The first time a thought bloomed in her mind that made her realize that while her mother was very blunt and honest...there was something she didn't quite tell her, Izumi was ten years old. She'd noticed something was not quite right for years, but the first time she could put it into words Izumi had just turned ten.
When Kacchan and his mom showed up for their yearly visits, Izumi took the chance to whisper all the secrets she learned, include the one her mother held. She told her best friend- her only friend- all the little things that didn't quite add up.
The way her Mother stared up at the starry skies, and the sadness in her face on the clearest nights, when one could pick out the colors of far away galaxies and nebulas. The look in her eyes sometimes, distant and out of reach, like she was a million miles away from where she was standing. The sad curl to her mouth when she thought Izumi wasn't looking.
And most of all, the little promises she made to her daughter when she thought Izumi was asleep. The promises that there was more out there than this. The promises that one day, Inko hoped Izumi would be able to see it. The tales about the Stars, about space, about hope and love and warmth.
There was a look on Kacchan's face, like he had a secret like that, like he knew the answer to her questions and couldn't say. From adults, she could understand. Adults kept things from children because they 'knew better'. Or 'just because'. Kacchan, with that look on his face, Kacchan, her best friend, her okaa-san, her oba-san, they all knew this thing and they wouldn't tell her.
Izumi didn't understand then, but she would come to. Not for years after this day.
In the meantime, she couldn't help the swell of hurt and a sliver of anger that rose in her chest.
There were quite a few things that Inko had her daughter do, that Izumi didn't understand. She did them anyway of course, especially because of how serious her mother looked when she asked for Izumi to do whatever new thing Inko needed of her.
Most often Inko asked Izumi to go to combat classes. She took Izumi to special training camps and senseis and Izumi never understood why her mother looked so worried and insistant when she signed Izumi up for them, but she went. She applied herself. She learned.
Because her mother swore one day she would need these lessons to protect herself, and Inko had never lied to her daughter directly for all that she omitted some truths. Other classes included 'Escape Rooms' and special lessons on how to get out of all sorts of messes.
But if Izumi had to pick a favorite set of classes it would be the ones that were meant to sharpen her already very dangerous analytical skills. She thrived in those classes, enjoying the challenge of outwitting her teachers, whose job was to be the most clever person in the room. When she gets far enough into the lessons, her teachers start to combine them.
Making her spar while presenting her with scenarios- sometimes verbal and other times an actual physical obstacle course filled with traps. Those are the best, because it leaves Izumi breathless and smiling, aching in places she didn't know existed but accomplished in a way she can't put into words.
Her mother always looks so proud too, a wide and hopeful smile on her face, like Izumi is inching towards a goal she doesn't know about. It lights a fire in her breast, makes her try harder every time she's out in the middle of the mats or in a course. She doesn't know what her mother is waiting for, but if it's something that Izumi needs to do, then Izumi will do it, one way or another.
In her heart, something curls in pleasure as Izumi emerges victorious in her battles, be it verbally or physically. In the light, one might pass it off as just a visual quirk, but in the dark…
In the dark, Izumi's eyes shine.
Izumi loves her mother's stories best. On good nights, or on days that Izumi had been bullied particularly badly by her peers, her mother will sit her down and tell her stories.
She called them: 'The Adventures of All Might.'
Izumi adored them.
The stories were about the universe's greatest hero, and his journey to find his lost love. Inko will weave her words together like a master, her voice changing in all the appropriate places, rising and falling with the swell and fall of the stories. She speaks about villains and the hero who stares them all down with a smile, who makes friends, or at least claims rivals with great and powerful people. She speaks about hope, about pillars, about the strength it took to lead a nation to peace.
She talks of charisma and the man who pulled people together, made those who were so opposite of each other band together for one goal.
Inko tells a riveted Izumi about All Might's lost love, who was taken by villans, and lost her memory, so she has no idea that All Might is looking for her. She shares anecdotes about the lover's life, and the small pieces that would strike her, a flash of color, a certain scent, that made her heart ache for a phantom she could never make out in full.
She tells about how the woman- her mother never gave her a name, telling Izumi she would learn it when the time came in their story- remembers small things, like being particularly fond of certain colors and a particular flower. Little pieces of information that fleshed the characters out in her story.
Inko gifts her with jewelry of flowers, preserved in resin that are either strung on a chain, fashioned into charms for a bracelet or even dipped in metal and dangle from a set of hair ornaments.
The hair ornaments comes later, when Izumi is a bit older, but they're a gorgeous set of pieces Izumi falls in love with instantly.
Izumi usually keeps her hair short, but it's long enough she can twist it up and it's thick enough it'll hold. Izumi usually pulls it into a bun like her mother and then pins the two hair sticks into it like an 'X'. Inko made sure the ornaments could take a beating, and though Izumi doesn't realize it at first, both the hair pieces actually have a thin blade hidden inside, allowing her to pair them with anything she wore, as well as ensuring they would survive her spars and keep her hair pinned in place while giving her an extra edge.
Izumi grew up pretending to be All Might, looking for her lost love. She grew up 'beating villains' in the living room while her mother made their meals. She would draw pictures about the stories her mother told her, and developed a very strong preference for certain colors, and that strange flower her mother planted in their garden and told her was the flower from her stories.
Which just made all the necklaces and bracelets kaa-san made with her favorite flower all the more special. So Izumi runs around, proclaiming herself as All Might, fighting enemies and during the time that oba-san and enlisting Kacchan in her games. When he visited. Izumi very happily let Kacchan play the enemy or the rival and fought for her victories. Kacchan won sometimes, but Izumi made him earn it.
She grows up basing her entire wardrobe choice around these colors and flowers. Bright blues, the color of a summer sky, vivid reds like the fiercest sunsets, striking golds, like the brightest of dawns, and whites, bright and pure like snow. Blues-reds-golds-whites as bright as the various stars that shine across the vastness of space.
Her mother always looks sad, but also happy whenever she sees them, a wistful smile pulling Inko's lips up and her eyes soft when she tells her daughter, softly like a secret.
"They suit you."
Izumi loathes secrets. The ones she's never told, no matter how she looks at her mother.
When Izumi turns fifteen, though she is not yet aware of it, everything is about to change.
Years later, she will say that she knew, that she could feel it in her bones, in the way the sunlight turned her skin a pale bronze and how when she looked up into the night, she could swear someone was looking back. It was frightening, but exhilarating. Exciting and exhausting in the same breath. That it was there, that knowledge in the song she could almost hear at night, when she looked up at the sky, like if she could get closer the sound would become clear. In the very faint notes that echo from her mother, a sound she had heard her entire life and so did not register as a sound at all, until she knew it look. Until she heard the accompanying notes, and suddenly the notes she had heard her entire life become a harmony.
But that comes later.
Everything comes later, for Izumi. There are no answers here, nor will there ever be.
At the time, all Izumi really remembers is being terrified and furious. She remembers wondering what her mother would think happened to her. She'd just been on a camping trip, one of her mother's 'Survival Exercises.' She'd been left in the middle of the beach, far from people and in the center of the trash with nothing but the clothes on her back, and a water bottle. Sure it was a junk heap that most of the townspeople avoided, but if one knew where to look-as she did- there were still some beautiful places in the trash, and certain places that she could climb for the best views of the sunrise and sunset.
She'd been perched there, atop a stack of trash she had climbed hundreds of times before, when movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. She would have dismissed it, as there were some people who came to the beach-usually to dump their trash to the pile-but this was different. It wasn't that she was in the center of the trash collection, and therefore there were really no people in the area.
No, it had been the particular fact that it hadn't been movement on the ground to catch her attention. It had been in the sky.
She'd stood up, lifting her eyes to track the movement, confused because whatever it had been was much too big to be an animal, but by the same token could not be any sort of aerial craft she was aware of, as it was much too quiet and much too close to her.
Except she's wrong.
She is so, so wrong.
By the time she knows to scream, it's too late, her vision blackens, and she's collapsing where she stands.
Izumi wakes up slow and sluggish and she knows immediately that something is horribly wrong, even before her last memories come back to her.
Her back is pressed into something hard and cold like metal, and despite hearing no chains, when she subtly flexes her wrists and ankles, she knows she's bound with something. She keeps her breathing even, her eyes open the barest of cracks as she attempts to take in her surroundings.
It's rather dark, is her first thought, her next is that she had never seen anything like the metal she could make out around her. Every breath she takes in is off, in a way Izumi can't explain except that it smells and tastes wrong to her senses. There is nothing even remotely familiar about the room apart from its layout.
She knows a prison cell when she sees one.
And suddenly, in the back of her mind, Izumi can hear her mother's voice steady and sure as she promised:
"One day, you'll need the skills I ask you to learn Izumi-chan I promise. I know it doesn't make sense now, but one day you'll see."
And Izumi is scared, but she is so, so thankful for her mother in that moment, and every lesson she had ever had shoved into her brain, as her lessons kick in and her mind goes to work.
Yet, in her chest, that long familiar anger curls. It tastes like bitter betrayal in the back of her throat because she's fifteen and okaa-san has still never told her and now she can't. Because whatever Midoriya Inko was fearing, whatever thing she was hiding from, it's come from the sky and now it's Izumi's problem.
And she knows nothing.
A smile, bright and glittering spread across her face even as her heart pounds beneath her skin.
Because okaa-san isn't here. And answers are beyond this cell. The people who have taken her have the answers to the questions she's been asking her entire life and she's going to get them.
Just as soon as she finishes getting out of these shackles.
Shimura Tenko did not expect the holding cells entrance to open again after the last visit from Kurogiri. After his last violent, and rather definite 'no' to Kurogiri's 'offer' Tenko hadn't thought he would need to be any clearer. It turns out those coming into the cells are not there for him.
He expected the limp form of the girl brought in between two of Kurogiri's lackeys even less. He watches from the corner of his cell, as they place her limp form on the cot, shackling her with energy-cuffs more powerful than even the ones that stop his own Quirk from working.
He wonders what Quirk they fear she has, that they would put cuffs so powerful on her slim wrists. He watches, silent and curious as the lackeys retreat and leave the female obviously drugged into unconsciousness on the cot.
He has nothing better to do than wait. He knows for certain that Toshi is coming for him, that his family, his King, will not allow his kidnapping to pass unanswered. He waits a few moments more before he stands and approaches the limits of his cell carefully for a closer look.
His breath catches almost immediately, as he takes in details he had not expected to see.
The girl is clad in his King's colors. Tenko could have dismissed that, apart from two reasons. He can see the royal flowers in multiple places, live buds that had been preserved when none but the royal family had them. They had been a specially bred Courting Gift to his King's Intended before he had married her that existed nowhere apart from Toshinori's private garden.
And the most striking reason that Tenko cannot dismiss the colors and the flowers, is the striking resemblance he can see in her coloring and frame to the woman who laughed in the picture Toshinori guarded so zealously of his Queen, paired with the mirror image of Toshinori's facial features staring out of the girl's face.
Tenko has no idea who she is, not really, but in that moment, he swears on his Line that he will see the girl safely out of this ship and to his adoptive father and King. If only to learn the truth about that striking familiarity in her features. He doesn't have the gifts that his Father-King does.
It is only hours later as he watched the girl awaken, that Tenko wonders if he will have to do anything at all. He knows that expression on her face, that fire in her eyes.
He recognizes the beginning rage of a Star.
He is silent as the girl pushes herself up and opens her eyes to take in her surroundings. He says nothing still as she examines her shackles and tilts her head. There's something feral and ponderous about her eyes, something predatory that makes a shiver crawl over the back of Tenko's neck.
It's there in her stride too, when she stands and paces her cell. He speaks only when she approaches the edges of her cell and looks like she's not going to stop. It's as if she doesn't recognize the danger she's in, as if she's untouchable by what is around her. He knows no one of such power, who would allow themselves to be captured.
Those who shine with the burning intensity of a Star are known.Tenko would feel it. She is not, and Tenko cannot.
He speaks anyway. Anything to control the situation as best he can.
"Don't," he warns her watching those predator eyes instantly lock onto his form. "You're about to cross the boundaries of your Energy Cell, and trust me, that is a nasty shock to the system."
Her head tilts, curious and dangerous, her eyes flashing as she takes his warning in. He can see the wheels turning in her head.
He has no idea what she's planning, as she watches him from her cell.
Kurogiri has never been so pleased as he is in this moment. It has been a very long time since Kurogiri could remember feeling anything but the constant pain of death-dying-rebirth.
He'd only wanted to visit Earth so that he could observe its peoples. He knew this tiny planet, full of those who had not adapted to the Quirks of the Stars appropriately, could hold the answers he needed to finish, to correct, his work.
This helpless, essentially Quirkless people, who held such ties to the First Stars, the Stars of Old, and the First Races…If Kurogiri could find the right human, he could find a link to information he needed, to the Line he needed. They were so ignorant of what they held in their blood, in their past.
Kurogiri hated them for the links that they held to the Firsts, that they took for granted out of ignorance. He loathed them for their stupidity, for how fragile they were.
Still, they were his only links to the past, to the Lines that he needed, and so Kurogiri kept coming back. Failure after failure, he continued to return to this mudball and search.
And then his ship had pinged against an energy source that was...familiar.
Even knowing that he should not stop, not when he had one of the House of Yagi in his cells, Kurogiri had no choice. The moment he had seen that particular energy reading, he could not walk away. Not with a boon that tempting on the other end. A boon that would change everything.
If it was what he thought it was, it would be worth needing to fight for it, so long as Kurogiri ended up getting to keep it.
He laughs. (Around him, his crew flinches at the scrapping, warbling, discordant thing.)