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Safe With You

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Eri can feel herself shaking as she clings to Deku’s back. She can feel the way her legs and arm muscles are cramping, but she refuses to loosen up. She does not want to risk falling off his back as he runs. And she knows that Deku would come back for her if she does fall, knowing who is chasing them though, knowing who might get to her first, makes her hold tighter.

All around her, everything around her is dark dark dark and she might be able to get a better picture of where they are at and where Deku is running if she lifted her head up, only Deku told her not to look when he first grabbed her, so Eri is going to keep her head down, she is going to do what Deku asks her to do. Because Deku keeps her safe, he always has. And even now, even years after she had been rescued from Overhaul and spent years away from his influence and his goons, Deku still has the ability to swoop in like an avenging angel to rescue her from villains who want to use her quirk for their own means.

Deku hits a rough patch as he runs and Eri makes a sound in the back of her throat, which makes her feel stupid because she is not a six-year-old anymore, but she is so scared she cannot help herself. It probably also does not help that her position on Deku’s back mirrors that terrible and wonderful day so many years ago.

“It’s going to be okay Eri, Aizawa-sensei is waiting for us on the other side,” Deku says. She does not hear his words as much as she feels them rumbling through the back of his chest.

“I just wanted to be in General Education, I just wanted to be a normal kid,” Eri says, tears thickening her voice.

“I know, I know. You still can Eri,” Deku says. But Eri knows different. She knows she will never be able to be a normal kid attending General Education as one of many, not while her quirk is so deeply desired.

Eri clutches Deku tighter as a sob works its way up her throat, not wanting to release it and allow all the others that are sure to follow. Deku must feel it though, because his thumb rubs a quick circle on her leg where he is holding her.

A second later, Eri feels herself fly out of Deku’s hands. She hits the ground and tumbles through the underbrush of the forest, branches and bushes tearing at her arms and legs and clothing.

“Eri!” Deku calls from somewhere in the darkness, “Run!”

The desperation that chokes his voice is a familiar one. Eri is frozen for a moment at the sound of it, torn between staying with Deku and doing as he asks. Stuck at an impasse, she remembers every single time she disobeyed her heroes’ orders for what she believed to be their own good. With age and hindsight, Eri can see exactly how she played into Overhaul’s hands. 

Eri refuses to make that same mistake again. 

The sound of fallen twigs snapping has her on her feet in seconds. Eri casts one last glance in the direction she came from, a silent prayer for Deku’s safety on her lips, and runs. 

Branches slap against Eri’s cheeks as she runs. They tear at her flesh which begins to throb angrily, but she refuses to let herself be slowed. She runs for Deku and for Aizawa. Deku, who fights for her. Aizawa, who is waiting for her. Aizawa, who is her home. She repeats the mantra over and over again in her head as she forces her lungs to keep up. 

Just keep moving, Eri, she thinks. 

Someone behind her roars so loudly it shakes the trees and Eri’s body flinches against her will. She throws her head over her shoulder, blowing wisps of hair out of her mouth as she does, and tries not to panic. That did not sound like Deku. 

Bright green lightning crackles behind her, illuminating the forest in an instant. Against the tree line she can begin to make out a ginormous figure barrelling towards her, arms outstretched. Another crackle. She can make out its eyes now, glowing with intent. Another. Her tongue is heavy in her mouth. She thinks she tries to scream, but nothing comes out. 

Lightning strikes right in front of her, and suddenly Eri finds herself back in Deku’s arms. Her breath leaves her in a gasp and she belatedly realizes just how hard she’s trembling, limbs shaking like leaves in the wind. 

“I’ve got you,” Deku says, his voice gentle like balm. She un-clenches her jaw and does her level-best not to fracture into a thousand little pieces. “I’ve got you.”

“I want it to be over,” Eri can’t help but whimper like a child. Deku’s hand finds her head and makes soothing trails through her hair like he used to when she was a little girl. “Please, Deku.”

“We’re almost there, I promise. I won’t let go of you again.”

Eri breathes in the words, takes courage in them. 

Deku has always kept his promises.

Even knowing that, the tiny, insidious kernel of fear that poisons her gut refuses to be uprooted. Eri hates it, she wants it to go away. 

Deku has always kept his promises, she repeats again to herself, trying to bolster her courage. He has always been there for her, for her to rely on, the way a princess might rely on her knight. Eri knows that he will protect her.

So why are you still so afraid? Whispers back that deep-rooted fear. 

Deku is running again, but he is slightly slower this time, not quite to the inhuman speed he had been moving at before, with his breathing heavy in Eri's ears. She refuses to think of why he might be slower, refuses to picture bleeding wounds she cannot see because of the darkness, and  instead she shuts her eyes, tightening her grip on Deku's costume. The fibers stretch taught under the curl of her trembling fingers. 

Behind them, there comes another roar. It sounds almost inhuman, more like something animal and furious. Wood splinters and cracks in the darkness, and for the first time that night, Eri forgets Deku's instruction to not look, and peers over Deku's shoulder.

There is a hulking shape somewhere in that darkness, something huge and horrifying, that brushes aside trees like they are nothing while they relentlessly tear after Deku and Eri. She can still see the mad glint of their eyes, lighting up whenever Deku's lightning flashes hot and bright. 

Eri hides her face away in Deku's shoulder, and his hand on the back of her head only presses her closer. 

"Why can't they leave me alone?" she says miserably, her breath stuttering in her chest. "I just want to be left alone." 

She hates how helpless she feels right now, only able to cling to Deku and let him carry her to safety. 

That helplessness strikes against her heart, like flint on metal, and something angry sparks to life inside of her. She is tired of her quirk ruining her life, she is tired of not being able to do anything about it. 

“We’re almost to Aizawa-sensei,” Deku repeats, at the same time Eri bitterly whispers, “I wish I was quirkless.” 

Deku’s head snaps to the side, and he looks at her with wide eyes, face twisting up with an emotion that Eri can’t identify. He stumbles, slowing for just a moment so he can say, “Eri, no–” 

For the villain chasing them, that is more than enough. 

There is a cracking sound, a splintering of wood at the root and then an entire tree is swinging wide through the air as the loudest roar yet splits the air. 

No, not the loudest, the closest and it is all her fault, she should have just kept quiet and she is ruining everything even without using her quirk and—

Deku moves as the hit lands, turning into the blow with his back as his front curls protectively over her. There is a hand in her hair pressing her face close to him and a gentle kiss is pressed to her forehead and then there is a terrible sound as they go flying through the air, Deku’s arms tightening once more as he rolls over in midair to tank the landing. They skid through dirt and mud, Deku’s grip on her too strong for Eri to even move and then they come to a stop as Deku slams headfirst into a rock. 

Loud stomping footsteps shake the ground but Deku does not move and Eri cannot budge from his hold. “No no no,” she whimpers, trembling so hard she can barely breathe. This cannot be happening. 

But it is. 

She grips Deku’s costume between fingers, shaking too badly to even keep hold and struggles to get words out. “Deku,” she whispers “Deku, you gotta wake up.”  She does not know what to do, well she has one idea. 

Deku is defenseless now, thanks to her. She had decided a long time ago that her quirk was for very special reasons and emergencies only. She does not know what else to do and this situation is classified into both categories. She does not need to use up her whole stockpile, just enough to get Deku back to normal.

She has used her quirk intentionally a lot over the years, but when it comes to high pressure situations like this she gets nervous. She is already struggling to just talk, shaking in fear, she starts to activate her quirk. 

Before she finishes activating it, the ferocious beast grabs them both, enclosing them into the monster's hands and it feels like they are moving. Her quirk lights up what had been their pitch-dark prison; she can see she is still stuck to Deku, who is still out cold. 

She feels so vulnerable as if they are just tiny little bugs within this monster's grasp, there is nothing she can do to fight against it. She can see the lines on the inside of its hands, and it just makes her feel insignificant. She knew the monster was massive but their situation is unreal. 

Although she is terrified she forces herself to keep quirk on at a nice slow steady output, this has to work; she needs Deku to wake up. She has had plenty of practice using her quirk now and is usually very good with it. However in most situations she is not being carried off deep in the forest by a gigantic monster. 

She wonders if Deku is not getting rewound as fast as she thought he would, because she is doing something different. Probably, probably because of her emotions! Emotions are her biggest downfall when using her quirk.

She cannot help it, she is emotional, she has a lot going on right now!

“Come on Deku, can you hear me?” She whispers, wanting to make herself less noticeable, “wake up, please wake up.” Something is really wrong, her quirk is not working, it is not rewinding Deku.   

Suddenly they are being shaken around, tumbling this way and that, it causes Deku to lose his hold on her, they break apart, they are bouncing around uncomfortably, crashing around and into each other. She grabs onto him, she will not stay separated from Deku, she needs to help him. “Eri, you're using your quirk?” Deku asks wearily.

“You're awake? I was so worried it wasn't working, I was so scared you weren't going to wake up.”  Deku pulls her into him tightly as they shake around. He secures them in place somehow using black whip, so they stop jostling about, even though they are still being shaken it is not nearly as bad. “Are you all healed up?” I'll turn it off when you are?” 

“No, not yet, just a little more.” he does not say what is left to rewind, but he is holding his side suspiciously.

“It took so long to fix you, to get you as healed as you are, I have never had it take that long for anything before!”

“That's odd– Eri, where are we?” Deku asks while he is giving their surroundings a very confused look. It is no surprise he is disoriented, it would be strange to wake up to this.

 “Oh, when you got knocked out the villain caught us, we are literally in its hands being carried away!” 

“Umm- Okay, wow! Uh I think I might know what's going on.”

“What?”

“You're not just rewinding me, that's why it's taking so much of your energy, you're also rewinding whoever is carrying us!” Of course, how did that not occur to her?

She takes a deep breath and tries to focus her energy, to bring it down to a pinpoint that only effects Deku. But as soon as she does, the hands holding them both jostle and he concentration is broken again, the light of her quirk spilling out in every direction as fear swamps her mind, making everything feel slippery.

“Deku!” She calls out, fear and frustration and desperation mixing in her chest as her tears threaten to fall once again. And her call is both a plea for help and a scream of pure anger. Because Eri hates feeling useless, she hates that she is being hunted down for her quirk, but most of all she hates that Deku has once again gotten caught up in all of this when he should have been home safe.

“You can do this Eri, I know you can. Take a deep breath and focus on me, I’ll keep you safe from everything else, okay?” Deku says as he wraps his arms around her in an all encompassing hug.

Eri has never deserved Deku, and she does not think she ever will. But she can try to pay him back for every kindness he has ever shown her, she can be strong for him.

So she lets herself sink into his warm embrace, she lets herself ignore everything else but the surety and safety that Deku has always brought her. And then she lets her quirk spiral into him and only him, looping back every kind word and gesture he has ever given her until it fills the both of them up.

“Alright Eri, you can let go now,” Deku says and Eri allows her quirk to fade away. But the warmth of it does not disappear, it stays rooted in her chest as Deku’s grip on her tightens a second before he throws them free from the villain’s grip.

The villain screams his rage behind them, but Deku is flying through the air again. And Eri knows he is going to get her home safe, because he is Deku, and that is what he does.

Eri is positive that she will sleep in her own bed tonight, surrounded by her family, as safe and sound as she was last night, as she will be for all the nights to come with a Hero like Deku watching over her.