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The Game of Push and Pull

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Tomura is tired. He'd even go as far to even say that he's exhausted. Never in a million years, had he ever thought how hard it could be to raise a child. One would think that being in charge of a teenage girl, a wily lizard, a man that acts like a teenager and an extra crispy edge lord- raising a six year old girl would be a breeze. Apparently that's where Tomura made his mistake in underestimating the sheer willpower of Eri. 

He runs a hand wearily down his face and sighs, all he wants is his bed back. 

Toga had insisted that Eri and her could share rooms while they wait for Giran to come back with a bed for Eri. Unfortunately, for Tomura's sanity, that hadn't turned out so well. Both Eri and Toga wanted to sleep with that obnoxiously huge Hello Kitty plush of Toga's and after the fifth fight that week; Tomura decided that he better put a stop to things before one of them kills the other. 

Now Eri is sprawled across his bed, sleeping like a baby. Tomura closes his heavy lids and wishes that he could sleep. As much as he tried to get her to shove over, she didn't budge an inch and Tomura would rather not wake her up and deal with a pissed off little kid. 

Instead, he pulls up a threadbare blanket and throws it over his lap- getting ready for a long night of no sleep. He pulls out his Switch and powers it on.

 

A hard poke to his cheek startles him awake, Tomura unwillingly cracks open an eye to see Eri standing on her toes and pouting.

"I'm hungry." He stretches and feels a pang run through his shoulders. Right. He fell asleep sitting on his chair.

"Eri. It's five in the morning. Go back to bed." His poor attempt to get her to sleep doesn't work at all and now she crosses her arms.

"I'm hungry!" 

"And I'm tired." Tomura shifts to a more comfortable position in the hard chair, closing his eyes- he pulls the blanket up and rests his chin against the palm of his hand. He's only allowed a beat of precious silence before Eri clambers on top of him, tiny feet digging painfully into his thin body.

"Get off." He attempts to push her off, reminding himself in his sleepy haze to keep a finger raised. Opening his eyes, they enter a game of glaring. 

"Tomuraaaa." He sighs and relents, picking her up and gently setting her back on the ground.

"Will you go back to bed if I get you something to eat?" Eri bounces up and down on the balls of her feet slowly, nodding her head quickly. 

 

Enter Tomura's second mistake. Eri is a picky eater. 

Or maybe she just has better standards than the rest of The League when it comes to food.

Either way, it perplexes him when Eri just doesn't want to eat anything that he offers to cook for her. From the day old take out to the nearly forgotten box of instant ramen that was shoved in the corner of a cabinet, Eri turns her nose up to everything. 

"Then what do you want to eat?" He's starting to get desperate. Eri still doesn't accept any of the offered food and instead starts to sniffle, rubbing at her eyes with a tiny fist.

"None of this!" Tomura has to take in a deep breath and count to three in his head, refusing to lose his cool in front of her. As much as he just wants to say 'fuck this.' and hand her off to Kurogiri so he can get some shut eye, Tomura squats down and softly takes her hand away from her face- forcing her to look at him. He puts on his best, albeit forced, smile.

"Eri, what do you want to eat?" Her large red eyes flicker down to the floor and she starts playing with the hem of one of Toga's old shirts that's serving as her nightgown. Tomura feels his jaw tighten when he spies the sleeve of her nightgown ride up and show a series of scars running up the length of her forearm. 

He still hasn't figured out what her quirk is, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is the fact that Overhaul had thought it was a good decision to use his own quirk on her. Tomura has heard Eri cry and softly whimper in her sleep- begging Overhaul not to hurt her again. If he hadn't already killed the man, Tomura would've gladly destroy him again. 

All of The League has adopted her as their own- which does make for raising her a lot easier if it had just been himself.

When Toga and Eri aren't fighting over plushies, they get along great- Toga is loving the fact that she has a little sister and constantly chatters Eri's ear off over the tiniest detail of her life. Twice is always hovering around her, making sure she feels safe and spoils her rotten with anything she asks for and showers her in gifts that he's picked up from his missions. Curiously, Eri doesn't really ask for anything. Tomura knows that most kids would go completely power hungry if given the same opportunity. Mr. Compress loves to amaze her with his extensive knowledge of magic tricks and he's even caught Mr. Compress teaching her a few simple card tricks, much to his amusement. Eri has picked up a strange fascination for Spinner, he has no idea why. Tomura almost lost it when he walked into the living room to find her putting little glittery clips into Spinner's neon hair. Kurogiri of course treats her like a daughter and even began to teach her how to read. She's a fast learner, Tomura proudly reflects, during the short time that she's stayed with them- she can stumble her way through a short little kid's book. 

Then, there's Dabi. He tries to remain aloof but Tomura knows that Dabi cares greatly for her. Especially the day after Tomura rescued her from The Eight Precepts and discovered the true extent of her scarring, Dabi nearly went on a warpath of fury and fire. He supposes he can understand though, seeing that Dabi came from an extremely abused childhood as well. Tomura always sees Dabi looking from a distance in the shadows, keeping a close eye on Eri. He does idly wonder why Dabi has never bothered to really introduce himself to her; he guesses that he doesn't want to scare her away from his scarring. Well, that's the only thing he can really think of, if it's not that- then he has no idea. 

Yet, through all of this- none of them has ever actually seen Eri smile. She sometimes throws some tantrums but besides that, it's like she's a blank slate. Dabi threw in his opinion of that she's probably like his youngest brother where she's grown in such a violent household that she never actually got to experience parental or guardian love. Therefore, she just can't smile. His analogy was: "If you take a flower and never water it, it'll wither away. Even if you tell it to bloom- it never will. Not unless you put time into actually taking care and nurturing it."  

His thoughts are broken when Eri gently pokes at Tomura's cheek.

"Are you okay?" He nods and offers her a small smile.

"I'm fine. Now, what do you want to eat?" Her hand goes back down to the seam of her nightgown and looks up at him with wide eyes.

"A-an apple?" Tomura blinks down at her.

"You want an apple." 

"I never had one before." She finishes quietly, tearing her gaze away from him. Tomura can't remember the last time they've even had fruit in their hideout, if at all. 

"Okay. Let's get you some apples then." 

 

To say that Tomura is uncomfortable would be the understatement of the century. 

He hates going outside. He hates going out into crowded supermarkets even more. Business people are bustling past him and Eri. After nearly losing her to the sea of walking suits- Tomura decides that it would be best if he gave her a piggy back ride through the overcrowded market.

Her little arms wrap around his shoulders and in the corner of his eye, he can see her looking around the market in awe. 

"There's so many people here." She breathes out and Tomura snorts.

"It's just a morning rush." 

"Morning rush?" He walks down an aisle, feeling her slip down slightly- he hefts her back up.

"Before they go to work. They're probably picking up something to eat for lunch."

"Wow. Do you have a work to go to?"

"I'm the owner of my work." He tries not to laugh when he hears another amazed 'wow' from her.

"Do you think I can work for you?"

"Maybe when you get a little older." She's already been exposed to lots of violence so it won't be too much of a shift for her to grow used to but a six year old really has no business running in a criminal organization. Now that he thinks about it, a criminal organization has no business raising a little child either. Hell will freeze over before he hands her over though, partly out of pride and also because he knows that the rest of The League will just sneak out and steal her back. 

"When I turn seven?" Tomura hums and shakes his head.

"A little bit older than that."

"When I'm eight?" 

"How about when you're a teenager?" They make a turn down the next aisle and find the produce section, he scans up and down for apples.

"When will that be?" Of course an old lady is standing in front of the apple selection and he waits, shifting from foot to foot. Tomura has a hoodie on with a face mask so it's not like anyone will really recognize him, that doesn't stop him from being on edge though.

"Let's start with sixteen."

"Sixteen? But that's like," She pauses and he feels her fingers moving as if she's counting on them, "Four years away." Before he has the chance to correct Eri on her slight mathematical error, the old lady turns around and her eyes widen. Tomura immediately tenses, ready to run if she tries something. Usually he's more of a fight person but with this tiny child with him, he's going to have to go with flight.

"My! What an adorable little daughter you have!" Tomura manages to mumble out a soft 'thanks' and returns his attention to the apples, hoping that if he lets his hair fall into his face- it'll cover his embarrassed blush. Eri shyly waves as the old lady shuffles away and then buries her face into Tomura's hoodie. 

"She thought I was your daughter."

"I heard." 

"I don't remember my dad very good." She whispers, a small hand playing with his hoodie's drawstring. He, himself, tries not to remember his father. Not after accidentally disintegrating him. However, this answers his question on if Overhaul was her father or not. Questioning her will be saved for later though.

Tomura picks up a few apples and slide them into the pocket of his hoodie.

"What are you doing?" He can see in the corner of his eye that Eri is peering curiously over his shoulder as he slips the last apple into the pocket.

"Getting you apples." She stays silent for a beat and pipes up again.

"Can I hold one?" Tomura picks up the reddest apple from the bunch and hands it to her, she turns it over in her hands and thanks him quietly. 

With their apples in tow, Tomura slips through with liquid grace through the thinning crowd of business workers and squints against the bright morning sun.

 

Everyone back at the hideout are still asleep, which doesn't come to a surprise to Tomura; most people with common sense wouldn't be up at half past six in the morning.

Eri jumps down and runs up to the sofa, still holding the apple in her hand. She brings it to her mouth and pauses, looking back at him with her wide eyes.

Eri moves the apple in his direction and he takes it, curiously studying her.

"Do you want a different apple?" Already taking out another one from his hoodie and hands it to her. He's about to set the apples down when he hears a sound of protest. Turning around, he raises an eyebrow.

"What?" Eri drops her gaze and turns the apple over slowly.

"It's for you." It takes a second to click in his head that Eri stole that apple just for him. Tomura only nods and sits down next to her, crossing an ankle over a bony knee. He takes a bite from the apple and questions himself why don't they carry more fruit in the hideout. 

When he was a lot younger, he'd been obsessed with apples. He was absolutely fixated on Death Note and of course if a god of death loved apples, then he would too. Eventually his mania over Death Note faded but an apple once in a while serves as a nice pang of nostalgia. 

Eri follows suit and takes a bite of her first apple and quickly takes another bite and then another. As she reaches for a second apple, Tomura sees just the smallest hint of a ghost of a smile.