Izuku hasn't yet shaken off the nightmares. He also hasn't yet managed to sleep through the night since he was discharged. He still wakes up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily as he tries to focus on the present – safe and quiet – and not the past – bloody and painful. There's always a sort of transitional moment where he remembers the explosion that slaughtered his unit and ended his military career – where he relives the window shattering from the blast and its shards tearing through his flesh before the next missile brought the roof down and killed nearly all of his friends – his brothers. And then, he regains control of his mind and the world isn't quite as scary anymore. The tremble in his hands slowly subside, his erratic breathing returns to normal, and his heart doesn't squeeze as painfully. Naturally, he finds it easier to remain awake. It's easier for Izuku to control his dark memories when he's lucid than when he's unconscious. And when he's up, there's no going back – no trying. Izuku commits to his wakefulness even though it sometimes means seizing the day with only two or three hours of sleep. It's perhaps for this reason he's developed an affinity for coffee.
Nevertheless, this day is no different. Once he's calmed himself from his night terror, he slips out of bed while glancing at his bedside clock to find, much to his delight, he's slept a whole five hours. For the first time in a long time, he'll be moving around and beginning work at a somewhat reasonable time. And so he peels off his sweat drenched clothes, bunching them up and tossing them into his laundry machine as he makes his way to his bathroom. By the time he finishes cleaning up and grooming himself, his clothes have been cleaned and are ready to be hung dry. Then, he shrugs on some proper clothes – a long sleeve shirt and some jeans – before he makes his way to the kitchen and brews the first of many coffee pots. It's during those moments of waiting as the dark brown liquid slowly drips into the pot that Izuku finds a brief moment of respite. The rich scent of the coffee fills him with delight, relaxing his usually tense body in the same way one unwinds during a massage. For a few minutes, he feels nothing but the gluttonous anticipation of soon drinking a beverage that he not only enjoys but that also fuels him. A ding prompts him to open his eyes and he finds his coffee pot filled.
The following part of Izuku's morning routing brings him to his small kitchen's window, mug of coffee in hand. He pries the janky thing open and sits on the sill as he relishes the cool morning breeze and the sight of the rising sun. Orange and golden beams of light colour the sky, dispelling the darkness that shrouded the tiny mountain town of Yuuei in darkness – the sight is as beautiful as it always is. From this spot, he listens as the birds also start to wake from their slumber and watches as his neighbours and other townsfolk begin to stir. The lights of neighbouring buildings begin to flash on and cars steadily fill the streets. Yuuei is coming to life and soon enough his regular clients will be paying him a visit. Izuku finishes his first cup before leaving his seat. He then grabs the coffee pot and takes him with it downstairs and into his flower shop – for a moment, he considers simply drinking from the pot but opts against it. People already regard him strangely what with being an outsider, he doesn't want to give them another reason to look at him crookedly.
And so, it's as he continues to drink like a civilised person that Izuku begins doing the rounds of his flowers and other plants. He begins by checking their soil, watering the dryer ones, and then he consults his list to see which of them require fertilizer and pH level checks. By the time he finishes, his coffee pot is empty and before he can fetch more, he has to choose which of his prized flowers he'll display outside to attract customers. Izuku stands by his cash arms and legs akimbo as he considers his options. It's peak blooming season, all of his flowers are gorgeous and so he can't really go wrong with any of them. After a moment's consideration, he elects to display his forget-me-nots, white roses, and daisies. Then, his coffee calls his name as a wave of sudden exhaustion crashes onto him and there's nothing left to do than heed its call. When he returns, someone is standing by the cash. She's a short woman with a round face and rosy cheeks. While her bob hair style and reserved posture evoke a certain air of seriousness, her big round eyes betray her playful personality. A smile brightens her face when she catches sight of Izuku stepping from the staircase. He smiles back; it's always good to see Ochako first thing in the morning.
"Good morning, Izuku!" She beams cheerfully.
It's been about six months since he's moved into Yuuei and launched his flower shop. Ochako was one of his first customers and has dutifully visited him at least once every day since his opening, effectively becoming his best customer. It's through these recurring visits that they've developed a sort of friendship and Izuku found his heart smitten. Unlike most of the other residents, Ochako wasn't skittish. She didn't avoid Izuku when she first crossed paths with him on the street, instead she marched right up and introduced herself. She's quite possibly the friendliest person in the whole town and has made it her responsibility to integrate him into their community as seamlessly as possible. It's through her efforts that Izuku's clientele grew exponentially and that the residents of Yuuei began avoiding him a little less.
"Good morning Miss Uraraka." Izuku greets softly. He circles around the cash counter and sets down both his coffee pot and mug. "I didn't expect to see you so soon. Usually Miss Shuzenji beats you to it."
Ochako laughs charmingly, cocking her head gently to the side. "Did you forget that she's off on vacation with Mister Sorahiko?"
Izuku smacks his forehead, scolding himself for his forgetfulness. "You're absolutely right!" He shakes his head. "Hawaii, right?" Ochako nods affirmatively. "When are they returning?"
"Next Wednesday, I think." She supposes, pressing a pondering finger to her cheek. "Tenya and I are betting on whether Mister Sorahiko will propose."
"Propose?" Izuku grimaces. "I hope I don't come off as rude, but aren't they both a little old to think about remarrying?"
"Izuku!" Ochako admonishes, smacking his arm playfully. "Love has no age! It's never too late to marry!"
Izuku laughs and he's not quite sure what she does that draws his eyes to her hands, but he notices a small ring on her left that hasn't always been there. "Oh." He mumbles in surprise, "Miss Uraraka, your…" He trails off, but she knows what he was about to say and displays her hand so he can have a better look. The ring's practically unnoticeable: the rose-gold band is only a shade or two pinker than Ochako's skin and the seven diamonds adorning it are so small they're negligible. It's completely her style. Izuku forces a smile. "So then Mister Iida has proposed?"
A blush colours her cheeks as she nods excitedly. "Over the weekend." She says, glancing at her ring lovingly. "We took a small trip to Osaka and when the sun was setting, he proposed at the Lover's Sanctuary in Harukas 300."
"That sounds lovely." Izuku smiles and he's surprised by how genuine his words feels. Perhaps a part of him recognises how happy Ochako is with Tenya and it overrides the part of him that feels somewhat jealous.
"Do you want to see a picture?" Ochako offers, already reaching for her phone in her pocket. "The place was mostly quiet, but there were some tourists with us. The ones who noticed took pictures and sent them to us." She then extends her phone to Izuku showing an image of Tenya on one knee offering a ring to Ochako, the two bathed in the hot pink light of a glorious sunset. "It's a nice memory, isn't it?"
"It's a really nice picture." Izuku agrees, "You're lucky they felt compelled to take pictures rather than shy away."
"Tenya said the same thing." Ochako chuckles and puts her phone away. She then glances at her watch and clicks her tongue in disappointment. "Oh shoot! I didn't notice the time; Tenya will be on his way to work soon!"
"Does he still think you leave early to go to work?" Izuku smirks.
"I think he's figured out I'm the one who mysteriously places flowers at his desk every morning." Ochako admits, searching through her purse for her wallet. "But he still claims he wonders who his mystery admirer is, so who really knows."
"What flowers will it be today?" Izuku asks.
Ochako doesn't even take a moment to think about it: "Your reddest tulips, please!"
Izuku punches in the transaction into the cash and gives the total to Ochako before he circles to his pot of red tulips. On the way back, he decides to add some baby's breath to the bouquet as a means to break up the intense red with specs of white. He wraps the flowers in a plastic film and ties a white ribbon around the stem before handing it to Ochako.
"You didn't need to add the little white flowers! Does it cost more?" Ochako asks.
"Not at all, consider it as an early wedding gift." Izuku shrugs. "But don't worry, I'll give you a proper one later too."
"That's sweet of you, thank you." Ochako smiles brightly. She hands him the money and Izuku can't even begin to count it before she cuts in sounding nervous. "Say, Izuku…" She pauses. "Do you…would you happen to be…seeing someone?"
The question takes him aback and he doesn't know what to say for a moment. "Erm…no, not at the moment." He admits.
Ochako blushes profusely. "S-see, the thing is, a long-time friend of ours, Tenya and I, has just moved back into town—" She babbles rapidly, "—and we were wondering if you might like to join the three of us for dinner tonight? Maybe to get to know each other? I have the feeling you two would get along very well!"
Izuku feels his face flushing red. He has just learned that his crush has gotten engaged and that he now has to make a serious effort to get over his feelings, it may not be the best idea to agree to a date so soon – especially because he hasn't addressed his emotions properly. And yet, the most efficient way to move on might just be to explore new romantic avenues. Without dwelling too much, he answers: "U-um…sure. Okay." despite how he would likely end up hurting their friend if she took a liking to him.
"R-really?" Ochako stammers, a smile slowly brightening her face. "That's great! Here—" She looks around for a piece of paper, settling on an envelope typically used for the flower cards and scribbles on her phone number. "Text me when you have the chance and I'll send you the details!" She glances at her watch again and grimaces, "I have to go now! I'll see you tonight!"
She runs for the door, bouquet in hand, and suddenly the flower shop is bathed in silence. And yet Izuku still finds himself overwhelmed by the noise of his beating heart. It's been a long time since he's gone out on a date or even tried to find a romantic partner. The thought hasn't even bothered to cross his mind since his discharge, but now that he's being set up he doesn't know if he can handle it. His palms feel clammy and sweaty while his mind races. How should he dress? Did he even have appropriate date clothes? He didn't necessarily want to start a relationship with Ochako and Tenya's mutual friend, but he also didn't want to embarrass them nor himself. Should he bring a gift? Flowers? Would flowers give the wrong impression? Is the intent of the dinner meant to be seen as a double date or as an outing amongst friends? Should he ask Ochako? Would he look silly if he did? Should he just cancel? Was it selfish of him to go through with it? What if he hurts their friend?
Breathe, Izuku. Breathe. He tells himself in an effort to relax. It takes a moment, but he eventually succeeds. Inhaling deep and long breaths, he makes use of his military training to sort his thoughts. He starts by texting Ochako so she can have his number and to his surprise she responds quickly. Izuku's next order of business is to know what they'll be doing and before he can ask, she texts him they'll be going to a restaurant the name of which is unfamiliar. This gives him a good out.
"Is it a high end place?" He texts her.
"No, we don't have places like that in Yuuei. But it is semi-casual." She responds. And a second later she adds: "I've just reached my office so I won't be able to respond to you until lunch break! I'll fill you in later!"
Izuku puts his phone away and sighs in ease. He isn't quite as nervous as before and he believes he'll be able to manage the night decently. However, he now needs to focus on the present. While his store is orderly, a few leafs and petals have fallen on the floor and he needs to sweep them. He supposes, once he's done, he can start making bouquets and adding price tags to his various combinations while dealing with clients. But, before all of that, his coffee pot is empty and today is going to be a long day.