“Hana! Slow down!"
The little girl giggled as she ran along the sidewalk, kicking up cherry blossom petals as she went. Izuku watched her and despite himself, he smiled. He’d been feeling a bit somber all day, and it did his heart good to see her happy.
When she reached the entrance arch, she slowed to a halt and stared, in awe of the large wrought iron gate and the stone pillars beyond. Izuku caught up to her and rested a hand on her head. Hana instinctively reached up and took his hand, squeezing tight.
“Ready?” he asked her.
She gave a tiny nod and together they entered.
It had been quite a while since he’d visited the graves of his parents. Between hero work and Hana, he hardly had any free time these days. But that wasn’t really a proper excuse, he reminded himself. No, he needed to make an effort to take more time to come visit. If not for his own sake, then for Hana’s — she deserved to know them as best as she could.
After a few moments of walking, they reached their row, but when Izuku tried to continue on Hana pulled up short. He looked back at his daughter and tilted his head with concern.
“You okay, little bug?”
“...I don’t wanna.”
“Hm. Why not?”
She gave no answer, just stared down at her feet, her free hand gripping the hem of her shirt. Izuku’s eyes softened at the sight and he bent down to pick her up.
“What if I carry you? Will it be alright then?”
Hana pressed her lips together and scratched at the fabric of her father’s jacket, considering. After a moment, she nodded, and with that Izuku kept walking.
When he saw the graves, Izuku made a mental note to bring fresh flowers on their next visit, as the old ones had withered. There was a bit of moss growing on the surface of Inko’s headstone — Toshinori’s, on the other hand, was spotless. Well, except for all of the trinkets and offerings that had been hung on or set around it. Izuku nearly rolled his eyes at the sight — they’d erected a public memorial for All Might for a reason. Mourning fans were supposed to leave their gifts and messages there and leave the actual grave to the family members; not that people listened, it seemed.
Speaking of family members, Izuku spotted a packaged Taiyaki resting between the two headstones and the sight made him smile. Gran Torino, despite his advanced age, was still up and kicking it seemed. He needed to give the old man a call.
He set Hana down and went to work cleaning up his mother’s headstone as best he could, while the little girl watched on, fingers laced together. With dark green eyes that matched her father and grandmother, she took in the site of the two graves.
She did not like them. She liked the pictures they hand on the walls and the mantle and photo albums at home — the pictures of Granpa Toshi when he used to be a hero, of Granma Inko when she had been younger and married to another man. And then the one or two from when they were dating, and her father was a young, wide-eyed student in high school. Their beautiful wedding picture, where the two of them only had eyes for each other… Those were the things she thought of when Daddy talked about them. She did not think of fancy rocks with writing on them, and it felt strange to associate the sight with those pictures and the stories she had been told. Strange, and a little wrong.
“Yeah?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Why did Granma and Granpa die?”
He paused in his efforts, a little taken aback by the question. Once he’d recovered, he turned, still crouching, to look at her.
“What do you mean?”
“Why did they die?” she repeated.
How… how did he answer that? He had no idea, and funny enough this sort of moment made him pity his mother and the way he used to pelt her with endless questions about life and the world, many of which she probably had no idea how to answer. She always did her best though, and he’d have to do the same now.
“Well,” he said slowly, motioning for her to come closer. “You probably remember how Granpa Toshi was sick for a very long time.”
“Cuz of All for One?”
“Yes. Because of the fight they had. Well, Granma Inko did her very best to take care of him. And for a long time it worked! He lived a lot longer than anybody thought he would.”
Hana rested her head on his shoulder. “But he still died.”
Izuku’s eyes darkened and he rested a hand on her head. “Yeah. He still died. Everyone dies eventually, and it was just his time. He was very tired and just...didn’t have much left in him by that point.”
It wasn’t exactly a happy subject, even now, years later. But in a way, he’d come to terms with it.
“It’s sad,” he murmured, “but it isn’t such a bad thing.”
“What about Granma?” Hana asked, reaching out to touch the headstone.
And at that, he winced, and felt a sting in his eyes.
His mother...that...that was much harder for him.
“Well,” he said, his voice slow, careful to keep from breaking. “After Granpa died, she was very sad. Losing him broke her heart, and I think at the end of the day all she really wanted was to be with him again. So she just sort of...drifted away.”
“Into the sky?”
Izuku gave a small chuckle. “No, she didn’t float away. She just...let go of life. Stopped fighting.”
Hana’s lip pouted. “I don’t like that.”
“Neither do I,” he concurred, ruffling her short curls. “But I like to think she’s happier now, wherever she is.”
Hana leaned back against him and looked to the sky as she considered this.
“Teacher says that some people think you get recarnid when you die.”
Izuku furrowed his brow. “Recarn...oh! Reincarnated?”
His daughter nodded. “Uh-huh. You get borned again. Is that what happened to them? Did they get borned?”
“Maybe,” he said, a soft expression on his face as he looked at the two graves. “Who knows? Maybe they’re out there somewhere watching over us. They could be anywhere.”
“I bet they’re birds!” Hana exclaimed, sticking her arms out to the side and flapping them like wings. “I bet they’re pretty birds that fly together all day!”
Izuku smiled as she continued flapping while darting around in circles and making bird-like noises. As nervous as she’d been earlier, she seemed more than happy now. Perhaps picturing her grandparents as birds was easier for her to process than the fact that they were two piles of ash laying side by side in the cemetery.
As he watched her, he felt a twinge of regret — wishing he had done more to support his mother after his step-father passed, wishing Hana could have been born sooner so that she could have known them properly, wishing...so very many things that could not be.
His thoughts were interrupted when Hana flew up to him and nearly tackled him in a hug.
“Don’t be sad, Daddy!” she commanded, eyes bright. “We love you lots!”
Izuku smiled and hugged her in return, resting his hand in her curls as he petted her head. After a second he found himself wondering at her use of the word ‘we’ but before he could question her about it, she was already pulling away and stepping toward the gravestones. He watched as she pressed a kiss to each of the stones before running back to him.
“I’m hungry!” she announced, taking hold of his hand. “Can we go eat?”
At that he nodded, smile still on his lips. “I think we could manage to find some food.”
As he allowed himself to be dragged along, her tiny hand gripping his scarred fingers, Izuku couldn’t help but look back over his shoulder for just a moment.
Nothing ever truly stayed the same, and he knew this. Change was inevitable — his parents left him, his daughter came into the world. But that didn’t always make it easy…
Izuku turned his head to see that Hana was waving at a tree as they passed by, and when he looked up he saw that there indeed was a pair of green pigeons perched side by side on a branch, watching them go by. One was slightly larger, while the smaller one seemed to be a darker shade of green.
That...was rather odd.
But he had no time to question it as he was being pulled along, and was soon listening as Hana babbled about ramen and what sort of mochi she wanted him to by, and he found himself wondering if he was feeding her too much junk food these days, and other such fatherly things.
The birds meanwhile, sat upon their branch, watching them go. And as soon as the two left the cemetery, the pair flitted off, flying side by side over the city.