~ Multiverses are such an interesting concept, don’t you agree? Reiterations of the same story over and over again, each one with a small difference setting it apart from the iterations around it, and the closer you get to the origin point, the more alike things get. The further you get from the origin point, the more different things get. Some multiverses rarely get too far from the origin point, while others rarely stay near, and anything in between. And there are so many possibilities, so many worlds and stories bleeding over into each other - well, who can tell where one ends and another begins? There are so many different multiverses, each with so many universes making them, that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. So many stories, even the greatest library couldn’t record them all, not even including those outliers that don’t belong to a single universe or multiverse. So, we’ll focus on one story. One that I found particularly interesting. This one… lies on the far edge of a multiverse whose iterations are largely clustered together. It’s at the edge of a bleedover area, where the borders between multiverses are… faint. It’s… quite different from its peers - an outlier, if you will. And that is what makes it so interesting.
After all, when everything’s just different versions of the same thing, something different is quite refreshing. ~
“... and the back room has spare parts, no one really goes back there aside from the mechanic.”
“I see. What about…”
A child giggled as they ducked behind a door, just out of sight of the passing adults. They were clutching a stuffed toy mouse-dog-bear thing to their chest, eyes sparkling with mirth as they hid. When they were sure the coast was clear, they darted out and down the hall, gunning for the door on the other side of the building’s largest room.
They were almost there. They could almost reach out and touch it…
The child squealed as a pair of arms wrapped around their middle and picked them up. The child was turned to face a woman with straight green hair pulled back in a half-bun, amused eyes belying the frown on her face. She huffed as the child pouted at her.
“Izuku Mikumo Midoriya, just what do you think you’re doing?”
Izuku giggled, his grin stretched wide over his face. “I wanna go outside, Mama!”
Izuku’s mother sighed, a fond little smile creeping onto her face as she brought the boy firmly into her arms. “I already told you, Izuku, you have to stay inside today. It’s going to rain, and I don’t want you getting sick.”
The three-year-old reached out to pat his mother on the face. “I won’t, I won’t! I promise! I’mma just be outside and back in real quick, and it’s not raining yet! I won’t get sick! I promise, Mama, it’s okay! I won’t even get hurt or nothing! Just play a bit! I promise on my candy!”
That got a smile and a gentle laugh out of Izuku’s mother. “Still, I don’t want to run the risk of you getting hurt; who knows what I would do without you?” She tapped her son’s nose, earning more giggles from him as she carried him through the restaurant. They passed the stage, and Inko felt a spark of pride at seeing the robots her husband had designed working perfectly as they were turned on for the day.
Izuku pouted. “But-”
“No buts, Izuku,” Inko gently reprimanded, setting her son down in the office. She gave him a coloring book and some crayons. “Now, I have to go check on your dad, so why don’t you color for a little bit? Look, it’s even All Might!” She gently pushed the comic-book-character-themed book towards Izuku. The boy pouted, but gave her a blinding smile a few seconds later, happily accepting the offerings.
“Okay, Mama! And I wanna see the show later, when Nezu and Poki and Bonrai are all woken up, okay?”
Inko smiled and nodded. “Of course, like I would stop you!”
The pair shared a laugh before Inko ruffled her son’s hair one last time, leaving him alone in the office as she went to check on her husband. Izuku smiled to himself and began coloring.
He would get out later, though. After all, he had a friend out there that he wanted to play with!
Much later, as the sun had just barely set, Inko was frantic, searching the whole restaurant top to bottom for Izuku. He’d disappeared some minutes ago, and she was cursing herself for not noticing sooner. She was trying her best not to disturb the customers, but her panic was rising each minute that her son was missing.
Outside, under the heavy downpour that hadn’t let up for several hours and showed no signs of letting up for several more, the only one to witness the entire thing was a scarred young street cat, perched safely beneath a nearby overhang.
Izuku, soaked to the bone with tears pouring down his face, trudged back to the restaurant, his safe place, his favorite place, with the limp body of a puppy cradled carefully in his arms. He was hunched over the animal, mourning the loss of his friend’s life.
He would never see cars the same way again.
When Izuku reached the door to the restaurant, he looked up and realized that he was too short to reach the handle. He’d had to drag over a chair to get it open earlier. Lethargically at first, then increasingly frantically as he realized no one could hear him, he knocked on the glass, calling for someone, anyone, to let him in. The bracelet locked on his wrist beeped, and one of his dad’s robots, a winged puppet that was connected to a police database, turned its head to face him. It began walking towards the door, and Izuku smiled, relieved that he would be let in.
Before it got more than a step, though, a hand landed on Izuku’s shoulder. He whirled around to find his dad’s business partner staring down at him. Izuku beamed. Mr. Alli was nice, if a bit strange. Izuku trusted him.
“Hi, Mr. Alli! I snuck out to play with my friend, but…” Izuku’s face crumpled a little bit as he glanced at the puppy in his arms. “A car hit him… and now I can’t get back in… But you can let me in, right?” He smiled again, though it was noticeably subdued compared to his usual blinding sunshine grins. After a few moments of silence, Mr. Alli smiled gently and spoke.
“Alright, Izuku, but let’s go around to the side entrance. That way you won’t disturb the guests, and we can get you dried off and give your friend a funeral while we’re at it. Does that sound good?”
Izuku considered it for a moment before he nodded solemnly. Mr. Alli grinned and led the boy into the alley around the side of the building.
The cat was the only one to hear the poor boy’s cut-off scream, to see the car’s headlights turn on as Mr. Alli started it up and drove away. The cat watched the security robot look around as it confused before moving to a side door, standing there uncertainly, not programmed to know how to proceed. The cat was the only one to witness the boy’s final moments, as he carefully sheltered the dog’s body from the rain. The cat was the only one in the area who even had a chance of witnessing the boy’s soul, luminescent and determined, rising and floating through the wall, taking temporary refuge in the security robot, ready to help others just like it.
For the moment, though, it was simply there, dormant, as there was no one to help.
Ironically enough, the cat was at the funeral the next week.
So... yeah... happy thoughts! Wonder what Inko's gonna do, though...
Chapter 2: The Birthday
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birth - come on, man, why'd you have to ruin it?
Horrible jokes aside, this one is pretty sad.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was Shoto’s birthday, and he was really excited. He was turning seven today, and he would get to visit his favorite restaurant ever, Nezu’s Pizza! Yeah, the incident with the owner’s daughter was kind of disturbing, but he couldn’t blame the restaurant. Besides, he would get to eat pizza and watch his favorite characters all day! It was all he could ever want at a birthday party, plus his friends, of course.
His two best friends, Katsuki and Ochaco, were with him today. Katsuki had given him a big Nezu plush - Shoto couldn’t even carry it, it was so big! And Ochaco had gotten him a new game to play with his brother at home. Shoto was so happy! He had the best friends!
They were watching the show when Shoto had to go to the bathroom. He excused himself and headed off. When he was done, he meant to head back to his friends, but -
“Oh, a birthday boy, huh?”
One of the animatronics was here! Shoto beamed excitedly. “Yep! I’m turning seven today!”
The animatronic, who Shoto recognized as Ritsu the Golden Fox, laughed. “That big, huh? Man, you’re growing up fast!”
Shoto nodded rapidly. “Uh-huh! Mom says that all the time, too!”
They continued talking for a bit. Eventually, Ritsu invited him back to help carry out his cake. Shoto was so happy! He obviously said yes and followed to help with the cake.
There was an odd creaking from the mouth of the hallway. Shoto turned back to see one of the other animatronics, the winged puppet, staring at him. It almost looked… sad? But… why?
The last thing Shoto saw was a glimmer of green eyes where there should be none.
Katsuki was concerned, to say the least. Shoto hadn’t returned yet, and he’d been gone for an awful long time - he could see the adults were starting to worry. After thinking it over for a few minutes, he nodded to himself, then stood up and headed to the hall. Ochaco grabbed his sleeve before he could get very far, though.
“What are you doing, Katsuki?” she asked, voice innocent.
Katsuki gave her an unimpressed look. “I’m goin’ to find Shoto, duh! What if he’s hurt and needs help?”
Ochaco considered that for a minute, before smiling brightly at him. “Okay! I’m coming with you then!”
Katsuki huffed, though he was secretly glad for the company. He’d always found that hallway a bit creepy. “Whatever, let’s go.”
And so, the two determined children set off to the hallway.
The puppet, who neither child had noticed staring at the hallway, tilted its head, as if curious, then seemed to sigh. Slowly, it began to move forward.
Katsuki and Ochaco had almost reached the bathroom when there was a scraping sound from a nearby door. They both whirled around - a metal pipe slammed down on Katsuki’s head, knocking him out cold. Before Ochaco could scream, a furry hand clamped around her throat, causing her to choke. A voice that she just knew belonged to a sickening grin spoke, sounding dementedly happy. “Oh, and two more. You’re the birthday boy’s friends, aren’t you? Don’t worry, you’ll see him soon - as a matter of fact, I’ve got a present for all of you!”
Ochaco blacked out.
The puppet suddenly turned and returned to its previous station near the door as Izuku, asleep until moments ago, moved out of his host body. He wasn’t positive on how this was supposed to work, but something told him he shouldn’t be out long. Well, he wouldn’t need to be out long, anyway.
Izuku growled fiercely as he passed Mr. Alli, who seemed to be looking for something to use. Izuku sighed and passed through the door to the back room, seeing the three children who would soon join him unconscious on the floor. A few tears dripped down his face as he prepared himself to witness the pain they were about to go through.
Soon enough, Mr. Alli returned with a knife from the kitchen. Izuku felt as sick as a ghost could be - the cooks would not be happy whatsoever, and would probably actually be devastated. Izuku forced himself to watch as Mr. Alli did to them what he’d done to him several months ago.
The moment their spirits began to rise, Izuku grabbed them, tugging them gently into his arms. They weren’t ‘conscious’ yet, and wouldn’t be for some time, but if he could help them pass on…
He frowned at the ties connecting them to this place. Right, they were murdered. They wouldn’t be able to move on yet. But he didn’t want them to fade away - he’d seen it happen to some other spirits who weren’t ready for death but couldn’t find some kind of host. He looked around, thinking - wait.
He could, if he did this right…
Okay. Izuku nodded to himself, then floated out of the room, gently dragging the sleeping children in his arms. He found the stage, where the animatronics were still performing, but that wouldn’t do. Not a strong enough connection. He looked - oh, the boy with red and white hair was connected to the stuffed Nezu. That could work…
Gently, Izuku laid the others in resting places, whispering a soft, ‘Sleep well,’ to each one. The red and white boy was in the stuffed Nezu, subtly moved out of the way as the mothers began panicking. The girl ended up in Poki, a chicken and the backup singer for Nezu. The blond boy was laid in a child-size replica of Bonrai, the bunny guitarist, which was safely tucked behind the prize counter. Those would do for now, and when they woke up, he would help them make better choices.
This, Izuku vowed to himself, retreating inside his host body. After all, they were under his protection now.
When Ochaco woke up, she was… confused, to say the least. It was dark and quiet, and when she moved to rub at her eyes, her hand felt… wrong. In fact, her whole body did.
That was when Ochaco noticed her predicament.
Her screams, inaudible to human ears, awoke the others.
Katsuki immediately began shouting, and Shoto was obviously panicking, and Ochaco was completely freaking out when suddenly, there was someone else. A little boy with kind green eyes and curly green hair, floating in the middle of the now-recognizable restaurant. He looked younger than Ochaco, but for some reason… she felt like she would be safe if she listened to him.
“Calm down, breathe, and concentrate. You’re not tied to those bodies, I just needed a temporary host so you didn’t fade away.”
And Ochaco did calm down, and she realized that the boy was right. She didn’t know how she knew, she just did.
“I wouldn’t risk coming out just yet, so I’m gonna talk. You can just listen, okay?”
Ochaco remained silent, as did Katsuki and Shoto.
The boy beamed. “Good! Now, I’m Izuku Midoriya. I’ve been dead a little longer than you. You were - to be frank - murdered by the co-owner of this restaurant.”
Shoto made a wounded noise. Izuku gave a sad smile to the plush he’d been given, where she assumed he was. “I know. I saw him as an uncle. I don’t know a lot about being dead, but I do know this; you have a few options. Hear me out before you decide on one. Option One: you can stick around as you are now, a spirit, to complete unfinished business. This includes revenge, or a self-imposed mission. If you choose that option, you’ll need to become familiar with host bodies real fast. Option Two: you can move on to whatever’s beyond this world, to the afterlife. I can help guide you there, if you’d like. What you would do from there I couldn’t tell you. And Option Three: You can “reincarnate” in a way by permanently taking another body as your own. I can also help you with that. You don’t have to choose now, but you might want to make a decision soon.”
The silence was heavy, making Ochaco want to whimper, but she already knew what she wanted. Quietly, she whispered, “Can I stay with you?”
Izuku shot her a surprised look, and she could feel the same shock radiating from her friends. “It’s just, you feel safe, and I don’t want to leave anyone behind, and I have a feeling this isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so, can I stay with you?”
Izuku’s look of surprise melted into one of genuine happiness. “Of course. I would love the company.”
Ochaco beamed, and she felt like Izuku somehow knew, even though she was positive she wasn’t visible right now.
Shoto was the next to speak up. “...I would like to stay as well. I don’t want that man to get away with what he’s done.”
Izuku gave Shoto a happy look as well, before Katsuki said, “Ugh, if these two idiots are staying, then I am as well.”
Ochaco shot a happy look to the figure she’d heard Katsuki’s voice from, reassured when Izuku shot a similar look in the same direction. “Right, okay. Well, let’s go over some basics, first…”
In the coming weeks, despite the tragedy, the restaurant would retain a homey atmosphere. Mr. Alli would also realize he better change hunting grounds if he wanted to avoid getting caught.
Oh boy. I wonder where this is going to go...