_____ ONE _____
It happened for the first time when Shouta was eighteen, fresh out of UA and living without a stable shelter. He usually just roamed the streets and then went to a cheap hotel or took out his sleeping bag for the night.
It wasn’t like Shouta didn’t have any money or was on the run. It was just too much of a hassle to waste time and money on getting temporary comfort, and Shouta didn’t even need that much sleep anyway.
And of course, without a permanent shelter, personal hygiene was often not prioritized.
Shouta didn’t go around sleeping in unsanitary places or not washing his hands. He wasn’t disgusting. He just didn’t shower as often as a normal person, or shave, and his hair was getting longer than what was apparently considered appropriate for the average male.
He didn’t care that much. It didn’t get in the way of his work, and fighting villains without having to worry about something as useless as appearances was much easier.
So he really should have expected some normal civilians to get wary of him, always lurking around the shadows looking like he was going to commit a crime. It was an honest mistake, and he wasn’t that mad. It was irrational to blame an innocent who thought they were doing the right thing and saving lives.
Shouta could, however, blame the officers holding him, and damn, he was pissed.
He had been in the same position for almost an hour, trapped on a chair with quirk restraints on. Sure, he looked suspicious and all, but was this really how they treated all of their suspects?
What was the saying again? Guilty until proven innocent? Bullshit.
Shouta let out a snort as the officer in front of him began another round of questions for his interrogation again.
“Listen,” he reasoned. “If you just let me get my phone, or maybe my fucking hero license, I can actually prove to you that I’m not a villain. How’s that?”
The officer stared at him with narrowed eyes. “That can’t happen. You were reported as a ‘dangerous individual,’ so I believe I have the right to treat you as one. Now tell me, why were you lurking around the surroundings of a warehouse that had also been reported for suspicious activity?”
“Wh-.” Shouta cut himself off with a groan. The officer had a point, but fuck, couldn’t he give him a chance? “I said I was investigating that suspicious activity,” he hissed. “Now would you please-?”
“Why was a normal civilian like you investigating suspicious activity?” the officer asked and they were back to square one. Shouta never thought that it would be so offensive to be mistaken for a villain and a normal civilian.
“I’m a fucking hero-.”
Shouta was interrupted by the muted buzzing of his phone. It rumbled frantically in his pocket, and he gave the officer a pointed look.
“Don’t move.” Shouta’s phone was very carefully taken and examined, and then the officer picked up in his annoyingly cautious way. “Hello?”
“Shouta?!” Hizashi’s voice blasted through the speaker. “Is that you? Where are you? Did you forget that we were having a get together today? I swear, if you’re ignoring me, I’ll-!”
“Are you an acquaintance of Aizawa Shouta?” the officer interrupted, stopping Hizashi dead in his ramblings.
“Uh. Yes? What did he do? Who died?”
Shouta rolled his eyes with a scoff.
“Your friend was reported for suspicious behavior and is currently being held in custody at the station. He is being very uncooperative. May I ask you a few questions?”
There was silence on the other side, and the officer held the speaker closer to his ears. Shouta winced in sympathy but said nothing. It was sweet, fucking karma, after all.
Hizashi’s cockatoo-like laughter echoed against the walls, leaving a stunned officer with hearing damage and a Shouta who wanted to die.
After things were cleared up, with profuse apologies from the civilian who reported him, the officer, and his coworkers who were at the station, Shouta finally made it out.
Now he had another problem to deal with, and that was getting Hizashi to shut the fuck up.
Well, Shouta thought, there’s a first time for everything. At least this definitely won’t happen again.
_____ TWO _____
It fucking happened again.
Really, what was he expecting?
When he was twenty years old, Shouta was sent as an undercover agent in a drug trafficking case.
It was supposed to be easy. He was supposed to sneak into their black market, buy samples that would be safely transported to an investigation lab, and gain the trust of their leader or someone with a high rank.
He was perfect for the role, being highly skilled and anonymous to the public.
Unfortunately, that meant that most officers in the area didn’t know who he was, or the fact that he was a fucking hero.
At this point, Shouta wanted to commit some crimes just to make a point. This happened way too often (over the span of two years, Shouta had been reported and arrested so many times that Hizashi and Nemuri brought it up every time he asked for help). Maybe he should actually start shaving and taking care of his appearance. Or maybe he should make a public appearance. Or he could at least inform the police of the area that he wasn’t doing anything illegal.
Shouta was snapped out of his inner brooding by the appearance of a detective with eye bags that rivaled his own.
“Okay, so,” he started, looking at the papers in his hand. “My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa. I am the detective in charge of your case. You have been taken into custody after you were caught taking part in an illegal drug transaction.”
Shouta gave him the most uninterested face he could muster. It didn’t help that this was a secret operation run by the Commission, so he couldn’t say anything to anyone. Why couldn’t they at least tell the police so things like this didn’t happen?
“And so I’ve heard,” Shouta drawled. “What’re you going to do? Kill me? Please do it quickly, detective.”
“You are charged with the possession of illegal substances, disobedience to officials, and assault,” Tsukauchi continued without taking note of Aizawa’s retorts. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“You don’t know shit,” he scoffed.
“Yes, I’ve been told that many times. Now please answer the question.”
Shouta gave him an unimpressed look. “Listen, I was just going around the area and saw the transaction and then shit got fucked up so I went to help and I just so happened to have the drugs on me when the pros got there.”
“That doesn’t explain why you assaulted an officer.”
“Hey, it was self defense, okay? He had a fucking taser.” And he knew Shouta’s face, and he couldn’t risk getting his cover blown.
“Right. And why were those drugs that just so happened to be on you hidden so well in your coat? And I wonder why some witnesses claim they saw you offer money for it? Do you have any answers?”
“The drugs…” Shouta paused to think, “were hidden because I didn’t want to be seen with it and arrested. And also, I was paying for a dentist appointment. ‘Cause you know, some people can’t exactly get dental care like the rich.”
It was Tsukauchi’s turn to give him an unimpressed look. “You’re lying. I would appreciate it if you would cooperate. Really makes everyone’s life easier.”
“Oh wow, who would have thought? Wow, do you have a lie detecting quirk?”
“Can you at least tell me your name?” Tsukauchi asked with an exasperated sigh.
“I believe I have the right to remain silent.”
“You-.” The detective bit his tongue to keep himself from saying anything inappropriate on camera. “Listen, you do know that you are this close to being arrested, right?”
“And so I’ve heard,” Shouta shrugged. “But don’t worry, I can break out like always, so it makes no difference.”
Tsukauchi made a troubled face when his quirk didn't detect a lie and Shouta’s grin grew wider. This was fun, and he was finally letting his tired brain take over.
This wasn’t going to end well, but Shouta didn’t really give a shit anymore.
The banter between the delusional hero and the exhausted detective continued for almost an hour, and Shouta wondered how many detectives he could scare off tonight. His record was thirteen.
With how irrational his brain was, he might be able to beat it.
"I AM HERE! HELPING WITH A SUSPECT CASE IN THE AREA!"
Unfortunately, his interrogation was cut short when All Might of all fucking people stepped in. He looked at Tsukauchi and then at Shouta, and his eyes widened just a bit.
“Ah, is this the suspect that was giving you a hard time?” he boomed, and the volume made Shouta wince. This was why he hated mainstream heroes, with their loudness and brightness and unbearable egos.
All Might cleared his throat. “Tsukauchi! Spare me a minute! I need to speak with you!”
With that, they left Shouta alone in the room with only his thoughts to keep him company. There was a hushed conversation behind the door, and huh, the number one hero could actually speak softly. He should do it more often.
After a while, Shouta was let out with an aching back, 99+ missed messages, and apologies thrown at him in waves by Tsukauchi and All Might, threatening to drown him under the never ending sea of human compassion and empathy. Ugh.
He still had a mission to finish, but luckily some other heroes got there first and that really lessened his workload.
Shouta really needed a cup of coffee. Maybe he could beat his own record of ‘most cups of coffee ingested’ at twenty five cups a day. With his current state of mind, that would be a fairly easy victory.
_____ THREE _____
Shouta had been on a trip with Hizashi and Nemuri during their annual get together. It was supposed to be relaxing.
Key word: supposed.
Honestly, this time, it didn’t even surprise him. There hadn’t been a relaxing vacation in six years.
They had also been lucky enough to not get involved with the island’s police for six years, but life had plenty of other plans this time.
It had all started fairly normal (based on their standards). The three heroes were in their civilian clothing, settling down in Midnight’s private jet, away from the prying eyes and fans that they had just barely avoided before boarding. There were some minor issues, like Hizashi forgetting his pillow at home, Nemuri accidentally spilling some hot drink onto their seats and Shouta falling asleep for once (what a surprise), but other than that, their commute to the island was fine.
They had gotten to the island and their hotel in one piece.
And then everything went to hell.
That night, Shouta had gone out on a walk, all alone like the fucking idiot he was. He had gotten his drink from a nearby convenience store and was heading back. And then he got mugged and sent to the police station for “assaulting a civilian.”
What the fuck?
He had gone out for a drink, got mugged, and was now facing criminal charges.
Shouta really hated this island with every ounce of his being, and he didn’t understand why they kept on returning there for what was supposed to be a relaxing trip.
Apparently, the island’s policy on law was much stricter, and Shouta was being held in the detention center with quirk restraints on. All of his belongings had been taken, and they didn’t even leave his drink. That was how he spent his first day on vacation at three in the morning.
Finally, after an eternity of waiting, an officer entered and dragged Shouta out to be questioned. It was a… perilous interrogation. There was no joking around; Shouta knew that one wrong answer could really lead him to be arrested this time.
Too bad they had taken all his belongings, so he couldn’t flash his hero license and be on with it. Not like a hero license would help him, but it usually made the truth a lot more believable when it was revealed.
“For the last time, I’m here on vacation with my friends and I got mugged, so I fought back. As self defense. If anything, I’m the one that was assaulted.”
And there went his cautiousness. All sense of rationality was thrown out the window the moment he opened his mouth and his words, dripping with sarcasm and disrespect, spilled out. Fuck, what was wrong with him?
“You say that, yet the victim was clearly more severely injured than you. Care to explain that?”
Shouta clicked his tongue. Well, he already dug himself into a ditch, might as well dig deeper while he was at it. “What can I say? I’m just really good at self defense,” he shrugged.
“Good at self defense? Why? Could it be related to the recent gang activities on this island?”
This island had a gang problem? Shouta was going to kill Nemuri when he saw her again. That is, if he ever got out of whatever mess he had fallen into.
“Listen, listen. It’s three in the morning, I know. You’re tired, I’m tired.” Shouta made large gestures to emphasize his point. “Why don’t you just let me out with a warning like a nice officer?”
The unimpressed looks sent his way were getting funny.
“I’m just a friendly civilian here for vacation,” he offered again.
“Then explain why you have the hero license of Present Mic in your possession.”
Well, shit. He forgot about that. Maybe they shouldn’t have swapped licenses as a joke. That was really coming back to bite him in the ass.
“I’m a friendly civilian here for vacation with Present Mic,” Shouta corrected. “I’m sorry, can I just call him for a sec? Prove to you I’m innocent?”
The officer paused to consider his options and finally relented, tossing Shouta his phone with narrowed eyes. “If you decide to act up, remember that you cannot use your quirk, and your actions will give us an even more valid reason to arrest you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Shouta muttered, waving it off.
It took five rings and five seconds of awkward silence before Hizashi picked up groggily. “Shouta? What happened now? Did you get arrested again?”
“Well, Present Mic,” Shouta said, staring the officer straight in the eye. “Guess who got mugged and accidentally beat a civilian up for self defense?”
There was silence on the other side, something that was a mix between a sharp intake of breath and stifled laughter, and loud shuffling. “I’m on my way.”
The call ended there, with Shouta feeling more smug than he should have. He definitely did not give the officer a pointed look when Hizashi showed up, and he definitely did not flip him off while he gaped at the Voice Hero.
And Shouta definitely did not flash his hero license and threaten to arrest the poor man.
Needless to say, they were never taking a vacation on that fucking island ever again.
(Oh, but they did. The next year and every other year following that. It seemed like Nemuri was very adamant on keeping up whatever their tradition was.)
_____ FOUR _____
Shouta was twenty five years old and fucking done with everything.
What was wrong with Japan’s police? It was like they were all set out to get him. Fuck, Shouta wasn’t even that unknown; he had made several public appearances and interactions with the police in the past few years.
So why was he here, in the police car speeding down the highway to the station, with his hands and quirk restrained and the equivalence of a gun held to his head?
Sometimes, Shouta wondered what he had done in his past life to deserve any of this. By the looks of it, he must have been a real, fucking douche.
This time, Shouta had no fucking idea what he had done that led to the current situation at hand. He had gone out for a walk (alone and without his capture weapon or goggles, because like always, he was a fucking idiot) to get something. Shouta couldn’t remember what, and that wasn’t important. He had gotten to the convenience store, and he remembered that there had been a small child that he approached. Anything after that was a complete blur.
To make things worse, Shouta’s head was pounding, every small sound and movement causing it to throb. He probably had a concussion from whatever had happened.
Maybe that was why it felt like he had lost half of his memories from his day.
But that didn’t explain the cautious glances the officers were shooting him and everything else wrong with his little predicament.
“Uh…” Shouta croaked out, coughing with his unbearably dry throat. “Yo?”
The looks on the officers’ faces morphed into horror and all of them drew their weapons out. Out of habit, Shouta raised his hands in surrender, but then he realized that they were handcuffed in a very uncomfortable position behind his back.
“Okay, okay, so that wasn’t very nice,” he tried again, watching as their tensed postures relaxed a little.
The officer next to him--they weren’t even an officer, and Shouta was quite embarrassed to realize that he couldn’t recognize his own best friend, gave him a look. “Are you finally you again?” Hizashi asked slowly.
“Uh, yes? Did something happen?”
Suddenly, the whole car let out a sigh of relief and relaxed completely. Shouta didn’t bother asking for the rest of the ride. He was too fucking tired, everything hurt, and he doubted that they would tell him anything anyways.
“Eraser, wake up.”
Shouta blinked his eyes open wearily to Hizashi gently shaking him awake. When had he fallen asleep? Shouta grunted, hearing his bones crack uncomfortably as he was led outside. His restraints were still on.
Inside, All Might was standing at the door with Tsukauchi, and the atmosphere was tense. Everyone gave him uneasy glances and Shouta finally snapped, letting out a loud groan. “What the fuck did I do?”
Quiet murmurs filled the building, and Tsukauchi blinked in surprise. “You really don’t remember?”
“No? Am I supposed to?”
“He’s telling the truth,” Tsukauchi said breathlessly.
All Might shared a glance with Tsukauchi. “Was it a quirk, or…?”
“Will someone fucking tell me what happened already?”
“That’s…” Hizashi started uncomfortably. His next few words caused Shouta’s heart to skip a beat and his eyes widened.
Okay, what the actual fuck?
He had gone to the convenience store, met a tiny child, and apparently gone on a rampage with his quirk and a knife? What was that supposed to mean? What did he do? Oh fuck, did he hurt anyone?
“There were only a couple of minor injuries,” Hizashi piped up, as if he could read Shouta’s mind. “Don’t worry, you only caused a lot of chaos at most.”
“We believe that the child that you mentioned could be connected with what happened,” Tsukauchi informed him after they had escaped to an empty conference room. “It could possibly be his quirk. We’ll look into it, so you don’t have to worry too much. I just need you to stay here for a bit for an examination and some witness statements, if you don’t mind.”
“Do I really have a choice?”
“God, Eraser,” Mic bemoaned. “You gave us all such a fright there.”
“Sorry ‘bout that.” Shouta turned to Tsukauchi with a brow raised. “So? Do you have any leads on the case so far?”
“Not yet. It seems like the child disappeared in the chaos. There was someone with him; an older man. We think that he was abusing the boy’s quirk to commit crime.”
Shouta let out a quiet curse under his breath. “Well, search for him.”
Alas, Shouta wouldn’t see that child again for another five years, during the UA Sports Festival. Although his memories were blurry, he could definitely recognize that wild purple hair anywhere.
Shinsou Hitoshi, huh.
Shouta was determined to save him to make up for what he had failed to do all those years ago. Maybe he should start by teaching that brat how to not get arrested by accident. That seemed like a useful lesson.
(Not that he could actually teach it. That would be pretty damn irrational and hypocritical of him.)
_____ FIVE _____
The fifth time it happened, Shouta was thirty years old and the homeroom teacher of UA’s class 1-A. It was after the training camp-gone-wrong and before the dreaded press conference.
Shouta was sitting alone, bent over his computer in the darkness.
There was light tapping on the door, and Hizashi’s uncharacteristically quiet voice called, “Eraser? Tsukauchi is here to see you.”
Shouta grunted a reply and moved to get up, feeling his knees and back crack loudly. The detective was outside at the gates of UA, leaning on against the hood of his car, waiting.
“What?” Shouta asked wearily, all manners forgotten. He pushed his tangled hair back and cracked his neck. “Can we just get it over with already?”
“I’m really sorry, Eraserhead, but we need to do the questioning at the station. For safety purposes, of course.” Tsukauchi’s eyes drifted to Shouta’s disheveled appearance with a sympathetic smile. When he didn’t react, the detective gestured to his car. “Please, get in. I’ll take you there.”
Shouta looked at Tsukauchi’s face, to the car, and back. He nodded slowly and climbed into the backseat that had been opened up.
Shouta was taken to the station like a villain, asked questions (honestly, it was more like an interrogation) like a villain, and even though he wasn’t being arrested for being a villain, it sure felt like it.
Less than a week later, he had to go through the press conference. Again, there was the word. Villain.
He should have known. The public always seemed to have no problem with calling and treating him like a villain, anyway. His whole life was a fine example of it.
Shouta sat quietly and obediently. He was too tired for any of this.
After all, Shouta had lost his will to fight back a long time ago.
_____ PLUS ONE _____
Shouta was thirty one years old, proudly watching his class excitedly preparing for their next year as second years. If he smiled and ruffled a few heads of hair and told them how proud he was, well, he made sure that those brats didn’t have any evidence to support their statements.
Shouta was proud of them, he really was. They had gone through so many attacks and stressful events and still made it through, and now each and every one of them (excluding Mineta) were one step closer to becoming the heroes that protected their world.
Shouta was satisfied with knowing that he had helped them find that path, no matter how bumpy it was going to be.
The students--his kids were running off, playing around and doing what a bunch of fifteen year olds with superpowers did best.
Wrecking havoc and utter destruction.
As Shouta activated his quirk, staring the little devils down, he reconsidered everything he had thought earlier. Just a little.
Shouta was still proud, nonetheless. He expected that something like this would happen; it was a UA freshman tradition, after all.
What he didn’t expect was for the twenty future heroes to turn around with big grins when he erased their quirks. He didn’t expect them to come running to him without any anger or malice, instead with excitement and too much fucking happiness. He didn’t expect them to pile onto him with laughter. He didn’t expect himself to deactivate his quirk and let them all crush him to death willingly.
And Shouta most definitely did not expect them to call him a hero.
Not just any hero. Their hero.
“Thank you for everything, Aizawa-sensei!” Ashido chirped. “You’re my hero!”
“You’re the best hero ever!” Kirishima added, flexing his muscles. “The man among men!”
“You’re my number two hero,” Midoriya exclaimed eagerly, and Shouta had to stop himself from looking disappointed. “Only after All Might, of course!”
Well, that was only to be expected from the biggest All Might fanboy in the universe. Shouta was pretty surprised that he even made second place.
“Thanks…” Bakugou muttered, looking away with his hands in his pockets. “For protecting us. And saving me.” Then, in a quiet whisper that Shouta would have missed if he wasn’t experienced in hearing the smallest of sounds, Bakugou added, “You’re my hero too.”
Then he walked away, shouting insults at “shitty Deku” and the “half and half bastard”.
Aizawa smiled widely. Not in his signature unnerving smirk, but a soft, fond grin that stretched across his face. He hadn't smiled like that in years.
Aizawa Shouta, age thirty one, was called someone’s hero. After years and years of being called a villain, after years of getting reported and sent to the police station (it happened so often that after a while, the officers started inviting him inside for coffee when he was ‘arrested’), and years of working anonymously and unknown to the public, he was finally someone’s hero. And not just anyone’s hero.
He was the hero of a new generation of heroes that he believed could one day become number one in the world.
It was a nice feeling. Maybe Shouta could get used to it someday.