“With the most recent rankings coming in, the explosion hero Ground Zero has moved up to the second seed, barely edging out winged hero Hawks who has held the position for many years now.” You stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, gazing up at the jumbotron where a news anchor was covering the Hero Billboard Chart that happened the night prior. To his left were small pictures of Bakugou and Hawks, each sporting their hero costumes. “The number one position remains held by hero Deku who assumed the position after flame hero Endeavor’s forced retirement. When asked about rival Ground Zero’s promotion, Deku gave this statement.” The screen cut to a recording of Deku.
“I think it’s great for Kacch- I mean Ground Zero. He’s always had more natural talent than I did.” He chuckled to himself, rubbing at the back of his neck shyly before clenching his fist in front of him. “But I’m not letting go of the number one spot!” You smiled to yourself a bit. You and Deku had never met before, but you had heard Bakugou grumble about him a thousand times over. Bakugou’s depiction of him and his media presence never seemed to align, however, what with Bakugou’s insistence that he was useless and annoying. Maybe being with him had been clouding your judgement.
A passerby smacked into your shoulder, barreling past and not bothering to apologize.
“Get out of the way!” they yelled. Ignoring it, you simply stepped back under a building awning so you weren’t in the middle of the sidewalk where anyone could come running into you.
“Ground Zero failed to attend the Hero Billboard Chart last night,” the newscaster continued, turning to his co-anchor. “Ground Zero’s media presence has always been small, but he hasn’t participated in any interviews for the past three months now. The public has been debating about what could be wrong. What is your take on the matter, Matsuno-san?”
“Well, Edano-san, one of the most popular theories going around right now is that there may be some trouble in his love life.” Letting out an audible sigh, you shook your head. It took the media a lot less time to figure out than you had anticipated. For the majority of your relationship, you had managed to remain unknown, but around a year ago, a photographer managed to get pictures of you and Bakugou out on a date. Your face wasn’t shown, but it had still caused a massive uproar. Because of that, more and more photos of the two of you together were eventually leaked. While the public didn’t know exactly who you were, it became common knowledge that Ground Zero had a long-term girlfriend. A picture of you two flashed up on the screen.
“The woman photographed, who is widely believed to be Ground Zero’s partner, has not been seen with the hero recently. The public has speculated that the couple may have broken up and one source even claims that she was caught cheating on him.”
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” you muttered to yourself. For the most part, you didn’t mind the false news stories that went around, but that was so blatantly backwards that it hurt to hear.
“They really got it wrong on that one, huh?” a deep voice stated behind you. Surprised by the sudden comment, you spun on a heel to find yourself face-to-face with a tall, broad-chested redhead. Well, more like face-to-chest given the height difference.
“Kirishima? What are you doing here?”
“You stopped in front of my agency.” He pointed up. Wrinkling your brows, you stepped out from underneath the awning to look up. Lo and behold, there it was, a giant, bright red sign reading “Riot Heroes” across the top of the building. You felt a blush rise in your cheeks.
“Sorry, I was just passing by and stopped to watch the news,” you explained, gesturing back toward the screen, which had since moved onto more news about Deku.
“Of course, don’t apologize. Do you want to stop in for a cup of tea?”
“Oh, no, that’s okay.” Waving your hands in front of you, you took a couple steps backwards, out onto the sidewalk again. You had been headed home from work and you wanted to get going anyway. “I don’t want to bother you. Weren’t you just leaving?”
“It’s not a bother!” he insisted, flashing one of his massive smiles at you. “I was leaving, but what’s a few more minutes? Please, come in, come in.” He grabbed your arm with a surprisingly strong grip, pulling you along behind him, back into the building. As much as you loathed the idea of spending time exchanging pleasantries with your ex’s closest friend, Kirishima was a nice person and easy to talk to. You stopped trying to wrench your arm free and let him drag you.
Inside the building, large groups of heroes, sidekicks, and administrative staff were bustling about the lobby, everyone preoccupied with their own particular tasks.
“Wow, what’s with all the activity?”
“We’re partnering with Deku and Uravity for a few weeks to take down a villain that’s been active a lot recently.” He released your arm, walking a few paces into the chaos and turning back to ensure you were following. You hurried after him.
“Oh, woah, that’s a strong group you’ve set up.”
“Yeah, well, we all went to school together, so we like to team up whenever we can. I asked Bakugou as well, but he refused.” Instinctively, your heart skipped a beat at the mention of Bakugou. Your discomfort at the mention of his name must have shown on your face because Kirishima immediately went into apology mode. “Oh, God, I’m sorry. You don’t want me talking about him. Of course, you don’t.”
“No, it’s fine.” The two of you pushed out of the masses, finding yourselves in front of the elevators. Kirishima reached for the button. “How has he been? Bakugou, I mean.”
“In all honesty, pretty terribly.” A sense of pride swelled within you, overwhelming you with the satisfaction that he was at least feeling an ounce of the regret you hoped he was. The two of you stepped into the elevator. “He’s barely sleeping; we have to constantly remind him to eat regular meals; he’s increasingly irritable – and not irritable the way he usually is either, I saw him yell at an intern a week ago because they tripped and dropped some papers. It’s kind of hard to watch.”
“Good,” was all you said.
Ding! The elevator doors slid open on the top floor, giving way to the large room lined with floor to ceiling windows. The office was elegantly designed with sleek furniture and minimalistic design, but the ambiance was thrown off by the collection of training equipment in one corner and the occasional “manly” object scattered about. Deku and Uravity were already seated in the lounge area, Deku sitting properly in an armchair, while Uravity was sprawled about the couch.
“Kirishima-kun? Back already?” Deku asked, standing up. He was shorter than you imagined the top-hero to be, but from the looks of it, was pure muscle. His arms were probably the width of your thighs and his thighs looked like they were trying to rip free of his khakis, they were so big. He was definitely built for fighting villains.
“I caught this one outside the office.” Kirishima slapped you on the back, pushing you forward toward the other two. “Figured we could have some tea for a bit.” You walked with him up to Deku and Uravity, but felt yourself clamming up in their presence. You had spent plenty of time around Bakugou and Kirishima, so you were used to them, but Deku and Uravity felt too much like heroes in comparison. You idolized them so much, they barely felt like real people. “This is [Y/L/N] [Y/F/N].”
“Um, hello.” Wow, real eloquent.
“[Y/L/N]-san, why do I recognize that name?” Uravity mumbled to herself, sitting up from the sofa. She squinted her eyes at you for a moment before widening them suddenly. “Are you Bakugou-kun’s girlfriend?” You stiffened – as did Kirishima next to you. Uravity looked between the two of you, confused, but then pressed her lips together. “Oh, right, I heard about…um, yeah. Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” you said stiffly, shaking your head.
“Well, I don’t think we’ve ever been properly introduced.” It was an awfully awkward transition, but she was trying to stray from an uncomfortable topic and you couldn’t help but appreciate it. “I’m Uraraka Ochako.” She held out her hand. Next to her, Deku stepped forward and held out his as well.
“I’m Midoriya Izuku.”
“I know who both of you are of course, but it’s nice to meet you.” You shook each of their hands in succession. Both of them had hero’s hands – a thing you noticed on both Bakugou and Kirishima as well – their palms rough and coated in callouses from years of rescuing others. Uraraka’s was small, but she had a firm handshake and Midoriya was exactly the opposite, a wide palm with a gentle grip.
Ding! Everyone turned at the sound of the elevator doors opening again.
“Alright, I changed my fucking mind,” a voice called. Oh no.
Bakugou walked into the office and directly made eye-contact with you, freezing just beyond the elevator doors. He looked exactly as Kirishima described him, weak, sleep-deprived, skinnier. His eyes were red and puffy from lack of sleep and the dark purple bags under them were no help. His t-shirt, which was usually completely tight, hung loose around his torso and the sleeves pulled away from his arms. Even just the way he carried himself seemed entirely unlike him, hunched and small, feeble in every sense of the word.
“[Y/N].” The name was soft, barely audible across the large room. He looked at you like you were a ghost and you could only imagine how you were probably looking at him.
“Bakugou, what do you mean you changed your mind?” Kirishima cut into the tension, releasing both you and Bakugou from the trance you’d entered as soon as you saw one another. Bakugou blinked a few times then walked up to join the group. You took a step back so you were standing between Midoriya and Uraraka. Something about being surrounded by those two was comforting, you weren’t sure if it was due to them being heroes or just the vibes they gave off in general, but something. They both glanced at you, but said nothing.
“I wanna join your ‘task force’ or whatever you fucking called it.”
“That’s great.” Kirishima glanced back at you. “How about you come back and we can talk about it then?”
“I’m not fucking leaving,” Bakugou retorted.
“It’s okay, Kirishima,” you interjected. “I’ll just leave and you two can talk about it.”
“[Y/L/N], that’s not necessa-”
“Please don’t go.” To your surprise, Bakugou cut off Kirishima for one of the rawest displays of emotion you’d ever seen from him. Even after years of dating, you had never really since Bakugou expose himself in such a heartfelt manner until now. It was jarring. Midoriya and Uraraka shifted uncomfortably next to you. “I haven’t seen you in so long, let’s just… I don’t know, let’s fucking talk.” The last time you two had met was when he came to move his stuff out of the apartment. Unfortunately for you, you saw his face at the top of every other news story. You were plagued by his presence every day of your life, no matter how much you wanted to never see him again.
“There’s nothing to talk about, Katsuki.” And it was true, you had nothing to say to him. You weren’t even sure you were really angry anymore, disappointed and a little sad, maybe, but not angry. You were spent, no energy left to waste on tiring emotions that only wound up hurting you more.
“Please, just give me ten minutes,” he insisted.
“There’s nothing to discuss. All that would come out of us talking is you feeling better about yourself, that your actions are somehow justified.” You stepped out and past him. “I’ve said all I need to say.” Turning toward the others, you bowed briefly as you headed back to the elevator. “Thank you for inviting me, Kirishima. Maybe we can have tea another time. And Uraraka-san and Deku-san, it was a pleasure to meet you.” Pressing the down arrow, you stepped into the elevator. As the door slid shut, you made eye-contact with Bakugou for a brief instant to see the longing in his eyes, but the next moment the doors were closed and you were gone.