For Great Justice
'Superman and Green Lantern have apprehended Sinestro, Wonder Woman's dealt with Metallo, and Clayface is back in Arkham.' J'onn J'onzz, AKA Martian Manhunter, mused as he gave the Watchtower's comm systems a quick go-through to be sure no other emergencies were active.
Aside from a gang brawl in Bludhaven, that Nightwing and Robin were already mopping up, it was relatively quiet. Once he made sure things had settled down, he decided to do one of his favorite pastimes; people watching. He couldn't really explain it, but he found watching them go about their daily routines relaxing. The fact that they could, in spite of the monsters, supervillains, and disasters that seemed to occur almost regularly, told him the effort they made was well worth it.
For now, there was one particular human that had piqued his interest; a Japanese boy named Izuku Midoriya. Innocuous as he looked, J'onn found his mind and attitude fascinating. He was intelligent, almost dangerously so. Observant as well, if the fact that he made it a habit of taking notes about his fellow classmates was any indication. Namely because they were all metahuman, or as they insisted on being called, 'quirk-bearers'.
Midoriya, however, was what they called 'quirkless', a rather insulting term since metahuman abilities had become somewhat commonplace; not having a so-called 'quirk' was seen as a target of derision or shame, since it was considered a disability.
The rant Oracle had at learning that was something of legend.
While a considerable portion of abilities were somewhat obscure or minor, like able to taste with one's fingers, or glow in the dark, a few had powers that were considered worthy of letting them become crime fighters, or 'Pro Heroes'.
J'onn grimaced just thinking that. Granted, there were a few that had the League's respect. Ones like All Might or No.13, who took the term 'hero' seriously, helping people because it was the right thing to do, who went at it with the passion needed to ensure they could help and protect others.
Sadly, they were the rare few. Most just treated it like a nine-to-five job, chasing glory and personal gain. They were the ones the League butted heads with sometimes, seeing League members as 'scrubs' muscling in on their spotlights. An elitist attitude seemed prevalent among them too, believing that you HAD to have a 'quirk' before you even thought of becoming a hero.
It didn't need saying that this seriously rankled quite a few non-powered League members. Plastic Man had admitted that he felt a little embarrassed to be a metahuman when he first heard that.
Which was why J'onn was considerably annoyed at how the boy was treated, especially by his former friend. He had peeked into the boy's thoughts a couple of times out of curiosity. What he saw impressed and scared him a little. By simple observation and deduction, he'd figured out personalities, strengths, weaknesses...not just of his classmates, but the professional heroes as well. Pushed hard enough, Izuku Midoriya could easily become one of the most dangerous enemies they'd ever have.
Since things had quieted down, now was as good a time as any to head down. "Flash, I'm going to head down to Japan for a little while." He called out to the red-clad speedster.
"Have fun, J. Oh, bring me back some fried rice?"
J'onn nodded and made his way to the teleporter.
Making sure it would land him in an unseen spot, near the local school, J'onn ported down and quickly shapeshifted into a portly and somewhat unremarkable-looking man. A quick look around, and he headed to the street. As he rounded the corner, something lying on the sidewalk, faint wisps of smoke coming off it. Nearing it, he saw that it was a scorched notebook. The writing on the cover was damaged, but he could make out 'hero' on it.
'This is Midoriya's. Why is it…' He frowned when he remembered the boy's worst bully could emit explosive blasts. 'Petty…'
Surprisingly, the cover had taken the brunt of things, leaving the contents mostly intact. He leafed through it and was impressed at the amount of detail he'd put into studying them, complete with sketches. As he looked through it, he found out that Pro Heroes weren't the only ones to come under his analysis.
Turns out he'd studied the League as well. J'onn's eyes widened a little when he read through it. 'Observant' was putting it mildly; not only had he built up similar profiles of a few League members, he'd actually come close to deducing the identities of a few. In fact, he really did figure out the names of some of the original group and a couple of others. 'Clark and Bruce would have a fit if they saw this.' He chuckled. 'Though Bruce would probably have a fit, then be impressed at the way Midoriya figured it out.'
"Texas SMASH!" A voice roared from down the road, quickly getting J'onn's attention, followed by the rumble of a powerful shockwave.
"That was definitely All Might." He said to himself, shifting back and putting the notebook away before turning invisible. "And if he's here, then odds are good Midoriya will have found him." He patted the book and took off in the direction of the shout.
By the time he reached the spot - a noticeable section of area underneath a bridge that had been shattered - All Might was already leaping into the air. Focusing slightly, he saw he also had Midoriya on his leg, holding on for dear life. The combination was kind of amusing...aside from All Might trying to shake the boy off. J'onn quickly took off after them in case Midoriya really did fall off.
'Hm, kid's got a grip.' J'onn mused, watching Midoriya hang on until they landed on a nearby roof. When he asked if someone like him could really be a hero, he moved in a bit to listen. The desperation in his voice while he explained why was damn near heartbreaking. 'God, he's been beat into the ground so many times by almost everyone…just for not being born with a power."
He also noticed that All Might seemed a little under the weather...and nearly dropped his invisibility in shock when the man suddenly shrank into a skinny, almost skeletal figure. 'To quote Diana...Great Hera! What happened to him!?'
Midoriya freaked out as well. "W-where'd All Might go!?"
The 'deflated' All Might looked at him. "I'm right here." He said, before coughing up blood.
"B-but...I...how!?" The boy freaked.
"I guess I better explain." He lifted up his shirt to reveal a heavily scarred area, taking up nearly his entire left side. Both J'onn and Midoriya were surprised by the condition. The skin looked almost seared; a spider web of crack-like purple and red marks that radiated out from an angry, crimson wound, resembling a raised, open sore that had yet to heal.
It was as though someone had driven a red hot poker into his ribs, twisting and shifting it to rip and catch as much as possible before pulling, tearing away a piece of his soul along with the charred flesh. It was painful to look. Izuku looked like the sight alone was making him ill.
For J'onn, though, it was far more. His empath powers couldn't help but let him perceive and visualize just what had managed to inflict it, and the still lingering damage. 'I never thought I'd be so glad to not have a humanoid digestive system, otherwise I'd be seeing my last meal again right now…'
"I got this five years ago, facing off against a supervillain named All for One. He went to prison, but not before landing the blow that did this." All Might sighed. "Ever since then, I've been on a time limit when using my power, One for All. When I hit that limit, I'm forced to turn back into the skinny guy I really am."
After a moment, he put his shirt back down and looked at Izuku. "I'm gonna be honest with you, kid. Being a hero means a lot more than endorsements, fans, and flashy skills. It means willingly putting yourself out there, putting your body and life on the line to protect people. To make sure that at the end of the day, they can go home to their families and loved ones." His tone became more morose then. "Unfortunately, without a Quirk...no hero association would accept you. I'm sorry, but you can't be a Pro Hero if you don't have one." With that, All Might slowly headed to the stairwell. Before he went down, though, he gave him one last look. "For what it's worth, my gut's telling me you probably would've made a pretty decent one."
'Midoriya…' J'onn thought, seeing the broken look on the boy's face at hearing that, along with the sensation of his world crumbling. However, he heard something else when All Might said that. It was a slight emphasis on one thing…
Before he could do anything, a series of loud explosions ripped through another part of town. He quickly headed over to see that a metahuman, who looked like a bad Clayface knockoff, was attempting to take over a boy's body. He recognized him as Katsuki Bokugo, Midoriya's primary antagonizer. A few other Pro Heroes were there, trying to stop the metahuman, but their abilities weren't having any effect.
All Might had arrived as well, but it looked like he was unable to transform just yet. Knowing there wasn't much time, J'onn prepared to move in when Midoriya came out of nowhere. 'What's he doing?' The Pro Heroes tried to stop him, but he was going full tilt, straight towards the imitator.
"Hey! Ugly!" Izuku yelled, getting the mass attention before hurling his backpack into his face, not even breaking stride on his way to the captive.
"Ack! You little!" The villain yelled, shaking his face from the impact. While that went down, he was already working to pull Bakugo out.
"What the hell are you doing, Deku!?" The blonde demanded.
"What do you thInk!?" Midoriya snapped back. "Even I could see you were hoping someone would help you! Besides, I couldn't live with myself if you died, regardless of how much a jerk you are now!"
"NO YOU DON'T!" The sludgy villain roared, forcing Izuku to jump away from a tendril-like fist. He tried to swing away again, but froze when someone else grabbed hold of his hostage. Someone he hoped he'd gotten away from.
"Hang on, young man, you'll be free in a moment!" All Might yelled, having somehow managed to transform. He ripped Bakugo from the villain's grip with a massive pull. At the same time, he was drawing back for a…"Detroit SMASH!"
Once again, the street was covered with blasted bad guy, and the crowd that had gathered cheered.
J'onn couldn't help but frown; things had begun to settle down, but the Bakugo boy was praised for supposedly fighting back (though the surrounding area seemed to have been his target instead) Midoriya, on the other hand was giving a dressing down for risking his life. It was a bit reckless, but he was doing what heroes tended to do. He was unhurt, so that was something.
Right now, both boys were being processed and questioned at the police station. Knowing they'd both be there for a little while, he decided now was the time to make his move.
After all, like All Might said, they wouldn't let him become a 'Pro' Hero. They couldn't keep him from becoming a hero anyway. Switching his communicator on, he headed off to the Midoriya household.
"Watchtower." The no-nonsense voice came through.
He couldn't resist grinning. "Batman, it's J'onn, just letting you know I'm meeting up with a League potential."
"The Midoriya boy?"
"That was quick."
"You're in Japan, Musatafa City to be exact, J'onn. There's only one reason you'd be there, given the concentration of...Pro-Heros." He tried to keep the dislike out of his voice. "Though I am curious as to why you want to recruit him."
J'onn proceeded to recount the boy's discussion with All Might, along with how he nearly rescued his classmate from the metahuman criminal.
" A little reckless, but it was almost successful, given what you said." Batman responded after he was done. "And I can see where both him and All Might are coming from. Without a superpower, the 'Pro-Hero' path isn't good for him, but he's shown he understands the dangers of our line of work...and I have to give him credit for sticking to his hopes."
"Also, I should add that he's figured out you're Bruce Wayne." He almost had to shift into a mouthless form to keep from laughing when he picked up on his teammate's thought process coming to a screeching halt.
The comm was silent for several seconds before…"...what?"
"Among other things."
"Invitation to the Watchtower seconded, if only get answers." The man didn't miss a beat in his response.
"Oh, what is keeping him?" Inko asked, heading over when the knocking started. "I hope he's ok...I'm coming, I'm coming." She opened the door. "Yes, who is-" She had a coughing fit as her voice caught in her throat. "M-Martian Manhunter?!" She yelped once she could talk again.
"Good evening, Mrs. Midoriya. And please, call me J'onn. I believe we'll be on a more familiar basis soon."
"W-what do you mean?" She asked, mentally reeling from the fact that not only was a member
"Basically it concerns your son, Izuku."
"Izuku? Oh no, is he hurt!? I'll wring Katsuki Bakugo's neck if he's had a hand in it!" Despite her son's attempts to hide the bullying, Inko's 'Mom Sense' told her something was up, namely when she saw the looks of contempt he got from the blonde when they were in the same room. And now she wanted to punch herself for not acting the first time he tried to play scars off as tripping on the sidewalk.
"Ma'am, it's ok. It's nothing like that." Due to the height difference, he had to kneel down in order to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "He's fine. I'm here because your son is being considered for training - and eventually, a possible membership - in the Justice League...Mrs. Midoriya?" He didn't get to continue before Inko's eyes rolled back, and she teetered backwards in a dead faint.
"Ohhh…" Inko moaned as she came to, her nose crinkling some from the smelling salts J'onn was holding out to her. She shook her head to clear the grogginess and looked to see the superhero crouched by her.
"Oracle was right, these do come in handy." He said, helping her up.
"Y-you're real." She uttered, her voice laced with no small amount of fangirl excitement. "One of...of the original Justice League members is in my house!" She was in mid-squee when she caught herself. "Sorry! I got excited..." Her face turned beet red.
'Well, that's adorable.'
"D-did I hear you right? Izuku...m-my Izuku is…"
"A potential for the Justice League, yes." He grinned at how excited she seemed.
"Oh my...this...not to sound rude or anything, but why? I mean, he's been told so many times he couldn't be a hero, just because he doesn't…"
"One word: Batman."
"Oh. Heh, right." She chuckled.
"As for why, regardless of the Pro Hero agencies' insistence on needing powers to be one, your son has a lot of potential. From what I've seen, he has the motivation, the drive, and the knowledge of what being a hero really means. If he accepts, we can have him introduced to a few members before the end of the day."
"Wow. Um, you really think he can be one?"
"As long as he's willing to put in the effort. Now, care to accompany me in telling him? I think having his mother there will help show the offer is legitimate."
"Oh, sure-woop!" She squeaked when he picked her up bridal style. "Where is he, exactly?"
"At the local police station. I'll explain on the way."
"Policeeeeek!" She held on for dear life when he took off into the air.
"That was amazing!" One of the officers at the station clapped a hand on Bakugo's back.
"Boy's hero material, no doubt!" Another looked at him with what he apparently tried to pass off as mimicking parental pride
"No shit, genius." Bakugo snorted derisively as the two cops praised him for how he handled the situation.
"Probably wouldn't have had any trouble if a certain quirkless hadn't gotten in the way." The second one looked over disdainfully at Izuku, who was sitting in one of the waiting area's cheap plastic chairs.
Despite pretending not to listen, he fought the urge to say something uncomplimentary. It felt like school all over again; Bakugo was called the best (Izuku could see him preening at the praise, no matter how much he scowled), and he was the bottom rung. And now that All Might, someone he looked up to so much, saying he couldn't be a hero without a quirk... As the lead weight settled in his stomach, he started wondering if maybe he just wasn't meant to-
"Holy crap! The Martian Manhunter!" Someone cried out, yanking him out of his thoughts. True enough, the unmistakable green skin and blue cape of the extraterrestrial hero stood out among the parting throng.
Izuku's jaw dropped. 'The Justice League...here? W-why?' He got his answer when he began making his way towards them...and Bakugo, it seemed.
"Excuse me, young man." He said, a visible smile on his face.
"Ha! Told you I'd always be better than you, Deku." Bakugo sneered, walking up to meet the hero with a strut. "Even the Justice League wants-what the hell!?" He stumbled when Martian Manhunter phased through him, not even acknowledging that he was in the way.
"Izuku Midoriya?" J'onn stepped up to the green-haired boy.
"Hey! Don't you ignore me, Green-Baldy!" Bakougo yelled, looking like he was ready to explode the man for the slight.
J'onn, however, merely glanced back him. "I don't have time for your antics, child."
"Child!? I'll show-HAGKK!" He started, only to be steamrolled by a borderline panicking Inko.
"Izuku!" She cried, hugging her son tightly. "What were you thinking, rushing that villain like that? I know you wanted to do the right thing, despite all Katsuki's done, but what if something had gone wrong?" Her hug tightened, and they could hear her fighting back sobs of worry. "You could've been hurt! Or worse!"
Ixuku looked on in surprise. "Mom? When...how?"
"J'onn told me what happened. He saw you go in to help him and everything."
"He, I mean...you did?" He asked, looking at the man.
J'onn nodded. "In fact, that's part of why I'm here. Izuku Midoriya, you are officially invited to the Watchtower as a League potential."
The whole room went silent when they heard that, along with several jaws dropping. "I take it this happens a lot." Inko said, looking around.
"You get accustomed to it." He replied.
"Say...say that again…?" Izuku asked, once he finally regained his voice. "The Jus...the Justice League wants…m-me?"
"WHAT!? HELL NO!" Bakugo snapped, storming towards them. "That shit Deku hasn't got ANY damn business being a hero!"
"Excuse me?" Inko's voice was a dead calm. "Care to repeat that, Katsuki?"
"Oh crap…" Izuku looked for something to get behind. "Mom's pissed."
"You heard me!" Anger overshadowed the other boy's common sense, evident by the audible micro-explosions occurring on his hands. "He's quirkless! No real hero-"
J'onn cut him off. "I'm sure Batman would have an interesting rebuttal for that." He followed by gently setting a hand on Inko's shoulder to calm her.
"NO! I'm the one with the power! That runt..." Rolling his eyes, J'onn made a twisting gesture towards him, and they were greeted with sudden silence. Bakougo was moving, but no sound came out.
"I'm altering the airflow between him and us to filter out his voice." He explained, seeing their perplexed looks. "Anyway, Izuku, we've seen you have potential. And while you may not be able to become a 'Pro' hero, they have no say on you becoming a hero anyway."
"I can...I can still be a hero? This is almost too good to be true; I mean, after what All Might said, I thought it was going to be a case of 'just not meant to be'. But, now a member of the Justice League is right here…!" The rest of what he said descended into low, rapid-fire mumbling that even J'onn couldn't make out.
"Um, Midoriya? We can continue this conversation on a more mental line, if that'll help you organize your train of thought better."
"I got it. He tends to do this when he gets to thinking about something a lot harder than necessary." Inko gently poked her son in the forehead. "Honey, you're mumbling."
"Huh?" Izuku blinked, and turned bright red. "Oh, sorry! O-of course I'll go!" He bounced off the chair. "I should probably get packed. Do I need to bring anything specific?"
J'onn ticked off a couple of things. "I would suggest some clothing comfortable enough to work out in, at the minimum. Also, this would be a good idea as well." He handed Izuku back his notebook. "I couldn't resist taking a peek."
"Oh, uh, I…" He rambled slightly, looking thoroughly embarrassed. "Well, I get kind of curious about the pros and cons of their abilities…"
"Actually, I was quite impressed by your detective work. And I have reason to believe Batman is rather keen to pick your brain as well."
"Really?" Izuku was thoroughly at a loss for words.
Unfortunately, someone else wasn't. "I'm sorry, but that kid's in a lotta trouble for interfering in a hero situation." One of the cops who'd been praising Bokugo spoke up. "He's lucky All Might as there or he could've gotten the boy killed-" He froze when Inko gave him a look that would've had the Rank One hero quickly getting out of the way.
Before she could open fire, though, J'onn quickly chimed in. "Actually, while he did put himself in harm's way, Midoriya did the right thing under the local 'self defense' laws. Laws which also apply to the 'defense of others', the very same statute that allows 'Hero' actions. And if I recall, they were never repealed, nor reworded to prevent those without Quirks from acting."
"I..ah..well…" The cop faltered. It seemed apparent that he hadn't been on the job long.
J'onn, however, wasn't done yet. He turned his attention to Bakugo. "Also,since you neither a member of an approved Hero Group, like the Justice League, nor have you been issued a Pro-Hero license, you are liable for all damages your powers caused, due to the same regulations that require said license."
He noticed the boy looked like he was about to blow a gasket, but wasn't worried. He was fast enough to incapacitate him before he tried something. "I should also point out that part of the reason no Hero could really act was because you were firing wildly in your attempt to hit your captor. And such things like that are exactly why Licenses are required."
"I DIDN'T NEED ANYONE'S HELP, YOU GREEN BALDY!" Bakugo shouted. "I just needed to hit that bastard once and he'd have been history!"
"Oh yeah, you really had him on the ropes...Kacchan." Izuku said with less than subtle sarcasm, using the old nickname that now irritated the blonde.
"Shut it, Deku! Or I'll…!" Bakugo started to lunge. He made one step when he froze as J'onn's arm extended towards him alarmingly fast, the hand phasing into his chest.
J'onn looked unimpressed. "You also now have the choice of sitting down and calmly waiting for your parents to arrive, or being visited in the ICU for an unprovoked attack on a League member." He stated dryly.
"I was going after De-!" Bakugu cut himself off with a whine of pain, his eyes widening. "Ouch…"
"And that was me flicking a muscle. By accepting the invitation, Izuku is now considered part of the League, albeit in more of an intern level. But, he falls under the same protection regardless. Now, are you going to sit down? Because Flash let me test this out on him, and in his own words, 'getting your pectorals slapped from the inside freaking hurts.'"
"I'll sit down!" He whimpered, half-walking, half shambling towards a seat on the far side of the room once the hand was removed.
"He'll be ok." J'onn assured the Midoriyas. "I learned enough about human biology to make sure I don't do any real damage. Though he will be sore for a day or two. Now, I'll take you two home so Izuku can get ready."
The sun was halfway setting by the time they reached the apartment. According to Inko, the Bakugos were gone already, since the police had called them earlier about their son. While Izuku went to pack, J'onn waited outside. "Well, he accepted." He said, idly fingering his communicator.
"Good." Batman responded over it. "I'm still trying to make sense of how a fourteen-year-old boy was able to figure out something like this on his own."
"Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to talk to him about it."
"...do I even want to know what you meant by that?"
"You'll see shortly. J'onn out." He switched it off when the door opened and Izuku emerged with a travel bag.
"You be good, honey." Inko said, hugging him tightly. "And remember to listen to what they say."
"I will, Mom." Izuku hugged her back before stepping over to J'onn. "Ok, I'm ready."
"Fair warning, first time teleportation can be a little disorientating. I recommend holding your breath during the shift."
"Ok." Izuku took a few deep breaths in preparation, when they heard a voice they didn't really expect or hope to encounter again that day.
"DEKU! YOU SHIT LOSER!"
"I thought he agreed to sit and wait for his parents." J'onn commented, seeing the aggressive blonde running towards the apartment building.
Izuku signed. "When Katsuki gets himself riled up enough, he stops listening to anyone."
"I see." He calmly hit a switch on his communicator, signaling for the teleportation system to lock on.
"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT...!" With a massive blast, Bakugo launched himself at his green-haired victim, determined to punish him for daring to think he could become a hero. Unfortunately for him, both of them vanished in a plume of light, right as he swung at Izuku. "The hell-!?"
In his shock at losing his 'quarry', he also forgot about his momentum, which carried him face-first into the wall.