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Ako's Lullaby

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Ochako arrives at Izuku’s apartment shortly after four. She just got off her patrol shift, and the two of them planned to meet up for coffee and tea. It’s been a while since they’ve had a chance to catch up, and Ochako looks forward to seeing her friend again.

She’s also nervous.

It’s been over ten years since the two of them graduated from UA, and in that time, a lot has changed. The two of them have become established and respected pro heroes for one: with Izuku currently sitting at the No.1 spot and Ochako consistently ranking in the top 15.

For two, Izuku finally tied the knot with his longtime boyfriend, Hitoshi. Ochako doesn’t think it’s likely she’ll see him on this visit though. He usually worked night shifts for his underground agency, sleeping during the day. She isn’t quite sure how he manages, especially with his chronic insomnia.

For three, Izuku and Hitoshi had started a family together. They had an adorable little daughter, Ako.

Ochako is worried about her.

Ako should be around six by now, and Ochako still hadn’t heard about her quirk. She figures with an enthused dad like Izuku, the whole world would’ve found out the moment it turned up, but it’s been nothing but radio silence. Ochako wants so badly to ask about it, but she knows it’s a sensitive topic for her parents. Hitoshi in particular.

Prejudice against quirks like his had come a long way since they were kids—in no small part thanks to Hitoshi’s cult following as an underground prodigy—but the last time she checked, people still sucked. Quirkless kids and kids with stigmatized quirks still had a steep hill to climb before gaining total acceptance.

Reaching the door to Izuku and Hitoshi’s apartment, Ochako gives it a strong knock, trying to quell her fears and remind herself not to blurt out anything stupid.

Almost before she’d even finished knocking, the door flies open, revealing a beaming and solidly built pro hero. “Ochako!”

“Hey, Deku,” she says, trying to return his smile.

“Come on in!” Izuku says, opening the door wider. “It’s been so long! I can’t wait to hear about what you’ve been up to. I mean, I follow every article in the news—I’ve got a whole scrapbook—but there are so many details those reporters leave out…”

Peeking around Izuku’s leg, Ochako spots a young girl with dark violet hair and sea green eyes.

“Is this Ako?” Ochako asks, leaning down to the girl’s level. “She’s getting so big!”

Izuku looks down. “Oh, there you are! Yes, she’s growing up pretty fast.”

Ochako does her best to ignore the note of apprehension.

“I thought I told you to clean your room,” Izuku says, patting Ako on the head.

“But I wanted to see Auntie Ochako,” Ako replies.

“You’ll get to,” Izuku says. “But first, you need to clean your room. It shouldn’t take you too long if you put your mind to it.”

He points firmly down the hall of the apartment.

Ako groans. “Okay…” She looks up at Ochako again. “But you better not leave until I get to see you.”

Ochako laughs. “I promise.”

As Ako goes on her way, Izuku leads Ochako into their kitchen, shoving a pod into their coffee machine and flipping on the electric kettle to boil water for Ochakos’s tea. Once their drinks are in hand, they take a seat at the table.

“Will Hitoshi join us?” Ochako asks, taking a preliminary sip of tea.

“No, he has to work late again tonight, so he’s sleeping in our room,” Izuku says.

“Won’t we be too loud?”

Izuku sips his coffee. “No, I got him these really great sound cancelling earplugs for his birthday last year. Ako and I can be as loud as we want, and he doesn’t hear a thing.”

“That’s great,” Ochako says, already sensing herself pulling away from the conversation.

She remembers blurting out a painfully insensitive question once. The three of them—Izuku, Hitoshi, and her—were at a bar with a few of their other hero friends, catching up. It was shortly after Izuku and Hitoshi had announced they were having a baby together.

“Aren’t you worried about what their quirk would be?”

Ochako regretted those words as soon as they tumbled out of her mouth. She was drunk, but that was no excuse.

She’ll never forget the look Hitoshi gave her. He wouldn’t talk to her for weeks afterwards.

Izuku had been quicker to forgive. Ochako had a suspicion it was because he secretly hoped his child would be quirkless, just like he was. He’d probably just give them One for All when the time came.

Or maybe he wouldn’t. A kind hearted soul like him would never want his child to take up such a treacherous legacy. Nana certainly didn’t. Maybe he hoped they would be quirkless so that they’d have no chance of becoming a hero. They’d be safer that way. Izuku really is his mother’s son.

“Ochako, are you alright?” Izuku asks.

She blinks, shaking herself back into the present. “Yep, I’m good. What were we talking about again?”

“You were asking about Ako,” Izuku says, smiling warmly, as if the mere mention of his daughter’s name brings him joy.

Ochako wonders if she’d ever be able to match that kind of parental love, if she had kids of her own. Just like with everything, Izuku really gives it his all. It’s intimidating.

“Oh yeah, how’s she doing?” Ochako asks.

Izuku’s smile turns knowing. “You want to know if her quirk has manifested, don’t you?”

Ochako lets out a breath. “Yeah, you got me.”

“She hasn’t shown any signs of one yet,” Izuku says, taking a sip of his coffee. “Hitoshi’s pretty relieved actually. He says his quirk developed shortly after he learned how to talk in full sentences, around three. So it seems unlikely she inherited his.”

“Which means…” Ochako trails.

Izuku laughs lightly, without emotion. “Yeah, she might’ve drawn the same genetic short straw I did.”

Ochako doesn’t know what to say. Does she say she’s sorry? Express sympathy for Ako? Quirklessness isn’t exactly something to feel bad about. Society just… treats it that way.

She’d known a handful of quirkless kids growing up, apart from Izuku (though he doesn’t really count, since he’d already received his quirk by the time they met). She definitely felt bad for them. They all had the same nervous energy about them, as if they were forced into a cage with a hungry tiger or a tank full of sharks, and their only chance at survival was acting as small and unassuming as possible. Blend in with the walls. Take up as little space as they could.

It showed itself in different ways depending on the person, of course, but it was always there, that nervousness. It made her wary of the quirkless kids, reluctant to hang out with them. At the time, she wouldn’t have considered herself prejudiced, but looking back, she wonders if she ever made an attempt to at least talk to one of them.

Come to think of it, Izuku definitely had that same air about him when they first met: skittish, anxious, always shielding his face from the next metaphorical punch in the nose. When they were in school, she always just assumed it was a byproduct of him being childhood friends with Katsuki, but thinking about it now, maybe it stemmed from something deeper. Maybe even if Izuku hadn’t grown up around that explosive menace, society still would’ve dealt him the same shitty hand.

Ochako can’t help but wonder if that’s what’s in store for Ako, now that it’s looking more and more like the young girl could be quirkless.

Even after all that thinking, she’s still not sure what to say to Izuku.

She gives him a wavering smile and buries her face in her tea cup.

The conversation graciously shifts after that. The two of them catch each other up on the latest news from their agencies and hero careers. Ochako suspects a promotion is in her near future, and she plans to use the resulting bonus to take her parents to Hawaii.

Izuku talks about the rise in incidents with trepidation. Despite the rocketing success he’d achieved straight out of high school—becoming a ranked pro within the first year and climbing to the top of the charts within the next five—he shared his fear that it still isn’t enough. He feels like he needs to hurry up and take up All Might’s mantle. Japan has already gone too long without its symbol of peace.

This is something Ochako feels prepared to handle, at least. She’d spent most of high school talking Izuku down from his worries and reminding him that he was doing his best (which was a lot, and probably more than any sane person), and once she found out the full truth behind his quirk and the legacy he is expected to uphold along with it, she quickly learned how to put that into perspective for him too.

“Don’t fret about it, Deku,” she says, downing the last of her tea. “If anything, it’s a good thing: you’ve been helping more people than ever lately.”

“Yeah, I guess… I just don’t understand what makes these new crime groups so bold. After we finally snuffed out the last of the Paranormal Liberation Front, I thought there wouldn’t be any big threats to worry about for a while, but they sure keep finding a way.

“Honestly though, I’m more worried about Hitoshi,” Izuku continues. “The kind of stuff he deals with on his night shifts is on a whole other level of awful sometimes. And as an underground, it’s not like he even gets proper credit for it. He’s not the one called up for magazine interviews or TV specials.”

“You know he doesn’t care about any of that stuff. He’s too much like Sensei that way,” Ochako says, rising to get more tea. “Besides, for an underground, he’s pretty famous. Last I heard he’s got a pretty big fan group on Twitter.” Switching the electric kettle on, Ochako leans against the counter to wait for the water to boil. “Turns out it’s hard to keep the literal husband of one of the top pros hidden from the masses for long. Especially when his partner has such a big mouth.”

For the first time in the conversation, Izuku’s laugh is genuine. “Yeah, he’s still pretty mad at me for letting the cat out of the bag.” He smiles. “I swear he secretly likes the attention though.”

“Well, he certainly was an overdramatic little shit in high school,” Ochako says.

Just as the water for her tea starts to boil, the air is split by a piercing cry, cutting from somewhere deeper within the apartment.

Izuku immediately bolts upright and charges down the hall, knocking his coffee mug off the table in the process. Ochako watches in slow motion as the ceramic makes contact with the hardwood floor, splitting into shards and spilling lukewarm coffee everywhere.

Ochako follows behind a few seconds later, disappointed with her trained pro hero self for not reacting quicker. Then again, judging from the sound of that cry, there could only be one source, and it’s not surprising that Izuku’s already razor-sharp reflexes are even more so for her.

Swallowing her guilt, Ochako darts down the hall after her friend, rounding a corner to a junction with a series of bedroom doors. One stands ajar. She sticks her head in.

She’s not prepared for what she finds inside.

Izuku stands off to the side with his hands raised, as if he were trying to calm a frightened beast. His face is pale, eyes wide, mouth slightly open: the look of a man who’d been shaken to the bone. By itself, that kind of response wouldn’t seem merited for a young girl, but a quick glance around the room proves it more than justified.

The bedroom is in complete disarray. Apparently Izuku had good reason to tell Ako to straighten up before she could join him and Ochako. Books, papers, and comics are scattered everywhere, along with the occasional pillow, blanket, and plush—not to mention the smattering of All Might merch—no doubt gifts from her overenthusiastic dad. Ochako even spots a few custom Eraserhead pieces.

Even more shocking than the sheer amount of mess, however, is where it’s located.

It’s floating.

The books, plushies, merch—the whole lot of it—is drifting lazily through the room like a small, sluggish maelstrom.

“Is this…” Ochako wonders aloud, stopping herself before her big mouth could ruin things any further. She shakes her head.

Crouched at the center of the swirling mess is a small, sobbing girl, curling her tiny fists up by her face as if attempting to erase the reality of what’s happening all around her.

Still looking a bit spooked and more than a little surprised, Izuku does his best to smooth out his features, easing into the calm, practiced look he’d used in so many missions before. It isn’t quite All Might’s bright, shining smile, but it’s truer to who Izuku is as a hero. Ochako had witnessed its effects countless times, how easily just those calm, caring eyes could soothe people into feeling just a bit safer.

Creeping forward, Izuku weaves through the undulating mess towards his crying daughter. Reaching her, he crouches down beside her and wraps his solid, well-experienced arms around her.

Ako immediately relaxes, collapsing into her dad’s hug.

All at once, the items drifting through the air fall to the floor.

Thankfully, none of the objects had been too close to Izuku and Ako, but Ochako isn’t as lucky. She brings her arms over her head to shield herself from the barrage, getting nailed by a couple of books and a particularly pointy All Might figurine. She can already feel the bruises starting to form.

“What the heck was that?” she asks before she can stop herself.

Izuku is still hugging Ako, trying to soothe the sniffling girl by rubbing comforting circles into her back.

Once Ako’s breathing settles a bit, Izuku pulls away and looks down at her. “Are you okay?”

She sniffles, looking at him with watery eyes.

Before Ako can answer, Ochako hears a sound behind her. She whirls around to see a very groggy yet very concerned underground hero standing in the doorway.

“What happened?” Hitoshi asks sleepily, leaning against the frame. “I heard a scream, then a crash… why is this room such a mess?”

Apparently those sound canceling earplugs didn’t work nearly as well as Izuku thought.

“Ako was just…” Izuku starts, then closes his mouth and looks down at their daughter. “Actually, I’m not sure. Why don’t you tell us what happened, sweetie?”

Still sniffling slightly, Ako wipes her nose with the hem of her shirt and takes a small breath.

Ochako is immediately struck by how much she resembles Izuku: the same furrowed brow, fingers pinching her lips, as if she were writing up an entire case analysis in her head before responding.

The zero gravity hero braces herself for the coming waterfall.

“Well, I came into my room to clean it, like you told me to,” Ako begins, speaking in a surprisingly clear and calm tone. “And then I got mad. Just a little,” she adds, glancing warily at her dads. “I got mad and slammed a bunch of stuff on the ground and… told the stuff to clean itself.”

Izuku and Hitoshi look at each other.

“Are you… mad at me?” Ako asks, fiddling with the hem of her shirt.

“No, sweetie, we’re not mad!” Izuku says hastily, putting a hand on her back. “We’re just… surprised.”

Still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Hitoshi walks over and sits down next to them. “Yeah, that was one heck of a trick.”

Realization dawns in the small girl’s eyes. “Do you think it’s my… quirk?”

Izuku smiles.

Even standing a few feet away, Ochako can see the tears shining at the corners of his eyes.

“Yeah, I think so,” Izuku says, a wave of pride welling up in his voice. He leans down and whispers conspiratorially into her ear: “Do you think you know how it works yet?”

Ako pauses, furrowing her brow and pinching at her lip again before nodding slowly. “I think so. It’s like, I tell stuff what to do… and it does it.”

“Could you try showing us?” Hitoshi asks gently.

“Yeah,” Ako says. She points at the All Might figure that had rained on Ochako just a few minutes before. “Come here.”

The figurine immediately stands ramrod straight, zooming over to the small girl until she snatches it from the air.

Her parents look at each other again.

“Good job, kitten,” Hitoshi says, barely concealing the shock in his tone.

Ochako herself isn’t sure what to think. It’s clear Ako inherited her verbal commands from Hitoshi, but where did the ability to manipulate inanimate objects come from?

“It’s my mom’s quirk,” Izuku blurts out suddenly. “Ako has my mom’s quirk…”

“Grandma?” Ako asks, looking up from playing with the All Might figure. “But I thought she could only do small stuff. I just moved that big pillow over there,” she says, pointing at a sizable ottoman that had been part of the floating mess.

“Huh, no kidding…” Izuku says, pinching his lip. “Well, quirks do have a tendency to get stronger with every generation…”

A spark flickers in his eyes. “Would you like to try an experiment?” he asks, glancing down at his daughter excitedly.

Ako grins. “Yeah!”

Gathering the girl into his arms, Izuku leads the small party out of the bedroom and back into the kitchen, setting Ako down a few feet away from the puddle of spilled coffee and shattered ceramic.

“Do you think you could help Dad out with that?” Izuku asks. “He kind of made a mess when he ran to check on you.”

Ako looks up at him sternly, small hands on her hips. “I thought you scolded me about making a mess.”

“She’s got you there,” Hitoshi says, smirking.

Izuku sighs. “You’re right. But can you just help me out, just this once? Just do the same thing you did with the stuff in your room.”

Ako crouches down, making a show out of examining the chunks of ceramic and the spill pattern of the coffee, grabbing her small chin and humming a few times.

There’s Hitoshi’s flair for the dramatic, Ochako thinks.

Once she’s satisfied, she stands back up and stares hard at the mess, tracing over every inch of it with her eyes. “Clean yourself up.”

Within seconds, the ceramic pieces start to shake, skittering towards each other until one by one they start to interlock, reforming into the shape of the mug, handle and all. Once the cup is reassembled, the coffee comes next, the puddle retracting and pouring back into its container until not a single drop is left on the floor.

Ako bends down and picks up the mug, handing it to Izuku.

“Probably still don’t want to drink that,” Hitoshi says, his eyes wide.

Izuku takes the mug, patting his daughter on the head. “Good work, sweetie,” he says, equally flabbergasted.

Ako beams. “Does this mean I don’t have to clean my room?”

Izuku laughs, smiling down at her dangerously. “Oh no. You still need to clean your room. And this time: no quirk allowed.”

 

XXX

 

Name: Akiko Midoriya
Quirk: Spellcast

She can manipulate inanimate objects by telling them to do whatever she wants. When it first manifests, she’s restricted to simple orders, but with time she trains it to be more indirect: using “intent” and made-up phrases rather than a precise command.

In other words, she can cast spells.