Chapter 1: Running
Himei didn’t like her new baby sister.
She knew that it wasn’t Eri’s fault, that her dads just wanted to give the little girl a ‘normal’ childhood. Well, as normal as it could be, given the circumstances. But lately, that translated to devoting every waking moment’s worth of attention to her—even Shinsou didn’t seem to have time for her anymore! And it wasn’t fair. Himei was there first. Himei was supposed to be the baby.
Currently, the little girl sat in her bedroom, her English homework sprawled out on the bed in front of her. She couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but her Daddy was too busy helping Eri learn her colors to be bothered. How difficult was it to say, ‘hey, that circle is pink’ or ‘that triangle over there is blue’? Meanwhile, Himei was supposed to be highlighting the prepositional phrase in the ten example sentences. What the hell was a prepositional phrase? Himei certainly didn’t know. She supposed that she could ask her Papa, but he would likely be just as stumped as she was and send her off to go ask her Daddy. And Shinsou…
She scowled. Shinsou was supposed to be going with her to the arcade today. He’d been promising to take her for weeks if she got a B or higher on her next math test. She’d gotten a 93. It was an achievement which typically warranted a place of honor on the refrigerator, but her spot had gotten usurped by Eri, who’d drawn a picture of the entire family as cats. And now, instead of getting ready to head to the arcade, Shinsou was at the mall with his boyfriend picking out yet another present for Eri—as if the girl didn’t have enough stuff—and Himei was stuck in her room, staring blankly at homework she didn’t understand, utterly miserable.
There was a knock on her door. Knowing that she didn’t necessarily have to give her father permission to enter, she continued to try and figure out the assignment in front of her and, sure enough, Hizashi burst in, an exuberant smile on his face as he announced himself. Himei looked up just in time to see Eri tottle in uncertainly behind him—the little girl was not typically allowed to go into Himei’s bedroom, and she was looking around in wide-eyed wonder, everything inside so new. She clutched Hizashi’s leg, partially hiding herself away behind his hulking frame. Himei rolled her eyes and went back to her assignment.
“It’s time for dinner, little listener!” Hizashi boomed. Himei flinched, the volume just a hair too high to be comfortable. “Your Papa made yakitori! And he only set the kitchen on fire once, so the food should be halfway edible this time!”
Himei furrowed her brows, “I thought we were gonna have miso soup with pork for dinner?” It was Friday, which meant it was her turn to pick what they had for dinner and she’d been craving miso soup for weeks. It just so happened that they finally had the ingredients to make it.
“I know, [darling] but Eri doesn’t like pork. Instead of taking the time to make her something separate, your Papa thought it would be more logical to make yakitori, since everyone likes chicken.” Hizashi said, his voice frustratingly bright.
“I’m not hungry.” Himei said, hurriedly ducking her head to hide the tears budding in the corners of her eyes. Because of course something else of hers would get usurped because of freaking Eri.
Her stomach grumbled defiantly, causing Hizashi to laugh. “What’s with the stubborn attitude, huh? You love yakitori!” Crossing the distance between them, he ruffled her hair affectionately, laughing even louder when she tried to bat his hands away. “You have ten minutes, okay?”
Himei didn’t answer, just glared at the two as they made their exit, closing the door softly behind them. It was only then that she allowed the first tears to fall. Eri was taking everything from her, even something mundane as a choice in dinner, just by virtue of being Eri and it wasn’t fair. Sniffling, she got down off of her bed, her assignments falling and scattering all over the floor. Instead of cleaning them up, she made a beeline for the door, venturing further down the hall until she reached Shinsou’s bedroom. The door, as expected, was unlocked. Making her way inside, she made her way over to his closet and grabbed one of his blissfully soft hoodies.
Shinsou had recently presented as an alpha, and his scent always made her feel so safe. She struggled to slip the hoodie over her head, her tears making it rather difficult to see, but soon the soft, warm cloth enveloped her like a hug. The lavender material fell over her like a dress, with the pockets landing somewhere around her knees and the sleeves extending out well beyond her little hands. Pulling the hood up over her head, she proceeded to climb into the closet, now thoroughly surrounded by Shinsou’s scent, and sulk. Because that is the decidedly mature thing to do in this situation. Talking about her feelings is decidedly off the table for the time being.
She must’ve dozed off, because the next thing she heard was her Papa’s irritated voice saying, “Himei, you’re being incredibly rude. Everyone’s food has gone cold thanks to how long you’ve made them wait.” Himei flinched, but didn’t move.
“I-I’m not hungry!” She said once more, silently cursing the way her voice trembled.
Shouta was silent for a long while, before biting back, “You better not be lying to me, kid. Because if you don’t come and eat in the next five minutes, you’re not going to eat for the rest of the night. Do you understand me?”
Himei burrowed deeper into Shinsou’s sweatshirt, mewling softly. She didn’t respond.
“I asked you a question, Himei. I expect you to answer me.” She knew that her Papa wasn’t intending to be cruel, that she had been rude in making them all wait, even if they’d changed the meal without consulting her just to suit Eri’s palate.
Just thinking about Eri made the anger rise inside of her again, and she blurted without thinking, “I’d rather starve than eat with that charity case!” The house creaked ominously, the magnitude of her Quirk causing one of Shinsou’s windows to shatter. There was no chance they didn’t hear that downstairs.
She’d known she’d gone too far long before the hot, spicy scent of anger wafted through the cutaways in Shinsou’s closet door. But instead of responding like she thought he might, of yelling at her or scolding her or anything, really, he just…walked away. And somehow, that just made everything feel so much worse. Her dads didn’t need her anymore, now that they had their precious Eri. She wasn’t even worth the effort it took to punish her. She choked back a sob, wishing, not for the first time, that things would go back to the way that they’d been before Eri, or even Shinsou, had shown up in their lives.
They didn’t need her anymore.
They wouldn’t miss her if she was gone. Not when they had Shinsou, and Eri, and…
Would they even notice if she left? Probably not. Definitely not in time to stop her, at any rate.
Mind made up, she scrambled to her feet and scurried back down the hall to her bedroom. She grabbed only the essentials, including her Present Mic plushie, her favorite water bottle (with the ensign for Mic’s radio show emblazoned on the side of it), and a couple of granola bars. She stuffed all of this into her backpack. Slipping the bag onto her shoulders, she climbed onto her bed and opened the window—it was chilly outside, and she was glad she’d decided not to return Shinsou’s hoodie after all. Looking back at her room one last time, her eyes fell on the picture sitting on her dresser.
It was of her, her Daddy and her Papa, and her grandmas on her third birthday. Her Papa looked just as tired as always, but he was smiling, nuzzling her little face against his stubbly chin. Her chubby little hands were tangled in his hair. Her Daddy was behind her, holding her tight and smiling so, so bright, while her grandmas cooed and played with her little baby toes. They were so happy. When was the last time that they’d smiled at her like that? She couldn’t remember. But it certainly had to have been before Eri came into the picture.
Her parents didn’t care about her anymore. They were too busy dealing with Eri to see just how much she needed them, too.
It was with that thought that she let go of the windowsill, allowing herself to plummet to the ground. A cold shock chased through her bones when her sneakers hit the pavement with a soft smack, but she did not let this phase her, hitting the ground running and disappearing off into the night.
Chapter 2: Discovery
Because Present Mic, at his core, is the hipster icon we don't deserve, I present to you...tattooed and pierced!Dadmic, for your reading pleasure.
“What’s that one?” Eri asked, as she jabbed one of her little fingers into Mic’s chest. The voice hero winced, looking down to see which tattoo had caught the little girl’s interest this time around.
Eri…to say that she had not taken well to Himei’s little outburst would be a tremendous understatement. The little girl had practically been in hysterics, with fat tears rolling down her red, chubby cheeks and each stuttering inhalation sounding more and more like an asthmatic struggling for air. Hizashi, thinking fast, had begun to point to some of the tattoos that were readily visible on his forearms and tell Eri the stories behind them. It didn’t take long for Eri to become thoroughly enthralled by their little ‘game’ and start discovering tattoos on her own. This particular one was situated over Hizashi’s heart, and had the word RADIO in beautiful, bold script, with a tiny black star situated inside of the ‘o’. Immediately underneath it were a series of soundwaves that, when played back, were of a tiny, high-pitched voice giggling: “Daddy is a radio star”.
“That one…” Hizashi smiled brightly, “That one is my absolute favorite. Those were your big sister’s first words.” He said. “I was down at the radio station, and your Papa called in and said that there was something I just had to hear. And then he put her on the phone and she giggles and says ‘radio star’ and I swear, I almost passed out from cuteness overload.”
“And what about…” Eri looked him over curiously, before settling on one on the inside of his arm. It was a giant bouquet of flowers, of all different colors and sizes, “That one’s super pretty!”
Hizashi nodded. “Those are the flowers that represent the birth months of all my most important people. These two are my moms,” he pointed to a carnation and a lily, “the chrysanthemum is for your Papa, and the gladiolus is for your sister,” on the other side of the bouquet was a newer looking, light purple flower, “and larkspur is for your brother.”
“What about me?” Eri asked, her lower lip jutting out petulantly as she stared up at Hizashi expectantly. The voice hero laughed.
“Not to worry, little one. I’ve saved a special place for your flower right…here.” He said, pointing to the spot immediately to the left of the larkspur. “I plan to get it touched up on my next day off, and I’ll add yours in then.”
Eri nodded, seemingly satisfied with his answer. “And this one—,”
She was cut off by a loud thwump in the kitchen, followed by soft curses. Hizashi held up a finger, smiling at her kindly, before calling, “You alright out there, sunshine?” And then he sniffed, catching wind of something…good. “Are you cooking, Shou?”
There was a grunt, followed by a murmured, “’M making miso soup with pork.”
Well, that was…unexpected, to say the least. Shouta was usually the one lecturing Hizashi about sticking to his guns and not letting the kids wheedle out of punishment by flashing him doe eyes and squeezing out a couple crocodile tears. He didn’t even think that Shouta had been unduly harsh. But clearly, something about the way that the earlier events had transpired was bothering his mate to the extent that he was willingly going out of his way to make an entirely new meal for their stubborn kid. Hizashi wanted to press, but another, bigger part of him knew that Shouta would tell him when he was ready. So he went back to telling Eri about his various tattoos, listening to Shouta rant and rave and cuss and, one time, set the smoke detector off. It was not long after that that Shinsou came home, arms bursting with shopping bags bearing the logos of various stores in the mall.
“I’m home.” He said, struggling to take off his shoes without utilizing his hands and almost falling over in the process. After a few minutes, he was successful, kicking the trainers over by the door and stumbling down the hall. “Something smells good.”
“Yeah, well, don’t be getting too excited. It’s for your sister.” Shouta said as he popped his head out of the kitchen to greet his son as he walked past, “Speaking of which, since you’re heading upstairs, do you mind getting her out of your closet? She’s been in there for awhile now and I don’t want her spending the night on the floor.”
Shinsou sighed, rubbing the back of his neck, “Do I even want to know…?”
Shouta was silent for a long moment, as if carefully measuring his words. Finally, he said, “She’s not having a particularly good night—oh yeah, by the way, the window over your desk is broken, watch out for that—and you know she finds your scent comforting. Don’t pretend like you don’t like being her knight in shining armor.”
Shinsou raised one lavender brow, “You sound jealous, old man.”
Shouta rolled his eyes, “Go drop off those bags before you cut off the circulation in your arms.”
Hizashi started laughing, watching their son struggle to climb the stairs with his burden. “What the hell did you do, buy out the entire mall?” But Shinsou didn’t respond, and soon the only sound to be heard from the boy was that of his bags scraping along the walls.
Shouta began to ladle Himei’s soup into a bowl, before rummaging through the cabinets to find a container so that he might store the rest. He’d take it to her himself once Shinsou confirmed she wasn’t sulking in the closet anymore. He didn’t hear Shinsou come back downstairs but all of a sudden, the meaningless conversation that his husband was having with their youngest died out…Hizashi was saying something about Eri watching some cartoons before bed, and then the television was on, the volume far too loud for so late at night. Shouta poked his head out of the kitchen, about to bitch at Hizashi to turn down the volume, when he saw Shinsou and Hizashi had migrated over to the staircase. Shinsou’s dark eyes were wide and panicked, and his hands seemed to move a mile a minute as he shakily signed a message to the older man.
His movements were choppy, making it too difficult to try and decipher what he was saying from such a distance away. When it became clear that Hizashi wasn’t grasping the severity of the situation, he grabbed the older man by the wrist and all but dragged him upstairs. Shouta watched for a moment, before sliding a towel off of the oven door and drying off his hands. Slowly, he made his way into the living room, taking the remote and turning down the volume ever so slightly. Eri beamed up at him brightly, before returning her attention to the talking sponge on the television (Shouta would never understand the allure of American children’s cartoons—when Himei was little, her favorite show had been about a creature that was half-cat, half-dog…no really, that was the entire show…Shouta didn’t get it either).
A minute or so later, Hizashi and Shinsou returned. Hizashi made a beeline for the closet, grabbing his leather jacket and slipping it on. “What the hell are you so worked up about? It’s your night off—,”
Shinsou and Hizashi shared a look, before the blond blurted, “Actually, I just got a call from the radio station. Apparently, the DJ responsible for tonight’s show called out, so they, um, asked if I could cover for her. It’s super last minute, so I have to hit the road like now—don’t wait up for me, okay, hun?”
Shouta raised a brow, “What about Himei?”
“Himei’s fine! She’s totally still upstairs, why wouldn’t she be?” Hizashi said, before cursing underneath his breath. Taking a deep breath, he resumed, “She was knocked out in ‘Toshi’s closet, so he asked me for help moving her to her bed. She’s out cold and totally not hungry, so it’s probably best if you don’t disturb her for a while, yeah.”
Shouta looked entirely unconvinced, “You’re acting completely suspicious right now.”
“I’m being suspicious?” Hizashi balked, placing a hand over his heart. “You’re the one that’s being suspicious.”
“That doesn’t even make sense, ‘Zashi.”
Shinsou was making rapid motions toward the door, and Hizashi nodded. “Look, as much as I love our little talks—really, truly, I do—I gotta run. And Shinsou is coming with me because…because…”
Shinsou rolled his eyes, “I’m thinking about getting an internship at the station over the summer.”
“YES!” Hizashi boomed, causing the house to let out a somewhat ominous creak. “Now, no time to lose. We wouldn’t want to keep the folks down at the station waiting anymore—,”
Before he could finish his sentence, Shinsou had shoved them both out the door and closed and locked it behind him. Shouta and Eri shared a look, before Shouta shrugged and went back to focusing on the mind-numbing drudgery before him. “Weird.”
“But Kacchan, that’s not what I—did you hear something?” Izuku stopped, though Katsuki continued to walk forward as far as their connected hands would allow, almost yanking the green-haired boy off his feet.
“What the hell, Deku? It’s late and I wanna hit the hay.” Katsuki said, his lower lip jutting out in an adorable pout that he would later deny on pain of death. Izuku couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of it.
“It’s only 9:30.” He reminded him gently, before looking around the area slowly. “I could’ve sworn I heard something that sounded like…”
Crying. There it was again. It was faint, but definitely there. Releasing Katsuki’s hand, much to the alpha’s chagrin, he made his way back toward where he thought the sound might be coming from. As he approached, the crisp, clean scent of the nighttime air began to sour with the stench of distress…it hit him like a train, and he felt tears budding in the corners of his eyes as a pain that was not his own tore through him. Just a little bit further now…On the far side of the dorms, hidden away in some low bushes, was a child. She was curled in on herself, swallowed up in a sweatshirt that seemed much too large for her little frame. Katsuki called after him, making an incredibly valid point about kids and bait and villains, but…something drew him to her. When he got a little closer, he finally noticed what it was. She smelled like blood.
Squatting down in front of her, Izuku cocked his head to the side and said, “Hey there, sweetie. My name is Izuku, and this is my mate, Katsuki. But you can call him Kacchan.” Ignoring the blond as he snapped, quite forcefully, that she could not call him Kacchan, he continued, “Can you tell me your name?”
The kid sniffled, wiping at her eyes with the sleeve of the sweatshirt. “Daddy says that I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s fair.” Izuku was silent for a minute, before an idea occurred to him. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out his provisional hero license. “Kacchan and I are students at UA, training to be heroes. So we might be strangers, but we’re here to help you, if you need it.” He told her firmly, wearing as bright a smile as he could muster.
The little girl’s eyes widened when she noticed the discoloration on Izuku’s arm, “Hey…You’re that kid that keeps breaking himself with his Quirk. Papa talks about you a lot.” She sniffled again, looking a bit calmer now.
“Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call it breaking myself…” Izuku trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.
“Wait—is this little brat Aizawa’s kid?” Katsuki barked, causing red-rimmed blue eyes to narrow at him darkly.
“I’m not a brat!” She snapped, a few more tears leaking from the corners of her eyes.
“Kacchan,” Izuku gave him a look, before turning back to the little girl, “Are you Aizawa-sensei’s daughter?” He asked again, much softer this time. After a moment, the girl nodded hesitantly. “Can you tell me what you’re doing here, sweetie?”
She lowered her eyes, “My daddies…they don’t want me anymore. So I decided to run away. Except I fell down while I was running, and I scraped up my knee really badly, and I can’t get it to stop bleeding and it hurts really bad…”
Izuku knew there had to be more to the story than that, but he wasn’t about to press right now. The more important thing was her leg. “Can I see the scrape?” Once again, the girl considered it for a moment, before nodding.
She pulled the bottom of her hoodie up so that it rested on her waist, revealing a pair of light green, blood soaked leggings. She rolled the pant leg up just far enough that he could see the damage—at first glance, it looked like more of a brush burn than a scrape, with the entire kneecap looking red and irritated and inflamed. The wound itself was still bleeding, albeit sluggishly. Izuku waved Katsuki over, who whistled at the damage, once again earning himself a glare from the tiny child. The damage would have to be tended to, and that was definitely something they couldn’t do out here. Surprisingly, it took very little convincing to get her to come with them—perhaps she realized that it would do her no good whatsoever to sit out in the freezing cold all night. It did, however, take some convincing to get her to climb onto Katsuki’s back.
In the end, they walked back to the first year dorms, Katsuki grumbling about all of the sleep he was missing as he struggled to keep the squirming girl from sliding right off of his back. Izuku held her hand and inundated her with question after question about her Quirk—though she was adamant that it was nothing special, she readily supplied him with all of the information that she could. The green-haired omega was practically in nerd heaven. Most people hadn’t found out about Present Mic and Eraserhead’s only biological child until after the Sports Festival, when news broke that they were in the process of adopting Shinsou. One of the major hero news outlets had taken a picture of Shinsou picking up his new younger sister from school and ran it with the headline ‘Secret Erasermic Love Child’. Needless to say, Shouta had been pissed.
Izuku, of course, had known from the very beginning, because he listened to Present Mic’s radio show religiously and had taken detailed notes every time the hero would mention anything about his life—including his latest tattoos. He had three pages of notes dedicated to the radio star tattoo on Mic’s chest alone. And it didn’t escape his notice that the little girl had a necklace on, with a pendant which matched the exact design of the tattoo. It felt so surreal, to be standing there, holding hands with the daughter of some of the coolest heroes he knew. Before he knew it, they’d reached the bathroom. Izuku scouted ahead to make sure it was clear, seeing as it would cause major problems if they brought her into the girl’s bathroom. Once Izuku waved him in, he plopped her down on a dry portion of the sink and began gathering paper towels.
“Now, are you gonna tell me why I shouldn’t just text Sparky and have him call the Walking Dead to come pick her up?” Katsuki asked, as he began to pat the bloody wound with a bit too much force. The little girl whined and kicked him very close to the groin. “Hey! Watch yourself there, little lady.”
Izuku rolled his eyes, before asking in a much gentler fashion, “Would you like it if Hitoshi came to pick you up?”
She shook her head vigorously, “Even if you call…he won’t come. He and my daddies…they have Eri now, so they don’t need me. B-But that’s okay, ‘cause I’m a big girl and I can make it on my own.”
“Clearly, you can’t even run for an extended period of time without falling and shredding yourself to bits.” Katsuki deadpanned.
“Hey, I’m just stating the facts. I don’t see you doing anything to help with this bloody mess, huh.”
“I said something bad and I-I made Papa really mad. But he didn’t yell or anything like that. He just kinda…walked away. I don’t like it when Papa yells at me, but at least that’s better than being ignored.” She said, staring down at the well-loved Present Mic plushie she was clutching in her hands. “But like I said. They have Eri now. They don’t need me.”
“We’re gonna have to trash these leggings. It looks like we fucking tried to kill her.” Katsuki said. He’d gotten the bleeding to stop, but he needed her to take the leggings off to dress the wound. Izuku began to help her out of her sneakers, “You’re such a freaking mom.”
Izuku rolled his eyes, “Our kids are all going to be scarred for life.”
Katsuki spluttered, “Oi! Who the hell said anything about having kids?”
The omega sighed, looking incredibly put-upon, “Do you see what I have to deal with?” This caused the little girl to laugh, which was an extremely welcome sound amidst all the tears. “Now, can you take those off for me…?” She nodded, and with some difficulty, and one extremely pained whine as the fabric grazed over her knee, divested herself of the ruined pants.
She watched him slide her sneakers back on, before asking, “Are you gonna make me go home, Izuku-kun?”
Izuku stared at her for a moment, before shaking his head. “If you’re this upset, I can’t be sure you won’t just run off again, anyway. I’d rather know that you’re safe.” Izuku smiled, “For tonight, you’ll stay with us, and we’ll talk to Aizawa-sensei in the morning. How does that sound?”
The child looked a bit uncertain about talking to Aizawa the next morning, but eventually conceded. It was, after all, pretty late and she was incredibly tired from all that running. “O-Okay!”
Chapter 3: Caught
WARNING(s): Graphic Depiction of a Panic Attack, etc.
As always, please heed the tags and proceed with caution. Thanks for reading :)
Honestly, Shouta didn’t really think about his…weird conversation with Hizashi and Shinsou (could it really be called a ‘conversation’ when it mainly consisted of one’s husband blurting a series of nonsensical excuses as their son shoved him out the door?) until Eri was in bed and well on her way to dreamland. He stood outside of Himei’s room, hand poised to knock. On the one hand, he didn’t want to wake her if she was indeed asleep, but on the other hand, he wasn’t too keen on the idea of letting her spend the entire night thinking he was mad at her. Yeah, he was still mad, and he still expected her to apologize for what she’d said, but sometimes their little bundle of energy was too much like Hizashi for her own good, and once an idea got into her pretty little head it would fester and grow until suddenly him being mad at her turned into him hating her.
With a sigh, he let his hand drop to his side. If she was actually sleeping, then he really shouldn’t wake her…on a whim, he decided to try the doorknob, and finding it to be unlocked he turned it slightly, pushing the door open just enough to see that…all of the lights were on. Well, that was…not what he’d been expecting. He pushed the door open further, a shiver chasing down his spine as he stepped into the damn-near frigid room. His eyes snapped to the window above their daughter’s bed, which was wide open, her black and red plaid curtains billowing slightly as the breeze robbed the room of any heat it might’ve had. He line of sight shifted slightly, to the decidedly empty bed, surrounded by long-forgotten English homework. Homework that she’d been begging Hizashi for help with earlier that afternoon. What the fuck…
That window unlocked from the inside, and it certainly wasn’t broken. Shouta charged into the room, tearing apart the organized chaos in search of…where was it? Where was it? Himei owned every piece of Present Mic merchandise known to man, but her absolute favorite was a plushie that Hizashi had bought her for her fifth birthday. She never went anywhere without that thing, if possible. And when she did have to part with it, she would leave it in a safe place, often in plain sight, like on her desk or tucked into her bed. And it was just…gone. Gone, just like Himei. Shouta could hear his heart hammering away in his ears, and he suddenly found it difficult to breathe. The room was swimming, though he couldn’t tell if that was from the tears collecting in the corners of his eyes or the fact that he was suddenly so dizzy he thought he might puke.
Before he could realize what he was doing, his phone was in his hand and he’d dialed Hizashi’s number. After several rights, his husband answered, slightly breathless, “Hey, sunshine—is everything okay? This is kind of a bad time right now—”
“Where is our daughter, Hizashi?” His voice was low, his tone positively murderous. Hizashi should be thanking his lucky star that Aizawa didn’t have a Quirk that made it possible for him to kill the other man through the phone.
Hizashi swallowed hard, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, darling dearest love. Last time I checked, little Eri was with you on the couch and Himei was upstairs in her room, sound asleep—”
Shouta didn’t even let him finish the sentence, “Oh really? That’s funny, ‘cause I’m standing in Himei’s room right now, and guess what? No kid. Zip. Nada. Zilch. It doesn’t even smell like she’s been in here recently. So I’m going to give you one more chance—just one—before I get really mad. Where is our daughter?”
He could almost hear the other man wince, “Well, you see, about that…”
“WHERE IS OUR DAUGHTER, HIZASHI?” Shouta hadn’t even realized that he’d screamed until a little head peaked in through the crack in the door, tired, bleary red eyes looking on him in concern.
“Papa…are you okay? I heard yelling.” Eri asked, her voice sounding incredibly small. Shouta sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose—while it was cute and he was thankful for her concern, it was decidedly not what he needed right that moment.
Forcing a (hopefully not manic) smile onto his face, he turned to the little girl and said, “Everything’s fine, Eri. Just go back to bed, okay? Daddy and Papa have to talk about some boring grown-up stuff.”
Eri nodded, seeming as though she would accept his answer and go back to bed…when he saw Himei’s empty bed. Frowning, she cocked her head to the side, white hair spilling over her shoulder as she asked, “Where’s sissy?”
There was no use in lying to her, when she could clearly see Himei wasn’t there. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out, sweetheart. But don’t worry your pretty little head about it, okay? I’m sure she’s fine—”
“Y-You’re crying!” Eri exclaimed, her voice shaking and her eyes growing impossibly wide with concern.
As if he didn’t believe her, he raised a hand to his cheek, the pads of his fingers indeed encountering moisture. He glared at the tears, as if his body had betrayed him, before turning back to Eri, “Everything’s fine. Just, please, go back to bed, okay? If you’re having trouble going back to sleep, I’ll read you another story in a little bit—”
Eri hesitated a moment, before nodding, “Okay.” And with that, she disappeared back down the hall into her own room.
“Shouta…” from Hizashi’s tone of voice, it was clear that he’d heard everything.
“Why didn’t you tell me that she’d run away, Hizashi?” Shouta asked, sounding deflated and so very, very tired.
Hizashi was silent for a long moment, before confessing, “Because I knew that you’d respond like this.”
Shouta had to sit down. He didn’t think that his legs would be able to support his weight much longer. In the end, he sat down on Himei’s bed, which probably didn’t help make any strides toward loosening the ball of tension that was weighing down his chest. It was getting increasingly more difficult to breathe, and he curled in on himself, grabbing one of Himei’s obnoxiously soft pillows and crushing it to his chest. Shouta knew what this was, had had enough panic attacks over the years to be able to recognize the signs, but that didn’t make it any less frightening as he tumbled down into a dark and cold abyss. It felt like he was trying to scale perfectly smooth walls, desperately chasing after a pinpoint of light that was becoming smaller and smaller as the seconds ticked by, wearing his fingers down to bloody stubs as he tried, in vain, to escape.
“Shouta…SHOUTA!” Shouta winced. Even through the phone, when Hizashi used his Quirk, that shit hurt. “Baby, you have to breathe. Himei is fine. You know how I know that? Cause she’s a smart kid.” When Shouta didn’t answer, he continued, “And she has an incredibly powerful vocal Quirk. We’d be able to hear her scream clear across town.”
Shouta shook his head, not caring that Hizashi couldn’t actually see him. “I-I need to be out there l-looking for her—”
“You need to be doing no such thing.” Hizashi said firmly. “You’re having a panic attack, Shou. You are going to sit there and listen to me, damn it. Our daughter is fine. Running away is inherently different than being kidnapped. She could only have gotten so far—she’s ten, for god’s sake—and we are going to find her.”
“No, no ‘buts’. This isn’t up for debate. We are going to find her, and you are going to sit there and fucking breathe. C’mon, baby…tell me five things that you can see.” A long stretch of silence followed, and Hizashi said, “Shou…”
Shouta inhaled shakily, black dots fluttering in the corner of his vision. “P-Pillow. Phone. Window. D-D-Desk. Homework.”
“Good. You’re so good for me, baby, you know that? So very good. Keep breathing for me now, okay?” Shouta gave a few shaky inhales, before Hizashi continued, “Now, four things you can hear.”
“Crickets.” Shouta sniffled, rubbing at his eyes with his shirt sleeve until the skin felt positively raw. “’Z-Zashi. The heater. Um…” he swallowed hard, drawing in a slow, shaky breath, “the wind. It’s really nasty outside, ‘Zashi, what if she gets sick—”
“Shh. It’s not that bad. The breeze just makes it a little nippy. And she has Toshi’s hoodie, remember?” He said something, presumably to Shinsou, that Shouta couldn’t quite make out. “What about feel? What can you feel, baby?”
It was getting a bit easier to breathe now, “I can feel…that ridiculous fleece blanket you got for Himei, the one that’s magnified like 300 times to make you head look even bigger than it actually is.” Hizashi snorted, “My slippers. Himei’s bed…she’s gonna need a new mattress. I don’t know how she can sleep on this thing, it feels like a slab of concrete…”
The blond laughed, “I’m glad you’re feeling better. Or, at least well enough to criticize the comfort of our daughter’s bed.” Then he sighed, “But just in case, what can you smell?”
“Smoke—god, did I burn dinner that badly?” He wrinkled his nose in disgust, his heartrate slowly coming back down. “And lavender. She must’ve used that expensive shampoo with the essential oil you got her for Christmas. Man, that’s a disgusting combination.” He sighed.
“Hey, it’s a great stress reliever and it’s good for maintaining hair and scalp health!” Hizashi said, sounding a tad indignant. “Alright, last one. One thing you can taste.”
Shouta licked his lips, grimacing at the taste of tears that clung to his skin. “Salt.”
Seemingly satisfied, Hizashi hummed softly. “You feeling better now, darling?”
“I’m still not happy with you.” Shouta said darkly, “I know why you did this. You essentially backed me into a corner and made it impossible for me to leave to go look for her. Even if I hadn’t just had an attack, you knew I wouldn’t leave Eri by herself.”
“Yes, and I’m fully prepared to be read the riot act when I get home.” Hizashi conceded. “I didn’t want to lie to you, love. I just –I didn’t think it would take this long to find her. And I didn’t want you to blame yourself for her running away. I’m sorry.”
Shouta allowed his eyes to fall closed, “I know.” And then, softer, “Hizashi? Bring her home, okay?”
Hizashi was silent for a long moment, before he hummed softly, “Okay.”
Shouta ended the call, before climbing off of Himei’s bed and making his way toward Eri’s room. Not surprisingly, the little girl had gotten back into bed and was already fast asleep. It was well past her bedtime and she was probably exhausted. Shouta himself was exhausted from his attack, but he knew that sleep would not come easily that night—if at all. So instead of retiring to the bedroom, he made his way back downstairs and grabbed his bag, pulling out a stack of assignments that he’d fallen behind on grading. He turned on the coffee maker, deeming it incredibly likely that he’d need more than sheer willpower alone to make it through the night. Reaching for his phone, he turned up the volume, just in case Hizashi called in need of something…
When the coffee was ready, he rifled through the cabinets until he found the bottles of 5-hour Energy that Hizashi always kept on hand. Unscrewing the cap, he gave it an experimental sniff, grimacing a bit as he threw caution to the wind and dumped the entire container inside. He then walked his heart attack in a cup over to the table, and set to work. It was more difficult than usual to focus on the assignments in front of him, and minor mistakes were grating on his nerves like never before, but it was something to do. And nothing got under his skin more than the feeling of being absolutely useless. It was one of the things he’d hated most about being incapacitated after the USJ incident…of finding out he wouldn’t be able to have any more pups…
He ran a hand over his painfully flat stomach, grimacing. “Bring her home soon, ‘Zashi.”
“Papa, Papa look…” Eri came charging at him several hours later, looking considerably better rested than he did. He took a sip of his coffee, wincing at the taste, as Eri thrust something into his hands.
It was a picture. The little girl had drawn two stick figures holding hands, one with blond hair and blue eyes and the other with white hair and red eyes, complete with hearts and stars and so, so much glitter. Up top, in a child’s sloppy hand, were the words ‘I’m sorry’, except the ‘s’ in sorry was backwards. “What’s this, Eri?”
“I drew a picture for sissy. She was upset because of me, right?” Eri asked, and though her eyes were bright her voice sounded incredibly sad. “I don’t really understand what I did to upset her to well, but I don’t want her to be upset with me anymore, so I made her this as a present. Do you think she’ll like it?”
And suddenly, Shouta felt like crying again. His hand started shaking as he gripped the picture hard enough to wrinkle the paper, “It’s a beautiful picture, sweetie. I’m sure Himei will love it.”
“Really? I’m so glad!” She smiled brightly. “Where is she? Did she already leave for school? I wanna give it to her now.”
“Um, well…” a traitorous tear streaked down his cheek, and he hurriedly brushed it away. “How about you hold onto it for a little while, okay? Give it to her tonight at dinner, when she can really have a chance to appreciate it.” Hopefully they’d found her by then, he reflected with a small grimace.
Eri deflated a little bit, “Daddy hasn’t found her yet, has he?”
Shouta ruffled her hair gently, “Don’t worry about that, okay? That’s stuff for big people to worry about.”
“O-Okay.” She said, looking more than a little uncertain.
Shouta rose from his seat on wobbly legs—he might’ve overdone it a little bit with the caffeine—and made his way into the kitchen, “C’mon, what do you want for breakfast? We still have a little while before we have to leave—”
He made breakfast for both of them, which they ate in silence. Every once in a while, Eri’s eyes would flicker over to Himei’s empty seat at the table, and Shouta would hurriedly try to distract her by asking how she liked her kindergarten class (apparently the teacher was really nice and had given her a kitty sticker when she’d answered a question right the other day) or what she wanted for dinner (she’d stunned him silent when she’d quietly requested that they have miso soup with pork so that sissy would smile when she came home). Shouta felt like all of the air had been punched out of his lungs at that, and he’d bitten down hard on his fist to try and fight back against his sudden urge to cry. He’d never felt so utterly useless before.
They took the train to UA. Since Eri was enrolled in afternoon kindergarten, she would usually spend the morning with Aizawa in his classroom and make her way through one of her activity books or draw some pictures—especially if one of the students specifically requested one from her. She quietly settled into the smaller desk beside his, taking a box of crayons out of her bag and working on one of the activity pages that was supposed to help her learn her numbers without any of her usual enthusiasm. Aizawa collapsed into his desk chair. There was still a little while before the students started coming in, he had time to close his eyes for a few seconds…but every time he did, all he saw was Himei’s wide, tear-filled blue eyes, so scared, so alone…
“Fuck.” He gritted his teeth, a sharp flare of pain cutting through his jaw. Eri looked up at him, as if considering him for a moment, before blurting:
“That’s one hundred yen to the swear jar, Papa.”
Right. Because of course she would be freaking listening to him. He sighed, “Right. Of course, sweetie. Remind me when we get home, okay?” He sincerely hoped she’d forget by then, but he knew that the chances were slim to none.
“This was the best that I could do. I know you said she liked Present Mic, so I figured she might appreciate one of the t-shirts from his radio show.” Momo said, watching as the little girl eyed her new outfit curiously.
They’d asked Momo to make her a new outfit, considering that she’d bled through her leggings the night before and couldn’t really go walking around the school in nothing more than an oversized sweatshirt and a slightly sweat-dampened t-shirt. She looked adorable in a magenta shirt bearing the logo for ‘Put Your Hands Up’ radio and black and white zebra print leggings. She seemed to make her mind up, dropping into a low bow, blonde hair fanning out and hiding her face from view. After a second, she gave a soft sniffle, and Momo laughed, gently encouraging the girl to stand up straight and giving her a quick hug, ruffling her hair affectionately. The girl seemed to soak up the physical affection, leaning into her touch with a watery smile.
Nobody was surprised that, as soon as she broke away from the hug, she immediately buried herself in Shinsou’s sweatshirt once more. It was cute, how much she loved the purple-haired teen. Speaking of which, it was weird that they hadn’t run into him yet. Although he didn’t live in the dorms, he certainly spent enough time there, considering that his boyfriend did. He would usually come to school early just to catch a few extra minutes with him before classes started. Speak of the devil—Kaminari rounded the corner, probably also in search of his elusive boyfriend, his eyes growing wide when he saw the little one holding Izuku’s hand. It was clear the little girl saw him as well, because her eyes grew wide and she scampered behind Izuku’s legs so fast she almost fell.
“Whoa, Himei…what the hell? You’ve been here all night? Do you know how worried your brother is about you? Your dads?” Izuku didn’t think he’d ever actually seen Kaminari mad before, and the little girl’s—Himei’s—fingers tightened around his shirt. She sniffled, hiding herself as much as possible.
“Calm the fuck down, Sparky. If you scare her so bad that she bolts again, the nerd is never gonna let me hear the end of it.” Katsuki said, his voice soft but firm. “Deku is gonna talk to Aizawa before class. Everything is under control.”
Kaminari, looking far from convinced, continued, “Why does she smell like blood?” The omega demanded, his voice tight.
“For the love of god,” Katsuki rolled his eyes, “She fell and scraped her knee, okay? She’s a kid. They fall down sometimes. I promise we didn’t maim her or anything like that.” He sighed, “Look, I wanted to call you—”
It was here that Himei spoke up, her voice shaking, “I-I don’t want to go home.”
Kaminari turned to her, wide-eyed, “What do you mean, you don’t want to go home? Honey, I don’t think you understand just how upset everyone is that you’re gone. Hitoshi called me at three in the morning sobbing because he couldn’t find you.”
Himei flinched, and this time Izuku spoke up, “Kaminari, I get where you’re coming from, trust me—but yelling at her when she already feels like crap isn’t going to make the situation better. She’s incredibly distressed and—”
The door to the common area opened, an incredibly disheveled Shinsou making his way inside. He yawned loudly, not bothering to cover his mouth, as he ran his fingers through his hair and looked around the room, “What the fuck’s going on in here? You guys having a party or something?” He said, his voice sounding scratchy and raw.
“N-No.” Himei’s grip on him loosened slightly, and then all of a sudden she was gone, bolting through the crowd of assembled students and taking off deeper into the dorms.
“Shit.” Izuku took off after her, hoping that she wouldn’t get too far.
“Wait, was that…?” Shinsou didn’t even finish his thought, already taking off in the direction that Himei and Izuku had run off in. The rest of the class was left staring at where the three had been standing just a second ago.
Katsuki let out a long-suffering sigh, glaring at Kaminari, “Way to go, dumbass.”
Chapter 4: Here Kitty Kitty
I'm sorry. I am truly, truly sorry...
Himei had made it all the way back to Katsuki’s room before her knee started to throb. Fresh blood began to seep through the bandages, small flecks of red staining the pants that that nice girl—Momo—had made her. Tears flooded her eyes as she plopped down, under no delusions that she’d made it far enough to evade her brother’s sense of smell. He may not have been particularly “alpha-like”, in many respects—in fact, even Kaminari had been convinced that the purple-haired teen had been a beta when they’d first met; a misunderstanding typically associated with posturing, which was almost always a result of an individual feeling some level of shame toward their secondary sexuality (she remembered her Daddy telling her something about her Papa masquerading as a beta up until he’d gotten pregnant with her, actually)—but his sense of smell was unparalleled. She reeked of distress and blood, and, even more so, was wearing his clothing. It would be so much easier to lose him if she wasn’t parading his scent around, but she couldn’t bring herself to take off the hoodie…
Just then, she heard hurried footsteps rounding the corner. She winced, fully anticipating her brother launching into a tirade about how immature she’d been and how much trouble she’d caused by showing up at the school. She closed her eyes, not wanting to look at his face…but then, strong arms wrapped around her, a familiar but decidedly different scent washing over her. What the—she opened her eyes to see that the one who’d found her wasn’t Shinsou after all. It was Izuku. The green-haired teen’s eyes were wide with worry, his chest heaving as he desperately attempted to catch his breath. Himei didn’t think that she’d ever been so happy to not see Shinsou in her life, and threw her arms around Izuku’s waist, allowing her tears to fall as she blubbered her way through an apology for running away from him like she had. Izuku gently shushed her, assuring her that all was well so long as she was alright, before suggesting that they head inside and fix up her leg. Himei, desperate to not completely ruin her nice new pants, nodded hurriedly and allowed the teen to help her up.
Izuku carried her inside, not wanting her to put more weight on the wounded leg, before plopping her down on the bed and instructing her to roll up the pant leg so that he could get a good look at the bandages. “So…” he began uncertainly.
Himei sniffled, rubbing at her eyes with the hoodie sleeve and murmuring, “Toshi-aniki…did I really make him cry?”
Izuku pursed his lips, unsure of how to answer her question. Gently, he began to remove the blood-soaked bandages, before deciding on, “I don’t know that you made him cry, but I know that it hurt him to have you run away from him like that.”
“Izuku-kun…” she stared down at her hands, which now lay limply in her lap, “Do you think that my daddies love me?”
Izuku choked, “W-What kind of question is that? Of course they do!”
“Then why do they need Eri?” She asked, brokenly. “They never had a lot of time to spare when I was little, but they always made the most of it. Even if Papa set the kitchen on fire a couple of times because he was so tired after patrol he shouldn’t have been cooking, he always made me smiley-face pancakes every Saturday.”
Izuku’s fanboy brain began to short-circuit, “Aizawa-sensei…cooking…smiley-faced pancakes…” something about that mental image didn’t exactly compute, but it was cute nonetheless.
“And Daddy…Daddy would always read to me every night, even if he had to do it from his radio show.” She clenched her hands into tiny fists, “Even if they weren’t around that much, I knew that they—we—were happy. And then Papa got hurt, and he couldn’t have any more babies, and suddenly I wasn’t enough anymore.”
Her words cut off in a sharp hiss as Izuku applied a fresh layer of antiseptic, “I…I don’t know how much help I’ll be here, since I’m an only child, but…just because you have a big brother and a little sister now doesn’t mean your parents love you any less. If anything, that means there’s more love to go around.”
“I-I don’t want them to…” Himei sniffled again, and Izuku reached for the box of tissues on Katsuki’s nightstand, gently setting it on the mattress next to her. “I don’t want them to f-forget about me.”
“They were out all night looking for you, sweetheart.” Izuku said. “I highly doubt they’re going to forget about someone as special as you anytime soon.” Himei didn’t seem convinced, her blue eyes watching as Izuku wrapped her knee up once more.
There was a knock on the door. Izuku looked up, remembering the first time that he hadn’t shut it fully on their way in. Shinsou stood in the doorway, looking thoroughly distressed, and Izuku had to wonder how much of their conversation that he’d heard. The scent of salt was thick in the air, and he could vaguely make out the hint of tears pearling on the purple-haired teen’s thick, dark lashes. He turned to Himei, who seemed to have not noticed Shinsou’s presence—or, if she had, she was doing a fabulous job of simply ignoring it—and tapped her on the leg gently, inclining his head toward Shinsou. Hesitantly, the little girl looked up, before her eyes blew comically wide and she attempted to lunge behind Izuku’s back once more. Gently, Izuku sat her back down, but her actions tore a pained sound, somewhere between a sob and a grunt, from Shinsou’s chest. When it became clear that Himei wasn’t about to bolt again, he nodded to Shinsou, offering up his seat before heading out to join his classmates in the common area once more.
Shinsou tentatively reached for his sister, only to have her flinch away from him and scurry to the other side of the bed, only stopping when her back hit the wall with a decisive thump. He sighed, “You’re wearing my favorite hoodie.”
Himei seemed to consider this for a moment, before she started to shrug it off, “You can have it back if you—,”
“No, I…” he lowered his gaze, “I like that my clothes make you feel comfortable. So…hold onto it for a little while for me, okay?” He forced a wobbly smile and, after a second, the little one nodded.
“Are you going to take me home?” She asked, her voice soft.
“Can I ask why you don’t want me to?” Shinsou countered, “Everyone really misses you.”
“Why should they, when they have Eri?” Himei snapped, malice dripping from her tone. She deflated almost immediately, however, and just went back to looking sad.
“Of course they have Eri.” Shinsou said easily, causing his sister to flinch. “But Eri isn’t you, and she never will be you. I didn’t think it was humanly possible for Dad to not smile for so long, but ever since you disappeared he’s had this permanent frown etched on his face and Pops…he’s been worried sick.”
“Toshi…” she said, seemingly uncertain of how to respond to that.
“We were out looking for you all night, Himei. And we found a scrap of your leggings that must’ve ripped when you fell, ‘cause it was soaked in blood and I sincerely thought, for a second there, that Dad was going to absolutely lose his shit because you were missing, and you were hurt, and we kept looking and looking but we couldn’t find you.”
“I…I’m sorry.” Himei keened, looking for all the world as if she’d never thought they’d actually come after her, and that took whatever shards of Shinsou’s heart that were still relatively intact and smashed them into near microscopic dust.
“Don’t be sorry.” Shinsou countered softly, “Just trust me when I say that I am beyond proud to be able to call myself your big brother, and I love you so much I can’t even put it into words. And I want, more than anything, for you to want to come home with me.” He said.
This time, when he reached for her, Himei didn’t flinch away. Instead, she leapt into his arms with such ferocity that she almost sent both of them catapulting to the ground. “Toshi-aniki…will you take me to Papa?”
“Eh, he normally wouldn’t like being disrupted so close to the start of homeroom…” and then, he smiled at her, “but I think he’ll make an exception for you, just this once.”
Himei scurried onto his back, demanding to be carried. It didn’t take much convincing, considering that Shinsou was not entirely convinced that she still wouldn’t try and bolt. The walk over to the school was mostly silent, with Himei resting her head between his shoulder blades and twirling his soft, purple hair between her little fingers. Her lanky arms were slung around his neck, his arms hooked underneath her legs as they marched forward. At one point he wondered if she’d fallen asleep—while he didn’t doubt that Izuku and his…explosive mate would take the best care of her that they could, she’d still been very far away from home, probably scared out of her mind and distressed beyond belief. He squeezed one of her little ankles gently, before making his way into the school and making a beeline for Class 1-A. Perhaps it would’ve been beneficial to text the old man first and let him know they were on the way, or to consider, just for a moment, that he might not be alone. But Shinsou was just too happy to have her back to think that far ahead…and that was his downfall.
“No! You didn’t say that she was going to be there—” Himei, who hadn’t quite fully escaped Shinsou’s grasp before trying to run, found herself upside down, glaring at Eri and Shouta as the youngest showed their Papa a picture she’d drawn for him.
“Himei!” The small, half-smile melted off of Shouta’s face as he saw his daughter for the first time in almost fifteen hours.
“Stop! STOP!” Himei screamed—it wasn’t quite at the full capacity of her Quirk, but it was enough to make Shinsou reflexively grab for his ears and, in the process, drop her soundly on the head.
A thin trail of blood began oozing from Shinsou’s ear as he hissed through gritted teeth, “Himei, you need to stop. You were the one who asked me to bring you here.” Himei began to scream something else, when suddenly, her eyes glazed over and her entire body listed to the side.
Eri watched, more than a little scared, as Shinsou told Himei to ‘lay down’ and she fell over, limp, like a lifeless rag doll. “Big brother…what did you do to sissy?” Shouta also seemed to be concerned.
“She can’t control her Quirk when she’s upset. She’s a danger to herself and others like this—you know what Neutralize can do if left unchecked.” Shinsou sighed, crouching down to run his fingers through her hair to make sure she hadn’t hurt her head when she’d fallen. “It makes the ruptured eardrum from her screaming look like child’s play.”
Himei’s Quirk was a…unique and deadly combination of Shouta and Hizashi’s. At its most basic, her screams prevent someone from being able to utilize their Quirk. But it was so much more than that. Her Quirk utilized sound waves to disrupt brain signals, and prolonged exposure could result in ruptured cells and brain hemorrhaging. Beyond that, different sounds that she made produced different results—for instance, a hum or a purr would cause the victim to feel numb and heavy, like their body was slowly sinking into a pool of molasses. Her screams, in the short term, could cause eardrums to rupture. If she could sustain it for over a minute—and fuck, it didn’t seem humanly possible, but Shinsou had seen it with his own two eyes: that kid had lungs of steel—her Quirk would begin to target certain areas of the brain commonly associated with Quirks and temporarily shunt them. If she lasted much longer without passing out, not only would the Quirk be effectively erased, but so would the natural ability associated with it.
They’d learned this the hard way, after Himei had begged Hizashi to train with her. It had seemed rather counterintuitive to ask Shouta, considering that she wanted to learn how to grow and control her Quirk, not how to fare in a battle without it—at least, not yet anyway. She’d managed to sustain a scream for two minutes and thirteen seconds, and Hizashi had lost the ability to speak for a week. Recovery Girl had determined that his vocal chords were fine…the problem was his brain. The areas in control of speech had been, for lack of a better term, frozen. He couldn’t speak, even if he wanted to. After a week of stressing, Eri had, extremely hesitantly, suggested that she could try and ‘fix’ Daddy. Looking back, Shinsou was almost entirely certain that that had been when Himei began to look on their little sister with such ire. Even though Shouta had turned her down and they’d waited it out (and, thankfully, Hizashi’s voice had come back), Himei had already felt bad enough about hurting their father without Eri coming in and offering to be her ‘knight in shining armor’.
With a sigh, he released his hold on her. If he’d thought that Himei would be any calmer after the fact, however, he was dead wrong. She glared at him menacingly, “Y-You used your Quirk on me!”
“You were the one who asked me to bring you here.” He pointed out, gritting his teeth as he wiped some of the blood away from his ear. “You knew there was a chance that Eri would be here. You’re acting like a brat and you’re going to end up hurting yourself and everyone else—”
Tears were pouring down her cheeks as she screamed back, “How is this always my fault?”
Shouta reached out, snagging her in his capture weapon. “I don’t have time to deal with this right now. Classes are going to start any minute, and the brats are already going to be distracted by all the broken glass from the window you shattered when you screamed. I’m going to take you to Nemuri-san, and we’ll talk after homeroom—”
Himei, who couldn’t help but feel as if she was being cast aside for being too much of a nuisance, began to squirm—not that it did much good, considering she was bound tight in the cloth of the capture weapon. “You’re just going to abandon me again?”
Shouta frowned, “I never abandoned you.”
“Yes you did! I made you mad and you just left me there in the closet, all by myself! You didn’t even care enough to yell!” She was breathing heavily, each word accompanied by a slight rasp, almost like she wasn’t taking in enough air.
Shouta noted this, and said calmly, “You need to calm down, Himei—”
Himei fell to the floor with a soft thud, the capture weapon releasing her almost immediately. Shouta’s face was schooled into an unreadable mask—if she’d thought he’d been terrifying the other night, simply walking away from her without a word, absolutely nothing could have prepared her for this. The erasure hero stared at her blankly for a few minutes, the entire room eerily silent, before shoving his hands back into his pockets and stalking back to his desk. He sat down, immediately resuming whatever it was that he’d been doing before Eri had shown him her newest drawing. Himei sniffled; she hadn’t fallen far enough to actually hurt herself, but just the fact that Shouta would drop her like that…she rose to her feet on wobbly legs, making her way over to the door just in time for Midnight to slam it open and demand to know what the source of all the racket was. In answer, Himei rocketed into her legs and began to sob, using her hero costume as a makeshift tissue. She rubbed her back soothingly, mouthing to Shouta over the kid’s head to try and figure out what the hell was happening…
“Just…can you take her to the teacher’s lounge for a while, Nemuri? I’ll be coming to talk to her during my free period.” He said. There was no malice in his voice. He just sounded…tired.
“Uh…sure. Not a problem.” Nemuri gently pried the little girl off of her, taking hold of her hand instead, “C’mon, sweetie. I know what’ll dry those tears right up—ice cream!”
Shouta was going to kill her. No, seriously, her time left on this earth was limited.
She’d lost Himei.
Himei had snuck out of the teacher’s lounge during the change of classes, when Nemuri was flirting (read: sexually harassing) one of her coworkers. Her scent had easily mingled with those of the other students, making it near impossible to track her down…plus, she’d left Shinsou’s sweatshirt, now thoroughly drenched in her scent, at the little workstation beside Mic’s desk where Nemuri had set her up. Just an…extra precaution to keep her off of her trail for a while. Not bothering to retrieve her backpack or any of her belongings, she dashed off of school property and began to make her way into town. She’d been out on her own countless times before, so there was no reason to be scared…no villain would be dumb enough to attack in the middle of such a populated area in broad daylight…Himei heard a sharp, high-pitched sound and jumped, immediately ducking down the nearest alleyway and hiding behind a dumpster. It was probably just a bird, but…
“Well, well, well…what do we have here? It looks to me like a little kitty lost their way…”
Chapter 5: The Hairs on Your Pretty Little Head
Himei whirled around, eyes wide and fearful as she tried to locate the source of the man’s voice. She hadn’t seen anyone when she’d first ducked into the alleyway, but that didn’t necessarily mean that there was nobody there…After a moment, her eyes settled on a body, hidden away amidst bags of trash that someone had been too lazy to toss in the dumpster. Even with the bright morning light that filtered into the alleyway, it was easy enough to miss the dark, shadowy figure that had made the foul-smelling bags his bed. He watched her through tired, half-lidded turquoise eyes, but made no move to close the short distance between them. It wasn’t difficult to discern why.
His skin was heavily scarred, but the few patches that were unblemished where flushed and damp with sweat. With each shuddering breath that he took, little puffs of smoke would escape between the surgical staples which held his cheeks in place. A casual onlooker might assume that he was sick, but Himei was close enough to feel the unnatural heat radiating off of his skin. Even riddled with a deadly fever, he would not be putting off this kind of heat. No, it was much more likely that this was a side-effect of Quirk usage. As such, it was very likely that he didn’t have the strength to cause her any real harm. With a sigh, Himei collapsed in front of him, drawing her knees to her chest and hiding her face behind a curtain of blonde hair.
“Oi, the fuck do you think you’re doing?” This close, she could hear a bit of breathlessness in his voice, and she wondered if the only thing keeping him upright where the bags of trash surrounding his body. “I’m not running a babysitting service here, kitten. So run along now before you start to attract the wrong type of attention.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.” She said softly. “Nobody is going to be looking for me. At least, not for a little while. So I won’t cause you any trouble, mister.”
The man rolled his eyes. “Clearly something is getting lost in translation here, kiddo. I’m a villain. I enjoy hurting people. Sometimes, I even kill them.” He waited for her expression to shift from sadness to horror, for her to scamper to her feet and run off…but she just blinked at him slowly. “I could seriously hurt you.”
Himei cocked her head to the side, blonde hair spilling over her shoulder. “You don’t look very villainous to me. You look sick. Do you need some water?”
His left eye twitched, “What part of get lost are you having so much trouble wrapping your puny little head around, huh?”
“There’s a convenience store down the block. I don’t have any money with me, but…” she looked down at the ground. Was she really about to suggest that she could steal a bottle of water for this man that she didn’t even know? “I’ll get you some water, okay? I’ll be right back, so don’t go anywhere!”
“Not like I could, even if I wanted to.” He groused, before plopping back into his garbage bed with a soft sigh. He was just glad to have the brat out of his hair, even if only temporarily.
This was all Shigaraki’s fault, goddamn it. If his fucking omega hadn’t gotten so pissed off about him botching the latest mission, he wouldn’t have just left him here, half-dazed from fever, at the mercy of whomever just happened to walk by. It just so happened that fate wanted to add an extra ‘fuck you’ into the mix and present him a savior in the form of a ten-year-old girl. Kids were more trouble than they were worth, and he was eternally grateful that one of the few things that he and Scarface could agree on was that kids, in any way, shape, or form, were a hard no. In fact, he often cited Shigaraki’s bone-chilling promise of exactly what would happen to him should he accidentally knock him up as the moment he fell in love.
His somewhat twisted walk down memory lane was interrupted when, about fifteen minutes later, the kid returned with an armful of water bottles. How the hell she’d managed to smuggle that much merchandise out of the store without attracting the attention of the shop-keep was beyond him, but he didn’t have much of a chance to dwell on it, as the kid was already unscrewing the cap on one of the bottles and pressing it to his slightly parted lips. She’d probably figured out that he didn’t have the strength to lift his arms, let alone to hold them up long enough to drink out of the bottle. Wonderful. As if he didn’t already feel bad enough about his current lot, the damn brat had started to baby him.
His irritation mounted…he pushed it aside, though, as the kid took the water bottle away and brandished even more stuff that she’d managed to steal from the store. Holy shit, this kid had skills. It was probably the face. She had these big, innocent blue eyes and pouty lips that made her look like she was on the brink of hysterical tears all the damn time – and who knows, maybe she was – and it made people feel for her. She’d gotten him granola bars, blabbering on about how, when she gets fevers, her stomach sometimes gets upset and she can’t eat anything too heavy. She laid out the different flavors and brands in front of him, before looking at him expectantly. He rolled his eyes and picked one at random, which she then unwrapped, broke off a small piece, and put it in his mouth.
He ate what he could – it had little chunks of dried blueberry mixed in with the oats, and was drizzled in a sweet vanilla frosting; all in all, not too bad – before asking, “So…You got a Quirk, kid?”
She was silent for a moment, before nodding, “Yeah. It’s…It’s not a good Quirk, though.”
He raised an eyebrow, “What? You mean like its evil or something?”
“No!” She said a little too quickly, before shaking her head. “No…it’s just that…My Daddy always says that everyone has trouble with their Quirks in the beginning, that it takes time and practice to learn to control their power…especially with vocal Quirks, ‘cause it’s so easy to lose control and seriously hurt someone.”
She sighed, “My teacher at school…she gets…mad when I lose control.” He really didn’t like the sound of that. “Most days I compromise by not talking, because I don’t want to make more trouble for Daddy and Papa.” She sniffled, tears brewing in the corners of her eyes, “I wanted to train to become stronger, to get more control…”
He was struck by a particularly ferocious flashback, his eyes widening as bright blue flame erupted from his hands, the joy at having discovered his Quirk rapidly being eclipsed by a sweltering, burning heat he shouldn’t have been able to feel – his Quirk shouldn’t hurt him. “Lacking control doesn’t make your Quirk bad, kitten.”
She crushed the water bottle between her hands. “I asked Daddy to train with me, and I…I hurt him. And now, nii-san and Papa don’t trust me anymore and they take my Quirk away. So it must be bad, right? I-I…”
She helped him take a few more sips of water, a somewhat comfortable silence settling over them as he mulled over what he wanted to say. Finally, he asked, “So, what’s this little Quirk of yours do exactly?”
A long stretch of silence followed, and he wondered if she’d answer. Finally, she said, “When I…scream, it hurts people’s brains. But only after the first minute or so. After two and a half minutes, Daddy couldn’t talk for a week. I think…if I screamed for much longer, I could k-kill…” a fat tear rolled down her cheek. “Somebody might die.”
After that, he dozed off for a while. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to wake up feeling chilly, of all things. He cracked one eye open, every muscle in his body feeling as if it were being weighed down with a ton of bricks, to find that the pup had nodded off as well, and had curled up against him in an effort to siphon off some of his body heat. For the first time, he realized how inappropriately dressed she was for the weather. It was chilly now, but it was set to drop below freezing tonight – in just a t-shirt and leggings, the kid would freeze to death, even if he, for some godforsaken reason, decided to allow her to continue to use him as a blanket. He needed to be the responsible adult – god, if Shigaraki could see him now – and send her home.
Honestly, he was surprised nobody had come looking for her already. She’d mentioned parents and at least one sibling…surely, not everyone had a home life as fucked-up as his own. Her parents were heroes, from the sound of it, or at least had powerful enough Quirks that, should they come hunting her down, they would pose a serious threat to him in his current state. If he went and got his ass arrested, Shigaraki would show up at the jail just to kill him himself. Which meant that he needed to convince the kid to scramble yesterday, and hope to god that she hadn’t gotten enough of his scent on her to warrant any suspicion. Why did kids have to be so damn cuddly, anyway? He suddenly thought of a small child trying to cuddle with Shigaraki and barked out a laugh.
The kid woke with a start, but she didn’t scamper away from him like he expected. Instead, she reached for one of the water bottles and asked, “Are you thirsty again? It won’t be good if you get dehydrated.”
He answered her with a question of his own, “Why don’t you just head home, kitten? It’s late. Someone is probably worried sick about you.” A tiny voice in the back of his head screamed that he wished he’d been so lucky, but he pushed it aside with a soft growl.
“Do you really want me to leave that badly?” She asked, sounding a little broken. “I promise, there isn’t anyone looking for me. And even if they are, they’ll give up soon enough. I’m not important enough for them to miss me for long.”
He sighed, “Man, someone really fucked you up good, didn’t they, kid?” Small wisps of smoke floated out from the gaps in his cheeks as he spoke.
“You’ll need to fix those soon.” She said, “Does it hurt? It looks like it might be infected…”
“You ever try to staple yourself in the face, kitten? It’s not exactly sunshine and rainbows, I’ll tell you that.”
“Ahh…sorry.” She looked down at her hands, unable to meet his gaze. “I can’t go home.” She said again. “But if you don’t want me to stay here, that’s fine too. You have water and food, and you’re moving a bit better since your nap, so I don’t think you’ll die…”
“The devil ain’t ready for me, yet.” He said, eyes glinting with something like mania. He studied her for a moment, before murmuring, “Staying with me is liable to get you killed, kid. My mate will be back…eventually,” whenever the hell that was, “and he’s a lot less soft-hearted when it comes to killing kids.”
She smirked at him, “You? Soft-hearted? What happened to the big, bad villain that was trying to scare me away?” For the first time, he saw a spark of life in her eyes.
“He got worn down by an annoying kid who robbed a convenience store for him.” He said.
She snorted, “Well, when he comes, we can pretend you held me hostage and threatened me within an inch of my life if I didn’t comply with your demands. Does that sound villainous enough for his standards?”
He reached out with a shaking hand, patting her head solemnly, “You’ve got a devious little mind, don’t you?” He didn’t tell her that Shigaraki would likely expect that he’d slit her throat anyway.
He recognized the obnoxious laughter before he could smell their latest guest over the putrid stink of trash. At this point, he’d almost rather it were Shigaraki who’d come hunt him down…a few seconds later, a bubbly blonde popped into his field of vision, a wide-smile spread across her face as she loudly proclaimed ‘found you!’ He’d rolled his eyes, made it very clear that he wasn’t aware he’d been ‘lost’ at any point, and then motioned for her to keep it down. The kid was asleep again, only this time, instead of using him as a human pillow, she’d ambled onto the bags of trash alongside him and promptly passed out. The girl followed his line of sight, her eyes widening marginally when they fell upon the pup, and then she squealed.
“Dabi, look at you and your little stray! And here I thought you didn’t like kids.” She said, voice so loud that she woke the little girl. Blue eyes slowly blinked open, still bleary from sleep, and reluctantly focused on their new guest. “And she’s such a cutie! What’s your name, sugarplum?”
The girl bolted behind him like a frightened kitten, and he couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation. Between the two of them, Toga was definitely the more ‘normal’. “You’re scaring her.” He said, voice flat.
“And you’re not?” Toga sounded skeptical, “’Cause let me tell you, Da-bi,” she crooned, making each of the syllables in his name pop, “You’re not gonna be winning any beauty contests with that ugly mug of yours.”
He rolled his eyes, tilting his just enough to see the girl, “You can calm down, kid. She’s…mostly harmless.”
“She’s mean.” The girl said, crossing her arms over her chest and sticking out her tongue at Toga. Toga, who’d been smiling the whole time, looking like the cat who’d got the cream, now seemed puzzled…her features falling a little at the left-handed compliment and flat-out insult being thrown her way.
“I mean, I haven’t killed you yet, so I’d consider yourself pretty lucky in that regard, kid.” Toga huffed.
“I kidnapped her.” Dabi said, not sounding very convincing. “Because I was about to die of fucking heatstroke in the middle of December thanks to that fucking police officer’s water-based Quirk. I’ve been sending her on errands till I regained my strength. Just so happens she’s particularly good at being bad.”
Something like interest sparkled in Toga’s eyes, “Oh really? And does the wee one have a Quirk?”
When it was clear she wasn’t about to speak up for herself, Dabi sighed and nodded. “Yeah. Don’t know what it is, though.” He lied smoothly. “Don’t go getting any ideas about trying to recruit a kid, Toga.”
“Aww, but I think the boss-man will like her!” Toga’s bottom lip jutted out in a pout.
“Messing with kids is just asking for trouble with the heroes, Toga. The answer is no.”
As the two villains continued to bicker, Himei realized that night had fallen already. She’d been right. Nobody had come for her. And while she’d expected that to be the outcome, it didn’t make the reality of the situation hurt any less. And this woman…Toga, Himei was pretty sure her name was Toga…was here to take her only companion away. She didn’t…She didn’t want them to leave, to abandon her here in this alley. The first night, when she’d run away, she’d been so high on adrenaline and emotion that she hadn’t even been scared until she’d fallen and hurt her knee. And when she’d really stopped to take in her surroundings for the first time, to acknowledge the fact that she was all alone, she’d been absolutely terrified.
This man—Dabi—was a villain. He was dangerous and could hurt her. But he hadn’t. The people who were supposed to love and protect her—her parents, her brother—just kept hurting her. They told her things that weren’t true, fed her lies about how she was loved and missed and that they’d cried when they’d found her gone. Her Papa had been smiling at Eri! He didn’t miss her at all! And Hitoshi, he’d…he’d used his Quirk on her, even though she’d asked him not to, even though she’d told him she didn’t like it. None of them cared about her at all, but this man…he’d lied to his comrade just to protect her. He’d told her that they shouldn’t try and recruit a child. She felt oddly…safe with him, even if she knew that she should be beyond terrified.
“Let me come with you.” She said finally. “I don’t…I don’t have anywhere else to go and if you leave me out here…” she trailed off. She didn’t even want to think about what would happen if her path crossed with a less friendly villain.
Toga eyed her suspiciously. “How do we know you’re not a mole? We take you back to the hideout with us and bam, all of a sudden we got a dozen heroes knocking down our door.”
“Oh, for the love of…” with some difficulty, Dabi pulled a dirty scarf out of his pocket and said, “It’s called we knock her out and blindfold her, dimwit. She can’t lead anybody anywhere if she doesn’t know where she is.”
Toga was silent for a moment, before she pouted again, “Yeah, but that means I have to carry her!”
“Oh, boohoo. Let me play a song for you on the world’s tiniest violin.” He rolled his eyes. “Kid, come over here for a sec…if you want to come with us, I’m going to have to knock you out. I’ll club you across the back of the neck, so it won’t hurt too bad, alright?”
She looked between Dabi’s scarred, trembling hands and Toga, before nodding. “It-It’ll be over quick, right? Like pulling off a band-aid?” She turned around, moving the hair off of her neck so he had a clean shot.
“Yeah. Something like that.”
He whapped her hard and she went down with a soft thump. Dabi felt something ugly twist in his gut at the sight of her, sprawled out on the ground, a bruise already forming on her skin. “You’re going soft, Dabi.”
He scowled, “Shut up.”
He wouldn’t be able to carry her. As it was, he was barely strong enough to haul himself to his feet and stumble along after Toga, but he would sooner die than admit that to the petite blonde. So he watched as Toga sat her up just far enough to tie the blindfold over her unseeing eyes just a hair too tight, before struggling to maneuver her into a fireman’s carry. She stumbled a bit beneath the added weight—it certainly helped nothing that the kid was almost the same height as she was; they weren’t that far apart age-wise, after all—before taking off in the direction of the street. He wondered if Toga intended to carry her like that all the way back to the base. He wouldn’t put it past her, if only to spite him.
But as soon as they reached the end of the alley, he saw a familiar fluttering black mass. Kurogiri stared at them for a moment, particularly their burden, before letting out a long-suffering sigh and opening a warp gate. He wondered if Shigaraki had sent him, knowing that Dabi would probably still be too delirious from fever to try and make the trek back to the hide-out without giving away their location. Toga smiled brightly, blathering on about something or other that Dabi didn’t really care enough to try and decipher, before stepping through the gate. Dabi could only pray that his mate was not actually in the bar—or, if he was, that he was in a decent enough mood to hear him out before he reduced the girl to a pile of ash—as he stepped through the gate behind her.
Fate was not being particularly kind to him today. Not only was Shigaraki in the bar, but he’d zeroed in on the girl as soon as Toga had dropped her, rather unceremoniously, onto the couch. He was well into one of his infamous temper tantrums by the time Dabi arrived, and instead of dealing with it immediately, he got himself a drink. There was no use trying to deal with this shit sober. He watched as Shigaraki circled the couch like a vulture stalking its prey, and wondered, idly, what the girl would think if she woke up and saw the mophead’s crusty face staring down at her. Would she cry? He’d seen her cry a bit, but something told him this wouldn’t be enough to set her off. Would she scream? God, what would Shigaraki do if she screamed?
“Dabi!” He barked, his normally reedy voice sounding exceptionally high-pitched and shrill. “What the hell is this?” Shigaraki gestured vaguely to the unmoving form on the couch.
“It’s a kid. Surely you’ve seen little girls before, right mophead?” Dabi said, cracking a lopsided grin.
“Do you have the slightest idea about whose child this is?” Shigaraki was looking at him like he’d grown a second head. Dabi shrugged, taking another swig of his drink.
“Not like it matters much, now. Kid said she didn’t want to go home, and nobody’s been after her for the last twelve hours, at least. Or if they have, they’re particularly bad at tracking her down.” He sighed, “She’s not a threat to us, so leave her be. You’ll freak her out if she wakes up to your hovering.”
Shigaraki was silent for a long while, but eventually took an incredibly small step backwards. He eyed the girl again, “Do you intend to try and recruit her?”
“Why is everyone so obsessed with recruiting kids? Why don’t we just wait until she gets to UA and kidnap her then?” He snorted, “I’m sure, if she remembers how hospitable you were to her in her time of need, she won’t hesitate to sign her name on the dotted line.”
“You’re an ass.” The boss’ voice was monotonous, and he didn’t need to see his piercing red eyes to know he was glaring. Dabi flashed him his biggest smile, the staples at the corners of his mouth tugging almost painfully.
“Aww, I love you, too, darling.” He raised his glass to him in a mock toast, before finishing it off in one swallow.
Shigaraki plopped down on the couch, as far away from the girl as he could get whilst still sharing the same piece of furniture. He pulled out his phone and began to tap away, clearly agitated, shooting wary glances at the sleeping child ever couple of minutes. Dabi came over to take the blindfold off her face, frowning a little at the grooves it left behind. There was no doubt in his mind that she’d make a wonderful addition to the League one day. With a Quirk as powerful as hers, she’d leave absolute devastation in her wake. But it was much too soon to start throwing out those ideas now. She was still little, after all, and her Quirk was still developing. And there was no use in spoiling a perfectly good story by ruining the ending.
“She trusts me.” He said to no-one in particular as he fixed himself another glass, making his way across the room to lean against the back of the couch, ruffling Shigaraki’s tousled hair.
Shigaraki swatted his hand away with a bit more force than necessary, biting out, “She shouldn’t.”
“No.” Dabi agreed easily, an eerie smile slowly stretching across his face. Because when I’m done with her, nobody will ever hurt a hair on her head again.
Chapter 6: Hizashi's Very Bad Day
WARNING(s): Very brief mentions of child abuse (muzzling a child with a voice quirk), etc. Please proceed with caution!!
Hizashi felt like death.
He'd tried to send Hitoshi home a handful of times, the sickly-sweet combination of exhaustion and distress rolling off of his pup making it near impossible to concentrate on the scent they were supposed to be tracking. For the most part, Hitoshi had ignored him. That boy was the worst kind of stubborn; he didn't yet understand his limits and he ignored his body's signals until it was much too late. Even Shouta, the fucking king of self-sacrificing idiots, could be convinced to take a breather - even if it was only for five or ten minutes, it was something, and it didn't leave him face-down in an alley, at the mercy of anyone who happened by...
He'd carried Hitoshi back to their house around five in the morning, the teen half-delirious from sleep deprivation. He was sweating, but his skin was uncomfortably cool to the touch, and even bundled in his thick, fleece hoodie, he was shivering. God, he hoped that he wasn't getting sick. Not that Hitoshi would actually tell them that he wasn't feeling well. The last time he'd come down with anything more serious than a sore throat, Himei had wandered into the bathroom (the poor kid had been so tired, her eyes weren't even open) and had tripped over Hitoshi, who'd fallen asleep hugging the porcelain after vomiting, on and off, for two hours.
After leaving their son in Shouta's care - he'd sincerely expected to be reamed out by Shouta for, well, everything, but the omega had only blinked at him sleepily and stumbled off, struggling a bit under Hitoshi's added weight - he'd continued his search until well after the sun burst over the horizon. And he'd found nothing. Himei had vanished without a trace, save for that one bloodied strip of fabric they'd found by the train station earlier. He felt like such a failure. How could he have been so blind to the way their daughter was hurting? She must've felt so alone...he would never forgive himself for letting her think that she meant anything less than the world to them.
"So, let me see if I'm understanding you right, Nem." Hizashi ran his fingers through his tangled blond locks - he hadn't bothered to try and style his hair, or even comb it, for that matter. "My kid was here about...twenty minutes ago, and now she's not, because you were too busy flirting with--who the fuck is that, even?"
"I only took my eyes off of her for a second, I swear!" Nemuri exclaimed. "You know that I think of Himei like my own daughter, I would never want anything bad to happen to her." And then, "All Shou did was ask me to watch her, he didn't say anything about her being a flight risk. How was I supposed to know she'd run?"
Hizashi paused, furrowing his brow, "...Shou asked you to watch her?" That meant...Shouta had found her and hadn't bothered to tell him.
Nemuri nodded, "I don't know all the details, but..." she swallowed hard, relaxing a bit when it became clear the other alpha wasn't going to go for her throat...for now. "I heard a scream and came to investigate. Himei was on the floor, crying, and Shou didn't look much better himself. I didn't ask, he didn't tell."
Hizashi looked at his watch. They still had a bit of time before Shouta would find out what had happened, "I'm going to head down to the station and file a missing person's report." He sighed, "Honestly, it's what we should've done in the beginning, but I didn't think she'd put up this much of a resistance."
"'Zashi...at least let me go with you. You're practically dead on your feet and it won't do anyone any good if you pass out on the way there." She said.
"I don't--," the blond blinked several times in quick succession, grabbing onto the side of his desk for support as his vision blurred and the room began to swim. Nemuri took a step closer to him, arm extended to catch him if he began to fall. "Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea."
"Hate to break it to you, darling, but I wasn't about to take 'no' for an answer, one way or the other." She smiled, before carefully helping him into his desk chair.
"Do you think you can...g-get one of the energy shots out of my...bottom drawer? I don't think bending...bending down is a good idea right now."
"Yeah, no." She grabbed a bottle of water from the mini-fridge and stuffed it into his unprepared hands. "You're going to drink that - no, no buts, you're going to drink all of it and like it, mister - and take a nap in the car on the way over. Working yourself into an early grave won't bring her back any faster."
Hizashi shut his mouth and did as he was told, if only because he knew, after fifteen years, there was no point in arguing with Nemuri, especially when he barely had the energy to keep his eyes open. He took a few small sips, not wanting to upset the knot that had formed in his lower stomach upon hearing that Shouta had just conveniently neglected to mention that he'd found their kid. Not only had he found her, but apparently the reunion had gone so well that all involved had been reduced to tears and their daughter had run away, again. He doesn't know what he's supposed to feel, trapped somewhere between wanting to punch something and wanting to break down and sob.
His phone began buzzing in his pants pocket - and dammit, if that was Shouta deciding that now was the time to fill him in on the more unsavory details from that morning, he might actually punch something. He yanked the phone out of his pocket and shoved it in Nemuri's direction, mumbling something about her dealing with it for him. He allowed his head to fall forward, landing on the desk with a sharp thwap. The pain, holy fuck it hurt, but for a minute his mind was blissfully clear. The room stopped spinning long enough that he thought he might actually be able to catch a few winks of sleep when Nemuri opened her mouth again. She sounded...worried?
"It's your son." She said; and god, he knew that he was only thirty-one and in relatively decent health, but damn, he felt like an old man on the brink of his fifth heart attack with the way his heart stopped beating for a second. "He sounds pretty upset. He won't say what happened, but..." but it probably has to do with Himei.
"Ahh...tell him to make-up an excuse and come down to the teacher's lounge. He's clearly not paying attention to his class anyway." He mumbled.
A few minutes passed before the phone buzzed again, Nemuri paraphrasing, "He'll be here in a couple of minutes. His teacher thinks he's on the way to the infirmary."
Shinsou's arrival was so silent Hizashi wouldn't have noticed it at all, had it not been for the wave of distress that hit him with all of the strength of a speeding bullet to the gut. He looked up slowly, thankful that the room had stopped spinning, to see Shinsou frozen in a low bow in front of his desk. "T-Toshi?"
"I am so sorry! It's my fault that Himei ran away again, so please don't blame Pops. It's...I-I..." his tired eyes were swollen and red-rimmed, his bottom lip bloody from how aggressively he'd been biting it. "I just...she was just so upset and I didn't want her to accidentally hurt anyone and so I...I..."
"Toshi? Toshi. Calm down, darling. You're going to hyperventilate if you keep on like--,"
Shinsou cut him off, blurting, "I used my Quirk on her and she got scared! She was lashing out at me. She didn't mean to say that to Pops--,"
"...Say what to your father?"
Hitoshi opened his mouth, likely about to answer, when Shouta decided to make his grand appearance. "She said 'fuck you'. It was rather tame, all things considered. Still caught me off guard, though." He gave Hizashi a cursory once-over, "You look like shit. What're you even doing here?"
"Participating in a beauty contest." Hizashi motioned for Shinsou to stand up straight, and after a moment of hesitation, he did just that. "I forgot to leave a lesson plan for my substitute. I came to drop it off, and its been a non-stop shit-storm ever since..."
"Nemuri...?" Shouta's eyes drifted over to the empty workstation beside Hizashi's desk, the sweatshirt still draped over the little seat. "Where is Himei?"
Nemuri looked like she wanted the earth to open up and swallow her whole, "About that..."
Hizashi wondered how many times he would have to hit his head against the desk before he'd black out. Because Shouta's screaming, while one-hundred percent justified, was like an ice pick through the side of his head. He was nowhere near as merciful as Hizashi had been, bringing Nemuri to the brink of tears with just a few cruel sentences hissed out between teeth clenched painfully tight. Nobody noticed the fact that Eri had tottered in behind Shouta until the little girl began to cry. It started as quiet hiccoughs, swiping over her eyes with overly-long sleeves...gradually escalating into full-out sobs because Papa never yelled...at least, not when she was around.
Shinsou scooped her up into his arms. She struggled against him for a few seconds, her knee colliding with his stomach with startling force, causing him to almost drop her. It was the knowledge that she'd come so very close to falling that had him gripping her that much tighter, perhaps remembering how Himei had fallen from his arms less than an hour ago...how she'd collapsed to the ground like a fallen angel, her beautiful blond hair framing her head like a broken halo. Eri gripped him tightly, hiding her face in his neck as Shouta continued to release hours of built-up tension on one of his oldest friends. The tirade is brought to a sudden, screeching halt by her whisper-soft voice.
"Would..." she licked her lips, swallowing hard around the lump in her throat. "Would sissy come home if I went away?"
"Went away?" Shouta looked stricken. He made his way over to his kids, brushing white hair away from Eri's little face. "Eri, listen to me. Himei is upset, yes, but she's upset with your Dad and I. Unfortunately, the only way she knows how to communicate that is to take it out on you. You leaving would probably only upset her more."
Shinsou's brows knitted together, "Come to think of it, her outburst earlier...I think that's the first time that I'd ever seen her snap at you before."
"It's rare, but that's not the first time she's done it. She only..." here, Shouta grimaced, "she only does it when something's bothering her and she doesn't know how to verbalize it. The last time she did it, she had Hizashi in tears for inheriting his 'stupid Quirk'." He looked at Hizashi knowingly.
Hizashi grimaced, "If I'd known that her teacher was threatening to put her in a muzzle, I would've spent less time crying and more time transferring her out of that hellhole."
Shouta frowned at the memory, before turning his attention back to Eri, "What I'm trying to say, kid, is that I should've known better. When Himei's upset, she needs someone to be upset with her, to make her feel like her feelings are valid. No reaction is just as bad as telling her her feelings are wrong."
Eri sniffled, before asking, her voice soft, "Why doesn't sissy ever smile?"
Hizashi frowned, "What do you mean, little listener? My little banshee smiles all the time!"
"Banshee? Really, 'Zashi?"
"She smiles all the time when we're together!" For the first time, it appeared as if life was returning to the blond alpha. "And with Papa, too. I don't know how many times I've walked in on them fast asleep, all cuddled together with big, dopey smiles on their faces." And then, "She smiles when she plays DDR with Toshi, and--,"
"So it's just me. She doesn't smile...around me." Eri concluded, sounding defeated.
Hizashi faltered, trying and failing to come up with a time where Himei had smiled at Eri. All he could think of was the day that they'd brought her home, how Himei had come charging at the door, anxious to show Hizashi her newest piece of Present Mic merch that had come in the mail - he had a representative from his agency set aside new merch as soon as it came out and mail it to his house, so Himei had first editions of every little trinket his marketing team had ever brainstormed (and some were truly...interesting) - only to skid to a halt when she saw that her fathers were not alone. The little girl in her Papa's arms was covered in band-aids and sleeping fitfully.
She'd dropped the merch, which really should've been a giant red flag because Present Mic merch was fucking sacred in their house. Her plush could not touch the ground on pain of death, and if something broke, the apocalypse was nigh. It had broken, shattering into hundreds of little pieces, and had startled Eri awake. Bleary red eyes had met frozen seas of blue, and Shouta had introduced the little girl as Eri. Eri had given her a tired, hesitant wave that was most certainly not returned. Himei had swallowed hard and uttered the heartbreaking words that had been haunting his every waking moment since Himei had jumped out of her window and took off into the night...
"What do you need her for? I thought I was your little girl?! I thought I was your baby?!"
The conversation came to an awkward end as Nemuri checked in on Hizashi and deemed him ready to head out to the station. Shouta required very little convincing - it couldn't hurt to have more eyes on the situation, and after seeing the state of exhaustion Hizashi had worked himself into, it became very clear that they would be of no use to anyone if they continued to push themselves so recklessly. Hizashi promised to keep him updated, with the stipulation that they would discuss what had happened that morning in more detail when they both got home. Shouta, after a moment's consideration, had agreed so long as Hizashi promised to get some sleep first. Hizashi made no promises, but agreed to try.
Chapter 7: A Long Overdue Conversation
WARNING(s): Miscarriage, Discussion of Someone that Does not Want to have Kids Being Happy About Miscarriage, Blood, Emotional Abuse/Manipulation, Unhealthy Relationships, etc. Please heed the tags and proceed with caution.
All of the above mentioned warnings are applicable to flashbacks to a previous relationship and as such are not discussed in extremely graphic detail, but please be careful!
"Yo Scarface, what the hell is this?" Dabi stood at the bar, making an absolute mess as he poured (or, rather, attempted to pour) himself a shot of whiskey. There was more whiskey on the bar and the floor than in his glass, but if he noticed, he didn't seem to particularly care.
Shigaraki didn't bother to look up from his phone as he responded, "I'm playing a game, what does it look like? Mind your own damn business and pay attention to what the fuck you're doing before Kurogiri has both of our heads." When Dabi ignored him in favor of continuing to gawk at him, he growled, "What the fuck is your problem?"
"You're cuddling with the pup." Dabi said softly, almost reverently. Shigaraki's face flushed a delicate pink and the traitorous phone practically jumped from his hands.
"This can hardly be considered cuddling." Shigaraki spat, looking as if the word left a vile taste in his mouth. "She was squirming about and muttering gibberish in her sleep. It made it fantastically difficult to focus on my game," Dabi interjected, reminding his omega that he had his own room, "and then...this happened."
"This?" Dabi asked, watching as Shigaraki gestured vaguely to the child curled up on his lap. "You mean, she did that in her sleep?"
The League's leader looked downright petulant as he nodded, "Don't look at me like that. I don't understand it either. But it shut her up, so I'm not complaining."
"You do realize that any credibility you may have had is going to fly right out the window if any of the new recruits walk in and see you like this." The pyro pointed out.
Shigaraki was silent for a long moment, before shrugging. "If they have balls enough to say something, then I'll happily help them realize their death wish." He stared at his phone -- he'd lost the last round and a thirty-second timer had started to prepare for the next. "I'm surprised you're not making a bigger deal out of it."
"Why would I?" Dabi finally seemed to notice the mess that he'd made -- unfortunately, it was long after the bottle had run dry. "It's not like she's ours. And it's not like you not disintegrating her on sight means you've suddenly been overcome by baby fever, right?" He snickered a bit, turning to grab a bar rag to start cleaning up.
"...Right." Shigaraki didn't seem to register that his game had restarted.
Himei groaned, shifting a bit as she blinked her eyes open for the first time in...how long had it been? She wasn't too sure. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the low light of the bar, the room around her gradually coming into focus until she saw him. His heavily scarred face was partially obscured by a mop of poorly kept pastel blue hair, his piercing red eyes narrowed as his fingers landed heavily on his phone screen -- even without the bizarre hands that he wore over his face and body in his villain costume, it was easy enough to recognize Shigaraki Tomura, the man that had almost killed her Papa and had rendered him infertile. Why was he...?
Was he the mate that Dabi had spoken of back in the alleyway? The one with no reservations when it came to killing children? Why was she...? She looked down, noticing for the first time that she'd latched onto him in her sleep, grabbing a fistful of his soft, black t-shirt and holding it so tightly that her knuckles turned white from the exertion. Her blue eyes went wide and she let out a startled shout, scurrying off of Shigaraki's lap so quickly she knocked his phone out of his hands. It flew through the air, landing on the table with a hard thwack, screen-down. She didn't allow herself time to worry about a potentially shattered screen, choosing instead to race over to Dabi behind the bar.
Dabi had his back to her, so he didn't see her coming until she collided with his leg with all of the force of a freight train and almost sent them both toppling to the ground. Ordinarily, he'd be impressed by the kid's strength, but he didn't have too much time to think on it, as the pup started blabbering incoherently and Shigaraki made an inhuman sound, somewhere between a groan and a scream. He turned in time to see Shigaraki picking up the remains of his phone -- the screen had, indeed, shattered, and thick, vertical black stripes ran across the fragmented remains. Oh boy, that would make three broken phones in as many months.
"Alpha..." Shigaraki turned, red eyes blazing, "bring the little brat to me so that I can give her a well-deserved pat on the head."
All of the color drained out of Himei's face as she whimpered, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't...I d-didn't mean to do it, I swear! It was an accident."
"You're really going to kill a pup over a broken phone, Shigaraki? I'm disappointed in you." Something in Dabi's tone had shifted, and from the look of confusion, which was very slowly being overcome by pain, on Shigaraki's face, it was clear that he'd picked up on it. "If she should die, that would prove to be most...upsetting."
The corner of Shigaraki's mouth twitched, the anger on his face and the tension in his shoulders gradually morphing into something else entirely. "Tch...whatever. The damn brat isn't worth my time, anyway." He shoved his hands into his pockets, pinkies out, and began to slink toward the stairs, "And you're buying me a new fucking phone."
Dabi's smile was almost manic as he responded, "Of course, darling. What do you take me for?"
As soon as Shigaraki was out of sight, Himei found the strength to speak again. "What...W-What was that?"
"Shigaraki attempting to kill you? I would've thought that that was fairly obvious." Himei stared at him blankly, and he sighed, "It's called alpha speech. It's a way to manipulate the emotional connection of a mating bond to strongly suggest that an omega act a certain way, or risk outright rejection from their alpha."
Himei frowned. "That sounds bad."
Dabi laughed, but it sounded hollow and a little broken. "It's not good, I'll give you that much. It works best when there's some degree of insecurity in the relationship, because omega's with a rejected bond...well, they don't generally do too well for themselves. A lot of them end up dying, for various reasons. Shigaraki...well..."
The little girl looked at him curiously, "Shigaraki-san is insecure?"
"Never tell him that I told you this. I will deny it on pain of death. Understood?" She nodded hurriedly. "Shigaraki has two rejected bonds, so he when I pull out the alpha speech...it puts him on edge. And I don't like to do it, really. Believe it or not, I do love the twisted bastard and I don't like to hurt him..."
Shigaraki's first alpha had had some stomach-turning ideas about an omega's "proper" place in society. He'd wanted a docile little thing, who he'd keep in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. He'd wanted him pretty and obedient, anxious to do whatever it took to please his alpha -- he was to fulfill each and every last one of his alpha's whims without question, or face devastating repercussions. He'd used alpha speech to "keep him in line", and to prevent him from getting any ideas about turning him into a pile of ash in his sleep. When Tomura had flat-out refused to bear his children, he'd abandoned him, leaving the door wide open for alpha number two.
Alpha number two had actually managed to knock Shigaraki up. It had been an accident, sure, but that hadn't done much to smooth the situation over once Shigaraki had found out. That had been about two weeks before the USJ incident. While many remember it as the devastating fight that had almost killed Eraserhead, all Shigaraki cared about was that one horrific blow to the midsection that had caused him to miscarry. In the heat of the moment, he hadn't recognized the pain cutting through him for what it truly was, hadn't even truly grasped it as he scrubbed the blood from his thighs and his alpha accused him of wanting this from the very beginning. Then he was gone, too.
"Shigaraki-san hurt my Papa." She said softly, brokenly. "He's the reason that...that..."
"The mophead has hurt and killed a lot of people. I'm not surprised to hear that he hurt your old man." Dabi said. He didn't offer an apology, and Himei didn't expect one. "Just...I guess what I'm trying to say is, learn to take what he has to say with a grain of salt. He's plenty dangerous, sure, but you don't strike me as particularly stupid."
"Um...thank you, I think?" Himei looked at him uncertainly. Dabi ruffled her hair, before tossing the used bar rag in the trash and opening the mini-fridge underneath the bar for a carton of milk. He held it up for the pup to see, and she nodded happily.
"No reason to thank me for pointing out the obvious." He said, pouring her a small glass of milk and handing it over. "Shigaraki will come around in his own time. Till then, keep your head down and try not to break his shit. I'll protect you when I can, but I can't always be there."
She looked like she had more questions, but instead of asking them, she took a long swig of her milk. Nodding demurely, she asked, "Okay. I'll do my best."
Dabi grinned, "Good girl."
"Oh, it'll be just like a sleepover!" Toga squealed as Dabi ushered Himei into the blonde-haired girl's room. They'd taken the cushions off of one of the couches downstairs to make a make-shift bed, since they didn't have any spare futons. It was made-up with some moth-eaten blankets and a pillow that vaguely resembled a rock.
"U-Um...I don't mean to be rude, but I slept for so long earlier...I'm not all that tired." Himei confessed. Her voice was scarcely louder than a whisper, and was easily drowned out by the booming screams of the excitable villain across from her. She turned to Dabi, who was already halfway out the door, "Um, Dabi --," the door shut behind him.
"Oi, don't be such a spoil-sport! Who said anything about sleeping at a sleepover?" Toga asked, grabbing hold of the girl's arm and tugging her into the middle of the room.
"A-A sleepover?" Himei had, of course, attended sleepovers before. It just seemed a bit...odd to her to consider all of this in that same category.
"Yeah! We'll stay up super late and tell scary stories and talk about our crushes and do each other's hair!" Toga suddenly became fixated on Himei's soft blonde locks, "Oh -- can I play with your hair? It's all tangled from your little nap earlier. I promise that I'll be gentle." She said, already searching for supplies.
Himei blinked, the words taking a moment to sink in, before nodding, "Ah, I guess that would be alright."
Which is how she ended up seated on one of the sofa cushions, leaning back on her arms with her legs tucked underneath her. Toga was kneeling behind her, a comb tucked between her lips while she worked a soft-bristled brush through some of the bigger tangles in Himei's hair. True to her word, she was exceedingly gentle, to the point where the gentle way the bristles stroked over her scalp, combined with the almost rhythmic motion of her hands, had lulled Himei into a state of calm, the likes of which she had not felt since the last time her Papa had nested. He hadn't properly nested since USJ, and certainly not since Eri and Hitoshi came into the picture.
Omegas nested for a variety of reasons, but it was most common around the peak of their heat cycle. Prior to USJ, Shouta had been on so many suppressants that he didn't have a natural heat cycle any longer. When he did experience a heat, it was typically because his hectic schedule had resulted in him missing a pill. Ordinarily, it would take more than one missed dose to trigger a heat, but most omegas didn't mix a cocktail of suppressants specifically designed to block heats against medical advisement and proceed to take it for years, all the while being happily mated. In the days preceding the heat, he'd build the nest, and after the heat concluded, he'd hunker down inside it.
Sometimes, her Papa would pull her down into the nest with him and they'd cuddle for hours, with her Daddy floating in and out to bring them fresh bottles of ice cold water and little snacks to munch on. Her Papa would braid her hair and tell her stories -- they were different than the stories her Daddy would tell about knights and princesses and far away kingdoms; her Papa's stories were real, and almost always about her. He'd told her about how scared he'd been when he'd found out he was pregnant, how he'd lied to her Daddy about his dynamic because he was ashamed and how worried he'd been that he would leave him for it. And he'd told her how her Daddy had cried when --
"Earth to Himei..." Toga trilled, momentarily pulling her from her thoughts. She hummed softly to show that she was listening. "Jeez, what's going through that pretty little head of yours, huh? It must've been pretty damn important to distract you from me." Himei had to bite her lip to keep from laughing -- now was definitely not the time.
"...Toga?" She paused mid-stroke, tilting her head to the side, "is this what having a sister feels like?"
"Mmm, I guess so." Toga said, throwing her arms around Himei's prone frame and tackling her so hard they both tumbled down onto the cushions. "Personally, I wouldn't mind having a little sister as adorable as you. You're just so freaking cute, I could eat you right up!"
"Please don't." Himei murmured, just enough fear coloring her tone to make it unclear about whether she thought Toga's comment was a threat or a joke.
Toga grinned, showing off two rows of perfectly white teeth. "So tell me...how does a sweet kid like you end up in an alleyway, taking care of our resident pyro?" Himei opened her mouth to respond, when Toga tacked on, "And don't give me that bullshit about him kidnapping you. We all know that that's a bold-faced lie."
For a moment, it seemed like Himei was intent to go with that story anyhow. But then she shook her head, playing with the frayed end of the t-shirt that Toga had lent her to sleep in. "I ran away from home. My parents...they don't need me anymore, and I didn't want to be a burden on their shoulders."
Himiko nodded sagely, "So you just happened to cross paths with him, then."
"That's right." Himei confessed softly. "But...I couldn't just leave him like that. I'll admit that I don't know anything about his quirk, but I could tell that it was hurting him and that he was vulnerable and that somebody a lot less friendly could hurt or even kill him."
"Must be nice to have an incredibly powerful villain eternally in your debt." Himiko mused, "I'm sure Dabi is eternally grateful. The boss-man too. They might not say it in so many words, but once you learn how to speak their language, they're both actually pretty transparent."
Himei looked down at her lap, "I...I didn't do it to garner favor or anything like that. It's just...it was the right thing to do, you know?"
"Ah, to be young and misguided and think that everyone's intentions, including your own, should be taken at face value."
What the hell was that supposed to mean? Apparently Himiko intended to leave her in the dark, because once she finished combing through her hair she tied it back into a loose ponytail and thumped her twice on the shoulder to signal her to stand. They wandered down the hall to the bathroom, where Himiko gave her a spare toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste and set her up at the sink to perform her nightly ablutions. For the first time in what felt like forever, Himei found herself in front of a mirror and took the rare opportunity to take stock of her appearance. To be frank, she looked about as good as she felt -- like shit.
She could see a bruise, dark and angry, that curled around the top of her shoulder. That must've been from when Dabi clubbed me earlier, she thought, gingerly grazing her fingers over the wound and wincing when even that slight bit of pressure sent flares of white-hot pain down her spine. She was pale, almost unhealthily so, and she realized that she couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten. She'd gone through the trouble of stealing all of those granola bars and hadn't thought for a second to take one for herself. And yet...up until now, she'd been so angry and upset that her hunger had seemed like an afterthought, a distant, far-off, intangible thing.
Her hair looked better now that Himiko had taken the time to brush it out, and she wondered if the other girl had done that on purpose, knowing that her appearance would have been enough of a shock without the added mess on top of her head. Her blue eyes were accentuated by dark circles, and she was left to once again wonder how long she'd been unconscious, seeing as she both looked and felt like she hadn't slept in the last century. She finished brushing her teeth, rinsing out her mouth with lukewarm water and using one of Toga's washcloths to clean her face. Toga cleaned up as well, before leading the way back to her room and closing and locking the door behind her.
"So much better." She said with a sigh, flashing another of her slightly unnerving smiles. "Hmm...what should we do next? Oh, I know, I know! Tell me, Himei-chan...You still have a couple of years left before you present, but is there a specific dynamic that you're hoping for?"
"We have to talk." Hizashi said, his voice soft as he claimed the empty seat alongside Shouta on the couch. Shouta had been staring at the blank television screen, his face schooled into an unreadable mask, for the last half-hour or so while Hizashi put Eri to bed.
"I know." He said. He did not move, nor did he make any gesture to indicate that he truly grasped what it was that Hizashi had said. He just continued to stare.
The officer had been optimistic about their chances of recovering Himei, especially considering that her Quirk meant that most villains would not pose a serious threat to her. She'd told them that they would call as soon as any new information came to light, but had stressed that waiting anxiously beside the phone would do them more harm than good. It would be wrong to claim that she told them to 'proceed as normal', but as far as Shouta was concerned...she might as well have. The officer had stressed that it would be important for Himei to be able to return to a sense of 'normalcy', whatever the hell that meant. Shouta had snapped that he wasn't interested in normal.
If normal meant eating a home-cooked meal at the table with a perpetually empty chair, he couldn't do it. If normal meant seeing his kids off to school, only to have a backpack remaining, he couldn't do it. If normal meant opening the mail to find a new package containing the latest Present Mic merchandise to hit the stores, and not being almost tackled to the ground in his daughter's excitement and haste to retrieve her newest trinket, he couldn't do it. If he couldn't go out there and bring her back himself, then he would sit here and wallow in his feelings of uselessness. But he would not pretend that everything was normal, everything was fine, when it clearly wasn't.
"I never thought she'd go to UA. I didn't know she knew how to get there on her own." Shouta whispered, "And while I wish the kids had told me, I get why they didn't. Himei...I've failed her so many times. I spent so long being afraid of the father that I couldn't be that I didn't appreciate the father that I was."
Hizashi reached toward him, gently running his fingers through Shouta's dark, wavy locks. "You couldn't see the future, Shou. You couldn't have known that this was what was going to happen." He said, trying to comfort his beloved even if he didn't entirely believe the words himself. They should have been able to see it coming.
As if reading his mind, Shouta murmured, "Are you so sure?" He swallowed hard, "Because its what I would have done. What I did, actually, after I presented. Except I wasn't lucky enough to have parents that cared enough to actually come after me." He lowered his head, staring at his shaking hands. "God, 'Zashi, what if --,"
The voice hero shook his head, "You can't bog yourself down with every what-if scenario in the world, sunshine. You'll drive yourself crazy."
"What if she's dead, Hizashi?" Shouta sobbed, looking so horribly broken that Hizashi didn't know how to pick up all the pieces and put them back together.
"She's not." Hizashi said, and when Shouta opened his mouth to reply, he gently pressed a finger against his chapped lips and continued, "You'd know. Trust me."
The erasure hero blinked several times, before collapsing in on himself again. "I was so happy when I saw her. I wanted...there was nothing I wanted more in that moment than to scoop her up in my arms and never let her go. But then she saw Eri and she screamed and it didn't even really register until 'Toshi had already..."
Hizashi sighed, "It's not your fault. There's no way that you could have known --,"
"What part of this isn't my fault?!" Shouta was yelling now, emotion finally sinking into his words. "I could have erased her Quirk, or erased the Mindjack, or kept her with me in the classroom and sent Eri off with Nemuri, or...or..." he began to lose steam, his body shaking even harder.
"Shou..." gentle hands settled on either side of his face, "if anyone's at fault here, it's me. I actually saw her before she ran away. I saw the way her mood shifted and I purposefully wrote it off as her being petulant over dinner. I've seen the signs for so long that something was wrong and turned a blind eye and I hurt Himei."
Shouta shook his head, "You could never hurt Himei. That kid practically worships the ground that you walk on."
"All the more reason to suggest that I'm the one truly at fault." He sighed, "It hurt more, coming from me. The hero she idolizes ignoring her in her time of need."
Shouta fell forward, burying his face in Hizashi's chest and letting out a small sniffle that absolutely destroyed the blond's heart. "I just want my baby back, 'Zashi."
"I know, sunshine. I know." Hizashi murmured, hugging the other as tight as he dared. "We'll get her back. And then we'll never let her out of our sights again."