The U.A. Culture Festival was supposed to be a joyful occasion. A break for the students from their academic and hazardous hero duties.
But somehow, it also seemed to be a magnet for unusual circumstances.
Class 3-A still remembered how close the festival had gotten to being cancelled during their first year – Midoriya especially did so – and how desperate they had been to avoid that outcome because of their very special guest who they had wanted to smile for the first time that day.
Now, in their third year, there was going to be another special guest attending the festival. Their attendance explicitly requested by the Commission. Driven to the school in one of Tartarus’ coal-black prison vans, with an escort of two highly trained Tartarus guards that would follow them around the premise and be on standby at all times, monitoring their every move.
Even disregarding said guards, the school grounds were full of professional and provisional heroes. Class 3-A itself was just a few months away from taking the License Exam that would allow them to finally claim the title of being Pro Heroes. Their guest wasn’t going to be a threat.
So when they first had been told of their visitor, nobody in 3-A had been scared. They all knew well how to protect themselves and others by now.
What was on the forefront of their mind was unabashed curiosity.
Why was an apprehended villain sent to U.A.’s culture festival? Was it a reward or a punishment for them? What gain did the Commission hope to achieve from that?
However, not even Aizawa-sensei, who had somehow managed to get wrapped up in this whole business – after getting to know him for over two years, Class 3-A knew that he was all too forthcoming in lending a hand whenever his help and skills were requested, so that was probably how –, provided any answers for them.
And yet, even though they weren’t scared but confident in their abilities, on the day of the festival, nobody in Class 3-A could help the slight feeling of apprehension settling into their stomachs when their teacher abandoned his job of supervising the preparation of their booth in order to make his way to the discussed meeting point at the school gate.
“I really hope everything’s going to be fine,” Uraraka sighed quietly. She didn’t mean to be heard, but several others nodded in agreement. “I know Sensei’s quirk makes him very valuable if the villain decides to run rampant, but he seemed so stressed the last few weeks. It’s unfair.”
“The Commission often doesn’t act too sensible, but I doubt even they would let a villain out of Tartarus if there was a chance that they would hurt someone,” Asui croaked, trying to calm her friend.
“Which brings us back to the question of what exactly the purpose of this visit is,” Sero commented.
“Sensei should be able to enjoy today, too, and not be stuck on duty,” Uraraka reiterated her opinion, but their conversation was cut short by Bakugou shouting that these fuckers should get a move on and bring the fucking portable grills over here.
This year, Class 3-A was doing a simple food stall. Wistfully, Midoriya recalled their first year, in which they had somehow managed to prepare an entire performance in the weeks leading up to the festival. He had thought things had been stressful then, but it had been nothing compared to their stress now that graduation was only a few months away from them.
Because of that, most of the third year classes were responsible for providing food to the festival visitors. 3-A had decided to sell yakisoba, and they were quite successful in doing so.
“Deku-kun, do you think, after the initial rush for food has subsided, and we got the other hotplates to properly work without Denki’s quirk, and we’re given free time to explore the festival except for our stall shifts,” Uraraka handed a plate over to a mother with a young child, smiling brightly and thanking them for their patronage, “we… might accidentally run into Aizawa-sensei?”
“Uhm,” Midoriya scrambled with the spatula in his hand, “well, we will probably get an earful if he thinks we’re spying on him, but… I mean, even with U.A.’s grounds being so big, it wouldn’t be unusual to run into him at some point, would it?”
“That’s what we’ve been thinking, too,” Satou said, gently but pointedly pushing Midoriya away from the stove to take over, and Uraraka nodded vehemently.
“Still,” Midoriya scratched his cheek in embarrassment, “I’m not so sure that it is a good idea…”
For better or for worse, the plan of sneaking around the school to catch a glimpse of their teacher was soon rendered moot.
It was impossible to miss how the crowd parted a few minutes later. People turned into side streets when presented with the opportunity. Mothers and fathers ushered their children closer to the stalls and subtly positioned themselves protectively behind them.
Especially for heroes (in training or otherwise), the change in the atmosphere was palpable. One after the other, the heroes gathered in the vicinity and all the members of Class A lifted their heads to search for its cause.
The parade made up of four people was instantly catching their eyes. In a word full of colourful quirks, there hardly was such a thing as an unusual sight. Still, something about them drew everyone’s attention and kept it until they had passed by.
Midoriya’s first thought was one of deep sympathy towards their teacher, who liked to keep away from the public eye but was now virtually an attraction on display. However, Aizawa-sensei gave no outward sign of discomfort. His walking speed was moderate, appropriate for a casual stroll.
Perhaps what made the group of four so noticeable was the fact that they were all dressed in black, thus looking like a void making their way through the booths. On a normal day, Aizawa-sensei’s clothes were inconspicuous enough to blend in completely in a crowd. However, the black prison guard uniforms were of an even deeper, unnatural black, and Tartarus’ golden emblem stood out even more against the white hat brim and gleamed in the autumn sun.
To be fair though, the most attention-attracting was certainly the… person that Aizawa-sensei and the guards were accompanying.
A few of the Class A students had have fun coming up with wild and wilder theories about what kind of criminal the Commission wanted to experience the cultural festival. Nobody had had any concrete expectations, but it was still valid to say that they were all stumped by what they saw.
Walking in the middle, escorted by their teacher and the guards, was something that looked like a giant black bin bag that had a person stuffed into it.
They possessed two leg-like limbs and two arm-like limbs and a bulge that could have been a head, but everything else was rather formless and covered behind the mass of black fabric. There wasn’t even any indication whether they had a face.
Nobody of Class 3-A knew what to make of that.
At least the approaching squad didn’t seem to care about everybody ogling them. They were purposefully heading for 3-A’s stall.
Those of Class A who were busy preparing the food mostly turned their attention back towards it but kept throwing glances down the lane. The others quickly sought other things they could tend to while keeping alert as well. Somehow, Midoriya found himself very obviously fiddling with the change in the cash box.
Aizawa-sensei stopped in front of their stall, the Bin Bag Creature standing closely next to him. (This close, Midoriya was able to discern that the weird cloth they were clad in even had a tied knot at its tip, which swung merrily back and forth with each movement.) The two guards stayed a few respectful feet away, though they kept their batons and likely also their quirks at the ready.
It was difficult to make out through all the nondescript fabric, but it seemed like the Bin Bag Creature surveyed the stall in front of it. At least it what might be its head left and right.
Feeling One for All simmering just below his skin, Midoriya risked a quick glance in their teacher’s direction. To his great surprise, Aizawa-sensei still didn’t seem particularly tense. He stood with his arms crossed in front of his chest and his gaze fixated on the Bin Bag Creature, but Midoriya could tell that his muscles were actually relaxed.
Eventually, the Bin Bag Creature must have spotted the food. There was no way to tell where exactly it looked – if it even had eyes for that matter! – but it did raise one of its limbs and repeatedly pointed at a plate of yakisoba with rapid motions.
“Do you want some?” Aizawa-sensei asked and Midoriya saw him wryly rolling his eyes. He feared his own eyes might fall out of his head in shock.
The first one to shake themselves out of their collective stupor was Kirishima. “If you want some of our specially seasoned yakisoba, we have fresh plates coming right up,” he addressed the prisoner with his usual enthusiasm.
The Bin Bag Creature punched lightly against Aizawa-sensei’s upper arm.
Bakugou’s palms cracked with a few threating explosions, ice and fire collected in Todoroki’s respective hands, Yaoyorozu pointed the head of a canon in its direction, Asui raised her tongue and Uraraka her hands, and those were only the classmates Midoriya was acutely aware of as his own quirk flashed across his skin. Neither Aizawa-sensei himself nor the Tatarus guards reacted.
The villain immediately went still and lifted its limbs in a pacifying gesture.
“Everyone calm down,” Aizawa-sensei’s voice droned.
Slowly, the students lowered their weapons and loosened their stances.
Just as carefully, the Bin Bag Creature lowered its limbs, only to then turn its gaze (if it had one) to Aizawa-sensei and gesture repeatedly up and down its body. Midoriya had no idea what it wanted to convey; maybe that the Class’ reaction had been understandable given that everyone knew it was an imprisoned villain? Or that this incident shouldn’t appear on any reports that might lead to negative consequences as it hadn’t resulted in any altercation? Or perhaps something to do with its quirk?
He barely was able to hold back a shocked gasp when Aizawa-sensei rolled his eyes yet again and told the convict, “I’m still aware that you can’t eat anything. I was teasing, if you need it spelled out.”
That was apparently the thing the villain had wanted to complain about, as the wildly gesturing motions stopped.
After a quick glance around, Midoriya was glad that he didn’t appear to be the only one who was unable to make heads and tails of the situation. Even though a hero should be able to make quick assessments of a state of affairs, they were all quite at a loss and unsure how to react.
It gave the Bin Bag Creature the opportunity to take the lead again.
Suddenly, it pointed at Midoriya with one of its limbs and when Midoriya questioningly pointed at himself to confirm that it was referring to him, it waved him forward.
Doubtful, Midoriya’s eyes darted to his teacher, but as Aizawa-sensei still gave no indication of discomfort, he followed the odd request and took the few steps until he stood directly behind the booth’s counter.
The Bin Bag Creature reached out its limb. Midoriya held his breath, trusting in the continued lack of reaction from Aizawa-sensei, and simply kept One for All only a thought away from activating.
If the Bin Bag Creature noticed his nervousness, it choose to ignore it because it confidently reached for his head – Midoriya was barely able to supress the urge to squeeze his eyes shut – and…
That was the only mildly appropriate description of its actions that Midoriya could think of. Its touch was as light as a feather, barely noticeable, and it came and receded two times before it retracted its limb again.
Unconsciously, Midoriya’s hand grasped at his hair, but it was the same as always. He also didn’t think that Aizawa-sensei or the Tartarus’ guards would have allowed the contact if the villain’s quirk had somehow been touch-based. Stealing a quick glance at their teacher once more, Midoriya almost thought he’d seen the corners of his lips raising just a bit, not entirely obscured by the capture weapon he always wore around his neck.
Surely that must have been his imagination.
The villain’s quirk could have been one that caused the recipient to hallucinate. That would also explain why he wasn’t able to force words out of his throat or give any other kind of response. Even though the touch had hardly existed, Midoriya could still feel an echo of the sensation on his head. However, it didn’t feel worrisome at all.
While Midoriya had continued to stare at the convict in a daze, it hadn’t been disturbed by his behaviour. Instead, it now gestured for Asui to come forward, just like it did for Midoriya himself.
She received what were definitely a few pats on the head, too.
And they continued like that. The Bin Bag Creature would beckon the students of Class 3-A over, first alone and then also in pairs of two in accordance with its two arm-like limbs. To its credit, despite it evidently wanting to pat everyone’s head, it never pushed when one of the students was reluctant to approach it. Those who refused the head pat received a cheerful wave instead (as interpretable as the wave was given the complete lack of facial features to aid assessing the convict’s emotions).
However, the usual suspects that thrived on pleasant human interaction warmed up to the Bin Bag Creature pretty quickly. Many questions, from their name to their appearance to their quirk and even their sentence were asked. While the villain didn’t speak a word and Aizawa-sensei only grunted, “None of your business,” when the questions were subsequently directed at him, Midoriya dared to say that the atmosphere quickly lost its tension.
He, too, felt himself getting swept up in the excitement. He laughed along with his classmates and even willingly lined up in the queue that formed out of those who wanted a second round of head pats.
Eventually, Aizawa-sensei’s voice cut gruffly through the chatter, “It’s time for us to move on now.” At his students’ primarily exclamations of disappointment and protest, he added, “If you want to make even any further attempt at selling your stuff.”
Nobody could deny that their booth had been quite neglected by them in the last several minutes. Only Bakugou, Shouji, Satou, Todoroki and Ojirou had been contentious – or distrustful of the events – enough to hold the fort, though with the counter being effectively blocked by the vast majority of their classmates on one side and the Tartarus Prison Procession no one wanted to approach on the other side, all they had been able to do was continue to cook the food.
Aizawa-sensei’s gaze swept over the stall before landing on Iida. “I expect you have everything covered?”
“Sir,” Iida responded before starting a status report, “none of our pieces of equipment showed signs of malfunctioning, but as of now, we are still one extension cable short and thus not able to put all of the grills into operation. However, Kaminari substituted for the battery on those grills we still have to plug in and I was just in the process of sending someone to collect the missing cable.”
“Hm,” was all Aizawa-sensei answered. “Well, I’ll leave you to it.”
“Yes, sir, we won’t disappoint you!”
The Bin Bag Creature made a sound.
Every students’ head snapped into its direction. It had been short, as if it had been aborted as soon as it had resounded, but if someone asked Midoriya what kind of sound it had been, he likely would have described it as a chortle.
Aizawa-sensei didn’t seem to pay any attention to it. He took a step backwards, turning to the prisoner and the guards. “Let’s move along. Preferably not on the major traffic pathways anymore.”
He began to move, the villain following suit and quickly falling into step next to him. The prison guards took them into their midst again, and thus the little squad headed in the direction of the next fork that would lead them away from the main hubbub of the festival.
For a few more moments, everyone in 3-A continued to stare after them, craning their necks to keep them in sight just a bit longer.
Then, Class 3-A’s yakisoba food stall erupted into chaos.
“Dude, like, can you, like, pinch me? So I’m sure I’m not dreaming?!”
“Sure, but only if you pinch me first, bro.”
“Ouch! Maybe I’m hallucinating?”
“A collective hallucination? Perhaps we’ve already been trapped in the villain’s quirk?”
“Or maybe an alternative reality?”
“Guys, guys, they held hands, did you see that?!”
“So I’m… not the only one who saw that… um… well, Aizawa-sensei looked really happy, didn’t he? Please tell me I’m not just imagining it!”
“No, I definitely think so, too.”
“GUYS! They held hands!”
“But it hardly makes any sense, right? Why on earth should Sensei be happy?”
“Let’s evaluate the situation calmly. First of all, why do we even think that Sensei was happy? He has, like, absolutely zero tells. He certainly doesn’t smile or anything!”
“That’s not exactly true, he does smile, at least I think, I mean I have seen him smile in the last two-and-a-half years, though only very rarely, and he hides his lower face and mouth behind his capture weapon if he does so it’s almost impossible to spot, you basically have to catch him before he hunches his shoulders, and also I think it’s more apparent in his eyes anyway? They become really… s-soft…”
“Sensei’s whole body posture was actually relaxed, ribbit.”
“I’m with Midoriya, too. I mean, I’m still not convinced I’m not dreaming, but he does smile on occasion and I’m pretty sure I saw him smile earlier when I glanced at him quickly.”
“GUYS! THEY! HELD! HANDS!”
“Shut up, Mina, don’t spout nonsense! Besides, that villain… thing doesn’t even have any hands!”
“Quit suggesting that I’m lying. I’m not! They rounded the corner and I hurried towards it to keep an eye on them—“
“Sensei is going to expel you for that.”
“Pah, he didn’t even notice because he was too busy grabbing the end of his companion’s weird coat ending, just where a human’s hand would be! And that villain certainly acted like they had hands, so I’m calling that part of their body their hand and tell you that they and Sensei held hands!”
“There are numerous other reasons why Sensei could have held onto the villain. Hell, they are still a prisoner that Sensei has to guard today. Maybe he just wanted to make sure that they didn’t escape.”
“But Sensei would rather wrap somebody with his capture weapon for that. That’s his way of handling villains, no matter how big or small time they are.”
“You make a point.”
“The yawning abyss of benightedness has us firmly in its jaws.”
“What if that person isn’t actually an evil, scheming bastard of a villain like we were made to believe? What if they stumbled over a government conspiracy and were thus unjustly locked away in the depths of the hell that is Tartarus Prison so they wouldn’t be a torn in the side of a highly esteemed politician. And Aizawa-sensei naturally cannot let such an injustice towards his lover stand so—“
“That’d be so manly!”
“Wait, how did you just skip reaching several conclusions that are—“
“—and thus fabricated an artful plan to give the two of them a chance to meet outside of the prison and find a way to elope while simultaneously taking the whole government conspiracy down with them! Uh, I should go and sneak after them…”
“I see. So Aizawa-sensei—“
“NO! Um, I mean, Todoroki! Can you come over there with me, because I… I need help with—a, um, a thing!”
“Hagakure, Sensei could tell were you are after merely one week in his class and you were never able to outwit him. Don’t let yourself get expelled so close to graduation.”
“Shouji will help me with spying on Sensei, won’t you, Shouji?”
“Uhm, everyone… I don’t think we should gossip about Sensei so much…”
“Oh, come on, Yaomomo, you’re also curious, don’t deny it.”
“Ah, but… Sensei doesn’t like us prying into his private business—“
“So you’re also saying there’s something more than the Commission ordering him to take a prisoner from Tartarus on holiday.”
“’Taking on holiday’… That sounds so romantic!”
“N-No, um, I don’t mean to imply that this is more than just business! Maybe it is, maybe not, but even if it is, it’s not our business. And we certainly shouldn’t pester Sensei about it, or go after him, or…”
“I say, exactly because Sensei never tells us anything, we just have to search for the information ourselves. We’re his class, it’s basically our right to know what’s going o—Holy shit, the barbecue’s burning!”
“WILL YOU FUCKERS FINALLY SHUT UP AND GET BACK TO COOKING!”
“As much as it pains me to agree with Bakugou—“
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT, HUH?!”
“—we have to attend to our current task, which is to provide the festivalgoers with delicate food that nurtures their stomachs and their spirits. Furthermore, it is most unbecoming of students in Class 3-A to succumb to the temptation of baseless gossip and—“
“No, I’m telling you, Iida, this is vital information that’s withheld from us—“
“Ah, the batch of yakisoba has been burned to a crisp… Can we still sell this? Hey, we need Todoroki over here!”
“We’re so sorry, madam, we didn’t see you standing there, we’re terribly sorry for making you wait so long, if you could just wait one more short moment, your serving will be completed right away!”
To everyone’s great surprise, the universe for once seemed to be lenient and allow things to play out in Class 3-A’s favour. At least that was what the class mutually decided on when they did get a chance for snooping further into their teacher’s business, completely out of the blue, a few hours later.
At that point the festival was over and the visitors had long since vacated the premise. Despite the way their teacher’s unexpected visit had disarrayed and distracted 3-A temporally, they eventually managed to compose themselves again and make their yakisoba selling even more of a success.
Now, after the opening hours were over, the thing that was left to do was to clean everything up.
Between twenty people, it didn’t take too long to do that, and soon Class 3-A was collectively on their way back to their dorm when they stumbled across the Tartarus prisoner and their entourage, including Aizawa-sensei, once more.
In a way certainly nobody would have ever thought possible.
No one could recall who was actually the first to spot them, but awareness of the display before their eyes rippled through their group like a wave from the front to the tail end until every member of Class 3-A stood stock-still and stared.
Aizawa-sensei and the Bin Bag Creature sat on the bench in front of the dorm side by side. The guards stood next to the bench, doing their job by keeping up surveillance.
As Aizawa-sensei was certainly not doing surveillance, given that he was slumped sideward and leaned against what could only be described as the shoulder of the Bin Bag Creature. They in turn had one arm-like limb draped around his shoulders, thus holding him up.
Almost eerily in synch, Class 3-A changed its course at a moment’s notice and approached the strange foursome. Their steps were light, nearly pointedly light-hearted, but their careless chatter had ceased and wariness was apparent on each of their faces. Even Bakugou, whose usual strategy was to act first and ask questions later, seemed to be reluctant to blast the situation away.
They had crossed about half of the distance between them when the Bin Bag Creature seemed to notice them. They raised their free arm-like limb and waved unambiguously friendly at the class.
One by one, the students came to a standstill in front of the bench with their teacher and a villain on it. Midoriya found himself in the front row at the corner of the half circle they had positioned themselves in.
For a moment, everyone looked at each other, hesitant to make the first step. The Bin Bag Creature had stopped waving and was apparently patiently waiting for them to say something. The guards didn’t seem to be interested in what transpired, evidentially not thinking that problems from this confrontation could arise from either side. Or they had somehow been entrapped and thus were not able to do their job anymore.
And Aizawa-sensei was still leaning against the villain’s arm, unresponsive but breathing evenly. Midoriya couldn’t help calling up One for All again. Either Aizawa-sensei had somehow been knocked unconscious, or been trapped in a dream-like state, or had been hypnotised. There was no other way to explain this situation.
In the end, Iida, as the class president, naturally picked up the role of the spokesperson. He took a step forward and addressed the prisoner directly.
“Please excuse us in the case that we are violating any regulations by attempting to engage in an unprompted interaction with you,” he started, even though none of his classmates appeared to be even a bit sorry, “but I fear that we, as a class,” he gestured to all of them with a large sweep of his hand, “have a few pressing matters on our minds that, ideally, could be quenched easily by the civil exchange of words.”
He paused, the Bin Bag Creature’s head bobbed up and down several times in rapid motion. Still, he added, “We give you our word that we do not intend to bring any harm to you as long as you extend the same courtesy to us and the people we are close to.”
Again, the villain nodded in what almost seemed like an eagerly manner.
A few of 3-A’s members made sounds of protest, indicating that they didn’t feel like giving such a promise, but everyone knew deep down how important it was to present a united front and not quarrel over details if they weren’t vitally important, so Iida managed to silence them with merely a stern look and a few chopping hand gestures.
“Very well then. In that case, I hope you’ll allow me to cut right to the chase.” He cleared his throat and even though Midoriya could only see half of Iida’s face, he knew exactly what kind of expression was on it as he gestured to Aizawa-sensei. “Have you done something to our teacher so he would be compromised?”
The Bin Bag Creature cocked its head and the thought flashed through Midoriya’s mind that they didn’t have any means of communicating beyond a nod or shake of the head. Except for the way Aizawa-sensei had apparently understood the meaning behind the prisoner’s gestures before. But there was absolutely no way they could turn to him for help now.
Still, Iida, considerate as he was, had asked a question that could be answered with a simple Yes or No. However, even if the villain chose to shake their head, it was doubtful whether any person of 3-A would be inclined to believe them.
Fortunately, help arrived in an unexpected manner.
“He says that Eraserhead is only sleeping,” the smooth but monotone voice of one of the guards said. “He says that Eraserhead has been working very hard during the last weeks and that it is a good thing he could relax enough now to fall asleep.”
The students’ heads turned from the prisoner to the guard and back a few times, but the former made no indication of disagreeing with the words the latter had attributed to him, so it was apparently what he had wanted to convey.
That realisation made excited whispers break out throughout the whole group.
“Hey man,” Kaminari was the first one to brazenly address the villain, “tell us who exactly you are? We’ve been racking our brains over why you were supposed to come here.” Murmurs of agreement followed from the class.
The Bin Bag Creature shook his head slowly in contemplation.
“He says that he is a villain with a sentence in Tartarus.” The guard paused. “One that may be on parole some day in the future.”
The subdued chatter became more agitated and louder.
“On parole from Tartarus?! That’s impossible!”
“Nobody has ever been on parole when held captive in Tartarus!”
“He gave a pretty cagey answer, huh? Pretty suspicious.”
“Are you someone we know, ribbit?”
“Are you Aizawa-sensei’s boyfriend?!”
“Why did the Commission want you to come to the school festival?”
“It’s also suspicious how he lets the guard talk for him. Are they under the control of his quirk or something?”
“Did you have some evil plan to trap people with your quirk?”
“Let’s just kicks his fucking ass into hell!”
The villain raised his arms in a placating manner again, even though one of it only lifted at the very end, the rest of it staying around Aizawa-sensei’s shoulder. Aizawa-sensei slumped a bit further against his side but stayed asleep.
At that point, the second guard stepped forward and intervened.
“I can assure you that all brain activities, especially those related to the intent to use quirks, are closely monitored at all time,” they said, their voice calm and reassuring because it was more lively than their colleague’s. “We also have Quirk Usage Detectors on us at all times, sending alarms to our superiors and every hero within a 20-mile radius if any quirk is used on us.”
The class was still wary as they scrutinised the detector the guard showed them, but they had learned about various tools and equipment to supress and monitor quirks in class. While there was always a lingering chance of a quirk emerging that was able to upset those safety measures, there were no obvious signs of some kind of spoofing going on here.
“Additionally, while you are not authorised to see the convict’s profile to verify it, I can confirm to you that his quirk is not related to mental manipulations of other people in any way.” The guard’s expression was not quite a smile but it held hints of friendliness nonetheless.
“He says he wants you to know that he has no evil intentions whatsoever,” the first guard spoke up, supplying more information on the villain’s point of view. “He says Eraserhead is asleep out of his own free will – or rather, he fell asleep due to his own exhaustion. Not because of a quirk or a drug or any other mechanism. He says he will be fine when he wakes up again, though he doubts you lot would want to be here for that, as he can be a bit grumpy when he falls asleep when he doesn’t mean to.”
Barely audible, Kaminari mumbled, “Sensei’s grumpy 98% of his waking time, it wouldn’t make much of a difference…”
“Furthermore, he says that it is within your own discretion to decide whether he speaks the truth or not and whether he poses any dangers. He remarks that it might be better for heroes to err on the side of caution. That aside, he says that he is very happy that Eraserhead has kids like you who obviously care very deeply about him.”
From the moment the villain had first started interacting with them, Midoriya had felt as if he’d been teleported into an alternate universe of some sort. Everything felt strangely off-kilter but there were no indications that a quirk was at work here.
Evidently, the others didn’t know how to appropriately react to that declaration either. Uncertain looks were exchanged with one’s neighbours.
The one to break the silence was Jirou.
“So was this supposed to be a taunting remark,” she asked, reserved at first, but her voice grew more self-assured as she continued when the villain waved his free arm widely as if to dispel that notion, “or did you mean to imply that you care about Sensei, too?”
Without hesitation, the villain nodded firmly.
The class was momentarily stunned into silence again, only for even louder, incredulous exclamations to erupt.
“Are you for real?”
“This is obviously to butter up to us.”
“I call bullshit!”
Aizawa-sensei stirred slightly, his eyelids fluttering.
“You don’t really believe him, guys, do you?”
“How could you even come to care about him, you only met Sensei today!”
The guard stayed silent until the indignant chatter had subsided enough for the class to be able to hear them when they spoke up again.
“He says that it is a false assumption that he met Eraserhead only today. Eraserhead was – is, still – heavily involved in his rehabilitation program. His quirk comes in handy when quirk suppressors are to be removed for a certain period of time in a goodwill gesture on the part of the authorities.” There was another pause and just when some classmates were about to open their mouths to ask more questions, the guard continued, “He says he doesn’t want to lie to you if he can help it. So he wants to tell you that there are more reasons why Eraserhead oversees his rehabilitation, but he cannot disclose them because Eraserhead would flay him alive if he talked about it.”
Not beating around the bush as always, Asui pressed forward, not even giving anyone time to unpack the implications of that last statement, “If you say that you care about Sensei, is that feeling mutual?”
The Bin Bag Creature tipped his head to the side so it rested against Aizawa-sensei’s temple. He made the same sound he had made earlier and Midoriya was convinced that it was indeed supposed to be a chortle.
“He says that he sure hopes so.”
This time, the class erupted into chaos that was loud enough to make Aizawa-sensei visibly shift his position in his sleep. Midoriya, who had kept a wary eye on their teacher and the villain, saw clearly how the villain rubbed Aizawa-sensei’s arm with the end of his appendage in a shushing motion, which sent his brain spiralling.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep their teacher from scrunching up his face, likely due to the noise assaulting his ears, and then squinting his eyes open. Midoriya froze on his spot automatically, but many of his classmates took a few seconds longer to realise the withering glare Aizawa-sensei directed their way.
“What are you all doing here?” he gritted out between his teeth.
Immediately, a dead silence enveloped 3-A. Midoriya was sure that many even held their breaths.
Dutiful as always, Iida assumed responsibility and faced their disgruntled teacher on behalf of the class. “Sir, the festival is over! We have disassembled our booth and are in the process of taking everything back to the places it belongs in.”
“Then why don’t I see you moving?”
Midoriya really wished he hadn’t, but he couldn’t help but notice how Aizawa-sensei still hadn’t lifted his head from what was likely the Bin Bag Creature’s shoulder.
The admonition behind their teacher’s words was clear. If Midoriya wouldn’t have held Iida in high regard from the moment they had become friends, he surely would have started doing so now when, despite flinching conspicuously, a determined expression appeared on his face.
“With all due respect, sir,” he paused briefly as he was hit with the full intensity of Aizawa-sensei’s glare, but he bravely continued, “we were concerned about your well-being. Even though you prepared us in advance for the presence of a villain imprisoned in Tartarus in our midst today, I’m afraid I have to admit that it unsettled us nonetheless. The reasoning behind this visit is still not clear to us and the possibility of an attack being initiated was a constant accompanying thought for many of us today. And when we saw you lying motionlessly on the bench, our concerns only grew.”
Assenting murmurs from the class supported his arguments.
“We didn’t know what was wrong with you.”
“I mean… we trust you, Sensei, but…”
“Yeah, what if the villain had hurt you somehow?”
“He won’t,” Aizawa-sensei cut in. Then, as if he had just realised what he had said, he added, “And he can’t. Sufficient precautionary measures have been taken. Besides, do you think I could be done in so easily by a villain?”
An awkward silence followed as the students thought back to the many instances in which their teacher had proven that not to be the case.
A sigh escaped Aizawa-sensei. Perhaps he had just recalled the same memories. He scratched at his stubble and sat up from his slumped position. The Bean Bag Creature lifted his arm, seemingly trying to fade into the background and not disturb this important conversation between Aizawa-sensei and his students.
“I understand where your apprehensions come from and I’m sorry for causing you to worry.” His fingers ran through his hair. “To be honest, this whole thing is quite a mess. It shows a healthy amount of wariness to question what the motives for a certain mission you might be confronted with are, and you should preserve and hone the skill to think critically that accompanies it. For your future, it is a vital skill to have. However, in this case, I can assure you that there is no need for you to worry and I hope my words hold enough weight for you to believe in them. Because it certainly would be better for you not to get involved in this frankly intricate business. For your own good.”
Another stifled laugh came from the villain. Without moving a muscle, Aizawa-sensei said evenly, “Shut up.”
It took a moment until the whole class had processed Aizawa-sensei’s words.
“Of course we trust you, Sensei!”
“So, you two are… cosy?”
In the blink of an eye, the emotional atmosphere was broken, Aizawa-sensei was on his feet and his capture weapon slung tightly around Ashido.
“I doubt you have managed to clear all of the festival’s equipment away already,” he hissed menacingly, directed at all of them. “And if you did, I won’t have any trouble coming up with extra tasks for you to complete if you don’t get moving right now.”
Since entering the hero course, the students of Class A had learned many valuable skills. Some of the most valuable among them was certainly the ability to sense when they should follow their homeroom teacher’s commands instantly and to cover for those who were still not quite as proficient in that skill.
As the members of Class 3-A were just about to turn around and leave, Kirishima hesitated for a moment and then looked back, addressing the villain.
“Uh, we’re sorry for doubting you. If Sensei believes in you like that, I’m sure you’re not actually that bad of a guy, or you have your own circumstances or something. However,” he said, and Midoriya felt a drop in temperature around them that he was sure had nothing to do with Todoroki’s quirk, “hopefully the trust he placed in you has not been misplaced.”
“That’s right,” Uraraka chimed in. “If you do something to hurt Sensei…”
All of their classmates shouted various phrases of agreement.
The Bin Bag Creature raised his arms above his head in an approximation of a circle, as if the students had just given the correct answer on a test.
Class 3-A dispersed before you knew it, citing various clean-up work they had to assist in.
3-A scattered in all directions and as Midoriya turned to follow some of his classmates back to the remains of their now vacated booth, an excited “Deku-san!” stopped him in his track.
Eri-chan was waddling in his direction, a smile on her face and a big, apparently heavy bucket in her hands that hampered her gait.
Midoriya quickly met her halfway and held his hands out in an offer to take the bucket from her. “Eri-chan! Did you have fun at the festival? Sorry that I didn’t have more time to look around with you.”
Eri shook her head, still brimming with joy. Relieved from her load, she energetically skipped a few steps ahead of him. “Don’t worry about that, Deku-san. And I had much fun with my friends. I beat everyone in the goldfish scooping competition!”
Indeed, Midoriya thought as he looked down into the bucket he was now carrying.
“I’m bringing them to the plaza fountain so they’ll have a nice home to live in!”
“Maybe we should ask Aizawa-sensei first?” Midoriya suggested speedily. “If the fish can live in the fountain. I’m just saying that because they really do deserve a nice home, but I’m not sure what a nice home for them would be like, I don’t know that much about goldfish, not that your idea isn’t nice and I’m sure the fish are very happy that you’re so considerate of them…”
Eri made an affirmative sound and waited until Midoriya had caught up to her in order to take his hand. He let her, after all, he was strong enough to carry the bucket easily in one hand when it had been heavy for her.
After rounding a corner, they were back in front of the dorm and Midoriya saw that neither Aizawa-sensei nor his companions had moved from the bench.
In fact, they hadn’t even moved from their positions, Aizawa-sensei leaning with closed eyes against the villain again. Or was he maybe indeed just a supposed villain? Was that all part of a farce or an elaborate plot? Then again, that sounded too similar to his classmates’ earlier conspiracy theories and Midoriya definitely didn’t want to get the facts confused with baseless conjecture.
It didn’t matter what the exact deal with this mysterious prisoner from Tartarus was, as long as he really posed no danger to anyone and especially their teacher who had apparently – willingly? – been caught up in his affairs.
Midoriya couldn’t shake the feeling that he was intruding on something that was not his business as he once more took in Aizawa-sensei’s completely relaxed form.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t notice when Eri had let go of his hand in favour of dashing towards the bench. He did, however, register how she didn’t pay even an ounce of attention to the guards and instead unhesitatingly reached for the Bin Bag Creature’s arm that was not again slung around Aizawa-sensei’s shoulders.
“Mister Mist!” she exclaimed enthusiastically in heavily accented English. “I thought you had to leave early and couldn’t stay until the end of the festival! Does that mean we can still play some more?” She grew even more visibly excited. “Does that mean you can stay forever?”
The Bin Bag Creature shook his head and when Eri’s mood was dampened due to the denial, he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap, bouncing her up and down until a giggle slipped out between her lips.
“Mister… Mist?” Midoriya repeated feebly. Suddenly, he couldn’t help but feel very silly standing with a bucket of goldfish on his shoulder in front of his teacher, his teacher’s adopted daughter in all but name, and… whoever the Bin Bag Creature was in this family unit. He instinctively knew that he was an intruder in an attuned team.
Eri giggled again. “Yes. He lives far away so I can’t often go and visit him, and there are many people who need him to stay home so he can’t come visit, but he could come today!” she readily explained. She was grinning from ear to ear. “And he and Aizawa-san sometimes say that maybe he can live with us one day! But he just said that it’s not today…”
Aizawa-sensei’s eyes flittered open once more, red, and pinned his student in place.
“Midoriya,” he said warningly while his hair started floating.
Whatever gears had just started turning in Midoriya’s head were violently disrupted in their cooperation, leaving his mind blissfully blank for a moment.
Then, like a record that had been skipping but was pushed back into place, his thoughts came back and his mind started racing again.
“Yes, Sensei,” he managed to choke out, “please excuse me!”
Turning on his heel, he sprinted down the path he had come from, uncaring of the water spilling over the rim of the bucket from the movement and wetting parts of his hair and clothes.
No punishment for dumping a bunch of goldfish into the campus’ fountain, he decided, could be worse than the punishment he’d have to face for staying even a second longer.