Passing the Torch

The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It's one of the never-ending cycles in life.

Masashi Kishimoto

Stifling a slight groan, Nezu hopped out of the car despite the protest of his knees as he hit the pavement. He had to use his cane and lean on it slightly as he walked away. His assistant could have helped him down from the seat of the car, but he felt like that was too patronizing. It was still hard, living in the world of humans, after all these years. But he managed.

"Will you be needing anything else, sir?"

Nezu smiled up at his assistant and shook his head. "No, thank you. Even on the new campus, I still know my way around the place, despite the long years. I'll call when I need a pick up."

They got back in the car and drove away, and Nezu hobbled up to the steps of the rebuilt UA highschool, looking up for a moment and taking it all in. The New Campus, as they were still calling it after nearly two decades, didn't really look like the old one. For one thing, the campus was far larger, having been built as a boarding school from the first, and it was tucked away in the mountains, not far from where Nezu had spent those long months during the Japanese Quirk Civil War, as they now called it.

Still, it was a beautiful place, with plenty of trees, and more naturalistic buildings of brick, wood, and stone instead of the glass and steel of the old campus. There were bridges over a few streams, and though it was cooler than the low country, in the late April it was quite pleasant. For a moment, Nezu closed his eyes, letting some of his worries and cares lift from his shoulders.

"Welcome, Minister Nezu, it's good to have you back at UA, sir."

Nezu turned and smiled at the woman bowing to him. "Thank you, Ms. Hatsume. It's good to be back. Though I think the two of us have no need for such formality, eh, Eri?"

Eri smiled, moving a bit of her long, curly blue hair behind her ear as she straightened. "I suppose not. Anything I can do for you specifically today, sir? Back bothering you again?"

"My knees, actually," Nezu admitted. His species was supposed to be quadrupedal, so going about on his hindquarters all the time was murder on his legs and back.

Eri reached out a hand to touch Nezu's forehead, her horn glowing slightly. It was quite long these days, though she had excellent control of her quirk after plenty of practice. That was good, as her new job as the Nurse at UA kept her rather busy. After a brief moment, Nezu sighed slightly in relief. Eri couldn't totally rewind him to when he was younger, but careful application of her quirk did make him feel well rested and helped with the aches and pains of growing older.

Thankfully, Eri knew Nezu well enough not to offer to carry him, even with his various pains. He made his way up the stairs slowly, Eri matching her pace to his.

"So, how are things these days?" Nezu grunted as he made his way up the stairs. "The school running smoothly?"

"As smoothly as they can at a school for young heroes," Eri said, shaking her head. "I swear, these children find new and inventive ways to maim themselves every day."

"I am familiar with the problem," Nezu chuckled. "At least they have you to pick them back up."

"Yes, but some of our students seem to view me as a license to push the limits of reasonable behavior," Eri said in exasperation. "I've only been the nurse for two years now, but already I think we've seen an uptick in cases. Although…"

"Hmm. And how many of those are your relatives?" Nezu teased.

Just then, there was a distant, thudding boom. Eri and Nezu both turned to see a column of smoke rising above the Support Course building, followed by the buzzing of fire alarms.

"...too many," Eri groaned leaning on the railing. "I want to believe that wasn't my niece. I really do. Maybe it was Bakugo. Or, if I'm fortunate, someone else. Just...ugh. Not another one of the Togatas."

"Well, I'm supposed to meet with Aizawa. I'm certain the miscreants will be brought to the office. You can administer first aid there," Nezu said, resuming his slow plod forward, his cane tapping along, one arm resting on his back.

"Provided Sumi didn't manage to kill herself or someone else," Eri growled. She took a radio off her belt. "This is Hatsume. Please tell me you don't urgently need me at the Support Course, again."

There was a crackle, then the sound of voluble swearing from the other side. Nezu tried to hide his grin. Maijima was getting cantankerous in his old age. Or, at least, more than he had been. "-might need you to put her back together!" Maijima ranted. "I swear to Christ, I am going to kill that niece of yours, Hatsume! YOU! Togata! I don't know how, but you were involved! Get that fire extinguisher and-"

Eri sighed, clicking the radio off and putting it back on her belt. "He'd have been more professional if someone were seriously hurt. But it sounds like I'm going to get to have ANOTHER discussion with my nieces and nephew."

"You don't call their parents?" Nezu asked, raising a curious eyebrow.

Eri gave Nezu a flat look. "If I call my sister, what do YOU think Mei would have to say about Sumi blowing up a building?"

"She'd probably want to know the yield," Nezu admitted. "What about Izuku?"

"Sumi has her father wrapped around her little finger, and she knows it. She's even worse than the twins. What I'm going to do when they get here, I don't know," Eri sighed as she opened the door to the main building for Nezu. "God bless the man, but while Izuku might be able to fight the toughest villain and play political hardball with heads of state, Sumi sniffles and gives him the puppy dog eyes and he just melts."

"And the Togatas?" Nezu inquired, smiling as he stepped into the familiar halls. It was quiet and empty. This was Saturday afternoon and classes were out for the day, but it felt good to be back in school. He spent too much time in conference rooms these days.

"Well, if I can get Hari on the line, she'll chew Katsuki and Hitomei up one side, and down the other. And then, she'll want to know the build and give them advice on how to improve it," Eri groaned. "Mirio's a little better than Izuku, but he'll still turn the whole thing into a joke. And as for Kazumi, one has the heart to chew him out these days. Except maybe Aizawa."

"Yes. How is young Bakugo doing?" Nezu asked quietly, peering into the classrooms they passed. They looked in many ways the same as they had been when he'd been a teacher. And in very alien. He was getting old. Especially for someone of his species.

"He's bearing up fairly well," Eri stated, her face drawn with too fresh pain. "But he took Ochako's death hard. How could he not? He says he can still talk to her, that she's in his quirk like his dad, even though she had One For All for hardly any time at all. But…"

"But his mother still died six months ago," Nezu agreed, feeling the same wound open once more. That had been excruciating. It always was, burying an old student. Ochako had been more than that, after all they'd been through together. And she'd died so young. Only thirty-three. True, she'd died well, saving dozens of lives and defeating a powerful villain, but that was cold comfort to a grieving boy.

They walked in silence for a time, the tapping of Nezu's cane echoing through the mostly empty halls. A few students and teachers saw them, stopping to wave, a couple to say hello or chat for a few moments. It made Nezu feel as though he were doing his rounds again, just like he had all those years ago. Instead of inspiring a sensation of youth though, it seemed to cause the weight of years to press down on him even harder. How long before he went to his rest as well? Hopefully not for some time. But he didn't want to bury any more friends, either.

As they approached the Principal's Office, Nezu had to fight back a smile as he heard the rather loud tongue lashing coming through the door and walls. Eri schooled her face into a grim expression, and opened the door.

"-every time something blows up around here, you four are involved?!" Aizawa demanded as the door opened, slamming his palm onto his desk for emphasis.

"Well, probably because Kazumi sweats nitro, Sumi's a pyro, and we just can't help ourselves," Hitomei Togata answered in a rather sarcastic tone.

Dead silence. Even Nezu had to wince.

"Sis, you really gotta learn to shut up," her brother groaned, and Nezu could hear him slapping his palm against his face.

"You, Hitomei, are suspended," Aizawa growled. "Go call your parents. They're going to have to pick you up. I'm suspending you for a week."

"What?! You totally can't do that!" Hitomei gasped, her tone outraged and a little frightened.

"Oh, I can. I just did. From what Maijima told me, you were the ringleader on this one anyway," Aizawa told her.

"Well, you should suspend me too," Sumiya declared, thrusting her chin out. "I'm the one who screwed up and blew up the lab again."

"Me too. It was my gear they were working on," Kazumi added, stepping forward. "I should have asked if Hitomei and Sumi had run it by Maijima before I agreed to it."

"Not me. I was just there for moral support," Katsuki said, raising his hands before himself. He let out a grunt when his sister kicked him in the shin.

"You totally were not! You're the one who got the stuff off Maijima!" Hitomei snarled. "If I'm getting busted, so are you, you jerk!"

"Good morning, everyone," Nezu said cheerily, stepping into Aizawa's office with a bright grin. "I do hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"Minister Nezu!" the four students gasped. Hitomei went scarlet, apparently deciding she really was in trouble. The two boys straightened, Kazumi's face going blank and serious, Katsuki wincing and offering a self depreciating grin.

Sumi immediately squatted down and grinned at Nezu, her soot blackened face splitting in a wide smile as she reached out and scratched Nezu behind the ears. She was one of the very few people who could get away with that. It did help that she was very good at it. Somehow, she always knew how to find just the right spot.

"Are we suspended, too?" Sumiya asked, withdrawing her hand a bit too soon for Nezu's taste, though he would never say so. "You got here really fast just to bust us."

"I should suspend all of you for just how over inflated all of your egos are," Aizawa said. "Nurse Hatsume, take these four hoodlums and check them over. I want their corpses to be in good condition before I ship them back to their parents," Aizawa ordered.

Sumi sprang up, her yellow eyes glowing. "Aunty, you should have seen it! The flash reaction was great! I almost had the mix right, but the the cooling failed, and-"

"-and you are in trouble. Come on. I think this time, I'm calling your grandma and letting her sort you out."

"Ah, she'll understand! She took me racing last weekend, it was awesome!" Sumi laughed as Eri led the four miscreants away.

"...I meant grandma Inko."

"Oh. Um, maybe just call my mom instead?"

"Not a chance."

Nezu hopped up into a chair as the door shut behind him. He smiled at Aizawa, who was rubbing his forehead. "Not as much fun as it looks like from the classroom, is it?"

"I never asked for this," Aizawa groaned, lowering his hand and frowning at Nezu. "And I never thought it would be fun. But Emi was just so pleased to hear I got offered the position, and well…who else would do it?"

"Hmm. You do seem to have taken to it rather well."

"Maybe," Aizawa said with a grimace. He touched a button on his phone and called for some tea, then turned back to Nezu. "So, what brings you out here? They not keeping you busy enough in the capital?"

"Oh, no, quite the opposite, actually. I needed a bit of a break, things have been rather hectic lately," Nezu explained, sighing slightly as he leaned back in his chair. "I thought I could use a little time to relax."

That made Aizawa smile, relaxing himself. "And you came here? I thought you knew better than that."

"Well, I'm not the one who has to deal with this current crop of trouble makers," Nezu chuckled. "Just their parents."

"You know, I don't know which of the Midoriya women would be harder to wrangle. Did she seriously try to get the budget for an Orion Drive?" Aizawa asked.

"Oh, she did. But that's not the juicy bit. She brought a model to the meeting."

"No. Are you serious? Mei brought a model of a nuclear device to a meeting of the Japanese government?" Aizawa asked incredulously.

Nezu held up a finger. "That's not the best part."

"No!" Aizawa barked out a laugh, shaking his head. "She brought a FUNCTIONING nuclear device?!"

"Apparently, Izuku had no idea. Or so he claimed. But how the man wouldn't realize his wife was refining weapons grade plutonium, I'll never know. But yes. She brought a small nuclear bomb into the main government building. Tsuragamae more or less accepted it as just one of her typical little quirks, so to speak, but a few of the other ministers pitched an unholy fit about the whole thing."

"Like mother like daughter," Aizawa muttered as the door shot open.

A young woman with long curly dark hair and sparkling green eyes bounced into the room, a wide grin on her face. "Hey Nezu! Did you hear what the Four Compadres were up to? Man! Talk about a laugh!"

"Etsuko, the Minister is here on official business," Aizawa growled as his daughter handed a cup of warm tea to both of them.

"Really? And here I thought he'd come here for my tea!" the young woman threw her head back and laughed uproariously, and Nezu allowed himself to smile as Aizawa fought hard not to laugh. "Oh, here's some mochi too! Mom made it earlier! Call me if you need anything else, I'm just working on my math homework. Ciao!" Etsuko skipped back out the door, shutting it just a bit too forcefully, as she was prone to doing.

"She seems to be enjoying herself at least," Nezu said, taking a sip of his tea. Perfect. He really did enjoy Etsuko's tea. She always made it just a bit sweet, but he liked that.

"I'm glad someone is," Aizawa muttered, but he was still smiling as he sipped at his tea.

"Oh come, I know you want to brag. How is your daughter doing? Think she'll manage to win the Sports Festival this year?" Nezu teased.

"She has a chance. Thank God she's not competing against Bakugo. He's going for a third year sweep, and I don't think even Katsuki Togata can stop him," Aizawa said. Then he grinned. "But, oh, yes. Etsuko might just win this year. Last year it was close, but she's been practicing. Thank God she got my quirk instead of her mother's. She's a monster in hand to hand. We practice daily. She's getting to where she can even beat me when I'm doing my best."

"You sure that's not just because you're getting old?" Nezu prodded.

Rolling his eyes, Aizawa shook his head. "And here I thought my daughter was the comedian. No, I'm still as wily as ever. She's just good. It helps that she's got some good classmates to practice with. Hitomei Togata's not bad, if she would just get over herself. She's not got the quirk for the hero course, but she does have the drive and she's got the gear. Half the reason she hangs out with Midoriya, I'm sure."

"And the other half is that those two girls are trouble looking for a place to happen?" Nezu guessed.

"Unfortunately. Hitomei wasn't so bad last year, but ever since Sumiya started they've been on a spree. I half wish Etsuko would spend more time with them, if only to rub off on those two. But then again I'm just grateful she's so well behaved."

"Hmm. And have you figured out what Midoriya and Bakugo are up to yet?" Nezu asked, his tail swishing slightly in anticipation of the trap he had laid.

Aizawa blinked. "What do you mean? Those two are always in trouble together. They've been inseparable ever since Midoriya started this year."

"I see. Well, perhaps their aunt should sit them down for a long talk. Though I suggest someone prescribe Izuku some heart medication before you break the news to him," Nezu said, finishing off his tea with a satisfied smack of his lips.

Aizawa studied Nezu for a long time, frowning. Then his eyes went wide. "You don't think they're-"

"Sumiya has been quietly waiting for the day when Kazumi would notice she is, in fact, a girl. Much like her mother, I have a feeling she had her boyfriend picked out long before he even realized what was happening," Nezu said, setting his cup down on the chair next to him and folding his paws in his lap. "If the scent on the two of them is anything to go by, she's been comforting young Bakugo quite thoroughly. You poor humans. You're so disabled by your lack of a good nose."

Aizawa grabbed his phone and pressed a number. "Eri?! Get over her with Midoriya and Bakugo! I swear to God, if those two-look, just get over here." He slammed the phone back down and glared at Nezu. "I did not need this complication in my life."

"Well, just be grateful I was here to notice for you. Besides, we wouldn't want life to be boring, now would we?"

"At UA? I think boring is just about the last thing I need to worry about."

That made Nezu smile. "Well. I suppose some things never change."