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How It Happens

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This is how it happens:

A dark night, a scream, a villain on the scene.

A cliche, but this is how it happens:

A hero on the chase, a victim in distress, the perpetrator taking flight.

 

It’s over dramatic, but this is how it happens:

Aizawa Shouta has been Eraserhead for twenty-seven days,  not quite a full month, and the life of an underground hero is as cruel as he imagined. Not enough heroes want to work the night hours, when the trains stop running and the cameras are long put away. Not quite a month into his career, his chosen field, the position that he sold three exhausting years of his life to achieve, and already he knows that the man he had been when he started out was as naive as the kid he was when he started at UA..

The other underground heroes are few and far between, scattered over the prefecture and patrolling at even odder hours than he, sinking into infiltration schemes that are so deeply buried that it will be months before they come home.

Not quite a month into his career, interrupting the third assault of the night, and he has never been more disgusted with humanity.

 

This is how it happens:

After dark, when most of the heroes are gone and the scum of the earth feel brave enough to play, the line between hero and police officer may as well be non-existent. If there is a crime, he has to intervene. If there is a mystery, he investigates. If there is a scream

It doesn’t matter if quirks aren’t involved. There aren’t enough cops on patrol for anyone to worry about an arrest being stolen, to be petty about performance rates or news clips.

In the long hours of the night, anyone who can help is a hero.

The criminal he’s caught isn’t using a quirk, just a knife and plain old human cruelty. There is a trickle of blood against a bared throat, and the rough pawing of an evil worse than the average villain. The civilian isn’t quite screaming, but Aizawa can hear the ragged, hopeless sounds of fear from where he stands, delicately balanced above them.

Watching.

Waiting, more like, because a sudden move could mean a slit throat, and a caught villain isn’t worth the hassle of a death on his conscience, a new face in his dreams. He has to be careful, to plan his moves, to ensure that this civilian makes it home alive instead of in a body bag.

He could hate himself for it, for having to endure those desperate sounds, the wretched sight for even a second, for not being able to leap to the ground with speed enough to have civilian in hand and down the street before the villain can quite blink, for not possessing a quirk powerful enough to stun the enemy into submission, or versatile enough to cast them into sleep. But that is Tensei’s role, Hizashi’s role, Nemuri’s role, and it isn’t logical to long for the impossible.

Aizawa understands the reality of himself, of his quirk, of his role, too much for hatred.

But it is a special kind of hell, one he is glad his friends have never had to see, to stand and wait for opportunity, to know it would do more damage to intervene now , to slow his breathing and control his instinct and simply wait , because better traumatized than dead and he cannot prevent both.

And then - opportunity. The impatience of the criminal strikes, as tired of shoving one handed at a stubborn blouse, he drops the knife with a growled threat.

Aizawa moves, capture weapon wrapped taut around his fist, loose end streaking towards an enemy ill-prepared for attack. The civilian screams again, in shock this time, as the attacker is dragged into the air by his wrist, bones snapping under the unexpected weight.

His screams join the crescendo to form a harsh duet, and Aizawa feels no sympathy for his plight, flinging the would-have-been rapist through a fence and into a pitted wall with a flick of his wrist and the helpful physics of momentum.

Three screams, it would seem, make for the magic number, for before the Erasure hero can even complete his descent, can address the freed civilian, can complete the capture, a voice is booming, rich and reassuring.

“It’s fine now - I am here.”

 

Like something out of a comic book, it happens:

A dark night, a civilian in distress, and a hero - the hero - in the last place anyone, including his fellow hero, expects.

For a single, illogical moment, Aizawa is furious. How dare he - how dare All Might - be here, now, when Aizawa has spent moments watching, waiting, forced to bide his time and position himself carefully as this crime unfurled, all to save this civilian - with the Symbol of Peace in earshot?

Restraint, his oldest friend, keeps his emotions in check, his voice detached and calm as his thoughts rage. He gathers his feet beneath himself and loosens his capture weapon, drawing its length back around his neck.

“I have the villain. Take the civilian to the hospital, All Might. Shock is the first response to a trauma.”

The older man is a legend, an icon, an inspiration worldwide, but Aizawa’s frustration - no longer anger, dulled now, no longer burning but still hot - allows him to overlook that, to speak as hero worship or excitement might have once prevented. He is a pro hero, and there is a villain.

There is no time for disappointment, not even when it comes to learning that even icons are willing to stage rescues.

“Young hero - “ All Might says, and his warm voice is filled with concern. Aizawa doesn’t let him continue, annoyance sharpening his tone as he cuts him off.

“I have nothing to do with the hospital. I would have thought the Number One Hero could follow simple instructions.”

No more words are shared between them. By the time Aizawa has secured the criminal, All Might is gone, and the civilian with him.

All Might’s delivery of a frightened civilian makes the news, which doesn't irritate him nearly as much as the attention he receives from his fellow heroes, all of whom are far more interested in finding out if Aizawa received an autograph than asking questions about why exactly the Symbol of Peace had been lurking around, waiting to make a rescue in the middle of the night.

No one asks, and Aizawa never gets an answer.

This is how it happens:

Two heroes meet on a dark night, and they’re lucky hate doesn’t strike.

 

A decade and many rescues, adventures, and misadventures later, standing in a teacher’s lounge and wishing he were asleep instead of watching a showboat accept a position at his school, Aizawa doesn't quite remember why the sight of All Might's beaming grin is so irritating, only that it is.

At least All Might is smarter than he looks - he doesn't move to shake Aizawa’s hand when Nedzu introduces them as he does for the others, though there’s the oddest glimpse of something across his face when he catches sight of Aizawa’s goggles, half tucked into his scarf.

He doesn’t smile, and the expression on his face is more honest, real, because of it.

Aizawa doesn’t care for All Might, doesn’t think he ever will, but he notes the honesty of the expression, and his irritation dims, for just a moment.

Perhaps this won’t be as bad as he’s been thinking.

 

This is how it happens:

Every story has a beginning, and theirs isn’t perfect, but it’s real.