Disclaimer: I own none of Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia's characters.
As she rode up in the elevator horrific flashes, nightmares or memories sped through Komorebi mind's eye; the slow steady drip of leaking pipe, frigid air and ropes that itched and burned.
A knife glinted in the darkness and the smell of blood, bile and urine co-mingled, the putrid smell filled the air.
A single globe swung overhead slowly illuminating the menacing figure approaching. He didn't seem to have a face but she could feel his aura and he was evil. There was no goodness in him.
The elevator chimed and she startled out of her thoughts when the bright hospital lighting spilled in through the open doors. Why was she having those flashes now.
Occasionally she would wake up not remembering what she dreamed but feeling terrified, her heart racing in her chest and her night clothes soaked with sweat, along with her sheets.
Maybe it was reading about the little girl's condition, how she'd been found and what they suspected had been done to her.
Her vivid imagination was filling in gaps and making empathetic projections. She hadn't even met the child yet.
She shoved those thoughts aside and exited the elevator into the 4th floor hallway.
Her flat shoes made no sound as she stepped out but the noisy rolling of the small wheels on her travel case made the Deputy Chief of Musutafu City P.D. turn in her direction.
"Dr. Anaka, I'm glad you could come so quickly." He offered to shake her hand in greeting before he realised that his hands were covered in grime.
He lowered his hand and wiped on his equally dirty trousers. "I would have thought they'd mandate your involvement or someone from your area months ago. These kids have gone from one crisis to the next and U.A. doesn't have anyone in their faculty qualified to give PTSD support but they claim that the students have been given everything they need.
With public scrutiny of Heroes at a crisis point and All Might's retirement the Commission needs to show they are doing everything to foster individuals with powerful Quirks with the greatest care. If there's anyone more in need of your expertise right now, it's this girl.”
Deputy Chief Tadanobu Normura was normally immaculately dressed, suave and unruffled when he appeared at the Commission's HQ, today he looked worn out.
His thick hair covered in ash and fine debris.
His skin was slick with a sheen of sweat, he wasn't a part of the Shie Hassaikai raid according to the initial report but he had been at ground zero since early morning to address public safety and supervise clean up.
He'd lost his signature salmon coloured tie and his shirt clung to his body like a second skin. He felt like a young sapling bowed by the wind. He badly needed to sit down or he'd fall down.
If he were to fall over, she'd have no hope to catch him, he was almost a full foot taller than her and broad to match.
Komorebi Anaka agreed with his sentiments but being it was U.A. he was making a point on, she wouldn't give voice to those thoughts.
As much as she wanted to work with the school's faculty to help the students, she wouldn't without invitation.
"Like you, Normura, I'm passionate about support for early Quirk training and trauma counselling. It's an area I've been volunteering in since before I completed my medical training. Young people need all the support they can get.”
Unable to ignore the gnawing feeling of discomfort any longer, she dug into her jacket pocket and walked over to the closest drinking machine where she paid for a bottle of water.
She brought it back to Normura and offered it to him.
Ever the serial flirt and never one to turn down the opportunity to charm, he gave her an exaggerated wink and a toothy smile. "Detective Tsukauchi wasn't kidding.
“Are you sure your Quirk isn't mind reading?"
Komorebi repressed a groan at his antics and rolled her eyes. She was immune to the Deputy Chief's game.
Many of her colleagues were not and he caused a stir whenever he appeared in their office. It was a common assumption. "Strong empathy and trained deduction, as you well know.
I would have gotten you a power bar but unfortunately it's only a beverage machine."
"I have to head back to the office and start those reports. I'll grab something on the way. Thank you for the drink," he took a long swallow of water, almost finishing half the bottle in one go.
He wiped his mouth and turned gravely serious.
When she had first met him, she had thought he'd be difficult to work with, with his smooshing ways but he could turn it off as easily as he turned it on, slipping into work mode.
"The consulting Quirk specialist advised us that the victim, Eri, is six years old. She had no identifying records although officers found her grandfather was found comatose within the compound.
Based on his condition, it appears he has been unresponsive for weeks. It's believed that her grandfather consented to her experimentation by Overhaul.
We have referred her case to you to determine how best to proceed. Good luck."
Komorebi nodded and bowed. "Thank you, Normura. I will meet with her doctor and update you when I know more."
The Deputy Chief bowed in return, and saluted her with a smile. "Anaka." Then he signalled to his officers that waited nearby.
"Speak to Eraser Head, let him know I'll be keeping those students for written statements before they return to U.A."
A brief meeting with Eri's treating physicians left her standing outside the door of her new patient.
Komorebi had been emailed the police dossier on Eri not long after her boss had called her in. The information they gave was brief since she was still unconscious and feverish.
It had been six hours since she had seen the news coverage of the battle in uptown Musutafu.
The injured had been transferred to the closest university hospital for treatment and unfortunately the League of Villains had attacked the Overhaul's convoy and there had been more casualties.
Thankfully Kai Chisaki hadn't escaped custody. He would face justice for his crimes. The worst being the heinous abuse of a child.
In her ten years working with The Hero Public Safety Commission, recruited straight out of high school to continue her training as a medical doctor in Tokyo's top university hospital,
she'd seen some disturbing cases. Some had sent her into therapy herself. However this one touched home more deeply for a reason she wasn't willing to examine yet.
Perhaps it was Eri's age coupled with what had been done to her for most of her young life.
With her passive use of her Quirk, all her life she'd be dismissed or ridiculed for her presence amongst stronger Quirk individuals.
An unimpressive 5'6" with a lean physique and no obvious Quirk, people often challenged her usefulness.
She worked harder than anyone else in her field to be recognised for her thoroughness and reliability.
She would make it her goal to see that Eri could live a life as normal as any child with Quirk abilities.
She would sit with the girl until she woke up. It would help Eri to have a kind face nearby when waking up in an unfamiliar environment.
It would also be important to establish a connection and work on trust between them as soon as possible.
Komorebi opened the door and startled to find Shota Aizawa standing just inside the doorway. Like the Deputy Chief, he looked worse for wear.
If he had been one of the Heroes who had been on the team that led the Shie Hassaikai Raid, he should be resting by now.
Hearing his Hero name mentioned earlier, she had assumed that it was because some of his Provisional Licenced students had been involved. Not because he had been part of the mission.
His perpetually messy, long black hair was sweaty and limp. The angry scar beneath his right eye looked more pronounced than usual. He favoured his left side and she could feel his discomfort.
He was also exhausted. He gave her a long stare before focusing back on the child in the bed.
"The nurse has just left. There's no change," he said in his monotone voice.
"Thank you." Right, she reminded herself, they were acting in a professional capacity. Eri was too young to be a student at U.A.
so the Police must have asked him to stay watch her in a Hero capacity. Eri's treating physician still didn't know enough about her Quirk to say she was safe to be around while unconscious.
For Komorebi however, she felt no danger and she didn't need Aizawa to stay. In fact, she would prefer him not to watch her work.
He was a very critical person and as much as she was interested in spending more time with him, she was still nervous about letting her guard down.
He constantly made her second guess her importance to him.
She suspected that she had already fallen in love with the impossible man and the moods she read from him were wildly mixed and some of their interactions left her feeling stressed and confused.
If he stayed, he would be her distraction.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw him falter from his place leaning on the wall.
She motioned toward him, worried at his injury before remembering that even though the girl was unconscious, he was not comfortable with displays of affection so her gesture would be rebuffed.
She dropped her hand and bowed to him slightly. "I have been appointed Eri's trauma support. You may be relieved, Eraser Head."
He didn't reply. He turned away to grip the door handle and made to leave. "Her Quirk seems to need touch to have an effect."
Aizawa made no more comment and she followed his shadow through the shutters over the glass as he paused briefly outside the room. He had hardly made eye contact to address her.
He was a difficult man to read at the best of times; a man of few words and bouts of brooding. He seemed to think that days without any form of communication were normal behaviour.
They had been on a handful of dates since meeting at an Expo early in the year and she was no closer to cracking his closed character.
“Hey!” she called out to the young man floating crates that knocked into her as he brushed by. His poor handling caused her to spill the tray of drinks she was carrying for her colleagues. She growled in frustration when he didn’t slow down or even offer so much as an apology.
An unkempt man appeared at her shoulder and handed her a stack of napkins, as he crouched beside her. “Here,” he said. And while she mopped up the mess, he collected the spilled cups and put them in the waste bin. He had tired but kind eyes and despite his rumpled clothing, he smelled woodsy and fresh. For her, the smell of the forest was home.
She stood up and binned the soggy napkins. She straightened her jacket and used the last of the napkins to dab at the growing dark stains on her skirt consisting of tea, coffee and creamer mingling in the brown fabric. It was a lost cause, it needed to be laundered to be fixed. “Thank you,” she said, bowing. “I’m Komorebi Anaka.”
“Want to join me for more drinks?” she asked with a smile. He shrugged, an expression of indifference on his face and his hands firmly in his pockets. “Sure.” Komorebi sensed hesitation briefly before it bled into curiosity. She pushed down her insecurities and allowed herself to send warmth in his direction. “Anything catch your interest so far?”
There was a hint of mischief she felt from him but it didn’t change his expression. He stared, eerie and unblinking, before he replied in a deadpan tone, “Too early to say.”