Tiger & Might – Chapter 2: Shaping Up
Izuku Midoriya felt like his muscles burning beneath his heated flesh as he slowed his pace to a crawl, after passing by Mister Kaburagi. It was the weekend and they had come out early in the morning for him to assess the boy’s physical condition. To that end, the older man had gotten himself a clipboard and stopwatch to time how long he could run, after seeing how many pull-ups, sit-ups, and squats he could do with a break between them each.
His leg muscles finally gave out and he fell to his knees on the grass. A stinging, acrid heat bubbled up in his stomach. It surged up from there into his chest, and through his throat to force itself out of his mouth.
“There, there,” the veteran hero said as he patted Izuku on the back while the boy vomited. “Take a deep breath and then take a drink of water afterwards.”
Once he finished vomiting, Izuku moved his aching body to the bench. There he took a seat and drank from the bottle. The ice-cold liquid soothed his throat while Mister Kaburagi gave him an overview of his performance.
“Overall, you aren’t in too bad a shape for a boy your age,” he said. “However, it isn’t exemplary. More than strength or speed, you lack the endurance and stamina needed to be a hero. It’s no good if you’re out of breath by the time that you arrive at the site of an incident. By working on that first, we can increase how much you can do at any given point of time.”
“So I need to run more?” he guessed.
“Among other things to improve your cardio, you need to balance out strength-building and stamina-building,” he explained. “And while that covers the physical aspect of your training, you’ll also need to work on improving the way you move as well.”
“You run with your heels instead of the balls of your feet, which is detrimental and puts unnecessary stress on your body. Over time that stress will build up and then break-down your body. We’ll cover that once you’ve recovered, so simply rest for now.”
“Will that be enough to help me test into U.A.?” The school had revised the entrance conditions that stated you needed to have a Quirk to enter the Hero Course, which was what he was aiming for. And, as the national school, several of the greatest heroes got their start at those sacred grounds of learning.
“Aiming high, huh?” Izuku nodded to the question. “That’s good. Dedication to helping others, critical thinking to solve problems, having a belief in yourself, and loving what you do—these are four things you need above all else if you want to succeed in being a hero. You need to strive for it without reservation and aim as high as you can, while putting your talents towards that goal as well.”
“Talents?” Izuku’s eyes closed partway as he tried to think on that. “But I’m not really talented in anything—ow!”
“Everyone’s talented in something,” Mister Kaburagi said, after he lightly tapped his clipboard against Izuku’s head and gave him a reassuring smile. “There’s something that you’ve worked on because it was something you loved to do, right?”
“I like observing heroes and taking down notes,” he offered.
“Then simply hone and dedicate that towards being a hero as well,” the veteran hero continued. “It’s not something I can tell you how to do, but you’ll figure it out somehow. Just use everything at your disposal to save the lives of those in need of help, understand?”
“Understood,” Izuku said.
With that said, Mister Kaburagi took a look at his rather large wrist-watch. “Then keep resting up for another ten minutes. After that, we’re correcting your running on the concrete path. Leave your shoes behind.”
Inko Midoriya stared in slight surprise as Izuku used the thin chopsticks to scoop up every last grain of rice in his bowl, to the point that the sound of chopsticks scraping ceramic filled the air. Her son hadn’t exactly been the most reserved when it came to eating, but it was the first time she had seen him so ravenous. He finished the bowl in record time and then asked her for another one.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you so hungry, Izuku,” she said, filling the bowl again with a smile. “Then again, you are a growing boy.”
“I’ve been working out more so that I can apply to U.A. in two years,” he said. “I had to do a lot of running in the park today, and I’m going to have to start building up my muscles. I’ll probably have to start putting my allowance towards getting weights too.”
“Is that so?” Inko’s smile fractured a bit as she handed back the bowl. It went unnoticed as he began to eat again with the same zeal as before.
She could still recall that day with the doctor and the night that came afterwards. Her son had been told that he didn’t have a Quirk, despite the fact that she and her husband had both had Quirks that had been passed down from their families.
When Izuku had been born, Inko and her husband had wondered which of their gifts he would inherit. While telekinesis over small objects and breathing fire weren’t amazing by most standards, there were a lot of risks involved for a child. Doubly so if he had somehow gotten a power from them both by chance—thermal movement could cause no shortage of problems.
It was good that he had no other medical complications, but being born without a Quirk was a rarity these days; in fact it was mostly the older generation that lacked them among the 80%. If everyone having a Quirk was “healthy” for lack of a better term… then what did it say for him not to have one?
Inko could only imagine the teasing that he would go through at his age for not having one, especially when all his friends had them. It would make him stand out from the others, but she was hopeful that as he got older it wouldn’t matter.
Not all careers were reliant on Quirks, since they were too varied for that. He could be a fireman, or a police officer, or even a salary-man. But…then he asked if he could be a hero like All Might, a figure who he admired above all else.
At that moment, her grief and guilt all came rushing out of her and tears flooded from her face. She apologized to Izuku over and over again, sorry that the gift that was supposed to be passed from parent to child was nowhere to be found.
Since then the stress hadn’t been good on her or the marriage. But Izuku seemingly bounced back. That was what mattered.
So Inko forced her smile back into place and continued eating her with child.
After dinner was over, Izuku returned to his room to finish his homework. It proved a bit challenging with how his legs were throbbing. They were still sore from all the running, but he supposed there would be no gain without pain.
He recalled Mister Kaburagi’s words from earlier as he turned on the computer. If he does have a talent then it would be his observation skills when it came to heroes. He just needed to think about how to apply to heroics on his end and refine that to the utmost limit of his ability. The most obvious step would be to relate it to what he was doing at the moment—movements.
Opening the drawer of the table that his computer sat upon, he pulled out the other notebooks that he had compiled over the years. There wasn’t much order to it since he began jotting down what he noticed about the heroes whenever he could, so it took him a minute to flip through the different pages before he drafted a list of heroes to look for videos online—specifically heroes who had a focus on agility.
If he noticed a pattern between movements then he could learn to emulate them, as long as their Quirk didn’t bolster that specific power to a higher degree than what he was capable of. Even if he couldn’t emulate them, he could at least recognize them should the need arise.
Observe everything, he thought to himself. No detail is meaningless, no matter how small.
Those would become words he’d live by from that night on.
Kotetsu leaned forward at the table meant for two as he basked in the subdued atmosphere and dimmed light of the bar that doubled as a Jazz club. He was awaiting an old friend, having already ordered their drinks. He closed his eyes to just listen to the soft music playing until he heard her take a seat.
“You’ll fall asleep if you close your eyes for long in a place like this, Old Man” the familiar voice said.
“I’ll have you know I’m still spry for a man of my advanced years,” Kotetsu said as he opened his eyes. Sitting opposite him was Karina Lyle, a former hero-turned-music teacher. She’d aged gracefully over the decades, with her light brown hair now white to match that of her children and grandchildren, who inherited the color from her late husband and their powers from her. Every so often they met like this, sometimes with Nathan. “I’m in peak health in fact.”
“Is that right?” She smiled just slightly enough to say that she knew something. “Then why did Kaede tell me that your doctor contacted her about how you’ve been showing signs of nutrient deficiency?”
He grimaced lightly. “I just need more Vitamin E and C. It’s nothing she needs to worry about.”
“You should take better care of yourself, Old Man,” she said with a note of kind mirth in her voice. “Kaede worries about you living alone as is. You rejected her offer to move in again, didn’t you?”
“Mmm…” She was a good girl, wanting to look after her father after all the times he couldn’t be there for her growing up. But he didn’t want to intrude in her life to that extent. “No sense in burdening her by forcing her to look after an old-timer like me. Not when I can look after myself.”
She didn’t press him further on it. “Just don’t forget about Tomoe-chan’s piano performance. Her sister and brother are all coming, as well as her nephews. It’ll be a family event and Kaede wants her grandfather to be there too.”
“I have it marked on my calendar.” It was still hard to believe his little girl had little girls of her own, one of whom had twin boys. Oh how time flew. Clearing his throat, Kotetsu’s voice lowered to a more serious tone. “How have things been going with your daughter and grandchildren? Have you had any luck?”
Karina froze for a moment. Then her lips slowly pursed into a slight frown and she gently shook her head. “She still hasn’t forgiven herself for what she did to Shouto. And he hasn’t visited her once since then, despite my efforts. As for the legal issues… no, it’s not going well.”
Her hands balled into fists on the table so tightly that they were shaking. She had been trying to gain custody of her grandchildren after her daughter’s marriage turned sour. But the lawyers were very blunt about the hurdles she would face trying to take custody away from their father.
Enji Todoroki had both his reputation and legal team as armor. Her word against the Number 2 Ranked Hero would be a losing battle and bring her daughter’s actions to light, a mistake that she made in a moment of weakness. Plus, she was trying to keep things quiet to spare the children from any more exposure than necessary—it would only make things worse to no avail, and they didn’t need that.
Kotetsu placed his hands over hers. She looked up and met his eyes. “Getting angry won’t help the situation. Just do what you can for all of them right now. An opportunity will surface in time.”
The shaking stopped as she took a deep breath and then put on a soft, if fragile smile, just for him. “Let’s drop the unpleasant topics for now and talk about something else.” She slipped her hands from beneath his and reached for her glass. “How have you been keeping yourself busy these days?”
He leaned back at the question and gave her a wry smile. “I met an interesting kid that asked me to teach him how to be a hero, despite not having a Quirk. He managed to convince me to help him shape up, so I spend most of my days doing that instead of staying cooped up in my room.”
“He must be quite the child then,” Karina said, grabbing the neck of her glass with one hand and holding it up. “If it’s something you’ve decided then I’m sure you’ve thought it out as much as you could have. Just don’t push yourself too hard. I remember Kaede mentioning you threw your back out playing with your nephews a few years ago.”
Kotetsu grumbled under his breath at that. But he didn’t dispute it. The twins had been the ones to get Kaede’s ability from their father, to copy different powers for a limited amount of time—one could copy Emitter powers and the other could use Transformations.
He quickly shifted the conversation to a different set of topics and, like that, the two former heroes spent the night catching up with one another….
[-CHAPTER 2 END-]
Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Roosterteeth
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