Tiger & Might – Chapter 5
Tiger & Might – Chapter 5: Partners
Izuku’s palms were sweaty. His heart was racing. Blood was pounding at his ears. The mere fact that a simple winter breeze could spell his death left a primal fear in his heart as every thought in his mind told him one thing:
You will die if you take another step.
Izuku was six stories in the air at least, standing at the ledge of a building. The average height of a fall that would be fatal was about five stories, with eight stories having a near 100% rate of death for the average person. Those who had Quirks that made them especially resilient were a different story, but for Izuku those statistics were accurate.
‘Quit being so scared and get ready to jump.’ ordered a voice through the earpiece. Mei, no doubt monitoring his vitals.
‘Don’t say it like that!’ a second reprimanded. Miss Kasumi. ‘It’s natural for him to be afraid when he has to try jumping from that height for the first time.’
Looking down he could spot the three people who had accompanied him to this near-abandoned neighborhood of buildings and complex roads. The construction of the expressway nearby had reduced the amount of traffic and a lot of businesses either relocated or closed, leaving plenty of old buildings for them to use. Less of a chance of someone calling the police also meant less time trying to explain everything.
‘He’ll be fine,’ Mei insisted. ‘If the sensor reads that he’s falling close to the ground it’ll deploy the airbag to cushion him. And Mister Kaburagi is holding the manual trigger as a backup.’
‘Well, assuming your gear doesn’t work—and I don’t—that’s why I have Hundred Power active right now. I can speed up my reaction time and movements a hundred-fold and catch him before he gets hurt.’
Why did she have to say that out loud? Izuku fought a shudder as he checked over the equipment on him now. The AR visor that Mei had made were fixed firmly on his face, information being fed into it from the tablet she had on-hand, such as his current height.
Next, he ran his fingers over the protective pads meant to shield his body from a collision, light but firm, and the airbag belt around his waist that would detect when he was falling and deploy from both sides to cushion him from an impact. That he’d seen her test as she nonchalantly pushed a crash test dummy (he didn’t ask why she had one) she had over the edge of a taller building twice and showed the results with and without using one.
He only wished she hadn’t put an image of his face on it. Both times. That did not help.
‘Are you calling my babies shabby!?’
‘Last time I checked, that watch of yours nearly took off the arm of a practice dummy.’
His fingers then drifted to the wrist-watch grappling hook model she had been urged to make and test, ensuring it was firmly in its place. The modified version prior had been cleared by whoever it was Mister Kaburagi knew that had the proper means to test it before they even conceived doing this. And Izuku knew it would on the smaller buildings already. But their argument was not helping.
‘I adjusted that flaw three iterations ago!’
‘That meant you needed three times to get it close to working right!’
‘You’re supposed to test and building things like that—it’s a process!’
Izuku closed his eyes and let out a sigh as they began to squabble in his ears. It had been about a month since they’d met Mei, and all that entailed. Her drive to invent and improve herself was somewhat akin to his drive to be a hero, but she couldn’t really find it in her to focus all that strongly on the person using it so much as she was focused on getting the optimal result. With any luck, that would get better with time, but she and Miss Kasumi were like oil and vinegar.
‘That’s enough, you two.’ Finally, a voice of reason in Mister Kaburagi. ‘Izuku-kun, if you’re uncomfortable we can stop. The first step is always the hardest, but the idea is to get you over the primal fears so you don’t freeze up in the event you do run into them.’
He swallowed before responding. “No,” he said as he exhaled deeply through his nose. “I’ll do it now. I can’t let my fears slow me down.”
‘Then let’s get started.’ Mei again. ‘I’m activating the auto-assist program now.’
No sooner than she said a crosshair appeared on the screen of his visor, set to move along with the watch through whatever monitoring system she had place into it. As Izuku moved his hand, it moved as well, no doubt predicting where the line would connect based on the length and force of the wire. On the inside of the crosshairs there was a checkmark that turned into an ‘x’ as it passed from the building to the glass, signifying whether or not it would latch.
“Firing now,” Izuku said as he took aim and confirmed it would connect before he triggered it. The moment the end of the grappling line shot out, a number displayed on the screen that displayed both the total length of the wire as well as how much was in use. The moment the end touched the building, an electric current flowed through the wire and magnetized the tip.
‘It’s connected,’ Mei said. ‘I’ll set the reeling system to automatic rather than manual control to minimize human error. Jump now.’
She put real effort into it, and they’ve all taken safety measures, so it should be okay. Izuku took a deep breath before steeling his resolve and staking it down into his fears for a single moment of courage. Then he jumped, separating from the building that had been holding gravity at bay. He plunged like a stone immediately, a scream falling out of his mouth.
Then the line began to reel in.
In an instant, everything changed as he crossed the gap in a single fluid motion, momentum and the pull of the wire carrying him across the distance. His descent transformed into an ascension. The sensation of falling was turned into one of flight. And his scream of fear turned into one of surprise as an exhilarating sensation coursed through his body as Izuku defied gravity for the first time.
It was a cross between the adrenaline-fueled thrill and the satisfaction of overcoming the limitations of his body. The realization of the impossible becoming possible. Was this what it was like for heroes like All Might as they leapt towards the rescue?
Izuku didn’t have a chance to dwell on the line of thought for too long as he was propelled over the ledge of the building he’d jumped towards. Unprepared for the landing given the unexpected rush, he ended up stumbling into a roll until the connected line snagged him. That left him flat on his back, eyes fixed to the sky.
‘Izuku-kun, are you okay?’ Mister Kaburagi asked, concerned.
“Ye…Yes…” He took heavy and hurried breaths, chest rising and falling even with a smile spread on his face. “I never… felt better…”
Kotetsu watched as Izuku was swinging through the air with relative ease. Now that his fear had been largely minimized, he was getting used to it and steadily growing more accustomed to using it. Even smiling as he gave chase after Kasumi, who had gotten bored sitting around and decided to test him as she leapt from one building to another with Hundred Power.
The veteran hero knew the feeling of excitement very well, starting out. He’d originally used the watch in order to get to locations that were normally inaccessible for him when he needed to save on using Hundred Power—even before his powers began to wane. Of course, with his age now he couldn’t indulge in that sort of behavior.
“Don’t go out of the area I designated!” Mei shouted into the earpiece as she continued tapping the tablet she was using to keep track of Izuku’s progress. “You’ll mess up the baseline I’m working on here!”
‘Quit being a stick-in-the-mud,’ Kasumi said. ‘How often does Junior get a chance like this? Let him have some fun with it before you start slapping limitations onto it and making it boring.’
“I don’t want there to be a malfunction because you’re pushing him to go faster than he can manage when he’s had it for less than three hours,” she shot back. “There’s an order to things, which I would expect someone who’s supposed to be a hero to know.”
“Calm down you two,” Kotetsu said before they started fighting one another again. “Just slow down for a bit, Izuku-kun. We’ve got time.”
He then turned to Mei. “You should be a little gentler. I can understand how important data is for your engineering, but for him this is something new and exciting.”
“I don’t want there to be any mistakes for when I present this version to that engineer from the Helios Energy company again,” Mei said, annoyance in her voice. It wasn’t directed at him of course, but rather in response to the feedback of the previous model he’d gotten analyzed—keeping with his word.
She had done an adequate job on modifying the watch he’d given her. It met all the criteria that he had set out for Izuku, so he couldn’t complain. But it clearly wasn’t her best given the functionality of her new model, so most likely she was simply trying to get to his Wild Tiger suit as quickly as possible. The engineer had likely seen that on some level, and it had stricken her pride when he rejected it.
“Even so, you should try to understand that since it’s important for you to better understand the people you’re working with,” Kotetsu told her. “Otherwise, it’ll be a little difficult for you to get along with the heroes you’ll be making the equipment for, and that might make your future plans a lot more difficult. A bad reference from one can ruin a lot of future prospects, even if the equipment you provide is top-notch.”
She opened her mouth to respond but words only came out after a pause. “…It’s easier said than done. Especially when around people who don’t see things the same way as I do.”
“Which is why you should get in practice now,” he said gently, nodding his head towards Izuku as he swung from one building to the next. “If there’s anyone here who will understand you, it will be him.”
Hours later, the practice came to an end. They had all arrived back at Mister Kaburagi’s home, the sun setting over the horizon. The veteran hero quickly retired to his home to get some rest, leaving Kasumi to get ready to drive Izuku back home, while Mei sat on her scooter and went over the footage of the day’s practice on her tablet.
Already she could see improvements that could be made. The way the grappling system’s design worked at the moment only allowed for it to attach to buildings that had metals that could be attached to by a magnet. That was sufficient for most modern buildings, but it wouldn’t be for those that were made of some sort of natural material.
She could add in a secondary attachment component. Hooks that fired off once they received the electrical charge and then dug into the building material. But the problem was that she would have to compensate for the additional weight—which also meant recalibrating the launching system, using a thicker wire, and a wider compartment to store it in—and then have a secondary system to release the hook with enough force to penetrate whatever it needed to attach to.
Her lips slightly pursed as she considered the resources she had at hand and how much harder it would be. But, before she could think on it much further, Kasumi’s phone began to ring.
“What’s up, Mom?” she answered. Mei couldn’t hear the other end from her perch, but from the way the expression on Kasumi’s face shifted, one brow raised, whatever it was must’ve been intriguing to the woman. “How did they get up there?”
Mei turned her attention away from the conversation and focused back on the footage. It was none of her business, concern, or interest after all. That was, until a shout came over the line that even she could hear, nearly causing her to fumble it.
She turned back to see Kasumi holding the phone away from her ear, wincing as the voice continued for a bit. “Okay, okay. I’ll come get them down now!”
Then she sighed and hung up, before turning to Izuku. “Sorry, Junior. I won’t be able to give you a ride home. I’ve got to go get my nephews since they managed to get themselves into some trouble.”
“It’s fine,” Izuku said. “I can walk home.”
“I really think you shouldn’t. We were going at it for a while up there, so you’d probably pass out the moment you got home…” Her eyes drifted over to Mei. “She’ll give you a ride on her scooter.”
Mei blinked. “I will?”
Kasumi gave her an insistent look at that. “You’re the only one who can drive him. It’s not that far on a set of wheels, compared to having to walk in the dark. And besides, you’re not that busy at the moment.”
Mei frowned at the presumption that she’d have free time. It was almost insulting considering how much work she had to do. She would have to rework the design of the watch, find a material that was hard and light enough to not make it cumbersome to act as a hook, and somehow maintain the discreet appearance that it being a watch entailed. Anything more fitting, like a gauntlet, would stand-out and elude the purpose of having it in that form to begin with.
The worst part was that trying to explain that to her would be an exercise in futility. People usually just didn’t get it unless they were more inclined to the engineering side of things. She turned her cross-haired gaze towards Izuku. “Come on then.”
“I really don’t want to be a bother,” Izuku said defensively, hands raised to pacify her. “Really, it’s no trouble for me to walk.”
“Just give me your address and we’ll go,” Mei insisted as she set the tablet into a slot on the front and brought up the GPS. Once the boy did and she entered the information into it, she inched forward so that he could get onto the seat behind her. “Hold onto me.”
“Wrap your arms around my waist and sit against my back,” Mei clarified as she placed her goggles over her eyes. Her Quirk may have enhanced her vision, but having the wind blow in her face tended to throw her off. “I don’t have a second helmet with me, so it’ll be bad if you fall off.”
“O-okay.” He visibly and audibly swallowed before he held his arms out towards her waist. They were shaking for some reason, even before she started the scooter up. And his grip was rather loose as he inched forward until she felt the warmth of his trembling body.
Mei looked over her shoulder to see that he was sweating lightly too. She supposed he really might have been too tired to walk back home at that rate. It really couldn’t be helped then. She turned her attention back forward and pressed down on the pedal, taking off from the residence of Mister Kaburagi.
The evening air brushed against her face, its sting more tolerable due to having a passenger behind her. Her focus was on the road, but traffic was light and so her thoughts turned back to her project. At least until she looked in her side-mirror and saw Izuku’s mouth opening and closing, as if he wanted to say something. “What is it?”
“Sorry about this and earlier,” he said with his eyes turned down and lips downturned at the corners. “I… didn’t mean to throw your calculations off when we were testing out the equipment. I know you’re working hard, so that probably didn’t help.”
Mei realized he must have been thinking about that for some time now. Had she sounded that upset with him? “…Under normal circumstances I’d be excited to see someone happy with what I’ve made like that. I’ve just been under a lot of stress lately to get this right after what the engineer said to me. since this is a big chance for me to get an ‘in’ with a major company.”
She’d been spent weeks of testing and refining it after her classes, and it had been eating up the majority of her focus. That meant she also had to ignore her other projects, which was easier said than done. New ideas came to her mind as often as she thought about a problem in need of a solution, yet she was restricted to a single one for an undefined period of time.
“Umm… can I ask why you want to get into a major company?” he asked.
She indulged his curiosity. “Because it’ll give me access to everything I need—space, equipment, resources. I mean, have you tried making half of the equipment I do in what amounts to a garage?”
He shook his head. “I live in an apartment, so I can imagine that all the noise would at least would cause a disturbance. Not to mention the safety hazards.”
“Tell me about it…” she muttered under her breath. The noise bothered the neighbors and her parents, and she could only get so much tools and materials to work with due to costs and safety regulations. “That’s why I want to get into U.A. Their Support Department is among the best. Then, once I’ve established myself, I’ll be able to get my own workshop and make whatever I want, whenever I want.”
“Still, you managed to make all of this equipment on your own, despite not having access to everything you’d want,” Izuku said, an earnest tone in his voice. “You’re amazing, Hatsume-san.”
She couldn’t help but feel a little happy when he said that, all things considered. Her babies were the product of her love of engineering, despite having so little to work with, and she had worked up from failure before—every time being a chance to improve. It was being rejected from her first major company that had pushed her out of enjoying it, but if she didn’t enjoy it… what was the point?
“You’re pretty amazing yourself, Izuku-kun,” she told him sincerely, smiling as she felt a weight lifting from her. Mister Kaburagi was right about him after all. “With you as my partner, I get the feeling we’ll make lots of great babies together.”
An awkward laugh followed from Izuku’s mouth, but he smiled as well. “I wish you’d phrase that a different way, but I’ll look forward to it, partner.”
Tiger & Might – Chapter 4
Tiger & Might – Chapter 4: Mei Hatsume
“I probably should have brought an umbrella,” Izuku mused as he looked up at the curtain of dark-grey clouds in the autumn sky, running with weights tied around his wrists and ankles. It was morning and winter was on the horizon, so the chilled air stung his lungs as every breath that he took left a plume of frost in his wake. Fortunately, he was dressed in his tracksuit and it was well-insulated enough that he remained warm as he made his way to Mister Kaburagi’s place, to get ready for the day’s training.
It had been a few months now since he started training under the veteran hero, and the results were evident to an extent. He could run longer and his upper-body strength was enough to easily support his own weight. Getting around was so much easier, but he didn’t have as much free time as he did before he’d started.
Then again, that was just as well. His extra studies were helpful and training now was better than sitting around and just recording facts that he noticed. He was actually doing something with that knowledge, and that was likely to be the key to his success. Though, he still had some reservations around working with his granddaughter, Miss Kasumi.
She had introduced herself as a relatively new hero called Myriad, stationed at Hosu City at the moment. Her Quirk was a variation of a Power Copy that allowed her to take on the powers of others one at a time—which apparently ran in their family. Normally she had to maintain contact with someone to use it, but there was a slot built into her forearm bracer that allowed her to slip a card into it that let her swap out her powers. Miss Kasumi never said what exactly those cards were made of, but given how she had access to her grandfather’s ability and how Mister Kaburagi rubbed his arm when she mentioned it, Izuku had a vague idea.
He was at the final stretch when the rain had begun to pour, cold and fat drops splashing down against his sweat-laden face. He redoubled his efforts, shielding his eyes until he arrived at Mister Kaburagi’s place and knocked on the door. His granddaughter answered.
“Hey, Junior.” That was her nickname for him, for some reason. “Gramps will be with you in a minute. He’s a bit—”
“I just want to take a little look at them,” an unfamiliar voice said. “I’ll put them back together. I promise.”
“—occupied,” she finished in an annoyed tone as she opened the door wider for him to enter. “Come on in and get dried off.”
Curious at the source of the young, feminine voice, Izuku peeked around the corner to see that there was a girl who looked around his age. She had goggles on her bed of pink hair that was woven into dreadlocks, and wore cargo pants, an oversized winter coat, and a backpack by her feet.
“Now that you’re here, maybe Gramps will finally kick her out,” Miss Kasumi said as she closed the door. “The girl’s annoying.”
The girl glared over in their direction at that, revealing she had yellow eyes with pupils that were like crosshairs. Miss Kasumi, standing with her hands on her hips, sent the same look right back at her. For a moment, Izuku could swear that he could see bolt of lightning between them.
“What’s going on exactly?” he asked cautiously, taking a step back to be safe.
“This girl just popped up and told Gramps she wanted to take his suits,” she said, pointing to the Hero Suits that were placed on a stand, in an alcove with lights above them, almost as though they were a shrine to times gone by.
“I just want to take them apart to see if I can reverse-engineer them,” the girl said. “They’re wasted sitting here like this!”
“That’s not for you to decide.”
“Kasumi, calm down,” Mister Kaburagi said as he entered the living room and set a cup of tea down on the table for the girl. “As for you, Young Miss, you should probably start by introducing yourself and telling me how you learned that I had these suits in the first place. That’s something only a few people know given what happened and their history.”
“My name’s Mei Hatsume,” she said as she reached into her backpack and pulled out a tablet. “I’m planning on getting into U.A. and becoming an engineer in Hero Support, since I’ve always been good with my hands and designing things since I was young. I stayed with my grandmother a lot, who was a fan of the old-time heroes like Sky High, so she had a lot of memorabilia from your age. I noticed the suits in one of the posters she had and did some research into the person who made them—Doctor Saito Mekanicu.”
Izuku moved closer as she set the tablet on the table for them to view. There was a video playing, with a younger Mister Kaburagi standing in broken armor to reveal a toned figure. He’d seen that footage before as well.
Kasumi let out a sound of recognition at it too. “I remember that. Mom told me about that being the time when that Memory-Manipulator framed you and then tried to replace all of you with robots.”
Mei ignored her. “It’s because of this incident that your identity as Wild Tiger isn’t all that much of a secret, it’s just been so long that it’s basically like history—just before things got really bad. Only someone really interested would do the work involved in finding you. When I came across this footage and the post-interview about it, I decided to do some calculations based on the damage to the structure. The output of that blast should have been enough to obliterate you if it could cause that sort of damage from the explosion when you were directly in the path of it and soaked up most of the initial force. Even taking into account most of the protective gear for heroes today and materials used in their manufacturing process, that would have still cut through them like a hot knife through butter.”
Despite that horrifying news, Mister Kaburagi merely nodded. “They always did say he was a genius ahead of his time.”
“I know right!” Her enthusiasm was briefly lived before her expression grew somber. “But when Sternbild sank he died, and all his work went with him. So I took a gamble and tried to find anyone involved in his work to see if there was anything left, and I looked up your address. The armored suits that were developed for yourself and your partner are possibly the last traces of his work left. I want to analyze them so that I can possibly recreate them with enough time and materials.”
“What are you, like twelve?” Kasumi asked, a layer of condescension wrapped around her words. “If he was really that skilled, what makes you think that you can replicate his work?”
Mister Kaburagi gave her a side-glance. “Kasumi, behave.”
“I’m fourteen!” Mei shot back, rising from her seat as she glared at the older woman. “And I’ll have you know I’ve already made a bunch of babies!”
The turn of phrase gave them all pause until she pulled her equipment out of her bag, revealing that was how she referred to them. One looked like a set of gloves that had streaks running along the front and a battery on the back. Another looked like a short-metal rod with spheres on the end. There was also some kind of visor with grid screen on it.
“What exactly do they do?” Izuku asked. It wasn’t like they could tell at a glance after all.
She hovered her hands over the gloves and rod. “The gloves can be used to take electricity from the battery and then channel it through them to deliver a shock. And this is a telescopic baton that releases a pulse of pure kinetic force on impact.” Then she picked up the visor, pressed a spot on the side of the frame that caused a low hum to be heard as the lenses were tinted, and held them out towards Izuku. “The visor works through AR and can be programmed to allow the user to see things in different perspectives. Try them for yourself.”
He put them over his eyes to see that the others were outlined in red. “They allow you to identify people?”
She nodded. “Using a compatible device, you can program them to recognize a number of things like heat signatures or x-ray, or outline a path for the user to take.”
Izuku took them off and handed them to Mister Kaburagi. The veteran hero put them over his eyes for a moment to check for himself. “Impressive.”
“I know, right?”
Miss Kasumi was the next to check them out. “Okay, maybe you’ve got some talent. But that doesn’t mean Gramps is obligated to give up his suits. They have sentimental value to him.”
“…Actually, I might be willing to allow her to the look over the White Tiger suit under one condition,” he said after staring down at his watch for a moment. “But first I need to test you for myself.”
“If it’ll get me the chance to take the suit, I’ll do it.”
“Straightforward to a point, I see.” He set down his watch onto the table. “Then see if you can improve the design and functionality of this. It was also made by Saito, so it should be of some interest to you.”
She picked it up and fixed her eyes over it inquisitively. “Isn’t this the grappling system you used while you were being chased? It must be over a half-a-century old. Does it still work?”
“It does, but it was made specifically for my use.” He tilted his head over to Izuku. “I need for you to make it so that my young friend over here can use it. Once you’re finished developing it, I’ll have a friend at Helios Energy take a look at the workmanship. If they deem it’s passable then we’ll discuss letting you look over the Wild Tiger suit in exchange for putting that engineering talent of yours to work in helping him accomplish his dream. He wants to be a hero and plans on attending U.A. as well, and he could use some support.”
“You got it!” She ran over to Izuku’s side eagerly, seeing him as her ticket to getting what she desired no doubt. “What’s your Quirk? Are there Limitations? Drawbacks you need balanced out?”
“I… don’t have one,” he said with a hint of shame.
Her brows folded in, crinkling. “Normally tools and support devices are used to diversify a hero’s abilities or give them qualities they didn’t have before—range, mobility, and so on. Not having anything means there’s no immediate direction for me work on improving.”
“I’d think of it as more of an opportunity,” Mister Kaburagi said. “Because he has no Quirk, it simply means that he’s a blank canvas that can be made to adapt to the circumstances he faces. So if there’s a tool he needs for a job then you’ll need to create it.”
“Well, necessity and failures are the mothers of all invention.” She nodded to herself. “And anything I make for you will likely be capable of supporting other heroes with a little tweaking, since it’s not specialized in the first place. I’ll have a more babies to show off for the Support Department ahead of time.”
Then she eyed the watch carefully, looking it up and down. “Plus, I’ve never had a chance to make an effective grappling system this compact. The force of an abrupt stop should pull your arm out of the socket or snap the line entirely… You don’t mind if I take whatever I develop from it for other uses do you?”
“Not at all,” the veteran hero said. “As long as you promise that it won’t end up in villainous hands, you have the right to use them however you see fit.”
She smiled brightly at that and nodded. Then she rose to her feet and grabbed Izuku by the hand. “Come on. I want to take some measurements for the sake of our new baby, so I need you to strip down in the bathroom.”
He was left stuttering as she dragged him off in surprise.
“Gramps, is that really okay?” Kasumi asked her grandfather. “Aren’t those suits important to you?”
“Talent and drive should be nurtured, and all good heroes need support,” he said, looking over to the Hero Suits of his former partner and career. “Besides, I don’t need my suit as a reminder of the past anymore. If letting her tinker with it can ensure that the world gains more heroes and tools they need to make their jobs easier and safer, then that’s more than enough. Better to let Saito’s work be part of a new legacy than sit here and gather dust.”
“That’s cheesy, Gramps.” Though touching, she’d admit to herself. He was really placing a lot on Izuku’s shoulders.
“Perhaps so, but this is how I choose to leave the world a better place than it is.”
“Do you really need to strip me!?” they heard Izuku say through the door.
“I need to take a good measure of the muscle mass in your arms and legs for the adjustments, and you were taking too long,” Mei said, a casual tone to an awkward question. “Are those All Might boxers?”
Ignoring Izuku’s timid, nonsensical series of sounds to that question, Kasumi shook her head. “That girl still rubs me the wrong way.”
“She does need to work on her social skills,” he agreed. “In fact, she reminds me of you when you were her age with Karina’s granddaughter.”
Kasumi’s brows folded in offended at that. “I was never like that with her. You sure you’re not going senile?”
“My memories are just fine.” He could almost put Fuyumi in Izuku’s place and Kasumi in Mei’s. The only real difference was instead of technology and gadgets; she was all about the Quirks. “Anyway, I’m also hoping that working with him might help her there. As someone who will work with heroes in support, she’ll need to be able to hold a rapport with them. Izuku-kun should be friendly enough to help her with that, so it’s for the best.”
She sighed in resignation. “If you say so, Gramps. I’ll put up with her for yours and Junior’s sake.”
[-CHAPTER 4 END-]