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The Little Things

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Inko’s days were routine, following a set pattern with little variation. Today, she began it again.

Six in the morning she woke, listening to the sounds of Izuku fumbling around in his room or the neighbors preparing for work. The traffic may be loud enough by that point to hear, or it may still be a whisper. If it was raining, she’d be able to hear it patter against her window. She would spend the first thirty minutes of the day in bed listening, eyes closed and taking measured breaths. A way to calm, preparing for the day and pushing past any nightmares. Her bed is big enough for two people. She always took the left side.

Six-thirty and she’d be up if not completely dressed, brewing tea and setting out breakfast. Izuku would be in his uniform and checking his notes of the week; a new hero on the scene, or a recent battle, or an engineering puzzle his father had sent him recently. It all kept his attention, though sporadic. Inko would listen to him mumble and feel at home most in that moment, her son comfortable and the smells of food cooking in the background. Izuku would be out the door by seven on the dot, much as he didn’t want to go to school.

Between seven and ten, Inko would putter around the house and clean where it was needed, checking to make sure nothing was out of place. Was the bathroom was stocked and clean? Did she need to pick anything up from the supermarket? Was the compost for the garden finished? Did any bones need to be broken up? It was a peaceful look-around. Nothing could be out-of-place in her home.

She could visit Masaru between these hours if she wanted to, stopping in for tea and cookies if Katsuki hadn’t stolen them all again. Her old college friend would tell her how his research was going, if there’d been any approvals of the products he was trying to market. Mitsuki would interrupt when she wanted, making comments or jokes to see her husband’s smile. By ten, Inko would leave.

After ten, Inko would walk around the neighborhood and visit the neighbors. Mizuki-san in the apartment across the street was always kind, offering food or coffee or tea when she visited. Inko would refuse, as politely as she could. Mizuki-san would inevitably offer again and again, but Inko didn’t care for her food. It wasn’t a decent replacement for the two-hundred thousand yen she was waiting for.

Miss Yang in 34-C was jumpy when Inko checked in on her but let her inside, talking about her new job and how well her son was doing at school. Her apartment was sparsely furnished but looked well-loved all the same. Inko was glad she was settling in well. It had been difficult fabricating their passports with so many details changed. The dear girl had no qualms in helping Inko out with a small favour, all things considered.

Noburou-ojiisan was missing from 21-B. That wouldn’t do. Inko was going to have to ask one of the dear boys from the shop if they’d heard anything.

Around noon, Inko would go to the supermarket and talk with the other mothers there, smiling and congratulating on the small accomplishments of daughters and sons. She never talked much herself about Izuku; he was still so shy. One of the mothers, an Emissive with blue hair and webbed fingers, mentioned that there was an incident down by the harbor, someone’s Quirk going out of control. Three were hurt, and a child almost ended up in the hospital. That wouldn’t do.

Tsukauchi-san greeted her kindly at the station, as he always did. The fellow that had gone on a rampage was being held in one of their temporary cells while they decided if he should be tried or not. Inko knew him and his family, living by the edges of the docks. Little Satoru-kun had always caused trouble in nursery and junior high, bullying other students and harassing teachers. He hadn’t bothered going to high school, choosing to hang about and use the pachinko parlor. Inko had hoped he wouldn’t end up like this, but there was only so much someone with disintegrating breath could do before censured.

The body’s arteries really were quite small, when one thought about it. Inko was glad to hear about his younger sister, when she visited.

In the afternoon, the ephemeral time between one and six, Inko went out into the city proper, smiling at shopkeeps and keeping to the sidewalks. There were cafes and restaurants she would possibly stop at, greeting the workers like old friends and trading silly little happenings. Sometimes one of them would tell her a worry, or of something odd that had happened, and she would listen attentively. Sometimes, they would ask her for a favor, or to find something they just couldn’t catch when sales were on. They were always so kind, and of course she needed to help them. It was easy for her to snatch things up, after all. 

Eventually, after passing cafes and restaurants and small little shops of books and flowers and knick-knacks, she would slip into the dim building she always did, settling at the counter with a soft smile. The dear bartender would set her water down in front of her as usual, and Inko would sip it as she listened to the flow of voices and people around her. Sometimes again, someone would approach her. A question, a favour, a greeting, a threat. Really, so small in the scheme of things.

It was the little things she found easy, though. Easier to manage than grand gestures, easier to control than spiderwebs trailing everywhere. She preferred it this way.

At four, or when she noticed the sun was beginning to fall, Inko would push away from the counter and say her goodbyes to the tender, smiling as usual. He would nod and say until next time, and she would hear partings and catcalls as the door swung shut behind her. If any followed her, snarled, sneered, there wouldn’t be any trouble after. People always seemed to forget how many infinitesimal, significant pieces they were made of, after all.

She would be home in time to tell Izukkun okaeri and begin dinner, listening to him avoid questions about school and clubs and friends. He would help her prepare vegetables and meat, and she would smile and tell him you’re such a good son, Izukkun. Such a small thing, to be able to bring a grin to his face. She loved him dearly, as much as Hisashi.

They would have dinner, and by eight she would be back in bed, reading a book or listening to the radio or checking her phone. We need to move this, we need to deal with that, we need to help them, this and that and this and that. Little things, the sort she could coordinate or do herself.

That was her job in life, really, embodied by her Quirk. Handling the little things in life, and smoothing things over for everyone else. It just got a bit… Messy at times.

By ten, Inko would be lying her head down, yawning and closing her eyes, and quickly would she fall asleep. In a night’s turn she would begin again, rising with the sun. A pattern, a routine, defined by the little things.