It wasn’t as though he didn’t expect an incident like this to happen, it was just jolting when it finally came.
Eri has been attending a special kindergarten for a week now; one where the staff was specially trained to deal with kids of powerful quirks. And maybe it was perfect for some kids, but Eri was still a unique case.
So, after having left his class to silent study in home room, he found himself jogging past the front desk and into the main playroom. Two concerned teachers were saying something to an un-receiving door while another tried to wrangle the remaining students.
“Oh thank goodness, you must be Eri’s Dad.” One called, rushing over to him with more panic than he wanted to see on her face.
“Where is she?”
“She is having some emotional problems and locked herself in the bathroom, and because of her 504 we cannot unlock it and enter.” The worried hero nodded in understanding, hiding his concern much better than the adults around him.
“It’s okay. Let me talk to her.” He stepped over to the door and knocked on it with the back of his hand. “Eri? Eri dear it’s me. Please let me in.” At the sound of his voice the sobs on the other side turned into sniffles as she willed herself to talk back.
He breathed a sigh of relief.
“Yes sweetie it’s Daddy. Open up.” There was silence and then a click that let his hold on the handle move and open a space for him to slip in. Probably to the teachers’ dismay, he locked the door behind him again when he went in.
What he saw when he got there broke his heart. Eri’s eyes were bright red and rubbed enough to smudge even the toughest canvas. Her clothes were wet from huddling on the dirty tile, and tears continued to fall down her face as she stood there.
Aizawa knelt down and opened his arms as an invitation to come in. She hesitated, but only took a second to run into him and clutch on tight.
After holding her for a minute he rose to his feet, taking her with him.
“What happened Eri?” He asked softly, wiping a tear from her cheek with his finger.
“We were... we were doing a show and a tell with uh our quirks.” Her words fell out in a difficult mess, “and a boy said I, uh, I had a villain’s quirk.” This made the young father mad. Which brat had the audacity to say something so cruel to a little girl so pure who he knew would never do ill onto them.
“You know that’s not true though.”
“But what if it is? All I do is hurt. And now, you h-have to use your quirk right now so I don’t make you disappear.” As she said this Aizawa noticed that he had unconsciously been locking eyes on the little girl in his arms so she wouldn’t accidentally harm him in her panicked state.
Thinking for a moment he slowly closed his eyes and let his hair fall. Eri pulled back in their hug when she felt black locks land on her shoulders.
“No don’t-, I’ll hurt you!”
“It’s okay Eri. See? I’m still here. And we’re okay.”
“We’re okay?” Smiling a small smile he leaned his head against hers.
“We’re okay.” He held his daughter close to him until he felt her stop trembling and asked her quietly if she wanted to go back to class. She hummed in response and buried her head in his shoulder.
“Can you take me home?” The small clock with big colorful numbers and pictures of daily activities on the wall told him that even if he did leave Eri there, he’d be back to pick her up in an hour anyway. So he caved.
“Okay. Let’s go home and take a nap, sound good?”
So he opened the door and walked out, never taking his hands away from the hug he had Eri in. As he was walking to the front he told the teachers he was just going to sign her out and go. But before he made it to the lobby door he heard a snarky voice come from behind them.
“Aww does crybaby Eri-Chan need her papa to come get her?” It had to be the bully Eri told him about, so without missing a beat he crouched down and spoke up before any caretakers could.
“Hi there bud, I’m Eri’s papa.” He huffed indignantly and crossed his arms, but Aizawa kept going. “Now my daughter here said you were being very mean to her. Is that true?”
“I just told her the truth. She’s the crybaby villain.”
“Well then, take it from a pro hero, that attitude of yours make you more of a villain than anyone else here. Think about that before you say anything to anyone else.” The boy froze with a shocked look on his face. “And if I ever hear you say anything bad about my little girl ever again,” he eyed the boy’s Almight shirt, “You’ll get to hear the same thing from your hero. And let me tell you, he hates bullies more than your so called ‘villains’.” Now the kid looked flat broken. He almost cried, in fact he probably did cry after Aizawa left. But he wouldn’t know, because he simply stood up and carried his little girl back to their UA apartment.
She fell asleep on the walk back. One fist curled into his jacket and the other propped up on his chest so her thumb could sit comfortably in her mouth.
Nobody had the right to make her feel the way those kids did. It was such an easy thing for them to say, but so terrible to hear.
He knew first hand how it felt to fall under such words. He had heard them before too. As a child and as a student he heard those words in both whispers and attacks. He was told he could never be the hero he wanted to be with his quirk. He was predisposed to evil.
He was a villain.
It hurt him more than he let show, and it helped build his mask over the years so he could continue to hide behind a stone cold stare when he felt like breaking.
He didn’t want that for Eri.
He might not share her blood, but he shared her feelings and her future.
She was his baby girl. But not just that, she was whatever she wanted to be. She had that choice now.
Pressing a small kiss to the top of her head, he felt her snuggle closer to him and sleepily whisper to him.
“I love you Dad.”
“I love you too Eri.”