Tiger & Might – Chapter 3: Keep it Going
“Izuku-kun, your grades are slipping,” Mister Kaburagi said from his perch on the rooftop of a two-story building. It was a month into their training at this point. After weeks spent going through different stamina-building and strength-building exercises, the veteran hero brought him here and told him his objective was to reach the top.
Given his advanced age, Mister Kaburagi had used his grappling-hook wrist-watch to get that high. But Izuku didn’t have that luxury. He had to use his own two hands and feet.
“Ah, I’ve been busy trying to work on reorganizing my notes on heroes and villains,” he said. The notebooks he had complied didn’t have a specific order to them so he had to transfer the information he had on them onto individual sheets and place them in expanding file folders. He had roughly six of them at the moment, with the majority being dedicated to heroes and only one being dedicated to villains. Between that, spending his nights doing research, and waking early to get in an early morning workout, his grades may have slipped a few points.
“That may be the case, but you still need to keep your grades up,” Mister Kaburagi said. “As things stand, if you get into the Hero Courses without a Quirk at U.A. you’ll be setting a precedence for those who come after you. Everything you do will reflect on that, so you need to set high standards and live up to them.”
“Okay,” Izuku said, thoughts briefly contemplating his time-table. He would have to squeeze in the time spent studying somehow.
“And don’t try and rush climbing up here,” the veteran hero added. “You’ve already tried four times and you’re getting tired and sore with every failure. Take a moment to assess the situation and consider your body’s current condition before trying again.”
Izuku did that while wiping the sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his track-suit. Standing at two-stories high, the brick-laden structure had a sign on the outside that marked it as once being a corner-store that had fallen into ruin. It was rectangular lengthwise, with eight windows divided into two rows and four columns, with a decorative band made of stone between them above the doorway. The upper windows had decorative hoods on top, feeding into water tables that were maybe two inches outwards, and the sills were inwards rather than outwards by three or so inches.
His body was sore somewhat from failed attempts, a few falls that he rolled out of safely, but his muscles still ached. It would limit the movement he could make and how long they would last under stress to only seconds at best before they gave out. Taking all that into consideration, he took a deep breath and just visualized how he could go through with climbing it safely.
It played out in front of his eyes like a simulation, each attempt and failure taking into account his limitations. The revelation made him grimace as he looked down to his fingers, where some of the flesh had been scraped against the concrete and brick. They tightened into a fist. As things stood, he wouldn’t be able to climb the building no matter how hard he tried. He was too tired and his body needed to rest.
“I won’t be able to scale it before it gets dark,” he admitted. “The muscles in my hands are too worn out to support my own weight.”
Mister Kaburagi looked up to the sky for a moment in thought before leaping over the edge. The line attached to his wire went taut and then gradually lowered him until he touched down. He then pressed a button on the watch and the line detached from the building and retracted into itself.
“That’s a good call,” he said. “In your current state, there was only one way you would have made it.”
Izuku frowned. He’d spent minutes just now going over every conceivable way he could climb the building with his own two and hands and feet. “How?”
The older man grinned slightly. “By using the fire escape on the back of the building, of course. I didn’t restrict you to climbing just the front, now did I? I only said your objective was to get to the top and you jumped straight into it the first way you saw that you could.”
Izuku’s shoulders went slack at that. He should’ve checked the rear of the building as well. “That… was a mistake on my part.”
“You weren’t wrong in how you approached it,” he assured him. “Had your body been at its strongest and you had more experience in climbing, you would have gotten up there in seconds at best. It is experience through failure and success alike that builds on the foundation and keeps pushing you into going higher and higher. Take into account your mistakes and the obstacles you faced for the next time, and you’ll become a better hero for it.”
Izuku thought about what experience he gained through this failure in particular. He supposed the points where his body was the sorest were the ones that needed the most improvement. And he learned how to assess his condition, so that was a positive as well.
Mister Kaburagi stretched his aged arms and sighed. “For now, let’s call it a day. I have to leave for one of my granddaughters’ performances in a few hours or my daughter will be upset.”
Karina sighed as she stood outside the Todoroki Manor, a traditional Japanese structure that stood separate from the surrounding buildings. It was a magnificent place in the grand scheme of things. At one point she thought it was perfect for raising her grandchildren, only for her to realize too late that this beautiful place was owned by a man whose ambition cast a shadow over everything around it.
She strode forward towards the entrance and knocked on the door. It opened seconds later to reveal her eldest granddaughter, Fuyumi. She was a diligent girl who loved music as much as Karina, a contrast to how her mother was at that age.
Fuyumi was dressed to attend the performance as well, her white hair with streaks of black in a short ponytail while wearing a white dress-shirt and black pants. However, Karina noticed the concern in her eyes behind her glasses and the way her lips were turned up slightly in worry. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Shouto. Dad just finished training with him in the Training Hall before he left a few minutes ago, but—” Her words fell on deaf ears since Karina had already stepped inside and left her heels by the door, heading down the hallway to the Training Hall. Fuyumi followed after her.
The moment she opened the door, a wind bellowed out from the room that was covered in ice. Shouto was on the ground, back against the wall to remain upright, panting and shivering. The stubborn boy wasn’t using the other-half of his power, and unlike her or her other grandchildren, his resistance to the cold was weaker because he had his pyrokinetic ability to compensate and warm him up.
Karina stepped foot on the ice that crackled under her weight, only for her youngest grandson to scream in panicked alarm and then raise his hand while he shone with a thin cerulean glow. The luminescent glow of her powers as a NEXT kicked in and she met his wedge of ice with a bulwark that caused them both to shatter with a surprising amount of force. The crashing of ice and resulting spray of frost left her staggering back a few steps as she used her arms to prevent any stray fragments from hitting her or Fuyumi, who let out a short cry of surprise.
When it settled, Shouto was struggling to his feet and had returned to his senses. Recognition and regret quickly covered his trembling face as he belatedly took notice of who it was he attacked. “Gr-Grandmother, I—”
“Warm yourself up this instant,” she ordered as she walked in the room towards him. “Honestly, it’s one thing to spite your fool of a father, but to leave yourself in a condition where you can’t even recognize us is simply shameful.”
He looked away and released a haze of heat from the pores on the left side of his body, warming the air around him. The shivering stopped as the ice around him began to run, pooling on the floor around him as he rose to his feet and formally bowed to apologize. “I’m sorry. I thought you were him.”
“I figured as much.” She huffed as she looked around the room. The ice was thick and layered. “How long have you been in here training?”
He looked up towards the clock on the wall to see where the hands were frozen in place. “About six hours.”
“Six hours is too long for a boy of your age to be training without rest.” Her tone grew softer as she brought her hands to his head and brushed his hair out of his eyes so that she could look into them. “You know you don’t have to try and be a hero if you don’t want to. You and Fuyumi can come live with me if you want. I don’t care what those lawyers say.”
Shouto looked down as he slowly shook his head. “I don’t want to cause you anymore trouble. Besides, I need to be stronger to become a hero like All Might and you were. I’ll do it with just the power that I inherited from you, without using the power I got from him.”
Her lips pursed. She… well, she wasn’t proud of her early work as a hero. Who would be when one of the things they were famous for was ‘Cutie Escape?’ Back then she felt like glorified model, wearing that revealing outfit when everyone else was bulletproof in some aspect. Thank goodness heroes these days had more practical outfits and the sponsor companies had less of a say in what they wore.
“That’s fine, but don’t put yourself in that sort of condition again,” she told him. “…You’re as stubborn as your mother was around that age.”
Her daughter had been rebellious when she was younger, likely because Karina hadn’t been there as much as she should have. Her career as a respectable pianist and musician left her traveling a lot after her old home fell. Perhaps if she had been around more, her daughter would have had better taste in men?
Then again, Todoroki had even her fooled when they first met. He seemed like a respectable sort of man back when she was introduced to him, but either he changed over the years or he had always been the sort who coveted glory above all else and hid it well. By the time Karina understood everything, it was too late.
She huffed as she made her decision. “You’re coming with Fuyumi and me to my star pupil’s performance and then dinner afterwards. The more time you two spend away from here and your father, the better it will be.”
Kotetsu sighed as he stepped out of the passenger’s seat of his daughter’s car, having ridden in it with his daughter to the performance hall. The formal clothes he wore felt tight on his aged body as he stretched out his arms and legs to remove the stiffness. He would have preferred more casual clothes, but Kaede had insisted that he wear it because she wanted the family to fully support Tomoe while her father was away.
Kaede herself stepped out of the door on the opposite side and compulsively ran her hands along her clothes to make sure they were neat before looking at the performance hall. A small smile came across her face, no doubt feeling a sense of pride that one of her children had reached a point where they could stand on a stage and perform for others with pride. It probably reminded her of the time that she herself had been an ice skater, doing the same thing.
Further down the parking lot, two small figures were darting around in a circle while a larger one waved. Kotetsu had to strain his eyes to make out the details at that distance while Kaede waved towards them and then started walking forward. Once close he could identify that it was his grandson and the twins.
“Mother, you made it,” Masahiro said as they approached, trying futilely to rein in his kids. He was the oldest of Kaede’s children, the firstborn. He then turned to Kotetsu. “Grandfather, it’s been a while. I’m glad to see you’re in good health.”
“There’s no need to worry about me, boy. I’ve got another decade or two in me,” Kotetsu said before one of the twins, Minoru, darted for him and then touched his hand. A second later, the child was covered in a thin shroud of cerulean as he activated Hundred Power.
“That’s not fair!” Minori, the other twin, said as he came to a stop in front of his brother. “We said no powers!”
“Yes, we did—”
Before they could argue further, Kaede cleared her throat. They turned to see that she was standing there with an annoyed expression and was tapping her foot on the ground. They knew what that meant, having been watched by her enough to know when she was reaching her limit.
“Turn it off,” she said firmly. Minoru immediately stopped shining, signaling he had deactivated his power. Kaede huffed. “I told you two that you should be on your best behavior when we go out, didn’t I?”
“Yes, Grandma,” they said in unison as they settled in for another lecture.
“And what did I tell you about playing with your Great-Grandpa’s powers?”
“Not to because we don’t want to hurt someone by accident.”
Masahiro looked somewhat relieved as he stood next to Kotetsu and watched Kaede continue her lecture to them. “They are quite a handful sometimes. It’s amazing how easily she can reel them in.”
“They’re young and full of energy,” Kotetsu said with a smile. They had no idea how lucky they were to be born in this age compared to when he was a child their age and with his power. Things were nowhere near as peaceful as they were now and, with a majority of the new generation having Quirks or being descended from NEXTs, they rarely got more than a passing glance. “Actually, they remind me of your youngest sister when she was that age actually.”
“Kasumi is like that every time we see her.” Masahiro sighed, massaging his forehead at the thought. “I swear, when she comes over the lawn ends up being torn apart as they play heroes and villains. Doesn’t she know how embarrassing it is to ask our neighbor if I can borrow his Quirk to fix it?”
“You’ve got it tough.” He couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. All of Kaede’s children had inherited her power, but raising them had been a different affair compared to her.
Tomoe was always reserved and often stayed under her mother’s shadow, so she rarely used her power and chose to be an aspiring pianist and student under Karina’s tutelage. Masahiro had been the more troublesome as a boy and got into scraps, but he settled into running a bar like his other Granduncle and had gotten married. Their twins were young and playful with a deviation of their father’s Power Copy ability, allowing Minori to copy Emitter-class powers while Minoru could use Transformation-class powers.
Kasumi was the only one who used her powers to the fullest extent to become a hero and she had been the most… enthusiastic, though for different reasons than Kotetsu. Of course, no sooner than he thought that did the sound of a motorcycle engine reached their collective ears. Kaede stopped her lecture and turned towards the source as the sleek, black bike slowed to a stop and parked opposite of Masahiro. Pulling off the helmet, Kasumi hung it on the handle as she hopped off the bike.
“Auntie Kasumi!” cried the twins in glee as they ran towards her.
She crouched and gave them a hug. “How are my favorite little troublemakers?”
“Fine,” Minori said. “When will you come visit us again?”
“Did you beat up some new villains?” Minoru asked instead. “Did you get some new powers?”
“Yeah, I got to beat down this guy who could turn himself into stone. It was awesome, but my overseer got mad about the property damage. I’ll tell you more later on when I visit this weekend, I promise.” She rose to her full height and then turned to her mother. “Mom, how’ve you been holding up since I moved out?”
“Just fine.” Kaede held a hand to her cheek and sighed as she looked over her daughter. Kasumi’s hair was done in a ponytail and she wore leather pants with a matching jacket. “Couldn’t you dress in something more appropriate?”
“I’m not the one of the stage tonight,” Kasumi said, before turning to Kotetsu. “I see she pulled you out of your cave, Gramps. How’ve you been?”
“Good, good,” he said, giving her a hug. “And how’s things for you?”
She grinned. “I’m getting there. Just keep listening out, one of these days Myriad’s going to be a big-name hero.”
Kaede pressed her lips thin but didn’t say anything, having made her peace with the girl’s decision. It had taken a lot of convincing from Kasumi, Kotetsu, and even Karina to get her to agree to let Kasumi follow her own path and attend the hero course of the school closest to where they lived. Now she had graduated and moved out to a location where she could begin working under a more established hero.
“That’s good,” Kotetsu said, moving his head close to her ear to whisper to her. “I may have something to talk to you about later on. Best if your mother doesn’t hear. I don’t want her to worry over me.”
Kasumi gave a brief nod before pulling away and then going with them as they walked into the building and towards their seats, where they found Karina and two of her grandchildren. Kasumi grew excited when she saw Fuyumi. “Fuyu!”
“Kasumi, you came too!” Fuyumi stood up in time for Kasumi to give her a hug, with Shouto leaning back to not be caught between them while looking nonplussed. The two had been playmates when they were younger, with Karina bringing Fuyumi along to watch her lessons with Tomoe. Though that was mostly Kasumi dragging her around to go play and get into trouble, they were the oldest of friends and it had been Kasumi who gave her the name she used as a hero and her primary power.
When Kasumi finally broke the hug, she turned to Shouto. “And if it isn’t her little brother. What have you been up to kid?”
“Just training,” he said, turning his head away from her. From a glance, it was clear he wasn’t sure on how to handle Kasumi from the few times that he’d seen them together. But he probably didn’t appreciate being called a kid.
“I brought Shouto-kun because he needs a break,” Karina said. “He was working really hard training to be a hero and needed a night out.”
Kotetsu caught the underlying message. “You’re not working too hard, are you? A boy your age should be enjoying himself.”
“It’s fine,” Shouto said. “I want to carry on Grandmother’s legacy as a hero, so it’s merely another step toward doing that.”
Hearing that, Kotetsu smiled slightly. “There are a lot of ambitious youngsters these days.”
“I could give him some tips,” Kasumi offered, leaning uncomfortably close to him. “I’ll even give them to you for free since you’re Fuyu’s little brother. What do you want to know first?”
“Kasumi, give the boy breathing room,” Kaede said as she took a seat next to the twins, with Masahiro on the end. That way they could keep them both in check and they couldn’t borrow any of the others powers to play around with.
She thrust her lips out in a pout at her mother and then settled down in her seat next to Fuyumi, who she turned her attention towards until the lights dimmed. Tomoe came out along with the other performers for the customary introduction. She would have the fourth performance of the evening, so Kotetsu settled in for a long night while surrounded by his family as silence enveloped the room…
[-CHAPTER 3 END-]