In this chapter:
The students get a lot of information to digest and Aizawa has to deal with the fact that I can't write fight sequences.
5 – Details from the past
The person facing Aizawa was much larger compared to an average human, both in length of his limbs and in broadness of his features. A long hand reached for him through the rubble in the air, knocking aside pieces of bricks in between. Thick fingers grasped the air in front of Aizawa's chest, curling into a fist and missing both the hero and then the capture weapon that flicked out of reach at the last second.
Aizawa looked up the dark fur coated arms into the dark eyes shadowed by a projecting forehead and eyebrows of a half human half ape face.
A mutant type, Aizawa regarded with irritated huff and hooked his capture gear to branch of a bare, burnt tree behind and pulled himself away to create some distance. After having instinctively activated his quirk when attacked, Aizawa deactivated it for now, balancing himself on the branch he landed on. Unless the other villain inside decided to join the fray, there would be no need for him to overexert his eyes for now. There was nothing it would do against this foe.
The said simian villain had grabbed the edge of the hole he had blasted to the wall and hung onto the side of the building, watching the hero intensely, his eyes gleaming in what little light the city around provided. A few silent heartbeats of them measuring each other's passed before the villain's feet tensed against the wall and he charged towards the lonely tree on the yard where Aizawa had found refuge in.
Aizawa jumped out of the way of the attack, flinging himself down from the branch. The white scarves slid against the burnt skin of the tree as he guided himself down. The tree creaked and bent as the villain landed from his jump against it. His dark and hairy hands and legs grabbed hold of the branches as Aizawa slipped out of his grasp. Some of the smaller twigs snapped and fell towards the ground and while the bigger ones held, they too moaned under the weight and sudden strain.
Seeing the villain above move to follow after him, Aizawa raised his arm, ready to move his weapon to attack. His hand then stilled and he grimaced as he changed his mind, deciding that he didn't want to fight an ape in a tree. Instead, he concentrated on guiding his way past the branches between himself and the ground below as fast as possible. Tumbling past all the dark arches, Aizawa landed on his feet, crouching on the ground for a second before bolting out of the way of a body slam. The villain pounded heavily against the spot where Aizawa had been in, a cloud of dust spreading around him as all four limbs hit against the soil.
As the villain made a move to follow after the hero, the capture weapon latched onto his wrist, pulling him off balance. The mutant caught himself in time not to stumble too badly, but in that brief opening Aizawa already loomed over him, using his weapon to pull himself closer faster. Before the villain could more than register the hero was there, a roundhouse kick connected with his temple.
Aizawa felt the hit vibrate on his shin and the sounding hollow thump told of the damage he had landed. But the head barely budged or swayed under the impact. Aizawa's eyes twitched. Using his opponent's shoulder as foot hold, he jumped away from immediate reach of any counterattack. The capture weapon twirled back around his hand as he retreated.
He is definitely a more well trained fighter, he thought as he landed from his jump a good distance away and watched the villain turn around to come after him. Those neck muscles are something else. Damn, more sturdy foes were a pain in his ass.
The villain massaged the side of his head Aizawa had landed a kick on, the impact still ringing in his ears. "Who are you?" he asked with a little scruffy voice. "What business you've got here?"
"Let's not play stupid to save both of our time," Aizawa huffed in reply and charged forward.
"Fair enough," the villain mumbled and crouched down to intercept any move Aizawa would throw at him. "But seriously who are you?!" he demanded answers, reaching his hand forward to grab Aizawa, intending on flinging him on the ground and against the building wall to incapacitate the hero.
Aizawa smiled briefly at hearing the question about his identity. He had trusted the villain didn't know much about him and apparently, he was right. It meant he could catch him by surprise probably at least a few times before his opponent would figure out more of his style or powers. With any luck, he could finish this before that happened, although Aizawa wasn't betting on it. Slipping under the hand reaching for him, Aizawa lingered a moment in a blind spot and changed his direction. The villain realised how he had been played when Aizawa was already behind him and the capture weapon wrapped around his throat.
Directing a kick behind the man's knee, Aizawa pulled on his weapon and, earning a grunt of surprise and pain from his opponent, slammed the villain to the ground beside him. The villain's back and head connected with the gravel, prompting a cloud of sand to kick up from the ground around them. But far quicker than Aizawa would have preferred, the villain seemed to shrug off any stun or pain. A hand grasped for his elbow and Aizawa flinched away, just managing to avoid the clasp of the thick fingers. That was as far as his luck extended when the fist instead curled around his capture weapon before he could retrieve it.
Having his own weapon used against him, Aizawa was flung and crashed into the wall of the burnt building and air escaped from his lungs. He had been able to react enough when thrown not to hurt himself badly but the stinging shock spread across his back and up his neck, blurring the edges of his vision until his feet hit the ground again and the pain dulled.
A tug on his capture weapon had him raise his eyes to villain, who had just gotten to his feet himself and the cloth between them tightened when each held it in their fists.
"You are not answering questions," the villain grunted, tugging the scarf around his neck loose and off, not eager to get strangled by it again.
Aizawa had no intention of start answering now. "And you're agile for a big ape."
"It's a gorilla. Don't underestimate gorillas," the man replied, tugging the capture weapon towards himself but Aizawa didn't budge. He huffed, stretching his neck around slowly. "You a hero? You don't look like one. Look, I don't know how you found us−"
He was interrupted by Aizawa charging forwards and jumped over him. The villain was surprised and quickly ducked out of the way of the capture weapon trying to wrap around his torso. He spun around and retreated a few steps back, smirking as the hero landed from his jump and huffed at him. The capture had failed, but during the sudden exchange, the weapon itself had again safely ended in Aizawa's hands.
Aizawa straightened. "I am a pro hero. You know why I'm here. Return the boy you kidnapped now and save yourself the pain."
"Funny," the villain said, searching for a few loose bricks from the ground with his hands, keeping his eyes firmly at Aizawa. Feeling the rough-edged surface of the collapsed pieces of the wall under his fingers, he picked them up as he continued. "You didn't look like the impatient type."
Aizawa collected the capture weapon back around his neck and readied himself to attack again. "I don't have time for playing your stalling games."
The villain's mouth twitched into an unhappy smile. "You noticed already?"
With the last word he threw his newly acquired projectiles. Two bricks swished pass Aizawa's head and shoulder when he sidestepped and dodged out of their trajectory without slowing down.
The villain seemed irritated his long-range weapon of choice had no effect. "You alone?" he continued chatting, swatting away at the hero with the brick he still got at hand when Aizawa came close but the hit was once again dodged. He opened his mouth to challenge some more, but received the heel of Aizawa's boot into the rim of his eye socket as a reply, which made him regret his life choices a little.
Aizawa spun out of the way of a counterattack, crouching in front of his opponent and looking up as the villain staggered a step back. The simian mutant looked down at him with an undeniably frustrated frown.
Aizawa was as frustrated. The other villain hasn't come out. Judging from how they have operated thus far, it's highly likely that they have an escape route inside. They'll take the child away, Aizawa's eyes narrowed and grabbed the handle of the knife riding in its holster behind his back. I don't have time for this.
In the blue auditorium of UA, the students of class 1-A were buzzing and moving restlessly.
"How can Aizawa-sensei be gone?" Uraraka asked concern and confusion in her voice, and stood up, her fists clenching tightly in front of her chest. "Why?"
"That's what we need to find out, young listener," Present Mic replied, snapping his fingers in an impatient rhythm. "ASAP."
"I'm don't mean to judge." Todoroki raised his hand as Uraraka sat back down beside him. "But don't you think this is slightly overreacting? Aizawa-sensei is a grown man and a pro hero who has been gone for only a few hours. Is there a reason to fuss?"
"Yeah!" Kirishima agreed and turned to look from his classmate to the teachers. "I mean, sensei can take care of himself! We should trust him!"
All Might shook his head. "Trust is not the issue here. I want to trust him as much as any of you want to I'm sure, but I can't deny the facts I know. Aizawa-kun is the type who takes his duties seriously and reporting to the police is standard procedure for heroes."
"Yeah, we know Eraser is able to handle himself," Present Mic said first calmly, before his volume spiked up again. "Heck, if you ask me, he should learn to take worse care of himself! The guy's basically a walking do-it-yourself manual!"
Midnight slapped his colleague on the buttocks to calm him down and to remind him to remain mindful of his quirk output, but her attention remained at the students. "What we have is the starting point and the conclusion but nothing in between," she explained. "It's a tasty mystery we're dealing with. Think of it as a puzzle where we were missing pieces but somehow, somebody still managed to complete it. All joking aside, the police know nothing about the solving of the case itself, so reporting in is a vital step for figuring how and why things happened."
"We cannot keep the caught villains lawfully captive unless we figure out the steps needed to prosecute them," All Might joined in on the explanation. "The villains haven't talked and the kidnapped child was mostly blindfolded or kept asleep. Like this it could prove difficult to legally prove them guilty. Any info Aizawa-kun has is valuable to the case and saves a lot of time."
Midoriya nodded and gave a little thoughtful hum that turned some of the attention to him. "That makes sense. And well, I'm sure we can all agree sensei is not the kind of person to skip work, no matter how rough night he's had."
"Yup, can't disagree there," Kaminari admitted and glanced around his classmates to see if they agreed. It seemed that most of them did. They knew well enough their teacher tended to take his work rather seriously although it might not always seem like it. Mainly if Aizawa decided it was time for a nap and trusted them to just keep up the work while he retreated into his sleeping bag.
"I mean sure he would sleep, but he'd still show up," Jirou said, curling her plugs around her finger and frowning a little in thought. "Or at least, you know, tell people about not coming."
"Besides thinking about it," Asui pondered, her finger rising to tap her chin. "It might have only been about seven hours since the video was taken, but if no one really knows what sensei did last night, technically he has been out of touch a lot longer than that."
Midnight smiled briefly, proud of the students' showing promise despite of the circumstances. "Exactly. Now let's get to details, sweethearts, listen up." She raised up the folder she was holding under her arm and waved it up beside her shoulder for them to sort of see but more like to prove it existed. "Eraser is not answering to phone calls or mails, he hasn't returned to UA or his own apartment and he didn't report to either the police or the heroes after solving the case. On the top of that, we cannot track his phone."
"Dude what?" Kirishima leant forward, increasingly interested and confused. "You can do that? No, I mean you can't do that? Either way this is starting to sound odd!"
Present Mic snapped his fingers beside his head and spoke more lightly for a second. "Well, in the best-case scenario, he was tired, turned off his phone and we'll find him napping somewhere. Or he'll show up while were talking about this. I'll take that too!" He looked at the students over his glasses and the joking tone in his voice dropped. "In the worst, there was more than two villains."
More than two? Midoriya thought and before he even realised, his fingers were rubbing his chin and, shutting his classmates' chattering from his immediate awareness, his thoughts raced around all the facts delivered to him in a fast pace. A puzzle with missing pieces… Not only that, it's like we can't even see the shapes of the pieces used in the completed work. This makes no sense. What would happen to him after the case was already solved? Is it possible it's not even related to the kidnapping? Aizawa-sensei, where are you?
"Excuse me but before we continue!" Iida raised his hand and stood up. "I appreciate and respect any chance UA offers to us as a way to better ourselves! However! Can you offer an explanation as to why this task has fallen to us students and not the professional heroes and the police? I believe this point was brought up before and I humbly ask you to elaborate." He bowed down to the teachers as All Might gestured him to chill.
"Ha!" Mic laughed shortly, but it didn't sound like he thought anything was particularly funny. "I'll be honest with you, passionate young listener: I don't think this is a good idea!" He dodged another slap from Midnight. "Sure, you students can learn stuff through this no doubt. But we don't know what to expect and that's never good in this profession. Also, I'm pretty sure Eraser will kill me later. But here's the story: the reputation of the school and heroes in general has been on a fall lately. Suddenly! We have huge mysterious victory! 'A UA teacher solves the case and saves the day'! The audience is in love! 'Ain't that perfect PR for us', thinks the principal to himself and decides not to tell anyone that maybe things around the happy ending weren't so hunky-dory!"
Midnight managed to elbow Mic now before the volume got too loud again. She then dodged a complaint from her co-worker by taking over the conversation. "This is no doubt a highly unusual way of handling things. It is also a secret mission. When we go out there, we will not be searching for a missing hero. You will be on a fieldtrip, learning about crime investigation and honing your skills to work on the field with the police. That is what you will tell anyone who asks. Don't go forgetting it or I'll personally punish you. Only a few people involved with the case know of the whole situation. To keep the public morale up and belief in heroes and the school stronger, all included have agreed to hide Aizawa's disappearance from the public for now. Eraserhead is officially currently avoiding public attention and comments, which luckily fits his hero persona."
"Be mindful what you say and do out there later," Present Mic continued. "I'm sure there are those of you who don't think this is okay or right or whatever but we can together file complaints later, and well, if we don't find him, the school will have to eventually come forward about hiding it. NO PRESSURE! It's a gamble but the principal seems confident that everything will work out. But for now I want to find that one missing little−"
"Settle down, all of you," All Might stopped him from saying more and successfully gathered attention to himself again and everyone chatting with the person next to them quieted down. "Let's get started. We will brief you on everything we know. Us teachers and you are in the same boat trying to solve this. First, we will hold a meeting here, going through everything we know and decide on what to do from here. If anyone has more information or usable ideas, don't be afraid to share them. We need plans and organized actions. With those, we will find out exactly what happened last night."
For the following hour and some minutes Class 1-A and the three teachers discussed everything they knew through and through. It took some time for some of the students to get their head in the game, understand and see things clearly, but eventually everyone was on the same page. Their goal was to find their homeroom teacher and solve the mystery of the previous night. That was something they could all get behind and even Bakugo seemed to eventually forget most of his need for an action-packed afternoon while discussing the case.
"Just leave this boring investigation stuff to the cops! It's their damn job. Now if we're tracking down some villains count me up. Hah! I'll find and blast them for all you twerps."
"Now listen here, young Bakugo−"
"I know! I get it, we're doing this: fine! I'm in, alright? Even I don't want that damn teach to just disappear on us."
What they knew came from the police and the heroes on the case, as well as some information from the investigations Midnight and Present Mic had already started. The kidnapping at the centre of the case had happened around five the previous afternoon: a boy named Kobayashi Eita had disappeared while visiting a mall with his parents. Half an hour after his last known sighting the villains had contacted the parents and the case had been confirmed as a kidnapping.
"The mother, Kobayashi Chizuru, stated that Eita-kun got interested in something while they walked around the mall and suspected he left to check it out while she wasn't looking. The father, Kobayashi Akifumi, was in another part of the mall at the time and only heard of the disappearance when his wife called him." Midnight went through the case information and nodded to All Might who was operating the monitor. Four still pictures captured from surveillance footage showed up on the screen. "The surveillance records back up the assumption of the boy leaving his mother on his own accord. A figure is later seen with boy leading him down a hall and a set of stairs, but neither was recorded leaving the building. We still don't know how exactly the kidnapping happened. The identity of man in the footage couldn't be confirmed, but thanks to what Eita-kun has told the police, it seems he might have been one of the apprehended kidnappers."
The police had contacted the local heroes and a unit had been assembled to handle the case. Thanks to witness testimonies about seeing a man and a boy matching the description, the heroes had soon located the kidnappers in an unused office building. At this point, the media had been alarmed to the case. The first rescue was attempted between half past seven and eight o'clock and ended in a complete failure. The building had been empty by the time the heroes stormed in and only a ransom increase note had been left behind for them to find. The attempt had first been reported as a victorious showing of investigative power at work, soon to be transformed into a storm of complaints for the failure and the implementing of false hope. The second hideout had been found soon afterwards, this time from a run-down apartment building closed for mould problems. The result had been the same and the media was now fully invested.
"Thanks to detective Tsukauchi, we have a copy of both ransom notes. You may read them if you wish but as a teacher I request that you do. Kidnappings are something you might sadly have to deal with in the future."
"We've also collected the articles and updates that were written during this all. I have a printout of them here for all of you. Take yours, pass the rest on and go through it as we go."
"There was this many? Jeez, these journalists need to chill out. Do we have to read all these?"
Aizawa had met with detective Tsukauchi half past nine on the evening and received the request to help with the case. The police had confirmed the conversations and networks of the rescue teams had been tracked and suspected the possibility of spies or relating quirks. Unfortunately, the number of registered quirks that would allow some form of spying when used creatively or with right technology was numerous. A suspect group couldn't be pinned down before figuring out the way the tracking was performed. Aizawa had received all the available information and, after short discussions with some of the heroes involved with the case, disappeared to do his own investigation a little after ten in the evening.
"According to an officer at the scene of the first rescue attempt, Eraser briefly spoke with him to gain access to the building but he knows nothing else," Present Mic said, flapped the paper document in his hand to stop it from flopping down on him. "That was around one a.m. He never showed up at the second hideout to investigate."
The police and heroes had continued their investigations, fighting to solve the case before the time limit of six in the morning. Many people thought to be related had been questioned and joints searched through, but nothing of substance had been found. Eraserhead's action during this time were unknown. Tsukauchi and pro hero Kamui Woods had periodically left information about their ongoing investigations in a platform Aizawa had access to, but Aizawa himself had as per promised kept his actions as secret as possible to throw off the villain's tracking and had shared nothing.
"What was this platform used?" Yaoyorozu asked, the tip of her pen rising off the latest word in her long list of notes.
"An open group in one of hero network websites," Midnight replied. "That is also how we know this much without openly working with the police."
Hagakure somehow managed to convey clear confusion with her body language. "Why open? Isn't that bad?"
"Because adding Aizawa-sensei into a private group would inform any hacker of his participation," Yaoyorozu replied for the teachers and started making more notes. "I presume since it was a group within the hero network, calling it open means it was accessible to registered heroes and some factions of the police, rather than the public. For a villain to spy on it, it would still require hacking or a high level spy, and as such them gaining information through the chat would also narrow down and help track down the suspects."
"Uh, yes, exactly," Midnight confirmed, momentarily confused when her role as the one teaching was stolen. "Well deduced."
"Ah, I get it!" Hagakure clapped her hands together. "Thanks, Yao-Momo!"
The first news about Eraserhead's investigation had come a little past five in the morning, when the hero team on the case had received a backup request via phone. A message had included a location with the confirmation of two villains and the missing child at the site and stated that Eraserhead would stand by and wait for help to arrive. However, when Kamui Woods along with the other heroes had arrived at the scene a few minutes later, both the hero and the child were nowhere to be found. The two villains had been found unconscious, captured but unguarded, from different locations within the property. Both of them had since admitted fighting a hero matching Eraserhead's description, but had remained silent regarding the kidnapping itself.
Shortly after the heroes had answered to the backup request, Aizawa had arrived with the lost child to the police station where the parents had been waiting. Why he had engaged the villains and left with the child before help arrived was unknown. Kobayashi Eita had been mostly unharmed but was taken to the hospital just in case, although he had been relocated during the day as per the parents' request. Eraserhead had disappeared after handing over the boy to his parents, like they had now seen multiple times in the video, after which any information regarding his actions ended.
"Which brings us to the present," All Might concluded and clicked the remote again to bring back up the still he had showed them earlier. He looked at the picture of Aizawa crouching on the edge of a roof for a short moment before turning to the others. "This is all we know. I'll send all of you a mail containing everything we have. There are also physical copies of the info available if someone prefers that. I will handle the intel here at school, gather more of it from all possible sources and keep you updated."
"In the meantime!" Present Mic snapped his fingers again and the pointed at the students. "We two will take you out there and get Mighty boy something to work with. There will be four groups in total! The daring ones come with me!"
"Each group has an adult supervisor," All Might continued and coughed a little. "Midnight and Mic will each take a group and one will work with detective Tsukauchi. Those groups will investigate different locations that could prove useful, including the kidnapper's hideouts and Aizawa's apartment. You will also meet and hear people involved with the case. The fourth group will remain at the school with me where we puzzle it all together and give further instructions accordingly."
"Of course we have thought about how to divide you according to your abilities." Present Mic stole the spot light again. "But that isn't to say you have no say in it at all. The time to speak up about that is now." He leant closer to the students with a taunting smile. "How do you wanna do this?"
In the next chapter:
Bakugo is bored and Todoroki uses some family connections
A/N: Thank you for all the comments so far! As soon as I manage to graduate, I think I'll start writing again. For now: busy...