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A Web of Lies

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Hizashi stared at the small rat like creature and parrots back, his surprise clearly written in the curve of his eyebrows and the widening of his eyes.

“You want to send Eraserhead to be the first one to talk to the 20 highly unstable traumatized quirk fueled children.” His eyebrows raised and he could see similar looks of surprise on the faces of the other heroes. Hizashi had to make sure they were talking about the same tall, dark, and handsome. “Eraserhead… the eraser hero…”

Three months ago a string of kidnappings of teenagers with powerful quirks alerted the heroes of Japan to the movement of another villain group only a few months after the take down of the notorious Red Slate group. All their information pointed to a particularly nasty villain group experimenting with powerful quirks and attempting to recreate them to make a bio engineered super weapon called the Nomu that had allegedly been created two years ago but had failed to survive after Tremor Shock attacked the city. It was a case big enough to gather the greatest heroes in the world in the meeting space of Japan’s greatest heroes, a small bread and breakfast, the deceiving homely front for the hero organization of underground heroes united, on the outskirts of a large city, in a room tucked up in the attic crammed around table the titans of the hero world gathered around.

The heroes there are nothing to scoff at. Best Jeanist sits with his legs crossed in civilian clothes tugging at his glimmering handmade scarf around his mouth, his eyes narrow, blonde hair swooping over his eyes. Edgeshot sits with hands intertwined, eyes narrowed, but his feet twitch nervously. Midnight’s dark hair is pulled back and she wears a dress her legs are propped up on the table. Mountain Lady’s blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders as her nails skim the edges of the case file in her lap.  All Might’s broad shoulders are hunched to try to fit the large man in the small cramped room. Other underground A rated heroes murmur between each other. Public and underground heroes, the top of their tier, the only highly rated hero missing was Endeavor. They are the group of heroes you only call if there are dire consequences on the line.

Nedzu nods solemnly, he’s not one for jokes or jests, at least not in serious matters like this.

“He’s the only one of you not known enough not to be recognized when he enters the establishment and he’s a remarkably good actor. He also has a track record for being good with kids in stressful situations.” Hizashi’s face contorts into confusion. He and the stealth hero worked together often enough, enough that Hizashi thinks he would know if Eraserhead interacted with children on a regular basis.

The confusion must be evident on his and the other heroes faces because Nedzu supplies them with a simple response.

“He’s a high school teacher.” Fair enough. Well technically Hizashi was a high school teacher too, and he had been first choice for his charismatic nature but they had ruled him out for the simple fact that if you lived anywhere in Japan and didn't know the name and face of Present Mic you were probably living under a rock, though if he was honest he did a good enough job keeping his hero career from his colleges. Most of them didn't know… some of them didn't know…. Shouta Aizawa the history teacher didn't know. That answer was suitable enough. With that issue resolved Nedzu moves to outline the plan and the door creaks open opens.

The heroes freeze around the table, none of them are in costume, but enough of them are recognizable that it would take an idiot not to put together that it was a collection of heroes, this could get ugly. They tense and prepare their quirks.

When the door opens they relax back into their chairs, relaxing the quirks it's not like their quirks would work on this particular adversary.

Its Eraserhead at the door, without the goggles and the capture weapon and the baggy tracksuit. Ok, it's not necessarily Eraserhead it’s the man behind the hero, it takes Hizashi a second to recognize him. Is this what Eraserhead looks like in his day to day life because damn. With his hair slicked back and wearing clothes that fit he was… well he was hot. Looked like he had shaved for this too. Hizashi had never seen Eraserhead in civilian clothes, or with his hair back… or outside of hero work.

“I’m here to pick up the keys for the housing unit I’m going to stay in.” He says flatly looking at Nedzu. Hizashi looks at the man mesmerized, it's still Eraserhead, the posture is the same, the eyes are the same, the face is the same… but everything else makes it so distinctly not the underground hero with a monotone voice and a heart of gold. Glancing out of the corner of his eye and judging from the looks the others were giving Eraserhead it was their first time seeing him like this too. Their looks ranged from mildly intrigued to shocked. The cutest expression definitely fits on All Might’s face and Hizashi wishes he could snap a photo of it. The large man’s jaw is slightly agape, the smile that had been on his face moments before still lingers and a pink flush covers the number 1 hero’s face.

“Ah! I see.” Nedzu walks briskly to the underground hero and hands the keys from inside his vest pocket. The hero takes the keys and looks at them for a moment before looking up at Nedzu.

“I need someone to cat sit for me.” Nedzu blinks up at him and HIzashi speaks without thinking.

“I’ll do it. You still live where I carried you after fighting Tremor Shock?” The underground hero blinks at him and nods. The hand not holding the clinking gold keys reaches in and pulls out a slightly more beaten up key ring, a tiny cat figuring hanging with the keyes. The underground hero pressed them into the voice hero’s hand. Hizashi grins, bit by bit he’s wearing down this hero. Eraserhead had always been a prickly one, but Hizashi knew when someone was lonely and he was hell bent on changing it. He flashes the dark haired hero a bright smile and gets a blank look in return.

The erasure hero’s eyes fall over each hero in the room and the hero turns to leave but a voice pierces the silence.

In a probing voice the rat like creature spoke. “As you know Eraserhead-san from the moment you exit this room you are no longer Eraserhead but Koshima Hibiki.” Eraser stars down at the little creature and blinked before he slowly shifted his posture his shoulders shifting back his spine straightening. It was like watching a caterpillar emerge from a cocoon as a butterfly.

His posture became less guarded, his shoulders set back further, holding himself a little higher. His face pulled back from a deadpan to a much more normal look of vague interest, his eyes opening a bit more and giving the impression he is not as tired as he clearly. And suddenly he was a different person. When he spoke again his voice was pitched different, much more open and naturally warm.

“Of course.” Nedzu seems happy with the display and dismisses him. Koshima walks differently than Eraserhead. Eraserhead shuffles, or runs, or sometimes jogs but nothing close to walking, he’s far too close to sleep or sheer adrenaline at all times to do something as normal as… walking. The image plays tricks with Hizashi’s poor brain and the voice hero has to squeeze his eyes shut and remember this man is indeed Eraserhead. Koshima walks with broad and assured steps as if he’s a guy with nowhere particular to go but little time to get there.

Hizashi only realizes Nedzu is talking a solid three minutes later and is distracted during the rest of the meeting but to his justification a few other heroes seemed as shell shocked as he at the strange transformation they had just witnessed.

Koshima walks out of the building twirling his keys and whistling while inwardly groaning. This persona required so much energy to make believable. It took so much practice too. The other day Shouta had spent two hours in front of a mirror practicing smiling. That hadn't even included the time he spent studying the case materials they had managed to drag up from unguarded phone lines and wifi networks.

His natural smile… well it left something to be desired. It was strange it looked like he wasn't used to using his facial muscles properly. It made him look… like a serial killer, or at least sadistic. His second slightly less unnatural smile was what Midnight described as: a bedroom smirk. And his classes of children described it as: we’re dead. Everytime he tried to make a natural smile it looked too forced- not that his normal smiles didn't look like that.

Eventually he had settled on something passable after a couple of hours. Walking in assured strides he gives his Bedroom Smirk/We’re Dead smile without half lidding his eyes, something which had taken the better part of 20 minutes to train his face to do. No one who meets his gaze seems too freaked out by it, one girl even twirls her hair around a finger and flutters her eyelashes, and while he reprimands himself for allowing shock to flash across his face when she flashes him a smile, he also marks it as a small success. It’s working, because no one would even meet his eyes as Shouta, Koshima is a lot more social, or he’s supposed to be.

The apartment he enters is small, something fitting the pay grade the man he was portraying would earn. He drops the duffel bag he carried a few of his belongings (namely his capture weapon coiled into tight spools) in. Slouching on the ratty futon he knows there are already clothes in the small dresser tucked into the corner. He rolls his shoulders, and pulls a small case out of his pack. Clicking it open he faces down the pills within, he corrects himself when he realizes he is scowling.

Having insomnia was not a fun experience, however it does keep him awake during late night hero work. But he was going to need to be sleeping on a normal schedule for this case, no more snagging naps during the day when he could actually sleep naturally. Shouta despised sleep pills, they made him vulnerable, he wouldn't wake up to a gunshot or a jimmied lock under their influence. But no one was going to try to kill Koshima during his sleep… Aizawa could sleep without worry so long as no one knew he was Koshima.

Tipping his head back he throws two pills into his mouth and crumples on the futon without pulling the covers around his shoulders or even crawling under them. Sleep is upon him before he can hit the crappy pillow, which as probably just as well considering it feels like a brick and he might have a minor concussion from hitting it.

He wakes up covered in a thin sheen of sweat, his eyes focusing on nothing, his hand instinctively reaching for his capture weapon and he pauses.

It was nice to wake up in the morning without wanting to crawl back under the covers and die. He still wants to die, but maybe he can do it on his own two feet with a cup of cheap coffee which he buys from the vender down the street, the old man waving him goodbye with a wink. Once he is sufficiently caffeinated he returns home, changes out of yesterday's clothes and dressed. He’s not a huge fan of caffeine, but he can make an exception. He hates coffee, both the flavor and the consistency, but once again he must make sacrifices for the children at risk. God, kids, his only weakness. He grumbles at no one while he sips the distasteful liquid.

Next up on his mental checklist is taming the bed head which had taken its proper place around his shoulders. He cracks open the small silver tin and winces as his fingers sink into the clear jelly like substance.

Gelling his hair back is a hassle but it's necessary to make him look relatively different from his normal persona as Aizawa Shouta. He doesn't see how other heroes like Edgeshot managed this every morning much less heroes like Present Mic who had to gel up that atrocity of blonde hair… though who could imagine anything Present Mic did. He sits back down on the futon and suddenly can feel just how hard and uncomfortable it must be, he sighs and reaches for the duffle bag at his feet.

Pulling his capture weapon out of his bag he grunts. The thing is a bit of a hassle with how long they are. He’s going to be ‘sneaking’ the capture weapon into his new job. That requires wrapping it around his torso so it can't be seen under his clothes. However Shouta’s capture weapon is in fact two lengths of cloth and both are to say the least very long. They’re each a little less than 30 feet long. So he wraps his arms and then his torso, it looks like a style choice under the tight fitting T-shirt, or maybe bandages, but mostly a style choice he assures himself.

The more he looked in the mirror the more it looked like he was hiding self harm marks… well he had gotten the idea from his sister’s bandages which had served just that purpose back years ago. He furrowed his brows, it did not matter how he was perceived only that he was able to bring the capture weapon in and out of the lab, it was a crucial advantage that could mean life or death. He huffs and tears his gaze from the mirror and walks to the door.

He locks it behind him and leaves the apartment building with a forced smile on his face. His cheeks are beginning to hurt and he knows his face will be sore after this case, not after a hundred punches to the nose, like so many other cases, but from smiling.

He walks, Koshima humming happily, he can not afford a car, within this persona or outside of it. Jauntily he finds the building, Nines Laboratories, it's an intimidating laboratory, extremely large, yet somehow tucked inconspicuously at the edge of the city next to a few large warehouses, belonging to the company and a few factories that dotted the company side employing the more urban population, the Japanese countryside stretched for miles one way and the city the other way. A respectable lab, known for genetic linking of quirks and quirk genetics research.

He walks into the reception, a man with sweeping green bangs sits in the chair twirling a pen between his fingers. The man doesn't even glance up at him until he’s standing at the desk apparently fixated on his pen. Grinning sunnily Shouta mentally makes a note of the man. He fits with the profile he had been briefed with. Orito Takaaki, a kind young man, easily distracted, has the quirk stretchy fingers, which in and of itself was very self explanatory. The man had no idea of the inner working s of the building he worked in. The man noticed his approach and grinned.

“Hi! How can I help you.” His voice is high pitched and wispy.

“Hello! My name is Koshima Himiki, I received and email telling me my resume had been accepted. I was wondering if you could tell me when I’m supposed to start my new job here, I’m supposed to be working a 1pm to 9pm shift.” The line is well rehearsed, despite all his practice he winces internally when his cheerful tone wavers slightly. The lab officially closed at 5pm which meant he would work unperturbed for four hours during the early guard shift. The heroes had pulled quite a few strings and had called in a few favors in order to organize this.

“Oh of course! I have your schedule here for you.” He already knew what was on the sheet of paper handed to him so he let the man babble as he went over it once in his head. Taking the paper he looks down to glance at his schedule. From 1 to 5 he was an escort for one of the scientists, from 5 to 9 he was the sole guard for the 20 children he was planning to break out. Security was tight around here, but enough so that they hardly needed real guards. Four groups of two rotated through the building checking at all points during the night. They were the real line of defense from any escapees each had at least 10 years of military experience and most of them had worked here for over 5 years and were either in debt to the man running the show or didn’t know a life outside of this any more. All captives are guarded by one person who’s really just a formality, the chances of anyone breaking out of quirk nullifying collars then breaking quirk resistant glass without tripping an alarm was so immensely small that it was hardly worth employing people, but they did despite the fact it probably only cost them money, and for that Shouta supposed he must be greatful.

“You’ll be the escort for Tomura Shigaraki, he’s a scientist here and he does quirk resistance testing. He’ll give you a tour, I’ll call him down right now.” Pressing a button on a pad Orito leans into the microphone. “Shigaraki-san your new guard is down here, please show him around.” The green haired man leans back and grins sunnily and begins to talk Shouta’s ear off, asking questions in rapid fire which have Aizawa stumbling over his tongue trying to answer.

Eventually his ‘savior’ arrives. A twitchy man with blue hair and a skin condition that makes him seem years older than he is. Aizawa recognizes him immediately. He puts on his best smile and greets him, extending his hand even though his skin crawls at the thought of touching this villain.

“Hello I’m Koshima and I-” The villain looks at him and grunts.

“I don't like chatty people, shut up and follow me. I’ll show you around.” The man turns abruptly and walks back into the lab. Koshima casts a glance over his shoulder as he moves to follow and sees a sympathetic look from Orito through those green bangs and sees the man mouth the word sorry to him.

Showing him around was apparently the equivalent of Shouta following Shigaraki around as the blue haired man generally pointed at things while muttering to himself. Shouta cracked a smile knowing that he had fought this man many times before and yet here he was giving Shouta the information he would need to break this place open.

It's not as if he didn’t have the floor plan memorized, so the fact Shigaraki was stingy with information didn’t matter much. The blue haired villain led him in a full circle back to the reception then waved him off already checking something on his phone.

“Now go, I don't want to see you again until one, and don't be late. I hate it when people are late.” He was waved towards the door. Once outside Shouta gave a brilliant… terrifying smile to the space in front of him. This was going to be rough. Sometimes…

Sometimes he wished he had been famous. He could have chosen that path… he still could. Life was so much simpler as a public hero instead of spending time in the shadows. He wouldn't have to live between the sparse pay checks that had him picking up as many jobs as he could. He would be assigned to cases that involved stupider criminals who didn't know how to keep out of the public eye instead of these villains that schemed and plotted in the shadows as cunning and quick as the greatest heroes.

There were so many things easier than being an underground hero and a high school teacher. It would be so easy to turn to villainy or even anything, with these jobs he felt he was constantly walking a tightrope.

He sighs to himself and walks away from the lab with his facade cracked like a mask around his neck. There were only two reasons he accepted this case. The first was he had a soft spot for children and couldn't stand by to see the innocent slaughtered or taken advantage of. The second… well he knew it was selfish, but this job would be another paycheck and it would help stretch his budget which had been wrought thin over paying damages for some property damage.

He finds himself in a small raymen shop and ends up eating noodles with far too much onion in it, but it's cheap and fast. Run by a nice pair of women who seemed to know when to keep to themselves, working together to run the small modest noodle shop. He makes a note of the shop and vows to return when he needs a quiet place to do his grading and a hot meal. He watches a cat video on his phone while he eats, though it's not his phone. It's a work phone, or rather it is Koshima’s phone, the search history is full of looking at job listings and cat videos in case anyone comes poking about, though unless Koshima is mugged there should be no way to find his phone and bug or search it. There was a twitter account that was mostly empty idling in the tabs. He knows there was a full background check on Koshima for him to get this job and with a note of satisfaction he knows what they found, little to nothing.

With the man being the same age as Shouta there wasn't much that had been hard to come up with: Koshima’s birth certificate hadn't been hard to forge, Shouta had been given liberty to make his own backstory (and he had mostly stuck to the truth, it wasn't as if it gave much away he was an underground hero after all). Though a few other heroes had vetted the story first. The biggest lie was about his schooling.  Koshima had made it through high school with a struggling grade and had dropped out in his second year but had re-enrolled a year later and had graduated with the help of free tutoring, unlike Shouta who had graduated U.A. in hero class B.

Nedzu had actually been a tutor during the time Koshima would have been struggling and that had helped set up the connection between the two. It had been Nedzu who called in the favor to get him a job, unbeknownst to the villains Nedzu was a hero-or at least an organizer-, and was apparently an old friend of one of the higher ups in the lab, he had asked that Koshima be given a job out of concern saying that as Koshima’s mentor he worried that the boy would not be able to get a job.

Koshima had 4 years of military expertise (which is what they would write his hero training off as incase it ever came to anyone’s attention that he was not nearly as incompetent a fighter as a thinker). Midnight had used some pull on the inside to get him this shift, the fact that he was guarding the children… that was luck.

When he enters the lab Orito, the secretary, smiles at him and speaks.

“Knock Knock.” Aizawa barely processes the english phrase and the confusion must show on his face. “Sorry, I forgot you’re new, I’ll teach you tomorrow if you get here early! I don't want to make you late. Go on now!” He’s shoed through the doors.

He arrived for his shift at 1 sharp. Despite being on time Shigaraki snapped at him for being late and told him to stand by the door because he was just going over notes and putting them in his computer today. While standing there Shouta was graced by luck again when he realized this was going to be far easier than he imagined because… Shigaraki talked to himself. It was muttering and most of it nonsensical at that, but he could get snippets of information, if he worked with Shigaraki long enough he would be able to piece it all together. Perfect

During the four hours he stood there he made a mental note of everything that could be important Shigaraki said to himself, including the password to Shigaraki’s computer which he heard the man muttering to himself when he had to login to his computer.

After the four hours were up Shigaraki led him down a hall through a door with a key code that was six digits long and ended with an 8, he watched carefully as SHigaraki’s fingers flashed over the keys.

There to one side of the dark hallway a large glass wall, quirk resistant glass, a heavy set door with a key card reader and a key code. From inside the brightly lit cell came the only light. Inside there are cots pressed against one wall, there are teenagers sitting on the cots and talking to one another. He does a quick head count, 19, who was missing? The children hush at the sight of them and most of the kids stare with fiery anger at them, or rather the blue haired man beside him.

Shigaraki is muttering something about a guard coming at 9 to relieve him of his watch duties, the key card he had been given in the early morning would allow him to get out of the building but not back in so if he left anything he would have to get it the next morning.

Suddenly the door at the other end of the hall slams open and two incredibly strong looking women drag a boy in an impressive straight jacket and a muffling gag/muzzle. They open the door which has two compartments like an air lock and shove the boy inside, the woman manhandles him out of the muzzle and the straight jacket. She shuts the outer door and presses a button on the keypad and the inner door opens. The boy is dragged out by a green haired male inside the containment unit and the door snaps shut.

The formerly restrained boy begins slamming on the glass screeching angrily. The quirk collar on his neck flashed showing that his quirk was trying to activate.

“I’LL KILL YOU! I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU ALL!” The two women and Shigaraki take their leave and Shouta stands there facing away from them for a few minutes. The boy slowly calms down but stares out the glass panting and huffing angrily.

He notices Shouta staring from the corner of his eye and barks.

“What the fuck are you looking at?!?” Shouta jumps as if startled though in truth he expected that response and offers a smile, he knows it's not his best by the way they stare at him.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” He gives his best smile, he can tell it's not very good by the way the children stare at him “My name is Koshima Himiki, I have the five to nine shift standing here watching you. I wanted to introduce myself but you seemed to be having a moment.” God he was exhausted. Why did people have to talk so much, more specifically why did he have to talk so much while undercover. Everything he said sounded stiff and off of a script, which in technicality it was but the thought was still there.

“YOU”RE FUCKING RIGHT I’M HAVING A MOMENT! A MOMENT OF-” He’s cut off abruptly as a boy with a large tail elbows him in the gut.

“Apologies for him, he’s a bit stressed, we all are.” The boy with the tail says, his tail flexing idly and giving a slight smile.

“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT FOR!” The boy with the tail continues unfazed.

“I’m Mashirao Ojiro.”

“And I’m Yuga Aoyama moi na mi!” A boy with mid length blonde hair said as he posed dramatically. Aizawa has to smile, it's good these kids have a sense of humor.

“Mezo Shoji.” The tallest boy in the room with strange tentacle like arms, one of which morphes into a mouth to speak. The boy is wearing a mask. Interesting, perhaps his quirk acts as a heteromorphic quirk with elements of a transformation quirk.

“I’m Toru Hagakure!” The voice seems to come from the invisible person- girl he corrects himself.- wearing an orange tracksuit. She appears to be waving at him but for all he knows she could be flipping him off.

“I’m Mina Ashido!” The girl with pink hair and pink skin gives him a brilliant smile.

“And I’m Denki Kaminari!” A boy with yellow hair and a black stripe down it grins at him. Ah, he was a high profile disappearance, the lightning boy who had taken out the power of an entire city block trying to fend off his captors.

“Kyoka Jiro.” A girl with what look like cord plugins that hang from her ears speaks in a bored manner though there is a curiosity glinting in her eyes.

“I’m Tsuyu Asui but you can call me Sui.” A girl with a frog mutation quirk gives him what he assumes is a grin given the general facial difference between her and a normal human’s, the smile is still better than his.

“I’m Tenya Iida.” A boy with glasses who used jerky hand movements spoke next. Ah this was the little brother Tensei had been so distraught over, he shared resemblance to the blue haired toddler that Aizawa had once baby sat. Ingenium would be pleased to have his younger brother back. In looks the two were basically carbon copies but from what he had heard young Iida differed from his brother in everything save looks and hero’s pride.

“Eijiro Kirishima here!” A male with spiky red hair grinned widely with one eyebrow cocked. The hardening quirk, the first kidnapping caught on camera by a civilian.

“I’m Ochaco Uraraka and this is Koji Koda!” A girl with short hair and lots of volume smiled sweetly and gestures to a male who is trying to stand behind a boy with a bird head, he peeks around the boy and waves hello somewhat shyly.

“Fumikage Tokoyami.” the child with the bird head bows his head solemnly his deep voice makes him sound far older than he actually is. The dark shadow quirk, in and out of a quirk therapist for the violent urges in the dark, and two accidental assault cases probably part of the explanation for the brightly lit cell.

“My name’s Rikido Sato.” A boy with spiky brown hair said with a grin tacked onto the end.

“Shoto Todoroki.” A boy with half white and half red hair said, his expression a poker face, his left eye surrounded by burns. Endeavor’s kid. Little did this child know they had met before, inside Endeavor’s home, on a job a long time ago. The child had bumped into him where he stood in the shadows of a doorway.

The boy had apologized and he had accepted it it was back when the child wore bandages over the burn on his left eye. They proceeded to stand together in the shadow of the doorway as Endeavor threatened a meek hero who had just seen Endeavor lay a blow to his wife.

“Why don't you step in? You’re a hero.” The boy had asked in a flat tone even then.

“It would accomplish little. If I did now he would only beat her harder later, if I pursue legal action Endeavor would bully and bribe his way to an innocent ruling. I’m forced into a useless situation.” The atmosphere between the shadowy hero and the young boy was tense. “He will get what is coming to him. His arrogance will be his downfall and his mouth his demise.”

It had been long ago, the boy had been seven.

“Hanta Sero.” A boy with odd elbows spoke with a grin that was akin to the one that belonged to the Voice Hero, Present Mic. What Shouta wouldn't give for a familiar hero by his side at this moment, he supposed he could take a shred of comfort from the somewhat familiar smile.

“I’m Izuku Midoriya!” The green haired boy smiles but seems guarded, his eyes clever but wide.

“Momo Yaoyorozu.” The girl gives him a half bow, she was one of the high profile cases, her kidnapping had caused quite a stir, taken from boarding school her parents had demanded immediate action once she was kidnapped.

“Hitoshi Shinso” The boy is slumped against a wall sitting on a cot. Shouta turns and looks expectantly at the blonde aggressive boy who is huffing and grumbling to himself.

“Kacchan tell him your name.” Midoriya mutters through a smile directed at Shouta, there’s a note of frustration in her tone.

“I’LL TELL HIM MY NAME IF I FUCKING WANT TO.” Kirishima, the red haired boy, grins at Shouta and speaks up.

“This is Katsuki Bakugou.” The boy who fought back, survived his initial kidnapping, was kidnapped successfully, escaped, and was kidnapped for a third and final time. He punches the red haired boy in the shoulder and barrates him, Kirishima grins and winces away from the punches. Shouta attempts to beam at the children, he know he looks odd, but he needed to keep up the facade for a few weeks before he could even give them a clue he was a pro hero. The group stands in silence as Shouta organizes his thoughts. Thankfully it's not actually he who has to lead the conversation as Kaminari asks a question Shouta had been attempting to figure out how to phrase himself.

“What’s your quirk.” Though relieved he tries to give the impression of surprise, he shoots the blonde haired child a smile, god his face hurt. He rubs the back of his neck and chuckles.

“Actually I’m uh… I’m quirkless.” He gives them a half smile which looks roughly embarrassed, maybe he should be concerned with the fact he doesn't know how to smile, it's becoming increasingly more relevant than he had thought it to be. The children blink at him. “Sorry if it’s pushy, but now that you’ve asked me can I ask what your quirks are?”

They go through the list, once again Bakugou refuses to talk but he is helpfully supplied by the others that the blonde child sweats nitroglycerin and can detonate it. Some of the quirks he knows instantly like the mutation quirks, others he knew already, others still needed lengthy information to convey the full scope. Though he knew it was a versatile bunch of kids he hadn't expected a Mindjack quirk or a Creation quirk, both were useful and would be helpful in aiding their escape, he would have to incorporate them into his plan and make adjustments.

A relatively natural conversation follows, at some point they end up discussing if cats or dogs are better, however they never once make reference to the hellish lab they are trapped in.

“I’m just saying dogs are like super great! They are so lovable and sweet!” Uraraka said, she was a bit embarrassed that she seemed to be losing an argument with the casual man leaning against the glass.

“And high matinence.” Momo says as she sides with Koshima. She brushes back her long dark hair as the argument shifts into a debate over what means a pet is right for you.

“At least cats use the restroom in the same place, unlike dogs.” Hitoshi says leaning his mop of purple hair against the one of the walls. “I have a cat at my foster home. I mean it's not really mine but he’s a little grey cat with big green eyes and he sleeps with me every night. His name is Charlie.” He pauses and realizes his point was not taken so he elaborates. “My point was, I’m biased.”

“Don't you kind of have to be biased to be on one side or the other?” Kaminari laughs as he shrugs. “I love dogs! I always wanted one but my apartment is to small so my mom said no.”

“I wanted a dog too! My parents gave me a little one when I was really small but I turned out to be allergic so we had to give the dog away.” Sero gives a grin.

“Do you have a cat Mr. Koshima?” The green haired boy asks.

“Not right now but I’ve had three. When I was a kid I had a black cat named Enoch who was the sweetest thing, he lived 17 years and died when my mother accidentally ran him over.” Shouta neglected to mention that that accidental happenstance hadn't in fact been very accidental. “Then when I was in high school I lived on campus for the last year and I had two cats then, one was named Fred and I picked him up off the street. He was a nice tabby, the most polite tom cat that ever lived, only thing was he only had one eye. So he needed a lot of attention and was jumpy if you approached his bad side. Then I also had a cat named Pepper during that time who was also a black cat and she was moody but I wouldn't have traded her for the world. I had to give up both when I moved out but they’re being taken care of by an old friend.” Technically not a lie, Mic is still taking care of his cat right now, Fred was probably at home basking in  the attention the voice hero was no doubt showering him with.

The conversation that follows is natural for the most part and only forced on Shouta’s side, god he’s never had to talk this much in normal conversation with anyone. The closest he had ever gotten was with a student in his class who had asked if he was married, and that one english teacher at his school, Yamada who didn't seem to understand social cues.

As they chat he filters everything through his mind, a plan is forming. There was a vague idea of what they were to do but it would all rely on how long Shouta could stay hidden and how much information he could collect.

He leaves at 9 when a solemn man with his mouth sewn shut comes to relieve him of his duty. The man is silent and the children shy away from the glass when the man enters. He tries to greet the man but is met by a cold stare. He quickly excuses himself and heads to his house.

Tucking himself under the stiff covers that smell faintly of an undiscovered mold he curls up as the sleeping pills grip his mind, dragging him under into a sleep without dreams, only an empty numbness.

Chapter Text

The following morning he watches the sliver of the orange sun peek over the horizon as he lays on his side peering through drapes of dark hair that cascades over his face. He can already feel the tell tale itch of stubble as it grows. He lays in bed for a couple moments more as the sun creeps up upon the city, sparking off buildings bathing the city in a golden light not fit for a day when children still cowered in a cell beneath the city. He sits up and his very bones shriek in protest. His hair falls limply over his eyes as he takes a moment to adjust himself. He's a hero, he's been a hero for quite some time and each and every morning he feels the toll it has taken on his body. His lips press into a thin line as he rolls his shoulders trying to loosen the never-ending ache in his muscles. He stretches widely, pulling a muscle in his neck he winces, rubbing it he sits in bed, his ministrations slowing. Slowly he cast off the thin and stiff sheets, shifting his legs off the bed staring down at his feet. Squeezing his eyes shut he imagines he's at home grading papers with a protein jelly in one hand as he mars the sheet with streaking red grades. He imagines he's got Mic on a call as the voice hero chats incessantly trying to socialize as Aizawa, glad his slight grin is hidden over the phone, dutifully reminds the voice hero he's supposed to be on a steak out and it was Eraserhead's night off.

Pushing himself off the bed he rolls his shoulder again. He stumbles into the kitchen, there's a protein jelly packet laying on the counter, empty from 'dinner' last night. He takes a full packet and opens it and sucks it all down in one clean movement. He slams his hand against the counter and immediately rewarded with a dull pain racing up his wrist. Swiping both packets into the trash, he runs his hands through his hair wincing as it catches.

He moves to the bathroom and scowls at his reflection as he brushes his hair, grabbing it in large chunks and brushing it out. Finding a half empty bottle of shaving cream in his bag and a razor he hadn't known he had owned until he had been looking for one for this trip. Nicking  his chin in the process his scowl deepens, his brow furrows. He wipes the blood away and with a tissue and turns away from the mirror. 

He sifts through his bag, pulling his capture weapon from it's folds. Laying them on his temporary bed he tugs his shirt over his head and winds them up around his chest then up over his shoulders around his chest and down his arms. 

He pulls a black t-shirt over his head and manages to pull some pants up around his waist. Tightening his belt Aizawa realized, that for the first time in... years, he had time to kill. Time that wasn't being spent in a dank ware house waiting for some crooks to make a fatal mistake so he could descend upon them in a whirling storm of grey ribbons, time that wasn't tied up bound by some strange mastermind aiming to eliminate the erasure hero.

So, that's how Aizawa Shouta finds himself with a radio turned on to a particular voice hero's radio show attempting to bake a semi decent batch of cookies with the ingredients past their due date in the cabinets that were there when he moved in. 

After two burned batches, a batch that wouldn't set at all, and one that when he pulled the dish from the oven he had somehow miraculously turned his uncooked dough into some of the strangest looking pastries he had ever seen. They tasted somewhat decent... if cookies were meant to be made without sugar. 

Eventually he gave up and resigned himself to a nap, falling asleep to the gentle song on the radio and Mic's grating voice over it commentating some thing or another.

He wakes up to the sharp trilling of his alarm as his phone has a minor anyerism trying to remind him to go to work. Silencing the device with a touch, Aizawa turns to the portable radio and turns the knob, quieting the music now playing without Mic's narration.

Standing and moving to rake his fingers through his hair moves to the door. HE rolls his shoulders and casts a look over his shoulder at the dingy apartment which was serving as his home and for only a brief moment he feels a pang of home sticness in his stomach, missing his home, his sleeping bag, his cat mugs and his very hidden but highly coveted hero figures. 

He misses his cats, he misses watching them knock down the old All Might figures from his childhood as he lines them up just to see them again. He misses scolding them even as they try to chew off the hands of the figures. He's not a sentimental man, truly, Aizawa has never placed much value in things, but the figures remind him of a childhood he barely got to have.

He's home sick for the cat café on the corner, he's homesick for the stupid potted plant that he cant seem to keep alive that tries to grow each spring but enevitably withers when Aizawa does it in. He misses his tea, he misses his familiar but cheap groaning bed. 

Shoving down the panging in his chest he narrows his eyes and contents himself with this place, that is a house and somehow even less of a home than the place he had made for himself, because, beyond everything he misses the little niche he had carved for himself in this world.

He turns, and locks the door behind him.

When he shows up at work he has time for a brief moment where Orito attempts to explain knock knock jokes to him before promising to give him a better explanation when Aizawa left and would have free time before sending him down the hall ways.

Walking down the halls he bumps into a pink haired young woman, she grins and asks him if he is the newbie.

“This is my second day. I’m Koshima Himiki.” He gives her his best charming smile. His face aches with the effort of contorting into a smile.

“Nice to meet you Koshima!” Shouta waits for a moment, waiting for an introduction then somewhat tentatively then asks.

“What’s your name?” She looks crest fallen for a moment but recovers quickly with a blinding smile not unlike the ones he's seen other heroes use to comfort hostages in high tension situations.

“I told you already, don't worry though my quirk makes people forget my name, just call me Pinky!” She points to her hair in explanation. “I’m surveillance security, now I wont stall you because I know how Shigaraki gets! I wouldn't want to lose a new face when it just got here.” Elbowing hard in the ribs and sending him off with a flurry of finger guns and a wink she prances down the hall to the security office.

The day is not a reflection of the first with simple note taking but instead Shouta is forced to watch as Tenya is brought out onto a glorified hamster wheel and forced to run as Shigaraki jots notes and using a control panel would the speed of the wheel abruptly. He watched the blue haired teen fall and trip multiple times and with each step Tenya took Shouta felt his rage grow, each step helping to fuel the righteous fire growing within him. He forces himself to keep his face blank and mildly friendly instead of letting the scowl grow on his lips.

He watches Shigaraki’s fingers flash across the keys as the man takes notes. He can read a little over his shoulder. It's about top speeds and incorporating it into a human without the mutation of engines in some part of the body.

There are notes that sicken Shouta, notes about the internal workings of Iida’s engines… notes that could only be taken if one had dissected the male’s calves to see the inner workings of his legs. That would explain the rust colored bandages wrapped strategically around the speedster’s engines. Shouta clenches his hands and bites his tongue. He stares forward blankly. Stealth is key, he can not give this up yet.

That night they make no mention of the encounter or the scrape on Iida’s chin from the falls in the running machine. Instead conversation is drawn to his capture weapon by none other than the talkative and friendly Kirishima.

“Why do you wear those bandages? Not that I don't like them, I think they’re SUPER manly!” Kirishima’s wide grin makes Shouta falter, he had not thought out that story, so instead he gives them the true story, or rather a slightly modified version of it.

“Well ah.” He rubs his neck. “My sister would… well she would harm herself and she hid the marks with bandages and I didn't realize until a whole lot later I just looked up to my sister and thought it was some style thing. Fashion was never my forte you see. I started wearing ribbons around my arms and it kind of stuck with me also it's a good way to keep my arms warm and also wear a T-shirt.” He decides not to mention it was a versatile weapon as well that would aid in their escape. The children seem to know its a sore topic and avoid it like the plague for the rest of the night.

That night he attempts to greet the somber man with his mouth sewn shut again. The man looks pointedly at him and points to his mouth with a curt gesture. Aizawa replies fluently with his hands in sign language repeating his greeting and asking if the man could respond to him like that.

The man makes a slight about his intelligence and sends Aizawa on his way and Aizawa realizes as his back hits the futon that he never did find out the man’s name.

The next night he makes an effort of it, insisting for a name. The name he got was… remarkably American. It wasn't a traditional Japanese name unless Aizawa had somehow been deprived of knowing the many Japanese Toms there were in this world.

When he comes in the next evening the kids are unusually quiet. When he enters Ayoma presses a finger to his lips while fluttering his eyelashes and points to Shoji who is lying face up on his cot with an arm thrown around Tokoyami who looks like he would rather be anywhere but there.

A closer look at the situation shows that Shoji is very much asleep and Tokoyami is being used like an oversized teddy bear. Aizawa can't help the genuine smile that bubbles up behind his eyes, his mouth however remains pressed into a thin line.

“How-” He starts to ask the question and Tokoyami cuts him off with a hiss. The teeth which by all logic should not be there are gritted together. The feathers across his face do little to hide the flush behind them ruffled angrily.

“If you wake him up I will murder you.” This time Aizawa’s grin pulls up on his face genuine and true.

“What the fuck is the big deal?” Bakugou isn’t yelling as is his trademark, though whether that's because he has a sore throat or is he’s been cowed into submission by the others is anyone's guess.

“Obviously Tokoyami has a crush on Shoji otherwise he wouldn't be so nervous about this.” Todoroki speaks with a flat bored tone.

"That's not-!" Tokoyami hisses in a whispery yell before being interrupted.

“Seconded.” Shinsou says as he raises a hand with a glint in his eyes though his face remains a blank mask.

Tokoyami lunges forward out of Shoji’s grip at the red and white haired male only to be caught by Shoji in his sleep who rolled over pinning the Bird headed male under one arm. When they hear Tokoyami speak again his voice muffled by the cot and full of resignation.

“I am unable to move, please continue on without me.” Aizawa scoffs but he leaves that night with the remnants of a  smile clinging to his lips, and a touch of humor in his eyes.

His job progresses a lot like that for the next 2 weeks. Chatting with the children had been helpful, between learning activities of other guards from them and odd bits of information, he had gained their trust, or at least they thought he was oblivious enough that he wasn't a threat to them.

He had made ‘friends’ - as best as one could call them -  with the employees of the laboratory. The pink haired woman had coffee for him nearly every day and would linger in the door waiting for him. She never brought up the fact that no fully functioning human being who didn't work a 12 hour shift should be drinking coffee at one in the afternoon. Tom is… antisocial but Aizawa would be a hypocrite if he said it. Orito greets him every morning with a smile and a new knock knock joke, Aizawa has taken to quick puns in return if he can think of any and if he can’t he laughs, though it is forced the man's jokes occasionally draw a genuine chuckle from him. Orito was by far the easiest to make conversation with and pull information from. Orito is actually American and spoke English far better than Japanese, after explaining what a knock knock joke was it had become a greeting between them. Orito usually has to explain the jokes and sometimes even translate whole phrases. One morning Orito makes a joke that makes him burst into true laughter.

“Koshima do you speak English well?” The greeting is different from their now usual greeting of Knock Knock.

“I passed the class but only barely.” It’s not a lie, he was never good at English, and he had forgotten nearly everything he had learned, he doubted he could have passed without the free tutoring his teacher offered after school. He had never seen the point really, he would never have the money to travel for pleasure and when he traveled for business there was always a translator, besides he had enough on his plate without slogging through the new territory of a foreign language.

“Well I hope you remember a little from your second year of classes, this is one of my favorites. Knock Knock.”

“Who is it?” Aizawa tries to reply in English every time but it always sounds butchered when he says it.

“Whom.” Aizawa pauses and cross checks it with the English lessons he had been taught and bursts into pure laughter, the joke takes him by suprise.

The pink haired woman greets him again with a smile while grabbing coffee from a breakroom Aizawa had yet to find and pillage, she hands him the cup with a knowing grin before telling him she was just glad she got to stall going back to the security room leaving him with a wink she disappears down a side hall and he walks on.

The rest of the day is not quite as good.

Shigaraki is muttering to himself all throughout testing. Asui trips and falls during an endurance test and he kicks her hard in the side. Grinning down at her the blue haired man’s face stretches into a sickening smile.

“If you can’t do it don't worry, I’m sure I could find out just as much about you dead than alive." He pauses slightly. "I wonder if it would be like dissecting a frog.”

Aizawa’s hands clench. He can not believe that he is related to this villian. A tiny part of him, a wicked part, says he could have prevented this, if he had adopted the boy when his mother had died. But he was 19 then, he couldn't have had a child, he had an abusive mother he had just escaped. He knew nothing of parenting, and his limited view was skewed, he would have been a terrible father. Nonetheless a tiny niggling what if stayed in his head spilling doubts.

Asui is on her feet in an instant, the threat had been cruel and though unfounded it had scared her.

When Shigaraki finally went to leave, Aizawa let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. At least now he would be able to spend some time with the children, who troublesome though they may be, were always beacons of light in the midst of this criminal facility.

Iida had his face buried in his hands and was crying.

“Whoa what happened? You ok Iida?” He furrowed his brows, chances were Iida had just cracked under the pressure. That wasn't good, a child struggling from any sort of early onset PTSD before he was even out of danger would make this operation a whole lot more risky. A shudder wracks Iida’s body. The boy is surrounded by friends. They murmur comfort and pat his back. The boy looks up between his fingers and sucks in a breath gathering himself.

“I apologize, I was merely taking a moment to myself.” His voice has a forced calm which contrasts with the streaks of tears beneath his skewed glasses, the boy's normally active hands clench the uniform all the children must wear. Shouta leans his head so that his forehead is pressed against the glass, a troubled look on his face. He knows that what he’s about to do could risk the mission, but damn it he’s a sucker for kids. The children stay by Iida as the seconds tick past.

“You should hold hope, there could be a pro hero just waiting to save you.” He says softly, he doesn't often let his emotions play across his face but he knows the children can see the pain. At their questioning looks he gives a slight smile, this time its genuine.

“That's what I used to do… when mom hit me or my sister, I was a huge All Might fan, I used to hope he would burst through my window one day and take me and my sister away from my mom… then when I realized how small a chance that was I started wishing for any hero. Maybe someone in the facilities is actually an underground hero or something.” He pauses to mutter under his breath in a tone the children cant possibly hear. "Not like the place is subtle." He lets out a breath, he wishes he could take them tonight, but he needs the files on Shigaraki computer in order to close this place down for good.

“If there was a hero here they would have saved us as soon as they knew we were here.” Bakugou shoots him a glare, but there is hurt in his angry eyes, the blonde haired boy is quiet, a rarely shown empathy shines within him tonight.

“I guess you’re right.” That night is silent. No party offers a word the children huddle together.

When his shift ends Tom comes in and greets Aizawa with a few curt hand signals. Aizawa wishes his good evening and feigns a yawn.

Shouta steps into the night after his shift. He takes a turn down an alley and disappears. He has a meeting tonight.

 

Chapter Text

Living someone else’s life makes you think about your own.

If someone ever asked who he was before Eraserhead he would have answered Aizawa Shouta… though its not entirely the truth.

His sister said Eraserhead had stolen away Aizawa Shouta before the hero had even been a vague thought, a whisper of an idea. Perhaps that was why to this day his sister didn't approve of his night time work. She had watched her little brother stolen away as they grew.

Shouta spent so much time determined to become a hero and better society he never got a chance to have a childhood.

He had always been Eraserhead, and Eraserhead had always been Aizawa Shouta.

If he had hope back then, maybe he would have turned out different. Maybe Aizawa Shouta would have been someone who brought joy to others. He doesn't want these kids to turn out like him.

He decides the children need some hope, so he talks to one very loud and obnoxious (Endearing) hero at his meeting after the breifing. Thankfully the hero is more than obliged to agree.

The next night comes and he is once more on shift talking idly with the children. There’s a portable radio hanging around his neck. Its turned down low playing the static that comes before Present Mic’s radio show each Friday night. Suddenly in the middle of a discussion on hero internment the radio comes to life with a crackle.

“HELLOOOO Listeners!” A sudden voice cuts through the air. Aizawa turns up the volume and leans against the glass of the cell, grinning at the kids who huddle close to the glass to listen to the pro hero’s radio show. Mic’s traditional speech fills the air and he introduces his segment as a break from the norm of the ‘best beats in town’ so he can takes some fan calls. Aizawa knows that Mic has directed his producer to prioritize his number when it came through.

The children murmur along as new voices chime in. Some of them in tones of disagreement, some in hushed tones of admiration for the voice hero.

A few calls and Shouta flashes a smile at  the kids and fishes his phone out of his pocket.

“Wanna call Present Mic?” A chorus of yeses and hurahs fills the air. Dialing in the number he pauses and suddenly Mic’s voice is coming through the radio and the speaker of his phone.

“You’re on air listener got something to say to Present Mic?”

“Hello! My name is Koshima and I’m here with my class we wanted to say hi! He holds the speaker to the glass and a chorus of hellos raises up. He knows he has to be careful the kids are probably going to give a message, he needed to give Mic a signal though and it had to be tonight.

“Whoa! Big call huh must be 20 kids in that class! Tell me how are you all doing?” There’s general pandemonium before Jirou quiets the group with her hands and leans in before speaking.

“We’re good here, we could use some help Present Mic.”

“Well what can I help you with?”

“We’re in a building in-” Shouta pulls the radio from the glass with a bolt of panic, that would most definitely jeopardize everything. Shouta pulls the phone to his mouth and leans in transferring a code to the man with a simple phrase.

“Get the canary out of the cat’s mouth Mic.” There’s a pause of dead air and Mic’s laugh fills the air.

“Oh you’re that Koshima! Haven't seen you in months! Heard you got a new job!”

“Yep! How’s tricks Mic?” The cheery tone and strange mannerisms tasted strange on his tongue.

“Same as always, got a bunch of missing persons cases but I think I know where they are. If they can hold on a little longer we’ll be crushing those doors!” There it is. The kids exchange glances and a spark of hope flickers through their eyes.

“All right, you have a nice night Mic!”

“Same to you Ribbons!” As he hangs up the children stare at him and start yelling questions.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW PRESENT MIC???”

“He and I were buddies back in the day.” A total lie, they had been in the same school but the hero and he had never exchanged any words until they started hero work. He doubted the voice hero even knew they went to school at the same time. “He used to cat sit for me sometimes, we exchange a few words now and then.” He grins at them and is thoroughly engaged in a conversation grilling him on the habits of the voice hero.

“What’s his favorite song?”

“Is his favorite color pink? I bet it’s pink!”

“Is he gay?”

At the shocking number of questions that bombard him he holds up his hands in a mock surrender. Those were… loaded questions- well the last one was.

“His favorite song is some american thing from before you all were born, I don't remember the name, his favorite color I have no clue but I know he owns a pair of pink sweatpants so sure. He posted a photo of him in them that went viral. He had a radio segment a few months ago announcing that he is Bisexual.” So maybe he was a frequent listener, no one could judge him. They continue to shoot question he has no inkling of an idea about so he does his best to make realistic answers and evade anything directly hero related.

When Tom comes to relieve him that evening he’s filled with relief.

Tom looks away and shoves a cup of coffee into his hand. What is it with his co-workers at this place getting him coffee.

‘Its decaf.’ Tom signs with one hand before moving to stand ridgedly by the cell ignoring Aizawa’s thanks. Aizawa prays to every higher power he can think of that this was Tom’s way of expressing platonic fondness and not romantic fondness.

Walking home that night he ran a hand through his hair, it was crunchy and stiff with the gel but he knocked it more or less into its rightful place around his shoulders. Walking through mostly abandoned streets with only a few drunks and teens evading curfew about he lets a blank look back onto his face.

He walks out of the halo of a street lamp into the dark and when he emerges into the light of the next one he is no longer alone. His new companion is a tall thin man, with a shock of unruly blonde hair the hunched posture does little to make the 220cm height any less impressive. Or daunting for that matter. The gaunt face of the man adds to his eerie scarecrow-esk look. Dark shadows overfall the eyes of the figure but do not obscure the blue eyes that cut through the dark like a knife.

In Shouta’s childhood those eyes would have been made fun of, in this man’s child hood they had probably been viewed similarly. Demon eyes, they were a latent quirk. Only one in every thousand children had a latent quirk back when Shouta had been born. Now quirks were so complex nearly every child had a passive quirk to benefit their main quirk.

The eyes are forward, focused on the darkness ahead of them. They slide over to glance at him gauging his interest, Shouta keeps his eyes forward. He’s been on plenty of cases with All Might, only three have he ever spoken to the man and only on one occasion had he met the man behind the Symbol Of Peace.

“Dinner?” The man keeping pace with him asks, the voice has the same authority as All Might’s with a subdued tone.

“I already had a meeting last night, get Cockatoo to brief you.” His voice has slipped out of Koshima’s voice and was the dull monotone that was his own voice, it sounded flat in the air compared to the rich deepness of the other hero’s voice.

“I’ve already been briefed.” Shouta shoots him a glance to see the man’s eyes have returned to the darkness ahead of them. Shouta grunts and takes a turn from his usual route.

“There’s a cat cafe two blocks over.” He pauses for a beat. “You’re paying.” That draws a laugh from the man beside him.

The man chuckles and replies with a simple “I was planning on it.” They are quiet as they walt the dark roads. Buildings loom up on either side of them like watchful guardians.

Soon they’re eating  with little conversation between them. What little they have spoken has been in code names and had not been case related. While in their casual conversation Shouta slips between himself and Koshima whenever someone is close enough to hear. All Might takes no offence and seems unsurprised when he switches tone and topic quickly. Then the hero says something odd that catches his attention.

“You remind me of someone.” Aizawa processes that statement before responding flatly.

“Nana Shimura.” The man across from him gives a start, obviously not expecting for the eraser hero to hit the nail on the head. “She was your mentor, correct? Previous user of your quirk.” His voice is hushed. All Might gaped at him from across the table, there was worry flashing in those blinding rings of blue, a slight hint of betrayal if Aizawa was reading him right.

“How did you-?”

“I’m an underground hero.” Shouta pauses before diverging one of his greatest secrets. “I’m not allowed the advantage of a quirk in most of the battles I face, so I make up for my disadvantages with knowledge I shouldn't have. You forget I spent the first two years with my licence as a surveillance hero.” Aizawa can barely conceal the smirk at the surprise on the number one hero’s face melting into a slight demeanor of relaxation. A grin passed onto All Might’s face, it’s forced, and Aizawa would know, he’s seen enough of those in the mirror lately.

“How much else do you know then?” There's a tone of caution in his voice, though it is laced with an intrigued curiosity.

“Not much, I traced the quirk through reoccuring quirks using publicly available files and picked apart all of the files about you I could get clearance to. I never pried into your identity if that is what your asking. I have my suspicions of course, but I never looked into them. I don't intend to either.” The answer is rehearsed and simple.

“Oh?” All Might quirked an eyebrow.

“If a hero as public as you had gone to such pains as to keep your identity a secret you obviously don't want anyone prying.” They lapse into silence and the number one hero is shocked by the courtesy of the man before him. “Its familial by the way.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The resemblance. She was my mother’s cousin. And yes, that means Shigaraki is my 2nd cousin once removed.” All Might’s eyebrows raised to his hairline. A smile passes across his face.

“Dark hair and broad shoulders are a family trait?”

“Psychological quirks are genetically linked to dark hair and sleeping disorders. Quirk marriages that are meant to strengthen psychological quirks in the bloodline tend to bear dark haired children. The broad shoulders are courtesy of my mother, so yes.”

“A quirk marriage then?”

“6 generations of them, twelve of the most potent psychological quirks thrown into a melting pot. Unfortunately marriages like these limit the gene pool and have greatly reduced the number of psychological quirks in the general public, fully potent quirks like erasure and levitation without any sort of contact required will likely die with my sister and a few others like us who refuse to continue the quirk marriages.” Shouta takes a sip of his water, he taught genetics for 2 years, the words come naturally to him, he peers over the rim of the glass at the blonde man across from him.

The hero across from him seemed to contemplate this before nodding, before shifting slightly and revealing the true nature of his reasons for inviting Aizawa out for a meal.

“I actually asked you here because I have a personal stake in this case.” A dark eyebrow raised. Of course he did, who didn’t. “My nephew is among the kidnapped, young Izuku Midoriya- He has a powerful wind quirk. I wanted to know if he is alright.” Aizawa stares at him for a moment. In truth he’s rather relieved that Midoriya of all children is the nephew of All Might. It makes sense at least now, the shared mannerisms between the two.

“He’s the most resilient of the group most of the time.” They fall back into an easy conversation. All to soon they are outside and Aizawa gives a half bow to his companion. All Might in return bows low and it is strange to see such a large figure folded into such a pose, he raises himself.

“Good evening Ribbons, I wish you luck on your new job.”

Aizawa falls into a restless sleep without the pills that night, its filled with children with varying colors of hair begging him to let them out, suddenly he can no longer see them- They’re behind the wall. He slams at it and scratches at it with his nails to no avail. A tall scarecrow of a man with mused blonde hair walks alone through the darkness, his eyes beacons in the night. A cat winds through his legs before slitting the fabric of his pants and cutting at his achilles tendons. The static of a radio fills his head and he is falling, his eyes are closed before he comes crashing to the ground.

 

Chapter Text

When he wakes he feels like shit.

He drags himself out of bed, running a hand through his hair he sees he looks like shit too. He can't be bothered to gel his hair back or shave today so he pulls his hair back into a tight  bun and has one foot out the door before he realizes he A: Needs to put on some pants. B: Needed to grab his capture weapon. And C: Should probably shave. He does all three begrudgingly and then heads out to grab breakfast.

He eats at an American style restaurant and orders toast and fried eggs. He eats while he mentally assesses his situation. He has two heroes on standby to call in should he have to pull off this operation without warning.

Present Mic was a phone call away, Mt. Lady was stationed two blocks away in a floral shop incase anything got ugly but her quirk was not ideal unless they had to pull open the labs to make a get away. If he really needed to get help Fat Gum was within the area and would take only a few minutes to reach. All Might had also proven himself invested in the case and was probably nearby. That meant at best he was relying on 4 heroes. Good ones- But not enough. He would have to rely on stealth and the abilities of the children.

Shouta was a teacher, he wasn't blind to the potential of students, and just as he had immense respect for them for heroes he had immense respect for children who aspired to be and had the drive and potential to be heroes.

The lord knew they didn't need any heroes that had come into this world the way that he had.

Shaking his head of the intrusive thoughts he squared his shoulders and put on a false smile. He was getting better at holding up this cheery facade.

Four weeks he told himself, that was how long it would take. He only had to do this four weeks more. It was killing him but he had survived worse. He would survive worse again.

But broken arms and torture sessions that made his body scream for death was nothing like pretending to be someone else or risk his death and the deaths of many others. His smile didn’t reach his eyes that day so it was a good thing Shigaraki doesn’t him a second glance.

Holding the thought of a paycheck and 20 free children in his mind he struggles through the day.

That night he listens to the children babble on incessantly after a few compliments about his ‘Super Manly Bun’ they were doing better now, better than they had been in the past week. They talk about everything and anything, from future careers to teachers they had now. The question directed at him he almost doesn't catch.

“What did you want to be when you were growing up?” Denki has a crooked smile as he asks, it makes him pause. What did he want to be when he grew up? He had known for as long as he remembered that he would be a hero. He hadn’t wanted, he had known.

“A hero.” He shoots the children a smile, much more sincere than the ones he had given them before. “Apparently you not only need a quirk but some smarts and… I’m a little lacking in that department.”

“You don't need a quirk to be a hero! You just need to be determined!” Uraraka smiled a blinding smile at him.

“She is correct, a hero only needs to have heart!” Ojiro enthuses, and out of the corner of his eye Aizawa can see a look come over Shinsou’s face. It’s a clever devising look, one that spells trouble afoot. Shinsou quickly slips into a bored demeanor once more before he speaks, his speech is slowed as if as he plays it out he’s calculating how likely this is to fail.

“You could be a hero Koshima.” Aizawa plays a long, no need to lose his cover here and now, the plan is half baked, he can tell. “If you wanted you could open our cell, right?” That was a remarkably good attempt at manipulation, it made since Shinsou’s whole quirk was based on manipulation, why wouldn't he be good at it.

Aizawa tilts his head and smiles, he hopes at least half of these kids go on to be heroes they were like no others that he had encountered in many years. Villains would be hard pressed to evade these children if someone were to take time out of their schedule to train them. Walking over to the key card reader he pressed his to the scanner and for a few moments they waited with baited breath as it went through lines of encryption.

The red flash a the small beeping of the card reader had the teens slumping in defeat.

“Sorry… no clearance.” He shrugged and they were relatively quiet the rest of the night.

Tom shuffles in a little more drawn back than he was before on previous visits. Shoving a folded note into his hand and covering his face as Shouta stared at him in surprise. Tom hid his face as Shouta left with the distinct feeling he should open it away from the man so as he walked through the building he unfolded the note.

In perfect calligraphy Tom explained that he would like to go on a date with him but didn't want to ruin their budding friendship so if Shouta didn't return his feelings he requested the note be disposed of.

Something tugged at his gut, a dark feeling of worry. Shouta was sure Tom was a good guy on the inside... but he was aiding the enemy. Great, just another reason to get this over with as soon as possible.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and sighed and walked into the cold night.

The following day he gets an email telling him this is the last week the lab will be in this building, the moving would begin in three days and they would be moving to a smaller campus, and with a smaller campus they needed less guards and as such he was going to be cut.

Panic shot through his veins, he would need to act tomorrow.

Tonight he had to get everything ready. He had to download files, bring down security, disable cameras, see what he could do with the microphones. He had to get it all organized.

That included telling the children.

His time with Shigaraki is tense, they don't mention the fact Aizawa’s just been fired. Shigaraki walks out five minutes early and tells Aizawa to lock up the lab as he has for the past weeks. This time Aizawa pulls out his phone in the guise of checking his messages and hits a button on a small device in his pocket.

A few rooms away a security guard with short cropped pink hair sat fast asleep with liquid that was more sleeping pills than coffee dripping down her chin, her half lidded blank eyes stare at screens of static that buzzes like fuzzy snow. Remotely deactivating the cameras was simpler than he had expected, the microphones on the other hand… they were harder to turn off.

He didn’t have enough time, he would have to find a way around it.

Sitting at Shigaraki’s computer he’s typing in the password while keeping an eye on the door. Shoving the flash drive into the computer after two failed attempts he locates the locked documents. Finally all the legal proof they need.

Shigaraki thought he was so clever hiding them in a file called ‘Tax Returns’ he fills in two more passcodes before the data is before him. He loads the files in order of importance  and runs out of storage when he’s half way through. Luckily he has two.

He arrives for guard duty 10 minutes late.

“Hey have any of you seen this cat video?” Showing them his phone he watches the various looks of surprise as they read what’s been typed in the address bar.

‘The cameras will be disabled for 5 more minutes, can any of you speak sign language? Answer aloud yes or no only.’ No’s filled the air but Tenya speaks.

“Yes, me and Koda have seen the video.”

“How about this one?” Aizawa asks  them and turns it to them again.

‘I am a pro hero, I will get you out of here. All of you watch my phone as if there was a cat video on it, Tenya, Koda watch my hands. Relay to the others my plan, be quiet about it.’ Turning himself so he held the phone in one hand for the children to see his other hand was hidden behind his back so that when the cameras came on no one would see him signing to Tenya and Koda.

‘I will come in tomorrow night and open the door, I will be able to remove two quirk suppressors in the window of time we have before we must move. I will remove Hitoshi and Yaoyorozu’s quirk suppressors. If Yaoyorozu is familiar with the components of stun guns she will begin making them immediately, if not she will make as many large blunt objects like bats as she can. Hitoshi’s quirk will be useful if we are spotted he is to make conversation in order to hypnotize the person. Hagakure, Tokoyami and I will scout out hallways before bringing the rest of you. Should combat ever become necessary I will deal with the threat. In the case that I am overpowered or request assistance attack at close range as a last resort. Stealth is key, once we are outside we are on a high school trip from america. I am the sole chaperone of our group. I will have a public hero waiting with a car we will get you to safety. I will then return to the lab, raise the alarm and bring the key orchestrators of this scheme to one place and I will signal the other heroes to begin the raid. And we will close the net on these villains.’ Turning abruptly he lapsed into a conversation about cats. One more day he tells himself.

One last day as Koshima, one day before he could be Shouta again. One more day living on a prepaid card before he would have to return to a budget tighter than his belt. One last day these kids would be trapped. One more day before he would fade once more into obscurity with other heroes with only a few work companions to warm his soul. One more day.

He shoves his hands deep in his pockets narrows his eyes into the empty air.

He feels the loneliness sinking into his soul and sighs.

One more day.

 

Chapter Text

Turns out Pinky was easy to trick with the same trick twice. She had taken the coffee from him with a brilliant smile and a wink before turning, sipping the dark liquid as she complained of falling asleep on duty the night before. Running her fingers through pink hair braced herself on the wall as the first wave of sleeping medication floods her system. She limps down the hall, her vision darkening and shakes her head wildly rubbing her eyes. She collapses, passed out in her chair, hours before the escape and slips into dreams.

Aizawa slips in her office where he finds she has sprawled in her chair. He gently pushes her chair aside, careful not to wake her, even as he knows the sleeping pills will keep her under. With her out of the way he turns his attention to the control panels and monitors. With the cameras shut down completely and microphones jammed by a device that buzzed with life in his pocket he began briskly walking to the children's holding cell. 

His eyes are cold and clear, his mind racing and his shoulders tense. 

When he arrives he has no time for play, he’s all business, no time to dilly-dally. The kids are looking at him with a mix of apprehension and fear. Typing in the key pad and scanning the card he had stolen from Shigaraki’s pocket he ignores their hopeful glances, determined not to let his emotions get the best of him. The door eases open with a hiss. He stands in the door way gauging the possible outcomes to this, unfortunately most  of them end up with violence.

They stare at him like a figment of their imagination, shoulders tensed and eyes wary. Even Bakugou seems cowed by his presence. There’s something different in his eyes, something that belongs in the eyes of a warrior, something that belongs in the eyes of a hero.

He speaks in a solid rumbling monotone calling Shinsou forward.

“Hitoshi.” The boy stepped forward, a defiance in his eyes. Aizawa narrows his eyes. “I can only overload two, don't fidget I can’t miss a single one.” The boy stands still as Aizawa’s fingers moved deftly along the collar before inserting one of the GRUDGE sticks into the slot over powering the collar. It sliped from the teen's neck with a click and clattered to the floor, the sound echoed in the small chamber making the room feel more oppressive. As the echoes of the collision fade the purple haired young man speaks.

“Why did you stay hidden?” Aizawa’s eyes narrow and his hair shifts in it’s bun, lifting twisting free as his eyes ignite a deep crimson. The elastic band falling to the floor alongside the collar.

“Information.” He replies as he watches the fear and confusion flit over the boy’s face, a pang of guilt races through his stomach. The boy took a single unconscious step back, his eyes narrowing dangerously and he speaks a question.

“How did you-” Aizawa cuts him off and pushes him aside gently.

“My quirk nullifies yours. Yaoyorozu.”  The girl steps forward wearing a concerned expression, Aizawa allows his quirk to deactivate and felt his hair fall in dark tresses around his face. Once again he overloads the collar listening to the click and clank as it slips from her neck and hits the floor. Then he raises a single brow as he voices a question. “Stun guns?” The girl shook her head, her eyebrows knit together in concern but the hero is unfazed and simply turns his attention to the young invisible girl as he passes his order to her. “Bats.” She nodded and her arms began to shimer and he turned to Hagakure who was already removing her jumps suit ready to help. Only the collar revealing her presence.

Stepping back he looked at the children. There was pride welling up in his chest, keeping his face blank he asks them the question he has wanted to ask since he first saw them.

“Are you ready to get out of here?”

“Yes.”

“Absolutely.”

“Took you long enough.”

“Finally.”

The chorus of voices fills the air. Reaching beneath his shirt collar he withdraws the yellow goggles which had become his calling card. Pulling them up over his eyes he feels a smile twitching over his lips.

It's a dark smile, a smile that swears there will be hell to pay for what has been done to these kids, a smile that promises those who did this will get what's coming to them. It’s a cruel smile. It’s a comforting smile. It’s a smile itching for a fight, a smile that calls for blood. A smile that tells these children, that here before this man, in this wicked place, they are the safest they will ever be.

“Good, this should be easy then.” Cracking his knuckles his voice shifts into command, a voice that demands respect, tired though it may be. “The lot of you stay here, we’ll be right back.” He levels his gaze through his goggles and furrows his brows already seeing the sparks of rebellion in their eyes. “I mean it. Any one of you who's not here when I get back I’ll leave you behind.” The threat is empty,  but they don't know that. Motioning for the invisible girl to follow he slips into the shadow of the door way and beyond the threshold into hostile territory.

Moving through the halls silent as the grave the two of them slipped through the desolate and empty halls, dark, with only the sounds of distant footsteps echoing through the halls in pairs. A man with long messy dark hair and a girl who may as well have had no hair at all slipped like wraiths through the shadowy halls. They moved quietly with their eyes peeled and ears alert.

Aizawa moves fast, the girl must run to keep up. He’s silent as the grave, she clunky and loud, at least to her own ears. He blends in so well with the darkness that even she feels exposed. His head swivels as they move through the dark hallways, his ears, mostly obscured by dark tresses twitch and strain for any noise. They make it far enough and he nods.

They turn to move back retracing their steps, then he freezes where he stands. Slowly he backs up into the wall. Pressing himself flat against it he seemed to fall into shadow. Only the glint of his goggles in the darkness reveal the hidden threat, like the amber eyes of a predator. Hagakure feels something wrap around her waist and she has to stifle the urge to scream. Looking down she can make out the ribbons around his arms had snaked out to pull her against the wall. One moving to cover the flashing red LED in her collar.

Two quirks!?!

Then she heard it, the sound of padded footsteps echoing through the hallway. And two men round the corner. One has tall dark ears which move around his head picking up on any sound. She bates her breath, trying to be quieter. The other has the triangular ears of a cat and walks with grace. His feet move silently across the floor, only his partner’s feet make any sound. They walk like animals stalking prey.

They seem as if they are about to pass both of them without any trouble when the man with the tall ears stops. His ears swivel around his head and his nose twitches. He turns his head and looks directly into her eyes. She’s about to scream, it’s bubbling through her chest, almost spilling out her lips. But his eyes are unseeing of her, they fix on Koshima, if that truly was his name, beside her.

Koshima is springing into action before her eyes can register. The ribbons are already whipping out  to grab the man. They swirl in the air, moving forward grabbing the man around the waist, binding his arms to his sides. Koshima’s hand grips the ribbons around his neck as if keeping them from spinning out of control. One foot makes savage contact with the man’s gut, knocking him back, the ribbons pulling taught and pulling the man directly into the right hook delivered by the hero.

The other man with the triangular cat like ears starts to run, his fingers fumbling to unhook the short distance radio at his hip. Hagakure is close enough that she can see between the slats in the glasses, just barely, and she can see those dark eyes and the almost imperceptible shift to catch the man in their gaze. Flashing red and suddenly the streamers are whipping out, grabbing the radio and yanking it away from the man, crushing it in the soft grasp of fabric. The metal and plastic pieces clatter to the floor as Koshima suddenly launches himself at the new target.

His elbow connects with the man’s chest, his fist quickly moving to connect with the man’s nose, a sickening crack fills the air and the man falls back unconscious. Hagakure’s eyes are fixed on the hero, only the slight click of a safety drawn back draws her eyes to the long eared man. The dark haired man turns abruptly.

The grey ribbons are lax around their former prey, the hero’s hand stretches out in front of him spread. The ribbons begin to swirl around the man, but it’s not fast enough, nothing will be. The man’s fingers tighten around the trigger.

Hagakure is frozen in fear. The world is frozen, the hero in a half crouch as if he is about to leap, one hand extended before him commanding the ribbons around the guard with the gun. She’s about to watch their only hope die and she cant even move.

Then the metal folding chair connects with the guard's head. Drawing her attention to the man with short cropped dark hair who held the metal folding chair. He wears a guard uniform, and as her eyes fix on him she recognizes him. His lips are sewn together in a criss crossing pattern in metal wire, a picture of agony on the stoic cold face, just below the icy eyes, now filled with a foreign mirth. It the man who has guard duty after Koshima leaves.

His eyes do not find her, they stare forward down the hallway at Koshima. The man drops the chair, his hands falling to his side. Koshima straightens, waiting for the guard to make a move. In the darkness she can see a slight reflection off the man’s key card. Tom, the severe faced man’s name was Tom. Tom’s hands twitch. Then slowly one hand moves up to his lips. He makes the universal sign for quiet. Koshima stares down the hall at him. Tom winks, and begins to hum walking back down the way he came, twirling his keys as if he had not seen the hero.

She thinks she sees a smile smile twitch across Koshima’s face but in the darkness it could be a trick of the light.

Once both offending guards are bound in the strange ribbons around his arms which seem to have migrated up to his neck, they return to the others.

They are not nearly as silent as when it was only Koshima and Hagakure but for a group of 20 children and a pro hero they are remarkably quiet.

Only once does Koshima stop them. He holds his hand up in a silent signal to halt and briefly leaves the group in the dark hallway. They stay there cowering in the darkness when they hear the shattering of an electrical device and a few murmured curse words in an oddly high pitched voice. There's a sudden thump and the hallway lights up crimson as a ball of red fire wizzes by. It hits the wall and dissipates leaving them in darkness. There are a few more murmured curses and the sound of a body hitting the wall hard.

The dark haired hero returns to them and leads them past a body wound in ribbons like an insect in a cocoon without comment.

A few turns and uniform hallways later there are two men bound and gagged in thick black binding, a dark tar like liquid oozing in an imitation of rope.

The hero seems unfazed, he stalks forward and kicks at the bonds. Though the children haven't even seen his face twitch in any major way since he slipped into this hero persona. The corner of his mouth twitches and they cant see his eyes. He reaches out and picks up a note card laying on the ground before the two men. He flips it over and in neat handwriting.

A gift, between friends.

The lips of the hero press into a thin line.

He leads the children onward.

Through dark hallways they stalk, the world devoid of footsteps save their own.

And before they know it a single door is between them and freedom. The hero opens the door and leads them into the night.

A laugh burbles up on some of their lips at how close freedom had been, others stay silent, waiting for the trap, some twirl in the night air, breathing in the fresh, unrecycled air, but still the hero ushers them on.

They move between the buildings until they get to the road where a single vehicle waits in the halo of a street lamp. It's a large van with a rather nondescript delivery logo on it. The hero opens the back doors and motions the children in. They pile in, its crowded. The man steps in behind them and shuts the door and the van rumbles to life, creeping down the street undetected.

Suddenly the man’s posture changes. He’s no longer the ever vigilant hero who just saved them, he’s no longer the calm and nonchalant man carrying the name of Koshima suddenly he is simply a man who is tired. Tired of living in someone else’s skin, tired of being something he’s not, simply tired.

“Well I’ll take that as a roaring success.” The voice that comes from the driver's seat is chipper and a familiar head of blonde hair turns, one hand on the road, peering over gold tinted glasses with green eyes. The children shrink back from the voice hero, to unnerved from their experiences to greet the hero with open arms. They huddle close to their savior, a hand reaches out and clutches the fabric of his suit as Ashido buries her face in his loose fitting tracksuit as even she with her infallible energy fails to put up a brave façade. Iida stands with his shoulders locked, one arm holding close his companions, a tall and unyielding sentry, his expression is hard and determined. One of the children is crying, sobbing softly.  

“Mic-san you should keep your eyes on the road.” Another voice speaks, a rumbling baritone. A second figure leans back to gaze at the children. He’s tall and gaunt, slouching in his seat, his body seems to thin, ill suited for him. His eyes a blazing blue under a cover of darkness. His lank blonde hair fluffs up in a shock at the back and lies limp in two long bangs.

Koshima shifts at their presence.

“You weren’t supposed to be here.” The dark haired hero says flatly. The blonde man bows his head in acknowledgement to the monotone statement.

“I wished to come.” Midoriya, the young green haired lad started suddenly, turning his face from his hands with big eyes.

“Uncle Yagi!” His yelp causes the others to flinch.

“Quiet.” Their dark haired savior doesn't raise his voice, he speaks with a level calm. He slumps against the back of the van exhausted.

The vehicle rumbles down the streets and the dark haired hero speaks in a tired voice, his eyes shut, his head leaning against the metal doors of the van. He speaks stiffly as if using flash cards .

“I would request when you are, as you no doubt will be, interviewed by the press that you don't go into detail about me. Don't describe me or mention my alias, if you must refer to me please refer to me as an underground hero. The safety of others like you may rely on it.” Its flat, and he’s used it before with hostages and kidnapping victims, it tends to be effective though.

The children seem about to make their promises or objections when Present Mic’s voice cuts through the air with a worried tone. His eyes peering over the tinted sunglasses in the rearview mirror as his hands deftly move the van through dark streets and the halo of a street lamp every few blocks.

“Aren't there supposed to be 20 children?” Aizawa’s eyes snap open. He’s up like a shot. He’s counting heads so fast he doesn't register the worry on the children’s faces. He counts once, twice. His hands close in fists as he notes the one missing head among the bunch.

“Asui.” His voice is sharp as he recognizes the lost child. He turns to the door. “I’m going back.”

A hand falls on his scarves. The tall blonde man has contorted himself to hold the dark hero.

“You cannot go back, you have risked more than anyone else.” Cool blue rings of fire burn into the dark haired man's somber defiant eyes. Koshima scowled at the thin man, a foreign expression to the children.

“I must.” He turned and opened one of the van’s doors and crouches ready to leap. “You two must deliver the children to the safe house and alert the others like planned. Come as soon as possible.” The hero slides his goggles over his eyes. “We may have trouble.” And with that grey ribbons flew into the night, flashing, gripping the nearest street lamp and pulling him into the darkness. Vaulting into the night.

Shouto pulled the door shut behind the hero and the children huddled together as the van rolled down isolated roads.

 

Chapter Text

Flying over the dark streets as a thin veil of rain pittered in the streets dampening the roads, forming shallow puddles in the streets the hero vaulted between buildings and over the sleeping city. As the wind whips his hair from his face he glares through the slits of his goggles, how could he have been so foolish, so careless this close to the end. He grits his teeth into a snarl as he flies through the darkened city, his silhouette on the moon drawing the attention of a few passerbys, couples swooning in the streetlamps all of them oblivious to the figure darting over head.

When the lab is finally in sight he takes it upon himself to be slightly less obvious.

He moves through the shadows, his hair falling in front of his eyes as he slips close to the building.

Aizawa kicks in a window cursing himself for not taking a head count. He drops through dark halls and takes out two more guards, his anger radiating from his taught form as he makes short work of them. He growls to himself in the darkness as he takes jerky prowling steps. He’s cleared the hallways when he hears whimpering. His head snaps so fast he pulls a muscle in his neck but he refuses to pause for the pain.

“Shut up!” The voice is unmistakably Shigaraki’s, sharp, niggling and worrisome. Aizawa tenses he pushes open the door and sees Asui, her arm in Shigaraki’s lethal grip, the blue haired man leering at her. His head turns when the hero enters and he smiles a sickening smile. Aizawa’s face twitches, they’ve done this song and dance before.

“Ah, here he is our little rat. I should have known it was you when my computer logged extra hours. Silly me, I assumed it had updated in the night.” The man casts the frog girl aside striding forward, his smile contorts into a scowl. “I don't know how you did it but cut our communication near completely, but don't worry, the number one is coming to pick up his prize.” Aizawa lets a scowl play on his lips when in reality he wants to grin. This is better than he thought.

One final boss. He cracks his knuckles and leans low in a fighting stance. Shigaraki holds up his hands in mock surrender.

“He might even let the girl go.” Shigaraki grins at him. Pleading? Bargaining? Not Shigaraki’s style. “Assuming you can beat his champion.”

Well, Aizawa should have no trouble beating in the blue haired villain's nose, he might even take some joy in it. Shigaraki seems to know his thoughts because once more in that over confident tone of his he replies.

“I'm not the final boss hero! Meet, Nomu!” He slams a hand against a button on the wall and the wall furthest from Aizawa lights up.

Glass, a cell like the ones the children had been kept in. The creature behind the glass is no child though. A looming dark figure, an amalgamation, strange and bird like and hulking. It raises a single giant fist and slams against the glass. Cracks radiated out from its fist, its giant hand would hold a young child with no difficulty. It strikes again in the same place and the glass shatters. Shards dance across the room like lethal rain. They sparkle through the air striking the Asui who colaspes on the floor her long tounge curling as she whimpers. Shigaraki stands in the midst of it all ignoring the sharp splinters of glass that embed themselves in his back. The hulking figure steps out from the shattered glass. Shigaraki points at Aizawa and the resounding call to attack and Aizawa is leaping into motion. He wasn't fast enough, they had completed their project.

He had read the reports, as strong as All Might, as stupid as an ox, and if all had gone right, with all the quirks of his children.

Given by the fact as soon as he launches himself around the Nomu to deliver a kick to his head he's not bathed in fire he can assume the Nomu isn't at its strongest. When no quirk activates immediately he has to assume whatever they succeeded in doing wasn’t offensive. The sharp kick to the back of the thing’s skull sends a tremor reverberating up through his skin, he feels like all the bones in his leg are going to shatter. His ribbons tear out to pull him away as the Nomu turns to deliver a blow that would have been fatal had Shouta remained where he had been.

Hardening.

Great.

He activates his quirk and his eyes ignite in a crimson read, his hair flying about him as he comes in to deliver another blow. This one has the creature stumble, if ever so slightly. It was yet to be seen if this thing was a mindless drone or if it had thoughts and had to be treated as a person with rights. Either way, the erasure hero’s mouth tightens, a blade would be required to weaken this creature. He launches himself forward ripping the knife from his belt.

He makes a slash on its forearm as it moves to block him but he swings around with his capture weapon and adds a few slice marks across it’s back. The lacerations would have killed any normal man, but this creature was no man. The moment he blinked, his hair falling to his shoulders the creature’s wounds were healing.

This time he wastes no time aiming for broad sweeping slices, he drives the knife into its eye trying to permanently damage it as he pounds on the glass dome which shielded the creature’s brain. He’s being thrown off, cast away by the giant fist, he falls to the ground hard and feels something in his left arm give as a crunch fills his skull. His shoulder aches.

He’s on his knees, nearly on his feet when the hand catches the back of his head and slams him into the lab floor. And again. And again.

His vision swims as warm trickles of crimson drip down his face, his head is ringing. He’s sure the creature’s quirk has been erased, the creature is strong without it, stronger than any hero he’s ever sparred with and any villain he had locked horns with. He watches as the wine like substance drips onto the ground before him before the floor rushes to greet his face. He strains against the grip on his skull as it pulls at the roots of his hair.

Vaguely he can hear Shigaraki speaking in the distance. Speaking to who… his head is numb, he can't seem to think straight, something is wrong, his body is screaming in agony through his mouth stays silent.

Oh.

OH.

Shigaraki is speaking to him. Well that was rather annoying. Clearing his mind of the pain to hear the villain he catches the tail end of a monologue.

“You heroes are so predictable, and you all crumble when one slips through your fingers. So how does the perfect image of the vigilantism fall when his pride is damaged? Let's find out shall we?” The blue haired man whirls, his palm outstretched, quirk active, ready to watch the girl dissipate into nothing, his hand barely grazes her face, her eyes dilating in fear. The world stills, frozen.

“Damn it.” Shigaraki stands, the girl scrambles from him in fear, tripping over her own feet. “You are really cool.” He casts a single glance over his shoulder at the hero, who glared at him, his eyes bloodshot, his hair flying up between the Nomu’s fingers. Coppery liquid dripping down the heroes face, the snarl on his lips as his body strained against the force behind it. Eyes glowing with red rage, teeth bared even as blood drips into the hero’s mouth.

The blue haired male paced up to him and crouches before the hero who gazes at him, his hair still whipping around.

“How long can you hold this hmm? How long do you plan to? Until someone comes to save the you?” He watches the hero’s defiant expression and scratches his jaw idly. “No, you don't care about your own safety here are you, you care about the girl. Do you really think you’ll be able to save her? Are you waiting for a last minute rescue, some bout of heroism perhaps? Well hero, you’re about to--!”

The door to the lab slam open and a tall severe man stands there. His pale hair swept to the side, his eyes wild and excited. Fingers move to the stitches that keep his mouth sewn shut, they rip and tear the metal strands out and the man’s mouth falls open.

An oily black tar like substance spills out and sloshes forward it hits Shigaraki full force and sends the man tumbling, the substance coiling around its prey.

Tom launches himself forward onto Shigaraki who was screaming and trying to remove the liquid from him. Tom’s sharpened teeth sank deep into the man’s shoulder as Tom shakes his head trying to rip off a chunk of the villain’s arm.

The Nomu releases Shouta to save it’s master and suddenly the hero can breath, realizing that yes, without his chest pinned to the ground by the bulk of the creature it is significantly easier to breath. He’s on his feet in seconds, cradling his bad arm. He falls and catches himself on a wrist that is most definitely broken a sob nearly makes its way from his throat. He stumbles forward.

He scoops the frog girl up in his arms and is running, his feet hitting the ground silently when the world turns and everything is shaking.

The wall to the right collapses in on itself and a familiar hulking form, the form of a hero of the people steps in. Fiery blue rings pierce the shadows. Two long blonde tufts of hair nearly brush the ceiling. He puts his hands on his hips and pauses for a slight moment.

He’s not smiling. He says something but Aizawa can only stare up at him with a dumb look on his face, the girl in his arms clings to him.

Another figure enters the wreckage, long blonde hair done up like a cockatoo. As the figures of more and more familiar heroes enter the room the man pushes up his glasses, opens his mouth, and the most beautiful sound Aizawa has ever heard comes out ringing into the room.

It’s the sound of victory.

He falls to his knees, his vision going black, the girl in his arms clinging to him. His head connects with the floor once more and it greets him with a sickening crack.

He wakes to the soft beeping of a heart monitor, the sterile scent of a hospital filling the air and the familiar press of a quirk suppressing collar, standard in most hospitals in case of panic, around his neck. He opens his eyes despite how dry they feel and stares up at the hospital ceiling. It’s a familiar place. The stiff uncomfortable blankets against the standard gown, his bandages are wrapped up around his face, his arms, his torso, his eyes peering between gauze curtains.

His body shouts it's protest even as he lays there. It doesn't matter if he sits up or not, he’s always alone when he comes to, he may as well lay there. Minuets tick past and he tries to sleep but his head buzzes with nervous energy, the fight still imprinted in it.

His hands twitch in their cast sending shooting pain up his arms.

He knows logically that if he’s here in this hospital and not busy decomposing at the bottom of a dumpster the heroes must have won, but it doesn't matter, he won't be satisfied until he knows every child is safe at home. Safe being a relative term for some of them, but away from that villain’s grasp.

He tilts his head and suddenly everything is very, very wrong.

Not only is that the emblem for Japan’s best hero hospital, well time to kiss that hard earned paycheck goodbye, he’s also not alone. He struggles to sit up and his heart monitor has an aneurysm as his heart rate jumps.

A tall gaunt figure is slumped in the chair, head having fallen forward, chin tucked against chest, long bangs hanging down past an overshadowed face. His shoulders relax as he recognizes the figure and he sighs rolling his eyes. The man has a heart to big for his own good, Shouta mentally scolds the scare crow of a man.

He starts to shift his leg and finds that something has thoroughly attached itself to him. Its a girl with cascading green hair and a wide mouth not built for her face, a pink tongue hanging a foot out of her mouth, she's plastered against his leg dozing, the rhythmic falling and rising of her chest displaying a peaceful rest she has not had in years.

“You know you caused quite a stir.” His head snaps over and he instantly regrets it as the pain shoots through him, the door had creaked open during his momentary distraction. The old woman standing there leans heavily on her syringe-like cane, Recovery Girl, an older search and rescue hero. He doesn't speak, he doesn't know if he is capable.

“That boy,” She points to All Might’s shrunken form. “Came in here in near tears with you in his arms, his quirk completely deactivated in an absolute panic. And the girl refused to leave your side, apparently crawled into the vents when the nurses tried to remove her forcibly.” She moves to check his IV bag fiddling with the heart monitor which had apparently alerted her of his waking.

“And then the others came, and they refused to leave.” At his silent question she replies. “All the children with the loud voices and the brought hair, and the man who brought them, very loud that boy.” She sighed. “They were very stubborn and only left when that one.” Once more gesturing to All Might. “Promised to stay and call them when you woke up.” She moves around checking other things around the room, after a long moment of silence she finally says.

“You did a good thing.”

He grunts in response, neither a noise affirmation nor a denial.

“I hope you know you unintentionally agreed to help all these children along the way.” There’s another beat. “And with them both of those two fools who’ve been fretting over you for the last three days, the children are quite attached to them as well since you came here.”

Aizawa’s head falls back against the pillow, his eyes closing as he lets out a soft defeated sound knowing her words were true.

He finds he doesn't mind all that much.