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The right time to tell him

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Yagi Toshinori doesn't have much time for a personal life. He's on his way to being the Symbol of Peace, and he's the hottest up-and-coming hero this side of the globe. But being one of the most powerful people in the world also means he's one of the busiest people in the world. He's had no relationships of any kind since he broke things off with David to return to Japan. He's steadily becoming better friends with Tsukauchi Naomasa, the police liaison to the All Might Hero Agency, but with that exception, he hasn't had a real conversation with anyone except Gran Torino in months, much less been on a date. The men, women, and folks of other persuasions who throw themselves at him want All Might , not Yagi Toshinori.

And then he meets Midoriya Inko. She's a pretty young woman, about his age. She's clever, with a strong sense of justice, and passionate about just about everything. He meets her on his morning commute. He's walking next to her in the crosswalk when a car skips the light. He has just enough time to activate One For All before the car hits him, his body shielding her and stopping the car in its tracks. It barely leaves a bruise, but she insists on buying him a coffee anyway. She's the first person who isn't his teacher that he mentions the idea of the "Symbol of Peace'' to, and he's surprised to learn she actually gets it. They hit it off, and she quickly falls in love with Toshinori-not All Might, Toshinori -and he's happier than he's ever been.

A few years later, they're married and have a child on the way. He's the Number-One hero now. They've kept their relationship secret, her keeping her maiden name and him never letting anything drop in interviews. But things are getting bad out there. All For One is becoming more active, and anyone close to him will be targeted.

When they decide to annul their marriage, she cries more than he's ever seen her cry (and my god , is that saying something). But they both know it's necessary. He will continue to battle All For One, and she will hide away to raise their son. They invent a Midoriya Hisashi, with a nice, generic fire-breathing quirk who's off doing unspecified work in America-Toshinori's always been fond of his little jokes. It hurts, but they know it's the right thing to do.

When Izuku Midoriya starts watching and rewatching a video of All Might saving people from a disaster, something in Inko's heart ties itself into a knot and throbs. She hasn't spoken to her husband- ex husband, now , she reminds herself-in years, and she's never told Izuku who his father is. She knows how important it is to keep their identities a secret, and she can't rely on a toddler to understand that and not blurt out his father's name where some agent of All For One's might hear.

But what she can do is encourage Izuku's love of All Might, putting the same video on dozens of times, buying him any piece of merch he wants, playing "All Might to the Rescue!" when she gets a spare moment. His father can't be there in person, but if Izuku's going to look to a celebrity for a father figure, she's going to make damn sure it's his dad.

When Izuku is told he's quirkless, Inko remembers how shocked she was when Toshinori revealed the secret of One For All to her. She knew Izuku was never going to inherit his awesome power, but she'd hoped he wouldn't inherit his father's quirklessness. It's even less common now than it was when she was young, and she remembers how badly her quirkless classmates were treated back then. When they get home that night, he watches his father's debut once more, and she sobs, apologizing to him over and over again that she couldn't give him her quirk, that his father couldn't be there for him, that he won't be able to be a hero. He has his father's drive and noble heart, and knowing that he can't follow that path will be stifling and painful for the rest of his life. But she'll do what she can to support him anyway.

Half a dozen years later, Toshinori is stumbling down the hallway of a hospital. All For One is finally dead and gone, after so many generations. But his work is not done. He considers returning to his family, trying to rebuild their relationship. He's never met his son, and he hasn't spoken to his wife in almost a decade. He could find them, introduce himself. Maybe he could even peacefully retire.

But he can’t. The rift between him and Inko is so great now, and he has no idea how to cross it. He's weakened, and will be far less able to protect them if villains come after them-even if All For One is dead, every criminal in the world would love to hit the top Hero where it hurts. And if Nighteye is correct, and he always is, he'll be dead in just a few short years. He doesn't want to hurt them like that. And even if he won't admit it to himself, Toshinori doesn't know if he could handle hiding Nighteye's prophecy from Inko, or the fallout from telling her. 

He's five years older and far wiser when he returns to Japan. He's coming up on his deadline, so to speak. He's running out of time to find a successor, though the duty doesn't rest as heavy on him as it did his predecessors. Principal Nedzu offers him a position at UA, and he accepts. Ostensibly, it's to hide his weakened form and find a powerful UA student to whom he can pass One For All. But he suspects Nedzu also knows that all it takes is one web search to find that the residence of Midoriya Inko is just a short train ride away from the school. He's learned much since he decided not to find his family five years ago, and he now knows just what a big mistake he made. He wants to spend the time he has left with his wife, and finally meet his son.

He runs into the sludge villain while buying the first groceries for his new apartment. He hasn't announced his return to Japan yet, and this seems like as good a way as any. Ever since he developed his time limit, he's steadily decreased the number of interviews and press conferences he does, not wanting to waste a second of the time he could be spending saving people. Capture a villain, and the arrest will make the news, making the announcement for him. But he's tired, and the sludge villain slips into the sewer. He chases the villain through the sewers, and when he pops up, it's caught a young boy. Toshinori wastes no time blowing the villain away.

The young man is clearly a Hero fanboy, if his notebook is any indication. Toshinori can't spare more than a moment to look through and pop off a signature, but what he sees is impressive. He quickly checks if the kid is unresponsive (he's not), shoots off a quick apology, and leaps away. That's odd, he thinks. I know I'm tired, but the jump should be slightly further-

Un. Be. Lievable. Kids these days are fucking insane. He's tired enough that he tells the kid to let go midair, of all things. He doesn't want to abandon the kid there, he knows it's wrong, but he's almost out of time. It might not be the most responsible thing to leave a kid on a roof after a villain attack, but letting him in on a national secret would be far less responsible. But when the kid asks Toshinori if he can be a hero without a quirk, Toshinori hesitates just a second too long. He ends up letting the kid in on the truth, just to calm him down. He hates following it up by telling the kid to give up on what's clearly his dream, but he has to. This kid risked his life just to ask All Might a question. There's no way he can tell this reckless boy to charge into a career where he'll constantly be at a disadvantage that could cost him his life. And maybe, just maybe, the kid reminds him of Inko and awakens a protective instinct he hasn't let himself feel in a long time. He leaves the kid to go deal with the sludge villain.

He's just standing around, as useless as all the other heroes on the scene, when the kid rushes in. He recognizes those movements, the instinctive kind your body moves through without asking your brain's permission. He charges in in the kid's footsteps, grabbing him and the hostage before he blasts the sludge villain away for the second time that day. He's already realized he's made a mistake. But it's not until he hears the kid tell the cops that his name’s Midoriya Izuku that Toshinori realizes just how badly he’s fucked up-and, in a flash of inspiration, realizes the perfect way to fix all his mistakes at once.

Toshinori’s first impression of his son was as an unlucky fanboy. His second impression was that of a reckless idiot. Next came the realization that Midoriya Izuku is, in fact, a noble soul with solid instincts for hero work. But as he listens to his son mutter rapidly about the revelation of One For All, Yagi Toshinori is somewhat surprised to learn that his son is a complete and total nerd . Despite this, he's satisfied in the knowledge that he’s found the perfect successor to One For All.

Over the next ten months, Toshinori puts his son through hell. He works Izuku to the bone, building him up until he’s strong enough to take the quirk that leaves Toshinori spitting blood. Toshinori does his best to instill the values of community service and diligence in there too, though both are already present in spades.

He meets Inko for coffee one day. He doesn’t have any, of course, with his stomach being what it is-or isn’t, he supposes. It’s a bittersweet reunion. She’s overjoyed to see him again, but far from pleased that he’s made this decision without her. She’s also horrified to see what he’s been reduced to, the skin and bones to which he’s wasted away. In the end, she decides to allow him to keep training Izuku to accept One For All, and to do so without revealing the truth. She knows it's not the right time.

At the end of ten months, Toshinori has learnt just how proud and exasperated he can be at the same time. Izuku is more hardworking than he ever could have expected-and, frankly, more than is really healthy for the boy. The overworking means they have to push the quirk transfer back to the morning of the exam. Toshinori can’t help but reflect that, despite the momentous occasion this truly is, from a certain perspective he’s just a normal parent in this moment, passing his quirk to his son through DNA-he’s just a little late in doing so. 

He watches the entrance exam with the other teachers. He’s slightly disappointed that Izuku doesn’t get any villain points, but the way he saves that girl earns him the highest rescue score in the exam, and Toshinori smiles, knowing he’ll get to watch his kid grow-holy shit , look at his arm and legs. Fuck , he was worried about that. Maybe best not to mention this to Inko.

Toshinori still hasn’t found the right time to tell Izuku the truth. He and Inko keep meeting secretly, seeing if there’s any of their marriage left to be salvaged. It’s slow going, and they can’t meet often, but Toshinori is optimistic. He struggles not to show Izuku favoritism in class-a struggle in vain, if Aizawa is to be believed. The USJ incident rattles him enough that he doesn’t want to introduce another big upset into Izuku’s life. In the weeks that follow, the shame that All For One survived and now his son will have to face him makes the conversation too difficult to even consider, let alone begin. Toshinori focuses on the Sports Festival instead. He’s excited to see what Izuku will manage to pull off with his limited control of One For All, though he hopes that control will improve in time.

Either there isn't enough time, or time isn't enough. The Sports Festival starts off well. Toshinori’s heart fills with pride as Izuku manages to win the obstacle course, and though he’s worried about the giant target on his son’s back in the second round, he’s glad to see Izuku making friends other than young Uraraka and young Iida. Young Tokoyami offers a powerful ally, and Izuku seems to hit it off instantly with the pink-haired girl from Support. Toshinori knows all too well the value of a good support engineer, even if Maijima visibly shudders at the mention of the name Hatsume.

The third round breaks Toshinori’s heart almost as much as it breaks Izuku’s body. Toshinori sympathizes with Shinso Hitoshi, and he knows how hard it must be for Izuku to fight someone so similar to the two of them. It’s surreal to hear that he has now been added to the spirit-like visions One For All once gave him. But the match against young Todoroki is something else altogether. Toshinori isn’t quite as buffoonish as he allows Todoroki Enji to believe. He knows just how much Endeavor hates him, though he respects Todoroki for his unrelenting pursuit of the Number One spot. He speaks to Todoroki, hoping for tips on parenting-god knows he doesn’t have the practice-and comes away instead with a deep worry about his student. He should probably mention some of the more concerning things Todoroki said to Inui.

When all’s said and done, Izuku has no medal, his first scars, and a promise from Recovery Girl that lets Toshinori know just how deeply he’s failed. He wants to reassure Izuku, tell him that he’s proud no matter what, that he could never be disappointed. But he worries Shuzenji might physically attack him if he offers praise, so he settles for an assurance that he can’t fault Izuku for noble intentions, even if they lost him the match.

The name Gran Torino appears on an intern request form, and Toshinori forgets decades of friendship and instead remembers a year of combat training, of being beaten until he vomited. He’s terrified to send Izuku to that monster , even for just a week. But he can’t deny Torino’s methods are effective, no matter how brutal, and he resists the urge to hide the intern request at the bottom of a stack of papers so tall no one will ever find it.

The attack on Hosu worries Toshinori for a number of reasons. The appearance of more Nomu confirms that All For One is still active, and that background of growing dread only makes the heart attack he has when he hears that Izuku went up against the Hero Killer in the middle of everything that much worse. 

But the threats of the past and future must be set aside to focus on the one that is immenent-final exams. No official decisions have been made yet, but Toshinori just knows Aizawa’s going to have him face off against Izuku and young Bakugou. He understands why-the boy’s relationship is a ticking time bomb (literally)-and it will do young Bakugou some good to be humbled. But it’s going to be painful for all three of them. It hurts Toshinori’s heart to injure his son and his student, and Toshinori knows young Bakugou’s going to make it hurt to take him down. But for the good of them both, he sets his feelings aside. 

As he walks away from the scolding Shuzenji gives him afterwards, he reflects that he may have overcorrected a bit.

The day Toshinori met Izuku, he almost died three times and intentionally risked his life twice. Since then, his first field trip was attacked by the forces of All For One and he managed to end up fighting a serial Pro Hero killer in the middle of an attack by the League of Villains and being specifically targeted by a Nomu despite the fact that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the city. Toshinori is no fool, and he knows how to recognize a pattern when it’s staring him in the face.

But the mall? Seriously? Izuku somehow manages to come within a hair of death at the most populated, normal place imaginable, and Toshinori wonders if he and Inko shouldn’t have made Midoriya Hisashi’s quirk Danger Attraction. Toshinori wishes it wasn’t under such poor circumstances that Naomasa and Inko are reunited, but he knows no other officer would be quite so helpful in reassuring her. And reassuring me , Toshinori thinks. He knows it must hurt Naomasa that Shigaraki found his godson before he found Shigaraki, but he stands tall and offers Toshinori support regardless. “We’ll make sure to capture him this time”, he says. He doesn’t say for Izuku , but Toshinori hears it anyway.

Toshinori’s never going to forgive himself for not voicing his fears regarding an attack on the training camp. He shouldn’t be surprised, because of course his students would get attacked the instant they left his sight. But he’d hoped, and hadn’t dared to speak up for fear that doing so would only make such a likely prospect certain. And yet it had happened anyway. His students, injured. Young Bakugou, kidnapped. And Izuku-oh god, Izuku .

The brief moment of pride Toshinori had felt when he learned his son had defeated Muscular, of all people, and saved a young boy vanished the instant he heard the words “permanent ligament damage”. And now, speaking with the students that have regained consciousness, he learns that Izuku is on the League’s “priority kill list”. Naturally. But he can’t worry about that now. He has to focus on rescuing young Bakugou.

So this is what Mirai saw , Toshinori thinks as he trades blows with the man he failed to kill five years ago. Izuku- reckless, brilliant, Izuku -has rescued young Bakugou the way Toshinori couldn’t, and the other Heroes have arrived and are aiding the bystanders. Toshinori is only responsible for the safety of his son, and the way he assures it is by taking this monster down . It’s even harder than defeating him the first time, but his enemy drawls out his son’s name, and his rage carries him through to the end. 

When the dust clears, All For One is gone from the world, One For All is gone from him, and much to his surprise, he’s not dead. He points at a camera and gives Izuku a message that cannot wait and that will never be truly understood by most of the world. 

On the beach afterwards, he almost tells Izuku the truth. He decides not to, but he slips a bit, and ends up compromising on promising Izuku that he will be a better parent, even if he doesn’t use those exact words. When Toshinori tells him, Izuku will figure out what he meant. He’s clever that way.

It’s the first time he’s ever been in the Midoriya home. It’s a profoundly strange experience to show up at their door, and clearly Inko and Izuku feel the same way, though for very different reasons. Their discussion is a warped reflection of what a family conversation is supposed to be. He understands Inko’s concerns, and in fact has the exact same ones-that’s why he wants to take Izuku to the campus. It’s also why he never wants to let him leave, but he represses that urge. 

They’re careful not to let on that they know each other. Toshinori doesn’t know when the right time to tell someone you’re their father is, but he knows it’s not when you’re separating them from their mother. But what they’re really saying is there, if you know how to hear it. I’ll protect him , he tells her. I don’t want you to be his protector , she replies. I want you to be his parent.

In a supposedly secure exam filled with hundreds of Heroes, Hero students, and Hero Public Safety Commision officials, Izuku somehow managed to run into a villain anyway. It probably says something bad about one of them that Toshinori’s only reaction to learning this is a sort of resigned relief that at least this particular encounter wasn’t an attempted murder. He remembers the pride that filled his heart when he received a text from “Midoriya, my boy” (a prank by Yamada that Toshinori can’t bring himself to undo) containing a picture of a provisional Hero License, the way it had soothed his nerves after his talk with All For One.

He also remembers going to Training Ground Beta that night. He wasn’t exactly surprised to learn that young Bakugou had “blown up”, so to speak, at Izuku once more. Some deep seated parental instinct whispers that he should dislike and distrust young Bakugou, place all the blame on him, and want to protect his son. But he doesn’t give into the temptation, and steps up to the role of the boys’ teacher instead. He’s done his best to mentor young Bakugou and make sure he knows that what happened wasn’t his fault, and to mold his and Izuku’s relationship into a healthy, if contentious, rivalry. He thinks he’s been successful. Young Bakugou still doesn’t give Izuku much respect, but then again he doesn’t give anyone much respect, Toshinori included. As they walk back, Izuku and young Bakugou argue like they’re children again. Toshinori suspects it’s the first time they ever have.

Toshinori can’t bring himself to recommend his son to the Nighteye Agency. Mirai never agreed with his decision to give One For All to Izuku. But Mirai’s never met Izuku, doesn’t know how strong he is. More than that, Mirai was right about one thing. He was right when he told Toshinori to retire, to go home to his family, six years ago. Instead, he goes through young Mirio. He’s reluctant to send his son out into the world like this, but he knows it’s the right thing to do. He doesn't want to listen to parenting tips from All For One, but he can’t deny the wisdom of his words. Izuku can make his way in the world, if Toshinori gives him the opportunity.

Naturally, this puts Izuku against the biggest case in the country, and has him fighting the Toga girl again. Toshinori’s starting to think she might have a crush on Izuku. That seems like exactly the kind of thing that would happen to him. But Izuku pulls through, saves a young girl, and gets a real taste of what One For All is truly like. 

“All I wanted was for you to be happy,” Mirai tells him. I will , Toshinori doesn’t get the chance to reply. Mirai looks at young Togata the same way Toshinori looks at Izuku, and it’s the last thing he looks at. In the days that follow, Toshinori does his best to reassure them both that it’s not their fault, and give them the hope Mirai’s whispers about the future give him. He tells Inko about the prophecies and how Izuku broke one, and if Izuku weren’t mourning this would be the perfect time to tell him. But he is, and it’s not, so Toshinori leaves it for another day.

Toshinori is never letting Izuku leave the campus again. Kayama teases him about being an overprotective parent, but is it really being overprotective if even a simple run to the store winds up in a conflict with a viral villain. Honestly , he thinks, villains with their own youtube channel . He watches Class A’s concert, and gets to see his son in a normal school event for the first time. The one upside to having such a socially anxious wreck for a child, he supposes, is that Inko assures him he hasn’t missed out on many of these.

Years later, it’s a surprise when Toshinori finally tells Izuku the truth. But it feels right, somehow. Even though he’s just now learning the identity of his biological father, he realizes Toshinori’s been in his life as his dad in one way or another since he saw that video for the first time. The only strong figure he had growing up. Scheduling his sleep and food in the infancy of his hero career, rather than his normal infancy. Passing his quirk to him, entrusting him with the future. Guiding him through his first semester of U.A. Toshinori even told him he’d devote himself to raising him after the Kamino Ward incident. This explains why his mother was always so willing to buy him merch as a kid. “I’m sorry, Izuku. We didn’t want to keep this from you, but we couldn’t do anything that might hurt your progress as a hero. That’s why we’ve waited all these years.”

“I get it…dad,” he says, trying out the word. “I really do."

And yet you fuckers still drag Todoroki's name through the mud.