It was a long day, and turning into a longer night, but it was one of many. That was one of the drawbacks of a superhero society, when the majority had some sort of power there was simply too much temptation for some of them to abuse it despite the consequences. Naomasa Tsukauchi saw such things on a near daily basis, though usually things didn’t get quite this bad. He looked at the report and rubbed his eyes, another Trigger addict had caused an incident, quite a large one at that. There was always a pattern there, Trigger in its most basic form wasn’t actually supposed to be a bad drug. The legal version at least wasn’t, it was actually a stimulant designed to help increase the ability to control quirks that cause unfortunate side effects for people who would otherwise want to lead normal lives. For people who suffered from quirk incontinence it helped them learn to reign in their quirks and if it caused pain, as such quirks often did, helped to dull the pain while they learned how to use it.
Of course, the non legal forms and uses simply had people amplify their quirks to use for usually violent ends all while numbing their emotions and making them more and more impulsive. While the legal form was a highly controlled substance that could only be given through prescriptions if a person’s incontinence threatened their or other people’s livelihood, that didn’t stop the formula from being copied and concentrated on the black market to its illegal form. Thus here they were again, another addict who went too far and decided to use their quirk for wanton destruction.
He let out a sigh as he closed the report. Things had spiraled out of control unusually quickly that day, usually at least one or two heroes would have been on the scene, especially with how big an issue Trigger had previously been in Naruhata. It was surprising that a dealer had gotten through with both the police’s and Ingenium Agency’s effort to keep them out of the area after gwhat happened with Villain Factory years ago. But someone had slipped through the cracks and even though they tried their best, the police department, the hero agency and special services would probably be put through the wringer in the media. Thankfully that was the chief’s and PR departments problem. He still had work to do, but he also had a favor to do.
Placing a hand on the dash of the car he let out a sigh as he looked out of the parked car to the agency building. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door to his car as he looked around the parking lot. The media hadn’t arrived yet that he could see, probably swarming the hospital or the evacuation centers instead. No, the heroes of the agency likely wouldn’t actually be back until the next day. Not that it mattered, there would be someone to let him in. Walking into the building’s large lobby he was greeted by a female receptionist in the standard uniform who stood and bowed.
“Good evening Detective, did you have trouble getting here?”
“A little, but the agency did well to clear the roads for emergency vehicles which have long since finished, so I was about to find a clear route.” Naomasa said.
“Thank you for your praise, detective. Do you need directions to the infirmary?” She asked.
“No, I know the way, it’s the sixth floor, right?” He replied.
She nodded confirmation and he walked through the large area to the elevator. There were ten of them and as he walked in he remembered just how huge they were on the inside, easily twice the size of the normal one to help accommodate taller or wider people to move. They went to almost all the floors from the ground and also to an underground level filled with vehicles for dispatch. He let out a breath when he thought about how hero agencies often dwarfed the resources of the police department just in sheer breadth and equipment. Given, in this case it couldn’t be helped, this was the only hero agency in Naruhata, so it had to cover the entire area. Other cities usually had three to five agencies in them based on individual size. It was one of the reasons why several solo heroes also wandered this area to help out. The fact they were as efficient and coordinated with their size spoke volumes of their lead hero Ingenium, as well as his team in general. The man was an excellent example of a hero and person, being very efficient, kind and cooperative.
Though sometimes he was a bit too cooperative, especially when it came to some of the local vigilantes.
Stepping off at his floor Naomasa went down the hallway and passed a few rooms. The doors were open, showing beds and people lying in them as doctors shuffled around through the night. One of them caught his eye and headed out of the room.
“Oh detective, hello.” It was another woman, though a bit older this time and in a doctor’s coat. “Are you here for police business? I can direct you to the floor for our investigations department.”
“I see they didn’t call you. No, I’m just here to pick someone up. Someone who happened upon the scene and may have gotten some minor injuries.” He specified.
“Ah, Haimawari-san.” She said, recognition in her eyes. Honestly, this wasn’t the first time he’d been taken to the agency for injuries even if he didn’t actually work there. “He’s at the end of the hall, on the left.”
“Thank you kindly.”
He gave her a nod and she replied with a bow as he headed down the hallway. He wanted to think of a way to scold him this time, but looking at the report and his change of status the previous year, it wasn’t actually anything illegal. Not that it made up for his past infractions, but he’d get an earful from both his sister and the PR department if he tried to get onto that again. So he swallowed his slight indignation at his future brother-in-law’s past and opened the door.
He spoke out into the room in an even voice.
He saw the man in question physically jump at being addressed, which just made him smile a bit.
“Are you ready to go home?”
Haimawari sort of hunched in himself, as he often did when he was nervous, while he reached back and rubbed his head.
“Tsukauchi-san, sorry, I didn’t know you were coming.” Koichi Haimawari said.
“Makoto called me when she found out what had happened.” Naomasa said as he walked further into the room and gazed around. Another figure was there as well, a young girl laying on one of the beds, who seemed intent on the screen of her phone. Well that wasn’t too unusual, was she one of the other people’s kids?
“Oh, oh, I didn’t think she’d get you when she said she was sending someone. I thought maybe Jube-san would be here. My mistake, let me get my things together.”
He stood and moved around the room. As he did so, Naomasa actually looked at him for a few seconds and the facts started to reassert themselves in his mind. Particularly the things his sister told him.
“Haimawari, correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you injured in the incident?” Naomasa asked.
“Huh?” Haimawari turned to look at him. As he did, Naomasa noticed fully that there was actually a sling hanging between his arms, more an absent accessory rather than serving a purpose as the arm it would have held was moving around freely. In fact, it had Haimawari’s suit jacket draped over it. “Oh, you mean my arm, yeah, I broke it.”
He wasn’t lying, Naomasa’s quirk would have tipped him off if he did.
“Alright, is Recovery Girl here? I thought she would have been taken to the main hospitals.”
“No? I don’t think so. I mean I haven’t seen her, so she might be.” Haimawari said. “Why?”
“Your arm.” Naomasa said, this time letting out a sigh, his sister’s fiance could be so dense sometimes. “Did she come, or was it one of her relatives? I didn’t think they were in this part of the country.”
He blinked for a moment. “I don’t think they are, or, huh.” He turned to face the girl on the bed. “Actually Ume-san, are you one of Recovery Girl’s relatives?”
The girl in question didn’t respond as she continued to scroll through the phone. Naomasa was now looking at the girl more thoroughly. She was lying on her side, the blankets pulled up over her shoulder making only a head of shoulder length red hair visible with the phone held out in one hand which she was scrolling through text with her thumb. Haimawari leaned down and tried again.
“Hey, Ume-san, Ume-san,”
He reached out a hand as he spoke and tried to grab her shoulder. The girl, Ume, snapped out the hand reaching for her shoulder, pushing it back and sending the phone flying. Haimawari flailed in the air for a few seconds, both arms going out to catch the phone, which slipped just out of his outreached hands and bounced before sliding across the ground in front of Naomasa. He reached down and retrieved the phone. Glancing at the still lit screen he couldn’t help but note the title of the open webpage, the history of the development of Quirks in Japan. Interesting reading topic for a girl.
“Ah geez, did the screen crack? Makoto will nag me if I crack another phone.” Haimawari said as he stepped forward to assess the damage. There was none except for a scuff on the side, but nothing on the glass.
“This is your phone?” Naomasa asked.
“Yeah, I let Ume-san borrow it.”
The other man said with a nod before turning to the girl, who was now sitting upright on the bed. She looked at Haimawari for a few seconds, then at Naomasa, but that wasn’t what Naomasa was looking at as the blanket fell from her shoulder to her waist. The sight of it made his blood freeze as he took in the signs. On pale skin the marks could easily be seen even in the dim lighting, going up her arms, a splash of discoloration on the neck, more marks crisscrossing like live veins going into deep marks on a stump.
Scars, scars on everything below the neck, a left arm that ended just below the elbow with a strange wooden prosthetic, an automatic reaction to almost being grabbed slapping away a gentle hand, suspicious grey eyes scanning him, scanning the room, darting to the exit then to Haimawari. The words set in his mouth as he instinctively stepped forward. She seemed to pull back from him. Naomasa caught himself before he started a further approach. He kept his hands visible as he inclined his head.
“Good evening. Ume-san, was it?”
She was still watching him with those grey eyes, assessing him and the situation. It was a few moments before she glanced back over to Haimawari, who seemed to take the cue.
“Ah, Ume-san, this is, um, my future brother-in-law, he came to pick me up.”
Ume looked from him, her eyes somewhat less suspicious from what Naomasa could see before she settled back on him.
“I see.” The words were quiet as she turned more fully to face them, glancing at the phone. “Are you leaving now?”
“Well, I suppose that de…” Haimawari started, but Naomasa cut him off.
“Well, actually we have something we need to discuss. Did you want to use Haimawari’s phone for longer?” Naomasa said as he held out the phone.
She looked at his hand then the phone for a moment before nodding her head and with the non prosthetic hand took it from him. He watched her take the phone and lay back down, draping the blanket back over herself before he headed for the door.
Haimawari followed him out to the hallway and he closed the door before lowering his voice and speaking again.
“Who is she and where did she come from?”
“I don’t know.” Haimawari said, shrugging his shoulders.
Not a lie. Naomasa started again.
“Alright, where are her parents, or guardian, is there anyone responsible for her to talk to?” Or arrest.
“Not sure.” Haimawari replied again.
Naomasa brought up his fingers to his nose, also not a lie.
“Okay, have you in your time with her actually learned anything about why a girl who looks no older than ten is an amputee and has more scars than a war veteran?”
“Well, her name is Ume, she’s thirteen, she has a cat named Danny, and she has a healing quirk.” Haimawari counted off the things he said before pausing and thinking. “Oh, and she’s kind of blunt. Other than that she didn’t tell me much and I didn’t want to pry.”
Naomasa grimaced, there was no lie but it was, all in all, unhelpful. Haimawari being, well, him, meant that he wasn’t great at getting information out of anybody, but it seemed for the moment Haimawari was probably the person who could get any information out of the girl. She was obviously suspicious of himself, which, if any of what he suspected was true, probably wasn’t an unusual response. It wasn’t a great position regardless.
“Right, so Ume, no surname? Also, she has a cat?”
“She said it was just Ume, don’t know why. And yeah, it was with her when we found her, Eraserhead took it to be looked over by a vet while I took her here. He said he’d drop by later to return it to her. I told her that before she asked if she could use my phone.” Haimawari answered.
Taking in a deep breath, Naomasa calmed his nerves. There would be no point going into this angry, even if it did anger him to see someone so young so… damaged. However, this meant that this was going to be uncomfortable.
“Okay, I’m going to have to ask her some questions. Can you help facilitate that?”
His future brother-in-law rubbed the back of his head and looked away.
“I’m not so sure, is now really the best time? She didn’t seem like she really wanted to talk more about, well, whatever it was that happened.”
“Victims of abuse rarely do.” Haimawari flinched at that reply but inclined his head.
“Yeah, okay, I’ll try. Just, I don’t want things to get too bad.” He said.
“I’ll pull back if it’s too much, but if whoever did any of that to her is still out there, I want to know as much as possible.”
With that Haimawari nodded his head again and led Naomasa back into the room. When the door opened again the girl on the bed rose and looked at them as they entered and approached. Her eyes tracked their moments as Naomasa sat himself across from her on the adjacent bed. Haimawari looked a little awkward for a moment before deciding to place himself on the bed with Naomasa. Haimawari looked between them then Ume and let out a deep breath before beginning.
“So, um, Ume-san, my um, future brother-in-law, Naomasa Tsukauchi, and he has some questions to ask you, about well…”
“My scars.” Ume replied. She turned as she did so. The blanket caught on her legs as she sat on the bed, back straight, both hands in her lap as if she was sitting at attention. “I understand.”
It was eerie the way she said it, it was very matter of fact in tone and posture when she did so. Very much not like a child, but then Naomasa supposed people who get this type of treatment tend to age very quickly mentally.
“Let’s just start with the basics, alright? How are you feeling Ume? Are you hurt?”
“I’m not hurt anymore, and I feel fine.” She replied in an even voice.
The first part was true, but the second was a lie. She hid it well, though. He continued the questions along those lines, was she in any pain, where was she from, did she have any family, who was responsible for her. Most of the answers were evasive or short and unhelpful. He didn’t expect much more, but it really didn’t concern him as he got to the meat of the matter.
“Well, Ume, who, who exactly gave you those scars?”
“Multiple people.” She replied very quickly, it was automatic and very unhelpful even if it wasn’t a lie.
“Okay, do you have the names of the, of the people who hurt you?” He said.
“It doesn’t matter if I tell you.” She said.
“Why is that? Are you afraid of them?” He asked, this time leaning forward. “You don’t have to be. You’re safe here, the people who hurt you can’t find you.”
She let out a short coarse laugh. It surprised him, especially with how sudden and also how absolutely bitter it was from such a high pitched voice.
“Heh, safe,” She shook her head. “Sorry, but it doesn’t matter because all the people, all those who hurt me, you don’t have to protect me from them because they’re already dead.”
He took a breath in. She wasn’t lying. She looked away from him, her eyes half lidded with a small smile on her face that didn’t reach her eyes.
It was a confusing expression that was gone in an instant as the more neutral face she held for most of the conversation returned as she looked at him. She met his eyes. The grey eyes flickered in the light as she examined him.
“So, officer, did you have any other questions?”
“Was it that obvious?” Naomasa asked.
“Most police are by their very nature busy bodies, so yes, but it’s alright. You were just trying to help me, I appreciate the sentiment even if there is nothing you can do.” She looked away from him back down at the bed, her false hand moving slightly, the wooden clamp at the end clutching the cover. “So you can continue if you like.”
Naomasa took a deep breath, calming his nerves among the change in tone. Really, it was strange, until this point she was almost professional and coarse in her answers. Now she was, well, more open in her expression, especially her eyes, which were more melancholic than anything else. It was a strange expression on someone so young.
“I would like to ask you about your quirk. You used it to heal Haimawari’s arm? Is that all it can do?”
“I don’t have a quirk that can do any harm to people if that’s what you mean.” She replied. There was no lie. “I can however heal people, well, I guess it’d be more accurate to say I can mend bones and deal with bruises and bleeding and the like. I can’t do things like fix disease and things like regrowing limbs or organs are beyond me. I’m actually not that great a healer all things considered.”
She wasn’t lying either, or more accurately she believed that to be so even though just doing those things alone was an amazing feat. Naomasa could count on one hand how many known people with healing quirks resided in Japan, and they were all from the same family.
“I see. Well then, for now that is all Ume-san.” Naomasa stood and looked at Haimawari. “We should be going then, so Haimawari will need his phone back if that’s okay.”
Ume nodded and set the phone forward on the bed.
“I understand, though if it isn’t too much trouble could you ask someone to maybe get me a tablet?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Naomasa replied, gesturing to Haimawari, who was grabbing his phone. “Anyway, it was nice to meet you Ume-san, I believe I may see you again soon.”
“I certainly hope it isn’t in unpleasant circumstances, officer.” She said with a slight half pout. It was just a little bit teasing.
“You’ll just have to stay out of trouble until then.” Naomasa replied as he stood and headed towards the door. Haimawari gave his goodbyes before heading out the door. When it closed behind them Naomasa put a hand on his face and let out a deep sigh.
“Is something wrong, Tsukauchi-san?” Haimawari asked him as they walked down the hallway together.
“Wrong might not be the right word. But things are going to be complicated. For now, I’d like for you not to disclose anything about Ume-san to anyone.” Naomasa replied.
“Oh, why’s that?” He asked.
Taking another deep breath he turned down the hallway to look at the door, then looked at the nurses. A damaged girl with an evasive past, and one with an ability like hers. It was going to be a massive headache if and when this got out.
“We’ll want to hold off as long as possible to prevent the inevitable target that’s going to be painted on that girl’s back.”
Probably read some fics that stated it to the contrary, but according to the OVAs quirks capable of healing are really rare. In fact, only three people in the series proper have quirks capable of healing others, one of them is Recovery Girl, one of them can’t control it at all, and one of them is a villain.
(Sorry I missed the update last week, lots of things happened.)