It do be that time my dudes.
Though before we move onto reading, I just wanna clarify cos a bunch of you guys were confused, that Gabriel does indeed have a child and that child is on earth somewhere. I apologize for not making it clearer in the text.
So yeah. Izuku has 1 (one) confirmed cousin.
So, with that varified, let's move on to reading!
"You know what they call a royale with cheese in America?" Toshinori turned to look at Aizawa, the wind casually blowing his hair back. The day was hot and humid, a typical summer's day in Japan, but Aizawa had decided that it wasn't so hot as to drive blasting the air conditioning. The day was nice, and they should enjoy it while it lasted, hence they had decided to open the windows, and let the air flow naturally.
Aizawa kept his eyes on the road, one hand on the wheel of the car, the other casually resting on the open window. "They don't call it a royale with cheese?"
"No, they've got the imperial measurements over there, they don't know what a royale with cheese is."
"What'd they call it?"
"A quarter pounder with cheese."
Aizawa frowned and gave his companion a quick glance. "A quarter pounder with cheese?" He paused, taking the wheel with two hands to turn a corner. "What'd they call sushi?"
"Sushi is just sushi, but I didn't find a single place that served takoyaki."
Aizawa frowned again. "What'd they call katsudon?"
"Couldn't find that either."
"You're telling me."
The car began to slow down and, carefully, Aizawa pulled into a parking space set just off the main road.
"Speaking of depressing."
Toshinori's words hung in the air as the two sat in his rather stylish, black sports car. Toshinori had lovingly called the vehicle 'Hercules' as it'd been designed to take a serious beating and to quickly react any time he had needed to transform and jump out.
Aizawa had to admit, it was a rather nice car, and he wasn't even a car guy. The leather was cool against his back, and the sleek, black steel of the vehicle gave it a sharp edge that he could appreciate.
Aizawa had always chosen more sensible cars. Ones with good electrical mileage and nice charging times. Hisashi had always called him boring because of it, but he hadn't complained whenever they had needed to escape out of a hairy situation and ol' reliable had been there to get them smoothly to the nearest hospital or hero safehouse.
Toshinori's car looked like something you'd see racing down a highway at midnight, being driven by some twenty-something high off their face on coke. It looked like something Hawks would-
No. Not Hawks. Azrael. The Archangel Azrael.
Aizawa frowned at the thought. Part of his brain still couldn't believe it. It couldn't wrap itself around the idea that everything he had cast aside was false. And, perhaps worse, it still didn't answer some of his more pressing questions.
After all, Hell and Heaven were real places, with real Fallen and Archangels to rule them. But that didn't actually answer anything. Was any one religion the true religion? Was any one path the correct path? And if there were, what did that mean for the others?
If God was real, truly real, what were they doing letting something like the War of Tokyo happen?
In a strange way, discovering the mind-blowing knowledge that Hell and Heaven were real only reinforced his belief that God, in all their might and power, didn't really care about him. Or any of them.
That even if they existed, there was no real point in worshipping them because they wouldn't help you anyway.
Aizawa looked up out of his musing and turned to Toshinori.
The man looked like a wreck. There was a bandage around his head, one arm was in a sling and the other wrapped tight in its own bandages. Both his eyes were ringed with a deep purple bruising, and he knew under the man's baggy clothes were even more bandages, cuts, bruises, and wounds.
He had been beaten up when he'd fought Nemesis, and he knew that his previous fight with All For One had almost finished him, but this…
He didn't need to explain what. He was sure that Toshinori would understand. The man nodded slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, I know."
His blonde-haired companion turned and looked over to the apartment block. They were sitting outside, parked up to the pavement. Before them, the huge, grey-concrete building with 'No.2' on the side stood before them. Others, appropriately numbered one to four, stood beside it.
A pleasant little green space was set between them, providing a few trees and allotments for the residents to use as gardens. Most seemed to grow flowers, others grew vegetables. One old woman was sat on her balcony, reading, but others were either empty or decorated with charms, wind chimes, or in one case, a large flag in the Imperial Japan style and 'Meta Liberation For All' written on it.
Aizawa frowned at that. Fucking quirk-fascists.
But within apartment block number two, in apartment seventy-four, lived Inko and Izuku Midoriya.
Next to the last people on their list to visit concerning the application of the dorm system.
In the wake of the camp attack and the War of Tokyo, they had given the students an extra week off to recover.
A week. Just one week to get over the worst terrorist attack in their county's history. A terrorist attack. Aizawa had almost laughed at that. The real truth was that they had only just fought back an invasion of monsters brought up from the depth of myth and nightmares.
They were lucky to get away with a 'terrorist attack'.
Well, not everyone had been lucky, of course.
He knew he'd been held back because he was recovering from his own injury. That, and Lucifer had been concerned about what might happen should he use his quirk on the 'Celestials'. It could do nothing. It could do something. Either way, he'd be a major target for the villains.
It was better he had stayed back and acted as though the human world was not aware of the gravity of it all.
Aizawa still wondered if that had been the right move. He could have gone out and fought, even if Hisashi would have killed him for doing so. He could be so emotional sometimes, but then again, he had always been like that.
Ever since Oboro…
No. That was the past. He was dwelling too much because he didn't want to face Izuku and Inko.
He needed to stop running from the now.
"Alright. Let's do this." He turned suddenly, unlocking the door, and stepping out. This clearly caught his companion off guard because it was only a few moments later that Toshinori came scrambling out. He looked like an overgrown stick insect as he practically uncurled himself from the vehicle.
That was probably another reason why the usually modest man had bought the sporty boy-racer car. It was long, and therefore he could stretch his six-foot-something frame out.
"Wait, wait, shouldn't we think of something to say?"
"What's there to say? We know about Izuku's true parentage. We need to be frank and open. Dancing around the topic will only make confronting it worse."
"What do you want, Toshinori?" Aizawa stopped, turned, and looked back to the gangly, gaunt man. "What else can we do?"
Toshinori opened his mouth, then closed it again. He wanted to say something, clearly, but it seemed he was unable to argue with Aizawa's blunt-force logic. Still, he seemed to chew his lip for a second before adding. "Alright, but if you will, let me do most of the talking. I… I have some things to apologize for."
Aizawa considered it for a moment, then nodded.
The walk up to the apartment was in silence, and Aizawa couldn't help but feel as though everything was painfully normal about the place. For some, foolish reason he had expected to see demons guarding the entrance or weird symbols written on the walls. He'd expected some sign that the devil himself kept an eye on this place.
But then again, he supposed if he was going to quietly guard something, he wouldn't make it obvious either.
They reached the door, and Aizawa felt his guts tighten a little. He knew, out of all the parents they were going to talk to, that Inko Midoriya would be the toughest.
She had the most to accuse them of, after all.
Toshinori knocked, and the two stood, side by side, completely in silence, before Aizawa heard someone padding towards the door from the other side. It opened a crack, and Izuku's wide, pagan-green eyes were suddenly blinking up at them.
"Hey, problem child." Aizawa greeted without a smile. "Mind if we come in?"
"Aizawa-sensei? All Might-sensei?" The door opened wider and Aizawa couldn't help but grimace internally.
The boy arms were dotted with gauze and band-aids, as were his legs. There was a band-aid over his nose and a one hiding under the mess of hair over his forehead.
His scars clearly flashed with an azure blue before he opened the door wider. "H-Hi! I didn't- I mean- you can come in! Sure!"
"Izuku? Who is it?" Inko Midoriya's voice called out from another room, and before Aizawa was even within the doorway, Izuku was replying.
"It's Aizawa-sensei and All Might-sensei from school!"
The pause that followed was very, very telling.
Already Aizawa felt a cold hand grip his spine. He had felt less nervous going into fistfights with monsters three stories tall.
Izuku was a lantern of bright joy in what was clearly a land of darkness, generated by the cold fury of a woman who had her son failed twice by the same school. He smiled as the two teachers began to remove their shoes, clearly glad just to see them.
Then Inko came around the corner.
Aizawa made eye contact only once, and then looked away, pretending to focus on untying his laces.
Lucifer had been hard to look at. Even now, even after everything, the memory of the thing he had looked upon in that meeting room was burned into his memory, as if it had happened only a minute ago. He doubted he would ever be able to forget it.
Looking upon the King of Hell was like looking upon every nightmare, every doubt, and every fear he'd ever had. Darkness itself had worshipped him, literally. He had seen shadows caress his wings and bow away from his every movement in absolute reverence. And that was only one manifestation of the celestial being. What he'd read in reports, people going mad as they had looked upon something vast and terrifying fighting above them.
The word 'wolf' and 'dragon' had been mentioned a lot. It brought to mind the true form of Nemesis, but he imagined it was even more intense, even more unholy.
And yet the last thing he had expected was to see that very same darkness within the eyes of Inko Midoriya.
The plump, short, harmless woman who looked as though she'd be scared of hurting a fly.
Her eyes… her anger…
God, it was even in her voice.
"Come into the dining room, if you please."
There was no argument to be had there. It was a command. He couldn't even leave because he was sure that his body wouldn't let him. Or maybe whatever hidden demons he had passed in the corridor might just turn on him, at the command of this woman.
As Aizawa entered the dining room, taking a seat by the small table with Toshinori sitting to his side, he again looked at Inko Midoriya.
He had wondered, albeit briefly, why a being as strong, as unbelievably powerful as Lucifer, had picked her to father a child with.
He didn't wonder anymore.
She sat across from him with the regal grace of a Queen. There was no other way to describe it. Her back was straight, her chin held high, her eyes blazing with the cold fury of a woman wronged.
She was a Queen. A Queen who had seen terrible, unbelievable darkness… and had stayed with it. Adapted to it. Maybe even loved it.
Behind her, clearly catching on to the mood in the room and becoming nervous by it, was Izuku. He rubbed at one bandaged arm, his eyes darting between his mother and the teachers.
That at least calmed some nerves. Despite the unholiness of his power and the darkness that always seemed to be a part of the boy's aura, Izuku was still… Izuku. The awkward, nervous, but ultimately brave and good-hearted boy he had been when he'd first joined his class.
He cried a lot less now, and clearly had more confidence in himself and his abilities, but that core was still there. That heart.
It was something that his father, that his extended family, clearly didn't have a lot of.
He wondered if it was something his mother lacked too.
The silence seemed to stretch almost to breaking point before Toshinori finally replied. "Miss Midoriya I-"
They had spoken to a lot of parents throughout the day. He had been accused of incompetence by some, seen in a more sympathetic light by others. The overall census, however, was that they had done their best. That their system needed improvement, but that overall, they had won a terrifying battle against an opponent that had been strong enough to end All Might's career.
That alone lent them a lot of weight in arguing for the dorm system. These were villains targeting heroes after all, or at least, they seemed like they were.
But none had delivered such a weighted blow as Inko Midoriya.
Because he knew, deep in his heart, that it was the truth.
"Yes," Toshinori replied before Aizawa could. His tone was brutally honest, and flat with the knowledge of everything he had done, and not done, to keep Izuku safe. "I did."
"Both of you." Her eyes drifted from the taller man to the shorter. Aizawa felt an ice burg go sailing down his spine. She could murder him with that look. "Your entire school has failed my son."
"Yes, we know," Toshinori spoke again, his head bowing low.
"All Might-sensei! Aizawa-sensei! You didn't-"
"Izuku, please," Inko ordered without turning her head. "Don't try to cover for their failures."
The hair stood up on the back of his neck as he heard the softly echoing tone of Nemesis. Nemesis sounded just like Izuku did, though with an echoing, unholy, and slightly more guttural tone.
And it was the first time, he quietly realized, that he had seen the darker side of his student speak openly through Izuku's lips. He had suspected it was possible for a long time, especially after the exam, but he had never outwardly caught the boy in the act.
Now that all the cards had been laid on the table, he supposed there was no more need for hiding the truth.
"They fought like lions. We saw them."
"Izuku." Inko turned and locked her gaze onto her son. Izuku shrunk back.
It turned out that he wasn't the only person in the world whose stare could stop Nemesis.
The boy's gaze turned to focus intently on his own feet, and he kept his mouth closed for the moment.
Inko turned her eyes back to the men. Her pupils, the exact same pagan green as Izuku's, blazed with a fire that was almost akin to the flame Izuku could summon. It was a destroyer wrath. A hellflame that would devour anything in its path.
It was the anger of a mother who had placed the welfare of her child in men and had been betrayed.
"You promised me." She began with a shaking voice. "You promised me, All Might."
All Might couldn't keep her gaze. How could anyone? They had let her down. They had let the enemy take her child. They had almost let him die in some mad, terrible experiment to tear the world in two.
How could they ever hold her gaze ever again?
"I know. And I know my apology will not be enough."
"Your damn right it won't be enough." Inko's hand, which she had placed on the table once she had turned back to the teachers, curled into a tight fist. The rational part of Aizawa's mind told him that this was nothing. She was a woman who was barely five foot nothing and was rounded with years of motherhood and anxiety.
And yet that fist scared him.
None of the other parents they had met had hurt them. Well, no, Kodai, the old monk who looked after Fumikage, had whacked them both with his cane with such lightning speed and hidden strength that Aizawa had wondered if he was just pretending to be old.
But that wasn't a real attempt to hurt them. That was just to punish them for being idiots and not opening their eyes to the dangers around them.
Inko, however. Inko looked as though she would hurt them.
It was utterly irrational. He knew she couldn't hurt them.
And yet he felt an ice-cold fear grip his guts. Perhaps she couldn't do anything to harm them. But she was the mother of the Prince of Hell, and clearly had always been held in high regard by Lucifer himself.
It was what she could call upon that was the true danger.
"You promised me that my son would be safe. That you would help him become a hero, to achieve his dreams." Her breathing was short, sharp. Aizawa could almost see the vein popping at her temple. "And you let him down. Again. You let that… that monster kidnap him."
"Mum!" Izuku suddenly cut in, surprising the adults. Aizawa looked back to the demonic-looking boy with wide eyes, watching as he frowned at his mother. "That's not true!"
"No!" He snapped again. "I won't- they did everything they could! It's not fair of you to-"
It wasn't Inko who spoke now, but Toshinori. Both the Midoriya's looked to the tall, gangly man, though Inko's gaze was far more hateful than Izuku's.
"She's not wrong. I wasn't there. I should have taken the trip to the forest camp."
"That would have been a mistake. If they didn't capture Izuku, they would have captured you." Aizawa glanced at him. They'd discussed this before. "We were mistaken in thinking you were their original target. Though we should have had better security, but," and his eyes moved to Izuku, "we did not know what we were truly up against."
"Are you blaming my son for not telling you about Lucifer? About the Celestials?" Inko's voice quaked. "How dare you-"
"I am not blaming Izuku for anything." Aizawa cut in, injecting his voice with an iron edge he didn't truly feel. "I'm blaming his father. I'm blaming Lucifer."
There was another heavy silence, though it did not last long. Within it, however, he heard the soft intake of breath from Izuku. Aizawa supposed that the boy had to know All Might had been told, but not himself.
"He had his reasons." Inko hissed quietly. "You saw the enemies he had."
"His own siblings." Aizawa gave a small, curt nod. "They're dangerous creatures."
"I only saw a bit of their power," Toshinori spoke in a small voice. "But they were clearly more powerful than even myself in my prime. If I had been forced to fight Satani without knowing…"
"Lucifer, whether he intended to or not, placed Izuku in danger by not being more open to us all about the enemies he had, enemies that were knowingly targeting your son." Aizawa announced in a sharp tone. He ignored the look that Izuku gave him, the way his eyes narrowed a little, and his hands, formally fidgeting with his tail, stopped, and curled tight.
"You could argue that we wouldn't have believed him, or that he was attempting to cover Izuku himself to avoid dragging others into their war, but from what I've now seen, I think that's all bullshit."
Toshinori's head turned so fast his hair whipped around his face. His eyes were huge and staring in shock.
"I think he did it because he was too proud to call for help. Especially not from us, mere mortals at the bottom of whatever food chain they exist on." Aizawa's eyes narrowed tight. "Frankly, Miss Midoriya, Lucifer is more to blame than any of us here. When they attacked the camp, they did so with the purpose of killing anyone who got in their way. It's a miracle that no one died, and a large part of that is because your son saved those lives by fighting the enemy. Then, when we were organizing our rescue attempt, we were thrown into the middle of an argument between two siblings which leveled a large portion of Tokyo. We did our best. People have died to save Izuku, to save us all. Pointing the finger at myself or Toshinori, or the school for that matter, is simply being blind to the heroism and bravery of everyone who took part in that fight. A bravery that Lucifer simply didn't believe we mortals were capable of."
The kitchen went completely silent. From somewhere in the house, a washing machine bumped and grumbled with its contents. A bird shrilled outside the window, then flittered away. From outside, two children laugh-screamed in the manner that small children the world over were want to do.
Finally, Inko breathed low. "All that being said doesn't change what happened." Her voice was steadier now. Aizawa was sure his speech had clicked something within her mind. He could hear something else though. She was breathing a little heavier than a few moments ago, and his eyebrows twitched in a curious frown. "You still made a promise. A promise to keep him safe. And you did not. And now you know the world that Izuku is part of only means that you have to acknowledge that you can't defend him when that world comes knocking."
"We can do better. We intend to do better." Toshinori finally spoke. "Not just for Izuku, but for every student in the school." He reached into his pocket with his one good arm and drew out the document packet from his inner pocket, laying them on the table before Inko. "Principal Nedzu was… friends with Lucifer. He insisted that they had been working on this before Lucifer… left."
Aizawa wasn't sure what the right term was. If he had said 'Hokori went to heaven', everyone would assume the man had died. But the fact that it was a literal thing that had happened made it all the more complex. Azrael had told them an abridged version of it.
Another Archangel had come down. They had put Satani away, and they had taken Lucifer with them.
Lucifer was now within Heaven. What that meant, Azrael would not say.
Aizawa, however, could only guess. He had remembered a line then, from Paradise Lost.
Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is.
Perhaps now the devil himself was truly experiencing those words.
Inko looked over the papers slowly, and Izuku leaned over her shoulder. He looked almost comical, with his small horns poking from his mess of hair and his tail curling up behind him, and again Aizawa was reminded of how much heart the young man had.
Even with a monstrous side to his spirit and physical being, that heart made him who he was. From what he had heard of the events at the camp, even Nemesis now shared part of that heart.
It was good to know, and good to see it still within him.
"… a dorm system?" Inko said at last, looking back to the two men. "You want my son to move into U.A?"
"Not just your son. Every student, of every class and year." Toshinori even braved a smile. It was small, hopeful, and nervous, but it was there. "The world faces unprecedented times, Miss Midoriya, and not just because of Izuku and your extended family. All Might- I've retired. Villain activity has already risen, and it's barely been a week. Plus, with the remaining Heralds still out there…" He put on a serious look. It made his already gaunt face look even grimmer. "The heroes we teach today will be the All Might's of tomorrow. They have to be. They don't have a choice."
Aizawa felt like he should dispute the words. No one could be All Might. No one could ever match his achievements or record, or the special place he had occupied in the hearts and minds of the nation.
But… he couldn't.
Each student they taught now could not afford to simply be an A-class hero. They had to be the best. Each and every one of them combined would be made to fill the vast hole that All Might had left. Nedzu, though he had sold his own soul to do so, had been right. They needed to produce an army of All Might's to face the future with.
He thought of Izuku, whose power could already match All Might's, and who would surely, in time and with the proper training and guidance, would grow to be a powerhouse of a hero.
He thought of Hitoshi, who was the only match for Izuku in the class, at least in terms of raw power, speed, and tactical intelligence. But where Izuku was always and forever cloaked in shadow and azure flame, Hitoshi seemed to shine with an inner light that banished the dark and with a voice that brought heart to those in despair.
The two were like twin stars that circled one another.
It was a good thing, a very good thing, that they were friends. He couldn't imagine what it'd be like if they hated one another.
"And your solution to the problem is to box my son in with them? To turn them all into targets?"
Izuku went to say something but was cut off by Toshinori.
"We're working with Azrael. He's helping us secure the, erm, spiritual side of the school. U.A. won't be defended just against normal villains, but against the, erm, forces of hell too."
"That's great!" Izuku added hopefully, a toothy smile breaking out on his face before it fell as he looked to his stone-faced mother. "… right?"
Again, silence settled as Inko's cold, pagan eyes drifted from one teacher to the other. "… I don't think so."
"Mum!" Izuku gasped softly. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I don't think U.A. is the best place for you." Upon speaking to her son, some of her iron defense caved. Her eyes became softer, kinder. She turned to look at him, her cheeks flushing just a little. "I don't want you going there anymore."
"What?!" Nemesis replied now, and Aizawa saw the creature flash through Izuku as a momentary darkening of his eyes and a flash of blue through his scars. "Where else are we to learn our path and find our balance?"
"Somewhere else. Someone else. Maybe your uncle could take you on. He's an Archangel, sweetie. I want you to be with someone who can defend you, not drag you into your father's messes." She breathed again, and Aizawa shared a look with Toshinori.
He had caught it too.
"Miss Midoriya I-"
"No." Her voice was so sudden and so swift that it caught Aizawa off guard. He had not expected such anger from the woman, though he knew there was nothing more terrible than a mother who had seen her child hurt time and time again. "Twice I've put my trust in you, in all of you, and twice you've failed. I am not stupid enough to do it a third time!"
She breathed deeper, faster as she spoke, her face becoming flushed. Aizawa's mind raced. He knew he had seen this somewhere before, but where?
She stood up, slammed a hand on the documents, and shoved them back towards Toshinori. Izuku fretted by her side, but he could do nothing. After all, this was his mother, so what could he do?
"I refuse." Inko was glaring at them both. Aizawa could see her hand shaking. Her breath was coming faster and faster, her face turning a peculiar, and worrying, shade of red. "I refuse to sign this. My son will not be going to U.A. or living in your dorms."
"Mum! Please!" Izuku placed a hand on her shoulder, his eyes wide and his voice desperate. "You can't! I-"
"Izuku! I am not going to let you die again! I've made so many mistakes before, and I know I have a lot to make up for, but I'm done seeing you get hurt! I want you to be safe and you're not- you're not-" She turned on her son and she grabbed at his forearm, her hand still shaking. Her breathing was faster now, harder.
Izuku suddenly blinked, and before Aizawa could get to his feet, Izuku was already gripping his mother strongly by her arms. Her feet were giving way and she was falling, her chair being knocked to one side as she struggled to breathe.
Her hand was gripping at her chest, tight and hard as she struggled to breathe deep. Suddenly her voice was whispering, horse. "My- my chest- my head- I can't- I can't breathe-"
Izuku held her, his immense strength far more than his already muscled frame would betray, and guided her to her chair.
"Izuku, where's your aspirin?" Aizawa commanded, already rushing to look through their cabinets. Toshinori had grabbed a coffee mug and was quickly pouring water into it.
"Your mother is having a heart attack." He spoke as matter as factly as he could manage.
He was trying not to think about how she was so disgusted, so angered by the failures of the school, that she'd literally had a heart attack at the idea of trusting them ever again. "She needs aspirin."
"Here." Toshinori placed the mug before her, where she continued to breathe in short, sharp intakes. "Sip if you can. I'll call an ambulance."
Izuku seemed panicked, though Aizawa was glad to see that even through both sides of the boy were clearly worrying over their mother, both sides seemed to be acting in concert. It was a grim and sudden test to see, but it showed just how far they had really come.
"The drawer by the fridge." Nemesis snapped suddenly through Izuku's lips before turning back to his mother. His hand rubbed at her back and his eyes searched hers. "Try to breath, mother, try to be calm."
"It's… it's my heart." She seemed to repeat, even as Aizawa grabbed the bottle from the drawer. He was just pouring out four pills when he saw her look at Izuku, her eyes wide. "It's because… he still has it."
Izuku was a bag of nerves. His mother seemed okay, and every time he had looked over her with his own eyes, trying to pick out even the tiniest hint that she was going to collapse again, he saw only nothing.
She was exhausted though. More exhausted than he thought she would be. There were rings around her eyes that he hadn't noticed until just today, and a paleness seemed to have set into her that wasn't exactly healthy.
Still, the doctors had given her a clean bill of health, though they had insisted she stay overnight, just for observation.
They had given Izuku an hour to stay with her but told him in no uncertain terms he had to leave. She was in no immediate danger after all and needed the rest.
Izuku knew he'd be up all night. Not that it would actually affect his body much at all, he'd been noticing he could go longer and longer without sleep, and even then, his sleeping patterns were becoming shorter and shorter.
A few days awake should be solved with just a few hours of napping.
But the idea of simply being helpless to do anything… it was too fresh. Too open a wound to begin prodding with this new anxiety. Looking at the men standing at the end of the bed didn't help all that much.
All Might seemed to be nervously twiddling his thumbs while Aizawa seemed like a statue. The room itself was a typical wardroom. A nice, if stiff, looking bed. A small window that was closed while a fan spun lazily on the ceiling. The all-too-familiar smell of disinfectants and hidden sickness lingered in Izuku's nose and tasted bitter on the back of his tongue.
He had never liked hospitals. Death and sorrow hung in the air like an almost physical miasma, always twisting and curling against the hope of the doctors and patients alike.
Hospitals were battleground building, and his spirit always felt restless within them.
Izuku looked again to his mother and gave her a nervous smile, reaching over to squeeze her hand. She smiled and squeezed back. It seemed weak though, but not from lack of trying. It felt weak from that horrible exhaustion that seemed to have washed over her.
Still, her eyes turned cold when she looked back to All Might and Aizawa.
"You're still here?"
"We need a definite answer." Aizawa insisted. "And you seem well enough to give one."
Izuku felt a flash fire of red-hot irritation rush through his blood, and he let Nemesis speak what he felt too timid to say himself. "Our mother has suffered a heart attack, and yet you badger her with questions."
"Calm down, Izuku." Aizawa replied as he began moving around the other side of the bed. "Once we get our answer, we'll leave."
"I already gave it, it's a no." Inko's hand squeezed Izuku's tighter. "He's not going with you."
Izuku felt a clash of conflict within his heart. On one hand, he understood his mother. She was worried about him, and maybe it wasn't expressing itself as it had done before, but this was still that over-cautionary behavior she had always displayed with him. An unwillingness to let her only son go into the unknown because of her love for him.
He also knew that being in U.A. was the right place for him, at least right now it was.
A thought had been lingering in the back of his mind, however. A terrible, awful thought that wormed its way to the front of his brain, especially as he saw All Might move with Aizawa.
'We caused that.' The thought said. 'We ended All Might.'
Perhaps most worryingly of all, was that Nemesis had not denied it, though they also did not accept the accusation.
Instead, they too seemed to linger, maudlin and grim, on the thought.
And with that thought came its sibling.
'If this is going to keep happening, should we stay at U.A.?'
"Izuku." All Might asked suddenly, snapping the boy out of his thoughts. "Where are you going tonight?"
Izuku blinked. "I- erm- well-"
"He can go home, he's old enough to look after himself for one night." Inko cut in, though her tone suggested she hadn't exactly thought the whole situation through.
"The Heralds are still out there." Aizawa replied bluntly. "We don't expect them to strike again so soon, but we cannot rule out the possibility of them taking revenge on Izuku, or you for that matter." Aizawa's eyes turned to Inko. "You are Izuku's mother. I'm sure that probably means something to them."
"Are you threatening her?" Nemesis growled through Izuku's lips.
"Not at all." Aizawa looked back to the boy, and Izuku was impressed to see how little fear he showed. "Simply stating facts. Now we know the bigger picture, we can begin thinking of a better strategy for keeping you both out of their hands."
"Miss Midorioya- Inko- can I ask you something?" All Might approached her side, and the woman seemed to almost growl at him. However, after a second, she gave a small nod. "If Izuku doesn't come back to U.A., where will you send him?"
The question stunned her. It stunned Izuku. He was conflicted in his thoughts that he hadn't even openly considered what he would do without U.A. to go to. It had become such a staple in his existence that the thought of it suddenly being gone seemed impossible.
Sort of like All Might in a way.
"I- well- surely Azrael will take him on."
"Azrael isn't a qualified teacher, and Izuku must got to school by law. So, where will you send him?"
"Lucifer left us money. Lots of money." She looked to one side. "He could go to any of the top schools in the country."
"But will you tell them about his heritage? About the true source of his power?"
"Well, I- erm-"
"He's right." Aizawa looked from Inko to Izuku. "Lucifer designed U.A. it to be the best, to be a place where Izuku could learn and grow. It's where he should be."
"Wait, seriously?" Izuku suddenly asked. "Lucifer helped build U.A.?"
Aizawa chuckled without humor. "He didn't build the place himself, but he did turn it from a middling hero academy into the nation's top hero school. He and Nedzu both. "
"Principal Nedzu knew who-"
"Damn, looks like I gave that away. Well, it doesn't matter." He shrugged and looked back to Inko. "The point is that Izuku belongs at U.A."
"U.A. has let him down. Twice."
"Look at your son, Inko." All Might urged softly. "Can you honestly tell me that the boy who sits beside you now would have been better off not going to U.A.?"
Inko turned to look at him, and Izuku looked back at her. Their eyes were the same, brilliant shade of pagan green. Izuku would always be glad of that. He was glad he had inherited so much from her. Her strength, her devotion, maybe even her stubborn nature. She had faced darkness as a human and come out of it alive. He wasn't sure he could have done if he hadn't taken after her in that way.
Despite all her many, many sins. Despite the pain she had caused him.
She was only human. She was only trying her best.
"… Izuku, honey, what do you want to do?"
Izuku looked down, avoiding the gazes of the adults around him.
He didn't have an answer.
He had ended All Might's career. His idiocy in being captured had resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and who knew how much damage across Tokyo. The city may never recover from the attack, even with the huge amount of international aid pouring in and the quick work of pro-heroes using their quirks in the recovery effort.
It had all been because of his family. Because of the people he was related to.
He was supposed to be the Redeeming Prince. The Morningstar Reborn, spreading his new light into the very darkest corners of Hell.
He had failed.
He looked to his hand, noting the way his old scar, a line barely half an inch thick, ended precisely in the center of his palm. For a second, the pale skin flickered blue, as if someone had run an azure candle under his flesh.
"I… I want to go to U.A."
"Are you sure, angel?" Inko asked, leaning towards her son, an old, worn worry entering her voice. "But what about-"
"Mum, it's okay." He looked back to her and smiled. "Lucifer made that place so I had somewhere I could go, somewhere I could learn. It'd be… insulting if I didn't."
"He's not dead, you know." Inko replied in a low tone. "I don't think- I mean- his kind can't die. I don't think they're allowed to."
A strange look passed between Aizawa and All Might, but then they looked back to the young man. Izuku's smile dropped until only one corner of his lips was still quirked upwards.
It was hard to smile when he felt so hollow.
"I'm sure, mum. I think… I think, for right now, it's where I'm supposed to be, you know? I guess you could call it…" His sentence drifted and died on his lips until Nemesis revived it. "Call it faith. Faith in father's vision."
Anyone who wasn't gifted with the senses Izuku had wouldn't have noticed the reaction of his teachers. Aizawa's fingers twitched as if about to curl into a fist. All Might's eyes darted to the window and back, as if speaking of Lucifer would somehow summon him.
But it was really only his mother's reaction that he cared about.
And his mother, despite all her faults, despite her solidly human nature, heart, and soul, understood his words.
She gave a slow, sad nod of approval. "Alright, Izuku. Alright. For now, I'll… I'll let you go."
Inko turned back to the two teachers, who at least had the grace not to crow at their victory. "I don't forgive you. Or trust you. You, or your damned school." Her anger was a shield before her, something she was using to not cry before the two men, even as tears lined her eyes. "I know it's only a matter of time before you let me down again, but at least this time I know it's Izuku's choice and not something you fooled me into believing."
All Might's mouth opened to say something, but a sudden, sharp elbow to the ribs by his fellow teacher cut him off.
Izuku shook his head. He wasn't sure the two completely deserved the hatred his mother had for them. He was just as implicit as they were in what had happened, both times even. The second even more so than the first.
But he suspected that Aizawa wanted to take the victory and leave before Inko could change her mind.
Recovering from the elbow, All Might gave a soft, warm smile that made the shadowed depths of his comforting blue eyes light up. Aizawa didn't react, at least not openly, but the relief was clear in the very slight softening of his features.
"We can leave the paperwork with you. You can send it to us within the week or scan it and email it. Whichever is easiest for you." All Might announced, again taking the information packet from his jacket, and setting it down on the small, pressboard nightstand beside Inko's hospital bed.
Inko didn't say anything.
"We'll leave you to recover. Izuku, if you can, please stay at a friend's home tonight. Don't be alone in your house."
"Young Shinsou is nearby, right?" All Might gave a small smile. "I'm sure you'll be able to stay with him if you asked."
"Alright." Izuku gave a nod, and with that, the two teachers left.
Izuku was pretty sure that even without super-hearing, he would have heard All Might's gigantic sigh of relief coming through the door.
He turned to see his mother, her anger finally having faded and what remained was only a bone-deep exhaustion that grasped and dragged her down. She seemed to shrink in that moment, appearing so stretched and thin, like she may rip and tear if he were to hold her too tightly.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry for saying all that, for saying no to them at first."
"It's okay." Izuku replied before he could stop himself. "I mean I know-"
"Don't." She suddenly interrupted him. Her hand moved to his wrist, and he felt himself freeze. "Don't apologize for me. For anyone else. Izuku, I know I've not been the best mother. I spent years overprotecting you, and then when it came to it, I couldn't do a damn thing to stop you from being hurt, twice. I blame U.A. but I blame myself too. But… since I'm letting you go back to U.A., will you please make me a promise?"
Izuku felt warmth shiver along his scars, and when he spoke, his voice echoed. "We do not make promises."
Inko smiled warmly at that. "I see. Well, make me this oath then."
"Of course, mother."
Her fingers intertwined with his, and he could feel the chill on her skin. Something was wrong with her, but it wasn't something that was physical or even mental.
Something was wrong with her spirit. He felt a terrible hollowness open in his stomach, in which a cold, crawling void of whispering knowledge entered. One which he was determined not to acknowledge.
"Promise me that you'll protect our family. I know you're the new Prince, the Morningstar. I know you said you were going to redeem others, but redemption isn't always enough. You must save them, protect them. You must be the example they must follow. Please, do that for me. Be the example that I couldn't be for you, that your father refused to be until the very end."
Izuku gulped slowly, trying to dislodge the boulder he felt in his throat. "I will. I promise."
INKO'S WRATH WAS STOPPED ONLY BY HEART ATTACKS! And considering her "heart" belongs to Lucy... is this the last of the health issues? Also, the closing lines here are designed to be very important for later. Keep them in mind as we enter the next arc. Also, Izuku is going to Hitoshi's for the night. And you may think I'd skip that but nope, we're going to Hitoshi's and finally meeting his parents for a bit.
And, you know, what do friends do when they get together? That's right. They break out the vodka.
DRUNKEN PARTY 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO IS NEXT MY DUDES.
As for this chapter, it's supposed to be a bit slow, still cooling down from Kamino, so hopefully it feels like that. The consequences are starting to roll out. But poor Inko, she needs to not stress out so much. Also metaphor for hurting oneself trying to protect others and whatnot.
ANYWAY. Next time we go drinkin' with the goth crew! Till then, peace out my dudes!