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Princess Eri and the Triumph of the Workers

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Safe and warm, Aizawa dozed, contented as a cat, curled inside a womb wrought of fleece and polyester microfiber. After yet another late night of lesson plans he had slipped inside his beloved sleeping bag and bedded down for a nap beneath the desk in his office at UA. The office had been quiet and dark and deserted.

“AIZAWA SENSEI!”

“MR. AIZAAAAWAAAAAA!”

Bleary eyes fluttered open at the terrible racket.

Uraraka and Ashido, both dressed in pajamas, were now kneeling beside him.

“Students,” he barked, as obviously a scolding was called for, “what are you doing out past curfew?”

“But we're not out, Mr. Aizawa!” Ashido protested, dark eyes round and blameless. “We're in the dorms, remember?”

He remembered. 24/7. With his students.

“We're having a slumber party in Momo-chan's room tonight!” added Uraraka.

“It's so fun, her room is all one big bed!” Ashido exclaimed.

So much youthful enthusiasm. Aizawa wasn't having it – not one bit. “Then shouldn't you girls go back and … wage a pillow fight? Or something? Something that doesn't involve waking up your sensei and wasting his important nap time?”

“But we just got a great idea for Eri's birthday!” Uraraka protested, pointing towards the roll of paper Ashido was wielding like a blunt instrument.

“I found this on the subway. So cuuuute!” trilled Ashido.

At the mention of Eri's name, Aizawa perpetual grumpy attitude mellowed somewhat. Still inside the sleeping bag, he scrunched up like an inchworm into a semi-sitting position (he couldn't sit up fully, as he was liable to bonk his head on the underside of his desk). “Eri's birthday?” Unbidden, his thoughts drifted to the sweet blue-eyed girl who had endured so much so bravely for so long.

“Yes, Eri's birthday!” said Uraraka.

“December 21! It's coming soon!” said Ashido.

“Really soon!”

“We need to plan.”

“A young girl's birthday is very important!”

“And she's probably never had a birthday party,” added Ashido.

Ouch! Aizawa felt the gut-punch. No birthday parties? Ever? Clearly this could not stand. Not on his watch! Little Eri-chan would be deprived of nothing.

The sleeping bag slipped open and Aizawa, bleary-eyed, twisted his body up into his chair. “A birthday party for Eri. Yes, this is a rational course of action. Shall we...?” What did one do at a birthday party, anyway? He seemed to remember there was cake. And singing. And curling up in your sleeping bag and hiding under a table until Yamada came to inform you that the nightmare was finally over. “Shall we … have cake?” he ventured at last.

Uraraka nodded. “Yes, Satou said he would bake a lemon cake! And a chocolate cake! And a red velvet cake!” That was an awful lot of cake! Would that be sufficient? And where could Aizawa hide in his sleeping bag at this event.

“And then there's this!” Ashido added, proffering the rolled up poster she'd been waving about with wanton girlish enthusiasm.

Curious now, Aizawa took it from her and unrolled the paper. It was poster than had been ripped from the wall. Vandalism – he didn't encourage this in his students, but would probably let it pass. There was a central image of a fiendishly grinning girl wearing a diaphanous dress and a plastic crown atop her head. He squinted at the text. It didn't help that the poster was glittery and had some kind of weird 3D effect. “Razzle … zazzle....” he began.

“RAZZLE DAZZLE ZAZZLE BOUTIQUE PRINCESS MAKEOVER AT ALDERAAN BADA-BINGO PARK,” the girls chorused.

“Um, yeah,” said Aizawa. It was a lot to take in. Nevertheless, his sleepy brain still managed to spit out a related factoid. “Alderaan Bada-Bingo Park – isn't that the park that's themed after the video game?”

“Yes, and they do makeovers themed for all the princesses!”

“Including a dress! And a tiara!”

“So precious!” Ashido was hopping around with delight, and as for Uraraka, she had completely slipped the bonds of gravity and floated towards the ceiling with sheer giddy anticipation.

“All right, all right!” snapped Aizawa, skillfully grabbing Uraraka in his capturing cloth before she bonked her head on the ceiling and yanking her back down towards terra firma.

“So, we can do it?” asked Ashido, eyes large and dark and expectant.

“I will … take it under advisement,” Aizawa hedged, rolling up the poster with a efficient twist of the wrist.

“He'll totally do it,” Ashido stage-whispered to Uraraka.

“Thank you, Aizawa Sensei!” Uraraka called as, arm in arm, the conspirators headed for the exit.

“Yeah,” sighed Aizawa. He turned to his computer and began to search Bada-Bingo Park.

 

Aizawa was still at his desk some hours later, when his colleagues began arriving for work.

“You're up early, Eraser,” said Miss Kayama, peering over her cat's eye glasses and sipping from a mug of delicious-smelling coffee.

“Haha, bet he never left last night!” said Yamada, using Present Mic-level volume.

Red-eyed, Aizawa turned to his fellow faculty members. “If you two would like to make yourselves useful, can you tell me, what do you know about Bada-Bingo Amusement Park?”

With a wry smile, Kayama draped herself over Aizawa's computer monitor. “An amusement park? I know enough to know it's not quite your speed, Eraser.”

Yamada greedily gulped air, preparing for the onslaught of words that was about to erupt. “Bada-Bingo Amusement Park and Entertainment Center, situated in the heart of the Alderaan Prefecture, provides a splendid day of rides and exhibitions to patrons of all ages, centered around the highly popular and award-winning multi-platform game and visual novel, Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XVII!”

“Wow,” said Kayama. “That was weirdly specific, even for you, Mic.”

Yamada shrugged, eyes sparkling behind rose-tinted glasses. “I've done commercials for them on my radio program. Have you listened to my radio program?”

“We've all listened to your radio program, Mic. It's impossible to avoid,” Aizawa sighed.

“Then why aren't you up to date on the Bada-Bingo park, Eraser?”

Aizawa pushed his chair back and ran a hand through his mane of hair. “It's just that the 1-A girls want to have a birthday party there-”

“A birthday party??” chorused Yamada and Kayama. Good grief, sometimes these two were as bad as his students!

“For Eri,” Aizawa explained.

“You'll need female chaperones!” Kayama insisted.

“Noooo, I'll be a chaperone,” Yamada countered. “Pick meeeee.”

“You're not a girl,” Kayama countered.

“You're not Eraser's best friend since high school!”

“I'm sure you can both go!” Aizawa told them. “If we decide to do it.”

Yamada and Kayama exchanged a glance. Suddenly, the rivals were back on the same side. “Why wouldn't you do it?” Yamada demanded.

“It's for Eri!” Kayama declared.

The stress was causing Aizawa to knit his hair into a bun. “I'm just not convinced this park is … wholesome.”

More glances were exchanged between his colleagues. “What?” asked Kayama, eyebrow arched almost up to her hairline with derision.

“Bada-Bingo park is entertainment for the whole family,” said Yamada, who was quite possibly quoting ad copy.

Aizawa saw that he was out-voted. “It's just-” He glanced at his computer screen. “I need to go now. I have an obligation. We can continue this discussion later.” And with that he was up and fleeing out the door.

“We should have cake!” Yamada said.

“And singing!” Kayama yelled after him. “And no crawling off to hide in your sleeping bag, like you used to do in high school!”

Sometimes, Aizawa regretted his entire life.

 

Hitoshi Shinsou was as intent a student as Aizawa had ever encountered. It was part of the reason why he had put aside time to help the boy with his dream of joining UA's Hero class. And, much as he generally enjoyed their time in training together, today he considered the interval of relative peace and quiet a small blessing. No nasty questions about amusement parks with silly names! Just training.

For today's exercise, he offered advice as the boy made attempt after attempt to snatch an apple sitting atop a post with his capturing cloth. Actually, Shinsou had already mastered the trick, but now (following his experience in combat with the hero class) he insisted on practicing the same stunt under duress. It was very logical! Stressful situations put training to the test. Aizawa eagerly agreed and so with an efficient snap of his own capturing cloth had the boy strung up upside-down. A little blood rushing to the brain couldn't hurt a teenager, he reasoned.

“That was slow,” Aizawa huffed after yet another nearly perfect attempt. “Imagine you are trying this with villains around you! And with a broken arm!”

As he was lecturing, Aizawa leaned against the wall and perused an information pamphlet for the Bada-Bingo Amusement park. “But remember, don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” he added, tracing a finger on the cartoon map from Bombardment Alleyway through the Boneyard of Certain Death and on to the Pretty Princess Tower. Was this a wholesome environment for a young girl, he wondered?

“Aizawa ... sensei....?”

In addition to being hung upside-down, Shinsou was also swaying back and forth like a pendulum. Aizawa had helped this along by giving the boy an occasional push. “Mm. What is it?”

“Aizawa … Sensei … sir … you … seem … “

Lacking the patience to wait for one word per pass, Aizawa gripped the boy by the collar as he swung past and yanked him to a halt. “What was that?”

“You seem distracted today, sir,” puffed Shinsou.

Aizawa peered at his student. Was Shinsou looking a bit red in the face? “Are you doing all right?” he asked.

“Um.” Shinsou hesitated. “I'm feeling … a little light-headed, Sensei.”

Aizawa snapped his capturing cloth, sending Shinsou toppling down. The boy barely kept to his feet as he fell. Well, he had wanted to be surprised! Good job keeping to his feet. “I've been trying to find out more about some silly video game, Shining Princess … Armada … something something....” Aizawa explained while the boy caught his breath.

“Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XVII,” Shinsou stated.

“Yeah, that's it! Do you play?”

Leaning over, hands on his knees, Shinsou shook his head. “Well, not regularly. I've gone on a couple raids.” Aizawa grabbed some apples from the crate on the floor and tossed one to the boy. “Some of your students play, you know.” He bit into the apple.

“Which students?”

“Um.” Shinsou considered as he chewed. “The perverted one?”

“Mineta? Yes.” Aizawa remained seriously peeved that someone like Mineta could be admitted to the Hero Class when there were so many other deserving girls and boys like Shinsou who had been filtered out by an unfair admission process.

“And the spacey electric one?” Shinsou added. “Kami-?”

“That'd be Kaminari.” Aizawa chewed his apple and determined that a visit to the student dorms was warranted. Strictly for information-gathering purposes, of course.

“Sensei?”

Aizawa was also eating his apple. “Hm?”

“I- I didn't know you were a gamer, sir.”

“I'm not.” Usually, Aizawa wouldn't offer more, but, as he'd been distracted lately, he felt some sort of explanation was in order. “Some of the Class 1-A students have proposed having an … event at that amusement park-”

“Bada-Bingo?”

Aizawa raised an eyebrow. Shinsou wasn't the most expressive of students, but hadn't he looked momentarily hopeful? Interesting. “Yes. The Bada-Bingo Park. Do you know it?”

“I've never been.”

“Well. Maybe we can correct that!”

Now Shinsou once again appeared downcast. “I mean, I'd understand if it was a Class 1-A event. Maybe some day....”

“It's a birthday party. For a small girl who richly deserves a party. And I imagine the invitation list is not going to be limited to students in the Hero course. That wouldn't be right!” Ah, it all made sense now. It never felt good to be left out. Aizawa would have a word with the girls. He was quite certain they would finagle a way to invite the boys along – that is if the boys didn't invite themselves along first. Teens were teens, after all! “But we're still in the midst of deciding on a venue,” he hastily added. “As Eri's temporary guardian, I feel a great deal of responsibility in this matter.”

“Eri,” Shinsou reapeated. “She's had a tough life, I think.”

“Yes, which is why we are impelled to ameliorate her situation!” Aizawa told him, giving him a hearty smack on the back, and causing Shinsou to spit apple halfway across the gymnasium. “Impressive!” exclaimed Aizawa, wishing he had brought his meter to gauge the distance.

 

“I didn't know you were a gamer, Mr. Aizawa,” said Kaminari as they made their way down the dormitory hallway to Mineta's room.

“I'm not. I am simply trying to gain first-hand experience with the game, uh....”

“Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XVII,” Kaminari eagerly supplied. “It's pretty sweet. Mineta and I were gonna do a raid tonight, so this is a good time.”

“A raid? The terminology confuses me. Is this a military strategy game, or a dating role-playing game? I'm still not clear.”

Kaminari laughed. “Yeah, it's kind of both, I guess? You, like, go around and shoot stuff and get coins and whatever, but then you also get to customize your goal. So, like, you create your own princess to rescue.”

“And what does the princess do?”

“Do?” laughed Kaminari. “Uh, she sits in the tower and gets rescued. Sometimes she'll write you a letter or something about like, 'Come and rescue me!'” He repeated the latter in high, squeaky princess voice. “Hey, Mineta!” Kaminari rapped on Mineta's door but then barged right in without waiting for a reply. “He's probably on headphones,” he told Aizawa.

Mineta's dorm room was about what Aizawa had expected, but he still wasn't prepared for the experience. It was dark, the only light emitting from the bank of computer monitors on one wall. The wall space not occupied by gaming equipment was wallpapered with images of scantily-clad, impossibly-proportioned females, mostly caught in the act of bending over to remove thin panties, or leaning forward to help spare gigantic breasts the will of gravity.

As for Mineta, he was perched in a swivel chair with his back to them, and, as Kaminari had predicted wearing headphones. He was hunched over a monitor that showed an image of a big-eyed girl wearing pretty much nothing but a small, shiny tiara. “You're late, Kaminari,” Mineta barked without turning around.

“Hey, dude. I brought Aizawa Sensei! Hope that was OK? He wanted a look at the game.”

Mineta swiveled around in his chair and froze, a look of horror pasted on his face. He hastily swiveled back and, after a great deal of whacking at the keyboard, managed to black out his screen.

“Was that one of the customized princesses you talked about?” Aizawa asked Kaminari.

Kaminari grinned and rubbed the back of his neck. “Uhhhhh, kind of?”

“She didn't … come with the game. So to speak,” muttered Mineta.

“You can also get some custom skins for your princess,” Kaminari explained.

“Yes, I definitely saw a great deal of skin,” said Aizawa. He turned to Mineta. “To be clear I am not here to pass judgment.”

“I thought that was the point?” asked Kaminari.

“This won't go on my grade, will it?” pleaded Mineta.

Aizawa held up a hand. “What you do in your free time is your own business. However, some students would like to plan an event in the Bada-Bingo Amusement Park, and I would like some first-hand experience with the, er, genre, as I am currently unfamiliar with it.”

“Yeah, you guys probably played with … rocks or something when you were kids, huh?” asked Kaminari.

Aizawa sighed.

“Practically,” agreed Mineta. “They had to deal with Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XIII or XIV.”

“Ew!” said Kaminari. “XIV was the suck. I'm so sorry, Aizawa!” He sympathetically patted Aizawa on the back, causing Aizawa to jump with the shock of a strong static charge. He rubbed his back and made a mental note to work on stabilizing Kaminari's electrical powers.

They were wasting a lot of time, and Aizawa found himself growing impatient. Although at this point he wanted to do nothing more than smack their heads together with his capturing cloth, he reminded himself that the boys were doing him a favor. “Can you, perhaps, demonstrate some gameplay?” he inquired.

“Sure!” Kaminari sat down in another chair and pulled over one for Aizawa. Kaminari donned a headset and persuaded a reluctant Aizawa to wear one as well. After a bit of fussing around on Mineta's part, the game popped back up on several screens. Much to Aizawa's dismay, images of all three players popped up on the screen as well.

After a bit of back and forth with the young students, Aizawa found himself (quite against his inclinations) engaged as one of the generic players, a ridiculous muscle-bound grunt that reminded him far too much of All Might. What ensued was a patience-trying discussion regarding the various weapons and ammunition that were available to players. Of course there was nothing with the simple elegance of a capturing cloth. Kaminari favored long guns, and Mineta, various bomb-throwing devices. Aizawa finally managed to find some weaponry that he did not completely disdain: a simple bow and quiver of arrows.

“Seriously, Aizawa dude, it's not packing great firepower,” Kaminari fussed. At some point in the process, he had gone from “Aizawa Sensei” to “Aizawa dude.” He brushed this small humiliation aside, reminding himself once again it was all for Eri's sake.

“Archery can be useful as a long-range attack. If you level up, there are exploding arrows!” Mineta interjected.

“Bakugo would like that!” Kaminari observed.

“Pfft. Bakugo,” Mineta scoffed. On that one thing, he and Aizawa could agree.

“Push control C to pull back, and then aim like this, and let loose,” Kaminari was explaining.

Aizawa loosed a cartoon arrow. And then another. And then, a veritable flurry.

Every single one of them pierced the bull's eye.

“Dude,” said Kaminari.

“You sure you haven't played before, Aizawa Sensei?” inquired Mineta, surveying the screen.

“Never. And with any luck, I will never play again. Shall we go on that raid now?” he urged, trying not to consult his watch.

“One more thing, Aizawa dude,” said Kaminari. “Before you start, you gotta pick a princess!”

“Do I have to?” whined Aizawa, patience fraying like a torn capturing cloth.

“It's the whole point of the game!” Mineta exclaimed. “You win a princess!”

Aizawa scowled. “The princesses are simply … prizes?”

“Sometimes they write you a letter about how everything sucks up in the tower.” Kaminari was now leaning across Aizawa to call up something on the keyboard. “See?” he said as thumbnail portraits of a number of big-eyed girls popped up onscreen. “There's something for everybody!”

Aizawa examined the portraits with a jaundiced eye. “And what if I'd prefer to pick a prince instead?”

“Why would you even do that?” howled Mineta.

“Oh,” said Kaminari. He peered at the screen. “Hm, I guess that's not good, huh? Maybe there's a skin you can install? Do you know of anything, Mineta?”

Mineta was bouncing up in his chair in frustration. “I don't have any prince skins. Just … pick something and we'll start.”

Aizawa waved a hand at Kaminari. “You pick for me. Go ahead.”

Kaminari clicked around at the screen. Finally he said, “Oh, I'll pick this gal for you! She looks kinda like Miss Joke!”

Mineta giggled, and Aizawa cringed. “All right. All right. May I see the game, now?” He was near his limit. But he had promised himself to play this wretched game, so come hell or high water, he would see it through.

Oddly enough, game play was not unpleasant. His avatar accompanied that of his students on a winding pathway, where they laid waste to innumerable villains. After some minutes of this, he noted with an odd sense of pride that he had amassed a few extra lives, plus a decent stash of gold coins in his character's pouch. Perhaps he had misjudged this whole thing?

“Sniper! 12:00!” called Mineta.

“'Zawa can you hit em at this range?” asked Kaminari.

Aizawa smiled thinly. Somehow, in the course of 20 minutes, he had gone from Honored Teacher Aizawa to Aizawa dude and thence to simply 'Zawa.'” To be honest, he didn't much mind. He would have to make sure this familiarity didn't make its way into the classroom however! Musing over this, he clicked the various buttons to take aim at the enemy sniper.

Suddenly, BOOM! The entire side of the building exploded before he had time to loose an arrow. “What?”

“That wasn't you?” asked Kaminari.

“God dammit!” snarled Mineta. “It's her.”

“Who?” asked Aizawa. As he spoke, a strange creature waddled onscreen. It was an enormous cartoon-ish bright purple bear, completely at odds with the dark, realistic styling of the other elements of the game.

Another player image popped up in the corner of the video screen. Actually, it wasn't an image of a player at all, but just a disembodied headset.

“Konnichiwa!” shouted what must be Hagakure, waving a white glove.

“Hey Touru-chan!” hailed Kaminari.

“Kami-kun!” Of course Aizawa couldn't see his student, as she was invisible, but he could imagine her bright smile. For what she lacked in visibility, Hagakure made up in sheer enthusiasm.

“Thanks for fragging that sniper, girl.”

“What did I miss, boys?” she asked.

“Hagakure, you're messing everything up!” Mineta bitched. “That stupid cartoon bear isn't a real character. It's stupid. It's making everything … stupid!”

“It's a skin! It's allowed. Wait, holy shit! Is that you, Aizawa Sensei?” asked Hagakure. “Um, I mean, gosh darn, is that you Aizawa sensei!”

“It's me,” said Aizawa. “Just observing.”

“Aizawa dude is a badass archer!” Kaminari announced, giving Aizawa a congratulatory slap on the back. Aizawa dude jumped from the shock. Yes, he'd definitely have to work on controlling that static.

“Why can't you stick to girl stuff, like an idol singer game, Hagakure?” asked Mineta.

“Idol singer games are absurd!” Hagakure opined. “Nobody likes them. And the idols are idiots.”

Aizawa shrugged. He had to agree on that. “Were you required to pick a princess, Hagakure?” he inquired.

“Ha! I got a skin for that too. Look!” Hagakure flicked some control or other, and the image of a princess with flowing long blond hair sporting a ridiculous handlebar mustache appeared onscreen. Kaminari snickered. “Some day my prince will come!” she sang.

“Huh,” mused Aizawa. “He actually looks like Present Mic.”

“Haha, maybe you should have picked that princess, Aizawa dude!' laughed Kaminari. Aizawa scowled.

“You are disrespecting the spirit of Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XVII!” Mineta barked. “You don't deserve a lovely princess.”

“Your lovely princess deserves more clothing, Mineta,” she laughed.

“Are all the female characters in this game objects of derision and objectification?” Aizawa inquired.

“What?”

“What?”

“Guys! Mecha-troll at 6:00!” yelled Kaminari, who was the only one still paying attention to gameplay.

As one, all of the players aimed and loosed at the lumbering boss. Aizawa used the power-shot technique he had just discovered, and Hagakure's purple bear fired a bunch of deadly rainbow hearts at the hulking target, which, after a rather loud battle, exploded in a hail of very pleasing shrapnel and fireworks.

“We beat the boss! We beat the boss! We rock!” Kaminari cheered.

In yet another surprising development Aizawa and Kaminari shared a high-five. As usual, Aizawa jumped from the static shock, and then regarded his own hand, as if it had gone into celebration without his permission. Was it possible that he had actually enjoyed himself during this enterprise?

“High five!” yelled Hagakure's avatar, one glove going up to the screen.

Mineta snorted at her, but Kaminari happily obliged, slapping a hand to the screen, and promptly shorting out the monitor.

“DAMMIT KAMINARI!”

“Oh. Sorry Mineta dude.”

“Support can get it repaired repaired, I'm sure Mineta,” said Aizawa.

Mineta roared and tossed a hair-ball at the monitor, sending it crashing to the floor. “I'm never inviting you guys to a raid ever again! Ever! Get out! GET OUT!”

Despite the casual gathering, Aizawa was inclined to scold his student for his disrespect. However, Kaminari beckoned to him, so he followed the boy out of the room and into the hallway.

“Don't worry, Mr. Aizawa,” said Kaminari, quietly closing Mineta's door. “He gets like that. He'll apologize soon enough and ask you to play again.” Kaminari scratched his head. “I think he resents Hagakure because she's way better than him. Or maybe because he can't see her to creep on her!”

That was probably true. Perhaps his student was more insightful than Aizawa had given him credit for? “I hope never to play again. Although that was … not unpleasant,” Aizawa confessed.

To Aizawa's surprise, Kaminari bowed formally. “Thank you for joining us for a raid, Aizawa Sensei!” He turned to depart, but then appeared to reconsider. “Hey. You really are a pretty great archer. A natural!”

“I used to practice with a bow and arrow. A real one.”

“Cool!”

“I found it gave me....” Aizawa considered. “A certain … tranquility?”

“Why did you stop?”

Aizawa shrugged. “Maybe I'll take it up again. I could show you some time, if you like.”

“I would love that! That would be great.”

“It's not related to your quirk....”

“But you're the one who said you can't be a one trick pony, right, Mr. Aizawa?”

Aizawa flicked a smile.

 

“You wanted to talk to us, Mr. Aizawa?” asked Ururaka. Aizawa inhaled nervously.

The Class 1-A girls were arrayed on the couches in the dormitory's common area. Besides Uraraka, there was Ashido, Hagakure (well, it was her casual clothing at least), Jirou, Asui, and Yaoyorozu, who appeared to be more interested in her smart phone than the meeting.

“Yes,” he told them, shifting uneasily from foot to foot. “This is regarding the birthday celebration for Eri-chan-”

“Eri-chan!” squealed two or three or four of them. This was definitely going to be difficult.

Even Yaoyorozu took her eyes from her cell phone, arching a perfect eyebrow at mention of Eri's name. “Yes, we are arranging a perfect party for her!” she said, holding up her phone. “I was just on the phone with-”

“We need to change the venue,” stated Aizawa. Might as well pull off the Band-Aid.

There was a stunned silence, followed by a veritable tsunami of anguished voices. “But Eri-chan!” “She needs a perfect party!” “I just called the venue.” “Satou is baking cakes!”

Uraraka began to float upwards in sheer agitation

“Silence.” Aizawa raised a hand. “And um, can somebody get her down.” Asui snagged Uraraka with a well-aimed snap of her tongue and dragged her back towards the ground. “I am comfortable with planning a party. But I have determined the Final Shining Princess... Armada... I have found the game to be misogynistic, and not a healthy influence for a young girl.”

“Misogynistic?” inquired Yaoyorozu.

“Yes! The female characters in this game – the princesses - are highly objectified, their characters marked by passivity.”

To his surprise, Jirou cracked a grin. “Whoa, Mr. Aizawa. You're woke as f-. Um, I mean, woke as heck!”

“Yeah, the game's pretty stupid,” Hagakure admitted. “Aizawa Sensei went on a raid with us the other night,” she told the other girls.

“Did you kick ass?” asked Jirou.

“Heck yeah I did.”

They probably high-fived to that. Or at least half a high five. High two and half? “Then … you agree the video game is politically incorrect?” Aizawa asked.

“It's terrible!” “Yeah, that one is pretty bad.” “Ugh, so sexist!”

“It's the worst!” said Hagakure. “I wouldn't play without my teddy skin.”

“Then why do you all want to go to the Bada-Bingo park for Eri's party?”

The girls exchanged quite a few puzzled glances, as if Aizawa were a particularly slow learner. “Because we want to be princesses!” Uraraka finally explained.

Aizawa thought he had mis-heard. “You all want to be princesses?”

“Heck yeah!” said Yaoyorozu.

“Me too!” said Jirou.

“Yeah! Me too! Awesome!” said Kirishima, who had just hopped over the back of the couch to situate himself between Jirou and Yaoyorozu. He had just arrived in the common area with a couple of the other 1-A boys, who hovered nearby.

“Kirishima, we're talking about being princesses,” Yaoyoruzu informed him.

“Awesome!”

Yaoyorozu and Jirou exchanged a look across Kirishima. “You wanna be a princess too?” asked Jirou.

Kirishima puffed out his chest. “Hell yeah! I am in touch with my feminine side!” he insisted, without missing a beat.

Yaoyorozu rolled her eyes and turned back to her teacher. “Mr. Aizawa, I've already reserved the venue, arranged transportation, and hired a caterer.”

“You're so efficient, Momo-chan!” Uraraka declared. “So you see, Mr. Aizawa, it's all arranged. We can't turn back now.”

“Eri-chan will have a dream princess birthday party!” squealed Ashido.

“And we'll get to be princesses! Ribbit!” croaked Asui.

“Will the boys be invited too?” ventured Midoriya, who was obviously trying not to glance at Uraraka. Even so, she was blushing beet-red.

“Well, Kirishima has already invited himself,” sniffed Yaoyorozu. Kirishima grinned a pointy-toothed grin.

“We could have princes too! I think Eri would like that! Ribbit!” Asui proposed.

As Aizawa had predicted, all of the girls decided that would be a brilliant idea.

“So it's all arranged?” asked Jirou.

“Well, almost all arranged,” said Yaoyorozu, who snapped off her phone and glared at Aizawa. He shivered. This was not good. “Mr. Aizawa, exactly what are you planning to wear?”

Several pairs of eyes now stared at him.

 

“Ugh, I can't decide,” fussed Yaoyorozu, standing and staring at two of Aizawa's suits on their hangars.

“Which to wear?” Aizawa asked her hopefully.

“Which is worse!” Yaoyorozu fumed. “Like, ugh.” She went back to prowling through his closet.

Standing awkwardly at the doorway of his own room, Aizawa huffed a small sigh. Miss Kayama, who stood opposite of him, smirked over her cats eye glasses.

“Mr. Aizawa,” inquired Jirou, who had also been poking around his quarters. “Are you like, a minimalist or something?”

“Eraser has always been like that, even in high school!” announced Yamada, who was suddenly standing beside Aizawa and Kayama, as usual, butting in where he wasn't needed. “Never anything in his room. Not even a proper bed!”

“What are you doing here, Mic?” Aizawa growled.

“Why have you invited Midnight into your room and not me?” Yamada whined.

“She is the chaperone!” Aizawa said primly. He waved at his room. “There are … girls!”

Yamada was still frowning at Miss Kayama. “You don't get to go in without me. I get precedence!” he told her.

“I was invited,” she replied. “Were you?”

Aizawa sighed. Sometimes life conspired to annoy him. This was one of those times. “What's wrong with my suits?” he asked Yaoyorozu. “I wore that one on TV!”

“Mr. Aizawa, they're just....” explained Jirou.

“That's not an explanation!”

“What is this for, Eraser?” asked Yamada.

“The girls are planning a princess party for Eri!” Miss Kayama told him, her eyes sparkling. “The girls will be princesses, and the boys will be princes!”

“And Eraser will be a dust mop!” laughed Yamada.

“Shut up Mic.”

“Are you finding anything suitable, girls?” Miss Kayama asked.

Yaoyorozu rolled her eyes. “Ugh! It's a choice between...” She made a face. “And....” She made another face.

“You're not explaining at all! You're just making faces!” Aizawa protested.

“Eraser old chap, can't you just get another suit?” Yamada asked.

Aizawa cringed. “No! Can't these be … taken in? Or let out? Or something?” There must be a solution beyond the dreaded prospect of shopping.

“If you girls can take him out shopping and get something decent, I'll gladly pay for it!” Miss Kayama told them, giving voice to the dreaded “S” word.

“Yes, I too will gladly contribute to the Eraser Restoration Project!” announced Yamada. He and Kayama glared at one another.

“SHUT. UP. MIC.”

“A new suit? Yeah, I know just the place,” said Yaoyorozu, who was completely unruffled by the caterwauling of her elders. “Are you busy this afternoon, Kyo-chan?”

“This will be amazing!” said Jirou, clasping her hands together. “Ready when you are, Momo-chan!”

“I won't forget this, Mic,” Aizawa growled.

Yamada completely ignored Aizawa. “Good luck, girls!” he cheered. “Saving this poor specimen is in your capable hands.”

 

Shopping for clothes turned out to be worse than he'd ever imagined. It certainly didn't help that the clerk's fingers turned into measuring tape or scissors seemingly at random. “Quit wiggling. We need an accurate inseam measurement!” he had insisted, snapping blades in a place Aizawa really didn't care to have near sharp objects.

And then he had had to endure a progression of ever tighter and tighter and then still tighter suits. “I can no longer breathe or move in this one!” he announced as he waddled out of the dressing room for the infinity-plus-one iteration.

He Jirou and Yaoyorozu in the middle of trying on hats. “Oh!” said Yaoyorozu. “I think we're on to something.”

“Yeah,” said Jirou, snapping the brim of the fedora she was wearing. “He actually doesn't look half bad.”

Yaoyorozu set her floppy hat back on her head and regarded Aizawa as one might a particularly prime cut of meat. “Let me try this,” she announced, pulling an elastic off her pony tail and starting to gather up Aizawa's hair.

“Too bad he'll never get it cut,” sighed Jirou.

“You girls know I'm standing right here,” Aizawa snapped.

“What do ya think?” Yaoyorozu asked Jirou once she was finished with her ministrations.

“Da-amn!” said Jirou.

“That a yes?”

“Yeah!”

“Could you,” Yaoyorozu asked the hovering clerk, “like, take in this and that.” She poked at seemingly random spots on Aizawa's person.

“How can the take it in? There is no room!” Aizawa protested.

“Don't whine. We're almost done,” Yaoyorozu told him.

The clerk snipped his finger-scissors. “Forty-five minutes for a standard job. Fifty for premium.”

“Take an hour,” said Yaoyorozu.

“May I have the suit back, sir?” the clerk asked Aizawa, snipping his fingers for emphasis.

“Wait a minute! Let me take it off first!” Aizawa howled, rushing back into the safety of the dressing room. Slowly, he began to peel the layers of horrible clothing off he body and lay them aside.

Jirou and Yaoyorozu were standing right outside the dressing room. “Momo, you outdid yourself, girl!” he overheard Jirou tell her friend.

“You think?” came Yaoyorozu's voice.

“Dude! From busted to snacc!”

Inside the dressing room, intently wriggling out of the world's tightest pair of slacks, Aizawa was caught unawares. A busted snack? What the hell did that even mean? Were they getting hungry? It wasn't surprising: shopping had taken just hours.

“Ewww!” said Yaoyorozu. “Aizawa sensei? But he's so ooooold!”

“Keith Richards is old, but he's still rockin'.” Keith Richards was a 500-year-old vampire. Aizawa, needless to say, was not terribly pleased at the comparison.

He managed to extract his foot from a pantleg. Eagerly, he dove back into his normal clothing, a homesick butterfly snuggling back into its chrysalis.

Yaoyorozu was engaged in some kind of complicated negotiations with the snippy sales clerk when at last he emerged from the dressing room, keeping the toxic suit at arm's length. Once he had dropped it off, avoiding the fingerblades, he told the girls, “If you're hungry, I know a place nearby.”

The girls looked puzzled, but both shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I could go for something,” Jirou.

“We've got an hour to kill I suppose,” Yaoyorozu agreed.

It should still be here, Aizawa thought as led the girls around the corner, threaded through the alleyway, and to a small storefront. Yes! His favorite ramen shop! He wondered if the same family was still there?

“Aizawa-san!” came a shout as soon as he'd ducked through the doorway. “Mama! Mr. Aizawa is here! Eraser is here!”

A middle-aged woman came running out of the kitchen. “Shouta-kun! I don't believe it!” She had multiple extra arms, and Aizawa found himself glomped in a hug tighter than Yaoyorozu's favorite suit.

“Mrs. … Ito,” grunted Aizawa. “Good to … see you.”

She slightly loosened her grip, and used yet another arm to wipe a tear. “It's been so long, Shouta-kun!”

“Wow, this place is like, so charming!” said Jirou. The girls were looking around curiously.

“Oh, and who are these young beauties?” exclaimed Mrs. Ito, who, thank goodness, released Aizawa from her iron grip to dote on the girls.

“These are my students, at UA,” Aizawa announced with pride. “Miss Jirou and Miss Yaoyorozu.”

“Oh, aren't you darling!” fussed Mrs. Ito. “So lucky to have our Eraser as your Sensei! Well, come, we'll get you the best table. I hope you brought your appetites! And why are you in our neighborhood today?”

“We were just … around.” Aizawa slid into the booth opposite the girls.

“We're buying Mr. Aizawa a new suit!” said Yaoyoruzu. He cringed.

“A suit? A suit, Eraser? Oh, is Mr. Eraser finally getting married? He needs someone looking after him! He tends to neglect himself, all that junk food!”

“It's not for a wedding,” Aizawa told her.

Mrs. Ito looked terribly disappointed. “Oh, such a pity. Don't either of you pretty girls have a nice auntie? Or maybe an older sister?”

After a bit more fussing, Aizawa managed to get Mrs. Ito to stop match-making and start cooking her incomparable tonkotsu. Even the girls were impressed. As for Aizawa, he ordered the largest bowl and eagerly made it all the way to the bottom, slurping with gusto. Shopping really took it out of you! He would rather fight a villain than try on clothes.

“So, you know this neighborhood pretty well, Mr. Aizawa?” said Yaoyorozu.

“I grew up here.” He tilted his bowl to enjoy the last drops of the delicious broth.

“Oh!” said Jirou. “Are your parents heroes too?”

Aizawa reluctantly set down his bowl and wiped his mouth with his napkin. “Artists,” he told her. “They were artists.”

“No way!” said Jirou.

“Is that so surprising to you?” he countered.

“It's totally not what I would have expected,” said Jirou.

“They've passed on?” asked Yaoyorozu. “I'm sorry.”

Aizawa shrugged. “It was a long time ago.” Yaoyorozu looked sad regardless. “I may be able to show you some of their work, actually. Say, Ito-san?”

The delighted cook came running from the kitchen. “Was everything to your satisfaction, Shouta-kun? We are so honored to have you with us now!”

He and the girls spent some moments convincing Mrs. Ito that she indeed made the best tonkotsu broth in the known universe. “My father's big mural – you know the one? Is it still up?”

“Oh!” Mrs. Ito looked wistful. “Yes, it's still there! But you should hurry! I've heard there's plans to demolish the old courthouse.”

Aizawa nodded sadly. Progress! What could you do? He looked at Yaoyorozu and Jirou. “Well girls, it's up to you. Would you care to take a trip down memory lane with me?”

“Oh hell yeah!” said Jirou.

“You can't tell us about this without showing us!” said Yaoyorozu.

After a bit of a row about the bill (Mrs. Ito refused to take any form of payment, so Aizawa finally had to concede, after promising to return soon and see about eligible ladies) he was once again leading his students on a short tour of his old neighborhood.

He turned a corner and stopped short. It was still there.

Jirou literally let out a gasp. The mural, as was typical for Aizawa Sr., took up the entire wall of the old courthouse, three stories high and twice as broad. At the base were idealized figures of working men and women, raising colorful banners as they marched towards the sun breaking over a mountain.

“This one is called, 'The Inevitable Triumph of the Worker Against-”

“...the Corporate Machinery,'” said Jirou. “I've seen this piece! But, only in photos. It's so … amazing in person!”

“But they're tearing all this down?” asked Yaoyorozu.

“Evidently,” sighed Aizawa.

“So your father was Hiro? Hiro the muralist?” asked Jirou.

“Yeah. He only went by his first name. He didn't really want to be famous. And he hated critics. He just wanted to paint and be left alone.”

“That sounds familiar. And your mom was an artist too?”

Aizawa nodded. Yaoyorozu had, once again, taken up her cell phone.

“Can we see any of her stuff?” Jirou asked.

He found he had grown wistful. “She wasn’t a painter. Or a sculptor. Or…. She used to create … events.”

“She sounds very special,” said Jirou.

H couldn’t meet her eyes. “She was,” he said at last.

“OK, it’s all set,” announced Yaoyorozu, tapping her phone off. “My mom’s company has bought the building. My dad is sending over an architectural crew to gauge the structural soundness.”

He snapped out of his reverie. “What?”

“Oh, Momo-chan!” squealed Jirou, who leapt to hug her friend. “Thank you!”

“You just bought the building?” whispered Aizawa.

“This is an important piece, right?” Yaoyorozu asked, waving her phone at the mural.

“It’s essential neo-realist!” Jirou agreed, nodding frenetically.

Aizawa found himself sputtering. His mind was whirling. So much had been going on, he had barely spared his parents a thought in the last few months. But now it all seemed to come crashing back at once. “You can’t…. I won’t….”

“I can and I did,” said Yaoyorozu. “Mom’s a super big art aficionado!”

“There’s more inside, isn’t there?” asked Jirou, looking from Yaoyorozu to Aizawa. “More murals?”

“Let’s go take a look,” said Yaoyorozu, producing a key from the skin on her wrist. “After all, we’re the new owners!” Jirou grabbed her friend by the shoulders, and laughing, they opened the door and spilled into the new courthouse.

Left standing all alone on the street, Aizawa took a breath. Was he ready? Would he ever be ready. At last the decision was made for him. “Are you coming? Come on!” urged Jirou, emerging to take him by the hand.

He let himself be pulled through the doorway.

 

The smell of paint was strong. Shouta-kun leaned back to take in the giant painting that now lined the grand staircase.

“Shouta-kun!” boomed a voice. “Come here, my problem child! Come see what you daddy is working on.”

So many bright colors! He hopped up the stairs to climb up next to his daddy, and found himself swept up by strong arms. “It’s my best yet, don’t you think?”

The small boy considered the mural thoughtfully. “Uh-huh!” he agreed.

“My greatest critic!” laughed Hiro. “And my most eloquent.”

“Would you like coffee, Hiro?” came a voice. A lovely dark-haired woman, clad all in black, entered the room holding a thermos.

“Emi! Shouta-kun was just offering his honest criticism!” Hiro laughed. “I think he shall grow up to be a great art critic.”

“Uh-huh!” said Shouta-kun as his daddy set him back on the ground. He bounded down the stairs to great his mommy. “Do art, mommy! Do your art!”

Emi hugged her son and laughed warmly. She crouched down and waved a hand before him. Colorful shapes – delicate as soap bubbles - sprang from her fingers and floated, spirit-like, in the air. Shouta ran to follow a large purple dragon-bubble. Finally he neared it and popped it, grinning. “Kitty!” he called, and soon a chubby orange kitten was floating nearby. “Kitty,” he called, popping this one too.

“It's a rare gift your mother has,” Hiro told him, encircling Emi with one arm and lifting Shouta-kun with another. “My poor art pales next to hers.”

“Oh, Hiro,” shushed Emi, with a smile like a sweet summer day.

“You'll be most fortunate if you get a Quirk like your mum, my Problem Child! Thank the gods you at least got her looks instead of mine.”

Emi set off another dragon, this one green. Little Shouta-kun reached out to touch it, his small fingers wriggling as it ascended, up and up, higher and higher.

 

“Mr. Aizawa?”

Startled from his reverie, he turned to Jirou. “Sorry, I was just....” He trailed off. Memories flickered everywhere. His dad, smelling of paint, larger than life. His mom, shy and brilliant. It was now nothing more than a deserted building, but it had been a wonderland for a small boy.

“So, I have an idea!” said Yaoyorozu, who always seemed to have at least two or three of them. “You're still not keen on the Bada-Bingo park for Eri's party, are you, Mr. Aizawa?”

He steeled himself. “Well, you girls want to be princesses. For some reason. But I won't stand in your way, seeing as it's for Eri.”

Yaoyorozu tapped her phone and grinned. “From what our architectural firm tells me, this building's structure is perfectly sound. It was on the list for demolition only because they wanted to build a shopping mall here.”

“Momo-chan!” exclaimed Jirou, who had already cottoned onto her friend's idea. She twirled around, her earphone jacks swirling. “It's perfect.”

“It even has a stairway!”

“We could make a grand entrance.”

“Just like in My Fair Lady!”

“Oh! Now I want to dress for the Ascot Opening Day!” The girls were both laughing and twirling now.

“What do you think, Aizawa Sensei?” asked Jirou.

What did he think? Slowly, he approached the staircase and placed one reverent hand on the mural his father had painted, so many years ago.

“Is he OK?” Jirou whispered to Yaoyorozu. “Do you think all the shopping fried his brain or something?”

“Mr. Aizawa?” Yaoyorozu asked.

Slowly, Aizawa turned to face the girls.

He nodded.

The girls screamed in delight.

 

The next few weeks were a blur. Aizawa found himself appointed the faculty sponsor of UA's new Historical Preservation Society Club. Fortunately, Midnight signed on as well, and then when Mic found out Midnight was there, he butted in too. Such a silly rivalry! But it meant that when he crammed himself into his alternate dress suit (when had he purchased a second suit? Such a thing didn't seem possible) and went to meet with the press concerning the courthouse restoration project (as the only remaining relative, his presence was required for some damned reason), Mic was there alongside him to generate snappy quotes for the reporters. Aizawa, for his part, prevented Yamada from murdering every last one of them.

As for the students, the club started out as mainly 1-A students, all rigidly scheduled by Iida for restoration duty, but as Yaoyorozu was friends with Kendou, the 1-B kids were soon involved as well, and Hatsume was soon building plenty of “babies” to help with the clean-up. Fortunately, Iida didn't let Hatsume's creations anywhere near his father's murals. Aizawa assigned Shinsou the task of trapping spiders who lived in the high eaves with the capturing cloth. By the end of the week, the boy proudly showed him that he had brought down a bird's nest without breaking any of the eggs.

“Very good work!” said Aizawa, who to be honest wasn't quite certain he could have achieved this feat himself.

“Mr. Aizawa,” Shinsou ventured.

“Yes, what is it?” asked Aizawa, marveling at the tiny blue and white eggs.

“Um, Kaminari said you're gonna be teaching an archery class?”

“What?” Aizawa slapped his forehead. “Oh, yeah. I forgot. Sorry. I take it you'd like to participate?”

“Yes sir. If it's no burden?”

Well, it was a burden and had been a stupid promise offered in a moment of weakness, but he couldn't really say no, could he?

“Kaminari says you say you can't be a hero and have just one trick. I'd like to have as many as possible!”

“Kaminari is right. Come see me after the party.”

“Yes sir! Thank you sir!”

“And you can just call me Aizawa Sensei. I'm not a military general!”

He departed, cradling the nest in his hand. Eri might like to watch them hatch, if he could find an incubator. And why not an incubator in his room? After all, every day there were new surprises turning up there! It wasn't just the plethora of new suits. Yes, he'd gotten a second suit, and then a third and then a fourth before he'd cottoned onto the fact that Yaoyorozu and her co-conspirators were just using his measurements from the snippy clerk to make new ones. And the suits came with shirts and shoes and ties. Why did people need so much clothing? So irrational. But then there were also shaving razors and fancy shaving cream and then hair clips and odd hair products he couldn't fathom a usage for. His father would have railed over the materialism, and possibly painted a mural.

At the end of the day, he had never been so grateful to shimmy out of yet another horrid suit and slip into his cosy sleeping bag. And then, more often than not, he would find himself humming a lullaby his mother used to sing to him. “Little one, little one, tiny star that shines so bright. Dream with me, on dragon wings, sail off into the night.”

 

Eri knew something was going on, but she wasn't sure exactly what. Sitting beside him in the back of the car, she clutched her favorite stuffed dolls close and stared out the window, bright-eyed, as the bustling city slid past.

“Are you warm enough in your new coat?” Aizawa inquired, to a solemn nod. As word of the birthday celebration spread, early presents began to arrive. She still kept her two favorite toys however – one was a plush toy of All Might, because of course that damned show-off had all the toys. The other was a hand-made, mummy-like construction of wadded-up tape and yarn that was supposed to resemble Aizawa. She refused to part with either one, even though Little Aizawa was unraveling a bit around the head. Well, that was accurate at least!

“We're going to see some friends, and have a little cake. Will you like that?” Another solemn nod. “I'll tell you a secret about this place we're going to,” he told her. Her eyes grew even wider. “When I was small – around your age – my father painted a very big picture. It was so big, it covered the entire side of a building!”

“Oh!”

“Would you like to see it?”

She hugged Small Might and Little Aizawa very, very close and nodded with all her strength.

The driver was slowing the car. “Well, here we are!” he told her.

Aizawa wasn't entirely certain what to expect himself, as what with one thing or another, he hadn't seen the murals fully restored yet. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and he rubbed his hands together to warm them before he took one of Eri's hands and helped her out of the car. As the driver pulled away, they stopped and took in the sight of the courthouse.

Aizawa gasped. He picked up Eri and put her up on his shoulders.

The restoration was stunning. The painting looked for all the world like the day his father had completed it.

“I like the people!” said Eri, pointing to her favorites.

“Yes. Those are, uh, the workers. Rising up.”

“OK. They look nice.”

Aizawa stared at them for a while. “Yes. Yes they do.”

“Your Daddy painted it?”

“Yes he did.”

“He was really good at painting. I paint sometimes.”

“Did you want to see more inside?”

“Yeah let's see!”

He kept her up on his shoulders as the huge doorway was high enough for them. “Watch your head!” he called anyway.

She rubbed a hand along his cheek. “Smoov!” she laughed.

“Yeah, I shaved today,” he sighed.

“Princess Eri has arrived!” called a voice. Iida had stationed himself by the doorway. Aizawa grinned. If anybody could look and act like a proper prince, it was he. He set Eri down on the ground as a good half dozen of the girls – nearly unrecognizable in their fine dresses – surrounded her.

“Princess Eri, we're so glad you could make it today!” said Ururaka, who knelt down in front of her.

The little girl looked around. “You're all so pretty!”

“We have your princess dress ready for you,” said Ashido. “Did you want to try it on?”

Eri whirled around and looked inquiringly at Aizawa. “Go on,” he told her. She was swept up the stairs to a rustle of crinoline and a harsh warning of “Princesses only upstairs!”

Like finely tuned clockwork, a squad of classmates emerged to hang banners and set up punch bowls and position presents and any of the innumerable tasks required for refashioning an entryway into a grand ballroom.

“May I take your coat, Aizawa Sensei?”

Aizawa did a double take at Jirou, who was dressed in a men's suit. “So, you decided not to be a princess for the evening?” he asked.

“I, uh, thought I'd try being a prince? If Kirishima can be a princess, I figured why not?”

“So he's gone through with it?” inquired Aizawa, shrugging out of his coat.

“Yeah, he's dressed as – DA-AMN!”

Clutching his overcoat, Aizawa blinked at her in confusion. He glanced around the room. Nothing seemed amiss. “What's going on?”

“Nothing, nothing, let me get that coat, yep, great!” she babbled, grabbing the coat and disappearing in a flash. Before he could ponder any more, though, there was a commotion across the room.

“Princess Kirishima is here! Let's get this party started!”

Aizawa goggled. His red-headed student's skimpy “princess” costume looked awfully familiar. Then he realized, it was the garment that Mineta's video game princess was almost wearing. Several of the other boys, who were rushing around setting things up, stopped to laugh and high five Kirishima, who stopped to pose like a body builder going for the title. Soon enough, however, Mineta emerged from a back room and screamed, “Kirishima, you've ruined Final Shining Princess Fantasy Superior Armada XVII forever with your disresepect!”

“What? I think I look awesome!” Kirishima countered with a grin.

To his dismay, Mineta marched over to Aizawa to lodge a complaint. “Aizawa Sensei! Kirishima's wardrobe is completely inappropriate! You should sanction him!”

“Mr. Mineta. I would rather you didn't bark orders to your sensei,” Aizawa growled, which sent Mineta scurrying back and finally fleeing the room. “Nevertheless....” He strode over to where “Princess” Kirishima was holding court. “A word, please, Your Highness?” he inquired.

Kirishima turned and stared at him. “Wait up! Aizawa Sensei? Is that you?” he asked.

Aizawa heaved a deep sigh. “I assure you, it is. A word, please?” He nodded towards a relatively quiet corner of the room.

“Aizawa Sensei, you're looking sharp today! Did you use Momo's hair gunk?”

He touched his hair self-consciously. “I think so. I'm not familiar with how to use that kind of stuff properly.”

“Oh, I could help! I do my own styling, you know!” Kirishima smugly patted the finely wrought peaks in his hair.

“Um, I'm sure you do. But this isn't regarding grooming techniques.” Aizawa huffed. “Kirishima. Though I support and encourage your self-expression, this event is a birthday party for a young girl-”

“Oh, the outfit you mean?” asked Kirishima, staring down at himself as if surprised to see what he was wearing. “I'm just yanking Mineta's chain right now. I brought along a suit. Not as spiffy as yours, but I think it'll do. Will that be OK? We all want to support Eri-chan!”

Aizawa sighed with relief. “Thank you. And, I think Mineta has reached his limit.”

Kirishima laughed. “I'll get Kaminari to calm him down.”

“Ten minutes, everyone!” Iida bellowed.

The pace of party preparations accelerated, and Aizawa found himself dragooned into blowing up animal-shaped party balloons. Sadly, there weren't any kittens, but there was a lovely dragon. Uraraka had run downstairs to give them all a lift right before Eri's grand entrance. Glancing back at his father's mural on the stairs, a smile traced Aizawa's features.

“Presenting, Princess Eri!” Iida announced. She appeared at the top of the stairs, clutching Ashido's hand. The girls had done a bang-up job! She was wearing a sparkling purple gown (her favorite color), her hair was all piled up, and she was crowned with a cute, glittering tiara.

The boys had stepped up as well. She was no sooner at the bottom of the stairs than Midoriya stood before her, bowing formally, and asking for a dance. She actually clapped and hopped up and down, and then they joined hands and skipped around the dance floor as a slow waltz played. Iida had a dance as well, and then a smiling Todoroki (which caused a bit of a panic among his many female fans).

There was a break for cake (Satou had outdone himself), and then more dancing. At one point, Aizawa noticed that Yaoyorozu, who had put a lot of this marvelous event together, was sitting on the stairs all alone, hunched over her cell phone. This didn't seem right, so he approached her, though he wasn't certain what he wanted to say.

“Momo!” called Jirou, who had beat him over.

“Mmm,” said Yaoyorozu.

“Hey, great job on shaping up Aizawa! Genuine fresh baked snacc food!”

Why did she keep talking about snacks? There was plenty of cake. Didn't young people like cake any more?

“Why aren't you dancing, girl?” Jirou prompted. Exactly!

Just then, Aizawa noticed Todoroki hovering nearby, giving the girls a kind of sideways glance. Aha! Sometimes these things just needed a small nudge.

“Mr. Tokoroki?” he asked. The young man turned and looked at him expectantly. Aizawa gently gripped him by the shoulders and pushed him towards Yaoyorozu. “There. Go. Now.”

The normally even-tempered Todoroki gulped a large breath. “But, what should I say?” he whispered. “I thought I'd say, I've admired you for a long time for your dedication and intelligence-”

“Please dance with me,” snapped Aizawa, giving the boy a shove.

Todoroki somehow urged himself over to Yaoyorozu's place on the stairs, where he managed to open his mouth before Jirou jumped up and yelled, “Wait a minute!” While the boy waited, she beckoned over a veritable squadron of 1-A's finest who surrounded Yaoyorozu and tweaked hair, re-painted eyeliner and straightened hemlines.

“Done?” asked Jirou.

Aoyama was squinting at they eyeliner wings he had just stenciled in. “Mai oui! Go get 'em, ma chere!” he urged.

Aizawa didn't actually see much of a difference. She was an intelligent, self-possessed girl both before and after. But the girls seemed pleased. Todoroki now bowed formally and requested a dance, and she smiled and took his hand. “What dance are we doing anyway?” she whispered to him.

“Um, a waltz? I think?”

“Did you want me to lead? I've never tried it in heels though!”

Aizawa was ready to go tell them both to relax for heaven's sakes, but felt a tug on his pantleg. It was Eri, who stood with her arms spread out.

“Do you need to be picked up?” he asked, crouching down in front of her. He wondered if she was getting tired. It was all very exciting!

“Mr. Aizawa,” said Uraraka, who was standing nearby. “She wants to dance with you.”

Eri nodded, eyes wide. She shook her head hard enough to displace her tiara.

“Well, how can I refuse a dance with Princess Eri?” asked Aizawa. They righted her tiara and then, because of the height difference, Aizawa lifted her up in his arms and began to sway slowly with the music. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, or the surroundings, or all of the excitement, but almost without thinking, he began to sing. “Little one, little one, tiny star that shines so bright. Dream with me, on dragon wings, sail off into the night.”

He heard a gasp and looked up. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone in the room seemed to be staring at him, the girls most of all, some with literal tears in their eyes.

Awkwardly, he set Eri down on the floor.

“Mr. Aizawa, I didn't know you could sing!”

“So beautiful!”

Jirou mouthed to Yaoyorozu, “Snacc food!” Yaoyorozu rolled her eyes.

Fortunately, at that exact moment, more people began to arrive. “Let's get this party started!” yelled Kendou, leading the 1-B kids.

“Get your hands up, everybody!” hollered Yamada, as he arrived with a contingent of chaperones.

“Please tell me you brought something to spike the punch with,” Aizawa whispered to his friend.

“Once the kiddies leave!” Yamada promised. And he was good as his word. But that was later. First thing he took up his normal DJ duties and the music became more raucous, as did the party. Kirishima, who was now wearing a proper suit, yelled, “Hey, Utena, let's dance!” and started to dance with Jirou. Midoriya and Uraraka god a little bit over-enthusiastic and began to literally dance on the ceiling. And some point, the Big 3 arrived, and Eri was delighted to dance with Mirio. Of course All Might made an appearance. He presented Eri with a new All Might doll that was nearly as big as she, the big egotist.

After quite a commotion, Aizawa sent a peacefully sleeping Eri home with his driver under the care of Midoriya and Uraraka, while Iida and Yaoyorozu managed the clean-up. Then as the last of the kids were sent home, Mic emptied the contents of a bottle of something into the punch bowl and it was time for the teachers to wind down, which consisted of drinking and singing mostly terrible karaoke. Mic insisted on rapping no matter how many times Aizawa told him not to, and Kayama finally dragged him up to the stage to sing, even though it was silly.

And then, it was late.

“I've called a taxi!” Yamada announced, and came to sit on the stairway next to Aizawa and Kayama.

Aizawa had had rather a lot of punch, and was halfway sitting/halfway lying in Kayama's lap, staring up at his father's mural.

“I never knew your parents were artists, Eraser,” said Kayama, brushing a tangle of hair out of his eyes.

“I knew!” avowed Mic. He squished in on the stairs so he was supporting at least half of Aizawa.

Aizawa wriggled around so he was hanging upside-down. “Kayama, why do girls wanna be princesseses?” he slurred. “Why not be a queen?”

“Queens are evil,” Yamada ventured.

“That's sexist!” Aizawa declared.

“I'll be your evil queen if you want,” Kayama told him.

“You wish!” Yamada told her, pulling Aizawa away from her.

“What's a snack?” Aizawa asked. “What do kids call a snack?”

“What ever are you ranting about now, Eraser?” laughed Kayama.

Aizawa hiccuped. It was difficult to do, he found, upside-down. So he tried to sit up. Which may not have been the best idea. “One of my female students.” Hic. “Keeps calling me.” Hic. “A snack.”

Yamada howled with laughter. “Ah! Snacc is a slang term used by young people to describe a sexually desirable member of the opposite sex.”

“Huh?”

“They're objectifying you, dear,” Kayama told him.

“Wha-? No! That's no good! That's no' right. My dad would paint a mural against it!”

Yamada's cell phone beeped. “The taxi is outside. Wanna pour him out of here?” he asked Kayama.

“The workers will arise!” Aizawa raved as Yamada and Kayama braced his wet noodle-like form. He recovered somewhat during the ride home to UA, possibly thanks to a quick snooze in the back seat of the taxi.

Yamada and Kayama still insisted on accompanying him to his room, even though he was perfectly fine in every way. He stopped short at his door. “This is a note!” he declared. He dove for it, but missed. He ended up leaning against Yamada, while Kayama held the note.

“Dear Sensei,” read Kayama. “Thank you for your help in making Eri's party a success. Please accept this humble present. Signed, Class 1-A.”

“Oh lord has Yaoyorozu given me another goddam suit!” Aizawa bitched. With some assistance, he managed to get his key in the lock, and they swung the door wide open. “Oh, no,” he moaned.

Inside his room, and now taking up by far the majority of the room, was a ridiculously large, four-poster bed. It was draped in a luxurious comforter, and bedecked with dozens of soft pillows.

“Damn those kids,” sighed Aizawa.

Yamada and Kayama shared a glance.

“Pillow party in Eraser's room!” hollered Mic, who bounded inside, closely followed by Kayama. In seconds, they were both bouncing up and down on Aizawa's new bed, whacking each other with cushions.

Aizawa heaved a sigh.

Well, what else was there to do?

He dove in.

 

The sun was high above the eastern horizon when he awoke, marooned somewhere in the middle of that damn infinite bed. Gingerly Aizawa raised himself up on one elbow and lifted the hair out of his eyes to peer around at the damage.

There was a gentle snoring sound coming from somewhere near the end of the bed. Yamada and Kayama were lying there, tangled together, with not a lot of clothing between them other than an odd sock. Somehow, Kayama had ended up wearing Mic's sunglasses. That was interesting.

There was an end table crammed between one wall and the bed. He glanced at the digital readout on the alarm clock, and then, for a moment, the morning fog on his brain cleared, and he remembered a promise he had made.

It was a bit of an ordeal reaching into the closet, as it now abutted the bed, as did most everything in his room nowadays, but he managed to get a door open far enough to fish out some clothing. Then, being careful to step around his still slumbering fellow faculty members, he fled his room and ran for the showers.

He arrived at Gym Omega right on time, and was actually quite disappointed to discover he was alone. But just then, a double door opened at the far end, and a group of students staggered in, bearing heavy bags of equipment.

“Aizawa Sensei!” bellowed Kirishima, who looked no worse for wear from the party, damn him. “Heard you teacher dudes were partying last night!”

“Shouldn't you be studying rather than gossiping, Kirishima?” Aizawa retorted, but he couldn't hide his smile. There were four of them: besides Kirishima, there was Kaminari, and it looked like he had brought along Hagakure. Jirou was there as well, looking a bit sheepish.

“Hey, Aizawa Sensei,” she said softly. “I sort of, you now, thought I'd learn archery and stuff.”

“It is splendid to have you all here,” he told her sincerely.

Kaminari was crouching next to a bag of equipment. “We tried to get some stuff from the shop. Hatsume kept wanting to make arrows that exploded!”

“Bakugo would totally go for that!” laughed Kirishima.

“I told her not for now.”

Aizawa knelt down next to Kaminari and took a look at a couple of the bows. “These will do for now. I suppose if we're all here, we can get started.”

“No, we're still waiting for some guys!” Kirishima told him.

The door opened again. Shinsou arrived, holding Eri by the hand. She still wore her little tiara from the night before.

“Shinsou,” said Aizawa. “I'm so glad you've come!” He leaned down close to Eri. “And did you want to watch us, young princess?”

“I wanna learn archer-ery!” she told him.

“You do?”

“Heroes can’t have only one trick!” she told him.

“Oh, yeah, she's totally into it, once we told her you were teaching,” Kaminari explained. He rummaged around in another bag and pulled out a small bow. Aizawa grinned and took it. It was pink, and decorated with hearts and little crowns.

“Eeee! So cute!” said Hagakure, who was hopping up and down with delight.

“Oh, a princess bow. Is this yours?” he asked Eri.

“But I want a princess bow too!” howled Hagakure.

“Dude, you wanted a teddy bear bow,” Kaminari told her, handing over another bow bedecked with purple teddy bears.

“All right, let’s begin,” said Aizawa softly.

The small group - heroes and princesses alike - gathered round.