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Godling (ON HIATUS)

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Midoriya Inko is not one to drink away her problems.  The only times she drinks at all are at the parties her best friend Mitsuki throws, and even then, she’s only really been drunk once.

 

Yet that doesn’t change the fact that she’s angrily nursing a margarita—her third one this evening, mind you.  And she would later guarantee that she wouldn’t be at the bar if Mitsuki hadn’t moved away the same day her boyfriend of eight years dumped her.  She was with him since they were sixteen and suddenly he just decided he didn’t love her anymore! “No warning, just ‘I don’t love you. Move out as soon as possible.’  I’m the one who found that place, I should be the one who lives there after we break up.  But no , that little bitch fuck has to keep the place, because he managed to convince me to put his name on the lease!” she ranted at the man in the stool next to her, whose smile would have made her uneasy if she was sober.  “I managed to find an apartment, almost as good as the one I shared with him, but that doesn’t make it any more fair! And of course because the universe hates me today, my best friend moved today, and I knew that would hurt, but it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t coupled with the shit-storm that is Futaba Reiji!”

 

The man flashed a charming smile.  “Miss, I think you’ve had more than enough to drink tonight.  Perhaps you’ll let me take you home?”

 

Inko’s disposition quickly changed.  Instead of flying into a fury, she seemed to get smaller as she muttered, “Yeah, that’d probably be for the best…”

 

“I’m Hisashi.  And you are?”

 

“Midoriya Inko,” she murmured, not unlike a child just after a temper tantrum.

 

“Well, Inko, it’s a pleasure,” he said, walking her outside to his car—an expensive luxury car, at that.

 

When Hisashi walked Inko inside, she missed his cunning smirk.

 

——

 

Inko wakes up the next morning with a splitting headache, an empty bed, and an intense feeling of oh my God I slept with a man I just met I don’t even know his surname .

 

Reluctantly, she pushes herself out of bed to get some breakfast and aspirin.  Sitting at the table, she decides she needs some advice. She grabs her phone and called Mitsuki.

 

Hey Inko!  How are you ?” Mitsuki said cheerfully as soon as she picked up the phone, and Inko remembered she hadn’t told Mitsuki about the breakup.

 

“I made a big mistake, Mitsuki.”

 

I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.  What happened ?”

 

“Reiji dumped me yesterday.”

 

What ?!”

 

“And he made me move out, so we actually live pretty close again—I’ll text you the address later—and I, like an absolute idiot , went to a bar to forget about it for a while.  Then I talked a bunch to this guy, who I realize now was very creepy, then he drove me home, and I may have sorta kinda slept with him.  I don’t even know this guy’s surname, Mitsuki! I don’t know if he used protection!  What if I’m pregnant?”

By the time she finishes talking, Inko is crying.  She isn’t scared of having a kid; in fact, she’s always wanted to be a mom.  She’s scared of having a kid who grows up without knowing their father. She’s scared of raising a kid all by herself.

 

Inko, sweetie.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The point is to grow from them.  If you’re pregnant? Then we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, okay ?” Mitsuki says in an abnormally soft voice.  “ You’re gonna be okay.

 

Inko cries harder.

 

——

 

On July fifteenth, she gives birth to a healthy baby boy, who she decides to name Izuku.  He’s perfect, she decides, perfect. The best thing she could have hoped for. The only good thing to come from Hisashi.

 

She vows that she will always protect Izuku, no matter what.

Chapter Text

Izuku walks home from school today, taking the same out of the way route as always to avoid bullies.  He’s twelve now and is officially Quirkless, despite him thinking he could move the air or shock things when he was little.  He swears to this day that he once made the power go out by sticking a fork in an outlet (always a great idea), but his mom says it was just a coincidence.  He doesn’t have a Quirk, so how could he cause a power outage like that?

 

He scribbles in his notebook as he walks; there was a villain fight the night before, and he wants to write down everything he can about it before he forgets.  After all, he needs every advantage he can get. Learning about other Quirks, other fighting styles—analysis would help him become a hero, if nothing else would.

 

Eraserhead was the hero Izuku saw, an underground hero with an erasure Quirk and a distaste for the media.  He was a hero Izuku could admire almost as much as All Might due to his almost-Quirkless fighting style.

 

As he’s writing, he walks straight into someone.  “Oh, sorry,” he apologizes, then looks up to see it was a street light.  He chuckles at himself, shakes his head and continues walking.  

 

He mutters to himself as he writes, not actually aware he’s doing so.  “Can’t rely on Quirk; depends on opponent’s reliance on their Quirk…might have to make eye contact with opponent to use…hair raises with Quirk; looks cool but might wanna invest in a haircut…”

 

He bumps into something else, but this time it’s actually a person.  He looks up—the person has a Quirk that makes them very tall (almost eight feet, Izuku guesses).

 

He smiles sheepishly.  “Sorry, wasn’t looking where I was going.”

 

The person doesn’t reply, so Izuku just nods awkwardly and continues walking.

 

He hears a voice that freezes him to the spot.  “ What is that smell? ” it says hungrily.  “ Is that half-blood I smell?

 

Izuku feels a presence behind him; he makes a break for it without thinking, but within a few seconds, the person has him cornered under a bridge.  The person only has one eye—some sort of cyclops Quirk, perhaps? No, Izuku scolds himself, you’re in danger.  Focus on that.

 

It is half-blood!  I do enjoy a good-

 

The cyclops person is cut off as they explode into golden dust.  A feminine voice angrily murmurs, “The Mist doesn’t even have to try anymore.”

 

Izuku glances up to see a girl with long violet hair, which is worn in a ponytail, holding a bronze knife in one hand and petting a…weasel?  Ferret? Petting something that’s sitting on her shoulder with the other hand.

 

“Are you okay?” she asks, tilting her head to one side.  “That cyclops didn’t hurt you too bad, right?”

 

As everything goes dark, he distinctly hears the girl dejectedly say, “Ah, shit.”

 

——

 

So far, Kazumi’s day has been less than stellar.  On the way to school, she gets attacked by some scorpion monster she’s fought before but never bothered to learn the name of; during lunch, a boy who is hopefully just clumsy spills water all over her shirt, and on her way home, she sees a hellhound, follows it, loses it, then notices a cyclops cornering a demigod who seems about her age under a bridge.

 

She pulls her knives out of her boots and throws one at the cyclops’ exposed back.  It crumbles into dust. “The Mist doesn’t even try anymore,” she says as she feels the familiar feeling of something climbing up her back then settling on her shoulder.  “Right, Tachi?” She scratches the polecat’s chin.

 

She turns back to the boy, wearing a look of concern.  “Are you okay? That cyclops didn’t hurt you too bad, right?”

 

The boy promptly topples over. 

 

 “Ah, shit.”  She puts her dagger in her boot and picks up her bag, digging through it to find her prism.  “Tachi, see if you can find his ID or something,” she orders off handedly. “Now where is that prism?”

 

Tachi soon scratches at her leg, nodding towards the boy’s vibrating phone.  There’s a picture of a woman who looks a lot like him, the contact labeled “Mom.”

 

Kazumi picks up his phone and accepts the call.  “ Izuku?  Are you okay?  Was there a villain fight you wanted to watch-

 

“Ma’am.  My name is Yusa Kazumi, not Izuku,” she says, cutting the woman off.  She decides that she should just tell his mom the truth. “Your son was attacked by a monster.”  

 

You mean a villain targeted him?! ” the woman asks in a tone of panic.

 

“No, ma’am.  Your son is fine, just passed out from shock, I think.  He wasn’t attacked by a villain; he was attacked by a monster.”

 

I don’t understand.

 

“I think it would be best if I spoke to you and your son in person.  It’s a very complicated thing to explain over the phone. When your son—Izuku, you said?—when he comes to, which’ll probably be soon, by the way, I’ll have him introduce us.  In the meantime, I need to make another call, so I have to go. I’m sorry. Bottom line is your son is okay .”  Kazumi hangs up quickly and finally pulled a prism and a drachma out of her bag.

 

“Oh, Iris, goddess of the rainbow, answer my call,” she says, tossing the coin through the rainbow.  “Show me Kayama Nemuri.”

 

Through the rainbow, Kazumi could see Nemuri—better known as The R-Rated Heroine, Midnight—sitting on her couch, reading a book.  “Aunt Nemuri!” she calls.

 

Nemuri turned her head.  “Oh, Kazumi. What do you need?”

 

“I found a demigod.  He’s roughly my age, I guess.  A cyclops was attacking him, and he passed out after I killed it.  His mom called and she didn’t seem to know what a monster is, so chances are neither of them know.”

 

Nemuri nodded thoughtfully.  “Where are you?”

 

“Uh, under Komatsuzawa Bridge in a sort of tunnel thing, but I’ll probably be going to the kid’s place once he comes to to explain things.  I’ll probably sound more credible if I have a pro backing me up.”

 

“I’ll be there as soon as possible.”

 

Kazumi slashed her hand through the rainbow, cutting off the connection.  She grabs her other dagger from the pile of dust where the cyclops used to be.  She wipes it on her skirt and slides it into her boot. “Well this hasn’t been a great day, huh Tachi?”

 

Tachi nuzzled her face against her leg.  Kazumi slides down the wall of the tunnel, sighing and resting her chin in her hand.  “Might as well relax for a minute.”

 

The boy gasps, waking with a start.

 

“Oh, Styx.”

 

“What happened?  Where’s that villain?” the boy starts asking a million questions, and Kazumi’s head spins.

 

“Dude, calm down.  You were attacked by a cyclops, I killed it, you passed out.  Got it? Good.”

 

The boy’s eyes widen in terror.  “You killed it?”

 

“It would’ve killed you.  Besides, it’s not like it was human.  You see all this dust? That’s the thing that attacked you.”

 

“So you killed something and now it’s dead ?”

 

“No, it’s still alive.”

 

“So you didn’t kill it?”

 

“Oh no.  I definitely killed it.”

 

The boy flashes her a confused, horrified face.

 

“I’ll explain later.  I need to talk to your mom, too.”

 

“Why?”

 

Kazumi looks the boy over.  “Your name is Izuku, right?”  He nods. “What do you know about your father?”

 

Izuku looks incredulous.  “What does that have to do with anything?”

 

Kazumi whispers to herself in Ancient Greek, “ Aunt Nemuri is so much better at this stuff than me .”  She switches to Japanese.  “He has everything to do with this.  I just…I should explain to your mom, too.  Can you take me to her?”

 

“Why should I trust you?”  Izuku says, leveling his gaze.

 

“You have good survival instincts, but di immortales , I just saved your life.”

 

Izuku doesn’t budge.

 

“You know what?  Just give me five minutes, then you’ll probably trust me a bit more.  Kapische ?”  Kazumi grabs her water bottle and takes a long drink.  “Gods, I wish this was alcohol. Life is hard.”

 

“Kazumi, you’re twelve.”

 

Kazumi looks up, thankful to see Nemuri there.  “Hi Auntie.”

 

“Is that Midnight?  The R-Rated Heroine?” Izuku asks, seeming like a fanboy.

 

“The one and only,” Nemuri says, winking at him.  “Now, Kazumi and I need to speak with you and your mother.”

 

“Yeah, sure thing,” Izuku says, feeling as if he were in a trance.

 

——

 

Izuku decides that today has been very confusing.  The beginning of it was fine, nothing out of the usual, but his walk home has been the weirdest thing to happen to him ever.  He gets attacked by something that apparently is not human, a girl saves him by killing it, but it’s also still alive, and the girl’s aunt is Midnight who is now escorting him home because she and the girl have to talk to him and his mom.

 

Maybe I’m dreaming , he wonders as he leads the girls through the halls of the apartment building.  That seems most likely .  “Uh, here it is,” he says, gesturing to the door that says “Midoriya” next to it.

 

“Wonderful.  Now let’s go in-” Midnight begins.

 

“Wait!” the girl—Kazumi?—interjects.  “Just a warning, Izuku, your mom called you while you were passed out.  I emphasized that you’re okay, but I also told her what happened, so she’s probably super worried.”

 

“Today just keeps getting better and better…” Izuku whispers bitterly to himself and opens the door.

 

“IZUKU?!  ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” his mom screams, tackling him in a hug.

 

“Y-yeah, Mom, I’m fine.  You don’t need to worry.”

 

“A girl answered your phone and told me you got attacked!  How could I not worry?” His mom says frantically, refusing to let him go.

 

“Yeah, sorry, I’m not too good at that kinda stuff,” Kazumi says, looking sheepish.  “I did say he was okay, though.”

 

Inko looks over at her.  Then at Midnight. Then back at Kazumi.  “You…”

 

Kazumi gulps, her eyes filled with fear.

 

Inko sighs.  “Thank you for telling me what happened to my son.  I trust that you’re alright, as well?”

 

Kazumi blinks.  “I…yes, I’m good, not a scratch on me.”

 

Inko nods kindly.  “That’s good. Please, come in.  I’ll make some tea.”

 

“O…kay?” both Midnight and Kazumi say at the same time.

 

Inko leads them inside, and they sit on the couch, talking amongst themselves in a language that seems so familiar to Izuku, but he just can’t figure out what it is.

 

Inko brings them tea, and they start speaking Japanese rather than whatever they’d been speaking.

 

“Ms. Midoriya, what do you know about your son’s father?” Kazumi asks, and Izuku wonders why his asshole dad is so important.

 

“He was a terrible person.  Why?” Inko asks, her voice hard.

 

Midnight puts a hand on Kazumi’s shoulder and takes over talking.  “It is extremely likely that your son is a half blood.”

 

Inko shakes her head.  “No, his father was Japanese.”

 

Kazumi shakes her head.  “That’s not what she means.  By ‘half blood,’ she means half human and half…half god.”

 

Inko drops her teacup, and, in an instant, Kazumi shoots out and grabs it.  “I don’t understand. Half god ?  Surely even if gods exist, they…they’re not like that .”

 

Midnight frowns.  “Unfortunately, many gods are fundamentally bad.  Zeus, for example, while king of the gods, is a serial rapist.  And almost every god with a half blood kid is an absentee parent.”

 

“So?  Lots of ordinary people can be absentee parents.  What sort of proof do you have?”

 

“The thing that attacked Izuku, it was a cyclops.  It wasn’t someone with a Quirk that made them look like that.  It was a cyclops, and cyclopes only ever attack demigods,” Kazumi says with a somber look, and Izuku can tell that she’s speaking from experience.  

 

“Oh.”

 

“Being a demigod, it’s dangerous.  Monsters like that are constantly after you.  Without being trained properly, chances are you’re gonna die young.  There’s only one place in the world that’s safe for us.” Kazumi says with a bitter tone.  She turned to Izuku. “Camp Half-Blood. Normally, you only go there during the summer, but since you were just attacked, you should probably start training as soon as possible.”

 

“Wait, I can’t just leave .  How do I know you’re not kidnapping me?” Izuku demands.

 

Kazumi exhales deeply.  “Again, good survival instincts, but I just saved your save, and also I have a Pro Hero here to back me up.  If you don’t trust us, you can bring someone you do trust, though they won’t be able to get through the barrier.”

 

“I’m sorry: barrier?” Inko asks kindly.

 

Midnight smiles at her.  “Around Camp Half-Blood, there’s a barrier that only lets demigods through.  Mortals, monsters: they can’t enter unless given explicit permission by one of the gods that run the place.”

 

“Or Chiron,” Kazumi adds.

 

“Right.”

 

Izuku feels like he might pass out again.  “Gods run the place?”

 

“Percy and Annabeth.  The god of heroes and the goddess of architecture.  They were demigods at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but the Olympians made them into full fledged gods,” Midnight replies.

 

“Why doesn’t anyone know about this?”

Kazumi take a long drink of tea then looks Izuku straight in the eye.  “Simple. The Mist hides it.”

 

“The Mist?”

 

Kazumi smirks.  “Rule one of survival: don’t ever trust the Mist.”

Chapter Text

“So,” Kazumi starts, locking swords with Izuku, “you gonna be ready for the Yuuei entrance exam in February?”

 

Izuku chuckles.  “Small talk during a battle?  Someone’s getting cocky.”

 

She clicks her tongue.  “Or.” She makes swift work of disarming him, twisting her sword around the hilt of Izuku’s.  “I’m just that good.”

 

Izuku rolls his eyes.  “Yes, yes, you’re the best fighter ever.”

 

With a spark in her eyes, Kazumi says, “Well now, I never said that .”

 

Izuku raises an eyebrow.  She shoves him. “You wanna go get something to eat after this?” he suggests.  “I love camp food, but I need the most greasy, unhealthy food I can get my hands on right now.”

 

“Yeah, I’m always up for an ungodly amount of fries and milkshakes.”  Kazumi says, picking up the swords and putting them back on the weapons table.  “Staff training or knife training next?”

 

“You know I suck at both of those,” Izuku whines.

 

Kazumi picks up two staffs and throws them at him.  “Staff training it is.” She pulls the pins out of her hair, which turn into her own staffs.

 

“You have the staffs Hatsume made for you, that’s an unfair advantage.”

 

“All’s fair in love and war, darling,” Kazumi teases, the only warning before her attack.

 

Izuku crosses his staffs in front of his face in defense, falling for her feint.  Kazumi hits him straight on with one staff, using the other to pull his feet out from under him.  

 

“You’re leaving yourself open, Zuku.  You have two staffs. Rather than a strong defense in one place, you can try a weaker defense in multiple places.  Then try to parry and go on the offensive.”

 

Izuku glares.  “I don’t get why we have to train with staffs anyway.  It’s nearly impossible to kill monsters with them.”

 

With a fond smile, Kazumi says, “Perhaps, but you and I both want to be heroes, right?  Staffs can be used offensively without straight up murdering someone. With bladed weapons, it’s so much easier to kill.”

 

Izuku looks indignant.  “I would never-!”

 

“I know you wouldn’t,” Kazumi cuts him off softly.  “But we’re so used to killing monsters that it can lock your head in that mode.  And besides,” she says, a smirk dancing on her lips, “what kind of hero can you be when you’re just a one trick pony, huh?”

 

Izuku jumps up to his feet, a laugh bursting through.  “Okay, Kazu, loser of this match pays and asks Percy for permission to leave camp.”

 

“Deal,” Kazumi agrees, and the two spring into action.

 

——

 

“You cheated,” Izuku accuses as they walk to the Big House.

 

“Since when is not being a noob cheating?” Kazumi jokes, laughing as Izuku shoves her.

 

“And here I thought I was getting better.”

 

“You are!” she insists.  “You’re just not on my level yet.  Remember, I’ve got ten years on you, training wise.  Now come on, I want unhealthy food.”

 

The Big House is exactly what it sounds like.  A big, blue house with a wrap around porch. According to Percy and Annabeth, the Oracle of Delphi used to possess a mummy in the attic, but nobody really believes that.  Everyone knows that the Oracle lives in a cave in a hill, and it is much nicer than the attic of the Big House.

 

Izuku walks in as Kazumi waits on the porch, a terrible friend who won’t even provide moral support when he has to speak to a god.  

 

Percy is sitting on one of the couches, eating blue cookies (something Izuku has always been curious about but never had the nerve to ask), and playing a game of solitaire.

 

“Um, Percy?” Izuku asks, his voice shrinking with each syllable.  

 

Percy looks up from his game and smiles.  “Hi Izuku. Do you need something?”

 

“Uh, yeah.  Kazumi and I wanted to go out to get some food outside of camp.”

 

Percy shrugs.  “Okay. Stay safe.”

 

Izuku turns around and walks towards the door, when Percy speaks again.  “Oh, yeah. Izuku, when you get back, I want to talk to you about something.  Have fun!”

 

Izuku nods, internally screaming.  “Right, will do.” He practically bolts out the door.

 

“Zuku, you okay?” Kazumi asks when she sees his face.  “Did he say no or something?”

 

Izuku shakes his head.  “He said he wants to talk to me about something when we get back.”

 

“Okay…Well I doubt it’s anything bad.  Just try to forget about it until then, kay?”

 

Izuku nods and breathes deeply for a few seconds.  “Alright, I’m good. Let’s go eat.”

 

Kazumi pumps her fist.  “Hell yeah!”

 

——

 

After ordering two large milkshakes (one vanilla, one chocolate) and three large orders of fries, and eating everything on the table without hesitation (or even a stomach ache), Izuku and Kazumi walk out of the fast-food restaurant, content.

 

“That was the height of luxury,” Izuku says.

 

With a wistful look on her face, Kazumi agrees, “And it cost less than 2000 yen.”

 

Izuku bumps his arm into hers.  “Why do you care how much it cost?  I’m the one that paid.”

 

“Yeah, but maybe next time, I’ll —you’ve gotta be shitting me.”  Kazumi glares at the large dog on the sidewalk.  “A hellhound, of course. When is there not a hellhound?”

 

The hellhound walks along the sidewalk, growling at anyone who draws near.  It seems to know exactly where it wants to go, unperturbed by the two demigods only meters behind it.

 

“What’s it doing?” Izuku asks, his hand reaching towards his backpack.

 

“Aside from ruining our afternoon?” Kazumi remarks, grabbing a dagger from her boot.  “Why don’t we find out?”

 

Izuku nods, and they make their way through the crowd and into the nearest alley, scaling a building with ease.  “Where is it now?”

 

Kazumi gazes over the side of the roof, enhancing her vision and hearing as she does (with her Quirk, sense manipulation, she can enhance or diminish her senses and the senses of those around her).  “It’s there. I still don’t know why it didn’t notice us. We were right behind it.”

 

“Yeah, we’ll have to mention it to Chiron when we get back.”

 

Kazumi hums in agreement, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on the monster.  Then, she hears an unfamiliar voice. “Hey, what are you two doi-”

 

Following the boy’s voice being cut off is the sound of somebody being beaten up.  Kazumi turns, pulling a clip out of her hair as she does so. In front of her, Izuku has a blond boy wearing a mask and black clothes pinned against a wall.

 

“What an intimate moment,” she says dryly, raising one eyebrow.

 

Izuku lets the boy go to turn to her with a flabbergasted look.  “Why are you like this?”

 

“You signed up for this when you became my friend,” she jokes, but then her stance turns rigid.  “It’s getting away. Izuku, stay here if you like, but I’m going after it.” Without warning, she leaps away, jumping over buildings until she’s out of sight.

 

Izuku turns to the boy.  “Who are you?”

 

He gets a wonky smile in return.  “I’m Thunderstrike, dude.”

 

“I’m sorry?”  Izuku demands and crosses his arms.

 

“I take down villains and stuff,” Thunderstrike says.

 

“A vigilante, then?”

 

Thunderstrike nods.  

 

“Well, I’d suggest covering your hair.  It’s a very defining feature. A voice changer would also help.  You sound like a teenager. Surely, you don’t want people to know your age.”  Izuku checks his watch. Two minutes since Kazumi left. He should go find her.  “Now if you’ll excuse me-”

 

“Wait!” Thunderstrike yells.

 

Izuku turns to face him with a hard glare.  “ What?

 

“Thanks, for, uh, the advice, and stuff.  W-why exactly are you up here?”

 

Izuku smirks, covering his worry for his friend.  “That’s a secret.” He jumps away, hoping that Kazumi didn’t die in the time she and him were separated.

 

He soon spots her bright purple hair a few buildings ahead of him.  He picks up the pace, and within a minute, he’s crouched next to her, looking over the sea of people for the hellhound.  “Can you see it?” 

 

“Mhm.  It’s heading into an alley across the street,” she says, not tearing her eyes from the street.

 

“Shall we go investigate?”

 

“We shall.”

 

They jumped off the building.  Kazumi lands rolling, standing after one somersault.  Izuku is not so lucky and lands in a dumpster. Once he climbs out, they cross the street and slip into the alley that the hellhound had.  

 

At the end of the alley, there’s the hellhound, and there’s nothing else.  The hellhound is just sitting there, and absolutely nothing else is happening.

 

“It’s…not doing anything,” Kazumi remarks, pointedly ignoring Izuku’s muttering.  “It’s not even reacting to our voices.” Kazumi bites her thumbnail, thinking. “What if I…?”  She whistles as loud as she can. Nothing happens. “What the fuck?”

 

Then, without warning, the hellhound turns on her and attacks.  Kazumi pulled a hair pin out and parries, using the opening to dodge and grab her knife.  “Zuku, I would really appreciate some help!”

 

“Gimme a second!” Izuku shouts from the sidelines, getting his sword from his backpack.

 

“I really don’t see why you don’t just carry your sword on your back!  The Mist will hide it from mortals!”

 

“Which is why you carry your knives in your boots?”

 

“It’s a lot more accessible than a backpack .”

 

“Well—”

 

Izuku is cut off by a flash of lightning.  He sighs, “This guy again?”

 

When the lightning dies down, Kazumi uses the hellhounds confusion to stab it in the side.  Then, she glares up at Thunderstrike, who says, “Whoa, what was that ?”

 

“You shouldn’t interfere with things you don’t understand,” Izuku tells him, his voice sharp.  “Kazumi?”

 

“Right.”  She turns to Thunderstrike.  “Sorry, nothing personal.” She snaps her fingers, sending a clear echo throughout the alleyway.  “You didn’t see us here, nor did you see us on the roof a few minutes ago.”

 

She and Izuku are out of the alleyway when Thunderstrike reawakens to reality.

 

——

 

“You know,” Kazumi says as she and Izuku reenter camp.  “That whole adventure almost wasn't worth the food.”

 

Izuku sighs, shaking his head.  “Almost?”

 

“Yup.  Almost.”

 

“Kazu, you’re ridiculous.”

 

“Zuku, you have to meet Percy for something,” Kazumi says with a cheeky smile as the color leaves Izuku’s face.

 

“Shit,” he whispers.

 

Kazumi rolls her eyes.  “Come on, Percy’s not that scary.”

 

Izuku shoots her a look.  She replies by nodding her head toward the Big House while maintaining with him.  Izuku huffs, “Fine.”

 

“Have fun,” Kazumi says as she walks off.  “I’m gonna go find Chiron and tell him about what happened.”

 

Bracing himself, Izuku takes a deep breath and heads towards the Big House.  “Percy?” he calls, “You wanted to talk to me about something?”

 

Percy looks up from whatever he’s doing and smiles.  “Right. Follow me, please.” Percy gets up and walks out of the Big House, and Izuku follows him until they arrive at their destination: Thalia’s Tree.

 

Izuku’s eyes glue themselves to his feet.  “So, uh, why did you—what did you wanna talk to me about?”

 

Percy’s voice is benign and clear as he speaks.  “I want to give you something,” he says plainly.

 

Izuku looks up, his head tilted to the side.  “You…want to give me something?”

 

Percy laughs and ruffles Izuku’s hair.  “Yeah, kid.” Percy pulls a pen out of his pocket.

 

No. ” Izuku whispers.

 

“Yes.”  He presses the pen into Izuku’s hand.

 

Izuku gapes at Percy.  “But…it’s yours .”

 

Percy chuckles and sits down on the grass, motioning for Izuku to do the same.  “The thing about Anaklusmos is that it doesn’t really belong to anyone.  An old friend of mine, Zoë was her name, she was the first person to own it.  Then, she gave it to Heracles so he could complete his quest. Since then it’s been passed down from hero to hero, until eventually, Chiron ended up with it, and when I was twelve, he gave it to me before my very first Quest.”  He looks over at Izuku, a sad smile on his face. “That sword has a long, tragic history, so if you don’t want it, I understand. But that’s a sword for a hero to wield, and I know that you’ll prove yourself to be worthy of that title a hundredfold.”

 

Izuku sputters, not able to process what he heard.  “But…but…but I’m unclaimed! And I’m Quirkless on top of that!”

 

Percy shakes his head, sighing.  “Today’s world is so…counter intuitive.  It says things like Quirks make a hero, like you need to have some flashy power to be able to help people.  But Quirks? Being claimed? Those aren’t the things that make a hero. What makes a hero—” Percy pokes Izuku’s sternum “—is in here.  And I am absolutely certain that you, Midoriya Izuku, have the heart of a hero.”

Chapter Text

With affection dancing in her eyes, Kazumi gazes at her best friend as she works on her newest invention, her newest “baby,” Mei would say.  For the past month, Mei has been in her workshop, making whatever comes to her mind in preparation for the Yuuei Support Course Entrance Exam.

 

“Mei,” Kazumi says, suppressing a giggle.  “It’s past one, and we have school tomorrow.”

 

Mei doesn’t look up but replies, “You can go to bed if you want.”

 

Kazumi scoffs.  “When did you sleep last?”

 

Mei hums, but doesn’t reply otherwise, continuing to work on her device.

 

“Do you want me to call Aunt Nemuri?”

 

Mei puts down what she’s working on in shock.  “No! You really don’t have to do that!”

 

Kazumi gets up off of the stool she’s sitting on and puts her hands on Mei’s shoulders.  “Mei, when did you sleep last?”

 

Mei mutters something unintelligible.

 

Kazumi smiles.  “What was that?”

 

“Four…days… ago…?”

 

Kazumi’s smile doesn’t falter as she picks Mei up and tosses her her shoulder.  “Kazumi!” Mei whines.

 

“Mei, I will tie you to your bed if it means you get some sleep.  Don’t test me.”

 

“But I need to make more babies!”

 

“You can make more babies after you sleep at least six consecutive hours,” Kazumi says as she opens the door to the Hephaestus cabin, putting Mei down on her bed.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

——

 

“So…” the teacher says, “as third years, you need to start thinking about choice of high schools.  I’m supposed to hand out these career aptitude tests, but who cares!”  He throws the tests into the air, and Kazumi rolls her eyes.  “I know you all wanna go the hero route!”

 

“Don’t lump me in with these extras, teach!” Bakugou says as almost the entire class starts showing off their Quirks.  “I’m the real deal—these guys’ll be lucky to end up as sidekicks to some busted D-Lister!”

 

The class erupts in defiance, and Izuku sighs and puts his head down.

 

The teacher hums.  “You have impressive grades and test results.  And with your Quirk, maybe you will get into Yuuei.”

 

“No way!  He’s gonna try for Yuuei?  They’ve only got like a 0.2% acceptance rate!”

 

Kazumi pats Izuku’s back in sympathy.

 

“Midoriya, Yusa?” the teacher says.  “You’re trying for Yuuei, too, right?”

 

Midoriya doesn’t react, a sign of his resignation to his impending doom.  Kazumi shoots a glare at Bakugou, who’s jumped up onto a desk. “Huh?! This Quirkless loser?  You really think they’ll want you when they can have someone like me?”

 

When Bakugou gets in real close, and Kazumi has failed at glaring holes through his skull, Izuku whimpers and jumps back, knocking his seat over in the process.

 

He frantically waves his hands in front of face, insisting, “N-no!  I’m not trying to compete with you!” Kazumi sends a cautious gaze in Izuku’s direction.  “An-and anyway, they got rid of the rule that didn’t allow Quirkless people in!”

 

“You’re even worse than all of these rejects, shitty Deku!  You’ll never be able to hang with the best of the best—you’d die in the exams!  This school’s already shitty, you really wanna embarrass it more by failing so—”

 

That’s enough, Bakugou! ” Kazumi asserts firmly and loudly.

 

Bakugou scoffs.  “What, you think you’re a hero or something?  With that dumb Quirk of yours?”

 

“I could say the same about your attitude,” she replies coolly.  “Now lay off. I don’t want to get suspended, but if need be I will not hesitate to act.”

 

“What you gonna do?  Turn a desk into a chair?” Bakugou mocks.  

 

While Kazumi’s actual Quirk is sense manipulation, it’s registered as Transfiguration, which is a part of the power she inherited from her mother, Hecate.  “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

 

They glare at each other until the next bell.

 

——

 

Kazumi sits on her desk once classes have ended, half listening to Izuku talk about a villain attack he witnessed this morning.  She really wants to listen to him, but he just talks to fast and so much and he mutters, and her brain just cannot keep up.

 

“We’re not done here, Deku.”

 

“Whatchu got there?  His diary?”

 

“Don’t tell me he’s taking notes on how to be a hero!”

 

Kazumi’s eye twitches.  You’ve gotta be kidding me.

 

Izuku speaks up, his voice trembling.  “Real funny guys, just give it back!”

 

Bakugou explodes the notebook and Izuku yelps.  “That’s so mean…” Izuku whimpers, then screams when Bakugou tosses it out the window.

 

“Most top heroes show potential early on.  People look at them and know they’re destined for greatness.  When I’m the only one from this crappy junior high to get into Yuuei, people’ll start talking about me like that,” Bakugou brags.  “That’s not ego talking, I just know I’m good.”  He gives a malicious smile as he puts his hand, which is starting to smoke, on Izuku’s shoulder.  “A word of advice: don’t even think of applying. Or else.”

 

Kazumi stands abruptly, her eyes fixed in an intense glare on the spiky haired boy.  Izuku turns to her with a pleading gaze, and she can figure out well enough what it means: please stay out of this.

 

Begrudgingly, Kazumi’s stance relaxes, but she stays alert enough to be able to protect Izuku at a moment’s notice.  She knows Izuku is strong, incredibly so, but he’s so afraid of Bakugou despite that strength, and that fear can be debilitating at times.

 

Bakugou and his goons start to walk out of the classroom, and Bakugou stops right before the door.  “You know, nerd, there might be a way for you to become a hero. Pray you have a Quirk in your next life, then take a swan dive off the roof.”

 

Kazumi all but launches herself at him, only to be stopped by Izuku grabbing the back of her collar.  “Just don’t,” he murmurs in a quiet, near broken voice.

 

Kazumi feels herself tearing up.  “But he can’t—he can’t just say stuff like that.  Izuku, he—”

 

“I know, Kazumi, I know.  But, can we please just put this behind us, and just go get my notebook.”

 

Kazumi nods.  “Of course.”

 

They walk downstairs, grab Izuku’s notebook out of the fish pond, and start on their way back to Izuku’s place, making light conversation as they go.  Eventually, they come to a familiar bridge.

 

“I have to believe in myself,” Izuku whispers.  “And…I need to keep smiling, just like him!”

 

Kazumi smiles sadly at him.  Izuku , she wants to say, you’re allowed to feel.  You don’t have to keep it all bottled up behind a smile .  But she stays silent.

 

They walk under the bridge in silence, which makes them quick to react when they hear a rushing sound, like a river…or a sewer.

 

They jump around, Izuku grabbing Riptide, just about to uncap it when the monster made entirely of some sort of slime or sludge takes hold of him.

 

No, not a monster , Kazumi tells herself, a villain .  She pulls a hair clip out, hitting the villain with her staff, but it just passes through.  Come on, where is it weak?  Izuku would beabletofigureoutitsweakpointscomeoncomeoncomeonyouhavetosavehim , she thinks, panicking.

 

Her frantic thoughts are interrupted by a voice saying, “Have no fear, you’re safe.  Why? Because I am here.” All Might is standing there, and the sludge villain tries to flee, pulling Izuku with it.

 

All Might doesn’t let it flee, though.  He dodges its attacks and yells, “Texas Smash!”  The force of the punch separates the villain from itself, freeing Izuku, to whom Kazumi rushes.  

 

She crouches next to him, only to find that he passed out during the attack.  She nearly cries, relieved that he’s still alive because this time, she couldn’t save him .  She could have used her Quirk, the Mist, anything, but she hesitated .  “This bridge is cursed,” she laughs quietly  She looks back to see that All Might captured the villain (in two two liter bottles?) and is signing Izuku’s notebook.

 

“I think so, too,” Izuku croaks, and Kazumi jumps.

 

She takes a shaky breath, and even she’s not sure if she’s laughing or crying.  “Don’t do that, you—” 

 

“Love you, Kazu.”

 

“You better.”

 

All Might laughs.  “Well, it looks like you’re both okay, so I’ll just be—” 

 

“Wait!” Izuku insists.  “I have to ask you something!”

 

“I’m sorry, I have to get this guy to the police so they can contain him!  Please stand back, I’m about to take off.”

 

And that’s when Kazumi witnesses the dumbest thing Izuku’s done in his fourteen years of life, then she does the same exact thing.

 

“IZUKU YOU DUMBASS,” Kazumi screams at him while holding onto All Might’s right leg.

 

Izuku, hanging onto All Might’s left leg, cannot reply.  He is too preoccupied with screaming.

 

“Hey, hey, hey!  Let go! I love my fans, but this is too much!”  All Might yells.

 

“WE’RE LIKE A BAZILLION FEET IN THE AIR!  IF WE LET GO, WE’LL DIE!” Izuku cries.

 

“Oh!  Right!  Well, cover your faces, both of you.”

 

Izuku shoves his face into All Might’s leg, and after a glare, Kazumi does the same.

 

They land on a rooftop somewhere in the middle of the city.  Kazumi looks at Izuku tiredly. “Are you ever going to outgrow this ‘I have no regard for my own personal well-being’ shit?”

 

Izuku shrugs sheepishly.

 

“Not a very smart move, you two,” All Might chastises them.  “Bang on the door for a while; somebody will let you in.”

 

“Wait!” Izuku yells, for what seemed like the fifth time in as many minutes.  “Can—can I be a hero…even without a Quirk?!”

 

When Izuku looks up, he doesn’t see All Might, he sees a man so skin it’s unhealthy wearing clothes that are far too loose.  A few seconds earlier, Kazumi saw All Might transform, and simply took it with a grain of salt.

 

“ALL MIGHT?!” Izuku screeches.

 

All Might chuckles dryly.  “I guess I owe you an explanation.”  He lifts his shirt to reveal a terrible scar on his left side.  “Five years ago, I was in a fight with a villain. It was the worst fight of my life.  I lost my stomach and most of my respiratory system. Now I can only do hero work for three hours a day.  The rest of the time, I look like this.”

 

“Five years ago?  That would’ve been the fight with Toxic Chainsaw, right?” Izuku asks.

 

“No, that guy couldn’t put a scratch on me.  Most of the world has never heard of this fight; I made sure that it was kept out of the news and such.”

 

Izuku breathes heavily, like he was holding his breath.  “Oh my gods,” he whispers.

 

“Back to your question.  There are just some situations where not having a Quirk is too dangerous.  So without a Quirk? No, you can’t be a hero.” All Might stands up, walking towards the door.  “You could try to be a police officer—it’s a respectable job, though they get heat because heroes catch all the villains.”  He spares a glance back at the duo of middle schoolers. “It’s good to dream, just make sure to keep it realistic.”

 

Izuku smiles dryly.  “Thanks for the advice.”

 

When All Might is gone, Kazumi turns to Izuku, who’s giggling.  “You’re not upset? After jumping onto his leg and flying here, you’re not upset he told you that?”

 

Izuku smiles brightly.  “No, I’m fucking pissed.  I just find it ironic that the literal god of heroes and the number one hero contradicted each other.”

 

Kazumi shakes her head.  “You have fun with that. Let’s go now, it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone down he—”

 

A series of explosions cut her off.

 

Izuku sighs.  “We should probably go check that out.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

They jump effortlessly over the side of the building and run towards the source of the sound.  At the scene, a handful of pro heroes are there. Doing nothing and claiming that their Quirks aren’t suited to the situation.  Ahead of the heroes is the slime villain holding Bakugou captive.

 

Then, without warning, Izuku runs passed the heroes and towards the slime villain.  He takes off his backpack and throws it at the villain’s eyes. “Kacchan!” he screams, starting to claw at the villain.

 

“What are you doing, stupid Deku?!” Bakugou exclaims.

 

“Kacchan, I couldn’t just watch you die!”

 

The heroes rush forward, trying to save Bakugou and Izuku, but then All Might is there, ahead of them.  He uses a Detroit Smash, defeating the villain, saving Bakugou, and even changing the weather.

 

Kazumi stubbornly stands next to Izuku as a multitude of pros chew him out.  “At least he did something! You were all too reliant on your Quirks to be useful!”

 

“Excuse me?” asks a pro she doesn’t recognize.

 

“You all just stood there!  You didn’t try looking for weak points or anything!  You just saw it had a hostage and decided it was too much for you!  What kind of hero gives up the second the going gets tough?”  Kazumi is acutely aware that she’s being filmed, but she doesn’t care.  She can’t really imagine anything too bad happening as a result of people seeing her outburst.  “Perhaps the real reason Quirkless people are told they can’t become heroes is because all the heroes that exist can’t do jack-squat without their Quirks.  What if you had to fight a villain with a Quirk like Eraserhead’s? Would you run away, like a coward, because the only tricks you have up your sleeves are your Quirks?  Or would you try to fight and only make things worse for everyone involved because you’ve always thought that your Quirk is something you can always rely on, so you never thought of any other way to defeat a villain?”  She scoffs. “If those are your two options, are you really qualified to be a hero in the first place?  But of course, everything was fine once All Might showed up.  It’s impractical to rely on one man .  So many heroes are slacking because they think that All Might’ll save the day when they can’t.  It’s good to have a Symbol of Peace; it’s what keeps Japan’s crime rate so low. But it shouldn’t be giving heroes a get out of jail free card whenever they want.  It should be inspiring pros to become the kind of heroes people think of when they’re in danger, and villains are too scared of to go through with committing a crime.  Unfortunately, to most heroes, the Symbol of Peace isn’t an inspiration, he’s a safety net.”

 

Izuku tugs on Kazumi’s sleeve.  “Kazu, we should probably go. Mom’ll be worried.”

 

Kazumi nods and stares the pros down.  “If you’ll excuse us.”

 

Izuku grabs Kazumi’s hand and pushes through the crowd, letting Kazumi go on full defense mode as she scares away reporters who get too close.  It’s a system they discovered a year before. Izuku, in the front, pushes people away, and Kazumi, in the back, keeps them away.  

 

Once they’re a few blocks away from the crowd, Izuku drops Kazumi’s hand, and she relaxes.  Then, Kazumi’s phone vibrates. She pulls it out of her bag and sees Mei texted her a link to a YouTube video.  She clicks on the link, and the video opens up, titled “Middle School Student Chews Out Pro Heroes and Points Out Flaws in the Hero System.”

 

Her phone vibrates once again, still a text from Mei, but this time nothing more than a series of question marks.  She fires back a quick, “I’ll tell you when I get back to camp tonight,” then reopens the video. “Hey Zuku…”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I think I might be famous for telling those heroes off.” 

 

What ?”

 

“Someone uploaded a video on YouTube.  There’s already a hundred thousand views and a couple thousand likes.  And this happened less than five minutes ago.” She holds her phone out, displaying the video.

 

Izuku refreshes the page and laughs.  “Maybe instead of you becoming a hero, you should critique heroes and the system.”

 

Kazumi snorts.  “Yeah, only if you give me your analysis.”

 

“How much will I get in return for that?”

 

“Five percent.”

 

“Well that’s not very much.”

 

“Yeah well,” she says as they actually start walking again.  “You’ll be making all this money from being the number one hero, you really won’t even need the five percent.  I’ll just be paying you that because I’m nice.”

 

Izuku laughs.  “So I’m gonna be the number one hero?”

 

“Absolutely.  And there will never be a day I let Bakugou forget it.”

 

“How will I be the number one hero?”

 

“Well, you see, the god of heroes himself told you you have the heart of a hero, then gave you his sword.”

 

“And?”

 

“The hell do you mean ‘and’?  Percy doesn’t just go around telling people that they have the heart of a hero, and he definitely doesn’t give them Anaklusmos Clearly , he sees something special in you, so you’re gonna be a bitchin’ hero.  He might’ve blessed you or something, too.”

 

Izuku shoves her.  “Is ‘bitchin’’ really a good way to describe a hero?”

 

Just as Kazumi is about to make a joke in return, lightning strikes Izuku.  She jumps and swears, and when the light fades, Izuku’s hair is standing on end, and his eyes are practically glowing.  The only other notable difference from his appearance a few seconds earlier is the charred piece of paper in his hand, and he has a grin on his face.

 

“Kazumi…  I just got claimed.”

Chapter Text

Izuku sits on a couch in the big house, fiddling with Riptide.  He’s still nervous around Percy and Annabeth—they’re actual gods!  Why wouldn’t they be intimidating?

 

Percy and Annabeth are sitting across from him, Annabeth playing on her phone as she waits for Percy to finish his coffee.

 

Kazumi warned Izuku about this.  Percy and Annabeth like to meet with people when they get claimed, especially if they’ve been at Camp longer than a year.  Even if some campers live at home, and almost all go to school if they’re that age, they do tend to show up on the weekends and other vacations, which means that they have to stay in a certain cabin.  The Hermes Cabin is the most crowded, though Percy and Annabeth insist that it was far more so when they were his age. Most kids start out in the Hermes Cabin, and moving from there to somewhere else can be a big change, even if the other buildings are so close.

 

Percy puts down his coffee, and Annabeth turns off her phone.  “I’m glad you got claimed, Izuku,” Annabeth tells him with a warm smile.  “Though you should have been claimed a year ago.”

 

Izuku furrows his eyebrows.  “What do you mean?”

 

Percy sighs. “When I was just a bit older than you are now, I made the gods promise that they would claim any and all children they had by the time they were thirteen, and you’re fourteen.  But since when is Zeus very good at keeping promises?”

 

“Well, whatever the case, you’ll be moving into the Zeus cabin soon, but I have to say: it’s not a very pleasant cabin to stay in,” Annabeth sighs.  “Really, it’s due for some renovations.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, for one, there’s a super creepy giant statue in there, and there’s not actually any beds.  We haven’t changed it yet because no one’s stayed there since, like, two hundred years ago. Since Hera made Zeus go to couple’s counselling, he’s had less demigod kids.  The ones he does have usually get smited by Hera before they can walk.” Percy says this so casually, as if Izuku’s life wasn’t in imminent danger.

 

“So, what you’re saying is: Hera’s gonna kill me?”

 

Annabeth shakes her head.  “No, no. We checked—Zeus put an anti-smiting blessing on you.  If she tries to smite you, it’ll kill a random peacock instead. You’re safe from her.  I guess that ass decided you were worth staying alive when you fought that villain.”

 

Izuku blushes and curls into himself a bit.  “You saw that?”

 

She nods.  “Oh yeah, it was trending on Twitter.  Well, Kazumi’s speech was, but there’s also the part about you fighting the villain.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Well,” Percy says, clapping his hands together.  “That’s all. You can go home or stay in the Hermes cabin tonight, and we’ll have the Zeus cabin ready as soon as possible.”

 

Izuku nodded and quickly slipped out of the Big House.

 

He finds Kazumi sparring with her older sister, Utsushimi Camie.  Utsushimi goes to Shiketsu Academy, a heroics school on par with Yuuei, and she can use her Quirk to make illusions.  Izuku likes her, but he tends to have trouble understanding her.

 

“Hey, Kazumi, can I talk to you for a second?” he calls when he sees Kazumi has overpowered the older girl.

 

He sees Kazumi move her mouth, counting to three so the match is officially over.  “Yeah!” she calls back. “I’m gonna go see what he needs.”

 

Utsushimi nods solemnly.  “Lit, fam.”

 

Kazumi giggles. “Yeah, it is.  See you soon, Camie!” She turns and jogs over to Izuku.  “So what’s up?”

 

“I’ve been thinking—”

 

“Always a dangerous pastime.”

 

Izuku simply continues after her interruption.  “About what you said to those Pros yesterday.”

 

Kazumi raises an eyebrow.  “That they’re shit?”

 

“Yeah, and I was thinking: we can’t really do anything to fix the system, at least not yet.  But we can do something.”

 

Kazumi’s mouth curls into a smirk.  “I’m guessing and hoping that this ‘something’ is at least mildly illegal.”

 

Izuku shoots her a look. “I mean, yeah, but—”

 

“You wanna become a vigilante.”

 

Izuku’s shoulders slump.  “Am I really that obvious?”

 

Kazumi hums and pats his head.  “Little bit.”

 

He groans.  “Well, anyway, I also want to train.  I think any powers I inherited from Zeus were dormant until I got claimed—I scared my mom this morning because I sneezed while taking a shower and all the power in the building went out.”

 

Kazumi snorts next to him.  “Well that’s certainly impressive.”

 

“Rude.  But anyway, I really need to make sure to get these powers under control.  It was warm earlier, and I accidentally made a whirlwind around myself.”

 

Kazumi doesn’t reply, and Izuku sees that she’s deep in thought.  He stops walking and grabs the back of her shirt so that she does, too.  “What are you thinking about?”

When she stays silent, he pokes the back of her neck.  She jolts back to reality, blinking a couple times as she does.  “Oh! I was thinking of a good place for you to train your new powers.”

 

“Did you think of anything?  I was thinking it should be somewhere that nobody goes, and a place without a lot of buildings or anything, that way if my powers go on the fritz, there’s no collateral damage.  I’d also need to get a power registered as my Quirk, and I guess I could leave one out of the registry so if I do do the vigilante thing, I’m not a suspect because my Quirk’ll be Aerokinesis or something, and as a vigilante it’ll be an electric power.  Though electricity is more flashy and probably less suited to vigilante work, where you wanna stay hidden, there’s already an electric vigilante, and I don’t want anyone to think I’m him either—”

 

“Mumbling,” Kazumi interjects.  

 

“Right, sorry.  But did you think of anywhere I could train?”

 

“Kind of… The other day, Mei told me about this one place she uses to get materials for her babies that’s abandoned and covered in trash.  It was a beach, I think. Dabogah, maybe?”

 

A light bulb lit up over Izuku’s head.  “Oh! You mean Dagobah? Yeah, it used to be really nice, but the ocean currents push trash there, so now people dump stuff there illegally all the time.  That does seem like a good place to train. Maybe we could clean up the beach while we’re at it and get Hatsume materials.”

 

She nods.  “You wanna go now?  We could bring Mei, too, she needs to get out of the workshop more often.”

Izuku smiles.  “Hypocrite.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Just last week you broke into the school’s chemistry lab after hours just because you wanted to do more experiments with chemistry and magic.”

 

She moves to defend herself, but then thinks differently of it and just says, “Maybe so.”

 

——

 

The beach is near completely covered in trash.  Kazumi turns to Izuku, who completely deflated upon seeing it.  “You ready to get to work?”

 

He nods begrudgingly.  “Looks like we have our work cut out for us.”

 

“Specifically you.  I’ll help, but this is really so you can train your powers.”  Kazumi says. “Mei and I are really just here to give you advice and help out every now and then.”

 

Izuku chuckles.  “All I’ve ever wanted in life.  What’s Tachi’s role in all this, then?”

 

Mei picks Tachi up off the ground.  “Tachi’s our mascot, obviously.”

 

“So we need a mascot for picking up trash?”

 

“Weren’t you the one who proposed vigilantism?” Kazumi questions, smiling.  “There are four very important roles in a team of vigilantes.” She points to herself.  “One: the one with flexible morals and a lot of experience.” She points to Izuku. “Two: the one who has unshakable morals to keep One in check, but less experience, which is why they need One.”  She points to Mei. “Three: the informant and home base who keeps us stocked with support items and such.” She takes Tachi from Mei’s hands. “And four: the mascot.”

 

Izuku bites his tongue in confusion.  “Since when do you have flexible morals?  You’re the one who was all ‘you need to practice fighting things that aren’t monsters so you don’t kill villains.’”

 

“I’m not against maiming villains, though.  Or crippling.”

 

Now Mei speaks up.  “Aren’t you the one who implemented the ‘Maiming during capture the flag will result in being the Apollo Cabin’s target practice’ rule?”

 

“When we play capture the flag, we’re not fighting villains,” Kazumi points out.  “And also, if given the opportunity, I will fist fight All Might.”

 

Izuku sighs.  “Kazumi, no. We’ve been over this.”

 

Mei raises her hand.  “Why would you fight All Might?”

 

“He told Izuku he couldn’t be a hero.”

 

Mei gets a dangerous smile on her face.  “Well, we’ll just have to prove him wrong, then.”

 

Izuku looks between the two girls.  “Oh no.”

 

Kazumi claps her hands.  “First things first! We need to figure out just what you can do, Izuku!”

 

“R-right, so, uh, what should I do?”

 

“Zap something, or use wind to move stuff.  We just need to figure out your abilities.”

 

Izuku nods, then he pushes his hand forward.

 

Nothing happens.

 

“What are you trying to do?” Mei asks.

 

“I was, uh, trying to shoot lightning over there.”

 

“And how were you expecting that to happen?”  Kazumi smiles, as though she knew this would happen.

 

“Well, uh, I just figured it would.”

 

Mei shakes her head and tuts.  “Izuku, I expected better. Surely you know nothing just happens .  You can’t expect yourself to walk without actively moving your legs.”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“She’s right.  There isn’t any special trick or some sort of on switch.  When you get down to the basics, using powers is just wanting your powers to do something, and making it happen,” Kazumi explains.  “It’s all willpower.”

 

Izuku exhales, hopelessly confused.  How does he just make it happen?  How are you supposed to make powers happen?  The way Hatsume said it, it should be like moving an arm or a leg—just telling that part of your body to do it, but it isn’t so simple.  He’s used to his body, he’s had it fourteen years—but with the powers, he’s still learning to walk.

 

Kazumi claps loudly, and Izuku realizes that he was muttering and pacing.  “Alrighty, Zuku. It’s not actually that deep. Just aim your hand at something, and think ‘ electrocute that thing. ’  Think you can do that?”

 

“Yeah?” he replies, more of a question than an answer.  

 

“So do it!  I need to learn about your power so that I can make babies for you!”

 

Izuku nods.  He walks down onto the beach, and quickly finds an old car—a perfect target.  He takes a deep breath and focuses. His arm extends in front of him, palm open.  He closes his eyes, letting himself breathe. Now.  Electrocute it now.

 

He opens his eyes, and with a snap! the car is no longer.  “Holy…” he whispers. “I just did that.”

 

He finds himself tackled in a hug, landing in the sand.  “I knew you could do it!  I’m so proud of you, Izuku!” Kazumi yells.  “You got it so fast!”

 

Izuku groans.  “You’re crushing me!”

 

Kazumi stands sheepishly.  “Sorry… But it’s exciting!  It took forever to get the Mist to obey me.  But look at you! Second try, and you’ve already got it.”

 

The training continues like that.  Izuku is surprisingly quick to grasp onto his powers, and he exhibits incredible control over them.  He uses his wind to levitate himself, then the trash around him. Days later, and he can even float Mei and Kazumi.

 

Mei is making more support items than ever, each meant for either Izuku or Kazumi.  Though she has a project she’s been working on for weeks that she’s kept quite secret, even with Izuku’s and Kazumi’s constant prying.

 

Kazumi’s control over the Mist grows, along with her actual Quirk.  She can get her senses to operate at thrice the normal capacity, though it gives her a migraine to keep it up very long.

 

Four months later, once the beach is mostly clean, save a few piles of trash here and there, their hellish training is finally put to use.

 

On a hot August day, Mei gives Izuku and Kazumi each a package.  They share a look and eagerly tear into their respective boxes. Inside are suits—almost entirely black, equipped with masks, about a thousand pockets and even more support gear.

 

“Mei…these are incredible ,” Kazumi praises in amazement

 

Izuku nods, then pulls out an earpiece.  It looks standard, but there’s something on it.  “Hatsume, what’s this thing connected to the earpiece?”

 

Hatsume puts her hands on her hips and laughs.  “ That , my friend, is the very reason these took four months to make in the first place!  My ultimate baby: a neural transmitter! It controls every single one of the support items in your suit, so you don’t have to waste time pressing buttons while in a fight!”

 

She keeps on talking, and Izuku glances at Kazumi, who has a dumbstruck look on her face. When she notices him, he wiggles his eyebrows, smirking when Kazumi’s face turns bright red.

 

When Hatsume’s sales pitch is finished, she looks directly at her two best friends.  “So, what do you think?”

 

“It’s incredible, Mei!  It’s ingenious, and amazing, and…and…and just so you .”

 

Izuku nods.  “I agree with Kazumi.  It really is impressive, Hatsume.”

 

A dangerous grin spreads over Hatsume’s face.  “Why don’t we take the suits on a test drive tonight?”

 

“What do you think, Zuku?  Shall we?”

 

Izuku sees his friends’ excited faces, and he can’t bring himself to say no.  “I guess there’s no reason not to.”

Chapter Text

Eraserhead has been after a villain, called Paralyze by himself and the police, given they have nothing better to call him, for a month, and yet all he can find is Paralyze’s victims: young girls, ages anywhere from ten to fourteen.

 

Tonight, he swears he’ll catch that bastard.  He’d given a list of where Paralyze struck in the past few weeks to Nedzu, who then told him the five most likely places he’d strike tonight.  So, he’s sitting on the roof of a building, watching the spot where Paralyze has a 52.76% chance of hitting.

 

A rustling sound to his left distracts him.  He turns, but nothing, not even a silhouette is to be found.  He grunts. Nerves , he tries to convince himself futilely.  The feeling of another presence nearby doesn’t cease.

 

Eraserhead leaps into action when he hears a girl’s scream.  “No! Please, leave me alone!”

 

He jumps from the rooftop, using his capture weapon to support him, and lands in the alleyway that the scream came from.  Paralyze, a man with dark blue hair and wild yellow eyes, has a girl cornered. The girl is short with long, dull blonde hair, and she seems to be about twelve or thirteen.

 

She has her eyes closed, screaming with a terrified expression on her face, and just as Eraserhead is about to cancel the man’s Quirk, one that keeps his victims from moving, her eyes, an orange so bright that they almost glow, snap open and a smirk quickly replaces her terror.  “Game over, Paralyze.”

 

Next thing Eraserhead knows, he can’t see, and he can’t hear.

 

——

 

“The police and a few heroes have been after this Paralyze guy for a month or so,” Mei says, spreading out a few papers—witness and victim reports, among other things—on the table in their base—Bunker 9.  Bunker 9 is a long forgotten place within Camp, though journal entries in old notebooks they found showed it had been used around the time Percy and Annabeth were demigods—the time when Camp Half-Blood was in New York, rather than Japan.

 

“A month?” Izuku asks with contempt.  “And they haven’t caught him yet?”

 

Kazumi hums as she skims through some document.  “Apparently, this guy is fast, and they’re trying to keep the whole situation out of the public eye.  They don’t want to scare people, I guess.”

 

“Better scared than dead,” he points out grumpily.

 

Mei nods—Izuku calls her Mei now, rather than Hatsume, due to lots of insistence on her side.  “So, any ideas on how to catch him?”

 

Izuku glances over the papers, the victim reports, eyes widening as he does so.  “I’ve got an idea.”

 

He sits down and explains the plan: one of them plays bait, Kazumi will make them look different with the mist, then when the bait is cornered, Kazumi eliminates the senses of Paralyze and any bystanders, and then she and Izuku take him out and deliver him to the police.

 

“It’s a solid plan,” Mei says.  “So which one of you will be the bait?”

 

Izuku cocks his head to the side.  “I was thinking you’d be the bait.”

 

Mei gestures to her setup—loads of computers and buttons.  “I’m needed here in case things go south,” she insists.

 

“Ok, so the bait is Kazumi.”

 

Kazumi shakes her head.  “What if this guy’s paralysis extends to Quirks and such, too?  For this plan, we need to consider that possibility, in which case I won’t be able to be the bait—I’ll make sure this guy doesn’t notice me, then I’ll attack him when he gets you.”

 

Izuku sighs, looking dejected.  “I always put myself in the worst situations in these plans, don’t I?”

 

Kazumi rolls her eyes and pats his back.  “There, there. Don’t worry, we’ll take him out before he can do anything to you.”

 

“That’s really not what I’m worried about, but go off, I guess.”

 

——

 

And so, Izuku is transformed into a short, blonde girl who made a dumb decision and is walking around, near an alley, just after two in the morning.

 

Why would anyone think he’s actually a defenseless twelve year old girl?

 

Because people are stupid, apparently, is what he decides when a blue haired man grabs him and starts dragging him into an alley.  “No!” he shouts, trying to make his act more believable. “Leave me alone!”

 

“Not gonna happen, missy,” Paralyze says in a voice that makes Izuku want to vomit.  “You’re all mine right now.”

 

Then, Izuku’s body freezes.  He can move his face, and he can probably speak, but that’s about it.  Why did he choose to be a vigilante again?

 

He hears something, so he opens his eyes.  Behind Paralyze, he sees Eraserhead, and behind him , he sees Kazumi.  A smirk paints itself on his face.  “Game over, Paralyze.”

 

When he’s dropped and he can move again, he knows that Kazumi is cancelling their senses.  “Good work, Null,” he calls to her as he changes from a little girl to Riptide (a name that had been met with a lot of hate; he knows it doesn’t really fit his aesthetic, Mei, but it’s important to him).  

 

“You weren’t too bad yourself, Rip.”  She bangs Paralyze over the head with one of her staffs, and when he doesn’t pass out, Izuku gives him a little shock.

 

“All I did was act as bait,” Izuku reminds her.  

 

“A very important role.”

 

Just get this guy restrained and to the police, you two, ” Mei chimes in.  “ Make sure to leave a note.

 

“Got it, Forge.” Kazumi replies, pulling a sticky note and pen from one of her pockets while Izuku pulls something like rope but more convenient—one of Mei’s babies, of course—from his pocket.

 

The rope starts as thread, then expands when commanded to do so, via the neural transmitter.  Izuku pulls a piece off the spool, expands it, and wraps it around the villain. Kazumi sticks the note on his forehead.  It says, “Happy Birthday, have a Paralyze! From Null, Riptide, and Forge xoxo.”

 

“Your handwriting is getting better,” Izuku remarks as they start dragging Paralyze onto yet another one of Mei’s babies, something not unlike a stretcher, but with jet engines.  

 

Kazumi huffs.  “Well, I’m sorry I used my left hand so that nobody could do a handwriting analysis.”

 

Izuku giggles as they run down the street, the stretcher between them.  They turn a corner, and end up right in front of a police station. They turn off the jet engines, flip the stretcher over, leaving Paralyze on the ground.  Kazumi opens the doors wide so that Izuku can push him into the police station. She shoots a text to Tsukauchi, who always asks them ridiculous questions like ‘how old are you?’ and ‘how did you get my personal phone number?’ and other stuff like that.

 

“Well that’s taken care of.  Ready to head home?”

 

Izuku nods.  “Carry me,” he whines.

 

“I did like all of the heavy lifting today, Rip, carry yourself,” she jokes.

 

He groans.  “I did the emotional heavy lifting.”

 

She lightly hits his head.  “Just go home, buddy. I’ll see you later.”

 

“Have fun with your girlfriend,” he teases.

 

We are not dating !” Mei insists.

 

Izuku hums, then leaps away onto a building before Kazumi can chase him.

 

——

 

Izuku decides that the universe is out to get him when someone collides with him from behind.  Within seconds, he finds himself restrained (though amateurly so) and facing someone wearing a black jumpsuit similar to his with a mask and a hood.

 

Izuku recognizes Thunderstrike within seconds.  He sees some of his blonde hair peeking out from under the hood, and Thunderstrike’s hands are clearly sparking.  

 

“What do you want?” Izuku asks, sighing.  His mom is gonna get way too worried if he doesn’t get home before three.

 

“Who are you?” Thunderstrike demands.  His voice is different, Izuku realizes.  He must’ve taken that advice and gotten a voice changer.

 

“I’m the vigilante Riptide,” he says with a shrug—a distraction while he gets his hands untied.  “And you’re Thunderstrike, right?”

 

Thunderstrike clicks his tongue.  “A vigilante, huh?” He thinks for a second, humming.  “I have heard of this Riptide guy, but how do I know you’re him?”

 

“Who else would I be?” Izuku asks with a smirk.  He pulls his hands free of the rope and holds them up for Thunderstrike to see.

 

“A criminal, perhaps.”  Thunderstrike fashions some electricity into a ball shape.  “Why shouldn’t I shock you right here and now?”

 

“Hey, Null, I need an assist here,” Izuku says into his ear piece.

 

Kazumi chuckles.  “ Electricity can’t hurt you, loser.  Deal with it yourself.

 

Izuku deflates.  “Well aren’t you helpful.  Forge?”

 

You’re on your own, ” Mei says with a laugh.

 

“You two are terrible to me, you know.”

 

The girls simply laugh.

 

“Null?  Forge? I guess you really are Riptide if those two are with you…” Thunderstrike admits, the lightning in his hands fizzling out.

 

“Well I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Izuku says, his voice hard.  “Now it’s almost three in the morning and it’s a Tuesday, so I’m sure we both have school today.  I’m gonna head out.”

 

“How’d you know I go to school?”

 

Izuku hums.  “Well, let’s just say I ran into you before you decided to use a voice changer or wear a hood.  See ya!” He says as he jumps over the edge of the building, leaving a surely dumbstruck Thunderstrike behind.  He uses the air to slow his descent and leaps between the walls until he finds himself at his apartment building.  Using the adhesive on his gloves and boots, he climbs up to his bedroom window and rolls in. The lights in the hallway are still on, and he hopes his mom fell asleep while she was waiting for him. She worries herself way too much over him, so much so that he almost regrets telling her about his vigilante career (though she’d already figured it out, and if she didn’t know, she’d worry much, much more).

 

“Mom?” he calls out quietly, turning off his voice changer.  “You still awake?”

 

He doesn’t hear any answer, and upon entering the living room, he finds his mom asleep on the couch.  “Mom,” he chides quietly, fully aware that she can’t hear him. “You’re gonna ruin your back like this.”

 

He lifts her up and carries her to her room, laying her on the bed and pulling the blanket over her.  Then, he heads back to his room, changes and passes out as soon as his head touches his pillow.

 

——

 

While on her three a.m. patrol (which she does thrice a week), Amano Kaori, better known as pro hero Shadow Weaver, gets a phone call.  She pulls her phone, which has a pink case that’s decorated with glittery hearts, out of her pocket, sees the contact and answers.  

 

“What’s up, Shou?”

 

She can almost hear her friend’s frown over the phone.  “ You are way too happy for three in the morning.

 

Kaori giggles.  “I’m pretty sure it’s just getting to that time of night where everything is funny.  My patrol ends soon, though, so it’s fine. But what did you need?”

 

Shouta sighs.  “ Have you heard of three vigilantes called Null, Riptide, and Forge?

 

She thinks for a second, settling into a more relaxed stance on the roof.  The names sounded familiar. “I…think so?”

 

Is that a question or an answer?

 

“Both, I think.  The names sound familiar to me, but other than that, I haven’t heard anything, sorry.  Why are you suddenly asking about vigilantes?”

 

Shouta sighs.  “ Because I ran into some tonight.  I’m not too sure what happened because one of them must have a Quirk that lets them take away sight and hearing, or something, but the villain I was after just disappeared and showed up at the police station.  There was a sticky note on him that said ‘from Null, Riptide and Forge.’

 

“Well that’s certainly an interesting Quirk,” Kaori replies.  And a familiar one, she thinks but leaves unsaid.  Is one of them Kazumi?  Then, Forge would have to be Mei, and Riptide—Percy gave Izuku Anaklusmos recently, so maybe that’s him.   

 

Kaori? ” Shouta asks, snapping her out of her thoughts.

 

“Whoops!  Sorry, just spaced out for a minute there.  Yeah, I’ve got no clue about any vigilantes, but I’ll let Nem know, alright?  And you’ll tell Hizashi?”

 

…Right.  Thanks for listening to me, at least.  See you soon .”

 

“Bye Shou!”  Kaori promptly ends the call, plagued with one thought: what the styx are my kids doing?

 

She dials Nemuri as fast as she can.  Nemuri picks up after three rings. “ Hey, Kao, what’s up? ” She asks tiredly.

 

“I think our kids are vigilantes.”

 

Huh?  Wait, which kids?  We consider a lot of kids to be ours, Kaori.

 

“The legal one, and two more,” Kaori says quickly, the night getting to her as she forgets her kids names.

 

Legal—you mean Kazumi?  And two more…Izuku and…Mei? Camie? ” 

 

“Kazumi, Izuku, and Mei, I think.”

 

And why do you think they’re vigilantes?

 

“Shouta just called me and said he had a run in with a vigilante who blinded and deafened him for a bit.  You know whose Quirk that sounds like?”

 

Kazumi’s.  But what about the other kids?

 

“Apparently there was a note on a villain they took down, saying it was from Null, Riptide and Forge.  Mei is a child a Hephaestus and loves building support items. Percy gave Izuku Anaklusmos a few months ago.  So Kazumi is Null, ‘cause she cancels out people’s senses, Mei is Forge because she builds things, and Izuku is Riptide because as of recently, he owns Riptide,” Kaori explains in one breath.

 

So what should we do?  Confront them? ” Nemuri asks.

 

“Hm… No, I don’t think so.  Or at least, we should try to catch them in the act, then confront them.  That way, it doesn’t seem like some wild accusation. I’ll see you soon, Nem.”

 

Love you .”

 

Kaori smiles, a warm feeling spreading through her body from her chest.  “Love you, too.” She hangs up the phone, and a satisfying click! permeates the otherwise silent air.  Even though she’s almost thirty, Nemuri can still make her grin like an idiot over the littlest things.  Perhaps some people (Shouta, who’s just as guilty as her) think it’s irrational and weird, or maybe a bit silly, but why should Kaori get upset for being happy?

 

A quick glance at her watch tells her that her patrol for the night is officially over.  After a fast look around to ensure that all is peaceful, Kaori takes a deep breath, the tension in her shoulders relaxing.  Then, she takes off running, and when she reaches the edge of the roof, rather than stopping, she leaps with the grace of a practiced gymnast, flipping in the air before activating her Quirk and diving straight into the concrete road below her.

 

She passes through the pavement, absorbed by the pool of shadows she gathered.  When the absolute darkness clears, she finds herself in her apartment, and though the lights are off, she nearly flinches from the little light there is.  She pats herself down to make sure her entire body is still tangible. Tonight was a rough night , she thinks, I had to shadow travel a lot.

 

Her hand passes through her wrist, so she pulls a square of ambrosia out of the fridge, eats it, then changes and all but collapses on her bed.  She and Nemuri can figure out what to do about their kids when it’s light outside.

 

——

 

“Young Midoriya!” All Might, in his normal, not-super-muscley state yells to the trio of vigilantes (all out of costume at the moment) as they make a bit more headway with cleaning up the beach.

 

Izuku freezes, his entire body tensing like a cat backed into a corner.  Mei steps into All Might’s path, preventing him from getting any closer to Izuku.  “What do you want?” Anyone who knows Mei knows that her attitude was generally very happy and energetic, but right now, her gaze could cut straight through diamond, and her voice could shatter steel.  

 

“I’d like to talk to young Midoriya,” All Might says, his voice a few octaves higher than usual, and his eyes planted firmly to the side.

 

“Then talk,” Kazumi insists with a tone that seems light and welcoming, but there’s something…off about it.  A smile that doesn’t reach her eyes spreads over her face.  

 

“I meant that I’d like to speak with him alone, young Yusa.”

 

“How come?  We’re all friends here.  Surely anything you can say to Izuku, you can say to us, too, right Mr. Might?”

 

All Might gulps.  “I, uh, just remembered.  I have some urgent business to take care of, so I’ll be going now.”  In less than five seconds, he’s out of their sight.

 

Izuku releases a breath, visibly relaxing.  “Thank you guys.”

 

“Of course.  He was easier to intimidate than I thought he’d be,” Kazumi affirms.

 

Mei lets out a laugh.  “Did you see his face? He looked like he peed his pants!  He was so afraid of us!”

 

Just like that, the tense mood disappears, a light hearted one replacing it as they crack jokes and make fun of All Might.

Chapter Text

Annabeth wakes up at four one January morning in a very out of character fashion.  It wasn’t a nightmare that woke her up—no, she hadn’t had a nightmare bad enough to wake her up since she was mortal.  She wakes up that morning because some sort of instinct—one that tells her that something is wrong—invades her near dreamless sleep.

 

She jolts out of bed, still in her pajamas and reaches for her drakon-bone sword.  Her hand closes around the familiar hilt and she shamelessly stalks out of the Big House in her pajamas.  Her instincts tell her to go to the Zeus cabin, which had been fully remodeled a few months ago. Then, she hears someone cry out in pain from the very direction she’s heading.

 

Her pace quickens to a run, and she throws open the door to find three campers—Mei and Kazumi, who both tend to cause a lot of trouble, and Mitsuhide, a polite boy who’ll be entering his third year at Yuuei once the school year starts up again—huddled around something.

 

Mitsuhide whips his head around at the noise, his eyes a mixture of emotions: fear, anger, and love, along with others, swim around in the blond boy’s pink eyes.

 

“I was blackmailed into helping them!” is the first thing that comes out of his mouth.

 

Annabeth raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything, simply approaching the three and looking at what they’re huddling over.  A few blankets and a pillow lay on the ground, and on those is Izuku with what is obviously a broken arm. She takes a second to survey each of the kids—both Kazumi and Mei are wearing similar outfits to Izuku, and a second’s consideration is all she needs to see exactly what those three are doing.  “You know what? I didn’t see anything. Go back to healing him, Mitsuhide, and turn on the lights—you can use your Quirk then.”

 

“You’re not gonna ask us any questions?” Mei asks with a shocked face.

 

Annabeth waves her off.  “Didn’t see anything. But if this happens again, I will.”  With that, she turns and exits the Zeus cabin, then she collapses on the first couch she sees when she gets back to the Big House.

 

——

 

Izuku sits on the edge of the roof, eating a snack Midnight had given him a bit before he left for his vigilanteing that night (though he still doesn’t know why she gave him it—Kazumi says she has “dumbass instincts” and a motherly personality, so maybe that’s it).  Kazumi isn’t joining him that night—she was patrolling the other side of the city, but then she started coughing and the suit detected she had a fever, so now she’s back at Bunker 9, trying to sleep off whatever she has.

 

“Hey, Forge,” he says, lying down, “see anything out of the ordinary?”

 

Nothing at all.  Not even a monster or anything.

 

Izuku does something between a chuckle and a sigh, and says, “I guess Null usually brings all the chaos with her.”

 

I’m telling her you said that .”

 

“Traitor.”

 

“Well, well, well.  Look what we have here,” says a deep voice with a ghost of a laugh.

 

Izuku rolls his eyes.  “How are you, Thunderstrike?”

 

“Living the dream, my friend.  And you?” Thunderstrike sits on the ledge next to him.

 

“Incredibly bored.  There’s nothing happening tonight!” Izuku says, throwing his hands up in the air above him.

 

Hey, Rip?  I’m gonna go check on Null.  You have fun with your boyfriend.

 

“This is karma isn’t it?” Izuku sighs.

 

Mei says, “ Perhaps ” at the same time Thunderstrike asks, “Who are you talking to?”

 

“Forge.  She’s being absolutely insufferable,” Izuku whines.

 

Thunderstrike hums.  “Speaking of which, I noticed you don’t have Null with you tonight.”

 

“She got sick, so Forge and I made her go home.”

 

He nods.  “That’s rough.  I was sick last week, I missed a bunch of school, and I already suck at school, so now there’s a whole extra wave of homework.  I hope she feels better soon.”

 

Izuku nods, not really paying attention to the conversation.  He hears something—someone walking unevenly, an echo of clanking metal.

 

“How did you get up here?” Izuku vaguely registers Thunderstrike saying in a shaky voice, and before he even finishes that sentence, Izuku is up on his feet, a pen in his hands.

 

“Hey, Strike?  You might wanna run,” Izuku suggests, staring down the empousa.  

 

“Why?  If this girl’s a villain, I can handle her!”

 

“You can’t handle this, run,” Izuku insists while the empousa walks lazily toward the duo, a satisfied smile on her face.

 

“Why—”

 

Thunderstrike cuts himself off in surprise—the empousa has been captured with what seems like white rope.

 

He gestures to the incarcerated monster.  “See? Handled.”

 

Izuku, in turn, swears.  “Let her go, Eraserhead,” he calls, knowing it’ll be a lot harder to kill her with not one, but two mortal witnesses nearby.

 

“And why would I do that?”

 

The empousa’s hair bursts into flames and disintegrates part of Eraser’s scarf.  “That’s why,” Izuku says with a mask of calm that only comes from dealing with these types of monsters for a good few years.

 

Eraserhead freezes, retracting his capture weapon to keep it from further harm.  He doesn’t seem scared, per se, but he’s certainly confused. Thunderstrike, on the other hand, seems one surprise away from shitting himself.

 

Izuku pulls the cap off of Riptide, letting it expand into the lightly glowing sword it truly is, and he wonders briefly what the other two are seeing.

 

His absentmindedness doesn’t last, though.  The empousa lunges at him, saying something Izuku doesn’t quite care enough about to process.

 

“I’d recommend running!” he yells to the others, slashing at the monster.

 

Oh fuck, fuck, fuck.  How did I miss this? ” Mei curses, suddenly back on comms.  “ How are you handling?

 

“I’d be better if these two weren’t here,” Izuku says through clenched teeth, intercepting an attack towards Eraser.  “But aside from that, I’m just peachy.”

 

Well then hurry up and kill her!  You can’t keep this up forever.

 

“Real helpful!”

 

The empousa attacks again, a kick (with a metal leg for the love of the gods) hitting Izuku’s left elbow with much more force than necessary.  Izuku jumps back a second too late, wincing at the pain, but he has to keep going. Three lives are at stake, and two of them have no clue how to defend themselves against enemies like these.

 

Izuku doesn’t bother thinking—his next actions are pure instinct, pure, thoughtless adrenaline.  He jumps backward, planting his feet firm on a wall. He jumps upward and forward, and he comes down right on top of the empousa.  Lightning is pulled from the sky and channeled into Riptide.

 

The monster explodes into golden dust.

 

Eraserhead and Thunderstrike stare in stunned silence.

 

Izuku collapses, Riptide slides across the roof and down onto the street, and he vaguely hears Mei and Kazumi cursing. 

 

——

 

Mei feels like an idiot.  She could've helped Izuku if she hadn't decided to tease him.  Surely she'd have been able to tell that the monster was nearby before it attacked if she was at her station.

 

But no, she just had to tease him, what she thought had been some harmless payback turned out to leave him passed out, without his sword, next to a pro hero who would almost definitely arrest him.

 

“I’m gonna go get him,” Kazumi says, though she’s swaying on her feet.

 

“I’m sorry,” Mei says.  “You shouldn’t have to do that.”

 

“Mei, it’s not your fault.  I’ll be back with Izuku soon.”

 

Half an hour later, Mei gets a text, informing her that Kazumi and Izuku are in the Zeus cabin because it’s easier to get to than Bunker 9.  Mei shoots a text back, saying she’s going to grab Mitsuhide so that he can heal Izuku.

 

Mei sneaks into the Apollo cabin silently, slipping through a window silently and landing in a crouch.  She clicks on her phone flashlight, scanning the bunks for Mitsuhide’s face. She spots him near immediately, and so she throws his blanket off of him, dodges his sleepy kick, and drags him to the Zeus cabin, trying to tune out his complaints.

 

Her eye twitches as he grows louder.  “If you don’t shut your mouth right the hell now, I will leak the video I have of you punching Nemuri when she was wearing a Halloween costume and you thought she was a monster.”

 

Mitsuhide shuts up.

 

Mei drags him inside the Zeus cabin, which has been remodeled to look like a place someone might actually live: No giant statue, bunk beds on each side of the room, and a desk at the ends of each bed. In the middle of the floor on some blankets and pillows, is Izuku.

 

Mitsuhide stops, his mouth falling open in shock.  “ What the fuck are you three doing? ” he hisses.

 

Kazumi turns at the noise, then upon seeing Mitsuhide, gives him a look, her gray-blue eyes shining with something that’s equal parts pleading and threatening.  Her lips are pressed into a thin line, and her face shines with either sweat, tears, or both; Mei isn’t quite sure.  

 

She sees Mitsuhide cave out of the corner of her eye, and damn near sighs in relief, though she can’t quite tell if it’s because Izuku is going to be healed, or because Kazumi won’t wear that devastated and anxious face.

 

Wait, where did that come from?  Of course it’s because Izuku’ll get healed.  Sure, she doesn’t like seeing Kazumi so worried, but it’s nothing she would get super worked up over.  No, she’s just happy that Mitsuhide is gonna help her friend. That’s it.

 

She shakes her head and sits down next to Kazumi, who grabs her hand, and Mei does her best to not freak out and die right then and there.

 

Mitsuhide gets to work, first feeding Izuku some ambrosia and pain killers, then using his healing power—the demigod one, not his Quirk, though he does have a healing Quirk, he can only use it in the light, and he thinks it’s too risky to turn on the lights.

 

A painstaking hour later, through which Kazumi grasps Mei’s hand tighter each time Izuku winces in pain, the doors fly open, and there’s Annabeth.

Chapter Text

“-which is why I think that Endeavor isn’t fit to be a hero.  What we’re doing is illegal, and he has a higher body count—no, Kazu, not in the sex way, in the murder way—than us, and he hasn’t even apologized!  You remember when he burnt that building while he was defeating a villain two months ago? Six people died! Six!   And he didn’t even apologize; he said ‘my condolences to anyone who was affected by this tragedy.’  Like come one, try to sound more like a robot, why don’t you?”

 

Kazumi nods along with what Izuku says, following what he’s saying for once.  She completely agrees; after becoming vigilantes, they did some research on heroes—namely, those who would cause them the most problems.  So far, it’s been Eraserhead, but they’ve had a few run ins with other heroes, too, and knowing as much about them as possible is always beneficial.  She takes a drink of her hot chocolate, cuddling into the nest of blankets a bit more. “Yeah, seriously. He claims his agency focuses on all subcategories of heroism: rescue, evacuation, and combat, but when he’s the one doing the combat, he doesn’t give two shits about collateral damage, or who gets hurt even though the number one rule of being a hero is to protect the civilians at all costs.  All he cares about is getting the number one spot!”

 

Izuku nods vigorously, sipping his own hot chocolate.  Then, his mom calls to them from the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready!”

 

“We’ll be there in a second, mom!” Izuku calls, then he pushes himself out of his own nest of blankets, revealing a pair of very bright All Might pajama pants, which he’s wearing for the sheer irony of it.  Kazumi, too tedious to stand up right out of the blanket nest, simply rolls off of the couch and onto the ground, then standing and dusting herself off. Her pajama pants are covered in symbols from an old anime called Sailor Moon.

 

On the kitchen table is katsudon, a favorite of Izuku’s. Inko smiles kindly at them.  “So, are you two ready for the entrance exam tomorrow?”

 

Izuku nods.  “I think so. I mean, we’ve taken on actual villains and won, and that’s not even including the monsters we’ve always dealt with.”

 

Kazumi swallows a piece of pork.  “Mhm. We’ve also had guidance from two pros, two gods, and a centaur.  I think we’ve been taught pretty well.”

 

“And most of that training was even without powers,” Izuku points out, “so with powers, we can be pretty devastating.”

 

Kazumi nods along.  “We googled the entrance exam practical from other years, and it was just robots, which doesn’t seem like too much of a challenge.”

 

Inko smiles at the kids, and ruffles their hair.  “Well I’m glad you two are so prepared. Now, finish eating and go to bed early, alright?  No vigilantism tonight.”

 

“Okay, Mom!” Izuku says.

 

“Will do, Auntie.”

 

——

 

The next morning, Kazumi and Izuku set out to Yuuei.  “So we know what the practical is gonna be—I wonder what the written will be like,” Kazumi says, realizing that there was one thing the two failed to do: study.

 

Izuku shrugs.  “Hopefully it’s just like the mock exams we took at Aldera.”  He stares sadly at the ground. “If not, well, then we’re screwed.”

 

“Damn.”

 

Izuku nods solemnly, agreeing.

 

The written exams aren’t actually that bad, just a bit harder than the mock exams they’ve taken, and they’re both sure they each got a solid B-.  They’re both smart, sure, but neither is super book smart. Izuku is an analyzer, and Kazumi is a strategist. Neither of those really help on exams.

 

“We survived,” Izuku says, overdramatically leaning his head on the lunch table, next to his bento.

 

“Loser,” Kazumi chuckles, poking his cheek with her chopstick.  “Now eat, or face my wrath.”

 

Izuku stares at her.  “And what exactly is your wrath?” he asks dryly.

 

“Calling your mom.”

 

His eyes widen and he scrambles to straighten his back.  “I’m eating! I’m eating!”

 

Kazumi laughs lightly, and gazes around the room, observing the others in the cafeteria.  These people could be her classmates, but first, they’ll be her competition. She sees a blonde boy with a familiar black streak in his hair, and she hits Izuku on the shoulder.  “Hey, Zuku,” she whispers, “it’s your special boyfriend.”

 

Izuku looks up from his food with a look of contempt and confusion.  “What the styx are you talking about?”

 

She subtly nods her head in Thunderstrike’s direction.  Izuku looks over, sees him, and then promptly slams his face on the table.  “Why is he here?” he groans.

 

She shrugs.  “I dunno. You know him better, if anyone’s unlocked his tragic backstory, it’s you.”

 

“Kazumi, I’ve known you since we were twelve, and I haven’t even unlocked your tragic backstory.”

 

“Neither has Mei,” she points out.  “Or Camie, for that matter. The only people who know are Aunt Nem and Kao, and Percy and Annabeth.  And that’s only because they were all part of it.”

 

“Well, if you ever do tell me, I’ll be more than ready to listen.”

 

“Thanks, Izuku.”

 

When lunch ends, all of the examinees are pushed into an auditorium to hear about the practical.  Present Mic is standing at a podium on the stage. “What’s up Yuuei candidates? Thanks for tuning in.  Come on, lemme hear ya!”

 

Silence!

 

“Keeping it mellow, huh?  That’s fine, I’ll just skip to the main show.  Let’s talk about how this practical exam is gonna go down.  Like your application said, you’ll be doing ten minute mock battles in super cool urban settings!  After I drop the mic here, you’ll be heading to your specified battle center, sound good?”

 

Silence!!

 

Kazumi looks down at her exam ticket.  Examinee number: 2235. Test Location: Battle Center C.

 

“I see,” says Bakugou, who is sitting next to Izuku.  “They’re splitting us up so we can’t work with our friends.”

 

Izuku looks over at her ticket.  “Yeah, our exam numbers are right next to each other, but we’re in different battle centers”

 

Bakugou glares at Izuku.  “Get your eyes off my card,” he snarls.

 

“Uh, Kacchan, I’m looking at Kazumi’s card.”

 

“Tch.  I was looking forward to crushing you, you Quirkless wannabe.”

 

Present Mic continues, “Okay, okay!  Let’s check out your targets. There are three types of faux villain in every battle center.  Each has a different amount of points based on level of difficulty, so choose wisely. But make sure you’re keeping things heroic!  Trying to incapacitate other examinees is a Yuuei no no, got it?”

 

A boy further towards the front of the auditorium stands with his hand raised.  “Excuse me sir, but I have a question!”

 

“Let’s hear it!” Mic encourages.

 

“On the printout, there are four types of villains listed.  Not three. With all due respect, if this is an error on official Yuuei materials, it is shameful.  We are exemplary students. We expect the best from Japan’s most notable school.” The boy turns and points toward Kazumi.  “Additionally you with the unkempt hair.”

 

Izuku raises an eyebrow and points to himself.

 

“You’ve been muttering all this time.  Stop that. If you can’t bother to take this seriously, then leave.  You’re distracting the rest of us.”

 

Kazumi goes to stand up, but Izuku quickly has a firm hand on her arm.  “Right,” he says to the boy up front.

 

“Thanks for calling in with your question!” Present Mic says, pulling the attention in the room back to him.  “In each battle center, there is a fourth type of faux villain worth zero points! It’s more or less just a hurdle for you to avoid.  It’s not that it can’t be beaten, but there’s…kinda no point. I recommend my listeners try to ignore it and focus on topping the charts.”

 

Kazumi bites the inside of her cheek.  They wouldn’t put the zero-pointer there for no reason, and just having people avoid it doesn’t make much sense.  Could it be there to incapacitate examinees, or does it reduce your points to zero if it hits you? No, that doesn’t seem quite right either.

 

“That’s all I got for you today.  I’ll sign off with a present: a sample of our school motto!  As General Napoleon Bonaparte once laid down, ‘A true hero is one who overcomes life’s misfortunes.’  You ready to go beyond? Let’s hear a plus ultra!”

 

—— 

 

“And go!” Present Mic announces, without any sort of countdown.  Kazumi heeds his words, rushing ahead of the crowd at the first robot she sees.  A few seconds later, the rest of the crowd starts to catch up to her.

 

The one point robot turns into pure mist for a fraction of a second, then a steel staff is lying on the ground in its place.  Kazumi picks up the staff and continues on.

 

She passes by other robots, turning them into boulders as she does.  She counts her points as she runs. So far, she’s at twenty-eight points.  She turns a corner and sees a small boy with balls on his head cowering under a robot.  She hits the three pointer with her staff, batting it into the nearby wall, effectively incapacitating it.  “You good?” she asks the boy.

 

The boy springs up, grabbing hold of her chest, clearly pretending to cry.

 

Kazumi, disgusted, pushes the boy off, kicks him in the face, and turns him into a box so that another incident would not occur.  Then, she throws up on the pavement. “What a waste of a good lunch.” She turns to the box and glares, before regaining her composure and running after the next robot she sees.

 

Six minutes in, Kazumi has seventy-eight points, and she starts to feel an earthquake.  Before her eyes, a gigantic robot with the number “0” painted on its sides rises up from the ground.

 

Someone cries out from nearer to the robot.  Against her better judgement, Kazumi runs toward the source of the cry and sees Thunderstrike stuck under some rubble too big to lift.  And the zero pointer is getting closer by the second.

 

Kazumi bites the inside of her cheek, then turns the concrete into plastic.  She lifts it and tosses it away, then helps Thunderstrike to stand.

 

“Anything broken?” she asks, eyeing the approaching robot.

 

“Just my ego,” Thunderstrike says, though he winces as he stands.

 

Kazumi glances at his leg, and sees his foot is bent out of place.  “And probably your ankle, too. Here, I’ll carry you,” she insists.

 

“I shouldn’t make such a pretty girl car—”

 

Kazumi lifts him and throws him over her shoulder.  “Just a warning, I turned a pervert into a box earlier.  If you don’t behave, you’ll be met with a similar fate.” She starts to run down the street, then turns right after roughly 100 meters, then right again after passing two blocks.

 

“Thanks,” Thunderstrike says eventually.  “I’m Kaminari Denki, and you?”

 

“Yusa Kazumi,” she says when she sets Kaminari down.  “You should be safe here, I don’t think there are any robots nearby.”

 

“Wait, are you leaving?  What if there are robots nearby?”

 

“You shouldn’t make such a pretty girl do all the work,” she teases.  “Besides there are three minutes left, and I’m sure I could get some more points.  See ya.”

 

——

 

Izuku sets off just a second after Present Mic tells the group to go; hesitating has never done anything for him.

 

He runs about ten feet before leaping forward.  He soars upwards then focuses his vision on a robot with a large 3 painted on the side.

 

He lets go of the air keeping him suspended and falls toward the robot, legs straight, and hits it.  It crushes into itself and into the pavement below him. Three points. He pushes himself up from the rubble and keeps going.

 

The next robot he finds is blown high into the air then promptly dropped.  Another is blasted through with a beam of light. “Bonjour, Izuku, mon amie!” Aoyama says, winking, like usual.

 

“Hey, Aoyama!  How are you doing so far?”

 

“Magnifique!  I have twenty-six points!”

 

Izuku nods, blowing a robot he sees out of the corner of his eye into the ground.  “Pretty good, but I have 38 so far.”

 

“Well, mon amie, we’ll just have to see who’s better in the end.”  With that, they part ways, the spirit of competition lighting a renewed spark of motivation in both of them.

 

Izuku rapidly gains points, getting to seventy-two before the zero-pointer rises up from gods-know-where.  While Izuku knows there’s probably some hidden thing that might be related to the zero-pointer, he doesn’t care quite enough for that particular suicide mission.

 

That is, until somebody cries for help.  Without thinking once, Izuku pivots and starts running towards the titanic robot, spotting a brown haired girl who’d kept him from falling earlier.  With a swing of his arms, he blows the slab of concrete pinning her to the ground up at the robot’s leg, hitting its knee. He lifts the girl onto his back, then carries her toward the front of the battle center and sets her down before turning to collect more points.  

 

Then the bell rings, signalling the end of the exam.

 

——

 

“Aunt Nem?” Kazumi asks as she and Izuku leave Yuuei to head home.  

 

Nemuri smiles at the pair, a knowing look in her eye that neither can quite place.  “Kazumi, the principal wants to speak to you about your exam.”

 

Raising an eyebrow she says, “Well aren’t I special?  I’m guessing this is about the kid I turned into a box.”

 

Nemuri nods, and Izuku’s eyebrows shoot up.  “I’m sorry, you what ?”

 

Kazumi waves a hand in front of his face.  “Tell you later.” Then, without saying goodbye to him, she follows Nemuri back into the building and to the principal’s office.

 

The principal isn’t actually human, which would have been nice to be told about, Kazumi thinks as she sips tea with what she assumes is some sort of mouse-bear.

 

“Now, Miss Yusa, you did hear the rule about incapacitating other applicants, did you not?” Nezu inquires.

 

Kazumi nods.  “Loud and clear, Mr. Principal.  But in my case there were—” she coughs “—extenuating circumstances, you see.  I was simply acting in self defense after that applicant sexually assaulted me.”

 

Nezu’s eyes shine with intrigue.  “Really?”

 

“Yes, sir.  I saved him from a robot, and then he jumped at me and groped me.  I reacted as anyone would: I kicked him in the face, then to insure the safety of other female examinees, I turned him into a box.”

 

Nezu hums in understanding.  “Well then, it seems you will not be barred from entrance into Yuuei.  However, I do have one request: would you bring the boy back?”

 

“Will he be attending Yuuei?”

 

“The fact that he sexually assaulted you combined with the fact that he didn’t get enough points for entry anyway will ensure that he is not allowed on the campus.”

 

Kazumi smiles politely.  “Very well then. Do you have the box with you?”

 

Nezu simply gets out of the seat, grabs a box from the corner of the room, and places it on the coffee table.  

 

She smiles, then mist enshrouds the box, and within a second, there is a very confused looking pervert on the table.

 

“Uh, where am I?” he asks.

 

“The principal’s office of Yuuei!” Kazumi pipes up.

 

Nezu then says his own bit.  “As the principal, I would like to inform you that you are hereby banned from Yuuei’s campus indefinitely!”  He then turns to Kazumi. “I look forward to seeing you in class, Miss Yusa.”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Principal.”

Chapter Text

Hey, everyone.  First, I wanna say thank you all so much for all your comments and kudos.  Second, an apology.  I've lost interest in this story, so it's going on hiatus for an indeterminate amount of time.  It might be a few weeks, years, or forever.  Thank you for understanding and I hope you've enjoyed this story so far.  

 

See you next time