The rookie hero (or Eraserhead, as his hero license said) was just a couple of years out of UA and working feverishly through the underground. Of course, it was that fervor that had landed him here.
Officer Murata grimaced as Eraserhead struggled to sit upright in the hospital bed, squinting blearily up at her through a black eye.
“Please, no, there’s no need to stand on ceremony, Eraserhead. You’re injured.” Thankfully the hero used the opportunity to collapse back onto the pillows piled behind him with a huff.
“I thought you police types always did this in pairs.” Eraserhead yawned, and clumsily groped for the glass of water beside his bed, nearly knocking it off the table. Murata passed him the plastic cup, and noted the glazed look in his eyes as he tried to focus on the straw.
“We do,” said Murata. “My partner will be along in a moment. Officer Tamakawa’s just taking care of some things at the front desk.”
“Oh. Let’s get this over with then.” Despite the painkillers that uncensored his words and dulled his dexterity, Eraserhead gave her a level stare.
“Alright, first, there were five men arrested last night at the scene. Was anyone else there that wasn’t taken in?” Murata flipped her notebook open and fished a pen out of her bag.
“One got away, but he was just a kid,” Murata ignored the voice that wanted to protest that Eraserhead was just a kid too.
“Alright, what did he look like?” Ordinarily she wouldn’t have to lead a hero on so much during a debriefing, but it was frankly amazing that Eraserhead could focus this much through so many painkillers, so she wasn’t complaining.
“Really young. Maybe not even in high school yet. He didn’t want to be there even before they all noticed me. I hope he’s ok. Skinny kid, black hair. Clothes too big. He was scared.” Eraserhead stared past her shoulder, lost in thought.
“Ok. So can you tell me why you intervened when you did?”
“I –” he said, just as Tamakawa walked through the door. Eraserhead’s eyes went wide. Murata wondered if they knew each other.
“This is my partner, Officer Tamakawa,” she turned to her coworker, “we’ve just started the debriefing.”
Eraserhead continued to stare at Murata’s partner, somehow looking even younger than before. His gobsmacked expression made his black eye stand out.
She glanced back at Tamakawa again. “Have you two worked together before?”
“No. No my apologies,” said Eraserhead. “It must just be… the last dose of pain medication is kicking in.”
“No, we’re the ones who should be sorry,” said Tamakawa, “if this wasn’t so time sensitive we would’ve waited for this interview.”
“It’s important. It would be illogical to wait any longer.” Even as he said it, Eraserhead listed slightly to the side.
“Alright, so why did you intervene when you did?” Murata wanted to get this over with. The kid deserved some sleep.
“They were about to get rid of the animals. They were trying to get the kid to use his quirk, I don’t know what it was, and the kid was refusing. It looked like it might get – ” once again, his eyes focused on officer Tamakawa, “your ears just moved.”
Murata bit back a wild laugh. “What?”
Tamakawa sighed and leaned over to Murata. “This happens sometimes with kids but it’s never happened with a hero before,” he murmured.“Those painkillers must be really strong.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Eraserhead. “I just… I really like cats. And I’m not… it’s hard to focus right now.”
“Completely understandable,” Murata smiled. Now tell me –” but before she could finish, the young hero’s gaze was back on Tamakawa, mouth slightly open.
“You have a tail?”
Getting any information out of Eraserhead, or Aizawa, as he insisted at some point during the debriefing, was nearly impossible from that point on. Even Tamakawa leaving the room didn’t help; he just asked where the cat headed officer was and if he was coming back every 30 seconds or so.
A nurse popped her head in to check and sheepishly admitted that Aizawa had been administered an increased dose of pain medication about 45 minutes before the police officers showed up, putting him at peak incapacitation during their debriefing.
Despite how frustrating it was to separate the wheat from the chaff during the increasingly chaotic interview, Murata was having one of the funniest times of her career. Tamakawa was relatively new to the force, and strove for professional perfection. The first five minutes of her interview with Aizawa revealed a quiet, reserved, and capable young hero.
All of that fell out the window when Eraserhead’s preoccupation with Tamakawa came to light.
“So Eraserhead –”
“Mr. Aizawa. Tell me about how the fight went down before backup showed up. Did anyone say anything?”
“They told me to fuck off. Then they figured out I was a hero and tried to kill me.” He shifted on the bed. “Figured it was better than them killing the animals,” he muttered. Then he looked towards Tamakawa again. “Are the animals ok?”
Despite himself, Tamakawa smiled. “The animals are all fine,” he said, “not a scratch on them.”
“But it was cold. Were their feet ok? It was bad to traffick them, but it was stupid to keep them in wire crates. So…” he swayed a little on the bed, “so illogical. What if their toe beans were hurt?” Aizawa’s brows furrowed, “do you have toe beans?”
Things devolved again upon the revelation that while Tamakawa didn’t have paws, his gloves hid claws as well as some fur and raised pink pads on his palms and fingers. Murata nearly broke a rib laughing when Aizawa leaned in for a closer look with incredible focus in his eyes and stared for several very long moments.
Murata continued taking notes for the useful information they pulled out (which would all have to be verified later), but also started a new page with quotes from Eraserhead. The question about toe beans went at the top.
Midway through an impassioned speech about how the “kid” that had escaped wasn’t dressed properly for the weather, Aizawa started to slow down.
“He only had on a t-shirt. And he was out after minor’s curfew.” Aizawa blinked slowly. Murata tactfully didn’t mention how the kid had much bigger problems than being out too late and not being dressed appropriately. “He really didn’t want to be there. You should… you should… he really didn’t want to be there.”
With that, the young hero’s eyes fluttered closed and stayed there as he let out a long breath.
“Well,” said Tamakawa as they shut the door behind them, “that was an experience.”
Murata waited until they were halfway down the hall before she burst into laughter, gasping desperately as she bent in half.
“And then Eraser asked Tamakawa if he had toe beans!” The table burst into laughter about them as Shouta narrowed his eyes.
“It’s been ten years, Murata. Give it a rest, will you?” Despite himself, a flush appeared high on his cheeks as he took another swig of his drink.
“Forget one of the best interviews of my career? Not a chance, Aizawa.” She grinned across the table at her friend.
“Your apology later was very nice too,” Tamakawa added. “Unnecessary, but nice.”
“How have I never heard this story?” Yamada looked as if his birthday had come early this year. He grinned over at Shouta, and he resigned himself to the fact that Yamada was going to make sure that this story would be all over the UA staff room by Monday morning.
“I hoped you’d never hear this story,” Shouta grumbled.
“Everyone else at the station was intimidated by you, even back then,” Tamakawa said with a smirk, “but I could never forget the look on your face when you first saw my tail. Kind of hard to feel intimidated by you after that.”
Shouta’s head hit the table with a thud.