Ever since she was freed from her father, Eri was fascinated by her own abilities. Mostly how her own abilities could grow and become something that will help others, like Lemillion and Deku. She hoped that one day she’d been able to repay them, by helping Mirio regain the power he had ripped away because of her. Adults would whisper among themselves about how much potential she had, gossip about her background as well as her future, and Eri loved the approval, but she sometimes considers it as unwelcomed pressure on her shoulders
Still, no matter how much pride she had in her quirk, and no matter how much faith she had in it, she was not prepared for the way it developed so easily ever since she began practicing. Soon enough, her rewinding abilities expanded beyond working on people and quirks only, amazing her teachers as well as her peers.
Eri was constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place. It was too much, and but also too little.
Sometimes, after a long day of training with no results, she would start to feel choked at night, alone in her bed losing sleep until the bags under her eyes become darker and darker. No matter how much she improved, it was not enough for her to be satisfied, for her entireties to eased. It hadn’t been for eight whole years, and the realization that most people would have let go of a dream like hers a long time ago makes her stomach churn. It’s just really hard to keep her mind on track, even if she bows that as long as Mirio Togata is deserves everything Eri has to give and more.
Her quirk makes her feel powerful and hopeful, yet sometimes it makes her feel helpless. It feels like a roller coaster ride.
Eri’s first sports festival is the very peek of said roller coaster, before the epic fall.
She’d shaken like a leaf in front of the audience, her heart in her throat as she stood at the top of the podium. The utter guilt and shame sitting on her belly made itself known when Deku’s smiling face turned to hand her the first place metal. She wanted to scream, to yell at him to take it back and hand it to her classmate Kouta, who should be the one receiving all the praise instead of being stuck on the step to her right, but she held her tongue. She felt that if she open her mouth she wouldn’t be able to hold in the gagging and would end up throwing up on Deku’s shows. She barely even managed a shaky smile towards the hero, enough to make sure that he wouldn’t worry about her, before going back to making a fool of herself.
She had cheated. She didn’t know how, but she had cheated in the sports festival. To make matters worse, she had been an idiot who couldn’t bring herself to say anything, or at least something coherent before it was too late. What kind of hero was she?
She only slept about four hours during the weekend. The guilt would wait patiently for the second she laid her guard down, to strike her in the chest mercilessly until it ripped the sleep from her eyes.
On Monday she arrived extra early to school, rushing over to Deku’s office before any of her classmates tried to speak to her. She ran through the halls, covering her face with her palm whenever a familiar face appeared in an attempt to go unoticed.
In her hurry to get to the safety of the number one hero's office, she almost forgot her manners, and stopped herself from just barging into the room unannounced. She knocked twice on the door, swallowed, and the second Deku’s voice rang from the other side, she made her way in.
Her steps were clumsy and awkward, because even after all this time she couldn’t wrap her head around hoe to behave with adults, even if it was just Deku. His eyes sparkled when they landed on her. They always seemed to do that when she was around. They gleamed with pride and genuine happiness, despite sometimes not having a reason to. It seemed like it was his default mode, really. Utter admiration and devotion towards anything around him. His smile shone like the brightest sun. Eri has always loved being on the receiving end of that smile.
She looked down at her shoes in shame.
“H-hi…” She mumbled with a wave and a smile.
“Hi, Eri!” Deku turned to fully face her, resting one arm on the table and grinning like an idiot. “Come on in. What’s going on?”
She glanced nervously between Shouto and Deku for a few seconds before stepping inside.
“I need to talk to you about something. Now, please.”
Deku frowned. For a split second she feared that he’d ask why, and she’d have to make up some excuse. She really didn’t want to lie anymore, she’d break under the pressure of another secret. But, her relief and surprise, the man simply nodded. He patted her head softly - his calloused hands made it feel like she was being lightly hit with a book, though- and nodded. She tried not to let her relief show too much.
Deku crouched down to her level and laid a hand on her shoulder.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. His brow was furrowed.
Eri pulled at a strand of thin hair, gaze darting around different spots on the ground
The words, stuck in her throat, seemed to resist her. She hated it. She’d fought so hard to gather the courage and yet her heart seemed on the verge of backing out. It wasn’t fair.
She squeezed her eyes shut and closed her hand into a fist. In a small fit of bravery she opened her mouth, doing her best to keep her voice from cracking.
“Deku… I-I think I cheated at the Sports Festival…”
She finally let go of a tiny bit of breath. Her chest felt a slightly bit less tight knowing that at the very least there was someone who knew about what she had done. But of course, the small courage she had obtained had to be drained out too, replaced with a feeling of helplessness.
Deku jumped back, startled. He blinked.
“Cheated? How?” He asked in disbelief. His eyes were troubled, and Eri’s hear pounded with quilt..
She’d gone over what she could say in her head a few time before coming to school, though, so she was prepared. She just hoped she’d be able to get through with the explanation without breaking down.
“My fight against Kouta,” she said, “I didn’t actually win, Deku. I-I lost, I really did, but suddenly the fight was starting over f-for some reason? A-and I didn’t understand, I thought it was another round, but everything was like an exact replica and- I knew- I knew what Kouta was going to do, so I won, but I didn’t and nobody seemed to n-notice? K-know? I- and then-” She could feel herself turning purple due to lack of air.
Deku put a hand on her shoulder. Eri’s mouth clicked shut.
“Calm down, Eri,” he said. Gently, he laid his hands on her shoulder, effectively stopping her ranting. “What are you trying to say?”
Eri swallowed thickly.
“I think that the reason I won was because I rewinded time.” She paused, then quickly added, “By accident.”
Deku’s expression would have been slightly comical, if she wasn’t too busy drowning in her own worries to appreciate it. His eyes widened, eyebrows shut upwards fast, and with his lips parted wide while the corners twitched. Eri wished the earth would swallow her whole.
A beat of silence. Deku looked her over for a second, before he stood.
The hero went to sit at his desk. There’s no words to describe the anxiety Eri felt when Deku turned his back on her. For a moment she was sure he was mad, her inability to look him at his face making her jump to conclusions. For a split second she felt the urge to pull him back and demand to be faced, to be looked at.
But then Deku gestured to the chair in front of him, inviting her to sit down, and relief washed over her easily.
She walked over to the chair and plopped down in front of her hero. Deku had brought out a piece of paper and was scribbling on it.
“Eri,” he began, not looking up from the paper. “Be honest with me. Do you think you can repeat what you did with Kouta?” He asked.
Eri squirmed, unsure. She hadn’t tried yet, but maybe, if she focused enough she could. She explained this to Deku, who nodded and gave her the piece of paper.
“Okay. So this is what we’re going to do,” He smiled at her encouragingly. “You’re gonna read the paper and attempt to rewind time to a few seconds or minutes before now. Then you will wait until I’m done writing the paper and tell me what it says before I can hand it to you again. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”
Eri nodded quietly, awestruck. The dots took awhile to click in her head (she wasn’t exactly the most quick witted student), but she grabbed the small paper that had been neatly folded into a tiny square.
She unfolded it carefully, and looked inside. She held back a giggle.
It was a somewhat-childish drawing of a little red crab, with the pro-hero Ground Zero’s signature hair and the words “Bakugou Crabsuki” underneath. It had little explosions surrounding it, and the crab seemed quite happy with itself.
Deku smiled at her and nudged her shoulder.
“Don’t laugh!” He teased. “Just use that quirk of yours!”
She nodded quietly, momentarily forgetting all the fear and anxiety that built up to this moment, and allowing herself a smile.
She closed her fist with the little crab picture still inside and shut her eyes. Eri tried to think of what might activate a rewinding quirk. Should she think of how far back she wants to go? Should she picture that moment? How would she know when she was there?
She ended up going with the second option, conjuring up Deku’s concentrated expression on her mind. He was leaning down, extremely close to the paper, tongue sticking out on the side of his mouth. Eri could almost see herself there, but she knew it wasn’t enough. That is until she felt the paper on her hand disappear.
She opened her eyes with a start, looking around frantically to see where she had dropped. It couldn’t have just poofed out of existence, could it? But there was also no way it could’ve just slip out from her fist. With a start she realized that the silence was gone, replaced with the scratch of pen against paper.
Then, a voice interrupted her from her searching, and it all made sense.
“Eri, be honest with me. Do you think you can repeat what you did with Kouta?”
She had done it. She had actually gone back in time.
It was incredible. Out of all the things she had learned about herself so far, this was by far the most amazing! She could rewind time itself! However, given by the fact that she had always been unable to bring something affected by her quirk to its original state, she’d have to be careful, didn’t she? What she went to far back and couldn’t go forward again? Dear lord, this changed so many things! She’ll be unbeatable in battle! She would be able to safe so many people, and if she was unable to, she could just try again! This was the greatest thing to ever happen to her!
She was pulled out of her swarm of happy thoughts when she realized that Deku was staring at her weirdly. She quickly realized that the man had asked her a questioned, and she’d replied with silence and an expression of joy that made her look like an idiot.
“Y-yeah!” She said, “I just did!” Deku’s funny face was back full-force, and Eri squealed with delight
Eri sat up on her chair and pointed to the folded piece of paper in Deku’s hands.
“You drew Ground Zero as a crab! You wanted to give it to me to prove that I could time travel be telling you what’s inside before you had the chance to give it to me!” She took a chance to catch her breath before putting her hands on her hips and grinning pridefully. Deki pursed his lips before giving her a grin of his own.
“Well,” he began, “Seems that my genius plan worked!” Eri giggled in delight. There were butterflies fluttering in her stomach in absolute glee.
“You should probably tell your teacher! And Kouta, of course. See what he thinks of it!”
One by one, the butterflies dropped dead.
“O-oh… yeah, you’re right.”
She really wished he wasn’t.
She went to class silently, her head bowed in shame once again. Now she had ‘I celebrated the fact that I cheated on a festival’ to her list of things to be feel guilty for. Maybe Kouta would have won if he knew about her powers. Maybe her victory would have meant something if he did and still lost. But what could she do now? Go back in time and let Kouta beat her? Tell him about it before he had the chance to go into the ring? How would that even work? How would it alter the near future?
She was lucky to have the spot at the back in her class. She wasn’t the smallest in the class, but because she sat right behind the tallest boy, she was absolutely hidden from view. Said boy had offered several times during the semester to change seats with her, but Eri always declined. The seat was perfect for doodling in class, for not paying attention, and occasionally taking a nap or two without her teacher noticing. Right now, the seat was allowing her to get away with watching Kouta the entire time, pondering her next move.
The boy sat with his nose buried into his book, his spiked cap covering a good part of his face. His face looked far too pissed off by someone who was doing little more than reading, but she, as well as her classmates, have realized that it’s just the way he is. Just because he looked mad, doesn’t mean he actually was.
Kouta deserved to know what happened, she had decided. Even if it will destroy their friendship, Eri had to tell him. It was the least she could do.
So, when school was over and they went home, Eri went out of her way to follow Kouta.
She felt creepy and stalke-ish, because despite having followed him for quite the long time, she had not made a move to call his attention, too awkward to even come up with a conversation starter. She realized she’d eventually have to, because Kouta lived very, very far from her own home.
The sun had begun to set when the boy finally acknowledge her presence. Eri wondered if he had realized she was there a long time ago, and hadn’t thought of confronting her until then.
Kouta turned, adjusting his cap on his head.
“What are hell you doing, weirdo? Stalking me?” He asked, eyes narrowed. Kouta had a pretty mean glare. Eri stepped back
She pursed her lips for a moment, wondering what she should say. There seemed to be no proper way of saying, “I was just following you because there’s this really important thing I have to say, but I have a snail’s intellect and a brick’s social capabilities! I’m not a stalker! I swear!”
In the end, she said nothing, instead putting her school bag on the ground and crouching to rummage through it. Kouta raised an eyebrow at her.
After a moment, Eri found what she was looking for.
She stood up, a golden medal with a number one in the center in her hand. It gleamed proudly under the setting sun, reflecting the rays into Kouta’s eyes. Her shoulders shook slightly. So many words were trying to make their way out of her mouth, but her fear kept them stuck inside like a dam.
Kouta’s eyes widened, before settling back into a glare.
“Why did you-”
The dam broke.
“Please take the medal!” The frase shot past her lips faster than she could think. “I don’t deserve to have it! D-Deku says it’s not my fault, b-but I know better! I really don’t want you to lose because of me! I-I’m sorry Kouta, I really am!”
Kouta stepped back at her outburst, just a little. He looked at her with brows forrowed, eyes flashing rapidly from one place to another.
“What in the-What are you on about?” He snapped. And of course he’d be confused. She’d explained nothing, done nothing, nothing but try to make Kouta take pity on her like the damn coward that she is. Good job, Eri-chan.
Eri tried not to scream in frustration. She screwed her eyes shot, frustration clawing at her insides.
“I rewinded time, Kouta!” she let out, “At the sports festival! I had a second chance during our fight! It was accidental, but I still did, and I did not tell anyone due to fear? I guess? That’s why I’m telling you to take the medal! You were forced to fight an enemy without knowing the full extent of her abilities unfairly! I’m truly sorry!”
Slowly, she opened her eyes, staring at the ground instead of directly at her classmate. Her grip on the golden prize had begun to feel uncomfortable, her arms tired of holding it out. Tears blurred the corners of her vision for a moment, but she refused to let them fall.
She heard the boy’s footsteps as he approached her, and for a second she feared that he’d do more than just take the medal.
Instead, Kouta didn’t do anything other than gently push the medal back towards her chest.
In her surprise, Eri snapped her head forward, locking eyes with the boy’s. She realized that Kouta was smiling. Smiling at her.
She’d never seen him do that before.
Yes, once or twice he had a sassy smirk on his face when he was with his friends. Yes, more often than not you can see a shaky smile during battle, trying to keep himself confident and ready. Yes, he has laughed at or with others from time to time. But said smile had never been directed at Eri. Not once, not ever. She never thought much of it. What’s it to her if she’s not Kouta’s very best friend? She very well knew that he didn’t particularly disliked her, which was enough for her. She’d been afraid of his hated, but never openly sought out his friendship.
So why, at seeing his unwavering smile after her confession, did she feel so lost?
“Relax, Eri, okay? It’s not a big deal”
Her legs shook, and her voice was absolutely lost. And if the tears pooling at the corners of her vision multiplied, Kouta didn’t seem to notice.
He wasn’t done.
“You played it fair and square!” He said, “It’s your power, isn’t it? So it’s totally fair for you to use it! It’s like a secret weapon! It’s not cheating, not really. I simply didn’t know. Which, for the record, could very well be my own fault. Besides, there will be tons of times in the future where we’ll walk into a fight without knowing anything about our opponents. So, it’s really good for us to come across this types of situations from time to time and learn from them. I think it’s perfectly fair.” When he was done, the guy had the utter nerve to shrug, as if he hadn’t just washed away all of of Eri’s anxieties of the past few days with just a few words.
But she wasn’t about to allow him to walk of just like that.
No, she threw her arms right around him and squeezed tightly for a few seconds before retreating instead. Kouta was stiff, not even given a chance to return the hug before it was over, but that was fine. She didn’t need the boy to do the same. All she wanted was to show how utterly grateful she was at the moment.
She wiped a stray tear from her face and smiled.
“Thank you, Kouta,” she said softly.
Kouta’s smile turned to something more of a smirk.
“Don’t sweat it!” He said. “Want me to walk you home?” Eri nodded grateful.
Eri felt giddy for the rest of the day. Pride bloomed in her chest, at her wonderful friend, at her amazing powers, and now, at the golden medal hidden on the bottom of her Deku-themed backpack.
That night she layed in her bed, the same words repeating themselves in her head:
Eri, the hero that can rewind time.
She’s going to become the greatest hero of all time.