Sunset came quietly to the city; the bustle of the streets below was far away, and the warm golden tones of the sky left the illusion of the sun growing brighter, rather than fading away. Time passed like molasses, like this; thick and slow and sweet. One could almost taste it in the air, the coming of the evening. The slow decline of day into night, into quiet and calm. With the summer air about, it was a distinct thing; rather than the sharp and bitter rush of winter nights. The breeze wafted through your open window, and smelled of distant ocean air and warm spices. It was an easy awakening, at first. Until you realized what time it was.
When you opened your eyes from your mid-afternoon nap, it was almost six in the evening. Which was not good, considering you had a dinner to be to at six thirty. So, rather than lay in bed and take in the sight of the sunset, you shot up with a curse as a result, throwing off your covers and causing ice and stardust to rain across the room. Your bare feet slap against the wooden floor as you run into the bathroom, checking out your hair and face before determining you can skip the shower and dive straight into makeup, shaving off preparation time by fifteen minutes at most.
After all, it wouldn’t do to be late to All Might’s birthday dinner.
He’d invited you to the occasion a little more than a week ago as the two of you had attended another gathering; it seemed to be the kind of place the two of you saw each other most, besides for on the job. As one of his only friends (or, so he had inferred), being late would be a critical blow to your friendship you didn’t want to take. You were better than that, and he deserved you at your best.
You fussed with your hair for all of ten minutes, before deciding it was fine, and moving on to hastily apply a light dusting of makeup. It wasn’t something you normally did, but this was a special occasion; you knew it wasn’t necessary, but it felt right to put in the effort to prepare for a social outing in this way. Easily, you could have gotten away without it, with your galaxy eyes, but it wouldn’t have felt right to you. Though, truthfully, you didn’t know why ; taking such care of your appearance outside of work wasn’t normally something at the forefront of your mind.
But it was a special occasion, you reminded yourself. Seeing All Might-- well, seeing him for his birthday -- that was a special occasion, wasn’t it?
Of course it was. He was the Symbol of Peace, after all.
And you were Comet, the Shooting Star Heroine, a fellow hero, and a close confidant to All Might. You had been present in Japan for less than a year, but due to your help in some tougher villain cases, you were quickly ascending the ranks of popularity, and every street knew your name. This, of course, was aided by All Might taking note of you himself; the two of you had formed a fast bond over your shared experiences countries apart, and then, over things much deeper than what would be public knowledge. It hadn’t been entirely intended; certainly, you’d wanted to do what you could to assist the hero as much as you could, but shockingly, he shared the same sentiment towards you. With his help, you had emerged from a previously cramped shell, and spread your metaphorical wings to grow and shine to your full extent, and still you improved every day.
You owed him everything .
Which was why, even though he hadn’t given you any ideas, and had even insisted he didn’t need a birthday present from you, you had gotten him a little something. It wasn’t much, and certainly nothing like the pendant he’d gotten you for your own birthday-- which you grabbed from your jewelry cabinet while your mind was on it-- but you knew he would like it, if your understanding of him was as good as you hoped. After all, it was one of his favorite things to do with you; surely, the gift wouldn’t go unappreciated, right?
Once you were finished with your makeup, it was 6:15, leaving you only a short amount of time to finish preparing. You rushed to grab your cell phone as you struggled into a pair of jeans, dialing your friend and co-worker’s number, Ayane, one-handed.
“Ayane, hey!” you gasped into the receiver. “Hey, you’re still coming tonight right? To All Might’s dinner party?”
“I’m already here waiting.” Ayane sighed. “Did you sleep in on your nap?”
“What, no, what makes you say that?”
“You always sleep too long when you take a nap! I warned you not to take a nap today!”
“It was a hard shift yesterday, thank you very much ,” you snapped, but there was no malice in it. “I’m gonna be there, don’t worry, just--”
You’re cut off, briefly, as you stumble getting into your other pant leg and fall to the floor.
“-- Just make sure All Might doesn’t get swarmed if possible. If you see him, get him out of sight until the reservation’s ready. You know if he gets spotted we won’t be eating until eight or nine.”
“I know, I know.” Ayane chuckled. “And just so you know, Soulmate couldn’t make it, but I filled her spot, with All Might’s permission. Ichiro will be joining us.”
“Oh, Ichiro!” you exclaim, glancing at the clock. Ten minutes. Shit . “I’ll be excited to see him! He’s never met All Might before, has he?”
“No, but you know my son; he’ll behave well. In fact, he’s here with me-- Ichiro! Say hi to Comet.”
There was a brief fumbling on the other end of the line, before a soft yet excited voice called out your name. You greeted him back, before Ayane returned to the speaker.
“Well, don’t dilly-dally! Get here soon! Everyone else is already starting to show up!”
“I know, I know, I’ll be there,” you say. “I gotta go, I haven’t even picked a shirt yet, I’ll see you there.” You hang up without any further formalities.
You are not going to be late to All Might’s birthday dinner.
… but it’s gonna be close.
You hurry to select a shirt-- a pink one with a loose turtleneck and long sleeves-- which may not be entirely seasonally appropriate, but you get cold in restaurants easily. Better too much than too little, in this case. Then, with present in hand-- and after stumbling to grab your eyedrops, in a bottle a size up from your usual-- you throw on a pair of shoes, before rushing out your balcony door and taking flight to your destination. Well, not so much flight as much as a very long, controlled jump, but the phrasing isn’t entirely incorrect. After all, when you reach minimum speed and are surrounded by a barrier of light, it’s hard not to compare your movement to flight. However, you soon went your peak height, and slowly began to sail back to earth. When you reach the ground, you soften your landing with a blast of your Quirk from your hands downwards. At this point, you’re just a little under a block away, and so you run the rest of the way towards your destination.
When you round the corner to where the group is meeting, All Might is there, smiling and signing a few autographs, while Ayane and a few other heroes try to keep the remaining fans back. A few of them break off from the crowd and rush towards you once they sight you, but you apologize as you side-step them, explaining you have prior arrangements. As you’re backing up from them, you bump into All Might’s side, and he blinks down at you, before beaming and scooping you up in a massive bear hug.
“Comet!” he exclaims, swinging you from side to side. “I’m so glad you’re here! Thank you for coming!”
“Ah, it’s nothing, it’s nothing!” you exclaim, laughing as you’re trapped in his embrace. Ayane takes this opportunity to shoo away the rest of the fans, explaining in vague terms that All Might has to get going. Once you are set back down on the ground, the mechanic smiles up at the two of you, and a taller boy with black hair and golden eyes comes to stand next to her.
“All Might, this is my son, Ichiro,” she explains, and Ichiro bows deeply. All Might laughs heartily, and bows as well.
“So formal!” he compliments the young man. “I’m glad you were able to join us this evening!”
“A-As am I!” Ichiro exclaims, fidgeting a bit under the hero’s gaze. “Thank you for allowing me to come! This is really neat!”
“Well of course! Any family of Ayane’s is a friend of mine. Your mother is a brilliant and steadfast woman. I trust anyone related to her.”
“Pssshh.” Ayane rolled her eyes, then gestured towards the restaurant with her hands. “Alright, go on, get us seated, you flatterer. You’re too nice for your own good; it’ll get you in trouble, young man.”
As the group made their way into the restaurant, you acquainted yourself with the rest of the people present. There were two familiar faces, Radar and Chameleon, who you knew to be a couple by this point, and you were then introduced to Tengu, an older humanoid man covered in feathers, with bird legs and wings and a rather large nose. He bowed to you gracefully, even as his taloned feet clicked against the tile floor. Soon enough, all of you were seated at your table. Of course with All Might at the head. Tengu took up the spot at his left, while you ended up seated at his right. Ayane sat next to you, with Ichiro across, and then Radar and Chameleon took up the last two spots across from one another. After orders were placed, conversation truly began.
“Ichiro!” All Might called to the boy. “Tell us a bit about yourself!”
“Ah, well, I recently graduated from Ketsubetsu High School, but I’ve been searching around for a job with an agency for a while. I want to be an aid like my mom, given the nature of my Quirk; I couldn’t be a field hero, but that doesn’t mean I’m not useful.”
“Well of course! Very admirable, wanting to follow in your mother’s footsteps.” Everyone present at the table nods in agreement with that sentiment. “I’m sure any agency would be lucky to have you.”
“I really hope to contribute quite a bit,” Ichiro laughs. “I have major plans if I manage to get hired on with a good agency. If you had your own, All Might, of course I would have applied to yours first.”
The Symbol of Peace barks out a laugh, pointing at Ichiro heartily. “And I would have taken you on! Your chances out there are good; keep trying; if you need a letter of recommendation, please, come to me! I’ll set you up.”
“Appreciated, but not necessary; I want to do this the right way.”
Tengu hummed. “Hardworking and honest. A rare combination, but an electrifying one. Keep that spark, kid; it’ll change your whole life.”
“But monitor it,” Chameleon added. “No good thing grows untended.”
“Now you all hush,” Ayane insisted. “My son well knows--”
“Mom, it’s okay; they’re all right.” Ichiro blushed, and ran a hand through his hair. “Don’t worry, you all; I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on everything.”
Chameleon didn’t seem satisfied, narrowing his eyes as he leaned back in his seat. Radar, on the other hand, smiled and gestured to Ichiro with his glass of water. “Well, here’s looking at you, kid.”
The rest of the table raised their own glasses in agreement. Tengu then turned his attention towards you, smiling warmly.
“Well, Comet, it’s been about a month now since you apprehended Ironwill. How are you coping with the fame?”
“Ah, well, it hasn’t been too hard. I mean, I have to make sure I don’t have any fans following me home, but beyond that, it’s been alright! It feels good to have people look up to me the way they do. I never imagined it could happen in such a short span of time. I want to be a good hero to them. I want to be someone they see in the sky and smile knowing there’s another hero out there looking out for them.”
“With a kind heart and a bright smile like yours, I doubt that will be difficult. This world could use more humble people like you. Too many egomaniacs in the hero industry. I hope with your rise to fame, you’ll make a good impression on not just civilians, but aspiring heroes as well.”
“Thank you, Tengu.”
The bird man across from you winks and smirks. All Might clears his throat.
“I agree,” he coughs out. “I’m glad my presence is so inspirational, but many of my fans who want to be heroes tend to get the wrong idea about why I do what I do. There’s no confusion with you, on the other hand, it seems. Everyone knows the Shooting Star Heroine wants peace and safety for all. My hope is, the more popular you become, the more mainstream that idea will be.”
Ichiro jumps in. “Safety and security is more important than any fame will ever be. You’re an inspiration to us all, Comet.”
You blush and hide behind your hands. Meanwhile, Ayane just chuckles and rubs your back comfortingly.
“Now now, don’t make the girl implode. Dinner isn’t even on the table yet!”
The group relents in their praise of you, though they insist every word is true before officially dropping the subject. Fortunately, dinner arrives shortly afterwards, and attention turns more towards the birthday boy himself.
“So you’re, what, twenty nine now All Might?” Radar asked. “Any big plans for your thirtieth birthday?”
“Whoa now, let me get halfway through this year before making any plans that far in advance,” he chuckles. “Maybe I’ll host a charity event; those always tend to do well.”
Chameleon snorted. “Yeah, noble, but consider this; you’re allowed to be selfish every once in a while. Seems like you have a hard time wrapping that idea around your head.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Not bad. You just miss out on opportunities that you don’t grasp at because you think it’d be better in someone else’s hands, or you don’t think you’re worthy of it, or it’s safe to indulge, or whatever . I don’t know what goes on through that head of yours. Your intentions are always nothing but noble, bud, I’m not judging you negatively. All I’m saying is, we’ve only got one life. You’ve already become the Number One Hero, which is the peak dream right there. Have you ever considered anything else you want to do with this life you’ve got? Today’s your birthday; now’s the time to contemplate.”
Chameleon’s forcefulness surprised you; he’d always been the blunt voice of reason, but this was beyond his typical behavior. You glanced between him and All Might, watching their respective expressions change and shift and warp.
But All Might, ever the stalwart hero, merely laughed and shrugged.
“I truly wish it were that simple, my friend. But you said it yourself; I’m the Number One Hero. That comes with a weight that discourages ‘being selfish.’ I understood that condition long before I even started on my journey to the top. I accepted long ago certain aspects of life would not be the same for me as it would be for others. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a birthday dinner with a few close associates, right?”
“Right!” Radar chimed in, drowning out any argument Chameleon may have had to make. “Very kind of you to invite us to share in this special occasion with you.”
All Might’s boisterous laugh filled the table. The tense air dissipated instantly with the sound. “But of course! And I am so fortunate that you would agree to come! Thank you, all of you. You’ve made this hero’s day considerably brighter.”
Everyone smiles, each thanking one another for their presence on such an occasion. You watch them with a heavy weight in your chest, knowing it was just a way for All Might to direct attention away from himself. You watch him carefully out of the corner of your eye, and behind that smile of his, you can see distant longing, and yet a firm determination not to think too hard about it. Chameleon’s words had struck a chord with him, and it hurt.
It was truth.
All Might found himself with a sack of presents by the end of the night, at least one gift from each person who had attended the dinner. He thanked each one profusely, while simultaneously stating that it had been entirely unnecessary. But no one would hear anything of it. Thankfully, they were small things, so the hero wasn’t overwhelmed with carrying large presents around. As Chameleon and Radar were taking their leave, you were approached by Tengu before you had the chance to give All Might your own present.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” he apologized as he stood before you, “but I just wanted to state what a pleasure it was to be able to meet you in person tonight. Photos and television really don’t do your beauty justice. I hope we’ll have the opportunity to meet again soon.” He bowed deeply to you, wings extended high above his back with the motion.
“I-- oh.” You’re flustered by the statement. “Thank you, Tengu.”
“Please, you may call me Otsuka.” He flashes a charming smile as he stands back up, the amber of his eyes gleaming in the low night. “Stay safe, Shooting Star.”
He takes a step back from you, and then with one magnificent flap of his wings, he soars off into the night sky. All Might, Ayane, and Ichiro came to stand next to you, though All Might was oddly quiet.
“What was that all about, then?” Ayane questioned you.
“Ah… I’m not sure.”
“What do you mean, ‘you’re not sure’? That was a complete bow to you he did there. We all saw it. He must have said something important.”
You feel another blush of embarrassment creeping onto your cheeks, and you rub at them meekly.
“Tengu is… gentlemanly,” you stated vaguely. “Very, uh, chivalrous.”
All Might barked out a laugh. The untrained ear would not catch the tense edge to it. “That’s trademark Tengu for you. He’s certainly a dashing gentleman, I can’t deny that, though he may come across as too forward on occasion. The man tends to get excitable. I can’t blame him; you make quite the impression on first meetings, dear Comet.”
You blink as your mind shorts out, trying to connect the dots in your head, However, no answers or explanations come to mind. Ayane disrupts your failed thinking by patting your hand and chuckling.
“The poor girl’s short-circuited. She won’t understand that information for a few hours I’m afraid. She’s not used to that sort of attention.”
“‘That’..? Oh! I see. Really?”
Ayane just rolls her eyes, and pats All Might’s hand endearingly. Before you can ask what on earth they’re talking about, she grabs her son’s hand. “Alright then. Ichiro and I should get going home. Happy Birthday, All Might; both of you have a lovely night.”
Both you and the pro hero watch the family of two walk away into the night, before you finally come back to your senses.
“What was that about?”
“Ah, nothing!” All Might exclaims. “Veteran heroes’ secret. Nothing more!”
You arch an eyebrow at him, but you don’t press. As you shrug it off, All Might continues.
“Well, ah, the night’s still fairly young. If you, uh, don’t have anywhere to be, do you… maybe want to get drinks? Not tea, as in… actual drinks? Birthday drinks?.. Sake?”
The giant man taps his fingers together nervously, but he freezes once you laugh heartily.
“Drinks sound nice,” you agree. “This one’s on me. No ifs, ands, or buts, no ‘but the host pays in Japanese culture,’ I’m covering this.”
All Might huffs, but he looks down at you fondly. “So stubborn! Your American side is showing. Can’t say it’s a bad thing; it brings me back to my time there. Alright; drinks are on you. But only because I like you so much.”
Chapter 2: Something Just Like This
Yo hey afternoon! Updates for this series will now take place every two weeks on Wednesday, due to an increase in duties in personal life. In the meantime though, check out my social media linked at the bottom of the page!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You were a bit surprised when the location All Might took you to was a smaller establishment. Sure, it was still on the finer end of things, but it didn’t seem to be a well known bar. That may have been the reason he had chosen it, but more often than not, the pro hero would compromise, someplace he could still talk to his friends, while also interacting with any fans that happened to cross his path. From the looks of this place, you would be left mostly entirely alone for your drinks.
All Might lead the way to his booth of choice, and after the two of you had ordered your drinks, he bowed his head slightly towards you.
“Thanks for indulging me,” he said, voice now softer and calmer now that it was just the two of you. “It’s been a while since we got to be alone together.”
“Of course! It’s your birthday, and you’re right; it hasn’t been just us for some time. Though of course, given your status, there’s really no one to blame.”
“And your status. You’re rising quickly through the ranks yourself, Comet.”
“ Nothing like you though.”
Instead of his usual boisterous laughter, All Might just chuckles, and he rubs his cheek with his hand as he stares across the table at you.
“Didn’t we have this conversation? I remember it being much different. The opposite of this, in fact.”
You roll your eyes, and lean back casually in your seat. “Being alike in personality and in history are different. Sure, I’m getting better at being a hero every day, but as long as you’re around, I’m never going to be Number One. Not to mention all the other heroes who have already charted their paths ahead of me. I’d be lucky to be in the top fifty .”
“I say top ten is most certainly within your capabilities. Will it take time? Certainly. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull it off.”
Your drinks arrive shortly after, and the two of you both thank the waiter before taking your first sips.
“That all being said,” All Might continues, “how are you holding up lately? Things tend to get a little more crazy as the weather gets warmer.”
“I’m managing. Being a part of an agency helps considerably when it comes to larger crises. Mod’s been adjusting to sharing the spotlight with me alright. He doesn’t see me as a lesser hero anymore, at least. Not since the fight against Ironwill.”
“I don’t know how anyone could consider you a lesser hero, after that. Any news on Ironwill, by the way? I know your agency wanted to keep in touch with his treatment behind bars.”
“I know.” You sip some of your alcohol. “I go to check in on him myself.”
You nod. “A lot of what he said made an impression on me, and the kind of influence that can change a person for better or for worse. And I made an impact on him, too. It makes sense that, given our connection, I should be the one to continue to check on how his recovery is going, and just… spend time with him. Make him feel important. Because really, that’s the whole reason this all happened. He didn’t think he was important. He didn’t think he mattered. And he wanted to. So… I’m making sure he does. Even if, just for now, he only matters to me.” You shrug. “It’s not much, but I hope, when he’s released from prison… I hope it will be enough.”
All Might took a moment to process the information, before nodding slowly.
“I think that’s very wise,” he stated. “All it takes is one person to make a difference. Whether that be in a single individual’s life, or the lives of an entire community, varies, but even the little things can have a big effect. Well, how is Ironwill doing, then?”
“He’s slowly starting to understand the gravity of what he was trying to accomplish. It’s going to take some time before the reality hits him; he still has doubts that this is the right way to run society, but he trusts me. He thinks I’m foolish, but he trusts me. That’s his words, not mine.”
“Foolish, for certain, you are not ,” the hero across from you chuckled. “He’ll see that eventually. Is he cooperative at least?”
“I wouldn’t say cooperative , but he’s not actively resisting medication and treatment. He’s just not allowing himself to absorb it as quickly as he could. But he’s getting there.”
“Well, he’ll never be a hero, not without some serious stings pulled with the law, but maybe he can truly change and work with society for the better, rather than against it.” All Might downed the rest of his drink, and ordered another one just as the waiter was passing by. “I still think about that day, you know.”
You arch an eyebrow. “We’ve had a couple days with Ironwill as the main subject. Which one in particular do you mean?”
“Well, in that case… all of them? But more specifically, that day at the Kairaku-En Garden. When you threw yourself into danger for my sake. To protect me. To save me.”
“You would have done the same,” you point out, but All Might interjects.
“But few would have done that for me. Most of the world is under the impression or belief that, even if I’m not invincible, I’ll come out of anything and everything alright in the end. Some heroes would have seen me in that predicament, and figured I would be fine, even if I was injured. What you did for me is something that’s stuck with me, along with the aftermath.”
The aftermath of that attack isn’t something you remember particularly fondly. You flinch a little at the memory of that white hot searing pain, and the inability to keep the overflowing of combined Quirk power at bay. “Regardless of what could have happened to me, I’d do it again. I can’t-- we can’t-- take you for granted.”
The hero stares at you, blinking slowly.
“Why is it that you seem to be one of the only people who think that?”
All Might’s second drink is delivered. He changes the subject before you have a chance to respond to his prior statement.
“You know,” he begins, “I’ve been watching you whenever you make the news. Your strength is improving quite drastically.”
All Might gestures to you with his hands and a broad smile. “How could you not see it? You hardly struggle on your own anymore, and your confidence seems to be soaring. That, or you put on quite the convincing facade. Being the optimist I am, I’m going to choose to believe in the first idea. You do know you’re capable of great things, right?”
You nod and giggle. “Don’t you ever get tired of saying that?”
“Not to you.”
The hero pauses.
“N-Not to anyone. Everyone needs to hear that, it-- it’s important.”
He’s right. You agree with him with another nod and a sip of your drink, finishing it off. When All Might asks if he should flag down the waiter, you say, “Not yet,” and your voice shakes. When All Might arches a brow curiously at you, you speak up.
“I still need quite a bit of help to be a strong hero. I can’t do it on my own. You’ve helped me a lot to become better, but… well, there are… certain barriers I might not be able to overcome.” You stick your left hand in your pocket, making sure your eye drops are still there.
“What kind of barriers? Is it something I can help with?”
“I don’t know,” you confess. “Maybe it won’t even last. But right now… I’m not sure. It’s a more recent issue I’m still trying to piece together. If I think I need help, I’ll ask. But right now, I don’t know if time will fix it, or…” You shrug.
All Might nods, though he looks reluctant to drop the subject. “Alright then. You know I’ll always be there to help you. Not just as a hero, but as a friend.”
And God, does that idea still make your head spin. Friend . You smile and duck your head down. The idea sits warm inside your gut.
“I’ll remember that,” you promise.
You order another drink, after that. All Might rambles about work, about his fans, about rising heroes, and you feel content just sitting there and listening to him. There’s a certain glimmer in those sea blue eyes of his when he raves about the future of heroes, and how excited he is to be there to witness all of the coming changes. Coupled with the warmth of alcohol in your gut, you feel relaxed and safe. Almost more than you ever have since you first arrived to Japan over nine months ago.
All Might takes note of this, eventually; he smirks at you and asks, “How are you feeling, Miss Lightweight?”
You furrow your brow over at him. “I haven’t finished my second drink yet. Then you can ask me that question.”
The pro hero giggles, eyes twinkling. “Right, of course, my apologies. Should I call the waiter for the check?”
“ That I agree to.”
You finished your drink just as the check arrived, and you snatched it up before All Might could take a peek, as he was reaching to do. He frowned at you, but you just smirked at him.
“I told you drinks were on me. Don’t worry about the cost.”
“Hmph.” The large man slouched and folded his arms, and his pout was most certainly comical. He sulked behind you all the way to the front of the restaurant, where you proceeded to pay and making certain All Might couldn’t determine the cost of your outing. Once you were outside, he nudged his arm into your shoulder.
“So? Are you drunk?”
“I’m buzzed . I’m happy . And I don’t even need to ask you how you’re doing, Mr. Three-Hundred-Pounds.”
“Excuse me, that’s Mr. Two-Hundred-Fifty- Pounds to you, if we have to use Imperial measurements while you’re drunk.” All Might boomed with laughter as you half-heartedly slapped his upper arm. “But what is the point of the Imperial system, anyways? America is the only country that uses it anymore.”
“Did you even go to America? If you go to the right place you’ll still see a carriage and horse pulling a Dutchess around. Legitimately.”
“ Legitimately ,” he repeated, teasing you. He threw up his arms to shield himself from another barrage of attacks from you, giggling like a little boy all the while. “Hey, listen, if you want a fight, at least let’s go somewhere where you can use your full power!”
You roll your head back and groan. “Nah, it’s getting late, I’m not sober, at this point I should probably get home.”
“Can I walk you?”
The words seem to surprise the both of you. You blink rapidly at each other, before you ask him to repeat himself.
“Ah, can I… walk you home? I-- it wouldn’t sit well with me if I left you on your own while you were intoxicated. Not that I don’t think you’re too drunk to manage yourself, I just-- it’s for my conscience, you see.”
Well, that made sense. You nodded, first to yourself, and then to All Might. “Yeah. That seems like a good idea.”
His previously tense shoulders sagged in relief, before he perked back up. “Well then! I’ll let you lead the way.”
So you skip off down the street, with All Might following closely behind. He talks to you as you walk, about nonconsequential things. You respond in kind, all smiles and giggles from the warmth flooding your body. Even when the things you say don’t necessarily make sense, the hero smiles and nods. He listens to you, paying close attention to every word spoken.
“You know,” you say to him at one point, “the first time I ever got drunk was in Canada.”
“Canada!” he exclaims.
“Yeah. Legal age where I went was nineteen. I got nervous on the way home because my cousins had a Great Dane for a dog. I was thinking, “oh shit, I’m gonna get home and get bowled over by this horse-dog. And then I got home and remembered… she was a massive pansy. So it was fine, but I was pretty worried that car ride.”
All Might snorts.
“You remind me of that dog.”
And then he sucks in a breath too quick and starts choking on it.
“What, you’re scared of me? Or you think I’m a pansy?”
“Yes.” You laugh, and run a little ways ahead of him before clarifying. “You could probably crack the Earth in half if you wanted, but I know… I know you would never lift a finger against me with the intention to really harm me. You’re too good. Way too good.”
“Not way too good,” he argues, but you won’t have it.
“Oh yes you are . Looking after me when I was all alone and hated myself. You had no reason to do that. There was no personal gain in it for you. But you did it anyways . And I haven’t been able to give you anything in return, and you knew that. And you’re still here.”
The pro hero seems flustered; he doesn’t have an immediate response.
“Well I mean… that’s-- that’s not the purpose of friendship, right?”
“Yeah but… you’re the Number One. Your time is valuable. You wouldn’t put it into something you thought would be a waste, but I haven’t really done anything for you yet.”
All Might stammers further, before settling on a single word.
“ Yet .”
You stop, and stare at him. He hesitates, before taking a hold of both of your shoulders.
“But that isn’t even true. You’ve done so much, just by being… well, you.”
“That doesn’t count.”
“You’d be surprised.”
You scoff and roll your eyes.
“You’d be surprised how much you mean to me.”
All Might pulls away abruptly, then.
“It’s getting late. We really should get you back to your apartment, right?”
“Oh, yeah.” You laugh, stumbling backwards a bit before turning around to walk the proper way. “Yeah, it’s-- yeah it’s this way.”
By now, the streets have quieted as night began to fall. Few people were left around you, and those that were didn’t intrude on your walk, knowing just how late it was themselves. You continue to babble back and forth, you in your drunken state, and he in a more flustered way. Soon enough, however, your walk comes to an end, as you descend the stairs to your apartment complex and come to a stop before your door.
“This, here,” you tell him, patting the door, “is my pad.”
“Your pad? ”
You nod and wink teasingly. “Oh yeah. Chicks dig it. Especially with the electronic keyboard taking up so much space.”
Now it’s All Might’s turn to snort and roll his eyes.
“Yeah, nah,” you continue, “haven’t been with anyone since my high school days in America. Still settling in, I guess.”
“Yes, I see. I mean, I understand. That makes sense.”
You fumble with your wallet, pulling out your key and sticking it into the lock. Before you twist it, however, you look up at All Might, who is twirling his thumbs and curled in slightly on himself.
“Me? I’m fine! I’m glad we got here safe.”
A pause. You nod.
“Right. Okay. Well-- oh, shit , hang on--”
And you rummage through your pockets once again, until you find what you were looking for-- All Might’s gift. You thrust it out at him.
“This is for you.”
“Comet!” he exclaims, waving his arms wildly, “I told you--”
“No no, it’s okay,” you assure him, smirking lopsidedly. “You’ll like this. You’ll like it because it’s dumb .”
“... Dumb?” All Might blinks as he takes the small box from your hands.
“Silly dumb, not, dumb dumb. You’ll get what I mean. It’s funny. You’ll get what I mean.”
All Might frowns, but nods regardless, before sighing and allowing himself to smile.
“Alright. I trust you. Which is why… I wanted to tell you…”
And he looks around carefully, taking in your surroundings, before leaning in close. His voice is barely above a whisper.
“... You can call me Yagi.”
Now you are the one who is taken by surprise. You furrow your brow, and repeat the name on your own lips.
“That’s right. Ah, it’s just my last name, of course, but-- well, I know it’s different in America, it’s the other way around-- first names and all, but-- I just feel-- it’s like--”
“I like it.”
“I like your name.”
“Oh! That’s… nice? Good! That’s good, I’m glad.”
You laugh at All Might-- at Yagi’s -- stuttering, and he lights up, much more confident now that that is off of his chest.
“Well, I guess turnabout’s fair play, yeah? You should know who I am.”
“Oh, if you’re not comfortable, that’s not necessary-- different people have their different paces, and really, my pace is different with you--”
You cut him off with the utterance of your own last name, rather than your first. Again, Yagi sputters to a stop, staring down at you as if you have spoken a sacred incantation. Then, slowly, he tries the strange, foreign syllables on his own tongue. It takes a few tries for him to get it right, and even then, you offer him a shortened version. This goes much more smoothly. He places his hand to his chest, as if storing it in his heart.
“... I like your name, too.”
You grin a crooked grin, and finally open the door to your apartment.
“Hey. Thanks for tonight.”
“Thank you . You’ve made it all the more memorable.”
“And Happy Birthday.”
You nod to each other. Slowly, you shut the door, watching as Yagi walks away, staring down at the small present in his hands.
Chapter 3: Clockwork Angels
Woof okay. Shit's gettin' rough irl, but don't you guys worry! just means I don't... have much to say for this chapter other than... uh yeah I got nothin.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Upon entrance to the agency a few weeks later, you are met with several office workers, holding out various clipboards and pens. You scan their contents as you walk along, signing here or there, approving or disapproving ideas, all while making light conversation with them. How’s the family? Is your mother doing okay? Did Jun ace his science project? They all respond quickly, knowing your time is precious to the citizens of Japan, though they are smiling as you address each of your fellow coworkers one by one. As you are just about to enter your own personal office to settle in for the day, The Boss calls for you from the meeting room down the hall.
“Comet, this way. Hero meeting. We have a new employee.”
A new employee? That was generally a rare occurrence, much less one that warranted a meeting. You tossed your hero jacket onto your chair before closing the door and walking down the hall to meet with your boss. The woman smiles once you stand before her, and the two of you bow slightly to each other.
“Am I late? Did I keep you waiting?”
“Not at all. In fact, the meeting doesn’t officially start for a few minutes. I did want to discuss our new hire before they arrived, however. Quite young, but the credentials are impressive. Come on in, have a seat.” The Boss gestures into the meeting room, and so you walk in and take your seat, next to Ayane and across from Modi-Mutation. The pro hero across from you narrows his eyes, before nodding begrudgingly, acknowledging your presence. A few other heroes you are less familiar with are present as well, and you acknowledge them and re-introduce yourself as necessary. Once those pleasantries are set aside, The Boss takes her place at the head of the table, placing down a file and thumbing through its contents.
“Now, I know what you’re all wondering. Why are we here? A new hire hardly warrants a team meeting. This is a special circumstance, given the nature of our new hire’s Quirk, as well as his previous work experience. That is to say, he has none. However, he attended Ketsubetsu High, as well as some college, and has extraordinary abilities. Therefore, I believe it to be crucial that he is properly introduced to his fellow associates, as well as given an idea of how things work around here directly. Therefore, upon conclusion of this meeting, one of you will allow him to shadow you for the day. You will be compensated accordingly for the extra work.”
“So what are we looking at?” one of your fellow heroes inquires. “Telekinesis?”
“It could be.” The Boss just grins at her vague explanation.
“What, can you not describe it?”
“I think it would be best for our new employee to do the talking for himself.”
Mod humphed, and leaned back in his seat. “So when will he be here then?”
Ayane gives Mod the stink-eye.
“He’s packing his lunch.”
You turn to the older woman sitting next to you, brow furrowed in question, before the door bursts open. A very flustered Ichiro quickly straightens himself out, before waving and grinning.
“Ah, hello! I’m not late, am I?”
“Right on time,” The Boss assures him, the blue halos around her voidlike eyes shimmering brighter upon the boy’s entrance. Your eyes flicker between her, Ichiro, and the android that appears in the doorway next to him. “Please, both of you, come in.”
Ichiro looks up to the android, and gestures inside. “You first, K3NJ1,” he insists, and the machine enters on shockingly steady feet. All heroes stare silently, uncertain how to react to the unexpected second presence, all while Ayane beams and practically vibrates in her seat. Ichiro and his android, K3NJI, take their position next to The Boss.
“Good afternoon,” he begins, “I’m Kanemaru Ichiro. This is just one example of my Quirk, designation K3NJI. I have been assigned a hero/mechanic hybrid role in this agency as a result of both my intelligence and my Quirk. Do-- do they know my Quirk, Senpai?”
“They do not. And ‘Senpai’ is not necessary, you may just refer to me as Boss.”
“Oh, right.” Ichiro clears his throat. “I have been building robots with varying purposes since I was young, from simple dish-cleaning machines, to those that are like K3NJ1, fully autonomous and able to discern between good and evil. However, everyone is well aware that creating a self-sustaining intelligent machine isn’t as simple as coding a variety of scenarios into its mainframe. There are too many possibilities to consider, especially in a world as grayscale as ours in morality. In order to make the right decisions, arguably, a machine needs the same mental and emotional capacity as a human. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where my Quirk comes in.”
Ichiro raises his right hand, where a faint blue glow is radiating from his hand.
“My Quirk is known simply as… Sentience.”
And he places his hand atop K3NJ1’s head. The machine jolts and convulses for a brief moment, and its previously empty camera eyes are suddenly alight with the same glow as that which emanates from Ichiro’s hand. The machine blinks rapidly, before looking around the room, and then raises a hand, and waves.
“Good afternoon,” K3NJ1 says, and then turns to look at Mod, who looks appalled. “Or, at least, I hope it is a good afternoon. You seem discontented, Modi-Mutation. Is there any way I can be of assistance?”
“Take a wild guess,” the hero snaps. K3NJ1 responds immediately.
“You appear to be dehydrated and sleep deprived, causing this shift in irritability. I could grab you a glass of water, if you so wish. As for your sleep deprivation, there is nothing I can do to assist with that while on the job, but I recommend returning home and going to bed at an early time of eight thirty. This should help shift your circadian rhythm back into something in line with your daily schedule.”
Around the table are murmurs of equal parts amazement and confusion, but Mod just continues to gape at the robot and fight for words.
“How do we know,” one heroine speaks up, “that this isn’t just pre-programed responses?”
“Don’t most machines require a processing period before responding to a request?” Ichiro points out. “As you just witnessed, K3NJ1 responded immediately to the stimulus provided by his conversation with Modi-Mutation, not a single pause in conversation. Just ask your phone to tell you two plus four, and you’re waiting four seconds for a response.”
“That could just be chalked up to advanced coding. Have any of your creations passed the Turing Test? It certainly wouldn’t have done so here in this room.”
“My creations have passed the Turing Test numerous times; I have all of the documentation in this folder here.”
Another hero speaks up. “But the Turing Test isn’t an indication of humanity in a machine, only that a machine can pass as human. How do we know that these machines you create have a theoretical heart?”
“K3NJ1 is not coded with a pre-determined personality. K3NJ1 will develop relationships and responses just like any other human being. He will recognize the difference between sarcasm and malice, a child lashing out due to fear or due to hatred, an adult attacking with the intent to destroy, or simply to defend themselves. Any other machine could not make this distinction in the face of a threat and will only act to defend itself, regardless of the human’s intention. Most machines with any semblance of K3NJ1’s sophistication is either programmed only in its own interest, or only in the interest of humans. Those machines are either destroy all, or be destroyed. K3NJ1 has the capacity to make the distinction of what kind of threat it’s facing with the snap of a finger. For my creations have something different from other machines.”
Ichiro patted K3NJ1’s shoulder. KENJ1 leaned into the touch.
“They have a soul.”
Another round of murmurs burst up from the gathering, louder than before. Ayane stared at her son with stars in her eyes. There was no argument as to whether humans had souls or not-- heroes like Soulmate proved such a fact. But… “The idea that a machine can have a soul… it’s inconceivable.”
“Even so, what can we hope to accomplish with these machines of yours? Their strength won’t hold a match to ours.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” Ichiro smiled gleefully. “Now… would anyone like to volunteer a blood sample?”
And then, silence. Stunned silence, at such a bold and sudden request. Even the Boss stepped slightly away from Ichiro, though there was still an excited glimmer in her eye. After a few moments of tense silence, one hero-- you knew her as Shadow Thief-- stood from her place at the table and approached Ichiro and his creation.
“Wonderful, thank you!” Ichiro exclaimed. “Would you please explain your Quirk just for documentation purposes?”
Shadow Thief nodded. “Well, I can store shadows and light and reassign their photon levels anywhere I deem necessary. I can use this to either bring light to dark places, or take away light and leave an enemy in the dark.”
“Very useful for reconnaissance purposes, yes? Which finger would you like pricked?”
Shadow Thief offered up her left ring finger. K3NJ1 took the digit in his own mechanical ones, spraying an antiseptic at the sight before speaking up.
“Thank you for your donation,” K3NJ1 said, patting Shadow Thief’s palm kindly. As he pulled away, however, a small needle at the base of his palm retracted; he had already pricked the heroine while she was distracted, and she stared in bewilderment, not having even felt the poke. K3NJ1 then stepped back, its various joints rotating at various angles and speeds.
“He’s processing your DNA makeup,” Ichiro informed her. “This is the only thing that my creations take time to digest. But once the information is properly decoded…”
Once the robot came to a standstill, Ichiro pointed at one of the cieling lights at the far end of the room. K3NJ1 raised his arm, and every hero present at the table leaned away from the motion, unsure of what was to follow. Then, K3NJ1 clenched his fist, and made a pulling motion, as if tugging on a rope. The light from the ceiling flickered, and then transformed into a beam which traveled through the air, before soaking into K3NJ1’s arm. Once the ceiling light was drained of its photons, the robot redirected its aim to the center of the table, and threw a ball of light in an arching motion. It bounced on the wood, before coming to a standstill, casting a whole new light on the room and the situation at hand.
After a moment of stunned silence, the room erupted into cheers and applause. K3NJ1 had copied Shadow Thief’s Quirk, and had known how to utilize it immediately. Ichiro spoke over the cacaphony of praises.
“Thank you, thank you, good job K3NJ1. One DNA sample is all my creations require to copy and utilize someone’s Quirk, but that’s not all. The only reason my creations can copy Quirks, is because upon the creation of their soul, they’re utterly Quirkless. But because these machines don’t have DNA themselves, they aren’t limited to one Quirk. Last I counted, my creations can store five low-level Quirks at one time, and can interchange and rotate which Quirks it can utilize at any given time. Now, these Quirks aren’t as powerful as the original holder’s Quirks yet, but that’s something I’m hoping to expand upon during my time with the company, as well as how many Quirks they can utilize at one time.”
“Incredible!” one of the male heroes exclaimed as Shadow Thief returned to her seat, looking equal parts bewildered and amazed. “This is revolutionary! How have we never heard of you before?”
“My Quirk was never really suited for me to be out on the field myself, so I didn’t really get to participate much in events like the Sports Festival or be seen publicly during my internships. All of the spotlight was on my robots, which I don’t mind. I hope during my time with this agency, I’ll be able to shine more light on the incredibly abilities each and every one of you possesses--”
“While pushing us to the sidelines in the process?”
All eyes turned to Mod, who had made the biting statement. K3NJ1 tilted his head to one side.
“Modi-Mutation, our goal is to work side-by-side in keeping the citizens of the world safe from the nefarious schemes of villains--”
“Shut up .”
The Boss jolted back, as did Ayane and Ichiro. “ Mod . Find your temper.”
“Oh, I know exactly where my temper is,” the Monster Hero barked. “Do none of you remember how to look ahead in the long term? A robot with Quirks, that’s neat. That’ll save lives. But how long until that’s all there is, is robots with Quirks, and how many Quirks, at that?”
One of your fellow heroes rolled their eyes. “Oh, really Mod? The whole sentient AI takeover argument? We’re centuries past this.”
“It’s not about the sentience,” Mod snarled. “It’s about phasing out heroes for the sake of saving their lives and giving it to the machines. Whether a robot has a soul or not doesn’t change that risk, not to mention giving one entity multiple Quirks!”
“That’s not going to happen,” Ichiro comforted Mod. “These extra souls are an extension of myself; there’s only so many I can create--”
“But how long until your bots get teleportation Quirks? Or multiplication Quirks? How long until they don’t even need souls to function and can recreate on their own? You say their Quirk capacity is limited for now, but when will that expand, kid? And when it does, how long until us heroes become obsolete in place of just letting them rip off our Quirks?”
“Mod,” The Boss warned, “you’re getting too excited and imaginative. Very little of what you have predicted is anywhere near in our future. Relax.”
“My son’s intentions are far from replacing heroes.”
“It’s all about you guys!” Ichiro tried to emphasize once more, but Mod just stood up from his place at the meeting table angrily, pointing a clawed finger at the boy’s way.
“ Don’t make it about us. It’s not supposed to be about us. Let us have our space, and let your bots have theirs. Don’t mix our worlds; nothing good can come of it. You hear me? Technology and Quirks were never meant to intertwine. Not like this.”
“That choice is not in your hands,” The Boss snapped. “If you cannot calm down, I would advise you go home for the day, Modi-Mutation.”
Mod reared back, then looked aghast. He looked to you-- something he usually avoided-- and searched your eyes for something. Support, maybe. You stared back at him, too bewildered to put yourself together. Eventually, Mod stepped back.
“Quirks aren’t sacred. Maybe a couple centuries ago, but not today. But this… this will commercialize them. Quirks are not meant to be currency . Think about this carefully. All of you.” Mod nodded once, before storming around the table and parting from the meeting. Seemingly the entirety of the agency watched him as he rounded the corner out of sight, before turning back to a clearly flustered Ichiro.
“He’s like that with everyone,” they comforted him, “Mod has never been fond of change. Ironic, given his Quirk,” and, “We’re excited to see what combination of Quirks we can all work together on!”
The Boss slowly relaxed as each member of the agency praised Ichiro, and Ayane stood from her seat to pat her son on the back.
“Well, good to hear that most of us are in agreement about this addition to our team,” The Boss sighed. “That’s all, unless any of you have any more questions.”
Most of the heroes stood then, shaking Ichiro’s hand on their way out of the meeting room. Ayane gave him a brief kiss on the cheek, having to jump slightly in order to reach her unsuspecting son’s face. You were one of the last to stand, and The Boss stopped you at the door.
“And what are your thoughts, Comet? I’m asking for them, so there will be no repercussions for a negative response, unlike Mod.”
You looked between Ichiro and The Boss, thinking about your next choice of words carefully. “Mod has… some valid concerns. But they’re not pertinent in the short run. These are issues to be handled years and years down the line, depending on public reception, as well as the impact this will have on the hero world itself. But for now, why not give this a chance? We won’t know what’s possible if we shut down this project immediately.”
Ichiro sighed with relief, nodding in agreement with your outlook. “That’s fair. I can agree to that. I can assure you, during the early testing phases, my creations will be heavily monitored, both by myself and other heroes. They’ll never be left alone. Which, ah, actually brings me to my first request… The Boss said I could shadow a hero of my choice, so long as they consented to the idea. I was wondering… could I shadow you, Comet? If you supply K3NJI with a blood sample, we can follow you using your own Quirk.”
“Me? Wh-- I-- am I qualified to do that?”
The Boss nodded and chuckled. “I think Ichiro has the right idea, wanting to learn from you, and I’m up to my waist in paperwork. If you don’t think you can handle the responsibility, Kanemaru-kun made a list of other heroes he’d like to shadow. It won’t negatively impact your record; I understand you’re still relatively new.”
“I haven’t even been in Japan for a year,” you reminded The Boss.
“But you’ve proven yourself more than capable as a heroine. I have faith in you, should you choose to accept Kanemaru-kun’s request.”
You bit your lip as you thought about the request, and what that would entail, before you turned to Ichiro with finality.
“Do you have a suit?”
Ichiro lit up like fireworks.
Chapter 4: Sharp Edges
holy jesus. i'm back.
Everything that I would have had to say has been said on Twitter and Tumblr. So... yeah! I'm happy to be back. Make sure to comment so I know you're still there!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The skies are clear as you and Ichiro take flight through the skies of the city, the young new employee in flight atop one of his creations, this one designated C4D1E. K3NJ1 remained at the agency, and was to remain there for the duration of his lifespan. “He has a lot more delicate parts than most of my other creations,” Ichiro had explained. “He’s far more dexterous and there are a lot of little gears and wires that could get damaged in a fight. He’s more a home bot, I guess you could say. C4D1E, on the other hand, was created specifically for combat. She should have no problem getting a little roughed up.”
And so you guided the young man and his next creation to a high vantage point. You are impressed by how quickly the robot learns your moves, albeit is nowhere near as fluid in its movements as you are. The beams in its hands and feet are cut off, and Ichiro bounces a bit on its shoulders as they stumble next to you.
“Alright, you went to a high quality high school, so I’m not going to hold your hand through this. You’re a bright boy, and knowing your mother, you aren’t going to forget that anytime soon. So, you tell me: what should we do first?”
Ichiro peered over the edge of the skyscraper. “Well, when there isn’t an active call for help, it’s important to think about what areas are going to be the most high traffic, depending on both the hour, day of week, time of month, and time of year. There’s no holidays this month, so there won’t be a lot of people off. Kids are going to be in school. However, it is lunch hour for many establishments, so food courts and malls may be seeing an uptick in activity. This also means there are less people working in office buildings, banks, and other important areas, meaning those are the mostly likely and vulnerable for attack currently.”
Ichiro smiles over at you.
“Which means all the heroes are already there, so we want to head towards food courts and parks as a safety precaution. Backup is the backbone of hero society.”
“Bingo.” You give the kid a high five, and C4D1E watches the motion before holding up her own hand. You give her a high five as well. “Not to mention, if all goes smoothly, we can grab a snack ourselves. Gotta keep our carbs up, right?”
Ichiro nods his affirmative excitedly. The both of you leap from the building, heading skyward, before using your Quirks to redirect your fall towards an outdoor food court. You land just outside the main entrance, away from the crowds, and take a moment to survey the area. Ichiro points directly to your left.
“Alleyway,” he hums. “Right by the entrance, too. Good spot for petty thieves getting the jump on civilians.”
“Right, but that’s typically more of a nighttime venture. Less people around to witness the crime.”
“Unless the victim is pulled into the alley and out of sight.”
“True. I think most people here today are going to be here in groups, though. Not really any good opportunity to isolate anyone. This is the kind of place where you have to keep an eye out for the fanatics and the insane villains, who attack without reason.”
“Ah, right. You catch that, C4D1E?”
“I did,” the android confirms. “It is logical thinking.”
“Let’s grab a snack,” you say to the boy and his robot. “Once the lunch rush is over, we’ll grab an actual meal to eat.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Ichiro beamed up at you, and you smiled back at him fondly in turn. The young man was so full of excitement, it rubbed of on you and made you eager to find trouble to see what he and his bots truly were capable of. As you walked through the food court, the two of you were greeted with excitement from the civilians present. Most recognized you instantly, and a few of those asked about Ichiro.
“I’m Monitor,” he told them, when asked about his hero name. “I’m here to watch over you. All will be well while I’m around!”
The three of you were all greeted cordially, and fascination was expressed at Ichiro’s creation. Of course, he made certain to inform them he wouldn’t normally be taking to the field, but while he was learning the ropes, he’d be physically present to make sure everything went smoothly. C4D1E knelt down so that smaller children could more closely inspect her, and they giggled as they poked at her and looked at her many wires and joints. You made certain Ichiro was alright, before you took his order and parted from the group so he could still interact with fans while you got your food. The stand you approached had both chefs on duty leaning far out to get a glance of the boy and his machine.
“Well, Comet, we all thought you’d be the one to be a sidekick, not find one yourself.”
“Oh, he’s not my sidekick,” you laugh, “he’s a new employee. I’m just introducing him to the field, giving him a taste of the action, you know?”
“Ah, gotcha. Well, I don’t think you approached us because we look pretty, what can we do for you?”
“Chili Soba and Garlic Ramen, please.” You hand them payment, and they smile and nod before quickly getting to work. By the time they have finished your orders, the crowds of people are beginning to disperse around Ichiro and C4D1E. The poor boy looked just a tad frazzled from it all, but was otherwise positively glowing.
“These are tiny,” Ichiro commented.
“I did say we were getting a snack, right?”
“I could scarf this down in a minute if I tried!”
“Come on, it’s on the company’s dime, and we’ll get an actual lunch later.”
Ichiro puffed out his chest, but quickly lost any semblance of actual anger. “I am a growing boy, I need sustenance .”
“And you’ll get it!” you promise him with a laugh, as down the street, a racing vehicle and the sounds of panic quickly change the tune of your conversation. Without any verbal communication, you, Ichiro, and C4D1E run towards the gathered crowd. You’re quickly greeted with the sight of a mother straining against a group of people holding her back as she screams, “My baby! They took my baby! Please, they took my baby!”
“I’ll go after them,” you promise, making your presence known for the first time. Immediately, the woman calms down, and you turn to the young boy next to you. “Monitor, with me.”
“Right. C4D1E, we’re on!”
“Affirmative!” The robot crouches down, and Ichiro jumps onto her back, before the three of you are running down the street after the fleeing vehicle. You phone in to the agency along the way.
“Home base, we have an abduction in Suginami City, brown Toyota Odyssey heading east at seventy miles an hour, endangering pedestrians and other vehicles. Abducted presumably a child of unknown gender. Monitor and I currently in pursuit. Details to follow.”
“We hear you, Comet. Standing by.”
“Ichiro!” You call to him over the sound of the wind rushing past the both of you. “Get ahead of the vehicle to try and slow it down. Do not directly engage, just make them nervous to go too fast.”
“You heard her, C4D1E!”
The boy and his bot fly ahead, before returning to the ground to run in front of the car. Sure enough, the vehicle brakes and swerves, caught off guard by the sudden appearance of a person-- or persons-- in front of them. At this point, you take a flying leap of your own, landing squarely on the top of the vehicle.
“You’ve got two choices!” you shout out to whoever is within the vehicle. “You can either pull over and come quietly, or you can lengthen your sentence through whatever else you’re going to try! Choose wisely!”
Suddenly, a sharp pain makes itself known at your left wrist, and you yank your gaze down to find that there is a snake there. You panic, snapping the creature’s neck, but as you do, your wrist begins to stiffen, up to your elbow, and your skin turns grey. As the creature dies, it crumbles away into dust. Shit .
“Ichiro! Don’t look back!” The boy almost does, but stops himself at the last moment. “We’ve got a Medusa Quirk on our hands; I don’t know the extent of their paralysis potential, but don’t come into contact with any snakes, and don’t look the perpetrator in the eye.” You hurry to step on another, and this one too dissolves into nothing.
“Copy that! C4D1E, can you assess the interior of the vehicle?”
The android’s head spins around 180 degrees, now completely backwards on her head. Her blue eyes blink quickly, and she raises an arm to intercept a snake thrown their way out of the driver side window. “One driver, one passenger, restrained and gagged. Driver does not have snake hair, therefore, this is not a traditional Medusa Qui--”
C4D1E cut herself off abruptly.
“Kanemaru, the man appears to be regurgitating snakes of various sizes and breeds. Given my nature, I cannot determine if his gaze is also hazardous.”
“Ah, fun.” Ichiro, who is now safely secured by his thighs on the robot running ahead, taps at his wrist, where there is a map on a small screen. He then holds up a hand to his ear, activating his own earpiece to speak to you directly. “Comet, there’s a dead-end street coming up. If C4D1E and I do a hard brake, we might be able to inspire him to turn that way.”
“Negative, do not directly engage. I can’t have you getting run over on your first day of the job.”
“I’m merely a machine,” C4D1E points out. “If you were to pick up Ichiro, I could risk being damaged or destroyed in order to apprehend this culprit.”
That sits with you a little better, but not much. For it to be so easy for something to throw its life away was… unnerving. According to Ichiro, these things still have very human souls influencing their actions. “Are you sure about that?”
“Our sole mission is to eradicate threats to Earth’s safety. Our structural integrity is secondary. We cannot feel pain without nerve endings, and that aside, it is a hero’s duty to put themselves on the line for the safety of the many.”
It’s all the convincing you need, knowing you yourself would do the same. You leap off of the vehicle without a second thought, and you grab Ichiro from C4D1E’s back. Due to your bum left arm, it’s up to Ichiro to truly anchor himself to you, but once he does, you leap and tumble to the side. In the same moment, C4D1E jolts to an immediate stop, turning around to face the driver of the vehicle directly. Fortunately, she had left enough distance so that it wouldn’t be an instant collision, if one were to happen at all. And, to everyone’s luck, such a thing did not occur; just as predicted, the abductee veered sharply to the right, just barely clipping the robot, who then attempted to grab at the car. The machine showed startling strength in that moment, but unfortunately was not able to stop the vehicle, only tear off its bumper.
“That’s the way!” Ichiro shouted. “Go get him, I’m fine!”
Both you and C4D1E rush to action, running side by side after the vehicle. However, anxiety and doubt rush through your veins, and your vision begins to blur as you speed up. You blink rapidly, urging yourself to keep going; you can see well enough, and you shouldn’t be anywhere close to reaching your limit. However, the distance between you and C4D1E begins to grow, and the next time you shake your head and blink your eyes, the android is far ahead, almost neck and neck with the vehicle. When the dead end road finally appears, the driver breaks harshly, spinning out in the process. You manage to catch up to them just as C4D1E rips off the driver door, before the kidnapper can attempt to drive off again, and you watch her with wide eyes.
“Cease your resistance,” C4D1E commands, tearing the man out of his seatbelt. You make a point to stare down at his feet, avoiding any potential eye contact as you approach.
“Fuck you!” he spits. “She’s my daughter too!”
“Harsh language will not be tolerated.”
The man struggles in C4D1E’s grip, but doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, not to mention she seems immune to his Quirk due to her non-human status, so you rush over to the car, peering inside the back seat to find a young girl with tear streaked cheeks writhing in duct tape bonds. You tear them off of her, and though she yelps at the feeling, she throws her arms around you once you’ve taken the gag out of her mouth. This girl has snake hair, like you had expected the driver to have, signifying a clear relation between the two.
“I don’t wanna go back with daddy!” she cried into you, clutching at your coat.
“You’re not going to,” you promise. Your throat burns with rage that you force yourself to swallow down, still refusing to look at the man who is spewing obscenities at you.
“Put her down, you bitch, that’s my damn kid! She’s my kid, I get to see her too!”
You walk down the street away from the kidnapper and C4D1E, meeting up with Ichiro, who has run to close the distance.
“Is she okay?” he gasps out.
“She’s shaken, but she isn’t hurt.” You hand her to him, and as she recognizes him as another hero, she willingly enters his grasp. You shake out your left arm, the effects of the stone paralysis already beginning to wear off. “Seems like C4D1E’s got the situation handled.”
“We should still help her wrap up,” Ichiro replied, glancing between you and the bot, who is in the process of putting the man in Quirk Suppressant cuffs. “A little human supervision, you know?”
“You think? I mean, I’ve been impressed so far. You think she needs it?”
Ichiro stuttered. “Well, I mean, I don’t think she needs it, perse, but, I mean, it’s like--”
“The perpetrator has been apprehended,” comes C4D1E’s voice, startling the both of you and the child in Ichiro’s arms. The man in question has been secured to a nearby pole, so that the android could turn her attention to you.
“Ah, thank you C4D1E,” Ichiro chirped cheerfully. He shifts the little girl on his hip. “Comet, could you go find the authorities and let them know where--”
“That will not be necessary.”
Ichiro freezes. The color drains from his face, and he laughs it off a few moments after. You, however, turn to C4D1E. “Why not?” you ask.
“There’s no need to bring any more human lives into this situation. I can take the criminal into custody. However, his offspring will also require questioning and mental evaluation, and will need to come with me. She is integral to closing this case efficiently.”
C4D1E takes one step towards Ichiro, who in response takes one step back.
“Whoa, hey, C4D1E, she’s just a kid, and you don’t have the authority to make that call. Give her a moment to collect herself--”
Now, C4D1E is looming over Ichiro, and though her posture is not intended to be threatening or menacing, it seems as though she is attempting to assert power over the young hero.
“But I am a hero, am I not? I have been given power to protect the earth. This requires careful evaluation of the human conscious.”
“Again, that’s not your call . Stand down, C4D1E.”
“This is for your own good,” the bot says, before tearing the child from Ichiro’s arms and taking flight. The various cries of alarm around you are drowned out as you leap after the robot, closing the distance in the blink of an eye and taking a hold of the girl yourself. She screams bloodcurdlingly as she grasps desperately at you, and once she’s securely in your grip, you kick at the bot with all of your might, sending her tumbling back down to the ground.
“C4D1E, stop!” Ichiro shouts. “Don’t do this!”
But the machine seems to have decided to entirely ignore Ichiro, as she takes flight towards you once again. You rise yourself, trying to keep distance between you and the bot, but the higher you rise, the blurrier your vision becomes, degrading rapidly. Shit, shit, not now .
“Rogue hero detected,” C4D1E states as if commenting on the weather. “Hero action; kidnapping and evasion of law. Response; apprehend and neutralize.”
And then, C4D1E has both hands at your ankles, pulling you down. Adrenaline rushes through you; if you drop this child now, she’ll surely die from the fall. You have to fight back. You grip her tightly in one arm, before your other whips around to dig into C4D1E’s eyes and mouth. You use your quirk to chill and freeze the metal there, before gripping with your fist and yanking to the side, while pushing down on her shoulders with your feet. There’s a crunch and then the sound of static as the head of the machine is torn clean off, and one more kick sends the machine plummeting back down to earth. You hover there as the chassis falls, and then indents the ground upon impact. The head in your hand slowly falls still, eyes fading from blue to black, and you drop that, too. It shatters on impact with the ground.
Shit, it’s just a machine, you repeat in your head. It’s just a machine. Just a machine. Right? Right? It’s just a machine.
As the wave of adrenaline flees from you, so too does your strength, and it takes a great effort to return to earth safely with the young girl still in your arms. By this point, the police have arrived, as well as the girl’s mother, who rushes to you and takes her child as she weeps and sings praises of your name. Ichiro rushes up to you in the midst of the chaos, pulling you away from the police and the others quickly.
“Comet, are you okay? Are you hurt? I had no idea C4D1E would do--”
“Yes, you did.”
Ichiro’s mouth snaps shut, before he stammers again. “No, no no, I--”
“You reacted first when C4D1E started acting strange, and you immediately knew her intentions weren’t in line with the hero code. Don’t lie to me, kid.”
The boy’s mouth flapped; he looked back to the police, then back to you.
“That-- see, that’s why-- they still need regular heroes to monitor them, see? Each iteration gets better, and-- and they-- I find the flaws and I patch them, I--”
“Ichiro I just technically committed a murder , if what you say about your Quirk is true. Don’t-- don’t pretend this is okay, okay? Say… say what I want to hear. Tell me the truth .”
You grind your teeth together, chest quaking.
“They’re not ready, are they.”
“No, no no no, no it’s not murder, they’re not the same as humans, they-- a soul isn’t the defining factor of a human, it just-- all it is is a measure of rationality and morality, and, and, and…”
Ichiro droops, then, looking around anxiously, before leaning in close, so that no one but you can hear his next words.
“Don’t tell mom. Please.”
Chapter 5: Sharp Edges II
Hey, i just wanna thank you guys for all your support once more. I'm still having a really rough time of things financially and mentally and every day is a challenge to get out of bed. Just as a reminder, if you like what you're reading/seeing here on AO3 and on my blogs, please share my posts, reblog, retweet, talk about me-- I don't want to sound thirsty for attention, but that's the only way writers and artists like me can get a foothold in a neverending sea of content. Thanks.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You hear Ayane praising and doting on her son from around the corner, as you apply more of your eye drops after failing to find The Boss to report on the mission “Out on the field,” one of your co-workers informed you. You stare down at your eyedrops. You’re a little over halfway empty; you’ll have to get a refill for your prescription far sooner than planned. Queasiness washes over you at the thought. Maybe it was time to schedule a doctor’s appointment, after all, with how quickly your Quirk is disintegrating on the daily. But that would have to be reported to The Boss, and who knows how she would react at hearing your Quirk is suffering for unknown reasons. Physically , you feel fine. Mentally? Hell, you haven’t been sure of that in years. Whatever the underlying cause was, surely, it wasn’t good. Perhaps you were building a resistance to the medication?
“I’m just so glad you weren’t hurt,” Ayane tuts to Ichiro. “Shame about C4D1E, she was brand new, wasn’t she?”
“Yeah, but it’s okay. I can just make more. You know I’ve got the two at home on standby, I’ll give them a few upgrades and everything will be fine.”
And as much as the situation made you nervous, your failing health didn't have anything to do with Ichiro. He had just arrived, after all-- this problem had been persisting for a bit longer than that. Still, you were concerned about the sudden turn of events that transpired out on the field today. Having an accomplice suddenly turn on you, human or otherwise, wasn’t something to be brushed off. But, for Ichiro’s sake, you had remained quiet. It was currently believed the kidnapper had been the one to damage the machine, and no one thought anything otherwise.
Maybe it’s just a one-off fluke , you consoled yourself. Maybe it’s a rare occurrence, and it won’t happen again. Maybe.
It was enough to ease your thoughts just enough to remain quiet. However, your shift was far from over; another few hours to go, though Ichiro was now off the clock. You’d need to head back out soon.
As you were beginning to walk back towards the upper deck to take flight back into the city, a familiar voice called out to you.
“How’d the shift go?”
Mod. You swallow your tongue when you want to laugh.
“Any rookie’s first few missions aren’t going to go smoothly,” you point out to him.
“That’s not what I asked.” The Monstrous Hero taps his claws against his upper arms. “Something can be rough, but still end up alright. So?”
You take a deep breath.
“Ichiro did wonderfully.” You mention nothing of C4D1E. “He has great potential to create a safer world for all of us. I’m eager to see what the future holds.”
“Hmph.” Mod narrows his eyes. He doesn’t lash out at you apparent support of Ichiro, as if knowing there was something deeper under the surface. Instead, he only steps back away from you, signaling the end of your conversation. Out of instinct, you wave to him uncertainly, then slap yourself mentally for falling back on an old American habit as you make a hasty departure.
Yeah. You need to get back to work pronto to get this off of your mind.
As you come to stand at the end of the balcony, your phone buzzes in your back pocket. A part of you doesn’t want to bother to check, too afraid it will only bring about another problem for you to turn around in your head, but you eventually reason with yourself, how much worse could it be after nearly dropping a child from a hundred feet in the air? So you pull out the device, and though of course you can’t see it, a wave of relief washes through you just at the mere thought of All Might’s smile.
Saturday, July 6th - 2:27 PM
Don’t worry if you can’t respond! Just wondering if you want to meet up to work together? It’s a quiet day, really, should go by a lot faster with your company.
A smile tugs at the corners of your concerned lips, and the weight on your heart lightens. Even just in text format, All Might’s infectious happy attitude never failed to lift your spirits. Immediately, you knew that being around him would be a very welcome distraction from the stress of the day.
I’d love to meet up. Tokyo Tower?
I’ll beat you there!!!
Oh, yeah right. You quickly pocket your phone and take a running leap away from your agency, energy renewed after using your eyedrops. No way are you gonna let All Might… Yagi … beat you. You’ve got a streak to keep.
You manage to arrive at the tower just before the Symbol of Peace, who comes to a stop just around the corner from you. He leans out, one hand holding onto the many bars of the red and white structure as he smirks your way.
“Ah, fancy meeting you here! It’s almost as if we planned it!”
“Almost,” you agree, laughing as you walk the thin beam to meet up with All Might. “Maybe fate has something incredible in store for us.”
All Might quirks a brow. “Think we’ll be around long enough to find out what?”
You tap your chin in thought. “I dunno. I hope so. Right now, I think Fate is pointing us to the west. What say you?”
All Might also took on a stance of deep thought, before nodding along with you. “Yes, I think that sounds wise. After all, if Fate feels it fit to bring us together in this way, I will trust you wholeheartedly to guide us--”
And then, he couldn’t keep up the serious facade, and the both of you devolved into a fit of giggling. He placed a warm hand on your shoulder and shook you fondly.
“I uh--” He stuttered. “I’m glad you’re here. I’m happy to see you, truly.”
“I’m happy to see you too. It’s been… a day,” you confess.
“Oh? It’s a little over halfway over. Is it something you want to talk about?”
You think about the offer for a moment, before gesturing to the west. “Well, let’s get moving on our patrol. We can talk about it along the way.”
“Right then. Let’s sync our earpieces.”
It only takes a moment for the two of you to do so, and then the both of you are soaring along your way, keeping a casual pace in comparison to the speed the two of you are capable of.
“So, what’s on your mind?” All Might inquires.
“It’s probably nothing serious. Just… an incident, I guess. We have a new employee at my agency.”
“Oh! Are they alright?”
“He’s fine, he’s fine,” you assure the pro hero. “He wasn’t hurt, it’s just… I’m not sure where to start, really. A lot happened in the first few hours he’s been here. And I am a worry-wart. I know I’m overthinking this but I can’t seem to shake it from my mind.”
“Well, start from the beginning. Take as much time as you need.”
You take a moment to run across several rooftops to gather your thoughts, before jumping back into the air.
“You remember Ichiro, right? Ayane’s son?”
“I do, he was at my birthday, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, that was him. Well… he’s the new employee.”
“Ah, so he found work! Good for him! How was his first day? Uh, besides this ‘incident’ you’re mentioning?”
“He’s competent, capable. Smart, too. Very smart. Very bright.”
You purse your lips. “His Quirk is… interesting. He gives machines… souls. Sentience, I guess. They become capable of thought, feeling, independence. And it’s fascinating.”
“It sounds like it!” All Might agrees. “A robot that has the same equivalent mindset to a human… we’ve come close to coding that on our own, but to be able to just give it freely is something else entirely.”
“They can copy Quirks, too. Multiple at a time, actually.”
All Might stumbles.
“Yeah. They don’t have the same biological limitations as us humans do. So… multiple Quirks. It’s not limitless though. Everything has limitations. And he hasn’t actually created any multi-Quirk bots yet. But he says it’s possible. One copied my Quirk today.”
“My Goodness! That’s quite impressive! How did that go?”
You purse your lips.
“I had to destroy it.”
“The android went rogue and tried to kidnap a young girl. It was… a jarring experience, after how useful the bot had proved to initially be.”
The two of you come to stop on the same roof, and All Might cuts you off before you can continue along your chosen path.
“Are you alright? Is everyone alright?” He searches your gaze intently.
“I’m alright,” you promise. “Ichiro was shaken up too, but no one was hurt. It’s just…”
You bite your lip, and look away. The memory of that panicked child in the robot’s hands made your stomach curl. But C4D1E had had noble intentions, even if it didn’t fall in line with the hero code. Maybe you’re overreacting about all of this. Maybe Ichiro was right; it was a rare occurrence, and he had it under control. But All Might tries to crouch down to catch your gaze. When he speaks your last name, it’s barely above a whisper. “You can tell me anything. What happened?”
“I don’t--” you cut yourself off, before continuing, wanting to trust your worries to the Number One Hero you’ve grown so close to, who, surely, you can entrust anything to. Even if it’s baseless worries like this. “I don’t think this is the first time something like this has happened to Ichiro. I think… he knew something like this would happen. He told me not to tell anyone, but it just-- he says it’s under control, but something just isn’t sitting right with me. I can’t explain it… it’s just a gut feeling.”
You wring your gloved hands together, shrugging slightly. Large hands come to rest on your shoulders, and All Might makes certain to catch your gaze before speaking.
“Would you like me to have a word with him? If you have a bad feeling, you shouldn’t keep silent. I understand it would look bad on you to say something when you supported him so eagerly prior.”
“It’s only his first day. Maybe it’s just-- I don’t know, nerves. Mentor worries. And getting those thoughts off of my chest has helped a little. I think.”
All Might’s lips slip into a thin straight line. “Is it really a risk worth taking? I trust your judgement, Comet. If you don’t trust what you’re feeling… you’re probably right.”
“And what if I’m not? What if I’m just… I don’t know. That thing was faster than me. Maybe I’m just jealous.” You laugh halfheartedly. “Disposable machines that are just as effective as human heroes? That’s… that’s something, alright.”
“What do you mean?” His brow furrows in confusion.
“Well it’s-- it could be the beginning of--”
And suddenly, what Mod said makes sense. His complaints about Ichiro’s presence, and what his Quirk could mean in the long run. Why he was so angry and… afraid.
“The beginning of the end of heroes.”
That seems to click with All Might, and he blinks rapidly as he processes the idea you’re implying. Before he has a chance to respond to it, however, you are both interrupted by the sight of a car flying through the air over the buildings in the distance, before crashing down somewhere out of sight. No words need to be spoken between the two of you, and you both dart towards the source of the commotion. Upon reaching the location, you’re greeted by the sight of a Minotaur individual with springs for limbs, though at the ends of the springs are regular hands and hooves. She pounds her fists together and huffs, the nose ring at her snout waving with the motion as she looks around.
“So!” she exclaims, glancing around at the various terrified onlookers. “Anyone else?”
“Yeah!” A monkey with four arms hops up on her shoulder, grinning wickedly. “Or, you can pay the fine, like we politely asked ya. Nobody ever missed a couple thousand yen from their pockets in exchange for their lives, yeah?”
“Fine?” you whisper to All Might.
“It doesn’t matter; they’re causing a ruckus,” he grunts. “Keep your distance from those spring limbs; probably packs one heck of a punch.”
“What about the monkey?”
“That thing’s like the size of my fist. Shouldn’t be a problem.” All Might smirks over at you, and before you can point out the fact that you don’t yet know what the monkey’s Quirk is, the pro hero drops to the ground to confront the culprits. However, when he darts forward to attack, you stare in bewilderment as he completely misses the two villains and punches at nothing, though they haven’t moved at all. Even All Might seems confused, and he looks all around him wildly. He looks disoriented and uncertain and… hazy.
“Hallucination Quirk,” you murmur to yourself, watching as All Might barely manages to catch the Minotaur woman’s fist from smacking into him. “Probably the monkey’s. Probably via eye contact, since All Might didn’t come into physical contact with it. If I keep my gaze averted, I should be okay. If it’s telepathically transferred, that will be another story. I’ll get in, figure out the situation, and determine if we need to step away and regroup.”
You stand yourself to join the pro hero in his fight with that plan stored away, but the hairs suddenly prickle at the back of your neck. You glance back just in time to see the approaching threat-- a falcon-humanoid without wings, with ice-tipped talons-- before you’re scratched across the cheek and sent plummeting off of the roof behind you. Hitting the ground steals the breath from your lungs and blurs your sight, but you pull yourself together to roll out of the way before the ice falcon can land on your chest with its talons.
“Snowbird!” barks the Minotaur from someplace behind you. “This isn’t your territory. Scram!”
“You’re welcome, Spring Bull,” the bird man grunts. “You missed one.” He gestures to you with a broad, bored wave, before humming with interest as he easily side-steps All Might, still swinging wildly. “Huh. Haven’t tangled with this guy before. Looks like you got him good, Nissaru.”
The monkey perched on the Minotaur’s shoulder perks up at the praise, before acting nonchalant and picking at his nails. “Well, a few tricks here and there go a long way. He won’t be laying a finger on us anytime soon. But you’re right; we didn’t notice the extra hero. Thank you for the backup. Guess you’ve earned a little something.”
You move to jump back to your feet, but those ice talons dig into your back just enough to make you freeze. Nissaru tosses a bag of yen to Snowbird, and while the bird weighs the coins in his hand, you grit your teeth and buck him off of you, still making sure not to make eye contact with the monkey.
“ None of you are leaving this street with any of that money,” you snarl, snatching the coin purse from the falcon and punching him with your free hand hard enough to send him tumbling down the street. You duck under one of Spring Bull’s attacks, a spring fist flying over your head, shouting at All Might, who is still attacking nothing. “All Might! What you’re seeing isn’t real! Get out of the area and collect your bearings!”
He glances in your direction for all of one second, before shaking his head dazedly and doing as you command, jumping far away from the scene.
He’ll be back soon , you comfort yourself, as you’re now faced with the threat of facing three unexpectedly powerful villains alone. I just have to hold out and keep them here in the meantime. Which… shouldn’t be hard. They’ll likely want a piece of me.
Spring Bull grits her teeth, huffing wildly, before charging at you, Nissaru bouncing on her shoulder. Don’t make eye contact , you remind yourself, as you leap out of the way, before sending a wave of frost and light into the Minotaur’s back. Snowbird jumps over her form, and you throw up your arms to block a barrage of kicks and punches. However, when the bird reels back and his beak is coated with ice, he slams his head down with all of his might, breaking unexpectedly through your shield.
What!? No! That’s impossible, my shield’s withstood much worse!
While you’re still shocked, Snowbird takes advantage and grabs you by the throat before throwing you down into the ground below. He looks back behind him.
“Nissaru! Get over here and incapacitate her! Too quick and smart for her own good.”
So it is through eye contact. Good, that means you don’t have to worry about your mind being sabotaged out of the blue. You pull your knees up to your chest to kick Snowbird off of you before rolling backwards and away from his grip, but in the process, one of Spring Bull’s fists catches you square across the jaw, right where Snowbird had scratched you prior. When you try to throw up another shield in frustration, another fist breaks right through immediately, right into your gut.
Damn it! Damn it, what’s wrong with me!? What’s wrong with me, why am I so weak!?
“Stop!” you scream, sending out a broad wave of light towards your enemies. They are pushed back considerably, but manage to keep their footing.
“Sounds like girly’s upset,” the Minotaur snickers. “What, angry we took your boyfriend out of the fight so quick?”
Boyfriend!? That grinds your gears horribly, and without thinking, you charge directly into Snowbird, though he easily intercepts your attack. He tosses you like a ragdoll across the street, and your spine curls around a street lamp before you collapse to the ground, spitting through your teeth like a rabid animal.
Pull yourself together! This isn’t like you! What’s wrong with me?!
“Her emotions are clouding her judgement,” Snowbird scoffs. “Figures. The world has no place for beings with emotions. It’s their primary vulnerability… one that will get them killed.”
You suck in a sharp breath.
Could that really be what’s tripping you up so badly? After all this time..? But what have you even been feeling before this moment that could sabotage your power so severely?
There isn’t time to dwell on it; Snowbird is rushing towards you, ready to put you out of your misery.
Emotions . They’re… getting in the way. Your worries, your concerns, your fears… they’re holding you back.
So what if…
What if you felt nothing?
Could it be…
You lift your hand.
And Snowbird is immediately halted by a chill that rustles his feathers and causes him to dig his talons into the ground to prevent himself from being pushed back. He grinds his beak, not bothered by the cold itself so much as the sudden unexpected force of it.
Your frustration, your anger, your fear… it all ebbs away. So, too, do your doubts go with it. Soon, everything you feel means nothing at all. And now, there’s nothing there, except for the goal at hand: Stop the enemy. Nothing is more important than that.
You stand. Spring Bull fires off a sucker punch your way, and you raise your forearm to block it. The shield of ice merely cracks under the strain, but does not shatter. It’s mysteriously devoid of stardust and light, but you don’t dwell on it.
“Nissaru!” she barks out, before tossing the four armed monkey in your direction. Surely, you can stop him with a shield, but you wouldn’t have time to smack him away, at which point he’d be close enough to--
There’s no time to finish your thought. Even as Nissaru soars towards you, suddenly, a tear in the fabric of reality itself rips open, and Nissaru disappears into the pitch blackness of it, before reemerging from another tear and slamming into a wall with a crack.
“Mind if I join you?”
The disembodied voice is familiar and welcome to you. You fight back a smirk as another tear opens, and from it emerges The Boss herself, decked out completely in her heroine gear. Similar to your own short skirt, the grey and purple of her own comes to just above her padded knees, accented by a blue glow on the hems of the skirt and her jacket and cloak combo. The pad on her right shoulder bears the saints fleur de lis, the brightest of everything on her protective gear, symbolizing her directive to be the watchful angel of the world.
“The Boss?!” Spring Bull snorts in shock.
“The name’s worn out enough already, I don’t need your sick tongue sullying it further.”
“We--” The villain shakes her head in disbelief. “We looked up to you, you know. You-- you gave us the best chance--”
“That’s not who I am any longer.” The Boss’s eyes darken at the mention of a past no one dares to utter, before she opens another inter-dimensional rift, and from it procures a glowing violet, dull sword. “Like I said-- my name’s been sullied enough.”
Spring Bull looks genuinely wounded and upset, before steeling her resolve. “They’ll sing my name in the streets once I put an end to your traitorous ways!” She makes to charge, but is stopped by steel boots slamming into her back and kicking her into the ground. This is accompanied by booming laughter and a brilliant smile.
“Shimizu!” All Might beams, clearly excited to see her, “what a pleasant surprise! Always wonderful to see you!”
The Boss smiles in turn, warmly and happily. “Likewise. Nice of you to join us.”
She’s interrupted by Nissamu screeching and darting for The Boss, enraged, but all it takes is a quick flick of her blunt weapon to cast him elsewhere. You rush in, determined to finish the job, but a sudden sharp pain jolts through your leg and yanks you down.
“Comet!” All Might shouts your name, and leaps towards you, kicking at something beneath you before carrying you away. Blood is soaking your leg, jagged teeth marks clearly present through the torn fabric.
“Fourth hostile identified!” The Boss exclaims, leaping up and away herself. Beneath her, the ground ripples like water, and a piranha-like man splashes up with teeth bared.
“It’s not nice to hurt people,” he bites. “But if you’re going to make me defend my friends this way, then I suppose I have no choice!”
All Might lands with you on a rooftop not high up and not far away, quickly looking over your leg with attentive eyes. “Can you still fight?” he asks, knowing better than to assume a hero’s out for the count over one bite.
“I’m a hero. It’s my duty.”
“Right.” He nods in understanding, then quickly assesses the situation below. “I’ll focus on Spring Bull and Snowbird. Watch out for our new friend and Nissaru. The Boss would surely appreciate your backup.”
And so, the two of you return to the field of battle with solid goals in mind. You barely manage to touch the ground before the piranha villain darts towards you, startlingly quick, so you jump back up. However, once he breaches from the land, you fire off a ray of ice down towards him, smashing him back into the ground before he can get close. The Boss, tangled up with Nissaru, quickly procures herself a pair of dark goggles from the Void, before directly reengaging, now with her sight protected from the creature’s hallucinogenic effects. Meanwhile, All Might dances around Spring Bull and Snowbird, tossing them like ragdolls. It seems his strength has only improved the longer he has been a hero, and it shows now in how effortlessly he handles two foes at once. You are awed by the sight.
The Boss is the first to finish with her enemy; after Nissaru climbs her shoulders and threatens to tear the goggles from her head, she grabs a taser from another reality, jamming it into the monkey’s chest. The scent of singed fur fills the air, before he falls off of the woman unconscious. She then tosses the weapon to you, and you press the device into the piranha’s neck. However, this doesn’t stop him, and you narrowly avoid having your hand bitten off. After shoving him away, you send a flying kick into his chest, propelled by your Quirk, and The Boss catches him, holding her sword to his throat in a chokehold, before headbutting him into unconsciousness as well.
By this time, All Might has subdued Spring Bull, who is now tangled up in her own arms and legs, but Snowbird remains conscious and furious. His feathers bristle angrily, and as All Might charges in for the final blow, the bird takes a deep breath, and screeches. All Might is frozen in his tracks-- literally-- as thick blocks of ice scatter around Snowbird and stop everything in their way. Of course, All Might manages to break free shortly, but the pause is long enough to give Snowbird the advantage, and his taloned feet are swinging up towards the pro hero’s throat. From your current distance and angle, there’s no chance of stopping the attack. However, The Boss grunts with exertion as she opens a tear large enough to drop All Might into, out of the way of the attack.
And then, from behind Snowbird, a wave of fire rushes past like a tidal wave, engulfing him completely, and obscuring him from sight. He only seems minimally phased by the flames, if not annoyed and slightly hurt, until a fist emerges from the light and heat and crashing into his beak. Snowbird is sent sprawling out of the fire, the tips of his feathers singed, and as he weakly attempts to rise, a firm boot on his chest keeps him in place, firmly defeated at last.
All Might reemerges from the void a moment later, landing on his head before tumbling onto his back. You hurry towards him, kneeling down and instantly inspecting his throat for any sign of injury, but he just chuckles and bats you away gently.
“You and Shimizu worry too much,” he chides. “I had it under control.”
“Either way,” booms a voice you have only heard before on television and radio, “it’s for the best you got out of my way, All Might. I would hate to take the heat for singing the Number One Hero… even if it would have given me a good chuckle.”
Though his presence behind you warms every inch of your back uncomfortably, a shiver still runs down your spine, knowing just what kind of power stood there. Your eyes search All Might’s for confirmation, that it’s really him . But ever joyous, he only smiles, before looking up at the newcomer eagerly.
“Nice to see you too, Endeavor!”
Chapter 6: i know it's not easy, but you're not alone anymore
I don't want to make anyone too excited, as uploads are going to continue at their current rate (once every two weeks on Fridays), but this fic is currently finished in my drafts! Yay! In the meantime, I'll continue writing onwards (we've still got at LEAST four main fics left on top of side fics like "Safe and Sound" and "Close") and interact with and love and appreciate you guys the whole way through :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
All Might jumps to his feet eagerly, extending his hand to the man hovering behind you. You yourself are still frozen in place, hardly believing your own senses at this point. Endeavor? The Number Two Hero himself? Here? Where you are? Behind you?!
Next to your head, All Might’s hand is batted away.
… yeah. That’s definitely Endeavor.
“Comet. We finally meet.”
Oh, and now he’s addressing you directly. You turn around slowly to face the tall man behind you; though his height doesn’t compare to All Might’s, his general mass is equally as impressive. However, for what he lacks in height, he makes up for in sheer intimidation, flames engulfing his lower face in that all-famous facsimile of a beard. The heat he puts off is oppressive in the summer air, but fortunately, you are not as bothered by it as you could have been, given the nature of your Quirk. Piercing blue eyes like electricity seem to spark around your very veins as he peers down at your much smaller form.
He’s waiting for a response. For you to speak. You barely manage not to squeak.
“Ah-- yes. I’ve been… anticipating this day eagerly, Endeavor.”
“Hmm.” The hero takes a single step back, planting his boot on poor singed Snowbird’s back and eliciting a groan from the defeated figure. “As to be expected.”
The Boss joins the three of you shortly thereafter, having restrained the monkey and the piranha. She and Endeavor look to each other, but the taller man seems surprised by the woman’s presence.
“Aren’t you getting a bit old for field work, Shimizu?”
The Boss merely rolls her eyes. “A pleasure to see you as well, Endeavor. Your social skills, as usual, are on point.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize this was a formal gathering. Allow me to try again.” Endeavor sneered as he took The Boss’s hand and shook it a tad roughly. “Good afternoon, Shimizu-san.”
All Might barked out his own laugh in response. “Ah, classic Endeavor! The bodily sculpt and temper of a god. Thanks for showing up to help out! We almost had it handled, but an extra helping hand never goes amiss, right?”
“From where I was standing, it seemed as though we were going to see what you were made of, literally, first hand. You were distracted.”
“Uh-- distracted?” All Might’s smile wavered slightly in the face of the accusation. “Nonsense! I mean, after all, that was quite the combination of Quirks there! Had these villains been more organized, they very well could have been formidable foes.”
“Even as they were, they were formidable enough.” Endeavor then deems his conversation with All Might finished, and his cool gaze turns to you, but his words are directed elsewhere. “Shimuzu-san. Remind me where you picked up the American?”
“She came to us, during the Khaos Crisis. I’m sure you remember that time well, given you were assigned to emergency training for those who were still wet behind the ears.”
Endeavor grumbled at the reminder.
“At the time, she solely performed as a search and rescue heroine, salvaging civilians from the wreckage and debris, but her abilities have improved tremendously over the past eleven months.”
“So I have heard.” Endeavor moves so that he is walking around you, eyeing your form carefully. You turn in tandem to follow his movements, uncertain if you want him to be out of your sight again. “The incident at the Kairaku-En is particularly potent in my memory. Absorbing that much gamma radiation is not common for a human not in possession of a purely radiation-based Quirk. Many pros still consider it to be a miracle you survived such an attack not once, but twice.”
He stops directly in front of you with a slight sneer.
All of your attention is taken by the arrival of police cars. All four of you start to approach at once, but then stop, upon realizing it was really only necessary for one hero to give the rundown of the situation, and one other with rounding up the villains. Almost as if reading each other’s minds, All Might stated:
“I’ll give them the story.”
And The Boss replied:
“I’ll round up the apprehended.”
And then, very abruptly, it is just you and Endeavor. His presence is suffocating next to you, even as he folds his arms, which somehow makes him seem smaller. You try not to stare at him, but really, what else is there for you to do? When you do glance over at him, it seems as though he had the same idea. You avert your gaze quickly, but it’s too late; he’s noticed. He eyes his fingernails nonchalantly, though it doesn’t hide his smug smirk.
“We’re not entirely opposite ends of the Quirk spectrum. I’m not going to melt you if you look too long.”
“Right, just… well, you’re… y’know… Endeavor .”
For the first time since his arrival, the Number Two Hero laughs, though it’s a short thing.
“Forgive me if I’m not sunshine and happiness like your blind mentor. Unlike him, I still have my grasp on reality.”
Reality? What does he mean by that? You turn to peer up at Endeavor out of the corner of your eye. He is smirking, but it feels as though it’s for all the wrong reasons.
“Distraction can’t be afforded. The world grows more dangerous with each new generation, with each passing day. Had the area been more populated and the villains more dastardly, surely, All Might’s behavior would have been criticized. At least, I would have, if I were in everyone else’s shoes. But the rest of the world, they would-- and will-- smile and cheer their flawless Symbol of Peace. The hero who can do no wrong.”
He pauses, before he shrugs.
“But like all heroes, he’s replaceable.”
“Wha--” The sound escapes your lips before you can stop yourself, and Endeavor picks up on it.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen a super strength Quirk in action before him, or a Quirk that leaps twice as high twice as fast, runs quicker than light can travel. He isn’t unique. He isn’t special .” The word sounds like vomit on his lips, as if he’s trying to convince even himself of the idea. “Think about it. Today, you witnessed that you aren’t the only person with a cold related Quirk. This can’t be a first for you, and even if it was, I could already tell you my wife has a power that far surpasses yours. After all, the saying goes, ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None.’ Couple that with a speed-related Quirk, and there’s already a clone worthy to challenge you, even without the cosmic aspect.”
Then, he glares down at you.
“You aren’t special. He isn’t special. All you got was being in the right places at the right times with the right audiences. Don’t forget that. Maybe then, your career will survive past your twenties. You may have gotten the press’s attention in the past, but that luck won’t last.”
It’s a very sudden and very startling bit of cruel advice. It takes you by surprise, but Endeavor steps away from you as if nothing happened.
“Few will bat an eye if you pass away. That’s the simple reality of being a hero in a world saturated with them. So do what you can, but know that you will never make the waves you and thousands of others hope for.”
Then, he turns to look back at you, colder than you thought possible from a hero whose whole gimmick was fire.
“Take it easy, kid. Chasing the stars will get you nowhere fast.”
And then, he truly leaves you alone, joining The Boss as she finishes herding Spring Bull into the back of an armored van. All Might departs himself from his conversation with the police with a hearty salute, and he narrowly avoids running face first into Endeavor, who snarls at him for drawing too close. You are still standing still and stunned as All Might returns to you.
“Well, that could have gone badly if you hadn’t stopped to evaluate the situation and told me to get out of there and recover. I have you to thank for this victory!”
Looking up at the optimistic hero before you takes more willpower than you want to or are willing to admit. Forcing a smile despite the tumultuous thoughts spiraling through your head is equally challenging, and unfortunately, All Might seems to see past your facade to some extent. He sighs, and his expression changes to a pout.
“Okay, what did Endeavor say to you?”
How did he know so quickly? You shake your head, pushing back those overwhelming and conflicting emotions. Feeling nothing is the best course of action until you can sort it out later. Just like before.
“It’s not relevant to us-- or anything. Just not relevant at all. Just… a pro hero giving out advice in his own way, I guess.”
“Hmph. Endeavor sure likes giving advice, but he sure as hell can’t take it.” All Might tuts and shakes his head. The Boss joins the two of you briefly.
“Alright, I’m heading back to the agency,” she informs you. “Your shift’s over in… one hour?”
“Hour and a half.”
“Ah, well, good luck. Don’t worry about coming back to the agency; I’ll clock you out so you can go straight home. Thanks for your hard work today, Comet.”
The Boss bows to you, before stepping backwards into a void portal, then promptly vanishing temporarily from existence, resituating herself elsewhere in the world.
“God that’s a neat Quirk,” All Might marveled. He then abruptly returned his attention to you. “Hey Comet! When do you get off your shift tomorrow?”
“Oh? Uh, two in the afternoon.”
“Excellent!” All Might exclaimed, before becoming significantly more subdued. The hero even shrunk in a little on himself, and his once confident smile quickly grew sheepish. “Ah, well, tomorrow’s the seventh of July. I was wondering, would you be… that is, does the idea interest you at all… well, the Tanabata Festival is happening-- well, the start of the festival, at least-- you haven’t experienced it yet, I thought, if you were interested in attending, we could-- but only if you wanted to--!”
“I’d love to go with you.”
“Eh?” All Might blinks rapidly, before shaking his head from his babbling stupor and smiling. “Oh! I’m glad! Good! Great, that’s… ah, thank you, is what I’m meaning to say! Uh, I’ll meet you..?”
“Well, where’s the festival at? Or I mean, the one you plan on attending. Are there multiple? I don’t know much about Tanabata--”
“Oh yes, yes, the one in Asagaya. It’s a little ways away, but it will be less crowded than the ones closer to the heart of Tokyo.”
“Asagaya. I can… meet you there?”
“If that’s what you’d like best! I just figured, well, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten to really spend time together… and as friends that doesn’t really seem well, now, does it?”
Friends. You nod in agreement.
“You’re right. I’ve been focusing way too much on work and other problems recently. I think a festival will be just the thing for the both of us, then.”
“Well, great!” All Might rubs the back of his head and laughs, though he continues to stare at you out of the corner of his eye. He then whirls around in a circle, his red cape fluttering as he does. “Then that’s when we’ll see each other next! But first, we ought to finish out your shift, right? I’ll lead the way this time.”
“I’ll follow,” you agree, thankful for the opportunity to be out of the Number One Hero’s sight. There are too many thoughts spiraling through your mind that you need to sort-- Endeavors words, Ichiro’s machines, and how best to manage your powers now that they dwindle and fail you more than ever. Though it is hypocritical of you to consider such a method of keeping your composure, you begin to understand why it was something All Might utilized frequently in his day-to-day life. Burying your emotions seemed to work, but what does that mean for how they’re impacting your Quirk… and why?
It’s easy to find All Might amongst the crowd the next day; not only do his bangs stick out like rabbit ears in the grass, but the large gathering of people create an epicenter around him. With the way everyone is facing, it creates almost a ripple effect. You land just outside of the large circle, and almost instantly almost half of the fans move to crowd around you instead, calling your name excitedly, camera flashes and pens and paper alike hovering within your reach. You appease as many as you can in a short period, before the people part like waves to allow the Symbol of Peace through to you. Most disperse, then, but some remain simply to observe you outside of your hero personas.
“Nice jacket,” you compliment him, noticing the blue and white immediately. “Those colors look good on you.”
“Oh! Yeah, I’ve had this thing since my college days. I think it might show a little.” He chuckles and rubs the back of his neck. “So, anything you want to do in particular first?”
“Well, considering it’s my first Tanabata, I can’t say I really have a good idea what we should do first. I know I can trust you to lead the way, though.”
“Oh! Of course.” All Might’s cheeks flush a rosy pink, before he chases it with a smile. “Well then, uh follow me! I think the first thing we ought to do is hunt for a treat, hmm?”
You have no objections to the plan, and soon, you walk next to All Might comfortably, used to being stared at in his company by now. Even so, despite your slight residual social anxiety, being with the Symbol of Peace always makes you feel safe, regardless of how many people are around you. As you think about it, you slowly turn to look up at the towering man next to you. His own eyes are trained on you, and when you make eye contact, he quickly averts his gaze.
“So!” he coughs out. “Ah, you’ve been hard at work lately. How are you holding up? Summer always sees a spike in villain activity.”
“I’ve been… managing.” It seems to be the most simple way to put it, without needing to address the issue of your dwindling power despite medical intervention. “It’s certainly more than what I’ve been used to so far, but that’s what I signed up for when I became a hero to begin with.”
“That’s a good attitude to have about it!” All Might pauses briefly at a bento booth, before changing his mind and moving on. “You’ve been more alert in training as well. You’re really honing your skill quite well. It’s been an honor to help assist in the process, truly.”
“You’re gushing about me again.” You roll your eyes, though your belly feels warm and light at the praise.
“How could I not? You’ve practically gone from a beginner’s understanding of your own Quirk to a full-fledged hero in a matter of months! Don’t downplay your strength-- haven’t we been over this?”
“Well, yeah, but…”
And then, the warm and happy feeling is accompanied by a sharp tug at your heartstrings, remembering what Endeavor had said.
“ You aren’t special. He isn’t special. All you got was being in the right places at the right times with the right audiences. Don’t forget that. ”
You are pulled from your thoughts suddenly. “Wh-- crepes?”
“Do you want to get crepes?” All Might gestures towards a shop behind you, which you had failed to notice before.
“Oh. Yes, that sounds good”
His hand is large and warm on your back as he guides you gently through the crowds.
There are various activities the both of you attend during that day. There are numerous parades, games, and stalls with snacks, candy, and treats of all kinds. Typical of him, All Might provides completely for your entertainment, not even considering the idea of allowing you to pay a single yen. Partway through the day, you pass by a mural composed of numerous stars dotting a river, and a man and woman on either side, reaching out to each other. As you stop to stare, All Might chuckles.
“Do you know what the Tanabata Festival is about?”
“Well, now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m going to assume this is a depiction of that purpose.”
All Might points to the man and the woman, respectively. “That’s Hikoboshi, and that’s Orihime. While Hikoboshi was a simple cow herder, Orihime was a seamstress, and wove the most beautiful silk robes. Orihime despaired that she may never find love, and so her father arranged for her to meet with Hikoboshi. They fell madly in love, but as a result came to neglect their respective duties. So, as punishment, Orihime’s father separated them by a sea of stars, known today as the Milky Way. But when Orihime begged the separation not to be eternal, he relented, and decreed that the star crossed lovers meet only once per year, where a bridge will close the river in the heavens, allowing them to come together once more.”
The mural before you seems to expand and sparkle and shine as All Might tells you of the legend, and you stare in awe, as if the story is coming to life before your very eyes. When he finishes, you can’t help but comment, “How romantic… And yet really sad.”
“It is.” The hero next to you nods in solemn agreement. “To be apart from the people you love… it… takes your breath in the worst way you could imagine.”
The next question falls from your lips before you can think twice.
“Have you ever been in love, All Might?”
The Symbol of Peace becomes rigid, and his mouth gapes as he stares down at you. The longer the silence is drawn out, the redder his face becomes. Before you can step in and apologize for the intrusive question, he replies, “Well… ah, besides the… affection I held for my master, who was akin to a mother for me… I haven’t… not like Hikoboshi and Orihime before now.”
Before now completely slips your attention.
“Right. I don’t think I’ve ever loved that fiercely either. I mean, I’ve been in relationships before this-- a boy, and then two girls-- not at the same time, of course-- but never like them. The gods, I mean. Are they gods?”
All Might takes a moment to recollect himself.
“Oh, ah, I’m not actually sure. Demigods, at least, certainly, given Orihime’s father was a god. Uh, two girls you say?”
You chuckle and shrug. “I did tell you I was gay, right?”
“Uh, hmm, I-- yes, but I had assumed you were only into girls.”
“Oh, so the boy is what took you off guard--”
“Yes, yes. I, I didn’t think it was my place to pry--”
“I don’t mind talking about it. I still lived in America with all of them. It never went really that far.”
You look back up to the mural.
“I guess I just… haven’t crossed the river in the right place yet.”
All Might returns to staring alongside you.
You end the day by writing out your Tanabata wishes and hanging them from the bamboo stocks around town; though the two of you are practically right next to each other, it seems to go unspoken that you won’t ask the other what they wished for. All Might finishes writing out his own before you’ve even begun, and for a moment, you envy his certainty, before realizing… if he was certain, why would he need to make a wish at all?
“ I want to be sure of myself and know what I’m doing matters. ” It doesn’t seem like a traditional wish, even to yourself, but your hand moves of its own accord, speaking for your heart rather than your mind. You suppose that’s for the best.
All Might hands you a golden ribbon when he sees that you have finished writing. You thank him as you hang your wish, taking a step back to look at the numerous bits of colored paper fluttering in the slight breeze.
“Sure are a lot of wishes,” you comment.
“And I’m glad there are. It means people have hope.”
And you supposed that was true.
All Might escorts you home once more, once the wishes had been burned and set afloat in the nearby river, as was tradition. Unlike the times in the past, there is little to no conversation to accompany the journey, but you find no trouble with it. In fact, it’s without a doubt, peaceful. Simply being in All Might’s company, even without words, felt right. However, you weren’t sure if he felt the same; out of the corner of your eye, you couldn’t help but notice him glancing at you quite frequently, seemingly in deep consideration of something you were not privy to. And as much as you want to know what’s going through his head, it doesn’t seem like the time to question it. You have faith that, whatever he’s thinking, he’ll tell you in his own time.
And then, you arrive in front of your apartment door all too fast, so fast, that you have to double-take to make certain it really is your apartment. When you turn around, All Might has his hands in his pockets, and a seemingly nervous grin on his features.
“I hope you had a good time.”
“Oh, I did, absolutely. Thank you for inviting me; I’m not sure I would have gone otherwise.”
“It was my pleasure!”
All might beams.
“It really was.”
Something feels… different. You can’t quite place it, but your heart is pounding against your ribcage. All Might, too, seems to sense it, if his microscopically wavering smile is anything to go off of.
“We should…” You pause. “Meet up again soon. Sooner.”
“I agree, completely! My schedule is probably more flexible than yours, so just… you know, name a time and place and uh… yeah.”
You nod to each other, sealing the deal. Something still feels amiss. What’s missing? You quickly try to wrack your brain for an answer, for what could feel so wrong in this moment, after everything was perfect--
“I should let you get inside and comfortable.” All Might laughs and scratches his forearm, shifting from one foot to the other.
“Oh, yeah, I-- inside, my apartment.”
“Yeah.” He laughs again, and when he takes a step back, the air lightens considerably from whatever was pressing the two of you down before. “Well… uh, thank you, and goodnight.”
Something glimmers in his eye at the sound of his name once more, so rarely spoken. It causes just one more moment of hesitation before the number one hero bows awkwardly and makes a quick exit. The tips of his ears are tinged pink long after he’s out of your sight.
Chapter 7: Friction
Oof, coming out with this one a little late tonight, sorry! We picking up the pace though, the hill is incoming...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sight of an android at the front desk to your agency the following Monday is not a pleasant one; your gut sinks at the implications, and you approach the machine warily in the otherwise empty lobby.
“Okay. Where’s Akumaru.”
“Akumaru is experiencing morning sickness, and is therefore unable to attend work today. I am covering her duties until she is due to return, at which point in time I will resign from this position and resume my duties in the main office.”
“Duties in the-- oh no.” You groan and rush to the elevator, pacing anxiously as you wait for the lift to arrive and take you up to work. You do your best to mentally prepare yourself for the sight that’s bound to greet you, but a simmering disappointment and anger prevent you from being able to reason with yourself, until you take a deep breath.
Remember, don’t feel anything. It’s too much of a distraction. It interferes with your own work. Leave the feelings to others.
It’s difficult to remain stoic once the elevator doors open, and you are greeted by exactly what you had feared, but you manage to numb your emotions to the point of completely lacking any reaction at all. So moving forwards, you maneuver through several androids, each acting out a different duty normally assigned to your coworkers, from brewing tea, to sorting papers, to cleaning workstations. This doesn’t leave your acquaintances without work, of course; being a hero agency, there’s always phone calls to take and orders to give and reports to write, but there’s more hustle and bustle with the new workforce in action.
At the other end of the office, The Boss, Ayane, and Ichiro stand, gazing upon the new workforce with beaming expressions. Upon spotting you, however, Ichiro rushes up to you excitedly, gesturing grandly to the office now behind you.
“Well? What do you think? Like a well oiled machine.”
“Ichiro has informed us,” The Boss explains, “he would like to further perfect his creations before they’re officially ready for field use, so for now, they’re serving their purpose and proving themselves here in the office with more menial tasks. I must say, we haven’t been this efficient since the Khaos Crisis. Not a single call has gone unanswered, and heroes are working nonstop to keep people safe, now that they consistently have clear directions on where they ought to next focus their efforts.”
You quirk an eyebrow, and look around once again. “Is that so?” It certainly hadn’t been the outcome you’d expected, nor had you expected Ichiro to find a compromise in your current distrust of the robots while still utilizing them with their current capabilities, but it wasn’t an unwelcome one, now that you better understood the details of their usage. You then turn your attention back to Ichiro. “Well then, what are your future plans?”
“ Definitely a lot more training with the hero bots, as well as tweaking their thought processes to fall more in line with traditional hero rationality. I’m not sure when I’ll be fully confident in a public release, but I want to hurry as quickly as possible. Heroes keep people safe, but heroes can’t always keep each other safe, you know? Easing the burden on both sides of the coin, civilian and hero, will be paramount to bringing about a brighter and more peaceful future.”
Impressed by Ichiro’s mature train of thought, you smile and ruffle his hair. “I like that plan,” you concede.
“Well!” Ayane claps her hands together briskly. “We’ve still got our own purposes to serve! I’m getting back to work; I’m helping Ichiro make android chassisies alongside my regular armor load, so there’s no time to lose!”
“And I need to report about the bot’s progress to the government. They’ve taken quite an interest in Ichiro’s Quirk and plans since the kidnapping event a week ago. They’ll absolutely love to hear about this.”
Ayane and The Boss parted with a bow, each heading to their respective destinations. Before you could leave to head to your own office, a hand grabbed at your wrist, halting your progress.
“Ah, Comet? Could I have a moment to speak with you alone?” Ichiro blinked up at you kindly.
“Uh, sure, come into my office with me.”
Once you’re within the safe confines of your office, door closed and Ichiro seated, you head to the other side of your desk, taking your own seat as you wait for Ichiro to speak his mind. “So, what’s up?”
“Well, in order to further train my bots, of course I need blood samples of various Quirks, in corder to give them the power to actually perform the duties of a hero. The only problem is… well, Modi-Mutation has been spreading… well, rumors.”
You nod, and gesture for him to continue.
“So, understandably, the heroes of this agency are… reluctant… to lend their power They tell me they’ll think about it, but until I get a blood sample, I can’t train my bots. You were there with me out on the field, you saw their potential! You-- could you-- would you mind donating another blood sample? Without Quirk power, I can’t work on making the androids better in a controlled environment, one that won’t introduce any unplanned contingencies--”
You cut off the boy with a clearing of your throat, clasping your hands together before you. The eager anticipation in his eyes tugs terribly at your heartstrings, but you once again take on a persona of indifference. The idea of a future where human heroes are rendered obsolete once again seizes your mind, along with Endeavor’s cold advice. Not to mention, the unpredictable way in which Ichiro’s creations behaved when given that kind of power. While his logic was sound, you knew the potential danger of it all, and it was part selfishness and part mere conscience that lead you to your reply.
“Ichiro, I understand where you’re coming from, and you’re right. I was there with you that day.” You sigh, and pinch the bridge of your nose, the one thing you were truly dreading finally becoming relevant once again. “But I also saw their potential to go rogue, their determination and willpower a catalyst to sheer deviation from the rules and laws we have in place, in order to do what they think is right, but in reality causes more problems. I support the pursuit of science and discovery, please don’t misunderstand me, it’s just… I can’t have my Quirk associated with these machines until they’re stable and sound.”
“Wh-- C-Comet, I’m on the verge-- I’m so close , I just need one Quirk to work with, just one! The bot would never leave the training arena until--”
“Ichiro, until I can place my faith entirely in your creations, I can’t take the risk of being the catalyst that creates a rogue machine that really hurts someone. I need you to stop and think about the long term repercussions about what would happen if one of your bots incorrectly assessed a situation and then someone’s blood is on your hands.”
“You’re being dramatic!” the boy cried out. “Sure, they’re flawed, but they’re not murderers, Comet!”
“But how long until they think a fellow hero is more threat than ally and someone gets hurt?!”
“Comet, that won’t--”
“Ichiro, I’m sorry.” You let finalization drip into your voice. “I can’t be a part of this.”
But Ichiro is far from finished. “The-- the benefits far outweigh the risks, I-- think of all the lives we could prevent from being put in danger to begin with--”
“And sacrificing the souls of your androids? Ichiro, they may not be human, but by applying the rules of logic, by definition, they’re alive and sapient .”
“Of course I know that! Don’t you think I would know my own creations? Please, understand that I know exactly what I’m doing-- they know what they’re doing, what they’re meant to do--”
“ None of us know what we’re meant to do!”
Finally, silence falls. You didn’t realize you had risen from your seat until you felt yourself lowering back down. Ichiro stared, equal parts glaring and submissive.
“Ichiro… it’s not our place… to determine what others should do with themselves. I’m not telling you to stop making your androids. I’m not telling you that it’s wrong. But with the combination of a machine that cannot feel pain, and doesn’t understand emotion, and you give that machine a soul… the line between where we stand between us and them is blurred. We can’t treat them as, as things, or product.”
“That isn’t my intention.”
“But that’s the example you are setting.”
Ichiro motions to speak, but falls short. You lean forward purposefully.
“Ichiro. If you’re going to be a leader… if you’re going to play a deity’s game… you have to be conscious of what sort of message you’re conveying with how you treat the things you make, physical or otherwise. With a Quirk and an intention like yours… people will follow your example. They are your creations, and the rest of the world will follow suit. Which is why I have to set an example of my own, by refusing you. Do you understand?”
Ichiro deflates across from you. Just as he opens his mouth to reply, the emergency phone to your right begins to ring. There’s never a moment to lose; you pick up the device, answering immediately.
“Shooting Star Heroine Comet, location and nature of emergency.”
“Ah-- W-We’re in Chuo-ku Ward! I-It’s a terrorist attack! T-There are three villains I can count leading the fray, um, they keep saying-- they’re calling for the release of all incarcerated villains in Chiba or-- or they-- we-we’re at the National History Museum--!”
“Sir, take a deep breath. Is there anything else you think I should know before I come to you?”
“One of them has some sort of paralysis Quirk, and one has a Quirk that raises a forcefield. I-- I don’t know about the third one. They’re threatening to destroy the entire ward!”
Though a surge of panic threatens to rush through you, you swallow the emotion back down. “That won’t happen. I’ll be there shortly.” You hang up the phone and stand, shuffling on your coat. “Ichiro, I have to go. There’s a terrorist attack in Chuo-ku Ward.”
When the boy is silent in response to your explanation, you stop briefly to address him just one more time.
“Ichiro… the future is brighter with you in it. But you’re also treading a path no one has taken before. You need to think twice as hard about everything you’re going to do. Even if you are deathly sure of what you need to do, doubt it. See it through another set of eyes. You’re going to change the world . Please… if you’re going to leave a legacy behind, don’t make hasty decisions you’ll regret.”
Ichiro still does not look back to you. With a final sigh, you close the door to your office, leaving the boy with your plea in the darkness.
“Do we have any eyes inside the building, home base?”
“Not inside, but you should be able to rendezvous with Radar on top of the museum. He’s been scouring the interior for details on the situation. I’ll have his agency inform him you’re coming.”
Ah, good old Radar. You nod to the coworker on the other end of your comms, even though he can’t see the action, and you alter your flight course to meet him there. He’s not the only hero present, and you land alongside him, as well as Tengu and a third hero you do not recognize.
“Ah, here’s our Shooting Star,” Tengu beams, eyes crinkling in his smile at the sight of you. “Radar, if you would care to fill her in on what we know so far?”
“Right. Three main villains, accompanied by some lesser Quirk grunts, four of them. Eleven hostages, youngest being six, oldest being seventy five. One is wheelchair bound. Tengu can shuffle out most of the hostages if we provide a distraction, but it will be up to you, me, and Psionic Entropy to handle the villains.”
“I can project into the fourth dimension and disrupt the enemy’s organization,” the third member explained. He was already in a seated position of which he could begin to meditate, which was what likely enabled him to use his powers. “There is a skylight to the right of us through which you can enter the building, but from then it’s a gamble of how long I’ll be able to keep the villains occupied for you to retrieve the hostages.”
“We won’t delay,” you assure him. “Are any of them armed? Guns, swords, anything with immediate lethal capacity?”
“Unfortunately, my Quirk won’t let me determine that much about a person,” Radar lamented. “And the only area where we could get a direct view into the building would give away that we are here.”
“Then I should be the first in,” you reply, “since I have a shield I can utilize as defense. I can help Psionic Entropy with handling the villains, while you and Tengu retrieve the hostages.”
Tengu jumps in to the plan. “We’ll want to land between the hostages and the villains, if possible, or at least get between them as soon as we can. That way, we can defend them from attack should the villains decide to get trigger-happy. But Comet, are you sure you want to go first? My wings may not be bulletproof, but I can provide a wider range of cover while you and the others handle the hostages.”
“No, my Quirk is more fitted for defending you all. I can stun them upon our initial entry, then provide as much cover as possible for a hasty retreat.”
At this point, Psionic Entropy raised his hand for silence. “This is all fine and well, but there is the issue of not knowing the Quirk of the third main villain. This could quickly bring our plans to a gruesome halt. We understand one has either a paralysis Quirk, while the other can create a shield of his own. Therefore, I believe it will be our second most priority to eliminate the third villain before he has a chance to utilize his Quirk in any capacity. I’ll do my best to make that my goal once the hostages have been escorted to safety, but everyone will need to act quickly.”
The remaining three of you nod in agreement before standing, leaving Psionic Entropy to prepare.
“Then the plan’s made,” Radar responded. “Comet, we’ll follow your lead.”
With a final nod, you do as Radar states, forging the way ahead to the skylight to the right. The mechanism keeping it locked is electronic, but fortunately, Radar possesses just the tools to handle the situation without setting off any alarms. You and Tengu open the hatch together, ears keen for any telltale squeaking that could give away your position, and acting accordingly to each to make the process as smooth as possible. Due to Tengu’s wingspan, the process takes longer than it would have if it had just been you and Radar’s more streamlined human forms, but soon enough the way is opened for the three of you. From your current position, the villains and their hostages are off to your left, in the centermost room of the building; a direct drop in is not feasible. However, directly beneath you, a flaming figure begins to take shape, and you recognize it as Psionic Entropy’s avatar. The faceless being looks up at you to nod once briefly, before darting into the next room, which you take as your cue to enter as well. One by one, first you, then Tengu, then Radar drop down, and you yourself hasten you entry through the power of your Quirk.
There’s only a brief moment for you to assess the situation; the villains are to your left, the civilians to your right. Psionic Entropy has just made his entry, but one of the villains has already spotted you. There are other figures, just as Radar had warned, but there’s no time to evaluate their threat level. You and Tengu rush to the huddled hostages together, with you throwing up an ice barrier between them and the villains, and Tengu spreading out his wings to cover what space you cannot.
“Alright, party’s over, kids,” Tengu urged hastily, though attempting to keep the tone light with some minor playfulness, “let’s get you all home before your parents find out what you’ve gotten yourselves into.”
Just as Tengu gets everyone to start moving, the responding attacks to your shield begin; while the villains have thrown up their own barrier, Psionic Entropy is still within its barriers, but the villain’s hired goons are attempting to regain control of the situation. Two of the grunts move to block the door through which the civilians and Tengu were attempting to escape, and the other two are charging into your barrier, whittling it down. Radar steps in to help Tengu with the goons at the door, but that leaves you on your own.
I can manage , you tell yourself matter-of-factly, focusing on your energy and the situation at hand, instead of the trepidation and doubt threatening to overcome you. You take a deep breath, before pushing the power of your Quirk outwards. The blast sends them stumbling, but the next time you attempt it, they are sprawling across the tile floor, heads hitting against the barrier the main three villains have set up. Above them is the third villain, whose Quirk is unknown, but he makes eye contact with you, brilliant violet and crimson sending chills down your spine. He wears a mask over his mouth and utters not a word, but grunts down at the goons, before returning his attention to battling Psionic Entropy alongside his companions. It’s clear the hero is beginning to lose the battle, the flames of his avatar diminishing, but he’s accomplishing his task in keeping them distracted while you hurry the hostages to safety.
Speaking of which, Radar has managed to incapacitate one goon, while Tengu tangles with another, and the civilians take this opportunity to begin filing out the main doors. However, one of the goons, an androgynous figure with flaps of skin akin to a wingsuit, begins to widen her entire form, attempting to encase some of the fleeing hostages. You break your shield to fire a cosmic blast to stop her, and Radar in turn moves to tackle her. However, with your defenses down, a bullet pierces your right shoulder before you can stop the fourth goon, and your emotions leak through, like someone is squeezing a bag of water with a hole in it.
Oh God, I’m afraid, I’ve been struck, I’m failing-- they’re looking at me, they see me injured, I’m weak, I’m failing-- they need me to be strong, I can’t let them know I’m hurt--
And just as quickly as it had seeped through, you suck it back up, and grab the offending goon by the arm, twisting his wrist and causing him to drop his gun.
No emotion .
You spin him around with the strength of your Quirk, and send him flying into the winged goon, and the two crash into a wall. Radar swoops in to finish the job with the one who had shot you, and Tengu finishes with the final one.
Then, behind you, there’s the sound of a cry of pain-- and when you turn around to look, Psionic Entropy’s avatar fades away, and the shield around the villains drops as they prepare to make a hasty escape.
“Guys, the terrorists!” you cry out, and Tengu rushes past you in a flurry of wind and feathers, but is halted by a force field erected in his way. You and Radar hurry on, and Tengu rejoins the chase once regaining his senses.
The third villain, whose Quirk is still as of yet unknown, glances over his shoulder, mask still over his mouth. Once he and his accomplices are around the corner, his eyes crinkle in a smile, and he snaps his fingers. Instantly, the supports and ceiling above you crack and shatter, and only Radar manages to jump through, while you hastily through up a barrier and pull in Tengu close, defending him from the collapsing roof. The entire center area of the museum crumbles around you, but as the weight begins to grow, Tengu pulls you close to him with a feathered hand around your waist.
“Can you widen the barrier for my wings? I’ll get us out of here!” he promises, amber eyes shining with purpose in the blue light of your Quirk. Wordlessly, you comply, spreading your arms to extend the shield above you, until Tengu can spread his wings to their full length. With a brief crouch and a leap, Tengu pulls you up into the sky, your shield sloughing off the falling roof as the two of you rise. Glass shatters around you as you burst through the final barrier, and for a moment, you are blinded by the sun. But in the same moment, a dark shadow soars past, cape fluttering wildly behind them as they hurry in the direction Radar and the other villains had gone.
“All Might?!” Tengu exclaims at the sight, his bird eyes seeing the shape immediately for what it was. “Well… I guess a collapsing building will bring the big guns running, huh?” He looks over at you and smirks and shrugs, flying in place while still holding you firm against his side. “Let’s get down there and see if we can’t finish this, right?”
“Right.” You allow Tengu to take the both of you back down to the fight, saving the energy of your Quirk. Radar, All Might, and Psionic Entropy have all gathered together, and the Number One Hero lurches for the group, but is stopped by the forcefield of one of the villains. When he tries to break through and the barrier holds firm, another reaches out and casually reaches for All Might, but he spots this, and leaps back and away before he can be touched.
“Careful!” Psionic Entropy warned. “That one has some sort of paralysis Quirk. You’ll be frozen in place!”
“You saw what we did to the museum!” the villain in question barked out, pointing to the heavily damaged building behind them. “Let our people go free from your damn prison, or we’ll do far worse!”
In warning, the third villain raised his hand, fingers prepped to snap yet again. All heroes froze in place at the motion, assessing what could possibly be done about it, if anything at all. All Might, in particular, grit his teeth, clenching his fists at his sides.
And, for that one moment, everything stops. But it is just one moment.
In what appears to be a split-second decision, without any prior thought, Psionic Entropy closes his eyes, and a blast of fire rocks the interior of the force field, which promptly breaks apart, and sends the villains within flying out. There’s no time to plot a course of action in the chaos; time seems to slow as you observe all of the figures around you; the villains, flying through the air, All Might, already jumping to action towards the snapping villain, Psionic Entropy collapsing to the ground from exertion, Tengu throwing a wing in front of you to protect you from the oncoming rubble, and Radar rushing to catch the force field villain. And so, two of the villains are caught; Radar pins one to the ground, and All Might catches the other by the wrist, holding his hands tightly to prevent him from doing anything.
When Tengu’s wing retracts, the third villain-- the one with the paralysis Quirk-- is not in front of you. You turn to Radar, but in passing your sight over the Symbol of Peace, you see him. A hand on the hero’s shoulder, and the villain then reaching up and tearing the mask off of his companion’s face. All Might is not frozen, but his movements are dramatically slowed, and the panic in his eyes is palpable as the prisoner in his arms smiles, and then opens his mouth…
The world explodes.
Chapter 8: The Ash Is In Our Clothes
We didn't start the fire~
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
All you can think of when you hear the sirens and the screams, is that the seventh trumpet has sounded, and all is coming to an end, and you are to be left behind in the ashes. This belief is only further cemented when, upon prying open your bleary eyes, the vision of a man impaled by a great spike greets you, blood running from his still heart. For several moments, your vision remained blurred, and you cannot discern who you see before you, and your head is too heavy to lift, but soon, it becomes clear enough. The villain who brought everything crashing down, the one with ultimate destruction in the mere sound of his voice, breathes no more, though a wicked smile still breaches his features. He has been pierced in a way that has his chest heaven-bound, as if being taken by God in the apocalypse, rising to the afterlife, but there he stays, soulless and empty.
Hands are then at your head, angling your view elsewhere. Radar, bloodied and bruised, pats your face a tad roughly, and the ringing in your ears has subsided just enough for you to hear his panicked voice. He is gasping for breath and shaking.
“Chuo-Ku Ward has been decimated. Completely wiped out.”
He looks up when a distant rumble shakes the earth, briefly.
“It’s all just ruins. There’s nothing left. Comet, can you stand? Can you still be active? Because there’s a hell of a lot of people that are going to need saving and there’s only the five of us. We-- we have to get to them, we have to--”
Only five heroes? At a catastrophe of this size? That doesn’t sound right. That doesn’t sound right at all.
And then, past Radar’s head, you see it. The shimmer of a force field.
But this isn’t just over you and Radar. This is miles above you, stretching out as far as the eye can see, encompassing the entirety of Chuo-Ku ward. You cough as you struggle to sit up, head now pounding, various parts of your body throbbing in pain. When Radar attempts to slow your ascent, you push him away.
“I’m fine,” you croak. “I’m fine, I-- tell me the situation. Update me. What happened?”
“Well, as I’m sure you noticed, our friend that caused all this is taking a long nap. The other two were apprehended shortly after, but not before the Chiba prison nearly entirely cleared out and our force field pal threw up… well, this. And, uh, I threw up something else. And then his time-slowing buddy slapped his own goodies on it, rendering any attack useless right now. It’s impenetrable.” The hero gestures vaguely to the shimmering sky. “All Might was only released from the effects of that time slowing Quirk a minute ago, and he and the others spread out to get anyone on the surface to the force field’s borders. I just finished fishing out the goons from the wreckage of the museum before you started to come to.”
“I don’t understand.” By now, you were beginning to stand. A makeshift tourniquet has been tied around your shoulder, and your clothes are tattered and dirty. “How can there be only five of us? Where is our backup? Any other heroes? Surely, the entirety of the ward wasn’t empty of heroes besides us.”
“It wasn’t. They escorted civilians to the barrier, and found out they could leave. They thought they’d be able to get back in with supplies, bring in more backup, since they were already inside to begin with.” Radar paused. “They weren’t. So, they’re dealing with apprehending as many escaped villains as they can from the outside. But in here? Just five of us. Me, Psionic Entropy, Tengu, All Might… and you.”
Your blood runs cold, freezing your veins at the information and rendering you immobile. Over a thousand acres of land, and only five heroes to save over a hundred thousand people. You choke on your own breath, fear beginning to fill your lungs, before--
No. You’re not allowed to feel anything right now. There are far worse things going on. Suck it up.
“Okay. Let’s get started.” You nod to yourself, and then to Radar, shoulders tense and quaking.
“Good, because besides being able to find people among the ruins, I’m not good for much else. You and I will have to team up, with my search ability, and your experience as a rescue heroine. At some point later on, we’ll all meet up at the barrier by Tokyo to get an update on the situation outside, and see if we can’t find a loophole to this forcefield situation.” Radar shakes his head, and begins to lead the way, running through the rubble and the cracked streets, weaving through civilians that are well enough to leave of their own accord. “God, what a fucking mess.”
The two of you work together for the next few hours finding any civilians trapped or too wounded to escape the damage on their own. Those who are well enough do what they can to help you, assisting their friends and family who are unconscious, with broken bones, or worse. The fear in their eyes is like a needle straight through your being every single time you make eye contact, but you comfort each and every one, just as you always have. “We are here for you.” “You’re going to make it out of here.” “Thank you for remaining so strong and brave.” But the situation continues to grow more dire and desperate the more able-bodied civilians you save, as that reveals more of those who weren’t so lucky. Radar remains stone-faced and stoic, even in the face of the worst case scenarios, which gives you the strength to do the same, but it never gets any easier.
You are sure you’ve saved and recovered several hundred people with Radar’s help, before on a roof some ways away, Psionic Entropy appears and calls out to you.
“One of you, take a moment to come to the edge of the barrier with me for updates and supplies.”
Supplies! You look to Radar, who tilts his head in an indication for you to go, and so you do. Psionic Entropy leads you north through the ruins, which are considerably quieter, almost everyone in these structures having been evacuated. Your throat tightens at the sight of All Might already present at the barrier, the flash of cameras and the roar of reporters casting a looming shadow over the ruined land behind him. Though he remains standing tall and confident, you can easily see the incredible tenseness in his shoulders, and that doesn’t change at all when you come to stand next to him, alongside Psionic Entropy. Eventually, the reporters are shooed away, or at least far enough back to allow the pro-heroes and agency officials through. Endeavor leads the charge, looking as furious as ever, followed by The Boss and Ichiro, who has an android in tow alongside him.
At the sight of Endeavor, All Might steps forward, smile as brilliant as it ever was, but before he can utter a word, the Number Two hero holds up his hand, beckoning for silence.
“A bad combination in the wrong place at the right time can knock any hero off guard. No one expected the severity of that destruction Quirk, but according to our analysts, even if he hadn’t been spiked, the effort put into that shout likely would have put him in a coma or killed him later on. But that’s besides the point; I don’t want to hear excuses, or apologies. There’s only five heroes in all twenty square miles of Chuo-Ku Ward, and what matters now is the results of the rescue efforts, which are already looking grim as it is. We’ve tested the barrier thoroughly; it’s not breaking any time soon. May take days, may take a week. But non-organic or dead material can pass in, albeit slowly, so it’s not detected as an attack, and anything can pass out at any speed. Therefore, food and medical supplies aren’t going to be an issue for you. We have supply crates on the way, and we expect you to administer first aid to anyone in critical condition before sending them back out our way. The moment this barrier drops, every recovery and repair hero we have will flood in and finish up whatever you couldn’t manage, but don’t take that as an excuse to half-ass the job. That being said, there really is no way you can do this all on your own.”
Ichiro pushed his way past The Boss and Endeavor, determination etched into his features. The android behind him followed suit. “That’s why I’m here.”
You start to object, but are quickly overspoken.
“This is a catastrophe nearly equivalent to that of the Khaos Crisis; any and every helping hand you can get will drastically change the outcome of all of this. The faster we can get to people trapped deeper in the wreckage, the more overall lives we can save. People are dying as we speak. There isn’t time to lose, or to argue. Not to mention, with All Might in there, and numerous previously incarcerated villains out here, things are going to change. We need to take chances if we’re going to survive this.”
“You’re the boy with the Quirk Robots, aren’t you?” Psionic Entropy questioned, to which Ichiro nodded. Once more, you tried to step in, but All Might responds first.
“Ichiro is right. The situation is dire; if we’re going to have any hope of succeeding, we’ll need to put aside any trepidation about risks or unorthodox methods of hero work. Any chance we have of making things easier across all of Japan is a chance worth taking.
Your breath comes quick, and you are lightheaded. You stand before the Symbol of Peace, the Number Two Hero, and your boss, all of whom seem to be in agreement; Ichiro’s creations will take over the duties of the trapped heroes, and likely be sent within to aid as well. You are unable to speak, or protest, and really, what would you say? What would you say?
“I already have numerous heroes lining up back at the agency to provide blood samples for bots to come through the barrier to assist with civilian recovery and rescue, but the most pressing matter is, we don’t have a Symbol of Peace out here anymore. So, with help from my mother, and the strongest materials we could find, we created 4ST3R01D.”
The android behind Ichiro now steps forward, hulking in mass and by far, the most sturdy and yet complex creation of Ichiro’s you have seen yet. Though it’s apparent he utilized a previous model and simply added on to it, 4ST3R01D shows no sign of limited movement in comparison to its peer creations. Ichiro turns 4ST3R01D’s hand over and sticks it through the barrier, and it slides in through the force field easily, due to being of an inorganic nature. The pinprick needle emerges from its finger, before All Might, who takes a step back in surprise.
“4ST3R01D was put together specifically to handle the demands of your Quirk, All Might. Of course, its durability won’t come anywhere close to your own, but it won’t shatter when utilizing a Detroit Smash. Japan won’t have to worry about you being in there, when 4ST3R01D is out here, almost as good as you.”
Your gaze flickers wildly between the five figures before you; Ichiro, eyes wide and hopeful and persistent, The Boss, fully supportive and eager, 4ST3R01D, waiting patiently for the transfer to begin, Endeavor, absolutely fuming but remaining silent, likely not feeling threatened by a machine, and All Might, who, apparent to you, has a million thoughts running through his mind, the gears smoking as they turn. He looks to his own hand momentarily, then to 4ST3R01D’s, then back to his own yet again, before carefully placing his hand within the robot’s. A moment later, he pulls away, a bead of blood on his pointer digit indicating that the deed had been done.
“Thank you,” 4ST3R01D says. Psionic Entropy, then, too, offers up his hand, and the same is done to him. Then, the android stands before you, awaiting the same response. All eyes are on you.
You cannot deny it. This needs to be done. So, with great reluctance, you, too, give 4ST3R01D your blood.
You say nothing in return, stepping back, trying to cease any and all thoughts of what might possibly happen with not just your own Quirk, but All Might’s as well, coursing through the veins of an unpredictable machine. However, Endeavor makes a statement once 4ST3R01D has moved back himself.
“I’ll be keeping an eye on the machine, per the kid’s request. Something about minor glitches. Babysitting should be someone else’s job, but Shimuzu agrees.”
“We’ll be creating and sending reinforcements as quickly as we can,” The Boss promises. “In the meantime, all of you do your best. Too much is counting on you, but do what you can.”
“We will,” All Might promises, eyeing the robot himself warily. “In the meantime, please, do your best to keep everyone out there safe.”
“We will. Be safe, all of you.”
With that, the heroes outside of the barrier step back, and the reporters flood back in. But the three of you grant them no more time for questions or pictures, turning around and heading back into the fray together once more.
“Days, they said,” you murmur. “About the barrier.”
“I don’t imagine they’ll just let it sit there unmanaged,” All Might assures you. “They’ll be trying to find a way to break through sooner rather than later. In the meantime, though, we can’t let the people still here suffer. We’ve evacuated about fifteen thousand, most walking out on their own, and I’ve managed about five thousand of those, so that’s almost a fifth of Chuo-Ku’s population. The day’s young, so we could easily double that by the time night falls if we all work without pause.”
“We need to inform Radar and Tengu of the situation.” Psionic Entropy looks over to you. “Did they say when we can expect reinforcements?”
“I don’t think so,” you add, “but if I remember Ichiro’s previous work speed, we can see at least three or four bots within the barrier tomorrow.”
“Good.” All Might nods, mostly to himself. “Then there’s no more time to lose. The number of able-bodied citizens are dwindling, which means the duty befalls us more and more to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Return to your partners; I’ll be going to the southern side of the city where the least amount of aid has been thus far.”
He prepares to jump, but stops to look back to you, though he speaks to both you and Psionic Entropy.
“Be safe. Please.”
And then, he launches away, rattling the ground and the air around the two of you.
“We live in a dangerous reality when All Might pleads for your safety,” the hero next to you comments gravely. “I will meet up with Radar; you should pair up with Tengu; our Quirks will compliment the other’s more effectively.”
“Alright then.” With a nod of compliance, the two of you part ways.
Tengu is not difficult to find, his golden brown wingspan glimmers in the sun, despite the rubble and the dust still floating in the air. You come to land next to him, as he is clearing away a collapsed wall, where several civilians cower within. When there’s enough space, Tengu holds up what’s left of the collapsed ceiling, and you gently usher out those within. Fortunately, there are enough people who are able-bodied who can assist the wounded, and they begin to head towards the barrier themselves, thanking the both of you profusely.
“Well? What’s the verdict?”
“You want the sugar coated version, or the grim reality?”
“Well, I do like sweets.”
You place your hands on your hips and sigh. “The barrier’s not coming down any time today, probably not even tomorrow. No one is getting in, but we’ll be getting food and supplies shortly. Kanemaru Ichiro will create robots to assist us, but those aren’t due to arrive until dawn. Outside heroes will work on apprehending escaped villains, and the ones that caused all this mess are already in custody.”
“Well, at least there’s some good news in that paragraph.” Tengu cranes his ears to the southeast, and beckons for you to follow. “How many are estimated to be saved now?”
“We were thinking twenty-five thousand, give or take. Of course, most of those numbers walked out on their own. All Might guesses we could be halfway through rescue efforts by the time tomorrow rolls around.”
“Good, good. Then let’s do what we can to contribute to those numbers. Undoubtedly the big guy’s gonna have us beat by more than half. Regardless, these people damn well need to see some lighthearted attitude.” Tengu glances over to you and smirks, and you see blood on one side of his teeth. “Let’s give ‘em hope like you give me hope, yeah?”
The compliment causes your own lips to twitch into a smile, and you nod, before the two of you crack down on rescue efforts together. The both of you work through the day, scavenging through crumbled and burning buildings, clearing the blockages at subways and bridges, and doing what you can to respectfully recover the dead, without the necessary supplies to properly cover them. The skies grow dark, and cold, as the day goes on, but you remain strong. You’ve been through this song and dance before with the Khaos Crisis; unfortunately, this is nothing new. People need you more than you need to be anything but a hero.
The hours pass. The sun travels across the sky. Hundreds of people are found, and are either taken away, or laid to rest. The dark color of your gloves doesn’t hide the blood soon crusted on them, and the white sleeves of your hero costume are stained similarly up to the elbow. Tengu wipes his brow, smearing dirt and blood across his forehead. He flies away with those too weak to walk, so you can continue to search and aid who you can.
When night begins to fall, Tengu returns with food and bandages, the supplies delivered at last.
“You should rest,” Tengu urges as you tear open a juice pouch. “Can’t do your best if you’re running on empty.”
“These people need us. They need heroes.”
“They need heroes who can help them. You can’t be that if you can’t keep your eyes open. Don’t worry; I won’t let you sleep long. Five hours, and then I’ll trade off with you.”
You pause, considering.
“At least let me check on the others, first.”
“Sure, sure.” The crows feet around Tengu’s eyes crinkle with his kind smile, the salt and pepper hair at his temples more noticeable with the dust in his hair. “But the clock’s starting now.”
By now, Chuo-Ku Ward is nearly silent, whereas before it was filled with sirens, the sounds of wails and cries, and continuously collapsing buildings. You land atop a roof close to Radar and Psionic Entropy, checking on them first. While the search hero is fast asleep, Psionic Entropy remains in meditation, and figures of fire work tirelessly all around him, delving deep into wreckage to pull out people as efficiently as possible. Though his eyes remained closed, one projection looks up to you and waves and nods. We’re fine here .
And then, there’s the thought of going after All Might, but with how long and hard you’ve been working, and the distance between the two of you, it would take too much energy. You pull out a bottle of eyedrops from your coat pocket. It’s only a fourth of the way full. The Symbol of Peace will, unfortunately, have to be addressed some other time. Without knowing how long you’re going to be present in here, every moment of use of your Quirk counts.
So, after sliding down the side of the building, you return to the area Tengu is working in. You gesture to the spot where you will be resting, and he nods an affirmation that he has seen you.
You settle down.
Sleep does not find you easily, but it does eventually.
Chapter 9: Faded
Happy beginning of the holidays everyone! I would like to take this opportunity to both thank you all for your continued support, and to also emphasise, it would be a wonderful christmas gift, if you haven't already, to check out my various social medias, as there are extra updates and links there that I can't post on AO3 due to their TOS. There are lots of things you can do to support your favorite creators, and I strongly encourage you to do the same not just for me, but for fellow artists and writers in the fandom as well! See you again on the 20th!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The large, warm hand on your shoulder is the first thing to rouse you from sleep. However, the voice accompanying the touch is much lower and much more baritone than the one you had expected, and yanks you from your sleep, rather than a gentle pull.
“Comet, I need your help.”
You force your eyes to open, to the best of your ability, to understand the situation in a visual aspect. There are two shapes above you; to the left, Tengu. To the right, All Might. You blink rapidly, clearing their forms in your vision, though your sight remains blurry. It’s Tengu’s hand on your shoulder, but All Might who had spoken. While Tengu looks exhausted, and All Might shares that same feeling, he is more alert and concerned than anything else. His gaze bears down upon you until you rise to your feet, Tengu helping you along.
“Got a situation downtown,” Tengu informs you. “Collapsed building, hollow on the inside still, but not by much. At least a couple dozen trapped inside. They can’t get out on their own, and someone has to hold the roof up for anyone to get inside in the first place. Once the way inside is clear though, should be smooth sailing to clear it out.”
“I’ll have to hold the way open,” All Might explains. “Nothing else is strong enough to prop it up, and the structure keeps weakening by the second.”
“Then we should go.” You stand straight, and Tengu nods. Before he lets you go, however, he places both hands on your shoulders, holding you firmly.
“Be safe, Shooting Star.”
And then, after a moment, he releases you, taking your spot on the ground and dropping his head in preparation to sleep. All Might’s hand on your shoulder next is much warmer and larger.
“I’ll lead the way.”
“Right.” You nod yourself, before turning heel and following the Symbol of Peace out of the area and into the night. Unlike numerous times before, where when the two of you soared through the skies together it was a match of equals, now the pro hero wastes no time, soaring far ahead quickly, and you strain to keep up, or at least keep him in sight. It’s understandable, given the circumstances, but nevertheless leaves you anxious, the power of your Quirk yet again dwindling.
A few minutes later, All Might lands nearby a slanted roof, most of the debris surrounding it from the walls that no longer exist. On the far side of the building, where one corner juts up farther than the others, another skyscraper is leaning precariously over it, looming like a storm. Chunks of debris are falling from the cracked sides periodically, and the structure sways in the wind.
“I can get you inside,” All Might says, bringing your attention back to the collapsed building directly in front of you as he lifts part of the roof. A hole just beneath standing height is revealed beyond, part of what was once a window. “I’m counting on you to help the people in there.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you down.” You comfort the pro hero with a smile and the two of you sync your earpieces, but before you can step within the structure--
“Comet. Just… please be careful.”
You aren’t sure why he is so uncertain and anxious now, and you turn around to look back at All Might. His lips are set in a thin line, so uncharacteristic of his typically optimistic personality. However, he doesn’t utter another word, remaining still as a statue as he holds up the collapsed roof. Eventually, you head within, making a mental note to ask the hero about his behavior at a later point in time.
The darkness and the dust swallow you whole. You enable the LEDs within your coat, casting both shadows and light as you pick your way through the ruined mess of the building. The sound of coughing and frightened, hushed voices beckon you further within, around crumbling pillars and pelted walls.
“Stay where you are!” you call out. “Help’s on the way, but I need you to be ready to move when I get there. We’re going to get out of this together.”
“Is it a hero?!” someone calls out, and the murmuring rises.
“Yes, it’s Comet, the Shooting Star Heroine,” you reply, and the cramped space lights up with the elation of the civilians, a palpable energy that floods the ruins with warmth and hope. At the same moment, however, several pieces of debris fall from the ceiling, and a foreboding groan rattles the building. “I’m going to get you all out of here. But the structure is unstable; stay where you are until I can get to you.”
The clamor dies down just a bit at that, but the excited energy remains. Through broken rooms and collapsed and crumbling walls, you pick your way carefully through the darkness, following the sound of hope. Even as the structure bleeds dust and cracking plaster, you carry on.
“How’s it looking in there?” All Might’s voice pierces through the dust and decay.
“Not good,” you whisper. “If we so much as breathe the wrong way the whole thing’s coming down. It’s barely holding as it is. That skyscraper, at the back corner, I’m sure is no help.”
“Nope.” You hear the pro hero shift his grip ever so slightly on your escape route. “I can definitely feel it straining and on the verge of toppling itself. How close are you to the civilians? The sooner you start evacuating them, the better.”
“They should be just around the corner. As for getting them out, well, that will be another challenge all on its own. It’s a maze in here.”
“You can do it.”
“I appreciate your optimism.”
“It’s not optimism; it’s fact.”
Uncertain how to respond to that, you fall silent, until you reach your destination. Upon arrival, the glow of your coat lights up dozens of dirtied and bloodied faces, and though they are tear-stained, their smiles are brilliant in the darkness. Several of them exclaim your name, almost as if in prayer, or worship, and they begin to move towards you. However, even just the mere vibration of their numerous steps causes a pillar to collapse, and the ground shakes ominously. Quickly, you raise a hand in a stopping motion, and everyone falls immediately still.
“We can’t all leave at once.” You pause to think. “I’ll have to take you all in groups. I think I can take four per trip. Has anyone done a head-count of how many civilians there are in here?”
“Ah, there’s about seventy of us.”
“Then that’s seventeen or eighteen trips.” Will the structure even hold for that long? There’s no time to question it; action has to be taken now. You feign confidence, and motion for the first group of four to join you. “I’ll lead the way. Please, watch your step; it’s a little messy out there.”
The first group is hushed, steps nervous as you guide them through the dark, but upon seeing the light of the moon, and All Might’s silhouette, they clamor for the exit with newfound confidence, shock and awe on their features at the sight of the hero supporting what he can of the degrading building.
“Lovely to see you!” he exclaims, and you turn around and return within for the next group. This one whispers amongst themselves, and the next few do as well. The more groups your escort out without incident, the more brave and confident and talkative people become. You overhear some of their conversations as you guide them.
“Of all the rescue heroes, how cool is it that we got Comet?”
“Do you think they’ve set up a station for separated families yet? I need to find out what happened to my grandmother.”
“God, what are we going to do when this is all over?”
“It’s alright, Chiko; we’ll be out of this soon. Just be good for a little while longer, dear.”
“This building is really on its last legs… I hope everyone else will be able to get out.”
And then, with even more trips, the civilians begin to talk to you, as well.
“You came from America, right Comet? Why?”
“It just wasn’t the right place for me. It never felt like home.”
“Do you have any family there?”
“Many by blood, but few by choice. I can only count on one hand off of the top of my head who I willingly still consider ‘family’.”
“My daughter looks out her window for you every night. You mean a lot to us.”
“That’s very humbling. Thank you. When you get out of here, tell her no matter what others tell her, her future is in her own hands.”
Some of the conversations are less than comfortable.
“So, teaming up with All Might yet again? You sure you shouldn’t be his sidekick?”
“That’s not in the books for either of us.”
“You’ve gotten a little quiet after your stint with Ironwill. Planning on making a comeback?”
“My worth as a hero is not defined by my media exposure.”
“You’re a gorgeous heroine, you know? The world would go crazy to see you on a pro hero’s arm.”
“I take it that was some form of advice, but I’m not currently seeking.”
Conversation continues the more people you guide through the darkness and ruin, varying in enjoyability, though it overall doesn’t have much impact on your mood since the situation at hand requires most of your attention. At one point, however, a statement is made by a young girl, clinging to your arms as you carry her yourself. She turns to look into your eyes, before breaking into a beam as bright as the moon, and casually points out;
“You looked happy with All Might at Tanabata.”
You do a double-take at the child.
“Well of course. He’s my friend. I enjoy spending time with him.”
“You look at each other a lot. Are you in love?”
It takes a surprising amount of willpower not to squeak in surprise at the blunt question. Before you can ask what she means, she continues;
“My papa said that when there are a lot of people in one place, and someone laughs, they look at the person they like the most because it makes them even happier. And he always looks at Mama like she’s a princess when she’s asleep. All Might looked at you that way at the festival!”
By this time, the girl’s aunt rushes next to you, quietly scolding her firmly, but gently. “Her imagination is always running wild. I understand why you keep your distance from him professionally; any reasonable person wouldn’t blame you. Unfortunately, most people in Japan aren’t reasonable.” The woman rolls her eyes, and chuckles a bit bitterly. “Really, at this point, anyone could choose to blow any interaction between the two of you out of context. You’re wise to separate your image from his.”
You are uncertain how to respond; two sides of the same coin have been presented to you so quickly, your head spins with it. But both of them are smiling up at you, both with their own outlook on a situation you hadn’t considered in such a light before.
Me? And All Might? In… love? No, you didn’t feel that way. He was a friend, a fellow hero. The warmth and affection you felt towards him was purely platonic, and was in response to his own affection-- no, kindness -- towards you. Of course any friendly relationship between a man and a woman would be misconstrued as something else. While it wasn’t fair in the slightest, it was simply the reality of things. No, there was nothing between the two of you, not even in subcontext.
When you deliver this particular group to the entrance of the building, All Might’s brow furrows upon seeing you. He doesn’t notice the little girl looking back at you and covering her mouth and giggling.
“Everything going alright? You seem… perplexed.”
“Perplexed?” You blink back at the pro hero as you are shaken from your thoughts by the statement. “Ah, just… thinking about future courses of action once we’re done here. There’s… a lot out there to handle.”
To this, All Might nods in understanding. “Don’t worry; one thing at a time. Is everyone almost cleared out?”
“Almost, just a few more groups.”
“Good.” All Might hasn’t even broken a sweat, you realize, as he’s holding up this falling building that likely weighs over hundreds of thousands of pounds, and his smile comes as easily to him as anything. “You’ve got this. You’re doing wonderfully.”
The praise shouldn’t affect you as much as it does, but a surge of warmth fills your veins, and you find yourself renewed with a new energy. A response, certainly, is owed, but the words don’t come out right. All you can manage, after a time, is, “I… I’m trying.” And before anything else can be spoken between you, a rumble shakes the earth, and numerous cracking sounds echo across the empty city like thunder. All Might looks up, and his expression changes from one of warmth to something urgent.
“Shit! That skyscraper’s not going to last another ten minutes. You need to get everyone out now.”
“Right,” you respond, and you flee back into the depths of the structure.
Back where you’ve left the remaining citizens, there’s clear panic amongst them, somewhat aware of the situation at hand. You gesture wildly with your hand for them to follow you.
“There’s no more time; everyone who’s left will have to head out with me. You all take the lead, I’ll guide you from the rear; that’s going to be the most likely to cave in first.”
“Comet, are you sure?”
Another civilian barks at his friend. “There’s no time to play nice guy! Get going, Junichi!”
One by one, as they clamor through the hole in the wall just wide enough for one at a time, you give each of them directions, one to give after the other guides the rest through, in a revolving state of cooperation. Just as the last of them rush through, the back of the building starts to crumble in, growing exponentially in speed, as if chasing after your group. Your heart hammers; they won’t escape the destruction, Not without extra support. There’s only one thing to be done.
“ Run! ” you shout out, the sound monstrous in the dark and dusty and cramped space, before throwing up a shield above yourself, in an effort to slow the death and destruction pressing down on you. They call out for you, clearly distressed that you are staying behind, but their acquaintances and companions pull them along, knowing the severity of the situation at hand. Slowly, the sound of people grows silent, while above you the world cracks and crumbles and roars. The pressure above you grows; your arms begin to shake, and your vision begins to grow hazy, but surely enough, you have slowed the rate of the collapse of the building your are in, along with the skyscraper above. But will it be enough? Will you last long enough?
“Comet!” All Might addresses you over the earpiece, loud and forceful. “Comet, where are you? You need to get out of there, you’re about to get pulverized by that skyscraper!”
“Are all the civilians out?”
“Not yet, the first of the last group just reached me. You’re with them, right--”
He pauses, and you can faintly hear the screams of the civilians on the other end of the line. All Might returns to you shortly, more forceful than before, but now tinged with almost imperceptible panic.
“Comet, where are you? How deep are you in the building? What is your status?”
“Tell me when everyone is out and far enough away.”
“Comet. I need you to communicate with me. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on on your end.”
The weight above you grows. You fall to one knee, still holding up your arms, though bits and pieces of your skin are beginning to tingle beneath your gloves, a tell-tale sign of your skin flaking away, which only happens when you exert a large amount of energy at once.
“Back corner, right by the skyscraper; there isn’t much that can be done. I’m holding it up for as long as I can, but at this point I’m just delaying the inevitable. The chances of making it out on my own are slim; my power is fading fast.”
“What are you talking about? You understand your Quirk better now, we’ve worked on it! How can it not be strong enough, even just long enough for me to come find you?”
“It doesn’t matter!” you bark back. “I may be able to shield myself when it all comes crashing down, but it depends on how much energy I’m going to have left. Which is why I need to know when everyone has been evacuated. Do you understand?”
“Comet, I’m going to get you out of there--”
“There are too many civilians around for you to recklessly use your Quirk! They’re not going to get far enough away to be safe from the debris, and you need to be their shield when that happens. Protect them, and I’ll try to protect me. Deal?”
Whether it is a deal or not, All Might soon won’t have a choice; you’re on both your knees by now, and can barely see your own hands in front of you. You’re met by a silence more agonizing than the weight crushing you down, lasting far too long, until--
“Everyone is evacuated and at a safe distance. I’ll protect them from any debris--”
Your strength gives out. Darkness more consuming than that of the building itself envelops you as the world crashes down on top of you. The shield that you had been projecting before shrinks, until it is a dome just large enough to cover your form in the fetal position. You are deafened by the sound of it all, and your own screaming adding to the cacophony of chaos. Above those two things, you hear nothing, lost in everything. The events pass like tar, thick and slow and burning. There’s no possible way for you to tell the time, how much of it has gone by, but it feels like an eternity when it all comes to a slow, at long last. Then, all there is to hear is your own breathing, loud in the microscopic space between your lips and the rubble around you.
Heartbeat. Silence. Heartbeat, breathe, breathe, silence, heartbeat, heartbeat. You pass out, and recover, and pass out, and recover again.
You lay there for what feels like hours.
The reality of it all finally kicking in is like a second building falling on top of you. Your breathing stops, and your heart tries, too, but fails. You can only curse yourself, despite the peril of your circumstances. All Might wouldn’t let this stand; of course he wouldn’t.
‘ I should have told him to move on. He’s probably digging through the ruins looking for me right this moment. Wasting his time. I’ve made my own bed to lay in; that should not be his burden to bear. People far more important than me are dying. ’
You grit your teeth together. The shield above you pulsates, barely keeping together. You try to suck in a breath, to shout out, but the dust that fills your lungs silences you with a coughing fit. You stretch your legs out, but they don’t have far to go. No part of you has far to go. Your shoulders and elbows ache.
‘ Why would he waste his time and energy on me?’
‘I’m not unique.’
‘Any hero could have done what I did. What I am doing.’
‘ It’s stuffy. It’s hot. It’s cramped. ’
Your fingers above you tremble. You can’t see it, but you can feel it.
‘ Even if he’s coming for me, I’m not going to last. ’
You close your eyes. It makes no difference in what you can see. Tears of frustration brim at the corners of your eyes before you catch yourself, as if yanking yourself out of drowning waters with a sharp fish hook.
‘ Stop feeling things . Stop being pathetic. Feeling doesn’t change anything. ’
You manage one breath. Your mind clears, but only distantly.
‘ If I pour everything I have left into busting out of here… maybe I could at least get far enough up that All Might can dig me out, and I’ll survive. ’
Another deep breath.
‘ But I can barely tell up from down or left from right. I can’t see.’
‘ But I have my eyedrops. But I need a free hand to get to them. That will drop the rubble on me and kill me. ’
One last breath.
‘ Unless. ’
Your breaths quicken, in preparation. One, two, one two,, you’ll only have one chance for this, it’s do or die, one hand drops from the shield. Ice begins to shatter across your face and chest, and you tear open your pocket with the eye drops. There’s no time to open the bottle and be reasonable with your application; you crush the bottle in your hand, directly above your eyes, forcing them wide open even against the dust and ice shards.
The shield above you breaks apart entirely; you smack away the worst of the debris collapsing atop you, then raise your arms above your head, and leap with every muscle in your body. All around you, plaster and steel and rocks burst apart, each impact at your fists one level closer to freedom, to survival . The further you rise, the more your vision recovers, until, with a thunderous crack, you break through to the sky. The fresh air is a slap to the face, and the sight of the moon ethereal through your wavering shield.
You yell, and the barrier around you breaks apart, scattering stardust and ice, and the stars brighten and shimmer. There’s the distant sound of cheering beneath you, but it is all drowned out over the shout of the Symbol of Peace, calling your hero name. When you look down to him, he’s looking up to you with such an intense relief, it feels like a third attack, after everything you have already faced.
All Might rushes to meet you as you descend back to the ground, and his hands wrap around your shoulders before you even touch down. He’s holding you up, you realize, when you don’t have to support your own weight. His hands are warm, and… wet? No-- bleeding. The palms of his hands are bleeding. But he ignores this entirely in favor of scouring over your form for any immediate signs of distress.
“You made it out! But how-- your eyes, they’re… they… were …”
He trails off as he stares into your eyes, and you know what he is seeing as your vision begins to fade once more. When you look down into your still tightly clenched hand, the bottle remains. Your palm relaxes, the item rolling to your fingertips. You struggle for words, for an explanation, telling him what they are, why , but at the end of it all… All you can say is, coldly, flatly…
“ There’s something wrong with me .”
Chapter 10: Incorrect Data
Sorry for the late upload guys! Things took an abrupt turn for the chaotic on my end of things, but your continued support and reblogs are of course always appreciated! Happy Holidays to you all, and see you again in the New Year!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The conversation between you and the Symbol of Peace that followed the sudden revelation replayed in your head as you escorted the survivors of the collapsed skyscraper to the barrier for rescue. His voice firm, his hands at your arms strong, his eyes desperate for answers. He asks these things as the civilians count their numbers and gather names and identification.
“How can anything be wrong? You’re in perfect health, the prime of your life-- you’ve never been as successful as a hero as you have now.”
“I know,” you lamented, fiddling with the broken and empty plastic bottle. “I promise I know. I’ve been trying to figure it out, I’ve seen numerous doctors on the issue, but they either don’t know themselves, or just prescribe me a larger or stronger dose of these damned eyedrops.” You frowned, and tossed the bottle somewhere off in the distance, voice dripping in frustration. “Nothing feels different. Nothing in my life is different. And yet, whatever the problem is, it’s not showing itself to anyone. Least of all me.”
All Might frowned deeply as well. “So, you’re recovered for now, then?”
“For now. But because my eyedrops are made from my own DNA and cells, I won’t be able to get a refill; it won’t be able to pass through the barrier.”
“If you need to leave--”
“I’m not going anywhere. There’s still work to be done.”
All Might looked behind him, before lowering his voice, and chiding you with your last name. “If it’s dangerous for you to remain present here, at the risk of losing your Quirk--”
“I won’t lose my Quirk, just not have the energy to use it.”
“You know what I mean.” His voice was gentle but stern. “Comet, this is very serious. I’m… I’m worried about you.”
You swallow, thickly. “I’ll manage,” you insisted. “I’ve been piecing things together; I think I’m getting close to figuring out what’s wrong. A more permanent fix over this medication.”
“How sure are you?”
“I have to be sure. How sure I actually am is irrelevant. I just have to be.”
He sighed your name in exasperation. “Now isn’t the time for experimentation. I need you to be deadly sure that the choice you’re making is the right one, that remaining here won’t negatively impact you, or anyone else. It’s important to me that you do the right thing for yourself.”
“All Might, these people need me--”
“ Don’t think about them.”
The command was sudden. Silence ticked away, before he spoke again.
“Don’t think about the citizens for a moment. Think about you, and only you. You’re important, Comet, so much more important than you know. Is remaining here in Chuo-Ku ward the best course of action for you ?”
And when All Might moved to grasp your hand, his touch was light, and trembling. As if he feared hurting you. Something is sparking through that gentle touch, something that simultaneously brightens your sight, and hurts. It frightens you. You pull away, and swallow thickly.
“I can’t be anywhere else.”
It’s clearly not the answer he wanted, but one he decides to be satisfied with for now. He stands tall, his cape billows in the wind, torn and ragged, even though out of all the heroes trapped within this forecfield’s walls, he is the most unscathed.
“If there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to let me know. We’re in this together; you aren’t alone. I am here for you.”
The pro hero’s words repeat in your head as you lead the charge of civilians to the border where various medical tents and authorities have set up, fully prepared to handle what you cannot from within. The sun has begun to rise to your right, tinged with red from the smoke and dust still lingering in the air around you, but the feeling is still warming, in comparison to the cool night from before. It will be a hot day, you predict; fortunately, the heat is no deterrent to you. The air is further warmed by the hopeful conversation of the group of people following you, further elaborating on their plans once they’re free from the confines of this broken city. As you look back to them, to make sure everyone is following and no one is falling behind, as you look over them, his words echo once more.
I am here for you .
That signature catchphrase of his, with two additional words, felt… different. Not that it had never been said before, but now, the weight of it felt… different. But why? Surely, it was no different from times past. Different, different. What was different? Nothing had changed. Or… had it? You furrowed your brow as you summoned the image of his face to the forefront of your mind. Was something different about him? All Might was a hero; it was his job and duty to look out for others, just like it was yours. Of course that job requirement would extend to you. Not to mention, if you weren’t up to par, you couldn’t save people. You would be a hindrance rather than an aid.
What was different ?
You have a split second thought that you should have told him to rest; he’s been working endlessly since this whole situation began; it’s been nearly twenty four hours. Surely, he must be approaching exhaustion, isn’t he? Or is the power of his Quirk keeping him going? You should have expressed care towards him; in the wake of all this destruction and tragedy. It must be taking its toll. After all, you care deeply for him, and it seems he cares deeply for you…
He cares about you… differently, than if you were just another hero. You’re his friend, a close one at that. Everything he says to you, every action he makes with you in mind… it’s genuine. It’s… there’s never been an ulterior motive, and it’s never just been out of politeness. From moment one, he has cared, deeply . It shows in his words, his actions, his… his touch…
That sensation, when he held your hand… that was different. You’ve held and touched hands before, but this was different. But it wasn’t unfamiliar . You have felt that before. But it wasn’t him that was different. After all, the sensation of feeling is because of your own nerves. And the way he looked at you, with such deep concern and worry… you couldn’t describe the sensation. It was intense, it was deliberate, it was…
No. This isn’t about him. The Symbol of Peace is nearly unwavering in everything he does. Yes, he’s human, and he makes mistakes, but his resolve is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. This isn’t about him.
You, on the other hand…
Something has changed-- or is changing-- in you .
This feeling… after all these years, could it really be..?
The thought is cut off short, when the civilians behind you murmur and cry out with elation at the sight of the camp at the edge of the exterior of the barrier. Those more able-bodied rush past you, eager to be free of this hellscape, while those who stay behind express their deepest gratitude to you and your sacrifices you made to ensure they could make it this far. Grateful bows, handshakes, and hugs are all you can focus on for the next several minutes, until the crowd thins, and then, dissipates entirely. You walk to the edge of the barrier, watching as people are either taken for more intensive care, or are reunited with families, or taken to receive news of what has become of them. Each story will go on, though it will undoubtedly be invariably changed forever.
As you stand on the inside of the barrier, however, you find yourself shocked to find that some people are still inside, some you know for a fact were saved hours ago, if not yesterday. It seems they’ve created a campsite inside the barrier, and you watch briefly as some give commands, some point out places on the map of Chuo-Ku Ward, and another group farther off is returning with more civilians. They have stayed to help.
“Comet!” A familiar voice of a young man calls out to you, and to your left, Ichiro rushes to the edge of the barrier, followed by several androids of various makes and sizes, one even so small that it rides atop his shoulder.
“Hey, Ichiro,” you respond, and you prop yourself against a chunk of debris, taking some of the weight of your own body off of your feet. “How are things looking out there?”
“Well, it’s not perfect, but it’s recovering. Almost all escaped villains from the Chuo-Ku ward prison have been captured, or at least we know where they are and we’re working on getting to them. We’ve gotten a couple thousand of the survivors you guys have recovered set up in temporary housing in the bay, courtesy of Selkie, and more organizations are already preparing reconstruction efforts for when the barrier falls.”
“And progress on bringing the barrier down?”
“It seems almost impossible, and our friend who brought it into creation is unwilling to cooperate. He hasn’t slept, and resists all attempts to render him unconscious or otherwise. There’s only so much the authorities can try before it starts becoming inhumane and, well, illegal.”
“So you’re saying his consciousness is directly linked with the integrity of the forcefield?”
“It’s mostly just a theory at this point, but yes. That’s what we believe. It’s been almost twenty four hours, and longer since he’s slept, or so he claims. Hallucinations will start to set in come the fourth day, which may be our best opportunity to truly bring the forcefield down.”
“Three more days.” You sigh, and rub a hand against the side of your face. “Okay. We’ll keep doing what we can in here. Have you heard from any of the other heroes?”
“Psionic Entropy updated our numbers; before you brought this group, the number of recovered was up to a little over thirty thousand, with an extra thousand or so considered dead or lost depending on where they were found, or last seen. We have the best medics on sight bringing back anyone who’s still just barely holding on. The numbers, of course, aren’t going to be pretty at the end of all this, but the sooner you can get to people, the better this will all turn out.”
You digest the information slowly, the numbers.
“And what’s been the public’s reaction to all this? On the outside; what are the news and other people saying?”
“It’s…” Ichiro screws up his brow. “It’s not as bad as you think. Of course the major media outlets wouldn’t let the image circle through their stations, but online sources nabbed a pic of the main culprit behind the disaster crucified on that damning pole. It’s made the idea that it’s not the heroes’ fault out of negligence or poor teamwork less of a possible reality, and of course most logical people-- or, at least the die-hard All Might fanatics-- understand sometimes, a villain is going to have capabilities beyond what we planned for. Even some villains are cursing what the other three villains have done due to the uptick in hero activity as a result, which puts citizens further at ease and inhibits their ability to function. But even more than that, everyone’s attention is split half-and-half between this, and 4ST3R01D.”
4ST3R01D. You had forgotten about the replacement bot that was taking your and All Might’s place in your absence, and a heavy, uncertain weight presses down on your chest. “And… how is 4ST3R01D performing?”
To this question, Ichiro beams. He reaches into his pocket to retrieve his phone, pushing it through the barrier for you to look at. On screen are several news articles, thus far praising the machine and its cohorts for its work in rescue and apprehension. Of course, given the short timespan in which 4ST3R01D has had to operate thus far, there isn’t much, and some outlets express skepticism at it all, but for the most part, there are only positive things to be said. Endeavor can be seen in the background of several images, sulking even as he keeps an ever-watchful eye on the powerful machine.
“So far, 4ST3R01D has handled two villain incidents every hour on average, alongside a few rescue cases, all without incident. I took what we had learned from C4D1E’s time on the field and made certain to edit the ethical parameters to include the methods of operation involving cooperation with the police. They’ve always had a conscience and understood right from wrong, it’s just been difficult for them to discern between their own thoughts and what society believes to be acceptable. That shouldn’t be an issue now.”
“And their main directive is still to protect humanity.”
“To destroy any of Earth’s threats with impunity,” Ichiro affirms. “It may not always be humans that need protecting.”
“Right. That makes sense.” You pause, before handing Ichiro back his phone. “If possible, Ichiro, and if Endeavor will cooperate, I want more heroes assigned to monitoring 4ST3R01D on the field. This thing has All Might’s Quirk; the results of this bot going rogue would be catastrophic beyond belief.”
“All Might’s--?” Ichiro blinks, and his mouth flaps uselessly for a moment. He looks amongst his machines surrounding him, before turning back to you.
“Comet… 4ST3R01D didn’t register All Might’s Quirk. In fact… none of my creations did.” When you furrow your brow and lean closer, he elaborates. “When 4ST3R01D explained he couldn’t process All Might’s DNA, I thought perhaps it was just a glitch, so I tried assigning the Quirk to another bot, a clean slate, as an experiment. But… it didn’t work. It didn’t work with any of them. Not one of my machines has All Might’s Quirk.”
“You’re sure? He gave you his blood, that should work, shouldn’t it?”
“It should.” Ichiro frowns. “But… I can’t quite explain it, but something about All Might’s blood seemed… it’s like it didn’t want us to know his Quirk, as if… I don’t know how to describe it. It was just… bizarre.”
This comes equally as a relief and perplexing to you. You only let the latter emotion show on your features. “Don’t worry too much about it,” you console the boy. “What matters is that the bots are doing their jobs, right? Send in the ones you have with you now, and I’ll direct them to problem areas.”
“Yes. Okay.” Ichiro tilts his head in your direction, and the androids gathered around him walk through the barrier with ease. “Well, on the bright side, I guess this answers whether souls are organic or even corporeal.”
“Thank you for the help, Ichiro.” You nod to the boy, then turn your direction to the machines awaiting their orders before you. “Uh… I… guess I should ask your… names…”
As you are introduced to the bots one by one, including their Quirks, and then give them their orders, your thoughts once again wander back to All Might and the growing strange circumstances surrounding him. While, initially, your thoughts are centered around the behavior of his Quirk, they slowly shift once again to the… feelings… between the two of you. Or is it just a feeling within yourself? You can’t speak for All Might, after all; you don’t know what he’s thinking about all this. About you.
Do… you want to know what he’s thinking about you?
No-- you know what he’s thinking. You’re his dear friend, after all; of course he cares about you, and you care about him. Of course. But… to what degree? How much does he care about you? How much do you care about… him?
The question grows. The feeling grows. No-- it’s not growing. It has been here for quite some time. But since when? For how long? The White Day gifts? When he caught you from falling from the sky when you fought Rockshot? When he took you for tea and a walk for your birthday? The training? The Kairaku-En incident? Or perhaps, when he professed his weakness..? His vulnerability? His humanity? It couldn’t have been any sooner than then.
So, for how long, then?
For how long have you been in love with All Might?
The final question-- the true question-- steals the breath from your lungs. All you can think about is the sound of his laughter and the crinkle of his blue eyes and the warmth and tenderness of his hands, even as you make your way back into Chuo-Ku ward, seeking to meet up once again with one of your fellow heroes to continue the rescue efforts. But time blurs together, and your feel light and unreal, as if you are a ghost.
For how long have you been in love with All Might?
Are you in love with All Might?
Each breath shakes you to your core. Your breath accelerates, until--
“Well now, there’s our beacon of hope!” chirps a tired but gleeful voice above you. You turn to look, and are greeted by the sight of Tengu, perched atop a lamp post with a bundle of something in his arms. A woman rushes past you, and Tengu drops to the ground, handing the sobbing woman the item. When she runs past you once again, you hear the muffled whimpers of a baby. “Safe travels, miss,” Tengu calls out to the woman, before coming to stand next to you. “Wonderful as ever to see your shining face, Comet.”
“How have you been holding up?” you ask the bird man.
“Feel like I should be asking you that more. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Huh?” You place a hand to your cheek, and even through the material of your glove, you can feel your skin is clammy and cool. “Oh. Well, I… just spoke with Ichiro.”
“I figured.” Tengu gestured up to the sky, and in the same moment, an android soars above the two of you, two people under each arm as it rushes to return to the barrier. “Glad to have the extra hands. It’ll be better for everyone. You figure the kid’ll bring us any more backup?”
“I wouldn’t doubt it.”
“And how’s the situation outside?”
“They’re managing pretty well. I still have doubts about the integrity of Ichiro’s machines,” You turn your attention southward bound. “But they still need our help in here.”
“Always focused on the task, eh, girl?” Tengu chuckles, a warm sound that crackles like s’mores. “Well, I could sure as hell use your help checking out a shopping district east of here. Feeling up to it?”
“Well then, after you, m’lady. You are our beacon of hope, after all.” Tengu bows, wings fanning out, and there’s a twinkle in his eye when he looks up at you and winks. The look on his face is warm and… affectionate? It is similar to the look All Might gives you, happy and hopeful, and yet…
Wait a minute .
Chapter 11: Outliers
sorry for the delay, the new year is NOT holding back on its punches. if you got the time go check out/follow me on my social medias linked down below, you get to put up with more of me there ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You work quickly alongside Tengu to find any remaining survivors on the surface of the city, those who are easy to immediately retrieve, and yet who could not leave on their own, for any number of reasons. The bird hero is charming and calm and steady in his task, setting an example for those that he meets and escorts. As a result, almost everyone keeps their composure, cooperating to the best of their ability to make certain the process goes as smoothly as possible. While you don’t necessarily follow his example, instead opting to remain stone-faced, nevertheless you exude confidence for the sake of the weary and afraid. Their grateful, albeit exhausted faces, give you strength in these trying times.
Between rescues, Tengu speaks casually with you, ever warm and kind, the silver dotting his temples-- you notice, they’re actually small downy feathers, rather than hair-- bristling whenever he smiles. While his presence is ultimately soothing, you can still catch not necessarily hiding meaning behind his words and actions, but certainly hidden feelings , now that you are hyper-aware of them-- alongside your own, in regards to All Might.
“Well, look at the silver lining,” he had begun, “you already have experience with catastrophic disasters. Sure, the physical load never gets easier, but at least you have a pretty good idea of what to expect, even if it isn’t pretty.”
“Well, there were definitely more casualties with the Khaos Crisis. Hopefully the death count won’t even reach half of that this time around.”
“Well, hope’s the most powerful thing we’ve got right now.” The bird man nods sagely, eyes crinkled in thought. “Bars’ll be full the following weeks after this. Shame; I would’ve taken you for a drink, both to celebrate and to forget. You drink at all? Given where you’re from, shouldn’t have assumed--”
“No, no, I do drink. I’m not religious. I generally do that more at home though.”
“Sure, that’s fair.” He pauses. “Maybe just dinner, then, if you’re feeling up to it in the following weeks. Just a little something that says, ‘You did it. You survived. You fought valiantly.’ You know what I’m saying? You can’t come out of something like this without needing quite a bit of self care. It really messes with you.”
Tengu does have a point; you nod, and conversation lulls until the next break in civilian interaction.
“So, Comet, when did you know you wanted to be a hero? News story? A fabricated tale? A daring rescue? What brought you to this point here, in the midst of all this chaos with a guy like me?”
A straightforward question. Welcome, in the midst of your chaotic thoughts. “Honestly? It was the moment my parents said I couldn’t. That wasn’t the life they wanted for me; it was too chaotic, too uncertain. It wasn’t sustainable, they said, I wouldn’t be able to find a good husband or have children. They said I wouldn’t be strong enough.” A bitter laugh escapes you, momentarily, as you remember your current situation, your strength failing you each passing second for unknown reasons in a dead city you hadn’t planned on being in while quickly realizing you’ve been caught in a love triangle without even knowing all this time. Oh, sweet irony. “But I wanted to. Not just to prove them wrong, but to do something amazing with myself. To defy what society and fate were telling me was possible. I wanted to chart my own path, a path I could be proud of, come what may.”
“And? Are you proud of that path?”
“Proud, yes. Confident… Still working on that aspect.”
“How come? You’re good at what you do.”
You open your mouth to explain your thought process, and are interrupted by the sound of one of Ichiro’s bots soaring above. It draws the both of you into silence, and once again you are overcome by your thoughts as you assist another group of civilians in their escape. Your powers are broken, or breaking, so very unlike all other heroes you know. Endeavors words rush through your veins, the reminder that you are replaceable. That there are dozens of heroes who can do your job, with a Quirk like yours, or very similar to it…
“If I remember correctly, you said you’re a bit of a bibliophile in one of your interviews with Chikashi? Have you had a chance to look at The Final Song ?”
You’re surprised Tengu would know or remember such a detail about you; it pulls you from your self loathing. “I’ve heard of it. The story about the scientist and his lab experiment lover?”
“Oh yeah. Probably the romance-sci fi-thriller of the year. I was just thinking of a quote from it, between the scientist and Eve, his lover; ‘I know not when the earth will crumble beneath our feet, nor how we will rise from the ashes, but we will. We will rise, and gather the broken pieces of ourselves and build something not quite the same as before, and not quite different, and not quite entirely new, but it will be us. And we will go on.’ Figure people need to hear that more now than ever.”
You pause to contemplate.
“What’s the context of that quote?”
“Ah, that’s spoilers.”
“I don’t mind spoilers. I mean, reading a book is about the journey, not the destination.”
“Couldn’t that be considered of all things in life?”
“Well, if I had to pick one…”
Tengu smirks and chuckles, and you smile as well, even when he looks up to you with such passion and intensity, wings encircled around you, like a momentary shield from the rest of the world.
“Well, the apocalypse is upon them; the end of all things, of all life. It hasn’t quite started yet, but the signs are there; natural disasters, war, crime, shortages of supplies, failing heroes-- it’s an inevitability. The scientist has just escaped the facility with his lover in tow, before it was swallowed by the earth without a single trace. Eve is lamenting that, her first day free from the clutches of science, and all the trauma it has wrought upon her, and it’s only to emerge into a dying, decaying world. She knows, eventually, she will lose the scientist to this great calamity, and he knows it, too, but all he offers is his unconditional love and faith. He doesn’t show his own fear; it won’t do anyone any good. Instead, he offers that phrase-- a promise that, no matter what happens, he won’t ever truly be gone. Neither of them will.”
The plot is mesmerizing, tugs at just the right strings to tangle you in its web; you find yourself short of breath.
“Okay. You’ve got my attention. How does it end?”
“I don’t think it’s the happily ever after you’re hoping for.” Despite the foreboding words, Tengu’s smile is kind, his amber eyes gleaming as he humors your interest wholeheartedly. “I don’t think that’s the kind of thing you need to think about right now.”
“It’s just a story; how bad can it be?”
“Even mere stories have pieces of the writer’s life in them; sometimes that pain you think is just in the form of black and white ink is very real to someone else. You have to be a special sort of strong to read and know for yourself the meaning behind those words.”
And that was something you knew well; something that you and Tengu connected on. You could feel it as a sudden snap in the air around you, and then, it hits you-- Tengu is flirting . It’s genuine, and there’s no hidden ulterior motive, and he is well and truly being himself, but he is most definitely flirting .
One strong heartbeat later, and something large and heavy lands to your left. Tengu lifts his wing as he glances to the side, and All Might stands tall, hands on his hips with a box under one arm and a slight smirk tugging at his features. Startled, you take a step back from Tengu-- when had the two of you drawn so near? Surely that was all him…
“I was told I might find you two here.” All Might’s smile twitched on the words ‘you two’. “I come bearing provisions! You’re both probably starving.”
You hadn’t even considered food when you had spoken with Ichiro earlier, and at the mention of it, your stomach growls loudly. Tengu approaches the Symbol of Peace first.
“Right, I guess keeping full is an important part of retaining our energy. Thank you, that’s very kind of you to think of us.”
You watch the two of them carefully as they interact, quickly cataloguing their reactions. Tengu is humbled, clearly, by All Might’s gesture and consideration. Just like many others, he looks up to the man with stars in his eyes. Clearly, he admires All Might greatly. The feeling appears to be mutual on behalf of the number one hero as well; even despite the strange twitch in his features before, there is nothing but admiration in his eyes as well. But why had you expected there to be any animosity to begin with? They weren’t enemies, they agreed on many aspects of life and heroism--
Before your thoughts can run away with you, you shake your head. Of course your imagination was hyper-active in the presence of your… crush. Stay cool , you remind yourself. Now is not the time for emotion. There are more pressing matters at hand.
Suddenly, All Might was before you, hand extended with one of the provisions you had been provided. You take the meal from him carefully, making sure your fingers do not touch.
“Ah, thank you.”
“Of course! Let’s all take a moment to recover our energy, and then we’ll renew our search together. After all, the city’s nearly empty of surface survivors; at this point it’d be more beneficial to combine our strengths to search for the rest than to go it alone, until our search turns to the deepest rubble.”
“Makes sense.” Tengu nodded, sipping noisily from a juice pouch. “You know anything about what’s going on outside, All Might?”
“I can’t say that I do; I’ve been so busy helping everyone in here, I only just barely tore myself away to get some food.”
“Comet can update you; she’s been good about keeping up with Japan while we’re stuck in here. I’ll let you two talk it out alone.” Tengu gestures for the bin with his taloned hands. “I’ll take the rest of this to Entropy and Radar.”
“Much appreciated, friend!” All Might exclaimed. “Comet and I will be here.”
“Then I’ll see you soon.” Tengu looked to you with a quick wink. “And then, we’ll go on.”
He takes flight a short moment after, and All Might comes to stand next to you. When you look over at him, he is squinting up into the sun and beaming.
“He really is majestic,” he commented. You noticed how his eyes glimmered in the sun, like pools of sacred water--
Comet. Focus .
“So, what’s happening on the outside?” he inquires.
“Well, villains are being apprehended left and right and put right back into prison, the barrier isn’t coming down until its creator loses consciousness, the androids are performing well in our absence so far--” You pause. “But there’s been an unexpected hangup.”
“Oh? Is everything alright?”
“For the most part, yes. Like I said, given everything going on, things are being handled to the best of everyone’s ability. But there’s been… well, Ichiro claims it isn’t a malfunction on his android’s behalf, but apparently, 4ST3R01D, and any other bot he tried it on, couldn’t break down and analyze your Quirk. So none of the bots have your power.”
All Might blinks down at you, freezing up for a moment. He opens his mouth to speak, pauses, considers something, and then speaks again.
“You know? Wait--” You shake your head. “Wait, you mean… did you know that would happen?”
All Might nods, without hesitation this time. “I did.”
“You d--” You lose your breath, for a moment, as a few dozen thoughts tumble through your mind as to what this revelation could possibly mean. He knew this would happen? And yet he let Ichiro take his blood anyways? Let everyone think that this machine would carry All Might’s Quirk? What you should have asked, then, was ‘Then why did you play along? What was the point?’ but instead, all that comes out is, “How-- why?”
And suddenly, All Might doesn’t look certain himself. Of what, you don’t know, but he looks as though he is suddenly regretting saying anything at all.
“Well, it’s… well, I thought, maybe it would be different, but I sort of figured this could happen, as well, but because of the way my Quirk… uh, functions… I mean, I didn’t think… maybe because it wasn’t human--”
“Hey, slow down, take a second to collect your thoughts,” you urge the pro hero. “What does being human have anything to do with it? They still have souls, they’re basically half of a person.”
All Might furrows his brow and takes a deep breath.
“I just want a straight answer; why didn’t it work, All Might?”
“I thought this could be an exception,” he murmurs, “given the circumstances.”
You wait for him to elaborate. He doesn’t. Instead, he takes a seat on a chunk of broken building, and begins tearing open the packaging for his food.
“Maybe… Maybe someday, I can explain. But there are numerous reasons why, right now, I… can’t. You have to trust me, it’s nothing nefarious or important, it’s just… well, remember how I told you that, if the world knew what exactly my Quirk was and how it worked, villains would more easily able to defeat or manipulate me?”
You sigh, and take a seat yourself. “Yeah. Yeah, I do. But then why would you give your blood freely to 4ST3R01D?”
“Not only would 4ST3R01D be unable to utilize my Quirk to the fullest extent of its power, but even if he was able to use it at all, it wouldn’t have all of the same functionality, essentially making it a different, weaker Quirk entirely. It’s… complex. Very complex. The danger was minimal, even if 4ST3R01D could process that power.”
“How do you know this? You-- we don’t know how Ichiro’s androids and souls work-- ”
“Just please. Please trust me. There was never any danger to begin with, regardless of the outcome. I can’t tell you why or how I know, or what happened. I can’t… tell you anything. Both for my own safety, the safety of society… and your safety.”
And when All Might looks into your eyes, his own are pleading, and warning.
“The more you know about who and what I truly am… the more danger you will be in.”
When, at first, you say nothing, he assumes the conversation is over. He begins to devour his meal, until--
“Is that why you don’t let anyone close to you?”
All Might chokes on a bite as you continue.
“You’re afraid of people getting hurt? Because there’s more to you that the world doesn’t know?”
“It’s-- it’s more than that, but… well, basically--”
Your chest quakes. You stand abruptly, emotion clouding your rational thoughts, your will to remain stoic and composed in all things. Your feelings for All Might coalesce into something protective and furious, faster than you can manage it.
“That isn’t an excuse. It-- it’s not . Everyone is going to have something like that, something precious. So your Quirk is different, maybe even crucially important-- that doesn’t mean you should hide away, Yagi. That’s not good for you. And dammit, the people you know, the ones that you let anywhere near you-- they’re heroes, too. I’m a hero! We aren’t helpless! I… I’m not helpless. It-- it doesn’t matter what’s going on with my Quirk right now, I’m-- it doesn’t matter.”
“I-- I wasn’t trying to imply--”
“It doesn’t matter what you were trying to imply; no one is making you be a martyr, and it should be other people’s choice whether they want to know you or not if you let them in first. That’s what you did for me-- you let me in . Now, I’m not saying you’ve got to tell me what’s going on, but I am saying that getting to know anyone more intimately is dangerous. Whatever demons you’re facing, they aren’t going to phase me, and you’d be surprised how many others will feel the same. You’re justified to your secrets, but let others decide whether that changes what being around you means.”
All Might digests this information silently. You sit down again, the reality of your outburst slowly beginning to dawn on you. How long have you been holding this in?
“There are things more powerful than fear and uncertainty. You’re the Symbol of Peace; you should know that. It’s the very thing you embody. Whatever your reasoning is for your actions in regards to your Quirk, just know this; I’m not going anywhere. That is a promise.”
The look on All Might’s face was that of someone who had never heard those words spoken to them before. Wide eyed and tense, but not in an unpleasant way. Color and heat begins to flood your face; you look down and away, muttering now without much control of yourself.
“You are my friend, after all… what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t do everything in my power to stick by your side? That’s… no friend at all. And you deserve that kind of person you can trust and rely on, more than anyone, So why would I leave over maybe finding out something I don’t like? It doesn’t necessarily define your character, who you are, who you’re going to be--”
You flinch when a warm, large hand is placed on your shoulder, the motion unexpected and searing through you. All Might looms above you, confliction of some sort clear in his eyes.
“It’s complicated. It… changes everything.”
“But I won’t. I won’t change.”
What are you even saying at this point? The statement doesn’t make sense. But you mean something else by it, deep down. All Might seems to sense this. His grip on your shoulder tightens, before he pulls you in to a hug, more enveloping than any he has given you before.
“Often I need a solid reminder that our strengths don’t lie solely within our Quirks. Without fail, you are always the one to jog my memory. Thank you.”
Tentatively, you respond to his hug.
Can he feel your heart pound against your chest?
Will your realization of your long suppressed feelings overwhelm you?
Can you ever just be “friends” anymore with how much your heart aches for him?
This is quickly going to become more than you can take.