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heroes of the dark

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“Love is willing to become to villain so that the one who you love can stay a hero.” 
― Josephine Angelini, Firewalker


Uraraka woke up falling.

Or at least to the sensation of falling.

She jerked awake in her large bed, her legs and arms flailing as she was snatched out of the nightmare. For a brief moment, she was tangled in a sea of blankets and sheets and thought she’d actually fallen into the choppy water, but then a cool breeze and the sounds of the city blew in from her open window and she stilled. She stared at the ceiling for a minute before she slid her hands over her face and took a deep breath. By the time she pulled her hands away and opened her eyes, her heart had stopped pounding in her chest.

It had been almost a month since she last had the dream. Why had it come back out of the blue? She had thought it might finally leave her alone, but no, it came back to her last night, so unforgiving. Even now, it clung to her desperately, hanging in the corner of her mind as if afraid she might forget it completely.

She had to get up. She had to get out of bed. She had to get on with her day.

Like she did every morning she had off work, Uraraka took a long, hot shower first. She took her time with her hair and with washing herself, like she could scrub away anything with a loofah. After that, she made herself breakfast in her small but cozy kitchen while the radio played in the background. She walked around her apartment aimlessly in a pink bathrobe and worn through slippers drinking a cup of tea. Only when she caught sight of her calendar did she come to a halt.

Oh. It was his birthday today.

As if on cue, the phone rang, forcing Uraraka to look away. She should answer it, but she knew what it would be about, even if she didn’t know who exactly was on the other end. She waited for the answering machine to pick it up, her single voice telling the caller to leave a message, and then listened as Tsu left a voicemail.

“Hey, Ochako, I was calling to see if you wanted to have lunch,” her best friend said on the machine. “No sense in lying. You shouldn’t be alone today. Call me back, please, or I’ll try again later.”

That was Tsu for you -- straight and to the point. She always said what was on her mind, even if it made other people uncomfortable. Uraraka didn’t mind. Tsu wouldn’t be the only one calling today, but she would be one of the few who would be open about why. It didn’t matter what any of her friends said; she’d know what they were trying to do. It was sweet, truly, but she couldn’t let herself get wrapped up in this.

More than anything, she was desperate for things to be normal. Deep down,  she knew her attempts to make it so during the day would only make it worse for her come tonight. She’d probably call Tsu babbling through tears, but Uraraka wanted to at least pretend like she was strong enough to handle this on her own, even if she didn't have to.

Besides, weren’t they suffering too? Weren’t they sad as well? She should tend to their grief. She was being selfish.

Later. She’d call Tsu back later, but for now, Uraraka went about the rest of her morning routine. She took a walk around the quiet neighborhood she’d moved into two years ago. It wasn’t much, but it was very nice in her opinion and low in crime, almost like villains actively stayed out of the area. She ran errands, going to the bank and the farmer’s market, smiling at neighbors and making friendly smalltalk with the vendors. The sun shined, and everyone was so happy.

However, when she came home to a silent and empty apartment, no amount of natural light could lift the dark cloud brewing in her mind. She dropped the bags and sunk down into a crouch with her back pressed against the front door, covering her face as if to shield herself.

The phone rang again - probably had been ringing while she was out since she turned her cell off - and Uraraka waited to hear a close friend's concerned voice. Would it be Iida this time or Momo? Maybe it would be Hatsume or even Todoroki.

It was none of them. Instead, it was Bakugou.

“Hey, Uraraka, you better be decent because I’m gonna be over there in like five minutes,” Bakugou’s voice said with all the delicacy of a wrecking ball. “We’re going day drinking.”

There was no preamble. No “are you doing okay” or “do you need some company” or “it’ll be alright”. It was just plain old Bakugou blowing his way in. He’d never changed in that respect. When it came to any defensive walls she might have put up, he blew them up and stepped right over the rubble, like they weren’t even there, like they didn’t matter to him.

Uraraka could be mad - probably should be mad - but it felt nice not to be treated like glass.

Just as he warned, the doorknob rattled a few minutes later and swung open. Having stood and cleaned herself up, Uraraka was putting the items from her errands away in the pantry, but stopped to gawk in confusion as Bakugou stepped inside her place and kicked the door shut behind him.

“Excuse me,” she greeted incredulously, “but I don’t remember giving you a key.”

“You didn’t,” Bakugou simply told her, like that was all she needed to know. Uh, definitely not. Him having a key to her place was a new development as far as she was concerned. He rolled his eyes. “I made a second copy of it like ten months ago.” Ah, during the dark days when everyone acted like they couldn’t leave her alone for more than a day. No one else had stolen her keys to make a copy as far as she knew.  “Never used it before though. Stupid thing acted like it didn’t want to work at first.”

A part of her wanted to hold out her hand and tell him to hand it over. Another part of her realized it would be futile. He didn’t have a backup just in case she did demand it. Not that it mattered in the end. He could do whatever he wanted, and he'd done it out of concern. It wasn’t like he came over all the time or something.

“That what you’re wearing?” Bakugou asked as he sat down on one of the stools at the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. She had thought it looked cute when first looking for apartments. Someone could sit down and chat with whoever was in the kitchen or living room.

Uraraka looked down at her outfit: black leggings with a long, faded red sweatshirt that hung over her shoulders, and a black sports bra showing. It was a lazy outfit to match her slow-going day. She peered at Bakugou shrewdly. “Yes, what’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing,” Bakugou replied with a grunt, continuing to eye her strangely.

“Do you want me to change?”

Bakugou waved a dismissive hand. “No, I don’t give a shit what you wear.” Then why the hell had he brought it up? Sometimes, he drew attention to the smallest details and made her think twice over nothing. Whatever. She liked this outfit, so she was wearing it. After all, it wasn't like they were going to some fancy restaurant. “You done?”

“Yeah.” Uraraka turned to face him. “So where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise.”

Uraraka huffed. “So the same place as usual. Got it.”

The fact that she hadn’t fought him at all was either a testament to how tired she was or proof she didn’t really want to be alone. It wasn’t the first time she and Bakugou had hung out like this, but it wasn’t a weekly thing. He was off doing his own hero thing and she was doing hers. They had different lives and lived in different cities, although he wasn’t far away.

One surprising thing was that they never crossed each other’s paths accidentally anymore - every interaction between them was intentional and initiated by him - but he  had become a normal part of her life. They didn’t call each other daily and sometimes she didn’t hear from him for a week, but then he’d shoot her a text, she’d email him an article, or they just found themselves at lunch and that was that. It wasn’t an easy friendship - it never was with Bakugou - but it was...something consistent. Pleasant.

The fact that Bakugou never truly changed comforted her, even if he was different from when they were in school. She wouldn’t say he was soft, but he wasn’t as sharp around the edges anymore. He could still be cutting when he wanted, and she didn’t doubt his temper for a second, but he’d learned how not to blow up at the drop of a hat.

They walked half a mile down the street to a reasonably nice bar. It had nice outdoor seating and a surprisingly large selection of craft beers and sake. Their food was even good. She had found the place shortly after moving here while exploring the area. According to Bakugou, it was the only decent place in her neighborhood. If they had lunch or dinner, it was either here or somewhere by his place or further in the city.

For July, it wasn't uncomfortably hot, so they got a table outside. Bakugou immediately ordered for them. “We need two orders of gyozo and your most expensive bottle of sake. Scratch that. Make it two sakes.”

“Bakugou!” Uraraka gasped.

“What?” Bakugou scoffed as the server scurried away. “I’m not drinking shit sake.”

Uraraka’s cheeks burned a little pinker. “’s…”

“It’s what? I make a boat load of money. This is nothing.” As usual, Bakugou wasn't modest, but he wasn’t outright bragging either. It was simply the truth. In the top ten, he was more than well off. She admittedly made good money as well, enough to support herself happily and give her parents a comfortable life, but old habits died hard.

The implication that he was paying for all this didn't escape her. He wouldn't say that outright either, but if she so much as moved to pull out her wallet, he’d snap at her. This was him being...nice. Helpful. Caring. A friend. She took it, knowing today was as big a deal for him as it was for her, even if he wouldn't admit it. He wouldn’t tell her the exact truth, and she wouldn’t force it out of him.

When their drinks arrived, along with two waters, Bakugou shoved one sake bottle over to her side of the table and then opened his to pour himself a cup. His courtesy extended as far as paying and nothing more, but it only made her smile. “What are you even doing here, Bakugou?” she asked.

“I’m drinking,” Bakugou replied almost childishly. When Uraraka set the bottle down and gave him a look, he huffed out a sigh. “You know why.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“I know that.” Bakugou pointed a finger at her. “But here’s what’s gonna happen. We’re gonna avoid the subject, get drunk, and then talk about him. You’re gonna cry yourself out. I’m gonna make you laugh, carry your drunk ass home, and put you to bed. Finally, you’re gonna thank me and go the fuck to sleep.”

It wasn’t funny in the slightest. This night was going to end with her in tears. She didn't like admitting that. Hearing it said out loud made her hackles raise. “Do you think I'm so weak that I'll cry all over you?”

“I'm not underestimating your strength, Uraraka,” Bakugou told her bluntly. She didn't think he would ever use her given name; she'd have a heart attack if he did. “You're one of the strongest person I know. Anyone else would've fallen apart and crashed, but not you.” When the appetizers arrived, Bakugou picked up his chopsticks and pointed them at her accusingly. “Now you better eat because I'm ordering a stupid amount of food.”

Just like that, they switched gears. It was easy to do with Bakugou, who could drive a conversation like he would a sports car, completely in control and at breakneck speed. He delved easily into his most recent hero activity, going from a multiple villains takedown to his complaint about a sidekick he loathed but seemingly kept around so he could complain about him.

Bakugou was the kind of guy that could talk about himself a lot - and you were somehow grateful. It was entertaining, but mostly, Uraraka didn’t want to talk about herself right now. She wanted the blissful ignorance that came with listening to someone who could make the world spin around them. She enjoyed his stories; they were always peppered with colorful language and vivid imagery. He immersed her in his world and swept her away from everything else.

They were on their second bottle of sake with more appetizers on the way, and Uraraka hadn’t even blinked. She sat there raptured, laughing at inappropriate moments that made him gripe and throwing in teasing comments that brought a smirk to his lips. It was an easy flow. She always forgot that until they were in these moments. That it could be easy. That she could breathe. Even with him.

“I saw on the news what you did last week,” Bakugou said abruptly. His cheeks were pinker than he would admit, the sake finally taking its toll on him, but she knew she was worse. Evening was almost upon them. They’d been here for so long; the sun was starting its slow descent behind the city skyline. The orange haze made Bakugou glow like fire, his sandy hair and red eyes sticking out even more than usual.

Uraraka smiled shyly into her glass of water. “It wasn’t much.”

“It was fucking cool is what it was,” Bakugou corrected. “You saved ten people from a burning building and then caught the bastard that started it. Fucking cool.”

Deep down, Uraraka knew she had done well. After consuming a terrible amount of alcohol over the span of a few hours, she could even admit she was proud of herself. However, it was hard to feel that way when the one person who mattered the most - the one save she'd needed to make - had slipped right from her fingertips. Not literally, of course. She hadn’t touched him at all, missing him by mere centimeters. She could still feel the swish of empty air when she’d desperately reached out for him.

She had to save those people. She had to save everyone. She had to make up for who she hadn't saved. And she hadn’t. She lost him. She’d missed him and fallen out of the sky to catch him and she still- she still--

Oh, it was happening. Just as Bakugou told her it would.

Despite being knee-deep in drinking, Bakugou spotted the sudden shift in her demeanor warning him it was finally time. Her eyes dropped to her hands in her lap, and he set his cup on the table and leaned back in his seat. She wished she hadn’t drank so much. She didn’t want to talk about it like this - she wouldn’t be able to control herself - yet she wouldn’t have talked about it at all if she wasn't in this state.

Uraraka could go weeks without talking to anyone about it until a reporter asked her how Uravity was faring after the devastating loss of Deku.

“I know it’s been almost a year,” Uraraka mumbled, her voice so damn small, “but I still miss him.” Bakugou stayed silent for once. It was her time to talk. This entire day was her time to talk, but he’d filled up the space until she was ready. “I still… It doesn’t happen often anymore, but sometimes I forget he’s gone. I’ll come home, expecting to smell take out and smoke from when he attempted to cook a fancy meal and failed, or I’ll roll over, half awake, and reach out for him - and there’s nothing. He’s not there. It’s like he was never there to begin with.”

Any of her other friends would’ve reached out to hold her hand, switch to the seat next to her, get up and wrap their arms around her shoulders. Bakugou did none of those things. He stayed in his seat, watching her silently, and listened. His face was remarkably passive considering who he was, his eyes unreadable. Most people didn’t think Bakugou was capable of patiently listening, but she knew better. There was a quiet before the worst of storms, and this one was hers.

“He was this...huge part of my life and not just because we were…” Uraraka rubbed her eyes. “And when he was gone, he was gone. I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye. He didn’t let me.”

After eleven months, she didn’t know whether to be angry or upset anymore. He’d done what he did because he was a hero. It was who he was. He saved her life because she couldn’t save his. In his eyes, if his fate was sealed in order to save hers, then that was that. There was no other option. He had been ready to die to save someone else.

But it wasn’t fair. He was more important than her. His place in the world was more than hers could ever be. The ten people she saved from a burning building was nothing compared to the hundred he’d saved during an earthquake. She would never be the hero he had been yet he’d still sacrificed himself to ensure she would live.

“And I’m just expected to move on with my life,” Uraraka said, tears slipping down her face. Just as Bakugou had said, she was going to cry in public. How humiliating. “Did you see that article online the other day?”

“Oh, the one about whether or not you were dating that pro hero… Kaima Wood?” Bakugou wrinkled his nose in distaste. “A bit old for you, isn’t he?” It was a brief attempt to lighten the mood and Uraraka made to laugh but then she started to cry instead, so all in all, a bit of a fail. She appreciated it though. “Fuck what they have to say. No one expects you to do anything except live. Take all the time you need. Never date again. Who gives a fuck?”

“That’s easy for you to say,” Uraraka mumbled. “You apparently have a new lay every week.”

Bakugou rolled his eyes. “That’s fucking stupid.” He smirked at her. “It’s every other week.”

That half laugh/half cry slipped out of her again. She couldn't react any other way. Bakugou didn't snap at her for it, but he didn't pity her either. There was no “poor little Uraraka lost her boyfriend” coming from him. It was understanding that there were some chasms that couldn't be filled; sometimes they had to be climbed.

“He was supposed to be the greatest hero there ever was,” Uraraka whispered. It was a testament to how much he had grown that Bakugou didn’t respond to that statement at all. “And I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t do anything.”

“Bullshit,” Bakugou snapped, not meanly. “You nearly died trying to save him. You literally plummeted in a free fall in an attempt to reach him again. The only reason you didn’t kill yourself trying to save him was because he had the foresight to see how blind you were to yourself.” They’d gone over this before, but they needed to again, one more time. She knew he was right. She knew she was being irrational. But she needed to hear it said once more. “If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine for not aiming right. I couldn’t get you to where you needed to be to reach him in time.”

A spike of panic flashed through Uraraka, a painful tug on her heart. He had never said anything like that before, only that it wasn’t her fault. “Bakugou, you did your very best. You did everything you could.”

Bakugou tipped his head back and closed his eyes. “Did I though? I keep asking myself if I could’ve done more. Maybe if I’d gone out there with you, maybe if I’d been able more damage to that damn villain so that Deku wouldn’t have had to use everything he had against him mid-air over a fucking ocean.” He sighed and leaned forward, looking terribly uncomfortable at having opened up. “All I could do in the end was make sure that you didn’t go under too. That’s what he wanted. I knew it the second he used the last bit of his strength to push you away from the water right before he hit it.”

That was the nightmare though, wasn't it? That they had done everything they possibly could've done to save him and they had still failed. What kind of heroes did that make them?

The moment Deku had leapt from the cliff, the blast off so strong that it had knocked them all back, Uraraka had known that nothing was going to be the same. It was either stop the villain now or let the city explode. They'd watched from their pathetic spots on the ground, covered in blood, sweat, and mud, as Deku collided fist first like a rocket into the villain and exploded with a power that none of them would ever be able to grasp. There had only been a moment of cheer and relief before they had realized that Deku was falling towards the ocean and falling fast.

He was always falling in her dreams and, just as she hadn't that night, she could never reach him then.

“I keep thinking that one day I'll wake up and it'll just be normal that I'm by myself.” Uraraka bit her lip. “One day I'll be able to put on my suit and not question myself about whether I'm worthy enough.”

Bakugou bolted forward in his seat so fast that he bumped into the table, the empty sake bottles and their glasses clinking as they trembled in the wake of his anger. “Don't you ever fucking question yourself like that, okay? You're an incredible hero. Deku knew that. You could tell that by the way he looked at you like you were the fucking moon and stars.” When she didn't look totally convinced, he clenched his hands into fists on top of the table. “You had your whole world turned upside down and most people would have shattered. Two weeks after, you went back to work, back to saving lives, back to kicking ass. I'm still pissed at you for that. You needed way more time.”

“I couldn't sit around and do nothing!” Uraraka told him hotly, tears flooding her eyes again. “I couldn't just stand there and act like the world had stopped turning, even if it felt like it had for me. That's not the kind of hero Deku was and I wasn't going to let it be me. There were still people that needed to be saved, needed to be helped, and I promised myself that I would do that for him. That I'd do it for me -- to prove that I was worth it.”

There was a shadow over Bakugou's face, one that she couldn't quite place, as he said in an uncharastically quiet voice, “You've always been worth it. He knew that right from the start.” The words were spoken with no less aggression than usual despite how quiet he was.

But they were just the right things to say. Uraraka could feel the walls bursting inside of her, punctured by such a simple statement. She curled her legs up in the chair so she could wrap her arms around them and press her face into her knees. Tears spilled out of her eyes and he let her cry. She didn’t care if there were people around them. She didn’t care if anyone she knew saw her. She didn’t care if the paparazzi showed up and snapped pictures of her weeping and made some ridiculous tabloid (although she was certain Bakugou would blow a gasket and physically haul them away). She just let the tears come until they stopped.

Eventually they did. As all things did, her tears came to an end. When it happened, she took a deep breath and lifted her face, the cool breeze of the evening chilling the tears on her face.

Bakugou took one look at her and screwed up his face. “You look like your face is melting.”

“It’s my makeup, you idiot,” Uraraka told him.

“Next time be prepared for emotional shit and wear waterproof makeup.”

Despite everything -- the pain, the absence, and the longing for something far gone -- Uraraka felt a little lighter. She also felt the beginnings of a headache, but that was usually what happened after drinking and a heavy cry spell. Bakugou pushed a water towards her and she accepted it gratefully. “You’re shit at comforting, you know.”

“Good thing I’m just here to drink,” Bakugou responded. “Now go clean your face before people start to think that I broke up with you or something.”

Uraraka thought to comment on him not caring about what people thought, but agreed that she did probably look like shit. Besides, a splash of water against her face would help her feel fresher. She hurried to the bathroom so she could fix herself up, fishing out her phone in the process. The amount of missed calls and unanswered text messages made her cringe, but truth be told, she’d forgotten all about it while they’d been talking. The first and only person she responded to was Tsu, who she knew would spread the word for her.

Sorry I haven’t answered any of your calls. I’m fine.

Are you sure? You haven’t answered anyone. We’ve been worried.

Again sorry. I’ve been busy. Had my phone turned off.


Been with Bakugou for most of the day.

Explains why he never answered our texts. We just thought he was being an ass.

That made Uraraka giggle a little, though it brought a few tears to her eyes as well. Everyone was handling this their own way. She should’ve talked to everyone earlier, but it had just felt so daunting. The idea of telling all her friends that she was fine, it was hard but she would make it, no she didn’t need them to come over -- it had been overwhelming. And then Bakugou had blown in and just swept her away from all of it like it was nothing and he didn’t care what everyone else thought they should do for her.

Still, she felt guilty for ignoring them. Her friends were hurting too. Deku’s...death hadn’t affected only her. It would be a day late, but she would talk to them tomorrow. Maybe it was the alcohol flooding her veins, giving her a false sense of confidence, but she felt like tomorrow was going to be a new day. Like she was going to wake up and know in her heart that, no, things would never be the same again and she would always miss Deku and love him too, but she would be the hero he knew she was and she would smile for real when she thought back to him.

When Uraraka returned to the table, Bakugou was pouring the last bit of their sake into her cup. “Oh, no, no, I can’t.” He raised an eyebrow and pushed the glass towards her. “I can’t!” She laughed a little. “Did you see how I was walking over here?”

“Yeah, not wobbly enough,” Bakugou countered, putting all the pressure on her. She concentrated on the cup, picked it up, and then drank it. Granted, it wasn’t much, but it was enough to make her feel woozy. He grinned at her, all teeth and vicious, and then stretched back in his seat like a cat, his t-shirt raising up to expose skin. “That’s much better.”

Uraraka eyed him and put her hands on her hips, which might have been a little intimidating if she wasn’t swaying a little on the spot. “Trying to get me drunk to take advantage of me?”

Bakugou stood up slowly, as if he had nowhere else he’d rather be than right in her space, and said, “Who says I need to get you drunk first?” in such an outrageously suggestive low tone that Uraraka burst out laughing.

The alcohol made it so much worse. She felt like she was shooting from one emotion to the other, but this one she embraced. It felt good to laugh. It had felt good to cry in all honesty. She’d been hiding from it all day, but now that she’d done it and it was out in the open, she felt relieved. She barely caught sight of the checkbook on the table, already taken care of, before Bakugou all but pushed her out of the bar so she wouldn’t try to sneak a peek at the damage. He knew her too well.

Unfortunately, he had also known that that last bit of sake would do her in. The walk home would’ve been painful if not for the cool breeze that brushed against her. They did it in silence, him with his hands in his pockets and her with her hands clutching the strap of her purse. More than likely it was because both of them needed to focus on walking without looking like a couple of drunk idiots, which they probably did anyways. Bakugou was doing a pretty good imitation at not being drunk, but his steps were sluggish and his eyes kept sweeping over to her like he was making sure she was still standing.

By the time they reached the steps of her apartment, Uraraka found herself groaning and slumping against him. Her eyelids were so heavy and she was so tired. Her mind screamed at her to just drift off where she stood. She didn’t want to walk up the stairs. She was only on the second floor, but it seemed so far away. Maybe she could get away with sleeping in her car. That seemed like a reasonable idea right now.

“I knew this would happen,” Bakugou sighed, even though it was his fault for getting her this drunk in the first place. She turned to tell him that when he bent down and slid his arms underneath her, picking her up like she was nothing and holding her bridal style in his arms. Uraraka let out a tiny squeak. “I told you that I was gonna have to carry your drunk ass home.”

The first two steps he took were far too wobbly and she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his shoulder, almost certain that they were going to fall, but then he tightened his grip on her, tensed up his body, and made quick work of the rest, powering through it by sheer will. At her door, he once again used his copy of her key to let them in and kicked the door shut.

Once inside, she thought he’d let her down, which seemed like a terrible idea since her legs were jello and she felt out of it from hanging in the air, but he didn’t. He gripped her just a little tighter as if to let her know that he wasn’t done and, just a tad bit drunk, she didn’t fight it. Instead, he slowly made his way through her dark apartment until he reached her bedroom and carefully laid her down on her bed. It was far too gentle for someone as chaotic as him, but maybe it was the alcohol, dulling his emotions for once.

As Bakugou grumbled about her always leaving her damn window open for any old villain to crawl through and closed it for her, Uraraka opened her eyes and looked at the ceiling, suddenly remembering how she had done the same thing this morning after waking up from the nightmare about Deku’s fall and her twice failure to touch him in time. “I had the dream again last night.”

A breath of air escaped from Bakugou as he returned to her bedside. “Do you want me to call Tsuyu or…?”

She shook her head. “No, I’ll be fine, just…”

“I’ll stay,” Bakugou said in a decisive tone. “On the couch, I mean. Can’t really drive right now anyways.”

They looked at each other for a beat too long. Uraraka knew it was too long and Bakugou surely didn’t look at anyone that long, but alcohol had a funny way of making barriers seem nonexistent. The urge to reach out and squeeze his hand hanging at his side was so sudden that she didn’t even think about not doing it. She felt him tense up at first when she did so, but then he loosened up and squeezed back before she pulled her hand away.

Uraraka raised an eyebrow at him and he gave her a questioning look. “Are you just going to stand there? I’m not sleeping in this.” Bakugou narrowed his eyes at her for a second, a sharp quip on his tongue, before he decided against it and walked towards the door. “Hey, Bakugou.” He stopped to glance back at her and she gave him a tired smile, the moonlight from her window casting a faint glow on her. “Thank you.”

“Whatever, Angel face,” Bakugou dismissed, though she saw the pleased look on his face. She didn’t bother telling him where the blankets and pillows were for him to use. He knew where they were. Having done this a few times before, usually when Bakugou was in a foul mood and needed someone to vent to that wasn’t Kirishima, he was at least a little familiar with her couch.

She took a deep breath as she sat up in bed. Round Face. Angel Face. Bakugou was always full of nicknames for everyone that he came in contact with. Back at U.A., it had been because he’d never bothered learning names and then it just stuck for him, if not anyone else. He called (most of) their former classmates by their names now, but still fell back on his tried and true nicknames for them.

A deep wave of sadness swept over her again for a brief moment. It had been almost a year since he’d been called Kacchan. She wondered if he missed it, but knew better than to ask. As far as he was concerned probably, the name had died along with Deku.

After changing into shorts and a t-shirt, Uraraka fell back in bed and crashed quickly, as if she’d lost all strength to fight the battle against the alcohol. Hopefully the amount of food and water she’d consumed would prevent any sort of hangover, but only the morning would tell. Luckily, the alcohol had the effect of dampening any dreams she might’ve had, so that by the time she woke up, there was nothing to remember except Bakugou’s words and that last look she’d seen on his face. She considered it a blessing that there was only a faint thumping in her head that would go away in an hour or so.

Uraraka took her time getting up. She stretched in bed and yawned before snuggling up with her covers a little more and simply listening to the birds chirping and the morning traffic spilling in from her open window. When she finally got out of bed, she noticed just how quiet her apartment was. The last time Bakugou had crashed on her couch, she’d thought his snores were going to wake the dead, not that he’d ever cop to snoring.

Peeking outside of her bedroom, Uraraka found it empty, though he’d charmingly left the pillows and blankets bunched up on her couch. Such a gentleman. She shook her head and went to the bathroom to start her morning routine. She really needed to go to the gym today. Then she’d start her round of apologies for going off the grid yesterday and ignoring everyone else’s pain.

For just a little bit longer, she wanted to stand in this strange morning bliss. It was like a small weight was off her shoulders. Not all of it, but just enough where she could stand up straight again.

After finishing in the bathroom, Uraraka padded into the kitchen to make breakfast, only to find a bowl already made next to a note in Bakugou’s writing that said, Eat this!!! So he could cook breakfast but not fold up blankets? That man was full of surprises. He probably got up at the crack of dawn regardless of how much he drank or fought the night before. No rest for the wicked or those wanting to be at the top.

Smiling to herself, she took the food and went back into her bedroom to pack all her stuff for the gym. She hummed under her breath as she did so, feeling better with every bite and passing second. It was going to be a good day. She was going to do some wonderful things. She was going to live her life. That was what Deku would have wanted. Not just to push herself as a hero, but also as a person. He had been so thoughtful.

Uraraka was still humming pleasantly when she walked back into the kitchen to clean out her dish when a voice abruptly shattered everything.

“Good morning, Ochako.”

Instead of falling to the ground, the bowl floated up to the ceiling the second Uraraka let go of it to form fists and spun around. Her heart had leapt into her throat because for a half a second she’d opened her mouth to say a name that she’d spent months unable to speak, but no it couldn’t be. This was just a setback, like when she woke up sometimes and forgot he wasn’t in bed next to her or how she’d leave the shop down the street and think she saw a flash of his green hair moving around the corner.

But then she turned around completely and her hands flew to her mouth and her heart dropped into her stomach. Uraraka barely managed to whimper, but the name tumbled out of her mouth. “Deku?”

There he was, Deku, her Deku, like he’d never been gone. Sitting in the chair that they’d bought at a flea market and he’d refurbished for her just because he thought it would make her smile. It was undeniably him, alive and well and in her living room. His unmanageable green hair. His vibrant green eyes. The freckles that never left his face even as his body grew taller and stronger. Out of all things, he was wearing a black suit and matching vest and his tie -- her lips trembled at the sight -- his red tie was still done far too short. She would’ve burst into tears had she not been so stunned.

However, when Deku smiled at her, a cold chill ran down her spine and the thought run away came to her mind when she had only ever run to him before. And she knew. She knew there was something wrong with that smile, something not quite right, but then none of this was right. “I missed you.”