Maybe I’ll Just Find Out Who I Am
Mirai is already sighing when he answers the phone. “Toshinori!” he says, putting as much fake cheer into his voice as possible to really drive home how especially, epically pissed he is at his best friend. “To what do I owe the infinite pleasure of your conversation?”
“Um.” Toshinori has his guilty voice on. Good. The bastard should feel guilty.
“Yes?” Mirai asks. A kinder man would let Toshinori off the hook at this point. Mirai is not a kinder man. “Am I about to hear the extremely good, extremely detailed explanation I’m sure you have for why you chose to run off without backup in violation of our explicit, written agreement that you would no longer be doing that now that your time limit is down to six hours a day?”
“Um.” Toshinori seems to have been reduced to single-syllable noises in the face of Mirai’s rage. “No?”
“I’m hanging up,” Mirai says flatly.
“No!” Toshinori blurts, “No, stay on the line, I have something important to tell you!”
“I saw the news, Toshinori,” Mirai says, “I know about the slime villain. I will be speaking with the team that first responded to the situation. Their performance was sloppy at best, recklessly dangerous at worst. I am livid, Toshinori, absolutely livid.”
“That’s not what I meant – well, it’s sort of related to what I meant, we should definitely discuss that, but later, maybe when you’re a little less, uh, murder-y, but Mirai, um… maybe you want to sit down and take a few deep breaths?”
Mirai is sitting down. He’s in his office, in his chair, scowling at the tv on the wall. He was in the bullpen, scowling at the tv there, but Bubble Girl said his face was scaring the interns, so he went back to his office.
“Toshinori, I am this close to tracking your phone and throttling you with my bare hands, get on with it,” Mirai snarls. Today has been a clusterfuck of epic proportions. He has a migraine coming on, and Toshinori is not helping.
“So… I may have done a thing.”
“Okay, there’s good news and bad news. Good news, I’ve found a successor.”
“And the bad news?” Because Mirai is not sold on this being good news. Toshinori has some very weird, very specific requirements for his successor which he can’t manage to articulate beyond ‘I’ll know them when I see them, Mirai, I’ll just know,’ which has to be the stupidest thing Mirai has ever heard in his life and half his job these days seems to be riding herd on the overpowered teenagers they call the interns.
“Run that by me again?” Mirai growls.
Toshinori takes a deep breath. “He’s a quirkless middle schooler who needs a lot of training, okay?”
This time Mirai does hang up.
Earlier that day…
Toshinori understands why Mirai is upset with him. He did run off without calling for backup when he heard the slime villain they’d captured yesterday escaped. In his defense, he was close by and he knows how dangerous that villain is, and…and he was having an unexpectedly good day, okay? He was riding high on a light pain day, and forgot. It happens to the best of us, he’s sure.
And he’s not sorry for running off without backup, since he finally tracked the slime villain down in time to stop him from choking the life out of and/or possessing a teenager. He takes care of the slime villain, storing him in a 2-liter soda bottle (he doesn’t have any other container, and yes, if he’d listened to Mirai he might have been better prepared, he’s aware) only to be metaphorically and literally body-slammed by a bundle of slightly neurotic teenaged enthusiasm.
“All Might? Ohmigodit’sAllMight. Kacchan is not going to believe this. Hi, hi there All Might, I’m Midoriya Izuku, I’m a huge fan. But, um, I’m sure you get that all the time. You’re All Might. Holy crap, I’m talking to All Might.”
This is pretty typical on the scale of reactions to All Might, in Toshinori’s experience, although typically it involves less babbling.
“I’ve never seen you fight a heteromorphic gelatinous type villain before. Since your quirk is strength type you have a disadvantage against gelatinous opponents or really any kind of opponent whose physique mitigates your striking power. Normally you’d have a sidekick here with you for backup, do you have a sidekick here? Is it Bubble Girl? Her quirk would be really effective for containment…”
“Um. No, it’s just me,” Toshinori says, a little thrown by the rapid-fire analysis.
“That’s fine,” the kid holds up both hands, waving them awkwardly in front of his face, “I didn’t mean you aren’t amazing on your own, I mean you’re All Might, I never thought I’d ever meet you, this is incredible, um, oh, I never introduced myself. Sorry, that was super rude of me, I promise I’m not normally this rude, I’m just really nervous and excited! Ow, okay, that getting choked by slime thing really hurt.”
“Do you need to go to the hospital?” Toshinori asks, worried. He’d been so caught off guard by the sudden onslaught of words from the kid he forgot the first thing you should always ask after a civilian has been attack. Stupid, Toshinori, stupid, he should be better at this.
“No, no, no, I’m fine!” the boy squeaks, “Totally fine! Please don’t make me go to the doctor, my mom will have a heart attack! Not because she doesn’t take me to the doctor, I mean, she’s a really great mom, she just worries a lot, like me, and I don’t want to scare her, and getting a call from the hospital will definitely scare her.”
Toshinori thinks that not knowing her son was in life threatening danger would, objectively be worse. “Don’t you think her not knowing you’ve received all necessary medical attention would scare her more?” he asks, trying to reasonable. He imagines Shouto – this kid looks about the same age as his youngest son – being attacked by a slime villain and not telling him and his heart seizes a little in his chest.
“Um,” the kid has that deer in the headlights look kids get when they know full well there is not a right answer to this question. “Hi, I’m Midoriya Izuku, nice to meet you,” he says, changing the subject with all the grace of a fourteen-year-old.
Toshinori shakes the kid’s hand because he knows he’s not this boy’s parent and lecturing him on not scaring his mother is not his job. “Hello, young Midoriya, I am All Might.” There was a time he would bellow this dramatically and maybe strike a pose, too used to playing a role to really know how to just…interact with people. But time and Mirai and sidekicks and mostly the children have softened him considerably. He’s much better now, he thinks, at being a person and being All Might at the same time.
Midoriya gapes at the hand wrapped around his. “Oh. My. God. All Might shook my hand.”
Toshinori chuckles. “It’s nice to meet you, young man. I really should be going, though.” He’s aching deep in his bones where his scars sit, the burning feeling in the back of his throat a warning of an oncoming coughing fit. He should really get this villain back to the police station before his good pain day turns into a less-than-good pain day.
“Wait!” blurts Midoriya, and Toshinori turns back to him curiously.
“I, uh, had a question!” the kid hunches deep into his uniform like a turtle curling into its shell.
“One question, kiddo, and then I really need to get this guy to the authorities,” Toshinori tries to soften his voice the way he does around Rei on days when loud, sudden noises make her jump and shrink into herself.
“Can…” the kid blinks, swallows, and, apparently through sheer force of will, looks up to meet Toshinori’s eyes, “I’m quirkless,” he says, setting his chin like he’s waiting for ridicule, for an attack. His eyes are bright. “Can I still be a hero?”
Toshinori’s scar aches and he resists the urge to rub to it. He’s not in uniform. He was supposed to be off-duty over an hour ago. Technically his limit is six hours these days, but Centipeder always schedules him for four hour shifts to give him what Mirai calls ‘buffer time’ in case anything goes unexpectedly long or he has to linger to make statements to the press. He’s pushing up against his limit today and he’ll be hurting for it if he doesn’t wrap this up soon. The anger is an old, unhealed ache. His frustration at his own limitations, the unfairness of it all.
But then he remembers Touya, flicking him between the eyes with a scarred finger, saying “Jeez, old man, you’re not the only guy around here with limits. Learn to cope with being mortal like the rest of us and don’t buy into it when the press makes it sound like it’s on you to save the fuckin’ world. There’s plenty of other heroes out there.” And he feels a little better.
“Being a hero,” he begins and then falters, “I won’t lie to you, young man, being a hero is hard. And something that every hero has to learn, including me, even if it’s a little late,” he coughs a little, the wheeze cutting its way up his throat. He’s grateful when he pulls away his hand that he doesn’t see any blood, “is that everyone has limits. Everyone. And the difference between making a difference and making a liability out of yourself is knowing those limits, accepting them, and working around them. You can do heroic things without a quirk, or with a non-combat quirk. Look at Sir Nighteye, look at David Shield in America. You can be a hero. But you have to accept that it won’t be easy, and there will be some fights you aren’t suited for, and some fights you can’t win. That’s true for all heroes. There are some fights we aren’t suited for, and some fights were can’t win. You have to be prepared to reach your own limits and account for them. Do you understand me?”
The kid’s eyebrows are puckered together and he’s nodding slowly, “But…I can be a hero?”
Toshinori sighs, fights back another coughing fit and prays for strength. “Yes. If you’re willing to put in the work. And if you’re able to understand your strengths and weaknesses and account for them.”
Midoriya nods, a tentative smile twitching on his lips. “Okay, All Might. Thank you! I’ll be the best hero you’ve ever seen; I promise!”
Toshinori sighs, feeling very, very old and very, very tired. He really hopes he hasn’t given this kid false hope or worse, signed his death warrant. “Be safe, young Midoriya,” he says tiredly.
“You too, All Might!” Midoriya gives him a thumbs up and a bright grin.
Toshinori shakes his head, and jumps away.
“Why is All Might calling me asking for you?” Rock Lock asks from the doorway, holding up his cell phone. He’s on desk duty, waiting for his wife to give birth any day now and looking extra unimpressed with any and all office shenanigans.
“Because he was stupid so I hung up on him,” Mirai says crisply.
Rock Lock puts his phone up to his ear, “Boss says you were stupid so he hung up on you. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Fine, I’ll tell him.” He rests the phone against his chest. “He says to call him back, there’s more to talk about.”
“Is he sorry for being stupid?”
Rock Lock puts the phone up to his ear again, “Are you sorry for being stupid? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Jesus H. Christ, I have better things to do than referee your dumb fight. Text him or something.” He hangs up and looks back at Nighteye.
“I know, I’m sorry,” Mirai says. “To you, not him.”
Rock Lock sighs a deep, emphatic sigh. “You know, I’m looking forward to paternity leave. At least when I’ve got a real baby, they won’t be able to talk. Or use a cell phone. And there will only be one of them. Here, I’ve got a whole building full of babies and they’re all annoyingly verbal.”
“I appreciate you,” Mirai says wearily.
“You’d better.” Rock Lock says drily, already walking away, “Call All Might back.”
“Fine,” Mirai sighs and picks up his phone.
Earlier that day…
Touya must never know that a slime villain escaped because of a hole in the pocket of Toshinori’s old, beloved, and very, very worn cargo pants. His eldest son will never let it go. And will probably drag him to the mall and make him buy a new wardrobe. And Touya will probably bring Hawks with him just so both boys (they’re adults, grown men with jobs and, in Touya’s case, a degree, but they’ll always be boys to Toshinori) can make fun on his taste and try to bully him into trying on too many clothes.
But the slime villain definitely escaped because Toshinori was rushing, and wearing his ratty old cargo pants, and there was a tiny hole in one of his pockets that got abruptly much bigger when he snagged his pants on something when he was jumping from building to building and now there’s a slime villain loose and Toshinori can’t find it.
Earlier that day, elsewhere in the city…
Izuku cannot wait to tell Kacchan he met All Might. Kacchan is going to flip out. Privately, Izuku thinks it’s only fair that he gets to meet All Might first since Kacchan’s parents take him to all their fashion functions and Kacchan has met Best Jeanist and Gang Orca and a bunch of other super cool heroes and Izuku has met exactly zeroheroes except now he’s met one hero and it’s the best hero and he’s SO EXCITED, KACCHAN IS GOING TO LOSE HIS MIND.
Kacchan has special quirk training after school two days a week, which is why Izuku was walking home alone (and walking home the long way, because if he walks home the way he usually walks home the bullies from school will pounce on him the way they do when Kacchan isn’t looking. They hate Kacchan because he has special quirk training, and, frankly both is and acts way better than them. Which is kind of fair, because his quirk is amazing but, honestly, he’s a little arrogant, even in Izuku’s overly rosy opinion.). Anyway, Izuku, humming with excitement at having MET ALL MIGHT, OH MY GOD, and having ALL MIGHT TELL HIM HE COULD BE A HERO TOO (okay, there were a lot of caveats about knowing his limits, but whatever, Izuku kind of stopped paying attention after the ‘you can be a hero’ bit.) is now running across the city, ready to intercept Kacchan on his way home from quirk training.
He’s so focused and getting to where he roughly estimates Kacchan will be on his walk home by now that he’s honestly a little surprised by the…enormous disaster zone that’s become a solid block of downtown.
Mirai takes a deep breath and calls Toshinori back. “I am ready to hear your explanation now,” he says in what he thinks is an even, measured tone, and what an intern in the hallway outside his door thinks is a sign of incipient homicide. The intern closes the door to his office and skitters away.
“His friend was in danger and he ran in after him,” Toshinori explains.
“That sounds like a sign of brain damage, not a sign you should 1.) confess your secret weakness to him or 2.) give him your power.”
“I haven’t given him anything yet,” Toshinori defends, “his body isn’t ready for it. He needs a lot of training.”
Toshinori sighs, “He was impulsive, but he was smart. He instantly saw the slime villain’s weakness was his eyes, and that his friend’s uncontrolled power was what was causing the destruction. He focused on freeing his friend and came up with an intelligent strategy on the fly for how to do so. He was more effective than the highly trained professionals on the scene! He has good instincts and the heart for hero work!”
“Toshinori,” Mirai spits, “how many perfectly viable candidates have you turned down who have had ‘good instincts’? How many perfectly qualified heroes have you refused to consider who have ‘a heart for hero work’? Are you delusional? Have you taken too many blows to the head? Your time is running out. There is no human way this middle schooler you’ve known less than an hour will be the hero you need him to be in time! It’s insanity!”
“I just know, Mirai!” Toshinori snaps, “I can tell. He’s just like I was when Nana found me, I know he’s my successor, I can feel it!”
“ARE YOU INSANE?” Mirai roars, “This is a CHILD! A child you barely know!”
“You’re willing to trust my instincts in battle, Mirai, trust them now, trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
“Damn you and damn your fucking instincts, Toshinori!” Mirai snarls. “We don’t know when your time will be reduced next, we don’t know if All for One is still out there, I’ve been begging you for years to pick and train a successor before you aren’t able to do this job anymore, and now you turn around and pick the most unqualified candidate you can find? Are you doing this to spite me? Are you trying to recreate the relationship you had with Nana? What the hell is this, Toshinori? Explain it to me!”
“He’s smart. He’s passionate. He can be a hero,” Toshinori’s voice has dropped, has softened and normally Mirai would soften with it, but he can’t, he won’t. Not today. He’s too angry.
“I am sure he can,” Mirai hisses, “But he can’t be you, and that is what we’ll need when All for One reappears. And that could be any day now. We won’t survive a second battle like the one six years ago. We can’t.”
“And if I gave my power to one of your suggestions? To Hawks, perhaps, or your protégé, Lemillion, or even to one of the children – ”
“Leave the children out of this,” Mirai snaps, “You wouldn’t burden them with this, how dare you dump it on a child Shouto’s age?”
“I’m not handing over my responsibilities, don’t make it sound like I’m shirking my duty, Mirai, you know I’m not.” Toshinori says sharply, “I’m not saying this boy will be the next All Might overnight. I’m at six hours a day, I’ll be All Might for plenty long enough for him to train, to be ready when he needs to be.”
Mirai grits his teeth, and bites out, “You’re blinded by nostalgia, Toshinori. You aren’t Nana and this child isn’t you. Don’t go trying to recreate a relationship just because yours ended too soon. It’s not fair to anyone involved. You’re not Shimura Nana, goddammit, and you shouldn’t try to be.”
And with that biting retort, Mirai hangs up again and buries his face in his hands.
Elsewhere, earlier that day…
Shouto is at the airport. His friend Momo’s family invited him with them on summer holiday in Europe and he’s waiting for his flight. He’s completely forgotten finding his gate, however, in favor of gaping at the news on one of the screens in the waiting area.
Numb, with a slow-building undercurrent of boiling rage, he reaches for his cellphone, and dials Bakugou’s number. “You’d better be okay, you asshole,” he mutters at the dial tone.
Earlier that day, in the city…
It’s a bit of a blur in Izuku’s mind, the whole slime-villain-incident. One second he’s at the barricade, watching as the villain who attacked him earlier puppeteers a screaming, choking Kacchan, the street a hellscape of hungry flames and melted asphalt all around them. Then he’s bolting towards his friend, screaming his fool head off.
Izuku’s brain is whirling a mile a minute as he runs. He remembers the villain swallowing him, the sludge as it dripped down his throat, the helplessness. The villain doesn’t have a conventional body, so it has few conventional weaknesses. When they were twelve, and Kacchan started extra quirk lessons, he’d told Izuku he’d have to work for it if he wanted to keep up with him. Izuku had responded by starting gymnastics and martial arts lessons. Kacchan, pissed that Izuku could now do hands-free backflips, started trying to figure out how to do it with his quirk as a propellant.
This had mixed results.
One of the staples of self-defense when you’re a tiny nerd, Izuku knows, is finding vulnerable spots in your enemies and exploiting them. Which is…difficult when your enemy has the consistency of spoiled yogurt. But, Izuku realizes, as he gets closer, the slime villain does have eyes. And eyes are always vulnerable.
Izuku’s plan isn’t so much a plan as a shortlist of goals.
Goal: Get Kacchan away from the slime monster, this will stop the fires and save his friend.
Plan of Attack: target vulnerable places on slime monster in order to extract Kacchan.
Izuku shapes his fingers into claws and jumps for the slime villains ‘head’. Kacchan is screaming at him, probably telling him off for trying to save him because, and Izuku thinks this with all the love in the world, his friend is kind of a jerk. Izuku stabs a finger into each of the slime villain’s eyes. The villain makes a shrieking, gurgling noise of protest, and ripples. The heroes who responded to the incident are all yelling, presumably at Izuku, he’s pretty sure they grabbed at him when he ran past too. He just wasn’t paying attention. He’s too hyper-focused on Kacchan.
Kacchan wrestles an arm free and directs an explosion at the slime monster.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DEKU?” he roars.
“SAVING YOU!” Izuku screams back.
“FUCK OFF!” Kacchan yells, either at Izuku or the slime villain whose eyes Izuku is savaging with his fingers.
Unfortunately, while Kacchan is halfway free and still fighting, Izuku may have miscalculated with the whole jumping-at-a-villain thing because now they’re both half-stuck inside the slime rather than Kacchan being stuck and Izuku being free.
“YOU’RE IN MY WAY, DEKU!” Kacchan yells.
“STOP TRYING TO FIGHT IT AND GET AWAY!” Izuku yells.
“UGH, I HATE YOU, DIE-DIE-DIE-DIE!”
The slime monster screams between Izuku’s assault on his eyes and Kacchan’s targeted explosions.
Izuku can feel slime creeping its nasty way up his legs and resists the urge to barf. Barfing would not be very heroic.
“KACCHAN, GO WHILE HE’S DISTRACTED!”
“STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!”
Izuku is probably crying, he’s very stressed, his friend is not listening to him, and a slime villain is trying to envelope him for the second time today. The words “I AM HERE!” spoken at top volume are a massive relief.
“Gran Torino here, what do you want?” Gran Torino grumps into the phone.
“Toshinori and I had a fight,” Mirai says miserably.
“What are you, five?” Gran Torino barks, “Work it out like grown-ups. Don’t come crying to me.”
“I may have said some things…things I don’t necessarily regret because I believe they were true, but may have…hit a nerve…and…I need advice,” Mirai finally admits.
“Jeez,” Gran Torino huffs, “And here I thought you two were finally communicating properly.
“Don’t be an ass.”
“It sounds like you’ve got that covered, kid,” Torino says, “Fine, give me the background. What happened?”
“Toshinori picked a successor,” Mirai says quietly.
“Good, he’s been needing to.”
“It’s a quirkless middle schooler who’s nowhere near prepared for any of this,” Mirai tells him, “Sound familiar?”
Gran Torino sucks in a breath. “Shit.”
“I was…upset. I told him he was trying to recreate what he had with Nana, and not to let his nostalgia cloud his common sense. I told him he wasn’t Nana and he shouldn’t try to be.”
“Jesus, kid. You really went for the throat.”
“I know. I’m…I’m not a pleasant person when I’m angry.”
“No one is.”
“He was just going on and on about his instincts and how he knows this is it, his successor, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how he’s throwing this kid into something he’s not ready for. How All for One could be back any day. How he’s making this kid vulnerable. How easily this could turn out exactly the way Nana’s death did. How this kid could be left alone with a legacy he can’t shoulder. How Toshinori’s pigheadedness is making us all vulnerable, especially this child,” Mirai groans into his hands, “If he’d picked a current UA student, someone with training, someone who could be ready soon, who has a support network of other heroes…” Mirai scrubs at his face, his eyes are wet, “This kid is Shouto’s age,” he admits softly. “And I can’t stop thinking about that.”
“Shouto will be at UA next year. He’s not going to be your baby forever.”
Mirai scoffs, “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not his parent. He’s not my child, I know that.”
“Shut up, Mirai. Stop pretending you’re a perfect logic machine for five fucking seconds. You raised that child just as much as anyone else. You look at him and you see your child and that’s okay.”
“I was cruel to Toshinori, I know that. But I’m also right to be afraid. He’s not thinking clearly.”
Torino sighs, the sound crackling in the speaker, “I hate to tell you this, but they’re all like this.”
“What do you mean?”
“The bearers of One for All. They’re all like this. They follow their guts and they think with their hearts and us mere mortals are left trailing behind them, trying to make sense of it all. Or maybe knock some sense into their idiot heads. You think I didn’t have a screaming fight with Nana when she told me she picked Toshinori? You think I didn’t call her a fool ten times over when she married Shimura? When they had a son? These One for All heroes, they follow their hearts. And that gets them into trouble, but it’s also what makes them great. Toshinori was the right choice for One for All, even if it made no goddamn logical sense at the time. Maybe it was his quirklessness. He knew what it was to be truly helpless. And instead of it making him bitter with envy, it made him compassionate. Maybe he would have been just the same even with a powerful quirk. Either way, he has the heart for it. And, if I know him, he’s probably picked a kid who’s just the same.”
“So, you’re saying to trust him.”
“I’m saying you’re right. He never got closure with Nana. And he’s probably subconsciously repeating history here. But we’re going to have to trust and support him anyway. Because he’s going to do what he’s going to do. He’s going to follow his fool heart the way he always has. And if it leads him off a cliff, we’ll have to be there to pick up the pieces. And you have to be prepared for that.”
There’s so much pain in that last sentence and Mirai has a strange, weightless feeling that comes with epiphanies. “You loved her. Nana.”
“Yeah,” Torino says gruffly. “Yeah, I did.”
“Did she know?”
“In a way. I loved her, and in her way, she loved me too. But she was in love with Shimura. And that was okay. Our relationship, as it was, was enough for me. Because I loved her, and I would never demand something from her she couldn’t give. That wouldn’t have been fair.” Torino sighs again. He sounds tired. “Her death gutted me. Toshinori, taking care of him protecting him, kept me sane. If I knew where the fuck she’d hidden him, I’d have brought her son home too. Shimura was dead by then, there wasn’t anything I could do for him, poor bastard. He was my friend, too. I’ve failed a lot of people, Mirai, I’ve been in the business too long. Seen too much shit. But I won’t ever regret sticking with Nana, sticking with Toshinori. For all it’s taken from me, it’s given me more.
“Toshinori is facing some hard truths now that his time’s running out and he’s having to relearn how to just be Toshinori, instead of All Might. And he’s handling it about the way anyone handles hard truths. By being fucking stupid and fucking brilliant at the same damn time. So, you’ve got to decide. Do you cut your losses now, or do you stick it out?”
“If I were going to do that,” Mirai admits, “I would have done it when he wouldn’t listen to me at the hospital. When he was trying to run off and commit slow suicide by heroism. I couldn’t…I couldn’t have watched that. But there were the children and I can’t, I can’t let him leave them alone.”
“It kills you a little, loving them,” Torino says softly, “Whatever form that love takes.”
It’s Mirai’s turn to sigh. “I’m not leaving. I can’t. He’s my best fucking friend and I owe it to this goddamn kid he’s dragged into this mess.”
“That’s the stubborn green bean I know,” Gran Torino says gruffly. “Now go make up with the big idiot.”
Earlier that day…
Bakugou has been strapped, hoarsely protesting, to a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. Izuku, fading into the crowd, hoping vainly that no one will notice him, or, god forbid interview him in the chaos. It’s bad enough his mom will probably see him on the news, she doesn’t need to definitely see him on the news.
He’s so focused on backing away slowly that he’s maybe not as aware of what he’s backing towards as he should be and kind of…bodily collides with a stranger, who immediately starts coughing up blood when Izuku whirls around, full of apologies.
“Ah, don’t worry about it, my boy,” the stranger rasps, wiping the blood from his chin and smiling. He’s tall, unusually tall, even slightly stooped from his coughing fit. His hair is an explosion of sunflower yellow around his head, his eyes bright flecks of blue sunk deep into his skull. He looks…pretty unhealthy, actually. He’s tall, but he’s painfully thin, his clothes hanging around his skeletal body like washing hung up to dry. Even so, he’s kind of…familiar. And those clothes…Izuku squints. “All…Might…?” he asks tentatively.
The slender man immediately starts coughing again, and Izuku panics.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, are you okay?” he sputters hastily.
“I’m alright, young Midoriya, I’m just…not used to being recognized in this form.”
“Um. No offense, but you’re over seven feet tall and…wearing the exact same clothes? And have the same hair and eye color…?” Izuku genuinely has no idea how no one has made this connection before.
“Ha, you’re right,” All Might wheezes, “I guess people only ever see what they expect to.”
Izuku nods slowly.
“Actually, young Midoriya,” All Might says. “Could we talk? Somewhere that isn’t swarming with reporters, preferably.”
Mirai calls Toshinori back. “I’m sorry,” he says before the other man can get a word out. “I was unnecessarily cutting. And I was unfair. I apologize.”
“Thank you, my friend,” Toshinori rasps, “I was perhaps…hasty, in dumping all this on you. And on young Midoriya as well.”
“I would…like to help. In training him.” Mirai says. “If you are not opposed.”
“Of course,” Toshinori says softly, “I think he would love to meet you,” he pauses, “Although, he’s, ah, something of a hero fan. He might…freak out. A little bit.”
Mirai smiles wryly, “I think I’ll survive.”
“Great, great,” Toshinori says, sounding tentatively excited, “This is great. You can meet him this afternoon. I’m meeting up with him at Takoba Beach.”
“That trash heap?” Mirai asks skeptically.
“He can clean it up! Strength training!” Toshinori says, suddenly chipper.
Mirai drops his face into his hand, “That had better not be the extent of your lesson plans.”
“Toshinori! You’ve agreed to teach at UA next year! You have got to get better at this! Touya works at UA! He will destroy you if you embarrass him! And I will help!”
“See, this is why I need your help with young Midoriya!”
“Shouto is going to be so glad he’s in Europe for the rest of the summer,” Mirai sighs, suddenly intensely jealous of his young protégé.
Earlier that day…
“I know I said you could be a hero, quirkless. And you can. I believe you can. But my time is running out. And I need to find a successor. I believe you have the heart of a hero. You could be the next bearer of One for All. I can pass on my power to you. Do you accept this power?”
“Ye-YES! Yes, of course, All Might!”
“Are you sure? You will have to train intensely to be able to handle it. This is not something to be taken lightly. You’ve seen my injuries. I won’t lie to you; this life is not for everyone. I will be with you every step of the way, but I am not invincible and I am no perfect mentor.”
“I know, All Might. But…I accept. I accept this power.”
“Okay, let’s get to work.”