Now beta'd and edited by kylekatarn77
1. Found, Two Lost Children
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.
― Amelia Earhart
"Not without a quirk."
Those words echoed in Izuku's head as he stumbled home, his very world crumbling all around him. Words spoken to him by his childhood idol, the world's greatest hero, All Might. Izuku Midoriya was different, quirkless, and could never realize his dream of being a hero.
"You're just a quirkless freak. Go jump off a building."
The words of a former friend, of a peer Izuku admired and respected. Bakugo, who had always been stronger and better than Izuku. He'd spent years showing Izuku that with no quirk, he could never rise to Bakugo's level, could never achieve their shared dream of becoming heroes like All Might.
"Izuku, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
His mother had wept as she spoke those words to a young child in mourning, words that had been the first to try to shatter Izuku's desires.
He'd tried to ignore them all. He'd studied, he'd planned, he'd thought he'd done everything he could to emulate All Might, surrounding himself with memorabilia and imagery, hoping to become like the world's greatest hero.
And then, Izuku met All Might. He'd been saved from near certain death at the hands of a monstrous slime villain. Just as Izuku had always imagined, All Might had swooped in, and with a single blow, saved Izuku and reassured him with a smile. But then, Izuku had asked the fateful question.
"Can I be a hero? Even without a quirk?"
All Might had sighed. He'd shook his head. "I'm sorry. Not without a quirk." He'd said more after that, and part of Izuku knew All Might had been trying to save Izuku from the scars and pain All Might had gone through, to protect this quirkless boy. But that hadn't been what Izuku had heard. All he'd heard was the cacophony of his dreams shattering.
"I'm worthless," Izuku muttered, kicking at a dented can. It splashed through a puddle and clattered down the battered pavement of the alleyway, banging against a rusted dumpster. "I'm quirkless. How could I ever be a hero?"
"By helping me!" the dumpster said cheerfully.
"W-who are you?" Izuku stammered, nearly jumping out of his skin. "What are you saying?!"
"You can be a hero! Just help me and my baby out, I'm stuck!" the dumpster answered, it's voice echoing and distorted.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry?! Did your quirk turn you into a dumpster? Some people have transformation quirks and they can lose control, maybe I could call the police or-"
"No, just help me! I'm not the dumpster, I'm in the dumpster. I got stuck!"
"O-oh, OK, um, I'll try!" Izuku set his bag on the ground and lifted the lid off the dumpster, stretching to toss it off. Inside he found the smiling face of a girl wearing a pair of odd looking intricate goggles, her face coated in grim and most of her body buried in trash.
"Hi! I'm Mei Hatsume," the girl said. "I am looking for materials for my super cute babies! But, well, my newest baby seems to be malfunctioning. I think some trash got stuck in its servo joints, or the wiring got tangled. Ha! But that's OK, because you are going to help me!"
"Um, yeah, I think I can. W-what about your baby, um, is it ok?" Izuku asked, peering into the dumpster. "I don't see it."
"It's the Power Suit! I'm wearing it," Mei stated. "It's a mechanical exoskeleton designed to enhance the users strength! It's going to revolutionize the hero industry! I was going to use it to find some salvage to build even more super cute babies, but the Power Suit has seized up and now I can't move. That is amusing, because it should make moving easier!"
"Oh, um, ok. Maybe I should just call for help, you don't need a quirkless nobody making things worse," Izuku said, looking down.
"Don't be silly! You can help me, just dig me out! Please don't call the police, they always get mad when they have to get me out something and then my parents and Hari are angry and I don't get to make any cute babies for days, or even weeks! You said you wanted to be a hero, so be one!"
"I...yes! I can help!" Izuku clung to Mei's words like they were a lifeline, and began to recklessly toss rubbish out of the dumpster, slowly unburying Mei. After a minute or two, he managed to dig most of her torso out, revealing the upper part of her Power Suit. It was a rough metal frame with hydraulic joints, connected by bundles of haphazard wiring.
"You'll have to unbuckle the straps. They're under my armpits, so you'll have to reach under there to get me out," Mei told him.
"Um, t-that would mean I'd have to, you know, touch you," Izuku stammered.
"I know I am very dirty right now, but I would appreciate it if you would unbuckle me," Mei said. "I know some people don't like dirt, but you are already very dirty so I don't think this will make a difference."
"No, I mean, well, I'd have to touch your…" Izuku blushed looking away. Though Mei was dressed in sodden overalls and a grungy old t shirt, she was still obviously a growing young woman, and he didn't want her to think him lewd.
"It's fine, you can touch my baby, just as long as you don't hurt it," Mei told him. "You look like you know how to be gentle with machines, so I think I can trust you. Besides, this is the only way you'll get me out of here. You would be my hero if you helped me!"
Those were the magic words. Blushing furiously, Izuku dug his hands under Mei's arms and managed to find both the straps, unbuckling them. She then guided him through unbuckling two more straps on her arms, apparently unconcerned that a boy was so obviously touching her body. Once the last strap was undone, Mei started wriggling even before Izuku could move away, rubbing up against him. He jerked back, but she reached out and grabbed on to him.
"Pull me out," she ordered. "I need leverage!"
Reluctantly, Iuzku firmly gripped Mei and pulled, bracing his legs against the dumpster. After a few seconds of struggle, she suddenly shot out of the dumpster. Izuku cried out, falling back and landing hard on his rear, Mei tumbling on top of him.
"Ah ha!" Mei laughed, sitting up atop Izuku's chest. "You saved me! You really are a hero!"
"Y-you think s-so?" Izuku gasped.
Mei pressed herself down on Izuku, smiling broadly. He noticed for the first time that her hair was pink, underneath the layers of slime and grime they had acquired in the dumpster, and also how very close she was to him. If it wasn't for the smell and filth, he might have found it enticing. As it was, it was mostly just uncomfortable. "Of course! Heroes save people, and you saved me! Come on, now we have to save my baby!"
Mei stood up and started rummaging through the dumpster, trying to pull the exoskeleton out. Groaning, Izuku stood, then came over and helped Mei. Together, they managed to haul out the Power Suit, despite its being coated in slime.
"Hmm, hold on, I have a can of grease. See if you can find any breaks in the wiring," Mei told Izuku, bending to begin ministering to her creation.
"Um, I don't really-" Izuku protested, but Mei handed him a pair of pliers.
"Just reconnect them, that should do the trick!"
Izuku ended up finding several places where the wires had become frayed or loose, either from Mei's initial scramble into the dumpster or from their struggles to free her. He dutifully reconnected them, careful to match the colors of the outer coating correctly. He had built circuits a few times in school for science class, and Izuku had been good enough at it, though he'd never really found it interesting before.
"So, um, you said this is a support item for heroes?" Izuku asked, feeling awkward working so close to a stranger. Mei hadn't said much, just humming tunelessly to herself as she worked.
"It will be! One day, I will be the greatest inventor in Japan! I will make super cute babies, and they'll be used by all the top pro heroes! I'll have unlimited funding, and I can spend all my time in my lab and workshop making babies and no one will ever bother me!" Mei declared happily. "That's why I'm going to get into UA High school, where all the best heroes go! They have lots of funding for their support course and they always make super cute babies for their students!"
"Yeah, I wanted to get into UA too," Izuku said with a sigh. "I've always wanted to be a hero, but I can't be one."
"What are you talking about? You can be a hero, because you already are one! You saved me and my baby!" Mei said.
Izuku hung his head, fighting back tears. "I can't...because...because I don't have a quirk." He sniffed, wiping his nose with the back of his hand, but he mostly just smeared more filth over himself.
"Well, then you'll just have to use one of my babies!" Mei declared as she inspected Izuku's work. She made a few adjustments, but nodded approvingly. "With the Power Suit or another of my super cute babies, anyone could be a hero! Even you!"
"You too can be a hero."
How long had Izuku waited to hear someone say that? All his life? At that moment, Izuku's life was changed forever, because at last, someone believed in him.
"You...you really think s-so?" Izuku stammered. "You'd help me to be a hero, to get into UA?"
Mei nodded. "Of course! You saved me and my baby! Now, you just have to get that microwave out of the dumpster!"
It turned out that the reason Mei had climbed in the dumpster in the first place was to haul out a cracked microwave someone had tossed in there. With her encouragement, Izuku scrambled in, handing her the broken appliance, then climbed back out, completely covered in filth. He looked at himself, wincing. His school uniform was ruined, and his mother was going to have a fit when she saw him.
"Come on, let's go!" Mei said eagerly. "Put on the Power Suit and you can carry the microwave back."
"Um, I don't-"
"See, it enhances your strength! With this baby, you'll be as strong as you need to be! Just like if you had a strength enhancing quirk. Imagine it, you with the Power Suit, showing the world how cute my babies are in the UA entrance exam!" Mei boasted.
With her cajoling, Izuku allowed himself to be strapped into the power suit, despite the fact that it was still dripping with filth. Mei was a bit on the tall side for a girl, and Izuku was still fairly short, so they were about the same height and build, making the fit fairly good.
"Activating Power Suit!" Mei cackled, and flipped the activation switch. The contraption hummed to life, and Izuku experimentally flexed his arms.
"Just be careful not to move too fast, I nearly broke my arm that way," Mei advised. "Just move slowly and carefully at first."
Gingerly, Izuku bent down and picked up the microwave. To his surprise, with the power suit on it felt as though it weighed virtually nothing; the suits mechanical muscles were doing most of the lifting. He took a few careful steps, feeling as though he were light as a feather. His stride was slightly bouncy, like that of an astronaut on the Moon. He stumbled and fell a few times, but Izuku was determined not to let that stop him. Finally, he had something that could make him into a hero.
Mei happily strode along beside Izuku, humming tunelessly to herself. She seemed rather oblivious to the stares and grimaces passersby gave the two reeking teens, pinching their noses or muttering rude remarks.
"Um, we don't have to go far, do we?" Izuku asked nervously after someone called them a public menace.
"My workshop is just over here!" Mei stated, pointing across the street to a two story building with a sign reading HATSUME MOTORS hanging above it. It appeared to be a mechanics shop of some sort, with signs advertising appliance repair, automotive maintenance, and other mechanical help. Mei led Izuku around to the rear of the shop, which had several open bays with cars and appliances in various states of repair inside them.
"Mei, is that you?" a voice called. A young woman a few years older than Izuku stepped out, wiping her grease stained hands on a dirty rag. She had the bright pink hair Izuku suspected Mei's was, though her hair was pulled back in a ponytail that stuck out the back of a beaten ball cap. Like Mei, she wore goggles, though hers were less ornate and looked like simple work wear. "Hey, who's this? You kidnap someone? Going to break him down for parts?"
"I do not know, Hari! But he saved me and my baby from a dumpster and he's going to show off my babies so he can be a hero and I can have unlimited funding to build babies forever," Mei stated.
Izuku flushed deep red, realizing he'd never introduced himself. He bowed deeply, nearly falling over as the suit exaggerated his motion. He windmilled his arms, managing to right himself, but dropping the microwave. "I-I'm sorry! I mean, I'm Izuku! Izuku Midoriya, I just, well, I found Hatsume trapped in a dumpster and I pulled her out and then she asked me to help her bring this back and-"
Hari laughed, coming over and gently steadying Izuku with one hand despite the state of his clothes. "It's fine! Good to see Mei made a friend! I'm Hari Hatsume. Mei, did you introduce yourself?"
"Yes, and my super cute baby! He is already doing an excellent job using the Power Suit! I shall have to make several improvements so that it does not fail when immersed in garbage again."
"Uh huh. Well, before you get started on that, you two go get cleaned up. You both reek. Mei, do we have any old clothes this kid can change into? You both stink."
"Yes, probably. But it's fine, I can just start taking apart the microwave for the parts and then-"
"Go get changed before mom and dad see you or you'll be grounded for a week, and help poor Midoriya, too. Take a shower too, and make sure you wash your hair."
"But it's Tuesday!" Mei protested.
"Wash. Your. Hair. I'm warning you, Mei, dad sees you and-"
"Ugh, fine. Come on, um what was your name again?"
"Midoriya, Izuku Midoriya," Izuku said, feeling a bit confused. Why wouldn't Mei want to wash her hair? And hadn't he just said his name?
"Right, well, Midoriya, come on. I've got some old clothes somewhere in my workshop you can have. They're probably even clean."
Mei lead Izuku past the open bays to a door at the back of the building, with a sign on the front that read: MEI'S SUPER CUTE WORKSHOP! NO BRATS!
Inside was a dimly lit large space that appeared to have once been a two car garage. It was full of tables that were piled with stack of items, from tools to parts to what looked like projects Mei was building in various states of completion. The walls had shelves piled haphazardly with tools and finished items. One looked like a tube loaded with an umbrella, another like a fire extinguisher that had been modified, and others of various designs and origins that Izuku couldn't determine with a glance.
Mei started rooting around in a pile of cardboard boxes stacked near a pallet that had a pile of clothes and blankets on it. After a moment, she let out a cry of triumph. "Here we go!" She sniffed the clothes she pulled out, then nodded. "Yes, these are clean. Here, take these and get changed. If you want a shower, the bathroom is over there."
Izuku unstrapped himself and took the clothes, looking down at them. They were worn and had a few old grease stains on them, a pair of overalls and a shirt with the Hatsume logo on it.
"Ok, um I guess I'll-" Izuku looked up and let out a squeak, going pale, then deep red.
"What?" Mei asked, pausing with her shirt over her head. She was stripping off her sodden clothes, having already undone her suspenders, her overalls sagging around her midsection.
"I'llbeinthebathroomsorry!" Izuku yelled, then ran inside and slammed the door, breathing heavily. He quickly stripped off his clothes and jumped in the small shower. It felt good to rinse off the coating of filth, and he sighed in relief. After thoroughly scrubbing himself and then rinsing, Izuku turned off the water and dried himself off with a towel he found crammed under the sink, then changed into the clothes Mei had given him. The overalls were a smidge too big and the shirt a bit too tight, but they were better than the sodden uniform he'd taken off. Feeling better, Izuku knocked on the door.
"Um, Mei, is it safe to come out?"
"I didn't start any fires, don't worry!"
That made Izuku blink, as that had not been what he'd meant at all. Carefully, he slowly opened the door, peering around carefully. Mei was sitting at a worktable that she'd placed the Power Suit on, and was disassembling it under the harsh light of an incandescent lamp. Her hair was now damp, showing that it was indeed a bright pink color like Hari's was, though it clung in wet clumps to her her head and back.
"Um, don't you want to shower?" Izuku asked, carefully stepping out. He gingerly held his dirty clothes in one hand, and after a moment he spied a plastic bag from a corner store. He took out the empty energy drink cans and wrapped his clothes in it, stowing them in his backpack. He'd try to wash them, but he didn't have much hope they'd ever be wearable again.
"Showers are in the mornings. I did wash my hair though, you can tell Hari that! I just used the sink, it's faster."
"Um, don't you feel dirty? And, well doesn't the smell bother you?" Izuku asked. He blushed, realizing he'd just implied that Mei stunk, though amidst the smell of grease, fuel, and other chemical smells in the workshop it was hard to tell.
"Nope!" Mei continued to work, ignoring Izuku and humming happily to herself.
"Can...can I help?" Izuku asked.
"You did OK with the wiring," Mei told him, not looking up from her work. "See if you can unhook the main power source there. I need to clean it and maybe build a new housing. The exposed wiring is a problem, so I'll have to find a way to keep it safe during use."
Izuku sat down across from Mei, and began to carefully unhook the wires with pliers. Once he'd managed to take off one bundle, he looked for a place to put it, but the workshop was so disorganized he couldn't see where to put it. The mess bothered Izuku, who was naturally a very neat and tidy person.
"Maybe we should clean up a bit?" Izuku suggested.
Mei just shrugged, intent on her tinkering. "I know where everything is."
"Um, ok. I need a place to put the wires I'm taking off. Where do I do that?"
"I have a box of wires over there somewhere," Mei said, waving vaguely towards a table piled high with tool boxes and crates.
Izuku looked through it, but each box was a jumble of wires, nuts and bolts, and other small parts. He carefully set them in rows, and began sorting through the mess, designating a box for each. He found a permanent marker, carefully labeling them with neat handwriting. After about thirty minutes, he'd managed to bring at least a little order to that particular corner of the workshop. Feeling satisfied, Izuku took the box he'd labeled for wires and put the ones he'd stripped off the Power Suit into it, then went over to keep working.
He'd been at it for about ten minutes when he heard something behind him. He turned to see a younger boy with strange eyes looking up at him. Izuku stared into those eyes, which had iridescent irises that made a strange, swirling pattern with their luminescent pupils. He felt himself falling into those eyes, a sense of confusion and disorientation coming over him.
"How are you?" the boy demanded. "Why are you in Mei's room and wearing Hari's old clothes?"
"Komaru!" Mei snapped, standing up fast enough to shake the table. The jolt knocked Izuku out of his stupor, and he shook his head. "You know the rules! No brats in my workshop!"
"Yeah, but who's this weird boy? Is he a robot or something you made?" Komaru demanded, blinking his strange eyes slowly. Izuku had to look away, feeling a sense of vertigo.
"No! He is a hero who saved me and my baby from a dumpster and now he is helping me make babies so that we can both get into UA!" Mei declared.
"MOOOOM! DAAAAD! Mei's bringing strange boys home and making babies with them in her room! That's against the rules!" Komaru yelled, darting out of the workshop.
A headache started throbbing in Izuku's head, and he clutched at his temples, gasping slightly. He heard Mei pound after Komaru, yelling at him to get out of her room.
"Hey! Who's there? What are you doing in Mei's room?" A deep male voice demanded.
Izuku winced, blinking and looking up, his vision swimming slightly. "S-s-sorry, I- I can't-what's going on?" he asked dazedly.
"Oh hell. KOMARU! How many times do I have to tell you to wear your goggles and not look people in the eyes!" the man roared. He bent down over Izuku, gently rubbing his forehead with strong fingers. "It's OK. Here, come on, let's get you a cold pack and some water. You'll feel fine in a moment."
Izuku let himself be led by the hand, his vision slowly recovering. He found that he was being taken along by a large man with a bristling black beard and a receding hairline. He was dressed similarly to what Izuku was now wearing, though his shirt was monogrammed with "HEAD MECHANIC: HATSUME." His arms were thick and a bit hairy, and he smelled faintly of sweat and engine grease. The man, who Izuku assumed to be Mei's father, took Izuku up a flight of stairs and sat him down on a pillow at a low table. He brought Izuku a glass of water, which Izuku drank thirstily.
"T-thanks, I feel a lot better now," Izuku said. "Um, sorry, I'm Izuku Midoriya. I um, well, I met Mei, and then I helped her bring a microwave back here and she gave me these clothes and then we were working on the Power Suit and I-"
"Slow down there kid," the man said gently, peering into Izuku's eyes. "You feel OK? Komaru didn't put the whammy on you too hard? Sorry, he's only eight, but he should really know better."
Izuku noticed that Mr. Hatsume had odd pupils himself, shaped a bit like an X. He didn't feel strange looking at them though, and they were the normal black color. He had goggles like Hari's up on his forehead, which was sweaty and a bit grimy.
"Um, yeah, I'm ok. Does he have some sort of hypnosis quirk? That's really cool! You can do all sorts of things with a quirk like that!"
"Yeah, like get into trouble," Mr. Hatsume muttered. "Oh, I'm sorry, where are my manners. I'm Shu Hatsume, Mei's father. Are you...a friend of hers? From school?"
"Um, no, I don't go to Mei's school," Izuku admitted. "We, well, we sort of met in an alley. She was stuck in a dumpster, and I got her out. She, um, said she could help me."
Mr. Hatsume groaned, rubbing his face with a large hand. "Don't tell me she tried to get you to try one of her 'babies.' Please tell me you didn't get hurt by one of her contraptions."
"No! It was really awesome! Mei's inventions are so cool! I was so much stronger wearing the Power Suit, it almost felt like I had a quirk! She says she wants to make support equipment for heroes, and to get into UA. Well, I want to go to UA too, in the hero course! Please, let me help Mei make more inventions, so that I can be a hero and she can be an inventor! We can pursue our dreams together!" Izuku bent low in a kowtow, praying that Mr. Hatsume would consent to this.
"Whoa there, no need for that. Come on kid, up you go." Mr. Hatsume gently lifted Izuku back to a sitting position, then patted him on the shoulder. He grinned broadly, showing a few chipped and crooked teeth, but it was a friendly look. "So, Mei finally made a friend, huh? Hari told me she'd brought someone home but I didn't believe it! This is fantastic! Of course you can come over and play with Mei, Midoriya! We'd be happy to have you! Mei's never brought home a friend before. And, you're not mad about Komaru?"
"No, his quirk is really cool! He's still little, so I'm sure he's learning to control it. You mean it, I can really come over and try out Mei's inventions whenever I want?"
"Of course. Just, er, be careful. She gets a little over enthusiastic sometimes," Mr. Hatsume cautioned.
"Thank you sir!" Izuku said fervently, bowing again.
He knew, with Mei's help, he really could be a hero.
The primary AU element of this story lies in Mei having grown up much closer to where Izuku lived, instead of Kyoto. Further points of departure shall arise from that.
Thanks for reading and reviewing!