The first thing she associates with him is his touch.
It's nothing like what she's felt until that moment. Before, there were only needles, the painfully firm grabbing on her wrists and arms, and—
......She'd rather not think about it.
But when Deku holds her for the first time, it's...unlike any touch she's had before. She could only call it "gentle" and "warm," and it isn't until Aizawa-san gets her a dictionary (a book with really big words) that she finds more a more accurate word.
Comforting: relieving feelings of grief and distress.
In Eri's opinion, "warm" feels more right. She isn't sure why, but it does, never mind the scars on his right hand.
At this moment, his hugs are the best.
It's a subtle change, but soon, everyone notices it. After all, if a child notices, surely someone else will, right?
Deku smells different. It's not like when they first met, when Eri still had the fumes of medical "substances" clogging up her nose, and Deku's clothes had the scent of fresh laundry and linen.
His scent is more like—
"Apple pie? For breakfast?"
Apple pie, apple dumplings, apple crisps, apple cake. Eri can even smell whatever goes really well with it, and even compliments it, like cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin...
She peers over the back of the couch, watching Riki and Deku move around the kitchen. Their movements are coordinated. Neither gets in the way, nothing breaks or is ruined, and it's as though all they have to do is look at each other to know what one or the other is thinking.
Deku has that smile again. "Why not? This morning feels pretty nice for a Sunday, and I was thinking we could all use a treat."
She catches Riki stealing a glance her way, and his big lips twitch upwards. "When you put it like that, how can we not? Pass me a knife."
The process moves a lot faster, and Deku soon joins her on the couch while another Pokemon episode plays.
The smell of apple treats is stronger up close. Sweet and familiar in a way that magically makes her forget about what's happened to her, and Eri finds herself pressing closer. His arm wrapping around her in a side hug is even better.
He smells wonderful.
He's a sleepyhead.
Eri never "pegged" him as one, but now, watching him snooze the afternoon away until dinner comes, she notices how tired he looks.
The dark circles under his eyes she hadn't seen before are darker. They're still pretty faint, but they're definitely there, and easy to see if and when someone gets really close to him.
She pokes him once, then taps a few times.
He doesn't budge.
She shakes him very gently.
He shifts, brows furrowing a little as he moans softly.
She frowns too. He must be really tired if he's not waking up.
Eri watches him a little longer. Aizawa-san once told her that sleeping on the couch is alright for naps, but do it too much, and one day she'll wake up with a hurting back.
...Deku's just napping, right? He's not really sleeping on the couch a lot, right?
Eri recalls the number of times someone woke up Deku, urging him to sleep properly in his own room.
That's a lot.
How does she get someone bigger than her to move? She's too small to carry him, and she doesn't want to wake him if he needs his sleep...
Chaco shows up from around the corner. Her big brown eyes wander to Deku, and she sighs heavily. "He's sleeping on the couch, again?"
The brunette comes up behind the couch, and taps him gently before carefully scooping him up. It's like he's weightless to her! Oh, right—her Quirk is Zero Gravity.
Eri follows them to the elevator, and then to Deku's room, and is instantly overwhelmed by all the All Might merch. Not overwhelmed in a hysterical and problematic way, but more like when someone whistles and flatly says, "Wow."
Chaco giggles. "I know. He's pretty nerdy." She lowers Deku onto the bed and pulls the All Might blanket up to his chin. "Let's leave him be until dinner's ready, okay?"
Dinner passes with Deku and Riki making apple cobbler for dessert. Some turn in for the night, while others stay up to keep studying. Eri, for the most part, finds herself alone in her room, Iida ushering her upstairs so she can get the rest every child needs.
But for some reason, she can't sleep.
She plays on the DS she was given as a present, pouting when her entire party loses to Burgh's Leavanny yet again, even though she has quite mostly fire-types, a few rock-types, and a flying-type. Maybe she's not fighting correctly...?
Maybe Deku can help.
That's her idea. Eri won't ask him to walk her through the entire battle—she wants to figure that out on her own—but a hint or two will be nice.
And, sure enough, he's awake when she knocks on his door. He looks surprised. "Eri? What are you doing up at this hour?" He sees the DS in her hands.
Eri shuffles her feet. "I couldn't sleep, so..."
Just like that, Deku softens. "You too, huh." He steps aside. "Come on."
She hops right into his bed, the familiar apple scents coming back to her again. Deku slides over next to her. "So which gym are you—ugh."
The grimace he makes when he scrunches his face is kind of funny. He's never made a face like that before. Something tells Eri she's not the only one struggling with the bug-type gym leader.
She's on the right track, though. As Deku points out, she has the right idea using fire-types. All that's left is to pay attention to the difference in levels, and what kind moves her team has.
Leavanny finally goes down in the next battle.
Eri gleefully turns to Deku. "I did it—!"
Soft snoring is the only thing greeting her.
...It's almost midnight. That's way past her bedtime.
She saves her progress and turns off her DS, placing it in the drawer of the nightstand nearby. She can tell him later at breakfast.
No nightmares come for her when she snuggles into Deku's warm chest, his heartbeat a soothing sound to ward them off.
Deku's mother is so much like her son.
They have the same dark green hair (Inko's is a little lighter, but dark nonetheless) and the same green eyes. They even have similar faces, with the only difference being Inko's lack of freckles. They have the same kindness, the same warmth, the same touch, it's like Deku never left to begin with.
Aizawa-san watches from afar as Eri and Inko play with the cats, when the door opens.
"Izuku!" Inko rushes to the door, one of the cats following close behind. "How was the mission?"
Deku slumps, a tired sigh escaping. "Exhausting." He smiles awkwardly. "One of the villains managed to scramble our radios, so we were kind of running around in the dark. It all turned out okay, though, thanks to Jirou and Kaminari." He straightens. "Thanks for looking after Eri with Sensei."
"Of course!" Inko even has the same smile. "She's been wonderful! I'd be happy to look after her again." She leans in, suddenly looking sad. Eri strains to hear her whispers, and catches "awful" and "what they did to her." Deku looks sad, too, nodding.
But he brightens again as Aizawa stands up from his chair. "Alright, I guess we gotta go back." He bows to Inko. "Thank you for having us, Midoriya-san."
Eri bows too. If Aizawa-san's doing it, then it must be polite. "Thank you, Inko-san."
"Of course, sweetie!" Inko crouches down to Eri at eye level. "Deku told me all of those apple recipes, so you're more than welcome to visit any time you want."
In that case, Eri can't wait for next time.
Deku can be really scary sometimes, when he wants to be.
But it's a different kind of scary. More like when a parent or an older brother catches someone hurting their younger sister right in front of them.
They were shopping together, Aizawa fetching groceries while Deku walks with her, searching for more apples. She's never been in a store like this before, aside from her time with Overhaul—
Nonononono. Don't think about it.
But she's never been in a store on an actual, normal day before, and she has the urge to wander off...
And wander off she does.
Eri is careful to stay within Deku's sight, remembering his instruction to never go too far whenever she decides to venture on her own. The sense of freedom is pleasant, since she can go wherever she likes, as long as Deku can hear when she yells for help.
She bumps into someone on accident.
The man looks like what Deku's classmates would call a "thug," all angry and unpleasant.
He clearly isn't happy with her either. "Hey, brat." He bares his teeth in a snarl, and for a split second, Eri sees one of Overhaul's men. "Didn't your parents tell you to watch where you're..."
He trails off, and Eri notices the presence behind her, smells the familiar apple cinnamon spice. From the way his eyes widen, and his mouth clamps shut as he gulps, whatever look Deku's giving him can't be anything nice.
Eri takes that chance to hide behind him, taking a peek at the man as he frantically waves his hands, sputtering out excuses before finally apologizing and speeding away. Deku never said a word to him.
That's also when Eri sees one of Deku's fists sparking with the green electricity his Quirk causes.
"Uh..." It's her fault, isn't it? She wandered away, bumped into someone, caused both him and Deku trouble... "I—I'm sorry..."
Deku crouches, the angry glint in his eyes replaced with soft concern. "No, Eri, it's alright." He ruffles her hair. "I'm not angry with you, I was scared something could have happened to you. Be a little more careful next time, okay?"
Eri nods, relief washing over her like a gentle ocean wave. He's not angry at her, just upset, and for the most part, he's relieved that she isn't hurt.
Aizawa hears what happens when they leave the store, and he makes it a point to order a child alert. A "panic button," he calls it, for whenever Eri feels threatened.
She'll be more careful next time.
All colors are pretty. She typically doesn't have favorites. Feelings and opinions change over time, so one day her favorite color might be pink, and the next day, purple.
But if anyone asks her what her favorite color is at that moment, Eri would choose green.
Green like her big brother's hero costume.
Green like his fluffy hair.
Green like the gentle eyes he looks at her with.
Green like Deku.