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Toshinori traveled a lot. 

 

By train, by rooftops, by sidewalks, by cabs. From dawn till dusk, just going wherever he can, but never too far from home. 

 

Today, he was traveling by bus. To where? He doesn't know, he never does, just until he spots crime and can swoop in to save the day once more. He needs to build reputation, afterall, if he wants to become the symbol of peace that Japan needs, the one to defeat the bogeyman of the underground, 

 

The symbol of peace Nana had always hoped for him to be. 

 

He turns the corner, and comes to a stop next to the pole and waiting bench, sighing heavily as he glances to each side of the road and catches no sight of the bus. 

 

He could walk around more, knowing how impatient he is and get in his morning exercise… but it's too early and his bones are too sore from training and hero work of the previous day, so he'll have to stay put if he wants a tiny little break. 

 

The bus arrives after a few minutes, just when Toshinori was contemplating leaving. He sighs in relief when he steps in and it's mostly empty up the front. He pays and walks to the closest open seat, falling heavily with a groan, not seeing the figure beside him startle. His legs ache from having to hold up his own weight, and keeping his neck craned to hide his face more left a nasty sore. He threw his head back and rubbed his nape, digging his fingers into his flesh and relishing the relieving pain. God, he's barely in his twenties and already on the path to developing chronic joint pain. He squints his eyes open, blearily seeing the scenery behind the window across him begin to blur as the bus begins to move. 

 

He almost wanted to fall asleep and take a break for once, swaying to the side a little, but a small hand on his arm and an "excuse me" snapped him right out of it and he turned to the person beside him, finally noticing them. 

 

A girl. She looked to be an adolescent with her round face, short green hair and small body, but her green eyes were wide and staring him down almost menacingly. They seemed almost haunted and with melancholy, like they've seen decades worth of tragedies but are still trying to keep its spark. She seemed exhausted and hunched over herself, and he looked down and… 

 

Oh

 

He scoots away quickly, letting the girl have her space and stammers out apologies after realizing just how close he'd sat to her. Fuck, he invaded a pregnant woman's space. Her belly isn't too big, just a curved slope she holds tenderly but it's there and he had made her uncomfortable. She's so small next to him too, he's a giant compared to her- she may have felt almost threatened with how close he got. 

 

She nods to him, accepting his apologies without a word and turns her gaze away, smoothing her yellow dress over her belly absently. Her shoulders are straighter, and she's almost leaning away from him, curling into herself. 

 

Toshinori feels awkward at the silence, shame and embarrassment making his face burn. He should fix his mistake, let her know she's alright and that he wouldn't hurt her or her baby she's nurturing. Just because he hadn't intended to make her feel that way, he did, especially when she's in such a vulnerable state. He should clear the tension, with a casual conversation! Surely, it'll break the ice… 

 

He clears his throat, "s-so- how far along? Are you? " he mentally smacks himself. Way to go Toshi! Asking her something so personal! In such a broken voice! He squirms, ready to jump out the bus. He's going to be the number one hero yet he can't have a normal conversation!? Going to be the greatest hero but is causing trouble instead? 

 

"I'm in my last trimester actually, eight months. " He's caught off guard by how proud she sounds suddenly, and turns to her in shock once he processes her words. She sits straight, subtle smile on her face and her eyes slit almost mischievously. Her front had changed so quickly- just a second ago she'd looked scared, now she's just proud. 

 

It confused him, though only momentarily. 

 

"Eh?? You're that far along? But your bump is so small! '' Of course, not that small, but smaller than Nana had been during her pregnancy with her son. Her belly had been much larger and rounder. The young woman is barely average height, and if she's as far along as she claims she should've looked like she swallowed a beachball… 

 

The tension has seemed to have faded from her, and now she's just sitting there, calm and soothed. Clearly, she is very happy to talk about her upcoming child. 

 

Maybe it's just a her thing. Calming at the first sight of genuine curiosity and kindness. He's much the same, really. Nana had said he was too trusting… and she's been proven right many times, but this young girl? young woman? Harmless it seems. 

 

"I know. My doctor was worried that he wasn't getting enough from me, too. He's just a little guy it seems." Her hands rub her belly softly, the light in her eyes just a little brighter and Toshinori can tell just how much she loves her unborn child already. 

 

He smiles; Nana was the same. She had no other family, so her child was her world and joy. This girl seemed the same. Was her son the only family she'll have too? She's not wearing a ring, and hasn't made a single comment about a possible boyfriend so she may be all alone… 

 

It leaves a bittersweet taste in her mouth.

 

"I've never mentioned this to anyone, but you're a stranger, so I guess it's okay if I tell you. " she says it so seriously, her expression once again carefully blank and it makes him shiver at the sudden change again. 

 

"I never had a good parental figure, and I'm honestly scared I won't be what he needs." She frowns, "I know I chose to have him, I know I love him so much already, but I can't help but feel regret, you know? He'll be my one and only child I'll ever have, and I don't want to mess him up. I don't want him to end up alone like I did. "

 

His heart hurts. 

 

So many similarities between her and Nana. These doubts, he's heard them all before. The worry, the regret, the sacrifices that may be made. He was too young and too focused on himself back then to truly hear out Nana and provide her reassurance, and it cost her feeling like her son would be better off without her in the end. He's older, and he understands only a little, but offers her comfort. 

 

Just a little reassurance goes a long way, he believes. 

 

"I think, " he gives her his softest smile, "That you'll be an amazing mother. You worry for him and he hasn't even been born yet, and I think it's good enough proof to know that your child will never feel alone." She stares, and the tears well in her eyes and fall down her freckled cheeks. He's afraid he's hurt her more than comforted her, but she smiles at him. He stays silent after that, reaching to rub her back. 

 

The fact that she's crying over this -trying to repress it even- makes his heart twist. Is this just a normal reaction from her? But she had said she told no one of her anxieties… Did she mean she had no one at all? She's having a child with no support? Was she suppressing all of these fears? 

 

Before he can say anything more, ask her for her name and offer to be her support the bus comes to a stop for the third time. She quickly rubbed her face and stood up with a grunt, swatting his hand away when he tried to help her up. "Thank you for your company." she says it curt and with no room for response. She hobbled out the bus with one last smile to him. 

 

And she's gone. 

 

The bus moves again and Toshinori is left alone.

 

What just happened? 

 

They were having a moment, suddenly she changed again and left. He was going to offer to stand by her side as a friend. She would have fit right in with the group of friends he had now. He could have protected her too. He could have protected her child too. 

 

but could he have really

 

He clenched his fists. 

 

She didn't give her name, didn't give him a form of contact and he didn't recognize her anyway. She just didn't want to get close to anyone it seems. Was she new? Had she recently moved to the city?

 

Was she trying to start anew? The shadows in her eyes were so dark… 

 

So many questions he had about her, but she was gone now. They would have to go unanswered. 

 

Such a strange person. Someone trying to be a good one for her child. Struggling with her own demons. 

 

He took out his phone and checked the time. 

 

Had their encounter really only lasted half an hour? 

 

 

He kept an eye out for her. Tried to remember every feature of hers but the flickers of green in the crowds he spotted were never the right shade. Every once in a while, he thinks he's finally seen her, but then a villain drags his attention away. Every time. 

 

He becomes engrossed with hero work. His reputation skyrockets, suddenly everyone needs him and wants him and he's overwhelmed.

 

He forgets about her. 

 

 

The USJ incident left him sore and injured, and with an even shorter limit, but ultimately okay enough to leave the office by noon.  

 

He shuffled across the Hall to the principal's office, careful not go jostle himself too much. He was going to give his report of the incident, knowing Nedzu would appreciate any detail the other heroes and students may have missed, especially since he was the one to actually send that thing away from the building. 

 

His heart twisted at the memory of the damage caused by that thing. 

 

Aizawa had been targeted and mangled so horribly it's a miracle he's still fighting to live. Kurose had tried to keep the mist villain at bay but instead had to suffer her own quirk being turned against her. They had fought so hard to protect the students and keep the villains at bay. They'd been attacked so harshly and wounded so badly…they put their lives on the line only because he wasn't there to fight instead. It was supposed to be his battle, they were there for him, but he wasn't there

 

He could have easily left some of the incidents he'd come across to other heroes. He could have actually been there as planned with an hour or two to spare. Kurose and Aizawa wouldn't be in critical care fighting to live, the students wouldn't have been traumatized, his protégé wouldn't have tried to throw herself in the line of fire had he been there. 

 

What he could only assume to be the legacy of All for One has surfaced for revenge, and he wasn't there for the first attack. 

 

It really all comes down to him doesn't it? 

 

It's always him. 

 

He's taken out of his moping by faint yelling, and it takes him another second to realize it's coming from Nedzu's office. 

 

What

 

He walks faster, feeling One for All simmer under his skin. No one besides the students and faculty had been allowed inside, the families picking up their children were made to wait outside because of the attack. 

 

Panic settles. 

 

Had a villain managed to escape to the main building?

 

He slows, thinking for a second. 

 

The cameras in the main building are still fully intact, and Nedzu had said there's plenty of defense systems in place to eradicate any threat on sight. Had he allowed this person in? Does he know them personally? 

 

The voice becomes clearer as he reaches the door. It's a female, and she must really have a set of lungs if he could have heard her yards away… And she must be furious…

 

"-ou don't want me all over your rat ass for the next decade, Cancel it! "

 

"Please, listen-"

 

"No! You listen!"

 

Yikes… she must really be that important or dangerous if even Nedzu hesitates…

 

His hand trembles, but he grips the handle and pushes the door open carefully. All noise quiets down as he steps in fully, closing the door behind him. 

 

Nedzu sits still in his chair, paws flat on the desk and his usual smile gone. His fur is bristled, his ear twitching and it makes Toshinori shiver. His eyes move to the woman standing in front of the desk and… 

 

He's pretty sure he only kinda remembered her because of how often he thought of Nana, and this woman was the one who he had thought shared some resemblance to Nana the most, back then. 

 

The only change he saw in her was her now flat stomach. 

 

Other than that, she was exactly the same as he remembered. 

 

…Does he remember her correctly? Is he sure it's her? It's been so long, maybe 30 years, or a little over…his memory might be failing him… 

 

But the slightest flash of recognition in her eyes made his doubts shrivel a bit. Does she recognize him? In his small form? But as the man from before or a hero? No, maybe she just recognized him from one of his grocery runs, he never really paid attention to other civilians around him, mostly just focusing on winding down from such a long day. Maybe he's just mistaken her for someone else, too. It could be very possible. 

 

She straightens, her face losing its scowl but her eyes harbor a deep fire of fury, eyebrows drawn together. Nedzu clears his throat, his fur smoothing out and his smile plastered on once more. 

 

"What brings you into my office, Yagi?" His voice comes out painfully polite, strained and barely restraining the frustrated undertone. It scares him honestly, he's never seen Nedzu so close to losing his composure.  

 

"I, ah, wanted to have a discussion, but I can leave, seeing as you're quite busy. "

 

They glance at each other, glares hardening, daring each other to say a word. 

 

The woman opens her mouth first, much to the disdain of the principal's. 

 

"Seeing as you're already here, why don't you stay, All Might. " She says his hero name like it's the most vile thing she's ever heard and it makes him flinch harshly. She knew who he was. 

 

"Izumi-"

 

Nedzu speaks up, clipped and angry but she- Izumi downright snarls back, and Nedzu backs down. 

 

He stumbles over the couch to the left of the desk, chocking out, "how did you know?"

 

She softened only a little, turning her gaze to him, "it's not hard to recognize that stupid blonde hair of yours. How anyone else doesn't realize is beyond me." Well, she does have a point… all he does is slick back his hair and bangs for his hero front, nothing else… 

 

Her gaze hardens, "Now that you're here, we might as well address another issue involved in our main topic of discussion." Oh, fuck, "Why don't you tell me yourself," he can't help but cower before her, "just what was so important that you neglected to follow through and attend your very first school trip and be there for the children at USJ?" She stalks away from the desk, and he sees from the corner of his eye Nedzu fidgeting. 

 

He already thought of this earlier, and he knew exactly what she would say to his response. 

 

Though, it does feel quite humiliating, being scolded like a child by this unchanging force, so he attempted to straighten himself out, "there were a few villain encounters on my way to the school, and I didn't realize how grave my mistake was, then."

 

Her eyebrows raise, and he regrets answering because a vein pops out her forehead. "I'm so glad we seem to be on the same page then." Her voice is a little high, but does nothing to cover how furious she is. 

 

"So you understand how you nearly cost the lives of both the heroes present, and how the students had been forced to fight back -inexperienced, mind you- to survive a wave of hundreds of individuals who were all very capable of killing every single one of them had they not been quick to defend themselves?"

 

Her short fingernail tapped the hardwood desk. 

 

"You understand how fucked up it was for your protégé -a 15 year old Adolecent- to have no sense of self preservance and put her own life on the line to save a teacher she only knew for 4 days?"

 

That stung. He already thought about all of this, but hearing someone else point out his mistakes and the consequences of it made him feel so much worse about both his heroic and mentorship skills. 

 

"Do you realize what kind of target you painted on her? On the students? You becoming part of this school's staff painted a huge target on the school itself. You saw what happened on the second day, if you didn't you at least heard about it. Anything could have happened after that, and it happened today. You weren't there like those villains had believed because you neglected this job."

 

Suddenly, she turned to Nedzu, stalking right back to his desk. 

 

"You should have hired extra security when that happened, sent another hero or two with them, you should have outright cancelled the trip. But you didn't, you chose to remain ignorant because you'd rather feel in control of every single situation that comes across you than to admit things are slipping through your grimy paws." 

 

She tsks when Nedzu says nothing in retaliation. 

 

"Since these specific students had been targeted now and with the ring leader out there planning his next attack, we absolutely cannot risk hosting that damn Sports Festival. An event where they'll be allowed to use their quirks to the fullest potential and their personal names will be released to the entirety of Japan. Where their weaknesses will be exploited and used against them in the future. I'll have you know, Nedzu, "

 

She leans in dangerously close to the rat's snout, and Toshinori eyes the thick nails that retract from those big paws, scraping the wood. As much as Nedzu must be hating this, Toshinori agrees with her.

 

He never really liked the sports Festival and the huge disadvantage it put all the heroes to be in. He suffered a lot in the beginning, villains able to use his flaws to their advantage, and while he had gotten better, he still struggles even now when he faces certain villain fans. 

 

What is recorded is forever on the internet, and the people will never forget. Why it's been allowed for years he'll never know. 

 

"My son is only lucky he hasn't faced so much worse as the kind of hero he chose to be because I have power, I have connections everywhere with all sorts of people and have many favors to cash in. Even then I can't save him from all the pure evil in the world."

 

She sounds more anguished there, and he sees the hesitation in Nedzu's expression. 

 

Just what kind of woman is she? To claim she's above them all with power even Nedzu doesn't have? To be able to give her supposed hero child a shield of near invincibility to keep him sane and safe? To be able to crack through Nedzu? 

 

"These kids and their families don't have anything near to what I do. Why do you think the death rate of heroes coming from this school is so high, even if they last longer than any other school? They can't just outgrow these flaws that they'll expose with a snap of a finger immediately after. They will get recognition out of this no matter how far from flashy they are, and they'll be out there in the streets trying to be teenagers, high off pride and the next hour- dead. "

 

He's never seen such a hateful and resigned look from the rat. 

 

Swallowing truths is difficult. 

 

"I'll call the commission on your behalf, I'll fight even the whole government if they get involved, I'll even apply for a job here as your right hand woman since you clearly aren't capable on your own without an actual human mind as your source of reason." A low blow, and Toshinori winces. "This festival will not happen. You owe me Nedzu, let me have this and let me protect these students." The anger isn't gone, but it's duller, mixed in with something else, something softer because her face loses its glare and replaces it with a small disappointed frown. 

 

He thinks he can pick up the underlying message she had for Nedzu in her last sentence, even if it's not explicitly said. After all the cussing and yelling, he guessed it was probably the only way the principal would actually hear someone out and let himself be helped. 

 

Though, he would never try and poke a clearly sensitive subject for anything, not like she could. 

 

Nedzu says nothing, meeting her gaze in challenge briefly before backing down in defeat, claws retracting and ears pulled back in submission. Now he just looked tired and somber. Someone who's had too much on his plate with too high expectations. He looks regretful

 

She reached out and gently ruffled the top of his furry head, and Toshinori nearly choked because Nedzu hates touch. He had made it a point to never touch him in any sort of way unless they want to be severely punished, but here he is, accepting the touch without a peep. 

 

Here, Toshinori realizes they must be much closer than he initially assumed. To have such a heated argument, followed by a soft intimate moment? 

 

He feels uncomfortably out of place suddenly. 

 

"This doesn't get out of this office, understood?" She speaks to him so scarily Toshinori can't help but nod frantically. Sure, he'd also been dragged into her tongue lashing, but it was mainly a conversation between her and Nedzu, one that he intruded in. 

 

She waves her hand with a smile, and he takes it as a dismissal. It seems they'll have a more private, quieter conversation, one he will not be allowed to sit through by the looks of it. 

 

He goes to leave, but just as he is about to step out she calls to him, "by the way, I never apologized for just leaving you on that bus, right? I'm sorry. " he whips his head around, and her smile is just a tad cheeky. 

 

He nods and shuts the door behind him. 

 

He's overwhelmed, and on autopilot he makes his way out the building. 

 

He crashes into the safety of his bed and dreams of nothing.