A/N: Not quite sure where I want this story to go after this chapter...if it goes anywhere. It was supposed to end at the second chapter, but Tensei Iida pushed himself into the ending of the last chapter, so I wrote this... If anyone has ideas, I'm all ears! Now on to the story!
Fuyumi desperately held back tears as she made her way to work, an hour earlier than she usually did.
Natsuo and Shoto had both been at home last night, causing her to be overjoyed. She'd cooked them cold soba and sashimi, some of their favorite food along with white rice. As she was setting the table, she asked Natsuo about how college was going for him and how high school was treating Shoto. As Shoto smiled, telling her about a new friend he'd made named Izuku Midoriya, Enji had walked through the door. Even as Endeavor's flames burned brightly, the temperature in the house seemed to fall several degrees when his presence was recognized. Shoto immediately stopped talking and shut down, the familiar dull look replacing his lively expression. Natsuo turned away from Enji, clenching his fist.
Fuyumi had a feeling she knew what was upsetting her father, having watched the news about the Hero Killer and how the newscaster had openly mocked Endeavor, claiming that the second ranked hero was not worthy of his ranking. Unfortunately, Natsuo shared the newscasters opinion and didn't hesitate to let Enji know, which wasn't received well. She tried to defuse the situation as best she could, but the emotions and voices rose despite her best efforts. She'd forgotten, for a brief hour, how broken her family was.
Why did Enji choose now of all times to appear at home? Fuyumi knew the reason, her father wasn't happy with Shoto, who'd run off during their battle, and the only time they saw him now was in the evenings because of school. She could only watch as Natsuo stormed out of the house, heading back to his dorms, not likely to visit for the next couple of weeks. Shoto had retreated to his room, silent fury painted on his features and Endeavor had left infuriated after pounding on Shoto's door.
The silence was overwhelming in his departure, prompting her to turn on the TV to one of her soap operas for white noise. She'd numbly put most of the untouched food away, only taking a bite or two from the rice and washing the dishes. She'd gone to bed shortly after the soap opera ended, turning on her white noise maker and laying in bed for the next couple of hours, listlessly staring at the ceiling. She was so tired of the fighting and the arguing, the long silence and the cold shoulders.
As the hours of the night passed agonizingly slow, she pressed the heels of her palms to her eyes and let her lonely tears fall. She hasn't cried in a while and all the pent up stress and emotion cascaded down her cheeks in the form of tears. Why was father the way he was? Why didn't mother return? Why was her family falling apart? Why couldn't she do anything to stop the fighting? Why was she the one running the home? Why? Why? WHY? She knew the answer to these questions, but the knowledge didn't stop her tears.
Her night was fitful and even though she knew she fell asleep, it felt like she hadn't slept at all. Her eyes burned and she forced herself out of bed, groaning at her back hurt from tossing and turning all night. She'd made breakfast for Shoto, even though he wouldn't be up yet and forced down her own food. She methodically packed her lunch and headed out the door, an hour earlier than she normally would. If she'd stayed in that house for a second longer, the walls would have closed in on her, oppressing her with the empty feel of the house.
As she waited to cross the street, she heard the screeching of tires and glanced down the road to see a van speeding towards the light. Fuyumi backed away, not willing to become a target for the car when the rabbit hero, Mirko, appeared out of nowhere and slammed her foot in the front of the van, crushing it. The van flipped over once, twice headed towards where Fuyumi and a group of pedestrians were standing. Several of them screamed as their bodies became frozen in terror, unable to move. Bright red feathers zoomed down and removed all of them from the crumpled van pathway. Fuyumi could only blink in shock as she landed dozens of feet away from the van. Her brain refused to compute the fact that she almost died as Mirko landed one more hit on the van, stopping it from slamming into a building.
"I had it under control." The rabbit hero huffed, hands on hips as she looked to the sky.
"Undoubtedly. I just think those who were about to be hit by the van would have preferred to be out of the way." The red winged hero smirked down at Mirko, descending to stand by her.
"You cheeky little brat. Are you up so early because the early bird gets the worm?" She taunted, ripping open the van door to reveal several knocked out bodies.
"Ah, but the second mouse gets the cheese. I was merely flying by when I heard sounds of distress and what can I say? The hero in me prompted me to act, so I did." He smirked, a row of his feathers keeping the onlookers away.
"Uh-huh. At least make yourself useful and call the police or one of your sidekicks or something." She waved him off. Fuyumi watched as Hawks' grin grew.
"Consider it done. Oh, look at that. Sidekicks to the rescue." Two of Hawks' sidekicks landed within his circle of feathers.
"Hawks, please don't leave us behind like that." One of them pleaded.
"I can't help it if you're too slow. Anyway, can you be wonderful and take care of these criminals? Thank you, much appreciated!" Mirko backed away from the van, allowing Hawks' sidekicks to take over.
"Well, aren't you efficient?" She raised an eyebrow at him as she walked closer to him.
"But of course. Too bad you don't have your own agency to clean up after you." He smiled, putting his hands in his pockets.
"I'm sure you know why I don't have one. I hop all over Japan so having an agency would slow me down. That's not my style." She grinned, sharply.
"Naturally." He agreed.
Fuyumi tuned out their bantering as a conversation next to her caught her attention. She couldn't believe what she was hearing and stopped short of outright staring at them.
"This is what heroes should be like. Do you remember those heroes the Hero Killer took down a month or so ago? I say that if they can't win against one person, they shouldn't be heroes." The woman with greying hair huffed.
"I agree. I mean, I heard a rumor from a reliable source that group of kids gave the Hero Killer the run around until the Pro's showed up. Talk about pathetic. Kids can manage to keep from being killed, but Pro heroes can't? It's disgraceful." Her friend, a white haired elderly woman, frowned.
"I know. One of the heroes who survived, what was his name? The one with the speed-enhancing quirk?" Grey-haired snapped her fingers.
"I believe he went by the hero name Ingenium." White-haired supplied.
"Yes him. He's been paralized from the waist down, poor dear. I think it would have been more of a mercy to kill him outright, than to have him live with his failures. I don't know if I'd feel comfortable having a hero like Ingenium protecting me."
"Especially since last I heard, he's applying to work in a school. How horrible he must feel to have such a downgrade."
Not only were they shaming a valiant hero, but they were blatantly saying that working at a school was considered shameful!? Fuyumi couldn't take it anymore and whipped around, confronting the two older ladies. Later, when she thought back on this day, she couldn't believe the words that came out of her mouth. She fully blamed her lack of sleep and mental exhaustion.
"Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation, not because I wanted to, but because you were talking so loud I'm sure everyone here heard what you were saying. There are several things that you just said that are ridiculously wrong. Why are you hating on heroes that can't defeat one man? Last I checked, Ingenium's main focus was on rescuing people and helping them become better people and overcoming their past, not capturing criminals. He's always helped out people whenever he could. He has taken on several villains that would normally rank above him in terms of power and defeated them, leaving the public safer. In regards to the Hero Killer, he was a bad match. Everyone's quirk has a vulnerability, even All Might. I would ask that you do not talk down on heroes, especially those who dedicate their lives to serving others. You have spat on Ingenuim's name and should feel ashamed of yourself." She seethed, her turbulent emotions causing frost to creep along her arm. She must have startled them, because they did not try to interrupt her until her rant was over.
"Well, I never. Is this how you talk to your elders, child?" White-hair sneered.
"Of course not. This is how I talk to people whom I've lost all respect for." Her remark had the same effect as if she'd slapped them across the face. Loud laughter sounded behind her, making her jump in surprise.
"What a well spoken insult! You wouldn't mind if I used that one day, would ya?" The rabbit hero slung her arm around Fuyumi's shoulders, grinning down at her.
"M-Mirko." She stuttered, sagging slightly on the weight of the hero's arm.
"I'll take that as a yes. Now I'm sure everyone knows that I consider those who join teams as cowards, but I'll admit that I thought if Ingenium trained a little bit more, he could have been a hero who could have worked on his own and one day have made it to the top 25 of Japan. He was still young and not everyone can be like this birdie and be the number three hero in their early twenties. I do not appreciate it when anyone talks bad about a hero who did his best to help those he could." Mirko's grin never faltered, but a sharp quality snuck in, terrifying the older ladies.
"Seriously, seriously." Hawks stepped up to Fuyumi's other side, "Talking bad about a hero and saying it's better off that he'd been killed is quite harsh, don't you know." Hawks' carefree smile did nothing to lessen his sharp words. Both ladies seemed frozen as the two heroes stared down at them, daring them to contradict them.
"I-I suppose it was rather ungracious of us to be talking like that." Grey-hair mumbled.
"Indeed. Pardon us." White-haired half-apologized. Fuyumi could see the resentment in their eyes at being reprimanded and slightly shook her head, letting out a sigh of disappointment. Her students were more gracious and well meaning than these two old coots.
"Well, it was a pleasure seeing you all, but I have places to be. Stay safe." Hawks saluted the small crowd and took off in a blur of red feathers.
"I guess that's my cue to leave. Can't have a chicken outpace a rabbit." Mirko stepped back and in a grand jump, leaped away. Fuyumi braced herself against the wind the two heroes created before deftly leaving the scene, wanting nothing more than to be in the safety of her classroom. She would not give the two old biddy's a chance to dig their claws in her. She crosses the street and within five minutes she's in her classroom with the lights on and her head smashed against her desk. She was so tired. How was she going to manage to teach a class full of excited seven year olds when she could barely pull herself together. She groaned as she rose to go to the teachers lounge to brew herself caffeinated tea. She'd drink as many of those as she needed to today.
She was rubbing her eyes as she walked into the lounge, her glasses in one hand. She'd arrived early enough that most of the other staff were not in. So Fuyumi got the surprise of her life when she heard someone clear their throat. She'd admit that she jumped and screamed, instinctively raising her right arm as it coated in frost towards the unexpected sound. It took her two seconds to realize she didn't have her glasses on, prompting her to sheepishly place them on her face.
"I'm so sorry! I wasn't expecting anyone to be here and I just reacted-" She trailed off as she recognized who she was looking at.
"No, no. It's my fault for startling you." Tensei Iida, also known as the former pro hero, Ingenium, waved shyly at her. What was he doing in her school? And how did he get in? She heard movement behind her and turned to see her principal walk in.
"Oh, Fuyumi. I'm glad to see you here. I'd like you to meet our new assistant teacher, Tensei Iida." He gestured to the wheelchair bound man.
"It's a pleasure to meet you." She bowed towards Tensei.
"Likewise." He bowed stiffly, wincing at the pull of his stiff muscles.
"He'll be working with you for the first couple of days to get his bearings, shadowing you because he'll be helping out with the younger kids mainly. He's working on getting his teachers license, but for now he'll be a substitute and assistant teacher." Fuyumi nodded as the principal took Tensei to familiarize himself with the school grounds. Fuyumi blinked, before heading to the cabinet and taking out tea packets. How odd that she'd defend the hero and not even thirty minutes later, get to meet him.
The day passed surprisingly fast and Tensei was a quick learner. The kids were enthralled with him and she could practically see the hearts in several of the girls' eyes. He was easy to talk to and not afraid to ask questions when he didn't get something and had a charming personality. She knew she wasn't the easiest person to talk to, considering her relatively sheltered childhood, but he made her laugh and forget about her worries while she was talking to him. Her stress melted away at each of his snarky comments, told under his breath so the kids didn't hear.
Tensei stayed in the center of the room as the kids crowded around him, asking questions about what it was like to be a hero. At the end of the day, as the kids trickled out, Tensei hung back as the parents came to pick up their kids. When the last kid, Asada, had left, Fuyumi turned around, unsure how to interact with the former hero now that there weren't kids to distract them. She turned around and started back when his piercing blue eyes met hers.
"I couldn't find the best time to tell you this, considering how busy you were with the kids, but I wanted to thank you." He began, glancing away as a light red blush dusted his cheeks. She blinked at his admission, confused.
"What do you mean?" She questioned, taking a seat near him.
"I figured you didn't see me, but I was there this morning when Mirko and Hawks took down the villain. I overheard the two older ladies and what they said about me. I figured they didn't recognize me since I can't wear my hero suit anymore, but their words did hurt. I've been struggling to accept my new life and hearing them made me question if it would have been better if Stain had killed me."
Fuyumi huffed, "Don't let those careless words they threw out fester in you. They were gossipy old ladies that had nothing better to do than judge those around them. It was obvious from the start that they were not thinking at all when they spoke. They don't realize how hurtful words can be." She started strong, but trailed off, aware how vulnerable that last sentence made her feel.
"I know. But it still hurts to hear those words in person. You don't know how lifted up I felt when you turned around and shot them down. I'd been thinking that everything I'd done had been for nothing, so it was good to hear someone defend me." He smiled at her, his eyes softening at her blush.
"It wasn't just me." She denied, willing her blush to disappear, "Hawks defended you and Mirko, the hero that doesn't work with teams, put them in their place. Their words were much more impactful than an angry stranger they met on the street."
"And yet, it was because of you that the heroes stepped up. Since you'd brought attention to their hurtful words, they were able to directly confront them. I will admit that having Mirko defend me was a surprise. I thought she'd leave right after the criminals were caught." Fuyumi smiled as a far-away look entered his eyes and a soft smile crossed his lips.
"Oh my." Fuyumi put her hand up to her mouth, feeling unusually spunky as she allowed a bit of her snarky side to show, "What is this I see? Does someone have a crush on a certain rabbit hero?" Tensei blinked as he refocused back to the present and saw her unabashed grin. A fierce blush covered his face as he sputtered, causing Fuyumi to laugh.
"That's- That's not-! I-"
"I don't blame you. When she began to rise in ranking, I remember admiring her for her confidence and how unafraid she was to state her opinion and not care what anyone else thought. That's also why I admire Hawks. It's because they are so different from the way people think heroes should act and aren't too concerned with rankings or how people view them. It was refreshing." She looked away as Tensei observed her.
"What is this I see?" He grinned, "Does someone have a crush on a certain bird hero?" She barked a laugh, even as her face flooded with scarlet. He grinned at her before continuing, "I agree with you. I know how hard it is to not get caught up on rankings and popularity votes. I like to think that I didn't focus too much on it, and for the most part I didn't, but it's hard not to. I always wanted to be a different type of hero, one that when people heard they were coming, they'd feel relieved and hope. I guess it's a wishful dream now." He looked down on his legs, his hands forming into fists. She gently lay a hand on one of his own.
"I don't know what you are going through, but I'm always here to talk. You may not be able to make a difference the way you once did, but you can make a difference here. You can teach these kids about life and trials. Just because one door was shut to you, does not mean that all the doors are closed. And even if they are, I'll help you find a window to open or break through. Either way." She didn't know what she was saying, but it must have worked because he returned her smile.
"Thank you, Fuyumi."
"Thank you, Tensei." She thought, feeling a burden lift off her shoulders at the possibility of having a true friend.