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For all of her brilliance, Ochako has never been good at dealing with romantic feelings. Friendship? Sure, she’s a pro at that! It’s easy for her to get along with others, and despite preferring the company of a small number of close friends, there are very few people in her class (and outside of it, too) that she doesn’t get along with. Iida used to say that there is a certain something to Ochako’s resilience, to her strength that draws people close. Similar to Deku, yet different: another kind of strength, another kind of warmth.

Dating, though? She’s terrible at that. It’s not completely her fault, to be fair: her first two dating experiences have been something akin to a cataclysm, and now that she has finally put the so-called Great Sexualy Crisis of her first year of high-school behind her, she just wants to put that sort of drama behind her too. Focus more on her scholastic carrier and her future job as a professional.

Fate, though, has different plans for her.

She doesn’t see the warning signs, occupied as she is juggling between exams and her part-time ― gaze lingering a little too much on Mina when she should be paying attention in class, bright smiles that make her knees weak, the slight tremble of her hands as Mina paints her nails, tongue peeking from between her lips.

When it hits her, it does so with the strength and speed of a shinkansen. She’s working on a group project for Cementoss’ class with Deku, Tsuyu, and Iida in the library. Todoroki is there with them too, although he’s currently fast asleep on Iida’s shoulder, and she’s almost one hundred percent sure he was assigned to Tokoyami’s group. She doesn’t know why he’s here. He most likely doesn’t either. Not that she minds, he’s not being of any bother, and it’s adorable to see how hard Iida tries not to shift too much so his boyfriend can rest peacefully on him.

As she’s considering the pros and cons of taking a picture of them – pro: it will embarrass Tenya and it’s her role as his best friend to embarrass him as much as physically possible; con: Todoroki gets whiny if you wake him from his naps and it would make her feel guilty – her phone pings inside her bag. With an apologetic smile to her companions, she goes to retrieve it. Her initial intention is to shut the volume off, tell whoever is texting her that she’s busy and go back to her project.

What she does instead is drop the phone on the ground. Her hands are frozen mid-air, her mouth stuck open.

“Ochako, is everything alright?” Tsuyu asks. The sound of her voice snaps Ochako’s brain out of whatever trance it fell into, her thoughts finally catching up with her actions and with a loud swear, she dives on the ground to check the phone for cracks and then just… stares at the screen. She has an expression on her face that could best be described as halfway between dumbfounded and shocked.

Tsuyu is on her feet by that point and crouches near her. She doesn’t say anything, just takes the phone from her hands to check out the source of her best friend’s distress. The sight of Ashido Mina pulling a peace sign with a blinding smile greets her. The red of Kirishima’s spiky hair can be seen right behind her.

got some new sparkling nail polish while I was out with the boys 2day!!! cant wait to use it on my best girl ( ´ `) *:  ・゚

Tsuyu takes a look at Ochako’s increasingly redder face, then at the phone, then back to Ochako again.

“I’m sorry to be the one to inform you that you have a crush.”

Ochako sobs and covers her face with both her hands. Tsuyu pats her shoulder, sympathetic.

 

Stage 1 – Grief and Isolation

Ever since the dormitory first opened up, Mina’s presence has become an accidental, but precious constant in her life. It was a whiplash to go from living alone to sharing close space with all of her classmates at first. After Mineta was expelled and therefore not allowed to loiter around anymore, it became easier for girls to feel safe in the common room, having sleepovers and being in each other’s space all the time in general. It was only thanks to Mina and her insistence to spend time together that she was able to get used to the company, to the steady intimacy of it all.

One of her favourite parts of living on the same floor is that every day when they get up, her and Mina will take the elevator together and have breakfast together with Tsuyu. It was a habit easily formed during the first weeks in the dorms, so now it comes natural for Mina to knock on her door when she's running late, or for her to go check on Mina if Mina doesn’t show up in time.

This morning, though, Ochako sets her alarm an hour earlier than usual. It’s way too early for her circadian rhythm to catch up; she knows this because even after a refreshing cold shower and slapping herself twice, she still feels numb from sleepiness. The only good part of it is getting to have breakfast with Iida and Deku for once, since both of them are early risers – they go jogging together every morning, how cute is that. Chatting with them allows her to momentarily put out the thought of why she’s up at such a hellish hour.

Mina doesn’t make it in time when classes start. There’s not a sign of her being alive by the time second period starts either and the worried questions inevitably rise.

“Uraraka, you live next to her, don’t you?” Kirishima asks, and Ochako freezes on the spot. “You usually come to class together, do you know what happened? Is she sick or something?”

“Ah— I’m sorry, but today I woke up earlier to catch up with some homework and I completely forgot about her!” She replies, hoping nobody will hear the subtle guilt interlaced in her tone of voice.

Here’s the deal with Mina: she has a bit of a habit to play videogames late at night when she can’t sleep. It’s not unusual to find her drooling on the common room couch, joystick still in hand and TV screen on idle. The problem rises with the fact that lately, she can’t seem to lay down her 2 A.M. Dark Souls session, that can easily last until 5 or 6 A.M.

"It's like regular Dark Souls, but worse!" She explained in class once, voice slurring from lack of sleep and drooling a little. Aizawa had not looked happy with her explanation for falling asleep in class by the look in his eyes, but he let her go with just a warning and made her promise to see somebody for her chronic insomnia.

Kirishima knows this, Ochako knows this, everybody in class knows this. Which is why the redhead rubs the back of his head and sighs, defeated. “So as far as we know, she’s still sleeping. Ugh. Aizawa-sensei is gonna kill her when he finds out.”

Ochako allows herself to relax when Mina’s group of friends leaves her alone to discuss the problem on their own, but when she turns back to her desk she finds a very familiar pair of eyes staring right at her.

Tsuyu is very obviously not pleased with her – they’ve been friends for a while now, Ochako can read the meaning behind the slight changes to her blank face as easy as an open book – and she looks ready to say something, but then Aizawa enters the class and tells her to go back to her seat.

“At lunch we’ll talk.” She whispers and Ochako knows she has no way out from this, so she just nods and resigns herself to a through questioning.

Needless to say, she doesn’t follow a single word of Aizawa’s lesson.

 

Ochako dared to hope, for a second, that it would be only her and Tsuyu in this discussion, but of course her friend managed to have the rest of the peanut gallery to join in. Tokoyami seems to try his best to ignore the situation at hand, though, Dark Shadow only coming out every now and then to demand scritches from Tsuyu, so that’s a relief.

“So you set a clock one hour earlier just to… avoid Mina?” It’s Deku’s careful question. He doesn’t even wait for Ochako to get started on her rice before putting the metaphorical lamp in her face, and it’s to be expected since he feels “personally involved” in Ochako’s sentimental situation since she helped him out with his.

(That and of course, the fact that he probably still feels guilty about dating her. But she’s not gonna bring up anything regarding that when she has another problem entirely to worry about)

“I didn’t! I just wanted to finish my English homework, I swear!” She tries to explain, but it’s obvious that nobody is buying it. Todoroki, the person who helped her out with her English homework two days prior, raises a single eyebrow at her without any comment.

Her shoulders slump. “Okay, maybe I did,” she admits. “But! I did for a good reason!! I felt too confused to face Mina today and I hoped avoiding her would resolve that!”

There’s a collective groan at the table. Even from the dark demonic entity in the form of a bird.

“I swear, it’s as if you go through the five stages of grief every time you get a crush on somebody.” Tsuyu croaks.

“The five stages of what?” Deku perks up from his meal, his face lighting up in interest.

“I think it’s some psychology thing about how people deal with death.” Todoroki supplies, always the helpful one, and Tsuyu nods.

“Yeah it describes the emotional states a person goes through after a great loss in life. It also describes perfectly what Ochako becomes like whenever she likes somebody.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ochako tries, although unable to stop herself from grimacing.

Tsuyu stares at her. Not many people know how many different emotions a blank stare from a frog can convey. “You know, like what happened with Midoriya back in first year? Or should I bring up the disaster with Hatsume?”

Ochako slams her hands on the table, earning a half-hearted “Uraraka, please control yourself” from Iida, who is trying his best not to take part in this conversation. What a wonderful guy. No wonder he’s her best friend. “No! No, we promised not to talk about that ever again!!” She protests, cheeks reddening. Deku ducks his head too, feigning great interest in the scars on his hands.

She doesn’t like to think back about her romantic life during first year and what a mess it had been. She resolved things pretty fast with Deku, despite the initial decision not to do anything about her crush: they dated for around two weeks and exchanged a really awkward first kiss before deciding they were better off friends. The aftermath, though, had been so unbearably tense it took the intervention of four different people to get them to talk to each other again, including Aoyama who had started feeling guilty about convincing her she liked Deku in the first place.

The “Hatsume situation” (as Tsuyu, Deku and Todoroki referred to it), on the other hand, had been another can of worms entirely. Part of it had been due to Ochako being completely unaware of her own feelings towards Mei, too stubborn to admit that she liked her, that she liked girls in general, and another part due to her belief that Mei was crushing on Deku and only saw her as a potential rival. So when poor Mei gathered her courage and asked Ochako out, she found herself on the receiving end of all of Ochako’s uncertainties and frustration. Long story short, she screamed at her and then ran away.

Really, it was a miracle Mei eventually forgave her for it. Had Ochako been in her place, she would have avoided herself until the end of high-school.

“And anyway, last year was last year! Now I can deal with this… uh…”

She can’t finish the sentence, because with the same grace and wrath of a goddess, Mina chooses that moment to appear. She stands in the middle of the canteen, her hair a mess of untamed curls and her necktie crooked.

“You!” She screams out when she spots Ochako, despite her best attempt to hide behind Todoroki. She marches loudly to her table, loud enough that Ochako could hear her heavy steps even over the heartbeat drumming in her ears. “You traitor!! You didn’t wake me up today!”

Ochako winces. “I’m sorry, I--”

“I don’t wanna hear excuses, Aizawa confiscated the Xbox again because of you!” She points an accusatory finger at Ochako. Technically, it’s Mina’s fault for playing until late, but Ochako is not gonna tell her this now that her guilt is slowly suffocating her.

“You have to make it up to me!” Mina claps her hand, leaving her momentary anger in favour of a happy, but vindictive expression. “Today, my room. I have a punishment ready for you. What do you say?”

Ochako can only nod dumbly. Tsuyu snorts next to her, the traitor.

“Don’t look so glum! I’m not actually punishing you.” Mina giggles. “Honestly, you’re lucky you’re so cute. Had it been anybody else, I would use them as guinea pigs for this new brand of hair dye I still have to try.”

She slaps Ochako’s back and with a loud “see ya later then!”, she’s off to Bakugou’s table.

When she’s out of sight once again. Ochako lays her head on the table, puts her arms around it and screams, sound barely muffled by the plastic surface – or maybe metallic? She never questioned what the cafeteria tables are made of before.

“Uhh, would some soba make you feel better?” Todoroki asks her, painfully awkward in his worry, and Ochako is desperate enough that she accepts the offer for food with a slight nod.

 

Stage 2 – Anger

As it turns out, Mina’s idea for a punishment is asking Ochako to tutor her for the rest of the afternoon.

“Blasty told me he isn't gonna help me out until I start unfucking my sleep schedule, so now it’s up to you to make sure I don't fail any classes until he stops sulking.” Mina proclaims, dumping a pile of books on her desk.

Studying with Mina isn’t as bad an experience as she makes it out to be, truth to be told. Sure, her brain goes a little bit too fast for other people to keep up sometimes, she’s easily distracted and shifts position on her chair every two seconds, but she’s also quick at getting things and her memory is impressive. She just needs somebody to make sure her thoughts don't get constantly derailed while she studies and that would be usually Bakugou’s role, but Ochako is more than happy to take his place for a short while.

Or, well, she usually would be.

Right now, there’s a voice in the back of her head screeching in panic as Mina settles her chair a little too close to Ochako, her elbows brushing hers. The overwhelming pink of the room isn't helping her calm down the slightest bit: everything is Mina and it’s doing nothing to help the confusion in her head since the day prior, when that awful (wonderful, adorable, gorgeous) selfie she received threw all her plans for the day in the trash.

She needs out or she's going to die here. Or she will accidentally make a fool of herself in front of her sort-of-i-am-not-quite-sure-yet crush. Which is basically the same as dying.

“Are you sure there isn't anything else I can do to make it up for you?” She asks, but Mina shakes her head.

“I'm behind in a few classes already, I don't wanna risk failing.” Her voice drops down for a second in what appears to be worry, but immediately it goes back to normal and she elbows Ochako in the ribs. “Come on, I’m not such a terrible student! Bakugou screams less at me than he does at the other guys.”

Ochako has many doubts about the validity of “screaming” as a teaching tactic, but doesn't comment on it.

The thing is, Ochako wants to help her, she really does. She has seen Mina sob and scream after a failed exam before, berating herself for things she can't control – medications can only help so much, after all. But she can't be of any utility in this state. Maybe she should speak with Bakugou? If he convinced him that it’s her fault that the Xbox is now gone, he will scream at her and go back to tutoring Mina like usual.

There's no way out of today, though. Thankfully Mina insists on starting with the recently assigned chapters on hero history, so she can just study on her own while Mina reads in silence.

It’s a disaster. The textbook is indeed open under her eyes, but she’s been reading the same sentence over and over again, taking in the letters one by one, but unable to discern which words they form. She hates the way her thoughts wander, the way her fingers twitch, and what if she reached out and allowed her fingers to brush Mina’s?

Ochako’s hand retreats in her lap as if burned, her face on fire, too. If Mina notices anything suspicious though, she doesn't mention it.

Seconds pass by, slower than drops of water dripping from a faucet. Every now and then Mina will break the silence to ask questions or demand that Ochako quizzes her on what she’s just memorized. Eventually after a while they switch to literature, which doesn't do anything to help Ochako’s concentration skills but presents a bigger challenge for Mina.

An hour passes without a hitch in Mina’s side and with many difficulties’ on Ochako’s own. Her nails dig into her palm as her frustration levels rise the more time passes by.

If she can’t focus on her own studies then what can she do for a friend? If she’s not of any help will Mina think she’s slacking off because she doesn’t want to make it up for her? Does this all make her a bad friend? She surely feels like a bad friend right now.

“So what the author meant is that— hey, you ok there?” Mina sounds worried.

The soft touch of Mina’s palm on her hand electrocutes her on the spot. It’s too much, too much, her reflexes kick in and she tears away her hand from under Mina’s with excessive strength.

She doesn't do it on purpose, it’s not a gesture borne from actual anger (and if this is anger, it's obviously not directed at Mina) but she can see Mina’s face fall and for a split second, she could swear she looks heartbroken.

Ochako can't bear this anymore.

“Sorry! I was— I got lost in my thought, I just remembered that I didn't call my dad today and he had something important to tell me, I need to, yeah!! I need to go for now, we’ll try again tomorrow!!”

It’s such a weak excuse that Ochako feels like kicking herself.

Mina nods, directing a pale imitation of her usual smile at her. “It’s ok! We can do this some other time don't worry, go talk to your old man!”

This is bad, she realizes, this is going really bad and she needs to mend this before it can turn into a fracture in their friendship, but if she were to say anything more she would probably only make things worse.

So Ochako takes her bag and her books and runs into her room. Once back into the safety of her four walls, she allows herself to fall against the door and slowly slip on the floor.

She was lying when she said she was over her “no crushes” phase in first year, she’s feeling exactly as bad as she felt when she was still closeted. Again she’s running, again she’s ruining the wonderful friendship she has with somebody just because of her stupid feelings. If she needed any more proof that crushes are a bad idea for her, there it is.

She sighs and rests her head on her knees.

She needs to learn how to keep this crush under reign, before things spiral out of control. Again.

 

Stage 3 – Bargaining

Ochako is aware of the fact that she’s being overdramatic.

“You’re being overdramatic,” Tsuyu reiterates once again for good measure, and Ochako resists the urge to sigh.

“I know I am, I just don’t know how to stop this.” She tears off a handful of grass from the ground in a fit of frustration and immediately feels bad about it. The weather isn’t exactly the best to be spending time outside, but Tsuyu is at most comfortable surrounded by humidity and Ochako doesn’t mind getting her butt cold if it means spending some time with her and being away from everybody else, especially from Mina. After the tutoring fiasco, Ochako had eventually calmed down enough to come back and apologize for her behaviour, yet things were still tense between them. It didn’t help that Ochako still rouse earlier to avoid spending the morning with her, nor that she hadn’t attempted studying with Mina again. Instead, she had to confront Bakugou to have him take her in again. Getting screamed at by an edgy classmate had never tasted so much like a defeat before.

Tsuyu is a calming presence and thus the best candidate to tend to Ochako’s carved up soul. She's a well-balanced individual and seems to have everything in her life, from home life to future plans to interpersonal relationships, set straight (ha!).  Therefore she’s usually the one their classmates turn to for guidance in personal matters: she may be a little too blunt, but she isn't mean in her honesty and really does her best to help out those in need.

Her masterpiece had been getting Todoroki, Iida and Deku together. Ochako would have never been able to get those three disasters to confess on her own. Thanks to Tsuyu now instead of having to spend lunches and classes surrounded in unbearable romantic tension (the kind that made her want to sing a Disney song about how her best friends abandoned her, bewitched by a pretty face and heterochromia), they only had to make peace with being the trio’s eternal fourth and fifth wheels.

Small mercies.

So she’s not surprised that Tsuyu has taken it upon herself to address the large, pink elephant in the room. Because of course she’d do this for her. She’s a wonderful friend and Ochako would probably appreciate her words more if she weren’t feeling like crap.

“You know this won’t resolve anything, right?” It’s a genuine question, since Tsuyu doesn't really get sarcasm.

“I know this is a temporary resolution that helps me not ruin a great friendship.”

“But you're still sort of ruining things like this. I’m no expert but I doubt anybody would take well going from seeing a friend every day, several times a day, to them avoiding you on every occasion.”

Ochako hates how right she is.

She’s aware she’s being overdramatic, childish, stupid, and even more, but she can't quite bring herself to stop. In her mind there are two options: one is confess and be rejected and ruin a close relationship forever, and the other is to completely ignore her own feelings until they pass away so that she can stay friends with Mina. No in-betweens, Uraraka-style.

“This is stupid.” Tsuyu croaks, eyes glued on her notes. Ochako abandoned all pretenses of studying once again. “Even if Mina didn't like you back, she's not the kind of person to just drop a friend because of it. You’re not being fair to her.”

“I know! Believe me, I do!!” She snaps. The frustration doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Lovely. “It’s just— I know and at the same time I don't? It’s like I’m stuck in a limbo of doubts and there’s no salvation in the horizon. I should start calling it Schroedinger's crush, because it’s exactly as incomprehensible. I don't want to do this. Please let’s talk about something else.”

Babbling has never been her thing, but it’s quite soothing when your brain seems to have decided that its only modus operandi is “chaos” now. She understands why Deku does it.

Tsuyu nods, ever understanding. “Just make sure this is your choice and it’s not your self-destructive tendencies speaking”.

“I don't have self-destructive tendencies!”

“You sabotage your own relationships before they can even happen.” She supplies. “You always do. It’s because you’re afraid it will interfere with your work as a hero, even if you know this fear is unfounded from seeing half of our classmates dating.”

And she’s right. Again. Ochako wants to scream.

“I’ll reflect on it, ok? Just… not now. Soon.” She concedes at last. Tsuyu nods solemnly.

“That's all I ask. Now stop wasting time or I'll tell Iida you didn't do your homework.”

Ochako glares at her. Some best friends she has.

 

Stage 4 – Depression

More days pass without anything new happening — Ochako still goes to school, still works part-time, and still avoids Mina like the plague.

It takes a week or so for Mina to stop waiting for her by the elevator every morning. Not much has changed from an external point of view: Mina still greets her with that thousand watts smile of hers in class and she still informs her about the latest gossip at school. But they don't talk like they did before; Mina doesn’t seek her company after school, her smile has a forced underside to it, and she went back to having breakfast with Kirishima and Kaminari, instead of sitting with her and Tsuyu.

This is what she wanted, she tells herself. Some time away from Mina, to let this stupid crush not get in the way of their friendship or their future carriers, to allow herself some peace from her insufferably pretty face and her loud laugh and her hair that just look so fluffy, like a cloud. Even her horns are endearing.

Ochako has it so bad and Mina is giving her space. This is exactly what she needs.

Which is why she ends up eating ice cream well past her bedtime in the common room, watching some documentary about elephants and ignoring the emptiness in her chest, while everybody else is having an impromptu party in class B's section of the dormitory, just to bother Monoma. She's gonna be okay, who cares if she's doomed to a life as a loveless cat lady? She doesn't need love. Love is fake and emotions in general are overrated. In other news, elephants have a better love life than her and she should probably change the channel before she starts feeling even worse.

"Uraraka? Is everything alright?"

Crap. She hadn't planned for anybody to be around, yet there’s Momo in all her glory, a mug in her hands and a worried frown on her face. Ochako freezes on the spot, almost dropping the spoonful of chocolate mint ice cream ready in her hand on her plaid.

"Momo! What a surprise, having trouble sleeping?" She asks, her tone of voice an octave too high to pass for casual. In fact, it only seems to deepen Momo's frown. She doesn't push her for answers, though. Without a word, she sits beside her on the sofa and waits for her to speak, patient as she always is.

She reminds her of Todoroki when she acts like this. A silent but steady presence who is just maybe a little awkward, but is always ready to listen when someone is in need. It makes sense  that they must be rubbing each other’s habits off, since they’re such close friends.

Ochako opens her mouth, then hesitates. She doesn't want to burden Momo with her personal problems, even if it's past midnight and she doesn't see herself feeling any better anytime soon.

So instead she asks, "how did you and Kyouka get together? You never told us."

It’s delightful to witness the way prime, posed Yaoyorozu Momo loses her cool and starts blushing at the mentioning of her girlfriend. They've been together for months by now, yet whenever somebody reminds her (directly or not) that they’re dating, she gets jittery in the most adorable way possible.

It warms Ochako’s heart, even in her current state of despair.

“Oh gosh, this is a bit embarrassing.” She begins, her cheeks glowing. “You see, I didn’t… realize it when Kyouka confessed to me.”

Ochako blinks. Uh.

Momo lets out a little laugh in front of her (astonished? confused? both?) expression. “I know, it sounds impossible, I mean how can a person just not realize when they’re on the receiving end of a confession?”

“As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not really well versed when it comes to friendship. Coupled with that, I’ve always been awful at understanding the telling signs of a crush on my own, so when Kyouka asked me out on a date ‘just the two of us, I’m paying obviously,’ I took it as a friendly request, not an externation of feelings. Even worse, we went out for two weeks and even held hands without me noticing anything.

One day in which we were out getting ice cream, I thanked her for getting me my favourite flavour, and she replied with ‘everything for my girlfriend’. I’m not quite sure what kind of face I made, but I know that I dropped the ice cream on myself. When I finally gathered myself enough to clarify the situation, Kyouka couldn’t stop laughing!”

Ochako can’t help it: she bursts out laughing herself. She would feel bad about it, hadn’t Momo also hidden her giggling behind her hand.

“Now you know why I never tell anybody. I count myself lucky I didn’t make a scene and accidentally ruined every chance I had with Kyouka.”

Ochako thinks for a moment about Mei, her “I like you” echoing in her head as she stands there, speechless. She shivers: she’s glad Momo and Kyouka never had to go through anything like that.

Momo’s hand falls on Ochako’s own and squeezes it for a brief moment - not the electrifying experience of holding Mina’s hand, but a familiar warmth. It’s the consoling gesture of a friend reaching out in their moment of need. “Everybody has their disastrous experiences with romance at our age. It is, as Ashido once told me, a necessary evil that comes from adolescence.”

Ochako winces at the mention of Mina, but Momo doesn’t drop it nor does she take her hand away.

“I don’t know what’s happening to you and I won’t force you to speak of it, but I think you shouldn’t let opportunities slip away. Not when it comes to our future as professionals, nor for more well, personal matters.”

They watch the documentary in silence for a little more after that, but Ochako is too busy dealing with the whirlwind of fresh thoughts in her head to pay attention to it or the melting ice-cream balanced on her knee  - it’s something she’s getting accustomed to in these last days.

“Not letting opportunities slip away”, uh? She will have to reflect on that.

 

Stage 5 –  Acceptance

There are many adjectives that can be used to describe Bakugou Katsuki, many of which unflattering and well-deserved, but if Ochako were to use just one, she would call him “single-minded”. He doesn't let anything put a stop to him.

Ochako may not like the guy, but she can recognize his strength and she knows that (as much as he would never admit it out loud) Bakugou accepts her and her determination.

There has been this mutual understanding between them since the Sports Festival during first year. They often spar together, test their progress in training on each other. Ochako is proud to say she's one of the few people that can say she has punched Bakugou in the face and lived to tell the tale. More than once.

For this reason she's not surprised when Bakugou texts her to meet after class. She's already fantasizing how to best apply the complicated hold Gunhead showed her the previous week, when her thought process is rudely interrupted.

“Put an end to this pathetic fuckfest, round face.”

Ochako stares at the newly appeared Bakugou. Bakugou stares back. This goes on for several seconds.

Oh, if only all their conversations were so peacefully silent.

“For...give me?” She asks then, a little confused.

“Don't play dumb with me!! I said to stop this shit, I’m getting tired of Black Eyes whining all day and all night about you!”

Ochako is vaguely ashamed of how much it takes her to understand what the hell he's talking about. She swears she can hear the cogs whirling in her head.

“You mean Mina is upset?”

Her stomach is suddenly in knots and she’s beginning to feel sick. It’s one thing to prevent herself from enjoying Mina’s company because of her feelings, but if her actions have actually hurt Mina... “Duh, no shit!!” Bakugou’s snarls evolve into full blown screaming. She’s very glad nobody is around to witness him. “She keeps saying she ruined everything, that you're sick of her and then she hogs Kirishima for hours because she needs some ‘best friend time’ or something dumb like that.”

He runs a hand through his hair and takes deep breaths. He's finally started working on his anger issues and making an actual effort not to insult people too much. They're all so proud of him.

“Look, I don't give a shit about your romcom drama but this has gone long enough. She’s sad, you look worse than usual since you’ve started avoiding her. Fix this, or I will have Kirishima intervene.”

That's quite a bold ultimatum and Ochako can't stop the smirk blossoming on her face.

“Oh is that so? And what could your boyfriend do that is supposed to be scary for me?”

“Close you in a closet. Force you to hold hands and have a heart-to-heart. He’s a sucker for sappy shit, you know?” He smirks back, trying to appear menacing as if he didn't start blushing bright when she called Kirishima ‘his boyfriend’.

Ochako chews on her lip. “I don't think he would make Mina do something she doesn't want to do. They're too close for that.”

“Damn fucking right he wouldn't.”

Again, the cogs in her head are slow in their turning. She really should feel embarrassed about how dumb this whole deal is making her. And to say she's always been proud of her thinking skills.

“You mean—”

“I don't mean jackshit. Now go or I'll kick your ass.”

It’s an empty threat, but a part of Ochako knows there's a part of truth in it. It sounds very much like the “I'll kick your ass” an older brother says to their sibling’s significant other.

And Ochako— her thoughts have finally quieted down. She gets it, she finally does, and she’s been so stupid letting her own panicked state affect Mina.

She can do it. She will face Mina, she will not let the opportunity slip away this time.

Ochako turns on her heels to run to the dorm, to talk to her before it’s too late, but she momentarily halts and turns back to see Bakugou still standing there in the empty hallway,

“Thank you for the help! Kirishima is gonna be happy to know you gave me your approval to date Mina!”

She sprints away, giggling as the sound of embarrassed insults follow her stride.

 

How does one face the concept of having crushes in a healthy, mature way? Ochako wouldn’t be able to tell. She’s never been good at dealing with romantic feelings, her only romantic experiences having been Disasters with the capital D.

So what if she has to go through the five stages of grief every time she like likes someone? She has good friends, friends that have her back and who make sure she doesn’t fall into the same mistakes for the third time in her short life.

She catches Mina right on time before she takes the elevator. She waves her hand to alert her attention, wheezing – even with how well-trained she is, running for so long takes a toll on her. She wishes she had Iida’s quirk, for a moment.

“Oh hey Ochako! You need something?” Mina’s voice sounds the same to the untrained ear, but Ochako has known her for almost an entire year, spent many evenings with her, even fallen asleep on her once or twice during movie night. She knows her. Ochako is a dumbass for not noticing how flat her tone is and has been for days.

“I need... we need to talk.”

Mina’s face darkens and her smile falls, if just for the blink of an eye.

“Uh, here?”

Ochako nods with amazing vigour. Anyone could walk in and spectate Ochako making an ass out of herself, but she can't wait any longer. She needs to get it out before she loses her resolve.

“Look, Mina—”

“I’m sorry.”

Mina’s interruption leaves her stunned, frozen in place and with her mouth open to a confession that didn't make it out in time.

There, it's too late, Mina is refusing her before she can even speak.

“You're sorry? For what?” She hates the way her voice trembles. “No matter what happens, you’re gonna stay friends”, something that sounds a lot like Tsuyu reminds her in the back of her head.

Mina’s shoulders slump. “Please, don't play dumb with me. I know why you’ve been avoiding me.”

Ochako takes a sharp breath. This is it.

“It’s because you know I like you, isn't it?”

...Or maybe it isn't.

“I mean, I can't think of any other reason why.” Mina continues, refusing to meet Ochako’s eyes. If she had, she would have noticed her reddening cheeks and the happy dumb smile which grew the more Mina spoke. “And I know you don't feel the same. I won't make things awkward, I promise, so please let's just put an end to this-”

Ochako’s hands take Mina’s own. This time, unlike the last time, she doesn’t resist the shock that passes from her fingertips to the roots of her hair. She welcomes it, even. Mina tilts her head to the side, confused, but doesn't let go of her hands.

“Ashido Mina, I am a dumbass.” What a glorious way to start a love confession. She hopes nobody is around to witness it because really, they're bound to make fun of her for this for the rest of her life. “I had to go through a lot to get to this moment and I’m sorry I made you wait.”

Ochako takes a deep breath. “What I mean by all of this is: Mina, would you give me the honour to go on a date with you, in a non-platonic sense, because I really like yo—”

She doesn't make it to the end, because Mina screams and jumps at her, her arms around Ochako’s neck and Ochako can't breathe but who needs breathing when you have a girl squeezing the life out of you?

“Of course I will, you asshole!! I thought you hated me!!” Mina gives one last squeeze and let's her go. Filling her lungs with oxygen has never felt so disappointing before.

“You have to make it up to me for this mess.” Mina winks. She holds out her hand. “Buy me a coffee?”

Ochako grins as she takes her hand. “Everything for my girlfriend!!”

If some students turn when they see the pair of them giggle loudly, they don't even notice it.

 

Asui Tsuyu deems herself a diligent student. She’s also a teenager and a worried friend, though, so when her phone pings loudly and Ochako’s face appears on her phone screen, she abandons her homework to check out immediately what she sent her.

It’s a single picture of Mina, much like the one that started the whole ordeal. Except this time Ochako is pressed next to her, a single arm around Mina’s waist and sporting what Tsuyu thinks is the most beautiful smile she has ever seen on her best friend’s face.

Guess who has a wonderful gf now!! ❤❤

Tsuyu croaks softly and nods to herself.

About damn time, is her only reply.