Spider-Man, Captain Britain, and all associated characters, are property of Marvel. My Hero Academia and all related characters are property of Kohei Horikoshi
Toshinori shivered, pulling his coat closer against his body. It was a particularly cold day in New York, and he found himself wishing that One for All came with the ability to resist the cold. Alas, he had to rely on more mundane methods to keep warm.
He let out a sigh of relief when he stepped through the threshold of his heated dormitory. He shrugged off his coat and whistled a merry tune as he walked up to his dorm.
Only to come to a stop as Peter, a frown on his face, opened the door to his dorm and stepped out in front of him.
Toshinori blinked, "Hello, Peter. What's the matter?"
"You talk to Brian, lately?"
The Japanese Hero blinked, "Um…define 'lately'."
"Never mind," his friend rolled his eyes, and gestured to his dorm, "C'mere, we need to talk." Toshinori hummed but followed along. He arched a brow upon seeing David sitting at the table, a pensive frown on his face.
"What's wrong?" Toshi asked as he took his seat, "What's wrong with Brian?"
Peter leaned against the kitchen counter with a sigh, "I think he's getting homesick."
"Oh?" Toshi grunted. "Well, he hasn't talked to me about it." Though he could understand why they'd think Brian would, being the only other foreigner in their group.
"We figured," David nodded. "He's not talking to anyone about it, but if you observe him, you can tell."
"How?" Toshinori asked.
"He's been very withdrawn over the last few weeks," David said.
"I've caught him staring out east a lot," Peter added.
"He's started using his British colloquialisms aggressively."
"He's been buying or cooking a lot of British meals," Peter groaned, holding his stomach.
"I get it," Toshi held up his hands, fighting to stave off the shame he felt that he hadn't noticed these things. "I'll talk to him, exchange-student-to-exchange-student. Where is he?"
"On the roof," Peter supplied.
"Toshinori blinked, "You followed him?"
"No," Peter tapped his head, "I can feel him."
"I…I thought you could sense people beyond a certain radius if they meant you harm."
"No," Peter shook his head with a grimace, "I can sense anyone that presents a danger to my person, whether they mean it or not."
David paled, "…You should go."
"R-Right," Toshi shot up to his feet, putting on his coat and rushed out the door.
He all but ran for the staircase, forcing himself to not push All for One into his body as he climbed up the stairs. If Brian was…volatile…it wouldn't do to accidentally put him on the defensive.
He opened the door to the roof to see Brian sitting on the edge of the building, a six-pack of beer beside him, minus two cans.
Toshinori gulped down his anxiety, affecting a positive tone of voice and saying, "Hey, Brian!"
His friend jerked around, and Toshi counted his lucky stars that the man wasn't glassy-eyed drunk—though he clutched his beer can like it was his child. "Toshi!" the British Hero smiled, "want to join me for a drink? I mean, all I've got is this American swill," he gestured lazily at the rest of the beer, "but it's better than nothing."
Toshinori plastered a smile on his face, "Sure!" He walked over, sitting down on the edge of the building. He opened a can of beer and put the rest of the pack as far away from Brian as possible. If his friend noticed or cared, he didn't say anything.
He took a sip of beer (he knew that he was still underaged in the United States, but he was already an illegal Vigilante, so what was one more broken law?) and said, "You've been acting kind of funny over the past few weeks."
Brian snorted, "You noticed huh?" Toshinori kept silent. "…Well, I guess if anyone'd even come close to understanding, it'd be you."
A nod, "Homesick?"
"Yes," Toshinori leaned back at the quick answer, "er, no, maybe…I don't fucking know," Brian moaned, dropping his head. Toshinori pursed his lips. Slowly, he raised his hand, and pat Brian's shoulder. When the British student didn't shove him away, he left it there. "…You remember when we all told each other how we got out powers?"
Toshi cocked a brow but nodded. That had been an…interesting day.
"I'm not sure I should be here," David said, drumming his fingers on the dining table, staring at Toshinori, David, and Brian.
Peter rolled his eyes, "David, get over it. You're part of the superhero community now—all three of you. Part of that is bitching to each other about how we got out powers." He tilted his head, "Unless you were born with them or don't have any beyond the scope of human limitations. Then you just laugh at the rest of us. Yeah, you can be our laugh track!"
Toshinori, for one, was touched at the level of trust Peter and Brian were displaying, and a touch surprised at himself that he was willing to reciprocate. If only a little; it was still too soon to talk about All for One and all he'd taken from the world, and Toshinori.
David blushed, but didn't refute the statement. Brian scoffed, "This going to be anything like Moonknight trying to convert us to, what, Khonshuanity?"
"Khonshuism," Peter 'corrected' him, "and no. This is just us having a bit of fun laughing at…whatever higher power is up there laughing at us."
"Well," Toshinori decided to take the first step, "I don't know about any higher power out there, but I was gifted my powers." He smiled—so long as he didn't remember her death, thinking of Nana didn't hurt.
David blinked, "I…didn't you say you had a Quirk? One of the power-granting genes?"
"So," Brian frowned, "you're telling us you were 'gifted' your Quirk. Are you just trying to come up with a fancy way of saying you got it from one of your parents?"
"Going further into pointless artistic doublespeak," Peter cut in, "I've heard that a lot of powered folk in Japan say that the nuclear fallout from the atomic bombs were what 'gave' them their powers."
"No," Toshinori chuckled, "I'm not talking about that—though that is a fascinating theory that I suggest you all read up on." He shook his head, lips curling into a fond smile, "but I suppose…Nana was the closest thing I had to a mother."
David hummed, "The lady who taught you, right?"
Toshinori nodded, "Her Quirk was…special. She could pass it on to someone else if she felt them worthy."
"So," Peter arched a brow, "you're the latest in a line of 'worthy' heroes, then?"
The Japanese Hero clicked his tongue, "That's another matter entirely, but yes." Brian looked pensive, while David was looking at Toshinori with an amount of awe that made him blush.
Peter just chuckled, "Well, my own powers come from a much less illustrious source." He waited a minute, "I was bitten by a radioactive spider." Silence.
David broke it first, "Wait, that's the truth? I thought you were pulling my leg!"
"God's honest truth," Peter smirked.
"I'm sorry," Brian held up a hand, "you were bitten by a radioactive arachnid? And that gave you your powers?"
"Yup. It was at a scientific expo over in Queens. I was watching them show off a particle accelerator."
"Are you talking about the General Techtronics Laboratories East nuclear radiation expo? About five years ago?"
Peter blinked, before chuckling, "Don't tell me, you were there?"
"Yeah! School trip," David's smile was stretched from ear-to-ear, "Oh my god! I was there when Spider-Man got his powers!"
Toshinori playfully smacked his shoulder, "Keep it in your pants." Brian and Peter laughed, and David blushed heavily, but that did nothing to erase the glee in his eyes.
"Anyway," Peter began once more, "a spider bit the back of my hand—I've still got the scar," he showed off the back of his hand, and indeed, there was a small scar on it. "I left early after getting a headache, and would have been run over by a car had I not leapt twenty feet into the air and clung to the side of a building."
"…I didn't hear about that," David muttered. "You'd think people would've been talking about."
"Eh," Peter shrugged, "this was just before the Vigilante boom—I think the Fantastic Four were just getting out of the hospital after their accident in space."
"So, people were more likely to just write it off as a trick of the eyes," Brian surmised. "Lucky you."
"Hold on," Toshinori held up a hand, "back up a bit. How do you know the spider was radioactive?"
Peter sent him an odd look, "How the hell else would I have gotten my powers? Magic?"
"That's how I got mine," David interjected.
Peter cocked a brow, "Really now?"
"Yup." Brian's lips spread into a grin, "I was also gifted my powers like Toshi."
"Oh, you were given yours by a parental figure too?"
The British Hero snorted, "Far from it. Want to take a guess as to who it was?"
David hummed, "By the look on your face, I'm guessing we should know this person." Brian nodded, prompting a snort from Peter.
"Well who was it, Captain Teatime? King Arthur?" Toshi blinked—the name tickling the depths of his memory—as Brian smirked. Peter snorted, "Merlin?" Brian's smile spread to show his teeth. "…Shut up."
"Merlin," David said, eyes wide. "Merlin. From Camelot. With the Knights of the Round table? Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere—that Merlin?" More names that tickled the back of Toshinori's mind. At Brian's nod, David fell back in his heat, "Goddamn…"
"I'm sorry," Toshinori spoke up, "who's this 'Merlin'?" His friends all stared at him like he'd grown a second head. "…What?"
Peter shook his head, "I always forget that your one-hundred percent native Japanese."
"The blonde hair and blue eyes don't help anything," David snickered.
Toshinori rolled his eyes, "So, I take it this Merlin person is important?"
Brian nodded, growing a touch graver, "Very."
Toshinori grinned, "Then I guess that makes you special too, eh?"
Strangely enough, discomfort flashed across Brian's face, before he grinned back, "Guess so."
"I wasn't entirely honest, when I told you all about how I got my powers."
"I figured," Toshinori nodded.
Brian fidgeted a moment, taking a large gulp of beer before blurting out, "I was dying in a ditch when Merlin found me."
Toshinori paled, "…What?"
"I…Some mercenaries invaded my parent's old lab. I tried to get away, but they ran me off the road. I…" he lifted his right arm, "this thing was bent all wrong, bones sticking out of, same with this," he clapped his left leg. "I'd cracked my skull, and I'm pretty I punctured a lung because I couldn't stop coughing up blood." Toshinori's heart dropped with every word that passed through his friend's lips. Especially with the cold, clinical way he recounted his brush with death (Toshinori hoped that that was due to the alcohol). "And then, Merlin—bloody Merlin—showed up out of nowhere, offering me a choice of magical artifacts. I chose the Amulet of Right," he pulled down his collar, showing off the silver pendant he usually wore under his clothes, "and became Captain Britain."
Toshinori stayed silent as Brian let loose a deep sigh, finishing his beer. Eventually, he said, "There's something else, isn't there? Something beyond the…circumstances of your origin."
Brian scoffed, staring up at the night sky. "I…I owed Merlin, after that. He started teaching me about my newfound powers. Taught me a lot of things, actually. And then," a sneer fell upon his lips, "I found out why." Toshinori didn't have to wait long for Brian to elaborate. "He…He's been training me up to be the next King Arthur! Wants me to, I don't know, rebuild Avalon and lead the isles to glory once more!" He shook his head, "I…that's not what I wanted! At first…at first, I just wanted to live! And then…and then I started to save people and my heart would soar when people's eyes lit up as they realized that they'd live another day! But I never…I never wanted to become a damn king!"
"…Is that you came to the United States?"
Brian nodded, "I…I couldn't deal with…with the deceit. I applied to a dozen international universities and hopped on a plane to New York when ESU's letter came in first." He smiled, then, a soft, genuine thing, and said, "And I thank god that I did! Never would have met you and David and Peter otherwise." He turned, eyes watering, "I'm…I'm really glad I've gotten to know you all."
Toshinori sniffed, looking away with a blush, "Uh…likewise." He pursed his lips, "But…there's still more you aren't telling me, isn't there?"
His friend's smile vanished. "…Yeah."
"You mentioned that you might be missing home."
Brian nodded, "I…I do. Even considering," his lips briefly curled into a frown, "…Merlin…I do love my homeland. I enjoyed being a Hero there." He swallowed, "But…I don't deserve to be a Hero."
"What?!" Toshinori shouted, eyes going wide, "Brian, what the hell are you talking about? You're a fantastic Hero! You're—"
"A coward!" Brian barked. "Ran away at the first sign of trouble! Not like you, or Peter—even David's got more balls than me, and he's an ordinary man!"
Toshinori sighed, leaning over and patting Brian's shoulders, "…You're not a coward."
"I am dammit! I'm not like you! I didn't come here to learn to be a better person!" The Japanese Hero narrowed his brow, until he remembered that, months ago, he'd told his friends that he was sent to the United States to cut his teeth. He just never clarified that he was sent under duress. "I came to hide away from my problems! Like a goddamn coward!"
"…Well, if you're a coward, I'm one too." Brian made a sort of questioning, disbelieving grunt. "I…I haven't been entirely honest either. About why I'm here instead of Japan."
Brian tilted his head, "You said you're mentor—Nana, right?—she—"
"Nana's dead," Toshinori bluntly cut him off. "Murdered back in July."
"Oh!" Brian gasped, sobering up in an instant, "Toshi—I—"
"It's fine," he held up a hand, "I never told you, any of you. I was content to let you believe that she was still alive." He took a deep breath—the last time he talked about Nana like this was when Gran visited months ago. But he could do it now. Brian needed to hear it.
"…I'd just graduated from U.A.—Japan's premier Hero training school," he clarified upon seeing Brain's blank stare, "and had started working for Nana and Gran. A…a few weeks in, we get a mission from the government. Some disturbance on a small island to the southeast." His hands started to tremble, heart steadily climbing up his throat, "…It wasn't just some 'disturbance', it was a Monster." Brian made to speak, but Toshinori cut him off, hissing, "All for One!"
"The worst criminal Japan's never known. He's been around for at least a century, pulling the strings of Japan's criminal underworld." He raised his hands, clenching them into fists as One for All coursed through his veins, "And he's been killing the past wielders of my inherited Quirk for just as long."
"Yeah," Toshinori snorted, "'Oh'." He took a deep breath, releasing his death grip on One for All, "Gran told me that I had to leave the country. I didn't want to—I wanted to stay and fight or die trying. But he…he was smarter than me. Kept his head on straight in spite of Nana's death. He wore me down and convinced me of the logic of fleeing the country." He chuckled, "Of course, when I decided that I wanted to go to America—to New York—he thought I had more than a few screws loose. I swear, every other phone call we have is spent arguing about me moving anywhere else!" Brian laughed—a short, strangled one, but a laugh all the same. Toshinori laughed in turn, and soon enough to pair were clutching their stomachs, laughing at nothing and everything.
When they finished, Toshinori tilted his head at Brian, a soft smile on his face, "Honestly, Brian, I don't think either of us are cowards. We're just…trying to find our place in the world. However," he held up his still full can of beer, and tipped it over, pouring the liquid on the roof, "I don't think you'll find it at the bottom of one of these."
Brian nodded, looking down at his own empty can, "Yeah…you're right…I really do miss the isles."
"I miss Japan," Toshinori commiserated.
"When do you plan on heading back?"
"Whenever Gran calls me back. Or when I graduate from ESU."
"…I don't think I'm going to stick around that long." At Toshinori's inquisitive stare, he added, "I…I can't ignore Merlin forever. And to be honest, I'm worried that the longer I spend away the more likely he is to…do something."
The Japanese Hero sat up straighter, "Do you need help dealing with him?"
"No," his friend shook his head, "Merlin…he's not evil or anything just…wily and…secretive. He wouldn't intentionally harm me."
"Well…I'm still half-and-half as to whether or not he deliberately intended for me to fight my first Villain minutes after I got my powers."
Toshinori sent him a flat look, "…Let's me and him never meet."
"Done!" Brian smirked. He then stretched his arms above his head, arching his back, "Damn! Thanks, Toshi. I needed this."
"Hey, it's what friends are for." He hummed, looking over his shoulder and looking at the stairs, "Speaking of…" He felt that Peter and David should know about his own circumstances, now that he'd confessed them to Brian.
"Yeah…tomorrow," Brian nodded. "Late tomorrow. Want to sleep on…a lot of things."
Toshinori nodded, "Fair enough, my friend."
A/N: In canon, Brian Braddock turns to drink near the tail-end of his time at ESU. He ended up getting kicked out of his dorm by Peter and crippling a minor villain before getting sober. Then, when he tries to go home, he jumps out a plane because he gets attacked by a telepath and he lives on an island for a few months after losing his memories and boy, I love comics, don't you?! Be sure to leave a review. Later.