“This is a problem.”
The two men seated in Detective Tsukauchi’s office were a study in contrasts. Naomasa Tsukauchi was well-groomed, with short, neat hair, an immaculate shirt and tie, and looked sharp and alert. Across from him was a man who resembled a hobo-- Shouta Aizawa was dressed in sweatpants, a rumpled long-sleeved black shirt, and an incredibly long and messy scarf. Still, the two were discussing their current issue as equals. Aizawa continued.
“Eri has continued to refuse to speak or interact physically with anyone except myself, Midoriya, and Togata. No strategy has worked, and it seems she’s terrified that her quirk will harm anyone she touches. She isn’t eating enough, and I’m concerned she believes that this reprieve is temporary.”
Tsukauchi nods. “I agree. She hasn’t adjusted well, from what I hear. And you certainly can’t spend all of your time with her, and neither can the students. You have lives to get to and can’t put them all on hold for one girl, no matter how much you wish you could.”
“So we need someone who can get through to her.” Aizawa noted, and closed his eyes in thought. “I can’t think of anyone from UA initially-- anyone who could possibly help is too forceful or too frightening for a girl like Eri. And they’d still run into the same problem as me.”
“Well, actually… I did have someone. Rock Lock suggested him. I’m not sure why, but apparently he knows a specialist who would be perfect for this situation. His description, not mine. I can say he wasn’t lying.”
“... Who did he suggest?”
Tsukauchi slid a folder out from a pile in his in-tray, flipping it open. Aizawa took a look at the name.
“... How do you even pronounce that?”
“I heard Rock Lock say it and I still have no idea.”
It was one day later when a large dark-skinned man, around 8 feet tall, walked into the hospital which currently housed a young girl named Eri, and made his way to her room, though he had to stop to show his ID to the man at the front desk. He was dressed in a tight white t-shirt and jeans, and had numerous tattooed black lines on his face that formed an intricate design. In his right hand he carried a reusable grocery bag.
He opened the door to her room to find her worriedly staring at him. He gave a disarming smile and sets down his bag, and speaks in perfect Japanese.
“Hello Eri! My name is Aata Wakarewarewa. I’ve come to speak with you.”
Eri said nothing. She backed away slightly.
“Ah, don’t worry. I know I’m big, but I won’t hurt you. Actually, I have something for you. Give me a moment.”
He opened the bag, and pulled out a small tin. He walked over, slowly, and placed it on Eri’s bedside table.
She tried to ignore it, but the smell soon reached her nose and she was reaching for it by the time that Aata had returned to his place by the door.
It was a pie tin. In fact, it was a tiny pie tin, perfectly sized for one tiny person.
“It’s for you. It’s an apple pie. I heard you hadn’t had much in the way of sweets, and decided to fix that.”
Eri was silent for a moment more, then asked, quietly. “What’s a pie?”
Aata smiled sadly. “It’s a sweet pastry, sometimes filled with fruit. Try it, you’ll like it.”
Eri picked up the fork Aata had included with his gift and took a delicate bite. She soon took another. “It’s… really sweet!” she said.
“That it is. I take it you like it?”
Eri nodded as she took another bite.
She was soon finished and set the pie tray aside, movements delicate and slow. “Thank you Mr. Watarewa.”
Aata grinned. “You can just call me Aata, Eri. I’m used to it, even if it is informal by Japanese standards.”
“You aren’t Japanese?” Eri asked, slight awe in her voice.
“No. I’m from New Zealand. I’m a Maori.”
“What’s a Maori?”
“I’d be happy to tell you!”
Izuku Midoriya made his way up to Eri’s hospital room. He, Mirio, and Mr. Aizawa had all been making frequent trips to see the recently rescued girl, attempting to help her integrate into society as gently as possible. It had been difficult, but Izuku wouldn’t trade the job for the world. Unfortunately, they still hadn’t gotten her to smile.
“What are those lines on your face?” he heard Eri ask as he reached for the door.
He froze. Someone else was in her room. That she was talking to. That was either very good, or very bad.
There was a soft response from within the room, that sounded like someone very big trying very hard to be quiet. “They are called Ta Moko. They are important to the culture of my people. I had to do these myself, actually, but the process was similar to how they would normally be applied. They are different from normal tattoos-- they are actually grooves in the skin. Would you like to feel them?”
There was a pause.
“No? Like I said, you do not need to worry about your quirk with me, but if you don’t want to I certainly won’t make you.”
Izuku decided to open the door.
Across from Eri’s hospital bed was a giant of a man, as big as All Might, seated in a chair. He had dark skin, and black grooves in a complicated design in his face-- apparently, the Ta Moko.
“Ah, I was not aware you were getting visitors Eri. Who is this young man?”
“That’s Deku! He saved me!” she called, and waved to Izuku.
“Ah, he must be a great and mighty hero then.” Aata smiled and rose, offering a hand to Izuku. “I am Aata Wakarewarewa. You can call me Aata.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Aata. Can I ask why you’ve come to see Eri?” Izuku asked as he shook the giant hand, trying to stay nonchalant.
“Ah, I see you’ve got a vigilant defender here, Eri. Hold on to him. I was asked to come here by a man named Shouta Aizawa. Apparently, he had heard of me and hoped I could get through to Ms Eri, here.”
“Deku! He made me a pie!”
Izuku noticed for the first time the pie tin on the table next to Eri. It was clean.
“I can see that.” He gave the large man a questioning look.
“I’m a teacher, young man, specializing in young children. Don’t worry, nothing nefarious is happening here.”
He turned to Eri.
“But I don’t want to interrupt your time with your personal hero, Eri. I’ll head out now, but I’ll be back tomorrow to check up on you, with some books. I know you haven’t had much of an education, but I can help with that.” He offered his hand to her for a handshake.
She was hesitant at first, but then gingerly reached out and took his thumb in her hand.
There was a moment of tenseness, and then Eri gave a shriek as red crackling power surged through her into Aata. Midoriya moved forward in an instant, but the moment was over as soon as it began.
Aata was perfectly fine. Unchanged, even. “Like I said, Eri, you don’t need to worry about your quirk with me. I’ve got quite a lot of time you’d need to sweep away before you could make me disappear.”
Eri had tears in her eyes. “You’re… you’re okay?”
Aata smiled. “I’m fine, Eri. But I do need to be going. I’ll be back tomorrow, you understand?”
“And I want you to know that I’m not leaving because of your quirk, or anything of the sort. I simply have some business to attend to in town. Do you understand?”
Eri nodded again, though she looked confused.
“Good. Now, I’ll see you later. I suspect I’ll see you as well, Deku, and look forward to it. I’d love to hear the story of how you saved this remarkable young woman.”
Aata left, as Midoriya and Eri stared after the strange, unflappable man.
It was not a quiet night at the Takagi household. While the baby had been quietly napping for around an hour, Mariko was cooking, and the tv was on a channel playing music throughout the comfortable home. Ken was doing some cleaning when he heard the doorbell ring.
He opened the door to find a familiar face. Aata Wakarewarewa.
“Took you long enough to get here, old man.” Ken smirked.
“I’m ashamed of you, son. I arrive and the first thing you say to me isn’t ‘Hello dad, you’ve never seen my son let me get him for you immediately!’”
There was a laugh from the kitchen. Aata smiled. “Is that Mariko I hear? Ah, fortunately there is someone sensible in this house!”
“Alright, alright old man, I’ll introduce you to Dadan. But he’s napping right now and if you wake him up and he starts crying there’ll be hell to pay.”
Aata stepped into his son’s house, and the atmosphere got that much brighter.