Officers were shuffling in and out of the precinct that night, a busy one with multiple people being brought in wearing handcuffs, civilians filing complaints or picking up people ready to be released. Shouta waited impatiently, knowing nothing about the case he was being called in on. Finally, the detective he’d worked with before in the suit and trench coat waved him back.
“Tsukauchi, what is this about?” he asked once they finally closed the door to the man’s office.
“Vigilante case, you seemed the best person to call in,” the detective said as he slid a file across the desk to the hero.
“You know I hate vigilante cases,” Shouta scowled but he opened the file to take a look. After a quick glance at the name on the top sheet, Shouta closed it and looked up at the detective with a glare. “Why are we going after Deku? They hardly even count as a vigilante.”
Shouta had never personally met the vigilante who went by Deku, few had and eye witness accounts were vague: small build but likely male, believed to be in their mid to late 30s just based on how long they’d been operating for, wore jeans, a dark green hoodie, and a silver face mask. Reports noted they had a utility belt that included a collapsible quarterstaff and other items like smoke bombs and flash grenades. Their most identifying feature was the red sneakers they wore but honestly they weren’t a super rare clothing item. Unless they actively had the mask on, they could just be any man on the street.
For the past 15 years, a number of other underground heroes and the detective sitting across from him had received case breaking analysis and information from him time and time again. They were rarely actually seen, and when they did get involved with a crime in progress it was always with minimal damage to person or property. And lastly, there was no record of the vigilante ever using a quirk. It was honestly assumed based on the analysis that they had some sort of mental quirk.
At the end of the day, Deku would be the last so-called vigilante on Shouta’s list to pull off the streets.
“Somehow the Hero Commission found out about him,” Tsukauchi said flatly. “It was always a matter of time, I suppose; surprised it took this long. They want him off the streets and I’m afraid if we don’t bring him in, they’ll eventually send in someone who won’t care if he’s brought down dead or alive.”
“They’re the best informant and analyst we have,” Shouta glared with a hiss, knowing he himself often relied on the details he provided even over their hired analysts. “What happens when we bring them in?”
“If we bring them in first, I’ve already talked to Nedzu who has an offer for them,” the detective shared.
“Of course, he does,” sighed Shouta, thinking about his boss at his other job and the offers he’d potentially have for the vigilante. “And if someone else brings Deku in?”
“If they bring them in alive, I’m sure they’d get handed over to the Commission,” he stated and Shouta knew that meant one of two things: either full prosecution for every documented case of vigilante work or being turned into their personal weapon, losing all autonomy. Nedzu in this case was the obvious lesser of two evils.
“How long do I have?” he asked, reopening the file to review details.
“I’ve already seen a few out of place limelight heroes in the area,” Tsukauchi noted. “Hawks is the one spotted most often. But he’s been coming in and out of the area for 3 years and I rarely get an arrest from him.”
Shouta raises an eyebrow at that bit of detail, “The Commission wouldn’t have sat on this for that long. Not three years.”
“I know,” Tsukauchi said, giving him a knowing look. “So chances are low he’s there on Commission business.”
“If you’ll excuse me,” Shouta stood up, tucking the file under his arm. “I think maybe I should have a chat with a rat and a little bird.”
Hawks it seemed was just as carefree and annoying in real life as Shouta imagined he’d be. “Eraser,” he grinned as he finally landed on the roof well past their determined meeting time. His hands were in his pockets as he looked way more relaxed than any pro ever did. Of course, Shouta knew that was an image, a facade. The kid was 21 and already in the top 10 on the Hero Billboards and that wasn’t without reason. “Was a little surprised to hear from you. What did you want to chat about?”
“I heard you’ve been in and out of the east side of Musutafu a lot the past 3 years,” Shouta watched the man. “Was just a little surprised. The area is kind of run down and it’s outside your usual patrol zone.”
“Sometimes a bird just needs to fly around,” he shrugged.
“So, you fly around the same part of the city multiple nights a week?” Shouta crossed his arms. “I’d thought after 3 years you’d be looking for some variety on your nightly flights? Or sometimes your morning flights out?”
“Eh, I’m a creature of habit. Look Eraser, we don’t really know each other and well, I don’t go around asking you about what you do in your personal time.” The man still seemed nonchalant but there was an edge hiding just underneath it, an unspoken warning to not push on this despite the calm demeanor. “Can I ask what this is about? If it’s flirting you’re really not my type.”
“Does the Commission have you looking for Deku?” Shouta asked bluntly, refusing to be thrown off by the joke.
Hawks raised an eyebrow, a sudden sharpness to his voice. “The Commission is looking for Deku? Why?” he asked as a response.
“You don’t seem surprised by the name?” Shouta noted curiously. Deku had only stayed under the radar this long because they kept their name away from limelight heroes; heroes like Hawks.
“Maybe I’ve heard it around,” Hawks tried to train the casualness into his voice again but failed. “But back to my question, why would the Commission be looking for Deku?”
That was interesting as far as potential responses went. “Somehow they caught wind of them,” Shouta said. “And according to my contact with the police force, they’re looking for them.”
“And why would you be asking around?” Hawks questioned, eyes narrowed, a quality to his voice that would send a chill through a less seasoned hero.
Shouta momentarily wondered if what he was about to say was a good idea. It was a well kept secret that Hawks had been raised by the Commission, one he only knew because of Nedzu’s warnings before coming to meet the hero. It was likely he had some loyalty to them and if word of Nedzu’s offer made it back to the Commission before it could be finalized, they may heighten their efforts.
But something in him said that this was the right move and while Shouta was logical, he knew when to trust his gut. “Nezu wants to make a deal with Deku before the Commission can get their hands on them. And I think we both know what will happen if the Commission finds them first.”
Hawks watched him with consideration for a moment. “Let’s say hypothetically I had a way to get a hold of Deku. What would the terms of this agreement be?” Shouta contained his excitement, this being what he hoped for.
“I don’t have all the details,” Shouta admitted. “Only specifics the Rat gave me were it’s an offer for a job and a path to a hero license with his vigilante record being wiped clean so he can’t be prosecuted for it.”
“This was a nice talk, Eraser,” Hawks grinned. “Maybe we could do this again? How about tomorrow night?”
“I could make that work,” Shouta nodded.
Hawks leaned in and whispered coldly in his ear, “I believe you’re a man of your word, but if you try to double cross him, you’ll live to regret it.” He then pulled away with a smile and said, “See you tomorrow, Eraser.” Then he flew off. Shouta sighed to himself; Hawks definitely knew Deku. At first Shouta had thought maybe the hero was secretly getting information from the vigilante, but this behavior indicated it was certainly more than a working relationship. He took off, knowing he’d made the right choice.
Sitting inside a shabby, 2 bedroom apartment, a man in a black tank top and pink sweatpants with green curls pulled back in a bun took a sip of coffee as he stared at the computer screen before him. He was working on the final notes for a human trafficking ring so he could encrypt the file and send it to Eraserhead. The man was the lead hero on the case and one of Izuku’s favorites to gather information for. He always took everything the vigilante had to offer seriously.
A knock on the balcony door drew him away from his work and he went and unlocked it. “Hey Keigo,” he greeted as the winged hero stepped in. “Dabi isn’t home yet, had to stop by the library after class.”
“Tuition for next semester is coming up due, isn’t it?” Keigo asked, quickly ruffling out his feathers in an effort to relax. “Do you need help?”
“I saved everything from the analysis jobs I took, so we should be good,” Izuku said, thinking about the occasional side jobs he did for difficult cases to help quirk specialists in the area. Everything from that was saved for Dabi’s schooling, relying on his job at the grocery store to pay the bills. “But even if we weren’t there you know Dabi wouldn’t accept it. He doesn’t want money involved in your relationship.”
The hero sighed. “I know, but I still have to ask.”
“I know,” Izuku grinned. Keigo really cared about Dabi. They’d met and realized they were soulmates in his younger brother’s previous existence, one Izuku had found him burned and almost dying from. He’d managed to get him to a healer who owed him a favor and they’d changed his name to Dabi Midoriya, dyed his hair black, and gotten him enrolled back in school with some falsified records Izuku had created, claiming Dabi had spent the last few years in America.
Hawks was told Dabi had died, but he knew thanks to his soulmark that wasn’t true. When he finally gained some freedom from the Hero Commission, the first thing he’d done was track down Dabi. The reunion had been emotional.
“Hey, Izuku?” Keigo called to him, his voice strangely serious. He turned back to look at him and raised an eyebrow.
“Keigo, what’s wrong?”
“I talked with Eraserhead on my way over here,” he shared.
“Did you find out something about the case I’ve been working on?” Izuku asked, lifting his cup for another sip.
“No, the Commission found out about you,” he said with an anxiou look that Izuku understood all too well. Hawks had gained enough popularity quickly that he had managed to disentangle himself mostly from the Commission, but they all knew before that those people controlled his every move and honestly probably still would if it wasn’t for his bond with Dabi. “Eraser said they’re looking for you.”
“Well shit,” he sighed. “Is Eraserhead helping them?” He hated the idea of the hero turning against him.
“No,” Keigo shook his head. “He was trying to find you first. Said Nedzu wants to make a deal with you.”
“Wait,” Izuku set his mug down, immense interest sparked at this new detail. “Nedzu? The Nedzu wants to make a deal with me? What kind of deal?”
“Eraser didn’t have all the details, but he said it involved a job, a road to a license, a clean record and most importantly keeping you out of the hands of the Commission,” he shared.
“That’s a really good offer,” Izuku noted as the front door opened revealing a lanky man of 21. He still had scars from the burns he’d received but they weren’t as bad as they could have been.
“What’s a good offer?” Dabi asked, pulling off his jacket to reveal more scars and the wings of blue fire on his arm, his soul mark with Kiego before walking over and kissing the winged boy on the cheek.
They quickly relayed everything to his brother and Izuku added, “I mean, any job Nedzu offers alone would be a good offer. It definitely pay more than what I’m doing now combined. And then add the other things on top of that.”
“You did always want to be a hero,” his brother smiled at him.
“Yeah, but will the deal change if they find out I don’t have a quirk?” Izuku asked.
“I told him I’d meet him tomorrow night,” Keigo stated. “I can test the waters on that.”
“If it seems promising then ask him to set up a meeting with you, me, him and Nedzu,” Izuku says. “Somewhere neutral and not a police station.”
“I already warned him not to double cross you,” Hawks grinned and Izuku rolled his eyes at the stupid choice as he rubbed his neck where his own soulmark was, not in color. It was the outline of a cat, its tail wrapped around a bunny with their heads pushed together, as if their foreheads were touching in an intimate way. He couldn’t be sure, but based on the position his guess was it was intended to be romantic.
“You nervous?” Dabi asked, eyeing him carefully.
“What makes you think that?” he tried to keep his voice neutral.
“You always rub your soulmark when you’re nervous,” he pointed out, something Izuku hadn’t realized the other man had taken notice of.
“Yeah, you know, trauma and stuff,” he sighed knowing Dabi understood and wouldn’t push. Izuku could still hear the taunts of the children telling him no soulmate would ever want a quirkless loser and the fear that they were right haunted more than the memories of the abuse and injuries, more than his parent’s abandonment which still hurt like hell. The fear his quirk status would destroy everything constantly followed him.
“Let’s just see how things with Eraser go tomorrow,” Keigo offers, knowing at least a little of Izuku’s past. “Then we’ll take it from there.”
Keigo was normally a reserved man when in his persona as Hawks. Young, carefree, talked a lot but never really saying anything. But when Eraserhead started asking about his soulmate’s brother, the man who rescued Touya from who knows what terrible fate, who gave him a new start and made his life worth living, his façade dropped.
And now he was standing on a roof, early instead of his usual apathetic tardiness, waiting for the underground hero to show up. When he heard footfalls land on the roof he turned. “Eraser,” he greeted.
“Hawks,” he greeted back. “I was afraid you may not show up.”
“I have a few questions,” Keigo shrugged. “What if Deku has a quirk people would consider a weak or a villains quirk?”
Eraserhead stared at him as if trying to gauge why he was asking. “You know my quirk stops other’s quirk factor from functioning, right? That I was called a villain growing up?”
Keigo didn’t know that, but it still didn’t fully answer his question. “But you went through hero training and now you’re highly regarded. I want to know what if it’s Deku?”
“Deku has helped me on countless cases and when he does get involved physically, he has an incredibly low rate of injury or property damage, normally at the most someone has a few bruises or a knot on their head,” Eraser said. “His quirk doesn’t change the fact that I want to help him now and that Nedzu wants him on staff.”
“What if he didn’t have a quirk?” Keigo asked.
“A quirk is just a tool,” Eraser stated, seeming annoyed by the question. Which was fair, from what Izuku had told him about Eraserhead, the man had a nonphysical quirk and fought completely quirkless against anyone with a mutant quirk. “If he is quirkless then he’s obviously developed other tools that serve him as well or better than most pros I know.”
The winged hero smiled at this. “Set up a meeting. He wants Nedzu, you and me there only. Neutral ground, not the precinct. No cops, though he understands we will have to get them involved eventually.”
Eraserhead nods and pulls out his phone. “Hey Nedzu. I can secure a meeting with Deku but there’s some stipulations.” Keigo listens as Eraser runs through the details that Hawks mentioned before he asks. “Is tomorrow evening, 6pm ok?”
Keigo nodded, tomorrow was Izuku’s normal day off from the grocery store. “Should be. If for some reason it’s not, I can let you know.”
Eraserhead turns back to his phone call before hanging it up. “Tomorrow, 6pm at Whiskers and Cream on the West Side of Mustafa.”
Keigo raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that a cat café?”
Eraserhead just shrugged before turning around and running to the next building, either tired of the conversation or ready to start his patrol. Keigo watched to make sure he was gone before taking flight, returning to the two most important people in the world to him.