Puzzles Aren't Meant to be Broken
3 months before the U.A. Entrance Exam, Aizawa retires from underground hero life. It is the worst, logical decision he ever made regarding his teaching career.
It takes him two weeks to stop waking up in the afternoon for work. Three to stop ingesting enough coffee to drown a seal.
The next year will prove the be the most challenging, headache-inducing, heart-wrenching time of his life.
It's a very good thing he thought logically for once.
Chapter One - "...An Unfortunate Event…"
The news comment came to him while scrubbing dust out of his hair on a Tuesday morning. Around 4 am, a bullet train had lost traction and careened into the back of a waiting cab at the station. There were 35 casualties, over 50 injuries, and no heroes that could have stopped it. By efficiency, each train was designed to slow down if there was a hold-up for the train in front of it.
Despite the coordinated system, it still failed. Shouta Aizawa was nearby when the all-call summoned every hero in the area. Running on two separate cups of coffee he aided in triage as heroes and civilians alike dug through metal and rebar with support items and bare hands.
Mornings were a bad time for accidents like these. There was no word on why the brakes failed, why the new rail line crashed, only a body count and a half-hour delay. There would be none until after noon. Aizawa would catch the report from Commission liaisons at day's end as they transitioned into the graveyard shift.
He would be moving into patrol. Many heroes who had helped with the recovery would be stumbling into bed.
Rinsing out bits of rubble, Aizawa stared at his 5 o'clock shadow in the bathroom mirror. He could afford a few minutes of contemplation before bedtime. It was good to clear your mind before bed. Too many thoughts would prevent him from falling asleep. That would give him four-and-a-half hours of sleep instead of the full five he needed to work.
At sunrise, the underground hero, Eraserhead, would return home, having pre-calculated the amount of time it took to write a 2-page report and his supper. Laundry could be started and loaded into the dryer from the time he entered his apartment to the time his head hit the pillow. He could fold his clothes if his email load was light. Those nights were rare.
His night-work was built off of minimal sleep, two espressos, and enough juice packs for a small party. If he was teaching the next day, he would take three cups. Grading assignments was easier at this time. The old year was matriculating out and everyone was preparing for the final application rush. As he had failed 1-A before they'd been assigned lockers, Aizawa did not need to grade any papers. He only needed to cover 1-D's 15-page essays that Midnight had failed to finish due to migraines and a hang-over.
He mentally shaved off some time off cooking breakfast. He did not need eggs.
Climbing into his sleep sack, Aizawa pressed a button. The home system whirred to life as his curtains closed and the white noise machine opened to a small drizzle loop. He took twenty-five deep breaths, focusing on every major muscle group. Toes. Instep. Ankles. For every breath, one group would relax.
On the final breath, Aizawa had fully relaxed his body. The pains and sores from the night's work were smothered to death by the aspirin in the last two juice packs. For the moment, Aizawa had survived another shift.
Another two muggings stopped. One homicide. Another shift.
Another teenager trying to squirrel their way out of turning in late CPR certification because they were busy fighting the love square that had formed after the Sports Festival. Another shift.
"...as such an unfortunate event as this one. This has been the Morning View from the DantoEve News. Now for the weather…"
9:13 AM - Morning
At sunup, the retired pro-hero Eraserhead woke from his dream, in his bed. There were two pillows under his head. He had kicked the covers off and Yamada's dog, Bork, was licking his face.
He'd slept nearly ten hours. It had been three weeks since he had submitted his resignation from underground work.
When he was asked to speak on his early retirement, Aizawa had told the board of a moving conversation that never happened with Principal Nezu. He gave three supporting comments about "responsibility, dedication, and the true way" about dedicating his experience towards his students at U.A. Hound Dog had instructed him to speak slower than usual. He advised that the "gravitas of the moment would help his thesis."
At the time, Eraserhead had just broken into the top 1000 Pro Heroes of Japan. Carefully engineered by the Commission, his profile was made up of six lies, and two half-truths to throw off villains and screen his three undercover activities. He had 27 major incidents to his record - a paltry sum for heroes around his rank.
Due to the nature of his work, he could not be credited for the 487 classified events. That was not how underground heroes worked.
Eraserhead had been in the public eye for three months and five days. Shota Aizawa had been a hero for 9 years. He'd fallen just under the average retirement age of Heroes that could qualify for "Honorable Decommissioning". As such, he could not simply apply for retirement. He had to prove his worth.
Prepped over the span of three all-nighters, the U.A. staff had worked with him in turns. Aizawa had burned enough favors to light a bonfire in order to secure his benefits. Ectoplasm had called it after the first night. Lunch Rush had been out on the second day. Every co-worker that Eraserhead had worked with gave some time out of their days to stop by and listen to thrice-rewritten paragraphs and pathos arguments.
It was a team engagement. Sacrifices ranged from enough tissues to reconstruct a life-sized model of a Porsche, to the entire class of 2-B being told point-blank, "The day is canceled. Do what you want. Burn nothing down."
Needless to say, the Commission barely accepted it. Nezu gave them a B+.
It was 10:00 am in the morning, and the former pro hero, Eraserhead, rolled out of his pillow-top bed. He yawned, rubbed his eyes, and stared at his 31-year-old face in the bed stand mirror. He'd slept through both of his alarms, and Bork had probably peed somewhere in the room.
Laundry was neatly folded over an article about "Theories of Motivation" and two pieces of french toast. Shouta spent three minutes deciding on what brand of creamer to put in his decaf. He slowly made his way to the window and spent his brunch leaning over the railing. Looking over the U.A. campus, he took a sip of some Hungarian Cinnamon flavor that All Might had sent him from China.
The class of 3-A was engaged in sun salutations. It was a bright day over the newly built U.A. Heights. It was three weeks since Aizawa had lost his 5 'o clock shadow.
He had never felt better.