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The Right Thing

Chapter Text

It was a sunny Wednesday evening and Aizawa found himself in the hospital. Again.

He tapped his fingers on the marble desk, waiting as a too-cheery nurse pulled up a chart on the computer behind the desk. This was the start of a dance Aizawa knew all too well. It would play out the same as the day before and the day before that, and would likely continue for as long as Aizawa came to visit. The nurse behind the desk frowned and shook her head. “I’m sorry, sir, but no visitors are allowed right now,” she said as kindly as she could, using the same words and the same tone as another nurse had the day before.

“I understand,” Aizawa replied in an even tone. “My name is Aizawa Shouta. There should be a note. Could you check again?” As expected, the nurse gave him an uneasy look, but nodded and obliged him. Then, her expression changed altogether and she lifted her head again. Her mouth opened, brimming with the apology on her lips, but Aizawa raised a hand.

“It’s alright.” He shifted the satchel he was carrying on his shoulder. “Room 203, correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Thank you.” He bowed just slightly, bending only a little as he dipped his head quickly before he turned on his heels and walked down the long hallway.

It wasn't something he could explain, and it certainly isn't something he would ever speak of with his colleagues or students, but he couldn't keep himself away. As he found himself standing next to room 203, he paused at the door as he had done every day that past week. Maybe this wasn't the best idea after all. Growing attached at this point when the future was so uncertain might be unwise.

But, like every other day, he pushed the door open and stepped inside.

The room was cooler than the hallway and lit only by the fading light that weakly streamed in the window. He didn't move to turn on the light. The darkness was strangely comforting and he didn't mind the chill. Besides, he knew it was all to help the room’s occupant.

As he approached the bed, he could tell that not much had changed. The girl with the striking white hair was still asleep, her pale face flushed with fever. This time, though, she was sleeping much more peacefully. While Eri had yet to regain consciousness, her sleep had not always been peaceful. The past two days Aizawa came, she was fidgeting around her bed, balling the sheets up at the foot of the mattress with fits of hot flashes until the bed would shake with her shivering. Aizawa tried his best to return the sheets and attempted to tuck them between the mattress and the frame. When that didn’t work, he tied them down with his cloth stips, careful not to tighten too much around Eri’s small form. That seemed to do the trick, at least until he had to leave.

For now, it appeared that the cloth will not be needed. He placed a hand on her forehead and frowned at the heat that radiated from it, but he felt it was no worse than before. Perhaps it had even gotten a little better.

Aizawa took a seat in the chair placed next to the bed. He set down his bag and watched the girl for a moment. Her hair was splayed across the pillow, but between the white of the sheets and the white strands that fell on them, he had to strain to see where the hair ended and the bed began. She was still far too pale, but there was some natural color returning, though it was partially hidden behind the flush of fever. Her lips were parted and her breathing was even. One hand rested just below her chest and the other was balled in a fist at her cheek.

She was calm and content. Of course, Aizawa wanted her to wake if only for her health, but a part of him hoped she would just sleep a little longer. For now, she would be sheltered from the cruel realities of her world. And, at least at that moment, her memories weren't following her to sleep.

Tearing away his gaze, he moved for his bag and pulled out a batch of papers and a bright red pen. His class had turned in essays not long before, but with the rescue and the ensuing paperwork and reports, he’d hardly had time to grade. While some students were more than happy to postpone the news of their grade, he was certain Iida would riot if they weren't in by the next day.

He was somewhere between Bakugo’s lament about how hero rules prevent pros from taking down villains permanently and Yaoyorozu’s well-researched but boring history of Quirk biology when he heard shifting in the bed in front of him. He glanced up quickly, expecting the movement to be just an unconscious position change and found himself startled when he saw two unfocused red eyes staring at him.

“Eri,” he said in a normal tone but found even that volume to be too much for the quiet room. He dropped his stack of papers and the pen onto his lap and sat up a little straighter.

“Are you awake?” he whispered as his uncertain eyes scanned the blank face on the girl in front of him. There was a chance she wasn't truly conscious and would simply slip back to sleep in an instant, but her eyes didn't close. A long moment passed, so long that Aizawa didn't believe she heard his initial question. Then, she nodded and looked past him at the cream colored wall and white ceiling, trying to get a feel for where she was.

“Do you know where you are?” Aizawa asked, leaning over towards her. He was careful not to get too close because he knew she has no clue who he was, yet she didn't seem scared.

Eri shook her head and she came to lock eyes with Aizawa. It seemed like she could see him clearly and though she clutched the blanket tight in her small hands, she didn't scoot away from him.

“You’re in the hospital and you’re safe,” the man said, his voice slow so he would be sure she caught every word. “You’re safe.”

“Safe.” She seemed to breathe out the word and with that, she released the grip on the blanket. Eri visibly relaxed into the pillow and allowed herself to sleepily sink into the mattress again.

Aizawa placed the papers on the table next to the bed and stood. “Let me get a nurse,” he told her. As he turned away, he felt something brush the lower part of his arm, just above his wrist. Turning back, he saw Eri weakly trying to grasp his hand.

“Don’t go.”

He let out a sigh and turned once more so he could face the bed. Slowly, so as to not scare the girl, he crouched and was at eye level with her.

“I need to get a nurse so they know you woke up.” He spoke to her as he would one of his students; authoritative, but kind. Gently he placed her hand back on the bed. “But I will be back. See? I’m leaving my things here so I will need to come back to get them.”

Skepticism flashed in Eri’s eyes for a moment before she noticed the bag on the ground and the papers on the nightstand. She was hesitant, but she eventually nodded and resigned herself to letting him leave.

Aizawa pat her head and stood before turning to leave. He made his way to the nurse's station where he explained that their young patient was awake and calm. The nurses thanked him and suggested he take a little walk or go to the hospital cafeteria for a bit so they could give the girl a checkup. Finding nothing better to do and having left his things in the room, he decided to grab some tea and wait.

It was about fifteen minutes later and Aizawa was making his way down the first-floor hallway to the elevator when he saw a familiar mop of golden hair waiting for the lift.

“All Might?”

Toshinori jumped, a bloody cough escaping his lips as he turned to face Aizawa. For a moment, his hollow eyes widened and he looked like he’s trying to find a place to hide.

“Ah, Aizawa. What brings you to a place like this?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” he replied as he walked up next to the elevator. There was a ding and the doors popped open and the two stepped inside.

“I…” Toshinori looked off to the side and sighs. “Well, we were hoping to keep this under wraps to be honest.” Aizawa raised an eyebrow. “I’m here with Midoriya.”

“Ah.” Now it made sense why All Might wasn't particularly thrilled to see him.

“No big deal, just a sprain. But we wanted to try and avoid Recovery Girl if possible, just for a little longer. I can’t say she’d be the most thrilled at healing one of his arms again.”

There was another ding and the elevator dropped the two of them off at the second floor. Both stepped out. “Well, I expect to see him in my class first thing tomorrow morning,” Aizawa commented as they walked down the hall. In a stern tone, he added, “As an active participant.”

“You will, you will. He should be getting discharged now.” Toshinori paused at the intersection of two hallways. Aizawa stopped and watched as the man pulled to the left a little. He realized that Midoriya must have been in a room down an opposite hall. “So, what are you in a miserable place like this for?”

Aizawa paused and glanced down the hall that housed Eri. Toshinori was asking him the same question he’d been trying to figure out for a few days. What was he doing here?

The answer didn't seem to come and Toshinori frowned. “I understand if it’s personal,” he said. “I hope everything is alright.”

Aizawa visibly relaxed at that. “It is,” he said and then reconsidered. “It will be.”

Toshinori let out a puff of a laugh and smiled, a broad smile that seemed to take up more than half of his thin face. He lifted his hand in a wave and turned towards the other hall. “See you tomorrow, then.”

“Yes,” Aizawa agreed. With that, the two parted and Aizawa returned at the door of the room of the girl he had no clue why he was visiting.

Because it was the right thing to do.

That wasn't it.

But maybe that answer would do for now.

He pushed the door open and is surprised to see the girl is still awake. She had seemed so tired when she first woke up, barely able to put two words together. But, she fought against her exhaustion, likely, Aizawa realized, to see through his promise to her.

“You should be asleep.” It was a statement of fact, not a scolding. He did wish she would sleep, but he trusted her reasons for keeping herself awake. Besides, when it became too much her body would take over.

“You came back,” she whispered in a tiny voice.

“I said I would.” Aizawa sat down and adjusted his bag that leaned against the legs of the chair. “Besides, I left my things.”

It was a callous addition, but she smiled nonetheless. “Why did you come?”

How he wished she would just sleep, but Aizawa realized after a long pause that she wasn't going to rest without that answer. She was curious and her eyes were as wide as he'd ever seen them.

Because Mirio and Midoriya weren't allowed.

Because there was no one else.

Because she was all alone.

He swallowed and placed a hand atop her hair. “Because it’s the right thing to do,” he told her. “You don’t deserve to be alone.” She pondered this for a moment before a light smile rested on her lips. She accepted the answer, and it was the best Aizawa could give.

“Are you a hero?” she asked, dropping her voice to a secretive whisper at the word ‘hero,’ like it wasn't something that should even be spoken aloud.

Aizawa had always put his back up at the notion. Of course, he took his responsibility as a pro seriously, but when a child mentions “hero,” the word carries far more weight and far more responsibility than Aizawa was willing to commit to.

“Sure,” he shrugged, rolling the word off his shoulders cooly. She accepted this as well and relaxed into the covers.

“Go to sleep,” Aizawa said, leaning back in the chair.

“Stay will me?” Eri asked of him, her voice thick with sleep.

“I will stay until you fall asleep,” Aizawa told her. Likely longer, he knew, since she would be asleep soon. He leaned back in his chair and took his papers off the nightstand.

“Will you be here when I wake up?” she asked. Her eyes closed and she was just moments from dozing off.

Aizawa tapped the pen lightly against his papers. He smiled. Well, his lips turned upwards in a rare display of what could possibly be considered the smallest of smiles. “I can’t promise I’ll be here when you wake, but I will be here tomorrow.”

The room was quiet after that. Aizawa graded until the last light of day no longer aided him in reading the essays. He packed up and left the room, only to return the next day and the day after that. Every day, he promises to return the next, and he did.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean she can’t be discharged?”

“It’s just, well, all her tests are good and her vital signs are near perfect, but we can’t let her leave.”

“I don’t understand, if she’s healthy, there’s no reason for her to be stuck in the hospital like this.”

“I know. But, Mister Aizawa, she has nowhere to go.”

The realization came down on the man like a ton of bricks. It was something he had pondered quite often in the month Eri had been in the hospital but wasn’t something at the forefront of his mind now. It would all work out, he had decided, focusing instead on the girl’s wellbeing and keeping his other students out of trouble. Which, for the rowdy class 1-A, was quite the feat.

Aizawa leaned against the door of Eri’s room, his arms folded across his chest. Turning his head slightly to the side, he peered in the window where he saw the girl fast asleep, blissfully unaware of the conversation taking place at her doorstep.

“You can’t just keep her in the hospital forever. Her…” Aizawa hesitated. He was about to reference the man who was her father, but he couldn’t bring himself to apply such a title to that disgusting excuse of a human being. “Her former guardian has been deemed unfit by the state. It’s not like we can just call someone to pick her up.”

“I know, that’s the problem.” The nurse fiddled with the papers on her clipboard. “She doesn’t have a guardian now, so she’s a ward of the state. They’re trying to find somewhere to place her, but given the circumstances, finding an appropriate place isn’t going to be an easy or quick task.”

Aizawa raised an eyebrow at the idea of placing her somewhere. “What are they planning on doing with her?”

“What they do with most children in this position. A foster home. Perhaps a group home.”

He couldn’t help but scowl at the idea. That girl would not do well in yet another strange place with strange people who didn’t know how to care for her quirk. Aizawa had done quite a bit of reading on young kids with uncontrollable power beyond their years. While scholars differed in their opinions on controlling outbursts, they all agreed that sudden changes and unfamiliar places and situations would not help.

“You can’t just uproot her and put her someplace. What if they don’t know how to handle her? How will she learn to control that quirk of hers?”

“You’re preaching to the choir, sir. I agree and I’ve voiced my concerns, but it’s out of our hands.” She offered a kind, sympathetic smile and glanced at the door. “Why don’t you head in? She’s been asking about you all day.”

Before Aizawa could voice more of his concerns, the nurse stepped to the side and trotted down the hall. He sighed, watching as she disappeared into another patient’s room. The woman was absolutely correct and he knew she was doing her best to advocate for the girl, but there were just some things beyond either of their control.

As he opened the door and stepped into the room, he heard rustling in the bed. Curious red eyes stared back at him, though even at a distance he could tell they were glassy with sleep.

“I thought you were resting,” he said to her as he walked over and took his usual seat in the chair next to the bed. With a yawn and a little stretch, the girl sat up, rubbing at one of her eyes to try and chase off the last bit of exhaustion that lingered after her nap.

“I was worried you weren’t coming today,” she admitted with a sheepish smile.

“I’ve come every day,” Aizawa noted. “Why would I decide today to not come?” The girl just shrugged, her childlike logic broken with just two short sentences. “Well, I’m here now. And you should be resting.”

“I rest all the time,” Eri whined, flopping back against the pillow.

“Because you were incredibly sick. Which is why you’re in a hospital.” Aizawa couldn’t stop the hint of amusement from escaping into his tone. She reminded him of one of his students, doing as he says for they would not dare disobey him, but arguing and pouting the whole time.

“Am I still sick?” she asked, turning her head to look at him again. “I feel better. I only nap now ‘cause I’m bored.”

Aizawa felt his breath catch in his throat. What could he tell her? The truth would lead to more questions. A lie would eventually catch up to him down the road.

“You’re getting better,” he decided to tell her. It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the full truth. Eri seemed to be able to tell there was more behind the words, but she didn’t press any further. There was a nagging feeling that this was a sore spot for the man and she didn’t want to do anything that would keep him from visiting.

“Is this where I’m going to live?” she asked, looking around at the hospital room. Where before it was kept cool and dark until her fever broke, it was now filled with sunlight. A bouquet of flowers sat on her bedside table and next to her was a stuffed bear sent from Midoriya and Mirio. Even the addition of those two small items brightened the room considerably.

“No,” Aizawa said shortly, looking away from the curious eyes that followed his every move. He doesn’t know what to follow that up with. Just… no. She won’t be here forever. Where she will be, he doesn’t know.

Eri seemed to understand that this wasn’t something Aizawa wanted to talk about. She pulled herself up and leaned back against the pillows. “Can you read me a story?” she asked him. Aizawa turned his head back to meet her gaze.

“I didn’t bring a book.” Her face fell and the man sighed, reaching into his satchel to grab a stack of papers. He’d done this a few times and didn’t know how child appropriate it was, but she seemed to enjoy the essays his students wrote. “I have the back section of last week’s exam.”

Eri sat up a little straighter. “Implications of Heroics Portrayed in Media,” Aizawa started. “That’s the topic of the essay. Students were asked to examine what risks are posed by heroes being filmed doing their jobs.”

“Who’s is that?” Eri asked. She had started to learn the names of Aizawa’s students, but the only one she could put a face to was Izuku.

“Bakugo Katsuki.” Aizawa looked at the paper and then shuffled the stack again. “Let’s start with another student. How about we read Midoriya’s?” Eri smiled at that prospect and Aizawa began. “‘Over the course of the history of quirks, heroes have encountered new obstacles with the rise of each new generation. One of these obstacles is the rise of the 24/7 news cycle and constant filming of Pro Hero battles….’”


By the next week, Aizawa had a plan. When he returned to the hospital for his daily visit, he had a folder in his hands and was escorted by a social worker he knew was working on Eri’s case. Together with the head nurse, Eri’s doctor, and the hospital exec board and legal team, they went into a meeting. At the end of two hours, Aizawa had enough social interaction for the month, but he also had the signatures he needed.

Once the important adults parted ways, Aizawa made his way to the familiar hospital room. Eri was there, propped against the pillows, flipping through a children’s magazine from a decade ago. With a stay as long as Eri’s, they must have run out of picture-based books and materials from this year.

“Mister Aizawa!” Eri cheered when he came through the door. He couldn’t help but smile at her excitement, though of course, Aizawa’s idea of smiling was just the faintest upwards turn of his lips.

“Eri. I trust you slept well last night.”

“Yes!”

Aizawa came over and took his same seat in the same chair, but this time, he didn’t lean back lazily. Eri picked up on this immediately. This visit would be different.

“Eri, you’re leaving the hospital today.” Her eyes widened, her interest officially captured. And Aizawa wasn’t one to beat around the bush. She knew she would soon have the whole story. “I’ve applied to be your temporary guardian. We’ll work on getting that quirk of yours under control. While doing so, you’ll live with me on UA’s campus in the 1-A dorm. Midoriya lives there and Mirio will likely come to visit often.”

Eri’s smile only brightened as Aizawa went on. Ever since he had told her that she wouldn’t be living in the hospital, she wondered where she was going to go. This was the best possible outcome. Under the protection of Izuku and Mirio and with the only constant in her life since her world was turned upside down.

“Is this alright with you?” Aizawa asked when he noticed how silent the girl was. “The paperwork has already been completed so I’m not sure if we can change these plans, but I do want to know if you have other ideas.”

“No,” Eri replied quickly. “This is perfect.”

And so, Eri was released that day. Aizawa had brought some clothes for her to change into, but a nurse caught him just in time to stop the girl from going outside in a rainbow kitten monstrosity. Instead, she received a parting gift in the form of a dress from the lost and found, one that had been there for so long there was no way its original owner still fit in it.

Aizawa brought Eri to the dorm where she met all the students and was reunited with the two boys who saved her. The class gathered in the common room to watch movies and play games. Aizawa felt comfortable enough to leave her and get the spare room in his suite set up and when he returned, he found her on the couch fast asleep her face snuggled tightly into Midoriya’s side while her legs were draped across Ochaco’s lap.

“She was out about five minutes into the movie,” Ochaco commented. Aizawa briefly glanced at the colorful children’s movie on the screen.

“It’s been a long day,” he replied, coming over and taking the girl into his arms. She didn’t stir and he brought her head to rest on his shoulder. The few remaining students watched the tenderness Aizawa expressed but didn’t dare comment on it.

“She’s happy to be here,” Izuku told him.

“Yeah, she only said so about a million times,” Kirishima chimed in.

Aizawa didn’t respond and rather started to turn away. Just as he was about to take a step towards his own room, he paused and glanced back at his students. “Eri is my responsibility. I expect you all to continue your studies diligently.” Slowly, the students nodded and Aizawa added, “But I am grateful that you occupied her this evening. Thank you for watching over her.”

“Any time,” Izuku immediately replied with a wide smile.

“And we won’t forget our studies,” Ochaco added. “But we’re glad she’s here.”

“Of course. Get some sleep. You’ll want your rest for what I have planned for tomorrow’s class.” With Aizawa’s ominous message, the kids quickly shut the television off and moved to clean up and get to their rooms. By the time the last light was out in the common room, Aizawa had reached his door and was navigating the doorknob while keeping a hold of the child in his arms.

Finally, he pushed his way in and shut the door behind him with his left leg. He moved into the spare room, which had up until now been an office, but the desk had been pushed aside and a small futon was set up against the other wall. He laid Eri down, pulled the covers up and stood. She didn’t move a muscle and instead slept as peacefully as she ever had.

No, Aizawa realized as he turned on a nightlight and flipped the ceiling light off. She was much more content. The lines of her face weren’t pronounced with fear or sickness. Instead, her lips were parted and she was relaxed.

Aizawa had wondered if this was the best move for the girl so soon after having her whole life uprooted. If coming to UA and being placed under his care would really help her. He didn’t know how he would get her to control her quirk and he had no experience being the guardian of one so young. Sure, his students were just children, but they were some of the strongest, most capable kids in Japan. Sometimes it felt like he was protecting them from their own recklessness, not from any threat on the outside.

Eri was different. She was very young and had never had a normal life. Not only would Aizawa have to teach her to not only control her power, he would also have to teach her how to be a child again. How to smile. How to laugh. How to be normal. It wasn’t going to be an easy road and Aizawa had many doubts.

But then, she rolled over and grasped the covers in her hands. Unconsciously she let out a small content sigh and in her sleep, she smiled.

It was then that Aizawa knew with certainty that this was the right thing to do.

Chapter Text

Their first breakfast together was awkward to say the least.

Aizawa didn’t know how to do mornings with another person, and Eri didn’t really understand how to do anything with someone who actually cared about her. She also didn’t know what to make of the tired, quiet, yet strangely comforting man she sat opposite of.

Aizawa’s suite in the UA dorm was a tiny apartment made up of a few rooms. It had a main area with a small kitchen, a study which was becoming Eri’s room, a private bathroom, and his own bedroom which consisted of a half full bookshelf and a lonely mattress. It was designed, like the student’s rooms, to get its occupant out as much as possible while still giving them somewhat adult-like living conditions.

So, it was small and a little cramped and Aizawa was only able to scrounge up some toast and cereal since his meals were usually taken in the teacher’s section of the cafeteria or out in the main kitchen with his students. Eri didn’t seem to mind. She was extremely grateful for the food she was given, even if the toast was a little burnt and the cereal was definitely boring adult-flavored.

She also found comfort in the quiet. Aizawa didn’t expect her to speak. He also didn’t expect her to stay quiet. When she would say something, he would focus on her and listen to what she had to say rather than cut her off or tell her to quiet down.

When it was clear Eri was done with her meal and Aizawa had long since finished, he took the dishes and cleared up. Or, better, he tossed the spoons in the sink and threw out the paper plates and then returned to haphazardly dust crumbs onto the floor.

After “cleaning up”, he turned to Eri and she looked back at him. She was comfortable enough to look him in the eyes, but something still felt off. There was a rustiness to this new routine that neither could place. It was like performing a new dance that neither knew the moves for.

“I need to go to class,” Aizawa told her.

“Will you come back?” Eri asked, a shadow of worry crossing her face.

“I live here,” Aizawa replied. The concerned look on the child’s face didn’t pass, so he added, “Yes, I’ll be back. Soon as well. I’m having other teachers fill in today. I’ll be back before lunch.”

Slowly, Eri nodded. It was hard for the girl to watch people walk out. She didn’t quite believe they would actually come back. To her, there was always the possibility that they would leave her where she stood.

“Watch tv for a bit.” Aizawa gestured to the remote. As he glanced back, he saw Eri stifling a yawn. “Or rest. You seem tired still.”

“Nu-uh,” Eri protested. She was, in fact, still tired. The excitement of the day before had worn her down, and spending time with twenty energetic students had been fun but exhausting. But, Aizawa wasn’t one to argue something like this. He was of the belief that one could control their own body. And if a good job wasn’t done, the body would take matters into its own hands.

He reached for his satchel by the door and paused in the small entryway. He wasn’t sure if these were the right moves. What kind of guardian leaves a child home all alone? But then again, every guardian did not have an apartment with 24/7 security inside of a building that could monitor every move of its inhabitants. Nobody breathed in that dormitory without the teachers getting an alert. It was the whole reason it was built in the first place. There was nowhere safer for UA students. Or Eri.

And, besides, he would only be gone for less than half the morning. When he came back, they could sit in silence, judging the features that clouded their faces and hoping the other wasn’t too freaked out. Plus, he could nap.

It would also give Eri the chance and the freedom to explore her new home. No longer would she be confined to just one room, unable to explore other areas. He had programmed the front door so she wouldn’t be able to get outside (it was a setting that required a certain height for the door to unlock… Mineta had a little trouble, but he’d get over it). Eri could relax in her new apartment or wander the halls and all the while she’d be safe.

Aizawa didn’t know how to part, so he didn’t speak. Instead, he turned to the door. But, before he could step outside, Eri piped up a sweet, “Have a good day at work.”

“Thank you,” he replied to the hallway, only once he was sure there were no students to see him smile.


Aizawa had the class run laps. 20 laps to be specific, first thing in the morning and only using their quirks for the last 10. When asked what this had to do with the History of Heroics, he simply responded, “Heroes have to run.”

Truly, he wanted to be available in case something happened and he needed to get back to Eri. Guilt clouded him for leaving her, but he had assured the principal that taking Eri under his wing wouldn’t hinder his teaching. It had been so important to get her out of that hospital and away from any talk of foster homes that he never made a plan for what Eri’s day to day would look like. UA was a high school, not a kindergarten and it didn’t take a degree in child psychology to realize she wasn’t ready for any sort of school. At least, not yet.

Tired students stumbled across the finish line with just a few minutes left of class. Small groups broke off and flopped on the cool green grass of the yard. Aizawa almost felt bad for pushing the students so hard so early in the morning. Almost.

“Alright, class, head to the locker room and get ready for your next class.”

“Our next class is gym!” Mina whined.

Aizawa shrugged. “I guess that saves you all some time.” And with that, he shooed the class off and turned to head back to the dorms.

He came back to a quiet and secure building that was still in one piece. He didn’t know why he imagined something terrible happening on a random weekday morning when he was gone for all of two hours, but seeing the place still standing filled him with relief. Aizawa went straight to his apartment, but he paused outside the door. He didn’t know if Eri would be sleeping or awake, or if his reentry would scare her at all.

So, he knocked, something that felt rather strange given this was his own dwelling, and yet also felt perfectly right. As he tapped the door one last time, he pushed it open, finding himself in his unlit silent apartment.

For a moment, Aizawa’s heart caught in his throat and he was sure Eri was gone, but with a crashing wave of relief, he saw a tuft of white hair sticking up from the couch. It was Eri, of course, and as he approached he realized the girl was completely awake and perfectly still. She barely acknowledged him when he came in, but when she turned her head to meet his eyes, she seemed to sink into the couch a bit more.

Neither spoke for a long moment. A million questions flashed through Aizawa’s head. What had she done after he left? Did she just sit here the whole time? Had he woken her from a nap? Did she go outside the room and just come back? Why did she look guilty when it was clear she had done literally nothing in the past two hours?

“I’m sorry,” Eri said quietly, shifting her gaze to the floor. She scrunched her dress up in the balls of her fists and waited for Aizawa to reply.

“For what?” was all he asked, taking a seat on the couch next to her. He awaited her response for quite a long moment, but none seemed to come. Eri looked back at him, her mouth open as if she was going to say something, but she didn’t seem able to find the right words. “What are you apologizing for, Eri?” Aizawa asked again in a gentle, yet firm voice. “Have you done something wrong?”

“I think so.”

“Why do you think so?” Aizawa applauded his own patience. High schoolers were a lot simpler. Either they did something wrong or they didn’t, they knew it, and they were either going to fess up or lie. But younger children were a lot more complex. Especially children with a history as tragic as Eri’s.

“I don’t know.” Eri shrugged looking helpless. “But I’m sorry.”

“Did you do anything while I was gone?” Aizawa asked, switching gears.

“No. I just sat here. I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

“Then, if you just sat here and didn’t do anything, why do you think you did something wrong?”

Again, Eri shrugged. “I don’t know. But I usually do something wrong.”

Aizawa breathed in sharply and a shadow passed over his face and made Eri shift her gaze back to the floor. He knew what she was referring to, but he refused to bring up anything that happened in her life before two weeks ago. Not only for her sake, but for his.

“That’s not true. And you did nothing wrong sitting here while I was gone. Though, you could have watched television. It might have passed the time.” He straightened out his expression, so it was more neutral and Eri peered up at him. He offered a kind smile and she returned a brighter, but still shy grin.

“I’m allowed to watch TV?” Eri asked. “And I won’t get in trouble?”

“Unless it’s too late or I say we can’t, but I’d never offer something and then get angry at you for taking me up on it,” Aizawa explained, picking the remote off the table. “If I don’t want you to do something, I’ll tell you.”

“That’s nice,” Eri hummed, leaning one side into the couch so she sank into the cushions. “You don’t change your mind.”

Aizawa just nodded. He could only guess what she was referring to and he really didn’t want to know the details. Well, there was a part of him that did. A vengeful part of him that wanted nothing more than to strangle the lunatics who had harmed this girl in the first place. But there was a bigger part of him, one that understood his newfound responsibility that knew now wasn’t the time to bring up the past. Instead, it was time to look to the future and break Eri of the old habits that held her back.

“Here.” He handed her the remote. “Find something to watch. I have some papers to grade and we’ll take lunch with the students in the kitchen later.”

Eri held the remote like it was a precious glass figure and looked back at Aizawa’s encouraging expression. She smiled, bigger and brighter this time and used the control to turn on the television.

Aizawa got up and went to the study to get the last stack of papers from the previous week. When he came back, Eri had found some bright colored children's show that had already completely engrossed her. When he sat back down on the couch, Eri moved a little closer to him. They weren’t quite touching, but the gap between them was smaller. It was comfortable and, Aizawa felt, it was right.

Chapter Text

Slowly, Aizawa and Eri fell into a better routine, one that didn’t involve leaving her for longer than absolutely necessary. Aizawa would bring the girl to class with him for the first half of the morning, and then she would go off with some of the other teachers during their free periods to be taught basic subjects like reading and math. Come dismissal, Eri would meet her guardian outside the main building and together they would walk back to the Class 1-A dorms.

Sometimes Midoriya would walk with them, chattering to Eri about something lighthearted and fun while Aizawa walked behind them. Other times, some of the girls would invite Eri to come to their rooms when they got back to do hair or watch television. And, every time, Eri would look back with pleading bright red eyes and every time, Aizawa would wave her on and let her go.

And sometimes, it would just be the two of them, most of the students having long since returned to their rooms and the rest having gone off to wherever they would be for the evening. Those walks took place in a comfortable silence until Eri would break it with comments about what she had been taught that day. Aizawa never pushed the girl to chat, but he also engaged her when she did so. He even found more things to talk about with her, rather than ending all of her comments with “I see” or “Right.” He never imagined himself as having much luck with children, but he amazed himself the first time he realized he’d had a full on conversation with the girl about a book she and Midnight had read that day.

“Eri!” Mina came bounding up the walkway on a cool Spring afternoon as Eri and Aizawa turned the corner towards the street the dorms were on. Eri grinned as the bright pink girl stopped short in front of the pair, her own eyes twinkling with honest delight. “Ochaco, Tsu, and I were going to learn this cool new dance we saw in a video the other day. Want to join us? Ochaco said she got cookies from her mom in the mail this morning too and her mom makes the best cookies!”

Eri whirled around to Aizawa who was already nodding and waving her off. “Be back before six,” he told her. “And don’t spoil your dinner.”

“Thank you!” Eri cheered as she grasped Mina’s hand and the two went speeding for the front doors of the dorm. Aizawa paused as he watched them go. He never wanted his students to feel obligated to include Eri in these sorts of things. After all, they were at UA to learn, not babysit. But, he made him glad to see how honestly the students had wrapped Eri into their fold. They were good kids, all of them. Even the problem ones.

Aizawa made his way down the paved pathway alone and pushed his way through the double doors of the dorm. In the kitchen, Sato was making something that Koda and Tokoyami were eagerly waiting on. Over in the living area, Bakugo, Kirishima, and Kaminari were playing some kind of video game that had Bakugo swearing up a storm. All three were so engrossed in the game, they didn’t notice their teacher walking right past them and Aizawa didn’t feel like reprimanding their loudness or their language.

The teacher walked to his own suite and unlocked the door. When he got inside, he haphazardly dropped his satchel by the doorway and kicked the door closed. For a few moments, he tidied up the living room, wiped down the kitchen, and then settled into his computer chair in the spare room to write up his next exam.

It wasn’t long before his mind wandered and he found himself looking at the small futon on the floor that Eri had been sleeping on for the better part of a month. It was comfortable, he knew because he had gone to the best store to find one, but the sheets hadn’t been changed in a while and her section of the room could use some tidying up. Aizawa decided to take a break then, so he saved his work, grabbed some spare sheets from the closet in the living room, and came back to remake Eri’s bed.

He had gotten the old sheets off and went to pick up the pillow when he heard something rustle and felt a crinkle under his hands. Curious, he lifted the pillow and stuck his hand inside the pillowcase only to pull out three bags of chips. Feeling more items within the case, he turned it upside down and shook its contents out onto the bed. Along with the pillow and the chips, five candy bars, two pieces of bread, some gummy candy, two lollipops from Recovery Girl’s office, and three packages of Poptarts came out.

For a long moment, Aizawa simply stared at the stash that was now piled on the mattress. He blinked a few times, wondering to himself if he had dozed off when making up his test and this was some weird dream. But no, he realized, this was very real and Eri had indeed hidden more food in her pillow case than Aizawa had in the whole rest of the apartment.

A million different thoughts and questions ran through his mind, but they all dissolved the moment he heard the door open and close. Aizawa jerked his head towards the entrance in time to see Eri come skipping in. He could see the front door clearly from where he was and Eri broke into a wide smile when she saw him.

“Look! Tsu painted my nails this pretty green and--” Eri stopped in the doorway, now able to see the pile of snacks on her bed. Aizawa couldn’t place the expression that crossed her face. It was somewhere between shock and extreme guilt. She looked back at him with wide red eyes that told him she knew she had done something wrong, but she didn’t quite understand what it was.

“Good,” Aizawa said. “Let’s go get dinner.” He had no idea how to approach this. He expected tantrums and fights about bedtimes, and other typical child-like behavior; not stashes of snacks in pillowcases. Not something so obviously indicative of her past life. And certainly not something that reminded Aizawa that he might be able to teach her about her quirk, but he may not be able to save her mind from herself.

Eri also wasn’t sure how to proceed, only moving to step out of Aizawa’s way as he walked to the living room. She wanted to ask if he was mad at her, but couldn’t bring herself to say anything. She just stood there and watched Aizawa put his shoes on.

“Come on, Eri,” Aizawa said in a neutral tone, stretching his arm out for the girl. Slowly, Eri came over and shyly grasped his hand.

They walked to the cafeteria in silence and started to eat with no words passed between either of them. This was not a comfortable quiet like most meals. Rather, there was an umbrella of awkwardness that encompassed the space around them.

“Eri,” Aizawa said after he had finished his meal and the girl was almost done with hers. She glanced up at him, only meeting his eyes for a moment before she gazed off to his left. “Are you getting enough to eat?” She pressed her lips together tightly and didn’t say anything. “Because there’s plenty here. If you’re still hungry, we can get more.”

“I know,” Eri whispered her words barely audible as she looked down at her mostly finished bowl of rice and her cleared plate.

“Are you,” Aizawa started, trying to choose his words as carefully as possible. “Are you ever worried you won’t get enough to eat?”

“I’m sorry,” Eri blurted out.

“Why?” he asked.

“For keeping food in my room. I’m sorry.”

“Do you know why you shouldn’t keep food in your room?” Aizawa asked. Eri shook her head, still staring intently at the table. “Ants.”

Her head sharply shot up and she looked at her guardian with questioning eyes. “Ants?” she asked, wondering if she had misheard.

“Some of what you saved was unopened. Bugs can get into it and I’m sure you don’t want to be sleeping with ants and whatever else would try to eat what’s there.”

“No, I don’t want that,” Eri replied. She still watched Aizawa’s face, trying to figure out if she was missing something or if the man was angrier than he let her believe.

“And,” Aizawa continued, standing to take their trays. “We have plenty of food around here. No one goes hungry. There’s no need to save it.” Before Eri could even nod her head, Aizawa was walking to the other end of the dining hall to put their trays on the conveyor belt that would take them to the back to be cleaned.

When Aizawa returned, Eri had the hem of her dress balled in her fists and she was staring at her lap. He nudged her shoulder and she got up, taking his hand but not looking at him.

They were about halfway to the dorm when Eri blurted, “I know there’s plenty of food here.” She shook her head and placed one hand in her hair, tangling the white strands around her fingers. “And I know I don’t need to save what I get. I don’t know why I put all that stuff in my room. I just felt like… I might need it at some point. That if there’s a day we can’t eat, or we forget that I’ll always have something.”

Her words lingered ahead of them for a few moments. Aizawa wasn’t sure how to respond to something like that. He knew what the implications were--Eri likely didn’t eat much before she was rescued. So, anything that wasn’t immediately used needed to be saved because she never knew when her next meal was coming. The thought made his blood boil, but he took a breath to steady his emotions.

“There will never again be a day you don’t eat,” Aizawa told her. His voice was steely and honest and the fierceness of his promise made the girl finally look back up at him again. “But,” he added, “If you would like, we can keep a few things in my desk drawer. Poptarts. Fruit snacks. Prepackaged things. Just so you know you have it.”

"Are you mad at me?" Eri asked. That question had been burning on her mind for the past hour.

"Of course not," Aizawa replied. "I just want to figure out what's upsetting you and fix it as best I can. That's my job. I don't necessarily mind that you keep food with you, but I want to know why so I can make sure it's not because you're scared of something bad happening."

He looked down at her and Eri gave him a wobbly grin. She looked as though she might start crying and Aizawa prayed to the gods above to keep that from happening. This conversation had been difficult enough to have. He wasn’t going to be good with tears. Thankfully, their conversation had taken them all the way back to their little apartment and Aizawa gratefully opened the door.

The moment the door closed, Eri flung herself at him, burying her face in his legs. Aizawa placed a hand on her head and sunk down to her level. Eri pushed herself again into his chest and Aizawa wrapped his arms around her fully. What surprised him most was that he felt no dampness on his clothes or heard any heaviness of breath. Eri wasn’t crying, she just wanted a really big hug.

And, in other surprising news, Aizawa was pretty good at giving one. They stayed like that for a while, as long as Eri needed, until she broke away and gave him that big bright smile of hers again.

“Thank you, Mister Aizawa,” she said. He ruffled her hair.

“Any time. Go get your PJs on. We’ll watch a movie before bed.” Without another word, Eri scampered happily to her room and Aizawa flipped the television on.

The next day, Aizawa placed some fruit snacks and two small bags of potato chips in the bottom drawer of his desk in the spare room. Though the drawer was opened a few times and more packaged snacks were added, none were ever removed.

Chapter Text

Eri stared into giant chocolate brown eyes that looked both exhausted and filled with boundless energy. It was the strangest thing, something Eri had never experienced before. All those years underground and she had never seen something like this before. At least, not in real life.

“Hello,” the girl said shyly.

The dog sniffed the air and then panted. Eri smiled and placed a tiny pale hand atop the dog’s black curly fur. She felt the strands between her fingers and decided she quite liked the feeling of petting a dog. And, given the dog’s closed eyes and heavy leaning into her hand, she seemed to enjoy it as well.

“What’s her name?” Eri looked up at the woman with bright, mint green hair. She had a big smile and bright dark green eyes. Aizawa had introduced her as Ms. Joke. Eri immediately decided she liked her.

“Scout,” she replied.

“‘Scout,’” Eri repeated, looking back at the animal who perked up when she heard her name. “You’re so fluffy, Scout.”

“Never seen a dog before, kid?” Ms. Joke asked and Eri, very seriously, shook her head.

“No, ma’am,” she replied. “Not in person. I don’t think I’ve ever met a real live pet before ever.”

The woman stared at her blankly for a moment before forcing a weak laugh through her lips. “Is she kidding?” she asked, looking at Aizawa who was grimly standing next to Eri.

“No,” Aizawa replied rather shortly.

“Jesus, Shota, where did you find her?”

“In an abandoned building.”

Ms. Joke straightened up and took a long breath. “Okay, then,” she said in a light tone, desperately trying to lighten the mood. “So why did you want me to bring Old Scout here in the first place? Not that I don’t love me a visit to the second best Hero Academy in the country.”

“Eri has a… unique quirk,” Aizawa replied, ignoring the jab at his school’s ranking. “I was hoping we could give it a test in a controlled environment. Your dog is pretty old, right?”

“Thirteen years,” Ms. Joke replied, ruffling the fur on top of her dog’s head. “And she’s got bone cancer. Old fart’s gonna go soon.”

“If you could, would you want to spend more time with her?” Aizawa questioned. “Turn back time. Make her a puppy again?”

“What are you getting at?” Ms. Joke asked with a raised eyebrow. “Of course I would. I’ve had Scout for as long as I can remember. I’d give anything to have her with me for another year, nevermind another lifetime.”

“That’s Eri’s quirk.”

Ms. Joke laughed. “What? Making puppies?”

“No, rewinding things.”

Ms. Joke stopped mid-laugh, her breath catching tightly in her throat. “I’m sorry, what can she do?” she choked out.

“Rewind things. People. Animals, probably. She can revert being to a previous state. I know she can heal people. I don’t know about changing age--that’s just a theory, but I figured we could test it.”

“Are you serious?”

Without another word, Aizawa took out an old pocket knife hidden somewhere in the mess of black clothes he wore. Before Ms. Joke could say anything else, Aizawa took the pointed end of the knife and sliced his hand open.

As the woman gasped, Aizawa bent down to Eri’s level and held out his hand. “Could you heal me?” he asked the girl. Eri quickly dipped her head down into a nod and placed a hand on Aizawa’s wrist. With her other hand, she let her fingers touch her teacher’s now red and wet palm. There was a sharp glow of light and in the time it took Ms. Joke to blink, the light disappeared and Aizawa’s hand was healed.

“Oh my god!” Ms. Joke stepped forward and grasped Aizawa’s wrist, inspecting the palm for herself. The only trace that anything had happened was the few spots of blood that had managed to make their way onto the man’s arm. Even the blood on Eri’s fingers had disappeared.

“That’s an extremely powerful quirk,” she said, looking from Aizawa back to Eri.

“Which is why we’re trying to train her to control it.”

“And you want to use my dog for that?”

Aizawa shrugged. “Your dog is pretty old. I figured this was a pretty calculated risk.”

Ms. Joke looked at Aizawa and then down at Eri and Scout. She seemed a little uncertain. After all, Scout was her family and she wasn’t sure how she felt about experimenting on family. On the other hand, Aizawa was a dry old bastard, but he was honest and just. If he didn’t think this would end well for Scout, he would never have invited them out here. Besides, Scout was old and likely only had a few months left. Why not give this a shot?

“Alright,” she replied, looking back at Aizawa with fierce bright eyes. “Let’s give this a whirl!”

Aizawa nodded and looked down at Eri who had been curiously listening to the two adults discuss her quirk. “Eri, do you understand what we’re asking you to do?” he asked.

“Make Scout a puppy?” she guessed.

“Well, we want you to try getting the disease out of her system. Just heal her, whatever that entails. And if I say ‘stop’, you stop immediately, understand?”

“Yes!”

Ms. Joke watched as Eri walked over to Scout and started to pet the mop of black fur on top of her head. Scout leaned into Eri’s gentle touch. After a moment, Eri stopped moving her hand back and forth and instead moved so that she held Scout’s face in both of her hands. Then, there was the glow, so bright and intense that Ms. Joke couldn’t see Eri or the dog. For a brief moment, she wondered how Aizawa would tell the girl to stop if no one could see what she was doing in the brightness.

And then, it stopped. Ms. Joke blinked a few times to adjust her eyes to the normal sunlight and then she gasped. Right before her stood Scout as she knew the dog when she was just a puppy. Scout was smaller, her fur was blacker and shiner and she no longer moved with unease. Instead, this little puppy wriggled all over the place, jumping and barking as if it just knew a miracle had happened.

“Oh my God.” Ms. Joke brought a hand to her mouth and sunk to her knees, extending her free arm to invite the puppy to come crashing into her chest.

“Eri,” Aizawa ventured, taking a step forward. The girl seemed to be in a trance-like state, at least until she heard her name. She jerked her head upwards and smiled back at Aizawa.

“I did it,” she told him. She was shaking just a little and Aizawa placed a hand on her shoulder to steady her.

“You’re warm,” he noted.

“I’m alright,” she quipped. “Look, Ms. Joke is so happy.” Indeed she was. She looked up at Aizawa, her eyes brimming with tears. The man sighed. He had just started to deal with Eri’s tears and he wasn’t about to gain experience with the tears of yet another girl.

“Come up to my apartment,” he offered. “I’ll make tea.”


 

It took Eri all of two minutes of sitting on the couch to fall dead asleep. Aizawa grabbed a blanket and wrapped her up, then gently laid her down on some pillows. Ms. Joke, who was sitting on the chair opposite the couch watched with a soft smile on her lips, like she knew a secret no one else did. And, in some ways she did. Not many experienced this side of Aizawa.

Scout hadn’t made it past the students in the common room. The moment Ochaco shouted “Dog!” every kid who was in the building came running over to pet her. Scout was more than happy to oblige the students in games of fetch and roll over for belly rubs.

“I didn’t know you had a kid,” Ms. Joke teased as Aizawa checked the pot on the stove. He didn’t say anything. “She’s cute. And what a quirk she has. She’s lucky.”

“No, she’s not,” Aizawa replied. Ms. Joke frowned, but she noted how he didn’t deny that Eri was his.

“How do you figure?”

“You have no idea where we found her,” he explained. “What those people did to her for years. And this quirk she has yields more power than any child should ever bear the burden of. One wrong move and she can destroy everything, even herself.” He reached into the cabinet for some tea mugs and then into the drawer for his selection of teabags. “And she can’t handle her quirk. Look at her, even this will have her down for the rest of the day.”

“That’s why you’re her teacher. She’ll get better. She’ll get stronger. All we have to hope is she doesn’t get your personality.” Ms. Joke smirked at the man who glanced at her with an exasperated expression. “And you know,” she continued, “She’s still lucky. She has you.”

Aizawa had to turn back to the water and the tea if only so that Ms. Joke wouldn’t see the flattered expression on his face. “How did you even end up with a kid anyway?”

“It was the right thing to do,” he replied, taking a breath before he walked over with two mugs of steaming green tea. He handed one to Ms. Joke who took it gratefully.

“Every kid needs a mom. Sure you won’t marry me?” she asked with a hearty laugh.

“No,” he replied, taking a seat on the couch next to Eri.

“Oh, come on Shota. We’ll be such a cute family. Think of the Christmas card.”

“No.”

“Oh, you’re such an old stick in the mud. You better send Eri out to visit or she’ll never have any sense of humor!”

Aizawa looked down at the sleeping girl and carded a few fingers through her hair. He looked back at his friend with a shrug and said, “Good.”

Chapter Text

Aizawa would later kick himself for being so blind. In his defense, the morning had been begun in a blur. Mina had thrown up in the hallway and while arranging to have it cleaned up and ensuring the girl was sent back to bed, he heard Bakugo and Kirishima fighting in the common room. Which, it turned out, was not a real fight but just a really loud and somewhat explosive discussion. Then, after finding Koda’s rabbit under the sink in the bathroom and returning it, he only had a few minutes to get his things, gathered Eri, drop her off at her lesson, and get to class.

So, it was a surprise when a concerned looking Midnight turned up at his classroom door in the middle of his Quirk Biology class.

“Midnight?” Aizawa glanced at the door. “I thought we weren’t meeting for training until after lunch.”

“It’s not… We’re not.” Midnight shook her head to try and focus herself before saying, “Aizawa, it’s Eri.”

The classroom had already been respectfully quiet for Aizawa’s lesson, but now the silence was deafening. Not one person dared to move. It felt like the air had been sucked straight out of the room as Midnight’s heavy words lingered.

Then, it all came rushing back. Aizawa started walking towards the door as if on autopilot and pulled Midnight into the hall, shutting the door behind him. “What’s wrong?” he asked, one foot pointed towards the long hall so he could bolt as soon as he got the information he needed.

“Eri fainted in her lesson today,” Midnight explained, searching Aizawa’s face to try and see what he was thinking, but, he was as unreadable as ever. “She wasn’t looking too good to begin with but she powered through her spelling quiz and just dropped during her reading time. She’s in Recovery Girl’s office.”

“Shit,” Aizawa spat, starting to turn. Midnight grabbed his arm.

“She’s alright,” she told him. “Just a little under the weather. She’ll be fine. I’ll take your class.”

“Thank you,” he replied in an honest, but quick tone. By the time the last syllable left his mouth, he was already rushing down the hallway.

Recovery Girl was a hallway away and two floors down, but the walk felt like an eternity. When he finally came to the door, he stopped short and stared at it. Something inside of him was screaming to burst down the door and get that girl, get his girl, and make sure she was never hurt or sick again. It was irrational and it was annoying, but damn was it loud.

He took a breath with a hand on the doorknob and opened as he exhaled. The first sight that greeted him was Recover Girl sitting at her desk working on files on her little computer. When the door opened, she looked up with a sweet smile.

“I thought you’d be here soon,” she said, hopping off her stool.


“Is she alright?” Aizawa asked. His tone was as natural and neutral as it usually was, but to him, he sounded like a maniac.  

“She’s fine, she’s fine.” The woman moved the screen that sectioned off the bed and led Aizawa to the bedside. Eri was lying small and pale in the bed, her cheeks and forehead flushed red with fever. Aizawa realized that she looked just as she had when he first came by in the hospital.

“I pushed her too hard,” Aizawa said, sinking into a seat next to the bed. “Yesterday, I had her test her quirk. I pushed her too far. My students bounce back so quickly, but I’ve never taken care of a child before.”

“She is young,” Recovery Girl agreed. “But she’s strong. She’ll be fine.” Aizawa was silent, only watching Eri breath. “You’re doing a good job.”

That made Aizawa look up sharply. “I wouldn’t say that.”

“I would. You’ve taken this responsibility on and shouldered it dutifully.”

“She needs a teacher. I teach kids with quirks.”

“Oh, we have plenty of those. But you, my dear, have given this girl what she needs most. A home.”

Aizawa fell silent, the woman’s words lingering in the air. He returned his gaze to Eri who still looked too small and too pale and far too sick. He hadn’t thought of that before, that he was giving Eri not only training but a home as well. And maybe he’d been willfully blind to it all because he didn’t want to admit that the child was growing on him. That he’d never felt better in his life than the days he woke up to her smiling face.

He wasn’t very good at this, but maybe he didn’t have to be good. Maybe he just had to be there.

Aizawa was so lost in thought, he didn’t notice Eri had shifted until her bleary red eyes were blinking back at him. She looked confused and tired, but the moment her eyes landed on him, she also seemed relaxed and content.

“Hey,” Aizawa said, placing his hand atop hers. “You’re alright. Just a little sick. Go back to sleep.” It was obvious from her frown and scrunched up eyebrows that Eri didn’t want to go back to sleep, but she also didn’t have the energy to argue. Her eyes slipped closed and, though Aizawa wasn’t sure if she was actually asleep, he was glad she was at the very least resting.

“You’re better at this than you think,” Recovery Girl hummed as she crossed the room to settle back into her office chair. Aizawa shot her a look that very pointedly expressed how little he believed her and she tutted at him as though he were a child himself.

“This isn’t something you have to be the best at,” the woman went on. “You don’t even have to understand this child entirely. Sometimes, the only thing you need to do is just be there.”

Aizawa didn’t have a response to that one, but he certainly took the words to heart. Turning back around in his chair, he let his gaze fall on Eri once more. She was definitely asleep, her breaths even and her face less pained than before she knew he was with her.

Perhaps Recovery Girl was correct. Eri seemed much more relaxed when he was around. It was obvious she had grown attached to him, despite his inexperience with young kids.

“Now why don’t you go get her home and into a real bed? She’s fine. She might be down for a few days, but there’s no need to keep her here.”

Aizawa stood silently and gathered Eri into his arms, blanket and all. He pressed his hand into her hair and let his other arm secure her bottom. Eri barely moved, but the moment she was settled, she pressed her face into the crook of Aizawa’s neck. She was stirring, Aizawa knew, but she was silent, likely somewhere between consciousness and sleep but too comfortable to care.

“If only I had my camera,” Recovery Girl cooed with a teasing grin on her face. Aizawa rolled his eyes but decided to ignore the comment entirely.

“Thank you for your assistance today,” he said, carefully sidestepping around the bed and chair as he made his way to the front of the office.

“You both take care. And don’t go second guessing yourself,” Recovery Girl said to Aizawa’s back as he made his way out the door.

Aizawa carried Eri all the way back to the 1-A dorms. It took a few moments to shuffle Eri in his arms while he tried to unlock the door, but eventually, the latch clicked and he was able to push the handle down with his elbow. He immediately took Eri to her room and laid her down on the mattress. The blanket from the nurse’s office was discarded and replaced with the familiar sheets and blankets that littered the girl’s bed. He also thought to bring her few stuffed animals closer, though he wasn’t actually sure which ones were her favorites. He figured they all could lend a hand now.

As he moved to get up, he felt a weak hand grasping at his sleeve. Eri was looking back at him, feverish eyes showing she would not remember this moment when she woke later.

“Don’t leave,” she said.

“I’m not,” Aizawa replied, placing a hand on her head. “I’ll be on my computer right next to you. I’m not leaving at all.”

This didn’t seem to satisfy the girl, who only gripped his sleeve tighter with the little strength she still had. Aizawa wasn’t sure what to do at this point. Eri looked on the verge of fevered tears and he really, really didn’t want to deal with tears. But he would be right in the room, so what was the big deal?

To answer that, he pushed his rational side away and let instinct take over.

Slowly, he moved closer, waiting for her to push him away or shrink back, but she never did. He laid down next to her and she pressed himself so tightly against him, he could only see her white hair laying in stark contrast with his dark clothes and her purple blankets. In an instant, she was fast asleep, her fingers curled around the loose parts of Aizawa’s shirt.

He watched her as she slept and didn’t dare move.

Chapter Text

Eri tapped her pencil on the back of her other hand as she stared at the sheet of math problems in front of her. She’d gotten through the first page just fine, but ended up stuck on the first question of the backside. 

Carefully, she put her pencil to the page again and slowly drew the number two as she continued to think through the problem before her. She only had a few more minutes left of school, but she wanted to get as much as her homework done as possible.  She figured she could do the reading before bed, but she’d give anything to wait until next week to see math again.

There was a popping sound that Eri instantly recognized as coming from the intercom on the wall at the front of the classroom. Every now and then, the principal would come on before school ended with some announcements. Eri just continued to stare at her page, confident that any important announcements would be sent home in letter format with her take-home folder.

“Tanaka-sensei?” called the voice from the loudspeaker. Eri’s year three homeroom teacher stopped and looked up at the little box.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Could you send Eri Aizawa to the front office immediately?”

Instantly, all eyes turned to the white-haired girl in the middle of the room. Her teacher surveyed Eri for a moment before responding, “Yes, she’ll be right down.” When there was another popping noise to indicate that the speaker had been turned off, Tanaka-sensei gestured towards the door. “Alright, Eri, get your backpack from your cubby and head to the office.”

“Okay,” she nodded as some students turned their gaze from her to return to their own work. Eri packed up her math sheet, cursing the fact that she would now have to bring it home and then went to the back corner of the classroom to collect her coat and backpack.

Within the next minute, she was in the hall, walking down the long deserted corridor to the front office which wasn’t too far away. She wondered why she had to go to the office. Eri was a quiet girl and unlike the other eight-year-olds in her class, never had Quirk outbursts. She had a friend, Yuki, in another homeroom class, but generally got along with her other classmates as well.

When she pushed open the office door, the first thing she noticed was Present Mic’s loud hair sticking straight up. He was in his hero uniform, she noticed, though she could clearly see parts of his shirt were ripped and he was sporting a fresh bruise on his cheek.

“Mister Mic?” Eri asked, her eyes going wide at the sight of his injuries. He turned to look at her, but his thin lips only pressed upward in a half smile, not the usual bright grin he usually shot at her.

“Hey, kid,” he greeted in an unnaturally low tone. He looked like he was struggling to say something important which only put Eri more on edge. Her heart was beginning to thump in her chest and she picked at the seams on the strap of her backpack anxiously.

“Why are you picking me up?” Eri asked, assuming the hand holding the pen was hovering over the sign-out sheet.

Mic swallowed and then said, “Mister Aizawa is badly hurt. We need to get to the hospital.”

As the secretary looked at the hero with a harsh side-eye, Eri sucked in a breath. “Okay,” she whispered back in a shaking voice as she grabbed Present Mic’s outstretched hand.

“It’s going to be okay,” Mic told her, though uncertainty crept into his own voice. Eri didn’t really believe him, but she wasn’t going to say that. She was too busy trying to digest the shocking information.

It wasn’t long before Eri found herself sitting in a waiting room chair at the hospital, staring at the old stained carpeted floor. The carpet had likely once been a brilliant white but was now faded almost beige by wear and tear. Her chair was also old, though the light colored wood was holding up nicely. The scratchy purple fabric on the seat and back, though, not so much.

Mic was next to her, chattering on about what it was like when he was in primary school. Eri wasn’t hearing much of what he said, too busy focusing on the bits of fuzz that lined the seat. All Might was sunk into a chair opposite her, staring at his phone, though she hadn’t seen him swipe or type in a long time. He had mentioned something about Deku, but Eri didn’t remember if he was coming or if he had come and wouldn’t be back for a while.

“He’s going to be okay.” The words caught Eri’s attention as Mic placed a hand on her knee. She looked over at him and nodded, though her next action was to shrug and sink further into her seat.

She really wanted to believe that the man who had become her guardian would be alright, but she also had no idea what was wrong in the first place. It was easy to guess that there had been a run-in with some villain, but Eri didn’t know who and no one was volunteering that information. When a doctor came out to talk to them, All Might and Mic had huddled on the opposite end of the waiting room, far enough away that Eri couldn’t make out what was being said. All they told her at the end of that meeting was that surgery had gone well and he was resting. They’d be able to see him soon, but no one knew when.

Eri hoped he would be alright. That was the only idea playing in her head and it seemed so silly. Of course, she hoped he’d be okay. He was her guardian, the one who had taken her in just a year and a half before. Already the memories of her previous life were fading away, replaced by the love and kindness Aizawa had shown her. If something happened to him, she didn’t know where she would go and she certainly didn’t want to give up the life she had.

As Eri looked up to stare at the reception desk, a doctor appeared from around the corner. All Might sat straight up while Mic stood and walked over. “He’s not awake yet,” the doctor started. “But you can go in and see him. Please be quiet, though. The surgery was quite difficult on his body and he needs rest.”

“Are we all able to go?” Mic asked, sparing a glance at Eri.

“He’s certainly not a scary sight,” the doctor replied, understanding Mic’s meaning immediately. “His head and right arm are bandaged and his face is a little discolored from a bruise, but he’ll be alright.”

Mic nodded and thanked the doctor. Eri slid off the chair hopefully and Mic offered his hand which she gladly accepted. She had no questions to ask and nothing to say as they walked down the hall. He squeezed her hand when they stopped in front of a door which the doctor slowly opened.

The room was dimmed, but the late day sunlight streaming in made it easy to make out the furniture in the room. While All Might lingered back a bit, Mic led Eri to the bed in the center of the room and lifted her up into his arms so she could get a look at Aizawa. He was fast asleep on his back with his black hair splayed about on the pillow under his head. A bandage wrapped around his forehead while another was tied around his right hand. As the doctor had mentioned, there was a purple bruise on his cheek, but it wasn’t as big as Eri imagined it would be. Besides the bandages and the hospital bed, he looked like he was sleeping, as though he’d fallen asleep on the couch grading again.

“See, kiddo?” Mic whispered as he sat down and positioned Eri on his lap. “He’s alright. He’s gonna be just fine.” Eri nodded again, not taking her eyes off of Aizawa for a moment. She could tell from the tone of his voice that Mic was trying to convince himself of his own words.

About a half hour later, All Might took his leave, saying he’d go tell the students everything was looking to turn out alright. He offered to take Eri home with him, but she immediately shook her head. She wanted to stay, at least until she was absolutely made to leave.

Fifteen minutes after All Might left, a different doctor in a similar white coat stepped into the room. “How are we doing here?” she asked in an appropriately quiet voice.

“Good,” Mic replied with a thin smile. “It looks like everything’s going to be okay.” He paused and then added, “Right?”

“Of course,” she immediately replied. As she locked eyes with Eri, her smile became softer. “And how are you doing sweetie? Your dad’s going to be okay, you know that right? Just needs some rest.”

Before Eri could nod or respond, the doctor moved to the bedside to check on some of the IVs. The girl watched her as a strange feeling bubbled in the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t the first time that someone had mistakenly called Aizawa her dad. She never once corrected them. To be fair, in all senses of the word, they were right. He clothed and fed her, gave her shelter and loved, and acted more like a dad than anyone ever had towards her in her entire life. So, why now did she feel so strange about it?

Perhaps it was the aching feeling in her chest she got whenever she glanced over at him in the bed. Maybe it was that she didn’t want to go live with anyone else. She wanted to go home that night to their little apartment in the dorms where he could read her a bedtime story and tuck her into bed.

That, of course, didn’t end up happening. After talking with the doctor, Mic took Eri back to her apartment, and though he did read her a bedtime story and tuck her into bed, it wasn’t the same. Eri hardly slept, instead spending half the night staring at the ceiling or watching the flickering light from the television in the next room flicker on her wall.

The next morning, both she and Mic got up only when it seemed acceptable too, which ended up being about 6 when the sun came up. Mic’s hair was down and half tied up in a bun on the back of his head. He looked disheveled and Eri was sure he’d slept even less than she did. It was a quiet breakfast and then they went straight back to the hospital to take their places at Aizawa’s side. The doctor on call that morning told them he had yet to wake up but was doing fine.

It wasn’t long before a low groan from the bed alerted both Mic and Eri that Aizawa was beginning to flirt with consciousness. Eri jumped straight up and went to the bedside. Aizawa let out a long puff of air, then sucked in another breath as he started to open his eyes.

Eri couldn’t help it. At the sight of his warm brown eyes, she flung her arms around him and shouted, “Dad! You’re awake!”

Aizawa blinked a few times and instinctively lifted an arm to wrap around Eri’s back. It took another moment before he was able to figure out that he was in the hospital and Eri’s tears were dripping onto his neck. He pulled the girl closer despite the dull protests of his injuries and moved his opposite arm to hug her tighter.

They stayed that way for a long moment before Eri finally broke away and wiped her tears on the back of her hand. “I’m really glad you’re okay,” Eri mumbled out, trying to steady her breathing so she wouldn’t cry again.

“Me too,” Aizawa replied reaching out to grab and squeeze Eri’s hand. He shifted his gaze to Mic who was grinning from ear to ear. “How long was I out?”

“A day. They had to get you into surgery to remove…” Mic looked at Eri and trailed off. Aizawa just nodded and they silently agreed to discuss the details when she was out of the room. “Glad you’re cool, man. You had us worried sick.”

Aizawa shrugged. “You wouldn’t believe what I have to do to get a damn nap sometimes.”

It wasn’t long before Eri needed a nap of her own. About an hour passed before she looked like she was going to absolutely drop and Mic offered to go have her lie down in the waiting room where there was a couch. Eri immediately nixed that idea, so Aizawa shifted over and left a little room for her to climb up and curl against his side. It wasn’t long before she was fast asleep against the crook of his arm.

“Did you hear her?” Mic asked.

“When?” Aizawa replied, turning his head to look over at his friend.

“When you woke up, what she said,” the man continued, a wide grin on his face. “She called you ’dad.’”

“Huh. I didn’t notice.”

“You’re a goddamn liar,” Mic laughed and Aizawa just rolled his eyes. But, Mic was right. He had heard Eri when he woke up, though he’d been too shocked to mention it. Then, when the moment had passed, he didn’t want to make Eri feel awkward by bringing it up again.

“Look at you. Super dad extraordinaire!”

“Shut up.”

“You love it, though. You’re absolutely head over heels in love with that girl, you can barely hide it. I think you’ve gone soft.” Aizawa shot him as murderous a glare as he could given his condition, to which Mic only laughed. “It’s not a bad thing,” he said. “You deserve to have a family, you know. Just as much as she does. And she’s a lucky little thing to have you as a dad.”

A few days later, Aizawa was released from the hospital with strict orders to rest. Of course, he had his lesson plan typed up and ready for the next day and had gathered up Eri, who dozed off on the couch before he’d been able to get her into bed.

As he laid her down and pulled up the covers, Eri blinked up at him. “It’s time for bed,” Aizawa explained and flipped on her nightlight. “Why don’t you come to class with me tomorrow? I’ll call you in sick one more day and you can go back on Thursday.”

“Okay,” Eri said before yawning. Aizawa pat the covers and turned to leave, but a weight on his hand pulled him back. He turned and saw that Eri had grabbed his hand and was looking at him expectantly.

“Do you need something?” Aizawa asked after a moment of shared silence.

“Can I call you dad?” she blurted out. Aizawa was able to make out a tint of redness by the glow of her nightlight. “I should have asked first, but…”

She didn’t finish the thought, but Aizawa let out a breath and crouched down on his feet so he was level with her. “Of course you can,” he said, placing a hand on her head and giving her a rare full smile. She grinned right back at him as he stood once more.

“Goodnight, Dad,” Eri said, enjoying the way the word felt on her lips.

“Goodnight Eri.”