Tenko had been so scared,
He didn't know what had been happening recently, but he'd been moved around a lot. Much more than he had been before. And it just kept happening. It was completely against the pattern he'd noticed from before.
It was like...Tenko didn't want to hope- hope was painful, hope turned to despair and tears that never did anything- but it was like they were running from something- someone. Like somebody was looking for them.
Maybe for him?
He'd prayed often enough, maybe the kami were finally listening?
He'd watched All Might and Endeavor bust into their hiding place, and as they carved through the people that were keeping him, he'd felt that hope he was so desperate to smother grow. There was a mysterious guardian shoving anyone that came too close to him away too, towards the heroes. He'd been near vibrating with a desperate thought that maybe he'll get away this time-, when he felt the portal open under his feet.
He'd felt that hope drain from his heart almost immediately, and it hurt just as much as he'd thought it would. He knew both heroes were too far from him, Kurogiri's portals too quick, and he was going to disappear again, so close to salvation.
Only- that's not what happened.
A lady had saved him.
Dropped out of the sky, and yanked him out of the portals' reach, bouncing through the air, and making a direct beeline for All Might and Endeavor.
Her arms were warm.
Tenko kept his fingers curled in, pressed against his own palm, so he wouldn't accidentally make her disappear, and watched the rest of the fight with wide awed eyes.
They'd saved him.
They'd saved him.
They'd reached out and pulled him out of his darkness, out of his corner of hell.
For the first time since he'd activated his quirk, Tenko felt hope bubble in his chest, and he didn't fight it. Tears stung his eyes and he didn't hold them back, didn't do anything other than clutch warm fabric in his cold hands and sob.
It only took Inko a moment to realize that Yagi-san and Todoroki-san were in fact All Might and Endeavor once they'd cleared the warehouse.
She'd know those voices anywhere, she'd heard them often enough over the course of this case. More often though, on the television, in interviews and Ranking Updates. The way they spoke 'in uniform' was different from what she'd heard over the case, but- Maybe it was the shock of seeing Jade and then hearing her own voice, when they spoke to her, it was in the tones she heard on the phone, and not the ones they presented to the public.
Which, unfortunately for her, held true in their case as well.
Her voice changer wasn't working anymore, also with her ETA ticking down much too fast, she hadn't bothered to replace it. She'd hoped no one would be present to call her out, but...well it was just her luck, really. All Might and Endeavor never would have made it to the top as quickly as they did if they were just point-and-hit type.
Fuck. The thought was bright and heartfelt in her head, even as she refrained from voicing it aloud, in front of a waiting toddler.
A toddler who looked at her like she held the world in her hands.
She set the fact that two top heroes had finally solved the mystery of 'Jade's identity', that her cover was blown and they had her name, and turned her attention to the small child in her arms instead. This was more important.
"Hey, Tenko-chan," her voice was warm and soft, as soothing as she could make it, even with her heart in her throat. "We've been looking for you for a long time. I'm glad we finally caught up."
Enji was surprised, and yet….not, upon discovering the famously known 'Jade' was Midoriya Inko. If he hadn't known her after Shigaraki became a problem, before she-
He might have been. She was emotional and softly spoken, before everything had gone to hell, but once her son had been put in charge of the front lines...that had changed. So seeing her standing in a vigilante's outfit, comforting a child...Enji isn't exactly as shocked as he could have been.
In hindsight, several things now make an absurd amount of sense.
He revisits that thought he's been entertaining off and on, the one about inviting her to his hero agency. Enji honestly hadn't put much effort into it, but he now knows she's capable. He tilts his head, recalling all the loopholes and acceptions for Heroes aiming for a license.
Would she consider getting an underground licence if he suggested it? He could backdate her licence to cover her vigilante career if he did it right. The Hero Commission- he'd see them fall, he just had to orchestrate it just right so the system didn't collapse- was corrupt and easily bribed with certain promises. He hated them, and while he would ensure their power- Keigo, he owed the man a lot too- was ripped from their hands, he could use that right now.
Toshi would back him, though he might take a bit of convincing. Not as much once he mentioned 'child soldiers' and 'covers up'. After all, two hundred years of All For One being allowed to continue, being able to slip through so many cracks, such a coincidence.
For now, Enji set that aside, tucked it into a small box in that back of his head, along with his rage. He had a child to comfort, one whose destiny he's already shattered with his own two hands..
(And if the weight on his shoulders lightened considerably, at this first major step to seeing the hell he'd survived changed, if he stood a bit straighter, that was his business.)
Toshinori's hands shook.
Still, when Jade- Midoriya-san, mother to the boy Enji said was like his son- offered him Nana's grandchild, he did hesitate to accept the child into his hands, tucking him gently, ever so carefully into his broad chest. It felt like a hand tightened around his heart, when the tiny child- a toddler, just a baby really- gripped his costume like a lifeline, two itty bitty fingers tucked into his palm while he gripped with the others.
His next inhale shook, and his hold on the boy tightened, when he looked up and asked, voice frightened but hopeful, "Am I safe now, All Might?"
Toshinori looked up at the ceiling for a moment, blinking hard, and then answered, his normally booming voice soft, but reassuring, more Toshinori then All Might, when he answered, without a shred of doubt or self-loathing in his voice.
"You are now, because I am here."
Enji leaned over his desk, hands buried in his own hair, and eyes closed. His fingers were carefully pressing on his temple, subtly heated with his own quirk, in an effort to temper the headache that was making his eyes pound.
He'd managed to talk Toshinori around to not reporting Jade, officially on the report, listing her instead as an unknown underground hero, with the mark on the report that said the underground hero was undercover, and not to ask questions about who it was. Honestly, as much as All Might's very presence had resulted in a great deal of the problems that ended in Japan's eventual fall, the man's influence could not be denied.
After all, All Might would never lie, only inform when he could not speak of pedestal the people placed that man could come in handy some days, for all that Enji knew Toshinori hated it.
Tenko had been given the same explanation- that Jade was an underground hero, just in case he slipped- and not provided with an identifying name.
Paperwork was a pain in the ass normally, but doing it in such a way none of them got into trouble? Fudging it a little bit? Was even worse, with how many forms and Articles he had to put down, but it was worth it, as it always would be.
Normally- before- he wouldn't have dreamed about doing this for anyone. But after the hell that was his future? He was willing to fudge some papers to keep Midoriya Inko free, and working for the better of the world. If he was successful in talking her into getting her Underground license that would be even better. It wasn't like she had to go out and be an active hero with it. It would allow her more freedom during her cases, and provide her some protection, and the right to use her quirk in public if needed.
Enji took a deep breath, held it for a long moment and then released it, carefully putting away the memory- so many lives lost, so much death- that came with the thought of laws controlling Quirk use.
The most pressing thing he could help with, at this moment, was helping Toshinori, since he was in the middle of working with Inko to get custody of Tenko.
It was well known that Endeavor and All Might were rivals of a type, especially among the Heroes who spent any time in both their presence. It would not be hard for Enji to spin a story in which, due to a villain, Toshi was unable to take guardianship for Tenko's father and it was only natural, now that the threat had passed, he would get custody of his son. The mention of Shimura Nana would only smooth things along. After all, the world owed a debt to that woman for raising All Might.
It was only the first in many steps he needed to take, but it was his largest so far towards a better, happier future for everyone.
Enji jolted, opening his eyes as his personal phone pinged a text alert at him on the desk- he'd added his wedding picture, and one in particular of his daughter, laughing and showing off her missing tooth, to the desk.
They were reminders for him, and he brushed his knuckles over both, even as he grabbed his phone.
Rei: Enji? Are you free for lunch? I thought I might stop in with Fuyumi and we could share?
Enji softened considerably at the sight of the text he never would have gotten before. His smile was unthinking and soft when he began to text his reply.
Me: I can be, when are you going to be here? I'll make time.
Rei: We can be there in ten minutes.
Me: I'll see you then, wife
He loved them so much. He loved them so much he ached with it. They were his everything. It was the little moments like this, the pause between his frantic attempts to fix the future that made it so worth it. The gestures he had missed out on the last time, the tiny shows of care that he had ruined any chance of getting from any of his family.
The way his wife would stop in with lunch for him to share with their family when he could, the way Fuyumi crashed into his shins full speed when he came home. When she looked up at him like he was everything she ever wanted to be. The ease in which Rei reached out for him and twined their fingers together on the couch, how Fuyumi would clumsily climb desks, chairs and furniture, determination to curl into his side visible on her tiny face..
The soft, sleepy toddler that looked up at him with honest eyes and fuzzily informed him, with all the solemn gravity she was able to muster-
"I love you, daddy."
He'd frozen stiff the first time Fuyumi had said it, and she'd fallen asleep against his chest before he'd been able to pull himself together, which was good, because he'd broken into silent tears at the time, but being able to say "I love you too" was…
He smiled at the pictures on his desk.
It was worth it.
It was worth everything.
In the quiet moments, when his memories rose to the front of his mind, and even Rei was absent, he cursed himself, for what he had squandered, what he had sacrificed in vain, all for the sake of his pride.
In his nightmares, the ones where it was just him, Enji would dream of strangling himself, his fingers leaving indents on his own neck, squeezing and squeezing and screaming all the while. He'd spit on his own body and turn, looking up to see his children, watching with hollow eyes.
"Are we safe now?"
They would ask, Touya's scars twisting up with the curl of his mouth, Fuyumi tentatively straightening her spine and Natsuo gave a sharp laugh.
Shouto who would smile and say with the utmost relief.
"They're only my flames now."
Enji couldn't bear to return to sleep those nights and honestly, thinking about his as of yet unborn children hurt almost as much as watching them die.
But he would endure. Time would pass and soon...things would get better.