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we run with demons

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“QT, if you drop that cake that took me three tries to make perfect, I will tie you up and you’ll be Natsu’s piñata.” 

The little robot only seems to vibrate more; the triple layered chocolate cake with globs of pink icing is now so dangerously close to falling off the robot’s surface and onto Oikawa’s nice and clean foyer floor. He scoffs and releases the banner he was trying to hang over the entry way leading into the lounge, climbing down the ladder and moving to the robot to get the cake himself.

He takes the cake from the robot, looking down at QT with a frown. “We went over this five times already. Natsu is going to have a birthday party today and people are going to be here. I know you have this weird social anxiety around anything that isn’t made of metal but can you please relax for the party? You’re starting to stress me out, for pete’s sake,” Oikawa says with a heavy sigh.

QT gives a knowing and sad beep and Oikawa pinches the bridge of his nose. “Just. . .go and get her presents into a neat pile. They’ll be here any minute, chop chop!” he shouts. QT gives a beep and almost runs over Oikawa’s foot as it speeds away into the lounge area. Oikawa rolls his eyes and carries the cake into the kitchen for later, placing it onto the counter.

He clasps his hands and looks upwards to the ceiling. “Okay, J.A.R.V.I.S.! How’s your singing for the ‘Happy Birthday’ song?”

I don’t sing, sir.

“You do now,” Oikawa says with a smile and glances over at the bar area of the kitchen. F.R.I.D.A.Y. currently stands in front of the bar as a holographic projection from the ceiling. Today, they have chosen to go with the form of a young woman in a sun dress with a birthday hat on their head. Well, at least F.R.I.D.A.Y. can get into the spirit of things.

“How’s the invite list coming along? Anything different?” Oikawa asks the A.I. and F.R.I.D.A.Y. shakes their head.

So far, Nishinoya-san and Azumane-san will be arriving shortly after Tsukishima-san and Kuroo-san arrive with Natsu-chan. Kunimi-san said he’ll arrive whenever, Sugawara-san said he’ll try to make it before sundown, and Sawamura-san said that he will bring the other Avengers after they are done with their briefing.

It must be about these past few weeks.

There’s been some protests happening around Japan lately, from the countryside to the city streets. Oikawa understands that people are still afraid about the events that happened last year. He knows that public opinions of mutants grew worse with Nekomata’s fear campaign stirring people to try and take matters into their own hands. There have been mutant activists that have risen up to provide voices for the mutant community, but they haven’t been getting far with their peaceful protests getting attacked by people fearing a large group of mutants congregating in one place.

He’s been keeping a close eye on one activist in particular that seems to be dealing directly with the government in his speeches that get broadcast over Youtube. He’s never made a public appearance, to Oikawa’s knowledge. This Professor Kaname. . .maybe he might be the one to help quell this unrest.

Oikawa-san,” F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s voice interrupts his thoughts and he glances at the hologram. “Don’t you think that maybe you should be helping them with this mutant problem that’s arising in Tokyo? Maybe. . .Iwaizumi-san might be-

“From what Nobuyuki-san said, Iwa-chan is considered by the government to be an ‘omega-level mutant’. Not to mention that he broke out of the prison along with the others and is a wanted man. He’s not going to risk getting caught by showing his face at a peaceful protest. I’ll stick with my own plans on finding him, unless you believe that Shirofuku is somehow incompetent and can’t help me.”

Of course not.

“Then it’s decided. We don’t bring up Iwa-chan again.”

Oikawa-san-

Oikawa raises a hand, turning his head in the direction of the door. “J.A.R.V.I.S.?”

They’re coming up the walkway, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. notifies and Oikawa adjusts the cuffs of his suit and brushes his fingers through his hair. He claps his hands and quickly turns to F.R.I.D.A.Y., raising a finger to his lips. F.R.I.D.A.Y. does not look pleased, but Oikawa ignores them and switches off the lights. He stands by the entryway, listening as the front door’s lock comes off and it opens.

“It’s really dark,” he hears Natsu’s voice echo from the foyer and the door closes.

“Ooooh, maybe your daddy finally caused a power surge from working in his lab,” Kuroo’s obnoxious voice filters in. Oikawa does his best to not scoff in annoyance and give his position away.

“No, he did that last week. F.R.I.D.A.Y. fixed it,” Natsu says innocently. Kuroo guffaws and Oikawa is this close to jumping out of the dark and punching Kuroo in the head.

“Watch your step, Jubilee,” Tsukishima says and Oikawa braces his hand against the light switch as he hears the three draw closer and closer to the room. He waits until he sees the shadows of the two men stand in the doorway before he flicks the lights back on and hits a button that drops down a pound of confetti and streamers.

“Surprise!” Oikawa shouts, loud beeping from QT and Ye-Robot-With-No-Name also chirping in excitement as they whir in from the foyer to greet Natsu. F.R.I.D.A.Y. reappears and is now twirling around a holographic noise maker that produces no sound, while J.A.R.V.I.S. plays ‘Happy Birthday’ over the speakers embedded in the ceiling.

Kuroo breaks away from Natsu and pulls two pistols from his hip that were obscured from Oikawa’s vision.

“Yeah! Party!” Kuroo shouts with his fingers around the triggers, ready to pull. Tsukishima grabs his wrists and yanks them down before Kuroo gets a chance to fire a hole in Oikawa’s ceiling.

“Not in the house,” he hisses. Natsu runs over into Oikawa’s outstretched arms and he scoops her up into his grasp, hugging her close and tight. Natsu braces her hand against Oikawa’s arc reactor, turning her head so Oikawa can pepper small and quick kisses to her nose and her cheek.

“Happy birthday, my little princess.”

 


 

Oikawa never would have guessed he’d be doing something like this. Talking amongst his friends while wearing a goofy birthday hat, watching fondly over a little girl that has now become one of the most important people in his life. The only other person that can claim that title in his heart is Iwaizumi. . .and well. . . 

Oikawa shakes his head and tries to focus back into the conversation that Daichi and Sugawara are having with him, watching as Matsukawa plays with Natsu and her stuffed animal that Oikawa recently bought. He’s lost count honestly; he doesn’t remember if that’s stuffed animal #46 or stuffed animal #72. He glances down at the glass in his hands and sighs. Maybe he needs to stop hitting the booze and switch to water so he can sober up somewhat.

Bokuto even came down from Asgard to see Natsu, enjoying the balloons and noise makers even more than Natsu is. Beside him, Akaashi is trying to keep Bokuto from making too big of a mess while Nobuyuki chuckles and holds a conversation about his latest research.

Sugawawa smiles warmly at Natsu, swirling around the drink in his glass. “She’s like the daughter all of us want to have,” Sugawara says fondly and gives a small sigh. Oikawa knows that Sugawara loves children and knows he wants to have them. If Nekomata didn’t stick his nose where it didn’t belong, no doubt Nobuyuki would have asked Sugawara to become Natsu’s legal guardian.

“Who knows? Maybe with this new team, we can retire. Maybe start a family of our own,” Daichi says warmly, resting a hand on Sugawara’s shoulder and gently massaging it. Oikawa takes a sip of his bourbon and hums.

“You’re finally finished with your roster? . . .Can I inquire who will be the members of this ‘Young Avengers’ project?”

“Well since you’re not a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore, it’s classified information,” Sugawara says curtly and crosses his arms. “They’re going to give a press release on Monday. You’ll be introduced to them along with the rest of the public,” Sugawara explains and smiles. “But they are more than capable of holding their own.”

Oikawa already knows that Kindaichi is one member, along with Ushijima’s protégée Goshiki Tsumotu. Neither have any experience (hell, Goshiki hasn’t even seen any battle yet as the new Ant-Man), so Oikawa doesn’t know how much of help they’ll be. F.R.I.D.A.Y. has been inducted into the Young Avengers and is piloting a suit, at least until Oikawa is finished creating a synthetic body for them to inhabit instead.

There’s Yahaba Shigeru, who Oikawa only found out about by hacking into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s current files and project updates, but he has no idea what skills the boy has. S.H.I.E.L.D. beefed up their security systems as of lately, and it’s taking Oikawa too long to hack into the mainframe again when he needs to be doing fatherly things like giving Natsu baths and buying her crap she really doesn’t need but Oikawa feels he needs to give her anyways.

He takes a gulp of his drink, feeling the alcohol warm his cheeks and his stomach. He watches as Asahi and Nishinoya help move the last of the presents into the living room for Natsu to open in front of her guests. 65% of the presents are from Oikawa alone.

“Well, even if you can’t talk to me about S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff anymore, I’m happy that you all came to the party,” Oikawa murmurs.

“Of course we would come. Why wouldn’t we?” Daichi asks and Oikawa rubs his chin.

“Well because Nekomata and a majority of S.H.I.E.L.D. think I’m a traitor? What was the term they used, uh-” Oikawa snaps his fingers a couple of times, “‘that mutie-loving asshole turning his back on the Avengers and humankind’?”

Sugawara and Daichi visibly tense and Oikawa smiles. “Come on, I’m a big boy. We can have an adult conversation about this,” Oikawa says in a sing song tone and Sugawara frowns.

“We’re not here to talk about that. We’re here for Jubilee,” Sugawara says coldly and Oikawa hums.

“I’m surprised Nekomata even let you all off his leash. He must have hoped I’d let something slip about Iwa-chan to you all after a couple of drinks. Or maybe you’ll just shake the information out of me-”

“Oikawa, stop it,” Daichi says and steps close. “Iwaizumi-san was our friend too. But we can’t ignore what he did. You weren’t there, you didn’t see-”

“I thought we all agreed that that wasn’t Iwa-chan. It was that Phoenix Force thing,” Oikawa spits, skin growing hot with annoyance.

“So he has something inside him that he can’t control. All the more reason to bring him in,” Daichi says strongly. Out of the corner of his eye, Oikawa can see Hanamaki and Ushijima are now watching the two of them from the couch.

“So what about Asahi-san, huh? If he can control the Hulk, Iwa-chan can control the Phoenix Force. Why are we sending out a manhunt on him? Why do you all think he needs to die?”

“We don’t think he needs to die. And don't bring Asahi into this; he’s not the same thing-”

“Yeah, you’re right. You’re not afraid of Asahi-san. You’re just afraid of Iwa-chan. You’re all afraid of mutants in general,” Oikawa says and chuckles, taking a staggering step towards Daichi. “But I guess you can’t help it. After all, all you were created for is to is kill them, weren’t you?”

Daichi grabs Oikawa by the front of his blazer and Oikawa’s grip on his glass loosens. It falls to the floor and shatters, and all chatter is silenced. Oikawa can see the fury behind Daichi’s eyes, quiet and subtle. He’s breathing in deeply through his nose, like he’s trying to contain himself from punching Oikawa’s lights out. Oikawa knows he struck a chord in Daichi, drunkenly satisfied that he remembered his father’s stories about Daichi and how proud he was to be selected to fight for what he believed in when in truth, it was all lies.

Sugawara is pulling on Daichi’s arm, trying to get in between the two of them, but Daichi remains rooted like a tree.

“I was created to protect my country and its people,” Daichi starts out slowly, voice low and dark. “If Iwaizumi-san or any other mutant threaten this. . .then I have no other choice but to bring them to justice,” Daichi growls out. Oikawa opens his mouth to snarl out some drunk comment and Daichi’s fist tightens in Oikawa’s blazer, but the soldier stops when he sees Natsu watching the two of them with a worried expression.

The little girl is twisting the ears of her stuffed bear as Matsukawa tries to turn her attention away from the possible fight breaking out between her adoptive father and one of her many ‘uncles’. Daichi sighs and releases his grip from Oikawa’s blazer. He bumps into him as he briskly walks out of the room and towards the bathroom, Sugawara quickly following after his lover.

Oikawa lets out a shaky breath and rubs his face, groaning into his palm. He turns, glancing around at all of the still and awkward faces as the tension continues to make the air stale and uncomfortable. Ushijima and Hanamaki both avert their gazes from Oikawa to the floor. Tsukishima and Asahi both stare at Oikawa, unsure of what to make of this situation. Nishinoya looks like he wants to say something, but is biting his tongue for the time being. F.R.I.D.A.Y. is outright glaring at Oikawa, for both making his relationship with the Avengers even more strained and for fucking up Natsu’s party by bringing up his feelings about Iwaizumi he’s tried to remain moot about.

Someone claps their hands loudly and everyone jumps, heads whirring towards Kuroo.

“What?! Jubilee, you want birthday cake before presents??? Well, you heard the birthday girl! Cake time! Cake! Cake!” Kuroo chants, clapping his hands.

“U-Uh yeah! Cake time! Time to blow out the candles!” Nishinoya chimes in, taking a confused Natsu by the hand and leading her over to the kitchen counter while Kuroo erratically prepares the candles.

“Yes! Let us engage in the cake!” Bokuto shouts with a victory cry and Akaashi breathes a sigh of relief, going along with the sudden emotional shift in the room. Everyone seems to do so, for Natsu’s sake. Ushijima still watches Oikawa with a sense of wariness and Oikawa scowls at him. He sticks his tongue out at the scientist and runs a hand through his hair, cursing under his breath.

God, why is he letting himself get so out of control about this? He keeps having nightmares about Iwaizumi on a table getting dissected by doctors curious about finding out what makes him tick, running inhumane tests on him like the government once did on Asahi in the past, or gunned down in the streets by Nekomata’s horde of soldiers.

If not that, then he has nightmares of finally coming in contact with Iwaizumi and the Phoenix Force kills them both in a fiery explosion of power.

Oikawa fears the Phoenix Force, but he doesn’t fear the man he loves.

“Uh, Oikawa-san?”

He snaps out of his train of thoughts and notices that J.A.R.V.I.S. has dimmed the lights. Everyone is surrounding Natsu who sits on a barstool with the birthday cake and five candles waiting to be blown out. Akaashi is gesturing his hand over. “Shouldn’t the father lead everyone in singing ‘Happy Birthday’?” he asks and Oikawa smiles, clasping his hands together.

“Of course!” he chirps. He sees Matsukawa and Hanamaki exchange glances and Oikawa knows that they can tell he’s just putting on smiles to save face. They say nothing as he comes in close and rests his hands on Natsu’s shoulders. “Alright, and one and two and-”

What follows next is by far the most horrendous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ that Oikawa has ever heard. Kuroo and Bokuto are obnoxiously loud; Tsukishima and Akaashi give up singing halfway through since there is absolutely no way their voices can even be heard over their boyfriend’s screeches. Nishinoya is trying his best to outdo them, while Asahi immediately gets startled from the screaming and carries on with a meek voice that also gets drowned in the noise.

Natsu is smiling and laughing, although she does have one hand up to her right ear to block out some of the noise. Hanamaki and Matsukawa are grinning and interjecting ‘Happy Birthdays’ every now and then. Nobuyuki and Ushijima continue on throughout the song with small smiles, despite the noisy party guests around them.

When they finally reach the end and Natsu blows out the candles to thunderous applause, Kuroo readies the knife and slices off a huge chunk of cake. He plates it and gives it to Natsu, raising the knife and twirls it dangerously between his fingers. “Okay, who’s next?!”

“Give me that before you stab yourself,” Tsukishima scoffs, snatching the knife away and begins to properly slice the cake up into proper pieces. Natsu takes a small bite of her cake, leaving a small bit of frosting at the corner of her mouth that Oikawa wipes away with his thumb.

“Yummy?” Oikawa asks and Natsu nods her head with a big smile.

“Yep! It’s really good!” she says with all the joy and excitement in the world. It makes Oikawa melt in his shoes.

He leans down and kisses the top of her head. “Anything for my princess,” he says into her orange locks. Yes. . .he’s not going to let them hurt her or Iwaizumi. He’s going to protect them. He’s going to do whatever it takes to protect them both. Whatever it takes.

 


 

The rest of the party goes by without any more hiccups. Sugawara and Daichi keep their distance from both Oikawa and Natsu, and Oikawa is fine with it. He knows that Natsu is rather hurt by Oikawa fighting with Daichi; he sees it in her eyes when she says goodbye to the Captain and offers him a slice of birthday cake since Daichi missed her blowing the candles out. 

Daichi takes the cake with a smile and promises that the next time he sees her that he’ll be in a better mood. Sugawara gives Oikawa a look that clearly says he’s going to receive a phone call later and the director is going to chew him the hell out. Whatever.

Everyone departs one after the other and say their goodbyes. Before Hanamaki leaves, he slings his arm around Oikawa’s shoulders and watches as Matsukawa talks with Natsu about the present they gave her.

“I don’t know what’s going on with you and Daichi, but whatever it is it needs to stop,” Hanamaki scolds in the laziest tone.

“Eh? You’re not my mom, Makki-chan. Don’t scold me,” Oikawa muses and Hanamaki pulls his arm away.

“We’re all really tense about moving forward with what to do about Iwaizumi-san. Today was supposed to be a day to forget about all that and just have fun,” Hanamaki says and looks Oikawa in the eye. “If you want to try and start something because we’re doing the right thing, then you’re going to get a lot of shit coming your way.”

“So you think hunting Iwa-chan is a good thing too?”

“He tried to hurt Issei,” Hanamaki murmurs darkly. “That was the last straw.”

Oikawa remains silent at that.

He says his goodbyes to Natsu and both he and Matsukawa depart, finally leaving Oikawa and Natsu alone with the bots and the A.I.s to clean up the party mess. Oikawa already hears Ye-Robot-With-No-Name vacuuming the confetti in the living room. Oikawa crosses his arms and glances down at Natsu, who is rocking back and forth on her heels.

“Can you get my tools from the lab? I’m going to set up your dollhouse,” Oikawa says and Natsu blinks.

“Oh. Okay,” she says, tone like she’s still lost in thought and mulling over Daichi. She walks past Oikawa and opens up the hidden panel to the lab, carefully heading down the stairwell. Oikawa goes to the foyer to dig out the box that contains the parts for the three story dollhouse that is far too big to properly fit in Natsu’s already cluttered room. Maybe he’ll have another room constructed onto the house for Natsu to play in-

F.R.I.D.A.Y. appears in front of him in a bright flash of blue light, the holographic projection looking absolutely furious.

“Oikawa-san, you were really out of line. What do you think you’re doing? Trying to get all the Avengers on their bad side so they’ll suspect you? Is that going to help you find Iwaizumi-san and protect him?!” F.R.I.D.A.Y. yells and Oikawa furrows his eyebrows.

“Hmm, I didn't think you'd be capable of emoting like this,” Oikawa says and gives a small smile. “You’re such an amazing A.I.-”

“Will you stop it?! Stop acting like none of this is hurting you! Stop acting like the entire world is against you! Sawamura-san and the Avengers have every right to be afraid of Iwaizumi-san. He killed way more people than the Hulk did when he rampaged in the beginning. People lost their homes and their loved ones and you just want the Avengers, the group that you and the others were inducted into in order to protect them, to just ignore it?

“I am not saying that,” Oikawa spits.

I believe you are implying it, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S’s voice echoes and Oikawa places a hand to his chest.

“Et tu, J.A.R.V.I.S.?”

“I know that you love Iwaizumi-san, but the many concerns about him far outweigh the single concern of yours,” F.R.I.D.A.Y. states and Oikawa balls his hands into fists.

“Is it wrong for me to want to protect him?” he asks and looks down at the floor. “I. . .I should have been there. I should have been there in that hospital and prevented him from even being kidnapped. I let him out of my sight and now he’s gone. I. . .I know what he did. . .I know that everyone’s afraid of him,” Oikawa says softly and gives a hurt chuckle. “I think maybe deep down. . .I’m afraid of that power, if only because I don’t understand how can it reside within him or if it can hurt him again.”

Oikawa looks up and swallows hard. “But I just can’t let them hurt him. Before Natsu, he was the only person I ever had by my side. I just need some time, okay? I need time to build up a case and prove that he isn’t a threat to us. I know he’s not a threat to us.”

“How can you say that when we still don’t understand mutants? When none of us understand what the Phoenix Force is or what it wants?” F.R.I.D.A.Y. asks and Oikawa sighs.

“Then I’m going to try and understand. That’s what the Avengers should be doing instead of trying to conduct crowd control,” Oikawa says flatly.

“Um. . .”

Oikawa looks over his shoulder and sees Natsu holding his toolbox, looking between him and F.R.I.D.A.Y. with concerned eyes. Oikawa flashes a bright smile and claps his hand.

“Oh, thank you princess!” he chirps and takes the toolbox from her small hands. “Let’s get started on that dollhouse-”

“Nothing bad is going to happen, right?” she asks and Oikawa looks down at her twiddling her fingers. “Nothing bad is going to happen to me. . .or Sho-chan and Tobio-chan? Daichi. . .he doesn’t hate them, does he?”

Oikawa gets to his knees and places the toolbox down, resting warm hands on Natsu’s shaking shoulders. “No. No, of course not. Why would you think that, princess?” Oikawa asks and Natsu looks down at the ground.

“Whenever F.R.I.D.A.Y. talks with Makki-chan, Makki-chan always looks angry. And you fought with Daichi earlier, so I thought-”

“No, princess. We weren’t talking about them, I promise. I’m sorry that you had to see that,” Oikawa apologizes and Natsu lets out a small sigh, biting the inside of her cheek. Oikawa runs his hands up and down her arms, cocking his head to the side. “Do you want to be my assistant and help me fix your dollhouse up?”

Natsu shakes her head ‘no’, puffing her cheeks up. She pulls away and twirls a lock around her finger.

“I’ll just help QT clean up,” she murmurs.

“Ah. . .okay.”

One negative thing Natsu has picked up from Oikawa in the year that she’s been his daughter is now, Oikawa has a very difficult time reading her expressions.

She smiles and kisses his cheek, turning to head into the kitchen. Oikawa watches her go with a sigh and gets back to his feet.

“Man, this parenting stuff isn’t easy,” he says to himself.

This is her first birthday without her family, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. points out.

“Not to mention your little outburst reminded her that not everything is peachy between the mutants and the general public,” F.R.I.D.A.Y. says and Oikawa scoffs.

“J.A.R.V.I.S., brighten up the lights in here so I can see better,” Oikawa says, ignoring F.R.I.D.A.Y. for the time being. “F.R.I.D.A.Y., I don’t need an audience so can you supervise Natsu and keep your baby brother from terrorizing QT?”

He hears F.R.I.D.A.Y. give an annoyed grunt, but the blue glow of the hologram light disappears out of his peripheral vision after a few seconds. Oikawa sighs to himself one more time, crossing his arms to stare at the dollhouse sitting amongst all the other presents. It’ll be relatively simple for him; he should have it all constructed in at least thirty minutes.

Oikawa rubs his chin, thinking in silence about Natsu. He doesn’t know what he’s going to tell her if the Avengers come across Hinata and Kageyama first. He doesn’t know where the two boys are or if they’re even together. After Daishou’s whole operation went up in that blast last year, any leads on where the boys could be or attempts to continue Daishou’s plans disappeared with it. It’s possible Kageyama could have received help when he escaped, but he doubts that Hinata could have gained the knowledge on the route Kageyama’s transport was taking, and Iwaizumi’s group escaped from their prison roughly ten minutes beforehand.

Is there someone else he’s missing?

He sighs and sits down on the floor, tearing into the box.

He’ll put these thoughts to rest for now. As he listens to Natsu’s voice echo in the home with OT’s beeps, he just knows that for now, he needs to focus on being a good father.

 


 

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, thank you for attending this press conference. As you know, it’s been one year since the unfortunate attack on our city that claimed thousands of lives and caused many casualties and damage. In effort with various organizations and companies as well as the National Diet, we have made considerable progress in reconstructing the city and returning citizens back to their homes.”

“However, there are still many concerns about public safety. We are doing the best that we can and are apprehending dangerous individuals that threaten the safety of the general public. In conjunction with the Avengers, we have put together a special task force to help address this new threat that our police cannot handle on their own. So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our newest group of heroes who are dedicating their lives to protect and serve our nation and our people, the Young Avengers!

Nekomata Yasufumi steps aside with that catlike grin of his, applauding along with the audience as he steps aside and people move onto the stage. Oikawa glares hard at the man through the projection, before he turns his head back quickly to the lopsided pancakes in the skillet. He gives them a flip, groans at how fugly they are, checks if there’s enough batter to make some better ones for Natsu, and looks back at the hologram.

Seven people stand at attention and Oikawa can see behind them Sugawara and Daichi watching over from the shadows. He also sees F.R.I.D.A.Y. in all of their mismatched colors Natsu picked for their armor standing at the end. Oikawa polished the colors and shades up so they didn’t look completely gaudy and F.R.I.D.A.Y. can be taken seriously, but they definitely don’t match the other metal suit that belongs to War Machine standing next to them.

Speaking of which, Kindaichi is standing very rigid and stiff. His knees are locked up tight and his hands are drawn into fists. He’s definitely nervous; it’s not like Kindaichi ever had to deal with press when he worked for Oikawa like Iwaizumi and Tsukishima and Kunimi did.

Next to him and closest to the center is Ushijima’s prodigy, Goshiki Tsutomu. He’s just as stiff as Kindaichi is, but Oikawa knows that the boy must be thinking about the large shoes to fill as the new Ant-Man. He wonders if Ushijima’s in the audience or backstage watching, but a few seconds later he realizes he doesn’t care if the scientist is there or not.

On the opposite end are two twin girls with short cut hair. One of them is by far the most casually dressed Oikawa’s seen for an important press conference. She’s wearing black shorts that cling to her hips and a jean jacket that’s baggy on her frame. Her sister, on the other hand, is wearing a black and white bodysuit that clings to her figure and an oversized black jacket. Both don’t look nearly as nervous as Kindaichi and Goshiki’s body language give off, but Oikawa can’t tell what these two will be bringing to the group.

He also doesn’t know about the boy standing next to them and towards the center. He’s decked out in black and gold Kevlar armor with a helmet to match. Only his mouth is visible and it’s twisted into a determined frown. Something else noticeable about the boy is that his stature is very small. In fact, he’s the shortest one on the stage. But his presence is large and it draws Oikawa’s attention to him immediately. There’s power and bravery beneath that helmet and Oikawa can’t help but feel that this boy is definitely going to be a threat to his current plans.

Dead center, Yahaba Shigeru steps forward towards the podium with his head held high and the confidence of a leader resting on his shoulders. On his back is a large bow and quiver set with arrows loaded, and he’s dressed in a purple bodysuit that is similar to Matsukawa’s battle uniform.

Hmm, so this is who has been chosen to take control of this group. Kindaichi and Goshiki are too wet behind the ears to take lead, so he understands why they weren’t chosen. He probably screwed things up with F.R.I.D.A.Y. taking control by getting into that fight with Daichi; as long as F.R.I.D.A.Y. is still aligned with Oikawa, he doubts anyone will let F.R.I.D.A.Y. take control of anything dealing with mutants.

He’s still not familiar with the other three. That bothers him for some reason.

Oikawa plates the ugly pancakes for himself, then pours out some decent looking ones into the pan to cook for Natsu.

Ladies and gentlemen, honorable guests and members of the press, thank you for coming,” Yahaba begins and places his hands behind his back. “While the Avengers work together with other organizations in order to apprehend those responsible for the attacks that occurred last year, my team and I will be working with other heroes to help keep the streets safe for ordinary citizens and address all problems and concerns dealing with mutants. We have gone through extensive training these past months and I believe that we are more than capable to take on the role of your newest protectors.

Kid’s good at talking, at least.

Miss Natsu is coming down the stairs,” J.A.R.V.I.S. alerts and Oikawa quickly changes the channel to her usual magical girl anime show and focuses his attention in cooking her pancakes.

Eventually he hears Natsu enter the kitchen with a yawn. “Good morning, Oikawa-san,” she murmurs and Oikawa looks over at her with a smile. She’s already dressed in her deep navy blue sailor dress, adorned with white trimming around the sleeves and ruffles of the dress. Her white bow in the middle of her chest needs to be retied, and her white beret needs to be adjusted, but she still looks so damn cute. Oikawa has such good taste in picking out her clothes.

“Good morning, princess. Are you excited about checking out this school?” Oikawa asks, watching as Natsu climbs onto the barstool with ease and rests her chin in her hands.

“Hmm, I guess,” she murmurs and Oikawa nods his head with a strained smile. She’s still upset about the birthday fight. Ugh, if this continues, Oikawa’s going to have to apologize. He turns back to the pancakes and plates them, then places them in front of Natsu.

“What do you want for toppings?” he asks and she shrugs.

“Whipped cream. . .blueberries. . .and some syrup,” she says quietly. Oikawa nods his head, heading to the fridge to grab the toppings as well as some milk and some creamer for his coffee. He hears the sounds of the anime broadcast stopping with a loud beep and his head whirs to look over his shoulder at the hologram.

We interrupt your regular programing to bring the following newscast,” the hologram reports and immediately switches back to a feed of the Young Avengers press conference. Oikawa squawks and nearly drops all of the stuff in his arms. What the hell are they doing broadcasting this on a kid’s network?! Kids don’t need to hear about this! Specifically, his child!

“A-Ah! I’m sorry, princess! Let me change the channel-”

“Oh! F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s wearing the suit I colored!” Natsu says, voice filled with excitement and energy that Oikawa hasn’t heard in a while. The little girl has all her attention focused on F.R.I.D.A.Y., eyes all big and aglow. Oikawa blinks, then kicks the refrigerator door closed with his foot and carries over the ingredients to place in front of her. Natsu grips the front of her dress, knocking her knees together and pulling her lower lip in-between her teeth.

We will now be taking questions from the press,” Yahaba announces and Natsu makes an excited noise.

“I hope they ask F.R.I.D.A.Y. about who did their colors!” Natsu says eagerly and Oikawa gives a nervous laugh. He honestly just hopes they cut back to the anime before they say something about mutants that’ll upset the girl. He grabs his coffee and pours himself a generous amount in his mug as he watches.

Someone raises their hand and stands a young man that probably shouldn’t be at a press conference. Next to him is a girl who’s wearing sunglasses and has the bottom half of her face covered up. She’s wearing far too many layers of clothing for this kind of weather, leaving no skin exposed. It’s. . .rather suspicious, if Oikawa is being honest.

The young man is dressed nice in a suit at least, and he gives his hand a quick run through his messy ginger hair before he continues with his question. “Kawanishi Taichi. I’m a student of the Moniwa Institution.

Everyone in the room tenses and Oikawa sees Nekomata narrow his eyes at Kawanishi. People that are sitting next to him now try to scoot away in nervousness, while cameras turn on Kawanishi and give him all the attention. Kawanishi doesn’t seemed fazed in the slightest, only keeping eye contact with Yahaba at the podium.

I want to know from each of you what your opinion is on the mutant community,” Kawanishi asks and Yahaba glances around at his teammates. The twin girls are focusing attention on Kawanishi, while the boy beside them stiffens. Kindaichi and Goshiki don’t seem to know where to look since their heads keep whirring from each other to Yahaba and then to Sawamura backstage. F.R.I.D.A.Y. has their head down, not wanting to draw any attention to themselves.

We are here to protect all our citizens,” Yahaba says eventually. “Our opinion on the mutant community is irrelevant to the task we need to accomplish.”

But if all you’re going to do is keep ordinary citizens safe, who’s going to protect mutants that can’t defend themselves?” Kawanishi asks and a woman in the front row scoffs.

What do you monsters have to fear for? We’re the ones in danger of getting hurt!” she shouts.

“Okay, that’s enough television-” Oikawa says quickly, but before he can dismiss the hologram, the boy in black and gold Kevlar steps forward and jumps off the stage into the crowd. Yahaba wasn’t planning on that happening, since his eyes bulge wide and Oikawa is reminded that these are still just a bunch of kids. Yahaba is now turning to look to Sawamura for help as the boy in armor approaches Kawanishi.

He stops directly in front of him, their height difference staggering as he looks up at Kawanishi. He doesn’t remove the helmet; in fact, a small bit piece of gold metal moves to hide his mouth as he raises his hand forward.

We’re here to protect everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re human or not. We won’t be heroes if we decided to save only certain people,” the boy says, voice scrambled to hide the identity even further. “You have my word.

Kawanishi looks down at the hand that’s being offered to him, then over at the girl sitting beside him. She’s staring at the boy in armor as well, running a finger underneath her chin. Kawanishi turns back to the boy and then bows his head, accepting the firm handshake.

Thank you. Sorry for disrupting your press conference,” he apologizes as the girl rises and bows her head as well. Kawanishi releases his hand and places a hand on her shoulder, both beginning to head out of the room. The cameras follow them and Oikawa sees in the back of the room that soldiers are congregating around the exits. Oikawa bites the inside of his cheek. They can’t believe they have something to do with Iwaizumi, do they?

The girl moves Kawanishi’s hand from her shoulder and pulls his arm into her grasp as she approaches them with their weapons at the ready, before both she and Kawanishi disappear in a flash of smoke and with a loud BAM! There’s a loud burst of startled screams and the cameras cut out, replacing the live footage with a stand by notice.

Oikawa blinks, then glances to Natsu. The little girl is staring at the feed, fork and knife in hand and pancakes growing cold. She turns to her breakfast, eyes cast downwards deep in thought. Oikawa leans forward and gently adjusts her beret.

“Hey. . .Natsu. . .listen, that woman-”

“That guy was really cool.”

Oikawa pauses, seeing Natsu smiling a little as a blush forms over the bridge of her nose. “That guy in armor. He said he’s going to protect mutants. He promised,” she says with a grin and locks eyes with Oikawa. “Maybe he’ll help find Sho-chan!” she says excitedly and Oikawa gives a small smile.

“Yeah. . .yeah, maybe he can.” Oikawa doesn’t know if that stunt Kevlar Boy pulled is genuine or just something to look good for the cameras, but the impact it has for now eases Oikawa’s worries by just a bit. She nods her head and takes the whipped cream, spraying around the edges of her pancakes. Oikawa watches her as she drizzles syrup and blueberries over her pancakes messily, before she cuts herself a piece and eats it.

Natsu hums in content. “So yummy,” she muses and Oikawa smiles, resting his cheek in the palm of his hand.

Natsu continues to take a couple more bites of her pancake while the programming switches back to anime for the time being. She glances up at Oikawa and cocks her head to the side. “Aren’t you going to eat? We have to hurry to school soon,” she reminds and Oikawa chuckles.

“Right, right.”

 


 

 

“Well, Oikawa-san. I’m sure that you will find no better school to enroll your daughter in than ours!”

Oikawa nods his head and pretends like he’s really listening to what this pompous man with a painfully obvious wig is telling him. He swings Natsu’s hand back and forth as they walk around the perimeter of the school towards the playground area where children are running around and playing on the equipment. All look up to standard and they must look like a lot of fun since Natsu is absolutely glowing with excitement.

“Look, look! They’re playing jump rope!” Natsu shouts, jumping and pointing over at a group of girls and boys skipping rope under the tree.

“You play jump rope with QT and Dum-E all the time though,” Oikawa points out and Natsu pouts.

“They never turn the rope right.”

“Ah. Daddy’ll have to punish them later then,” Oikawa says with a sad sigh. The man with them, Oikawa can’t remember if he’s the headmaster or if he’s another teacher, tries to laugh along with their little inside joke and gestures over to the children.

“Well, would you like to go and play with your future classmates while I talk with your Daddy for a moment?” he asks in a babying tone and Oikawa rolls his eyes. Natsu glances over at Oikawa and Oikawa squeezes her hand.

“Go if you want to. You have your bracelet on you?” Oikawa asks and Natsu nods her head, showing off the gold bangle as well. It acts as a panic device and alerts whoever is closest, Oikawa or F.R.I.D.A.Y., right away if Natsu is in danger. There’s a bunch of other gadgets in it that Oikawa didn’t have enough time to explain to Natsu in the drive over, but it shouldn’t be too bad if she’s gone for just a little bit.

Natsu smiles and pulls her hand free from Oikawa’s and he instantly stiffens.

On second thought, Oikawa actually doesn’t want her to leave.

For some reason, a strange feeling of dread and concern and worry washes over Oikawa’s body and shocks him to his core as he watches Natsu run over to the children so far, far away. It’s. . .strange. He’s not scared that something bad might happen, but he’s still uneasy about the child being so far away from and out of his sight. Even if he’s at work, he at least knows that J.A.R.V.I.S. is keeping an eye on her and lets Oikawa know how she’s doing every ten minutes he calls to ask.

He’s not coddling her or anything. He’s concerned like any parent would be about their only child.

Especially if that child belongs to a group that is considered a threat to humanity and hated and you know what, Natsu doesn’t really need to go to school right now. Oikawa is a genius; he can teach her all the things she needs to know, can’t he? How to read, how to write, how to count your money and how to bargain for the best deals-

A hand slaps onto his back and he’s jolted out of his thoughts, his head whirring to the man that is ushering Oikawa towards one of the buildings they’re closest to. “Now, let’s talk about tuition and uniforms as well as meal plans. We have an elementary, junior and high school division as well. If your daughter starts in our pre-school division, she will automatically be accepted into our schools for higher learning instead of having to be accepted through tests. And then-”

Oikawa moves the man’s hand off his shoulder. “I still have some other schools I’m interested in,” Oikawa says and the man laughs.

Our school is the finest, Oikawa-san. I can assure you, everyone wants their child to come to this school. Plus, with your status as a well-known and powerful CEO, you most certainly can afford for your beautiful daughter to have the best education money can buy.”

Well, Oikawa can see what this guy is really after.

He bites his tongue, however. If Natsu really likes this place, he doesn’t want to get on this guy’s bad side and make her a target.

The man opens the door for Oikawa to enter and Oikawa steps inside what appears to be the office of the principal. He takes a seat at a large mahogany desk and Oikawa hums. Okay, he’s the principal. He still doesn’t bother to look at the name plate to figure out what his name is.

Oikawa takes a seat in front of the desk and notes that the window behind the principal gives a great view of the play yard. He can see Natsu faintly from the distance, conversing with the children that gather around her in interest. No alert from the bracelet, so she must be doing fine.

Oikawa sighs; it’s only been a few minutes, what could possibly go wrong in a few minutes?

The principal pulls open a drawer and takes out a big stack of papers, setting them in front of Oikawa with a loud thud. He flips over to a page that requires Oikawa’s stamp of approval, tapping the line. “Now, if you please stamp here and-” Oikawa takes the contract and flips back to the first page, reading over the contents.

The principal laughs. “Oh, that’s just simple questionnaires about the student! Those can be filled out at a later date-”

“Sorry, but I’ve had it beaten into my head not to sign off on a contract without reading it over,” Oikawa says with a bitter smile. No doubt if Iwaizumi was here, he’d already be pulling Natsu and Oikawa out of this place because he doesn’t like this principal’s snobby attitude.

. . .Where is he? Where can he be? Is he safe? Alive? . . .Does he miss him?

Oikawa’s eyes gloss over the pages slowly, absorbing the information as he turns the pages and looks over the questions posed. Simple things like reading level, skill in mathematics and writing, temperament, any allergies or medication that the child is on, nothing to be too concerned about. He flips the page again and pauses at the bolded title at the top of the page and centered.

 

MUTANT REGISTRATION

 

“What is this?” Oikawa asks, placing the contract on the desk and taps the print. The principal raises his eyebrow and cocks his head to the side.

“Well, surely you know about this whole ‘mutant’ thing happening, Oikawa-san. We need to ensure that our children and our faculty are safe, so all students are required to be tested and registered with the government if they are a mutant,” the principal says with a sigh and then smiles. “But fortunately, we haven’t come across a mutant, so Jubilee will be quite safe here.”

“And if there was a mutant child that attended your school?” Oikawa asks, voice monotone and cold.

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t stand for it. It’s a well-known fact that those freaks are what caused all that death and destruction one year ago. As a father myself, I wouldn’t want my child being anywhere near one of those monsters.”

Oikawa closes the contract. That’s all he needed to hear.

“Sorry, but I’m afraid we’re going to look at another school,” Oikawa states flatly. The principal blinks, absolutely dumbfounded.

“I’m sorry? What do you-”

“I’ll just grab my daughter and we’ll be on our way. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule for us,” Oikawa says and glances back out the window to where Natsu should be with the other children.

But his eyes widen when he doesn’t see Natsu playing happily amongst the others, but on the ground and children slowly crowding around her and blocking his view.

He takes off in an instant, bursting out of the office and almost slipping as his loafers slide on the dirt. He runs towards steadily growing crowd of students, the teacher also beginning to approach further behind Oikawa to see what is happening.

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Oikawa yells and most of the children jump in surprise and move out of the way as Natsu gets to her feet. She pushes past some of the children and immediately latches onto Oikawa’s leg, moving behind him and using him as a shield from all the dark glares a group of children are giving her.

“O-Oikawa-san!” he hears the principal calling out as the teacher finally reaches the crowd.

“What’s going on here?” she asks and a boy points an accusing finger at Natsu.

“Sensei, she’s one of them! She’s one of those freaks!” the boy yells and Oikawa’s eyes widen. He feels Natsu’s hands cling tighter into the material of his slacks and he reaches behind to rest a hand on her head to calm her.

“T-Takeshi, calm down-” the teacher begins, but the boy shakes his head furiously and raises a fist.

“She’s one of those freaks! She tried to blow us up! I saw it with my own eyes!” he shouts and Oikawa narrows his eyes at the boy.

“N-No, I didn’t-” Natsu tries to speak up, and the boy takes a threatening step forward.

“Liar! Liar! I saw you! You’re one of those mutants! Like the ones the Avengers are all gonna throw in jail! They’re gonna throw you in jail!” the boy screams and Oikawa grits his teeth. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the principal looking at Natsu with an expression mixed of confusion and fear and absolute disgust. Just a few minutes ago, he was saying how adorable she was and now he dares to give her that look? Oikawa feels his blood boiling beneath his skin and his right hand trembles to make a fist.

“H-He said he was one too. I didn’t. . .I didn’t-” Natsu whimpers.

“Why would I want to be one of you freaks?! All you guys do is kill a bunch of people and destroy the city! My daddy says you’re all monsters and every single one of you needs to get put away!” the boy hollers.

“You said she tried to blow you up,” Oikawa speaks, trying to control the rage boiling in his chest, and crouches down to wrap an arm around Natsu. With his left hand, he places his palm over Natsu’s eyes while he raises up her wrist with the bracelet on it and rests his right finger on a button. “Did the blast look like this?”

He presses the button twice and a bright, stunning light flashes, temporarily blinding the few students crowded in close and stunning the teacher and principal. Oikawa looks away from the bright light and turns back towards the students. Some of them are on the ground, rubbing their eyes and trying to regain their vision, while others are screaming and crying at the sudden brightness.

“H-Hey! What do you think you’re doing?!” the principal yells, but Oikawa ignores him.

“Was that like the blast?” Oikawa questions again and the boy rubs his eyes, still trying to see.

“Y-Yeah, it was like that,” another child spoke up and Oikawa releases his hold on Natsu’s wrist and moves his other hand from Natsu’s eyes.

“It’s a stun ray used for only emergencies. She must have brushed against it when she was playing with you all,” Oikawa explains. Really, he knows that’s not the case. He only hopes that the child doesn’t question the particular color of the blast and only the intensity. If he brings up that the blast he seen is something like a colorful ‘firework’, Oikawa won’t be able to explain it away so easily.

But it seems to be enough to convince the teacher, since she quickly runs over and pulls the boy back.

“Yes, that must have been it,” the teacher says and bows her head. “We’re so sorry for the misunderstanding. Takeshi, apologize to his daughter,” the teacher chides and the boy bites the inside of his cheek. Oikawa gets to his feet and takes hold of Natsu’s hand.

“I don’t want to hear it. We’ll be leaving,” Oikawa says and begins to lead Natsu away. A hand clamps on his shoulder and he sees the principal glaring at him, no longer trying to sell Oikawa this ‘marvelous and perfect school’.

“You have a lot of nerve when your child incited fear in my students with that crazy bracelet. If anything, you should be the one apologizing for giving her that thing and almost blinding us!” the principal demands and Oikawa swats the man’s hand away.

“You think I should apologize when my daughter was the one on the ground getting attacked by a bunch of punks? That’s precisely what that bracelet is for, so she can protect herself,” Oikawa says and turns up his nose. “If you ask me, the only monsters around here are a greedy little gremlin with a bad toupee scamming people into believing this is the best education they can receive for their brats.”

The principal gapes and Oikawa squeezes Natsu’s hand tighter. He turns forward and continues to walk, not bothering to look back or listen to the principal’s screams and shouts. He gently rubs his thumb over the back of Natsu’s small hand and glances over her figure. Her dress is absolutely filthy and her beret has a small tear in it. The ribbons on her dress is undone and she has a small little cut on her cheek.

“We should hurry home so those stains won’t ruin your pretty dress,” Oikawa mentions, but Natsu doesn’t respond. Her head is turned downwards, not meeting Oikawa’s gaze. They don’t exchange any more words until they get inside the car waiting for them, J.A.R.V.I.S. deciding to take the longer route towards home and give Oikawa some time with Natsu.

Natsu is staring down at her hands, palms dirtied from being pushed down. Oikawa reaches into the inner pocket of his coat, and pulls out a handkerchief. He takes Natsu’s face gently into his hand and wipes away any bit of dirt on her cheeks along with the cut. He cleans Natsu’s hands as well, folding the handkerchief back up and placing it into his back pocket. Oikawa then tries to fix her bow and retie it. It’s sloppy, but it’s the best Oikawa can do.

“Ah,” he smiles, straining, “Daddy really needs to learn how to tie a proper bow, huh?”

“. . .He said he was one too,” Natsu murmurs. Her voice is quiet and it comes out weak and sorrowful. “I d-didn’t do anything bad. W-Why do they hate me?” she hiccups and looks up at Oikawa. Tears are falling from her amber eyes in huge drops that roll down her cheeks. Oikawa feels his heart twist into a tight ball and shatter in only a second.

“No, no princess, no one hates you,” he reassures and Natsu brings her hands to her eyes, as if they’ll somehow keep the tears from coming out.

“They do, they hate mutants. They hate m-me and Sho-chan and T-Tobio-chan,” Natsu cries and her words break out into a sob.

“J.A.R.V.I.S., stop the car,” Oikawa orders, undoing his seatbelt.

The car pulls off to the side of the road and parks as Oikawa pulls Natsu onto his lap and into his arms. He shushes her, whispers that things are going to be alright, but Natsu continues to cry and sniffle and weep into his chest. Oikawa holds her tighter and rocks her from side to side, trying to calm her down and reassure her that things are going to be okay.

He tells her that the Avengers aren’t going to come for her to take her away. He reassures her that people aren’t going to hunt Kageyama and her brother down. He tries and tries and tries to calm her down, but no words can help quell her fears.

It’s more than a parent trying to tell their child that the monster under their bed doesn’t exist, or that there’s no such thing as the boogeyman or some fictional monster that only exists on television. There are people that want the mutants gone, and they’re real. As badly as Oikawa wishes for Natsu to not know about the anti-mutant sentiments and the hatred of mutants stewing and waiting to erupt, it’s nothing more than a stupid wish to protect her. She knows. She knows and she’s afraid. And Oikawa feels helpless.

He rocks her and murmurs lullabies into her hair, waiting until she cries herself to sleep.

Oikawa sits with her for a while, looking down at the child that has now became his biggest responsibility. He failed to protect Iwaizumi, he failed to make Iwaizumi feel safe and secure. He’s not going to make the same mistake with Natsu. He’s going to protect her. He’s going to protect them both. No one’s going to hurt her. No one’s going to take someone so precious to him away ever again.

“. . .J.A.R.V.I.S.?” Oikawa calls out, quiet as to not disturb Natsu.

Yes sir? Are you ready to leave?” J.A.R.V.I.S. asks and Oikawa nods his head.

“Yes. . .and I need you to make a call.”

 


 

“May I be of assistance?” the chipper secretary asks and Oikawa smiles. He leans against the receptionist desk and rests his chin in the palm of his hands, throwing a wink for extra measure.

“I’m here to see Yamaguchi. Send him down,” Oikawa pleasantly demands. The secretary stills her movements and Oikawa can see the camera in her retinas expanding and shrinking.

“. . .Yamaguchi-san is unavailable. Please come back another time,” she answers in a happy voice, smile locked into place. Oikawa hums; he didn’t think the technology here at Yamaguchi Corps. was this advanced. Of course, Oikawa can do better, but this mediocre thing surely had his interest for about five seconds.

Oikawa reaches into his pocket and pulls out a black patch, pressing it onto the pads of his pointer and middle finger. He still has his eyes locked with that of the secretary’s, raising his hand to gently slide against her neck.

“Ah, you’re quite a beautiful woman~” Oikawa purrs, pressing the patch just along the back of her neck and making sure it sticks. He tilts his head to the side and grins. “Your creator must have spent a lot of time on you.”

“Oikawa Tooru of Aoba Johsai Enterprises, please le-bzzzzzzz” The receptionist’s eyes go black and she slumps forward, Oikawa looking to his watch on his other wrist and turning the dial to change the face. A mini-hologram displays itself before Oikawa’s eyes, showing the interface and AI controls for the secretary. Contact information, scheduled list of appointments and meetings, recent calls and calls still needing to be made. . .no information about if Yamaguchi is currently in the building or not.

“I’ll take a visitor’s pass, if you don’t mind,” Oikawa sing-songs, going into basic commands and functions. The secretary comes back to life at a touch of the button, turning with jagged movements to dig into her file cabinet and pull out a visitor’s book. She takes a stamp and marks the corner with the official seal of Yamaguchi Corps., then signs and dates underneath and holds out the pass and a key card to Oikawa.

“T-Thank-bzz-you and-bzzzzzzt-n-nice day,” she short-circuits, jaw not moving along with her words and face frozen in a stiff, empty smile. Oikawa takes the pass in between his fingers and smiles.

“Thank you!” he says, shaking the pass in a mocking taunt for any cameras stationed in the hall. He strides over to the first security door that he spots, swipes the card through the key access slot, and pushes it open nice and wide. Now, to find Yamaguchi.

Oikawa strolls through the empty hallways, glancing left and right through the windows of meeting rooms that have no one inside. It’s like a ghost town, eerily quiet and empty despite this company being a leading organization and minor competitor to his own business. His eyebrows furrow in confusion; where the hell is everybody? He was under the assumption that there would be hundreds of people running around developing technology like Yamaguchi made it sound like they were. Maybe it was a lie just to get Oikawa’s interest. If that’s the case, he might as well turn around and leave to take matters into his own hand.

Oikawa rounds the corner and freezes in his tracks when he nearly collides with a group of men just exiting out from the elevator. Half of them look just as startled and confused by his presence, while the other half look annoyed and irritated. There’s only one face in the crowd that is smiling at him, and they push forward to stand at the front and face to face.

“Oikawa Tooru,” Yamaguchi Goro says with a wry smile. “I believe our assistant said my son wasn’t taking any visitors,” he says. His tone is gentle and warm, like he’s talking to a child. It rubs Oikawa the wrong way and he doesn’t bother to hide that on his face. But, he doesn’t speak up to make a catty response. This is probably a better alternative to dealing with the younger and less experienced Yamaguchi anyways.

“Yeah, whatever,” Oikawa says offhandedly, looking the elder man in the eyes. “Your son’s project. I want in on it.”

Goro blinks, then his smile grows bigger. “What do you mean, Oikawa-kun?” he asks.

“The Sentinel Project. I want in. What, do you not know what your son is doing in your own company?” Oikawa spits. He feels himself getting annoyed just standing in the man’s presence. It’s a different type of annoyance than say, talking to Ushijima. With Ushijima, Oikawa knew the hero respected him in his own annoyingly blunt way. But with Goro, there’s something in his eyes that is teasing, like he knows a dirty little secret and Oikawa can’t know.

“I know about the Sentinel Project, Oikawa-kun,” Goro says slowly, “but why the sudden interest? I thought you told my son you’ll ‘think about it’.”

“Is it too late to join on the project?”

“No, but-”

“Then you don't need to know about why I’m suddenly interested. ‘I want to make the world a better place for everyone’, ‘I want world peace’, ‘I want the fame and glory’, pick one. I don’t care. I have a checkbook and the ideas to make it happen, so can I join or not?” Oikawa asks in rapid-fire succession. He’s going to make things better for Natsu. He’s going to make things right for Natsu and Iwaizumi.

If this project is supposed to assist the mutant population like Yamaguchi told him, then he wants it brought to life. He’ll do whatever it takes to make Natsu feel safe again.

Goro chuckles to himself. “Such tenacity,” he compliments and cocks his head to the side. “I like that in a business partner,” he says with a grin and sticks his hand out for Oikawa to shake. Oikawa grasps his hand for a brief second, then releases it just as quick and lets his hand fall back to his side.

“When do we start?” Oikawa asks.

Goro laughs. “These things take time, Oikawa-kun. Budgets, labor distribution, other business partners. Not to mention that with my son on sick leave like this, there might be a few hiccups with the project’s direction,” he says and claps his hand on Oikawa’s shoulder. It’s heavy and when he squeezes his shoulder, its uncomfortably tight.

“Have patience, Oikawa-kun. We’ll discuss this project together at a later date, alright?” he asks with that smile of his. Oikawa scoffs, swatting his hand away with a scowl etched over his lips. Goro doesn’t seem to pay Oikawa’s sour attitude any mind, tilting his head to the side.

“Well, my associates and I are leaving for a meeting. If you would be so kind as to return that clearance card that you stole, it would be much appreciated,” Goro says, holding out his hand expectantly. Oikawa ‘hmphs’ and drops the card in the elder man’s open palm, slipping his hands back into the pockets of his blazer.

“I’ll have my assistant call you to talk details about the project. If I don’t feel your response is happening quick enough, I won’t hesitate to take matters into my own hands,” Oikawa says with a venomous smile. Goro hums, rubbing his chin.

“Then I’ll have someone get in touch with your assistant right away. Iwaizumi Hajime, correct?” Goro asks. Oikawa bristles for a split second, but doesn’t let his expression falter on his face. He runs a hand through his hair, fingertips only mildly trembling.

“He’s on sick leave as well. Kunimi Akira is standing in for him as my personal assistant,” Oikawa says. Goro raises an eyebrow in slight intrigue, though Oikawa can’t fathom why.

“Really? Such a shame, he seemed to be such a capable assistant too. Almost like he was the one that ran the company instead of you,” Goro says and laughs. Oikawa gives one flat ‘ha ha ha’, eyebrows pulling downwards.

Goro gives a wave of his hand and nods his head. “Well, we’ll be in touch, Oikawa-kun. Don’t worry,” he says. With that, he and his men push past Oikawa towards the exit, some pushing him along with them so he can hurry up and get out of their way. Oikawa grits his teeth and clicks his tongue, adjusting his suit from being jostled around by the crowd.

Oikawa watches them file out through the small door, till the only one in the hallway is him. If he decides to linger, security will surely come looking for him and personally escort him out. He brings his fingertips to his lips, thinking hard about what is going to happen. He’ll have to be careful not to draw any attention to himself by S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention that he’s going to have to monitor the progress of this project himself and make sure that things are going his way in the matter.

He closes his eyes and hums. If Iwaizumi were here, he’d tell Oikawa that there is nothing to be concerned about. Or maybe even try to talk him out of continuing through with this project because something in Goro’s eyes and his smile just says trouble.

But this is an easier way for Oikawa to implement a mass protection of mutants without S.H.I.E.L.D. finding out he had a hand in it. He knows how to erase his tracks and delete the evidence; Yamaguchi Corps. is basically his dummy corporation to conduct the projects he wants without having to even spend most of his money. His only concern is Goro getting in the way of his ambitions, but he’ll deal with that obstacle the moment it arises.

For now, Oikawa strolls to the exit with his hands in his pockets, his head held high and ideas swirling around in his mind like the hurricane he’s about to unleash.