Chapter 1: Shimura Tenko: Origin
It was the middle of the night and the moon was shining upon a cramped, peaceful street. The darkness felt less intimidating than usual and in it walked a boy. He was small, his body covered in bruises and his clothes torn up and bloody. He’s been hugging his sides for hours now, trying to suppress the need to vomit as he kept thinking on and on about the events that have happened just a few hours earlier. His skin was completely pale, his hair white as the moon up on the sky, with only a few dark streaks left. The skin under his eyes kept itching terribly and he kept picking on it, scratching it until there was blood under his nails, though he could not tell if it was even his or…
The boy was on the run, he didn’t quite know what he was running away from. Fear was swelling in his chest, taking his breath away and squeezing tears from his irritated and puffy eyes.
Mom, Hana.. Grandma and Grandpa… Dad… they’re all dead… S-some terrible villain attacked our house and now…
The pain did not want to go away. The boy kept on walking on the sidewalk, avoiding the spots of light illuminated by the street lights, as if they could hurt him. His throat was sore as he kept angrily wiping his tears away, quietly hiccupping, but still walking nevertheless. A mix of confusion, sadness and fear took over his body as he wept, completely alone on a dark, dirty street at a chilly summer night.
Then why.. why me… why am I running…?
Millions of questions were filling his head, all of them painful, all of them carrying the sad truth that he had no one he could ask those questions and get a clear answer. Despite everything, the boy kept walking. In the moonlit street, his white hair shone among the darkness.
A few days have passed since the remains of the Shimura family members have been found. Or at least what was left of them. In all the chaos and destruction, the police officers were sure of one thing – there was a sole survivor and his name was Shimura Tenko. The boy however, was nowhere to be found. You’d think that in a city this big someone, at least one person, must’ve seen him, but no. He seemed to have vanished completely. No one could find this scared and surely starving child.
People have mentioned a similar child wandering around, when questioned. The only thing that didn’t match with his appearance was his hair, described as snow white. The detectives pressed more and eventually started rediscovering the child’s movements. He was moving slowly, but steadyly. It was really surprising to realize, that in streets full of people, no one extended a hand to this lost, miserable boy. You’d think that in a society full of heroes someone surely would help him, and yet..
The officers didn’t give up on him though, they believed they’ll find him. This child deserved to be saved, just like everyone else.
And he really needed to be saved, as quickly as possible, before anything bad can happen to him…
So cold… so hungry…
Tenko’s body was motionless. He was too exhausted to move, too exhausted to even think about anything, but about how tired and hungry he is. Everything felt heavy and painful. The itch has been only worsening with each day he spent sleeping outside, but holding his hand up to scratch it was too much to ask for, so he laid on the ground, in agony, as his flesh seemed to scream underneath his skin.
It was dark, wet and cramped. He chose this little hole under a bridge to shelter himself from rain the night before. He could still feel his soaked clothes clinging to his shaking body. He’d cry if only he could, but even this required too much energy. Not to mention he hasn’t been able to say a single word since he ran away, his throat tight and hoarse. As much as he tried to scream for help and beg, not a single sound could escape his dry lips.
Lying there, on the ground, he kept thinking about Hana and about how she would play heroes with him in secret, when father wasn’t around. He kept thinking about holding her warm hands and how brightly she could smile. She always tried to cheer him up, especially when he had to be punished. His mind then wandered off to his mother, always ready to embrace him. In her arms, he always felt the safest, like nothing and no one could hurt him anymore. Even though her words stung sometimes, she always seemed to care for him so much… His grandparents.. They always were there for him to extend an arm to cry on. Their calming presence could soothe any pain, yet still some always lingered. His father…
Tenko’s body was shaking as he sobbed wordlessly, trying to catch his breath and failing. The whole world seemed to have turned upside down and no one was there to help him, no one was there to save-
Suddenly, there was light.
It was irritating Tenko’s eyes, so he closed them. He could hear voices, multiple of them. People were shouting and screaming, he wasn’t sure what though. Something grabbed his hand for a second and then retreated. Now his wrist. He was being pulled somewhere and it hurt, but he couldn’t even make a sound of protest.
It was so bright. The hum of many voices filled his head, all of them melting into one continuous noise. Everything hurt, but especially his head. Tenko wasn’t sure what was happening.
The last thing he remembered was the warm hand pressed to his forehead as the whole world slowly started to fall into the cold, familiar darkness.
Chapter 2: Enter All Might
content warning: description of gore and a bloody scene
After a few days in the hospital and a few brief conversations with various police officers, Tenko has been finally brought to the police station. It was much smaller than the hospital, but also much more colorful and less… sad. It was still, however, very overwhelming to the young boy. As an officer was leading him to some kind of an office, many people were staring at him. The looks on their faces all seemed to express both pity and uneasiness. With all those eyes lingering on him, Tenko felt very small in this room full of people.
The room he’s been taken to was warm and scarcely decorated. A man in a uniform has been waiting for him there, sitting on a big chair by the desk which was covered by piles of papers. The officer who led him inside left and Tenko just stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do.
“Ah, you can sit, please” the man by the desk said with a soothing voice. Tenko listened and carefully climbed onto the chair facing him, he didn’t dare to look up at the policeman though.
“You’re Tenko, right? My name is Tsukauchi Tomomi and I'm the police chief of this department.” The boy nodded, his eyes focusing on various objects in the room as he was trying to scratch at his itching eye, now covered in band aids.
“I’m sure you know why you’re here… Please, know that we just want to help you and to make sense of what has happened to you and… to your family.” the man said softly, trying to calm the boy. But Tenko just kept pulling at his shirt, with his hands now wearing one fingered gloves he got from the doctors at the hospital. They were supposed to help him function with his newly discovered quirk.
“Do you remember anything, Tenko?” Tsukauchi asked.
The boy’s grip on his shirt tightened as the flashes of memories came back to him.
Suddenly he was in his garden again, but it didn’t look familiar at all. He was sure just moments ago he was hugging Mon-chan, crying about being punished by his father… Now the ground looked devastated, as if a monster went through their garden, destroying everything that stood in it’s way. It was hard to move. His head was spinning and his face hurt. He was… soaked in something. Tenko looked at his hands, but all he could see was red.
Red on his hands.
Red on his clothes.
Red on the ground.
The world started spinning even more, as everything suddenly turned red. Has he hit his head and his vision went bad because of it? That must be the reason there’s so much red and nothing else…
But just as he was trying to explain this phenomenon to himself he saw a hand. A single, stiff hand. Without any body attached to it.
Tenko covered his mouth, trying to suppress the growing sickness in the pit of his stomach. The ground was covered in various body parts, all lying around him and he was standing in a pile of what seemed to once be human flesh. His body gave up as it twisted, shook and immediately made him throw up. Tears swelled up in his eyes as he tried to call to his parents, to Hana, to his grandparents, even to Mon-chan.
There was quite a commotion at the police station as All Might entered the building. Everyone greeted or shook hands with him. A lot of the workers were very surprised he showed up and tried to ask him about the reason behind his sudden appearance.
But how do you explain that you’ve come to see an orphaned boy who you know nothing about?
All Might have been… perplexed. He heard about the whole incident in the news and decided to arrive at the place without really thinking about what’s next. It was… hard to believe in. Nana’s family, slaughtered nearly completely, with an exception of a single boy.
Toshinori has never really had the pleasure of meeting anyone related to Nana. She was always very careful about sharing information that could be used against her by her enemies. Therefore hearing her surname again surprised him greatly. Not only that, but the occasion… It shook him deeply. He just had to make sure. According to his findings this truly was Nana’s family. That would make the lone survivor her grandson…
The chief of the department eventually walked up to him and shook his hand, greeting him. He alone has been informed of his arrival, as All Might wasn’t really comfortable with the thought of completely surprising the poor law enforcers at their workplace.
“How’s the boy?” he asked immediately. He may have been smiling, but his voice betrayed him, sounding concerned.
“He’s been hospitalized for a few days and seems to be coming back to his strength. Mentally though…” Tsukauchi cut off and looked around. Various policemen suddenly looked away, not wanting to be caught eavesdropping. “Let’s move somewhere more private” he said, already leading Toshinori to an empty breakroom. The chief closed the door behind them and looked at All Might seriously.
“Is it bad?” his worries have just been growing and growing.
The policeman run his hand through his hair and slowly exhaled. “The boy seems to be deeply traumatized by whatever has occurred on that night… so much so that his hair went completely white and he can’t speak a single word. He’s been trying to write down his testimony, but from what we’ve gathered... He doesn’t seem to remember how the deaths have occurred. Our psychologist suggested that it might be a part of his brain’s way of trying to protect him from even more psychological damage.”
Every new sentence was more troubling than the previous one. But All Might could read from the chief’s face that the worst was just to come.
“The public doesn’t know yet, but… the boy has just awakened his quirk a few days ago.” he said, pulling out a box of cigarettes and lighting one for himself then offering the box to the pro hero.
Toshinori shook his head. “But, what does that-“
“His quirk is called Decay.” he cut through his question, taking a drag and sighing softly. “Everything he touches with the five fingers of his hand is destroyed.”
The words slowly sink in and All Might stood there shocked. The silence was unbearable.
“Sir, you can’t be saying… what I think you’re suggesting…”
Oh, but he did. His sharp eyes seemed to see right through Toshinori.
“I know you said that this child has been a relative of a friend of yours, but I can’t hide that it’s very likely he was the one responsible for the accident, whether it was intentional or not.”
The reality of the situation hit All Might with it’s full power. It all seemed so hopeless. How could a five year old child murder his whole family? It surely must’ve been an accident, but if he were still to face the consequences…
All Might gulped. “What will happen to him now..?”
The chief's lips formed a straight line before he spoke again. “As of now we can’t really prove anything. Even though the connection seems obvious, we have no witnesses, any of the potential evidence has been destroyed and even if we built a solid case, bringing a child to court to face consequences for what he doesn’t even remember doing is…”
The hero could only nod along and listen carefully.
“He will most likely be placed in an orphanage, since it seems that he has no other relatives”
All Might hated how helpless he felt in this very moment. He couldn’t have stopped the Shimuras' deaths, because he wasn’t there and now when he travelled here specifically because of his gut feeling, he couldn’t do anything to help a single boy. He didn’t even know what to say.
“Could I see him?” was the only thing he could think of.
“Sure thing, maybe you’ll even cheer him up a bit.” with that said, Tsukauchi finished his smoke and lead the pro hero to his office. He opened the door for him, and Toshinori was finally able to see the boy for himself.
He was currently in the corner of the room, curled up on a chair. His skin was sickly pale and his hair white… He looked like such a delicate being, as if he was about to shatter the moment someone so much as touched him.
“Tenko, look who came to visit you-” said the chief and the boy immediately turned to them. His big, swollen and red eyes immediately drawn to the no.1 hero. Ah, Toshinori could see the resemblance to his grandmother now, even under all the band aids and bruises.
He gave him his best smile, as if trying to comfort him without using any words. Tenko stood up slowly and just watched All Might, unsure if what he’s seeing is actually true, or maybe just a dream. The hero took a few steps and slowly knelt down to be at the boy's level.
“It’s alright now, I am here!” he said, in his most confident and cheerful voice. The moment those words were spoken, tears started streaming down Tenko’s cheeks. He leaped into the hero’s arms, looking for comfort. For something. Some hope that this all has just been a bad dream or a misunderstanding and the greatest hero of all times would be able to make everything okay again.
All Might however, holding the boy close to his chest, felt some sort of a responsibility. He wouldn’t be able to just leave him like this, that’s not what heroes do. Holding the boy in a tight hug and trying to calm him down, deep down, Toshinori has made a promise to an old friend.
Don’t worry Nana, I’ll make sure he’s alright.
Chapter 3: Mixed Feelings And New Beginnings
Getting all the paperwork done was a nightmare, but at last, everything seemed to be ready for Toshinori to welcome Tenko into his house. The boy should arrive at the door any second now.
Even though the decision has already been made and approved, All Might couldn’t hide the fact, that he decided to adopt his mentor’s grandson on a whim. He knew all about heroism and hard work, but when it came to children Toshinori wasn’t really that well educated on how to handle them. Sure, children loved All Might, his smile and his catchphrase (and his merchandise), but outside of saving some children here and there or quickly signing autographs for them, he didn’t interact with the younger generation all that much. The thought of actually having to raise one filled him with fear and anxiety. Especially a child as special as Tenko.
Tenko… If he were to leave the boy on his own, he would have already been settled into an orphanage. Toshinori crossed his arms as he leaned on the wall, thinking about the boy’s possible fate. A hard life would surely await Shimura Tenko there. Even though he’s relatively young, the word about his family’s death would most definitely spread quickly among other kids and caretakers. With rumors like those circling around it would be hard for the child to find a new home, not to mention dealing with his sudden loss and all the trauma he must have went through. Just thinking of this, Toshinori could feel his heart sinking. The boy deserves a second chance, and he felt compelled to be the one to give it to him. After all, didn’t he become a hero to help those less fortunate?
A doorbell rang through the apartment and the man’s thought were cut short by its sound. He quickly straightened up his back and made sure he looked presentable before he reached for the door and opened it.
There he was.
Tenko stood by Tsukauchi's side. He was fumbling with a small bag he was holding in his hands. The boy immediately stopped to look up at the pro hero standing before him. That sight broke Toshinori’s heart a little. Did this child really have so few things to take with him?
“Good afternoon, no. 1” said the man, gently putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Thought I might walk him here myself.”
All Might smiled sheepishly. “Thank you, chief.” He knelt down for Tenko and reached out his hand to him. “Hello, Tenko.”
The boy awkwardly squeezed the adult’s hand and quickly took his own back.
“Can I take your bag inside?” Tenko seemed unsure about the answer, but after a second he hesitantly handed the hero all his belongings. Toshinori looked back at the policeman. “Would you like to come in?”
“Ah, thanks for the offer but I have to decline, I just wanted to make sure he gets here without any trouble.” All Might couldn’t quite read the expression on the other man’s face. “Anyways” he patted the pro hero’s shoulder, similar to how he did just a few seconds ago with Tenko. “He’s in good hands now so I can sleep easy. Take care no. 1, of both of you.” All Might wasn’t sure if he said it to make him feel more confident or because he genuinely thought so. With that he waved to Tenko. “Hang in there kid. I’ll see you around.” He turned around on his heel and walked away.
Now it was just the both of them. They waved at the police chief as he was leaving and Toshinori let the boy inside, carrying what little he had took with himself to his new home.
It seemed that Tenko just couldn’t get a break with how often he’s been thrown into new environments those past few weeks. First the streets, then the hospital, the police station and now the no.1 hero’s house. He looked around, trying to take it all in.
The apartment was fairly large, though not as big as his old house. The walls were white and empty. The rooms seemed to be furnished in the most efficient way possible, so they wouldn’t take up a lot of space.
The house seemed weirdly empty, as if no one was really living in it, which seemed bizarre to the young boy. You’d think a hero’s house would be as colorful, vibrant and full of energy as his owner, yet those rooms and halls seemed so… abandoned.
Mister All Might escorted him to his new room and asked him if he needed help, but Tenko simply shook his head, which the hero respected. He decided it’s best to let him be for now. This room was different than all the other rooms in the apartment. The walls were covered in a greenish blue color. Tenko wondered if this was the only room which walls were painted. There were even some glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to them. He looked at the bed, shaped like a spaceship and with matching sheets. He started to see a theme there. Besides the bed he also had a desk, chests of drawers and shelves filled with toys of all kinds. Some of them were even All Might themed. Everything seemed perfect, clean and.. completely new. Tenko felt as if the room has been specifically put together for him to live in just before he got there. The boy didn’t quite know how to feel about it.
Yes, he has been looking up to All Might since he could only remember, but actually living with the hero… Tenko could not understand why he’d make such a decision, especially since the boy was sure he couldn’t have known anyone from the family, since father wouldn’t allow it...
He sat down gently on his new bed, only to let his back fall onto the mattress and sighed softly. He reached for his bag and opened it, only to take out a single, creased photo. It was a fairly up-to-date picture of his family. Tenko remembered the day they took the photo clearly.
They were all wearing fancy clothing and were instructed to look serious and dignified. Him and Hana would not comply though and kept making jokes and trying to make everyone laugh. During one of their attempts, when they managed to make everyone chuckle, even their father cracked a small smile and the photo was taken, as well as the serious one a few moments later. The photographer gifted them this one free of charge, because they thought it came out beautifully. Tenko remembered how his mom would look at it from time to time and smile fondly.
He really wished he could go back to this this very moment. Making faces and cracking jokes with Hana, playing with Mon-chan, making his parents and grandparents smile or burst out laughing… He missed all of it so dearly.
Tears built up in his eyes as he laid there, hugging the photo close to his chest. His shoulders shook as he sobbed silently, nervously scratching at his neck. What wouldn’t he do to be able to get back in time and see them one more time. Just once… To tell them that he loved them. To hug them and hold their hands and never ever let go.
Chapter 4: Bad Habits
Toshinori has been used to keeping a busy lifestyle for a while now, after all that's what his job required him to do. As the no. 1 hero he seemed to be always on the run. If he wasn't fighting criminals, he was stopping minor robberies and saving people from fires and such. There were truly no breaks for heroes in this world.
And yet he had to work around his schedule to fit Tenko into the picture. It... hasn't been easy. People say that parents are heroes in their own way and Toshinori finally got to understand why. As easy as the media make out parenting to be, it was extremely challenging. Even more so if the child you're supposed to take care of doesn't talk to you. It's been a week now and he hasn't been able to hold a single conversation with young Tenko.
He's been told that the boy's ability speak hasn't been impaired, but due to the trauma he went through he may be experiencing selective mutism. This greatly troubled Toshinori as he wondered if there was anything he could do.
Tenko didn’t even say a word when he saw his true form for the first time! He did however, nearly faint from shock and All Might had to calmly explain to him that it was one of his abilities. The boy always seemed to be surprised when looking at the hero in his less heroic form, but Toshinori guessed he couldn’t really help it. After all it was hard to believe that this larger than life figure could actually be just a regular looking man. He just hoped the boy could get used to it...
Deep in thought, he jumped from building to building carefully, trying not to slip because of the ungodly amounts of rain falling down the sky. He’s been patrolling the city while waiting for the hour he could pick the boy up from kindergarten to arrive. Even now, there was no way he could just relax and kick back. As a hero, All Might’s job was one that was never ending, even when he was asleep in his house.
He couldn't shake off this feeling that he's not doing everything he can for the boy due to lack of free time on his part. Each day started at sunrise, with a quick patrol and maybe a stopped robbery or two. After that he'd rush back home, trying to prepare breakfast for Tenko to the best of his ability, granted, cooking wasn't exactly his forte. After a quick meal and morning preparations he'd fly Tenko to his kindergarten, making sure to keep his distance so the boy wouldn't have to deal with trying to explain howbhe knows the no.1 hero in Japan. He wanted to spare Tenko as much trouble as he could. After a day of fighting crime and installing hope in the public he'd stop by the kindergarten when it was nearly closing in his less mighty form and ask the boy about his day and chat with the caretakers to get to know how the boy's day actually went. After that they'd walk back to the house and he'd try to prepare a good dinner and perhaps strike a one sided conversation with him before Tenko would inevitably leave to spend time in his room, alone.
After a week they've seemed to fall into the routine fairly well. The initial awkwardness between the two has vanished, even if Tenko was still bewildered by his actual looks. Toshinori couldn't help but worry about their strange relationship. By no means was he trying to take his parents’ place, but he couldn’t just let a 5 year old boy grow up on his own. This was a quite delicate matter and he felt like he should have some sort of a talk with the boy, but to be frank, ever since he started to take care of him, Toshinori has been excessively anxious about everything he does regarding Tenko. All this thinking was terribly exhausting, even his coworkers noticed he’s been out of it for the past week. He’s been trying to finish his jobs as quickly as possible just to make sure he can be there on time to get Tenko from point A to point B and spent an evening with him. All Might wasn’t, by all means, getting sloppy, but this constant running in circles has been playing on his colleagues’ nerves.
With a soft sight he looked at the dark clouds covering the sky and reported to his team that everything seemed to be fine. He started moving towards the kindergarten and bought two umbrellas on his way, one for himself and one for Tenko. He forgot to take his umbrella this morning and the man didn’t want him to get sick because of the rain. 2/3 of the way he changed into his regular form and got his civilian clothes out of the special hiding spot he planted nearby and walked to the establishment.
The rest of the afternoon went on as usual, as he took Tenko back home and attempted to cook a meal he saw in a late night cooking show he started watching recently. For some reason the boy would always make the table as Toshinori was stressing over his lack of skill in the kitchen. All Might didn’t mind, he even thought it was incredibly nice of the boy to want to help around the house.
He suddenly froze when he could hear something being shattered on the floor. Pieces of what once had been a plate were scattered all over the floor and Tenko looked around in panic, before his eyes moved up at Toshinori, already tearing up. Without thinking, All Might immediately run up to the boy and gently picked him up, making sure he won’t stand on the sharp pieces. Tenko, however, has already started crying, shaking in his arms terribly. The man was shocked, why would he look so upset over a single plate?
He gently set Tenko on a chair. The boy has began scratching at his neck, leaving red marks on his skin. Panicked Toshinori gently grabbed his hands and held them tight in his own.
“What’s wrong, my boy? Did you hurt yourself anywhere?” he asked, full of concern while looking all over his body for any cuts or signs of blood. Tenko shook his head, sniffling.
“What is it then..?” he couldn’t understand how breaking a plate could lead to such an emotional breakdown.
And then, for the first time since All Might had met Tenko, the boy made a sound. It was very quiet and his voice was hoarse, but the man was sure it must’ve come from the crying child. Oh, how desperate he was to hear anything from him.
“Young Tenko, my boy! What did you say?” he looked at Tenko, full of hope.
“S-s-sorry” he said with great trouble, hiccupping and crying. If someone asked Toshinori what sadness sounded like, he’d point to this exact moment. He felt as if a needle was piercing through his heart. This wasn’t how he imagined Tenko’s first words since the accident would sound like.
“Tenko..” he said under his breath, his voice soft. “There is nothing to be sorry about.” With that said he hugged the boy closely, gently stroking his back to calm him down. “It’s just a plate, I’m not upset it’s broken. I’m just glad you weren’t hurt…”
He stayed like this, squeezing the boy, maybe a bit too tightly, until he eventually calmed down. To his surprise, Tenko carefully hugged him back, now slowly breathing in and out. With the boy now calm, Toshinori felt a weird kind of peace of mind, gently rocking him in his arms.
“Are you okay, young boy?” Tenko nodded slowly and it almost seemed like he was hesitant while pulling away from the hug. All Might took a step back to let him have his space.
“Could you tell me why were you upset…?” The boy looked down and grabbed the notebook he’s been carrying around to communicate with others. It took him a second to write something down before he awkwardly set it in front of the hero.
‘I’m really, really sorry about the plate, mister All Might. I really didn’t mean to break it, I swear. And I’m sorry about crying. I thought you might be angry with me…’
Toshinori frowned upon reading his note. He slowly knelt down in front of the boy and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Tenko, listen carefully to me. This was an accident, they happen. It’s nothing to be upset about.” He makes sure he’s looking the boy in the eyes as he continues. “And I could never get angry at you, especially about something like this.”
The boy looked at him with big, still glossy eyes as Toshinori smiled gently at him. He seemed unsure about the whole ordeal, but nodded when the man turned his eyes on him.
All Might patted Tenko’s head, satisfied with the response. “Now, let’s clean up and get something to eat.”
Late at night, while lying on the couch and watching a cooking show, Toshinori’s mind could not stop wandering off to what happened earlier that day. Was it normal for children to over react like this? Surely something must’ve been wrong, but he couldn’t see what. Why did Tenko think he’d get angry? Did he expect to be punished for something that he didn’t mean to do? Was that the anticipated reaction…?
Just asking himself those questions in his head was unnerving. He felt like he couldn’t stay still so he got up on his feet and began pacing around the room, unable to focus on the TV screen altogether. Was Tenko so used to having others be angry at him that he was sure even the no. 1 hero would behave like this? If so, who made him feel that way? Was he bullied in the kindergarten? No, that couldn’t be it, the caretakers would’ve told him so, he’s sure of that. Maybe it was something from before the Shimura incident, but that could mean-
He didn’t finish the thought as he felt a sharp pain in his left foot.
“F u c k” he hissed loudly when he saw a small piece of a plate sticking out of it. He must’ve not noticed this one laying around.
Cursing some more under his breath he was about to go take care of his foot when he saw Tenko in the hallway, staring at him with a shocked look on his face with what seemed like an empty glass in his hands.
...Did he just curse in front of a five year old?
“Wait, young Tenko- This Is- Please Don’t Repeat Those Words To Anyone, They Are Bad“ he said, so embarrassed, he forgot for a moment that the boy didn’t say a word in nearly a month now until today.