Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find. – Unknown Author (possibly Shakespeare)
I just turned eleven when I started my combat training. Father taught me. I ended up getting frustrated with him because he was being too nice to me. It must’ve looked weird. How many kids ordered their fathers to punch them harder? That’s why we trained at night.
Did you know most heroes didn’t learn any martial arts back then? Only Combat Heroes did, and most of them relied on Quirks. I happened to know three exceptions. Miss Nemuri, Present Mic, and Father. Only father punched criminals by necessity. The other two rarely needed to resort to martial arts.
After we trained, he took me out to “an ice cream sundae buffet”. Lunch Rush set up a little treat just for the two of us. I ended up putting apples on all my sundaes. To this day, I think everyone else is crazy for not trying to themselves.
What method did Father teach me first? He was really good in six forms, so he had choices. I think he made the right choice. I found it easy to learn, and it was intended to be picked up quickly. He taught me one whose specific form hadn’t been used in centuries. The military deemed it too lethal.
Eri started her workout routine by running for an hour without her Quirk. If she did, she’d receive no benefits, since the body needed to experience the tearing of muscles, not rewinding them. Her mind wandered during this time. Sometimes, she went through the Shakespeare she memorized. Other times, she thought of ways to improve her combat capabilities. Today, she wondered if her friends will arrive.
Her entire body shook from overexertion, and she paused a few moments to wretch into trashcans. While most could call this agony, it didn’t even register to Eri. Why would it? She felt worse. If she was honest, she’d also say the more she hurt, the better she felt; however, that was something only two others know.
She also had a logical reason. Male and female legs had no difference besides average heights, and much of Eri’s tallness came from her legs. She never measured, but she might have the longest legs in class. It meant her physical abilities excelled in this area. Why wouldn’t she ensure her legs had every possible advantage? Her height might as well come with one benefit.
The hour ended, so Eri spent the next ten minutes recovering. She taught herself how to jump into her next set without a break, but that could harm her body over time. Even she had enough self-preservation to limit herself in that regard.
She ran over 14 kilometers, a very good time. Until she hit fifteen, she never hit that number once. Now, she never missed it.
On her way to U.A. gym, she stopped. The sun had yet to come up, but the girl knew every nook and cranny of the campus. The dark blob next to the gym shouldn’t be there. Then, it ran towards her. She considered going into a fighting stance, but the school’s security always operates. It had to be someone authorized, and she offered to exercise with four other people last night.
“Eri!” With that word, she concluded the person jogging at her did not constitute a threat.
“Yaoyorozu,” she said in reply. “I am glad y-” Eri did continue her greeting since Yaoyorozu barreled into her and hugged her. Despite the physical contact, she did not feel as though it endangered her, so she let it continue. Yaoyorozu never talked to her last night. This constituted her initial response, and she at least showed she didn’t fear Eri.
Who would hug a monster?
“I’m sorry.” She let go of Eri. “It’s my want and responsibility to help my peers in any way I can. Instead, I caused a problem.” She did a quick bow. “Please forgive me.”
She tilted her head. “Why do you feel you need to apologize for my scars? You didn’t cause them, and I was the one who ran.”
“Communication.” Seeing Eri’s confusion, she pointed out, “Relationships are built on communication. While you could’ve done better, we could’ve as well. I even had the excuse of becoming class vice president, but…” She frowned. “Let me prove I’m better than that by training with you.”
Eri thought over the words and applied the same reasoning to her actions. “I apologize for not communicating properly either. I will endeavor to be more prompt in the future. Additionally, I accept. I have yet to spar with other students and look forward to doing so with you. I only have one question.”
“What is it?”
“Will you come here every morning.”
“I’m a morning person!”
The girl genius didn’t know what she got herself into. She realized that the third time Eri healed her.
Yaoyorozu had high self-esteem, though no one could call her prideful. She finished first in Teacher Aizawa’s Quirk Test, and U.A. accepted her as one of the recommendation students. Her intelligence rivaled that of mad scientists and will equal Principal Nezu’s one day. Her Quirk had the among the highest versatility ever seen. She could create anything using her body’s fat reserves if she knew the chemical structure of said creation. With her intellect, she created even the more complex structures.
And with those structures, she could beat the daylight out of multiple opponents at once. The year before enrolling in U.A., she participated in a national middle-school Bukijutsu tournament. While she placed highly in many of the different weapons, she won in Bojutsu, which used a Bo Staff.
She had strong proficiency in combat.
Then why did Eri heal her broken nose, a possible concussion, and the fact that she lost vision on her left eye? She didn’t count the tooth that fell out, her twisted arm, and the bruising.
To describe Eri’s fighting style, she could only call it brutal. The only reason she hadn’t quit yet were the scars she saw on Eri. In other words, guilt.
“May I conduct analysis on your fighting style?” Eri sat next to her friend who lied on the floor in a daze.
“Please.” Eri healed everything, but Yaoyorozu’s head spun at how much she failed in their last three spars.
“Your fighting style is superb. You could defeat most opponents in controlled environments, but you seem to have some hesitation in fighting; furthermore, you had a hard time dealing with an unfamiliar situation. In this case, me.”
“I can withstand most injuries due to my healing. You defended well against my Muay Thai and Krav Maga, though the former becomes more effective when I have my suit. You were nearly helpless against LINE.”
With those words, Yaoyorozu lit up in understand. She pushed herself into a sitting position and asked, “That was what you were using?”
Eri didn’t smile, not exactly, but her eyes seemed to glow. Everyone had their passions, and Eri was passionate about this specific form of fighting. “You know about it? Good. My father knows LINE well, so he taught it to me. Simple. Effective.”
“But the United States Marines and Special Forces disbanded it centuries ago for being too deadly.”
Eri shrugged. “They kept most of it in their later hand-to-hand methods.” She stood and offered her hand. “Even if you don’t want to learn it, this sparring will help with your hesitation, Yaoyorozu.”
She grasped the hand and got pulled to her feet, but she held onto the hand. “Alright, call me Momo then. I think we’ll be spending a lot of time together.”
By the time Mina reached the girls with one hour of training left, she wondered why the two tallest girls in 1-A seemed to be having such a good time beating the living crap out of each other. She joined in anyway.
Uncomfortable situations needed exploding. Bakugo will feel all better if the situation didn’t exist anymore. He also knew exploding Red Eyes was sorta illegal, and she’d probably heal herself. He’d only accomplish splattering her blood everywhere and…
He decided not to think about the various ways Tired Teacher would brutally murder him.
Still, he felt pretty confident that none of the other students had to deal with his situation. Hell, his parents knew something bothered him.
If he couldn’t explode Red Eyes, how should he deal with her? Ignoring her won’t work. That’s for weaklings like Deku. He HAD to do something, change the situation. He revered All Might for that reason, since he could always fix the situation. Any and every type of villain fell before him!
Red Eyes wasn’t the villain. She was the person who the heroes saved and left to authorities. She was the story no one saw on the news, just a broke girl. Why did someone as broke as her attend U.A. for that matter?
The true answer stood in front of him. He went to a school full of hero teachers. Any one of them could’ve imparted valuable advice, but that thought never occurred to Bakugo. He went through life like a one-man army. “Asking for help” (and “surrender”) weren’t words in his vocabulary.
He decided on his course of action. When he entered the classroom, Raccoon Eyes, Rich Girl, and Goth Chick chatted with Red Eyes. He didn’t care what weird girl shit it was. He had an opportunity to end the weirdness of everything.
Who the fucking hell just tells people villains tortured the crap outa you?! And how do you respond to that when you can’t explode them?
He clonked her on the head, like a karate dude breaking those fake-assed boards mostly cut down the middle.
“What ya do that for?!” Raccoon eyes acted surprise. Stupid extra.
“Be brave and stuff,” he said to Red Eyes. The others haven’t done anything commendable enough for him to talk with those losers.
He ignored Glasses telling him that hitting others was wrong and Deku apologizing for him. He plopped himself down in his seat and waited for Tired Teacher to show up. He didn’t even notice how the girls around Eri transitioned from yelling at him to going back to their conversation. Why would he? It didn’t matter.
He also never noticed Eri’s soft smile.
Aizawa sat in the teacher lounge with a cup of coffee in one hand and the preliminary reports All Might gave on the students’ combat capabilities in his other hand. Power Loader and Ectoplasm gave him space. They could tell he could keel over asleep any minute, and he bleed a sense of foreboding and death. He slept not a minute last night, and his efforts did nothing to help find that disintegration user.
“Hey,” her voice lacked the normal flair. “You look like shit.”
He chugged the lukewarm coffee and stretched. “Then I’m an open book, Nemuri.”
“Do you know what’s in 1-A’s rumor train today?” She sat on the chair opposite from his. Her eyes were also bloodshot. She didn’t sleep last night. It made sense. He and Nemuri had the most investigation hours under their belt. Oh, and Hizashi too. The former two did so because neither had a stereotypical combat Quirk. The latter did so since he had a radio station. Incidentally, Hizashi didn’t sleep either.
“Why would I care?” In other words, was it Eri? He specialized in making connections with his research. Finding hideouts. Discovering identities. Locating drug dealers’ routines. Nemuri excelled in interpersonal information. She could understand some villains’ minds better than the villains themselves. It also meant she had an excuse to learn all the school gossip for “practice”.
“That Bakugo kid karate chopped Eri’s head. Then, he told her to be brave.” She liked Eri a lot, and Eri liked Nemuri as well. Having another adult (which excluded Hizashi) helped him more than he would ever know.
“He’s combat focused. What happened with Eri yesterday forced him into another mindset. I’ll handle the situation, but I won’t complain if you keep an eye out as well.”
She nodded in agreement. “Alright, how are you holding up?”
He considered lying illogical considering the person sitting across from him. “Horrible. I want her safe.” He gave one of his ruthless smiles. “So I think I’m about to scare All Might.”
“Will call him illogical for not asking her yet.”
“Can I bring a camera?”
He thought over the consequences for such an action, but he felt frustrated enough to have his reasoning skewed. “Sure.”
Eri tilted her head to the side. The school intercom said Recovery Girl wanted to see her after class, so Eri expected to find Recovery Girl in her nurse’s office. Instead, she saw Father, a sheepish All Might, and Miss Nemuri holding a camera.
She sometimes had night terrors, felt pain that existed in only in the past, and memorized the smell of blood; however, hallucinations never cursed her with their presence. Was today the first, or perhaps she had them but never noticed?
“Eri, All Might wants to tell you something.” The tone in Miss Nemuri’s voice suggested she found a sadistic pleasure in the present.
“Does All Might like schoolgirls?” Truth be told, Eri never grasped how much of the temptress rubbed off on her. Said temptress also took her first picture.
All Might waived his hands around in panic. “I would never see my student that way!” He bowed. “I came here for your help. Help that I should have asked for a long time ago. Forgive me.”
“I can’t forgive what I don’t know.” Since Father stood in the room, she assumed he approved of Eri learning about All Might’s supposed blunder.
“I should show you.” One moment, All Might stood like a Greek God; the next, he disappeared in a cloud of smoke and a skinny skeleton of a person took his place. The skeleton thus spewed blood on the girl’s face. “My apologies!”
Miss Nemuri took another picture.
She wiped the blood from her eyes, the first reaction she gave since the transformation. “I assume you need my help.”
“Um…” Blood trickles down his chin like tears. “I’m surprised by how calm you are, but I’ve been injured for years. Most of my internal organs were damaged, and my stomach is next to nonexistent.”
Eri nodded. “And this is your true form, at least it is these days. Using your Quirk puts too much stress on your weakened body.” She titled her head to the side again. “And I assume you know the true nature of my Quirk?” He nodded. Eri felt no ill will. Trading a secret for a secret was fair, and giving the strongest hero more time only helped the world. “How much time do you have, and how much have you used All Might’s form in the past hour?”
“Hour and a half,” Father monotoned. “You can take a higher risk.”
If Eri had a mouth like Bakugo’s, she’d curse her age like a drunken sailor. Until she started puberty, she had near-perfect control over her Quirk, then her powers grew. After that point and the near fatal… She banished those emotionally tumultuous thoughts from her head and focused on the present. Her powers either go rampant and eliminate any living thing she touched, or she could revert the target within a small timespan. For her, she and her father decided eight hours before she had any chance of losing control. For anyone else, they concluded an hour for maximum safety. If the person would die anyway, she could push it to three hours with minor risks and eight hours for any chance at all.
“For the past hour and a half.” All Might paused to rub the back of his head. “All of it? Minus the time you’ve seen me like this.”
Not wanting to waste time, Eri tapped his weathered hands. Her horn grew for a fraction of a second. “Done. Please come to me for more time, though attempt to stay on the same sleep schedule.”
He bowed, “Thank you, my dear. I apologize for letting you see me like this.” His eyes became distant. Eri recognized that look from her reflection. “To know the symbol of peace was actually this weak, I’m-”
“You are a tedious fool. I don’t care for my own perceptions of the world. If changing them helps others, so be it.”
Miss Nemuri took her final picture.
All Might smiled. “You truly are your father’s daughter.”
She nodded in affirmation. “Of course.”
Human psychology never interested Eri, but she knew the parts Father wanted her to remember. People make lasting impressions of people in the first few seconds. She knew most of the class pegged her as someone stoic. It surprised her how everyone changed their perceptions within a week.
Over the past three days, Eri trained with Momo, Uraraka, Mina, and Jiro often. With Momo and Jiro, they did mostly hand-to-hand, and Jiro learned some of Eri’s moves. Uraraka did some of that, but she mostly focused on her Quirk. It made sense. Zero Gravity ranked among the more powerful Quirks in the class, and Eri’s healing counteracted the only side effect of the Quirk. Eri empathized. Nausea and vomiting proved annoying. Mina did acrobatic training, and they traded methods. Mina did breakdancing, so Eri learned from her. Eri did another method, though Mina ordered her to not show it to any of the males in class.
Why? Miss Nemuri taught her that method, and it helped with grip strength. Everyone could benefit from it.
How did their training matter? All four girls had a consensus on their experience. The class still saw her as stoic but also dangerous to scare even Mineta from lusting after her (for a day).
She decided that was why none thought it odd that Eri selected to sit next to Bakugo on the bus. Class 1-A decided they were the most violent students.
Speaking of busses, Eri chose her proximity to Bakugo because of it. She never went of a field trip before, she never rode on a bus before, and she couldn’t sit next to Father. He stood next to the driver. Instead, she chose the next safest spot. Everything would be alright, for Bakugo was there.
She still believed those words.
Bakugo didn’t mind her proximity, since Eri didn’t bother speaking.
The other classmates discussed Quirks. Some could be called powerful. Others flashy. She paid more attention when Kirishima, the boy Mina knew from middle school, stated the only two powerful and flashy Quirks were Bakugo and Todoroki’s.
Tsu, who insisted on being called by the moniker, spoke something with Eri disagreed with. “Bakugo’s always mad, so he doesn’t seem like he’ll be popular, though.” Knowing Tsu’s perspective, Eri agreed. Her classmate kept tight control over her emotions and tended to be franker than anyone. She only saw one side of Bakugo’s personality, so her logic was correct though used limited information.
“What the hell!” Bakugo stood up from his seat and met the perceived challenge. “You wanna fight?”
“See?” Tsu pointed out the evidence Bakugo supplied. Eri wondered if she planned that.
“We haven’t known each other that long,” Kaminari spoke with a finger gun. Eri still disliked his flirty attitude though found it tolerable. He also thought himself to be very cool. “So, it’s amazing that everyone already knows his personality is crap steeped in sewage.”
“What’s with that vocabulary, bastard?! I’ll kill you!”
Eri elected that she reached a good moment for an interjection. “I found his personality to be like…” She paused to ensure everyone listened. Of all the students in the class, only she, Kirishima, and Midoriya seemed to know much about Bakugo. The latter stemmed from going to the same middle school. Her opinion held weight as a result. “All Might.”
“Eh?!” said the entire class, sans Bakugo.
“Quiet.” Father ended the conversation before it spiraled further. “We’re here. USJ.”
The Unforeseen Simulation Joint acted as a simulator for rescue operations. Floods. Earthquakes. Fire. Rescue Heroes specialized in this area, so the logic held for teaching prospective heroes the basics so early in their first year.
Eri, on the other hand, wanted to be a different kind of rescue hero.
“Father?” She put down her pencil for her math homework. Despite their villainy, her captors taught her the basics in education. Eri liked those moments, since she knew they wouldn’t hurt her when they were homeschooling her.
“You need help?” Father taught classes during the day, fought villains at night, and homeschooled Eri in between. She concluded her father had two Quirks. Erasure and Not Needing Sleep.
She titled her head to the left. No one knew where she acquired the habit. “Are there others like me?” It had been over a year since she met her hero, but she never met another like herself.
“Could you clarify?” He chugged his cup of coffee.
“Do you know how Miss Nemuri took me to the café? For my birthday?” He grunted in affirmation, so she continued, “I realized something on my way home. Nobody has my eyes. Old. Young. Hero. My eyes are different. I thought about it a lot, and I don’t remember seeing anyone else with it. Just… flashes sometimes.”
“Your eyes are red.” He pat her on the head. “It’s a pretty color but rare too. Normally genetic, but mine turn red when I use my Quirk.”
She shook her head. “Not the color. The feeling.”
“Oh.” His disposition morphed from tired to sad. Eri hated seeing her father sad. “I’ve seen those eyes before, almost all in heroics. I busted a human trafficking…” He noticed how she didn’t understand that term. “I saved people from slavery. Villains were mean to them too, and they had those eyes. I once failed to save a kid. He was fifteen.”
Eri gasped. Her father didn’t save everyone? Why did he save HER of all people?
“His parents… They were mad at me, but they had your eyes. I saved a young woman who was… brutalized by disgusting thugs and-”
“Rape. Father, I heard my captors brag.” She never talked about her captivity, no matter who asked. If her memories hurt her this much, it would hurt others too. Eri already hurt enough people… killed too many people…
Father clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. He took a deep breath. “Come here.” She lifted her arms, and he picked her up. He set her on his lap, and she melted into his chest.
“That woman had your eyes. Some say the eyes are a window to your soul. All of you were hurt, more than most anyone would feel in their lifetime.” He squeezed her tight in their embrace. “I’m sorry I didn’t save you sooner.”
Eri kept herself immersed in the present as long as she could. After a minute, she swallowed and asked the other question that brewed in her mind. “Are other heroes like you?”
She didn’t need to add onto the question, since she knew Father understood the words beyond the question. How many heroes save people like me?
He said two words. “Not enough.”
Those two words changed her life. “I don’t fear you” changed her life. “It’s alright. Why? Because I am here!” will one day. Neither gave her the same determination, a rive she kept for the rest of her life.
“Then, I’ll be one.” She looked at her father. For the first time since they met, a different feeling overtook the normal darkness, even if for just a moment. “I will be the hero I never had.”
She will rescue all the other Eris in the world.
Eri looked out the window. USJ loomed in distance, becoming increasingly larger. Her destiny approached in more ways than one.