The newest teacher at UA, as it turns out, is completely and utterly unassuming.
“Plain” to the generous, “Drab” to the cruel. In a sea of uniforms and brightly colored hero outfits, she is a mouse in her gray painted on leggings and oversized heather blue sweatshirt with its small heart stenciled in a faded pink above her right breast. Whatever discernable figure she has is neatly swallowed by the bulk of the sweatshirt, which is long enough to cover her rear. Broken in dull pink converse complete the look.
What most miss is her posture. That despite the baggy clothing, she carries herself as if a string was laced through her body, pulling it upright. Her posture, and then, the quick grace of her movements. She walks fast; efficiently. There is no wasted motion with her. It is part of what makes her so easy to forget; she leaves a room before one notices she was there. Quite the impressive feat, in a school full of heroes.
Aizawa Shouta reminds himself that he is studying her because she is new; because he has not heard of this “Honey Trap,” and because of that, is cautious. Suspicious.
Yamada's has taken a liking to her – not surprisingly, even with tensions running high. He’s friendly without being imposing; talkative without being invasive. He’s usually the one to give new hires the tour. Even now, as they’re walking side by side, lunch trays in hand, the blonde is talking a mile a minute. Honey Trap’s smile is…not quite a smile. There’s an upward turn to her mouth that suggests that she might start laughing, or that she’s holding back a biting remark, but it never quite gets there.
As Yamada points out one hero after other, rushing through introductions, Honey Trap inclines her head; adjusts the tray in her hands. From where he’s sitting, Aizawa can see that she’s speaking, responding to greetings, but doesn’t move forward with conversation. She’s either not talkative (not good), or is simply hungry (natural).
He hopes she’s the latter.
...I've fallen in love with this show. And I was honestly on the fence about writing fan fiction for the universe, because I didn't think I could possibly have anything to add to it. Then I read Mighty-Mighty-Man's amazing fic, "Lazy Egg," and felt like I had to do something. Seriously; take the time to go look up that story. It's so warm.
As I haven't written anything in a while (real life), I'm going to ease back into the game by keeping this as a series of drabbles, slowly building into something. I wanted to do something involving an older Reader; someone who's been around the block a few times and is subsequently more mature.
Chapter 2: Sister
Well, no one gets into UA without a recommendation.
A little bit of background starts to happen. This particular section happens after the League of Villains makes their first attack on the school, and shortly after the UA Sports Festival.
“Thank you for meeting me on such short notice, Councilwoman (L/N).”
Rose was intrigued once the message made it across her desk. It wasn’t that school aged children were a stranger to her office; about once a month, there was one field trip or another to her office. Many schools, especially after Quirks became the norm, felt the need to show children how their government worked. It was an ideal situation for her – it meant that there was no shortage of enterprising and talented interns.
“I must say,” she began, thinking that it would be best to be direct. Her eyes drifted to look out of the windows at the expanse of the city. “I was quite surprised to hear that you’d contacted my office.”
“You have a good reputation, Councilwoman (L/N).”
“Please – just ‘Rose.’ Given the situation.” She walked back to the small table in his office, a cup of green tea waiting for her. Leaning over, she picked up the cup, and brought the fragile porcelain rim to her lips. "This is delicious,” she exclaimed, feeling the warmth of the tea course through her body.
“I’m glad you like it – I find that the additional trace of yuzu makes it a perfect summer tea,” Principal Nezu paused, his dark eyes uncertain. Then, with a small smile, he closed them. “Rose.”
“There; that wasn’t so hard!” Rose chuckled. “How do you get any work done with a view like this? It makes me want to curl up and daydream.”
“Some days are harder than others,” Nezu replied, visibly relaxing. “But I know your time is valuable. I was interested in having you teach for UA.”
“Not a chance.”
Awkward silence sat between the two of them.
“I know it’s an unusual request,” Nezu started, only to have Rose hold up a hand.
“It is. And I’m in no way, shape, or form, a teacher. I’m right where I want to be, making the changes that I want to see in the world.” Rose took a deep breath, sorting through the words in her head. She respected Nezu – had heard much of him. His case was one of the first that she’d recalled being truly angry.
“And I am not slighting that at all. Your continual push for legislature for ethics has been ground breaking and progressive. We need people like you.” Nezu looked down at his paws, cradling his own cup of tea. “And that’s precisely why I wanted you to come in and teach. To show that even if you cannot be a hero in the sense that most understand, that you can still do heroic things. I feel that many of our students run the risk of disillusionment if they are not immediately accepted into the Hero Course, or wash out. It’s an oversight that I thought that I had been prepared for, but with the recent attacks…” He trailed off, looking out of the window.
“I’ve been following the news,” Rose said, softly. Setting her cup down on the table, she let out a long sigh, her shoulders relaxing. “And I wish I could help. I can always rearrange my schedule to come in and speak with the students, of course, but I think they won’t even know who I am. What child follows municipal meetings?”
Nezu’s eyes brightened. “The Honey Trio were quite famous in their day, you know. A lot of the older heroes know who you are.”
Rose laughed. “I’m sure for all of the wrong reasons. I’m surprised we were allowed to operate as long as we did. Towards the end, the parent associations were really breathing down our necks. If it wasn’t for Iris, I’m quite sure we would have all been sued for obscenity and still be serving jail time.”
Now, Nezu laughed, a rapid fire thing. “It wasn’t that bad! You three always did your best to minimize what could be considered salacious.”
“That we did – but the times were different then. Now, I see heroes like Midnight and think how much things have changed.” Rose took another sip of tea, savoring the slight trace of citrus in the midst of its bitterness. “And how much they’ve stayed the same.” She turned to face Nezu, her face sad and worn. “I’m retired from being a hero – we did what we set out to do. As sordid as it is, I’m grateful that The Honey Trio had one solid objective from the beginning with a clear end. I couldn’t imagine living my life in a constant battle.”
When the quiet returned, it was not as awkward as it was before. It settled in calmly between them, letting the words sink in.
“…How is Iris?”
Startled, Rose laughed. “She’s Iris – what can I say? She’s married, got three kids and is out in the suburbs. Rules the PTA with an iron fist. I think the principal of her children’s school is absolutely terrified of her.” Rose didn’t have to see Nezu’s expression, artfully hidden by his cup of tea as he lifted it to his lips, that his mind was ticking away options. Her own eyes glittered. This was something vital to him. A twinge of guilt cut through her stomach.
Rose blinked, pulled from her thoughts. Then, a wan smile. This could work.
“She’s overworked, hates her job, and her depression and anxiety are getting worse. She still functions, mind you, but I can’t remember the last time I heard her say she enjoyed anything. Even when she visits Iris and the kids, her mind is always somewhere else…I think she might actually be the one that you need more than me.”
Nezu’s ears perked. Rose took the unspoken question.
“It’s not that she’s been ‘lost’ – she was so, so young when we started. She never got to be a kid – because from a young age, she’d had that one goal.” Rose set down her teacup, her gaze drifting back to the window and through time. “Iris and I used to talk about it all the time. We were so worried that we were warping her; setting her up to live a life fueled solely by revenge. And once our mission was over, I thought she’d never be able to adjust to living a normal life. That as her sister, I’d failed her.” Rose slowly closed her eyes. The guilt twisted round her stomach, before settling down. She’d made her peace with it, years ago.
“But you know, she seemed so happy to just be a normal girl after everything was over. She was so excited about school, about getting her first job. And then it feels like I blinked and she was a regular adult. Still trying to find what it is that she was supposed to do. And, you know…She was the one that told me that she didn’t want to be a pro hero. She felt that what we had done was enough. And maybe, in the end, I did set a bad example for her.” Rose stood, setting her empty teacup down on the delicate saucer. “I had a life before the mission, and a passion before that. In the end, she never really did. She never had a chance to find her purpose as (Y/N), outside of The Honey Trio. Though she’ll swear it’s otherwise.”
Nezu looked at Rose, and even behind his placid expression, she knew he was weighing options against her words.
“So,” she said, smoothing wrinkles from her skirt, “Iris is out. But I believe (Y/N) will be exactly what you want her to be, and then some. She’s a flower that just needs a bit of sunshine to bloom.”
Nezu smiled. “Thank you for your time, Councilwoman (L/N). Rose. I will be in touch.”
“Please.” Rose paused on her way towards the door. “Principal Nezu?”
“If it’s not too much trouble, could I get the name of that brand of tea? I’d love to have some for my office.”
I thought I'd add in a little note as this drabble continues - Reader has two older sisters. They do become part of the plot. "Plot." You know what I mean.
The perspective of each drabble changes. I hope it's not too distracting....?
Chapter 3: Call
You receive the phone call that will ultimately change your life forever.
You’re struggling to keep your eyes open when your phone buzzes in your purse. You glance over to the drawer that it’s in, then back to the spreadsheets on your screen. Whoever it was; they’d leave a message. These reports had to be done by….you glance over at the clock in the bottom right hand of your screen. This report should have been turned in an hour ago. But with the system shut down the week before, everyone was running behind. Not like the floor manager cared, though - you were expected to work to exhaustion and then some to get back on track. Forget your personal life (what's that?) - work was supposed to be your entire world.
Your body’s protest had gone from a slight, mild chiding to a full on protest. Your eyelids were continuing to droop, resisting your most valiant efforts to keep them propped open with endless cups of coffee. You’re pretty sure if you got a paper cut, you’d bleed expresso.
The numbers are starting to blur together, and you lean back to rub your eyes. Over the sound of fingers rapidly tapping away, you can hear someone else’s radio, turned to a classical music station. Normally, it’d be soothing, but it wasn’t helping how drained you felt. There’s a final buzz from your purse, then silence.
Then your phone begins buzzing again.
Worry starts to coil in your stomach. It wasn’t that you received many calls to begin with (robot calls – how-), and the occasional text from a friend. Taking a look around you to make sure a manager wasn’t around, you open the drawer and fish through your purse. The name on the screen is enough to yank you from your seat.
You get up so quickly that your chair almost falls behind you, and dash from your desk into the hallway. You nearly bowl over a woman in the hallway as you run to answer your phone. It feels like forever, but you’re able to accept the call. Out of breath, before you can even pant your first question, your sister’s warm voice interrupts.
“First of all; don’t panic. I know you’re panicking, which is why I feel bad about calling you like this, but it’s important.”
“Okay,” you huff, struggling to catch your breath and calm back down. She knew you so well.
“It’s about a job offer-"
A muted laugh, like a bell struggling to ring. “Don’t you want to hear about the details?”
“If it’s from you, it’s got to be with the municipality. Benefits. A set work schedule. Hardly any overtime. Time off. RETIREMENT.”
The last bit, you growled out a little louder than intended, causing a pair of suited men passing by to look at you strangely.
“Well, it’s not entirely with the muncip-"
“Does it get me out of here?”
“Then I don’t care. What do I need to do?”
Chapter 4: Interview
You meet Principal Nezu for the first time.
“So you think I’d be a good teacher? I don’t really have any experience…” Doubt gnawed at your stomach - then suspicion.
“What did Rose say?” You loved your sister, but she thought far too highly of you. Which was still better than what Iris thought of you. You’d thought that after three kids, she’d be less of a shit. But Iris was still Iris - imperious, snarky, and downright nasty. On a good day.
Principal Nezu’s smile grew wider, and he shook his head. “It’s less about what she said than what she didn’t say. I’ve looked over your resume, (Y/N). And do you know what stood out to me?”
“That in one year I had 8 jobs?” That had been a rough one.
“Well, yes, there is…that,” Nezu delicately cleared his throat, “But at each and every single job, you used your own ability. You could have easily used your Quirk to gain the skillset you needed, and just breezed into any position that you wanted. You’re willing to work hard if there’s something you believe in.”
You blinked, shocked. “I…”
“It is true that your Quirk has limitations, but not so much that you could not have held a position until you obtained the true knowledge. I’ve seen many others do much more with less. You’re honest, like Rose. Honest, and earnest. You do your best, no matter what it is. And these are qualities that all heroes must have.”
You felt your eyes burn. Swallowing the lump in your throat, you blinked rapidly, trying to clear the tears from your eyes. Crying in an interview (no matter how informal) wasn’t a good look.
“…I’ll take the job.”
Nezu nodded – in such a way that it was clear that you both knew that you wouldn’t have turned down the job either way.
“Well, then,” he set his paws down on his desk, “let me tell you a bit more about it.”
While he was talking, you’d gone through your purse for your handy note pad. You never left home without it, and it was full of your notes – from balancing your budget to grocery lists, it was a little volume of your day to day life.
“You’ll be working with the Department of General Education – Class 1-C. As you know, students in this class can transfer into the Hero Courses. However, there are students within this class that do actually want to pursue other options in life other than being a professional hero. Teaching for this department is a steady balance. Too much one way, and you discourage the students that want to be pro heroes. Too much the other way, and the students who want to live normal lives feel neglected. I honestly believe that you, as someone who has been both a hero and a working adult, would be best for this class.”
You nodded, hardly looking up from your notepad as you rapidly jotted down what Nezu was telling you. Though you’d had no real experience teaching kids, you had worked as a trainer for previous jobs. It seemed similar enough…But for insurance…
“Do you know if there’s a teacher here who I could talk to?”
“Your Quirk?” Nezu’s bright eyes focused on you. “I knew you would think of that.”
You flushed. “Just to give me a bit of an idea.”
“I can have one of the teachers show you around the school, yes. But I would prefer for you not to use your Quirk. I want you to do your best as you; not as someone else. Why would I need two of the exact same teachers?”
Your flush only grew deeper. In the face of Nezu’s faith in you, you felt quite overwhelmed. It was getting hard to fight back your smile.
“Okay, then, how about this – can I observe the different course teachers for a week? Just to get an idea of how things work?”
“That’s a wonderful idea!” Nezu exclaimed, whirling to face you. “Class 1-C, as much as I am ashamed to admit it, has grown used to having a substitute teacher for quite some time. An additional week won’t make a difference. When are you able to start?”
“Yesterday,” and there was no fighting your smile now. Finally. Something new. Something different. And something that it felt like only you could do – that all of your experiences had finally led to something that would be useful for others.
I'm taking quite a few liberties with the class set up for UA. I know that there is a "Class C" in the story, but I don't think they've actually been introduced. I think now's the perfect time to admit that I've only been watching the anime, so that's the timeframe / story set up that I'm rolling with.
Thank you everyone for your comments and support; it really makes my day! :)
Chapter 5: All Might
The first teacher that you spend time with is the Symbol of Peace himself. And there's a bit more conversation on who the Honey Trio were.
All Might, in his “true” form, is no less imposing to you than he had been as a giant, muscular man. The fact that his large hands are nervous, the set of his mouth grim, does nothing to deter the sheer awe you feel being in his presence. It is hard to think of him as Yagi Toshinori - it seems blasphemous.
“Tha…thank you for meeting me like this!” You bow, narrowly missing slamming your head against the small table in front of you.
“It’s nothing,” he waved his hands, somewhat embarrassed. “Principal Nezu spoke very highly of you and your sisters.” He folded his large hands now. Funny, how big they still were - perhaps larger now, that the rest of him was so small.
You flushed, reaching for your cup of tea. You weren’t prepared for the first teacher that you would meet and spend time with would be All Might himself. The teacher’s lounge was pleasantly quiet, the distant birdsong outside making the sunny room an oasis among chaos.
“Thank you - though Rose is the real star of the show,” and you smiled, ruefully. It was nice not to have to keep track of hero names; the fact that All Might (no, Toshinori was his name) had called you by your birth name had sent warm spiraling through your body. “Always was.”
“She was Honey Blade, right?” He scratched the side of his jaw, a small blush spreading across his cheeks. “You’ll have to forgive me-”
“Oh my god,” you almost choked on your tea, “Don’t apologize for not remembering our names - I mean, it’s not like we all that well known outside of our town. And we’ve totally been out of commission for a long time!”
Yagi’s blue irises settled on you, a look of confusion on his face. “The Honey Trio were quite well known, if I recall-”
You blinked, confused. “But we were never represented by an agency, or did any major media appearances. The only one I really remember was when the Prism Gang was put away for good, and Honey Blade, Rose, did all of the talking.”
For a moment, Yagi looked as if he wanted to say something more, but then thought better of it. Reaching forward, he took a long sip of tea, swallowed, then spoke again. “I see.”
That was strange. Ah. He was just being polite - why would the Symbol of Peace be interested in a group that stopped operating over a decade ago? Still, and you took a small sip of tea, you felt your cheeks stain warm. He seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say. What a wonderful man. No wonder everyone loved him.
“Yeah…I mean, we were pretty local, and the whole purpose of us was to hunt down the gang that killed our dad.” You lightly bit down on your lower lip. All of this time later, and it still wasn’t easy to talk about it.
All Might looked up at you, his expression concerned. You continued speaking, working through the mild sting of tears. “Our father, Dr. (L/N)-”
You smiled, shyly. “Yeah - I’m surprised you actually heard of him,” and you looked down, carefully stacking the remaining grains of rice on your plate against one another, using your chopsticks. “He wasn’t too well known outside of certain fields. He was a jack of all trades - one week he'd be working on a more precise laser for surgery, the next week, he'd be working on how to invent a better way to peel garlic. He was all over the place." One of your earliest memories of your father involved him making a breakfast making machine - and watching in complete awe as, once it was in motion, this random series of pulleys and levers produced pancakes and fresh orange juice.
“Ah.” It was said in such a way that was an invitation to continue. Looking back up, you locked eyes with Yagi. He was studying you, waiting for you to speak. If your cheeks grew any warmer, they’d burst into flame.
“Yeah.” You stabbed at the grains of rice now, unsure of how to continue. “Dad was a genius - and it’s what got him killed." You took in a deep breath. "I mean, before he died, we all had our Quirks, but I didn’t think Rose or Iris ever thought about being heroes.”
You turned the grains of rice over, one by one. “I never got that impression. To be fair, though - I'm the baby. Rose is ten years older; Iris is five years. You know,” you looked up at him, “I would have never thought of my Quirk as being used to be a hero. Dad’s Quirk was his intellect - mom’s Quirk was that apparently she could smell like whatever people’s favorite fragrance was. Dad used to say that he remembered that mom always smelled like a new book and French toast. It used to make us laugh. Mom died right after I was born, so..” You trailed off. You didn’t have any real memories of your mother - whatever you knew, it was told to you by your father, your sisters. “I never got to know her. All I know are the memories of others.”
You pressed on, picking up the threads of the story. “Rose’s Quirk basically enabled her to be the world’s best swordsman. She was born with this genius for bladed weapons - and the coordination to use it. Advanced speed, vision - everything you think a swordsman would need. Like, apparently right after she started walking, she was able to generate a sword. As she got older, she was able to change the sword into what she wanted it to be - a broadsword, a foil, a rapier. And no matter what form it took, she was brilliant with it.” You smiled now, looking down at your plate. “It’s like the weapon is a manifestation of her will - her soul, sort of. She pulls it directly from her body. Or did, back when she was Honey Blade. I don’t think she’s used her Quirk in years.”
Yagi nodded, a smile on his wizened face. You were pretty sure were slowly melting under his warmth.
“To me, Rose was always the hero among heroes - second only to you.” You added the last part shyly. “But she was the hero that was always in front of me. So of course I looked up to her. But it still felt like she became a hero because of what happened to dad. His murder changed everything. Even Iris…” you smirked, biting back a laugh.
“Honey Voice, right?”
“That’s exactly right!” You beamed, thrilled that he’d remembered. “Iris and I never got along all that great outside of being in the Honey Trio; she always picked on me! And poor Rose; with everything else going on, she had to break up our fights. But you know - and I’d never tell her this to her face, Iris was an amazing hero. Rose was the flashy front woman, but Iris? She was the brains. As spacey and as bitchy as she is, she thinks on her feet and can outline a solid plan in about 15 seconds.”
“Was that her Quirk?”
“Nope! Her Quirk is that she can use a certain frequency of her voice to get people to do whatever she wanted them to. Thankfully it didn’t seem to work on people she’s related to - otherwise I’m pretty sure I would have eaten dog food for a week straight.”
Yagi looked nonplussed. “….But she’s your sister.”
“I said we didn’t get along - didn’t I?” You were laughing now, remembering the spats you and Iris got into - the switching of shampoo with hair dye, when she locked you out of the house in your underwear, that time you embarrassed her in front of the boy she liked. “But when she was Honey Voice, I could rely on her as well as I could my own shadow. It was like she became someone else. In fact…” You trailed off, finally setting your chopsticks down, “It felt like it was the only time that she was really my sister. Like Honey Voice was who she truly was. I guess part of me is still surprised that she’s not out there still being a hero. It seemed to free something in her.”
An image of Iris, holding her firstborn son, crossed your mind. Then, you shook your head. “But I think she’s happier than she ever thought she could be now. So…you know…” You prayed to whatever god that was listening that you weren’t overstepping any boundaries. Then took a deep breath, and added, “So that just shows you…that there’s….I dunno, a life after being a hero. She got married and has a family, and is living this wonderful life. And Rose, well, you’ve seen what she’s doing with local law and pushing things through. She wanted to make sure that no one else got trapped like dad did - indebted to a gang.”
Yagi was silent, and you winced. Dammit. How could I have said that to the Symbol of Peace?! Yeah, it’s totally fine that everyone has seen you at your weakest when all you’ve been is like, the biggest inspiration to us all. Yeah, it’s totally fine. You can totally adjust and not be a complete wash out failure like I am -
Yagi spoke. “It’s true; there’s a lot of things that I can still do. That still need to be done. And I’m glad, (Y/N), that you’re here. You’re a good reminder of that.”
You looked up, completely blown away. He was looking at you, that broad, beaming smile on his face, no less spectacular for his present physical state. “And I hope you remember that about yourself. I think that the fact that you are here means that there is still more for you to do as a hero, even if you don’t know it - Honey Trap.”
Your hero name had never sounded so sweet.
Oh, what's this - two updates in one day!
So, timeline wise, this section of the story takes place after All Might's fight with All for One, and his true form has been exposed to the world. Honestly, All Might is such an amazing character - I only hope I did him some justice in this installment.
Also - already dropped one Cutie Honey reference...ha! And a Devil Hunter Yohko one for good measure. Calling out all of my obscure magical girls...
Chapter 6: Class 1-A
Midoriya Izuku's obssessive following of heroes never ceases to amaze.
“H H H H H H HONEY TRAP?!”
Aizawa raised his eyebrows. Midoriya had his…foibles, but this was a bit unexpected. The boy’s face was beet-red, his hands clasped firmly over his mouth, realizing belatedly that he’d yelled.
“…Yes, Honey Trap,” Aizawa continued. The chill in his voice was enough to settle the rest of the class down. “She will be teaching Class 1-C. As she is new to the school, she will be sitting in on different classes to gain a better understanding of our teaching methods. You are to treat her as any of the other operating staff here in the school if you are to see her outside of our class. While she is here, ignore her."
“Sensei, isn’t it a bit blunt to say ‘ignore her’?!” interjected Iida.
Aizawa sighed. There was nothing about the assignment that he liked. Principal Nezu had informed him of the change this morning, and stressed that there would be no change to the curriculum. It would be a nuisance. Bad enough that he hadn't heard of this Honey Trap; worse that he had no time to research into (Y/N). Speaking of names - he was lucky to have caught it during Nezu's explanation this morning. The assumption that Aizawa would just know who she was was ridiculous. She'd never registered with any agency, and whenever he had caught glimpses of her on campus, she was either with Yamada or Yagi.
“Actually, Iida-kun, that was my suggestion.” (Y/N) was standing in the doorway, leaning against it.
Her timing was impeccable. Aizawa snorted. Maybe she had been a hero in the past. It would be too much to hope that she would be quiet.
“I don’t want to interrupt classes,” she continued, pushing inside and closing the door silently behind her, “as I’m here to observe. Also, I have no idea what you’re covering, so I’m really in no position to answer questions.” Her smile was bashful; self-depreciating. “So, please take care of me.” She bowed to the class, and made her way to the back of the classroom. The other students looked at her, excitement bubbling through. Mineta was looking a little too hard – expected- but Midoriya?
He had his eyes fixed, trembling forward, the scarlet hue of his face deepening.
“Deku, are you okay? Your face is really red,” asked Uraraka, her pleasant features concerned.
“Fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine! Yes! Fine!” He refused to look back.
“You don’t look fine,” chimed in Tsuyu.
“I’m fine! Really!”
“If you’re running a fever, you should go to the nurse’s office,” added Iida. “You don’t want to get everyone sick!”
“I’m FINE, fine! Fine!” Midoriya’s face grew redder. Stiffly, he looked behind him. (Y/N) looked back at the young man with a small smile and a wave. Midoriya jerked back forward in his seat as if he’d been shocked.
Aizawa narrowed his eyes, then looked fixedly at (Y/N). She was sitting in the left corner in the back of the room, studying her shoes. She seemed…nonplussed. Well. That added more to his list for her. “Your assignment for the day is...”
Perhaps he knows something that no one else does...
Chapter 7: Parental Advisory
That one kid might know too much.
“That Midoriya...I think he might know about The Honey Trio,” you groaned, facing Aizawa. “God, how stupid of me. I just assumed that we were too before their time and too obscure for them to know who I was.” Flashes of angry mobs of parents roared in your mind.
After a morning of sitting in silence, taking notes as you watched, you'd felt that green haired kid's eyes on you. Whenever you looked up, he looked away, his face flushing. He was fidgeting; so much that Aizawa had called him on it several times. Apparently it was out of the norm for him. The distraction, you knew, had not endeared you to Aizawa. That was sort of a pity; you knew of Eraserhead - and could....appreciate his talents. Despite looking as if he hadn't slept for a week, you were temporarily stunned by how handsome he was - even the scar under his eye was nice. The fact that you were able to string a sentence together after he'd turned that dead-eyed gaze on you was a miracle. Maybe it meant that you were actually becoming an adult.
As class was dismissed for lunch, the kids had filed past you, following Aizawa's instructions to a T, filing past you with only fleeting curious looks. Only the class representative, Iida, acknowledged you with a small, jerky bow. Not that you were upset with that. If anything, you were quite impressed. A new hero, a new face - that was exciting, wasn't it? Or maybe it would have been, if you had been a household name. That kid with the green hair, though. He'd been the first kid out the door, nearly shoving past you, his face scarlet.
You gaped at him, your mouth working uselessly. Then you promptly closed it. Narrowed your eyes in a squint at him.
“Do...do you not know about the issues we had?"
"No. Should I have?"
"...Parents were very upset with The Honey Trio." It didn't make sense to hide anything from him now. It'd probably end up making his life harder if you did. "The main thing was that they found our costumes offensive. They raised a huge stink about it."
"But that was over a decade ago, wasn't it? Who cares."
How could this unshaven grouch not only make you feel five inches tall, but ancient as well? And you thought he was older than you!
"You've seen Midnight's get up. Whatever The Honey Trio wore, it probably wasn't as bad as that."
He had a point. You chewed the inside of your cheek, lightly. "Sign of the times, I guess. But at the time." You didn't bother to finish your thought. There was no point to it now. He clearly wasn't interested, and you weren't too enthralled by the idea of walking down that particular Memory Lane. "Anyway. I know that Principal Nezu sprung this on you very last minute, and I apologize if it causes you a lot of trouble. I'm going to do my best to get caught up so you don't have to look after me for too much longer."
You thought you were having a conversation. While you were talking, Aizawa had continued down the hallway, leaving you standing alone. You sighed. You weren't going to run after him. But you did pick up your pace to keep up with him.
"Did Principal Nezu tell you what my Quirk is?" Business as usual.
Aizawa huffed. “ ‘Honey Trap has the ability to take on the knowledge / capabilities of any professional that she meets.’"
He wasn’t wrong, but…
“Did he say anything about how I use those powers?"
“No. What are you getting at?” Annoyance was written on his features. For once, his being an intractable grouch was going to work in your favor. With a nervous smile, you held up your hands and shook them, vigorously shaking your head in the negative as well.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Principal Nezu was totally right – that’s my Quirk. But, since I’ll be working with you, I might as well tell you – I can only hold that knowledge / capability for about two hours. After that,” you mimic an explosion. “Poof. I have to revert back to myself for a little bit, until I can recharge, then I can pick it up again. Depending on the skill set, the amount of downtime varies.” Not entirely true - but not entirely a lie.
“Mn.” Aizawa’s focus was on the hallway in front of him. It’s fine. He’s a grouchy asshole. You’ve dealt with his type before.
“Either way, Midoriya's reaction was odd,” you murmured, more to yourself. Midoriya wasn’t a mindreader. Not only that, you had operated in an entirely different area, and it wasn’t like the crimes that the Honey Trio stopped were big, world-ending schemes. The Honey Trio’s media spots were few and far in-between; you could only recall a small sound-bite interview after the Prism Gang had been squashed. All images of the Honey Trio were shaky, flash spottings – no full splash pages in the papers or magazines. Somewhere, Iris had a photo album dedicated to the Trio’s adventures, and the last time you remembered looking in it, it wasn’t even full. Could that kid have known about the Boob Window Drama?
“Midoriya is a hero otaku. He knows everything about everyone.” Aizawa said, his focus never drifting from the hallway. He stopped, then turned to face you. Under those impassive eyes, you felt quite naked. “So he probably knows about your 'Honey Trio.' Probably even things you don’t think that he would know.” It was said over his shoulder as he continued down the hallway, leaving you where you stood.
Reader's interactions and Aiwaza are really hard to write; I'm not going to lie. So please bear with me as I plod along.
Reader's Quirk? We've just scratched the surface...
Chapter 8: Student Lunch
Turns out that little green-haired kid DID know something.
"Honey Trap…why would Honey Trap be here, of all of the heroes that UA could have hired? Were they hoping to use her Quirk to better keep them protected?” Izuku’s face scrunched as another possibility crossed his mind. “Could they use her to infiltrate the League of Villains? That was her specialty – covert operations. The hero that could be hiding within plain sight, only to vanish without a clue that she was even there…”
“Would she be skilled enough to do that? The heroes proactively struck before, but that was when they knew about the League’s hideout, and they’d kidnapped a student. Now, the League is going to be more conscious of what’s happened in the past, and not try such a bold strike again. Maybe this is the heroes’ way of keeping tabs on them at all time? But if that was the case, why would they endanger the mission by having her here as a teacher? The less that we know about it, the easier it would be for her to move around - ”
“And no one here has the same sort of Quirk, and she’s got no background as a teacher, so it’s really odd that they have her here. She’s teaching Class 1-C, though, so maybe that’s the point? She’s not high profile enough to attract a lot of attention, and it seems like no one else knows who she is - ”
Uraraka’s voice brought Izuku out of his train of thought. Snapping back to attention, he looked at Uraraka and Iida.
“You were muttering,” Uraraka offered, with a nervous smile. “You were getting really loud, too.” Izuku looked up, and realized that the students at the surrounding lunch tables were staring at him. Izuku’s face flushed, and he looked down at his lunch.
“Is everything okay? You’ve been really flustered since they brought in Miss Honey Trap,” Urakaka poked thoughtfully at her lunch. “I’ve never heard of her – but she seems…” Uraraka couldn’t find the right words. “Warm,” she finally said. “She seems really warm. Like a big sister!” Urakaka’s rosy cheeks grew rosier.
Looking at Uraraka’s contented face, Izuku felt the tension leave his shoulders. Poking at the pork cutlet bowl in front of him, he shrugged.
“To be honest…I was so shocked to see her here that I didn’t think about something like that.”
Now it was Iida’s turn to speak. “Do you know who she is? I’ve never heard of her, or The Honey Trio. So they must not have been registered-” His face grew horrified. “Were they…vigilantes?!” The last word was screamed, and ambient conversation around them hushed.
“Iida! Calm down!” Uraraka said, raising a finger to her lips in a shushing gesture. “I’m sure it’s nothing like that. I’m sure a bunch of heroes never go pro on a big level. Think about it.” She tapped her fingertips together, thoughtfully. “A lot of the heroes around here are also in the media, too. But I bet there’s a bunch that are never on T.V. or in magazines, like Aizawa-san.” Uraraka glanced over at Izuku, her strained expression begging for help.
“They weren’t vigilantes,” Izuku said, finally shoveling a bit of his cutlet bowl into his mouth. “They were pro heroes, registered, I think, but never signed with an agency.” He longed for notebook 6 – the one he knew for a fact had The Honey Trio’s information in it. Still, he’d try his best to remember. “They also stayed in one area, Nagai City.”
“That’s really far from here,” Uraraka said. “Nagai City’s not usually in the news.”
“Nagai City is consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live,” offered Iida, adjusting his glasses. “Low crime rate, which is amazing, considering that they have no hero presence at all. They have one of the lowest murder rates in the world.”
“The Honey Trio is why,” Izuku added. He closed his eyes, mentally thumbing through the pages of his notebook. “The Honey Trio were three women that had one goal – to shut down the Prism Gang. The Prism Gang was an organized crime syndicate that ran the entire city, from the local government to the police. So they got away with everything, including murder.”
Iida and Uraraka stared at Izuku. Their world had always been protected by heroes and the police – the thought that there was a place so dangerous that there were no heroes, and that not even the police could be trusted, rattled them to their bones.
Izuku’s face was grave as he continued. “The Prism Gang wanted to expand their reach – and since they had people on their payroll in government, it was probably going to happen. And then The Honey Trip showed up. No one really knows where they came from. One day they weren’t there in the city, the next day they were. Honey Blade, Honey Voice, and Honey Trap. Honey Blade was the leader – her Quirk was Swordsmanship. Honey Voice had Hypnotic Voice – and Honey Trap…”
He took another bite of food, trying to think of the best way to put it. “There were rumors for a really long time that the she wasn’t real. That they were making her up, because no one ever really saw Honey Trap, except maybe a few times, and from a distance. I think the only full picture there is of her is the day that they all retired. But even that, people said was faked.”
“Is that why you were so red? You didn’t think she was real?!” Iida interjected, leaning over the table. Izuku gaped, caught off guard, then blushed.
“Er, no...I always thought that there were three members, but that they had a good reason for keeping Honey Trap out of the spotlight. Like she was their secret weapon.”
“You were acting really weird around her,” Uraraka pressed. “You’re usually ‘Wow, hero such and such!’ and you weren’t like that at all with her.”
Izuku swallowed the lump in his throat. “Well,” he poked bashfully at his bowl, “The Honey Trio got into a lot of trouble with their costumes. They were….revealing. Probably another reason why they didn’t like to advertise.” He swallowed again, hard. I never expected to actually see her. I can’t wrap my head around what might be going on. She’s so different from what I remember about The Honey Trio – nothing is adding up...
“But she wasn’t in her costume,” Iida supplied. “She was in her home clothes.” He pushed his glasses further up his nose, the light reflecting from them obscuring his eyes. Uraraka and Izuku masked their laughter. Iida didn’t have to say a word for them to know what he was thinking:
Iida doesn’t think she’s dressed appropriately at all for school!
“So why haven’t I heard of them? If they wiped out organized crime in Nagai City and made it a safer place to live, you would think that they would be everywhere!” Uraraka threw her arms up. “On talk shows, selling perfume, you name it!”
“Because they didn’t want to be,” Izuku took a sip of water, hoping it would help him speak better. “They said that after the Prism Gang had been punished, their job was done. They retired the next day. And they were active for only five years. It usually takes a long time for a pro hero to get a lot of attention, especially if they don’t have an agency.”
Iida was thoughtful. He took a bite of his stew, then spoke. “If they were after organized crime, it would make sense that they would not advertise that they were heroes. They must be very good at operating undercover.”
“ ‘Undercover' is different from what we’re used to, I guess.” Izuku chewed thoughtfully. The Honey Trio had always been a footnote to him. Now, at a loss to how to describe them, he felt slightly embarrassed. If Uraraka was right, though, maybe Honey Trap wouldn’t be offended that the class didn’t know who she was. “They did give a few interviews, but it was always Honey Blade, or Honey Voice. There’s a few pictures of them in the Nagai City newspapers, but nothing that ever got so far here.”
“That’s interesting, though,” murmured Uraraka, taking a sip of water. “I bet they could have been really big. But they kept small the entire time…”
“…And retired when the gang was defeated…” Iida continued.
Izuku was quiet as he carefully cut into his meal. I’ve never heard of heroes that retired because their job was done. There’s always a bad guy out there; some villain to pursue. But they just stopped. There has to be something missing; something about this Prism Gang that they never told the press about. And I bet Honey Trap knows it.
As they were walking back to class, Uraraka suddenly came to a screeching halt in front of them. Izuku was about to ask why she’d suddenly stopped, then he saw the reason.
In the hallway in front of them was Honey Trap and All Might. The two of them were talking...and laughing together. They continued down the hallway together, disappearing as they turned a corner. After the teachers had left, Uraraka started walking forward again, her face beaming.
“I figured All Might would know who she was! I’m glad that she has friends here already. I hope that maybe we can talk to her once she gets settled in.” Uraraka nodded to herself, eagerly.
“I’m sure that once she has adjusted to her new schedule and duties, we can make appointments with her,” Iida responded.
Izuku was quiet, watching where Honey Trap and All Might had been. Who was she, really?
Can I just say that every single one of you guys that takes the time to comment are amazing, beautiful, creatures? Because you are. And thank you for your time and energy. It is a surefire pick me up each time I read them.
Chapter 9: Principal Nezu
Nezu's been plotting this entire time, and he's maybe about a quarter of the way into what he wants.
The next few weeks are uneventful.
(Y/N) only sat with Class 1-A twice, and after that, Aizawa’s interactions with her were limited to the glimpse of her in the hallway, in the teacher’s lounge. She was always polite, acknowledging him with a nod, sometimes with that half-smile of hers.
He is perturbed, briefly, when he realizes that she has not been as a big of a nuisance that he thought she would be. From everything that he has heard, she is a more than capable teacher, and the students of Class 1-C adore her. She’s gained the reputation of “big sister,” and he has noted that more than a few of the girls in his class speak highly of her. It is by listening to them that he realizes that (Y/N) is typically the last teacher to leave UA, as every evening after classes, she trains. More than once, one of the girls have caught her on her way there.
He thinks that this is unusual; he doesn’t know if any of the other teachers train on campus. Unusual, but ultimately good. (Y/N) is setting a good example, showing that hard work goes into being a pro. That she is willing to constantly improve. Or it could be a bad thing – that she is merely putting on a show, because she is the one who is going to drop the axe on the head of the unsuspecting student body.
He decides that it would be a good idea to catch her training; see what she is made of.
His opportunity arrives sooner than he expected, and with a surprise patron: Principal Nezu.
“As you know, Aizawa-san, there is a gap in (Y/N)’s combat training.”
“Over a decade.” He savors the way it sounds; horrible. This is not a profession that people can walk away from, and then walk back to, as if they can pick up right where they left off. He wants the weight of his words to settle in fully to Nezu. He knows, in a sense, that it is petty, but he has no other way of expressing his concern. It’s one thing to rely on other pros in a pinch, but children are involved. Her lack of experience could seriously injure them at best; he does not want to think of the worst outcome. He has had to face the parents once; he does not want to do it again.
Principal Nezu ignores the barb, and continues, folding his small paws behind him as they walk down to the training room. “She has taken it upon herself – without my suggestion, mind you – to try and get her skills up to speed. I think, however, as she has taken on the full responsibility of Class 1-C, that she needs more active practice than the training room. For that reason, I’m asking you to take (Y/N) on your nightly patrols with you.”
“You say that as if I have a choice in the matter.” He is being disrespectful, he knows, but he also knows that Principal Nezu would never assign anything arbitrarily. He has something in mind.
“Of course you have a choice in the matter,” Nezu’s response holds mirth. “I’m not a dictator. But considering that you two both operate covertly, it would be a good match. I also think that you could learn a few things from her.”
Aizawa is silent. Principal Nezu has a point. He still is not sure what her Quirk is; “Imitation” seems to be the closest to what he can tell, from what he’s heard. Yamada’s big mouth can occasionally be useful, and added with Midoriya’s constant mumbling, he has begun to craft a picture of (Y/N).
“I’ve discussed it with her, and she’s agreed. Starting as soon as possible would be ideal; there’s a field trip coming up that she’s petitioned Class 1-C to join.” Nezu rubs the bottom of his tiny chin, his little eyes bright. “I thought that it would be a lovely idea.”
“I wasn’t aware of a field trip,” Aizawa is able to find his voice. There isn’t as much irritation as he thought there would be in it. It would appear that (Y/N) is as much as a plotter as Nezu is. No wonder he is so fond of her.
“Not surprised; she was the one that proposed it to me this evening. She was very persuasive. Apparently, she has noticed tension between classes 1-A and 1-B, and has proposed a trip to the Mid Town Aquarium as a team builder, with Class 1-C to act as a buffer. Class 1-C has about an even split of children that either want to become heroes or are interested in going into other lines of work. She feels that it would be good for the kids in 1-C to spend more time with the kids in the hero course, and vice-versa. ‘An all-around learning experience,’ she called it. And, according to the research that she presented to me, aquariums are proven to be soothing, neutral places. I agreed. I was planning on announcing it tomorrow, actually.”
Principal Nezu stopped, and looked up at Aizawa. The door to the training room was open in front of them.
Aizawa’s focus was on the scene in front of him. Whatever he thought of the field trip dissolved, sugar in the rain, as he took in what was in front of him. (Y/N) was moving – and she was fast. Fast and agile – jumps propelled her high into the air, with an amount of control that allowed her to stop on the space of a 5 yen piece. Her reaction time was supernatural, as she was able to avoid multiple attacks from training robots launched simultaneously.
She was good, but –
His doubt was confirmed as he continued to watch her. She was avoidant; never struck back against the robots. Ability to dodge was important, yes, but her offense was woefully inadequate. Non-existent. It would be unacceptable to take her anywhere off the school grounds like this.
“You see it too, don’t you? The hesitation. The lack of offensive abilities,” Nezu’s voice was quiet, as if he were afraid of being overheard in the din of the robots. “She’s not used to going up against opponents that weren’t human.”
Aizawa’s interest is piqued. In all that he has heard, he has not thought to directly ask Principal Nezu about (Y/N) further. He’d assumed that there would be no need to. He had not anticipated that with each new bit of information that he has heard, it has merely lead to 5 more questions.
“Not human?” Aizawa repeats.
“Yes; her opponents in the past have all been human. Gang members, who at worst, were armed.” Nezu’s focus is still on (Y/N), leaping and nimbly dancing out of the way of a robot’s strike.
“From my understanding, largely. Honey Blade and Honey Voice were quite protective of her. They would triage the gang members and leave the lowest level ones to Honey Trap to subdue.”
“For how long?”
“About three years into their activity. One raid, however, the gang was better prepared, and were able to retaliate.”
“Advanced weaponry, hiring muscle with monstrous Quirks. By this time, the Quirks of Honey Blade and Honey Voice were well documented. The Prism Gang hired outside help to combat these Quirks. Honey Blade and Honey Voice were nearly defeated – then Honey Trap got involved. Her involvement resulted in a victory, but at a great cost. What happened that night lead to Honey Blade and Honey Voice increasing their attacks. After that, it became a non-stop, two year war.”
Nezu’s paws tightened on one another behind his back. “To this day, I believe it was a miracle that they were not killed – and an ultimate failure on the part of all hero agencies that such a war was not recognized and aid was not offered. No matter what agency that our children sign up with, I want them to be instilled with the value of the importance of helping each other out. Of being unafraid to reach out.”
Aizawa felt bile rise in his throat, quelled only by a rush of anger. “Why didn’t anyone help?”
Principal Nezu let out a long, heavy sigh. “It wasn’t glamorous enough for some; for others, they simply had no idea. The Honey Trio never held grudges against other heroes for their actions. All Might, once he found out- well,” Nezu chuckled, “He was not happy at all.”
Well, that would explain why All Might appeared to dote on (Y/N). He and (Y/N) had lunch together, at minimum, twice a week. In the short time that (Y/N) had been at the school, there was already a betting pool surrounding All Might’s interest in (Y/N). The last he heard, Nemuri was in the lead, eagerly anticipating a romance between the two.
“You said that Honey Blade and Honey Voice were protective of her. Why?” There was a momentary lull in the training room. Both observers stopped, turning their full attention back to the room. (Y/N) was soaked in sweat, hair plastered to her forehead. She was breathing heavily, her knees shaking. She sank onto the ground, the program stopped. She reached up and caressed the choker, the thin silver ribbon shining against her skin. Tapped her fingers against the side of it, once, twice. Then stopped.
When Principal Nezu spoke again, his voice was quieter. “They’re sisters, The Honey Trio. (Y/N) is the youngest.”
A million questions buzzed through Aizawa’s mind. Before he could focus on one long enough to ask, Principal Nezu’s soft laughter interrupted.
“I think I’ve said more than enough for now. Please address any further questions to (Y/N) directly,” Nezu’s voice had taken on an air of formality, and Aizawa grimaced. One avenue of information was shut off.
Louder, Principal Nezu spoke, “Good evening, (Y/N)! Did we come at a good time?”
(Y/N) struggles to get to her feet. She does nothing otherwise to straighten out her appearance, and her customary half-smile is gone, replaced with a naturally full one that adds light to her face. It is a kind, bright smile, and Aizawa realizes in that moment why the students think of her as a big sister.
“Not at all, Principal Nezu. I was just taking a break.” There is a shine in her eyes that indicates that she knew that they had been watching. It is a coy thing, that is at once haughty, sweet, and emotional. Aizawa isn’t sure how to process that look.
“Good, good,” Principal Nezu unfolds his paws.
“You could have stopped me earlier, you know,” and Aizawa realizes that in that instant, she has picked up on his suspicion. “Aizawa-san,” she addresses him, and stands up a little straighter. “It seems that I will be a burden to you again.”
“…Your offense is pathetic. You won’t be able to jump away forever.”
Her mouth tightens. He waits for her to protest, to be insulted. Instead, her shoulders slump.
“I know,” she sighs. “I don’t really know how to attack robots. The first thing the mind goes to is using brute strength – which I don’t have. I have to work within my means, and I don’t have a Quirk that’s suitable to battle like this. It’d be nice to be able to punch through, though. Ka-POW!”
Aizawa is temporarily stunned into silence. From his knees, Nezu lets out a noise that is a chuckle disguised as a cough.
“Please be patient with me,” (Y/N) adds, in a softer tone. “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m rusty, but I know what’s at stake.”
And he finally hears it, the thing that quells his suspicion. There is severity in her voice, but under that, fear. He knows it’s not for herself.
“Good. Then you won’t be hopeless after all. Get cleaned up. We leave in an hour.”
When she turns that full smile on him, he nearly stumbles over Nezu on his way out.
Maybe Aizawa thinks Reader's cute. I dunno. I dunno what goes on in that head of his.
I'm going to say it again (and by the time this fic is over, you will be tired of hearing it) - I love every single comment that you guys have taken the time to leave. I love the speculation, although I'm not going to lie - I am so worried that once Reader's Quirk is revealed, it's going to be a let down. So, I really hope it isn't! I've really been enjoying writing this story and fleshing everything out, and I've barely started.
Also, I have no beta, so if there are mistakes / inconsistencies, please please PLEASE let me know and I will get it knocked out.
Chapter 10: Patrols
You fall back into the whole hero thing pretty easily.
...For the most part.
A few nights with Aizawa, and you have come to learn every abandoned parking garage, alley within the Red Light District, and slums like the back of your hand. Aizawa is tough to you; he offers no assistance in fights that he often starts. The first few, you are unsure; hesitant - then it all comes back to you. By sheer, delicious luck, you are able to transform into whatever the fight called for without actually being seen. But luck runs out.
Three weeks into working with him at night, the two of you ambush three bank robbers. Two are humanoid with mild Quirks; you don't pay much attention to them. The third is the problem. Her Quirk turns her into a hulking were-tiger. She is teeth and claws and speed and power, and in fighting her, you are constantly in Aizawa's line of sight. Transforming in front of him is out of the question. You can't risk exposing yourself and your Quirk like this. You dodge as quickly as you can, but a half-step in the wrong direction, and she has you in her arms, her claws at your throat. She pricks you with them, holding your neck daintily. Her claws are ridiculously sharp. Her careless caressing of your throat sends small shreds of pain through you, and you can feel the heat of your own blood streaming from the wounds.
Aizawa stands in front of the two of you. His balled fists speak volumes. The thug, thinking that she has won, snickers deep in her throat. It sounds like a growl.
"Now, now, Eraserhead. One move, and I can cut this pretty little thing's throat to ribbons." Her Quirk has made her voice monstrous.
You stare at Aizawa. Mouth two words.
He glares at you.
The thug's claws dig deeper. Whispers of pain turn into snarls. Any deeper, and she may do real damage. You do not mouth the words again, but give Aizawa a pointed look. He needs to do it, and do it now.
To lose your Quirk is to be plunged into deep ice water. When he turns those burning red eyes on you, your transformation fails in a cough of light. Without it, you are instantly weakened, your stomach rolling with nausea.
In your powerless state, your body still responds. You take the opening, and grasp Quirkless thug’s arm. She's caught by surprise, and begins to struggle, trying to regain the upper hand. You slam your foot down into hers, and she yowls. She is still taller, heavier built than you in her human form, but she's human, and you can deal with that. You have mere seconds to get this right. Your choker is not working appropriately, and you are far, far too aware of being quite bare behind the villain. She is struggling too much to notice that there has been a drastic change in you – a small blessing. Without her Quirk, she is a screeching kitten instead of a roaring tiger.
Aizawa’s cowl moves in front of his face. It is a split second window of time. You take it. Her extended arm still in your hand, you execute a perfect shoulder throw. A combination of your frenzied momentum and her own lack of balance sends her tumbling head over heels in front of you, skidding into trashcans. Your actions have cost you some time; her Quirk, there in the split second that Aizawa’s eyes were covered, has vanished again. You run after the thug, never missing a beat, despite the chill of the air around you. You don’t have time to worry about what Aizawa might be seeing. Before she can get up, you’re over her, and yank her arm behind her back, pinning her to the ground with your foot on the small of her back. Your transformation returns in a subdued flicker of light, and you can breathe easier. Though her Quirk (and claws with it) have returned, the villain is too busy yowling in pain from your lock on her. A quick jab to a pressure point near her neck, and she slumps instantly. Her form shudders, then ripples back into human.
“That was stupid,” Aizawa’s approaching. “You were directly in my eyesight.” You drop the thug’s now limp arm, and shrug.
He is unimpressed. You wouldn’t expect him to be anything else.
“…So martial arts aren’t your Quirk,” he stands over the thug, before kneeling to tie her up. Bless his heart. He's been trying like mad to get it figured out without directly asking you. At first, the secrecy had bothered you; it felt dishonest among honest people. Now, it wasn't even a dull pang against your conscience. You knew why it had to stay shrouded in obfuscation.
“Part of it, maybe, but not all of it. We were trained to be able to defend ourselves with or without the use of our Quirk. There’s not always a time where I can use mine,” you say. “It generates a lot of light, and uses a lot of energy. I don’t always have control of how much of that I can put out or withstand.”
He stands, dusting off his hands. There’s no indication that he heard anything you said.
“Smart,” he says, at last. “Training like that.”
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to incorporate it into the curriculum. It’s honestly saved my skin more than once. Quirks are great things, but being a hero is more than that.”
Because you’ve spent so much time with him, you’re beginning to notice the nuances in Aizawa’s silences. You’re mildly flattered when you realize that this one means that he’s actually considering what you said.
“Maybe in the more advanced classes. Kids come to us trying to figure out how to best use their Quirks. They need to get used to them before they can learn how to deal without them.” He’s looking at you, and there is a minuscule flicker of interest.
Your blood runs cold. Did…did he see?
You try to stop the blood from rushing to your cheeks. It’s a losing battle.
“Honey Trap.” Your hero name is cold on his tongue. It cools the heat in your cheeks.
“Mm?” You’re back to normal. Against your throat, the heart pendant on your choker throbs. You’ll have to take a look at it when you get home. It’s a possibility that it was designed anticipating a weapon that nullified Quirks, but it’s just that – a possibility, not a certainty. It could have shorted out; it was meant to be a back up if you were weakened past the point of a transformation. Perhaps it was damaged by her claws, but that felt unlikely. It was designed to withstand nearly anything.
“Help me move her.”
His request bewilders you. He’s physically stronger than you. And with the way he’s tied her, he could have easily carried her. Before you can ask why, he replies.
“Quicker with two.”
He’s right. Though your pressure point manipulation has knocked her out, she won’t stay that way for long. You pace over to where she’s collapsed, and kneeling next to Aizawa, the two of you grab onto the restraints, and begin to tug her out of the alley. After the police arrive and drive off with the conscious, but groggy, thug, the two of you return to your observation point on the rooftop. You stand close to the edge, looking out at the night. In the distance, the sparkling lights of the city give way to the Arcadian hush of the countryside. A rippling of cloth, and Aizawa is standing beside you. He breathes deeply.
“That was stupid,” he repeats, slowly.
“You said that.” You’re not annoyed by it. He had no idea of how much you’d trained without the use of your Quirk.
This is a new silence from him. It is unsure, fumbling. Like he has something that he wants to say, but is not sure how to say it. You let it sit between the two of you, before you sit down on the edge of the roof, letting your feet swing over the edge. He hesitates for a moment, then sits next to you, folding his long legs over the edge of the building as well. It is a startling relaxed gesture from him.
“I had to try something. Without her Quirk, I knew I could take her.” You didn’t feel the need to mention that the entire reason you’d ended up in that situation was that you couldn’t change forms directly in front of him or her. You had to take responsibility for your own inaction. “Actually, thank you.”
“Why?” He doesn’t look at you, keeping his eyes straight ahead. He’s a little too focused on something out there, and at first, you assume it’s a threat. Then you realize from his hands, grasping the side of the building, that he’s nervous.
You keep your smile to yourself, not wanting to tease him. “Because you trusted me enough to do as I asked. I’d say that’s progress.”
“Mn.” His focus snaps to you in a fluid motion. He does not look away, and keeps his eyes on yours. “…You’re more powerful than you think. Once you actually get your head together, you’ll see it. You need to have more confidence in yourself and what you can do.”
It is the nicest thing he has ever said to you. You’re momentarily overwhelmed, not sure what to do with the mad rush of emotions that threaten to drown you. You have made so much progress with this terse man, and too much one way or the other will scare him off. So, you decide on the simplest approach.
He looks away again. This time, his silence is sated, pleased as a cat purring to himself.
Okay, my lovelies -
I have been writing like a madwoman. And I've honestly enjoyed it. BUTTTT, I want to go ahead and get on a schedule so I don't run the risk of burning myself out, and then never finishing the story. So, I'll probably be posting a new chapter Monday - Wednesday? Maybe something like that. I wanted to give everyone a head's up - and I also don't want to burn you guys out, either!
Chapter 11: Iris
Iris gives you some life advice. Maybe.
“God, you look like absolute shit,” Iris says, the moment your nephews are out of earshot. “I thought you were supposed to be all into skincare.”
You barely have the energy to shoot her a glare. Iris rolls her big eyes with a mocking flutter of her long eyelashes. Like Rose, Iris is gifted, and does not look her age – let alone the mother of three boisterous boys. You hope that some of it rubs off on you. Genetics, right?
“You try working in the day and doing patrols at night; see how fresh YOU look.”
“I do. It’s called being a ‘mom.’” She sits down next to you, crossing her legs in a jaunty motion.
Typical Iris; there was no winning with her. But you smiled anyway. Iris was mothering you in her own, abrasive way. She always had. Iris was taller than you (but shorter than Rose; funny how that worked out), and thinner. When you guys were younger, she was all elbows and knees; sharp angles to go with a sharper tongue. Like you, she was a creature of comfort, but managed to mingle it with cute and fashionable trends. She was wearing jeans, ballet flats, and an adorable off the shoulder blouse in a color that made her skin look flawless. In the hollow of her throat dangled her familiar heart necklace, the chain’s thin gold links catching the sun. Her hair was teased, a giant mane of curls that framed her face and cascaded down her shoulders. Not many people could wear the same hairstyle for decades, but Iris pulled it off. You're pretty sure her hair had settled into its final form in 1987.
“So, aside from never sleeping, how are things going at the new job?”
“Oh, I think they’re all right. I’m a little rusty on the whole hero thing. That’s why they’ve got me doing patrols.”
“Alone?” Iris’s response was layered. There was the outer, “They let you out alone?!” incredulous harshness, and beneath that, the “They let my baby sister, someone who has not seen action in over a decade, out, alone?! Who do I strangle?!” concern that you’ve learned over the years to look carefully for. Time had softened the roughest edges between the two of you – as had distance. You understood her much better now that you weren’t living under the same roof. And for that matter, Iris trusted you more.
“No,” and you bit back a laugh as Iris visibly went from mother bear mode to calm. “They’ve got me out there with Eraserhead.”
“Oh?” Another layered response. Caution was the outer layer, curiosity the inner layer. And beneath that…you couldn’t tell. You had a gut feeling, though, that she was about to cross some boundaries, and prepared yourself for it.
“Yeah,” you folded your arms behind your head. “He’s not big on talking, and is sort of a grouch. I get it, though. He does the same thing – teach during the day, patrol at night. It’s actually sort of nice,” you mused, thinking back on the past few weeks, “having someone else there. Just in case.”
“There shouldn’t be a ‘just in case’,” Iris sniffed, going through her purse. “You know what you’re doing.”
“I did. Iris, it’s been over ten years.”
Iris stopped fishing in her purse, and fixed you with a pointed stare, then sighed in exasperation. “I swear to God, Lily, you’re an idiot. You don’t forget how to ride a bike.” She waved her hands in annoyance. “You can’t forget how to hero, no matter how many years go by. Stop hiding behind that. Something’s got you spooked and you don’t want to talk about that. Whatever. It’ll come out sooner or later.” She went back to digging in her purse.
You couldn’t argue with that. She was right – though you’d never told her. Your body had adapted back to fighting as if you’d never stopped. But every time you went out there with Eraserhead, you were nervous. You just couldn’t put your finger on it.
“But Eraserhead, huh?” Iris was looking out at her boys, chasing each other and making laser noises. “You know what? I bet you’re just nervous because you’re out there with a man and you haven’t gotten any in forever and you’re all like, ‘Oooo, is he looking at my Boob Window,’ or ‘Oooo, how do I impress him?’ You don’t have to lie. We’ve all been there. You get within sniffing distance of some hunky hero and your panties combust.”
“IRIS.” You hiss at her. Not like the kids could have heard her, but they could have.
“Tell me I’m wrong.” Iris nonchalantly applied a layer of lip gloss; puckered at herself in her hand mirror.
You’re quiet, trying to process what she said. Of course you found Aizawa attractive; you’d known that from day one. Sure, his attitude had been off-putting at first, but after that first week, you felt like you had a pretty good read on him. In fact, you could understand his attitude. Being around heroes all of the time was exhausting. Everyone was always so loud, so colorful, so awake, so just…in your face. It was entirely different from when you were out there. Honestly, you’d come to look forward to your patrols with him because it was time largely spent in silence, with minimal communication and planning. And in class? The man was a total softie. All one had to do was really watch him.
Come to think about it, when did you stop thinking of him as a grouchy asshole, and as a friend?
“So, I can totally tell by your silence that I’m right, but you’d never admit it. That’s fine. I know it; you know it – REN GET OFF OF THAT RIGHT NOW AND DO NOT MAKE ME GET UP.” Her eldest son, Ren, paused like a deer caught in the headlights. He instantly dropped from the monkey bars he was climbing on.
“Okay, well,” and you sighed, letting her know it was time to change the subject. Aizawa was a nice guy. He really was. But it wasn’t like that.
But wouldn’t it be kind of nice if it was…?
“Anyway, since Rose is old and decrepit and just now told me about this whole new job thin-"
“She’s only five years older than you.”
“Ancient. Anyway, like I was saying, she was just now telling me about the whole UA thing last night, and I happened to be making (your favorite food). I guess it’s a weird coincidence. Anyway, I brought you some,” and she pulled over the large tote that she’d come into the park with. “(favorite food) is still your favorite, right? Well, it better be, because I’m not taking all of this food back home so it can go to waste. So, yeah. Congrats or whatever.”
You looked at the tote that she just about shoved into your hands, in quiet shock. Iris…never ceased to amaze you. ‘Coincidence’ your ass.
“The boys made you some cookies. Well, Ren did. Kunal ate cookie dough until he got sick and Sesen supervised.” She waved her hand at her kids. Ren, now down from the monkey bars, was back to chasing his younger brother, Kunal. Sesen was content to play by himself in the sand box, delicately patting a sand tower into the perfect shape. “I think they made you a card, too. But they said that you can’t read it until you get home. So don’t be an asshole and read it here.”
“Wow…” Your voice shook. “I..”
“Since I know you have no money, now you’ve got food for a week. You’re welcome.”
All you could do was laugh. “Thank you. What would I do without my big sister?”
“I dunno; probably die of starvation somewhere.”
Now home, you could barely wait to open up that tote and go through those goodies. Setting the tote down on your coffee table, you eagerly opened it. As you opened the top tupperware, you had to bite your lip to stop the tears. Not only had Iris made (favorite food), she made it the precise way that you loved it, ever since you were a child. From the amount that she made, it was clear that she’d spent quite a bit of time and effort on it.
And there was a LOT of food. The tote seemed bottomless as you pulled out tupperware after tupperware, still warm. At the bottom was one full of cookies, some perfect, others misshapen and burnt. You smiled, thinking about the sight your nephews must have been in the kitchen. Ren really was turning out to be most domestic out of the bunch. Not even 9 yet, and all he wanted for his birthday was a cook book.
Nestled against the side of the bag was a folded piece of paper. The front of it sported a crayon drawing of a T-Rex demolishing a city, with dead bodies scribbled over in red. You’d recognize Kunal’s handiwork anywhere. Opening it, you smiled. The card message was simple – a “Congratulations!” elegantly inked and drawn in Iris’s graceful hand, surrounded by the messages of your nephews.
Auntie Lil, I made the card! I drew you a T-Rex because they’re the best and they murder everything! You’re also the best, too. Can you get All Might’s autograph? He’s still cool even though he’s little. Present Mic’s autograph too! - Kunal
Auntie Lily, mom says that this job at UA is a good thing. I think it is, too. You’re super cool and need to be a hero. I tried a new recipe for the cookies; Kunal burnt some. The rest shouldn’t be so bad! Eat them and get plus ultra strong! – Ren
Sesen’s “message” was little more than stabs of the paper with a crayon. Made sense; he was two.
On the opposite side of the card was your sister’s firm and precise writing:
I don’t know where to start. I’m so, so proud of you, and I’m scared for you, too. In fact, everything that you’re feeling, I’m feeling twice as much. Fuck.
You laugh. Just like Iris to drop a F-bomb next to the signatures of her kids.
I’m no good at this, writing and words and emotions and all. I never have been. But even as I write this, I realize I should have told you I was proud of you more often. I was proud of you while you were in school. And not just when you finished – I was proud of you because you kept going, even with everything going on and life being insane. I was proud of you when you went out there and started working, though I know being an adult can be one of the most jarring and disappointing things in life; to think, “This is it?” once the whole money and job fun wears off. I was proud of you when you kept going. I was proud of you for being responsible and for being a good person. I’m still proud of you now.
Goddamn it, I’m crying now.
She wasn’t the only one. You clumsily wiped at your eyes, determined to finish the letter.
I’m saying all of this to say that I’m still proud now, no matter where you go, if it’s with UA or wherever else life takes you. I know Rose put you up to this, and Rose wouldn’t steer you wrong. She wouldn’t steer any of us in the wrong direction. If at any time you want to quit or if it gets to be too much, I get it. And I’d still be proud of you either way. You’re going to find your way in life, and I will be cheering you on, always. There’s a lot more I want to say. There’s always so much that I want to say, and I’m never good at it. One day, maybe.
Anyway. That’s enough of this stupid letter. Go blow your nose and dry your eyes; you always looked like ass crying.
By the time you finished the letter, your sleeve was soaked from your tears and snot. But it’d be okay.
Iris is a shit, but she is the best. I also totally envision her as Whitney Houston for some inexplicable reason. And like, the Whitney Houston from "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" music video. I think it's the hair.
Ren, Kunal, and Sesen - all different languages for "lotus." The FLOWER IMAGERY CONTINUES. "Ren" (and all of this is according to the internet, mind you), is Japanese, "Kunal" is Sanskrit, and "Sesen" is Egyptian. So, if any of those are wrong, blame the internet!
Thanks, and thanks again for all of the wonderful comments. Guys. Y'all are killing me here.
Just a few things:
1. I'm going to do my best to update M-W for the time being. That way, I can actually give myself a break instead of writing like crazy (this fic is consuming my life in all of the best ways),
2. I'm going to go ahead and say Reader's name is "Lily" - it'll be easier for me in the long run when it comes to writing and keeping things straight,
3. I've added an "AU" tag to the story. I think now's (since it also came up on another fic of mine - that I haven't updated in ages, eek!-) a good time to mention that I've only watched (and am watching) the "My Hero Academia" anime. So I won't be making reference to the manga / characters in the manga, because I don't know who they are (yet!). Also, since this time line is already divergent from what I've seen in the anime so far, I think adding the AU tag will be a good little precaution.
4. You guys are amazing. Thanks again for all of the comments, speculations, and just chatter that you guys leave. And for the people reading who don't comment - I SEE YOU. And this goes for you, too! Thank you for reading! I honestly appreciate it!
Chapter 12: Boob Window
“For when you gaze long into the Boob Window, the Boob Window gazes also into you.”
Aizawa contemplates your costume on patrol.
Aizawa has been around quite a few female heroes, with a variety of revealing outfits.
This close to Lily, he realizes that her outfit is the first that he finds truly distracting.
It’s not the fact that it is form fitting in ways that he had not thought possible (it molds to her, a second skin), or that the colors were deceptively muted (black and dull pink, with soft gold highlights).
It’s the fact that there is a sizeable split in the fabric across Lily's chest, exposing a fair amount of cleavage. He has seen outfits that expose more. He knows this. When he is this close to Lily, thigh to thigh, crouched beside each other on the rooftop, his eyes wander. They drift to that exposed panel of flesh, whether he wants them to or not.
He wants to be angry with himself; he is not a teenaged boy. This amount of skin should not fluster him.
So he finds more logical reasons to continue to study it. Despite the thin quality of Lily's suit, he has seen it repel shrapnel kicked up by a variety of weapons. It is a full body unitard halter top that covers most of her body, but leaves her arms and a generous portion of her back bare. She wears gloves that go to her elbows - they're apparently padded to protect her knuckles, as he's seen her smash through a dozen gang member's faces without favoring her fingers. Unlike many other female heroes, her boots are not high-heeled. They are flat, non-descript, and silent. Across her eyes is a mask to protect both them and her identity - it is black as well, and though he knows it's supposed to protect her identity, he feels that it emphasizes her eyes. More than once, he has to stop himself from simply staring. Knowing what she looks like without it, it is endlessly fascinating to see how such a small thing changes her features.
Her suit is, frankly, a masterpiece of design. The Support Course would love to get their hands on it, he senses. To his knowledge, her costume, she keeps close to the vest. He has not heard of her ever going to the Support Companies for repairs or adjustments.
“Look, they’re leaving now.” Her voice is a controlled, calm whisper. She points to the doorway that they’ve been observing. Her breasts move enticingly, the suggestion of a healthy bounce. He thinks, idly, that he should see her nipples. The night is chill, and the fabric of her costume, for all of its cling, should be thin. He looks at the door, his eyes taking the long way down the lines of her breasts. The fabric remains smooth against her body. The fabric must be thicker than he thought. Hm. Thick enough to take a fair amount of damage, yet thin enough to hug her body to allow ease of movement. Beyond the capabilities of any material that he is familiar with.
“Ah,” he grunts, when he feels that the silence between them has become unnaturally long. He steals another look at her. Her arms are dotted with gooseflesh; she must be cold.
He moves closer, pressing his edge of his cowl against her. Beneath it, his sleeved arm comes into contact with her bare one. Against his arm, her exposed one is chill. It takes seconds for her goosebumps to ease. She exhales, softly, slowly. Her breath fogs for a moment, and her fragrance curls up to him, milk and honey.
Below them, the hired muscle for the gang, an anthromorphoric shark and bear, stand guard. Between them, a weedy little man wearing sunglasses (at night, no less), is speaking on a cell phone. He gestures wildly, showing off fingers clothed in giant gold rings.
“I think our best bet is to take down the bear first,” her breath is warm against his cheek. “If you bind him, I think I can get to his pressure points and put him down. That should take 15 seconds, 30, tops. The shark guy, I can subdue in a minute. The ruckus will through Saito off guard, and he’ll run.” She clicks her tongue, purses her lips. They’re glossy. “He has a few ways to go, but chances are, he’ll want to get the furthest away from the fighting, so I think he’ll go that way.” She points down the far end of the alley, to where it meets into the main street. Her breasts shift. He forces his eyes away, following the line of her hand, then back to the guards. They look bored; annoyed by this little man with the loud voice. “You can catch up to him there.”
“Why the bear?” It’s a good plan, solid. But he has to be contrary. Has to hear her logic spelled out.
“Teeth and claws,” she replies, simply. “He’s got offense and defense in one. The shark may have speed and strength, but the alley’s small and the bear’s larger. They’re going to be avoiding each other to try and get to us. If you bind the bear’s feet first, it’ll cause enough confusion that I can move quickly, and you can catch Saito before he leaves. You’ve got restraining capabilities that I don’t.” She shifts beside him, rocking back on her heels. He takes the unspoken signal and moves from beside her.
Standing, she is shorter than him. Her posture makes her seem taller, and as she walks towards the edge of the roof, he realizes that right before she acts, she squares her shoulders back and breathes deep. Her pulse doesn’t race, and she is deceptively calm. He stands beside her, looking down.
He watches the guards. They are distracted in their annoyance, looking only at open ends of the alley, at the flashing cabaret lights around them. Saito is too busy on his phone to pay attention to the guards. He looks back to Lily, one foot on the edge of the roof. The muted lights of the street reflect on her profile, on her bare arms. For a moment, it seems that the light is easing from her skin, and the city is but a mere reflection of her own inner light. She looks back at him over her shoulder, and the heart on her choker sparkles.
They leap from the rooftop at the same time.
At long last, a description of the costume. I'm half-way tempted to say how I envision it here, but you know what? You guys imagine how you want!
Also - finally, some interest from our boy Aizawa. Even if he won't outwardly admit it.
*Loves sexual tension in all of her fics LET ME JUST HAVE THIS OKAY*
Chapter 13: Lunch with All Might
You regale All Might with tales of your youth.
And then a wild Hizashi Yamada appears.
“Oh my gosh, I think one of the worst assignments that we ever did was to go undercover as a girl group for some boss’s birthday party. Don’t ask me why a man in his 60s wanted a girl group to serenade him.”
Toshinori leans forward, his brows raised in interest. You can barely speak, you’re starting to lose it from laughing. “So, I do the first transformation to set the template down for how we’re supposed to look, right? And Iris bloody hates it. I mean she HATES it. You should have seen the look on her face. And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, sweet lord; she’s going to kill me,’ and I’m waiting for it. And even Rose has this just…absolutely ‘I’m 9000 percent done’ look on her face, and I’m like, ‘Well, I can try and transform again into something that might work better,’ and I’m freaking out the entire time because, you know, I have no idea what’s going to go through my mind next. I’m about to change, then Rose raises her hand, and shakes her head. Says, ‘No, we’re going with that outfit,’ and if looks could kill, Rose would have been killed, buried, dug up, and killed again – five times over from how Iris was looking at her.”
Toshinori's starting to break. You can see the smile creeping at the corners of his mouth. He’s struggling to be polite, and you know it, and you want to keep pushing until he falls apart. He deserves it.
You don't really have the words to describe how much these little lunch sessions with Toshinori have come to mean to you over the past few weeks. It's already been four months since you've started the job, and three months since you started patrols with Eraserhead. You've come to fully understand why he looks so haggard, and you do your best to grab sleep while you can (typically during lunch). However, you have at least two days where you suck it up and have lunch with Toshinori. Usually they're spent in soft conversation, with you occasionally chiding him for not eating as much as he should. But today? Today, the two of you will FEAST. Turns out, ‘A week’s worth of food’ for Iris meant a week’s worth of food for five people. After three days of working your way through it, you’d decided that it would probably be in your stomach’s best interest to bring in the leftovers and share. It does your heart good to watch Toshinori dig into what you brought without the slightest hesitation.
“So,” you shake your hands into place, “We’re in these stupid, ridiculous frilly outfits. Pink and white. Stockings, heels. I mean the worst stuff to move in. We get in, no problem. The plan’s supposed to be solid. We get there, do some silly little intro, Iris sings and keeps all of the gang members in one space while I go gather info, and Rose apprehends the birthday boy. Cut and dry, right?”
Toshinori is riveted. He realizes that you’re waiting for him to respond, and he nods. “Go on!” To see his face this illuminated is killing you.
“Right. So, we’re walking up to the stage, being all coy and cute, and Iris is blowing kisses, totally hamming it up. She’s in front, doing this sashaying walk. And she’s totally not paying attention to where she’s going. And BAM!” You slam your palm flat down on the table. The sudden noise makes Toshinori jump, which is not helping your case of giggles. You’re going to get through this story if it kills you. “She trips over these stupid shoes. And to this day, I don’t know how she managed it, but she somehow falls UP the stairs leading up to this little stage, and in the process, she’s taken Rose with her. You could have heard a pin drop.”
A cut off snort from Toshinori. He’s getting there.
“And I’m standing way behind, right in the middle of the spotlight, completely shell-shocked. What do I do? Iris isn’t singing; I’m waiting for any minute for her Quirk to wear off, and we’re in the middle of this warehouse filled with gang members. I thought I was going to die.”
It’s funny in retrospect, you realize. In-between your laughter, you have a flash of remembrance. How cold your blood ran, how your heart pounded. How in a handful of seconds, how the very real danger of the mission sank in past the childish thrill of dress up. You wipe a tear from your eye.
“Rose and Iris are just lying there in a pile of legs and Rose is completely butt up – I mean, just complete,” you make a gesture mimicking flipping a skirt over your head. Toshinori's face is red. It’s precious.
You continue: “It was soooo bad. The gangsters loved it, though. Thought it was part of the act. The music starts up again, and I’m doing my best to make my way towards the stage like there’s nothing wrong. Rose is struggling to get up – turns out she twisted her ankle in the fall. So, she’s like, teetering over in these heels, about to fall, and then, like magic,” you wiggled your fingers, “Iris is UP.”
It had been miraculous, the way Iris rose out of the foam of those ridiculous frills and ribbons, belting out her song like nothing had happened. Iris had a voice, even without her Quirk, that could make the most jaded music hater stand up and applaud. Why she never pursued it was still past you.
“Iris is up and singing, right as I thought her Quirk was going to wear off, and thank God, the microphones that we’d brought with us worked the way we wanted them to. They were designed to give Iris’s voice a major boost, but we didn’t have the time to test them beforehand.” Creating the microphones had been a logistical nightmare. If you’d had a bit more time, maybe an additional week in their creation, you all would have been more confident in their ability. At the time, you’d been terrified that turning the mics on would have caused a feedback loop that would have instantly nullified Iris’s Quirk. “The whole thing was a nightmare.”
He’s leaning forward, taking his cues from you. He has to know how the story ends – you’re sitting in front of him, safe and sound.
“And…?” He’s nearly breathless. You’re still wiping tears from your eyes, partially from remembering Iris’s expression when she fell, partially from remembering how terrified you’d been.
“And,” you suck in a great breath, “turns out that Rose could dance on a sprained ankle. She nails the choreography we had without so much as a peep. The rest of the mission went off without a hitch.”
Relatively speaking – Rose’s injury wasn’t anticipated, and it meant that you had to scramble twice as hard while Iris kept the birthday party going. But it’s meant to be a funny story; not bogged down by fear. And it had become funny after it happened - it had been a week later when you tripped over something at home, and Rose had dubbed it the “Iris Shuffle.” It was only then that the tension finally broke and laughter came easy.
“I can’t believe that!” and Toshinori's mouth twitches. He looks at your broadly grinning face, and finally, like an avalanche, he laughs. It is long and loud, and nothing like he sounds as All Might. It is not a laugh for others, but a laugh for himself.
“Can’t believe what?” chimes in Yamada as he bursts into the teacher’s longue. You’ve come to realize that Yamada cannot do anything quietly. Toshinori looks at you, uncertain if he should share the story. Part of the reason why you speak so easily with him is that you know the man can keep a secret. And so, from day one, you'd been nothing but honest with him. He is slower in opening up, with the faintest bit of caution, apprehension, but it doesn't take long for him to truly come out of his shell. Some lunch sessions, you say nothing, listening to him talk. It seems as if it has been a very long time since he has had a confidant. You're honored you can be that for him. The fact that he's this concerned over a story that says little to nothing about your Quirk is heartwarming.
“Oh, just regaling All Might with stories about my misspent youth,” you say, shooting the wizened blonde a wink. Toshinori flushes, and rubs the back of his neck.
Yamada looks at the two of you with raised eyebrows and pursed lips. He looks like he's in on the betting pool as well, though you’re not sure what he’s put his money on. According to your intel, however, he wasn't the one that started the pool. You had Midnight - who you'd yet to meet more than in passing, making the pool all that more amusing to you- to blame for that one. Apparently the rumors of the pool were so wide spread that there was gossip that Nezu was in on it as well. You'd simply happened to hear about by "accident." Some people might think that eavesdropping was a terrible habit. You considered any conversation that you could potentially overhear in a public space was fair game. And classrooms with partially closed doors still counted as public space.
“Neya-kun was quite an inventive hero for undercover work,” Toshinori supplies. He shifts, and Yamada’s eyes fall on the food in front of you.
“Eee-yoooowwww, look at that spread!” Yamada dashes over, clapping his hands together eagerly. “Did you make all of this?!”
You scooch your chair back, allowing Yamada to move in closer.
“Nope – my sister did,” you said, grinning. “Please, grab a plate and help yourself. There’s no way I could eat all of this!”
Yamada leans forward eagerly, then stops. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Another raise of his sandy blonde brows. ‘Discretion’ must not be in his vocabulary. Still, you’re amused, and you like Yamada’s upbeat personality. Toshinori speaks before you can; perhaps to alleviate his own embarrassment. While you find the betting pool hysterical, Toshinori's mortified by it.
“Not at all, Yamada-kun.” Toshinori scoots over to allow Yamada space to sit. Yamada instead sits directly next to you, grabbing a paper plate and loading it down with food all in the same motion. Toshinori looks at you, worry in the knitting of his brows, and you give him another wink. It’ll be fine. Having Yamada here will help quell any rumors, you hope, and allow for the lunches between you and Toshinori to return to their comfortable quiet discussion.
“This is deeeeee-lish,” Yamada drawls, not too softly, in your ear. “Your sister knows her way around the kitchen, ye-ow!”
“If she heard you say that, she’d clobber you,” you say, smiling as you pop another morsel into your mouth. “She refers to herself as a Domestic Analyst Tactician.”
“A domestic what and what now?”
You grin. You had the same reaction when she’d told you that years ago. “A Domestic Analyst Tactician. A DAT. She’s a housewife,” you add, for clarity. “Though, if you ask her, she’s all DAT.”
There’s a pause as the joke sinks in.
When Yamada laughs, it reminds you of the rapid fire caw of a bird. He laughs with his whole body, doubling over, slapping his knees and the table. When Toshinori laughs, it is big and brash, a shadow of his All Might form. It rings out and fills the room. You’re laughing because they’re laughing, and when you snort, they laugh harder.
I wish that I could take credit for the "DAT" joke - I heard it on a game show I was listening to where one of the contestants was a housewife, and that's how she introduced herself, almost verbatim. She actually dropped the "I'm all DAT" joke, and I almost got into an accident from laughing so hard.
Since I've done away with (Y/N) and replaced it with Lily, I figured I would do the same with (L/N), and so, Reader's last name is Neya. It'll make it scads easier on me as I furiously type away!
Chapter 14: Betting Odds
Kayama and Hizashi discuss. It's totally not gossip if the person you're talking about hears you.
Hizashi watched Lily and All Might leave, his brows raised in interest.
Kayama burst into the lounge only moments later, breathless. “What’d I miss?! I saw them leaving together!”
“Nothing,” sighed Hizashi. “They were just talking.”
“There’s no such thing as ‘just talking,’” Kayama stalked over to the table, and looked over the leftovers appraisingly. “Man, that looks good.”
“Take some; it’s open season. Lily brought it all.” Hizashi added more to his plate.
Kayama pulled up a chair, and began to load down her own plate. “Thirteen is neutral, and Blood King Vlad got pissy when I asked him. Mt. Lady totally thinks it’s love between them and that Lily’s going to make the first move; it’s literally the only time me and her have ever agreed on anything. Snipe says he thinks it’s one-sided: she’s got it bad for All Might, All Might's too nice to flat out deny her.”
Hizashi rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Hadn’t thought of that. Also – Snipe? Really?!” He began to laugh, a staccato trill. “I can’t believe he’s gotten in on this.”
“Believe it,” Kayama slurped down a bit of yakisoba. “Anyone who’s heard of the pool is so into it. I don’t think there’s been this much gossip around here in ages.” She dabbed at her lips daintily. “I think it’s love. I bet All Might's just insecure and not sure how to approach it at all. Have you seen Lily?” Kayama put down her chopsticks, and began to count off points on her fingers. “One: she’s an excellent teacher. I’ve never seen Class 1-C do this well – I think two of the kids are already looking like shoe ins for the Hero Course for next semester. Two: she’s very low key; I don’t think anyone but Nezu actually knows what her Quirk is, and she pretty much keeps to herself-”
“Nope. She’s been going on patrols with Aizawa for the past three months.” Hizashi grinned.
Kayama’s eyes bugged. “Okay, how did I not know about this?!” Then she narrowed her eyes in a pointed squint at Hizashi. “And better yet – how did YOU?”
Hizashi cackled. “The power of communication, baby!”
Kayama huffed, and speared a carrot. “Whatever,” she grumbled around a hastily shoved mouthful of yakisoba. “My money’s still on her and All Might being a thing.”
“Pstt, you and everybody else. But a dark horse has entered the race. And my money’s on that one.”
Kayama blinked, her mouth twitching into an astonished smile, before she laughed incredulously. “Please. That grouch wouldn’t know what to do with Lily. She’s too cute for him.” She twirled the remaining bit of yakisoba around her chopsticks.
“I dunno,” Hizashi sing-songed, “I think she’d be good for him.”
Kayama raised an eyebrow, her nose wrinkling. “Ew. Pearls before swine.”
Hizashi shrugged. Combined with the odd little smile on his face, it was abundantly clear that he knew something more than what he was letting on. Kayama scowled.
He leaned over the table, peering at her over his glasses. “You take over my fifth period study hall, and I’ll let you in on a secret about the two of them,” his tone was cajoling.
Kayama’s face darkened. Her brow twitched, and her scowl deepened. The internal battle was waged openly on her face. Hizashi settled back into his chair, whistling AC/DC. He started a mental countdown.
“Ugh, okay, okay! I’ll take it – now TELL me,” Kayama growled, closing the gap between the two of them to be directly in Hizashi's face.
“Okay, okay! So, I heard that-”
At the sound of the longue door opening, the two of them instantly went back to their seats as if nothing happened. Standing in the doorway, a shadow of gloom, was Aizawa himself. He looked at the two of them with utter distaste, and took a step backwards to leave.
“Where you going, Aizawa?! Come on in – we were JUST talking about you,” Kayama said, sugary-sweet.
Aizawa turned his back to the lounge.
“Don’t be like that! Come on, there’s free food!”
Aizawa stopped. Turned around. His eyes drifted over the table. Six tupperwares, boasting remains of yakisoba, okonomiyaki, katsudon, and donburi were spread neatly before him, a stack of paper plates next to them.
“And Lily’s sister made it,” added Kayama. Her stare was fixed on Aizawa’s face, searching for the faintest hint of any tell.
Aizawa glared back at her. “And?”
Kayama’s face folded for a moment, before her too-wide smile returned. “It’s really good-”
Hizashi added, “Lily brought it in to share with everyone. It was too much for her – her and All Might were in here just a moment ago.”
Aizawa looked at the food on the table, then at Kayama and Yamada. Only the faintest twitch of his brows betrayed his thought process. With a monumental effort, he sat down at the table, and began to make himself a plate. Kayama and Hizashi watched, their eyes pointed lasers.
“What?” Aizawa grumbled as he sat down, instantly regretting his decision. Free food typically wasn’t enough to entice him to do anything. On a logical and practical level, however, it would make less sense for him to leave. He was hungry, food was here, and it was free. As he lifted a piece of katsudon to his mouth and began to chew, his regret at staying evaporated. Kayama and Hizashi continued to watch him eat, Kayama going so far as to prop her elbows up on the table, resting her chin in her palms.
“Soooooo…..” Hizashi drawled, “how are your patrols going?”
Kayama stared at Hizashi with goggled eyes, before she turned to gawk at Aizawa. Aizawa was pointedly ignoring her, focused on the food on his plate. He’d made short work of the katsudon, and was shoveling yakisoba into his mouth.
“Good, maybe?” Hizashi's voice pitched up on the last syllable.
“Fine,” Aizawa insisted, flatly. The sharpness of his tone was muffled by the noodles.
“I heard Lily’s been going out with you?” Kayama’s tone was uncertain; careful. If she barreled into it, Aizawa was apt to take his food and leave.
Aizawa stopped mid-chew, and shot Hizashi a death glare.
“What?!” The blonde pressed his hands to his chest in a who, me? gesture that begged innocence.
“It was supposed to be confidential,” Aizawa groused. “It would further lower UA’s standing if it got out that we had a teacher that has been retired for over a decade teaching. People wouldn’t be confident in her ability to protect the students.” He paused, long enough for him to slip a slice of okonomiyaki into his mouth. When he’d finished, he added: “How did you find out?”
Hizashi shot Kayama a sly look. Kayama blinked, lost, then realization dawned on her face.
Aizawa didn’t instantly assume Lily said anything!
“I happened to see the two of you leaving together, and the word on the streets says that there’s a new hot chick in town beatin’ up on baddies.” Hizashi held up his pointer fingers up on each hand, and brought them together. “I put two and two together.”
Aizawa sighed – and continued eating.
“So, how’s she doing?” Hizashi pressed, curving over the table.
“Fine.” Aizawa finished what was on his plate. Carefully surveyed what was left, and looked at Hizashi and Kayama. Then back to the food. With some reluctance, he stood up. Both Hizashi and Kayama blanched, the latter standing up as well.
“Do you think she needs some extra…training?” Damn it. Kayama hadn’t meant her words to sound so innuendo-laden. Whatever. She was close to bursting on the inside. Maybe Hizashi did have a point. “Do you think she needs to have someone with her?”
Aizawa didn’t bother to look at her. As he neatly put his plate into the trash, he turned to exit. Opening the door, he said:
“No. She’s fine.” And left, as quietly and quickly as he’d entered.
Kayama and Hizashi stared at the door. Then at each other, both quite without words.
Finally, Kayama was the first to speak:
“…Is it too late to change my bet?”
Ooo, what does Hizashi know? Your guess is as good as mine.
Names: I feel like All Might is pretty consistently referred to as 'All Might' by the other staff in the anime. I never really got the impression that he told a lot of people his true name, so I'm going to take some liberties here (and please, if I'm wrong - someone chime up and correct me!) and say that after the All Might / All for One fight, staff would still refer to him as "All Might" out of respect. The fact that Lily doesn't would indicate that she is very close with him. I've edited Chapter 13 to have her refer to Toshinori as All Might, largely because it's no longer just the two of them talking. (also, I feel like the anime's sort of hard to gauge who knows who outside of work, so I'm really just winging it here. I'm so sorry if I get something wrong - again, LET ME KNOW!)
I feel like there's a lot of switching perspectives here in this part? If it reads janky, I apologize. Again, no beta, and after looking at it a few times, it makes sense to me.
Also. Guys. Again - I cannot thank you all enough for all of the kudos, comments, subscriptions, bookmarks. It is absolutely mind-blowing.
Mondays typically suck. I hope this update didn't!
Chapter 15: Coffee
Aizawa contemplates the coffee maker. Or he would, if Lily would get out of the way.
Lily was nearly folded double over the coffee maker, her head resting on her arm.
Aizawa cleared his throat.
She started, and nearly ran into him. He stepped aside. “Don’t put your head on the coffee maker.”
“Oh, uh, yeah,” she muttered, rubbing her forehead. “Having trouble staying awake, and lunch didn’t help.” She smiled. Since he’d started patrolling with her, he’d noticed that her smile was more natural around him. It was just the sort of smile that made his mouth automatically twitch, even if he was unable to fully return it.
He looked at the coffee maker. Focused on the red light, the fresh stream of coffee. She would be the one that would make a fresh pot.
“You brought in the food, right?” He kept his focus on the stream of coffee, his fingers clutched around a mug.
“I did. My sister made me way too much. Did you have some?”
Ah. That’s part of what it was. When she smiled, it was evident in everything. Without looking at her, he could hear it in her voice.
“Yeah,” and for the life of him, he could not figure out what he wanted to say next.
“Good. I thought about setting some aside for you, but I wasn’t sure when you took lunch, or IF you even took lunch, and then I wasn’t sure what you may liked or whatever. I never see you eat. I don’t know how you keep going on an empty stomach. Sometimes when we’re out there, my stomach growls so loud I’m surprised you can’t hear it.”
“You should eat before we go out, if it’s a problem.”
“I should eat more, you mean.” The coffee was almost done, and a cool panic gripped his stomach. Once the pot was done, there’d be no more reason to speak to her. When logic flickered across his mind, he realized that he was acting like a fool. There was no reason to be hesitant to talk to her. She was another teacher; another pro.
Pro. She was a Pro-Hero. Her abilities had far surpassed what he’d imagined for her. She was quick on her feet, observant, and could adapt to any situation thrown at her. She was formidable without the use of her Quirk. He respected her abilities and the quiet confidence she’d developed since they’d started going out together. If he was being completely honest, she was one of the most capable heroes he’d ever seen. How the Honey Trio had not been signed with an agency was baffling, if her work alone was a fraction of what they were capable of. There was really no reason for her to keep coming with him on patrols. He should tell her that.
“The food was good,” he finally mumbled, looking at the steam that rolled from the top of the coffee pot.
“Yeah, Iris is a real gourmand. It’s nuts what she can do. Her sous vide eggs are to die for.” She was pouring herself a cup of coffee. Added way too much sugar, no cream. “Oh, by the way – I filtered this stuff three times. It’s closer to expresso than coffee, if you want some.”
He looked down at the cup in his hand, then at the coffee pot.
He didn’t drink coffee.
“No problem.” She drummed her fingers against the sides of her cup. It was white, one side of it bearing the faint trace of her lipstick, a rose-gold shimmer. “Oh, if there’s any food left that you want to take home, throw it all in one tupperware and take it with you. Just make sure to bring it back – pretty sure Iris would kill me if I didn’t bring her stuff back.”
She was walking out now. He had a few minutes to tell her that he didn’t need her on the patrols anymore. That she could stand confidently on her own feet and be able to take full responsibility for Class 1-C.
“Neya,” he said.
Lily stopped, looked back at him.
“I think you’re ready for the field trip. You don't need to keep going out on the patrols with me.” It needed to be said; she needed to know how competent she was. No; beyond competent. Extraordinary. It shouldn't bother him, the prospect of going out alone. That's how he preferred it. No one to look after (though he never really had to with her), no one talking (she never chattered for the sake of hearing her own voice). This was better.
Then why was it so hard to say it?
He wasn’t sure what was brighter – the sunlight through the windows, or her smile.
“Only thanks to your care, Aizawa.” There was no sarcasm, no bitterness. Just gratitude.
“Mm.” He turned his attention back to the coffee maker.
It was only when he’d heard the door to the teacher’s lounge close again that he set the cup down. It wasn’t even his; he’d taken it from one of the tables in the lounge, thinking to put it in the sink at the very least.
As he looked at the cup in his hands, he set it carefully down in the sink, and ran warm water into it.
There was still food left; he should take some with him.
Aizawa, you can say that you'll miss her because you kind of like her. It's okay. I won't judge.
Aizawa and coffee: I never actually see him drink it in the show. If anything, he's usually sucking on one of those jelly packs. Which, in my own fog brain, means that he's secretly health conscious, doesn't like coffee, or those packs are just more effective for him. Creative license!
I also have this thing in my head that despite his outward appearance, Aizawa would be very fastidious, the type that doesn't like disorder, and would straighten out the little creamer packages in a break room. Like, if there's a wet sink, he'd wipe it down.
Chapter 16: Char Siu Bao
Even Aizawa isn't immune to a midnight snack.
You land silently on the rooftop a few feet behind Aizawa, bag clutched tightly in hand. He doesn’t turn to look at you.
“I told you that you didn’t have to do patrols anymore with me.” Of course he’d know it was you. Heat flickered in your chest, and you tried to tell yourself you weren’t blushing. You weren’t. You were just hot and sweaty from leaping from rooftop to rooftop.
“I know. Consider this ‘extra credit.’” Pacing over to him, you stood next to him, looking out at the city before back to him. Ever so slightly, he shifted on the edge, making space for you.
Okay. So maybe you were blushing.
Taking the unspoken hint, you sat down next to him, shifting so that you could dangle your legs over the edge of the roof. This high up, it was unlikely that anyone would see you. This high up, the klaxon of the busy city below was little more than a dull growl. Tower lights, orange and red and white, winked back and forth, communicating secret sighs. And, above it all, ambivalent to the inner workings of the structures of stone and steel and glass, the full moon sat, fat and white. Straggling stars competed with the city lights, dotting the sky in familiar figures.
“You’re not on your usual run – it took me a little while to find you.”
“Have to switch it up. If you get too predictable, the criminals will catch on.” His voice was patient, a soft tone that you hadn’t heard from him before. Interest piqued, you looked over at him, pursing your lips. He was looking directly at you.
If your face got any hotter, it would combust.
Still, as a mature adult, you swallowed down the girlish giggle that threated the back of your throat. “Makes sense.” Setting in beside him, you set the bag on your lap, planting your hands behind you on the flat surface of the roof.
“Yeah.” Back to the typical silence between the two of you. Though you knew your attention was supposed to be on the streets and alleyways, perhaps the other rooftops…it occurred to you this rooftop was indeed too high up to do street surveillance. The only reason why someone would be up this high was either to keep an eye on the windows of the surrounding towers, or…
“What’s in the bag?”
His voice snapped you from your train of thought, and you laughed. You couldn’t believe you’d almost forgotten the main reason why you’d been looking for him tonight.
“Take out. I got some Char Siu Bao from one of my favorite places. I was always starving around this time of night, and thought you might be, too.”
He looks at you, searches your face. In the moonlight, he does not look nearly as bedraggled as he does during the day. It’s a strange transformation, what muted light does to his face. You hold the bag open to him. Fragrant steam wafts up from the depths, and you’re thankful that you were able to move fast enough that they were still slightly warm. He studies your face, then, he looks back out to the city below. Without looking, he reaches into the bag, and gently takes a bun. He lifts it to his mouth and takes a mighty bite. You stop yourself from smiling.
He devours it in four bites, then reaches into the bag for another. In his zeal to grab another bun, he grabs your thigh. You start, and he snatches his hand out of the bag.
“Sorry!” you both say, at the same time – then, you can’t help yourself. You laugh openly now, setting the bag down carefully between the two of you. He’s flexing his hand, looking down at his palm. He’s embarrassed; you can tell by the set of his mouth. You hope that your laughter helps soothe him, and decide against making a smart ass comment.
“They’re pretty good, huh?” Is what you end up saying.
“Yeah,” he says. He’s going for the bag again, but this time, is sure to look before he reaches into it. Taking another one out, he takes a bite, chews thoughtfully. Swallows.
You’re munching away on your own bun. After swallowing, you sigh. “Dang. I should have brought some tea.”
“It’s a patrol; not a picnic.” There’s a hint of that old Aizawa severity there, and you grin, hunching your shoulders up.
“Funny you should mention that,” you start, licking stray sauce from your fingertips. Aizawa’s eyes drift from your face to your lips to your fingers. There’s a heat within that coolness of his that makes you almost stutter on your next words. You’re looking too much into it, your logic hisses in your ear. Logic probably had a point. You soldier on. “But while I’ve been up here, I’ve noticed that you can’t really see the street from here – and the surrounding buildings are pretty quiet.”
He pauses, mid-chew. Then continues. It’s a small tell, but it’s enough to let you know you’re on the right path. “If anything, it’s actually a pretty nice spot to rest for a minute before you move on to the next target.”
He finishes the bun in a crinkling of paper and says nothing.
You’ve gotten him.
“So,” you reach into the bag. 3 down; 7 more to go. “I guess it’s just good luck that I happened to find you.”
Aizawa grunts in response. He reaches towards the bag again but hesitates.
“And it’s also good luck that I bought so many of these,” you offer, taking another bun. “So help yourself.”
As soon as your hand is out of the bag, he reaches in, and grabs another. He eats this one a bit slower, seeming to savor the taste.
The two of you eat in companionable silence, until you’ve eaten the last of your share. Aizawa is looking at your face fixedly again, his eyes darting down to your mouth.
Does he…want to kiss me? Your heart thrills at the prospect.
Calm down, snarls your logic. You probably have something on your face.
Making out in the moonlight, how romantic! Gushes your heart.
You. Have. Something. On. Your. Face. Probably, grinds out logic.
Aizawa leans forward. His tongue grazes his lips, and his eyes fix on yours.
OMG. Your heart leaps up into your throat, before trying to escape your chest.
He eyes your mouth again. Then he licks his thumb.
Okay that’s weird, muses your heart, but I’ll take it!
He reaches for you.
You hold your breath.
He takes his thumb and firmly presses it against the side of your lips. And wipes.
He leans back, and there’s a slightly smug set to the upward tick of his mouth. He’s smiling.
“You had something there.” He licks his thumb again. “Sauce from the bun.”
“Oh,” you stammer, and you lick your own thumb, rubbing at where he’s touched. The set of his eyebrows is amused.
“It’s gone.” He neatly folds the bag up, and shoves into one of the pockets on his belt. You’re not quite sure what to say. It’s easier to focus on his hands as he readjusts his belt than it is to get your brain to start working again. You’re caught somewhere between embarrassment and pleasure and a myriad of other emotions rushing through too fast for you to make sense of any of them.
“T…Thanks,” Your voice is wooden. You’re shocked you even managed to say anything.
“Mm.” He looks over at you, his head framed by a pale white corona, the curls of his hair highlighted by silver moonlight. The smile he had earlier has faded, his mouth its typical curve down. His eyes are lively, dark diamonds as they take you in.
And all you can do is smile.
Char Siu Bao - Pork buns.
Also this update is super late and I'm exhausted so I have nothing clever to say here. TA-DAH!
Chapter 17: Mid Town Aquarium - I
It's finally time for Class 1-C's joint field trip to the Aquarium! Some stuff may happen.
Time passes quickly - it seems like you've just started yesterday, but here it was, six months later, and time for the field trip.
Mid Town Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the area. It houses more than a hundred thousand animals, and no matter what time of year, is packed to the gills (pun intended).
Today, is it blissfully, unnaturally quiet. In preparation for the field trip, the aquarium has changed its public hours, and for today (and today alone), UA’s Class 1-A, 1-B, and 1-C have free run of the place for five uninterrupted hours. Aquarium staff is still on hand, but otherwise, it’s just the kids and the teachers. “Teachers” meaning you, Blood King Vlad, and Aizawa. Since a separate bus was chartered for each class, you hadn’t had time to really talk (let alone see) the other teachers. And honestly, that was fine with you. The aquarium was way more exciting than sitting in a comfortable silence with Aizawa.
…Okay, so maybe you weren’t being entirely honest with yourself for with that one. Honestly, though, the priority here were the kids. It was a little weird, thinking of yourself as a teacher with Aizawa. It felt like all of your time around him had been as a disciple, not as a mentor in her own right. The closest you’d come to feeling like you were an equal with him were on patrols, but talking wasn’t high up on the priority list then.
Maybe this would actually be an opportunity to talk to him with less formality.
But if not, whatever: AQUARIUM. The minute you stepped off of the bus, you had to stop yourself from bouncing up and down on your toes like a child. Your class was looking to you, though their excitement was just as palpable. You go through a quick head count, make sure everyone has their passes, and turn them loose. They deserve it.
Class 1-C enters the aquarium behind the other two classes, and you linger behind, taking in the front of the aquarium. You haven’t been in years.
Walking through the doors, you’re instantly plunged into a dark, cool blue world. Though any collection of children is expected to be noisy, the din of the students is hushed. Some are looking through aquarium guides, plotting out routes. Others just find an exhibit to start with, and work their way from there. You try to muffle a giggle behind your hand.
You can’t even roll your eyes. Trying to get Kisaragi Saki to be formal with you was like shoveling the walk in a snowstorm.
Kisaragi was a stocky blonde with bushy side burns and a curly ponytail streaked with pale pink that trailed down to her waist. Due to her Quirk, she wore a ruby eyepatch over her left eye. A long scar crossed her chin and crossed into her right cheek, causing the flesh to pucker slightly.
“We’re gonna go look at the penguins first. Ain’t that right, guys?” Her group (though, being honest, it was a bona fide gang), nodded in the affirmative. Well, that would at least account for 6 of the girls in your class and 4 of the guys.
“Well, make sure to be back at the designated time,” and you give her a wide grin. Despite Kisaragi’s typical sour expression, she smiles back, and in that moment, you see her as the child she truly is; not the fearsome gang leader she’d become. The funny thing was, in theory, she was supposedly to be the terror of Class 1-C, banding together all of the delinquents and other unwanted students into a formidable high school gang. The kids who were repeatedly told that they could never be heroes, even after all of the time it took to get into UA. The disillusionment of what a hero was supposed to be and what they were told they weren’t had continued to fester – and honestly, it hadn’t surprised you. You knew that Kisaragi had needed a push and a no-fear approach, and she’d grown by leaps and bounds since then. You trusted her enough to make her class rep, and to know that her group would do well without your supervision.
“You should be with your class,” Aizawa sounds more exhausted than usual. He looks off in the direction of where your students had scattered - Kisaragi and her gang to the penguins, the rest, to the salt water exhibits.
“Oh, I’ll catch up to them soon enough,” you say, rolling your shoulders back. “I’d like to take my time going through here.”
He snorts. You choose your next words very carefully, in an effort to appease him.
“We have this covered. Really.” You lightly elbow his side. The gesture is friendly, but touching him like this feels unnatural; Aizawa's not what you'd call a 'causal' man. He stiffens. You put some space between the two of you - more for his comfort than for yours. “We’ve made a pretty decent team when we were out together. I think watching our classes will be fine.”
You move forward, thinking to follow the half of the kids that decided that they’d start with the salt water exhibits, but you’re stopped in your tracks. Aizawa’s hand has closed around your forearm, and he holds you in place. Your eyes dart from his hand to his face. He’s deadpan as ever.
“Don’t be too confident.” Was it your imagination, or was there some reluctance as he let go of you?
What would Iris do?
Ask him to go with you. Nah. TELL him to go with you. You could hear her voice clear in your head. There’s nothing to lose – if he’s so paranoid about a random attack here, there would be strength in numbers.
“It looks like more kids started with the salt water exhibits. Why don’t we start there? It looks like Blood King Vlad has gone after the rest of them.” You’d noticed, out of the corner of your eye, the larger man grumping down the hallway of the penguins. “So, it would make sense to have two teachers after the bigger group.”
His expression doesn’t change. You laugh, quietly, to yourself. This man did things to you. The roof could be on fire, cave in in front of him, and he’d still look the same. And yet, here you were, reading into every movement he made, every word he didn’t say, looking for reassurance that he enjoyed your company as much as you liked his. Stupid fluttering in your heart aside, you genuinely liked him as a person.
“We can play ’20 questions’ to make the time go by faster.” You say it as a joke; there’s no way he’d accept that. He huffs in response, but begins to walk after you.
“Don’t want to be too distracted.” It’s a fair response, and you were only kidding about the 20 questions thing. “But I want to know more about you.”
You stop in your tracks, and spin to face him. He’s giving you the same sort of smile he gives his students when he’s about to put them through a particularly arduous task. You grin back – less a smile and more of a baring of teeth in return.
My goodness, this last week sucked so hard.
So! Quick announcement: I'm doing a double update this week, since I have real life stuff happening the rest of the week and won't be able to update Wednesday as usual. The double update will be tomorrow; hopefully you guys will like it! We're finally heading round the bend into fully exposing Reader's Quirk, and I'm super stoked!
Fun note: The "Mid Town Aquarium" is lightly based off of the Georgia Aquarium, which is a gorgeous, gorgeous place.
Chapter 18: Mid Town Aquarium - II
The field trip continues. Aizawa contemplates. And comes to a realization.
She answers his questions in such a vague way that he doesn’t get the answers that he wants, but he can’t accuse her of not answering the question. It’s not that tendency that he finds annoying; if anything, he is impressed at her ability to deflect and redirect. It comes naturally to her. To him, it’s clear that she’s had years of practice.
Quickly into his interrogation, he realizes he’s not going to get what he wants out of her. That, and he’s frustrated that he can’t ask the things that he really wants to. The normal things that come up in conversation, when you want to get to know someone. Their favorite color, or food, or animal. Likes and dislikes. He can’t even scrounge up the ability to ask Lily what her blood type is. It’s a dumb question, but it at least has the appearance of being something work related.
He’s not sure if he’s insulted or a little put out that she doesn’t ask anything about him. He realizes that feeling put out is karma: his reputation as a silent curmudgeon has served him well. She doesn’t ask him anything because she has to know it’d be pointless. He wishes she’d try, at least once.
They’re alone, most of the time. It was her idea; she said that the kids would feel weird with them hovering over them, when the whole point was for the kids to start talking to each other without feeling forced. So they’re always a few feet behind – enough to be within earshot, the voices of the classes like loquacious ghosts around every corner. Having exhausted his questions with Lily, he now pads a few steps behind her. She vanishes into a dark room. And gasps.
He runs in, prepared for the worst – and realizes two things:
- The room that they're in is more of a bubble within a giant tank than a room, and
- They are the only people there
Because of the massive size of this round room, the fact that they are alone is all the more acute. In this room, it is a little slip of time in the bottom of the ocean. Around them, sea life blossoms, undulating in unseen currents. Fish are silver flecks of light, darting to and fro amid gently dancing tendrils of kelp. In the midst of it all, with eerie bird song, beluga whales, their white skin pale blue under the lights, frolic.
It is unnervingly beautiful. He stops; slows his heartrate. And watches.
Under the wavering light (sunlight filtered through the tank), long, curved bands of light dance across Lily’s form. She stands so close to the tank that her face is nearly smashed against it, her hands splayed across the glass of the tank. A particularly curious beluga, noticing that a visitor has approached, turns away from the small pod and drifts down to Lily. Her eyes widen, her smile grows bigger, at the mere thought of making contact with the creature. The whale presses the top of its bulbous head to the glass in greeting, and a short, startled laugh is shaken from Lily.
“My god,” she breathes, and there is pure joy in her voice. “So magnificent.” Her voice is now reverent, on the edge of tears.
It’s in that moment that he realizes that Lily is beautiful.
He is unsure of what to do with the knowledge. Beauty is nothing new to him. Most heroes are attractive – Kayama and her dark locks, Joke with her ready smile. But this is a new beauty. This is the kind that burns onto the brain, onto the heart. The kind that he sees when he takes his occasional naps, dancing in front of him in his dreams, always outside of his reach. It is recognition of her power, her skill, her intelligence.
Suddenly, he feels very, very unsure.
He wants to know more about her; not just her Quirk. He wants to know what it’d be like to touch her hand, to lace his fingers through hers. He wants to meet her sisters; wants to know these heroes who have inspired her, that she speaks of so highly. He wants to know how she found the strength to fight for five years when most kids were thinking about homework or their first crush. He wants to know everything.
In the quiet, lured into stillness by the graceful silhouette of the whales in front of him, he knows he must do something. This new knowledge is already festering. It will consume him in time, he knows it.
“Neya.” They both start at the sound of his own voice, so used they’ve grown to the quiet.
She turns to look at him, the glow of the tank within her eyes, that smile on her lips, and his courage wilts.
“We should catch up,” he manages.
Reality snaps back into her eyes, sparking them with urgency. “Oh, shi-, shoot.”
He has to stop himself from smiling. He’s never heard her swear. Hearing her correct herself is cute.
She gives the tank in front of them one last, lingering look. She presses her hand against the tank again, briefly resting her forehead against it, and then, she is ready to go, business-like again.
He starts towards the door. He’s walking slower than usual; he notices it when she catches up to him in two long strides. For a moment, she walks by his side, and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Then she is ahead of him, looking back at him over her shoulder.
“…Yeah.” He picks up his pace, loathe to leave the room now. It is amazing, how in a few minutes, how much his perception has changed. He is not one for sentimental things, but he knows he will always remember this room, the whales, her face at that moment.
“Hey, Aizawa?” Her tone is light. She’s struggling not to be distracted by the colorful tanks around them, and focus on catching up with the students. The question gives her the opportunity to stand in front of a display of neon anemones.
“Yeah.” In his pockets, his palms are sweating.
“Thanks for letting me stay in there a little longer. I haven’t been here in years.” She turns to face him now, her smile grateful, mature. “It reminds me of my family, before everything happened.”
“…Yeah.” It’s information freely volunteered, and he drinks it in, greedily.
“I need to make the time to come back.” She’s tracing the waving tendrils of anemone on the tank.
“You should go with someone.” The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them. She looks at him, a careful squint to those bright eyes of hers. She’s too intelligent not to pick up on what it meant. On what he meant. He prepares himself to be laughed at, and the best way to brush it off. It was a slip of the tongue, not an invitation.
Instead, her smile does not change. She closes her eyes, and nods. “You’re right. I should.” She starts walking again, folding her arms behind her back. From the side of her neck, the gem on her choker glimmers like a wink. “Do you like aquariums, Aizawa?”
He chokes on absolutely nothing and begins coughing.
I HOPE YOU LIKE FLUFF.
Chapter 19: Mid Town Aquarium - III
Nobody expects a thug. Or your Quirk, for that matter.
Outside, your face has settled into a calm smile.
On the inside, you are screaming, doing cartwheels. He might like you. Like you like you.
Okay. Stop reading so much into this. He’s making conversation. Says Logic, chill in your mind.
Yeah, but Aizawa doesn’t make conversation. With anyone. Your Heart says, with some encouragement from your Gut.
He started the whole thing off wanting to dig about your Quirk. He’s been a pro for too long for him to give up that easily. He was trying to catch you off guard. Logic is unflappable.
Yeah, but you caught him off guard when you asked him about aquariums. He totally thought you were hitting on him. But your Heart and Gut won’t give up, either.
Pretty sure Aizawa is used to having women throw themselves at him as Eraserhead. He knows when he’s being hit on, and the two of you were just having a polite conversation. It feels like it’s more than what it actually was because the only time you guys ever talk is when you’re running your mouth about whatever, or class, or patrols. It’s always business. Logic doubles down.
Your Heart and Gut are temporarily stunned, but they’re not on the ropes yet. Yeah, but think of all the times where he’s tried to talk to you. The food from Lily? He took some. Even brought back your tupperware and left it on your desk. That man is interested in you.
Logic is dizzy on her feet, swaying. Your Heart and Gut take the final blow.
Listen to us for once on this. Aizawa’s interested, but he doesn’t know how to approach you, and you don’t know how to approach him. Just keep getting to know each other and be patient. And flex that boob window, because you are stacked and beautiful and he has totally been looking.
Logic is down; your Heart and Gut win. And, you think to yourself with a small smile, he had been checking out the boob window pretty hard. He was always so discreet and respectful about it that you hadn’t had the heart to call him out for it. And to be fair, the boob window was awfully distracting. Even you had a hard time keeping an eye off your girls in your hero outfit.
It’s hard to keep the silly smile off of your face as you round up the last of your students. It’s been one hell of a day, and you feel like you’re on Cloud 9. As you do one last head count in the space behind the aquarium, a tingling on the back of your neck causes you to stop.
“Teach!" It’s Kisaragi. You shush her by holding up a hand. Your eyes are scanning every nook and cranny behind the aquarium. To avoid publicity when the aquarium reopened the doors for the public, it was easier to file out the students through the back of the building, into the spacious parking lot behind. It’s a fairly empty and open spot, save for the east end, which dissolves back into buildings and darker alleyways.
If there’s going to be an attack, it’s going to be from that direction.
And when it comes, you’re ready. “Kisaragi-kun,” your voice is cool, calm. The kids don’t need you panicking, and there’s no reason to. The other classes are loaded into their buses. They’re all waiting on you. “Kisaragi-kun,” you repeat, keeping your voice controlled, but pleasant. “Get the class onto the bus. Once you all on the bus, close the doors and do not come out. Do you understand?”
You spare a glance in her direction. She nods, and there's a toughness in the set of her jaw. Taking a deep breath, she squares her shoulders. You can see the struggle on her face. You lift your head up a bit, tilt your chin in the direction of the bus. She catches your unspoken command.
“Okay, Class 1-C, ya buncha jerks! Get on the bus – we’re running behind. Look!” She points to the other buses. Only the bus for 1-C reminds behind, the other two slowly pulling out of the parking lot. “Besides, we can’t eat until we all leave!” She’s said the magic words, and your class eagerly files onto the bus. Once the last flash of Kisaragi’s blonde mane has vanished, you turn your attention to the alleyway.
“Might as well come out,” you call, putting your hands on your hips.
"I thought, 'What sort of idiots run UA to bring a buncha snotnoses to an aquarium in the middle of the day?'" He slinks into view, and you squint, raising your eyebrows. Honestly, he couldn't have been more predictable. First off - he's a giant lizard man, complete with a tapered snout rimmed with jagged teeth. Second of all, he's dressed in black leather like a biker gang reject. And third of all, he's got a giant sword and spiked knuckle gloves.
"Wow. Look at you," you muse, crossing your arms. "Couldn't you have at least tried to look less like a two-bit biker thug reject?"
The lizard man's face (do lizard people truly have faces? Or is it like...a snout? Weird) darkens, and the boney ridges over his eyes draw down. This must be a scowl from him.
"Whatever - yer some nobody and yer out here all by yourself. I take you down and the other heroes, and this town'll be eating out of my hand," he spits, moving forward. You stand firm.
"Mighty big talk." There's movement behind you, and your eyes dart to it. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch a hint of blonde.
"It ain't talk," he snarls, pacing forward. He shifts his sword in his hand. He's preparing to strike, and you shift onto your toes -
A blast of red darts from behind you, and barrels into the lizard man's chest, knocking him head over heels backwards. You whirl to look behind you.
It’s Kisaragi. Her bushy brows are furrowed, and she’s struggling to maintain the focus needed to guide the blast from her eye. It’s too much, too soon, and she’s faltering under her own power. She falls to her knees, the beam shutting off as quickly as it started. Without the focus to really control her optic blast, it’s not enough to put him down for good. He’s staggering to his feet, hissing in anger, and then he’s up and charging. Kisaragi is shaking, frozen by fear. You look past her, briefly - the other buses are coming back around. Aizawa must have noticed that you guys were lagging too far behind. Help's coming, but it's not going to get here in time. The lizard man's sword is up in the air, preparing to drop -
And there’s no time.
You imagine Rose, Honey Blade, and grasp the image of her deep down.
When you were younger, you used to think that having a transformation phrase would be the best thing ever. You tried variations of “Make up!”, “Flash!” long incantations of who you were and your purpose. You quickly learned that not only was this unnecessary, but it typically drew unwanted attention to you. Gang members don’t play by the same rules as villains; they don’t wait for a speech to be finished before they start shooting. You tried it once and learned the hard way. Ah, well. You were young, 14, then.
After that, transformation became a quiet thing. Not that you minded. There was something…indescribable about slipping from one form to the next. You’d gotten to the point where you could, to a certain extent, control the somewhat explosive qualities of the transformation. This time, you throw that caution to the wind. You throw everything to the wind. You want to feel your transformation at max power.
You transform, and as you do, you cry out, “Lis éclat!” The words are a flourish; they have no sway over your ability to change. But you feel like saying them anyway – too much time around pros. The power instantly overtakes you in a tidal wave of bright pink light. The light does not just merely rip your clothing from you; it shatters them, cracking them like an egg shell. For long moments, you are absolutely, gloriously nude, the light bursting from your body bathing it in warm sunlight, restructuring your muscles, reforming the atoms of your clothing into what you want it to be. It doesn’t matter that your bare form is on display for all in the buses to see. The sheer high of transforming has taken you beyond the chains of modesty.
You spiral through the air, bolstered and buffeted by the energy that flows through you. It is a place of warmth and comfort, of security and good memories. It pulls deep within the well of you and brings your heart to overflowing with all that is good in the world. It is boundless strength, grace, and beauty.
Your transformation shatters in a hail of rose petals, the scraps of your clothing transmuted into flowers. As they blow away from your form, you take in a deep breath. Rose’s Quirk instantly loads your body with flexibility, agility, and raw strength that you do not typically possess. It’s a rush. As the light fades, you are left cool and shivering from your transformation. Fragrant steam redolent of honey and life, wafts from your body, and you stand again. Dressed as a hero, your body shimmers, the cosmic energy of your transformation slowly dissipating. A rapier materializes in your hand, the handle worn and natural within your grasp.
You have to resist the overwhelming urge to pose as you’d seen Rose do so many times. Her face in a ¾ quarter view, sly, sexy smile on her face, her foil obscuring the rest of her face. I’m beautiful, but dangerous, it always said to you. It invited a challenge and accepted only victory. Rose is beauty and danger and fun and love and everything that being a woman means to you. You pause long enough to admire your reflection in the hilt of the sword. Your face is still you, your body is still yours. There is no mistaking that. But your deep magenta hair, the color of your eyes and your mask, the color scheme of your unitard, your gloves, your boots, the skill – they’re all Rose’s. Her outfit was always in deep shades of red, white, and pink, reflecting the hues of the flower she was named after.
Before the shock of your nudity has worn off, you’re charging forward, swinging the thin blade in a shining silver arch.
The lizard man blanches. You are clearly not what he anticipated.
You do not have the innate booming strength of All Might. As you repel blows from the villain’s blade and spiked knuckles, you can feel the muscles in your arms and shoulders groaning under the strain. This villain is physically strong; stronger than you, and you both know it. The momentary distraction of your transformation has bought you time, but not much. Adrenaline courses through your veins, muting the screaming of your muscles. You’re out of practice, and you’ll feel it tomorrow. But tomorrow is tomorrow – and right now, you need all the strength you can muster. A feint, and then you kick at his knees. He blocks the blow, but not quickly enough. The force sends him skidding backwards, and with your second wind, you’re on the offensive again. For all of his strength, he’s overconfident in it. His blade is large, and take quite a bit of power to swing. He’s used to relying on this power – and on fights being over quickly. His blows are large, arching, and pathetically sloppy. Even for you, being as out of practice as you are, precision might as well be your middle name. Each wide swing leaves him open, and you take advantage of it – a prick here, a needling there, all with that wonderful mocking laughter that bubbles from your throat. It was your sister’s trademark, and your version of it sounds hollow and small, but it feels right.
And does the job of further infuriating your opponent.
Sparks fly as your blades meet again. As you both spring backwards, you land nimbly on one foot, laughing.
“Is that the best you can do? I’ve met five year olds with better discipline!” The retort springs to your tongue; it’s something Rose would have said. “Big man; picking on high school students out on a field trip! Pathetic!”
The thug yowls in rage. Behind you, a million miles away, you could hear the startled gasp of your students, still safe on the bus. Perhaps they think your goading has gone too far; that you can’t defend yourself.
Well, they were going to learn today.
Another sloppy blade-swinging charge from the villain; he was telegraphing it for miles before he moved forward. Your body reacted on its own, propelling you into the air, your body spiraling above him, the blade flashing white, sliver, never stopping.
You land ten feet away from him, your back to him. You thrust out the hand with your blade, slinging bits of cloth from it. The air is tense, a pregnant pause, before it suddenly gives way with the shredding of fabric. The villain, massive sword still in hand, is paralyzed where he stands – his clothing suddenly giving way to reveal his scaly, naked form. One nervous, shaking titter – then a dull boom of applause, of easy, grateful, laughter. It feels like it's rattling the buses themselves, a deep hum of exhilaration that gives your heart wings.
“Well, you saw mine. I thought it was only fair that I saw yours,” you quip, pivoting easily on one booted heel. The villain, mortified, whirls to face you with such a look of embarrassed horror that you almost feel bad for him. One hand struggles to hold his sword, while the other struggles to cover his crotch.
“Yo…you BITCH!” he manages to shriek, lifting his sword hand –
Before it’s yanked back by a very familiar strip of gray clothing. The villain’s sword clatters to the ground. In the blink of an eye, the villain is tightly bound by the same strips, and a dark figure drops down from the top of your class's bus.
“He really wasn’t a threat at this point,” you roll your shoulders back, holding the rapier loosely in one hand.
“Your bus was late.” Aizawa's tone is clipped; short as always.
“We got a little caught up,” you shrug. “But we’re all here and accounted for – Kisaragi-kun?"
Kisaragi is on her feet, helped up by her gang, and she's staring at you as if you just dropped down from the heavens. She nods dumbly, readjusting her eyepatch. "Uh....yeah, Teach..." Her cheeks are flushed. A quick look at the rest of your class through the bus windows, and you see the girls similarly blushing, some outright gawking, others looking mortified. Some of the boys are equally red. Some are mopping up nosebleeds.
You sighed. Goodbye, comfortable teaching job. You resist the urge to pluck at the spandex of your costume. The Honey Trio's trademark "boob window" is also a part of Rose's costume, and if you thought the cleavage in your normal transformation was bad, it really had nothing on Rose's. Yowza. Idly, you wonder how the girl stayed strapped in.
“I assume that it goes without saying that the details of Honey Trap’s quirk are not to be discussed outside of class 1-C.” Aizawa’s voice is crisp, clear, and commanding. It cuts through the parking lot, and you know your class can hear him clearly. “Any untoward discussion of Honey Trap’s quirk will result in disciplinary actions, including suspension or expulsion. Are we understood?”
“Yes, Aizawa-sensei!” They respond in unison, surprising you. You idly click your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
His weary expression remained the same. He watches as Kisaragi and her gang clamber back onto the bus. He gestures to the driver, who closes the doors. A snarl of exhaust, and the bus starts forward, joining the others. As they slowly wheel away, you let out a long sigh. You're still feeling electric; Rose's power flowing through you feels limitless.
The thug, almost forgotten up until this point, has sat quietly in his bonds. As you and Aizawa approach, his green face goes a shade paler. You get the distinct impression that he isn’t quite so intimidated of you as he is of Aizawa – Eraserhead. Eraserhead was the professional, after all-
“Y...Y...You!” the reptilian man stammers, his face growing paler. "They said you were a push over!"
You raise an eyebrow. “You've got bad intel."
“You wait until I get outta these bonds, you nudist-!"
Your eyebrow twitches. "Excuse me?!"
The lizard man jeers. "Yeah, ya heard me, ya flasher! Pervert! Cut-rate hero!"
“Enough.” Aizawa’s hand comes down against the villain’s neck, and he promptly keels over, unconscious.
It’s quiet long enough between the two of you to become uncomfortable, and you can begin to feel the power rush begin to fade as reality starts to set in. You’ve got more time in this form, but it would be easier to go ahead and change back, just in case. Aizawa seems to be measuring you, bit by bit, with those bloodshot eyes.
He doesn’t instantly respond, his gaze drifting down to the unconscious hero and then back to the rapier in your hand. “…Can you do something with that? Put it away?”
You blanch. “The outfit…doesn’t really come with a sword belt. If I change back, it won’t be a problem.”
“Then do that.” His tone is flat as ever.
You sigh. “Could you turn around, at least?”
“…Why? I already saw everything.”
Your face feels like it’s on fire, and you can’t tell what’s more insulting – his flat, dismissive tone, or the fact that he doesn’t seem too keen on allowing you a shred of decency. Gritting your teeth, you growl out, “Humor me.”
A sigh. “Fine.”
You wait until he turns around, and grasp onto the power within you. You silently thank your sister, and you let go. The light explodes again, a hail of pink, and you’re back in your pants, sweatshirt, and lived in tennis shows. Faint pink smoke steams from your shoulders, trailing sparkles and that sweet, deep smell of honey. You wave it away, grimacing as the motion strains your shoulder. As the light fades, his dark figure comes into focus. He’s looking at you fixedly, no change in his face.
“….Nothing.” He begins to drag the unconscious villain out of the parking lot and towards the sidewalk. In the distance, you can hear sirens.
You spring forward.
“Let me help.”
“It’ll be easier with two people.” Maybe simple logic would get through to him.
“Why not?” You snap, annoyance making your voice sharper than you intended. The last thing you wanted was to let his guy know he was under your skin with his I know better than everyone else and you’re just an annoyance to me attitude. Where did he even get off acting like that? And you thought you'd just had a moment with him!
“…Your shoulder. You strained it. Dragging this guy would make it worse.”
You’re so stunned that you halt in your tracks.
“And I don’t want to have to carry you, too.”
Consider that moment officially lost.
Lis éclat! - "Lily Flash" - according to Google Translate.
IT FINALLY HAPPENED.
So, cue Present Mic: "Reader's Quirk: Transformation! This Quirk allows the Reader, through transformation, to take on the ability / talents of anyone that she can imagine! Drawbacks - the transformation process does leave Reader naked, and require an immense amount of energy!"
Reader is totally Cutie Honey, because real talk, if I could have ANY magical girl skill / power, that would be IT. I'll definitely be giving out more details about Reader's Quirk in future chapters, but that's the gist of it!
Hope you guys liked the double update!
First person to comment on all of the references that are in Kisaragi gets a drabble in the story of their choice!
Chapter 20: Aftermath
Well, that happened.
All Might and Lily lunch together, and All Might begins to think that there just might be something to that whole betting pool thing.
Toshinori’s not sure on how to approach Lily after the Aquarium “incident.” He is, in turns, extremely proud of her, as much as if she were a student of his own. From what he’s heard, she handled a potentially dangerous situation with grace and with as much discretion as her particular Quirk would allow.
And therein was the problem: her Quirk.
As he sat, he contemplated his wavering reflection in his tea cup. He should probably say something. But what was there to say? Sure, there had been a few offended parents, but they had quickly been smoothed over by Aizawa’s deft handling of the situation. Apparently his way of spinning it was that there was a teacher that was so devoted to the protection of the students that she was willing to embarrass herself so thoroughly.
Well, he thought of it in quite a different manner, but he couldn’t deny that it seemed unlike Aizawa to stick his neck out voluntarily for another teacher. Perhaps there was some truth to the rumors -
He jumped, startled out of his thoughts. Lily’s bright face was peeking round the door way of the teacher’s lounge.
“Ah, Neya-kun,” Yagi found his voice again, and was mildly surprised at how even it sounded. “I was hoping that you’d still come to lunch.”
“Oh, after all of the…” She made an exaggerated face, the expression pulling at the corners of her pretty face. “Yeah, you know, I thought that it was going to be so much worse than it actually was.” She sat herself down at the table across from him, then stood up again. “Gosh, forgot my lunch- ” Pacing to the fridge, he watched her back. She seemed much more…perkier than she usually did. He smiled a little.
“So, yeah, I thought that there was going to be a massive fall out from my transforming in front of the kids.” She was settling back down across from him, a bento wrapped in cherry pink cloth in front of her. “But there hasn’t been anything. Man, times have changed.” There was a brightness in her eyes that Yagi found infectious, and he found it difficult to concentrate on his tea.
“Yeah, totally,” she moved her hands in long arcs across the table. “The whole boob window thing would have been cause for riot back in my day.”
“Neya-kun, you’d thought that parents would be upset over your costume?” It boggled his mind. Though, once he got past his initial shock, it would make a bit of sense. But, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. “You didn’t think the…” He cleared his throat. He could feel his cheeks burning.
Lily poked out her lower lip momentarily. He felt the heat in his cheeks lessen just a bit.
“Oh, you mean the whole naked thing? Yeah, you know, I thought there might have been an issue with that, but, I mean, it’s just nudity. There’s nothing salacious about that, you know?” She shrugged, finally unwrapping the bento. “I mean, that’s part of the whole thing. Dad was doing some studies into it. His theory was that there was something in my Quirk that basically reshapes matter - but it has to have something that feeds it. Sort of like how a fire needs wood to burn. The whole clothing removal thing is basically integral to the transformation process.”
Yagi nods, fascinated, but unsure of what to ask next. It’s truly new information to him, as he’d never thought to look into the Honey Trio beyond Honey Blade or Honey Voice; their Quirks were the most apparent. And they’d done a marvelous job of keeping Lily out of the public eye. When she did come up, Honey Trap was explained as a master martial artist and tactician; nothing along the lines of what she truly could be.
“Or something like that. I couldn’t honestly tell you how it works, other than I have to like, think about who or what I want to be, and bam, if I have enough energy, I turn into that.” She was speaking around a mouthful of onigiri now, pausing only to wipe a grain of rice away from her cheek. “The choker,” she tapped to it, “helps store energy. Dad came up with it. It’s like, an energy storing mechanism and a low key communicator, I think. Rose and Iris both have something like it, too. So, you know, we can always get in contact with each other.”
“Speaking of,” Yagi begins, ignoring the churning in his stomach. “I heard from Aizawa-kun that you looked different - and that you had a sword when you changed.”
Lily pauses, mid bite, her eyes wide and brows lifted. “Aizawa said something about it?” There’s the faintest hint of pink to her cheeks, and she looks away, before shoving the rest of the rice ball into her mouth.
For the second time that day, Yagi feels as if perhaps there is indeed something to those rumors.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” and she’s flushing again, but there’s a warmth to it, as if remembering a fond memory. “I transformed into Honey Blade. It seemed the most natural thing to do.”
“Why Honey Blade?” The question is out of him before he can stop it, and, to make up for the haste of it, he waves his large hands in dismissal. “You don’t have to answer that, Neya-kun, if you don’t want to!”
Far from being angry, Lily turns a sunbeam smile to him. “Because being a hero came so naturally to her. She always had the poise, the calm, the ability.” The reverence in her voice strokes memories for him, and now, it is his turn to smile in reminiscence.
“Honey Blade did always have a presence, yes,” is all he can bring himself to say.
Lily gives him such a pointed look - it’s a combination of raised brows and pursed, inquisitive lips - that he feels that she has gazed into his innermost thoughts, found his secrets, and now cradles them close to her. He decides that it would be best to press forward and ignore it.
“So…” She’s the first to break the silence between them, poking at her small salad within her bento, “Aizawa told you?”
The interest in her voice speaks loudly enough that even he picks up on it.
He decides to roll with it.
“Yes - he told me. He feels that we have a close enough relationship that it was something that I would need to know.”
And, now that he thinks back on it, Aizawa did seem colder than usual when they had the conversation. His responses were clipped; when Yagi reacted with surprise, with joy, at hearing of Lily’s exploits, Aizawa seemed to draw tighter within himself, a turtle backing into his shell.
“Hm.” It’s a truly thoughtful response from her. “I suppose that would make sense.” Her voice holds a note of resignation, perhaps, but that isn’t truly the right word. Understanding, maybe?
“Aizawa also personally fielded the response from a few concerned parents,” Yagi adds, carefully watching her face. There’s a faint trace of surprise, but it’s quickly buried by a warmth that even he can feel. She licks rice from her fingertips, and speaks.
“He’s full of surprises, Aizawa.” Her smile melts in the center. It is a beautiful thing to see.
My apologies for the delay on updates. It's been a rough few weeks (with a birthday thrown in there!) that's thrown off my ability to write. I'm doing the best I can to try and bring things back up to speed, not just for the sake of posting, but also for myself. So, you know. Thank you all for reading, and for your understanding!
Chapter 21: Something's afoot.
Sisters meddle. It's sort of what they do.
It’s almost entirely too easy to drown in the rush of emotions that Yagi's conversation has started in you. There’s no denying it at this point: Aizawa makes you gooey inside. Acknowledging it was one thing; acting on it is quite another. Your crush on Aizawa is nothing new at this point, anyway. The more you hear about him, the stronger it grows. So, you know, you can deal with this.
What you can’t deal with is Yagi’s thing for Rose. It was precious and adorable and a bunch of other fluffy adjectives. It was always in the subtle things - and then the not so subtle things, like how attentive he got whenever Rose was mentioned. Not that Yagi was ever inattentive; there was just an extra spark with Rose. And you were fully intending on exploiting it.
“I think one of my coworkers has a crush on Rose.”
Her uninterested tone is almost enough to wilt your spirits. Almost.
“What?” There’s more of a hiss in her voice now; a tinge of annoyance.
“Don’t act like you don’t care.” You continue to prod. Iris would give in. Eventually.
A long suffering sigh from her. “Okay, so, yeah, you go out of your way to try and hook Rose up with some rando and it ends up blowing up in our faces and then she just makes that ‘I’m being so sugar sweet about this but I’m going to murder you all’ face she does when we meddle too much in her business and then she stops talking to us for weeks. You really want to go through that again?”
You twist your lips to the side. Iris has a point. But still, you press on. “This time is different,” you add, trying not to let a whine slip into your voice. “I think this guy really likes her and doesn’t know how to approach her.”
“It’s not Eraserhead, is it?” Iris’s tone has grown flat; unimpressed. It cuts you to the quick.
“What’s wrong with Eraserhead?” you snap, then, realizing how short you’ve gotten, you can feel the heat in your cheeks.
You don’t have to see Iris to feel the smug expression over the phone.
“Nothing’s wrong with him. If you like scruffy looking, terse jerkasses. Rose is too good for him anyway.”
Ugh. You want to be annoyed, you do, and it hurts, somewhere, but honestly, Iris is right. Rose has always deserved a prince among men. And though you really, really like Aizawa, he’s not right for her.
Plus you had dibs first.
“Okay, well,” you huff, diverting the attention back to the actual topic of discussion, “This guy has also really, really helped me out since day one. He’s looked out for me, and I really do admire him. I’m not saying we gotta set them up on a date or anything - I just want to do something nice for him. He knew about the Honey Trio.”
“Oh?” The bait has been taken.
“Yeah - it’s crazy, right? He’s an old school fan. I was thinking-”
“You never know how to handle gifts right at all. Leave it to me. Call Rose.” And with that, the phone goes dead. You pull the cell phone away from your cheek, a brow raised in annoyance. That shit. You took in a deep breath, held it, and let it ease from your nose. Iris was going to be Iris, and you knew you’d caught her interest. You leaned forward, resting your head against your coffee table. It was uncomfortable, but the coolness of the table was soothing to your forehead.
You could do this.
While you were trying to figure out your own deal with Aizawa, it couldn’t hurt to help (helping was NOT meddling) someone else along. Lifting your head from the table, you reached over, and dialed a familiar number.
“Hey Rose, could you do me a favor…?”
Still trying to get into the swing of things...
Chapter 22: Just The Lonely (Talking Again)
Aizawa has a problem.
Lily’s transformation stays burned into the back of Aizawa’s eyes. It is a dazzling array of light, and then, her body. Her nudity is an afterthought to the swelling of power, the thrum that he felt in his bones even from his vantage point from the top of the bus. It’d rattled his teeth, and he squinted, unable to bear the brightness. But there she was still, etched into his eyelids in long, glittering curves of pink.
He thought it might have been weird between them after the incident. It’s been days since then, and their conversation flows as if nothing happened. But for him, things have changed. It’s one thing to study her body when she’s in her suit; another to see her totally nude. Though she wears her suit with no apparent awareness of her own sex appeal, since that transformation, his imagination has picked up the tantalizingly dangled threads. In the moments where he can grab a few handfuls of sleep, away from the prying eyes from the school, more often than not, he jerks awake, painfully stiff and throbbing, half-remembered dreams flitting across his mind.
But it’s not weird.
It feels natural; a mere stepping forward with a feeling that’d been building since the aquarium. He’s not ready to deal with it, not while he’s awake. But when he dreams, he can say everything that he wants.
Now, as Councilwoman Neya's speech draws to a close, he drags his eyes over the combined first years. He does not worry much about his class – not with Iida as the president. They are all respectful, sans Bakugo, but that was expected. Class 1-B looks as interested as could be expected, and Class 1-C, perhaps in deference to Lily, sit in an awed silence, looking back and forth between Lily and Councilwoman Neya.
Before he hears the Councilwoman’s name, he knows that she’s related to Lily. They share that same smile, though on Rose’s, it is as beatific as a painting of the Madonna. When Councilwoman Neya caught his eyes in a momentarily pause, it’s enough to make him stop and stare. He knows himself well enough to know it’s not a spark of carnal or romantic interest – he feels as if he’s been blessed by a queen, a goddess of mercy. He is unable to smile back, frozen to the spot, and, graciously, she releases him with a subtle wink.
To tell himself that his face isn’t red, he scans the crowd again. There was All Might; dressed a bit more formally than usual. A black suit and teal tie that’s nearly jarring in its electric blue. The gaunt man seems more harried than usual – he’s pressed against the back of the wall in the back of the auditorium, his hands behind him, then in front, then to the sides; constantly moving, constantly readjusting.
Aizawa thinks. In his time of knowing All Might, he’s never known the man to do anything remotely close to fidgeting. But if he had to pick a word to capture the movement of All Might at this moment, “fidgeting” would be it.
Aizawa looks from All Might to Lily. She’s dressed it up a bit, in a sleeveless white blouse with generous frills about her throat and a high waisted gray skirt that hugs her hips. It’s the first time he’s seen her in heels as well – simple black things, but the effect they have on her legs is making his mouth dry. As if sensing his eyes on her, she smiles at him, and he has to force himself to keep looking at her, instead of instantly jerking his head away as if he’d been doing something wrong. Of course he hadn’t. It’d make sense that a change in a faculty member’s clothing would warrant inspection. No one else had gotten dressed up – he certainly hadn’t.
The speech is over; the students stand. A few approach the Councilwoman, though he doesn’t blame those who keep their distance. Councilwoman Neya is less intimidating because she's powerful, and moreso because she seems to be too good for this world; a creature who will vanish back to a fairy realm if one gets too close. Out of his class, Iida speaks to the Councilwoman, and he blushes when she shakes his hand. Midoriya lags behind, a determined look on his face. It appears that Councilwoman Neya has noticed this, and after graciously parting with Iida, begins to walk over to Midoriya.
He's intrigued; he wants to see what happens. Before he can step forward, Lily fills his line of sight, and deftly links her arm in his. It’s a forward gesture; as forward as she was in the aquarium. Rather than fighting it, he allows himself to relax, the most minute he can, within her grasp. This too, feels right. The next natural move would to link his arm back through hers. He doesn’t.
She gently tugs him back towards the back of the auditorium.
“Neya,” he manages, twisting in her grasp. She’s stronger than she looks. This close to her, he catches her perfume like a memory.
“Just come with me.” The insistence in her voice is enough to still him. “Midoriya-kun’ll be along in a moment.”
“Mm.” He can’t think of anything else to say.
They slip between the auditorium doors as quiet as thieves. On the other side, the students are already filing towards their respective groups. Vlad is doing a head count, his protruding fang deepening his thoughtful scowl.
“Aizawa-san!” calls out Kaminari. He waves Aizawa over. Or at least he tries to. Out of the corner of his eyes, Aizawa notices that Ashido, Asui, and Yaoyorozu (and probably Hagakure) are studying him very closely. Kaminari takes another breath to call out, but is cut short by Jiro jabbing an elbow into his side.
“What?” he whines, exaggeratingly rubbing his side.
The other girls give him a disbelieving look, and Jiro sighs. “You wouldn’t get it.” From her tone of voice, she’s conceded a loss in a battle that she’s yet to begin. Aizawa must put an end to this, no matter how enjoyable it is. The rumors are loud enough as it is.
“Neya.” Aizawa says, this time, a bit louder. “You can let go now.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
Her response startles him in its quickness. She's spoken low, for their ears only. He looks down at her, and her returning grin is sly. There’s another note in her eyes, too, one that suggests that she isn’t joking. His lips tighten.
“I’m kidding.” She says it, and he thanks whatever god for her perception. In those two words, she’s cut tension, and she’s cut his responsibility. He won’t have to be the bad guy here.
Her arm slips free of his, and he has to steady himself against the sudden feeling of loss.
“Everyone’s here and accounted for, teach!” Aizawa looks over at 1-C’s class rep, then at the rest of 1-C, neatly lined up and looking eagerly towards Lily and him.
He bites back the scathing remark he feels burning there. Tongues will be wagging before the next period is over.
“Good; thank you, Kisaragi-kun. Aizawa-san,” Lily turns her attention back to him. The sparkle in her eyes is nearly enough to undo him. If there is any deity in the sky, he hopes that she burns as much as he does. “Until we meet again!”
It’s said lightly, but with an unflappable promise.
He says nothing, but rolls his eyes. He must keep up appearances. To his relief, to his “annoyance,” Lily’s smile merely grows brighter. She’s on to him. It’s a good thing. He doesn’t want to leave. Not yet. With his class still chattering away, there’s legitimate reason to linger.
“We’ll wait on Midoriya a bit longer. Five more minutes,” he announces to the rest of his class. They’re surprised by his response, and the chatter quiets as they gauge his response.
Iida is the first to speak. “5 more minutes, all, and then we will proceed to the classroom.” Kirishima narrowly avoids being hit by one of Iida’s wildly gesticulating arms.
“She won’t keep him much longer,” Lily’s voice rises above his students. Though her class is already heading down the hallway, she stops, looking back at Aizawa and the rest of his class. As if on some unspoken cue, Midoriya exited the auditorium. His face is red, and he looks shaken. Concern grips Aizawa’s stomach, before he realizes that the shine in the kid’s eyes aren’t tears: it’s resolve. It is the same shaken expression of awe that comes when someone has learned a great truth about the world. Aizawa glances up at the doors as they close – he can scarcely make out Councilwoman Neya speaking with All Might. The doors close right as she laughs at something he’s said, and her laughter is ethereal bells.
Midoriya is swept up within his class, their jocular natures shaking him free from his reverence. The kid will be fine.
Aizawa looks back up to the other classes. Lily isn’t looking at him; she’s looking at Midoriya. Her eyes are half-lidded, partially hidden by the long fringe of her eyelashes. She’s looking at Midoriya like a doting mother, he realizes. Midoriya must sense it, for he looks up in the middle of his conversation and his eyes lock with Lily’s. She smiles, and his returning smile is startled out of him. Without a word exchanged between the two, Aizawa feels as if a deep secret has passed between them.
He’s curious, but not jealous.
Aizawa focuses back on his class, and, as they turn to leave, he spares one last glance behind him. It’s fleeting, but enough. She’s looking back at him. When their eyes meet, she smiles, and he can see in time, it will turn into her sister’s otherworldliness. He hopes that when that time comes, she will smile at him like that. Even more than that, he wishes to be the reason why she can smile just so, to know that he has brought her that kind of joy is enough to stop his heart.
He has to get it together.
He should just ask Reader/Lily out, Jesus.
Title is from "Just The Lonely Talking Again" by The Manhattans - though I think most people are familiar with the most excellent Whitney Houston cover. It doesn't really fit the chapter, but it's what I was listening to when I was writing it, so, you know, it just stuck.
Chapter 23: Honey Blade
Izuku has a moment with Councilwoman Neya.
Though Izuku likes Iida, he wishes that he would leave. Like, now.
Iida's questions for the Councilwoman seem unending. From where he's standing, he catches pieces of the conversation. Councilwoman Neya's voice is low and pleasant, musical. When she speaks, she moves her hands frequently, punctuating sentences, adding emphasis. She's a skilled orator, and answers the most difficult questions with a sincerity that is undeinable.
Finally, Iida is satisfied, and turns to leave. In the split second between the ending of the conversation and Councilwoman Neya's handshake, she looks up at him, and their eyes meet. Izuku feels his face burning.
"Midoriya?" Iida's voice is in his ear, and Izuku snaps back to reality.
Iida's face is shining, and there's a pink flush on his cheeks. "You had questions for Councilwoman Neya too? I knew it! She's an amazing public figure, and has done so much for heroes! A real inspiration!" His glasses flash white, and Izuku smothers a chuckle. It's only natural that Iida would like the Councilwoman - though, to be fair, in the little time that she's been here at the school for her presentation, Izuku thinks that he'd be hard pressed to find anyone that didn't like her or was naturally set at ease by her. From her voluminous hair, cut neatly in a bob, to the mischievous sparkle in her eyes, she seems less of a public figure and more of an older sister or a mother.
"Yeah, I did - I wanted to wait till everyone had left, though."
Iida gives him an understanding look, and, with one last bow to Councilwoman Neya, he leaves the auditorium.
Complete silence drapes over the auditorium.
"Well, well," her voice is a purr. There's nothing menacing about it - it is welcoming; pleased. "Midoriya Izuku. You put on quite the show during the Sports Festival."
His cheeks grow warm again, and he rubs the curly hair at the nape of his neck. "I still can't believe how many people know us from that!"
"You guys are national heroes," she adds, and that glint in her eye dances. "Besides, I have a soft spot for UA."
She folds her arms behind her back as she approaches, one long stride at a time, one foot directly in front of the other, as if she's walking a tight rope. It's an unexpectedly childish gesture from her, and he blinks, agog. He feels frozen to the spot, and when she looks at him again, with that Madonna smile, he can move again.
"No point in being nervous," she says. "You're being taught by the best heroes. I'm just a civic servant." The way she says it tingles the back of his neck. He looks at her again, and there is a calculating look in her eyes. It sums him up neatly, and from the way her eyes turn up at the corners, she must like what she sees.
"You're not a civic servant," he blurts, and slaps his hands over his mouth. He could have said that a lot more politely. He meant it more politely than that.
Her brows raise.
"Well, I mean, you are a civic servant, but that's not all you are! Or what you were, either!" His words are stumbling over each other. "I know you were Honey Blade," he stammers.
"My!" Her smile returns - but instead of the calm, placid beauty of the Madonna, it is the crafty grin of a trickster. It's wholly unexpected, and, surprisingly, wholly welcomed. "My sister told me that she had a suspicion that one of Aizawa's kids was a hero otaku. Aren't we a little too old for you?" There's sly innuendo there, and he flushes, unsure if it was intentional or not.
"N...n...not at all!" he manages, resisting the urge to put space between them.
Her expression turns thoughtful - then, her eyes narrow. It’s a chilling change, and he swallows. A cool bead of sweat starts between his shoulder blades.
“You must be a particularly astute young man,” she’s speaking softly now. “Because our civilian identities were never identified.”
Izuku’s thoughts tumble together in one long scream. She didn’t deny it! Why does she trust me with this?! What is she going to do to me?!
She leans in close enough that he can smell her namesake wafting from her skin. The fragrance of roses oozes from her, as strong as if he were standing in the midst of a field of them. He resists the urge to let his eyes drift shut, carried away on that smell. When she speaks again, her voice is a low song in his ear.
“How did you manage it?” There’s real curiosity there; beneath it, a concern that tugs at his heart. He comes to the sudden realization that he’s been given a gracious gift; a secret as precious as his own Quirk.
“Your smile,” he stammers, when words find him again. “Your smile and Honey Trap’s smile are the same. You can tell you’re related. You’re the same height as Honey Blade, and you move the same as she did in that one television appearance that the Trio did.”
She leans back now, looking down at him. She is an impressively tall woman, he realizes, and when she looks at him like this, she has an imperious nature that makes him want to run.
“And…” He licks his suddenly dry lips, “You have the same eyes as Honey Trap.”
The spell is broken. The arrogance melts, and she laughs. If he could remember one sound for the rest of his life, it would be the sound of that laughter, lifting from her, butterflies startled into flight.
“Most people aren’t that observant,” she says, and it’s on the tail of a long sigh. “It concerns me,” she folds her hands behind her back, and her gaze goes distant. She raises her left hand to rub at her chin, and Izuku’s eyes are drawn to the gold glint of a heart shaped ring on her ring finger. “that you were able to figure it out. I entrusted Principal Nezu with this - but if others are to figure it out, it would mean that the rest of my family are in danger.”
A shadow of sadness crosses over her face, and Izuku knows that he would part with his own arm to chase it away.
“I…I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, Councilwoman Neya,” he finds himself saying. “The Honey Trio was never with an agency, and most people don’t see Honey Trap in the same room as you,” he finishes. “But…why did you never join an agency? Why did The Honey Trio stop after the Prism Gang was put away? Why did-”
Her finger is gentle over his lips, and he feels his face catch on fire.
She smiles again; this smile is knowing, kind.
“I suppose it wouldn’t make sense, surrounded by the opposite here at UA,” she lets her finger slip from his lips. “But the Prism Gang was the reason why The Honey Trio was formed. You have to understand, young Midoriya,” and she puts space between them, folding her arms across her chest. “We, I, never wanted to be heroes. We did it out of necessity, to defeat an evil that had forever changed our lives and stole something precious from us. So,” she smiles again, and there’s sorrow in her eyes. “We became heroes for very selfish reasons. And once that evil was eradicated, there was no need for us to be heroes anymore. We could go on living normal lives.”
“But…” Izuku fishes for words. There are a million thoughts running through his head, all buffeted by the singular feeling of empathy. He feels deeply for this woman, for this former hero, and the thought of her sadness is heartbreaking.
“All of you here at UA made a choice to be here,” she continues, and her tone is placid, “there’s something in each and every single one of you that spurs you to be heroes. And that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But you have to realize, not everyone with Quirks feels the same way. There’s many people out there that have Quirks that are neither heroes or villains; they’re just people that want to live their lives. They want to enjoy life, fall in love. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either. If everyone were heroes, well, that wouldn’t leave much for heroes to do.”
And it suddenly clicks to him. He thinks of his own mother, with her modest Quirk. With the other kids in his school before UA who had Quirks, but were more concerned about the next exam than saving the world.
He looks up at her with a newfound sense of awe. She is a wonder.
“But your sisters…” It’s lame. The wind has gone out of his sails. He can understand, but he doesn’t, and the conflicting emotions chase each other round his heart.
“I only ever wanted happiness for my sisters,” Councilwoman Neya said, softly. “A life of pain, of constant fighting, of potential death…I didn’t want the people I loved to go through that. I’d lost enough. So maybe it was my selfish desire that drove the retirement. But I don’t regret it.” Her mouth tightened in determination. “And I would make the same choice, over and over again, if it meant their happiness. If it meant them knowing love and giving love back. Maybe you’ll understand in time, young Midoriya. It is my deepest wish,” She kneels to be eye level with Izuku. He feels that he should look away; that looking into her eyes is to look at the surface of the sun. She is too brilliant, too kind, too loving, to be entirely human.
But when she puts his hand on her shoulder and is close enough that the smell of roses surround him, he brings himself to look deep into her eyes. They are dark and deep; eyes he can get lost in. “It is my deepest wish,” she repeats, a secret between the two of them, “That you will one day find a love that is worth protecting. I’m sure you will; you have the heart of a prince.” She wraps him in a hug, and his world becomes her warmth and yellow roses. When she releases him, he is in a daze – his mind whirling. It is entirely too much, too vital a moment for him to immediately begin to process. He stands, quite shaken.
“Young Midoriya!” The voice is familiar; it breaks the pleasant spell he is under. All Might is walking towards them, his hands shoved deep into his pockets sheepishly. There is a slight halting nature to All Might’s steps that fills Izuku with concern.
“All Might!” he manages. Behind him, he hears Councilwoman Neya chuckling. It sounds like bells on the wind.
All Might looks mildly uncomfortable – his blue on black eyes dart to the side, then back to Izuku and Rose. He rubs the back of his neck awkwardly with his large hand, and manages, “Councilwoman Neya, that was a great speech that you gave! Really informative and inspiring! Plus Ultra for civic work!”
“Thank you, All Might,” she says, in her light voice. “Though, please, call me ‘Rose.’ I find ‘Councilwoman’ far too stuffy among such fantastic company.”
All Might’s blush deepens. Izuku is lost – but suddenly feels that he has intruded on a conversation that started before he was there.
“Yes, thank you for coming!” Izuku quickly stammers. He should leave. All Might would be okay; Councilwoman Neya would know to call someone if there is trouble. Though, Izuku suspects, she could probably handle any trouble that is thrown at her. “Well, I’ve got to get back to class – thank you again!”
“It was my pleasure, young Midoriya,” she waves at him in parting. “Don’t forget what I said,” she adds, as sweetly as a blown kiss. Now Izuku feels his face grow warm, but not out of embarrassment. She’s so kind…
Years later, when he is the greatest hero, Izuku thinks back from time to time on what Rose told him that day, and how her kindness and what love meant to her has shaped him in ways he never imagined.
Woooowww this part turned out to be a heck of a lot longer than I'd expected but I JUST WANTED TO LET IT FLOW.
Chapter 24: Come and Get Your Love
Two legendary heroes figure out that they can't really talk to each other.
Rose hopes that the heat that her face is consumed with doesn’t actually show.
It’s one thing to see All Might on TV; the beaming face, gravity defying hair, bulging muscles. Then, to see it all vanish in coils of white smoke to become the figure she’s looking at now. But to her, there is nothing less heroic about the man standing in front of her.
She presses her suddenly sweaty palms against the front of her skirt.
“All Might,” she starts, and now, she can feel the heat seeping onto her cheeks. Her voice has left her in little more than a high pitched squeak; certainly not proper for a councilwoman. She clears her throat, and drums her fingers against her thighs. “All Might,” and words fail her again. She bows, clenching her shaking hands into fists.
“Thank you,” she says. It doesn’t begin to sum up all that she feels. She straightens up, just as suddenly. Her words aren’t enough. But she knows something that might be. Rose dashes back to the makeshift stage, her heels echoing loudly in the empty room. With a deftness that she wasn’t sure she still had, she leaps the last few feet to the podium, lands, retrieves an envelope from the podium, and jumps back. She closes the space between her and All Might in a matter of seconds. When she lands again, gracefully on one foot, she’s breathing a little hard, but it’s been a while since she’s done something anything close to this. It sends an old, forgotten thrill through her.
There had been some fun to the whole hero business after all.
All Might stands, his wizened face a little flustered. His hands, too, are balled by his sides.
“You move well,” All Might says, a large hand going to rub the back of his neck.
“There’s no need to stand on pretenses,” Rose manages. The sudden movement has filled her with adrenaline. It’s just the shot she needs to speak like a normal person to this mountain of a man. “I know you know who I was,” and she shoots him a wink. The Honey Blade charm is back, and it fills her with confidence. “Lily thinks the world of you.”
“Ah, Lily-kun!” There’s a faint blush on his face. Rose has to stop herself from giggling. It’s adorable. “Lily-kun is an incredible teacher here at UA; I heard that you are the reason why she’s here.”
“Yes, actually,” she smiles. The expression comes easier now. "You know, she calls about once a week to keep me on top of everything that happens here. She says that you’ve been an incredible help to her. You, and Present Mic, and-” She allows herself the Cheshire grin she’s been fighting back. Sisters meddle. It’s what they do. And as much as she knows the whole reason why she’s here today was due to the meddling of Lily, Rose feels that turnabout is fair play. “I heard that Aizawa Shouta has been in particular helpful. In fact, after she finishes raving about you, she mentions Aizawa.”
All Might’s nervousness trickles away, and his shoulders loosen. “Aizawa-san has taken a special interest in her, it would seem.”
“Oh?” She smiles. Maybe this Aizawa’s got it as bad for Lily as she seems to have it for him. “Well, then, I’ll have to thank him as well.”
All Might waves his large hands. “There’s no need to thank me, Rose-san!”
“Just ‘Rose’,” though to hear him call her by her first name lends her heart wings.
“Rose.” He says it with some difficulty; he’s used to being polite. Still, when he looks up at her, with those blue on black eyes, he’s nervous, but pleased.
“It’s not just for my sister,” Rose says, and now she knows she’s blushing again. “It’s from all of us. Everyone. But particularly myself and my sisters.” Now, she hands him the envelope. “Lily told me that you were a fan of The Honey Trio.”
His blush speaks volumes.
“So I thought that this might be an appropriate ‘thank you.’ That, and…” Now she’s about to take a risk. She’s flying blind. But no guts, no glory. “And I’d like to treat you to dinner, if you have the time.”
All Might stares at her. She fights her nerves with a confident smile. The worst he can say is no. There’s nothing awkward in that. She’s sure that he’s used to being hit on; he’s All Might, a hero among heroes. She knows that she is more, much more than a random passerby that’s been saved. She was a hero in her own right, and now, a councilwoman. She’s got nothing directly to gain from this, and she knows that she doesn’t need saving. This is her, stepping out of her many roles, to be a woman, and a woman alone.
“You don’t have to answer me now, of course,” there’s warmth in her voice. If anything, she feels a twinge of guilt for putting him on the spot. “My card with my personal cell phone number is in that envelope. But it’s not your entire gift. Well,” she chuckles now, easily, “The cats out of the bag. It’s a gift - something that Lily suggested, so if you don’t like it, take it up with her.”
All Might still stares at her, then at the envelope in his hand. Rose decides that it’s time for her to make her exit. As she looks at the clock, she realizes that she does actually need to be back in the office. Funny how things like that work out.
“I’ve got to run, but again, no rush. And thank you again, All Might, for looking after my sister. I will continue to leave her in your care.” Before she can stop herself, she leans down and kisses his cheek. It’s little more than a ghost of air against his cheek, a whispered hint of his flesh against her lips.
She doesn’t need more; not now, at least. She walks past him, resisting the urge to flip her short hair over her shoulder. It’s something she would have done as Honey Blade. Instead, she spares a glance over her shoulder. All Might is still standing there, glued to the spot. He gingerly raises a hand to touch where her lips landed. His gaze is far away.
She smiles, and leaves.
When his senses return to him, All Might realizes that Rose has left. He’s flustered by her; she fills him with a warmth that he has not experienced in years. She has him as nervous as a child, he knows he should have said more. But his tongue was thick in his mouth, and his thoughts, whenever he could focus on one long enough, dissolve into half-formed compliments. In person, she is far more beautiful than he could have imagined. The half-remembered photos do her no justice. She has aged, yes - there are curved lines that cut into the corners of her eyes, but age has settled on her lightly. He, too, has changed - she knows, and still. And still!
He looks down at the envelop, clutched tightly in his hands. He is alone now, and curiosity has gotten the better of him. He opens it, as delicately as he can. Inside, he catches the white edge of paper. He pulls it out further - it’s glossy and thicker than a regular sheet of paper. It’s a photo, he realizes, as he pulls it out more. He can barely stop himself from laughing in glee as he pulls the photo out.
It’s a publicity shot of The Honey Trio - as they were, years ago. Honey Blade is front and center, posing defiantly with her trademark foil gripped tightly in front of her. Honey Voice is posed to the right of her, hands on her hips, a smirk on her face, scads of curly hair falling over her shoulders. And then, to the left of Honey Blade, is Honey Trap. She is the shortest of them all, and has been caught jumping - she is mid-air, her smile bright and infectious, her youth evident. He squints. That’s what’s different - Honey Trap. She never appeared in any of the official releases - this must be a candid photo. Something snapped by request of the sisters, he feels.
For long moments, he cannot bring himself to do anything but smile, looking at this slice of time. From the past, The Honey Trio’s eyes appear to follow him from the photo. They seem to glow with an energy all their own, a quiet confidence that should, in truth, be dogged by fatigue and despair. There’s no trace of their struggle here. He looks down at the bottom of the photo, and his smile grows. Each of The Honey Trio have signed it - using their hero names, of course, but have signed it nonetheless. He’ll have to get it framed as soon as possible.
On a whim, he turns it over.
The photo instantly transforms from memorabilia to prized possession. For on the back, each sister has included a personal message. He recognizes Lily’s handwriting first:
All Might! The symbol of peace - and the best teacher anyone could ask for. Thank you so much for looking after me, and talking with me, and sometimes, not even saying a word. Your friendship means the world to me.
Next, is a firm slant that he does not recognize, but in the forcefulness of the writing, he knows it must be from Iris:
Thanks for watching after my little sister. If anything happens to her, I’m coming for you.
He laughs, but it feels like a real threat.
Rose’s handwriting is as gentle as the woman’s name. Her words float across the back of the photo, in an elegant dance:
All Might – I cannot begin to write everything that you have meant to us, to the country, and to me. Writing ‘Thank you,’ no matter how sincerely I mean it, seems but a meager attempt to even start to say everything that is in my heart when I think of you. You have been, and will always be, a symbol of peace, an inspiration, and my truest hero. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Honey Blade.
He reads her words once, twice. They're like something whispered to him out of a dream. And he thinks that dinner wouldn't be so bad.
Special thanks to Nerumlina for making this suggestion in a comment a few chapters back. I took it and RAN WITH IT because I thought it was precious.
Chapter title from the song, "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone, because, well, it was what I was listening to when I was on the last leg of writing this chapter.
Chapter 25: Beauty Rituals
You and Kayama finally hang out and bond over skincare.
“Can I just say – Honey Blade was my absolute idol when I was first getting started. She was so cool and confident! And her one liners were always perfect.”
You blinked, utterly flabbergasted. Suddenly, the rows of decadent face washes were a little less interesting.
“Oh, yeah. I know of The Honey Trio.” Kayama nonchalantly reached past you for an embossed gold and purple bottle. The price of it alone had made your eyes water. “There weren’t a lot of girl groups then. I mean, there still aren't, realistically, but one of my neighbors when I was growing up would follow your exploits. Rubbed off on me. Whenever she saw something in the newspaper, she was all over it.” She frowned at the label, then set the bottle back down on the shelf, brushing past you.
You choked. This was entirely too much!
“I…I didn’t think we had much of a following,” you finally stammered, adjusting the basket in your hand. The few sheet masks you’d picked slid against one another. “We weren’t with any agencies, that was for sure. And outside of Nagai City, we were unheard of. Was your neighbor from there?" You let the question hang in the air. You’d always trusted Rose – and growing up, it felt like no one ever knew who you guys were. It irritated Iris something awful, but it felt like you and Rose had this big, amazing secret. It had been your thing.
“Don’t get me wrong; you weren't well known at all. I really didn't know anything about you guys outside of my neighbor - who happened to be from Nagai City. She used to always say she never would have moved away if there were heroes like The Honey Trio back in her day. 'Honey Trio' this, 'Honey Trio' that! I used to think that the was making things up until she showed me some old newspaper clippings. You guys really kept a low profile. There’s barely anything in the Library Archives on you guys,” Kayama continued, plucking another bottle from the shelf. “I thought your name sounded familiar. When I asked Principal Nezu, he told me everything. Wow. With this price, the reviews better be excellent.” She pouted as she plopped the bottle into her own basket.
“Yeah? I mean, I was just a kid back then. R-, I mean, Honey Blade, was the oldest and so she was always front and center.”
“I remember. Who knew,” Kayama’s face grew nostalgic as she stood in the aisle, shifting her weight to one foot, her hip cocked out, “that I’d be working with one of the Honey Trio? Talk about a small world.”
You gripped the handle of your shopping basket a little harder. It was hard not to be impressed by Honey Blade – Rose. She’d always been so confident – you couldn’t remember a single moment when she had any sort of doubt or wavered in what you guys did. And even Iris, for as much as a shit she was, put all of her pettiness aside to be someone incredible. And here you were, still fumbling through everything.
“You know,” Kayama’s soft voice cut through your thoughts, “That must have been really hard on you, right? It’s always really hard for those without flashy Quirks to figure out how to be a hero.” Kayama was kneeling now, looking at the rows of nail polish. “I used to have the same problem with my Quirk. But Aizawa said that you had some hand to hand combat knowledge?"
You could feel the tips of your ears heat up. She was probably fishing for information. But it wasn't like it was a secret that you and Aizawa had gone out on patrols - at least it wasn't anymore, if it ever was to begin with. Finally, you let out a small chuckle. “When we first started, Honey Blade and Honey Voice made sure we trained every day to make sure that even if we couldn’t rely on our Quirks, we could get out of most situations. There was logic homework, physical drills – you name it, we did it.”
Kayama let out a low whistle, her attention going back to the bottles of polish. “Wow. That’s crazy.”
“Yeah.” You trailed off, losing yourself in the memories. Being woken up before sunrise by Rose, going over daily gymnastics before heading back inside for a warm, hearty breakfast, either made by her or Iris, and dad reading the paper, looking over at all of you with his tired smile, bags under his eyes, glasses askew. Your father had been the one that had started the training routine, citing, "A sound mind in a sound body." Years later, you could still hear his voice in your head, repeating it over and over like a kindly mantra. It seemed odd that he'd push such training, considering that he knew that none of you were anticipating being heroes. Unless...
You shook your head, hoping to clear it. You were in the middle of talking. “Honey Blade was the leader of our training.” The drills under Rose had been relentless. Several times she’d pushed you until you either vomited, cried, or both. As much as you’d wanted to hate her at those moments, she was always the first one to help you back on your feet when it became too much. Was always the one telling you to push just a little harder. She was the first one who’d ever told you to go past “plus ultra.”
“I think this color would look good on you,” Kayama dropped two bottles of polish in her basket. “I’m going to get it for you.”
“This color,” she held up a bottle of (favorite color) nail polish and waved it back and forth. “It would really blend well with your skin. Which is fabulous, by the way. That’s why I wanted to go shopping with you.”
You flushed. “Thank you – I really don’t do anything too special. I am, though, a sheet mask addict,” and you gestured to the pile of sheet masks in your basket. You really were – they were so quick, easy to use, and perfect when you had a terrible day at work and were settling in to binge your latest drama addiction. Sometimes it was the small things.
“Blech – I hate sheet masks,” Kayama sniffed. “I never know which one to get. And I get that goop everywhere.”
You laughed. “They’re really not that bad. If an old lady like me can figure them out-”
Kayama narrowed her eyes at you, the expression on the verge of true anger. “You know, you and I are about the same age.”
“Actually, I'm older,” you mildly corrected. “By a few months. Well, until next week. Then it'll be about 3 years and a few months."
Kayama’s eyes widened, and a warmth spread through them. All of her earlier anger melted away, and she stood up, the bottles in her basket clattering together.
“That’s even better! Hard to find ladies our age still in this line of work. Most of them seem to go solely into the side gigs that they developed while they were a hero. Me, I plan to do this as long as I can. What about you?"
You smiled. It was the very same question you’d been asking yourself lately. “I don’t know,” you shifted through the masks in your basket, occasionally looking at Kayama, then at the labeling on a mask. “I like teaching. So as long as they’ll let me do that, then I think everything else will be figured out.” You lightly tossed a mask into Kayama’s basket.
“What’s this?” She held it up, eyebrows raised.
“Hydrating mask. We’ll start there.” You grinned.
Her returning grin was radiant. "That sounds good. But did I just hear something about a birthday?"
You blushed, and shrugged. "Yeah; next week. I'm taking the day off. I figured I'd spend it with my sisters."
"You have some really cool coworkers now," Kayama said, clapping her hands together. "You should do something with us! I can at least buy you some ramen or something! This nail polish doesn't count as a birthday gift, by the way. I couldn't stand the idea of you passing up on something that is so perfect for you." She looks at you pointedly. You're not entirely sure if this counts as some sort of reference to Aizawa, and you let it slide, though your face is burning.
"Yeah, but I don't know that much about heroes when you're not heroing," you said, eyeing that face wash again. Yeah, it was stupid expensive, but hey, your birthday was coming up. Treat yo self. You added it to your basket. "And I didn't want to just randomly invite people. Honestly, I'm not even sure if I'm doing anything that night. I thought maybe I'd go to my favorite bar with my sisters..."
"Oh, so super low key? I can appreciate that," Kayama nodded sagely. "But you have to tell me if you end up doing something after family stuff. I'll at least show up."
You didn't have the heart to tell her that typically your birthdays were spent with your sisters - and usually got very loud, very rowdy, and very disorderly in a short amount of time. Well. Maybe it might be good to have a change of pace for this year's "festivities."
"You know what, Kayama? I'll keep that in mind."
As I'm re-reading this, I figured, "Oh, I should probably explain who knows about who."
As things stand, Class 1-C - they're sworn to secrecy, and for the most part, don't really know anything about your Quirk other than you get naked.
Aizawa, All Might, and Principal Nezu know what your Quirk is. Aizawa's keen enough to put two and two together.
Everyone else: They have a vague idea, but don't know that you explicitly transform to gain a skill set. Most are operating under the assumption that your Quirk is martial arts.
...I'm sure this will change as I re-read and realize I've left something out : /
Chapter 26: Prelude: Birthday
Aizawa is at a loss for how to shop.
Class 1-C is unexpectedly docile today, Aizawa thinks as he walks past their classroom. Not that 1-C was known for being disruptive. If anything, it’s quiet because he can’t hear Lily’s voice. Though she’s not loud, her voice is instantly recognizable to him. It carries, lingers in the air. Curiosity causes him to peer discreetly into the classroom window as he passes. Lily’s not there - but Present Mic is.
Aizawa stops, and glares. As if sensing Aizawa’s eyes on him, Present Mic looks up, gives him a toothy grin, and waves - and goes back to the lesson. It looks like some sort of self-study; would make sense, considering that Aizawa hadn’t heard so much as a peep out of Present Mic.
“What’re you doing out here?” It’s Kayama, her expression curious, even behind her thin red mask.
“Neya-ku-,” he stops. She’s only “Neya-kun” when they’re together. There’s protocol and standards here. “Honey Trap,” he starts over, “Isn’t here.”
“She’s got the day off.” Kayama supplies. “Were you looking for her?”
Aizawa scowls. It only encourages Kayama, who suddenly beams at him.
“…No.” It’s not entirely a lie, but it’s not true, either. He can feel the tips of his ears burn. “I was on my way back to class and didn’t hear her.”
“Uh-huh.” The smugness of Kayama’s face makes him want to end this conversation.
“Why does she have the day off?” His tone is clipped. It’s fine.
“It’s her birthday.” Kayama fishes through her outfit, and produces her phone. In all of his time of teaching alongside her, he still has no idea where she keeps her phone. He’s not sure if he wants to know. “She’s doing stuff with her family today, but I think she might be doing something later. Lemme text her.” And before he can protest, Kayama is rapidly typing on her phone, her fingers flying a mile a minute. There’s a moment of silence - he could make his getaway now, he thinks, but instead, he is glued to the spot - and a chime from her phone. Kayama’s expression brightens.
“Yeah, she said she’s going to be going to Cinderella Express later on tonight, like 9 or so. We’re invited, by the way.” She holds onto her phone carelessly, looking square at Aizawa. He cannot think of a single thing to say to fight this obvious bait.
“No.” He couldn’t convince a five year old with his tone.
“Shouta.” She’s hissing, low; incredulous. “You are coming to this.”
He feels his stomach clench, then do something resembling a flip. It’s not entirely unpleasant.
“I have patrols,” he says, but his heart’s not in it. Even he can hear it. Kayama’s eyes gleam; a cat with a mouse in its direct sights.
“Do ‘em after. I don’t think she’s expecting it to be an all night thing.” He has to give her credit. She’s pushing, but she’s also restraining herself. There’s elements of honest intent in her voice. He can’t remember the last time she’s tried to get him to do something using that tone.
“Shouta. Come on.” She’s earnest now, all joking wiped clean from her face. “I think it’ll mean a lot if you go.”
He sighs, heavily. He has to sell his ‘reluctance.’ “Don’t know what to get her.”
Kayama brightens. “Don’t worry about it. Just bring yourself. And clean up a little. I bet she’d love that.”
The heat moves to his cheeks, and he’s done for.
But of course, he couldn’t show up to a birthday party, no matter how informal, empty handed. Well, he could, and he has in the past, but this time is different. She deserves something, though what, he’s not sure. He’s also not entirely sure why he’s so confident that she needs something; it’s a feeling that tiptoes through his gut, the same sort of feeling like when he knows someone is behind him, or that there’s a villain around. A surety that he knows not to second-guess. He tells himself it’s a congratulations gift; maybe a thank you. She was a phenomenal partner on his patrols. She’s been a terrific teacher. As a hero, she’s gracious and low-key. She’s just this side of perfection, and surely, that deserves something.
As he stares at the rows of feminine products in his neighbor convenience store, he picks up a garishly pink package of mascara. Next to it, there’s something called “toner.” He’s not really sure what it does. Does she wear makeup? She has to – nearly all the women he’s know wear makeup. But what kind? And this “toner” business – what if it has something in it that irritates her skin? She has such nice skin; such long eyelashes. The shape of her lips are pretty. He’ll admit that he loves to watch her lips as they form the shape of his name. Sometimes he wishes he could trace the lines of them with his thumb. And when she smiles, her teeth are really nice, too. So, maybe she doesn’t need toothpaste, though it’s a practical gift.
His eyes catch a tube of lip balm hanging above the makeup remover wipes, toner, and small bottles of lotion. What was the difference between lip gloss and lip balm, anyway?
He sighs, and picks up a tube of lip gloss in one hand, and lip balm in the other. And begins to read the ingredient list.
I mean, do you really NEED toner?
Chapter 27: Birthday - I
If you get caught between the moon and New York City
The best thing that you can do is
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
“The Cinderella Express” is a low-key bar that teeters on the edge of being a bar and a restaurant, but doesn’t quite make it all the way there. The menu is more extensive than causal bar fare, but not big enough to be considered somewhere you’d sit down and eat at. When you first walk in, it opens into a spacious hallway, before funneling into one large room: the bar to the left, the dance floor and stage to the right. Behind the main room is a smaller little area - that’s where karaoke usually happens. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about it, at first glance - it’s tucked away a few blocks away from where you live, and from the outside, it’s nondescript, with the bar’s sign done up in a 1950’s style font.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Aside from having the best drinks you’d ever had (and a drink menu that had frequent specials that rotated throughout the year - you’re still waiting for that pumpkin spice white Russian to come back), karaoke every weekend, and a killer live band every Monday night, they had theme nights. Granted, nearly every bar did the occasional theme night, but Cindrella Express dialed theirs up to 11. Every time they did, it was like stepping back into a time machine. This Friday night’s theme was “80s,” and you were stoked.
After spending the day with your sisters, you’d come home, grabbed a nap, and then spent a inordinate amount of time picking out just the right outfit. From there, it was sitting for a small eternity to crimp and spray your hair up into gravity defying levels. But once you were done, you knew you looked killer. A tube dress that hugged your curves, in your favorite color (and in lame, to boot!), and matching heels. Credit card earrings (you’d have to thank Rose for finding those ridiculous things), rows of bangle bracelets for each arm, and a little clutch, and you were out the door. Since Iris had the boys (and therefore was the most responsible - but also because she could drink an elephant under the table and be sober 5 minutes later), and a mini-van, she was going to be the designated driver for the night. And with the bar being such a short distance away, and it was a nice night, you decided to walk there.
Arriving a little after 9, the bar wasn’t packed. Yet. Slipping through women with side ponytails and men in tiny suits with ridiculous shoulder pads, you’d quickly found a seat, and placed your order. Looking around, you grinned. That was one of the best things about theme nights here; everyone took it so seriously. The real party wouldn’t start until a little after 10; while there was ambient music, the DJ was still setting up. You couldn’t wait.
You’d barely taken a sip of your drink when Iris’s voice cut through the noise. “Where are your friends?” You’re not surprised at how she looks: she is the definitive queen of the 80s. She hadn’t changed her hair, but was in a tube top neon pink jump suit that made your eyes water with how bright it was. Around her waist she had on a wide white patent leather belt. White heels, giant plastic white hoop earrings, and white plastic bracelets on each arm completed the look. Idly, as you took in her outfit, you realized that you had subconsciously mimicked her style while putting your own outfit together. Which…was sort of awesome, as now you guys matched. A little, at least.
“Girl, you look good!” You slid off of your stool, and wrapped her in a huge hug. Her curly hair tickled your nose, and you grinned as her thin arms pressed into your back.
“Oh, I know,” she said, lightly, and kissed your cheek. “Dammit, hold on,” and, snatching a napkin from the bar, licked it and vigorously rubbed your cheek. “Got lipstick on you.” You laughed, gesturing for her to follow you to the bar. She does, and subtly bumps a guy out of the way so she can sit next to you. He doesn’t even so much as look backwards. In just that short amount of time, the bar’s beginning to get packed. Iris waves down the bartender, mouthing her order, and, now, comfortable, she turns to face you, and crosses her long legs.
“You didn’t answer my question,” she presses.
You shrug, leaning forward to take a liberal swig of your frozen margarita. “They’re pros. They’ll get here, if they get here, when they get here. It’s not like they’re your usual coworkers at a desk job. And besides, they probably have to worry about being recognized or whatever. I at least extended the invite.”
Iris’s drink, a clear (and frankly, refreshing looking) mojito arrives. She holds up a finger for you to pause, and takes her first “sip.” She downs about half of it in one gulp. “Oh my god, that is SO good,” she rasps out, and licks her lips. “I thought you told me that one, Midnight, seemed really down for it.”
“Yeah, but, I mean, they’re heroes,” you dropped your voice as much as you could. Broadcasting that heroes could potentially show up to a bar probably wasn’t the best idea in the world. “And honestly, you know how I am about birthdays. As long as I have you, Rose, good music and good drinks and good food, it doesn’t get much better than that. Anything else is icing on the cake.”
“Whatever, you don’t want your precious Eraserhead to see you drunk is all.” Iris flags down the bartender for another mojito. It felt like you’d only looked away for a minute and she’d downed the rest of it. This night was already off to an awesome start. But she maybe had a point. Birthdays, since you’d turned 21, had not been restrained affairs between you and your sisters. You’d never been embarrassed before by how much you guys cut loose; there was an unspoken understanding between all of you. After the death of your father, after all of the years fighting the Prism Gang, all of the close calls, all of the sleepless nights and sorrow, when it came to celebrate life, none of you were going to let that slip by. Birthdays were like national holidays for you all, no matter whose it was. Iris even had a tiara that she wore on her special day.
“I’m a fun drunk,” you sniffed, and took another sip of your drink. It was perfection: smooth on the first sip, and warming on the way down. “And it’s my birthday.”
“That’s the spirit!” came a familiar voice.
“Look at this bitch – always gotta make an entrance!” Like Iris was one to talk. But you’re already turning in your stool to pull the newcomer close. It was Rose - towering above the two of you, and sheer elegance. She was in a violet and lace bustier, and a frothing white and violet lace skirt, with white and violet lace fingerless gloves and white heels. A faux diamond bracelet and earrings rounded it off. She’d hidden her stylish bob under a snowy white wig, styled into a faux mohawk that sent curls floating down her shoulders.
“You’re just jealous because I look better than you,” Rose lightly teased.
“Looking good, for a grandma,” Iris retorts, and she’s up as well, hugging Rose from the side. Rose unfurls an arm from you, loops Iris in, and squeezes. You’re surrounded by the warmth of your sisters, and you couldn’t ask for more.
It's been a while, but it's the start of a new week, and it still bears being said:
A massive, amazing thank you to everyone that has read, commented, favorited, bookmarked, and/ or subscribed to this story. It's still a series of drabbles to me, but the amount of love that everyone has shown this bit of fluff is overwhelming. I've had some really shitty days here lately, and every time I see a comment or get a notification, it really helps me out. I keep trying to work on this as a bit of therapy, but I'd totally be lying if I said I wasn't constantly worried about writing something awful, then I get down on myself for being too hard on myself. Isn't it just GRAND how that works?
So, again, thank you all, and I hope you continue to read my nonsense. ٩(｡•́‿•̀｡)۶
Chapter 28: Birthday - II
And it's driving me wild
It makes me act like a child
-Round and Round, New Order
It’s on the edge of uncomfortable, the thudding music, but Aizawa sucks it up. Kayama’s elbow sharp in his side gives him the additional boost that he needs.
“This is great!” she shouts, close to his ear. “I never knew this place was here!” She’s virtually unrecognizable outside of her hero outfit - something he dimly realizes that was probably intentional. She’s in a short black vinyl dress, nearly spilling out of the top. She’s got on black torn fishnets, and large combat boots, loosely laced around her mid-calf. Her hair is teased up into a voluminous side ponytail, and her makeup, usually settled in deep reds, has brightened to pale blue around her eyes and a midnight blue on her lips. Her face sparkles under the muted light; she’s artfully applied glitter to her cheekbones and other places on her face. Gone is the overt BDSM theme. She’s not any less sexy for it - if anything, he thinks, this look suits her just as well. She’s an attractive woman.
“You look good, by the way!” she shouts again, stepping back as much as she can to take him in. On her advice, he’d shaved, slicked his hair back. He decided on his black suit, not knowing anything about this “Cinderella Express” place, and because it was the nicest thing he owned. He hadn’t worn it since the press conference, and for a while after he’d put it on, staring at his reflection in his bathroom mirror, he thought he was maybe trying too hard. Why had he listened to Kayama?
Because you want to look nice for her.
It’s a soft thought, one that he’s tempted to immediately banish. But he’s alone: he can admit these things. He wants to look nice for her. When he puts on his red tie, keeping a careful eye on his reflection as he begins to knot it, the thought feels better. It infuses him with warmth and confidence. Before he leaves, he tucks her present away in a pocket of his suit, and wishes that he had actually bought a nice cologne for himself instead of the first body spray that smelled good to him at the convenience store.
“Thanks,” he grumbles, and looks around. Hizashi is supposed to be there as well. This place is more suited for the yellow-haired man, Aizawa thinks. It’s full of energy, the music has a heavy beat and people are dancing under the smattering of neon lights, ethereal beings wholly consumed with one another. The music is so loud he can feel it in his bones - it makes him want to move, but he’s all too aware that he does not know how. Not like the other people here move: practiced and natural at the same time. He contents himself to watch them, even as he picks through the crowd for something familiar. It’s crowded, and he has no idea what Lily will have on, but he knows that all he needs is the slightest hint of her.
“Will you be okay on your own?” Kayama shouts, and his attention is brought back to her. She can connect into that unseen world as well; she’s moving her shoulders to the beat, eager to join the throng out on the floor.
“I’ll be fine,” he says, and it’s not a lie. He doesn’t sense a threat - not that bars are immune to villains, but this place is at once too humble and too positive to attract anything bad. Kayama nods, and she’s off in the crowd, her figure hugging dress catching long panels of light. She’s shining out there. It’s nice to see her like this. It reminds him why he considers her a friend.
The beat shifts: another song is starting. And that’s when he sees them.
How had he missed them?
Maybe it was the music - the previous song had everyone closer together. This one seems to require space from the dancers. The crowd is easier to move through now, he can tell, but he’s locked to the spot. Lily is in the center of two other women - one that towers over her, another that is merely a head taller. Her arms are held high over her head, bracelets catching the neon lights and sending it back out in points. She’s gyrating easily to the music, her body pressed between the two women safely. The tallest of them, he realizes, is Rose, disguised. She’s no longer a civic servant, but a wild thing freed, her hair tossed over her shoulders and a wide smile on her face. She is entrancing to look at, as mesmerizing now as she was at UA. To Lily’s left is the second tallest woman, her diaphanous mass of curls a personal cloud. She is as slender as a sapling; the type of tall and thin that is vaguely unsettling in the real world. She is the creature of high fashion magazines and catwalks. Aizawa knows little of pop culture, but he knows the type when he sees one. And Lily, the shortest, nestled between these two beauties, is yet still more beautiful. The dance floor has been transformed into a mythical copse within a forest, and within, three goddesses await. The rest of the crowd flows around him, dancing to a beat that’s entirely too far away for him to join in now.
His mouth is dry; time has stilled. And yet, the three women keep dancing in front of him. They’re in a bubble all their own; no other dancer has dared to come close. As Aizawa manages to blink, it feels as if all of the other dancers on the floor are dancing in celebration of these women. He is bumped from behind, and the spell breaks - he is forced into this sacred space of these women. He crashes directly into Lily, who breaks her stride for a moment, laughter startled out of her. She’s perpetually good natured, he knows this, but here, in the middle of this dance floor, she seems more real than how he’s seen her before. This is how she is, truly without care. When her eyes lock onto him, she stops dead in her tracks, her eyes going wide. He’s suddenly self conscious; had he overdressed? There are other men in suits here, but those suits belong to decades in the past. He is conspicuously modern, painfully so, against Lily’s sparkling lame fabric and the faint glitter coating her skin.
She seems to finally find the words, and the shocked O of her mouth, one that was ready with apologies for running into him, tugs up into a surprised, open smile. He’s never seen her smile like this. It’s appraising; flattering. It makes the world fall away to just the two of them, and before he knows it, he’s smiling back.
“Aizawa!” She shouts, and it’s like she’s whispering into his ear. “I’m glad you could make it! Come on!” She grabs his hand, and tugs him into that sacred space. His senses are filled with her, the sweetness of her perfume, then, the warm fragrance of rose and violet as her sisters close in ranks, surrounding him. They are dancing around him now, Rose sparing him a warm, playful wink, as she spritely moves away, giving him space to dance in front of Lily. The woman of the cloud hair - Iris, he thinks- merely looks over her shoulder at him, not missing a beat. A sharpness in her eyes takes him apart in seconds, and though he can’t see her mouth, he knows she’s smiling as she too moves away, allowing him and Lily more space.
Lily’s let go of his hand, and she’s still moving to the music, but it’s not the same. There’s concern on her face. “Don’t like dancing?” Though she’s shouting, he can still hear sympathy in her voice. He doesn’t know the words to tell her - that he’s never really danced before, that the music is too fast for him to catch up, that he wants to dance, really, that he wants to stay in this magical place with her and her wonderful goddess sisters, but no words come. She smiles, and takes his hand again.
“Lemme buy you a drink - everyone can dance if they’ve had a few!” She’s playful now, and though this is not a side of her he’s ever seen, he’s eager to know more. And to have a drink: he needs one.
I hope all of you have your 80s Playlists going at FULL BLAST.
Don't know where to start? Well, here's a few of the jams I was listening to while writing this:
Round and Round - New Order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRLAlvS5w7Y
You Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGNiXGX2nLU (literally, this is the song I was listening to when I was writing about Lily/Reader dancing)
Why Can't I Be You - The Cure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI0a9hTh5AU
And, uh, because it HAS to be on here and is literally one of the best songs of ALL TIME (FIGHT ME):
I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3giaIzONA (fun tip: Iris's physical description is totally based off of Whitney in this music video. Especially the hair because omg)
And there's so much more, like...geeeezzzz.
Chapter 29: Birthday - III
I'll be coming for your love, okay?
ah-ha, Take on Me
Okay, you still weren’t sure if your jaw was picked up from the floor yet.
Aizawa was stunning.
Like “Stop the presses!” looks good. The way he fills out the suit is nothing short of criminal, and it’s hard to breathe. The fact that he looked shy on top of everything else was enough to kill you right where you stood. Everything after that first look had been you on auto pilot, resisting the urge to babble away like a loon.
Even at the bar now, you didn’t trust yourself not to yammer on. You’d ordered another margarita, and given yourself a brain freeze in your hurry to sip it down. You’re all too aware of Aizawa’s eyes on you, and how hot your skin feels. Thankfully, the club is dark, and you can blame your heated skin on dancing.
“Happy birthday,” he says, after a while, and the words give you courage to look at him. His eyes are black diamonds, in that tender space that slips through the deadpan and the exhaustion. You’re not equipped for him to look at you like that, to push you that much closer to the edge you’ve been teetering on for months.
“Thanks,” you stammer out, waiting for the alcohol to kick in. Again. Or whatever. Something needs to happen so you can talk to him like a rational adult instead of the giggling school girl his eyes are turning you into.
His drink arrives; a tall beer with a perfectly balanced foam head. You couldn’t help but to wrinkle your nose. You were less discreet than you thought - he gives you a peevish look, but there’s a smile hiding in his thin lips.
You’re scrambling to think of something to say. But tequila works quickly, thank god. “Just, gross. I’m not a beer girl,” you say, crossing your legs. You’re close enough at the bar that you don’t have to shout like you did on the dance floor, but you’re still not speaking at normal volume. You’re not doing anything normal right about now. Every time you look over at him, it’s like seeing him for the first time tonight, and you just want to scream. It’s a struggle not to swing your legs back and forth, to rest your elbows on the bar and your chin in your palms and sigh dreamily at him. That suit is criminal. All suits should be burned at the stake. Maybe not burned. Maybe he should just take it off. Sure. He should take off his suit. Starting with unthreading that red tie from around his throat, staring at you the entire time…
He says nothing in response, but lifts his glass to his lips. You keep staring. You couldn’t stop if you wanted to. Without the distraction of dancing, he’s got your full attention. He stops, and realization crosses his face.
“Cheers,” he says, suddenly, and taking the initiative, he clinks the top of his beer glass against yours. Grinning, you return the gesture.
It’s true - with enough drinks, anyone can dance. Even Aizawa.
Well, he was doing something close to dancing. You’re not sure if you would actually CALL it dancing, but he was certainly moving. His lack of finesse wasn’t even the point. It was all about him being out there with you now, in front of you, doing his best not to smile and constantly losing that battle.
Who cares that the two of you left behind a slew of empty glasses for the bartender?
And what made it even better? As you guys continued to drink, not talking, but just staring at each other like idiots, you’d sat out a few songs. Including ones that you loved - and maybe he saw you getting a little antsy. There were a few that you just had to move to, shuffling your butt on the stool in a sad little shimmy, but giving credit where credit was due to the music gods.
Then this song came on. The song that was like, everything that was the 80s in 3 minutes and 45 seconds.
Take on Me by a-ha.
You looked longingly at the dance floor. Aizawa, a little worse for wear for his beers, looked at the floor, then at you. Determination sparked, and he looked as serious as he did on patrols. Then he did it. He grabbed your hand. He hadn’t said a word - just grabbed it, and though there was hardly any room to do it, he somehow ran with you, tugging you to the center of the dance floor. And he started, well, this odd sort of flailing that you could tell, no matter how tipsy you were getting, was meant to be dancing, even though he somehow kept missing the beat. It didn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. Because right now, you’re dancing with Aizawa and it is the best thing ever. And somehow, it gets better. The next song doesn’t even get 20 seconds in before you instantly recognize it, and squeal your excitement. Aizawa stops, confused, looking at you, and he goes from pleasantly buzzed to instantly sober, which, wow.
You don’t even have time to react before he sweeps you into his arms, using his body as a shield. Pressed into his chest, you inhale his cologne. It’s a mere memory over the odor of his aftershave and beer and his sweat (because he hasn’t taken off his jacket - who dances in a full suit in a packed club?!), but it’s Aizawa, and beneath it all, you can feel the rapid tattoo of his heart. The world could stop and you’d be fine with it.
You worm your way loose, and laughing, point up to the invisible speakers. “I love this song!” you shout over the music, and somewhere in the crowd, you hear someone enthusiastically agree with you. Aizawa looks in the distance, then at the ceiling, then at you, and his face is so confused that you laugh again.
“Oh my god, Aizawa, chill! Nothing bad’s gonna happen. It’s me, you, the best song in the world, and the dance floor and it’s my birthday! Dance with me!” The liquor’s beyond kicked in, and you’re past the point of feeling embarrassed or shy. You take his hands in yours, and pull him close to you, then back out, in a quick accordion motion. He’s caught off guard; looks around wildly before fixing his attention on you. You’ve still got hold of his hands, and caught up in the song, being self-consciousness is a thing of the past. You begin to sing along:
Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me!
Maybe it’s the lights, or maybe it’s because Aizawa’s had a lot to drink (as have you), but he seems to turn bright red when you belt out the last line. And of course you have to act out the part in the song that Whitney does so well in the video - and you begin a mock argument with Aizawa, shaking him playfully:
Dontcha wanna dance
Say you wanna dance
Dontcha wanna dance?!
He’s surprised, then he seems to realize you’re joking; it’s all apart of the grand theme, the playfulness of the song. His face relaxes, and he smiles at you. It’s the one he’s been trying to hide all evening. His eyes are alight, his hands relaxed in yours; he’d captured them again as the song started to end. The next one starts, flowing seamlessly into one another, and he hasn’t let go. With a wicked grin on his face, he sends you into an absolutely uncalled for and totally off beat spin. That doesn’t matter either - because he’s there to catch you.
This is a day late and my apologies - real life happened!
JUST KEEP DANCING GUYS.
Also - was listening to this FOREVER for getting into the mood to write Aizawa all dressed up:
Super Junior - Black Suit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvqB6JsRbsc
Chapter 30: Birthday - IV
Dance until you start to sober up. Then drink some more and hit the floor again.
Hizashi couldn't see a single familiar face in the middle of the dance floor. At the very least, he’d expected to see Lily, maybe Kayama, but under the throbbing neon lights, everyone was a smiling stranger. So he’d ignored the fact that he was looking for someone (or ‘someones’), and hit the dance floor. Oh, sure; there’d been some professional interest in the DJ, and, in-between dances, he’d caught glimpses of him, and figured he should have him on his show at some point. The kid had talent, and there was no discernible break between songs; nu-wave blended seamlessly into US 1980s R&B, and now, that blended evenly into City Pop. While he could appreciate City Pop as much as the next nostalgic person, he figured it’d be a good time to take a breather, get a drink, see if he could find someone.
As he was making his way through the thinning crowd, that’s when he saw Lily. She was looking absolutely delicious in that lame dress. Wow. And the guy dancing with her - some dude that clearly had two left feet. The light shifted, and the guy’s face was briefly illuminated. Wait. Was that Aizawa? Maybe he was wrong. In all of his years of knowing Aizawa, he’d never known the man to even attempt to dance; he was convinced that the man didn’t know what rhythm was. He peered over the rims of his glasses.
It was Aizawa.
It was when he realized that his tongue was dry that he noticed his mouth had dropped open in shock. Recovering, Hizashi started to raise his hand, and found it grabbed behind him before he could even finish. Kayama’s voice was in his ear.
“Don’t. You. Dare.”
He glanced back at her, and gave her the best approximation of an offhanded shrug with one arm behind his back.
“I was just gonna say hi! I was so shocked to see him out on the floor that I didn’t even recognize him! Come on; lemme go - I can at least give the birthday girl my regards!”
And that’s when they appeared. Two amazingly tall and beautiful women seemed to materialize out of the crowd, one on each side of him. How he hadn’t noticed them to begin with made him feel like he’d gone temporarily blind.
“You can tell her after this song,” lightly said the tallest of the two, her white hair curling down past her shoulders. “Trust me; I think they’d both be quite angry if you interrupted now.”
“You ruin this and I’ll kill you,” said the shorter of the two, in a flat voice. While threats were not uncommon in his line of work, and Hizashi had been on the receiving end of quite a few, none had truly chilled him like this one.
“Let’s go back to the bar; we have some reserved seats. Turns out Lily’s sister is a bit of a celebrity here,” continued Kayama, easing her grip on Hizashi’s arm.
Slipping it from her grasp, he rubbed at it. “What do you mean, ‘celebrity’?”
“Uh, only the leading Karaoke Queen in three prefectures. Didn’t you see all the pictures and stuff in the hallway leading in here? Jeez,” said the other woman, flipping a cloud of curls over her bare shoulder. “I’m Iris.”
“Rose,” said the white haired woman. “We’re Lily’s sisters,” she added.
“Charmed,” Hizashi grinned, turning to look at both of them. He fought the urge to whistle. The whole family was a series of lookers.
“Anyway, let's get drinks and leave those boring assholes on the dance floor,” sniffed Iris, looking back over her shoulder at Aizawa and Lily. Seemed like Lily was beginning to make progress with Aizawa; the gap between the two of them dancing was steadily getting smaller.
“So how long has this thing been going on, anyway?” Rose said, nursing a long island ice tea. “Lily’s been talking about Aizawa for the past few months, but hasn’t said anything about asking him out. Just ‘patrols this’ and ‘patrols that,’ and ‘he’s so good with the kids.’”
“Which is total Lily speak for ‘I want in this man’s pants but I’m too scared to say anything,’” added Iris, swirling a sweet potato fry in garlic aioli before popping it in her mouth. Rose gave her a nasty look, and shook her head.
“I think Lily really likes him,” Rose shot back.
“Likes his dick. Gimmie another,” Iris held out her empty glass to the bartender, who seemed quite familiar with Iris, and merely chuckled as he took her glass.
Kayama laughed. “I love these two, by the way.”
Hizashi couldn’t do anything else but laugh along. Iris had a way with words. But in the short time that he’d been sitting with them at the bar, he found both women incredibly easy to talk to, and both down to earth, even through all of Iris’s bluster.
“He totally likes her,” Hizashi started, before taking a sip of his beer. How had he not known about this place? “I’ve never heard him say one bad thing about her.”
“Do you know how impossible that is for Aizawa? We’re his friends, and if you asked him about us, he’d say we were loud idiots. Can you imagine?!” Kayama feigned horror.
“Totally,” Hizashi chimed in. “And he looks after Lily. Like sort of follows her at school.”
Kayama sat up in her seat, and forced her exuberant expression into one of stillness. Hizashi had to set down his drink to avoid choking on it. Kayama’s eyes were a perfect imitation of Aizawa’s impassive face. “ ‘Neya-kun, don’t forget about the training for 1-C,’” she started, copying Aizawa’s flat tones, “ ‘Neya-kun, did you get the handouts in to Principal Nezu?’”
Hizashi picked up. “ ‘Neya-kun, don’t forget about the parent teacher night.’ ‘Neya-kun, there’s a teacher’s meeting in the lounge today at one.’”
“ ‘Neya-kun, I have the biggest crush on you and I’m too scared to say anything,’” Kayama added.
“ ‘Neya-kun, I came out to a bar - which I hate bars - and I am dancing with you - I’ve never danced- because I like you so much.’” Hizashi supplied, taking a small sip of his beer.
“It’s madness,” Kayama drawled, throwing her hands up in the air. “I’ve never seen him like this with anyone. I mean, he really, really likes her. He got all dressed up, and I bet he got her something too.”
“Oh really?” Rose’s elegantly arched brows were raised, and a smile rested gently on her lips. “That’s really kind of precious,” she sighed, resting her chin in her palms and taking a slow sip of her drink.
“Biggest betting pool I’ve seen in ages about what’s going on with Lily and Aizawa. Although some people-” Hizashi shot Kayama a pointed look. She shrugged, sheepishly, and downed the rest of her drink. “Thought that there may have been a thing between Lily and All Might. For the record, I was Team Lily and Aizawa from the beginning.”
“Oh, there’s totally nothing between Lily and All Might,” Iris quickly said. “Now ROSE and All Might; there’s something!”
Both Hizashi and Kayama turned to gape at Rose. To the older woman’s credit, she didn’t so much as even blush as she nonchalantly took a sip from her drink.
“We’re going to dinner. I hardly think that’s a ‘something.’”
“Whatever, grandma,” sniffed Iris, turning to Kayama and Hizashi. “It’s totally ‘something’ by Rose’s standards.”
“Okay, well,” and Rose gave a definitive stir of her drink with her straw, “This isn’t about me; it’s about Lily.”
“Okay; fair. We can save the shit talking about you until your birthday,” Iris said.
“Look at them, though. Aren’t they just precious?” sighed Rose, looking back out to the dance floor. The music had slowed, luring the patrons into slow dances. Among the couples huddled close together, Lily and Aizawa looked a bit odd. He was holding her at arms length, as nervous as a teenager. He was looking everywhere but at Lily, his cheeks darkening. She was looking up at him, a dreamy smile on her face. She let go of his hands. He stopped, looked at her. She moved closer, her body brushing against his. His face darkened, but he didn’t move.
His hesitation lasted for moments. Spurred by a shift in the music, he moved closer as well, bumping into Lily. Aizawa’s hands grazed her waist, then her hips. They lingered for mere seconds, and were back up again, moving, finally, in turn with the music. The touches had been brief, a part of the flow of music, and Lily responded in turn, her hands resting on his chest, then to his shoulders, then away again, the two of them moving closer and closer, faces tilted up towards one another.
“Oh, he's got it bad,” breathed Kayama.
Iris and Rose watched, brows raised.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t saw it myself,” Hizashi murmured, unable to pull his eyes away. There was all of his proof and then some. Lily was good for Aizawa. And maybe tonight, when the drinks were flowing, and there was good music and good company, maybe, just maybe, Aizawa would do something.
Really. I did NOT mean for this Birthday section to be so long and it's gotten out of hand :x.
It is winding down; seriously! I want to say, though, from the scrabbly little outline I cobbled together as I was working on the drabbles, we're at maybe the halfway point of this story. This is shaping out to be the longest thing I've written here, and really, I think it's because each "chapter" is so short. It's been a great exercise in keeping me writing, and I'm still absolutely floored that you guys are right there with me. Thank you all.
Also - City Pop! I discovered this genre when I fell down the Youtube hole. It basically sounds like EVERY good anime theme song from the 1980s, so I'm all about it.
The song that initially got me hooked: Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bNITQR4Uso.
Youtube did this weird algorithm thing a while back and I'm pretty sure this video was turning up in everyone's feed. I was intrigued enough by it (and the sound, which is definitely influenced by the sounds coming out of the States in the late 1970s) that I did some more digging, and that's how I found out about the City Pop genre. There's a few mini documentaries about it on Youtube as well, which I really enjoyed just wasting some time and listening to.
Another one that I've really liked: 君は1000% by 1986 Omega Tribe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTMcNgqkrfc
When I first started writing these drabbles, the idea was solely fueled by American pop music from the 1980s, as I'd written / intended Lily/Reader to be older (in her 30s), as opposed to younger, and therefore would have lived through some of this time period and the music to really be the sound of her childhood. I was honestly a little afraid to write her as older as I thought it might be off-putting to readers, but I've been enjoying it so much that I'm glad I stuck to my guns with it.
However, as I started digging more into City Pop, I thought that it would be more accurate (assuming that since the show is set in Japan), to include popular music in Japan from the time period in the playlist rotation. Plus, as I've mentioned, I've really fallen in love with the genre and I wanted the opportunity to share that with others. Anzen Chitai will probably be making an appearance in another chapter before the birthday section is over, because MAN. Talk about 80s.
"Kimagure Orange Road", by the way, has some of the BEST 80s / City Pop-eqse music.
Chapter 31: Birthday - V
Some folks are sobering up, while others are having a few more.
You’re high from dancing with Aizawa. Your head is so far into the clouds that even as you amble back to the bar from the floor, the sly looks from your friends and sisters isn’t enough to dampen your spirits. Instead, you go down the line, hugging everyone in big bear hugs and planting sloppy kisses on their cheeks, not bothering to wipe away your bright lipstick. This is going down as one of the best birthdays you’ve ever had. You’re dimly aware that Aizawa is trailing a few steps behind you, and turning, you wave him over to the neat rows of seats in front of the bar.
“I’m taking a break, come, sit with us!”
Before your butt has had a chance to warm the seat, your drink of choice is in front of you. You beam at the bartender, and raise your glass high.
“To my birthday!”
“To your birthday!” Kayama, Hizashi, Rose, and Iris echo back. Clinking your glasses noisily together, you laugh as liquid spills over and down your arms. It’s fine; everything’s fine. And in all the chaos, Aizawa’s touched his glass to yours as well, foam from his beer sloshing over your fingers. He gives you that slightly worn around the edges smile, and it takes all of your inhibited concentration not to just ask him out. Somewhere away from the noise of the bar, from the dance floor, somewhere that the two of you can actually talk. You want to know more about him, and the more you drink, the more you want to tell him how you feel. It’s clawing at the base of your tongue, gnawing holes in your stomach, and the way he switches back from deadpan exasperation from the antics of your sisters, Kayama, and Hizashi to that black diamond shine in his eyes, you want to be hopeful and think that he might just feel the same way.
By the time the night is close to over, you can barely walk. The world is warm and fuzzy, and everyone and everything is wonderful. Your sisters got on well with Kayama and Yamada – they’re laughing and joking like they’re known each other for years. They seem the most surprised by Rose, which is sort of funny. You know that she’s an important civic figure, but she’s still your sister, with a wicked, sly sense of humor and with a smartass mouth that can make even Iris shut her mouth for a minute. You’ve been there and back again to the floor, sometimes dragging Aizawa with you, sometimes leaving him at the bar when he looks a little too uncertain. He’s slowed down drinking - you’ve been outpacing him for the last hour or so, and you can tell he’s sobering up quickly.
When you make it back to the bar, he seems to be shrinking back into the corners. Your heart lurches. Poor guy. This really wasn’t his sort of scene. He’s been off to himself, fidgety, even, and you think he wants to be anywhere else. He’s barely nursed the one beer since you guys have sat back down, though he’s also been the recipient of several shots gifted to him by the grace of Iris’s old fans, who, ostensibly, recognize her from her hair.
Staggering over to him at the bar, you take one of his shots, and slam it back.
He looks at you.
You give a little shuffle of your shoulders, before swinging your legs across the stool next to him to sit down, not so gracefully. “If you wanna go, you can go. You don’t have to stay here. Really.”
He looks down into his glass. “Said I would.”
“And you did. You are free to go. I release you,” you wave your fingers over him, like you’re breaking a magic spell. His eyes go from your hands to your face. You think he might muster a smile, but, instead, he seems to frown. You’re not sober enough to pick up on if that frown is just him being him or if you’ve insulted him, and you’re too awkward around him to be as physical with him as you are with your sisters or Toshinori. Instead, you swivel back and forth on your stool, facing the bar, then back out to the rest of the bar. Yamada and Iris are on the dance floor, killing it, and Kayama and Rose are elegantly sipping from tall glasses a few seats down from you two, talking.
When you swing back around to face the bar, Aizawa is looking into the bottom of his glass. Foam trails lazily down the sides of it. He lifts it to his lips, and you watch the way his throat bobs as he drinks. God, he is so hot. And he doesn’t even realize it. Clean-shaven like this, with his messy hair combed back from his face, you can get a really good look at him, and you’re not entirely sure if that dreamy sigh you made was in your head or out loud.
He puts his glass down; looks at you. “What?”
“You just sighed.” Shit. It was out loud.
“Oh, yeah, well, er. You look good,” you finally stammer. It didn’t make sense not to compliment him. He did look good.
He pauses; stares into the bottom of his glass again. It’s awkward between the two of you, without the magic of the floor and the noise of your family. You reach over and grab another shot from in front of him, and down it. If you keep this up, you’ll be able to clear out his backlog. You’d also probably pass out, but hey, carpe diem.
He watches you take the shot. His fingers tighten on his glass. “You should slow down.”
“Nahhhh,” you groan out, “Birthday girl. And Rose is DD’ing, so I’m good.”
“You sure she’s safe to drive?” You look over at Rose. She’s still sipping the same drink.
“Probably? But I don’t even live far from here. I could totally walk if I wanted to. Probably will, honestly.”
He gives you a flat look.
“Oh, I’m a big girl. I’ll be fine.”
He sighs, loudly. “That’s dumb. You shouldn’t be out alone, this drunk, stumbling home.”
You flex, and in the process, nudge some of the shot glasses. “I’m strong,” you deepen your voice, then launch into a poor impression of All Might’s laughter. Aizawa’s dead pan expression slips into exasperation, and you laugh, honestly now.
“It’s sweet, Aizawa, but I can get home on my own. Also, don’t you have patrols tonight? You’ve been here a while,” you glance over at the clock.
“There are other heroes out there tonight. It’ll be fine.” The last bit he seems to have trouble with, and he looks back at his glass. The room suddenly feels very warm, and very small.
“Oh, well,” you manage, and drum your fingers against the counter. The bartender comes by, a kindly smile on his face.
“Last call,” he purrs, “Want to close out your tab?”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” you say – then you’re promptly stopped by Aizawa.
“Put her drinks on my tab,” he says, bluntly.
You’re too stunned to speak for a moment, then you start up. “Ignore him,” you say, gesturing to the bartender. “It’s my birthday, and I bought drinks for people because that’s what I wanted to do.”
You may be drunk, but the sour look on Aizawa’s face is coldly sobering. He keeps his card held out as a challenge. You reach over and try and grab it out of his hand. His reflexes are swift, and he yanks it out of your grasp. You go for it again, and he does the same mildly infuriating hand wave to snatch it away. There’s the faintest hint of a smug smile on his face that makes heat pool in your cheeks. But dammit, you’re a hero too, and it’s your birthday and you are also a little terrified of how much your bar tab is because you lost count of how many drinks you bought for everyone, and you make one last, mighty grab.
The little shit.
He waits until the last moment, when it’s just within your grasp, and yanks his hand over his head and the card out of your reach. Your snatching movement has propelled you forward, and you barrel into him, your head colliding into his chest. The force of it knocks you both off balance, and the two of you fall to the ground in a tangle of limbs.
This close, with your eyes closed, your senses are filled with his warmth, and the faintest traces of some earthy cologne, something smoky and clean. You lay there, partially embarrassed that this happened, partially not wanting to move ever.
“Mmrhg,” you bury your face into his chest.
“Get up.” There’s not as much annoyance in his voice as you would have expected. His hands settle at your waist. They linger. Or they feel like they do. Hard to tell, with how fuzzy and excellent everything is. “Come on.” His grip tightens, and he pushes. In his hands, you feel light. You move off of him, expecting him to let go. Instead, he grasps your hands, and is on his feet in an instant. He pulls you with him, and you stagger again, falling into him. When his hands go to steady you, they are soft and solid, guiding you into a standing position. You sway momentarily, and regain your balance.
The bartender, who undoubtedly has seen much worse, has a Cheshire cat grin. “Bar tab’s already paid, thanks to her,” and he points over to Iris and Hizashi. The yellow haired man has apparently met his match.
“Iris paid my tab?” You blink, agog.
“Not quite,” the bartender offers charitably. “People know all about the Karaoke Queen. Once they heard she was with your party, people have been paying off your tab a chunk at a time. In fact,” he glances down at a pile of receipts in front of him, “You actually have a credit.”
Then you realize Aizawa’s hand is still at the small of your back, supporting you. You steal a look up at him. He’s looking fixedly away, and there might just be a hint of redness in his cheeks. You smile a little.
“That’s awesome.” It’s a lame thing to say, but you can’t just sit here in this bar grinning like a moron when they’re trying to close up. The bartender grins.
“Yeah, people can really be something else.” He nods to Iris, who looks like she’s a half second away from tackling Yamada. “You might want to grab your people, though.”
I want to say there's like, 2 more birthday parts left? Good lord.
And also - enjoy the fluff while you can. <(￣︶￣)>
Chapter 32: Birthday - VI
You'd think someone would finally say something right about now.
Nemuri stops mid-sentence, and looks over Rose’s shoulder, her dark brows raised.
“What?” Rose starts to turn around.
“Don’t turn around,” Nemuri hisses, waving her back. “You were supposed to be the DD tonight, right?”
“Well, yes,” Rose says, blinking in confusion. “Why?”
“Don’t.” Nemuri points her chin in the direction of Lily and Aizawa, standing in an adorable, awkward silence together. Rose looks over, and her grin widens.
“You know,” Rose sighs, heavily, as she set down her glass. “I’m feeling just a bit tipsy. I don’t think I’ll be good to drive.”
“Such a shame!” Nemuri says, a little too loudly.
“You’re fine to drive,” snaps Iris, walking over. Hizashi trails behind her, a troubled expression on his face. “You’ve been nursing that sad little Long Island since like forever ago.” Iris is miraculously sober, her hands on her hips. “And I burned off all that little booze hours ago from eating all those chicken wings and sweet potato fries.”
“Iris. Get a clue,” Rose clicks her tongue, and tilts her head subtly, once, twice, in Lily and Aizawa’s direction. Iris narrows her eyes in displeasure at Rose, before she looks over. The storm cloud dissipates. Before she can squeal, Rose slaps a hand over her mouth. Her heart ring sparkles in the dull light, privy to its wearer’s secrets.
“Not a word. Got it?” Iris nods, wide eyed. Rose moves her hand from Iris’s mouth, and Iris makes a show of fluffing out her hair.
“Hey, Lily, time for us to go before they throw us out,” Iris calls out. The moment is lost between Lily and Aizawa, and Lily teeters away from Aizawa. She’s well over her limit, and her stumbling is adorable and pitiful.
“Sounds good – Rose, I’m with you, right?” Lily leans heavily against a bar stool.
“No, I’m afraid not,” Rose says, feigning sadness. “I think I’ve had way too much – I don’t drink like I used to. I don’t feel safe to drive.” She shrugs her shoulders, and waves her fine-boned hands to Nemuri.
Nemuri quickly picks up the thread. “Well, I rode with Hizashi, and-” She starts to flounder.
“We live way on the other side of town; it’d be too out of the way!” Hizashi quickly finishes.
Nemuri give him a grateful look. He looks over at Iris, his thin brows raised.
“Well, my car only seats,” Iris quickly does a head count. “three people, including the driver. So I don’t have the room, since I’m taking Rose home.”
Iris drove a mini-van.
Lily narrows her eyes, opens her mouth to say something.
“I’ll take her home,” Aizawa cuts in. He looks down at Lily. “Didn’t you say that you lived close to here?”
Lily nods, looking up at him with a mild pout.
“Then let’s go.” His hand drifts back to the small of her back, and he starts to guide her towards the door. Once their backs are turned, he looks over his shoulder, and fixes the remaining group a stare so evil and cold that Hizashi visibly shivers.
Once the pair have walked out, Nemuri slaps Hizashi on the back. “Buck up. It was totally worth it.”
“Word,” adds Iris.
You’re able to walk, but the sidewalk keeps winding around like a snake.
“You’re walking all over the place,” Aizawa calls from behind you. “Can’t you try to walk in a straight line?”
“Not my fault the sidewalk is all bendy,” you sniff. You thought you’d been doing a good job.
“Here,” Aizawa is close to you again, and loops his arm through yours. It’s less of a romantic gesture than a practical one. It doesn’t matter. You instantly rest your head on his shoulder. You can feel him stiffen before he starts moving again.
“Oh, don’t be so stiff,” you drawl. You’re drunk. You shouldn’t be overstepping boundaries like this. Your sluggish mind is churning for a logical response to set him at ease.
“Besides,” you start again, keeping your cheek on his shoulder, “This looks more natural. If I’m staggering all over the place, it’ll mean that we both look distracted, which means we’re easy pickings.” Not like you were scared. Your neighborhood was relatively safe, but it was always good to be cautious.
Aizawa doesn’t say anything. The stiffness eases. You place your hand on his arm. He’s looking straight ahead, the set of his mouth grim. But his other hand comes forward to rest against yours. It stays there until you reach the front of your apartment. With great reluctance, you peel yourself away from him. He stiffly removes his arm from yours, and turns to face you.
“Don’t drink that much again. I won’t always be around to walk you home.”
“But you’re here now, and that’s good enough for me.” The words spill out of you, and you can’t bother to be shy. “Thanks for coming, Aizawa. Sorry if I’m too much.” You smile at him. “Well, me and my sisters. Sorry if we were a handful.”
“You were fine.” He’s looking at a particularly interesting spot on the pavement, his hands shoved in his pockets.
You poke your tongue out at him. “You just told me not to drink like that again, like a dad. And I fell on you! That means I was a handful.” You put your hands on your hips, triumphant.
“I’ve been around worse,” he says simply. You’re fumbling for your keys in your purse, and finding everything in creation but them. When you finally find them, you instantly drop them, and sigh.
“Aw, keys.” Aizawa’s somehow kneeling to pick up your keys before your brain even starts to process bending your knees.
“I’m going to walk you up.” From his tone, there’s no point in arguing. So you shrug.
Your apartment complex isn’t hard to navigate. It’s surrounded by a lovely (insofar as gates can be) provincial French gates set in red brick, partially overgrown by ivy. From the gated entrance, there’s a small, cobble stone path leading through an elegantly kept courtyard, hemmed in by pink rose bushes. A stone bird bath sits idle in the left-hand corner. The apartments are done in the style of the Louisiana French Quarter. It’s a two-story building with hard wood floors and a homey, lived in feel that made you fall in love with it.
Aizawa, realizing that he can’t quite take the lead here, waits for you. You keep your arm linked in his, and begin to pull him forward. He hesitates.
You laugh, tilting your head back to look up at the sky. The motion makes the pinpoint stars blur, and the moon seems to be a wavering pool of milk above.
“I think I can make it from here,” you giggle, letting go of his arm. “So, I’d like my keys back.”
He looks at you, and his lips thin – but he holds out your keys. You take them from him, and suddenly, he closes his hand over yours. He licks his lips; takes a deep breath. You pause, waiting for him to say something. Then he lets go of your hand, and jams his hands into his pockets.
“Drink water,” it’s a gruff command barked at you. You nod. The patina of grouch had officially been chipped away from Aizawa ages ago, and you giggle, again. He glowers at you. “I’m serious.”
“I didn’t think that you were joking.”
“Then why did you laugh?” You almost expect him to start pouting from the look he’s giving you.
“Because it’s sweet of you. You’re always worrying about your kids and the people around you. It’s one of your most attractive qualities.” Some tiny portion of you was screaming in embarrassment; that you shouldn’t be telling him these things. The booze told that part of you to shut it.
“ ‘Sweet.’” He sounds displeased. You’re not surprised.
“Yes, ‘sweet’,” and you shake your head dramatically. That was a bad idea, and you end up stumbling again. And, once again, he steps forward, catching you. Your face in his chest again, you laugh, clutching to his sleeves tightly as you right yourself again. You’re about to let go when he grabs your forearms, and keeps you pressed against him. Your heart thuds in your ears.
His voice is so soft that you almost have to strain to hear it. You’re paralyzed by that sweet lowness, the newness of his voice. When you gather the courage to look up at him, he’s looking down at you, as if seeing you for the first time. Like you’re porcelain; that he must handle you delicately.
“Thanks.” Your response is nearly muffled by his chest. He hasn’t let go of your arms, and frankly, you don’t want him to. You’re lulled by the sound of his heartbeat, and you close your eyes, pressing your cheek against him. That smoky clean smell of his cologne is stronger here, intoxicating.
You should say something.
“You smell good,” you end up purring against him.
He doesn’t respond, but there’s a slight rumble in his chest that makes you think he’s amused. You wiggle your fingers against his chest, burying them in the folds of his shirt. A beat, and then, the warmth of him above you as he lets go of your arms. He rests his chin on the top of your head, and his arms move down to your waist. You stiffen. You want him to pull you close. You want him to dip you back and kiss you, right here, in the middle of the floor, like you’ve never been kissed before.
Instead, he moves his head, his arms going back to his sides. You stand there, swaying a little still, and blink up at him. Your tongue is on fire; you want to say something so bad. Some smartass comment to diffuse this bit of closeness that you weren’t prepared for. But you can’t.
He looks at you still, and you are at a complete loss.
“Drink water,” his eyes drift from your own to your lips, where they linger. When he looks back into your eyes, there is a question there, longing.
“I will.” You fiddle with the loop of your clutch, secured around your wrist. “Hey, Aizawa,” you start. You have to say something to him.
“Yeah?” His hands are shoved back into his pockets now. A lock of hair has come loose from where he’s brushed it back, and dangles in his face. It drives you mad. A man shouldn’t look this good. Before you can stop yourself, you step to him, and push the errant strand of hair back.
“There,” you say, lowering from your tiptoes.
When he looks at you again, it’s that deadpan expression. You smile. “That’s not all, though. Thanks. For caring.” And before he can react, you wrap your arms around him, pulling him close into a hug. He’s stiff, before he thaws in your arms. He wraps his around you, carefully, as if he’ll hurt you. When he squeezes you, it is with a gentleness that you didn’t think he was capable of.
You’re the one that lets go of the hug first. You want more. Your heart, your body – everything is screaming for you to kiss him. To confess to everything that’s been brewing within you for these past months. But you don’t. Now isn’t the time. And he wouldn’t believe you, anyway, as drunk as you are.
He lingers in the main room, looking at you, then at a light fixture, then at the floor. You can feel it. There’s an air between the two of you that’s making it near impossible to leave. But you have to. Now isn’t the time.
“So…tomorrow….do you want me to come on patrol with you? It’s been a while.” You force yourself to at least start walking in the direction of the internal staircase.
“…If you’re sober.” He could have been blunt, or snide. His tone is still that newness, as if he’s not sure what to do with it, either.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Aizawa.” You give him a wan smile, and start going up the stairs.
You stop, turn around. He’s standing in the center of the floor, hands still jammed in his pockets. His gaze is clear and locked on you.
“…Shouta,” you say, slowly. You have to stop yourself from shrieking aloud. “Well, then, good night, Shouta.”
“…Good night, Lily.” He turns to leave, his back to you. You know he can move faster than how he is. A wicked thought crosses your mind. You start up the stairs, and at the top step, nearly out of eyesight, you sneak a look behind you. He’s still standing there, watching you. He can’t tell that you can see him still standing there. You walk, slowly, on tip toes, around the bend of the staircase. You wait until you hear the front door click.
It’s only then that you drunkenly skip back to your room. Once you’re there, you throw yourself onto your bed, and scream into your pillow.
Shouta. He wants me to call him Shouta.
First names count as progress! Hopefully the person change wasn't too distracting. I liked the initial plotting with the friends / family and I didn't want to take it out. I think moving forward, though, I'll refer to other MHA characters by their first name, with the exception of Aizawa. My apologies if this seems jarring; I don't have a beta, and after I re-read these chapters, sometimes I think, "Ugh, I could have done this / that better..." So, I'll try to be more consistent in the future.
This is the end of the "Birthday Arc" - which means time for the drama / action to start up again. I mean, this IS a world with villains, after all...
Chapter 33: Snow
Winter has come, and with it, snow.
Time has passed entirely too swiftly since Lily’s birthday. It feels that summer was yesterday; when she started, the day before that. And yet, it’s already the winter, fall having rushed by with assignments, patrols, and teaspoons upon teaspoons of missed opportunities for Aizawa to have given her his present. They’d gone on patrols together, though more often than not, she was confident enough to go on her own.
And each time she did, he had to convince himself that he wasn’t lonely. If that was even the right word. “Loneliness” implied a sort of pain to him, which wasn’t how he felt. Instead, he felt all together too much himself, the space she left behind a yawning absence. He couldn’t protest it logically - she needed to learn how to act on her own. Which she did. And she needed her own following - which she had. Fame had sat oddly with her. She was demure as ever, avoiding interviews, and from what he’d heard, the agency involvement was a mere formality. Whatever money she brought in was reissued into charities; she appeared to survive solely on her income as a teacher. It was admirable - especially how close to the chest she’d played it.
He hears her land before he sees her, and he knows that she’s made her approach noisy on purpose. As she lands, a speck of white falls on his nose, and he wrinkles it. Hrm. Snow.
“You always have the best hiding spots,” she says, softly, as she pads across the rooftop to sit next to him. Like that night so many months ago, he’s picked a high spot to rest. It’s been fine so far; the night has been windless, and the cold is tolerable. The hand warmers he’d picked up earlier help.
“I wouldn’t call this hiding,” he manages. More often than not, he has trouble talking to her now, like his tongue is too heavy in his mouth. He can feel her smiling, and his heart seizes. She nudges him with her shoulder as she sits now, and he grumbles, out of show than actual desire. Since her birthday, when they are alone together, she touches him more. A hand on his back, on his shoulder. And now, his hair, as she flicks clots of snow from it. Each time it sends electricity through him.
“Well, call it what you want,” she quips, and turns to look at him. She is in her typical outfit, and he raises his brows.
“I’m not cold. Honest.” She smiles, and he believes her. But he also doesn’t care.
“Come on.” He moves his arm under his cowl, creating a spot for her next to him. He loses the ability to breathe when she, without so much as the slightest bit of hesitation, slips next to him, under his cowl, and presses her side against his. Her skin is chill, but she doesn’t feel cold. Instead, as she settles, she radiates heat. He wills his arm to move. He drops it behind her, his hand on her shoulder. Without being conscious of it, he closes his fingers around the ball of her shoulder, only to feel her ease into him. She rests her head on his shoulder, quite guilelessly.
He waits for a snide comment; a sarcastic comment, something that could have come from Kayama or Yamada. Instead, she sits in silence. When he dares to look over at her face, her eyes are closed, falling snow entangled in her long lashes.
Now is the time, screams his stomach. There is no one to interrupt them.
“Neya-kun,” he starts, surprised that his voice obeys him.
“Lily,” she gently corrects. Then adds, “Yes, Shouta?”
He swallows. Takes a deep breath.
“Lily.” Her name is sweet on his tongue. He wants to scream it from the rooftops, to whisper it as he kisses her forehead, her cheeks, those damnably inviting lips.
“Yes?” She starts to open her eyes now, and before he can stop himself, he clicks his tongue. “Wait.”
She pauses, keeping her eyes closed. Her brows lift, and slowly, so do the corners of her mouth, as she tries to bite back a smile. It’s enchanting.
“You have snow in your eyelashes,” he says, and, with fingers that betray him through minute trembling, he brushes them away. His thumbs linger on her cheeks, and, with her face cradled in his hands, he licks his lips. Her eyes slowly open now, bright gems under the long fringe of her lashes, and he has no words. He leans forward. She stills, save for the steady thrum of her pulse.
He is so close, the tip of his nose brushes against hers. Her breath is warm against his lips.
And directly below them, the streets explode in a hail of fire and screams. He jerks away from her, biting back a swear. Of all nights. Of all times. When he’d finally worked up the nerve -
His blood, so warm not even a second ago, now turns to ice. He sees the reason for the chaos, slipping through black portals.
It's a random Friday update, because the ish is going to hit the fan next week.
This is also a challenge to myself to keep an "arc" to the actual plotted out time frame. I have a tendency to really drag things out (as the Birthday Arc proved x_x), and I don't want to do that moving forward.
Also - can someone help me with this bookmark thing? I'm curious as all get out, because I keep seeing that this fic has a wildly varying amount of bookmarks from the Dashboard and then when I look at the Statistics...(yes, I compulsively check - you love me, you REALLY LOVE ME!)
Chapter 34: Nomu
“After this…” Because there will be an after. There has to be.
He studies you.
“After this,” you start again, “We…uh…we’ve got a few things to talk about, right?” You lift your brows, and you can feel your smile turning more genuine.
“…Yeah.” He smiles back at you. “Yeah. We do.” He leaps from the roof in a swirl of black cloth.
God. Damn. It.
If these things had just appeared a minute later. Okay, well, maybe an hour later. Whatever - this creature had the worst timing. But however indignant you were feeling, the moment you laid eyes on the monstrous being pulling from the portal, all of your personal feelings halted.
Whatever you’ve seen of the Nomu on television pales in comparison to seeing it face to face. A high, keening scream brings you back to the real world. You are here to protect. There are those that depend on you. Aizawa is next to you, his body tense. You feel him take in a shuddering breath, and he presses closer to you. Then, his hands grasp your arms, and he whirls you around to face him fully. You’re so surprised that you can’t register that his lips are hot against yours, a passing fancy, a moment of insanity, before the moment is over. You’re still firmly in his grasp when he speaks. His cheeks are red, but his eyes bore into yours with a fatal certainty.
“I won’t apologize for that,” he starts. His fingers dig into the flesh of your arms, nearly painful. He looks over your shoulder, down at the street. There is a cold fear in him; you can sense it, though he doesn’t say a word. Neither one of you do. “Lily…” he starts again, but his voice crumbles. You say nothing, but dig your fingers into his thick hair. His cheeks are dusted in their familiar stubble, and it prickles against your palms.
“Don’t,” you breathe. Now wasn’t the time. And you weren’t going to say a word. Anything more, to dare, to hope, to dream, was to jinx what was happening, was to set the both of you up for no return.
He says nothing in response, but his eyes close. His head sinks into your hands, and his hair slips through your fingers. His fingers ease from your arms, and suddenly, the night is much colder. He is standing in front of you, prepared to jump down to help those below.
“Wait,” you say, though your voice is struggling.
He looks back at you.
“We need…we need a plan,” you manage, forcing yourself to focus. You remembered the news footage of the aftermath of the attack on UA - the same attack that had hospitalized Aizawa, gave him the scar.
“I will take care of the Nomu.” His voice is flat.
It takes a great effort for you to keep your voice under control when you respond. “Absolutely not,” and the tone that comes from you would have done Rose proud; it’s stern and commanding.
He glares at you.
You glare back.
“I have the means to take on a Nomu,” you say, coolly. “I can transform into whatever the situation calls for. You don’t.” You don’t need to bring up the aftermath of the first attack. You also don’t need to mention that it was due to All Might and the combined efforts of the students to subdue the first Nomu. Fighting your immense fear is a constant battle as you stand here, and waves of nausea grab at your stomach. You haven’t felt this scared in years. You’d rather take on the whole of the Prism Gang than this thing. In theory, you could transform into someone handling the power of All Might, but that was forbidden, a line you told yourself you’d never cross. Only All Might was worthy of being All Might.
When Aizawa looks at you, there is enough passive fury that pokes through your terror of the Nomu. But beneath even that, there is fear. Worry. The force of that look is enough to undo you. There’s too much left unsaid. There’s too much left undone to be facing such a threat.
You can always run, whispers a voice, low in your ear. Run and take him with you. Leave this to another hero.
You shake your head, biting your lower lip. You won’t beat yourself up for having human thoughts. For acknowledging your fear, for being embarrassed that it takes something like this to spur you to finally get closer to admitting how you felt. But that’s not what being a hero is. And in a fleeting moment, you think about the pain of losing your father. And you think about those screaming below you - those people, they are someone’s father, someone’s sister; they belong to someone. And as long as you had breath in your body, you refused to let someone else feel the pain that you had because no one was there to rescue them.
“Get the people out of here,” you say, in a long exhale. “I’m going to keep those things contained. By the time that you get the people out of here safely, that should be enough time to get other heroes here on the scene. The Nomu appeared in this alley and the people are out in the street,” you pointed, tracing a path with your fingertips. “This area rounds off into a cul-de-sac if you keep straight. If I can corral them into going straight, you can take the people out that way,” you point to the right, where the little side street opened into a main road. “But if the Nomu gets out that way, it’s going to cause a lot more damage.”
The fear in Aizawa’s eyes turn them into wavering pools of obsidian. He wants to argue with you. You barrel past it.
He looks back down at the people, and a muscle in his jaw tightens. His eyes waver.
“…Fine. I’ll get them out. It will take me 20 minutes. Can you hold the Nomu off for 20 minutes?”
You nod, with a certainty you don’t feel. And you know he knows it.
“20 minutes, Lily.” He underscores each word with layers of harshness. You smile, though the expression hurts.
He turns to look back at you from where he’s standing on the edge of the roof. “Yeah?”
“After this…” Because there will be an after. There has to be.
He studies you.
“After this,” you start again, “We…uh…we’ve got a few things to talk about, right?” You lift your brows, and you can feel your smile turning more genuine.
“…Yeah.” He smiles back at you. “Yeah. We do.” He leaps from the roof in a swirl of black cloth.
All Might’s power was successful against them in the past. So I need something that has a lot of brute strength. Protection for when it hits back. Something that protects me, but allows me to move quickly.
A figure crosses your mind’s eye. That’s it. That’s what I need to be.
Taking a deep breath, you transform as you leap from the roof. In a hail of flower petal light, your clothes shred, replaced by armor. When you land now, comfortably in the alley, you are a knight in shining armor, broadsword in hand. Your armor is highly polished silver with pink and gold trim. It is light and molds to your body perfectly, a helmet protecting your face and eyes. The Nomu has made slow progress from the alley, lumbering under its immense bulk. Now down on the street can you truly recognize how massive the creature is, and terror tugs at your stomach again. It moves mindlessly, carelessly punching into buildings and smashing streetlights. Grasping a downed power line, it seems to contemplate the crackling wire in its hands, before it pops the live end into its mouth.
You stare, agog.
It chews idly on the power line, drawing electricity into its body, before tossing the now dead wire aside like a weed. Arcs of yellow light dance across its arms before it plunges them into a transformer box on the side of the building. The box explodes in a hail of sparks, and fire leaps from the destroyed metal. The building catches alight as if it were made of straw, so fast that you are momentarily stunned. Shrieks echo from inside of the building, and you move to help them, before a blur in black steps in.
Without so much as a second glance to you, Aizawa darts into the building while the Nomu, still crackling with electricity, plods forward. It’s moving towards the crowd.
You have to stop it.
“Hey!” you yell, and raise your broadsword. The Nomu stops, and looks at you, with empty eyes. There is nothing within them that suggests independent thought or awareness. If the Nomu wasn’t so monstrous, you might have felt pity. The Nomu has no change in expression, but by the way it squares its shoulders, it sees you as a hero. It considers you a threat.
Well, at least you have it’s attention.
With a wordless yell, you rush forward out of the alley and into the street, sword raised. You expect the Nomu to be slower, based on that stupid bulk and dull eyes.
It is not. It attacks with the speed of something three times smaller, and with the strength of a beast five times larger. You’re barely able to block the first blow with the shield you imagine into being, swinging your blade up with all of your might underneath it’s arm. You expect it to sever the limb. Instead, your sword gets stuck half-way through, and the Nomu yowls in pain, striking out at you with its other hand. You can’t dodge. All you can do is throw your arms up to protect your face and chest, and pray that the armor holds.
It does, but barely. Cracks splinter it, and your bracers, built into the armor, shatter, leaving your arms bare. The force of the blow has sent you back several feet, and it’s only because you dug your heels in with everything that you were worth that you’re still standing. You scarcely have time to move your hands before the Nomu is charging again. You leap backwards, the movement not slowed by the armor. Midair, you imagine bracers of the strongest material known to man. Your arms glitter, and in a faint puff of light, the transformation is complete, and your armor reinforced.
You need to get to your sword.
The Nomu is unable to use the left arm where your sword is buried. Ducking under its thrown punch, you hoist yourself onto its leg, and use the additional leverage to yank your sword free. It does, in a hail of blood and gore. Before you can fully land, you’re launching forward in your next attack. You glance to the left arm, and note, in horror, that its healing. The realization throws your aim off, and you’re only able to snap back to reality as the Nomu brings both arms in front of it. You jump back – steal a glance to the black figure at your right. Aizawa has done what you asked: he is herding the passersby to safety. He does not spare a glance to you.
The Nomu snarls, and attacks. There is a moment where its chest is unguarded, and you take it. You drive forward, and with all of your strength, every bit of reinforced muscle that comes with the Knight transformation, you shove the blade deep into its chest. It’s screech of agony makes your teeth ache, and it grabs you between its arms. You do not stop, gritting your teeth as you push in further. The hair on your arms begins to rise. You do not notice it until it’s too late.
Electricity is sent through you, a voltage so high that it whites out your vision and makes you nearly bite your tongue off. The pain is so intense and so sudden that you cannot scream. And all the while, the Nomu is gripping you tighter, crushing your arms into your body. Your grip weakens, and falls away from the blade, your body no longer listening to your brain. When the electricity finally stops, your head lolls forward, and you can barely breathe, let alone think. You are limp, powerless in the Nomu’s arms.
It’s Aizawa’s voice. It’s worried, going ragged at the ends. As much as you would love to close your eyes, rest for just a moment, his voice brings you back. The Nomu’s grip has not loosened on you, but it hasn’t tightened, either. However, the wound in his chest, where your sword is still embedded, is red and raw, bubbling around the edges. If it’s healing, it’s at a significantly lower rate than before. You don’t think; you just do.
You transform again, and the power of your transformation forces open the Nomu’s hands. It shrieks, dropping you – melted numbs where its hands once where. You are back in your “traditional” Honey Trap garb, but this time, you feel different. Electricity sparks from your eyes, and you charge, grabbing the handle of the blade. The Nomu struggles to hold you, to crush you, in handless arms. It doesn’t matter now. You channel every bit of power that you can draw from within yourself and channel it into the handle. Lightning bursts from you, exploding into the Nomu. It goes still, shudders, then falls, its eyes white and dead. You can barely stand, the burst of power from you drained, leaving you at your limit. You are a shell of what you were, your transformation beginning to slip from you in long coils of pink mist.
But the Nomu is done for. This battle, at least, is won.
“Under 20 minutes,” you whisper to yourself, between cracked and bloodied lips. It’s taking every last bit of your will to keep standing, and you know there’s some sort of internal damage. Your mouth tastes like old copper, and when you spit, it’s tinged with blood. Your lungs and throat are screaming at you, and your body is slow to respond to your commands. Though eyes that are desperate to close, you can see that Aizawa has gotten the crowd a safe distance away, far from the street where you managed to defeat the beast. It sounds like they’re cheering - but the noise is a great distance away. Everything looks and sounds and feels so far away, even the pain in your body. It can either mean something really good, or, more realistically, something really bad.
You take a step forward. Then one more. It’s getting harder and easier at the same time. You have to get away from this place. Have to get to Aizawa, to safety.
Odd. He seems to be running towards you. His mouth is moving; he’s shouting. He’s probably worried. Of course he is. But look; you defeated the Nomu! And you’re still, somehow, on your feet, though you’re holding your transformation together out of sheer will. The electricity must have overloaded the choker - that, or calling on the power to transform that one last time did it. It’s putting off mere wisps of energy, enough for you to keep walking, though your body is letting off those long coils of pink mist.
Well, if it fails, and you end up naked, at least Aizawa has that cowl -
Aizawa doesn’t slow down, though he’s closer to you. In fact, his arms are outstretched - he pushes you in a mighty shove that sends you stumbling, falling, to the side. In your weakened state, his shove sends you back a few feet. It’s as you fall you realize with horror that Aizawa was not running to congratulate you. He was running to move you out of the way. Behind you, another portal had opened, and, with it, another Nomu. Its mouth is open, and there is an eerie violet white light there. The light breaks, converges into a beam - and slams into Aizawa.
The attack sends him spiraling across the ground like a rag doll. He slams through debris, trash cans, and only comes to a slow, grinding stop when his back collides with a tree. He collapses bonelessly where he falls.
He doesn’t move.
Now is a good time to remind each and every single one of you that's read this fluff, commented, kudos'ed, subscribed, or even skimmed past it to get to the "good stuff" that I appreciate it past what you guys know.
Chapter 35: Ramen
She will never forgive herself if Honey Trap, her Lily, her baby sister, does not come out of this alive.
You want to scream.
It is a nightmare in living color in front of you. You find the strength to get up. Aizawa is all you can think of. You barely register the high pitched whine behind you, and when you realize what it is, it’s too late.
The Nomu’s laser breath blasts into the square of your back. It is the worst pain you have ever felt. No, past that. Past what you could have imagined in your nightmares, past the excruciating shocks that you have just suffered. The sheer force of it knocks you off your feet and sends you careening into the ground. You don’t know what stops your mad tumble, other than it gives the barest minimum under the force of the blow. You figure that you land high, because you’re dimly aware of falling a few feet before you mercifully hit the unmoving ground.
You lay there, in agony, your head spinning, vision blurred. Your back is an endless scream of white hot pain from where the laser hit you full blast. It takes every bit of your will for you to roll over onto your stomach, holding yourself up on your forearms. Your gloves are partially burned away, the skin beneath reddened and starting to blister. Your stomach protests and rolls; you vomit, retching awfully to the side, tears stinging your eyes and mucus running from your nose. Anything past breathing is torture – simply trying to focus your vision makes you want to cry in misery.
They focus long enough to see Aizawa a few feet away from you.
He’s still, crumpled in on himself, from where he has landed. His left arm is at an unnatural angle, and his face is blossoming in ugly shades of red and violet from bruising.
“Oh no…” The words do not do justice to how your heart falls. His clothing is burnt; his exposed flesh is steaming. You try to move, and injuries that you had not felt before make themselves known.
You look back – from where you've landed, your right leg trails useless behind you, sitting at an odd angle from your hip. Your back, from what you can see, is raw, weeping tissue, the burn so intense that you just feel cold. Through your suit, gashes and cuts mar your skin. Breathing is a knife between the ribs, and you can taste blood at the back of your throat. It doesn’t matter. You have to get to him. Unable to stand on your broken leg, you drag yourself, inch by hellish inch, until you are next to him. You quickly press your fingers to his throat. There’s a pulse, but it’s weak, little more than the fluttering of butterfly wings. It is not much, but it is something.
Behind you, you can hear the high whine of super heated air. The Nomu is preparing its inhuman weapon again, its jaws opening unnaturally wide as a collection of purple-white light forms in its throat. You do not have time to move – and even if you did, you would not leave Aizawa here. Grasping the hilt of your broken sword, you struggle to your knees, and nearly stumble again, the pain from your leg is so acute.
I cannot leave him. I will not leave him.
Your thoughts are cut off as the laser barrels towards you, mercilessly.
It is the last thing you consciously think of.
Rose tilts her face up to the darkened sky, taking in a deep breath. The cold air pricks at the inside of her nose, strokes thin fingers across her cheeks. She exhales, her breath escaping in a dense white fog. Snow is a miracle of the world that she feels that she will never fully get used to.
“Rose?” His voice is nervous; still unaccustomed to the familiarity that she’s somewhat foisted on him. It’s improper, she knows it - she should be calling him ‘sama’, for all of the good he’s done for the city, but who needs to be proper when it’s just two people?
“Mm?” She turns towards the voice, and her smile brightens. He flushes, and rubs at the back of his neck. It’s a nervous tick that warms her heart. They’ve spoken several times on the phone since she spoke at UA, and over those weeks, he’d started to be more confident. He laughed easier, and she was able to goad him away from rehashing events at school, or how Lily and Aizawa still didn’t know what to do with each other. She’s learned much about him, though she has had to fill in the gaps with imagination. More often than not, she’s content just to hear his voice.
“You’ll get cold,” he says, and she smiles wider. He could be referring to her outfit. Though it’s their first “date,” (due to conflicting schedules - even if it was months after her initial offer. As far as she was concerned, the offer didn't have an expiration date), she didn’t want to scare him away by being overly formal. She’d worn a pair of comfortable dark skinny jeans, brown knee-high heeled boots, and an wine red off the shoulder sweater, with a plush purple scarf that Iris knitted for her Christmases ago around her neck. All of this was under a sleek cognac colored motorcycle jacket.
“I don’t mind the cold,” she replies. “Besides, I wanted to look good for tonight.” She doesn’t feel the need to be shy. She’s far too old for coquettish games, and if anyone deserves transparency, it’s All Might.
At her words, his flush deepens. He seems to be eager to make a good impression, though not as open as she is to admitting it. For he is wearing a high mustard yellow turtleneck sweater and black slacks, and from the glimpses of his hands, he’s wearing gloves as well. It’s not the All Might that she’s used to seeing, and finally having a visual to go with the causal man she’s chipped out of the myth is reassuring that she isn’t living in a dream.
“Are you sure you’re fine with ramen?” He’s hesitant; looks to her for reassurance. There is a slight fear in those blue on black eyes that makes her smile warmer. “I would have thought-”
“That I’d only be into 5 star dining?” She mockingly holds her head up high, tilting her nose upward. “Oh, no, this wine won’t do. Go back into the cellar and bring me something that dates back to the French Revolution.”
He blushes, deep red on sunken cheeks.
She laughs, high and easy. “Ramen’s amazing, and I love this place. It’s small and intimate - just where I’d want to be with you.”
He blushes again (although she’s not sure if he’s ever stopped blushing since they’ve met on this street corner), but there is relief in his eyes. They stand there, looking at each other, before he steps closer, and with the awkwardness of a teenage, holds his arm out for her. Touched by the gesture, she loops her arm in his. Though she towers over him naturally (and augmented by her heels), there is nothing uncomfortable about walking with him like this.
It feels like the most natural thing in the world.
To call Tatsuya-men a “restaurant” would be generous by the definitions of most. It’s little more than a hole in the wall, with only two tables and a crammed bar to seat people. The maximum occupancy can’t be more than 10, and that’s only if two of them are children. On this snowy night so close to Christmas, the place is nearly empty. Inside, it is warm, almost suffocatingly so, and the air is thick with the smell of noodles, meat, and garlic. The front of the place is nearly all glass, looking out into the quiet lonely street outside. The streetlights provide further illumination, mingling with the flickering lights of the TV bolted to the top right hand corner of the bar. Inside, the radio plays, nearly forgotten.
It’s into this little hole that Rose easily leads Toshinori into. A bored cook, absently watching TV from the bar, glances up as the bells chime above the door. Recognizing Rose, his sleepy expression melts into wakefulness.
“Midorikawa-san, how many times have I said it? Just ‘Rose,’ please.”
“Ah, age makes me forgetful,” the cook says, his smile creasing his face into a sea of wrinkles. Beside her, Rose can feel Toshinori looking around the place. Midorikawa’s pleasant eyes fall on Toshinori, and the wizened hero tenses. She unhooks her arm from his to take his hand, and lace her fingers through his. She gives him a reassuring squeeze, and just as quickly as she’d taken his hand, she lets go.
“This is,” she starts, but Toshinori finishes for her.
“Yagi Toshinori,” he inclines his blonde head, and, surprising her, takes her hand back into his. This time, she can feel herself blushing, and she has to stop herself from laughing. Midorikawa has seen it all, and his smile is as pleased as the cat that ate the canary.
“Well, now,” he says, adopting a more formal tone, “As you are honored guests, please, sit wherever you like.” Midorikawa gestures grandly to the lonely tables and quiet bar, and Rose allows herself to laugh.
“Isn’t this a treat!” She gently pulls Toshinori to the bar. Letting go of his hand, she adjusts herself as she sits, unzipping her jacket and draping it across the empty stools next to her. The bar’s meant to seat 5, but with how she’s chosen, Toshinori would have to sit next to her, or risk being crammed uncomfortably against the wall. Toshinori looks briefly at the seat next to her, then the one close to the wall, and without a moment’s hesitation, sits himself next to her. Their bodies jostle against one another. Beneath his turtleneck sweater, she can feel how gaunt he is, and her heart pains her. She reaches for his hand again, a bit more discreetly under the bar. She flounders blindly, then, contact. He's taken off his gloves. His skin is crepe paper over what feels to be hollow bird bones, knobby and rough at the joints. He looks at her, mildly startled, then, he smiles. His fingers link through hers again.
Rose gets the feeling that Toshinori is not typically kind to himself. He picks at his food, and it’s only when she exclaims how good her bowl is, how the gyoza melt in her mouth, how crisp the edamame is, that he allows himself more than a few cursory bites. What she’s thrilled to discover is that he can be coaxed into eating a bit more when she feeds him herself. It’s little more than the broth from the ramen, but it’s something.
She’s in the process of slurping her own noodles when the quiet murmur of the TV cuts into the alarm of breaking news. A bead of sweat runs down the back of her neck, and she chokes down the rest of her mouthful. As the news unfolds, it quickly becomes noise, with only certain words floating to the surface - Nomu, Attack, Heroes, Eraserhead, Honey Trap! Words give way to images. She sees the horror of Eraserhead taking the Nomu blast; watches as he crashes into a tree and doesn’t move. She is helpless as she sees her sister fall prey to the same attack. She forces herself to watch as a broken Honey Trap struggles to her feet.
Then, as she is praying to whatever will answer her, as she is plumbing her deep reserves of strength, as she’s standing, ready to go to her sister’s side though she hasn’t been a hero in decades, though all she wanted to do was stop fighting - a miracle happens. It happens in a blessing of bright pink light that dissolves into sheer white, and then, there is her sister. Lily, as Honey Trap, has ceased to be. She has been transformed into a being of pure light and power: the Nomu with its deadly laser is nothing compared to it.
Though Honey Trap moves almost too fast for the eye to follow, Rose is familiar with this transformation, and her emotions rise in her throat. She is proud, she is relieved, she is overjoyed, but she is troubled, and she knows that she’s let her sister down by pushing her back into this life. It is a guilt that carves merciful lines on her heart - she will never be able to forget this. She will never forgive herself if Honey Trap, her Lily, her baby sister, does not come out of this alive.
The Nomu pauses; it senses danger within its addled mind. The pause is enough to give Lily the opening she needs. She moves as if she is uninjured, and from her hands, white light coalesces into shining gold talons, three, foot long curved blades on each hand. She tears through the Nomu’s chest in a hail of light and gore.
Dimly, she can hear Toshinori calling to her. His voice is a great ways away, drowned out by a high pitched ringing where the scenes of the TV are converging into a blurred mess. She is faintly aware of the pitch of the newscaster’s voice rising in horror, then, in jubilation, as the realization that the Nomu is truly dead sinks in. The crowd bursts into mindless applause, chanting, cheering - the camera zooms in on tearstained faces and running noses and those who cannot do little more than laugh as their world has come this close to collapsing in, and yet, they're alive.
Lily, disguised in blinding white light, her gaze somewhere in the distance, steps from the shattered body of the Nomu. The light flickers, and eases away from her in long trails of starlight. She falls - a hero is instantly there beside her, covering what must be her bare body from the cameras. Rose squints; it’s Present Mic that has her cradled close, his black leather clad body protectively over Lily's.
Reality snaps back with vibration in her pocket. With numb fingers, she reaches for it. She catches Nezu across the screen. She swallows. Her sister will be all right. Rose believes it, deep within her heart. She takes in a deep breath. She won’t be of help to anyone if she can’t pull herself together.
“Hello?” Her voice is distant to her ears, but she is sure of it. She looks at the angered face of Toshinori, his hands balled into fists, shaking, the steam that struggles to come from his body. And she places a hand on his shoulder, and eases her love into him. He blinks, dazed, looking at her hand, then her face. Though she knows she’s crying, she finds the strength to smile at him.
Sorry about the delay on this! I was going one place with this, re-read it, decided that I didn't like it, and re-wrote it.
Chapter 36: New Year's
The aftermath of the Nomu attack means that some priorities have changed.
Time passes very slowly in the hospital. It’s broken up by your students and family visiting, but after visiting hours are over (and no amount of arguing from Iris can change the times), you’re left alone with your thoughts. They’re better than sleeping. Though the painkillers and various cocktails of drugs that you’re on help ease you into sleep, they do nothing for the nightmares.
You suspect only intensive therapy will help with those.
For now, the focus is on mending your body. Honestly, when Recovery Girl was telling you everything that was wrong, you’d spaced out. The only thing that registered was that you weren’t as hurt as you should have been.
“And for that matter, neither was Aizawa,” Recovery Girl had said, looking at your startled expression with a grandmotherly warmth.
“Is he…?” You couldn’t bring yourself to finish. You hadn’t seen him since the attack. As much as you’d wanted to, there was no way you could leave the bed. One of the more grievous injuries had been your right leg. It was dislocated at the hip, and though it somehow reset itself, the strain to the muscles and tendons on your leg required considerable amount of healing time. It seemed for the next month or so, you’d be in intensive physical therapy to get back up to speed.
“He’s mending well,” Recovery Girl finished, with that same warm smile. Sorrow crossed into her eyes. “But he’s going to be out of it for quite a while. I believe you’ll be out before him.”
He’s alive. And he’s healing. That was all that mattered.
To your left, the TV was counting down. Your gaze was glued to the window across from your bed. In mere seconds, it would be the new year. Hardly seemed to matter, considering that you probably weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Day by day, though, you seemed to be getting stronger. And in that time alone, between being babied by your class and your sisters, you practiced getting out of the bed on your own. The first time, the pain had been so bad that you nearly fainted. Now, you could manage a few steps - from your bed to the window and back, but only if you took your time and focused on your breathing. Progress was progress, and you knew that Recovery Girl would have a fit if she knew you were trying to move even this soon.
What was once a mystery now was understood.
It’d happened years ago - when that mission had gone sideways with your sisters. When you saw Iris and Rose defeated. It was like something in you had simply snapped - and consciousness had faded away. It was the exact same thing. In the moment, all you knew was how you felt, and then, some unconscious thing bloomed inside of you, drawing from this immense store of power that you hadn’t even begun to think that you had, and then…magic. Of course, it’d come up while your sisters were there. Rose had explained what she saw on the news broadcast, and proposed her own theory - one, surprisingly enough, that Iris had only silently agreed with.
“It’s a double transformation,” Rose had ventured, probing the inside of her mouth with her tongue. “For lack of a better word to describe it. It comes with some healing capacities. It’s probably why you were able to defeat the Nomu, and why Aizawa wasn’t as injured.” Rose’s voice dropped as she looked unflinchingly into your eyes. “He should have died, Lily. You should have died.”
Her hands moved to clasp yours. She was fighting back tears, and the tip of her nose was red. “But you didn’t. It’s because of that transformation. It’s because of how you feel, what awakens inside of you-”
“You get motivated by love,” Iris finished, and for once, there was no sarcasm in her voice. “That’s the best I can think of it.”
“Love…” You’d trailed off then. You knew your cheeks were burning, but you didn’t care. You were tired of dancing around this unspoken space for the past few months. You knew how you felt. “Yeah,” you simply said. Your shoulders had instantly dropped. Now that it was out in the open, breathing came that much easier. And the fact that you’d kept it quiet for so long seemed so, so stupid.
“It’s a miracle,” Rose added, quite simply, her eyes sparkling and mysterious. “There’s nothing more to it than that,” and she leaned over, kissing your forehead. Her lips exuded a calm warmth that flooded your body, and deep down, you could feel it, that little flicker, the spark that you knew could be kindled into a flame for those who meant the most to you. The power that you knew would always be there for you to protect the ones you loved.
Now, with her forehead touched to yours, you smiled. You could feel her energy pour into you, slipping into your cells, filling your blood vessels. And, as you exhaled, feeling like you were floating, you felt Iris’s cheek against your own, and her own vibrant energy lap crackle against you, electricity that made the hair rise on your arms. Closing your eyes, caught between the two of them, the world slowed, settled, and, finally, blissfully, stopped.
As the countdown on the TV wound down, you turned your eyes eagerly to the dark sky. A few lone fireworks popped against the sky in glittery flowers, but it wasn’t time for the main event. Not yet. And you wanted to be closer to the window when it happened. Wincing, you slowly turned in bed, and moved so that your legs hung over the edge. You’d have to take it easy - but you could do it. You had to. Biting down on your lower lip, you let go, and took in a deep, steadying breath. Slowly, as your feet came into contact with the cool floor, you closed your eyes and steeled yourself. Thought about what you wanted to see when you got to the window, and, deep down, about the resolution you wanted to make.
You took it slow. You were getting better; you could feel it. Now, the pain only started to set in when you’d finally gotten to the window. Supporting yourself on the window still, you smiled at your faint reflection, at the sweat beaded on your forehead. It had been hard, but it wasn’t impossible. And if you kept working on it, you were going to get better.
As the countdown reached one, the sky shook, and sparked alight in fireworks. Red, gold, white - the lights of the city were drowned out, awash in the glittering reflections of the sky.
“This year,” you whispered against the glass, watching as your breath fogged it, “I’m going to tell him.” You smiled, and rested your cheek against the cold glass.
Sorry about the wonky upload schedule on this one! I actually had a bit of writer's block with this section. It's a bit shorter, but I think it works!
Also - OVER TEN THOUSAND VIEWS I'M SHOOK.
Chapter 37: Spring
Aizawa's come to a conclusion. And some stuff happens.
Gets a little risqué - you've been warned!
Aizawa’s stay in the hospital has not been all bad - once he was able to take visitors, not a day passed without someone coming by: his students, Kayama, Hizashi, All Might, Lily.
At first sight of her, he wants to berate himself - though her smile is sunny as ever, she’s been injured. She’s using crutches, leaning heavily on them, and every time she moves her arms, no matter how gingerly, she can barely disguise her winces of pain. To watch her hobble from the doorway to his bed is watching a silent testament of agony. By the time she makes it to his bedside, there is sweat on her forehead, and her cheeks are flushed. Though she is not hurt as badly as himself, it doesn’t matter. They were together, and she was injured, enough to be in the same hospital, to have stayed as long as he has.
“How bad?” Was the first thing he managed to croak out to her, cutting through any trivialities about the weather or the news. Her face falters, and she catches her bottom lip between her teeth. When her eyes dart to the side of the room before landing on him again, he knows it’s bad.
“Permanent scarring,” she says, in a voice too light to be natural. “Across my back and arms.” She looks as if she should feel self conscious about these things, but isn’t. “My leg’s going to be back up to snuff in a few more weeks - maybe a few months?” She shrugs and scrunches up her nose impishly, like she’s describing a mild annoyance. “But, hey, we’re alive, right?” She reached over and lightly brushed hair away from his forehead.
“…Yeah.” He mutters it. She’s right, but it hardly matters. He failed her. All else seems trivial. She visits more than others, sometimes with her sisters, but mostly by herself. And in those weeks, his guilt is lightened slightly by the fact that she’s visibly getting better. He knows she’s being discharged soon when the crutches go, replaced by a cane. Her last day, she comes and sits with him, words tucked into the corner of her mouth. They sit in silence for a long while, after empty conversation of how he’s doing, how well he’s healing, and then, finally, whatever she’s been sitting on is far too much to bear.
Will she be the first to say it?
It can’t be that way. He has to be the first. He has to let her know all that he’s thought over these past months, no, year. All he’s dreamt about since he’s been here - what gets him through the nightmares, what keeps him fighting through the pain towards wellness. Why he put himself here to begin with.
She begins, and he stops her.
“When I’m out,” he says, simply. She looks surprised; hurt. It’s enough to make him want to spill everything then and there. But now isn’t the time. It needs to be better. They need to be somewhere entirely to themselves, somewhere he can spend as long as he wants with her. When she looks like she wants to speak again, her cheeks flushed, her eyes shining unnaturally bright, he shakes his head, slowly, though the action is agonizing, and tenses the new skin grafts on his back.
“When I have all the time in the world with you.” He looks at her eyes now, and the surprise is still there, but it’s no longer hurt. She closes her eyes, and fat tears escape from the fringe of her eyelashes. She smiles, though it’s shaky.
“I’m going to hold you to it.”
The cherry blossoms have bloomed and withered by the time he’s released from the hospital. He would have stayed longer, save for his own irritating insistence that he needed to be out, needed to get back to work.
And still, there never seems to be the right time. By the time he’s back to school, still bandaged up, moving stiffly, Lily has returned as well. She doesn’t have the cane anymore, though if she moves too swiftly, she favors her right leg. Probably temporary; he can’t imagine anything keeping her back. The fact that she’s healed this much from the little he’s seen is impressive.
He’s asked no one about how severely she was injured.
And more time passes. It moves much slower now, and spring is starting to give way to the sweltering heat of summer. His bandages are off, and he’s back on patrols, though it’s limited. Beneath his cowl and shirt, he keeps his back bandaged up. The grafts are taking well, though his back is still a mottled patchwork of flesh. He’s been reassured that in time, the differences will fade, but it doesn’t matter. Aizawa’s not a vain man.
On his second time out, Lily joins him. The silence between them now is overfull; fit to burst. A summer sky heavy with rain. He can’t let her be the first to say anything, and he waits, impatiently now, for an opportunity. He needs this. Now that life has returned to close to normal, that the fear of death is no longer nipping at his heels, he has to say something. That this second Nomu attack was more frightening than the first. That the thought of losing her was the most terrifying thing in the world. And still, with all of this pushing from him, he still cannot quite find the strength to let it out, though it’s near ready to kill him.
He tries - but is distracted. Below them, two robbers burst from a convenience store. There’s no time to do anything but act. He and Lily leap into action, and for a while, it seems as nothing has changed. Then he sees it. She flinches now at any blow that possibly comes her way. She’s not sure on her feet. She’s slower, though still expects herself to move at the same speed as before. The skirmish continues as the robbers try to flee up a flight of stairs on a neighboring building. Though he and Lily chase after them without hesitation, it takes far longer than he would have wanted for the burglars to be subdued.
After the police take them away, Aizawa is left alone with Lily on the staircase.
“You don’t have to say it,” she says, and laughs, the sound rippling through with tears. “I…”
She takes a step back. It’s on her unsteady right leg, and, for a few hellish seconds, her arms flail. She’s going to fall. It wouldn’t be far - just the few inches to the curb, but it’s enough. He dashes forward. He grips the front of her costume, right above that forever tantalizing gap across her breasts, and pulls her towards him. He doesn’t ease his grip once she’s steady on her feet. He doesn’t give her time to speak.
He kisses her hard, desperately. He parts his lips from hers long enough for him to suck in air, and then seals them together again. He cannot stop. He grasps the sides of her face in his hands, her cheeks so soft under his calloused palms, and pulls her deeper into him. Her surprise makes her stiff, clumsy, and then he can feel it – she melts. Her returning kisses match his. He can feel her emotions pouring into him, long restrained. She is as desperate and as eager as he, with a rich surfeit that comes from an emotion he does not have the words for. Not to accurately describe the burning, fluttering, weakness within his chest. Their lips part long enough for them to gasp out a few words.
He doesn’t remember how they were able to hold it together long enough to get back to her little apartment, though rather than the door, he recalls them slipping through the window. Once they’re inside, it’s as if no time has passed.
They stumble across her messy floor, over piles of clothing and shoes. They stop, briefly, when they trip over a chair and fall, entangled within each other, onto the bed. He is on top of her, her face still cradled in his hands. Her fingers are tangled within his dark hair.
He sits up, precariously balancing on top of her. He doesn’t want to stop. A part of him that he barely keeping under control as his heart pounds against his ribcage, will completely wither if he has to stop. He looks down at her, his eyes pleading. He doesn’t see her respond as so much feels it – her fingers tighten slightly in his hair, she adjusts beneath him. Her response allows him tenderness, and when he kisses her again, it lasts for a long, long time.
Does this count as a confession, or nah?
Chapter 38: Lavender
“When did you know? That it was love, I mean?”
Features some male nudity / description of male nudity, so, you know. Might wanna beware?
When you awake, it’s still night. Yellow orange light spills through your open window, teasing long, strange shadows from the familiar objects in your room. The night is balmy, and your skin is sticky. As you stir, you realize that you are alone in bed. A part of you is not surprised. Aizawa is too committed to his patrols, to being a hero, to have stayed. You don’t fault him for it. The love bites he has tenderly sucked into bloom on your neck sting as sweat trails across them.
You sit up in bed, and something within the darkness stirs. You snap to alertness, about to transform – and you realize that it’s Aizawa. He’s sitting at your coffee table, a pen and sticky notes in front of him, his line of sight directly on you. He is still naked, and makes no move to cover himself.
“I thought you’d left.” The words carry more relief than you’re comfortable in conveying. You’re both adults. You both know what the score is. You cannot ask more of Aizawa; refuse to. You knew that going into this, whatever this might be to him.
You’ve underestimated him. A pang of hurt crosses his features, before they settle back into the deadpan you’re so familiar with. “Why would I leave?” It’s less of a question than an accusation.
“Patrols. Heroing.” You respond in turn, conciliatory. You hadn’t meant to insult him; just to show that you understood. That you didn’t want to be a burden on his life.
A muffled snort from him. He’s forgiven you; finds your anticipation of his actions amusing.
“This was more…” He stops. You don’t press him to continue. “It’s hot in here.”
“It’s humid,” you correct, slipping from under the sheets. In the faint light from outside, you can see more love bites creeping round your thighs, your stomach, your breasts, each mark placed with deliberate care. His eyes drift over your body, stopping momentarily to focus on a love bite on your stomach, then your thigh. He doesn’t have to say a word for you to know that he’s pleased with his handiwork. You smile, standing up. “Why didn’t you get something to drink?”
You pad lightly over to him. Moving soundlessly is too engrained in you for you to stop now. He doesn’t move, but watches you with a dull interest. A sheepish expression starts to tug on his mouth, but he straightens it out. His silence speaks volumes.
“You know, you’re more than welcome to go through my fridge if you need something to eat or drink,” you say, opening the fridge door.
“Didn’t want to wake you.” He’s settled by your words, using hospitality as a cover. That’s fine with you.
“I’m a pretty solid sleeper, most of the time.” You take two glasses from the cabinets, and pour lavender lemonade into both glasses. Iris had found the recipe; Ren had perfected it. Once Ren heard it was your favorite, he made you a carafe every time you visited. You hold a glass out to Aizawa. He stands, and you can’t help the trajectory of your eyes. You look at him from the top of his head to his feet, as if his body is a new thing to you. He is long, lean lines, jagged scars, and pale flesh, with a smattering of dark hair at the top of his chest and a thicker nest at the juncture of his thighs. His phallus lays semi-tumescent against his thighs, still slightly glistening. His thighs are corded with lean muscle, and dusted with fine black hair. Looking at them is enough to bring back the feeling of being between them, of having them flex beneath you.
He takes the glass from you, and drinks deeply. You lean against the kitchen counter, sipping from your own glass. It’s silly, how nonchalant the two of you are, completely naked, drinking lemonade as if it were a mere social call, and not in the wake of intense lovemaking.
“I’m sorry,” he says, as he finishes the glass.
“For?” You set your empty glass on the counter.
“This.” He tosses the glass aside, and takes you into his arms again. The sound of it shattering sounds far away.
When your eyes flutter open again, it is broad daylight. The humidity of your room has grown to stifling heat, but you’re loathe to move from your blankets. They are redolent of him - and, to your surprise, he is still in bed beside you. He’s awake, and appears that he has been for quite a while.
“I thought you were going to get some rest.” You hope that the relief doesn’t sound as loud in your voice as it does to your ears. You weren’t expecting him to stay, and, as the night before, you would have been fine with it. He was who he was.
“I love you.” He says it suddenly, hurriedly. He swallows, and his Adam’s apple bobs, a sharp angle against the smooth flesh of his throat. “I love you,” he repeats, much slower this time, enjoying the words. He reaches out, and brushes the back of his hand gently against the side of your cheek. “Sorry it took me so long.”
“Mmm, I sort of like you,” you say, and you wished you had taken a picture of his face. Laughing, you lean forward, capturing his lips with yours. He tastes of lavender lemonade and sleep, and you only break the kiss when you feel his body ease into yours.
“I love you too. And I should have said something ages ago.” You press your forehead against his. “Hopefully we can be more open moving forward. I really don’t want to almost die to get to the point where I tell you how I feel.”
You’re not sure if Aizawa is truly capable of laughing, but the sound he makes is probably the closest you’re going to get to it from him. He kisses the tip of your nose, your cheek, then your lips. You run your fingers through his hair, and sigh, content.
“Nope.” He flashes you that toothy grin that has meant doom for many a student. It’s boyish and charming - and loses quite a bit of its sting when he’s completely naked. Not that you were complaining. Slinging a leg over his thin hip, you can feel the heat of his groin against yours, and you know the two of you aren’t quite down with each other yet. He responds favorably, pressing back into you, his eyes starting to hood over. He kisses the lobe of your ear, then your jaw, each kiss slipping from inquisitive to demanding.
“Hey,” you ask, heat beginning to fill you. You don’t have much more time before this goes its natural course, nor do you want to delay the inevitable (and much desired).
“Mmm?” It’s a dreamy sound from him, and you can feel his voice rattling against your throat.
“When did you know? That it was love, I mean?” You don’t truly need to know, but you’re curious.
He’s quiet, and before the silence gets to you, his mouth leaves your neck, and he shifts in the bed beside you. He reaches down and gently moves your leg, and presses you back down on the bed. He cups the sides of your face in his palms, and looking into your eyes, gives you an impish smile.
And when he kisses you again, he makes it quite clear that the time for questions is over.
WHY NOT A DOUBLE UPDATE.
Because my schedule has been a little insane (still going through some stuff in the real world, but guys, you all have been wonderful and amazing and adjectives upon adjectives), I wanted to make it up to all of you guys by doing a double post!
What a wild ride it's been, y'all. I cannot get over how many views this story has. I just can't. So thank you. Thank you all.
Chapter 39: Take Good Care of My Heart
Though the night is cold, the future is uncertain, he is warm now. And that’s all that matters.
She doesn’t expect softness from him. He wants to give it to her, desperately, and he is grateful that she does not attempt to dig it from him. Her presence is soothing; encourages warmth from him. He allows himself gentleness with her: a lingering caress of her hand, or moving loose hair away from her neck. He kisses her rarely, and only when they are alone. He has good reason for this. Their time is short, and the feel of her lips against his sparks a hunger that he scarcely knows how to control. It is a sensation that fills him with fear – the knowledge that it must end, that all things must end. He wishes for nothing more for them to have eternity together, the two of them, in a place beyond the cities and roles and teaching. It is one of the few selfish desires he allows himself to entertain.
More than anyone, he knows he is treasured by her. It is a feeling that he is at an utter loss with how to deal with. He is not sure how to express to her that he is entirely within her hands, that he cannot imagine a life without her now that she is there.
When he reaches his hand out for hers, and her fingers lace through his, and she turns her head to smile at him, he is comforted. In the touch of her hand, he senses that she knows. That he will never have to try and shove all of his feelings into a few useless words. She leans over and kisses his cheek, and whispers in his ear the words that mean so much, but still do not come close to conveying everything that he feels for her. He knows that for her, the words barely scratch the surface of the depth of her emotions for him. They emanate from her, a heated energy that she draws from. It is wonderous, watching her, like watching the birth of a star system. She does all things through her immense love.
And he is now part of that.
He allows himself to return the gesture, turning to press his lips to her cheek. His stubble is rough against the silk of her skin, and he can feel her laugh. Though the night is cold, the future is uncertain, he is warm now. And that’s all that matters.
Chapter title from the song, "Take Good Care of My Heart" by Whitney Houston and Jermaine Jackson.
We're in the home stretch - and I still cannot get over everyone's comments, kudos, bookmarks, subscriptions. I've honestly wrestled with myself on how to end this, if I should end it, because it's, so far, the most popular thing I've written here, and you guys have been so fucking fantastic about everything that it's hard to want to turn the page on this. But, realistically, I started this as a series of drabbles, and along the way, the story evolved - and after that, I don't think there's too much else left to say.
You guys and this story have helped me through some really rough times - I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety, and while I'm getting intensive treatment for it, some days are much harder than others. There have been days where updating has been a struggle, days where I hate absolutely everything I've written and thought about quitting, because, hey, who cares, this is fan fiction, no one takes this seriously. And every single time I get that low, someone has left a comment, or bookmarked, or kudos'ed the fic, just little things, and it turns my day around. I have cried ugly (happy, though!) tears over some of the stuff you guys have written. It helped push me - "Okay, at least one other person likes this - don't you owe it to at least yourself to finish this?" And here we are, one step away from the finish line.
I wish that I had the words to accurately convey how grateful I am. And I really don't. Your comments and support have made a really trying time (with light at the end of the tunnel, though!) manageable. To quote Sky High from Tiger and Bunny: "Thanks, and Thanks Again!"
Chapter 40: Lover For Life
This, I hear, is the end.
He wakes you with his lips against your forehead. No matter how deeply you’re asleep, his breathing always spurs you to wakefulness. When you open your eyes, the room is still dark, dawn threatening the edges of the sky.
“I didn’t expect to see you tonight.” Your voice is rough, fogged by sleep.
His mouth twitches upwards in the approximation of a smile.
“Come on,” you pull the blanket and sheets aside.
“Dirty,” he grumbles.
“Sweaty.” He’s taking off his boots.
“Still don’t care.”
“Smelly.” His cowl is off. He unbuckles his pants.
“Oh, well, that’s the deal breaker right there.”
He doesn’t laugh. Instead, there is a huffing exhale, quickly muffled as he pulls off his shirt. Backlit, his body is a collection of long lines drawn in street lights. He slides into the bed next to you, his skin chill. You drape an arm, then the blanket, over him. He smells of the street, of dirt and grime and grease, and beneath all of that, sweetness. He’s been wearing one of your perfumes. You can catch faint traces of it lingering on him, sweet and smoky. You’d have to ask him about it later.
“Work today?” His eyes are already closed, his question dulled by the pillow. If he wasn’t facing you, you wouldn’t have heard him.
“Day off, remember? Kunal’s birthday.” You’d put in your request weeks ago.
“Need whole day for that?”
“Yes.” It’s said simply; there’s no room for argument here. Your nephews are planets in the galaxy of your life. You have been there for every milestone, and the idea of missing a birthday is unfathomable.
A pause. His chest is steadily rising and falling, and you smile, thinking that he’s drifted off to sleep. You shift under the bedding, getting comfortable. He slips an arm across the dip of your waist. You feel yourself easing back into sleep. You don’t have to be up for a few hours yet – the party being mid-day.
Aizawa’s voice brings you back. “…Come…” The rest is garbled, spoken into the pillow.
“Want…come..” He’s trailing off further, slipping deeper under.
You’re pretty sure you know what he’s asking, and it makes you giddy. One more push, you tell yourself, then you’ll leave it alone.
“What?” It takes a monumental effort to keep excitement from making you loud.
“Want…me…to…come….” It’s labored, and his eyes open into faint slits. Enough for you to see that his focus is on you.
“You don’t have to, but you’re welcome to.” There’s no pressure here; you’re thrilled that he would even consider asking it. It’s rare that your schedules align outside of work for ‘extracurriculars,’ as Nemuri so neatly put it. You were quite sure that he had to teach, and piling on a children’s birthday party on top of a night of patrols and a full day was asking for too much.
“Mmf.” He’s lost to the arms of sleep now. You smile, and kiss his forehead.
When your alarm goes off a few hours later, you’re alone, with no traces of Aizawa having been there. Save for the small box on your bedside table. Squinting, you lean over, reluctant to leave the warmth of your blanket nest. The box is about the size of a credit card, and underneath it is a heart-shaped note from one of your sticky pads. Peeling the note from the table, you’re greeted with Aizawa’s scrawling handwriting.
Don’t know what to get nephew. Got gift card.
Opening the box, it is indeed a gift card – to the local convenience store chain. You laugh. You’d pick up a card for it on the way there. You’re about to set the card back on the bedside table when you accidentally knock something else over with a small clatter. With an exaggerated groan, you roll to your side in bed, and fumble for whatever it was on the floor. It must have been tucked behind the box, out of view. Finally, your fingers land on what feels to be a laminated package. Grasping it, you lean over, and squint. It’s a lip balm - never opened, and not the brand that you usually buy. Furrowing your brows, you lift it up as you roll onto your back. It’s not your brand, true, but it’s the kind that you’ve humored buying - something something ‘sakura’, with festival pink packaging traced over with cherry blossoms. The texture of the back of the packaging abruptly changes, and you flip it over, curious. Attached is another heart sticky note, complete with Aizawa’s scrawl.
Realized I never gave you this for your birthday. Sorry.
You laugh again, and begin to carefully unwrap the lip balm. So what if you already were in the process of using one? A girl could never have too many lip balms.
He’s exhausted, but he has to get this done today. He knows that she’ll understand on his missing out the party - that’s one of the many things he loves about her, how much she understands. Granted, she’s a hero in her own right, and should be as busy as him, but since the Nomu attack all those months ago, she’s been far more cautious. She’s active, but exceedingly conscious of her family. In those months, he’s had time to actually meet them - and finds that he actually enjoys their presence much more than he initially thought that he might have. There’s family dinners on a biweekly basis. Rose, despite her job title, is more of a present figure than he imagined at them - and, on more than one occasion, so was All Might. Aizawa was quite astonished when the first initiation to one came not from Lily, but from Iris.
He thought about calling Iris, actually, before he started this whole endeavor, then decided against it. This was something he had to do on his own.
And so he started at the usual big name places, names that he’d heard Nemuri and Mt. Lady speak about in passing, the names that were familiar from magazines and commercials. Tiffany’s. Cartier. Chanel. Hermes. He’d expected the eye watering prices, and not once did he bat an eye, no matter how ridiculous they seemed. Lily was worth it.
But the problem was he couldn’t find anything that seemed to be worthy of her. Diamond band after diamond band, white gold, yellow gold, platinum, rose gold, solitaire cuts; nothing made him think of her, let alone sent the impression that this bauble was a physical manifestation of how he felt.
To be fair, he thought, slurping down ramen at a local booth, there’s probably nothing out there that can match how I actually feel. But rather than be discouraged, he figures that it’s time for him to dig in harder. He finishes the bowl, wipes his mouth, and stands. He’s still got a few hours. With the big names out of the way, he thinks it should be easier.
Night is settling over the city, and most shops are beginning to close. He’s not just exhausted; he’s frustrated. He didn’t think it’d be this hard - he knew what he wanted. It had to be a heart, because he couldn’t see one without thinking of her, and it had to be silver, because that’s how she looked under the moonlight during midnight patrols, and maybe the stone could be blue, like the waters of the aquarium, when he first knew. But sapphires didn’t come close, and aquamarines were too pale.
Aizawa looks up at the straggling stars through the city light, and huffs. His feet are beginning to throb, and the thought of bed is growing too strong to ignore. This was the last shop on his list - a place that specialized in loose gem stones and settings. If they didn’t have it…He sucks in a deep breath. If they don’t have it, he’ll just have to start over, even with the pressure of time on him. The Nomu attack has proven all too well that their time is uncertain. He doesn’t want to let more months slip past him without him being completely honest.
It’s a few days later that you receive the call from Aizawa. It comes as a surprise; he seems to hate the phone. As infrequent as his texts are, his calls are even rarer. He has, however, gotten into the habit of leaving you notes around your place using sticky notes. Simple things like, “Gone to get onigiri,” “Iris came by,” and “It’s under the bed” have become love notes.
“Is everything all right?” You try not to sound panicked.
“Fine,” he says, flat as ever. “Do you have plans Sunday?”
“No,” you trail off, curious. This sounded an awful lot like a date, and Aizawa didn’t do dates. Not that you were complaining; when your schedules did line up, it was typically a quiet night at home, usually with one of you falling asleep on the other. “Why?”
“Let’s go to the aquarium.”
“Huh. Any reason why?” Admittedly, neither one of you were “people” people - and going out to intermingle with crowds wasn’t the most appealing thing. If you were going to get out, though, the aquarium would be the reason.
“No.” There’s nothing in his voice that sounds like he has an ulterior motive. “I thought you liked the aquarium.” No change in his voice that suggests being offended. So, you shrug.
“So there’s no problem,” he nearly cuts you off. “Meet me there Sunday for noon.”
You chuckle. “Sunday at noon it is.”
His palms are sweating. He’s shaved again, but decided against wearing a suit. That would be all too obvious. He keeps checking his pocket; feeling the reassuring weight of the ring there. He decided against a box; it would have been too obvious. No one would think anything of him touching his pocket now and then.
Aizawa feels as if he’s been standing in front of the aquarium for hours before Lily shows up, though realistically, he’s only been there about 30 minutes. He arrived early - knew he’d arrived early, and though Lily is punctual to a fault, he didn’t want to risk the most minuscule possibility that she would arrive before him.
“Shouta!” she calls out to him, and when he turns, the world slows.
He’s seen her in various states of dress and undress; there isn’t a part of her body that he isn’t familiar with. And yet, here she is, in a simple sun dress and floppy straw hat, and it’s enough to take his breath away.
He’s faintly aware that she’s been speaking for a few minutes before sound returns to the world.
“You okay?” Her tone is concerned. Though his back has largely healed, she still frets over it. Not that he can complain about that - he does the same thing for her with her right leg.
“Fine. Let’s go.” He takes a few steps ahead and stops. Holds his hand out behind him. And hopes that she doesn’t notice how sweaty his hands still are when her fingers slip through his.
He’s down on one knee, and your brain shorts out. The beluga whales swim about the two of you in the room, pale phantoms.
He has a ring clutched tightly in his right hand, and he seems to look everywhere but at you. Then, with a monumental effort, he pulls his eyes back to yours. They are unguarded, shining. He’s unsure, but steadfast.
“Will you…” He trails off. He doesn’t need to finish. Sunlight catches the ring just right, and you notice that the main stone is a heart shaped rainbow obsidian, flanked by apatite. Apatite gives way to rainbow moonstone. It's a strange twist of fate that the light in the aquarium shifts, and brings out the true design. The blue and white stones mimic the flow of ocean waves, with the moonstone serving to be the foam of the water. It's heart-stoppingly beautiful.
You drop to your knees in front of him, and pull him close. Your forehead bumps into his, and his hair is a silk curtain.
“Yes. A million times.”
You don't have to see his face to know he's smiling.
He stands, his hands clasped tightly in front of him. Hizashi’s next to him; his best man. And the blonde is struggling to hold tears back, sniffling loudly. Aizawa can’t find it within himself to be annoyed; though he’ll never admit it, he’s touched by Hizashi’s feelings. Hizashi is not alone - on the other side of the aisle, Nemuri keeps looking at the ceiling in a last ditch effort to hide her tears. Her cheeks are flushed, and she quickly, discreetly, wipes her palms on the front of the pale pink bridesmaid dress. Just her being in the wedding is another reason to love Lily. Rather than have one maid of honor, Lily has split the distinction between Rose and Iris - both in sleeveless gold gowns. Rose is a queen missing her tiara; Iris, nothing less than a proud mother.
And when the wedding march actually starts, and the audience, full of family, friends, and students (he'd initially thought to protest it - then, during home room one day, realized that he didn't have the heart to deny the students he cared so much for. So they were all invited. And Lily wouldn't think of not inviting her class - and so the guest list ballooned from there), turn to face the bride, Aizawa fights the urge to cry. He knows he’ll never live it down if he does.
Lily is a vision in white, her translucent veil held in place with a meticulously woven crown of roses, lilies, and irises. Her bouquet is a collection of blush colored roses, tangled with long trails of jasmine. Her gown is a frothing mass of white, intricate wave patterns woven through with silver thread. All Might holds her arm, leading her down the aisle. Though he is not in his muscular form, he beams with as much pride and joy as if he were ten years younger. Though it is unorthodox, All Might is the one that lifts her veil. He whispers a few words to her, and kisses her cheek. She beams at him, and already, tears are running down her cheeks.
When she turns to face Aizawa, her veil blossoming around her head, a silver corona, he allows himself to finally shed the tears, teasing be dammed. Her ring, the one that just begins to come close to express how he feels, glitters from her hand, in the same light, the same frequency, as the sparkle from her choker. Through his tears, he has to smile a little. Of course she'd be wearing her choker. He'd put money on the fact that she was using her Quirk to create this dress, citing that it would be ridiculous to spend so much on a wedding dress when she could literally wear anything that she wanted with ease.
Life would never be without its fights, and he has no idea what tomorrow will hold for them. But as long as he has this, right now, then it’s more than enough. And when she reaches for his hand, he knows that his life is full.
And that, they say, is that.
Thank you again for everyone who has read, commented, kudos'ed, bookmarked, or even skimmed this story. I've said it a million times before, and I still mean it. Writing this has helped me through a lot of personal upheaval, and it's with a bit of bittersweetness that I end it. You guys have no idea how much and how helpful your support has been - think of this as a giant, digital hug from me to you. :)
Plus Ultra to the end. <3 <3 <3
Chapter title is, of course, from "Lover for Life" by Whitney Houston, because, well, that's what I was listening to when I was writing this sucker.
....Also, I know there's a lot of perspective shifts; I hope it wasn't too confusing. It was the best way that I could think of to cover a LOT of ground and not have this last part be 300 pages long and thereby lose some of the emotional impact that I wanted it to have. :)