuku flinch in the corner of his eye as his mood plummeted. Right. He needs to control himself.

“Izuku,” he says suddenly, “do you remember your parents?”

“What?”

“Before you lived in the forest. Do you remember them?”

Izuku looked at him as if the man had suddenly sprouted another head. “ All-ways lived in forest.”

And, oh, how badly Shouta wanted to strangle the bastards who would abandon their own kid in the wild at an age he couldn’t even remember them. The knowledge that they had done so with the intention of letting the kid die without anyone ever being the wiser.

It filled him with rage, and he swears if he ever gets the chance to come across them, the first thing he is going to do is punch them in the face.

But Izuku didn’t need to know that.

A sadness pangs at his heart. The kid deserved a better life than what was dealt out to him.

A tug on his pants brought his attention back.

Izuku was staring up at him, his face concerned and distressed.

“Why is Shouta sad? Stop,” he whined.

“Sorry kiddo, I didn’t mean to upset you,” he murmurs, ruffling those green wild curls.

They were soft, no longer an unruly tangled mess chalked full of lice and grime from the time he had first lifted an all-too-thin bloodied child into his arms. His body had filled out considerably, no longer skin and bones as every single rib pulled taunt against the surface. Shouta had been there every step of the way to his road to recovery. And the thing was, even after six months he still wasn’t perfectly healthy yet.

But this time, Shouta won’t be the one to help him along, if Izuku moved away.

His hand stilled and he gave a long searching look down at the kid below him.

“Izuku, I have something I need to tell you.”

Did he really want to do this?

Izuku tilted his head questionly. “What?”

And he realized that, to the bottom of his heart, he 100% did .

He leaned forward. “Can I be your dad?”

A ridiculous smile split across Izuku’s face. “Already are,” he replied with a chirp as if saying ‘ didn’t you already know that? ’ And Shouta’s heart melts .

Lifting him up into his lap, Shouta hugged Izuku. His nose burying into his hair as the kid nuzzles against his neck, feeding off of the happiness radiating off his guardian at last .

Shouta never expected to grow this attached when he first held the child, but life was funny in that way as he hung onto his new son.

 


 

Aizawa Shouta has shared a photo to UA Teaching Staff Group Chat

[Picture of Izuku holding a sheet of paper with a look of absolute delight. Upon farther inspection, the paper is an official looking document with the words AIZAWA IZUKU enlarged and bolded.]

 

[Aizawa Shouta]

Finally named him.

 

Chapter Text

Summer is at the doorstep and while Shouta is grateful for the warming weather, in hindsight, there was something he should have foreseen.

And that was his apartment turning into an explosion of green from the sheer mass of fur Izuku was shedding. 

When he noticed the thin layer of fur coating his floors, he had contacted someone to come and clean his home. A service provided by the apartment complex, as the building only accepted hero residents and sometimes they simply did not have the time between their busy schedules to do it themselves.

It was a service that cost extra, of course. Usually Shouta had no need for it as his living space pre-Izuku was too barren to warrant for someone to come in, or he could just handle it himself.

So, the man had slapped down the payment and plus some the next morning and went off to UA with Izuku. And when they returned, the apartment was back to its fur-free self.

It remained fur-free when Hitoshi was dropped off for the night.

It remained fur-free when Nemuri popped in and plopped on the couch.

It remained fur-free when Shouta grunted a goodbye to the two playing children as he left.

When he returned back home the next day after his patrol? No longer fur-free.

In fact, Shouta could swear it was worse .

“How?” He had asked Izuku in horror. “How could you possibly shed this much?”

And then he gagged as several strands of fur somehow made its way into his open mouth.

He then tried to brush Izuku at UA.

Which ended up useless from the get-go as his thick mane was too much for the tiny little brush he wielded. One swipe and it had instantly gotten stuck.

Preventing him from shifting while at home was a no-go, either. It was not fair to Izuku to stretch his quirk just because Shouta was sick of finding strands of green fur in his morning coffee.

Izuku has been antsy the more he sheds. Shifting more often and rubbing his upper half along the carpeted floors, followed by excessive panting.

It’s then that Shouta realizes that despite the cool temperature in the building, Izuku is probably sweltering under his winter coat.

So, for the sake of both of their sanities, Shouta made a phone call.

 


 

Izuku was excited.

Why?

Because Shouta had told him that they were going someplace new!

Shouta had also told him to “be on his best behavior” and if he was—he’d give him a special treat! That piqued his interest. Izuku has grown to really like sweets recently, but Shouta said eating too much is ‘unhealthy’. How could something so delicious be bad for you?

And on that note, how could something like steamed carrots (gross!) be ‘healthy’?

Two-leg’s must have a backwards sense of what is good for you or not. Maybe he doesn’t want to be healthy if it meant eating gross things.

…maybe Shouta will give him a dango?

Oh, he hopes it is a dango.

The harness around his chest tugs as the rope pulls taunt. Oops . He glances over his shoulder, catching Shouta’s raised eyebrow and slackened his pace to sidle right next to Shouta again. He hadn’t noticed he was starting to walk that far ahead of the man.

Between the back and forth trips to the school every day, Izuku could tolerate crowds to a degree where he could walk on his own—as opposed to being carried the whole time.

He remembers that the first time it had happened though, the boy had seen something that caught his interest and he rushed forward to dig up some pretty flowers in dark dirt next to the sidewalk. And when he had looked up, Izuku realized Shouta was nowhere to be seen. (The man had eventually tracked him down because Izuku was too scared to move from his spot as he eyed the moving crowd before him.)

After that, Nemuri had bought someone that looked like a little white bunny bag and slid it over his shoulders and clipped it into place. Attached to the bag was a white, flat rope with a loop on the end for a hand to wrap around and hold it firmly in place.

She had called it a “harness”, and apparently it was something very young two-legs had to sometimes wear so they don’t get lost from their parents. Izuku thought it was very handy.

Restricting at times, sure. But it wasn’t like he wanted to run away from the only two-legs he was familiar with.

Sometimes, the streets and two-legs were too much and too overwhelming and he forewent the harness and cuddled into his dad’s arms and blocked out the loud city noises.

His dad .

Izuku preens at that bit of information.

His dad! And he got the same second name as him!

Izuku wondered why two-legs had two names they went by. It was downright confusing sometimes! Why would they need two different names?

Well, according to Shouta, one name was their own (like Izuku!) and one was for families . Every member of the same family shared the same name to show they belonged together. Shouta’s was ‘Aizawa’, so that was what Izuku got too.

Izuku adored the idea of sharing a name. It sent a happy little trill through his body knowing he belonged somewhere officially and knowing that Shouta would not abandon him.

Lost in his thoughts, Izuku almost missed the soft touch to his shoulder, preventing his continued stroll down the sidewalk. He looked up.

“We’re here,” Shouta nodded. Following his gaze, Izuku’s eyes fell on a light blue building. Shouta gave his shoulder a small push and they both entered the building.

When they entered, a blast of cold air hit Izuku square in the face. He scrunched his face up against the chilly onslaught, fading as the duo walked past the entranceway.

The next thing that slaps the child in the face is the smell .

He sneezes violently.

Rubbing his nose, Izuku looks up and finally takes in the interior of the building.

It was filled with… large animals?

Except, the animals were shaped like two-legs (for the most part) and smelled like two-legs, but also… animals.

In one area he saw a man with the head of a dog calmly sitting in a chair without a shirt as a person with two round ears that reminded Izuku of a rat sat upon her head, twitching slightly every now and then as she made soft conversation with the dog.

In another, he saw a woman laying on her stomach. A mess of fur, no, quills on her back as one by one, they are carefully extracted. Another person getting their bushy fox like tail brushed. Every two-leg in this building had some resemblance to an animal of some sort.

Like him . He looks at his arms coated in fur.

Izuku’s leg jerked. He wanted to know more!

He tugged Shouta’s pant leg and showed off his arms to him and pointed to the other furred humans with unrestrained excitement.

His father figure smiles softly, huffing through his nose.

“That’s right,” he said, one hand ruffling Izuku’s hair, “they’re just like you.”

Izuku’s eyes shone like polished emeralds exposed to the sun.

“Hello! Do you have an appointment with us today?” Someone asked, walking up to them.

“Yes,” Shouta grunted, turning his attention to the newcomer. “For Aizawa Izuku, my son.”

 Chocolate brown eyes met his own with a beaming smile. “Little Aizawa, is it? My name is Kegawa, and would you look at that,” she tugged at her hair that was strangely a darker color than the rest. “We match! Both of us have bunny ears! Isn’t that a lovely coincidence?”

Oh. Oh! They were dark brown floppy ears that hung downwards instead of perking upwards.

Izuku immediately dropped his ears down, earning a laugh from Kegawa.

“I’m jealous! I can’t lift mine up like you,” she chuckled. “You must be quite talented!”

Izuku curled his tail, pleased. Shouta and his friends said that word sometimes when he did a good job.

“Now then,” Kegawa began again, letting go of her own ears, “are his arms the main focus of his visit here today?”

“They’re a part of it, but not when he’s like this,” Shouta replied, and placed a hand on his hand. “You have an area for large users, correct?”

Kegawa’s shot a glance at Izuku and back. “A transformation type, then?” At Shouta’s confirmation, she nodded and gestured for the duo to follow.

They were led to the biggest mirror Izuku has ever seen.

It was also bright. Very bright. He should not have looked straight at the light ow…

He blinked rapidly, trying to expel stubborn afterimages.

“Alright, Izuku, go ahead and shift for me.” He heard Shouta say from behind him. Izuku hummed and allowed his body to happily switch over. He couldn’t stand to be cooped up in his human form for too long during the warmer seasons. His skin would itch , desperate to shift and get rid of his winter coat. Those first few weeks were always downright miserable! It would be hot, and the air would be stuffy to the point he was sweltering even with the help of the shadowed, cool forest. A lot of time was spent trying to become one with the river to soothe the itching and the heat in one fell swoop as White would laugh and call him the ugliest fish he had ever laid eyes on.

So, he shifts, letting out a small content sigh as he does so.

A sort of strangled choked noise comes from his side. Izuku glanced over to Kegawa.

She turned a bit pale and he wondered if she wasn’t feeling well? Taking a deep breath, the floppy-eared two-leg forced herself to relax, expertly wrestling her feelings under control.

“Right, ok then!” She clapped. “Give me one moment to grab an extra hand and we’ll get to work.”

Get to work on what?

Beside him, Shouta guided him to lay flat on the cushioned, padded floor. He shifted his legs under him, and did so, sinking an inch or two into the soft padding.

Kegawa returns after a minute with a second person behind her. Tall and thin, the newcomer had short black hair, four arms, and five(?!) eyes with dark sclera and white pupils. Three of the eyes were on his forehead—sideways. It was both weird and fascinating.

The first thing they had Izuku do was lead him off to a huge tiled area that reminded him of a bathroom. When they started spraying the large rabbit creature with water, his suspicion was confirmed. Even though baths were more up his alley, he took great pleasure in getting thoroughly soaked in the cold, refreshing water.

Then they put that soap stuff that Shouta would wash his hair with during bath time. It was kind of weird because he never did that in this form. (No way could he fit in that tiny bathtub!)

The soap smells fruity and made his nose tingle when a bit fell on his snout. Lifting a paw to try and wipe it off he only succeeded in covering it in even more spuds. Uh oh.

For the second time since entering this weird building, he sneezed, sending soap bubbles scattering.

The four armed two-leg laughed, his voice echoing in a strange way. He was currently on top of Izuku’s back, rubbing soap into his fur.

Twenty fingers were digging deep into his fur and scratching the back of his neck. It felt… nice. Good.

Izuku slipped his eyes closed when he started lathering the top of his head. He did not want any of that stuff to fall into his eyes, no way, no thank you. (The first time that had happened with Shouta, his eyes had stung forever! )

He could feel Kegawa working on his forelegs. Which was quite a feat when they were nearly as big as herself. It tickled a little when she dipped her fingers between his paws to clean them, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

Once he was thoroughly soaped up, the male two-leg jumped off his back and they rinsed him off. The stream of water was at a strong level to penetrate his thick fur, and then ended with a soft drizzle before dying out.

“Ok, little Aizawa! Could you please shake out your fur for us?” He cracked an eye open at Kegawa’s voice, seeing her and her friend standing in a far corner next to Shouta.

Izuku hefted himself to his paws and shook out his mane as well as he could. After he was certain he got most of the water out, he sat and flicked one foreleg for a full minute, before switching to the other.

He was soon led back to that large mirror again (this time he didn’t look right at the bright lights! Ha!) and was asked to settle back down in front of it. Shouta sat in a chair about a foot away.

“Now, we’re going to need you to hold real still, ok little Aizawa?” Kegawa told him with a pat. Izuku hummed and watched as she pulled out a long fat stick with a metal zig-zag tip and a long black cord from its bottom. A quick glance showed that four-arms grabbed two of that same item.

Kegawa pressed a switch and the stick started to make a loud buzzing. She then asked him if he could stretch his left foreleg out more, which he did so without issue.

She glided the buzzing stick over his fur and Izuku watched in fascination as his fur plopped right off., leaving a short strip. Seeing that Izuku made no complaint, she continued on as four-arms took on the task of his right leg, asking him politely to please raise it up so he could do the underside first.

Four-arms quickly got the underside finished and gestured for him to lower it again before tackling the rest. Shortly after, Kegawa requested for him to raise the arm she was working on.

He did so, and the boy couldn’t help but to marvel at what she had accomplished. Never had he seen his fur so short before! It felt so relieving—as if his skin was getting some much needed air for the first time in forever. Were they going to do that to his mane as well?

His question was answered when four-arms finished up with his right foreleg, much faster with his ability to double wield the buzzing sticks, and informed Izuku that he was moving to the side of his neck. He eagerly lowered his head in response, looking at all the discarded wet fur around him, and knowing there was about to be a lot more.

Around his neck took a lot longer, of course. Even when Kegawa finally joined in to help. It was thicker and more unruly. Oftentimes they would pull away the buzzing stick and spray him with water. Izuku was not exactly sure why. Was it easier to cut when wet?

Pulling his gaze from the clippings on the floor, Izuku glances up to look at Shouta. The older man was sitting in a chair, watching the other occupants around the room. He must have sensed Izuku’s gaze however, because with a blink he turned his head and gave him a small smile.

By the time the last of his fur was shaved off, Izuku was fairly sure he had a crick in his neck. It twinged painfully and he winced as he raised it. But he felt several pounds lighter than this morning.

Twisting his head, he looked in the large mirror to his side. His usually long mane was fuzzy, short and lighter in color. Which was kind of weird? Why is fur lighter when cut short? Also his neck now looked really slim.

It was a strange look.

He brought a paw up and lightly lined his claws into his fur. They sunk about their own length inside before he felt them against his neck. A few inches thick then.

“Do you like it?” Kegawa smiled. Did he like it? Izuku wasn’t totally sure. It was vastly different from what he was used to, and the change was kind of jarring.

It doesn’t look as sleek… Izuku was proud of his fur and kept it well groomed to the best of his abilities. Of course, it was usually hard to keep it like that, but that was besides the point.

Then he thought about how less itchy he was and how he had pretty much skipped shedding season in a single day. Besides, fur grows back.

Seeing his pleased expression, Kegawa continued. “Great! But we’re not quite done yet. We still need to go over it one more time with a small trim. Wouldn’t want to go out with uneven patches, now would you?”

Izuku looked in the mirror again. Uneven patches? What does she see that he can’t? It looked perfectly even to him.

Movement in the mirror catches his eye. It was just Kegawa moving towards him again and he almost dismissed it in favor of examining himself once again, but a small sliver glint flashes in the two-leg’s hands.

  A hand holding him in place as white hot pain slices into him, a silver blade digging into his skin. It twists deeper, deeper, deeper as the figure above him laughs and laughs and laughs at his weak attempts to break free. It hurt. It hurt so much!

Izuku rounded on the threat with a vicious snarl. His pupils were slits, he drew back his fangs and tensed in preparation to leap—

Only for him to fall flat on his face as his body suddenly slams back into its small, weak, form. Before he has a chance to gather himself after the unwanted transformation, a pair of hands instantly yanks him off his feet. And for one terrifying moment, he panics .

He was slammed into the hard brick wall; he could barely register the cracking noise his head produced over the surmount of cotton and fuzz flooded his senses. He was held there—trapped, cornered—he couldn’t move

Izuku lashed out. Sharp fangs sank deep into the arm trapping him, his fingernails scratched uselessly at the hands—wanting them to let go of him stop trapping him let him go let him golethimgo--!

A weight settled on top of his head and he flinched and dug his teeth deeper into his captor’s arm.

Instead of being stricken however, he could feel a deep hum vibrating against him. It wasn’t threatening or making a move to do no more than hold him. There was no pain, nothing malicious from the action.

He paused. And blinked.

It took him a while to understand what he was looking at, but eventually the foggy haze in his mind cleared away as the boy became aware of his surroundings once again.

He wasn’t in a dark, shadowed alleyway surrounded by cruel laughter as a stinging blade sinks itself between his ribcage as his limbs refused to move.

No, it was too bright for one. And there was no pain in his side except for a slight twinge brought up from the memory.

He wasn’t hurt. He was—trapped yes, but—

Wide green eyes blink back at him. Facing a mirrored wall, the boy could get a full look at himself.

His hair was bristling and unkempt, his pupils still slitted dangerously as his lips were coated in red blood.

The blood that came from the arm his teeth were still sunk into.

The arm that belonged to—

Tears sprang into Izuku’s eyes as his body went limp in the hold, carefully unclenched his jaw. His fangs letting go with a soft squelch , lapping at the blood that welled up soon after. The humming, he realized, were words. But he was too upset to understand them over his shame and guilt.

I attacked Shouta , he thought in miserable horror. I hurt him.

 


 

When Izuku went limp in his grip, Shouta reassured him with gentle, calming words. His arm stung in pain even as almost two dozen small dagger-like teeth unfastened themselves out of the muscle, followed by a rough tongue gently stroking itself over the injury.

He’s calming down. Good.

But Shouta was confused. What had caused him to freak out so badly?

Looking over his shoulder, the two fur stylists were backed far away, their eyes stretched wide in fear at the scene they had just witnessed. It wasn’t just them, either. It seemed nearly everyone in the building was staring in his direction. Shit, he needs to get Izuku out of here before someone freaks out enough to call the police over Izuku’s relapse.

Shouta shifts the kid in the crook of one arm, allowing Izuku to bury his bloodied face up against his neck with a sniffle. He realized that at this angle, those sharp teeth could easily rip out his throat. He shoved the thought away, trusting that Izuku was back under control.

Turning towards Kegawa, he apologized for the trouble he caused and paid double of his payment, despite it being unfinished. The kid most likely wouldn’t care too much about a few uneven patches. Kegawa seemed to understand, to a point at least, and shakily offered to wrap up his injured arm before he could slip away.

Shouta thanked her for her time and effort and, still carrying a crying Izuku, he left.

Rather than heading straight for his apartment, Shouta decided to take a walk. He rubbed Izuku’s back in reassuring strokes until his crying petered out into soft sniffles. After a while, he had come across a small park. It was old enough that children usually avoided it, in preference for one of the newer, more fun parks. Which was perfect, he thought. Izuku didn’t need to be around other people at the moment.

Walking over to a rather large tree, he eyed a rusty old bench and debated against sitting on it, his back leaning on the bark of the tree as he slid down to settle on the grass. The shade under it was nice and cool, and the slight breeze, refreshing.

Izuku hadn’t said a word during their little walk. His small body trembled against his own, green eyes refusing to meet Shouta’s gaze.

He’s probably scared I’m mad at him. Or— A looming forest stretching for miles, home to a small boy barely able to survive on his own—Shouta swallows down his feelings of contempt of the boy’s parents. Izuku must know he would never abandon him—right?

“Izuku,” a flinch, “look at me.”

He could feel Izuku swallow thickly, then oh so reluctantly, pried himself from the crook of his neck. He still didn’t meet Shouta’s eyes, however. But he decided not to push it since the boy was already left trembling after the simple act of pulling away.

“I promise I’m not mad at you, ok? I understand you were scared, and I’m not going to fault you for that.”

Izuku pointedly looked at his bandaged arm, a faint tint of red starting to surface through the cloth. With an inward wince, Shouta realized he might need stitches. But he’ll deal with that later, not wanting to freak Izuku out even farther.

He raised his arm lightly. “It doesn’t hurt,” he lied and was rewarded with a disbelieving stare calling out on his bullshit. But the kid did end up relaxing, if slightly.

“Can you tell me what frightened you?” He tried to coax out.

Izuku glanced away, and that was when Shouta realized he still had yet to take on his more animal-like appearances, giving him the rare sight of seeing the fuzzy elf-like pointed ears. They twitched slightly as he lowered his head.

“Knife,” he said softly, and, oh .

Clouded eyes stare up at him as the hero steps closer to the beast, it’s breathing uneven and wheezing through every exhale. A puddle of blood steadily staining the forest floor, too weak and exhausted to move, the stab wound harshly visible on its side.

Back at the salon, Kegawa was coming at Izuku with a pair of silver scissors while his attention was elsewhere. It must have startled him, Shouta realized.

Izuku has been making great progress in trusting others, but seeing a stranger come at him with what he thinks is a sharp object might have been too much for the young boy.

“It wasn’t a knife, it was a pair of scissors,” he told the boy, running a hand through his curls. “Like the ones I used to cut your hair. It’s good that you can protect yourself, but you can’t attack people. I would never allow anyone to hurt you while I am nearby, alright problem child?”

“…promise?”

“I promise,” he nodded. “You can put more trust into me looking out for you.”

Izuku was silent for a moment, but then gave a small nod. “Ok.”

They stayed like that for a while, just sitting under that tree while enjoying the nice day as Shouta gave Izuku time to get his emotions under control.

When Izuku started to get restless, Shouta figured it was safe to move on.

“Hmm… if I remember correctly, I believe I promised you a treat.” Izuku’s ears perked and good, he was starting to return back to normal. “Any idea what you want, kiddo?”

The answer was instantaneous. “Dango! I want dango!” He shouted, bouncing up and down on his lap.

Dango it was then.

 


 

Hizashi met them at the convenience store, glaring at Shouta with disappointment that he had waited so long in not getting his arm treated. And instead of going to treat it, he was buying treats at the local grocery store.

“I’ll treat it when we get home,” he said, bah! Was his friend insane? Absolutely! And what’s more, he refuses to say how he even got the injury! Choosing to fix him with a red-eyed glare anytime Hizashi tried to bring up the subject. Eventually, he got the point that Shouta didn’t wish to say so in front of the little listener and backed off.

For now!

He’ll get the answer yet, just he waits!

In the meantime, the radio host will send a discreet text to Recovery Girl and coo over little Izuku stuffing his cheek full of dangos.

“You’re supposed to eat them one at a time, you know,” Hizashi chuckled from behind Shouta’s back, little Izuku visible from over his newly acquired dad’s shoulder.

Izuku either didn’t hear him or didn’t care as he tried to chew with difficulty over his mouthful. He hopes the little listener won’t end up choking.

He watched as those rabbit-like ears suddenly jolted upwards just as a cat came barreling down an alley, yowling up a storm. Towards them.

“Er, Shouta, is that one of your cats?” He asked as it stopped in front of them, glaring insistently.

“You know what my cats look like,” the dark haired man grunted. “Just ignore it, I do not need a fourth cat invading my home.”

“Aw, and here I thought little Izuku was your fourth!” Hizashi jokes, stepping around the still meowing cat. It had two different colored eyes, huh.

Shouta have a small snort. The funny thing was, Shouta never willingly adopted any of his cats. With more or less two of them breaking into his apartment (somehow??) and injecting themselves into his living style. If Hizashi remembers correctly, Juice Box, the newer of the trio, was the only one Shouta picked up and that was only to save it from a pair of teenagers abusing the poor animal. His friend had then nursed the feline to health, and when it was time to release the orange kitty, the thing was so enamored with its savior, it refused to leave.

“I’m starting to believe you have a second, secret quirk,” Hizashi loudly added in, amusingly watching the small kitty as it continued to follow them. “’Cat Lover’ perhaps? Or maybe ‘Feline attraction’, or—”

He was interrupted when little Izuku finally managed to swallow down his mouthful of dango and let out a shrill excited cry and tried to vault himself over Shouta’s shoulder, who was surprised by the movement and trying his best that he didn’t accidentally drop the kid face first.

“Jesus Christ kid, what’s gotten into you all of a sudden—” Shouta grunted out over an armful of a struggling Izuku.

The cat, fed up at being left behind, takes a running leap and claws at the back of Shouta’s black shirt. And the sight that greeted Hizashi almost sent him doubling up with laughter.

His usually stoic grump of a friend was crouching, his back arched and eyes nearly popping out of his skull as a cat tried to scale him like the Eiffel tower and a rambunctious child flailed in his arms. Poor, poor Shouta. He just couldn’t catch a break.

Eventually the cat made safe passage and neatly balanced itself on the man’s shoulders, looking incredibly smug as it did so. It ignored him, however, and focused its attention on little Izuku who was—

Responding to it?

That wasn’t exactly strange , per se, Izuku actually does that a lot to Shouta’s own cats when he’s playing with them. And when they would (sometimes) meow back, Hizashi just assumed they were doing what cats would do when offered attention.

But then, why would a random stray play along? It’s weird behavior for one to go up to a random person like this.

Onlookers were throwing the trio both amused and annoyed glances as they passed them. Izuku paid them no mind, seemingly content on having his full blown conversation with the animal. He eventually caught notice of the two adult’s bewildered looks and stuttered to a stop. But rather than embarrassed, his green eyes only lit up more, like a child who wanted nothing more than to tell their parent something that brought them joy.

“This is White!” Izuku introduced with an excited wave. “He live with me in—in—” his features scowled as he tried to recall the word with his limited knowledge. He groped around for a bit more, before giving it up with a shrug. “Live with me.”

Live with him? That didn’t really make sense. Hizashi opened his mouth, about to say that Shouta didn’t have a white cat, but before he could, Shouta cut in.

“You mean in the forest?” and oh, that would make more sense.

Izuku gave an eager nod. “Yes! That!”

“Aw, he had a little cat friend in there? No wonder he got along with yours quicker than me and ‘Muri.” Not that he was still pouting over that little fact.

… ok he totally was still pouting over it. Little Izuku liked Bastard more than Hizashi! There are not enough words in the Japanese and English language to express how hurt he was by that fact.

Oh, wait a minute!

Shoooouta! Do you know what this means!”

“That I need to start accepting the reality that my kid can talk to my bastard cats?” Shouta replied, looking a bit pale.

“No! Wait— yes that too— but also! Izuku has a friend! Could you really be cruel enough to deny them from seeing each other?” Hizashi voiced out loudly, shaking his friend’s shoulders. “Little Izuku has been separated from his friend for over half a year--! How sad is that?”

He says all this as if the blond is trying to convince his friend to keep the cat, despite the fact they both know Shouta has no say in the matter.

If the cat decides to stay, then it will . This is not an option.

 


 

Shouta was forced to accept his fate when the small white cat jumped neatly from Izuku’s shoulders and started exploring around the apartment, with the boy happy to be his guide.

Bastard, who was watching the two with a critical eye from the top of the bookcase, yowled loudly at the newcomer, his black fur bristling and shit! —he forgot how territorial cats are!

His legs jerked and Shouta was just about to swoop in, grab the angry feline, and toss it in another room before Izuku would have to witness his little friend getting torn to shreds by the jackass of the feline world. That was, until Izuku turned, gave Bastard a wide grin, and happily chittered something to him.

To Shouta’s surprise, Bastard backed down immediately, albeit grumpily. His black ears twitching as his attention goes from the exploring duo to narrowing his eyes when meeting Shouta’s gaze. He could see a plot brewing in those icy blue eyes, but honestly Shouta could not bring himself to care.

No, he was too busy slapping himself for not noticing the child who has been living under his roof for nearly seven months— could speak to cats.

How the hell did he not realize this?

“Can you stop moving and let me examine your arm?” Recovery Girl scolded, whacking his knee with her cane. “Unless you’d rather I cut it off, instead?”

“No, ma’am.”

From the couch, Hizashi sniggered.

 


 

[“And in here, this is where food is kept! It’s really cold inside for some reason? But not as cold if you bury something in the snow and keep it there all day—well the top cold box is there cold, actually I think it’s even more so! But there’s this tasty frozen treat inside the colder box that Shouta gives me sometimes, he calls it ice cream and it’s soo good and it’s really soft! Though one time, I bit down on it and my teeth really didn’t like that. Uh, um, oh yeah! In the bigger box there’s some of that cream that we would always find near the edge of the forest! There’s the thick cream, and then some milk! But it’s not like the milk Queens would feed their kits? Or at least, I don’t think so? There’s a lot more of it and it’s really refreshing—and oh! There’s also—“]

[”Do you ever breathe?”] White interrupted with exasperated amusement.

[“Of course I do?”] Izuku stumbled to a stop and shot his friend a confused look. [“I kind of need to. To like, live and stuff.”]

[“Really?”] The feline blinked teasingly. [“And here I thought your lungs vanished from under your rib cage. Take it slower, I’m excited to see you too but I can hardly follow what you’re saying!”]

Izuku ducked, embarrassed. [“Sorry,”] he chuckled, [“it’s just been a while—y’know?”]

White’s eyes softened. [“Yeah, I know, you furball.”] He lands softly onto the counter and neatly sits down. [“So, are you going to open the weird ‘cold box’ or not? If there’s food inside, I want to see.”]

[“Ah, I uh, can’t,”] the green-haired boy grins sheepishly, [“Shouta locked it so I couldn’t get into it, after I got sick from eating everything inside one time. Actually—“] he looked around the small kitchen. [“… mostly everything in here I can’t get into. All the food cabinets have, er, ‘child locks’ on them,”] Izuku said with a small pout.

[“And that’s a huge shame, because now Izuku can’t sneak me some treats when Shouta isn’t looking,”] Juice Box complained from the fridge top. Oh huh. Izuku didn’t see the cat there when he walked in.

White blinked his blue-green eyes in confusion. [“Izuku?”]

The boy’s tail shoots straight up. He couldn’t believe he forgot to tell his friend the most important thing of all!

[“That’s my name!”] He told the cat with pride. [“Shouta gave it to me! I’m Aizawa Izuku now! Shouta gave me his second name, because that’s what humans do to show you’re apart of the same family.”]

[“Having two names sounds a bit silly, though,”] White remarked with a tilt of his head. [“But… I can see it makes you happy, and besides. Hm… yeah. Izuku suits you, I think.”]

Izuku flicked his tail. His toothy grin showing how both pleased and embarrassed the boy was at his friend’s praise.

 


 

“White can’t come with us, Izuku,” Shouta gave a tired sigh when he saw the small cat wrapped neatly around the boy’s shoulders.

Big green eyes looked up at him and blinked. “Why?”

“I’m not sure if Nezu will allow it. White might run away and get lost on campus.”

Izuku frowned. “He won’t.”

“But he might. Maybe you could ask Nezu about it today,” he negotiated as he lifted the cat from his son’s shoulders. White gave an indignant yowl as the man gently tossed the creature back inside the apartment. Shouta felt a small pang of guilt when Izuku let out a sad noise at the sight.

Shouta adjusted his hold on the child harness so it was loosely looped around his wrist and they both exited the building.

Despite the scare at the salon yesterday, its job held through as they both slept through the night and Shouta did not wake up to bright green fur coating his bed and clinging to his skin. Though, Shouta has a sneaking suspicion the fur had already grown a few centimeters.

Does the fur stop growing when it reaches a certain point? He doubts the kid was groomed before this. That would have been convenient for the boy if that were the case. There were some cases of dogs suffering with years of mistreatment and overgrown fur that blinds their eyesight and overheats their bodies. Shouta is glad Izuku did not have to go through that, at least.

Their morning walk went without an issue, and it was not long until UA’s walls were within sight.

It was when Shouta had passed through the gates that he heard an assertive meow from below.

He paused, blinked once, and looked down at the child beside him.

And the cat resting neatly around his shoulder.

God fucking dammit.

“How,”

Exasperation seeped into his voice as he continued to look down at the feline.

He had tossed the cat back into his apartment, and then closed the door behind him.

So, how the hell was it here?

“You know what? Sure. This is fine.”

If anything else, maybe it’ll cause Nezu a bit of chaos.

 


 

“Hey, you guys would not believe what I saw on my way to school this morning,” a student whispered scandalously.

“Oooh! Do tell!”

“I hope it’s not more drama from the other classes,” someone said dubiously. “That kid from business is still peeved at you for spreading unnecessary rumors.”

“Hush! It has nothing to do with them, no what I saw was Aizawa-sensei.”

Unimpressed looks passed between the small group.

“…and what’s so special about that? We see him every day. In fact, we’re about to see him in a few minutes.”

“Has anyone else noticed he started bringing a yellow sleeping bag to the teacher’s lounge?” A boy interjected. “He’s been looking exhausted for months now, I wonder if he’s trying to squeeze naps while at school now.”

“Oh, who cares what he does during breaks!” The gossiper snapped back. “I’m trying to tell you guys that I saw him with a little kid! Aizawa-sensei has a child!”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“Wow, you were right,” someone whistled, breaking the few moments of silence, “we totally do not believe you.”

The group laughed at their classmate’s scowl.

I mean, could you imagine?

Grumpy Aizawa-sensei having a kid?

What a ridiculous thought.  

 

Chapter Text

[“It’s been pretty quiet since you went missing.”]

Izuku was laid comfortably on a patch of grass in the fake forest with White lounged on his shoulders.

[“I mean, I guess it usually was, before,”] the cat continued, [“but I never realized how boring it was without you there. Not to mention, every cat has been downright insufferable. Everyone wants to argue over the silliest things! Like—a young cat slept in this nice looking spot of soft flowers. Turns out, one of the elders liked to look at them for whatever reason and was cross when he saw they had been trampled and smooshed.

So, he comes tromping back to camp demanding who ruined his oh-so-precious flowers and sparked a whole debate over it that lasted for days! ”] White gave an irritable huff. [“After the third day, I ran out of camp and roamed the forest for a while to—well. To look for you.”]

[“For me?”] Izuku echoed. White rearranges himself from his spot on Izuku’s beastal shoulders.

[“Well, yeah. I thought you might have moved to another part of the forest,”] he paused. [“Izuku, you… you worried me, y’know? One day I couldn’t find you, and when I tried to track your scent, I found this clearing that was matted in blood and reeked of your scent. I… I thought you had died.”]

White’s voice sounded thick and Izuku couldn’t help the clump of guilt that ledged itself in his stomach.

[“But then I realized that, with how big your body is, you wouldn’t just disappear . So, I figured you must have dragged yourself to a safe place.”]

[“I was attacked by some bad two-legs,”] Izuku admitted with a wince. [“But Shouta found me and got me help.”]

[“He saved you,”] White uttered softly after a pause. [“That’s good. He’s a good two-leg, then.”]

Izuku was proud to say he thought so, as well.

The next few minutes were spent in a companionable silence as they simply relaxed in the other’s company. The rabbit hybrid had almost dozed off, when a small paw pressed firmly down between his shoulder blades.

[“Are you planning on living with that two-leg for good?”] The cat questioned.

Izuku didn’t need to even pause to think about his decision. The boy loved the forest-- he really did!

But. He knew he could not survive being that lonely ever again. Not when a taste of belonging was finally offered before him.

[“I am.”]

And White hummed, not surprised with his friend’s choice.

[“Then I guess I am, as well. You’ve been my friend since I was a small kit, and I don’t want to lose you again.”]

White gasped suddenly then and leapt from Izuku’s shoulders and landed neatly in front of the boy.

[“Izuku! You need to go grab your stuff then!”]

And, oh.

 


 

As Izuku grew up in the forest, he had collected small things that interested him and proudly called it his hoard.

After living with Shouta however, he realized those things weren’t… all that great? At least compared to everyday items he can easily come across whenever. 

But, still. They had a sentimental value, you know? And, Izuku figured, he may as well decorate his room with the items, for old times sake.

So, as soon as the day was over and Shouta had returned to come pick him up from the fake forest—the first thing the boy did was inform his dad about his little request.

Seeing nothing wrong with this, Shouta agreed. Saying that they could pay a visit to his old home during the weekend. And when Hitoshi later hears of their planned trip, the purple haired child pesters the hero and his parents into letting him go, as well.

Cue the weekend rolling around, and Izuku, Shinsou, and Shouta showing up at the forest’s doorstep.

And of course, White was here as well. The cat threaded itself between Izuku’s legs before jumping onto its favorite spot on the boy’s shoulders. Izuku gave the cat a pat with one hand and then turned to his companions.

“This way!”

He turned and followed a trail well known to the green-haired boy.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in here,” Shinsou commented as he ducked under a branch. Shouta glanced at the kid from the corner of his eye.

“You’ve been in here before?”

Shinsou nodded. “Well, more like I got lost? Some classmates of mine thought it would be a funny joke to dump me in here a few years ago. It was pretty scary, and I was terrified when it started to get dark out.”

What is with children being abandoned in this forest?

“Did a search party come looking for you?”

“Oh no,” Shinsou laughed. “Only my jerk classmates knew I was in there, and they were too busy being smug at home to bother telling anyone where I was. No, actually, uh,” he scratched the back of his neck, “Izuku was the one who helped me.”

Shouta’s head snapped to his left.

“Izuku?”

Izuku’s ears twitched backwards as he listened in on the conversation but still focused on his surroundings as he guided them through the trees.

“He kinda came out of nowhere. I thought it was weird, but at the time I was so relieved to see another human, that I didn’t even question it. He just grabbed my hand and led me out in nearly no time at all.”

He paused, hesitating.

“And then he vanished.”

“You didn’t think to tell anyone that there was a little kid living on his own in this place?” Shouta question incredulously.

Shinsou looked embarrassed. “I thought he lived nearby and went home after he dragged me out. It was dark and I was tired, if it were me, I wouldn’t want to hang around in a creepy place for longer than I had to either.”

Shouta sighed.

It made sense, of course. But it was frustrating nonetheless that someone knew of Izuku’s existence sooner and he still had to spend a few extra years on his own.

“How long ago was this?”

“About… three or four years ago, I think? I was seven at the time.” Jumping over a fallen tree, he added, “funnily enough, I think Izuku hasn’t grown an inch since then.”

Izuku finally turned to his friend with a pout. “I have!”

“Your human form hasn’t,” Shinsou smirked, “you’re still as much of a runt you were years ago.”

Green eyes whip in Shouta’s direction. “What is runt?”

“It means you’re tiny.”

Izuku whipped back to Shinsou with a glare. “I am not runt! I’m big!”

“Dude you like, come up to my chest and I’m not even considered tall. You are like the height of a doll you buy at the supermarket.”

Izuku glares hotly. Then in retaliation, he surges forward and shifts rapidly. His body expands just a little over Shouta’s own six feet of height and snaps his jaws around the back of Shinsou’s shirt, who shrills in surprise.

“Izuku! This is cheating— put me down!”

Shinsou’s cries fall on deaf ears as the rabbit hybrid happily trounces his friend deeper into the forest like a mother cat carrying her naughty kitten. 

“Aizawa! Help me!”

Shouta laughs. “You’re on your own, kiddo.”

Shinsou screams at the injustice of it all, but Shouta’s mind is already wandering.

While Shinsou had met Izuku sooner, Shouta realized just how many chances he had to see the kid.

He had fallen out of practice since he took Izuku in, but he would often leave cream and food for stray cats at the forest’s edge. For nearly a decade, he had developed this habit ever since as a young teenager he had come across a stray female cat, starving and heavily pregnant with its unborn offspring.

Shouta seen this, and promptly took out his own lunch and offered it to the cat. (He remembered Oboro finding this out later and laughed at him before taking pity and sharing his own lunch with Shouta so he would not starve) Then after school, he went straight to a convenience store and purchased a small bag of cat food and tracked his way back to where he had found the cat that morning.

He found her, huddled under a bush and once again he offered her some food and kind whispered words.

After that, he had made it a habit to visit that spot daily, leaving just a little bit early in the mornings before school. Sometimes, Hizashi or Oboro would join in and leave bits of smuggled food for the cat as her trust in them grew enough to allow the boys to stroke her fur, but most of the time it was only Shouta who showed.

He remembered the day he had shown up and the cat had proudly shown him her newborn kits, and he remembered when a few months later the cat had shown up at his doorstep and marched along inside his house as if she had lived there for years. And he remembered looking at his coffee, then the cat, and naming her on the spot.

He continued to leave food in that same area after taht, for Mocha’s children and kin who took up living in that forest.

Would he have found Izuku sooner if he went farther than that small forest edge?

How had no one noticed a child living on his own?

How didn’t he ?

Izuku’s situation could have been solved before Shouta had even left high school, and the boy would have grown up to a completely normal, non-feral childhood.

But, a voice whispered into his ear, you would have handed him away without a second thought.

A teenager shouldn’t raise a child. Especially not one about to enter the dangerous field of heroics.

…it was probably a selfish thought.

 


 

After a while, Izuku had placed Hitoshi back on the ground and shifted back to normal, a smug smile stretched on his lips.

Hitoshi oh wisely kept his mouth shut.

The insomniac didn’t want to admit it, but his legs were starting to ache. How long have they been walking?

“Izuku how much further?” Hitoshi asks, jogging up to the shorter boy.

“Almost at the river,” Izuku cheerfully replied.

“Is that where you lived?”

“No, silly! Hunted there and bathed. Can’t live in water,” he laughed, and Hitoshi guessed that was true.

From his shoulders, that white cat Izuku had brought meowed pointedly.

Izuku replied back, and the cat leapt from his shoulder, ran ahead, and soon disappeared into the bushes.

His friend looked over his shoulders, making sure his dad was still trudging along behind the two. Then he gave a little bounce and ran over to the adult and tugged at his hand.

Quickly letting go, Izuku hopped several paces backwards and froze in place, his ears and tail held high expectantly.

When Aizawa did nothing but slowly blink, Izuku shot forward again, slammed his feet down mere inches in front of the man, then jumped backwards in a single, powerful hop.

Aizawa narrowed his eyes slightly and took a deliberate step forward.

Izuku tensed eagerly.

And Hitoshi realized that Izuku wanted to play.

Aizawa taking another step forward caused Izuku to leap back into action. He nimbly bounced around his adopted dad like a—well, like a bunny— while fluidly avoiding reaching hands.

Leaves scatter underfoot as the small boy performs an excellently high jump when it looked as if he was cornered. His body rolls in the air, his feet slamming down on broad shoulders, and then uses them to springboard himself forward, sending Aizawa stumbling a few steps until he regains balance.

Izuku laughs openly, hopping on one foot, before turning on his heel and running off into the leafy landscape.

Hitoshi and Aizawa exchange a glance.

There was exasperation and fondness in the hero’s eyes that nearly made Hitoshi laugh as well. Grinning, the younger boy ran forward in pursuit of his friend. The soft crunch of leaves from behind telling him that Aizawa was following right behind.

 


 

Izuku reached the river first.

Well, technically, White reached the river first, but he didn’t participate in the game so the cat didn’t count.

Angling his ears behind himself, the boy can hear the tall-tale sounds of his pursuers. Feeling a bit mischievous still, Izuku wastes no time in jumping into the cool river water. Then, he holds his breath and waits.

Izuku had mastered his breath holding skills seasons ago, so he has no issue in waiting until a shadow soon falls over the water.

His legs crouch and bend on the riverbed. Then, with a powerful kick, he surges out of the water and grabs the back of Hitoshi’s shirt—and yanks.

The purple haired boy shrieks in surprise as he gets dragged into the water, soaking his clothes and flattening his usually unruly hair.

Izuku lifts himself out of the water and laughs. It felt great to be back in his old territory among his new family.

With how amused he was at his antics, Izuku’s other companion had slipped from his mind and he found himself letting out a small shriek of his own as a pair of hands lifted him by the armpits.

Tilting his head backwards, Izuku grins up at Shouta, who raises an eyebrow at his currently dripping appearance. From the river, Hitoshi drags himself out of the stream, trying and failing to expel the water that soaked him. And, well, it wasn’t fair if Shouta was the only one who remained dry—was it?

Izuku shook his head rapidly, sending water droplets flying in all directions. A hissed intake of air could be heard from behind the boy as he wiggled in the held grip.

Finishing, he looks back and lets out a giggle at Shouta’s stern expression, which wasn’t as effective when water was streaming down his face and hair.

Success! Everyone was wet now.

Twisting out of his guardian’s hands, Izuku landed neatly onto cold mud that felt soothing between his toes.

“This is where I hunt!” He introduces with a little spin. “Hunt lots of fish!”

By proving this statement, he turns and crouches down. Keeping his body low to the ground, it wasn’t long before his hand shot out and hooked a small silver fish out of the water and above his head. With a twitch of his tail, the sharp spikes puff outwards and slam down on the fish, impaling and killing it with a swift blow.

He smooths over the spikes back to their harmless state, and scoops the fish up with his hands, offering it to his companions with a grin.

Surprisingly, they didn’t look too pleased with his gift.

“Er, no thanks,” Hitoshi declines.

Izuku looks at Shouta imploringly.

The man sighs. “We can cook it up for dinner when we get home.”

Great!

The fish was wrapped up and placed in the bag they had brought with them for this trip. Izuku could have carried it himself, but he most likely would have just eaten it then and there if he had.

“So where now?” Shouta asks as he adjusts the bag back onto his shoulders.

Izuku grins.

And points forward.

 


 

“I just crawled out of there though!” Shinsou complains loudly, and really, Shouta has to agree he was not too keen in sloshing through dirty river water.

Izuku seems undeterred, however.

“I’ll carry across?” He offers, shifting into his rabbit form on the spot. The water only came up to his neck as he dipped into it, but his back remained over the surface. He shifts his weight around, testing the rocks underfoot, before looking back at the two, waiting.

Hitoshi takes the hint and defly climbs on, but Shouta hesitates, unsure if he should put that kind of strain on the kid’s back or just suck it up and wade through the water himself.

Under Izuku’s eager gaze however, he deflated and sat just behind Shinsou. Something light falls on his lap and he looks down to see White’s blue and green gaze staring at him. Shouta’s added weight did not seem to affect Izuku in the slightest as he started to walk the three of them over to the other side of the stream.

Sometimes Shouta forgets this kid is in fact very, very strong.

Reaching solid ground again, Shouta carefully steps off Izuku’s monster ferry service and helps Shinsou to his feet. Once clear, Izuku lifts himself out and rushes several yards ahead and stops to shake out his drenched fur.

He shifts back to his human form in a crouch and bounces lightly on his feet.

“This way!”

 


 

About thirty more minutes of trudging through undergrowth and getting bitten by bugs with no personal boundaries, Izuku finally stopped in front of a large bush.

Shinsou looks at it with a critical eye. “You didn’t live under a bush, did you?”

“Yes!” The other boy cheered. His tail blocked Shinsou’s path when the purple-haired boy tried to step closer.

“Wait here,” Izuku warns.

His small body easily slips under the low branches, disappearing from view behind the full leaves.

A moment trickles slowly until—“Safe, come in.”

Shouta’s eyebrows scrunch. The voice that came out sounded muffled and a bit… distorted? Almost as if it had—

A hole, he realizes. He lived in a hole.

Hitoshi took a step forward, but Shouta held out a hand, gesturing to let him go first. Last thing he needed was getting someone else’s child stuck or hurt.

Pushing aside the branches, it was not hard to make out the open lip of a small tunnel. Biting the inside of his cheeks, Shouta wonders if he is even going to be able to squeeze down it.

There is a shuffling noise and a moment later he catches sight of glowing green eyes peering up at him from below.

“Come!” Izuku edges, easily turning around and slides down with a fluidly Shouta wish he had.

Well, he won’t get anywhere just looking .

Awkwardly turning his body around, he entered the tunnel feet-first and just kind of… slowly… shifted himself downwards.

It was uncomfortably tight and a little embarrassing, but he was making progress. He figures by going down like this, if he could no longer advance, he could drag himself belly-up out of the tunnel.

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and soon the tunnel opened up, dipped slightly, and met open space.

Shouta backs away from the tunnel, finally allowed to move freely as he dusts himself off and takes in the small ‘den’, as Izuku shouts up the tunnel once more to let Shinsou know it was fine to come down.

About the size of his bedroom back home, the underground den had a variety of small items scattered about its floor.

For the most part, it looked like a bunch of useless junk that people carelessly tossed away.

But Izuku had said he liked his stuff back in his ‘den’ and would like to retrieve and bring them home. And if Izuku wanted it, then…

He slings the bag off his shoulders and went about unzipping it as Shinsou slides down the tunnel (a lot faster than Shouta did) and marvel about the underground room, chatting fervently at the green-haired boy, who walks to one corner of the makeshift room where most of the stuff were gathered.

Shouta sweeps his gaze around once again, taking a second look at the den.

Along with the tossed items, there were also some shiny or strangely shaped rocks that would definitely catch the attention of a child. There were small rubber balls, broken toys, shattered dishes and malformed silverware. Dirty clothing that looked though it’s been dragged from the bottom of the river and strong sticks and branches, some looked as though they were in the process of being wilted down and bore obvious claw markings that dug deep into its bark, either for fun or out of boredom.

There were small bones scattered about, but mostly resided in a far corner, out of the way. Shouta could spot a few larger looking skulls that he thinks belong to deer. It seemed as though they had been used as a source of entertainment in one way or another, if their strange and decorative placings had anything to say. Some of the larger ones bore gash marks as large teeth nibbled, dug, and cracked for its marrow.

The thing that took up the most space in the den, was a large pallet of dried leaves, grass, and feathers, all brown and long dead. Almost like… a nest of sorts.

Where he slept, most likely.

“Shouta!”

Izuku bounces up to him, and plops something small into his hands.

Shouta examines it. It was a tiny little wooden figure, crudely shaped. It looked handmade.

“Did you make this?” He asks kindly, already knowing the answer by the spark of pride in his son’s eyes.

“Yes! Like it?”

“I love it.”

The boy let out a happy chirp. “Shouta keeps it.”

Well, who is he to deny a statement like that?

“Thank you, Izuku.” Giving his curls a quick ruffle, Shouta carefully tucks the carving into his suit. Looking slightly embarrassed, Izuku hopped back over to Shinsou who was tinkering with dried out flowers woven between one another.

Something in the shabby nest catches Shouta’s eye. It was different from the dried, dead plants.

He brushes aside old leaves and hooks out tiny—clothes?

That wouldn’t be so strange if they weren’t so, so tiny .

These are toddler overalls , he recognizes. And they were extremely filthy.

But surprisingly, still in good shape.

The stitching looks a bit sloppy, are they handmade?

He steals a glance in Izuku’s direction.

Did they use to belong to him? Or were they just something he found and placed in his nest for comfort?

His eyes trail back down to the clothing in his hands. They were black in color, with specks of red flaking here and there, but whether that was its original color or not, Shouta wasn’t sure. The material was stiff and slightly flakey under his touch, but held firm, Shouta doubted it was any normal fabric.

Custom made, perhaps? 

Humming, the dark-haired man made to put it in the bag but pauses as something else catches his eye.

There, just below the right opening where an arm would slide through was something carefully hand stitched. To his slight annoyance, he could see the string was apparently not compatible with the rough fabric and was severely frayed and nearly ineligible.

Squinting, he could make out what he thinks used to be some kind of… symbol or logo? Just above that were the letters; K_A_I

… or so he thinks.

There were obviously some missing or misshaped.

Shouta stares at it for a long while.

Then with careful hands, places it inside the bag.

 


 

It didn’t take long to gather everything into the bag, especially since Izuku decided not to bring everything.

Broken bits of toys and plastic and glass were left behind as the boy realized it was pretty much garbage after living among the same world with the two-legs.

Though, he was adamant about bringing at least one deer skull. (It looked so cool!) He kind of wishes he managed to snag a buck for his antlers, but oh well.

…huh, antlers would have been pretty cool to have. A perfect headbutting weapon.

Oh! But then he wouldn’t be able to comfortably lay on his back! He takes it back! No antlers, please!

“Are you ready Izuku?”

Oh, that was Shouta.

Is he ready? His eyes sweep over the den. This could quite possibly be the last time he will step foot in it.

The place had been home for years, and he was madly proud of how it turned out. Izuku had slaved over digging it out and molding it so he wouldn’t be eating dirt for breakfast due to poor structure.

He was safe here.

But it was also, where he was so very lonely.

Turning back to Shouta, his new kin, his family, his dad , Izuku smiles up at him and gives the man a definitive nod.

Izuku has a new home now.

And it was a place he no longer felt alone.

 



 

Then

 

There was a picture on the wall.

No, that wasn’t correct. There wasn’t a picture on the wall.

There were several and they had always been there.

And in every single one, the same person resided.

But who? Who was the lady in green?

Something could be heard dragging from behind him and the boy could feel the muscles around his ears try to twitch in vain, but he did not look back, too captured in his viewing of the lady in green for what must be the hundredth time.

“Little one,” the voice was raspy and rough. It has been a few days since the owner of it had spoken to the boy. “What are you doing?”

“Papa,” he points directly at the photo of the lady in green, “who is that?”

The air instantly turned thick with sadness, a smell the boy grew up and was the most familiar with. Ever since he figured out exactly what the scent was, the boy wanted nothing more than to bright it up to the warm taste of happiness, but always failed to get a reaction when those moments struck.

So honestly, the boy wasn’t expecting an answer.

He was curious though, yes, but he desperately hoped the subject would get Papa to talk to him again.

A lull falls between the duo, the boy picking at his clothes as he waits.

Then, finally—

“That is… someone who I used to care for very much,” the voice said slowly.

The boy’s spine tingled, and finally, he turned his head and looked behind him.

But Papa wasn’t looking at him. His red eyes, so similar to the boy’s own, was staring forlornly at the picture he was just studying himself. Misery and sadness flooding his gaze.

If this was a week ago, the boy would have lifted himself off the ground and latched his tiny little body onto his Papa’s leg.

But right now…

He takes note of Papa’s hands, carefully angled away and curling inwards and knew his Papa was still feeling guilty.

His newly forked tongue flitted quickly over his lips, feeling the two lines of raised skin.

Papa caught the movement and blinked down at him, and the child tensed, thinking he was finally going to talk to him again.

But instead, Papa’s shoulders hunched, and he looked away, his son’s eyes watching as he dragged himself to the couch and flopped onto the cushions as silence fell around the house once again.

And the boy knew, just like yesterday, and the day before, that silence will continue on for the rest of the day, only to be later disturbed by the trickling of the coffee maker that will go ultimately untouched.

Lately, its scent has been overwhelming.  

 

Chapter Text

Shouta sighed down at the shattered bed frame.

Getting ready for bed, Izuku had shifted and took a running start to flop himself roughly down, and being as heavy as he was, the frame’s legs gave itself underneath and snapped, sending the mattress crashing to the floor.

Izuku lowered his head, abashed, and pawed at the blankets.

Really, Shouta should have seen this coming. The kid weighed a near half ton and the fact his shitty bed frame lasted this long after months of misuse was a damn miracle.

I’ll have to look into reinforced frames…

Shouta’s lips thinned. This wasn’t the first thing Izuku had broken just by being in his other form.

Over the past week, the boy had been hitting a growth spurt of sorts.

He says ‘of sorts’ because the kid himself has only grown an inch or two at most.

His other form, however…

When Izuku first came to live with Shouta, his rabbit body was as tall as himself. Just enough for the boy to comfortably lay his chin atop of the older man’s head. Now, within this week alone, that height has shot up to at least a foot and stretched out length-wise to match. 

Simply put, Shouta’s tiny apartment was not cutting it.

Damn it.

They are going to need to move, aren’t they?

 


 

And move they did.

With the help of Nemuri and Hizashi (and along with some input from Nezu) Shouta was able to narrow down his options to a small-looking house.

At first due to its size, Shouta had almost passed it off in favor of larger options. But upon taking a look inside the building, he had to admit it was one of the better choices.

Hallways were minimal and wide. Rooms were more open-spaced and designed to prevent crowding. Doorways were larger and the kitchen space wasn’t clustered. The house came with a basement divided into two rooms.

The house looked like it used to belong to a family of quirk users who need more space than modern housing would allow for.

Shouta was more partial of a small area like his cozy apartment, but with Izuku he knew that would not work out.

The kid was energetic, playful, and very large. For both of their sanities, this was for the better.

But there was another reason why Shouta leaned towards this particular house.

The home was fitted snugly near the very edge of the forest Shouta had found Izuku in, and came with a large fenced-in backyard that included about a dozen or so trees. A personal little scoop of the outdoors right at their doorstep.

The fencing is in bad shape and will need to be redone. Making it a bit taller wouldn’t hurt, either, Shouta observed, taking in the scene. Maybe an inground pool to cool him off during the hotter weather. Izuku seemed fond of the river for that reason. Better digging up a spot for some water than Izuku sneaking out and running into the forest for a dip.

“So, what are your thoughts, sir?” The lean voice of the real estate agent asked him.

Sweeping his eyes over the backyard one more time, Shouta knew his decision had been made.

 


 

“What are you doing?”

“Packing.”

“Why?”

Shouta gives Izuku a patient look. “Remember when I told you we are moving to a new house?”

Izuku blinked. “Yes?”

“Do you like having your things in your home?”

Izuku nodded. Of course, he did.

“Then, we need to pack the stuff up so it will come with us.” Shouta explained. “Just like when we brought your things from your old home to your new one.”

“What will happen with this one?” The boy questioned, still not understanding entirely. Why were they moving in the first place? Izuku liked this home! It smelled like family, while the ‘new’ one from his single brief visit was foreign, stale, and had too many scents of strangers lingering on the walls.

His dad shrugs. “It’ll remain empty until someone else moves in.”

Izuku frowned at that. He did not like the thought of someone he didn’t know moving into his home, even if it was no longer in use.

He made sure to tell Shouta exactly this.

“You’re just not used to it yet,” the dark haired man told him. “Give it a chance and I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as this place if not more. And as for other people living here, well,” black eyes met green, pausing in his action. “Other people need a home too. Keeping this one away from people in need of it would be selfish.”

A spindly tail twitches. Mocha told Izuku that only “special” humans lived in this building, though he wasn’t really sure what made them special. Was that one of the reasons? Humans that needed a home?

“I guess…” Izuku eventually admitted, then fell silent. Thick furred fingers anxiously tapping on the wooden dresser he was leaning on. Shouta zeroed in on the action.

“Is something else on your mind?” He prompted.

“I…” one ear twitches as his eyes quickly darts to the corner of the bedroom. “Is it because I broke that?” He gestures to the bed with a flick of his tail.

Something flashes in the other man’s eyes, too quickly for Izuku to catch before it vanishes. “Not at all. When you lived in a den, did you ever have to make a new one because it had gotten too small?” Izuku hesitated, then nodded. That happened twice. “It’s no different than that. Once a home is too small to live in, a bigger one is needed.”

“But this is big,” the boy tried to argue. It was bigger than the den he lived in! And had multiple rooms!

“Not exactly. This place was originally more suited for a single person than two. Average houses are normally bigger than this.”

Shouta closed and sealed the cardboard box, having finished filling it with clothes. “I know you are anxious, but I have a feeling you’ll like our new home. Just give it a chance, ok problem child?”

Izuku grumbled at the nickname but ultimately agreed. If they were going to move to that stale human house, then the first thing Izuku was going to do was mark down every inch of it until there wasn’t even a hint of a stranger’s scent in a single corner .

 


 

The days sped by and before Izuku knew it, moving day was upon them and they were saying goodbye to the place the rabbit-eared child has called home for almost a year. His mind flashes back to his old den tucked in the forest someplace past the river. He had to (officially) say goodbye to that home just a few months ago, as well.

I really hope humans don’t move too often…

Izuku didn’t like leaving places he called home.

He pauses.

I didn’t mind leaving the forest, though.

“Come on, little listener! Grab a box and let’s get on our way!”

A forked tongue stuck itself out at the banana-shaped head, but he did as he was asked and lifted the nearest box. Hizashi had (finally) learned to control his loud voice around the young boy’s sensitive ears.

He watched as Shouta stacked one box on top of another and exited the doorway. Thinking to himself that was a smart move, Izuku did the same. And when he realized his load wasn’t heavy, he sought after a third. Heh, maybe I can carry every single box. He was strong, after all.

But he was also tiny. So, by the time he attempted a fourth, his stack was already well over taller than his small body and was increasingly hard to keep from falling to the floor. The smart thing to do, would be to set down a box or two, but he was determined.

It’s kind of hard to see. He bit his lip. Maybe he can walk sideways?

Izuku had managed to make it out the door and put some distance towards the elevator, when he felt the tower start to wobble. His balance tilted backwards, trying to even out the boxes, but then it had started to tilt towards the side and Izuku was rapidly losing his footing.

One hand shot out to steady the boxes, while another placed itself between his shoulders to prevent him from falling on his bottom. When Izuku successfully right himself, two of his boxes were taken from him and his field of vision returned.

“Careful little bunny, you don’t need to take such big loads. Leave some for the rest of us to handle,” Nemuri winked down at him. “I’m surprised you managed to get these out of the doorway, they’re quite heavy.”

Izuku’s tail twitched irritably. “They’re not.” He didn’t have a problem with the weight, just the awkward height! Izuku could have easily carried more!

“If you say so, mister strong man,” the woman laughed, though not unkindly.

Giving a huff, Izuku shifted his hold on his now two box pile and bounded towards the elevator.

 


 

They put everything in a ‘truck’. Or rather, that is what Shouta told him. The vehicle looked nothing like a ‘truck’.

I thought trucks had a big opening in the back? Humans could not make up their minds sometimes, could they?

Shouta took the boxes from Izuku’s hands and loaded them into the giant room truck. Back and forth the four went, until finally, nothing remained in the apartment other than lingering smells. It’s emptiness giving it a foreign appearance.

Izuku blinked, and the door was closed shut.

 


 

“Why three beds?”

“Because there are three bedrooms.”

Izuku pulled his head back out of the small room and glanced over his shoulder. “We get three rooms to sleep in?”

“Not exactly,” Shouta’s grunt turned stiff as he and the giant banana lifted the couch. Izuku offered to help but was turned away because it was ‘ too heavy for children, little listener! ’ “You and I have different rooms. The extra one is for whenever one of these two idiots stop by.”

“Aww, we love you too, Shou-chan~,” Nemuri called out from the kitchen, her voice echoing slightly.

“Why a different room? I wanna sleep next to Shouta!” He didn’t want to sleep by himself! If that were the case, then he already dislikes this new home!

The couch thumped heavily onto the floor as both adults sat it down, panting slightly. “And you still can, if that is what you want,” Shouta reassured. “You have your own room so you will have a place for privacy when you want it.”

A disbelieving hum thrummed in the boy’s throat. He couldn’t see himself needing privacy, when he loved to be around his family. But he supposed he could see the light in having a place to store his things.

Which room was his? He couldn’t really tell. Maybe it’s not decided yet?

Pivoting back on his heel, Izuku waits until Shouta makes his way back into the house with a new box and asks him, he shrugged and told the boy to pick whichever one he liked more.

After looping between all three rooms, Izuku decided upon the one that had two windows. One facing some buildings into the city, and the other showing off the forest that lay behind the house. Once Izuku pointed out which room he wanted, a bed larger than he had ever seen before was placed inside. Izuku looked at it, bewildered by its shape and size. Unlike Shouta’s, it was boxier, and it rested on the floor instead of being lifted off the ground and leaving a gap underneath. The silver frame raised a few inches upwards and was sturdy under his touch, but the mattress inside was soft and heavenly. If Izuku were to shift, the bed would be able to fit him inside it with plenty of room left over.

“Why does it look like that?” Izuku asks, turning to look at Shouta.

The older man sat against the frame and crossed his legs. “It’s a special bed for people with similar quirks like yours. It’s claimed to be more comfortable, but if you do not end up liking it, we can switch it out later.” He ran a hand against the padded mattress. “My new bed doesn’t have this frame, but it is made out of this material, this fabric won’t fray when your scales rub against it.” Oops.

Izuku nodded. The bed kind of reminded him of when he had to sleep in a nest. Maybe he could give it a try when Shouta has to leave during the night and Hitoshi is over.

The bed was given one last pat before the adult hefted himself to his feet once more. “Right, I’ll get your box of things and let you decorate your new room.”

 


 

Really, it didn’t take Izuku very long to sprinkle his possessions around his own little room before becoming bored.

At some point Nemuri had fitted his new bed down with sheets and a blanket, and Hizashi had dragged in a dresser for his closes, but for the most part the three adults stayed out of Izuku’s way and were scrambling all over the new house placing items left and right.

Every time Izuku tried to get one of their attention, he was brushed off and told not now, maybe later, play outside.

When Izuku tried to act on that last comment, apparently he went too far into the forest and Shouta fetched him back as he pointed out the fencing around the house. Izuku was to stay within its boundaries. He couldn’t even talk to the cats because they were all at Nemuri’s until everything is moved into place.

So really, it was not long before Izuku started to feel cooped up, bored, and antsy.

He was laying in a corner sulking as his tail periodically thumped down behind him, his fingers threading into the carpet as he picked at it.

Nemuri took notice of this and loudly gained Shouta’s attention.

“I think a break is in order! For myself anyway,” she winked, and turned her gaze onto the sulking child. “Izuku do you want to go grab some ice cream with me, while these two do all the boring work?”

Izuku’s ears perked. He liked ice cream.

He nodded energetically at the woman.

“Great!” she grinned.

“The child leash should be in the small green box over by the door,” Shouta waves vaguely, not looking up.

The leash was dug out and equipped on Izuku’s back not long after, and with an eager wave goodbye to the two men still slaving over the heavy lifting, Izuku and Nemuri were off.

 


 

Izuku kept close to Nemuri. Outside it was extremely windy and had nearly bowled the small boy over three times before he hunkered next to the woman, using her as a shield against the offending wind.

A quick look around showed people rushing from one place to another, not wanting to stay out longer than needed.

The trees usually protected me when it got too windy, how come the buildings don’t? Most of them are way more massive. Maybe the streets were too wide? Either way, Izuku wasn’t a big fan.

He would probably be fine if he shifted, but Shouta said he wasn’t allowed to in public unless he had said so. Izuku chalked it up to another weird human rule.

The sound of laughter reached his ears and he caught a glimpse of a park, children chasing one another in loud voices. From this distance he couldn’t see much, except for a faint spark from one kid and something red on another’s back, giving the child a weird, hunched look.

“Here we are!”

Tearing his gaze away from the park, Izuku looked up at the brightly colored building.

“Do you know what flavor you want?”

Izuku grinned a fanged smile. “Strawberry.” Most of the time, that flavor came with small chunks of the fruit. He enjoyed passing the frozen pieces around in his mouth as it unthawed and became soft enough to swallow.

“A fantastic choice if I do say so myself,” Nemuri agreed as they stepped through the automatic doors.

However, after taking only one step inside, the boy found himself scrambling backwards, the child leash pulling taunt.

Nemuri looked back at him in bewilderment. “Something the matter, little bunny?”

“It’s cold! ” Izuku said, affronted.

“It’s an ice cream store.”

“Don’t wanna go inside,” he shook his head, “wanna stay out here.” It was still warm outside at least, despite the strong wind.

“Oh, but Shouta said…” she trails off, thinking. Then steps outside after receiving a particularly nasty glare from the employees. “Shouta doesn’t like you being by yourself.”

“I’ll be good! I’ll stay here!” Please don’t make me stay in the cold.

“Well… you are growing to be such a big boy. Hmm… alright little bunny, I’ll let you stay out here if you pinky swear not to move from that bench. If I come back and find you gone, I will eat your ice cream.”

Izuku puffed out his chest and gave a single nod. He held out his hand and hooked his pinky with the dark haired woman. She watched as he stepped towards the bench next to the build and flopped himself against it.

“Stay here, ” she stressed one more time before entering the building. And then Izuku was on his own.

His feet swing restlessly as he waits. Luckily for him, there was a big rectangle thing next to the bench that gave him much needed protection once he slid in flush to it. His ears were particularly thankful for this, as they have been whistling nonstop.

Giving his head a small shake, Izuku’s eyes sweep the city block until his gaze falls on that park again.

The four children from before were still chasing one another. Izuku’s legs ached to go and join them, but he had pinky swore with Nemuri and you weren’t allowed to break a pinky swear. Though, he didn’t know why you couldn’t.

Maybe if he asked, Nemuri would let him go over there next? The only other kid he had played with was Hitoshi, after all.

He watches as a boy with blond hair pushes down a rounder looking kid and jumping off of them, something proud in the way he held himself. The blond steps backward with cackling hands, watching as the other boy springs back onto his feet, the red things on his back stretching wide with the movement. That was when Izuku realized they were bright red wings.

A hard gust of hot wind forces Izuku’s eyes shut as his ears flap roughly. The wind changed! He swiftly shrinks his ears down and feels immediate relief. Giving his head a quick shake, he glares at the tall rectangle thing next to him—now useless.

A scream tears his gaze away from it and back towards the park.

Three children were all running down the street, with the shift in the wind he could pick up the sour stench of fear. Something was wrong.

A flash of something bright caught his eye. He blinks and follows it upwards.

Wings spread and pulled taunt, the boy from before was climbing higher, higher, higher. Even from this distance, Izuku could see his small body flailing and his scent overwhelming in bright terror. But his wings, so magnificent as they were, kept climbing higher, higher, finally free from the binding ground that had trapped them there for oh so long, the wind their savior.

Izuku could only watch transfixed at the sight, his old jealousy of birds taking flight when they pleased, of their ultimate form of freedom flaring up as his eyes traveled up, up, up, wishing that could be him.

But, like often, it was ruined by human hand.

One wrong twist and-- right away Izuku knew it would be the boy’s undoing.

With the foundation stripped bare, that freedom crumbles, down, down, down. And at that moment he wasn't like a hawk, but rather the feeble mouse trapped in its talons, plummeting to its death.

A sickening crunch reverberated across the entire street. Bones snapping and blood splattering upon impact. Those red wings become twisted and bent at odd angles-- jutted and mangled. The tangy scent of freshly spilled blood resting on the tip of his tongue. The silence that followed soon after was almost deafening to where even the wind seemed to slow. A beat later, however and the quiet was soon shattered by a scream.

More followed until the street was filled with noise greater than before, people's voices loud with fear, worry, nausea, shock as the crowd gathered and inched close to the body, but still unwilling to approach it.

Nemuri bursts out of the building clutching two ice cream cones firmly in her hands. Her surprise quickly falls into something more serious as she takes in the scene.

"Shit," the woman curses and before Izuku can blink, two cones are thrusted into his hands.

"Izuku," she says in a rush, "stay here and do not move."

And then she was off, running towards the panic.

Izuku wasn't sure why she would want to involve herself, when there were so many people nearby. He wasn't even sure what the big fuss was. The green haired boy was slightly annoyed with the botched attempt at flying. The resulting death was the consequence for not taking it seriously. 

Things die and others thrive off of their death, fueling them to continue and move on.

Not that he was complaining, as he now gets two treats instead of just the one.

Nemuri handing hers over meant he could have it, right? Right.

The other cone was bright orange in color and had a sharp tangy taste to it. Different from what he was used to, but not unpleasant.

He tackled his own first, wanting those small bits of fruit to chew on. His tongue periodically swiped over to the orange one when it started to drip and make a mess.

Izuku had managed a decent dent into his treat before his attention was caught by a small body flinging itself from the crowd. It roughly pushed away and bolted down the street.

It was the blond kid from earlier, Izuku realized as the boy ran closer.

He rushed past his bench, and farther still before stumbling and collapsing to the side of the road and hurls, sick splattering all over the curb. A cloud of shock and despair prominent around him as he leans away.

Izuku looked at the boy.

Then to his ice cream.

Then back to the boy.

Mourning the loss of one of his treats, but still making up his mind, Izuku stands and makes his way over to the trembling blond. He sits roughly on the curb, taking care to tuck his tail close to his body so bystanders would not accidentally step on it.

The boy jerks at the movement, red eyes glaring hotly in Izuku's direction.

"What are you doing? Go away!" He hisses in rage. His mouth opens again, but before he can say any more, an orange ice cream cone is shoved in front of the blond's face.

He stared at it, face blank and not comprehending. Slowly, Izuku could see the fight drain out of the other boy as numb fingers grip the cone. Strangely, he didn't dig into it right away like Izuku would have expected, but instead continues to look at it with hazy eyes.

Izuku decided to leave him be, having done his part, and continue back to his own cone seeing that it had started to drip in the small amount of time.

By the time Izuku finished by snapping up the last of the cone and every sticky drop licked clean from his hands, the blond boy still hadn't touched the treat Izuku had kindly given to him. He was about to comment on this, to tell the boy not to waste food, when a loud shout had the blond flinching back-- his red eyes wide as his head whips around to the source.

He shoves the dripping, melting cone into Izuku's hands and runs over to a woman with a similar hairstyle to the boy, her frantic expression lighting up with relief as her eyes fall on him.

She tries to speak, but the boy only shakes his head with jerky movements. Her hand falls on his back instead, and leads the younger boy away.

Izuku watches this until his attention is back to his newly required treat.

 


 

"Izuku."

Vivid green eyes glance upwards, pausing in his messy eating.

Shouta glances over his expression, but doesn't see anything that would suggest him feeling upset.

Still, he asks-- "Are you alright?"

The boy nods, licking his lips with a forked tongue. "I have ice cream," he states with a cheeky grin.

"I see that. Where is Nemuri?"

He gets a shrug in answer and vaguely points to the crowd of people down the street.

"She said to stay on the chair. I didn't, though." There was a touch of guilt in his voice. "Was that bad?"

"It's fine." Maybe the kid didn't see it? Over text Nemuri had only said that a child had died and she needed him to come and pick Izuku up right away, as she had been swept up in her job as a hero. Shouta wasn't sure how a child had been killed until he arrived on scene and caught whispers from people standing nearby. Then his gaze swept the tops of heads, searching for the mop of green hair that belonged to his son.

"Come on, problem child. Let's go home." Izuku was a curious child, if he had witnessed a death he would have a question about the topic, right? The man was unsure if he should be the one to bring it up.

But the boy said nothing of it and only smiled up at Shouta with the same amount of happiness as he had always shown.

 


 

Izuku's mood went down as he remembered the new living situation. If his ears were shifted, they would surely be drooping as the step closer to the house.

He could feel Shouta's eyes and slight frown from beside him, worry bubbling under his skin. His silent worry sends a flash of guilt through Izuku, he knows his dad only moved with the chance to make the young boy happier.

And perhaps it will, once he gets used to it.

They stepped inside the house and a strong odor greeted the duo. A pot of coffee, set by Hizashi, was brewing and filling up the house with its familiar scent.

And just like that, Izuku thought this new place already seemed like home.



Chapter Text

Izuku watches as the snowflakes fall in a blinding rush, adding onto the already white world.

Nose scrunching in distaste, the boy has to admit the leaf-bare season was officially here in full throttle. Or as humans called it 'winter'. The name was too cute than what the horrid season deserves.

Thank the stars I don't need to be out in it anymore.

Izuku hated winter. 

It's too cold, prey is scarce most of the time, and he gets weird sleepy spells that makes him sluggish.

He was in a warm home now, and didn't have to worry about the cold anymore, other than the trips to the school and back.

Last winter he had put his foot down and refused to take the walk to the school when he had first seen the snow, a weird sense of dread stirring in his chest despite having to deal with the cold white powder hundreds of times. He must have grown too spoiled, living with Shouta.

In response, instead of walking Shouta somehow got a car (with a stranger!) And had them drive them to school instead, which he greatly preferred. Maybe Shouta will do that again?

Thinking about his dad sends a flash of worry through him. The man was currently out in the snow. Izuku hopes he isn't too cold.

Or, oh no, what if he slipped and fell on the ice? What if he collapsed on the side of the street knocked out unconscious with no one nearby as he slowly freezes to death? Or-- 

The sound of the front door opening halts Izuku's ceaseless worrying. Vaulting himself from his bed and over the sleeping form of Hitoshi, Izuku all but barrels into the front room and knocks down the shadowed, but familiar form.

The body below him lets out an oof as the breath is knocked out of his lungs. 

" Izuku. What-- "

Shouta was absolutely freezing to the touch! Izuku almost jumped away, wanting to shy from the cold. But his overprotectiveness trumped down as his brain supplies that he needs to get his family warm . Cold is bad, bad.

Two hands were trying to lift him off of his kin, but he couldn't have that. His body shifts, and carefully situated himself not to crush the man below and taking care that the fur around his neck was completely covered Shouta for maximum warmth. 

The man attempts to free himself once more, but gives up after several moments, his arms falling limp over Izuku's forelegs.

"What's gotten into you today?" His groan was muffled by the copious amount of fur.

Izuku could hear Hizashi cracking up from somewhere behind him, but he paid him no mind as he snuggled closer to his dad.

He must have dozed off for a few minutes because next thing he knows, he can smell coffee from the kitchen. Seeing as Shouta hadn't (couldn't) move, Hizashi must have traveled at some point from his spot near his own room. Which was fine, as Izuku loved the homely smell anyways.

Green eyes slipped shut once more, wanting nothing more than to lay here all day and lazily snooze away.

But alas, not fifteen minutes later Shouta spoke up again.

"Ok problem child, this was a nice nap, but we need to get ready for school. Nezu will be upset if you miss another day."

Izuku whines long and suffering. He doesn't want to go outside. And he doesn't want to see Nezu.

Shouta pats his neck with reassuring strokes, slow and comforting. Izuku knows the man can just force him to shift back, but trusts Izuku that he would let up on his coddling act. 

“I cannot wait until winter break.” Oh, that was Hitoshi. Izuku lifted his head and watched as his friend stumbled blearily out into the living room. His movements were fumbled and he all but collapsed onto the couch, eyes slipping shut.

“Win-ter break?” Izuku garbled, his voice thicker in his rabbit form. “That’s when no school?”

Hitoshi sleepily hummed a confirmation.

Izuku's attention whirls down to the now escaping man. As Shouta was now toasty warm, he allows this and moves his forelegs to the side so his attempt could go smoother. “W-hen?”

“In a few weeks. Students are let out for the holidays.” Shouta’s voice was gruff as he steps away, removing his weird lumpy belt and scarf. Hizashi offers him a cup of coffee, and he graciously takes it. Izuku lets go of his transformation to accept his drink right after, copying his dad’s careful sips. During the cold season, his morning milk was replaced with ‘hot chocolate’. The drink was rich and creamy and sweet, and Izuku enjoyed it immensely and its warming effects it has when settling in his chest.

Hizashi offers a cup to Hitoshi and tells the sleepy boy to get readied up himself so the blond man could drop him off at school before meeting up with the Aizawas. 

Taking the offered cup with a nod, Hitoshi's eyes remained shut as he slipped off the couch and entered Izuku's room once again to gather his things. The green haired boy watched him, wondering what Hitoshi's school was like. Apparently, schools don't usually supply their students with a full blown fake forest to run around for the better half of the day. Another point to how weird Nezu was. 

Izuku took another small sip.

"You too, problem child. We're running a bit behind schedule after that little nap." 

"Can we take car?" Green eyes blink up at dark ones.

"I suppose," came the reply after side eyeing the window. 

Izuku let out a pleased chirp and downed the rest of his drink in one massive gulp. Hizashi winced with a hiss. 

"You really should have let that cool first, little listener…" 

He was ignored. Izuku felt fine, after all.

 


 

[ "I'm just saying, things wouldn't be as boring." ]

[ "I am not going to sneak out when there is several feet of snow on the ground!" ] Izuku hissed at his feline friend. White rolled his eyes.

[ "And why not? It's only snow. We've both been out in it more than enough."

[ "Exactly," ] the boy grumbled, [ "why go in it when we don't need to? Besides, the snow would show our footprints and the humans still don't know about the window." ]

White lifted his head and cast the windows above a long look. [ "It's snowing pretty hard outside; the prints would be covered up before they even caught wind of our little outing." ]

[ "I could just let you out on your own." ]

[ "Where's the fun in that?" ]

Izuku gave his friend a scorching glare. But equipped against those big round eyes, he eventually deflated after a few moments. [ "I suppose it's only for a few minutes," ] he reluctantly agreed.

[ "Exactly!" ] White brightened.

 


 

That was how Izuku found himself in front of the mostly hidden window with three layers of jackets highly wrapped around his torso as soon as Nezu had left his sight. He makes quick work of the window, having been an expert at dealing with it after a year, but he still finds himself pausing slightly once it was propped open.

White had no such hesitance, and jumped through the threshold right away, shooting an expectant glance over his shoulder.

Izuku's mouth tipped down into a frown. Maybe he was overreacting, it's just snow-- frozen water! It can't even hurt him!

But it can kill you, a voice hissed in his ear. It will freeze you and leave you weak until you are unable to even gasp for breath.

The boy shook it off. He was better equipped to deal with the cold now and will even have a nice toasty place to return to.

With that in mind, he jumped out the window with slight haste.

Altogether, besides the cold wind slapping at his face, it wasn't so bad as his winter clothing held firm. The thought of being immune to cold sent a giddy feeling bubbling in his stomach. If I had this when I was in the forest-- he stopped that train of thought, not wishing to think of the time he nearly froze to death to the harsh conditions.

He gave his head a shake and squinted his eyes against the flurry of flakes to spot his feline friend, a feat that was a bit difficult when his pelt shared the same color as the landscape.

Blue and green eyes glinted in amusement a few yards away. The cat turned on his paws and leaped through the snow, his body light enough to not sink his paws too far into the powdery substance.

Izuku followed after, and soon the two were playing a game of tag, chasing one another with vigor.

White seemed particularly energetic, and often used the boy to vault himself from his body to jump further distances to escape Izuku's sluggish movements.The feline landed lightly a ways off. 

[ "How do you expect to catch me when you're as slow as a slug?" ] White yowled from over his shoulder. Izuku huffed.

Not wanting to be outdone, Izuku took a few small steps backwards before running forward in pursuit. White grinned with a ferocity, and twisted his body in preparation to bolt. 

Expecting this, Izuku gave an enormous leap, aiming directly for his friend. White sidestepped him and twisted his lithe body, springboarding off of Izuku once again. The boy shot a hand forward, hoping to snatch at the cat, but his white tail flits out of reach by just a hair. 

Izuku growled, his blood running hot with the chase and frustrations of being outmatched. 

He quickly dropped to all fours as he allowed his arms and legs to half shift. Izuku could already feel the sharp throb of the cold biting at his scaly legs, but with the shift he could move faster, more precise. 

The wind was howling and Izuku could just barely hear his friend's taunting tone, mocking him for still failing to catch a single small cat. Snow flew as the boy ran, becoming a green blur as he shot forward with a sudden burst of speed. White yelped at the bullet of color and scrambled to get his legs moving.

The cat managed to maneuver out of the way in time just as Izuku crashed into the snow, sinking deep into the powdery depths as he hit a drift. 

His vision was bombarded with muted white as Izuku struggled to get his footing under him. But his feet only kept falling under him before he could form a proper hold. Worse, his struggles only sank him farther into the drift, engulfing almost his entire body.

I'm stuck! His mind surged in panic, fear icing his limbs and making the hairs on the back of his neck rise. An image of a stony cave flashes through his mind, a mountain of ice and baleful malevolence blocks his only way out as the ice saps his strength, his energy, his very life .

He is dying and his captor laughs, laughs, laughs--

 

Izuku burst out of the encasement of snow, white powder scattering in all directions in a flurry of movement. His pelt stands on end as he pants, wide eyed and not even aware that he had shifted completely in his panic. The memory that had sat vividly at the forefront of his mind faded rapidly along with his fear. 

Not that it made sense to the boy. Never had he been in a stone cave, and certainly none with ice as frightening as the one in his vision. Izuku swallowed, wetting his dry throat.

[ "--ku? Izuku!" ]

Izuku startled. To his right, White was staring at him with wariness and concern.

[ "Finally! A reaction!" ] The cat had meowed with a touch of exasperation. [ "You had me worried when you weren't responding, you big oaf! Now are you alright or do you want me to shove you into the snow again? It's your choice and I suggest choosing wisely."

[ "I'm-- fine." ] Izuku blinked. [ "But I think I want to go back now. It's probably getting close to time, anyway." ] While teachers still watched Izuku closely from that hidden room, they let up a bit between the time they arrived after the rodent's daily teaching, showing up later and later and giving him more freedom without being under a constant watch. Izuku didn't know why they were growing lazy, or why they still insisted on watching him, but Izuku was used to it by now.

White shrugged, allowing their playtime outside to be cut short without complaint. Izuku  was silently thankful as they both slipped back into the warm building.

 


 

"Problem child. Care to explain how on earth you managed to get both of your jackets soaking wet? Especially when, to my knowledge, there isn't anything that resembles a lake in this building?"

Shouta questioned with disbelief as he looked down at the boy in front of him, visibly shivering as wet clothes hung from his small frame.

The man received no answer. He sighed, and retrieved spare clothing, lest he caught a cold.

 


 

“Are you ready for Christmas coming up?” Hitoshi had asked him a few weeks later. When met with a look of confusion, the purple haired boy went on. “You know, the holiday during the winter—right before New Years. It’s not a huge holiday here, but it’s basically an excuse to exchange presents.” And oh , Izuku remembers that.

It was confusing at the time, but Hitoshi, Shouta, and his friends had given the boy a lot of new things all on the same day. When it was explained that humans did this and exchanged presents with one another, Izuku had rushed into his room and given the four people items he had picked up that he thought were pretty neat. Like a shiny rock, or the skull of a small bird. Stuff like that. It was a rather small thing, and Izuku forgot about that day pretty quickly.

“We’re doing that again?” The green eyed boy had asked.

“May as well, right? Doesn’t hurt to get cool stuff from other people.”

Izuku hummed, turning his attention back to the item in his hands. Hitoshi was showing him some games on his phone—a weird device that lets humans talk to each other from far away. The concept was pretty neat, but Izuku would rather talk to someone face to face.

Well, he could probably make an exception for those humans that tried to hurt him last leaf-fall. He would very much not like to be near them .

A musical tune plays on the screen and Izuku’s ears shoot upwards as he realizes something has finally happened.

“It showed up! What now?” He asked excitedly to his friend, his green cat-like eyes not leaving the weird yellow creature on the screen.

“Oh good. Now you throw it.”

Izuku chucked the phone.

It hit the wall with a loud crack , before falling limply onto the soft carpet below.

Izuku looked back at Hitoshi expectantly. His friend was staring blank faced at the phone, his smile frozen in place as the silence stretched a second. Then two.

Finally, with his smile still frozen strangely on his face, purple eyes meet his own.

He took a breath.

“Ok, allow me to elaborate,”

Izuku grinned.

 


 

Cold air nips at his face as his breath shows up as white puffs just in front of him. His body yearned to be away from the chill and back in his warm bed and snuggled comfortably next to Hitoshi. Not much longer now, he stated within his mind.

His fingers ached with cold and felt stiff and numb. To his luck, there was only a thin layer of snow on the forest floor. Izuku doubts he would have chanced leaping from his window to make a journey in the middle of the night had the snow been more plentiful.

He shifted the small sack on his shoulder and looked to the west. The sky was starting to show a very slight hint of light blue in the distance. Sunrise was on its way, preparing to wake everyone it touched.

A sad note sounded in the back of the boy’s throat. He ended up spending more time outside than he had planned.

I forgot how hard it was to find them during the winter! He groaned inwardly. It probably would’ve been better to grab them yesterday when the sun was still up, but he wanted them to be fresh.

Turning on his heel, Izuku made the trip back home. The tall fencing had just reached his sights, when the boy heard something that caught his attention.

Someone was speaking in an animal language, but it was—strange.

It didn’t sound like cat, fox, or the quieted whisper of a rabbit and yet, it sounded like each and every one, all convoluted into a single language that somehow made sense . Izuku could understand it but he could also not.

An urge to hunt down the source ticked in the back of his head, his ears already straining to track down the noises.

It didn’t take him long to come up upon a tiny clearing filled with small woodland animals, chittering and conversing among themselves around a big, tall rock.

No, not a rock , Izuku realizes, a human!

Given the human’s size, they were most likely a kid like himself. But the human had a craggy look about them that Izuku had to blink and double check it really wasn’t a boulder he was staring at. But in the end, the scent gave them away.

[ “I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you more than this. I didn’t manage to reach the store in time before it closed up.” ] The not-boulder whispered. Despite how soft the words were, they still echoed in the crevices of his ears, loud and clear as if they had been said directly beside him instead of a few yards away.

Feeling bold, Izuku bounded over to the not-boulder boy. “Hey!” He said rather loudly. Several animals startled and scurried a good distance away from the green-haired boy.

Not-boulder startled as well. In fact, he had startled more than the jittery squirrels. Whatever was in his hands dropped to the cold ground and scattered. Big eyes whip around and stare directly at Izuku, who continued to approach the scene.

Izuku smiled, his sharp fangs on display. “You’re talking to them? You can speak?”

The other boy didn’t seem to be calming down, in fact he looked very close to tears as near panic and the stench of sour fear emitted from his stocky body. Izuku’s smile falters, was he doing something wrong?

Then he brightened. Maybe the boy was like him and had trouble with human speech?

[ “Hello!” ] Izuku tried again. [ “I’m Izuku! Can you understand them? The animals over there?” ]

The not-boulder boy relaxed, but only slightly as he gave Izuku a small, shy nod.

[ “Can you understand them naturally, or is it your—uh-- quirk?” ]

He was given a cautious, evaluating look. After a minute of silence, the boy quietly responded. [ “My quirk.” ]

[ “It is your quirk? Can you understand all animals or only certain kinds? I can only understand cats, foxes, and rabbits for some reason—I didn’t think other animals had their own language as well. Then again, rabbits are tricky, I can only vaguely understand what they’re feeling than hold a conversation with them. Is that how it is for you too? How much can you understand? Oh, oh, and what’s your name? My dad said it is good manners to give out your name if someone says theirs, otherwise it could be rude. If your quirk is talking to animals, why do you look like a rock? It’s pretty cool, actually. Not many humans have your shape, that’s pretty unique! At least I think so.” ]

Not-boulder kid looked like he was about to cry and whoops, Izuku probably went a bit overboard in his rambling—but he couldn’t help it! This was the first time he encountered a human who could understand his first language! He could have an actual conversation without having to ponder and wonder what words were correct to use or feel like his tongue is made out of molten lead and stumble over proper pronunciations.

Izuku waited a few moments, but when the other boy continued to look overwhelmed, he decided to cut him some slack and backtrack a question or two. [ “What’s your name?” ]

[ “K—Koda,” ] the boy whispered oh so softly.

A name! perfect! He wouldn’t have to refer to him as the boulder boy anymore!

[ “Koda… that’s a good name! I like it!” ] Izuku declared. [ “I’m Izuku, but I already told you that… um…” ]

Koda shifted nervously, his scent changing from fearful to anxious. That was a step in the right direction. Er, he thinks so, anyway.

The silence stretches on longer, so Izuku continues on, figuring Koda wasn’t much of a talker. [ “What are you doing?” ] He tries to prompt.

Koda jolts, casting a guilty look at the animals gathered farther away and back at the small bag in his hand. [ “I…I’m feeding the animals. For Christmas. And wishing them well.” ]

Izuku perks. [ “Can I try?” ]

An unsure look was shot at Izuku, but Koda hesitantly handed the boy a handful of small, round pellets. To Izuku, they reminded him of droppings, not food.

Settling into a crouch, Izuku tossed a few of the pellets towards the animals. They dodge them, and circle away, casting warily glances at the rabbit eared boy.

Well that wouldn’t do.

Spotting a few rabbits at the edge of the crowd, Izuku coaxed his mind into theirs, implanting the feelings of safe, food, and finally, come.

It worked like a charm, as always. The two rabbits relaxed and hopped forward to nibble at the tossed treats, then up to Izuku who popped a few more into his other hand and offered it out, satisfied. Usually he would use that trick to fool rabbits into coming forward so he could kill them with a swift blow to the neck. Easy prey. But he supposes he can keep Koda’s friends alive. It wasn’t like Izuku was starving.

Koda shifted beside him, relief mixing into his scent as he called out softly to the others. [ “It’s safe, you can come.” ]

Izuku blinked, a bit shocked when all of them came near to two. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to have Koda’s ability seasons ago. I would’ve been able to catch all kinds of prey easier, not just rabbits!

The jealousy soon faded as a doe nosed at Izuku’s hand, eager for the pellets clenched within. He happily opens his palm and watches with shining eyes as the animal nibbles and licks at his fur.

When a bird lands on his arm and pecks at a pellet far too big for its little beak, Izuku had to forcibly stop himself from lashing out and killing it on the spot. Birds are one of his favorite types of meat, and one had just landed right on him. The base of his spine tingles as he suppresses his instincts. He is trying to make a friend, dang it!

Still… I wonder if I can get some of this stuff for later? If he could bribe animals with food, would it make hunting easier? He files the information away for another time.

[ “They’ve been happier this year,” ] Koda murmured without any prompting. Izuku felt a rush of success. [ “There used to be a terrible monster that lived here, chasing, and killing all of the woodland creatures and driving them to fear. But it has been gone for a while, now.” ]

Izuku could feel his eyebrows shooting up. A terrible monster? In this forest? In all of his time living there, he’s never seen anything like that before! Green eyes dart to the bare forest, trying to pierce deep into the wooded deluge.

He frowned. If there was a monster it must have lived outside of his own territory.

[ “I’ve never seen anything like that,” ] he made sure to tell the boy.

Koda shrugs, still jittery, but much calmer than before. Maybe the boy is naturally nervous? [ “I haven’t, either. And me and my mom lived here for a long time. But the animals are nervous and have always warned me of it and to stay away.” ]

A hum thrummed deep in Izuku’s throat as he took in the information. He wasn’t really afraid of any ‘monster’, but he was curious about it. Maybe if it’s big, I could play with it? Wrestling with Hitoshi in his human form was fun, but he has always wished to wrestle and play rough with his bigger body, it always felt like he had to constantly hold back.

A ray of light shines in Izuku’s eye and he hisses sharply, rubbing at it. Dang was that the sun? Oh no, it was getting even higher, wasn’t it?

[ “I need to get home, or my dad will be disappointed at me.” ]

[ “You’re… from that house that redid its fencing—right?” ] When Izuku nodded, Koda continued on. [ “I thought so. I’ve seen you around a few times. Um… I’m your neighbor. I live next door with my mother.” ]

Izuku perked at the news. That was great! He could find the animal-speaking boy again!

[ “I guess I’ll be seeing you around then!” ] The green haired boy grinned, dusting off his hands as he stood. Koda fidgeted, his large hands playing with the hem of his tiny bag.

[ “I suppose so,” ] he said at an almost whisper.

Izuku bidded the other boy a final farewell, then made haste to his own home—a time limit set to crawl through his window before Hitoshi woke up (as if he would ever) or Shouta arrived home (a much more likely possibility)

With practiced movements, Izuku entered his bedroom through the side facing the forest, being quiet so as to not disturb Hitoshi. He silently shut his window and pulled off the bag he had been carrying off of his shoulders and tossed it to the side.

Sighing, he stripped his winter clothing and shifted into his rabbit form, snuggling close to his purple haired friend. He heard Hitoshi sigh softly and then he slipped into blissful sleep.

 


 

Despite it being Christmas, Shouta arrived back home a bit later than normal. Shinsou’s parents were right behind the man as he jammed his key into the knob and entered inside, leaving the door wide open for the duo to follow in behind.

Strangely, Izuku didn’t come rushing out of his room the moment Shouta opened the front door like he is used to. Huh.

“Problem children! Come out here.” His loud voice carried through the house, and soon enough he heard a soft thud from Izuku’s room, followed by a head of green hair poking through the door. The boy rubbed at his eyes, yawning like a cat with his needle pointed teeth and pink little tongue on full display.

His movements paused; a green eye cracked open as he lazily surveyed the two adults entering through the doorway, recognition flashed across his face. Once he discerned they were not a threat, his attention was on Shouta.

“Izuku, could you go fetch Shinsou?”

The boy nods, flashing another glance at the parents before dodging back into his room.

Almost immediately, a loud yelp sounds off from behind the door, along with a lot of other indignant shouts and curses as Izuku drags the purple haired insomniac through the threshold and drops him near Shouta’s feet with a smug look.

From the ground, Shinsou groaned like a man being raised from the dead.

It was the laughter of his own parents that roused the boy, his head lifting and looking at them blearily.

“Wha’re you do’in ‘ere?” The boy slurred.

Mrs. Shinsou grinned. “We’re saving Aizawa a trip by picking you up ourselves,” she explained. “Plus, it is a great excuse to deliver these in person.”

Then she pulled out a round tin from her bag and offered them to Izuku, who wasted no time in taking the item.

“Cookies, I’m guessing?” Shouta asks, eyeing the tin and his son. Sugar was a no-go in the mornings before the boy had breakfast.

“Brownies, actually. I’ve made them myself,” Mr. Shinsou said with a touch of pride.

“Lucky you, Izuku,” the younger Shinsou said from his spot on the floor, his voice slightly muffled by the carpet. “Dad makes killer brownies.”

“And you’ll have some later, ” Shouta stressed. Izuku smiles sheepishly at his tone and silently closes the lid shut. “Now, what do you say to the Shinsous for the gift?”

Straightening, the boy focused his bright green eyes on the two older Shinsous with a radiant smile. “Thank you!” Then looking back to the dark haired man, he asked, “are we doing gifts now?”

“We could. While your friend is here.”

Izuku bounces in place. Shoving the tin into Shouta’s own hands, he runs off back to his room.

He returns back a minute after, carrying a variety of items in his arms.

First, he steps up to the younger Shinsou, a beaten up book in his hand. The purple haired boy looks at the title and snorts.

“Y’know, that’s kinda funny because I literally got you the same gift,” he chuckled, “but in way better condition. It’s in my bag, I’ll give it to ya later.” Then he accepted the book and tucked it under his arm. 

Shouta was a bit surprised that Izuku had given away that book, as it seemed to be the boy’s absolute favorite, even after being introduced to a whole new world of them. A new one might be good for him, though. At least now they could actually read the words properly.

Izuku bounded over to him next, brandishing a black, scowling cat plushie with a tattered white scarf resembling Shouta’s own. The cloth looked as if it had been cut by a child’s unstable hand. Knowing Izuku, it probably was.

“Aw, Shouta, it has your grumpy look,” Hizashi cooed, staring at the plushie from over his shoulder. “The little listener really nailed you spot on!”

Shouta elbowed him in the gut. But he couldn’t help the small smile that made itself known.

“I got you that—” he pointed to the coffee table and the emerald green laptop sitting on its surface. The man didn’t like to mess with wrapping paper, there was no point to it, really. “But. There are rules and restrictions about using it. We’ll have to go over them.”

Izuku eyed the laptop curiously. Really, Shouta should have gotten the boy a simpler gift. Izuku hardly has any concept of technology, let alone internet access. But Nezu had suggested it, saying there were some programs online that could help speed up the boy’s thirst of knowledge and allow him to look into what would interest him specifically.

Shouta would just have to watch his son closely.

His mind wanders to the horrors of social media.

Very closely.

Hizashi sniffed. “Well, how are the rest of us supposed to compete with that? You’ve doomed us, Shouta.”

“What are you mumbling about? You helped me pick it out.”

“Just say to my face you want me to dive in a lake.”

“No really, what the hell are you talking about?”

Izuku giggles at their antics and holds out his hand.

Taking the hint, Hizashi reaches out his own just as a perfectly polish rock falls onto his palm.

“This is wonderful, little listener! You even found one that matches my signature color—that’s incredible!” His grin was blinding as the blond sat the stone down and dug through his jacket pocket. He pulled out the gift, but unlike the others, this one was actually wrapped neatly in colorful paper. “I doubt I can compete with Shouta—but I hope you’ll find my present acceptable!”

The kid tore at the paper and revealed—

Shouta groaned.

“Why did you get him those? No— how did you get him those?” He complained.

Hizashi grinned devilishly. “I had them custom made.”

In Izuku’s hands, was a much smaller replica of Shouta’s very own yellow goggles.

The boy stared at them in confusion, his eyes darting to around Shouta’s neck, then back to his gift as if wondering just how there came to be two of the same item.

“Try them on, little listener! Now you two can match! It’ll be absolutely adorable,” the grown ass man squealed.

Catching on, Izuku’s eyes brighten to astronomical levels, threatening to outshine the very sun as he slips the goggles around his neck, looking like he was about to burst.

It was embarrassing to see the kid wear merch of his, but he had to admit that Hizashi was right. It was adorable.

He latched himself to Hizashi’s leg, giving the man a quick hug before pulling back and running to the bag he had brought with him.

Izuku opened it, then paused.

“What about Nemuri?” He questioned, one hand rubbing against another smooth stone, blue this time.

“You’ll be able to give her your present later,” Shouta reassured.

Nodding, Izuku stood up, bag in his hand as he looked around the room. He must not have found what he was searching for, because not soon after, the boy was making a series of clicks and chitterings in rapid succession.

Several yowls answer him, and Shouta was met with the strange sight of Bastard prancing into the room with his black tail sticking straight up, his ice-chipped eyes lit with adoration. Then they flicked to Shouta and dulled down, forcing himself to look like a smug asshole as usual instead of a cat that actually likes where they live. The expression turned dark when White raced past the black feline and purposely bumped haunches and knocked him a few steps sideways.

Mocha and Juice Box eventually walked in at a much slower pace, in no particular rush.

Izuku spoke to them briefly, gestured to his bag, then started to dig through it.

Shouta couldn’t help a small smile when he realized that the boy had gotten the cats presents as well.

But what do you give a cat as a gift?

Izuku pulled out a dead mouse.

Ah.

Several more small dead animals were presented, one for each cat. Each and every one snatched up their gift and scattered into different rooms.

Shouta makes a mental note to search the house later so he won’t be stepping in a half-eaten bird carcass later down the line.

When did the kid even have the time to go and fetch those?

Hizashi must not be keeping as close of an eye as he should. He could feel a budding headache.

Turning his attention back to the Shinsous, he could see that they seemed a little pale.

“I apologize for the animal corpses.”

Ms. Shinsou waved him off. “No, no, don’t worry about it! You did say he grew up like that, it’s  normal behavior for him, I’m sure,” she laughed, though it sounded a bit strained.

At that moment, the young Shinsou enters the room again with a much more pristine version of Izuku’s book, and hands it off to the green-haired child.

Izuku nodded and made a show of opening the book right away.

The Shinsou family was at the door when Shouta stopped them. “Here, kid.”

The older man tossed a bright yellow scarf through the air. It limply landed on the young Shinsou’s head, who grabbed at it.

“It’s cold as hell out there, don’t cause your parents grief by getting sick.” He grunted, then added, “see you next time.”

The purple haired boy snorted, amused. He wrapped the scarf around his neck nonetheless, however, and even gave the hero a wave and mocking bow before leaving with his parents, the door clicking shut behind them.

“So, what are your plans now?” Hizashi asked after a moment of silence. “Maybe we can all play a fun holiday game, yeah ?

“I am going to teach Izuku how to use a laptop,” Shouta informed him. “But first. I need a drink.”

“Breaking out the vodka at eight in the morning—I like your style!”

“It’s coffee, dumbass.”

“Not as fun!”

 


 

Izuku sits up with a gasp a few hours later.

“You alright, problem child?” Shouta asked, both of them lazing on the couch with at least two cats sprawled over them as they watched cartoons.

“Someone lives next to us,” Izuku had said, wide eyed.

“Those would be called our neighbors, yes.”

“Another boy lives over there, I want to be friends. How?”

Another kid? Hmm…

“I’m sure if you ask, he will say yes.” They were kids. Kids made friends with each other faster than the drop of a hat.

Izuku perked, his rabbit ears standing straight. “Really?” He asked, then paused. “Should I get him a present?”

“You don’t have to. Though I suppose given the day it wouldn’t hurt.” Hm, but what to give? This wasn’t exactly planned. The kid could probably go back into his room and pull out another polished rock or the like if he wanted to.

His eyes eventually fell on the box of brownies the Shinsous left them with, and an idea swirled in his head.

“We could make them cookies,” he said to his son, fairly certain there was still some raw dough in the fridge.

Children loved sweets, right? Can’t go wrong with those.

And Izuku’s eyes shone like sun touched emeralds. The boy loved to help Shouta in the kitchen, and despite it causing more work to the dark haired man, he enjoyed it as well.

 


 

Koji was currently restocking Yuwai’s bowl of lettuce, broccoli, and cucumber—healthy greens for a still growing rabbit.

When Yuwai sniffed her food and turned her nose in the air to demand carrots, Koji had gently scolded the bunny, saying too many sweets isn’t good for her.

[ “But, if you finish this—then I could sneak you one in later, if you want.” ]

That seemed to satisfy the bunny enough, and she went straight to stuffing her face. It was quite cute to watch her cheeks puff outwards as she bites bigger than she can chew for her tiny, fluffy body.

A small trickle of pride welled up in his chest as he watched her. Yuwai is the first pet that was his responsibility to look after. His mother had finally deemed him old enough and gave way to his peppering requests of getting his own pet. Even though he had a quirk that allowed him to easily communicate with animals, taking care of them was still something of a whole new level and his mom wanted to be certain he was aware of that.

The little white bunny hadn’t even finished half of her food when a small chime went off.

His eyes flicked to the wall where a series of tiny, finger-tip sized bulbs lined a panel wall, and right under the bulbs were labels in neat print. All of the bulbs were a dull grey except for a bright red one labelled ‘Front Door’.

Neither he, nor his mother were very loudspeakers—so when either of them needed the other, this was how they communicated instead of walking across the house each and every time, saving effort on both of their parts. From the look of this request, his mother needed him at the door.

Maybe they were going somewhere?

Or maybe… someone is here?

Anxiously, he hurried out of his room and made his way to the front of the house.

A familiar face caught his eye.

“There you are,” his mother said quietly, a smile on her craggy face. “Someone wanted to meet you.”

The boy he saw from the little clearing near his house was in the doorway, a bright grin stretching across his face and showing off brilliant sharp fangs and teeth. Koji noticed that the very green boy was now sporting long rabbit ears—a transformation quirk Koji was sure, given the askew earmuffs that were now near useless—and his hands were thick with green fur. Though, now that he thought about it, the other boy might have already had those when he first saw him, and he just didn’t notice.

Koji gave a nervous little nod and waved at the other boy. When he said that he’ll be seeing Koji around, he didn’t quite think it would be so soon.

He watched as Izuku lit up and lunged forward, only to fall short when a hand prevented him from doing so. Behind the bright, cheery boy, was a tall, darkly dressed man with a face that seemed to be fixed in a permanent scowl. The stark difference in the duo could’ve been laughable if Koji’s anxiety hadn’t shot up at seeing the adult. He had seen him a few times—being neighbors and all—but the man looked a lot scarier up close.

“You can’t barge in other people’s houses, it’s not polite. You wouldn’t like it if they did that to you, would you?” The man said quietly, but firmly, down at the rabbit-eared boy.

Izuku tilted his head, considering the words for a moment, then shook his head, abashed. His green eyes darted from Koji to his mother rapidly, as if he couldn’t figure out who he should be addressing.

Eventually, his eyes landed on him. “Can I come in?” He asked Koji, his voice was rough with butchered Japanese. Izuku clicked his tongue and tried again. [ “I brought cookies! My dad made them, and I got to help! Shouta said you’ll like them,” ] he finished, his chest puffing out in pride.

Koji shot a glance at his mom, who quickly got over her brief shock over hearing someone else speaking in animal tongue before giving her son a nod, confirming that it was in fact, ok.

So, he gave a nod to Izuku and backed away a little, inviting the rabbit boy in.

The hand on Izuku’s shoulder lifted and he bounced right in next to Koji, extending out a small plastic book with vague cookie shapes inside.

[ “Thank you,” ] Koji whispered politely. [ “But why give them to me?” ]

A tail swished behind the boy—oh Koji didn’t notice that before, either. Was the quirk not entirely a rabbit one?

[ “Shouta said it was the best way to make a friend—so that means you’re my friend now!” ]

He had said it with such strong certainty and conviction that it left Koji blinking. Then the words sank in and a deep blush settled over his cheeks, completely flustering the boy.

[ “Oh, ok,” ] he said faintly.

 

Chapter Text

It started when Shouta walked in and saw his child bite and loudly snap down on the carrot between his sharpened teeth, chewing and crunching it with more force than usual—almost deliberate.

There was nothing wrong with that, and Izuku’s done far stranger things. So, Shouta only paused long enough to say, “Izuku, no food in front of the computer.” It was a rule, after all.

Izuku pauses, his hand holding the carrot stopping inches from his mouth as his eyes meet Shouta’s.

Then he nods in confirmation, a bit sheepish.

Shouta continues on, a hum leaving his throat.

 


 

Next time it happened, Izuku was hunched over the laptop—a ridiculous sight when the size of a full grown bear.

He was making soft—but deep—growling noises that rumbled throughout the room. Shouta was worried if the kid had seen something that was making him upset, but then Izuku’s bright emerald eyes glanced up and shined as cheerful as ever, his growling quietening minutely. And when Shouta turned away, he could hear it picking back up in volume, but still nothing that suggested distress.

 


 

Another time, he caught Izuku lightly scraping his long—paw shifted hands—along the floor. Not hard enough to scratch or damage the wood, but just lightly enough for the sound.

Shouta thought he might’ve been bored or felt restless, so he offered for the boy to go outside. But Izuku had turned it down, paused in his scraping, and turned back to his laptop that was next to him on the floor, a fierce tapping of keys against hard nails.

Honestly, Shouta wasn’t sure if Izuku was actually typing something or simply liked the sound it produced. 

Then he recalled that the boy was extremely slow with the keyboard and assumed it was the latter.

 


 

It was a few days later that curiosity finally got the better of him.

Izuku and White were communicating back and forth—nothing all that unusual.

If it wasn’t for the fact that their conversation all had the exact same pitch that changed every fifteen seconds on the dot, and the fleeting glances Izuku would shoot at his laptop that was still right next to him .

“Problem child, what on earth are you up to?” He asked.

Izuku’s teeth clicked shut as he turned wide green eyes upon his father.

“Asmr,” he told him, his wrist flicking to his computer once.

Shouta blinked, unsure what exactly that was, but Izuku seemed eager to return back to it and resume his repeated conversation with the white cat.

So, Shouta let him and backed out of the room. Once on the couch, he pulled out his phone and tapped on the search engine.

‘What is asmr’ was quickly typed in and a multitude of results came up.

‘Asmr’, were apparently sound-based videos that usually focused on noises that allowed people to relax and calm themselves—usually to help them sleep or provide background noise to whatever tasks they were working on.

There was also a section that focused on plain weird or uncanny. Shouta wasn’t really sure of the purpose of those.

Still, he made sure to search that it wasn’t something inappropriate—as he doesn’t trust the internet and its strangeness. His fingers tapped on Izuku’s herotube channel that now had a lot more videos than the last time he checked it (which was when he had made the thing for Izuku, honestly he wasn’t even sure if the kid could figure out how to make videos)

Said videos all had poor quality thumbnails along with titles such as: SCRATCHING CLICKING NAILS ASMR, CRUNCH CARROT ASMR, TAPPING AND THUMPING ASMR, the list goes on for what Shouta can count for, about forty different videos.

Selecting one, he was met more or less with what the title would suggest. Like the thumbnails, it was all in horrid quality and each and every pixel could probably be counted with both of his hands. Maybe even his toes if he were generous. Honestly, the only way Shouta could even tell it was Izuku was because that was his kid. And also, the bright green hair. But, details.

…is that one of himself?

Shouta squinted down at the phone. At some point, the kid had snuck right up against the man and recorded… him snoring.

Shouta wasn’t even aware he did snore. He was pretty sure he didn’t, he tried to convince himself right at the moment a particularly loud one ripped through the shitty audio.

Wait, fuck, that’s Nemuri. He sees a glint of the woman’s glasses. With both of them having long, dark hair, it was kind of hard to discern. Thinking about it, if Shouta did snore, he was fairly sure he would know about it instantly in the form of both of his friends never leaving him the fuck alone about it.

Shouta snorted shortly, then exited out of the app. There didn’t seem to be anything inherently sinister or inappropriate with what Izuku was doing, so he didn’t need to worry. From the few glances he had gotten from the comments, Shinsou seemed to be aware of them and prompting the other boy for more. It must be a joke or challenge between the two friends, harmless fun between the two twelve year olds.

 


 

Izuku’s fingers hit the keys as loudly as he could. The sound and sensation were amusing to the boy, even if it was terribly slow. That was fine, though. With a bit more practice, he was determined to be as fast as Hitoshi, who could type up word after word with nimble fingers and not constantly misspell something! Or look like complete gibberish!

That was what Hitoshi called his own typing, anyway. But he just didn’t understand how good a document looked with random letters and numbers and symbols all mashed together, in varying sizes, and in several different ‘fonts’. But Izuku knew, so he kept continuing to do it.

That wasn’t going to stop him from learning to be better so he could look at the expression on Hitoshi’s face though.

A little yellow bird fluttered across Izuku’s screen. It was one of the many little creatures he and Hitoshi had downloaded. He forgot what they were called, but they didn’t do much other than walk around the screen, lay around, and also multiply if he didn’t keep an eye on them. (It tended to crash the computer when there were an overwhelming amount)

The yellow bird grabbed the internet box and flung it out of sight.

Oh right, they also did that.

Izuku had no idea how to get the box back when they did that, so he forced it to close and opened a new window, fingers slowly typing the page he was last looking over.

Recently, Izuku has been curious about quirks.

More specially, quirks that may be similar to his own.

While the people at the fur-cut building were similar in being animalistic, they weren’t quite… like him. Not really.

So, he typed in ‘bunny quirks’ into the search engine and was instantly met with dozens of pictures of people with bunny ears that were similar to himself in his human form. Scrolling around a bit though, he couldn’t really find anything that was like his other form, just all cutesy eared humans.

His fingers tap against the keyboard in thought. He probably didn’t look it up correctly. Hitoshi told him that it can be tricky and sometimes you have to type exactly what you mean. But what did that mean in his situation?

‘Full bunny quirks’?

No that wasn’t it, either.

‘All bunny quirks’, was a failure as well.

‘Entire body bunny quirks’ just got him weird results. What was a furry? He’ll never know.

Izuku stiffened. Perhaps if he tried--?

‘Giant bunny quirks’

He looks at the term for a few moments before deciding to add, ‘with fangs and claws’ onto the end as well before hitting enter.

Aha! There!

The term ‘Monster Rabbits’ stuck out to him like a glaring neon sign. He backtracked his own search and replaced it with what he had discovered.

A flood of results popped on his screen and Izuku knew he found what he was looking for. And while they weren’t entirely like himself, the images were a lot closer than the small bunnies from before.

These looked fierce and proud with their sharp teeth pulled back in a snarl and their claws brandishing like serrated knives. They looked threatening. They looked cool .

Eyes lighting up in delight, Izuku deleted the bunny part altogether, wanting to see what other kinds of monsters there were. He wasn’t entirely sure if all of these were quirked humans, but they must be—right?

Images of storybook monsters he read about flash in his mind. Those weren’t quirks, he was pretty sure. Monsters were usually written as mindless beasts that caused trouble and the main character had to come up with a solution of some kind. Were creatures like that real? Hitoshi said most animal based quirks were based off of something that exists. Most of the time anyway. Which would mean large snake-like sea creatures were real. And ‘demons’ that breathed blue fire from its lungs and had huge, bat-like wings—those were real, right? He wasn’t exactly sure what a demon was, but the picture book looked really amazing. Oh! And speaking of books, that meant the dragons in his favorite book were real!

Though he hasn’t seen a quirk like that yet.

That doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist though, he reasoned, his fingers itching to type it up and find out for himself.

Before he did however, a sentence caught his eye.

 

MONSTER SPOTTED IN MUSUTAFU FOREST

 

… isn’t that the name of where he lives?

Then, does that mean it’s talking about my forest?

Curiosity getting the better of him, Izuku clicked on the link.

It led to a forum, or at least he thinks so.

 


 

MONSTER SPOTTED IN MUSUTAFU FOREST · Posted by Curious Cryptid four years ago

 

[Photos of large footprints sunk into dried mud; a human hand next to it for size comparison that is easily dwarfed by the size of the print. A photo of gashes in trees, some stripped bare of their bark. Another photo of a blood soaked area, the blood streaking off as though something large had been dragged away. The last photo is an extremely blurry, dark shape that is mostly blocked off by leaves and other obstructs.]

 

Curious Cryptid

me and my friend went into the nearby forest in musutafu and found some weird stuff? we weren’t sure if it was a prank someone left off, but it was spooky and interesting either way. we poked around and took some pics to give the rest of our friends a good scare when we heard something BIG running towards us

we ran away like hell but my friend did manage to snap this picture over her shoulder

what do you guys think?

 

Kennith Linguine

this is either fake or that city straight up has a whole ass tiger

 

ghost child

didnt some kid die in there some years back

 

kazehana23

Someone went missing about, idk, 4 or 5 years ago I think? It was all over the news for a while, they never did find a body though.

 

TimidGlitch

Right! That! I remember that! It was a highschooler and a group of friends went in, claimed to encounter a monster that killed their friend, then ran away.

If I recall, one was in there for a few more days before he made it out. The guy looked half dead from dehydration and shit like that, hysterical too.

 

deuynn

are u really trying to say theres a monster and no one has done fuck all about it

 

What Even Is Sleep

Because it’s not real. The heroes would have dealt with it if there was something killing people off. I still say those “friends” that kid was with killed him off and ditched his body in the river. Having a ‘monster’ be the culprit is just a bs half baked excuse that only little kids would believe. They should be thrown in jail for murder, but since the body was never found, no one can do shit about it.

 

Diggles

Do you think the monster is still there

Asking for a friend

 

Curious Cryptid

@ Diggles can you not

 

Diggles

Damn, ruin my dreams why don’t you 😔

 

What Even Is Sleep

@ Diggles  If you bothered to read my post, you would already know it would not be there, because it doesn’t exist.

 

Diggles

That was a whole lotta words, you think I know how to read?

 

Curious Cryptid

guys, can we stay on topic please

 

carbonated choccy milk

idk what to tell you man

besides those 3 people, no ones really stepped up and claimed that the thing was real

 

Diggles

So a cryptid as well as a monster

I for one, welcome it

 

Curious Cryptid

I see.

well, I’ll leave this forum open to any future sightings then

 

ghost child

people usually avoid the murder forest, but you do you man

 


 

The back of Izuku’s mind itched as he read on. Something familiar hanging just out of reach. He tried to reach for it, but the memories were hazy, and they slipped through his fingers like morning mist. Izuku shook it off. If he couldn’t remember it, then it wasn’t important.

No, what was important is this forum in front of him.

A monster in the forest… His head tilted in consideration. A glance back to the forum showed that it had been posted four years ago, which was…

Numbers counted down in his head. How old was he again? Not that he cared about his age that much, seeing as he didn’t understand the point of it. But Shouta told him that it was important to know and hold onto.

Izuku huffed. It changed… twice, I think? Then—twelve. I’m twelve. I’ve lived with Shouta for two years. That meant he still lived in the forest four years ago!

But that was strange.

Even if this was his new home, he still had lived in that forest for his entire life—and never once had he seen a ‘monster’.

Didn’t Koda say something about that too? He did, didn’t he? But he had said that it hadn’t been there in a while. Was it gone now?

I want to see it.

How had it eluded him for so long? They could have become friends! Or a decent snack. Oh--or maybe it had cool things he could have plucked from its body, as he liked to do with birds and deer and some strange small animal with spikes on its back. (the foxes called them thorn rats)

Izuku frowns as the memory fades. Come to think of it, he’s been spending a lot of time near his forest again. Sneaking out in the dead of night or teetering over the edge of the fence despite Shouta’s urges to stay within the yard.

Izuku shifted his weight from one leg to another. Maybe the problem is because he was going out during the night. Perhaps this ‘monster’ Koda and the forum were talking about only came out during the day?

Falling backwards until his back touched the floor, Izuku stared up at the ceiling.The weird white bits had been scraped off long ago when the boy first discovered just how easily they crumbled under his touch, reminding him of popcorn that he and Shouta would eat some nights as they watched a movie. (though they tasted nothing even similar) He scratched a single claw lightly against his neck, his fur almost tickling the skin under the touch. His mind returns back to the monster.

Going out during the day probably wouldn’t help in finding it either, now that he thought about it. Koda told him that it hadn’t been there for a while—or rather, the woodland animals did.

Maybe it moved elsewhere? There were still sections of the forest he had never set foot in. Or perhaps it was closer to one of the edges where Izuku tended to avoid in favor of staying in the depths? Which section of the forest did this person even see it at?

Tongue poking from his lips, Izuku went to type out the question until he realized he had to make an account to do so. It took him ten minutes to find where to make one, then another nine to decide on a ‘username’ and a password that he was more likely to forget the next day than not.

 

USERNAMEHEREIZUKU

WHERE WAS THIS

 

He waited for fifteen minutes, clicking refresh as he did, but he wasn’t awarded with an answer. After waiting for another five, he was growing impatient.

I can probably find it on my own, he huffed to himself, closing the tab. He’d have to sneak out to do it, but it wasn’t anything he hadn’t done before.

But if I want to try during the daytime, how would I do that? The adults were awake during those times and usually kept him within sight, as opposed to the night when they left him be. Izuku’s ears pricked. Of course! It wasn’t unusual for him to take several naps throughout the day, perhaps taking one in his room instead of the middle of the living room would work out? Shouta did say my room was for privacy… that should do it.

With his plan set, Izuku shut his laptop and called over his shoulder to notify Shouta that he was taking a nap before slinking into his room, the door clicking behind him.

Now in his bedroom, Izuku leapt onto his bed, dropping his computer as his hands reached out for the window latch. His claws extend themselves outwards and he expertly picks the lock, sliding open with ease.

I should check around the edges of the forest, first. Then make my way farther in some other day if I can’t find the forest monster, Izuku planned, his feet hitting grass, wet from the rain earlier that morning.

It would take too long to travel around the tree’s edges on his two short legs, so Izuku decided to search in his rabbit form, which was much bigger and had more stride for each leap. Izuku entered the forest just enough for passing humans to not notice him from a passing glance. Once he was situated—Izuku ran.

Tree passed by in a blur as he sprinted along the forest floor, leaping over unruly bushes and branches that would surely hinder his process. He kept his sense open wide, scanning for even a hint of anything unusual. Izuku was not sure what a ‘monster’ smelled like, but it must be different from the normal forest scents—right?

Water splashed against his flank as his paws slam down into an unsuspecting puddle, and after a few more strides dirt soon clung along his forelegs, clumping in a way the boy was familiar with. Before, when Izuku had settled down in his den for the day, he would groom the dirt out of his fur and joyfully grab the clumps of dried mud in his fists, where he would squeeze and crush them into fine powder.

He shook the memory from his head as a fallen tree came into view, its thick trunk laying haphazardly in his path. Izuku only paused for a second before his muscles bunched and he leapt the obstacle with magnificent grace. He smirks over his shoulder in triumph that he had managed the jump without so much as his belly scraping along the rough bark.

Then he turned away, his nose up in the air taking scent of the area once more. But still, there was nothing new.

But it’s only the first day, he reasoned, if I can’t find anything today, then there’s always tomorrow. The forest was big, after all. No way would he be able to search every nook by himself!

This is what he told himself as he slunk back through his window two hours later, absolutely nothing to show for his efforts. Despite that, he had to admit.

It felt good to run like that again.

 


 

The next six days played out in the same way.

Izuku would announce he was taking a nap, climb out his window, then run through the forest for the next three hours searching for this so-called monster that was last spotted three years ago—and every time he would return home empty handed.

It consumed him, he wanted to find this creature so badly that it made his skin itch and made his heart race that he couldn’t . Izuku’s nose never failed him! The only times it had was when humans were deliberately messing with it with their weird quirks! So, unless this monster had a quirk that let them be near unfindable, he should have found it by now!

[ “There are other ways to mask your scent, flea-brain, or had you forgotten that?” ] White chided the green-haired boy as he complained in the feline’s general direction.

Izuku frowns. [ “How?” ]

Blue-green eyes roll in disbelief. [ “By smothering yourself in dirt and mushrooms? That lets you sneak up on prey that have a sharp sense of smell, or if you’re trying to be sneaky and don’t want to leave a trail. I had to do that a lot when I snuck off to visit you.” ]

[ “You had to sneak around to see me? Why?” ]

White shifted slightly as he looked away. [ “They just didn’t really like the idea of me wandering off to you.” ]

Hurt settles low in Izuku’s chest. [ “Why?” ] He asks again. His mind flashing briefly to that time period where the cats of his previous home visited less and less until altogether, they stopped. [ “They weren’t… were they really avoiding me?” ] Izuku had spent a long time convincing himself that wasn’t the case, that his new stretch of the forest was just too far for others to visit him often, or that they were simply too busy with the daily struggle of finding food to keep every cat well-fed and out of trouble. It was hard work to keep that kind of group under control—especially when Leader had died.

Discomfort flashed across his friend’s face, obviously regretting this conversation. But White wasn’t one to lie or skirt around the truth, so when he opened his mouth again it was with a confirmation, that yes, they had been. [ “They said it was dangerous—that you were dangerous and killed two kits during your time with them like it was nothing. You were too big for them to just drive out, so they had to… make it seem like it was for the best. They were afraid of you, I think.” ]

[ “I—I didn’t know about the kits, I… don’t even remember that. I would have never hurt them!” ] He could feel the hair on the back of his neck prickle. If he killed kits, he would have known! He lived there! Cats were always big in their social life, and terrible gossipers. If something like that had happened, there was no way it wouldn’t have reached his ears. Disregarding that, he would have known the moment it had happened anyway. Izuku would not have been able to miss that. Not that he wanted to call his friend a liar, but that was ridiculous.

[ “I wasn’t even kitted at this point, so it’s not like I had a good idea of what happened,” ] White sighs with a twitch of his tail, [ “I’m only telling you what I was told. Besides, does it really matter? You were only there for a few seasons. You lived on your own longer than you’ve known the forest cats. The ones you did know are probably dying of old age by now.” ] blue-green eyes narrow as the cat tilted his head in consideration. [ “I’d say you ended up with a way better deal than you would have from living with those furballs.” ]

[ “The company would’ve been nice,” ] Izuku grumbled.

White shrugged. [ “I disagree with that. They were a bunch of idiots with their heads up their butts. Maybe you were too young to see it fully, but they were annoying as sparrows during new-leaf. They could not solve their own problems to save their own hides, and they never. shut. up. Besides, by the time I left, there was a massive overpopulation problem. Even if they were right about what you did, that was only two less mouths for them to worry about in the long run.” ]

[ “I suppose so,” ] Izuku hummed.

The cat gave his stiff muscles a much needed stretch, his bone popping in the quiet. [ “Now, unless I’m mistaken—it’s probably time to head back to the fake forest?” ]

Izuku blinked in surprise. Had it really been that long? A huff escaped his nostrils. He was getting so tired of the fake forest! It was frustrating that he could only spend a few spare minutes in between the humans switching out! He wished he didn’t need to go back there—what was wrong with this abandoned stretch of woods? He couldn’t help but think as large paws worked the ground in front of him, the grass turning flat.

[ “Izuku?” ] White questions.

[ “I don’t want to go back,” ] the green-eyed creature growls low in his throat. White’s eyes gleam in mischievously.

[ “You know, I’ve always thought these humans could use something to keep them on their toes. They’re way too peaceful.” ]

The boy tilts his head. [ “Weren’t you just complaining about your old home not being peaceful enough?” ]

[ “That’s different,” ] White retorts. [ “For one, I can actually understand what they’re saying. ‘Japanese’ though, just sounds like a bunch of gibberish to the point it’s hilarious. It’s all in good fun. Shouta is too fond of you to actually get upset.” ]

[ “But my window—“ ]

[ “You closed it well enough. They wouldn’t be able to tell you came from it.” ]

Leaning onto his haunches, Izuku supposes there really wasn’t much harm in it. The fake forest was already far enough from the big building with all of the humans. If he sticks to the tree line, then he shouldn’t encounter anyone. It would be kind of like a game of hide-n-seek. Izuku is great at that game.

With that in mind, he slinks off farther into the small woods, White right on his heels.

 


 

“Now, now, what are you up to?” Black beady eyes watch the boy-in-beast-form through his tablet. Instead of returning back to gym Beta, like he usually did after a certain amount of time, the rabbit, lizard, creature was moving away . How peculiar.  

Of course, Nezu was always aware of the younger Aizawa’s outings, but he knew that allowing him a little bit of freedom was essential for the boy to not feel as though he was trapped within the gym walls. It was a proven fact that confiding wild animals indoors would make them antsy, pent up, and at times, aggressive.

That was why when he caught the boy sneaking out that first time, Nezu had planned his leave to be when the school grounds were guaranteed to be clear, risking no chance of a stray student to encounter something they should not.

Risking no chance of…

“Oh, dear.”

 


 

Shouta was lightly drowsing, completely covered up in his bright yellow sleeping bag as the other teachers chatter amongst themselves, squeezing in one last bout of conversation before lunch ended and they would need to disperse and trek back to their designated classrooms, teaching twenty brats who were only on the cusp of paying attention on a good day.

His eye slides open as the intercom in the lounge crackles to life.

“Aizawa-- if you are conscious, I would suggest you hurry down to sector E,” Nezu’s high pitched voice rang.

“Why?” Shouta grumbles, stifling annoyance. What was in sector E? He pauses. Wait… that’s near...

“It seems as though Izuku had managed to get loose and is currently prowling that area, furthermore, I spy a few students sneaking around. I do believe they belong to your class. Make haste, if you will.” And with that, the line fizzles out.

Shouta leaps up, cursing.

 


 

“I’m not sure if we should be over here, Uwasa,” Aio voices in concern.

“It’s not against the rules that you can explore the grounds during lunch,” Uwasa replies.

“Maybe, but considering how far we are from the building, we’re not gonna make it in time for our next class,” Momoka states, then blows her lips. “Is there any point in this? I would so rather not be here during our break. And I packed a pretty kickass lunch today and I didn’t even get to look at it yet! I’m hungry , Uwasa.”

The girl rolls her eyes. “You have four perfectly fine hands, just eat as you walk.”

“We’ll have to at this point,” Aio grouses, “or starve.”

“There’s no point in complaining now, you two already agreed to come with me—” ( “More like forced,” Aio complains under her breath. ) “Besides, this has to be it!”

With one arm holding her bag, and another rifling through it, Momoka replies with a tilt of her head. “You’ve said that before, what makes this time different?”

Because I saw them!” Uwasa hisses with triumph. “I saw Aizawa-sensei walk towards this direction with a kid—the same kid I saw last time! I wonder if that is the reason gym Beta isn’t in use any longer?”

Aio and Momoka share a doubtful look. Opening her bento, Momoka glances back at her rumor-loving friend. “Isn’t it more likely that Aizawa-sensei is just watching over someone else’s kid?”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he—” Aio suddenly cuts off with a gasp, stopping dead.

Uwasa was about to ask the girl just what in the world was the matter, when she caught that her friend was staring wide-eyed, her gaze fixating on some point in the distance. Uwasa follows it, her own eyes looking into the tree line that boarded the school grounds.

There, standing several dozen yards away and staring straight at the trio—was some sort of large creature, easily bigger than a full-grown horse. Uwasa could not make out its features fully, but she could see two rabbit-like ears standing to attention as it stood frozen to the spot.

“What the fuc—” she starts to say, but just then, the creature flinches and sprints farther into the woods, out of sight.

“Do you think that was an intruder?” She could hear Momoka ask, and when Uwasa turns around, she can see the other girl staring wide-eyed where the creature had disappeared.

“We have alarms for a reason!” Aio hisses. “UA would’ve known if someone was on their grounds! It was probably a student.”

“I’ve never heard of a student looking like that ,” Uwasa rejects the idea. If someone had a quirk similar to that, she would have known . “It wasn’t even wearing a uniform.”

Momoka shuffles in place as she returns her bento back into her bag, appetite forgotten. “Something tells me that wouldn’t really be an issue if they ended up stripping it. Instead of a student, maybe UA has some sort of… monster on its grounds? Like a guard dog?”

Uwasa’s eyes flash mischievously. “I’m gonna go catch it,” she declares, sprinting into the direction the beast vanished into. From behind, her friends hiss. And because of their hero nature being unable to let their friend be torn to shreds, they give chase.

Or they would have, if not for the white scarf that shot out and tripped them over their own feet.

“To my knowledge, lunch period ended five minutes ago,” a gruff voice calls from behind as the bindings around their ankles give a slight tug. “Is there any particular reason you three are skipping out on class?”

All three girls turn their heads slowly, a bead of sweat dripping from their foreheads. As they came face-to-face with a red eyed Aizawa-sensei, Aio and Momoka groans. Aizawa-sensei had a tenacity to dish out punishments in the form of adding extra laps during training. Ignoring her friends’ grief, Uwasa points to the tree line.

“Sensei! We saw a monster over there! A huge one! It ran away into the trees; we need to go find it!” She loudly yells with a frenzied look. Aio and Momoka on the other hand, quickly shake their heads.

Aizawa-sensei’s eyes seemed to harden at her words. His gaze flits up, staring into the woods. “There’s nothing there,” he says, looking back down at the trio.

“Because it ran away ,” Uwasa hisses, fumbling as she got to her feet, “if we go and—”

Aizawa-sensei interrupts her. “ You will be going back to class,” he states firmly. “If this is an excuse to miss out on your history test, then it is a poor one. You have eight minutes to go to class, any later than that, and you will join in for detention.”

Uwasa opens her mouth, but before she could retort, Aio and Momoka grab both of her arms and drag the girl away hastily. 

“We’ll be there in five!” Momoka shouts from over her shoulder, drowning out the sounds of Aio hissing under her breath, scolding their struggling, rumor-loving friend.

 


 

Watching them leave for a few moments more, Shouta jogs to gym Beta. Just how the hell did Izuku manage to get out? As far as he was aware, that should be nigh impossible, unless the kid broke through a window. But even then—those were heavily reinforced! It would take nothing short of a large semi truck crashing into the building before the windows would give way.

He arrived at the building within minutes. Unlocking the double doors, Shouta calls out for his son.

“Izuku?”

The building is quiet. Shouta is about to call once again, but just then a rustling came from somewhere off to his right. His eyes snap to it as he watches his son slink into the open, blinking owlishly up at him with innocent eyes.

Shouta relaxes. He was still here, then. His relief turns into confusion. 

But Nezu had said that it was Izuku who he saw on the grounds, and it wasn’t like there were very many things that looked like a massive green rabbit.

Kneeling in front of the young boy, Shouta studies his face. “Izuku, did you leave this building?” He asks directly, because if there was one thing he knew about his son, it was that he could not lie. Misdirect and distract, perhaps, but never outright lie.

Izuku looks away, his scaled foot scuffing into the dirt. He did not answer the man, but guilt painted his face.

Shouta groans. “How?”

Izuku pointedly refused to say.

And frustratedly enough, so did Nezu.

 


 

[ “Coward,” ] White huffs against Izuku’s ear.

A moment later, for some inexplicable reason, the cat was knocked from his perch on the child’s shoulder with an undignified squawk.

 


 

After that incident, Izuku skipped his evening adventure of searching the forest behind his house, worried that Shouta may find him gone. Instead, he finds himself clicking on questionable links and shifty websites and counts the third time he had to forcibly turn off the laptop as it froze and refused to work with him. If he were any better with technology, he would probably be able to hear the poor thing wheeze and beg for the sweet release of computer-death. But, as it was, he had the same knowledge as that as a five year old, slapping away on keys and being completely oblivious to how much stress Shouta will later go through in wiping the thing clean of all its viruses.

It became a bi-weekly thing.

In his clicking around, he stumbles upon the forum again. He blinks at it, having forgotten about why he was scouring the forest of a so-called monster.

So, with a shrug, he clicks on it.

And to his slight surprise, saw that the forum had a few added comments.

 


 

USERNAMEHEREIZUKU

WHERE WAS THIS

 

Curious Cryptid

@ USERNAMEHEREIZUKU Oh boy, this is kind of a dead forum, but this was in Musutafu forest

 

Lasagne

This is strange timing, but I think I saw what you’re talking about?? I was walking my dog and he suddenly lost it and barked like crazy as something hug ran by. It really scared me skjfsdjf

 

Curious Cryptid

@ Lasagne Oh huh that is strange

I tried to find it again once, but didn’t have any luck

Honestly I was starting to think I imagined the whole thing—do you remember what it looked like??

 

Lasagne

Ah, it was kind of fast tbh? It was big and green and kind of had the body shape of a bear but fucked up

 

GreenHeron

LMAO i saw smth like that yesterday

 

Diggles

oh this thread is alive

i am once again asking if the monster is still there. for a friend

 

Curious Cryptid

Hello again, @ Diggles

That’s a good question, and if I’m being honest I;m tempted to go and check again

 

Nessie

you want to get mauled to death? because that is a great way to get mauled to death

 

Diggles

wild

@ Curious Cryptid whats your thoughts on letting peopel join in

 

Nessie

diggles, no

 

Curious Cryptid

@ Diggles Oh, I guess that’s fine? As long as you’re aware of the risks

I’m not planning on directly making contact with it, I just want to see what it is—yknow?

 

Dragonheart4444

if we’re forming a party to go monster hunting I wanna come too

 

Ratoyama

Sounds entertaining, I want in

 

Curious Cryptid

Ok, ok, let’s come up with a day then

 

Nessie

imagine meeting up with people over a forum

isnt this how kidnappings start

did none of you have the strange danger talk

 

Diggles

if that is what it takes to see a big buff monster in the forest then so be it 😩

 


 

Izuku’s claws tap on the keyboard as he thinks.

Humans were going to search for the monster too? He wasn’t sure of what kind of luck they would have, when Izuku had been searching for the past week himself.

But I was doing it on my own. Would having extra eyes help? Joining a group to track it down sounded interesting, but he shrank away at the idea of meeting strangers.

I know the forest better than any of them, I bet. If they turn out to be bad, I can just run away, he reasons. And if they tried to fight, well.

Izuku wasn’t exactly helpless.

 


 

USERNAMEHEREIZUKU

I’M GOING

 

Curious Cryptid

@ USERNAMEHEREIZUKU Great!

 


 

The meet-up was four days later.

Curious Cryptid wanted it to be as soon as possible, just in case the monster retreated back into hiding, but also give enough time for more people to join in if they wished to come as well.

Izuku was impatient and ended up searching the forest twice more before admitting defeat that he could not find it on his own. He was a little frustrated that a few humans managed to see it, despite not looking for it originally. Was he just unlucky?

When the day for the meet-up came, Izuku waited patiently until the time rolled close before announcing he was taking his daily nap. Shouta gives a small wave, having started to drift off himself.

Shutting himself in his room, Izuku slips on his green hoodie and opens the window with ease. It only takes him ten minutes to reach what he was sure is the meeting spot, but before he goes forward, he climbs up a tree. With his added height, he scouts the humans from afar.

Izuku didn’t want to willingly go up to bad humans, and he was especially hesitant to meet strangers without the comforting presence of his dad being there next to him.

They didn’t seem bad, at least, his senses didn’t say so. They looked awkward more than anything, really. Most of the humans were tall, which made him frown. He was hoping for some that were his own age.

Shrugging it off, Izuku jumps down from his perch and warily makes his way to the group.

Upon closer inspection, the humans look to be in their teens, which made him feel a bit better. They don’t seem to really notice him right away, with a few of them being in conversation. One particular girl catches his attention, or rather—her scent does.

Rather than producing one herself, she seems to be drawing in the others around her like moths to a flame. Izuku gets the feeling she is someone who is hard to sneak up on.

As if proving this thought, her pink eyes flit to him for a brief second before looking away and focusing on another pair of newcomers.

Izuku thinks he stands there waiting for about ten minutes before one human claps their hands together, gaining the attention of the others around them.

“That’s probably enough time, if anyone else is late then that’s on them,” they announce. Izuku cocks his head at the human, taking in their bright green eyes and red scarf that matched their eyes. “If I’m being honest, this is still more people than I was expecting to show up.”

“We all said we were,” one says with a raised eyebrow.

Red scarf chuckles slightly. “Yes, but, I didn’t think anyone actually would.” Composing themselves, red eyes quickly scan over the group, and hesitate on Izuku. “Is that someone’s kid?” They ask, and suddenly about a dozen pairs of eyes rest on the rabbit-eared boy. When no one spoke up, they frowned.

Taking a step forward, the red-eyed human crouches, looking down into Izuku’s eyes. “Hey little guy, shouldn’t you be at home? Your parents could get worried if you’re here all on your own.”

Izuku blinks. “I’m coming,” he says, nodding to the forest. He could tell by the human’s frown that they didn’t like that answer. They opened their mouth to reply but was cut off by the girl with the particular scent.

“Just let the kid come, better he’s under supervision than going inside and getting lost on his own.”

A hum escapes the red-eyed human and they back off, though displeasure was still written on their face. “I suppose. Stay close to us, ok kid?”

 


 

They split into three groups. Four to each group, with Izuku being the fifth in his own. He suspects that the red-eyed human feels some sort of obligation to make sure Izuku does in fact, stay safe, because he had ended up in their group. Izuku didn’t really mind this, as the human seemed nice enough and produced a scent of fresh dirt and ivy leaves that reminded him of the forest.

Izuku jogs a bit, reaching the red-eyed human’s side, but still maintaining a respectable distance.

“What’s your quirk?” He asks, curious.

The human smiles at him, before reaching one arm under their scarf and pulling a thick vine from between their shoulder blades.

“I can only have two of these at a time,” they explain, “but they’re pretty handy when I need an extra hand or two. Or I suppose vine, in this case.” Chuckling at their own joke, the human allows the vine to retreat back under the scarf.

Izuku lets out a chirp and falls back to his place behind the group, his curiosity sated.

 


 

They were taking too long, and Izuku was pretty sure he had already explored this area the week before. But the group kept stopping to examine the surroundings, trying to find a hint or clue to where this so-called monster was.

Izuku didn’t need to look for footprints or crushed undergrowth or whatever else they were searching for, because he had a nose —a fairly good one at that! —and he could tell that nothing unusual went this way. But when the green-haired boy tried to say nothing was here, he was ultimately ignored and talked over. It was downright annoying.

So, while they were closely examining some dirt, Izuku decided hey, screw this, and slipped away while no one was looking.

Maybe this was a mistake. Izuku doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with humans he is unfamiliar with by himself, so why did he think this would be a good idea? It seemed fine at first, but he underestimated how stressed he gets around too many strangers.

I doubt I would have considered it if this was in the city, he muses. His old home gave him confidence, at least.

A twig snaps and Izuku’s entire body freezes at the sound. His eyes land on a young buck from afar—who noticed the boy and was properly frozen in place as well.

Izuku stares.

The buck stares back.

Izuku takes a single step forward.

The buck bolts.

And Izuku gives chase, his instinct chanting at him to run, hunt, kill, as his body changes and his leaps increase in stride with his longer limbs.

It wasn’t much of a chase, as Izuku overtook the creature rather quickly and delivered a swift bite to its neck, snapping it under his powerful jaws before it could retaliate and cause the boy some real damage. (You can only get impaled by a buck’s antlers once before you learn your lesson)

Pulling away, it only takes the brief second of licking the blood from his muzzle to regret his kill. He didn’t need the meat. He grimaces. This kill was wasteful.

Giving his paw a lick, he studies the buck. Should he still take a few bites from it? Maybe he could deliver it to some foxes and allow them the meal. Their territories weren’t that far off from here, after all. Yes, he’ll do that, he decides.

Swiping his tongue over his muzzle one more time, Izuku positions the buck’s head, angling its antlers outwards a bit more before slamming a massive paw down to snap them clean off. It’s a lot easier to drag the heavy creature when there wasn’t a constant threat of poking his eye out.

He sweeps the antlers aside and bends down to pick up the buck by the neck, its head lolling limply to the side, its glossy eyes staring up into the heavens.

He startles and drops the venison when a shriek splits the air, all too close. He whirls around to three humans staring at him with obvious horror and pale faces.

They were one of the groups, he realizes.

When a fourth human rushes up to the group, obviously startled by the sudden scream, his own choked reaction seems to have snapped the others out of the stupor as they nearly trip over themselves to run away in blind panic. But not before something bright flashes from one of them and nearly blinds the boy. He shrinks away from it with a hiss, black spots dotting his vision with every rapid blink.

He paws at his face and by the time the spots fade and he can see clearly once again, the humans were long gone.

What was their deal? He thinks hotly. He was really regretting coming today. An annoyed growl sounds off in his throat.

Swallowing it back, he leans over once again to pick up the buck and starts dragging it off to the edge of fox territory, where he drops it off. He didn’t feel in the mood to meet any foxes today.

Slinking away, Izuku makes his way out of the forest.

 


 

“Oh my god—kid! Kid!”

Izuku stops short at the call, recognizing the human with red eyes voice. He stands there for a moment, mulling over if he should acknowledge them, or keep walking home.

In the end, the human’s panicked scent made him turn around.

“Oh thank god, you’re alright! When you suddenly vanished and Shika’s group said they saw the monster, I was really worried! Why did you wander off? You could have been seriously hurt, kid!”

Izuku couldn’t believe what he was hearing! Someone saw the monster? While Izuku was so nearby? Why did they get to find it when he’s been searching for days without luck? It wasn’t fair!

Frustrated with today’s events, Izuku doesn’t even answer the red-eyes back. Instead, he wheels around on his feet and sprints in the direction of his home. He could hear a shout for him to come back, but he ultimately ignored it.

 


 

The next day, Izuku complained to Hitoshi about his ordeal.

When he finished, he notices his friend giving him a strange look.

“Izuku,” he starts slowly, “when they say there is a monster in Musutafu Forest, I’m pretty sure they meant you.

Izuku opens his mouth to retort, but then snaps it shut with a click as the words register in his brain.

“Oh,” he says after a minute of silence, feeling a bit dumb. 

 

Chapter Text

Izuku’s picture ended up on the tv, his beast form slightly blurry but clear enough that it was obviously him carrying that dead deer in his jaws with specks of blood spattered along his muzzle.

At first, it amused the boy to see himself on the screen, listening to the humans talk about how a group of people spotted a so-called ‘monster’. From what Izuku gathered, the humans were trying to figure out if the ‘monster’ was real, or if it was some kind of prank at the hands of a quirk. It was kind of funny to the boy. As much as he loves pranks and mischief, him hunting isn’t exactly something he found that hit those categories. But humans were strange, and they had different opinions of things. If they found it funny, he would laugh too.

And he did.

Until Shouta figured out that Izuku had been sneaking out from his window and had properly locked it to prevent him from opening it on his own.

Then he saw the tv as a dirty little snitch and cursed it out. Luckily for it , Shouta had managed to stop the boy in time before he got the chance to take his claws to its smooth glassy surface.

The new lock was thick and sturdy and too complex for him to slide one of his claws down to jiggle and dig until it gave way with a click. He could break the window if he really wanted to get out, but Izuku knew that would make Shouta upset at him, so he would rather not go that route.

“I’m not doing this to be mean, I hope you understand that,” came the sigh from his dad.

Izuku did understand… from a certain point of view, he supposes.

Shouta didn’t like it when Izuku was on his own, preferring him or one of his friends to keep an eye on him when they are not in the house. Izuku understood why that was for the city.

But for the forest?

Izuku grew up in there! He may not know every single tree in it, but it had been his old home and he is more than capable of taking care of himself while in it. What danger was there for him?

The answer was simple.

Humans.

Even now, they swarm around the tall trees and leafy bushes, their feet stomping clumsily into the undergrowth and raising such a racket he did not even need to go out into the backyard to hear them.

The tv snitched about him and now dozens of humans wanted to find him.

That was the main reason he didn’t feel too bad about not being allowed in his forest right now. Why would he want to when it was currently being invaded by strangers.

He was only glad they were silly enough to think Izuku was still inside the forest, instead of being safely tucked away in his and Shouta’s house.

Shouta was quiet for a few moments, seemingly taking in Izuku’s downed expression. Was he waiting for him to talk?

Izuku kicks his feet, swinging them back and forth from where he sat on the couch. “I like to run,” he tries to explain. He just… gets so pent up with energy! He needs to let it out! The fenced-in backyard was big, but Izuku preferred longer distances without having to constantly go in circles and see the same sights—that got boring, fast.

Shouta didn’t seem to get that, though. “Can’t you run in the backyard?” He asks with a sigh.

“It’s not big enough,” he whines.

Two red eyes look over his carefully. “And what about when you’re at school?”

Izuku bites down on his tongue. The window there has yet to be closed off to him, despite his close encounter with the three humans from before. He’d like to keep it that way, for as long as possible.

Shouta sighs yet again . Even going as far as squeezing his eyes shut and pinching his nose as the man considers his options.

“Listen,” he finally says after a few moments of silence, “next time, if you need to go run or let off energy just— tell me, ok? Or tell Nemuri and Hizashi if I’m not here. That way, one of us can go with you without,” he gestures one arm to a window facing the forest, “getting into too much trouble.” He finishes.

He isn’t sure if a human could keep up with him when he ran in his beast form, but maybe if they were on his back…? 

“Not mad?” He asks, just in case.

“No, Izuku. I’m not mad,” he says despite the boy definitely smelling the waves of frustration the gruff man was giving off. “Just don’t let it happen again, ok?”

Izuku eyes him curiously, rolling the request around in his mind for a moment before nodding. Either way, his nod seems to reassure Shouta a bit, his scent calming slightly and his features relaxing.

Scratching one of his legs, Izuku’s catches movement from outside the window, eyeing a small group of humans as they enter his old home from a distance.

“No running today,” he tells Shouta, solemnly.

Shouta follows his gaze. “No, kiddo,” he sighs. “No running today.”

 


 

The humans were still flitting in and out of the forest the next day, so Izuku decided to go next door to visit Koda, instead.

Since the Kodas were the next house down, Shouta only dropped off the bright-eyed boy before returning home himself. As long as Izuku kept in sight of his friend and his mom, then the dark-haired man saw no reason to intrude on his neighbors himself. And while Izuku was not a big fan of him going away while there were so many humans in the area (even if he was holed up inside) he felt comfortable enough around the quiet household and its occupants to feel safe.

That, and Hitoshi was here too.

“How come it didn’t bite you?” Hitoshi asks, eyeing the little white rabbit warily.

Izuku smirks, boldly wiggling his fingers as Yuwai nibbles unflinchingly on the bits of carrots in his palm. “Bunnies like me.” To be more accurate, Izuku had coaxed his mind into the small rabbit’s and simply told her that he was no threat, and to please not mistake his fingers as food. The trick always worked on rabbits in the forest if he got close enough, and Yuwai was no exception.

The only difference was that he was feeding it, instead of the other way around.

Hitoshi sniffs. “Probably because you’re a rabbit, yourself.” He sounded jealous and bitter. Maybe because Yuwai took no hesitation in chomping down on one fat finger.

Depositing the rest of the carrot chunks on the floor of Yuwai’s enclosure, Izuku removes his hand and wipes the excess crumbs off on his pants. Movement from the corner of his eye catches his attention, and Izuku turns around just in time to catch Koji’s hands stilling.

“’She doesn’t like strangers?’ Shouldn’t she be used to both of us by now? We’re not that strange,” Hitoshi snorts.

“Maybe Yuwai doesn’t like purple,” Izuku chirps.

[ “Actually, rabbits can’t see color like we do. They can only see greens and blues with accuracy,” ] Koji responds back in Izuku’s native language, while also moving his hands through those funny motions again. Sign language , it was called. Where humans use their hands to talk instead of speaking out loud. And, as Koji and his mom were soft spoken and only very few could speak in animal-tongue, they used their hands instead.

Izuku liked the concept. The language was similar enough to how animals would communicate through body language and tells. It was something Izuku was a lot more accustomed to as the boy would study, not only the animals he could directly speak to, but also animals he hunted. Prey was a lot easier to track when you knew what they were planning ahead of time.

Hitoshi already knew the hand language when his green-haired friend introduced him and Koji for the first time-- his hands moving with confidence as he held his own conversation with the craggy faced boy who seemed absolutely delighted and relieved. Izuku figures Koji might have been worried about holding a proper conversation with his friend.

Really, that was all Izuku needed to demand that they both teach the hand language to him as well, not wanting to be left behind.

At first, Izuku had trouble memorizing the signs and struggled to follow what the duo were referencing, even when they would often speak the words out loud as they signed. It quickly became clear that the animal tongue did not… go well with the hand language. Too many things didn’t line up correctly or were untranslatable on both accounts, so Koji had to switch to soft muttering instead.

But in all… they were a bunch of kids. Teaching a language you are familiar with sounds easy in thought. But when it is put into practice? Where do you even start? What is an easy starting point to help ease someone into something new? How does it stick?

The trio of friends weren’t entirely sure.

And that was how it led to Nezu finding Izuku glaring down at his hands that were twitching and making aborted, jerking motions as he struggled to recall half-remembered motions not long after he had started to learn.

Nezu’s ears twitched in amusement as he watched the sight. Then later, he sat Shouta down and so kindly told the man to teach Izuku the new language as the principal did not have the proper hands to teach the child himself. From there, Izuku was able to make more progress as he constantly badgered the older man to continue teaching him whenever the urge struck.

So now, Izuku had a basic understanding of the hand language, but he still needed the motions to be slow so he could properly follow through.

“Purple is close enough to blue to count. It’s more on the lavender side, anyways,” Hitoshi retorts.

“It’s a weird color. Hitoshi is weird.”Izuku had to duck as Hitoshi threw a carrot at him.

“Whatever you say, lettuce head.”

Snickering, Izuku grabs the carrot from where it fell beside him and makes sure to bite into it with a forceful chomp, his sharp fangs on full display. Rolling his eyes, Hitoshi turns to Koji, conversing with their hands once again. Izuku tries to follow their movements but soon finds his attention drifting.

Koji’s room was very tidy and neatly organized, Izuku thought. It was a stark difference to Izuku’s own room where he would just scatter the things he found remotely interesting all over the floor and expertly dodge his feet around the maze of objects to avoid stepping on and damaging his possessions.

Hitoshi’s own room, while not to Izuku’s level, was similar to his. But with more of a, lived in feeling. Hitoshi had a lot of stuff—more than Izuku, even!—but it was more cluttered together, clothes and toys on the floor swept aside just enough for there to be a path to walk through unhindered. The room was dark, more often than not, as his purple haired friend preferred having the curtains drawn shut, giving his room a blue glow that reminded Izuku of his forest den. The shelves against his walls were full of books and trinkets he had collected (and Izuku gifted). Izuku liked Hitoshi’s room, it felt like home to him.

Koji’s, meanwhile, was the opposite of both. There wasn’t a whole lot in it and seemed rather barren to Izuku’s tastes.

But.

It was extremely colorful and bright in a way that made the base of his tail tingle in pleasure.

It was so very... neon; and it made his eyes happy to see.

The color kind of looks like when the pond would get a lot of moss in the summer. When the water got like that, Izuku enjoyed swimming through it and watching the moss part very briefly before joining back together again, as though the boy had never disturbed it. He would always come out of the water almost completely green, matching his half transformation and tangled hair. There were some fun games where Izuku would pretend to be a water monster and spring out at any animals that would come too close to the pond’s edge. It took a total of three times of scaring his feline friend before White got tired of his ‘game’ and hissed at Izuku to cut it out, the party pooper.

Hey!

Izuku snaps his head towards Hitoshi’s voice. The purple-haired boy frowns at his reaction. “You were kind of spacing out there, er, is everything alright? With your, uh.” Hitoshi falters, stumbling with his words and gestures vaguely at the green-haired boy, who only blinks slowly and questionly at his friend’s actions. Hitoshi sighs. “Your leg, dude. You’ve been scratching at it like mad and it’s not looking too good.”

Pausing, Izuku becomes aware that he had been scratching his leg, and looking down he can see bits of flaky, dried skin peeling from his scales and clinging to his fingers—and ew—some under his claws.

He wipes it on the carpet. Koji gives him an unimpressed stare.

“Y’know, I’ve noticed it a few days ago, but your scales really have been looking… pretty dull and dry. You’re not sick, are you? Do you even get sick?” He leans close to Koji. “Do you think we’re going to get sick?”

“Not sick,” Izuku replies as Koji shakes his head. Izuku knows he isn’t. This is something that happens at least once a year but— oh what’s the word? What did Shouta call it…

“You’re shedding?” Hitoshi questions, looking away from Koji’s hands—oh did he know what it was called? “Like a snake?” Izuku smiles at the comparison and nods. “…huh. I didn’t know you did that.”

[ “It would make sense, if his quirk is part reptile.” ] Koji adds.

“I suppose so… but I’ve known Izuku for a few years and haven’t seen it before now.”

“Doesn’t happen a lot,” Izuku shrugs, “only sometimes.” Izuku was glad he didn't shed often, the process was annoying, messy, and itchy. The old skin could be fun to play with and tear into tiny pieces afterwards, but over the last couple of years it started to get too tough for him to rip apart, and if he can’t do that, what was the point? Come to think about it, Izuku isn’t even sure what Shouta has been doing with his old skins afterwards. His dad would take them away and Izuku never recalls seeing them anywhere around the house afterwards. Does he bury them like Izuku used to? But no, Izuku would’ve realized if any dirt had been freshly dug up. What does Shouta do with them?

Koji gives a small wave, catching Izuku’s attention. Instead of speaking in the anima tongue, the quiet boy signed with his hands. Despite his slow, easy movements, Izuku only understood a handful of the motions. Eyes squinting, Izuku takes what he knows and tries to connect the context.

“You… want to help me shed?” He guesses.

Smiling softly, Koji nods, this time speaking along with his signs. [ “I have a few reptile friends that live in the forest and city. They allow me to help them get rid of their old skins to make way for their new one.” ]

Izuku was about to reply back, but Hitoshi bumps his shoulder and points at the green-haired boy’s hands, prompting him to speak that way instead. Huffing, but still complying to his friend’s wishes, Izuku makes the signs for; ' You help?' and ' How?'

'With a hot bath!'

“Uh, wait,” Hitoshi interrupts. “Izuku, when you shed, is it only your human form, or is it… y’know.” Hitoshi closes his eyes at Izuku’s sheepish smile. “…we’re gonna need a big bathtub.”

Koji makes a questioning noise.

 


 

‘I don’t think we’re supposed to be here ,’ Koji signs frantically at Shinsou, who merely waves him off, much to his dismay.

“It’ll be fine.” ‘ This place is closed for another two hours, we’ll be out of here before they open the doors to the public.’

‘We broke in!’ His friends even lied to his mom! He lied to his mom! Shinsou had managed to convince her that the three boys wanted to go see the latest All Might movie in the theaters, then swayed her that they were old enough to go in all by themselves. They were thirteen , afterall. Reluctantly, she agreed on the condition she will drop them off, then pick them up after the movie was over. They waved her goodbye and sat in the theater lobby for five minutes, and then with Koji’s heart full of nervous guilt, the three ducked out and walked to their real destination.

“Actually, we walked in. Just not through the front door,” Shinsou points out. And wait no, that’s not the point! Koji was about to beg for them to go back, when just ahead of the duo, Aizawa let out a gasp of amazement.

“Hitoshi! Koji! Come look!”

Koji already knew what Aizawa was looking at, the boy comes here at least once a year as a school field trip. So when Koji rounded the corner and saw a large expanse of shimmering blue water surrounded by slides and equipment prime to be a child’s greatest wonderland, he was not as impressed as the green-haired boy in front of him as his tail swished in increasing excitement at the sight before him.

Instead, Koji nervously scans the area, looking for any other sign of life and sighs when he sees that they are alone.

Koji taps Shinsou’s shoulder. Why are we here?

“You said Izuku taking a bath would help?” Shinsou reminds.

I said a warm bath! He doesn’t really need an entire swimming park for that.

“They do have a hot tub, though. That’s the main reason I picked this place.”

A hot tub…? Why? He signs with great exasperation. Why not use a bathtub? We have one at home if the Aizawas do not.

“No way would Izuku fit in a normal bathtub,” he snorts, and that… just doesn’t make any sense. How could Aizawa not fit in a bathtub? He was shorter than the both of them! Catching his confusion, Shinsou gives him a bewildered look. “Have you… not seen Izuku’s other form yet?”

Koji pauses. Other form? His quirk? Koji knows Aizawa has some sort of shifting quirk that gives him the appearance of part rabbit, part reptile. The energetic boy always seemed to have those animal traits up, but there were several times that Koji had seen him without his fur and scales and long ears. But that doesn’t affect his height, not from what he has seen.

Shinsou’s eyes widen. “You haven’t, ” and then he lets out a short laugh. “Well, just don’t freak out, ok?” 

Why would he freak out? His confusion follows him as Shinsou swiftly darts around Koji, grabbing at the younger Aizawa before he could jump towards the pools. The green haired boy makes a disgruntled noise at being interrupted.

“C’mon, we have to go to that one, over there,” Shinsou informs, pointing to the bubbling, smaller pool. 

Aizawa looks at it, seemingly curious of its current state, his green eyes flickering up once to watch as hot steam rises and disperses into nothingness. And then, without warning, he leaps into the boiling water, sending hot droplets flying in all directions.

Shinsou sighs. “That idiot didn’t take off his clothes. What was even the point of bringing swimming trunks?” He grumbles under his breath, taking off his own shirt. Koji, who didn’t approve of this plan from the very start, stayed where he was, fully clothed.

Or, at least until he started to get worried when Aizawa still had yet to resurface.

What if he hurt himself when he jumped?   So, missing Shinsou’s warning look, Koji steps forward and peers down into the dark water.

When a giant, furry muzzle springs out of the water and snaps deadly, sharp fangs inches from where he stood, Koji let out an honest to god, shriek that was quickly snuffed out when those teeth snip at his shirt and throws him into the water with a sharp jerk of its neck.

Resurfacing with a splutter, Koji flails his limbs until his palms smack flat against the cold tiled floor and uses one arm to support his weight, while using his other hand to dry his eyes. He flinches when something large bumps against his side and despite the hot temperature of the water, Koji finds himself trembling as his head whips around, immediately locking with the feral green eyes of a monster.

The monster had fangs as long as his hand, and nearly as thick. They were pulled back into a snarl, showcasing the dozens of deadly sharp objects that could end the boy in a single bite. The eyes shone almost unnaturally as it looked down at him with slitted, narrow pupils. Koji’s gaze flickers down sharply at the sound of a clack, and the boy nearly fainted when he saw just how massive the monster’s claws were, and the faint scratches already being made into the tile as the beast flexes them ever so slightly.

This is that monster everyone is trying to find! He thinks, whimpering. Koji remembers the news story. He remembers being so curious as to finally finding out about the monster in the forest, after hearing about it for so long from his animal companions who feared it so much. He remembers seeing an unedited picture on the internet and wishing that he had not bothered to do so. For him, seeing something so large carrying a bloody, dead deer in its jaws was like a limp doll was, horrifying.

And now it was here. And Koji was terrified.

He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. He stays absolutely still and squeezes his eyes shut, some silly part of his brain thinking that if he does, maybe he will be ignored, maybe the monster wouldn’t see him.

When something touches his shoulder, Koji’s heart stops.

But then he realizes that the touch was a hand. A human hand.

Slowly, Koji opens his eyes, immediately meeting the monster’s gaze once again.

He realizes then that the monster wasn’t snarling. It was grinning. The body language wasn’t tense and ready to strike, it was loose and relaxed. And the eyes weren’t narrowed in anger, but rather an infectious playfulness that shone with mirth, though it was quickly being replaced with worry as it took in Koji’s fear.

Ko-ji? ” The monster warbled in a distorted voice. No… not a monster. It was—

[ “Izuku?” ]

Izuku croons delightfully and throws his soaking wet mane back to give it a small shake. Koji brings an arm up to protect his face from stray droplets.

“Izuku loves that trick,” Shinsou says, removing his hand from Koji’s shoulder. “That’s why if he goes in the water it’s best to stay clear of the edge.”

Noted, Koji thinks to himself, watching in amusement as Aizawa uses a large paw to splash at Shinsou who had no chance in defending himself in time.

Not a monster at all.

Just a mischievous child.

 


 

“You know, I don’t think that is how lizards normally shed.”

“The bath helped?”

‘We got kicked out…’

“Why did you bring it with us?”

“You want it?”

“Absolutely not.”

[ “Why did you bite the security guard?” ]

“He was mean. Hitoshi, you can have it.”

“Absolutely not.”

“I’ll give you a leg?”

“NO!”

 


 

Shouta’s pen scritches along the surface of the three page packet before him, writing a big fat ‘D-‘ in bold red, finalizing it with two sharp circles.

Another failed grade… this makes three. Did these kids even bother to study? It was like they did not care that Shouta would be dishing out punishments for their failure. It wasn’t like they were struggling, either. Shouta knows these particular students are knowledgeable in this subject. Theyjust choose to half-ass the assignment, refusing to do more than the bare minimum of work required.

Sighing through his nose, he leans back, his eyes slipping closed behind tired lids. They burned with exhaustion. Between his hero duties, teaching, and the worry of people hunting his son for sport, Shouta had hardly slept over the past few days. His only reprieve being the sparse naps he managed to catch here and there.

The phone rang.

Biting back a groan, Shouta grabs it, looking at the caller ID as he rubs one eye.

Tsukauchi.

“Hello.”

“Eraserhead! I hope I didn’t disturb you.”

Shouta’s gaze sweeps over the neat stack of papers. “All you’re doing is giving me a break in grading. What do you want? I doubt you’re calling just to say hi.”

“Ah, no. Actually, I have something I need to ask of you.”

“Which is?”

“Really, I should have asked this sooner but--” the detective cut off suddenly and seemed to think over his next words before continuing. “I want to ask Izuku if he knows what happened to the boy who went missing roughly eight years ago.”