A/N: Hello, fellows! Hard to believe that a year has already gone by so quickly, hasn't it? Anyway, I'm afraid that this is the only story I managed to finish for Izuocha Week due to how bad my schedule's been the past month. However, it's been an idea in the back of my mind for so long, and I'm happy that I can finally get it out. As a warning, I recommend you read No One But You first, since this story takes place after that.
It'd had been just over a year since the tragedy that took the lives of many across Japan. Though everyone had someone they lost and grieved over, those that survived eventually learned to move on and grew from it. From Ochako's class, which was supposed to celebrate its graduation then, all but one had truly recovered and moved on from that horrifyingly cruel nightmare brought about by the League of Villains. That one graduate found herself constantly reliving that dreadful day.
Over the past year, Ochako learned to harness her newfound power. Her teacher, while not the best at teaching, was the only one capable of showing her how to use it, and in spite of the numerous injuries he'd sustained over his career, he taught ever fervently. Though lacking the strength he once had, he wished to do whatever he still could to help those before him and those that would come after. On that fateful day, they both lost someone dear to them, someone irreplaceable, and they would sooner perish than let his ideals die in vain.
Now, Ochako stood in front of his grave to tell him how far they've come, since he could not be there with them. She would've rather been there on the exact day, comforted by the company of her former classmates, but she was needed on the other side of Japan, already occupied with the week-long investigation and arrest of a highly influential crime lord. When she started to speak, Ochako found a lump in her throat, which seemed more like a small boulder than anything else. Once she swallowed her fear, she felt it shatter as it hit her stomach. Shaking away the resulting tremors, she mustered up the strength to finally speak, but not enough strength to look towards her audience.
"D-De… No." He didn't deserve this half-assed confession from her. He was too good for that. If she wanted to tell him what happened while he was gone, she had to face him with the same tenacity that he displayed every single day. She wiped away tears that she didn't even know she shed, and she put on a smile, one that he would've worn.
"Izuku, it's been a while, hasn't it?" Her eyes landed on the words engraved on both the tombstone and her mind, Izuku "Deku" Midoriya: A selfless hero who changed countless lives for the better and died young so others could grow old.
"Remember Iida, Todoroki, and the others? I'm sure you've already heard from them, but we've all been doing well for ourselves. Many of us found spots at hero offices rather quickly, and some people, like Bakugou, of course, have been quickly rising through the ranks. They'll probably form their own hero offices over the next few years at this rate. Well, first they'll need to get a building for themselves, but if they want one from scratch, that's what my dad's company is for!" Her summary was littered with mild gestures. Not as drastic as Tenya's, but enough to add a bit of emphasis. Keeping the pep in her step, she continued talking, letting the good memories distract her from the ones that hurt to remember. Regardless, knowing that she would never hear his voice again stabbed her straight in the heart.
"I've done a pretty okay job of hiding One for All from everyone else, though it took most of the year to learn how to hide the flashy effects before I could start using it out in public. Oh, and how to not break my bones when I use it. That too. I managed to explain it to the others as an extension of Zero Gravity: using my levitating forces on parts of my body and being able to control where they lead instead of just straight up because it's to myself. Does that sound reasonable enough to you? Bakugou and Torinoshi are the only other people to know, but you get why. Todoroki, on the other hand, has started to think that I'm secretly Torinoshi's daughter because we both have two long locks of hair on the front of our head. He was so into it, we didn't have the heart to tell him that we weren't related. Did it feel like that for you too?"
Nothing but silence from a monument of cold stone. She couldn't bear it any longer, and throwing away her bravado, she knelt in front of the tombstone and sobbed quietly.
She thought, Izuku, why'd did you have to leave us like that? We needed you. I know we've counted on you to lend your strength to us time and time again, but… not like this. We needed your spirit far more. We needed someone who would stand against the end of the world and tell us that everything's gonna be alright. I don't know if I can be that person. She had no idea how long she sat there before she felt a cold wind brush against her cheek, and raising her head, she recognized a translucent figure with unmistakable messy hair, emerald eyes, and a gentle smile.
I-Izuku? Ochako remembered how he once mentioned that he would occasionally see shadowy figures, even in his sleep, and she swore that she saw him next to his own grave on the day of his funeral standing with several others. She never mentioned it to anyone else, even Torinoshi, but after that day, Ochako sometimes felt him standing by her side, guiding her.
As he motioned to wipe her tears from her face, she realized, One for All, a Quirk that not only connects its wielders through built-up strength, but also through their memories and spirit. So long as One for All exists, your spirit will be there to guide the future's heroes, won't it, Izuku? Through it, we share a connection that'll never be broken.
The specter knelt down and wrapped his ethereal arms around her. Ochako's arms laid by her waist as she struggled to understand what she was feeling. It felt as if there was actual weight to his figure, but at the same time, her shoulders felt much lighter. The heat she expected from the embrace was absent, yet the coolness was just as refreshing. Wordless whispers brushed her ear, and though she couldn't see his face, she could tell that he was crying too. Slowly but surely, the spirit vanished, yet she could still feel his presence.
Once she could feel the tears slowing down, she stood back up and wiped them away. Suddenly, Ochako heard a branch snap from the weight of a foot stepping on it. Fearing a sneak attack, she instinctively activated One for All, the only visual difference being that her two front locks of hair rose above her head to form a distinct "U" shape. Then, a voice meekly called out from far behind her, surprising her through its familiarity and the fear that resonated from its tone.
"M-Ms. Uraraka? Why are you angry?" Immediately shutting off One for All and letting her hair fall back down, she turned around and for a brief moment, she nearly shrieked as saw the same horrified face she saw a year ago, the area bathed in fire and rubble. In a blink, she suddenly recognized the worried expression of a young child with bright green hair, though they stuck out like a hedgehog's needles, and fair brown 'scales' that opened up in the direction of his hands. He wore a baggy hoodie intended to easily fit the jutted scales, but at that moment, he braced himself by closing the scales, thus creating makeshift armor, and held his arms in front of him. She immediately held a hand to her head to rub her aching head and looked away.
She responded, "I-it's nothing, Daiki. You just caught me off guard. Don't worry. I'd never hurt you."
After the tragic incident that shaked Japan to its core had been resolved, Daiki fell into a coma that lasted two weeks. When he woke up, he was informed that both of his parents had died protecting him from the swarm of bullets that razed Tokyo and that he would be sent to an orphanage. Upon hearing that that the 9-year-old kid she saved was going into an orphanage, she and her parents rushed to get the adoption papers filled out. At that time, she didn't care about the cost or difficulty of raising a child, especially one that she barely knew. However, she decided back then that his life was one that she, no, they had risked their lives to protect, and she was hellbent on making sure that this kid was in loving hands. Even then, she didn't want to force her parents to raise another child, so while they became his adoptive parents, she became Daiki's legal guardian.
The first two or three months with Daiki under her custody were rough for both of them. With Ochako working the endless job of fighting evil and Daiki having to transfer to a school closer to Ochako's home, the two didn't have many opportunities to spend time together. Ochako tried working at night so she could be there when Daiki got home from school, but more often than not, she was too tired and he was too busy with his homework. When they did find time to spend together, Daiki stayed distant both physically and emotionally. One day, however, Daiki began to open up to her. Metaphorically, of course.
That day, Ochako had filled out report after report regarding her heroic activities in their apartment when she heard the door open. Looking up from the half-filled sheet of paper, she noticed Daiki standing in the doorway with an expression she didn't usually see from him: determination.
With the energy of her heroic persona, Ochako asked, "Welcome back, Daiki! How was school?" She watched as the kid pulled out a notebook, pencils, and sat beside her without wasting time.
He responded, "My teacher wants up to learn more about heroes. She said Internet's fine, but she wants us to ask them ourselves if we can." Suddenly, his newfound courage began to waver as he looked away from her. "S-so I was wondering if you would, y'know…" Ochako watched him with disbelief.
She muttered, "Daiki..." The boy got up from his chair, and began to walk away once he heard his name.
"I-I'm sorry to waste your time like this. You got more important things to do. Maybe I can ask one of my classmates for help-" He stopped when he felt a hand on his wrist, and looking back, he noticed Ochako's ecstatic expression.
"I'd love to!"
He fidgeted in his seat before asking, "So… what's it like to be a hero?"
Without hesitation, she responded, "A hero? Well, despite how difficult it may be, I enjoy every second knowing I spend it saving others." She gleefully watched him eagerly jot down words into his book. She swore that he had the same look in his eyes as Izuku.
He continued, "What inspired you to become a hero to begin with?" Daiki saw her tap her finger against her temple as she gave a bashful grin.
"I, ah, first wanted to become a hero because it paid well. But it's not because I wanted to get rich or anything like that! I just wanted to make life easier for Mom and Dad, y'know? They've always been looking out for me, and I wanted to make sure that I could look out for them." As he scribbled more lines, thankfully not showing disgust, but understanding, she continued.
"That was when I first started as a hero, Daiki. Over the years, my motivation to keep working as a hero have changed. I realized that I wanted to save people, and over the past year, I realized that real heroes are the ones that inspire others to do good in the world." She giggled as she followed the movement of his writing hand, going down a line every few seconds.
Daiki ended up asking a lot, from questions about how her Quirk worked firsthand to how other heroes she knew were like. As the questions kept coming, the time kept passing, and before they knew it, the sun had already gone down.
When Ochako glanced out the window, she muttered, "Aw, it's night already? Better get started on my patrol. Remember to go to sleep on time." As she started to get out of her seat, Daiki grabbed her wrist.
She asked, "Huh? What's the matter? Got any more questions?" She noticed that he was timid again, given how his scales closed up.
He admitted, "That report I mentioned earlier, that was a lie. The truth is, I really really like heroes, and I was scared that you'd think badly of me if I asked." She stared at him with widened eyes, before grabbing him for a tight hug.
"You didn't have to do that, Daiki! I'll always be there for you." Her happy smile was reciprocated, and she felt her heart soar with joy.
Their bond had grown far stronger since that day. They began to indulge in small talk, and when they both had the time, they'd go out and spend time together as family. Ever since he asked her about her job as a hero, she quickly discovered his dream of becoming one himself. In that way, he and Izuku were very much alike. Speaking of which, there was someone she forgot to mention in her speech earlier. She turned back to the grave, gesturing Daiki to stand beside her. Instead, he stood behind her as she began to speak again.
"Izuku, I'd like you to meet someone that's become very dear to me. Maybe you'll recognize him," stepping away to reveal him before continuing, "His name's Daiki, the kid we saved together on the day of our graduation. He's a really sweet kid, and he's a big fan of all sorts of heroes. He even wants to be one someday. I'm sure you would've loved to-" Suddenly, Daiki stepped closer to examine the grave.
"M-Ms. Uraraka, please. You're kinda embarrassing me... 'Deku'? Wait, as in that super strong guy from your class? That's who you've been visiting?!" Ochako nearly forgot that Daiki was still unconscious when he entered the hospital, and so he never heard of what happened to Izuku. Come to think of it, she found it strange that Daiki never asked about him.
With a bittersweet tone, she asked, "You know about him, huh?"
Daiki exclaimed, "Know about him? He was my favorite hero from the U.A. Sports Festival!" It hurt to see him so excited, only to quickly become sad.
"I-I wanted to believe he was taking some time to rest, like All Might did so long ago." Given how he reacted to Izuku, it shouldn't have surprised her that he knew that much about All Might, but since she personally knew the connection between the two, his assumption hurt even more.
"As much as he would've appreciated the parallel, I'm sure Izuku would've hated every second he couldn't use to help others. He's the biggest All Might fan to exist." That comment deflated the cold atmosphere as Daiki recoiled with indignation.
"What?! No way! There's no bigger fan of superheroes than me!" She chuckled at his rather amusing declaration.
"I dunno. Between you and Izuku, I'd say you two are very close in that race." She thought, Maybe we should visit Mrs. Midoriya someday. I'm sure she would love to meet him and has probably kept Izuku's room spotless. Ah, but now's a good time to show him that video!
Ochako quickly pulled out her phone and, while making sure to keep her pinky out, searched her favorites and tapped on the link for a specific video, one that she'd seen countless times over the year alone. Then, she turned the screen so it faced Daiki.
"Huh? What's this?" Because it was displayed vertically, he could tell that someone used a phone to record it.
She answered, "This would be Deku's real debut as a hero." With that rather cryptic hint, she started the video.
They immediately spotted a street bathed in fire, smoke billowing from the buildings, and various heroes running about, either stopping the spread of the fire or searching for any entrapped survivors. The phone camera was focused on a dark slimy pile that stood among the flames. With explosions bursting from its hands, it was clear that this was the villain that caused the blaze, and that it was far too powerful for any hero there. As the camera focused, they could make out a person enveloped in the tar-like sludge, a person Daiki immediately recognized due to their spiky blond hair.
The child gasped in shock. "Explodo-Emperor?! What's he doing here? Wait, isn't that the slime villain All Might took down about five years ago?"
Stifling a laugh, she replied, "You know it. Before Izuku or Bakugou got into U.A., they were both attacked by a villain using a slime Quirk. He intended to make either of them into a disguise, but the villain was stopped twice. Bakugou tried his best to escape, but his explosions were used to stop anyone from saving him. It worked on all but two people."
Suddenly, another child, wearing the same school uniform as Bakugou, ran past the crowd and caught the villain's attention. The slime readied a swing with its viscous arm, but acting quickly, the kid took off his yellow backpack and chucked it at the brute's face, stunning it long enough for the student to close the distance and start clawing away at the goop, desperately trying to free the victim trapped inside.
Ochako spoke proudly, "That would be the first, Izuku 'Deku' Midoriya."
"So cool!" Daiki was entranced by the boy's actions, yet something felt off to him. "But why didn't he use his Quirk? I'm sure he could've used it to free Explodo-Emperor easily!"
"Well, unlicensed use of your Quirk, even if it's for heroic deeds, is still against the law. Besides, it took Izuku a long time to even find his Quirk, let alone refine it into something manageable." The slime villain recovered, and as he prepared to kill Izuku, Daiki reeled from fear.
"Deku, watch out!" Daiku shouted, despite knowing that the message would never transcend time or technology. As he braced for the lethal blow, a loud boom erupted from beside the recorder, and in a flash, an incredibly muscular blond man stopped the strike with his own, letting the sludge envelop his arm.
Ochako noted, "All Might would be the second."
They wordlessly watched the pro hero pull his arm free from the slime, and as he used his other hand to latch onto Katsuki, he punched again with tremendous force and scattered the scoundrel into the wind, roaring "DETROIT SMASH!" as his strike caused the clouds above to gather and start raining.
The child gasped and muttered, "A-amazing… I never realized that there was this much to that little incident."
She shook her head. "Most of the media's attention went to Bakugou, who resisted the villain long enough for help to arrive. Thankfully, this meant that Izuku didn't get into trouble with the authorities for his vigilantism." As good-hearted as their intents may be, the public considered vigilantes as dangerous as villains since they worked around the laws regulating the use of dangerous Quirks. "But his body acted on his own, defying self-preservation and reason. That very act was what caught All Might's attention."
Daiki stared at her in awe. "Really?! That's what makes a hero?" As a smile crept up his mouth, Ochako realized that she had to clarify, for his sake.
"There's a difference between saving a life and just risking your own, Daiki! Promise me you won't do anything so reckless!" She nearly couldn't get the next word out. "P-please…" The adopted child nodded frantically, and then they stood there to let her regain her composure.
"Hey, big sis?" Daiki whispered. The unfamiliarity of that phrase combined with its low volume nearly convinced Ochako that she was hearing things. She stood there, dumbfounded for a moment, before quickly squeezing him around his torso.
"Y-you finally called me that! What's the matter, little bro?" She giggled as the young boy blushed and averted his eyes.
"You were waiting to say that, weren't you?" Once Ochako let go, he asked, "Anyway, don't you think we should go home now? We've been here for an awfully long time." This prompted the heroine to glance at her old watch, only to find out that it had been over an hour since she made it to Izuku's grave.
She exclaimed, "Has it really been that long?! Alright, let's go home right away! Want me to cook your favorite?" The boy's eyes glistened as he practically jumped for joy.
"Yes, please!" Daiki started walking towards home, while Ochako took a moment to look back at the grave and thought, So I'll stand next to you someday, huh, Deku? I can't wait!
As the pair made for the exit, a young adult, his eyes swollen from all the crying he'd done that day, stood beside his grave and flashed a small grin towards the two. Suddenly, he heard a teasing voice from behind.
"Even death hasn't stopped you from crying like a burst dam, huh?" Turning back, he saw a woman he'd never met while she was alive, but he knew her very well even before meeting her. She brushed her long black hair aside as she walked towards him.
He rebutted, "You're one to talk. I saw you start to tear up the moment Daiki started talking. Besides, don't you remember what happened the last time All Might visited you?"
The older woman pointed an accusatory finger at him, though it was all in good fun. "Don't you remember how much you cried when you saw him again?" The man nodded, admitting defeat with a sheepish smile.
"Okay, you got me there. Also, I'd like to see how Daiki grows. A Pine Tree Quirk seems oddly specific, but imagine how he can use that needle-like hair!" His wild imagination stopped as he noticed the grim expression she wore. "He reminds you of someone, right?"
The woman nodded remorsefully. "Yes. I hoped that Tenko would turn good eventually, but the moment I saw what he did to Tokyo…" She sighed to calm her nerves before continuing. "That was the moment where I realized that the nephew I once knew was dead, and that the fiend that replaced him would be a danger to everyone so long as he lived."
"So you're not mad at her for what she did?"
"Not at all. In fact, I'd say you were lucky to find someone like her." With that, she gave a knowing smirk to the young man, causing him to blush and wave his arms frantically.
"W-w-what do you mean by that?! I-I mean, yeah, she's someone I trusted enough to give One for All to, and I miss her really-" She held her hand up, grinning widely as he stopped.
"We get it. You two are something special, and I know you can't wait for the day you can properly introduce her to the rest of us, Izuku." Regaining his composure, the young man nodded, then looked longingly back where the two visitors had gone.
"That day can wait, Nana." He beamed as he considered what the future held in store. For now, my only wish is that she gets to live a long life for the both of us.