In the Shadow @my.hero.xiii
Chapter 25

Believer.


Dear Mom,

Mom,

I don't know where to- nah, too sappy.

Dammit, the ink's going out…

I ditched the pen, looking down at the sad excuse for a letter and sighing. It was two in the morning. I looked at the other drafts and down at this one. Yet another bites the dust. I sighed and looked at the other twenty pages of letters to her.

Momo shifted in bed, "Mm… Koyurei… it's two in the morning…" she sighed.

"I know babe, I know," I whispered.

"Come back to bed," she sighed, "Put the pen down, stack the papers, and come here,"

"Look, I got a little more to write, honey, shhh…" I sighed, seeing her pout a little.

"Can't it wait, Koyurei?" she asked.

"Nah, it can't," I said, "It's important,"

Momo sighed and got out of bed, hugging me from behind. Her eyes met the growing stacks of drafts and she let out a tiny huff. Her arms squeezing me gently as she took the new pen from me and putting it down.

"If this is more important than me, then I shouldn't even try so hard to keep you with me," she sighed, "Why can't you just go see her like before?" she asked.

I sighed and leaned up, kissing her on the cheek.

"Babe… I… I know it's really dumb what I'm doing…" I mumbled, "But… I dunno where to start." Momo just smiled and dragged me to bed.

"Darling, you'll figure it out," she assured me, "Just focus on me, okay?" I laid down and pulled her close, seeing her smile and I kissed her gently on the forehead. She giggled and pulled the covers over us.

If only I could stay peacefully asleep. Everything fell quiet, almost as if something was holding its breath. Then… an icy wind pierced my body. My coat billowed around me, ash falling through the air. The scene was a ruined city or something, a smoking volcanic wasteland. My hair glowed as the only light around, my shoes crunched on the ashen ground.

Everything was quiet, only the odd clattering of rubble. I saw something sticking out of it… a mostly melted metal gauntlet, just like Dad's. I didn't bother trying to see if it attached him to it. I just felt my stomach seize. Moving on through the ruins, I saw more and more discarded remains. Shoto's body charred to oblivion nearby, Kirishima all shattered… Everyone is dead. It was like I was the only one left to see all of this… but then something hit me like a truck.

The thought of Momo. The thought of her death crossed my mind, and I ran onward past the other bodies, past Kaminari's and Mineta's and everyone's bodies. Just hoping at least someone was alive.

The ones I wanted to keep safe the most…

The ones I wanted to save…

I tore through the wasteland, trying to find her, trying to find someone. Fear driving my movements, the heat from the lava around that hulking monstrosity smoldering in the middle of it all.

Then… I found her.

Alone. Beaten to death, abused after, thrown away like garbage. I fell to my knees, grabbing her and pulling her close, trying to bring her back somehow. Thunder cracked through the sky, lightning flashed, and rain fell.

Steam rushed through the air as I held her. This was all there was to hero work, wasn't it? I felt my throat seize, my breath hissing out and tears burning out of my eyes, seeing her so beaten and alone. Seeing her so broken and dead. What was it all building up to? My hands shook, I buried my face into her neck and sobbed. Rain steaming around me, I was too late. I couldn't save anyone. Just like before. Everything just breathed out and breathed in around me, healing as I was breaking.

Then…

"Hey… hey…! Wake up! It's a nightmare, Koyurei! A nightmare!" it jolted me awake, my hair fully ignited. Sitting up and breathing like I ran a marathon. Shaking, I turned to see Momo awake, rubbing my back calmly. It was all a dream. It was okay. She was alive. She was here. Right now. At this moment. Momo had a little handkerchief in her hand, drying my tears.

"Shh.. shhh… it's okay. It was just a nightmare…" she muttered, "It's alright…""

"Haah… haa… Just… Just gimme a minute…" I mumbled. 'Okay Koyurei… you see the bed, the covers, Momo, you smell the tea on her breath from earlier, some ash, and the shampoo she uses for her hair. You can hear your own voice, hear the cicadas outside, hear Momo breathing, hear her humming. And you feel her, and the sheets, and her hands holding yours.'

"You're okay, Koyurei. You're fine. She's not going anywhere… you're gonna go to school, get through the day, and forget all about that nightmare. Then you're gonna settle in and… Momo and Koyurei, back to normal," I muttered.

"Yeah… back to… normal," I said, getting on my uniform. I realized that there was something in my pocket, it was the shark tooth I yanked outta that Great White. I put it on and smiled, knowing Grandmother snuck it in there, it was kind of our thing tha-

My phone went balls to the walls crazy, leaving me reeling with all kinds of texts since I left it off because sometimes Grandmother goes on benders and drunk texts me. But it was all about the tooth.

The tooth is with me. I knew it was special, and she gave it to me. I guess because I needed the confidence she had. She always knew what to do but sometimes the pain and loneliness became too much.

I didn't have many friends, just Momo, Jiro, Kaminari, and begrudgingly Mineta. I needed to figure something out. Momo caught up to me and grabbed my hand, I noticed a couple of bandages on her.

"Momo… how did you…"

"You got a little too hot, Koyurei," she said, "I know you don't wanna hear that,"

"No, why didn't you tell me to cool-"

"You were asleep, and you wouldn't let me go,"

"Despite that, you coulda shoved me off, why the hell wouldn't you do that?" I asked, "Ya know my hair's lava or ice now, right?"

"I know that, I also know you needed me, Koyurei, that's the thing about me, I know you need me," she said. I sighed and nodded in resignation. Of course the day I get some new kinda thing for my quirk, I do something to someone. My Ice awakening froze the room, my Fire awakening gave me wings and well… my hair almost burned Momo even worse.

So yeah, not really in a good mood for anything today. Momo held onto me and I held her back, she hugged me so tightly and we got to class. Everyone was talking and carrying on, but…

"Mmmwah! Now remember, Koyu, everything is gonna be okay, you're here and you're mine and everyone knows you can kick ass, you killed a Nomu and a shark and well…"

"Why does that sound like a doctored version of my Grandmother's Shark slayer speech?" I asked.

"Well… let's just say she drilled me on everything you liked, I uhm… added the Nomu thing," Momo said, blushing a little.

"Right, right? Wait… how much?" I asked.

"Too much. All over a bottle of wine and a lot of baby photos," Momo said, "All an open book, and a lot of pictures of you smiling as a baby,"

"Why am I not surprised?" I sighed, then Momo hit me with the real heartbreaker.

"She said that you always wanted to spend time with her and would cry every time you had to leave and freeze the entryway, And… well, she wanted you to stay so badly too, even if she couldn't get it across,"

"Oh…"

"All this time I thought she didn't care, but… uh… I'll go… sit down," I mumbled, finding my seat and seeing Shoto there.

"Oh, so the jackass is back, huh?" he asked.

"Look, Sho, I'm…"

"Oh no, you're not pulling the puppy dog eyes on me, Koyurei."

"Jeez! I'm sorry, okay?! I'm sorry I'm not apologetic or singing Mom's praises!" I snarled, crossing my arms and my eyes glowed softly, "My mom through all of it was Grandmother, she always knew what to do,"

"So? What's stopping you?" he asked, "What's stopping the firebird Rodan from seeing his mother but okay with seeing his bastard of a father and-"

"Listen. I don't know what the hell to say, I don't- I don't know her, Shoto! You know way more, and even after what they did to us you're…"

"Pot, meet kettle," he stated.

"Oh, fuck off! Go hang out with Shiozaki! I'm trying!"

"Actions speak louder than words, and the scales are finding you really wanting,"

"Oh, come on with that fortune cookie bible schlock! I've been trying for WEEKS to write a damn letter to Mom! But I do not know HOW TO START." I snarled, my desk rattling a little from my anger.

"I… I have nothing to say. I'm sorry, uhm… sorry for causing you to leave? Sorry for reminding you of Dad? Sorry for just fucking EXISTING!" At that moment my chair sild out from under me, making me smack into the desk. Which now had a face print in it.

I sat on the floor, growling and snarling angrily, my lava hissing and sitting viciously. But then I calmed down, my hair icing over. I just needed to get my composure back. I just had to take a deep breath.

'In and out. Quick, simple.' I thought, sitting in a new chair and dealing with the desk later. Good thing Mr. Aizawa wasn't here yet to see it. Everyone saw me flare with my new strength. My ice and fire were at the same level now.

"Everyone, good morning, today will test you all like never before." Mr. Aizawa said, "As all of you may know that there are ultimate moves most heroes have, as showed by Koyurei in the internship program however vigilante it might've been,"

I sighed and looked out towards the window. I knew what he was talking about. The Prominence Burn and well… he had a point. I still had something else to do. Train the crap outta my ice. I need an ultimate for that too.

So here I was, shoeless, mostly centering myself outside. I didn't want to freeze the entire gym. Breathe in, breathe out, my breath clouded out from my mouth. The surrounding air chilled slowly, and I gently set my foot down, frost spreading out so it slowly got colder and colder. I opened my hand, my ice gathered in it and I lashed it out, the ice building a huge, gnarled tower, more like a glacier, my breath hissed out and frost gathered on my arm.

"Eeeh… I know I haven't been using it in a long time…" I mumbled. I could see someone coming and I didn't stop.

"Well! If it isn't the media darling himself! Koyurei Todoroki!" Miss Midnight exclaimed, her blue eyes and teasing smile did little to distract me, "Everyone's calling you the next big thing!"

"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm worried about," I said, "Expectations kill me, and well… being the son of the now number one is gonna make it worse, things are screaming towards changing, and I'm scared, Miss Midnight,"

"Is that why you keep gaining quirk strength?"

"Nah, it's because my ice and fire have to stay balanced. Since they can't be used in tandem like my brothers can, that… that was the reason why Dad called me a failure… but whatever, it is what it is," I shrugged and warmed again.

I sighed and the glacier slowly melted more like snow rather than a breaking down ice mountain. My hair returned back to lava as I tried to form something like my dad's fire lance thing. I was better at making things with ice. Miss Midnight watched me try to form something.

"Maybe you're not good at forming things because your quirk is mostly leaning towards the extremes," she said, "Since they're more of natural forces, you're forcing them into shapes they never take,"

I nodded, closing my eyes and concentrating.

I have to make it all my own!

"HERE GOES… RODAN STYLE… FREEZER BURNING FIREBOLT!" A bolt of icy fire shot out of my hands and razed the tower to shreds. I needed to take my training and make it my own! I felt my entire body ignite into a joyful flame. I spent so much time trying to copy Dad I forgot the real meaning behind my creation… to become a hero my own way! So I'm gonna blaze my way into the heavens on wings of flame and armor of ice!

"RODAN IS GONNA TAKE ON ANYONE AND ANYTHING! SO I GOTTA BECOME THE STRONGEST!" I yelled, head thrown back, "SO COME ON! ONE AND ALL!" I noticed Miss Midnight on the ground, a pool of blood on the ground.

"Uwah! Miss Midnight! Oh shit, I'm sorry!" I exclaimed, running to her side and seeing her shoot to her feet, clasping her hands together.

"So… youthful~!" She moaned, "Ohhh… if only I was younger and Momo-chan didn't steal your heart~!" she squished me to her boobs, "But anyway I wish I was younger and you were mine, kay~?"

I forced myself off, blushing heavily, "Sorry! I'm spoken for," I mumbled, "Besides, that's not exactly right…"

Miss Midnight backed off, "I know your father and grandmother would throw a fit most likely ruining the country as…"

Momo was there, plugging a huge sack behind her, "Koyurei! I- Oh, Miss Midnight, what were you… why is Koyurei shirtless and his coat in shreds?" I sheepishly rubbed the back of my neck.

"Well… ah… I uhm… burned it off?" I mumbled, "Ya know, lava and all!"

Momo sighed and nodded, "When we get back to the dorms…" she said, licking her lips, I backed up.

"OH! I just remembered something! G-gotta go!" I ignited my wings and got to flying, launching further than I've ever gone before.


'Whew! I… I made it! I just need to calm down…' I thought, my wings raising me higher, I raised my hand, remembering Dad's Hell Spider, but this time… I grit my teeth, remembering the dodges I made during the exam. I ran through that routine again, dodging imaginary beams, staying aloft and dodging expertly. Until I went out.

"Huh? WAIT! NOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed, falling out of the sky, as I plummeted. I tried to reignite, but it wouldn't work, I was going right towards a beach, the daytime beachgoers scrambled to get outta my way, and I slammed right into the waves.

Cold… it was… cold.

And wet.

And kinda rocky. Bubbles floated and flared from my mouth as I fell, I didn't even need to breathe. Because I remembered Grandmother taught me how to hold my breath for at least ten minutes since underwater volcanoes could be made too. I got to my feet, the bottom below me boiled. But then I calmed down, it was so peaceful down here. Down below the water, seeing fish all swimming around, I closed my eyes again, leaning back.

Five minutes.

Only five minutes more below.

I just wished that things coulda gone better. Where my big brother didn't have to die, where Mom didn't have to leave and Dad could have swallowed his ride. But then… went right… It was those moments of defeat. I smiled and knew it was time to leave. There was no use for dwelling on the ast, only burning my way into the future. I swam to the surface, finally breaking the water and breathing in the air.

I remembered all the wonderful moments, too. All those times on the couch with Grandmother where she'd tell me stories of her days on set with Granddad, all those times where Shoto and I would mess with Natsuo and Fuyumi, all those small times Dad would let me rest against him after training. Yeah, were broken. Yeah, we're stubborn and angry and we sometimes never get along. But staying in the past instead of flying towards the future won't ever help. Mom wanted to see me… and I knew that I had to see her again at some point.

But when will I be ready? I dunno.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a hero. I said all those things because it made Dad feel like he did something good. I'm just a stupid little kid. Trying to be something I might not wanna be. Nothing ever made sense, but that's life.

That's life, it's scary and never makes sense.

But laying here in the waves, staring up at the sky… I felt great. If I could just float forever that'd be fine. But sometimes…

You gotta let go of what makes you happy. You gotta let go of what you want because things don't pan out that way. I swam to shore, seeing Momo there waiting for me. She smiled and wrapped a blanket around my shoulders.

"Sweetie… you could've just told me you wanted to leave," she sighed, "I know being in the dorms stresses you out,"

"It just… reminds me of my old pathetic room at my Dad's… I don't like it." I admitted, "Still… I… I'm not sure what I want to do with my life."

Momo sighed, "Stop thinking about that, dear…"

"But I gotta! Any day now the villains are gonna attack and no one like All Might is gonna be there to stop them! Everyone is working so hard… but… I… I dunno if I can take seeing anyone else get injured! My dad… he's got big shoes to fill but…"

I clenched my hands into fists, "I can't just let those villains have their way! I wanna burn that goth guy to ASHES! My only goal as your future husband is to make sure you're okay! And if anyone wants to impede us… IMMA BURN EM DOWN!"

Momo laughed as I lifted her and spun around. She kissed me after and snuggled against my chest. I smiled and imagined her in a hospital bed one day, holding our little kid to her chest and watching me come in. I imagined her and me and our kid going places. Just the three of us.

No villains.

No overbearing family drama.

Just us and our kid.

I launched into the sky, my wings igniting once more, the blanket wrapped around Momo tightly. Flying high once more, wanting to give her something good to live for. Wanting to give me a better reason. I didn't want to waste this. My time with Momo was precious. But I couldn't do something so serious right now. Not to Momo. I landed near the dorms, my wings extinguishing. I needed to think about what to do.

Momo cuddled against me, kissing my chin. I guess what she wanted me to do was live in the moment. And I guess I should start.

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