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Prologue: Archí

There was a whip of wind against Itsuki’s face, the loud white noise of the air nipped at him and the frozen winds had him holding his son, Keigo, close to him. He looked to the gray skies around him and the snow capped peaks of the mountains nearby.

Itsuki was a young man, a man of twenty-six, yet he carried a look in his eyes that was beyond his years. He had long platinum blond hair that was parted in the middle and cut in choppy layers. There were massive crimson wings that fluffed up from the chill that dragged behind him, they made trails in the snow from his long flight feathers. He had eyes that were deep gold with a stripe of red in his left eye. His eyes held memories and experiences long past what would have been expected at his age.

Itsuki looked at the chubby cheeks of his young son, a warm scarf around his tiny neck. A warmth filled his chest despite the coldness of his surroundings. Itsuki’s dark gold and red eyes fell onto Keigo’s light gold as he addressed him.

“Kei,-“ Itsuki watched as those light, almost silvery eyes moved from his chest to his face and there was a soft puff of air that fogged out from his mouth and then Itsuki continued, “Kei, you know we are doing this for your own good, right baby?” Keigo nodded, though Itsuki thought that maybe he didn’t understand what they were about to do. He nuzzled his face to the top of Keigo’s head and took in a breath in of the clean scent from his son’s feathery hair.

“I love you Kei. I’m going to burn this world of snakes down for you my little hawk..”

Itsuki neared the edge of the cliff and pulled Keigo from his chest, his son shivered from the loss of warmth.

“Papa..!” He whined out but Itsuki interrupted him. “Kei.. you have to learn.. this world is full of snakes that just want to eat you alive sweetheart.” He paused and took in some of the chilly air, then continued, “The sky is our kingdom Kei. We can only be safe there.”

Keigo looked down, under himself and down to the ground which was far, far away from him. There was fear clear in his eyes but his resolve strengthened through his tiny limbs. His gaze then turned up towards the sky and a feeling of calm washed over him and a smile pulled on his lips.

There was a certain feel of weightlessness as his father’s hands loosened on his waist and he fell through his grasp like sand. Keigo didn’t panic immediately, still looking up at the sky he felt calm, so incredibly calm. But as the wind rushed past his ears and the chill seeped into his bones from the wind that jerked around him, he started to panic.

He flipped over so that his belly faced the ground and his soft wool scarf was snatched away from him by the wind. He waved his arms, a bit like how a bird flapped its wings as he tried to get his actual wings to extend from their place which were clamped tightly to his back in fear.

It was swift when they extended and he could feel the drag of wind on the new, soft feathers that he had got from his last molt. The wind around him punched at him and his wings, making him jolt in the air. His limbs flailed, his hands grasped on nothing as he tried to get purchase on the air. The moisture particles in the air felt like they sliced into his skin with how fast he fell and the cold air creeped into his clothing and stole his warmth.

The neutral colors of the scenery around him blurred and mixed together as Keigo fell, was this his death? He thought to himself, panicked and fearful.

As he tilted his wings, and by association, his tail feathers too, he started to slow down and have more control of how he was falling. He wanted to scream for his father, but he couldn’t manage to get the words out, he couldn’t even manage a silent scream as his mouth wouldn’t open. He was frozen in fear.

He faltered but righted himself in the air and soon he felt a sense of awe when he glided through the air, the massive beast of air currents being tamed by him and working with him to slow his descent. He tilted his body to go the way he wanted to go, and he felt the wind respond to how he moved.

He couldn’t wait until the day where he tamed the air itself. He could imagine flying around, moving with the air and feeling free, so free. There was a loud whoosh and then he saw his father dove down towards him, his massive wings darkened a spot underneath him and he sliced through the air much like a bird of prey. Keigo’s eyes widened as he veered closer to his father who now flew with him. He watched as Itsuki shouted some instructions to him, mainly to flap his wings and how to help him slow down and catch some air underneath him to cushion his landing.

He listened to his father, this was important and if he didn’t do it correctly he would shatter the bones in his limbs and be in for a world of pain.

As he flapped his wings and readjusted how he was in the air so that his landing would be cushioned by the gusts of air created from his wings, he watched and followed what his father was doing, the sun started to peek through the clouds, which caught the vivid colors of his and his father’s wings. The color and light snagged his eyes, making him distracted for a moment.

Once his feet touched the ground and he roughly fell onto his knees, he gasped, feeling the skin on his knees being scraped off from the hard landing.

“A-ah!” He sharply gasped out and his father, who had much smoother of a landing, came to his aid. Itsuki scooped his son up and pulled him to his chest to warm his little chick back up.

“Kei- Kei! You did so well my little hawk!” He praised so happily, so full of wonder at his son’s obvious talent in flying. It had taken him a couple of tries to get gliding down when he was Keigo’s age and he was so happy that Keigo managed it so well.

He pressed some soft kisses to his son’s hair and held him so tight that he was worried that he was going to crush his bones, and Keigo also had the same worry with how he squirmed so vigorously.

“Eee! Papa!!” He laughed and giggled in his father’s hold and laughed as his father started taking him towards a dirt road, the same one they had used to bring them to the rural areas that they had used to practice this exercise.

Keigo could feel the blood dripping down his leg and onto his socks and shoes but it was okay, his papa wouldn’t be mad with him even though he had just got them for him, they were his first pair of shoes, a dark gray pair of sneakers that fit his small feet well. Papa never seemed to get mad with him, even when he did something that was dangerous to him or even papa. Papa often explained why what he did was wrong and what the consequences could be, so Keigo listened to him and tried to avoid those consequences.

Itsuki took his son and walked him down the dirt road and into the beaten up car that they had arrived in. He then put him into the car seat behind him and clipped him in with the seat belt. It was a rough road until they got into a more urban area and eventually pulled into a restaurant that served some cheap but filling food.

He pulled Keigo out of the car seat he was in, grabbed a first aid kit from the back of the car and pulled him to his chest and walked into the restaurant. Keigo perked up, he even almost vibrated at the smell of nice, warm food.

He sat him down on a bench seat, it seemed to be covered in some sort of vinyl and got Keigo to show him his knee. He quickly cleaned the wound, with soft words of encouragement and bandaged it up appropriately, not too loose and not too tight.

Taking a seat beside Keigo, Itsuki waited for a waiter. Once one arrived he looked up at the man, a sienna apron that was tied around his waist and at his face contorted to one of unease when he saw Itsuki’s scar that ran across his cheeks and nose.

Itsuki smiled at him, and gave him a flirtatious wink. “Hey there. You think you could get us some chicken tenders?” Itsuki didn’t quite trust Keigo to not eat the bones in fried chicken yet so some chicken tenders was the best option that he could give the kid right now. He had seen how the kid would scarf down chicken, and was worried about him eating the bones which would hurt his stomach and throat but Kei loved the taste of chicken and couldn’t get enough.

He held Keigo to his side to warm him up, even if it did make him look like a broody hen. He could feel Keigo’s nose and face in his side. it seemed that Keigo was also a bit shy and the looks the waiter had been giving them made the kid a bit self conscious. He would pet Keigo’s hair until the waiter came back with a plate of chicken tenders. Itsuki just knew Keigo wouldn’t get through the meal, as the plate was the size of Keigo’s head and full of chicken.

As Itsuki slid the plate to Keigo he noticed that there were a variety of dipping sauces for Keigo to try. It had seemed that the waiter had also brought them a drink, or rather, Keigo a drink. It was just some ice water but it was thoughtful and had a bendy straw in it so Kei could drink from it easier.

Before the waiter was even gone, Keigo had already dug into the chicken tenders, he ate them much like a wild animal. He started dipping them haphazardly into various sauces before he found one he liked and dipped into that, getting all the sauce out before moving onto another sauce.

Keigo sighed once he found himself full, and looked up to his father, pushing the half eaten plate of chicken tenders to him and saying, “Hungry papa?” His light eyes gleamed as he saw his father start eating. Even at his age he knew that his father would eat last to make sure he got his fill. Keigo appreciated this even though most of the time he wasn’t able to finish his food so Itsuki got to eat regardless.

Itsuki looked at Keigo, as if regarding how much he had eaten. He figured that Keigo had eaten enough, it wasn’t the most nutritious meal but it would fill the boy up for now. Money was scarce right now, and food even more so, but Itsuki wanted to take care of Keigo the best he could. As he started eating the food, Keigo’s leftovers, he could feel the ache of his hungry stomach starting to recede.

Things wouldn’t be this bad for long, he wouldn’t allow them to be. He had gotten a job, a commission based job. That would help them in the long run if everything went to plan.

Stealing was the only thing he knew, and he hoped it wouldn’t be the only thing that Keigo knew but it was in their genetics. Keigo’s grandmother, or Itsuki’s mother had been the first person in their family to develop a quirk. She too had large ruby colored wings while Itsuki’s ended up more of a rust color from his father’s coloration. Itsuki’s mother had also been a thief, she was successful, but it had been the end of her as well. She had ended up taking too hard of a fall, and she didn’t have many of the bird-like features that Keigo or Itsuki did, she was an angel, not a raptor like her descendents. His father however, the cruel man that he was, brought him along to do awful things, things that would be that man’s downfall.

He could still feel the phantom touch of his father’s talons across the bridge of his nose…

Itsuki soon finished his food, maybe it wasn’t enough for him, but it was all he could afford currently. He could still feel his stomach pang a bit in hunger. He smiled at Keigo, who seemed to be a bit sleepy after eating and pulled some crumpled bills from his pocket. He placed them on the table, knowing it would cover the costs of the food and even be a nice tip for the waiter.

He gave Keigo a pat and grabbed his hand to take him back to their home.

There was a soft, warm light that shined onto Touya’s face in his father’s gym. The air around him was warm, almost hot in fact and Touya had sweat dripping down his face, making his vision blurred.

Most of the things in the gym were fire proof but there were a couple of a few things that weren’t. The things that weren’t were covered in fire at this point.

Touya sat in front of his father who was looming over him intensely. He could feel the stinging burns on him. Most of these burns were from his own fire and not his father’s, as he had lost control over his fire earlier and it had burnt him. His father had a look of disappointment on his face, and Touya could feel his stomach churn in guilt. Touya was determined to impress him, but nothing ever seemed to do that. He needed to show him that he could do well.

Jumping up quickly, the fire flared in his palm and Touya ran at Enji with tears and sweat running down his face, a guttural scream tore from his throat and while Enji appreciated the effort he grabbed Touya by the shoulders before he could get to him and held him in place, watching as his shoulders slumped and energy drained from him.

“Quit that. You’re hurting yourself.” Enji didn’t really know what to say, he didn’t want his son to hurt himself.. though he did want his son to succeed. Enji watched as Touya hiccuped and looked up at him with teary eyes. His eyes narrowed as he saw that the t-shirt that Touya was wearing was now burnt, and his eyes narrowed further once he saw the burns on Touya’s chest and neck.

Touya sputtered a bit, if it wasn’t for the literal smoke already in the room from various fires, Enji probably could have smelt the metaphorical smoke that came from the gears in Touya’s head as they turned. “W-what? Why! I- I just wanna be a hero!” Touya could feel how the burns on his hands and arms stung through his shirt. This further fouled his mood and tears came even harder from his eyes.

Though the gym was warm, it had recently snowed outside and Touya could feel the cool air from outside as it seeped into his bones and into the room, but he couldn’t figure out how it got inside in the first place. Enji let go of Touya’s shoulders and he fell to his knees, about to have a full on meltdown. However the warm pats of his father’s hand on his hair and another hand went to the back of his neck, Touya started to calm down, he craved attention of any kind from his father, and a head pat was sufficient enough to calm him down.

“Don’t worry Touya. I’ll get you help.” Enji picked him up by his midsection like a sack of corn but was still gentle enough to not irritate his burns and was firm enough in his hold enough that Touya knew he wouldn’t fall even if he fidgeted like he did.

Touya sniffed a bit and squirmed as Enji took him to a room towards the back of the gym, it was a shower room which would help with cleaning and easing the burns. Touya would also have a place to sit instead of on the hard floor.

Enji sat him down on a stool, and left the room for a moment, leaving Touya with his thoughts.

Oh god. His thoughts.

Touya leaned his head in his hands and hunched over, fuck why did he have to be like this? Why couldn’t he do better? Why was he such a failure? His eyes, already leaky, started to water again and he shook a bit, gritting his teeth and staring down at the tiles underneath his feet. He hated these thoughts that he had, he wished that he didn’t have them. Though at the same time they made him work harder and set higher goals (that he would never be able to achieve) for himself. He curled his hands into balls and he shook a bit.

He heard the footsteps of his father coming near before he entered the room and the creak of the door made him flinch . “… Touya” his father addressed him with a first aid kit in his hands.

Touya looked up at him, his eyes red and watery. “Father?” He questioned. Enji looked at him and responded, “How much does it hurt?” Touya shook his head and got a pointed glare from his father. “Ugh. Fine. It hurts… maybe. A little”

Enji squatted in front of him and asked him to pull off his shirt, which was made of cotton so it wouldn’t melt into his skin while training. Enji unfortunately had to learn that the hard way and wasn’t going to allow his son to do the same. Touya pulled off the shirt he was wearing, the splotches of red skin and burns glaring back angrily at Enji. Touya whined a bit as the lukewarm water was poured onto his arms and chest.

It cooled the burns and soothed Touya. His disposition was cold so he enjoyed being cold more than he did being hot.

Soon Enji wrapped some gauze and bandages around the worst of his burns to keep them clean and to avoid them rubbing on his clothes and getting worse. Enji would watch as the boy cried softly, and held a hand at the back of his head, keeping it comfortably warm to soothe him.

That night Touya would go to bed and have a dreamless and uncomfortable sleep. The rest of the week would pass quickly with his school classes. On the weekend his father took him to an unfamiliar building and sat him down at a medium sized, dark wooden table. There were paintings on the wall that had soft pastel colors but instead of soothing Touya, they just reminded him of a hospital and gave him more anxiety than he started with.

He fidgeted with his hands in his lap and kept his gaze down. Touya didn’t like doctors, in fact he hated them. They would never listen to him and only listen to his father or look to him for approval, they never quite understood completely what kind of pain he was in and maybe it was from him not being able to quite vocalize and express his pain but he knew that some of those doctors just didn’t care.

After what was about thirty minutes of waiting, though it felt like an hour to Touya, a doctor came in. Though he didn’t look like the others that Touya had experienced.

His hair was brightly, even vividly dyed a purple and magenta color, though the bottom seemed to be white which was perhaps his natural hair color (it matched his eyebrows and eyelashes)and he seemed young, if the lack of wrinkles was telling. He also didn’t wear a lab coat but instead some semi casual yet still appropriate clothing, which was a bit more neutral colored than the rest of him. He also had some white, canine looking ears popping and twitching up from his head. His eyes didn’t seem natural either, though with quirks he wasn’t sure.

The doctor held his hand out towards Touya with a bright grin on his face, exposing his sharp canines. “I’m Kosuke Eito, and you are?”

Touya looked to his father and then back to the doctor before putting his smaller hand into Eito’s. “I’m Todoroki Touya…” and he looked away but not before he caught a glance of Eito’s tattoos underneath his blazer. Not many people had tattoos in Japan though much of the stigma had since dissipated in the past couple of decades, but the vivid purple ink that Touya had caught a glance of certainly did pique his interest.

Eito also had a soft cashmere scarf on, it’s color being a soft pink that he seemed to hide his chin in as he sat down. “Touya, I heard you were here today for quirk counseling? Is that correct?” Touya nodded and he continued. “Well, we also provide mental health services with our quirk services since struggling with your quirk can also take a toll on your mental health or vice versa. Does this make sense?”

Touya nodded, though he wasn’t sure he completely understood and Eito gestured to his bandaged hands. “Could you show me those first please?” Touya nodded and placed his small hands into Eito’s larger ones and let him take a look over his hands. Eito immediately looked over to Enji once he was done, his once soft gaze, now incredibly sharp.

“You did this to him?” Eito looked so angry and Touya flinched and pulled his hands away as he yelped out, “No! It’s my quirk!” Touya sniffed and he could feel his eyes starting to water.

Enji also shook his head, he had better control than that and Touya would frequently lose control of his flames. Enji sighed and looked at Eito, his eyes narrowed. “Doctor Kosuke, he seems to have the constitution of his mother, a woman with an ice quirk. Though he has a fire quirk which burns hotter than mine. He frequently loses control of it and burns himself” Enji’s voice was mostly deadpan but there was some concern laced within the statement.

Eito looked to Touya, his eyes soft once again as he asked Touya “Is this true?” Touya nodded and wrung his hands in his lap. A soft sigh came from Eito but the smile that had fallen from his face was back and he gave Touya a thumbs up.

“That’s okay Touya! It’s something you can work on!” Eito seemed rather happy and cheerful but when he thought that Touya was being hurt, his demeanor had changed almost instantly. Touya liked this man and a small smile rose to his face.

“I think I could certainly help you grow, if you will take my help, Touya” Eito exclaimed happily and pulled out a small satchel, and grabbing some papers from it. He placed them in front of Enji and Touya with a small ballpoint pen.

“Now for some paperwork…”


Takami Itsuki, Art by me: 

Takami Itsuki