“I want to go on a real date with you, Minoru.”
It was only a matter of time before she said that. Only a matter of time before this got too far, that he pushed far beyond the point of it being okay. He should have broke it off as soon as they got to the point in their relationship that she sent him photos from swimsuit and underwear shoots. He should have stopped before she asked for pictures of him. He shouldn’t have done this, damn it!
He swallows in the silence that follows her words, the static buzz of his screen as loud as as a siren as he stares at the black screen of their voice chat. Her icon is in the middle; a cute mascot from her favorite bakery chain.
“U-um, I dunno Seo. UA has a strict regimen, y’know? I don't really have any free time.”
He can hear her disappointment, and it makes him flinch. “But Minoru… I'm only going to be in Tokyo for a week. I want to see you. Photos and voice chat… it's not the same. Please?”
He’s sweating, a hand over his mouth to try to keep from shaking. Oooh, he’s really done it this time. He can’t meet her! He isn’t who she thinks he is! He’s catfished this Korean model for over a year now using Kaminari’s face. Shit, he should have ended this last month after she sent him all those pictures… But what is he supposed to say?!
“O-okay. I'll see what I can do.”
Why did he say that?!
“Ah! I'm so glad! My plane should land around ten on Sunday morning. Would you be able to pick me up? I don't really want to ride with the agent… he’s kinda creepy.”
“I can’t drive, but I can get a cab for you.” Oh thank god for the moments of truth he can spare.
She whines. “Right, you haven't gotten your license yet… Man . I'll think of something! I don't want you spending money on a cab for me.”
One bullet dodged, but the bomb is still coming. “Y-yeah. Sounds good! I'll let you go now so you can pack.”
“Okay! Sleep tight, Mineta! I love you!”
“I-I love you too!”
The voice call ends with a beep and his monitor returns to normal, to a typing chat. She sends a waving emoji and he sends one back, then quickly sets his status as invisible. Hands shaking, he scrolls through his contacts until he finds Kaminari, fingers hovering over the keyboard.
What is he supposed to say? He can’t tell Kaminari, the closest thing he has to a best friend, that he used him to catfish! Even if he did, then what? He can’t send Kaminari on a date with his girlfriend! It’s him, Mineta, that Seo-yun had fallen in love with! His personality, his jokes, his passion! His face is just… a minor setback. Yeah. She’s a nice girl; she would be okay with it, right? Yeah, yeah… He just has to tell her…
But wait! Isn’t catfishing illegal?
He closes his chat window, spends a moment to admire the picture of Seo-yun in a flowery pink bikini that he set as his desktop, and quickly opens his internet browser. A quick search only lessens his panic slightly; catfishing isn’t illegal. Just immoral.
Seo-yun is such a sweet, innocent girl! She would be disgusted with him!
But what if he just… ghosts her? Deletes her contact, blocks her on his phone… It would break her heart, but not her trust. He could create a new chat profile, pretend to be someone else… No, that’s just re-engaging the loop he’s in!
But if there’s a chance that she will forgive him… She’s a model! Mineto can’t turn down a date with a model!
But what if she’s horrified? What if she calls the police? What if she fights him?! Her quirk is manipulating the air around her! He could never hold his own against a quirk like that, no matter how much training he’s done!
But if she isn’t mad… What if she thinks he’s cute? What if she wants to go on a date? What if she kisses him? What if she wants to have--!
He has to take that chance!
He opens his chat back up. If he explains the situation to Kaminari, maybe he can help him explain this entire mess to Seo-yun at the airport. She’ll be looking for someone that looks like Kaminari, so he’ll catch her attention and then introduce Mineta! The perfect wingman!
This will never work .
Kaminari has an idle flag next to his username, which is normal, considering it’s just past midnight on a Friday. After a hard week of classes, everyone is usually in bed by ten. He tries anyway.
freshgrape_juice!!: r u awake???
Panic begins to set in again. How is he supposed to explain this?!
The yellow idle flag turns to green. He’s online! Why does that make him more terrified?
herostungun_chargebolt: playing league!! what’s up?
Oh! He’s playing video games! Mineta won’t bother him then. League is important; a few of their classmates have started playing it as well. Though, no one’s quite as into it as Bakugo is… He’s a little obsessed with being the best player on their server, but with how hard he trains, he’s often too tired to log many hours. He’s actually one of the weakest players on their team, but they’ll never tell him that.
Mineta considers going to bed and tossing and turning his anxieties in his sheets, but Kaminari sends a flurry of question marks that ping on his computer.
herostungun_chargebolt: you wanna play?? it’s just me and kirishima rn
He could just try to ignore the massive nuke about to fall on his head and play a few rounds until he falls asleep, but he’s been putting this off for a year now! He… He needs to say something. he needs to try to work this out without burning bridges or tangling himself further into the sticky web of lies he’s built around himself and his own identity.
herostungun_chargebolt: hellooooo??? ?? lol did u msg me and log off right away??
He has to tell him.
He takes a breath.
He types and erases his message four times until he settles.
freshgrape_juice!!: can i come over??
There’s a beat of pause that’s understandable for someone multitasking. Mineta wishes he could delete messages. He wishes he could delete all of it.
herostungun_chargebolt: ya sure might go to bed soon tho
freshgrape_juice!!: thats ok i just gotta show u smth
herostungun_chargebolt: sure!! !
Oh fuck him.
It takes him longer than he would like to admit to actually get out of his chair. He’s in his pajamas; a ratty old t-shirt from a topless bar he bought at the second-hand store and a pair of purple plaid shorts. It’s fine for going over to Kaminari’s, but he still fidgets with it. He takes his phone with him, hands sweating on it so badly that it’s a miracle that he doesn’t drop it on his way up the stairs to Kaminari’s room.
He hesitates to knock. He’s trembling. Oh god, he’s fucked up, he fucked up bad , oh god--
He screams. Can you blame him?
Iida rushes over, shushing Mineta as he comes. Thank god that Kaminari heard that though, because his door opens and he’s standing there with a bewildered expression, in his own pajamas with a headset on.
“Yes, it’s me!” he hisses, slapping away Iida’s hand when he tries to silence him.
“You should be in bed! Both of you should be,” he lectures, earning a quirked brow from Kaminari.
“So should you, class rep. What are you doing up?”
Iida straightens, spine rigid as a rod. “It is my duty as class representative to ensure that everyone is safe and sound in bed! It may be the weekend, but we cannot neglect the rest our bodies need! We must--”
Mineta starts inching toward Kaminari’s door.
“--and then when classes start up again on Monday, you will be too exhausted and fall asleep in Mr. Aizawa’s class, again ! I cannot allow such disrespect in a place of learning where our teachers put such passion--”
Mineta slips between Kaminari and the door. Kaminari nods diligently to Iida’s words, his hand reaching for the doorknob.
“--and furthermore, we should not take the trust lent to us by our superiors lightly and tarnish it with childish--”
The door slams, and they both hear Iida choke off his rambling. A few seconds later, there’s a belated “goodnight!” shouted through the wood before they hear Iida walk next door to his own room. They both sigh, Kaminari heading back to his desk. He sets his headset down, his game of League on the pause screen. Awkwardly, Mineta just stands there. He’s too tense to sit down.
What if… What if Kaminari doesn’t want to be friends with him anymore? What if he’s completely broken his trust…? No, if their appearances had been switched, surely Kaminari would have done the same. Right?
“So what’s up, Mineta?”
He jumps at the voice, as if Kaminari had actually shocked him. He can’t find the words, his mind too big of a mess to say anything or even put letters into words into coherent sentences. He’s still visibly trembling, his eyes burning with unshed tears. He can’t meet Kaminari’s eyes, looking instead at the gaudy leopard print bedspread.
Kaminari picks up on the mood, frowning. They’re friends, yes, but they rarely discuss serious topics. Topics like emotions, fears, dreams… catfishing . “Are you okay?”
He just has to say it. Just… say it!
He swallows. He takes a breath. He might vomit.
“I-I have a girlfriend!”
There’s a beat of silence as Kaminari processes this information, and his lips part to beg for more details, but Mineta has opened the flood gates.
“I met a girl named Seo-yun in a chat room for singles a year ago and she’s a super hot model from South Korea! She’s smart and funny and sexy ! I wanted to impress her so when she asked for my picture, I got on your social media and downloaded your photos and gave them to her! And I snuck pictures of you sometimes when you weren’t paying attention and photo-shopped them into looking like selfies! I even took your picture in the showers because she asked how big your penis was and I know you’re 168 centimeters so I used that to calculate your--”
Mineta stops, words choked on a sob as he finally looks up. Kaminari is red up to his ears, hands gripping the arm rests of his gaming chair. Electricity crackles along his scalp, and Mineta seriously debates running next door for help from Iida because oh god he’s talking--
“You measured my dick?!”
“Th-that’s… all you’re mad about?”
“Well, yeah!!” He pauses, relaxing a bit as he leans forward. “H-how big did you tell her it was…?”
Mineta blinks, clearly having not thought of Kaminari taking that part to the most offense. He knows it’s weird, taking pictures of his classmates in the shower, but it was better than staring at him to try to figure it out! Besides, he deleted it as soon as he calculated… He doesn’t need a nude of Kaminari among the female pictures he has on his phone. “T-twelve and a half centimeters…”
Kaminari thinks about this, then leans back with a heave of air. Dismissively, he waves his hand in front of his face as if shooing a fly. “No, no. It’s bigger than that.”
“I rounded up.”
He goes red again. “Look, it’s still bigger than yours!”
“That’s not the point,” Mineta snaps back, feeling his ears get hot. He huffs, tears dried on his cheeks now, and finishes explaining. “Seo-yun is coming to Japan on Sunday and she’s going to be in Shinjuku for a fashion week shoot. She wants to go on a date with me.”
“You mean with me,” he teases.
He frowns. “No! She likes me . She just… also likes your face.”
Dark eyelashes flutter in a poor mockery of Aoyama. “Who wouldn’t like my face? I’m handsome.”
Mineta is practically pouting, hopping up to sit on the edge of his bed. “Kaminari, seriously! I can’t see her, because then she’ll know that I’m not you! But you can’t see her because you’re not me! I dunno what to do!”
He sighs, scratching his cheek thoughtfully. He gets an idea after only a few seconds, grinning in a way that tells Mineta this is an awful plan. “We could get Yaoyorozu to make us radios like the spies in movies use! You know, the ones that go in your ear? Then I’ll meet Seo-yun, and you can just tell me what to say through the earpiece! So it’ll be like both of us are on the date!”
Mineta is so, so grateful to have a friend. “Yeah!” Oh, but… “Wait… That means you get to go on a date. I have to stay behind, hidden somewhere!”
Kaminari shrugs. “It could work, though.”
“No! She’s my girlfriend, not yours!”
“Is she really your girlfriend if you’ve lied to her?”
“Yes! She loves me! She even calls me Minoru!”
Kaminari’s eyes widen and his teasing facade drops a bit. “Oh. Oh wow .”
Mineta deflates, looking down at his phone. He even set her as his phone’s lock screen… “Yeah, I know. I really messed up. If I tell her that I’m the one she likes, she…” His eyes sting again. Damn it! Why is he such a crybaby? “She’ll hate me.”
“But if I do the date, you’ll still have her online, right?”
“But not in person ! I won’t be able to hold her hand or kiss her or… or other things she’ll want to do! I won’t be able to put my arm around her waist and touch her butt or her--”
Kaminari laughs, though it’s mostly a scoff. “Yeah, and I should be able to do that! I helped you land her, right? It’s my face, so it should be my body too!”
Kaminari shakes his head, arms crossing over his chest. “I’ll help you keep catfishing her if you let me go on a date with her. I’ll take any photos you want! We just have to ask Yaoyorozu for radios! She wouldn’t question that, right? Mm, maybe she would… Maybe I can get Midoriya to ask for them…”
Mineta feels tears streaking down to his chin. It… It feels like that’s the best option. If he wants to keep getting pictures, if he wants to hear her say I love you, Minoru , he has to do it… He has to let Kaminari take her out. And he… He just gets the virtual Seo-yun in return.
It’s not good enough…!
“Or you could man up and tell her the truth.”
They both jump at the voice, Kaminari’s eyes wide as he stares at his headset. It’s still on, and neither of them had realized that Kirishima was listening in.
“You shouldn’t treat girls like that,” he continues, his voice having an odd edge of seriousness to it, as if he can harden his vocal chords along with the rest of him. “Ugh, you’re so unmanly, Mineta. You don’t deserve her. You neither, Kaminari.”
“Shut up!” Mineta blurts, bouncing off the bed and running to the headset. He shuts it off, huffing breaths between silent sobs. Could this get any worse…?
Kaminari sighs, rubbing his face. The silence that follows is almost deafening, but Kaminari breaks it with a small smile.
“Okay, Mineta. What time does Seo-yun’s plane land?”
From the time that Mineta returns to his own room until Sunday morning when he and Kaminari are standing on the platform for the bullet train, Mineta doesn’t stop panicking. Seo-yun had been too busy making last-minute plans to talk much, a blessing in disguise (or maybe not; Mineta hasn’t decided yet), so he hadn’t said much at all to her.
The plan they have is shaky at best, disastrous at worst. Yaoyorozu had agreed to make them radios after Kaminari telling her it was for him to practice shorting out high-tech equipment, conveniently leaving Mineta’s name out of his plans. It’s a miracle that they even get off the campus without much trouble, considering how tight security has been. But Mineta and Kaminari have gotten better at stealth for all the wrong reasons, and now they’re here.
“Kaminari, throw me on the tracks!” Mineta abruptly screams, grabbing onto his classmate’s arm. The other people on the platform startle, Kaminari especially, but his panic is finally at its absolute limit. He can’t do this! This is too bad, he can’t do it! He’ll die! He would rather die! He should just ghost her, just delete her, just go back to free porn instead! She’s cute, but not that cute, he can find someone else or just delete all of his social media! Oh, God, kill him now!
The train hisses as it pulls into the station, Mineta screaming as tears flood over his eyes Kaminari tries in vain to calm him. They get on the train and he silences, suddenly turning into nothing more than a statue. He doesn’t move or speak the entire ride, and had he not been breathing, Kaminari might think he actually died on purpose. It’s kind of like a mouse playing dead at the claws of a cat. Were he not so nervous himself, Kaminari might have found it funny.
Shinjuku is packed , a bigger city than either of the boys are used to, but they somehow manage to get to the airport that Seo-yun will be flying in at. They find standing room only at the gate, and Kaminari gives his probably-dead classmate a thumbs up before they turn to stare at the arrival gates before them.
Kaminari has been drilling Seo-yun’s appearance in his head so he’ll definitely recognize her when she comes out. He’ll go to meet her and Mineta will blend into the crowd behind them to be the voice in his ear. Kaminari will call a cab and then Mineta will melt out of the crowd. They’ll pretend to have run into each other, and Mineta will take the cab with them. And then… and then …
He’ll tell her who he is.
Fuck, he’s going to be sick.
The crowd begins to make noise as passengers depart and come out of the gate. Loved ones calling to get attention, signs waving in the air (he should have made a sign!), businessmen mutely waving each other down before walking away.
And there she is.
She’s even more beautiful in person, her brown hair gently blowing around her face but never losing style. She’s in a pastel sundress that shifts around her knees, pulling a large suitcase behind her, and the only thing out of place is the expression of anxiety as she scans the crowd with her doe-brown eyes. Mineta loses sight of her due to his height after long though, and Kaminari waves his hands over his head.
“Seo! Seo, here!”
He’s gonna pass out.
Kaminari shoots Mineta a wink before he disappears into the crowd to meet her halfway, and Mineta just… stands there. He’s not even shaking. He’s just… standing. This is a bad idea, a horrible idea, he should just leave, he should have never come here, should have never strung her along for this long…
The crowd starts to disperse and Mineta catches sight of them again. They’ve found each other, and he finds them just in time to see Seo-yun run to Kaminari and drop her suitcase so she can throw her arms around him. He hugs her, and Mineta turns on the radio so he can hear.
He just hears static.
He watches with growing anxiety as the hug ends and Seo-yun leans up on her toes to--
Fuck! Why did he say that?! Why did he scream it?! Oh god, oh fuck, oh shit , she heard him!
Kaminari had been reaching to gently push her away before she could kiss him, but she backs away at the sound of her name in a familiar voice. Her eyes pass right over Mineta, though come to focus on Kaminari when he starts to speak. They’re too far for him to hear what’s being said, and his grip on his own sanity is dangerously close to exploding like Bakugo after the sports festival.
He can’t take this.
Why is Kaminari walking towards him?
Why is Seo-yun following?
Why is the radio just playing static?
“M-Minoru Mineta…?” she nearly whispers, looking down at him. Her eyes are wide, lips parted, and she’s clinging to the handle of her suitcase. Her other hand is clutched over her chest, her beautiful chest, and Mineta can only nod through tears running down his face.
Kaminari laughs nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “Y-yeah. Sorry, Seo-yun. He kinda catfished you. He liked you too much to tell you and was scared you wouldn’t like him. I mean, he’s a good guy, he just--”
Mineta stumbles at the force of her slap, at the gust of wind that follows it. Her hair whips upward in the draft, her eyes wide and furious . Mineta is honestly fearing for his life, but she doesn’t even spare him with words. She just grabs her phone from the pocket of her dress and stomps away, the crowd giving her a wide berth.
Kaminari laughs awkwardly, giving a sheepish smile. “Uh… Sorry, man. I told her. I didn’t wanna like… make out with her or whatever. I felt bad.”
Mineta just shakes his head, pulling the radio out of his ear and dropping it on the ground. He half-heartedly crushes it under his shoe. “I’m sorry I made you come all the way out here.”
He shrugs, tucking his hands in his back pockets. “It’s fine. I’ve never been to Shinjuku before, so it’s like an adventure! Let’s go get something to eat and do tourist stuff!”
Mineta sighs heavily, wiping his eyes on his sleeve and sniffing snot and tears back into their proper place. He had a feeling this would happen, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt. He... He liked her. He really did. But now, it's all gone. “I… I kinda wanna go back to the dorms. S-sorry, Kaminari…”
He’s not about to take that for an answer. Maybe they can find a place with lots of cute girls to cheer him up. In the end, he has to drag Mineta around the city, and by the time they sneak back into the dorms, everyone has turned in for the night except Kirishima, who’s lounging on the couch in the common room to watch TV. He looks up when they get back, giving Mineta an expectant look.
“She, uh, didn’t take it well,” Kaminari awkwardly explains, flinching as Mineta ignores both of them and heads for the stairs.
Kirishima scowls, his words directed at the retreating back of his classmate. “Well duh . Girls like manly guys. Not guys that pretend to be something they aren’t.”
“Yeah,” Kaminari agrees, flopping on the couch beside Kirishima. “Ah, at least Shinjuku was fun! You should’ve seen all the hot girls! Their fashion was so cute! I wonder if we could get the girls to wear skirts that short?”
It’s a silent, but mutual agreement that the three of them never mention this again. Well, except for when they’re in the heat of a battle in League and Kirishima reminds Kaminari to mute his mic before he and Mineta have their girl talk again.
Needless to say, Mineta has been kicked and blocked from every platform that he had used to talk to Seo-yun. She has essentially evaporated within a day.
(But at least he has all of those pictures.)