“Pencils down! Please make sure your name is at the top of your papers and pass your exams to the front.”
Eri’s head snapped up, eyes first searching her teacher’s face for any sign that he was joking before she glanced to the clock above the door. There was no mistaking the time. Class would be over within the next few minutes. Cursing softly under her breath, she scribbled down one last sentence on her paper that she hoped would tie her essay together and handed it to the waiting hand in front of her.
Once her paper was whisked away from her, she tucked a loose strand of vibrant white hair behind her ear and rested her cheek in the palm of her hand. The history test had been more difficult than she anticipated and she’d lingered a little too long on the multiple choice questions, leaving little time for complete essays. Hopefully, she’d get just enough points to earn her at least a B. With the semester about to wrap up, she couldn’t afford to let her grades slip too far.
Desks scratched against the linoleum floor moments before the bell actually rang. As soon as the shrill sound filled the classroom, Eri tossed her bookbag over her shoulder and filed out of the room with everyone else. At least the school day was over and Eri could enjoy the next hour at her music club before heading home. As a bonus, it was Wednesday and Eri was looking forward to the miso ramen Lunch Rush made every week.
“Hey, Eri!” At the sound of her name, Eri spun around and grinned when she saw her friend Yuki running towards her. She and Yuki had been friends since grade 1, but they were in different classes this year, so they always made a point to meet up after school. It was another glorious reminder of the end of the day and a chance for Eri to put the test out of her mind.
Yuki was a plain looking girl with brown eyes and jet black hair. She had a bright, bubbly personality and dreams of becoming a TV show host. Her quirk was also perfect for her journalistic aspirations. Once she read a word, she would always remember the spelling. It wasn’t quite a photographic memory, but it did make her ineligible for the yearly school-wide spelling bee.
“How did you do on your history test?” Yuki asked, falling into step with Eri as they made their way down the hall and towards the stairs.
Eri shrugged. “Good, I think,” she replied, setting her foot down onto the first step. “At least, I hope so.”
“I’m sure you did fine,” Yuki told her, waving off her friend’s concerns. “You always do better than you think and besides," the girl flashed a devilish grin, "There’s always the final.”
Eri blanched at the idea. “Don’t remind me,” she muttered, rubbing the side of her face with her hand. “Because with the history final comes the math final and the English final and every other final for all of our other subjects. I just want it to be Winter break already!”
“Speaking of Winter, what are you doing for your birthday?” Yuki asked. The girls stepped off the last stair in the flight and turned to walk down the next.
Eri shrugged. Her birthday was on December 21st, the first day of Winter and just a day after finals ended. The looming threat of her finals took precedence in her mind, as they did every year since grades really started to matter for her.
“I don’t know,” she answered after a moment. “I told my dad I wanted a cat for my birthday, but the dorms at UA don’t allow pets, even for teachers. He said he’s working with the principal but I don’t have my hopes up. So probably just gonna get some cake.”
“Maybe if you can’t get a cat, he’ll get you something nice,” Yuki suggested. The pair had gotten down the stairs and were walking down the first-floor hall towards the music room. “Like a new dress or those jeans we saw at the mall the other day.”
Eri immediately shook her head with a hearty laugh. “Hopefully not! You should have seen the kimono he got me for UA’s summer festival last year. Did you know they make them in neon pink? Not very traditional if you ask me!”
Yuki joined in on her laughter, vividly remembering Eri in her bright pink garments. With her already bright colored hair and glaring red eyes, she looked like a highlighter. At least Eri was still at an age where pleasing her father trumped whatever anyone else thought of her outfit. She might have looked a little silly, but her dad was so happy to see her in what he’d picked out. She was easily able to ignore the few double takes.
“I really just want this semester to be over,” Eri continued. "Math this year was brutal and I think next semester's Rise of Asia History class will be a lot more interesting than this one's European History." Yuki nodded in great agreement. The girls had reached the music room but stopped outside the door to chat a little longer. Yuki leaned against the wall and Eri thumbed the strap of her backpack. It felt nice to be free for the day. It was like a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders.
“Soon enough,” Yuki replied as she pushed herself off the wall and spun on her heels to face the door. Eri followed her inside and the two took their seats on the second raised platform in the third row of chairs. Eri set down her bag and grabbed her flute while Yuki did the same. That was how they met--both girls had chosen to play the flute back in grade one and sat next to each other during their music class. So many years later, neither were sure if they actually liked playing the flute, or if music just reminded them of the beginning of their friendship.
The music teacher walked in and promptly started with some simple songs to warm up. They then moved onto some more complicated pieces they would be playing for the Winter Festival in a month’s time. While she played, Eri freed her mind of birthday and school-related thoughts. She might not have been the best flute player, but she certainly enjoyed the way she was able to escape into the music and let everything else melt away.
So, it startled her quite badly when the loudspeaker popped on. Instruments wailed off key for a moment as other students were also shocked out of their focus. In an instant, the once lively room fell silent and all eyes rested on the intercom at the front of the room.
“Yes?” the music teacher called out, clearly annoyed at the interruption.
“Apologies, could you please send Eri Aizawa to the main office immediately?” replied the invisible voice.
Eri jolted at her name, more curious about what the office could need her past school hours to be embarrassed by all the other kids looking at her. Yuki’s eyes met hers and Eri shrugged in response as she gathered her things. As she slung her back over her shoulder, she caught the little wave Yuki shot back before she turned to head out of the classroom.
“She’s on her way,” the music teacher confirmed as Eri shut the door behind her.
The main office wasn’t far from the music room. It was on the same floor, but more towards the front of the school two hallways away. The school day had been over for about thirty minutes, so the halls were deserted. Everyone had either gone home or were at their various club meetings. It was eerie, Eri thought, to wander the halls without the sounds of rambunctious kids. It was her last year in the primary school, so she’d no longer share a campus with lively seven-year-olds. She’d be off to middle school and things would start to get a lot more serious from there.
Being the daughter of a relatively famous, though underground, hero while living on the campus of the country’s most prestigious high school naturally led to a lot of questions from well-meaning people. She was constantly asked what kind of hero she wanted to be, but Eri wasn’t sure she wanted to be a hero. She liked the idea of a regular job, like what Yuki wanted to do, but she also didn’t know if that would disappoint her father.
Aizawa almost never talked about hero business. If a fight came on the news, he shut it off and would scold Eri for watching what he considered "a flashy show that's only job was to boost ratings." Of course, there were many different ways to become a hero. One didn't have to be in the spotlight like All Might or Deku. There were those like Eraserhead who shied from the spotlight but were still passionate about the work they did. Still, Eri didn't have much reason to believe he would be upset with her for not following a hero path. He never forced her into activities she didn't want to do or hobbies she wouldn't enjoy. Maybe it was more that other people expected that of her and she didn't want to disappoint anyone. Either way, guilt still pooled in her stomach whenever she thought about her future.
She pushed the door open and stopped short when she saw All Might standing at the front counter. He looked as thin and frail as ever, but something about his looming stature seemed even more ominous today. There was also the fact that the man had never come to her school before and Eri tensed unconsciously.
“Young Eri,” All Might greeted as Eri stepped into the office. He set down the pen in his hand that Eri assumed was used to sign her out. Eri noticed that he seemed paler, causing the redness on his cheeks to stand out even more than usual. He also seemed thinner, if that was even possible, and the tip of a bloody handkerchief stuck out from the right pocket of his pants.
“Uncle Might,” Eri said slowly, taking another cautious step. “What are you doing at my school?”
“I’ve come to pick you up.” Something in his voice made Eri think there was more to the story, but he didn’t say anything else. Instead, he placed a hand on her back and guided her out of the office to the front doors of the school. Normally, Eri walked home with Yuki, at least for the first fifteen minutes before Yuki split off onto a side street to get home. Eri would continue down the main drag until she came upon the UA campus. With a specially made ID, she was able to get in through the main gate and from there she would head straight for the dorms. So, there was no need for Eri to be picked up. In fact, the last time she’d been picked up was two years ago when she got sick in school and her dad came to get her.
But this time, Eri was guided through the parking lot and towards a sleek looking black car. She slipped into the passenger’s seat and All Might took the wheel.
“What’s going on, Uncle Might?” Eri asked as the man put the car into drive. “Why are you picking me up? Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine, Eri. There’s just been a small incident and I was asked to take you over to the hospital.”
A gasp escaped Eri’s lips and she gripped the edge of her seat. “The hospital? For what? Did something happen?” She froze as the cold sting of realization set in. “Dad! Is he--”
“He’s fine,” All Might tried to calm her down, placing a hand on her shoulder while keeping the other hand on the wheel. “There was a bit of a tussle downtown and your father got a little banged up. He’s alright.” Eri frowned up at him and when All Might looked back at her as he stopped for pedestrians, he could tell she didn’t believe him. “Really,” he emphasized.
Eri still wasn’t satisfied, but it was clear All Might had no more information he could or wanted to give. She slumped back into her seat and gazed out the window at the passing buildings. Every now and then, she felt All Might’s eyes on her whenever he could spare a glance, but he didn’t say anything else.
It wasn’t long before they’d made it to the hospital and Eri found herself peering over another counter in a much whiter, more sterile smelling office. All Might was talking to the nurse seated at the counter, but Eri gazed beyond her, watching as the other nurses typed away on their computers or jotted something down on their clipboards.
This wasn’t the first time Eri had found herself back in a hospital. Of course, her relationship with her father had its genesis in this very hospital, in a small room in the pediatric ward. She hardly remembered those days, partly because of how high her fever had been and partly because she was only six. The only thing she could vividly remember was one very early morning when she’d blearily blinked her eyes open to find her dad sitting at her bedside grading papers by the light of the lamp on her nightstand. He’d set his work down and talked to her about nothing particularly important until she drifted back to sleep.
Then, there was the time her appendix almost burst. It was the first time she’d ever seen her dad as worried as he had been. He didn’t leave her side for days and let her eat as much ice cream as she wanted when she got out of the hospital.
Of course, she didn’t go to the hospital just for herself. She’d been there plenty of times for her friends, especially Deku, who seemed to have a hobby of finding new ways to get himself injured. She also distinctly remembered the time she had to go to the hospital to see her dad after a serious run-in with one of the top members of the League of Villains three years prior. It was scary, but Deku and Mirio were there along with Uncle Mic and Uncle Might. They brought her to and from the hospital so she could be with her dad until he’d recovered fully.
Now, she didn’t know if this would be a similar story. Would she have to sit at his bedside waiting for him to wake up? How long would that take? On top of finals and music practice and everything else, she didn’t know if she could handle something bad happening to her dad.
“Eri.” All Might’s voice shook her from her thoughts and she snapped her head up to meet his hollow blue eyes. His frown deepened once he got a good look at her face. “He’s alright, I promise. Don’t cry.”
Eri frowned right back at him, but it was only the mention of tears that made her realize a few had slipped onto her cheeks. Impatiently, she dragged the back of her hand across her face and wiped it on her skirt.
She followed All Might down the long hall until he stopped short at a seemingly random door. Eri watched as the man tapped lightly on the door, then immediately reached for the door handle without waiting for a response.
The hospital room was like any of the numerous ones she’d been in before. Large picture window, small white bed, a few chairs, cabinets filled with various medical tools. And there, sitting--not laying, but sitting straight up on the edge of the bed with his feet firmly planted on the ground--was Aizawa.
“Dad!” Eri shouted running over to him. He only had time to look up before she had flung herself at him, her arms wrapping around him tightly. His were at his side, but he carefully snaked them up behind her back so as to return the embrace.
“I was so worried,” she continued, pulling away to study his face. He seemed tired, but no more tired than usual. A stark white bandage plastered to his forehead stood out from underneath his pitch black hair and when she glanced down, she saw that his hand was also bandaged.
“I’m alright, Eri,” Aizawa confirmed, placing the bandaged hand atop her head. “Just a few minor injuries, but nothing to worry about.” He glanced past her to where All Might was standing, leaning in the doorway. “Thanks for getting her. I didn’t want her to get home to an empty apartment.”
All Might waved his hand dismissively. “Of course,” he replied. “Any time. So, they let you go yet?”
Aizawa nodded, pulling his hand towards him to fiddle with the bandages. “I’ve been cleared. You’ll take us home?”
“Absolutely. Let's get going.”
Aizawa and Eri hopped off the bed and started for the door. Eri couldn’t help but stay close to Aizawa. She felt like a little kid again, but she couldn’t help herself from slipping her hand into his. Her heart was still racing from how fast she went from despair to utter joy at finding out her dad was alright. When she walked into the room, she had no idea what to expect, and she struggled to control her breathing now that she was sure he'd be okay.
They were in the car and driving back to UA before anyone spoke again. Eri had calmed and was playing with the hem of her skirt, waiting for someone to tell her what had caused her dad's injuries, but she slowly came to the realization that no one was going to volunteer the information.
“What happened?” she asked, looking forward to where her dad sat in the passenger’s seat.
“There was an incident downtown,” Aizawa replied.
“But with who?” Eri questioned, frowning at the short response. “What happened? Did a villain attack the city in general, or a specific hero? Did you get called in? Was Deku there?”
“Eri.” Aizawa’s tone held a hint of warning which only caused the girl to furrow her brows in frustration. Getting information out of her father was like talking to a wall. He was especially guarded when it came to any hero business, choosing to keep his daughter in the dark about the inner workings of hero and villain organizations. She didn’t even know much about where she had been found. Aizawa didn’t speak about the mission that had saved her and no one else had ever come forward with information about it. Not even Deku and Mirio who had been there too gave her anything to go off of. Any questions were quickly deflected and her attention diverted to something else.
“The important thing is that your dad’s alright,” All Might offered. Eri just stared out the window, her arms folded across her chest. He was trying to be helpful, she knew, and while she did care that her dad was okay, she wanted to know more.
However, information was not going to come in that car ride. Before she knew it, they were back in their apartment in the 1-A dorms. Eri lingered in the living room, as Aizawa went to his room to change. When he came back out, he had a towel in his hand and was picking at the bandage on his forehead.
“Dinner isn’t over yet,” he said, noting how Eri leaned against the back of the couch restlessly. She hadn’t even set her backpack down since getting home. “Go eat.”
“What about you?” Eri asked, taking a hesitant step forward, as though she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to leave.
“I had a little something at the hospital,” he told her. “But I’m sure you haven’t eaten since lunch, so go on before the dining hall closes. I’ve got nothing in the apartment and Recovery Girl will kill me if she finds out I let you eat Poptarts for dinner again.”
Eri thought about protesting, though she wasn’t entirely sure why she felt the need to question him further. She was hungry and her dad was alright and she had been waiting for that miso ramen all day long. But, she still wasn’t satisfied with the answers in the car on the way home and a part of her wondered if he’d tell her more if she stuck around.
However, Aizawa was already on his way to the bathroom and Eri knew dinner was not up for debate. She set down her backpack and dug up her wallet clutch with her ID before slipping out of the apartment and heading towards the dining hall.
The cafeteria was almost completely cleared out, but food was still being served. Eri got her ramen and started walking towards an empty table. Normally, she and her dad would eat together, sometimes with another teacher. But, it was late enough into dinner service that the teachers had all finished and only a few students lingered.
One such group of students were huddled at a table near the one Eri was aiming for. She couldn’t help but overhear them excitedly talking about whatever was on one of their phones. The students weren’t being particularly quiet, but Eri didn’t pay much attention until the mention of her dad drew her towards the table.
“Did you see Aizawa-sensei?” One boy with lime green hair asked.
“He was amazing! I didn’t know he could fight up close so well,” replied a girl with pale skin and extremely pointy ears. Eri recognized these students as second years. They had been in her father’s class just a year before, but she couldn’t quite remember any of their names.
“What are you watching?” Eri was surprised at the sound of her own voice, her curiosity getting the better of her as she took another step towards the group. Everyone looked up at her, a little startled, though their expressions quickly turned to kindness. Eri was well-known and well-loved at UA. While she didn’t always remember everyone’s names, they all knew her as Aizawa-sensei’s daughter.
“The fight from today,” replied a pretty girl with long violet hair and pale blue skin. “Did you see it?” Eri shook her head and wordlessly, the girl waved her over. She shifted over on the table's bench so that Eri could sit down and the boy holding the phone replayed the video.
It was shaky, grainy footage, but Eri could clearly make out a levitating villain that emitted a dangerous gas and a few heroes circling around it. She noticed a shock of pink and wondered if Uravity was there, though the camera shifted away before she could get a good look at the hero woman’s face. Then there was a flash of green and the camera remained fixated on a hero Eri would recognize anywhere. Deku was jumping all around the villain, but his main focus was on getting the civilians out of the way. She watched as he carried a good number of people to safety before doubling back to face the villain head-on.
The majority of the video played out like any other hero-vs-villain fight she’d seen. Deku was the main star, though other heros backed him up when needed. But, when Deku was punched away by a particularly strong hit, it looked like the fight was over.
That’s when the camera jerked to the right and she saw him. Her dad was in the middle of the action, using his cloth wraps to fling himself through the air. Leveraging the awnings of the buildings around him, Eraserhead was able to pull himself close enough to villain to attempt to use his Quirk.
He got close enough to the villian to erase his Quirk, and the man fell a few feet to the ground. This didn’t deter him. Instead, he continued to fight as Eraserhead struggled to keep his eyes open and focused on the villian while also attempting to restrain him.
“So cool,” quipped one of the boys. “I want him to show us those moves next class.”
“Yeah,” replied the kid he was sitting next to. “I think he’s been holding out on us!”
The students talked in hushed voices about the moves Eraserhead was making, but Eri could only keep her focus on the screen. She’d never seen her dad fight like this before. He didn't usually get involved in fights, at least not televised ones, and he certainly tried to keep her from watching the battles that would pop up on the news weekly. She’d only ever really seen him spar with his students.
One particularly painful looking punch landed on the side of her dad’s face, pushing him back through the air a few feet. This of course broke contact with the villian, who was able to resume using his gas Quirk. The camera panned over to him for an instant, but the attention of the person with the phone was quickly captured by Deku jumping back onto the screen.
The fight was over soon after that. The camera never panned back to Eraserhead, instead focusing on how Deku was able to knock the villain out. Cops gathered to collect him and the video stopped.
“Man, I hope Aizawa-sensei is alright,” said the girl with the pale blue skin. Pausing for a moment, she looked over at Eri next to her, who was still fixated on the now blank phone screen. “Hey, he’s your dad, right? Is he okay?”
Eri snapped back into reality, finding herself nodding her head at the question she barely registered. “Yeah, he’s alright,” she told the group who were now all looking at her.
“Man, and he’s so tough!” a student exclaimed. “Get knocked around by that guy and no biggie, he’ll be in class tomorrow anyway.”
“Well you’ve heard about the USJ incident, right?” said another. “I heard he was back teaching class that day .”
“There’s no way that happened,” the girl next to Eri said with a disbelieving frown. “I mean, he still has to be human. I heard it was quick, though.”
“Well, my sister is friends with a girl who went to primary school with Creati and she said--”
Eri tuned everyone out at that point, focusing instead on finishing her ramen. She had been so focused on watching the fight on the phone that her dinner had gotten a little cold. That was alright. It still tasted delicious, though not as satisfying as she imagined it would be. Perhaps that was due in part to all the thoughts racing through her mind.
It had never really occured to Eri that her father’s job would be dangerous. Sure, he was a hero, but he’d only recently started to come into mainstream culture. It was hard to ignore the media hype of a mysterious, quiet hero who attended to the famous 1-A class of a few years ago. And, everyone loved the softer side of him that had taken a young girl under his wing without even being asked.
Eri knew her father tried to keep her out of the media as much as possible. It was difficult in the first few months she had lived with him, but her story soon faded and now she was as normal as any other girl her age. She didn’t even remember the looks her teachers would give at seeing her name called or the scattered reporters that surrounded Aizawa when he went to pick her up from school. Those things all died down with time, especially as the legendary 1-A class moved to 2-A and then 3-A and then fully into the public spear.
But, Aizawa had always straddled the public and the private. He was visible enough to be recognized, yet reserved to the point of not normally being pestered on the street. He’d trained Eri how to control her own Quirk and then turned her loose on the world in order to become a normal girl.
Normal . That's what she was supposed to be. Even with the horn on the side of her head, she was no more strange looking than anyone else with visible quirks. Half of her school had either skin or hair of vibrant colors. With the way Quirks had mutated human DNA, Eri was one of the more plain looking kids at her school.
Eri cleaned up and brought her tray to the back to be washed. She didn’t say goodbye to the students she had eaten dinner with. They were too busy arguing over fantasy match-ups of their teachers and Eri didn’t want to think about her dad being in another fight.
The sun was just setting over campus when Eri made her way back to the dorm. It was getting pretty cool and Eri shoved her hands into the pockets of her coat. She hadn’t brought her gloves with her, something she often forgot at home anyway. The footage she had watched played in her mind along with a thousand rotating thoughts. She wasn’t even really sure what she really felt, just that she was confused and didn’t know what to do with this information.
The apartment was quiet when she walked in, but the light in the living room was still on. She could just make out the end of Aizawa’s feet sticking out over the edge of the armrest. As Eri moved closer, she peered over the back of the couch and found her father fast asleep on his back, his hair tied back but still wet from the shower.
Eri had quite a few questions and a lot of things she wanted to talk to her dad about, but she was glad to see him asleep. He always complained about not getting enough rest, so she hoped he’d get a few hours in before he inevitably woke up and did some grading at three in the morning.
Eri grabbed a blanket from the other chair and pulled it over Aizawa before retiring to her own room for the night. As she laid down in bed, the video still played on repeat in her head, but she realized she felt a bit of comfort. At least she knew someone like her dad was out there protecting not just her, but everyone else as well.