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You Want it Darker

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The piercing ring of Aizawa’s phone jars him out of groggy wish-I-was-drugged sleep. If Aizawa were drugged then there’d be a chance of the effects wearing off, but sleep debt is a high that he rarely comes down from.

“Hello?” he croaks into the speaker as he presses the handset to his ear from inside the sleeping bag.

“Eraserhead? Officer Tamakawa speaking. Are you able to talk?”

“Just about.” Aizawa muffles a dry cough and rolls onto his back, no longer crushing the phone against his cheek hard enough to leave an indentation. He fumbles for a bottle of eyedrops that’ve been digging into his hip all night and dribbles some into each eye with his free hand, feeling the excess streak down the sides of his face as he heavy-blinks into fully conscious being.

“We’ve… there’s been an incident.” There’s a dark sadness to Tamakawa’s tone, such that Aizawa doesn’t have to think too hard about what it might be. “Do you think you could check it out?”

“Send me the address.” Aizawa coughs again. “I’ll be there after school lets out.”

“Thanks, Eraser.”

“Bye.” Aizawa hangs up the call and remains where he is, feeling gravity pulling him into the floor. One morning he’s going to be discovered having just melted overnight, transformed into a soaking wet sleeping bag. At least this one is watertight enough that they would probably be able to drag it into a freezer and let him set without losing any liquid.

Aizawa leaves the phone by his face and starts drifting off again, meaning it scares the barely-clinging-on life out of him by ringing again a few minutes (or so it feels) later. It belts the most obnoxious personalised ringtone in Aizawa’s phone – the only, in fact. The song is awful. If Aizawa could have changed it himself, he would have, but the secrets to doing that lie behind a wall of settings he is unwilling to learn. “Yes?”

Shotaaaaa,” comes the morning-hoarse yet undeniably for-radio voice of Yamada Hizashi. “Where are you?”

With his eyes closed, Aizawa can picture him: barely awake fumbling with his phone before he’s even put his glasses on, bare inked shoulders pressing into the mattress and a long train of golden hair getting everywhere. “At school.”

Why.” It’s an accusation more than a question. Aizawa asks himself the same thing at these times, but knows the answer.

“I got caught up-”

“With work, yeah, yeah. Play the other record, love,” Hizashi lilts, making some sounds like he’s surely rolling around all over that king-size bed. In spite of its size, Hizashi makes it feel like the bare minimum amount of space he personally requires to thrash. “So anyway,” Hizashi’s voice smooths even more, like going from brushing velvet the wrong way to gliding the right one. “What are you wearing?”

Aizawa hangs up and goes back to sleep. It’s about to be another long day.

There’s a Police officer in an unmarked cop car waiting for Aizawa at 4:15 sharp, parked outside the UA side-gate he prefers to frequent. Not a face Aizawa recognises, but he knows the license plate, so it’s with utter confidence he opens the passenger-side door and climbs in.

Aizawa has no sooner sat down than the newbie begins, “It’s… uh, an honour to meet you, Mr. Eraserhead. I’m Officer Yamaguichi.” With a sideways glance Aizawa compiles a quick list: young enough to be straight from the Academy, female which means she must be determined in this line of work, and so fresh-faced her mother could have wiped her cheeks with a flannel and packed her a bento on her first day of school. If this were anything like school, which it isn’t.

“You must be new.” Aizawa finds the seat adjustment lever and yanks it up, pushing the chair back until he’s gazing at the roof of the car.

“First week, sir.” Yamaguichi starts the car and they pull away. “Is it that obvious?”



“None of this mister, sir crap,” Aizawa knocks out good and early. People calling him Eraserhead is bad enough, though it’s helpful to keep his name distanced from the other part of his life. The half that’s shaded in twilight, like the dark side of the moon.

“Oh… yes, Eraserhead. Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be.” Aizawa adjusts the seat again, rolling his shoulders and letting his eyes drift shut. “Save being sorry for the crime scene.”

“He was discovered at six a.m., when a neighbour finally convinced the building supervisor to open the door and switch off the TV,” Officer Tamakawa begins the second Aizawa steps under the police tape, as if their conversation at god-knows-when this morning has been continued without a break. “It’d been playing at max volume all night, but the manager only comes in at six. He’s got the master key.”

Officer Yamaguichi keeps shifting from one foot to the other without walking anywhere. Hell of a case to land in the first week. She’s on edge, not timid but a little unsure as she suggests, “Maybe he wanted to be found.”

“Someone did.” Aizawa paces through the compact apartment, putting his head through to the bathroom with a shudder. Yamaguichi follows him, looking around with a furtive nervousness. When she peers around the open bathroom door, Aizawa hears the stifled sound of horror without looking around.

“That’s a… lot of blood.” Yamaguichi sounds shaky, and Aizawa bites back a sigh. He takes care of children all day; does he really have to do it in his other job too?

With a relentless rhythm, Aizawa pushes the conversation back onto the case. “Where’s the body?”

“They already came to take it.” Tamakawa finally comes up, stepping into the space behind Aizawa that Yamaguichi has decided to quickly vacate. “In the water, you know. Time’s a factor.” Aizawa probably shouldn’t (technically) be here, he scribbles on a piece of scrap paper in the back of his mind.

“I’ll stop by the morgue later,” Aizawa announces. That’s what he gets for teaching class all day rather than dropping everything to dash to a B-movie crime scene: more work. “What was the situation when you arrived?”

“Male, middle-aged. Unremarkable guy, at least according to the neighbours.” Tamakawa’s whiskers twitch on the edge of certain words, but now the tip of his ear gives a butterfly-wing flick. “He came home, ran a bath, then cracked open a plastic razor. The rest is as you find it.”

The half-full bath looks like it’s entirely blood, more than one human could ever contain. Aizawa knows it’s just the dilution effect in the water; but that underpinning logic doesn’t make the scene any less grim. It’s not stayed just in the tub either, run in long tendrils across the tiled floor. Bloodbath hardly covers it.

“What makes you suspicious?” Aizawa questions; Tamakawa has good instincts, might even make detective if he’s fleet of foot about it, but there has to be something in it beside good feline intuition.

“Here.” Tamakawa walks back into the main room and gestures at a couple of bags sitting on the kitchen counter. There’s an off-colour liquid congealed across the worktop, but it’s nothing sinister. Except to the lactose intolerant. “He didn’t even put the ice-cream away.” Tamakawa points out with growing insistence, “Who buys several days worth of groceries and then commits suicide?”

“Stranger things have happened.” Aizawa says this more to be a contrarian than fault Tamakawa’s point – he’s spot on, after all. Teacher habit: to draw the work out of someone rather than do it for them. “What else have you got?”

“I was just getting to that.” Tamakawa walks up to the fridge and extends a clawlike finger to a piece of paper on the fridge, no fear of the challenge Aizawa puts to him. “He was promoted this week.”

That’s enough to pause on. Aizawa’s eyebrows lift minimally, but there’s no way Tamakawa would see that under the oily drapes of his fringe. “Promoted?”

“This is the confirmation letter.” Tamakawa watches Aizawa with glassy cornfield eyes. “I’m sure it happens, but it’s usually getting passed over for a job that drives people to suicide, not getting it.”

Someone was passed over,” Aizawa considers. “Find out who.” It occurs to him a moment later that Tamakawa is only a Police officer, so he technically needs to ask, “Which detective’s working this case?”

“None right now.” Tamakawa sounds a little more bashful this time. “Because of the circumstances, it isn’t being treated as suspicious. That’s why I thought you might be able to, ah…”

“Not a problem,” Aizawa reassures, dragging out his phone and pulling up the contact for Tsukauchi, N. and dialling. He beckons Tamakawa over as it starts to ring, a few cycles in when the caller picks up.

“Eraser, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Your boys have found something.” Boy and a girl, technically – Yamaguichi’s a fresh-faced, spectacle-wearing young lady with her hair in a neat ponytail down her back, even if she is skulking by the door looking to get out of this grim slaughterhouse. “Looks like suicide, but only if you’re not paying attention. You should have a detective come take a look.”

“I wasn’t aware of your promotion to police chief, congratulations.” The slight wryness to Tsukauchi’s tone is just about friendly, but still means ‘don’t tell me how to do my job, hero.’

“Alright then, don’t call it in. Let me make your department look like fools,” Aizawa points out the alternative. “Again.” He catches the breathy laugh-sigh from the other side of the line.

“Very well, acting police-chief,” Tsukauchi jabs, but they’re only warm-up punches. “Tell Toshi I said hi if you see him.”

“Will do.” Aizawa has a moment of consideration, like trying to remember the last thing he wrote on the shopping list that he left at home and only realised after getting to the store. “Thanks.”

“Just doing my job, Eraser.” Tsukauchi ends the call. Aizawa swipes away several messages from Hizashi and puts his phone in his pocket. Knowing Hizashi, they are not going to be the kind of thing anyone should be viewing at an active crime scene. “Can you drop me back at the station?” He still needs to stop in at the morgue.

“Affirmative, Mr. Eraserhead!” Yamaguichi zips to a stiff salute, and Aizawa rolls his eyes. This day isn’t letting up any time soon. “On behalf of the police force…” Yamaguichi notices Tamakawa giving her a particularly emotive stare – a proverbial 'what are you doing, newbie' of a cat-eyed glare – and trails off.

“Thanks, Eraser.” Tamakawa pats Aizawa on the back with an even more pawlike hand than usual in thick gloves. “Can we pick you up something to eat on the way?”

Aizawa has a paranoid moment where he wonders if Hizashi has been texting Tamakawa again. He should probably check those messages. Aizawa’s stomach lets out an underwhelming gurgle, like it’s not quite convinced it knows what meal should be next. Aizawa isn’t sure either, after looking at that bathroom.

The tub looms into Aizawa’s mind and his appetite ceases to have an opinion about anything. Definitely not soup. However, the thought lingers that eating dinner (solid food, not intended for babies) would make Hizashi happy. “I suppose so.”

The morgue is Aizawa’s kind of place, and not just because the dead bodies. He doesn’t mind them – corpses are corpses, though the failures they represent are more sobering. Corpses hold all kinds of information. Plus, they don’t talk. Unlike the mortician.

“Eraserhead, you’re looking very… you, as always,” the mortician riffs the moment Aizawa sets foot in her cold, chemically pungent arena. “Come in for a checkup? Kidding, lighten up already.”

“Spirited as ever, Kuwabara,” Aizawa sighs. This job attracts odd people, that’s a given, but this cheery redhead is weirder than most. The kind of woman you’d expect yelling orders across a crowded family restaurant instead of wheeling around cadavers, toting a sense of humour so dark it’d need infrared goggles to be spotted in a dimly lit room. “I’m here to see the suicide they brought in earlier.”

“Eesh, I wouldn’t if I were you.” Kuwabara’s a tough lady, absolutely no denying that. Aizawa’s watched her shunting around literal dead weights like shopping carts at the supermarket. She's been doing this job almost ten years without being any less sane than when she showed up – which is still slightly nutty, but clearly stable. So her revulsion at the mere mention of this case isn't a good sign. “I’ll pull him out, but you might wanna finish that first.” Kuwabara points at the half-eaten box of yakisoba in Aizawa’s hands.

“Not really.” Aizawa reaches out to drop it in the trash, and feels the buzz of his phone in his pocket. He’d checked Hizashi’s last string of messages in the car on the way over; two selfies, three questions about dinner, and one short clip of Nezu eating corn on the cob that defies explanation. Aizawa can’t wait to find out what the latest bit of nonsense will be, but this isn't really the time or place.

“Right through here, Eraser.” Kuwabara leads the way. “I hate the ones that’ve been in water. Gross city.” Not for the first time, Aizawa wonders why Kuwabara even got into this line of work, and how on earth she got a job doing it for the police. Then again, some stones are best left unturned.

The body is about as bad as everyone amped Aizawa up to expect. It’s the bloating that’s the worst. This guy only had hours to soak before being found, but warm water certainly doesn’t help the way his sliced flesh has peeled away from the body. Each wrist almost shredded into ribbon-like petals from some bloody blossom. The guy’s a mess, to put it lightly.

“Slitting your wrists ain’t something you can practice much, but this guy could have used a test run,” Kuwabara makes a blunt observation, hands on her broad hips and a grim expression at the body on the drawer.

“These cuts look… forced,” Aizawa murmurs as he cranes his head to get a better look, then reluctantly reaches out to twist a stiff wrist and turn it further. It seems clear that this man was the one enacting his gorey demise – the clumsy slices all over his fingers from the badly-wielded razor blade confirm that. The apartment so securely locked from the inside that they had to wait until morning to get in only cements it. But just because they were his hands doesn’t mean this man was acting under his own free will.

“Yeah, no ‘cut along the dotted line’ for this one, huh?” Kuwabara huffs, and Aizawa’s struck with the thought that she’s a woman who talks like she’s seen all manner of mess, and maybe that’s why she can stomach this job without cracking. “Damn shame.”

Aizawa notices something between a couple of the deeper cuts, on either side of the badly ruptured skin. “What do you think this is?”

“Hm?” Kuwabara walks over and leans in good and close. “Maybe he drew some guidelines after all, looks like ink to me.”


“Yeah, like a marker pen or something,” Kuwabara specifies, lest Aizawa start thinking this guy had an octopus in the bath with him. “It’s mostly gone now, but that’s my best guess. Along there too.” Kuwabara’s finger follows the pale, engorged flesh through a messy railway map of slices. This man didn’t stop when it would’ve been enough, just went over and over until he passed out, presumably. Aizawa’s jaw clenches, everything about this setup screaming something horribly wrong. With a mental process like the workings of an intricate cuckoo clock, Aizawa returns to the thought that Tamakawa was right to call him. “Maybe some chick gave him her number.” It’s a slightly outdated notion, but it sparks something in Aizawa's mind.

After the razor and the bloodbath, there's only the barest marks left, like day-old notes written on the back of a hand. Aizawa studies them, tries to recreate the full characters from the spliced aftermath. No good.

“Let me know if you find anything else, Kuwabara,” Aizawa lets out a sigh. It’s been a long day, but it’ll be an even longer night at this rate. “I’m heading upstairs.”

“Say hi to the living for me.”

Aizawa sighs like he's Charon himself, wearily punting a boat across the river styx. “Will do.”

Aizawa’s phone rings in the elevator, and it’s that ringtone again. The romance ballad so corny that people almost always turn around to see who’d answer such an audacious calling card, then quickly turn back once they see who it is.

Aizawa picks it up. “Yes?”

“Where are you?”

“I just left the morgue.”

“Why am I always competing with dead people for your attention?”

“They don't talk as much.”

“As much ? Are you going all sixth sense on me?”

“I wish,” Aizawa replies. This line of work would be a lot easier if the victims could tell the living what or who was responsible for their death. “I'll be home later.”

“Bullshit.” Aizawa holds for the crumble. “How much later?”

“Can't say.”

“Double bullshit.”

Hizashi waits for Aizawa to crumble this time, which he does. “Two hours.”

“So I’ll see you in four?”

“Probably.” Aizawa doesn't disguise his resignation. A pre-broken promise is a softer blow somehow, and Aizawa does his best, but crime doesn’t take the night off because Hizashi’s feeling lonely. If only.

“Love you.”

Aizawa tries to keep the tone of his voice level, as if that’ll help delay the inevitable point where he has to say more than, “You too.”

“COWARD!” Hizashi bellows with enough gusto that Aizawa feels his eye twitch. Delay the inevitable, even just to affirm that it’s pointless to resist. “Let those strangers know you're capable of emotion!”

“I love you too, idiot,” Aizawa mumbles into the phone, ducking those glances again from his elevator companions.

“Call that an admission of love?! DOUBLE COWARD! Don't bother coming home, we're done, finished! Kaput! Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn! I've cried too long over you-” Aizawa hangs up and gives the only person in the elevator still looking at him a ‘you don't wanna know’ look as the doors open.

“Excuse me,” Aizawa fully deadpans as he weaves his way out; this isn't his floor, but it's close, so he'll take the stairs up the rest of the way.

He could use a breather.

“I thought you quit smoking?”

“For as long as you quit being a busybody,” Aizawa returns over his guilt-cigarette as he stands in the police station stairwell with his back to the wall. If he could be bothered, he’d go all the way into the side-alley outside the building that the other cops use, but if he bumps into anyone he might be expected to make conversation.

Instead, Aizawa’s bending the rules in this airy semi-open space, where the stairs coil like a snake around a long column of light that shines down from the glass-panelled roof far up above his head. Late afternoon sun casts golden beams that breathe a little life into the tired concrete, clouded with blue where the smoke Aizawa exhales hits them.

“Ah, Mr. Pot, I presume,” Tsukauchi introduces as he makes a sarcastic gesture towards Aizawa, before turning the accusatory hand on himself. “Detective Kettle, and it's kind of my prerogative.” Aizawa rolls his eyes and takes another drag. “Yamada wants to know if you've eaten, but I don't think cigarettes count.”

“Dinner is in the morgue trash.”

“Have you been snacking on the bodies again? I told Kuwabara to stop letting you do that.”

Aizawa takes another deliberately long pull on the cigarette while making eye contact with Tsukauchi, before tapping the ash into his open hand. The things he’s touched today, ash is the least of Aizawa’s problems.

Apropos of nothing, Aizawa asks on a plume of exhaled smoke, “What do you know about mind control quirks?”

This catches Tsukauchi off-guard, but not for long. “Less than I should, but more than I'd like,” he answers with a look of conflicted resignation. “Your ‘suicide’ case?” He makes the air-quotes gestures, which Aizawa supposes is a good sign.

“Aren't the ‘detectives’ supposed to be working those?” Aizawa bats back with a matching gesture of his cigarette-clamping fingers. He gets along with Tsukauchi just fine, but anyone close to Toshinori is destined to have some friction with the heroic antithesis of All Might.

That Aizawa’s also one of those annoying underground Heroes who doesn’t always participate in police procedure can’t help their rickety ropebridge of a relationship. Aizawa has been known to take an ‘opt-out’ approach to the law if he’s chasing down a villain and sees the Police as being a hindrance to that. Big organisations move slow, so it's just part and parcel of being an underground Hero that means he can move that much faster.

So there’s always been a friendly antagonism between Aizawa and Tsukauchi, but in the sense of two apex predators in a space that has to be carefully negotiated but can be shared. They’re both on the same side, after all.

“You could talk to our psych, I suppose,” Tsukauchi suggests, still peering at Aizawa halfway down the stairs from him. “Or you know, wait for the detectives to do their jobs.” He doesn’t make the gesture, but sarcasm suits just fine.

“If you're not racing me to solve the case, where’s the incentive?” Aizawa taunts as he sucks the last dregs out of the cigarette and then stubs it out on the wall, sticking the butt in his pocket as he climbs the rest of the staircase. The honest truth is Aizawa and the police complement more than compete, so at least as long as they keep their noses in the right direction they’ll get along fine. They can always follow Aizawa if in doubt; as he’ll be one step ahead of them – solving it first. “You got a psych?” he asks climbing the stairs up to Tsukauchi as he opens the door.

“About time too. I'll walk you to her office,” Tsukauchi offers with a more amiable air as Aizawa traipses through the door.

They walk side by side down a generic piece of hallway, and Aizawa doesn’t do small talk, but he does do small details. “How long has she been here?”

“A few months now, but they sure go fast,” Tsukauchi says as they walk down the corridor. “The higher-ups finally decided it was worthwhile having one in-house.” Finally, they stop at a door with a card bearing the name Dr. Iwaya slotted into a holder on the front of it. Tsukauchi knocks with a brisk series of raps, and a faint “Enter,” comes from within.

“New patient for you, Doc,” Tsukauchi announces with an air of joking that seems a little tired. Aizawa would know, tired draws to him like iron filings to a magnet.

“I don’t do walk-ins, but somehow I suspect that’s not your purpose.” The Psych – the true definition for the title has been forever lost somewhere between psychiatrist and psychic-quirkist – is a woman of cold, marbled beauty. She takes Aizawa in like he’s a bull strolling around a china shop. “You don’t look like a police detective.” Dr. Iwaya’s gaze has an intensity Aizawa dislikes immediately.

“Oh good, I was starting to worry.” Aizawa steps further into the room. “Thank you, Detective Kettle.” It doesn’t mean ‘thank you’, naturally. What Aizawa’s really saying is goodbye and get the hell out, but luckily Tsukauchi seems to concur.

“Later, Mr. Pot,” Tsukauchi says with a quick glance at Dr. Iwaya before he goes.

The door clicks shut behind them, leaving Aizawa in a neatly organised office that feels like one of the walls ought to be glass – a windowed box in order to study the inhabitants. The Psych is finishing writing something in neat, careful handwriting into a notepad, which she flips shut moments later before looking back up to Aizawa. “And you are?”

He itches for another cigarette already. “I go by Eraserhead.”

The smallest smile comes onto the woman’s – Iwaya, going by the door – face, before settling again like the flutter of a wing. “Is that so?”

“I’m not here for psychoanalysis.” Aizawa takes several long steps across the office and is right at the desk.

“Then what are you here for?” she asks politely, but Aizawa recognises the clean, hard edges of her tone as weaponry. Two people with their guards most wholly and thoroughly up against one another.

“To talk about mind control quirks.”

There’s no real reaction in Iwaya’s face, but that doesn’t mean there’s no significance to the silence that follows for a moment.

Although every new generation has wilder and more powerful quirks than the ones before, a taboo remains around those who exert such a frightening power over others. Quirks that people don’t like to talk about, or would rather pretend to be quirkless than be labelled the wielder of such a cursed power. The human mind is the final frontier, the last defence of free will, so for those holding the keys to the fort, it’s only natural for people to fear what they can do.

For all this, Iwaya’s only remark is, “An interesting topic.”

Much like the victim, Aizawa cuts straight to it. “How many cases do you know where a mind control quirk was strong enough to commit murder-suicide?”

Iwaya’s face doesn’t stir any more than the carved hair of a statue would blow in the wind. “By which you mean…?”

“Using a brainwashing quirk to force their victim to kill themselves,” Aizawa spells out with an impatient snap. “Have they just had you back here filling out wellness evaluations or something?”

“Just making sure we’re on the same page.” Iwaya makes a calm gesture to the chair in front of her desk. “Why don’t you sit down?” It’s the last thing Aizawa wants to do, just by merit of her asking.

“Why don’t you answer my question?”

The Psych checks herself, eyes widening and a subtle discomfort that Aizawa only notices because he’s watching very carefully. “Force of habit,” Iwaya answers with her shield slightly lowered, that little bit more open. Aziawa has landed himself more of a lead than he was expecting, perhaps. “Please sit, you look tired and we may be a while.”

Aizawa begrudgingly sinks into the chair and takes a load off, kicking his legs out straight and trying to stretch a particularly tight muscle in one of his shoulders. “What’s so troubling I have to be sat down for?”

Iwaya’s presentation doesn’t falter, because she sounds like she could be reading the last rights at a funeral when she asks, “Have you heard of a scholar named Dr. Shinsou Masaru?”

Something cold and calculating falls into place in the elaborate machinework of Aizawa’s head. He knows that name. Shinsou. It takes a moment, but the memory gets called from the archive. The General Studies student from the Sports festival – the one who almost took down Midoriya in the first round. Maybe it’s just coincidence.

“No,” Aizawa plays safe. Namely: ignorant.

“You’ve heard of the Ninety-Nine Massacre.”

Another piece of the deadly machine slots into place. “Yes.”

“So then you know that a mind control quirk can drive others to take their lives,”

“That was poisoning,” Aizawa explains hesitantly. “This case is more… violent.”

“Oh, but those victims knew it was poison when they drank,” Iwaya relates with a matter-of-fact sadness.

“How do you know that?” Aizawa’s suspicion rises like the hair on the back of a cat trying to look big. This all feels terribly close and convenient.

Iwaya’s gaze is unflinching. “Because Professor Shinsou told us so.” Perhaps reading the intense mistrust in Aizawa’s face, Iwaya gives a sigh and turns around, reaching for a book on the shelf that she sets flat on the desk before Aizawa. ‘Dr. Shinsou Masaru, The 90% Mind’ the title reads. When Aizawa lifts the cover he sees a portrait picture of a man with ghostly sallow skin, purple-matched eyes to his slicked-back hair and immediately closes it again.

“He was the leading authority on mentalist quirks, widely respected in the field and… my teacher, at one point,” Iwaya tacks on at the end, while Aizawa’s teeth clench in discomfort.

“Where is he now?”

Iwaya has a soulful look, some internal tragedy Aizawa can guess at. A reason to be where she is, doing what she does. “Prison, of course.”

“And what’s your professional opinion of this so-called expert?”

“Why, he’s criminally insane.” Iwaya smiles, which is fucking unnerving, to put it bluntly. “But if you’re looking for an expert on the murderous limits of mentalist quirks, no one else would know more on the subject.”

Aizawa crosses his arms, a resolutely unimpressed look that covers for his lingering discomfort. This is dark stuff, no simple thug holding up a convenience store for a fast buck. What Aizawa wouldn’t do for a simple solve like that.

“Why don’t we start with what you know, Doctor Iwaya, and we’ll get onto the great Doc Shinsou from there?”

An hour later Aizawa has more questions than he arrived with, and a more exacting list of the reasons he mistrusts psychs. First of all, doctors and therefore meddlers; secondly, mind doctors which is inherently suspicious; thirdly, obsessed with mentalist quirks and so undeniably creepy. And this is Aizawa's standard for creepy, so that's pretty damn weird.

Given how prominent this Dr. Shinsou had been in the field before his ‘mental breakdown’ as Dr. Iwaya had so coldly put it, it’s apparently not that unusual for any psych of a certain age to have been taught by the great professor of psychiatric quirks. This is before he lost it, and murdered a bunch of his students to prove the hitherto untested theories of his research.

As terribly convenient as Dr. Iwaya’s connection to this lunatic is, a cursory search of the Internet would have also turned up Dr. Shinsou Masaru as the leading basket-case in this field. Then Aizawa wouldn’t have had to endure the mental obstacle course of talking to Iwaya. After spending an hour with her, he sort of wishes he'd taken the e-detective route. That could have been done from bed with Hizashi snoring in his ear, if he’d bothered to go home instead of chasing leads all evening.

The doctor’s sad smile and melancholy aura haunt Aizawa worse than the bodies in the morgue, and for that reason he’s reluctant to go straight home, even though it’s already late. Not with all this dark energy still soaked into Aizawa like he’s a man-sized sponge. He doesn’t want to bring that poison back into his safe space, where the daily terror of existence can’t reach. So Aizawa is tired, but not going home in a hurry.

Right on time his phone rings. That ringtone.

Aizawa picks it up and is immediately greeted with, “Shotaaaaaaa.”

“I just left the police station,” Aizawa pre-empts the inevitable question. “I’ll be back… soon.” Once he's walked the darkness off.

“No stops on the way.”

“You know I can’t promise that,” Aizawa replies as he starts walking away from the station. Luckily work hasn’t taken him so far away from home tonight that it’s not worth going back at all, but Aizawa hates the train and that fresh-faced Yamaguichi was nowhere to be found for a lift. He’d rather walk and get his thoughts in order. Not that having Hizashi on the line will help at all.

“Just get a fucking train, babe.” Hizashi actually sounds annoyed, knowing Aizawa’s ways better than he does himself: if Aizawa gets the train back, his exposure to petty crime is going to be rather different than walking most of the backalleys all the way back, and at a certain point he’s inviting the distraction. But someone has to do it.

Aizawa cuts down an alleyway that the faint of heart would never brave, and considers that he hasn’t been home in… a while. It’s never been the deal that he’s expected to be or has to be, but that’s no discredit to Hizashi’s attempts to draw Aizawa into some form of domestic routine. If it weren’t for Hizashi, Aizawa wouldn’t go back at all. He can take the backalleys to the station, so Aizawa supposes it wouldn’t be impossible to get the train and actually be home in the two-to-four hours he promised.

“Alright,” Aizawa sighs. “But I’m going straight to bed when I get in.” To sleep that always means when Aizawa says it; Hizashi’s definition is a little different.

“You always say that,” Hizashi replies sordidly, a lift in his voice that makes a dull throb in Aizawa’s chest a little more noticable. Hizashi is pleased, not least because it’s only been three hours since Aizawa said he’d be two. And he's coming home at all. There’s a short pause. “Seriously, no stops.”

Aizawa sighs again, catching some shadows from the corner of his eye that look rather like foolish punks that ought to know better than to stalk strangers within ten-minutes walking distance of the police station. “Tell it to the criminals, love.” Cheap trick, but effective. Aizawa can imagine the conflicted pout on Hizashi’s face. On the one hand, he loves any term of endearment Aizawa lets slip. On the other, Hizashi knows full well Aizawa uses that to manipulate him. Or at least pacify.

“Alright, have it your way,” Hizashi relents, though his determination to keep having this negotiation with Aizawa is, if anything, an admirable dedication to the cause of trying to convince Aizawa to spend just a little less time taking care of criminals and a little more taking care of himself. So far the criminals have Aizawa at an advantage on that front. “But don’t you come crawling into bed covered in blood again.”

Aizawa sighs for a third time, and not just because the stalking shadows have shaped up into real what-are-they-thinking thugs who think Aizawa’s got a bullseye painted on him for their benefit alone. “I told you before, none of that was mine-”

Before finishing the sentence, Aizawa ducks the swing of a metal crowbar that comes whizzing towards his head from behind. At the same time, he kicks the man behind him in the stomach. Aizawa’s assailant is so profoundly unsuspecting that he flies across the dingy alleyway Aizawa was cutting through and lands in a pile of trash. The others seem shocked by this, but haven’t run off straight away.

“Oof- what the fuck?!” the assaulted assailant groans.

“How does trouble always find you?” Hizashi accuses down the line as he recognises the sure sounds of a fight breaking loose. “I'd ask if it's your shampoo or something, but that'd imply you ever wash-”

Aizawa interjects a swift, “I’ll call you back,” and hangs up.

No blood, Hizashi said, and for a moment the bathtub flashes into Aizawa’s head. One of the would-be muggers tries to charge Aizawa, so he stares him and his quirk down. Only when Aizawa’s hair lifts, quirk erased, do a couple of the thugs finally realise who they’re messing with.

“Shit, my quirk’s gone!” The sound of manic footsteps speeding away – not the direction Aizawa’s meant to be heading in, but the way he’s going to go all the same. The next person these two-bit criminals try to jump isn’t likely to be so well-equipped, so leaving them on the streets is a crime in the third degree as far as Aizawa is concerned.

Aizawa sighs a fourth and final time as he flings a handful of his capture weapon to start locking down these hapless fools. It's going to be a long night.