Uraraka swallowed hard against the nausea that rose in the back of her throat, big brown eyes glued to the stopwatch ticking away in her hand. She floated about ten feet off the ground of Gym Gamma, letting the wild air created by the quirks of her classmates push her wherever it saw fit. The sounds of explosions, yelling, and cracking cement blurred together in a hum that Uraraka pushed to the edges of her consciousness. All that mattered was that she stay afloat just a bit longer.
"Oy! Fuckstick! Find somewhere else to be useless!"
Uraraka yelped in surprise and tore her eyes from the timer to see Baguko glaring up at her from the ground below. He was breathing hard and coated in sweat and dust and that familiar, petulant fury radiated from his eyes.
In the split second it took to take in the fact that she'd somehow floated halfway across the gym and into Bakugo's walled-off training area, Uraraka also became instantly and painfully aware of the nausea roiling in her gut.
"I said get out—ARG!" Bakugo's command was cut off with a howl of disgust as the contents of Uraraka's stomach spilled out on top of him.
She considered staying in the air actually forever to avoid having to land beside him, but dizziness caused her vision to sway and it was better to face his wrath for one puke-fest instead of two.
Face feeling a little green, Uraraka pressed the tips of her fingers together. "R-Release." She landed in front of him and put her hands on her knees, breathing hard. "Sorry, B-Bakugo, you surp—"
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" yelled the boy, not even bothering to wipe the vomit away. His hands crackled and sparked dangerously at his sides as he took the extra step he needed to get in her face. Uraraka, still bending over, found herself looking at his feet. "First you come into my zone and when I tell you to leave you go and puke your guts out? Who the fuck do you think you are?"
Wiping the back of her hand across her mouth, Uraraka straightened, pulling her face into what she hoped was something defiantly apologetic. She wasn't really sure what exactly to say, because she knew she'd be upset if someone threw up all over her too, but she was saved from having to come up with something by Kirishima, who climbed atop the wall Cementoss had erected between Bakugo and the rest of the class.
"Yo, Bakugo," he said, hopping down and surveying the situation with a wrinkled nose. "It's not very manly to yell at a girl. You okay, Uraraka?"
"You wanna go, hair-for-brains?"
Kirishima held up his hands in mock surrender as other students began appearing on top of the wall, curiosity getting the better of them. Uraraka felt her face go from green to red.
"Uraraka! You should not be so careless about where you float!" Iida said loudly, moving his arm up and down. "And Bakugo! You know she is prone to sickness while using her quirk! It was unwise to distract her. Both of you are at fault here! Please make better choices in the future!"
"Like hell it's—"
But Bakugo's retort was cut off by the appearance of All Might, who managed a quick "I AM HERE" before reverting to his emaciated form. Tsuyu put a steadying hand on his elbow as he teetered for a moment on the wall.
"Class time is nearly over, young heroes!" He coughed violently. "But I have a special lesson in store for next week! Please change back into your uniforms and meet in the classroom so I might discuss it with you! Everyone, please allow Young Bakugo first use of the shower!"
Bakugo growled low in his throat and pushed past Kirishima and Uraraka to blast a hole in one of the walls. He stormed toward the locker rooms without a backward glance.
Uraraka winced a bit and followed Kirishima out the newly created exit. Deku jumped back down from above and patted her on the back.
"He'll cool off," he said in a tone that spoke from experience. "Or...not cool off, but redirect."
He smiled with his signature thousand-watt-optimism and Uraraka's nausea was stirred up again by the butterflies that wreaked havoc in her stomach at the sight.
Vomiting on Bakugo was one thing, but she thought she'd die of embarrassment if she puked on Deku, so she gave him a quick nod and rushed out of the gym.
In the locker room, Mina and Hagakure were in fits of laughter.
"Oh my god, Uraraka," Mina gasped between giggles. "That was the most amazing thing I've ever seen! Did you see Bakugo's face? I thought you were about to be toast!"
"So did I," said Yaoyorozu, shaking her head. "You should pay more attention to where you're floating. Have you thought about talking to the support department about some sort of directional enhancement to your costume?"
"Mood killer," Mina said, sticking her tongue out at Yaoyorozu.
"Yeah, I have," Uraraka said, going to her locker and pulling her spare toothbrush from her backpack. "Hatsume is working on a design for me. I'm just trying to extend my air-time right now. Zero Gravity mobility won't mean much if I can't stay afloat."
Yaoyorozu nodded. "Still...of all the people you could've run into…"
Uraraka cringed, taking as long as possible to brush her teeth. There would likely be hell to pay when she get back to the classroom.
Clenching and unclenching his fists, Bakugo slouched in his desk. He could practically feel Deku opening and closing his mouth behind him, and knew that shitstain wanted to say something about how he'd yelled at his little fangirl earlier. Bakugo's palms started sweating again at the thought.
"Uraraka," he growled as the brunette entered the room, she met his eye and gave him a pathetic sort of grimace. Bakugo flipped her off.
"Everyone! Please find your seats!" yelled the class rep, and Bakugo rolled his eyes, a headache beginning in his temple.
All Might entered then, or what was left of All Might. That withered body had done nothing to dampen the former Number One's indomitable spirit, but it still gave Bakugo a jolt when he saw what his idol had been reduced to. Almost unconsciously, he sat up a bit straighter.
"Next week," All Might began, "we will be combining several different aspects of your hero training! Quirk extension, special moves, and combo moves!" The hero looked around the class, waiting for a reaction.
"I have a question, sensei!" the class rep exclaimed loudly, his hand rigidly in the air. "What do you mean by 'combo moves'? Will we be combining our own special moves into new moves or working with the Quirks of our classmates?"
"The latter, Young Iida," said All Might. "You have each been assigned a partner, with whom Aizawa and I think you could effectively combine your Quirks! We hope you will be able to come up with things beyond even our imagining! You will have the weekend to discuss possibilities with your partner and all of next week to train and practice. Then, at the end, you will face off against the other pairs in a team Battle Royale! Grades will be awarded based on your creativity and teamwork!"
"What will the groups be?" asked the grape-headed scum that sat behind Deku. Bakugo imagined the twerp drooling in the direction of one or all of the girls.
"Glad you asked!" All Might whipped out a list. "We tried to make different groups from those in the final exam, so that you can gain more experience working with different types of Quirks! The teams will be as follows: Yaoyorozu Momo and Midoriya Izuku, Jiro Kyoko and Hagakure Toru, Mineta Minoru and Kaminari Denki, Ashido Mina and Kirishima Eijiro, Todoroki Shoto and Asui Tsuyu, Sato Rikido and Ojiro Mashirao, Koda Koji and Shoji Mezo, Sero Hanta and Aoyama Yuga, Tokoyami Fumikage and Iida Tenya, and last but not least, Uraraka Ochako and Bakugo Katsuki! Isn't this wonderful? Plus Ultra, young students! I expect great things!"
"What do you mean I got stuck with him?" the grape-headed one squealed. "My Quirk would be perfect with Uraraka or Ashido or Yaoyorozu! Bakugo, Kirishima, Midoriya! One of you switch with me!"
"There will be no switching!" All Might said loudly, just as Bakugo was about to volunteer.
"Stuck with Uraraka my ass," he grumbled, shooting daggers at the girl. She was ignoring him, however, and looking instead at Deku. Fucking great, thought Bakugo. If she says one word about that damn nerd I'll blast her fucking face off.
Just my rotten luck, Uraraka thought glumly, glancing between Deku and Yaoyorozu. Deku gets paired with the most beautiful and talented girl in the class and I get stuck with a homicidal maniac.
"Class dismissed! Please take time this weekend to meet with your partners and strategize!"
Chairs scraped as the class stood, most seeking out their partners right away. Uraraka scanned the groups, trying to size them up. Deku and Yaoyorozu would definitely be a problem, but there were tons of other strong teams too. All Might and Aizawa had really gone all out in pairing people with their best matches.
Well, everyone but me.
Steeling herself, Uraraka made her way through the teams toward Bakugo, who was making a beeline for the door.
"Hey, Bakugo, I—"
"Out of my way, fuckstick."
"Wait! We're supposed to be a team. Can we at least be civil for a week?"
"A team?" growled Bakugo, continuing out the door and down the hall. Uraraka followed, nearly jogging to match his pace. "What exactly do you think you can add to my Quirk? Unless you want to make exploding puke then you might as well piss off."
Uraraka fumbled for words. Why was he being so mean? He'd seen her as an equal at the Sports Festival, why was he being like this now? "You don't have to be a jerk, Bakugo," she said, her voice shaking slightly. He kept walking. "Look, I'm sorry for earlier, okay? It was an accident and I'm working on the whole nausea thing. We're going to have to work together if we want to beat Deku and—"
"YOU THINK I CAN'T BEAT THAT INCOMPETENT MORON?" Bakugo yelled, turning on her and stopping her in her tracks. It had been the wrong thing to say on Uraraka's part. "I plan on becoming number one and I don't need the help of some whiny fangirl to do it."
"You always fawning over that damn nerd and it's pathetic. You make me sick. If you love him so damned much, go bother him instead. I'll beat him on my own."
Bakugo turned on his heel and stalked off, leaving Uraraka red in the face. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes and she blinked them away. Stupid, arrogant jerk, she thought, crossing her arms and turning back toward the classroom. She wasn't that obvious about her feelings for Deku, was she? That Bakugo, with the emotional intelligence of a sea slug, was able to pick up on it? The other groups began emerging then, talking amicably among themselves.
Deku and Yaoyorozu were laughing at something Mina was saying, but Deku stopped when he saw Uraraka's face.
"What's wrong, Uraraka?"
"What do you think?" Mina asked, rolling her eyes and coming to put an arm around Uraraka's shoulders, guiding her back toward the rest of the class. "She got stuck with Explodey McSplode-face as a partner right after she puked on him during training. That can't have been a pleasant conversation."
Deku flinched. "Kacchan is difficult to deal with, that's for sure," he said sympathetically. "But if anyone can do it, you can, Uraraka!"
She felt her face heat again and quickly looked away. "Th-thanks, Deku."
"I bet you and Kacchan can come up with some great combos!"
"For sure," said Mina, though she sounded less convinced than Deku. "All Might definitely paired you guys up for a reason. The people we should really feel sorry for are Kaminari and Sero! Poor things are stuck with Mineta and Aoyama—yeesh."
"True," Uraraka said. She clenched her fist in front of her and stomped her foot. "I'll make Bakugo work with me no matter what!"
"That is the correct attitude!" said Iida, coming up on her other side and thumping her on the back. "Perhaps by tomorrow, Bakugo will have forgotten all about the vomiting incident and the two of you can move forward as a team!"
Uraraka buried her face in her hands. "Why do you guys keep bringing that up?"
"Because that was the best face I've ever seen Bakugo make!" said Mina, grinning ear to ear. "And that's saying something!"
Rather than going straight back to the dorm with the rest, Bakugo shoved his hands in his pockets and made his way to the track that ran around the circumference of the campus. A few older students were running along it, but Bakugo maintained his leisurely pace when he stepped onto the red cement.
Things hadn't been the same since All Might's retirement, even though the once-Number-One hero tried to keep up a sense of bravado for the students' sake. But strength or no, Bakugo knew that All Might's judgment was sound. If he thought Explosion and Zero Gravity could work well together...there must be some sort of combo that could get him a passing grade.
Working with Zero Gravity would be one thing, but working with Uraraka...that would be something else. He'd seen the way she looked at Deku, heard the way she praised him, and noticed how she tried to mimic him. It had to be obvious to just about everyone how infatuated she was.
The pounding in his temple resumed, and Bakugo dug his fingers into the sides of his head.
He didn't get the Deku-hype. Uraraka loved him, All Might chose him, the Half-and-Half bastard respected him. And for what? For a Quirk he didn't earn? For something he couldn't control and didn't know what to do with? For something he hadn't spent years honing and developing?
His palms were sweating and Bakugo took a deep breath.
"I judged it was my responsibility to help him stand in the arena," All Might had said when Bakugo asked why he chose Deku. "And not you, who had long already been standing in it."
All Might believed that Bakugo was a contender.
His Quirk sparked at the voice behind him, but he ignored her and picked up his pace.
"Bakugo! Come on."
"Leave me the fuck alone, Airhead!"
Uraraka sprinted up beside him, looking unperturbed by his rudeness.
"Tch," he scoffed, refusing to meet her eye.
"You can be mean to me all you like, Bakugo," she said brightly, punching a fist into her open palm. "We're still partners and we still have to work together. We're getting graded on teamwork, remember? I think we should at least try to strategize before Monday. Unless you want everyone else to be ahead of us."
He rarely let anyone speak for so long uninterrupted, but he felt it would be futile to stop her. She'd already proven herself to be unafraid of him.
"Tch," he scoffed again. "Just leave the thinking to me, Airhead."
"Sorry, Bakugo, but it's not going to work that way."
His head throbbed as he turned to face her, a glare sharp in his eyes. "The fuck was—"
But the determined gleam her own eyes matched the look she'd given him at the Sports Festival, and Bakugo fought the urge to glance up and make sure there weren't rocks hovering above his head.
"We're partners, Bakugo, a team," she cut him off, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. "I know you think you're stronger and smarter and better than me, and maybe you are, but we're equals in this. We'll get the same grade. I'm half the operation, so I'll be doing half the planning. I'm not just going to sit back and let you make all the decisions. This is part of our training to be pros, and I need as much practice as I can get."
Bakugo put his crackling hands into his pockets, trying to assume a nonchalant stance. "Hell if I care," he shrugged. "Do everything if you want. But I'm telling you, I don't need your help to beat fucking Deku."
"You know...I followed you to make things right," she said, suddenly refusing to meet his eye. Bakugo's curiosity sparked just a bit. "I...I told them not to try to save you when the League of Villains took you and I wanted to apologize for being so cowardly. But now...I think I'll save my breath. You don't need my help, we'll see about that."
The self-assured look in her eyes made him gag. Fucking brilliant, he thought, leaving her standing alone on the track. She's finally decided to show her backbone.
But maybe, maybe she'd let that backbone show in the Battle Royale. Maybe he could use Deku's fangirl to his advantage.
And she wasn't wrong. He hadn't wanted them to save him.
(Meanwhile, Naegi Nobusuke)
"Naegi, have you considered our request?"
The hero-turned-pop-star looked at his agent. "About finding a suitable match? Of course. I think it is the best thing we can do for my career at the present time."
"And have you gone through the list of candidates?"
"I wouldn't call it much of a list. Mt. Lady would be ideal, but she's just a bit too old. It might be seen as creepy and defile both our reputations. So instead, I've chosen someone more suitable. Someone up-and-coming."
"Oh?" his agent raised one of her manicured eyebrows. "And who might that be?"
"An intern with the Ryukyu Agency."
"Hado Nejire? She's almost a sidekick isn't she?"
"No, not Hado." He slid a picture toward his agent. A girl with chestnut hair, brown eyes, and a pink and black suit. "U.A. Freshman: Uraraka Ochako."
"I recognize her. She did well in the Sports Festival. And she's so cute."
"Her Quirk, Zero Gravity, is an excellent match for mine."
"I will speak with her immediately and get everything arranged."
"Uraraka Ochako," said Naegi. "You will be mine."