AN: new chapter out. Enjoy!
Chapter 19 - Adoption
"Maaan, this place is awesome!" a red-haired boy shouted in excitement and took in a deep breath, filling his lungs with the smell of sweat and stale locker room air.
"...Freaking weirdo," Naruto muttered as he fastened his breathing mask to cover his mouth and nose.
But Kirishima snickered at his insult, not taking it to heart. He was too hyped about training together with Naruto to care.
Next to them, Midoriya Izuku and Mashirao Ojiro finished changing into their gym clothes too and were waiting for Naruto who was now struggling to tie his three fluffy fox tails together with a belt to not get in the way when working out.
"It'll take some time to get used to these," Naruto said in chagrin. He was happy that his quirk had awakened two times in a row, of course, but having one large fox tail had been troublesome enough already, to speak nothing of three.
"Alright, let me introduce you to each other: Midoriya Izuku," Naruto said and pointed at the buff green-haired boy, "Kirishima Eijiro," and pointed at the red-haired boy, "And Mashirao Ojiro" he finished and motioned towards the blonde-haired boy that had a large, muscular tail.
"Nice to meet you!" Kirishima said and shook hands with Izuku. "I saw your match against Iida, you were awesome!"
Izuku flushed at his honest praise and smiled shyly while rubbing the back of his head. "Ah, thank you! It wasn't that much but-"
"Don't sell yourself short, Teniya has a strong quirk, his speed could've posed a big threat to any of us," Ojiro said and patted Izuku on the shoulder.
Not used to being the centre of attention, Izuku scratched his cheek and looked down in embarrassment, not knowing what to say.
"Look at you acting all shy and giddy like a schoolgirl in front of her crush," Naruto said snidely and snickered.
"Oh, shut up!" Izuku snapped back at him reflexively, momentarily forgetting about his embarrassment.
"I'm dying. I don't think I was made for this," Ojiro said, lying on top of a workout mat on his back, his five limbs spread eagle.
"That's bullshit! Izuku couldn't even do 10 push-ups when he started working out but look at him go now," Naruto said and gestured with his head to the green-haired boy who was in the middle of doing weighted dips with a plate hanging from his waist. "And he's quirkless, unlike you."
"My quirk is my tail, I'm not much stronger than most people," Ojiro retorted.
"Your core muscles and your back need to be many times stronger than that of quirkless people for you to use that tail like you do, you can't fool me. You're way stronger than regular people but you're just a lazy bum! Get up!"
"Give me a break, man, sheesh! What a slave driver!" Ojiro complained, not budging an inch.
Seeing that Ojiro wasn't going to stand up any time soon, Naruto shook his head and gave up. He went back to doing barbell squats.
"You can bring a horse to the river but you can't force it to drink water," he said sagely and Izuku was forced to stop in the middle of the set because he couldn't keep his form while giggling.
"Oi, Naruto! I'm about to start working my chest now. Can you be my spotter?" Kirishima asked.
"Lemme finish this set, one minute!" Naruto said and cried out in exertion as he pushed the barbell with all the strength that he was capable of.
The smith machine quaked as Naruto rolled the barbell and its hinges got locked in place. After his quirk awakened two times in a row, his physical strength had gone up significantly but it was still not as much as he had hoped for. Nonetheless, leaving the smith machine behind, he went to Kirishima to help him out with his exercise.
"By the way, rumour goes that Ashido has a thing for you. Is it true that she asked you out?" Kirishima asked while benching the 100 kg heavy barbell without even breathing hard.
"How did you even hear about that?" Naruto said in surprise.
"So it's true! Can't believe you'd turn down someone like her!" Kirishima said.
"Whoa, seriously? Someone confessed to you?" Izuku who heard what they were talking about left his exercise and came next to them.
Miraculously enough, even Ojiro found the energy to stand up from the floor and came to hear the juicy gossip better.
"Ayo, what the hell, go back to your shit!" Naruto bristled at Izuku. Turning to Ojiro with a mean glare he shooed him away too. "I thought you were dead tired, looks like you were lying, huh? Maybe you'd like to do some deadlifts next?"
"And you, what's with these weak-ass weights, bro, do you even lift?" he also yelled at Kirishima.
"It's the warm-up set..." Kirishima muttered with a pout but stopped talking and did his sets earnestly.
But Naruto's vehement refusal to talk about it confirmed for the three boys that the rumours were, in fact, true.
As Naruto and Izuku were heading home from the gym, Izuku told him the story of how he performed at the Sports Festival. The normally quiet and shy persona he showed towards strangers was nowhere to be seen. He was gesticulating wildly with his hands and his eyes were alight with enthusiasm.
"...but just as I was about to knee him in the face and knock him out, he suddenly activated a super move of his. His speed was insane! He pushed me to the edge of the arena in the blink of an eye!"
Naruto punched him lightly in the shoulder and grinned at him.
"I watched the recording of it but I wish I could've seen it live. That moment when you grabbed him with one arm and used your hysterical strength to judo throw him out of bounds was so freaking hype, man!"
"None of this would've been possible without your help," Izuku said and his hands tightened around the strap of his gym bag.
"...Don't tell me you're about to cry again," Naruto said half-jokingly half-exasperatedly.
"Shut up!" Izuku said and looked away embarrassed.
But Naruto slapped him two times on the back as a way of showing he understood his feelings.
"Hey, Naruto. Before we go our separate ways, can I talk to you for a moment?" Izuku asked.
When the blond tilted his head at him in confusion, Izuku added: "Somewhere more private, with fewer ears around."
"I don't know," Naruto unexpectedly showed a conflicted expression. "I really need to get home quickly today. Oh wait, I can't believe I forgot to tell you about it! I've got a new sister!"
"What?!" Izuku said in surprise, having not seen that coming. "How?! I saw your parents last week, right before the Sports Festival, your mom didn't look pregnant."
"We adopted a girl. She's the cutest thing ever, I swear to god! I can't wait to see the face she'll make when she sees me come back home!" Naruto said and chuckled. "But I'll tell you more about it tomorrow."
They were now at crossroads, the point where they had to part ways.
"It's really important, Naruto. Please!" Izuku insisted and Naruto stopped in his tracks.
Fifteen minutes later, the two teenage boys arrived at Musutafu City's Municipal Beach. Although the weather was warm and pleasant, it was still not hot enough for most people to swim in the sea, especially not at that late hour, in the evening. There was nobody else on the beach except for the two of them.
Placing his gym bag down on the sand, Naruto sat on top of it, careful not to let his fox tails touch the sand.
"Well, what's this big secret you wanted to talk to me about?"
Not knowing where to start, Izuku just blurted it out:
"I got a quirk."
"What?" Naruto said in surprise. He even took out his ear mufflers, thinking that he must have misheard him because of the sea breeze.
"Look, I was born quirkless, I haven't been lying to you. But the day after the Sports Festival, I received it a quirk as a gift."
"The fuck?!" Naruto subconsciously cussed. "How is that even possible?"
Izuku clasped his hands together as he gave him his most serious face and said:
"I'm not joking. I promised that I would never tell anyone about it but I can't keep a secret as important as this from you. Not after everything you've done for me."
Before Naruto could tell him to stop fucking around, Izuku quickly added:
"All Might gave me his quirk. He is gravely injured, his body is in terrible condition... nowadays, he can only work as a hero for three hours a day. So he's been looking for someone to pass his power to, a successor. That's why he became a teacher at UA High this year."
"I've never heard of a quirk that can be passed on to someone else like that," Naruto muttered.
But he decided not to doubt Izuku's words. Having seen All Might's true appearance the previous week, now it all made sense. Furthermore, he reckoned that if All For One, his family's enemy, was capable of stealing quirks from other people, it shouldn't be that hard to believe there was someone out there who could also transfer their quirk to someone else.
"It's true. I can show you! Look!" Izuku said and jumped up to his feet.
He closed his eyes for a moment and got into a wide stance, not that different from the horse stance that his martial arts instructor had made him practice at the dojo.
"What are you doing, are you taking a shit?"
"Shut up, asshole!" Izuku yelled at him, his face flushed with both anger and embarrassment as he heard Naruto start snickering like a fox. "Seriously, be quiet for a minute! If I don't focus, my whole arm will blow up."
Now that the fox boy had quieted down, Izuku closed his eyes again and tried to find the mysterious power slumbering inside his body.
Naruto's mouth hung open and he quickly stood up as he saw Izuku's right arm abruptly becoming crimson red. As a light pattern of red veins covered his forearm and fist, Izuku punched in the direction of the sea and screamed:
A powerful gust of wind burst seemingly out of nowhere and split the seawater in two for a distance of over 10 metres before it died down.
"Holy shit!" Naruto whispered in awe.
Opening his eyes, Izuku cradled his right arm gently, his face scrunched up from the pain.
"This quirk is too powerful for me and I can't control it well. After one punch my arm is burning and I can't move it for an hour. When I first used it a few days ago, my arm broke in two places. If it hadn't been for Recovery Girl, mom would've killed me," Izuku said and attempted to joke at the end.
On his way home, Naruto's mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts due to the earlier revelation.
'Izuku said that All Might can still use his power for a little bit even if he already gave his quirk away. But it won't be long before he becomes just a regular man.'
When that happened, how would the villains react? How would society handle that loss? All Might's power had single-handedly cowed the majority of villains into submission. The contribution of other hero agencies could not be ignored but the fact was that it was mostly thanks to All Might that there were no widespread criminal organisations consisting of villains in Japan nowadays. He had broken down every single one of them in the early stages of his career. Naruto remembered that one time, All Might defeated nearly 100 villains at once when he went against a criminal organisation that was handling illegal cage fighting between people with quirks.
Once All Might retired, chaos was bound to ensue for a while. That period of time could be very dangerous for regular people - people like his parents or like Eri.
'I need to get stronger. And I need to do it fast!'
Naruto had no illusions about his role in society, about his importance in this world.
'I'm just a normal boy now. There is no prophecy, there are no gods, and the fate of the world isn't on my shoulders anymore.'
There were many other people far more capable than him in this world so he wasn't worried about Japan's safety or the fate of the world at large. In this life, all he wanted was the strength to protect his family.
"Congratulations! From today onwards, your name is Uzumaki Eri!" the lady at the Civil Registry Office said kindly and dabbed at the corners of her eyes with a napkin. It wasn't the first time she was witnessing children being adopted but seeing the little girl crying her eyes out from happiness tugged at her heartstrings.
Kushina too had tears rolling down her cheeks as she watched how Naruto hugged the sobbing Eri to his chest. Meanwhile, Minato was recording the scene with a camera, all the while smiling from one ear to another.
As expected from All Might, the Hero who had been at the top of the rankings for more than 2 decades, his reach and connections were not to be underestimated. Less than two weeks from the day when Minato and Kushina took Eri in, he had made it possible for them to adopt her - a process that would normally take several good months.
After tactfully giving the family of four some time to themselves, All Might stepped closer and told Minato and Kushina:
"If possible, I would like to have a private conversation with you. It's related to Naruto's...special quirk," he said and the two understood that he was talking about Naruto's Adamantine Sealing Chains.
In the end, at Minato's and Kushina's insistence, All Might ended up coming to have lunch with the Uzumaki family at their residence. Due to how emotional and exciting that morning had been, by the time they got home Eri had fallen asleep in Naruto's arms.
After Naruto tucked the sleeping Eri in his bed, he returned to the kitchen just in time to hear All Might saying:
"I don't mean to be rude but I am not allowed to eat much of anything due to medical reasons. Some coffee would be great though," All Might said regretfully and gulped wistfully at the sight and smell of the beef steak Kushina just took out from the oven.
Though inwardly bummed out, Kushina did not try to force him to eat and served him some coffee instead. After taking a small sip from the cup, All Might blew out a sigh and said:
"When Naruto told me about his quirk-nullifying chains, he wanted me to promise I'd never reveal it to anyone. He didn't tell me much about it but he seemed to believe that a powerful criminal would try to hunt him down if the information about his other quirk became public. Can you tell me more about it? If there is anything I can do, I will help you."
Since All Might already knew the secret of her and Naruto's quirk, Kushina did not see the point in beating around the bush so she was direct and truthful about her family's enemy.
But, much to Kushina, Minato, and Naruto's confusion, All Might let out a chuckle when she finished talking.
"Ah, I'm sorry. I'm just so relieved," All Might said. Understanding that the three of them were still very much confused, he added:
"All For One is dead."
"W-What?!" Kushina almost shouted, her eyes wide in disbelief.
All For One was the mortal enemy of her family. Ever since she awakened her quirk after her parents' death and her grandmother told her about AFO, Kushina had lived in a state of continuous fear. Although with the passing of time, she began to slowly forget about it, deep down she had always been afraid of AFO learning about her existence and coming after her family. Hearing that the bane of her existence was dead left her stunned.
"Since you have entrusted me with your deepest secrets, I shall let you know the truth about me as well," All Might said and made a small pause to take another sip from his cup of coffee. "It hadn't been revealed to the public because I asked the authorities to keep it a secret. I fought All For One 5 years ago. He was my archenemy."
Saying that, All Might cancelled his muscle form, making both Minato and Kushina nearly jump up to their feet.
"Shocking when you see it first, right?" All Might said with a laugh. "I did win that fight, All For One is dead, but I wasn't left unscathed. I lost my stomach and one of my lungs. Over the years, I had to go through countless surgeries which drained my body of its vitality until I became like this..."
All Might made a complicated face as he continued:
"Truthfully, my days as a hero are nearing their end. But I have chosen my successor already," he said and made sure to look at Naruto meaningfully. "You know who he is, Naruto. I hope that you will continue to support him just like you did until now."
While the family of three were silent, All Might said:
"Honestly, after seeing your self-sacrificing spirit, your bravery, and your tenacity at USJ, I seriously considered passing on the torch to you... but fate works in mysterious ways. The qualities I saw in your friend were not any less than what I saw in you. But while you already are a splendid seedling, Midoriya lacked something vital: he lacked real power, he lacked the tools to achieve his purpose. His desire to protect people, and the recklessness to put his life on the line in spite of being just a quirkless young boy... he reminded me of my younger self. I wanted to offer him the potential to become great."
The day after Eri was adopted into the Uzumaki family it was time for all the Hero Course students at UA High to give their homeroom teachers the forms with the Hero Agencies that they had applied for.
"So, what agency did you choose?" Mina asked, hyped to hear his answer. "Are you going to Hawks? Or to Endeavour? Or maybe you're going to one of the hero agencies from the United States?"
"What are you saying, he's definitely going to go to Mirko," Kaminari said with a shake of his head as if he couldn't believe how naive she was. "I mean, what, have you not seen it? They've been inseparable since USJ."
"What?!" - was how everyone reacted, including Naruto.
"Bro, get off Cross Chat. You're confusing fan-made videos with reality," Kirishima said with a snicker.
"I've only met her once since USJ..." Naruto said, not understanding how did Kaminari reach the conclusion that he and Mirko were now inseparable.
"As expected of a pervert," Kyoka said and threw Kaminari a dirty look.
"But it does make sense for him to take on the Rabbit Hero's offer," Momo Yaoyorozu said with a pondering look on her face. "She has an animal-type mutation quirk like him, she'd know the best how to help him further develop his Fox Quirk."
"But why her?!" Mina burst out, not even trying to hide her frustration. "Mirko doesn't have a real hero agency and she's never taken a side-kick before! I think the Number 13 Hero, the Lion Hero would be better!"
"I agree with Mina. I'm going to the Lion Hero, Shishido too!" Ojiro said, wagging his tail like a dog.
"Hey, guess what Hero Agencies I've applied to!" Yuga Aoyama suddenly butted into their conversation and struck a pose.
"No-one cares!" Kaminari yelled at him in annoyance.
While they were all talking animatedly about the Hero Agencies they had chosen for their internship, the large door of the classroom was opened and the students' first reaction was to rush back to their seats, thinking that it was Professor Aizawa. But instead-
"Tsuyu-chan!" Ochaco yelled as she rushed at her and swooped her in a bear hug.
Uraraka wasn't the only one. Momo was also quick to jump out of her seat and after her, the entire class clamoured around the frog girl who appeared to be overwhelmed by their overenthusiastic welcome. She had totally not seen that coming.
"Are you okay?"
"Are you still hurt? Are you better now?"
"I'm so happy to see you back! Hagakure, Koda, and Sato transferred to another school! It's so good that you didn't give up!"
"Hey, did you hear that Bakugo got expelled?"
Bombarded with their questions and well-wishes, Tsuyu was like a deer caught in the spotlight. Luckily, she escaped from their clutches a few minutes later when Shota Aizawa came and started the homeroom class. Deep down, however, the girl was moved almost to tears. Her classmates' show of support meant to her more than they could imagine.