Actions

Work Header

Behind-the-Scenes Heroes

Chapter Text

 

Canyon Cannon!

No. Not Again. Kamui Woods watched in awe as the mountainous heel of the Giantification-quirked heroine slammed against the side of the villain, sending him flying to the blocking building. The villain smacked on its surface with an audible grunt and a deafening crash before Mt. Lady towered over him, catching him on her hand after he slid down the building’s side like jelly. Squeezing, she licked her lips, her face a mixture of insanity and pride.

“You have been warned before,” she purred at him.

The crowds who were gathered around the scene cheered, happily yelling the victory of the hero as she waved the vulnerable villain with a smile and a laugh. This was the second time this happened to Kamui Woods, with the same woman taking the spotlight. Standing on the balcony of a close-by structure, he could only stand to see the victory that he might have achieved himself before Mt. Lady’s sudden interruption. Anger boiled, and Kamui decided to take the stairs down instead of use his quirk to bring himself to street level. He turned from the balcony and marched the opposite direction to the stairs of the office he was positioned in.

He was greeted by some of the workers, admiring his past actions and acts of heroism. He could only wave, the hero dwelling with a replay of emotions that he wished would disappear. Turns out that they were all still there, swimming in the back of his mind, only waiting to be awoken again.

There were twelve sets of stairs overall, but Kamui wasn’t tired even as he reached the bottom. Exiting the building, he was surrounded by the backs of reporters and fans, cameras flashing and microphones on stands, all trying to get the attention of Mt. Lady who have probably returned to her normal size. That, combined with the high-pitched squealing and fawning. Men were staring intensely at what Kamui assumed was Mt. Lady’s rear. If he weren’t responsible or mad at her, he knew he might’ve as well.

Only a few persons noticed him, both because he chose to pass by quieter areas, and because their focus were elsewhere. Once he left that stupid part of Japan, he miserably walked on, not knowing where to go, as long as it was far. Far from the scene of deja vu and that men-attracting woman.

“Kamui Woods!”

He stopped and turned to see a short and pudgy man carrying a set of brochures in one hand, and using the other to wave at him. The pro-hero crossed his arms, seeing the man’s expression bearing the face of the sort of person oblivious to the disinterest of those people around him . “Yes?” He answered, hoping he didn’t sound too impatient.

The clumsy man accidentally released a set of brochures onto the streets, making Kamui wish to point that out, but he remained silent. “There’s a new Souvenir Shop that opened, sir! Not too far away!” He spoke with a high voice, pushing one of the brochures to Kamui’s chest. Kamui eyed it as he unfolded the paper. “They sell all sorts of things! Tiny statuettes! Keychains! Stuffed animals, dream catchers, stationary, markers, magazines! Toys, wallets, coins with the face of George Washington!” He said those with so much energy, that Kamui felt slight jealousy. He wondered what it would have felt like to just stand on sidewalks with papers to give passerbys.

“Is it worth it?” He glanced back to the brochure, looking over the products they weren’t lazy enough to not add. If it were a souvenir shop, no one deserved to advertise it this much, not unless it wasn’t selling things well and not if it didn’t sell anything involving whatever it was enquiring in the first place.

But the man nodded enthusiastically. “Indeed! It is no disappointment whatsoever!” He dropped another set of brochures, this time Kamui leaning down to pick up for the poor advertiser. The man, on the other hand, resumed talking. “All Might visited once, and guess what! He bought a set of water-filled barbels! All six! In one--” he held out his pointer finger proudly “--pack!”

Kamui couldn’t help but smile under the mask. “He is everywhere,” he mused, handing the pamphlets to the man. “You’re proud to be advertising it, aren’t you? Have you bought anything before getting a job there?”

Another upbeat nod. “Yes, sir! A plastic ring! For my girlfriend!” He smiled, revealing teeth with braces. “I have one for myself too, sir. If you visit the store, you might get yourself one as well.”

Shrugging, Kamui handed the man another set of fallen pamphlets. He might visit, to be honest, after the incident with Mt. Lady, and the fact that he had nowhere else he could go. Besides, if there was something interesting, he might buy it to reward himself for effort. He knew he deserved it, at least. “Yeah, I don’t mind,” he said at last, causing the man to beam.

With a fist in the air, the man jumped, and the pamphlets spilled to the streets once more. This time, he noticed it, and grinned apologetically as he swooped low to get them. “I’ll handle this, Kamui Woods.” He reassured, waving.

Kamui almost protested, but stepped back. “Are you…sure?”

“Yes, sir,” was the only reply before his back faced the pro. He must’ve felt Kamui’s lingering presence, for he said in a loud voice, “Go! Heroes are always the best customers!”

Kamui released a low chuckle as he moved onwards, before clutching the given brochure and jogging, suddenly having a stronger yearning for a reward to his endeavors.

 


 

The store wasn’t too far. It was a small place, one storey, simple, and as the advertiser said, filled with numerous artifacts. A bell rang as Kamui opened the door, and was slightly blinded by the bright illumination of its interior. He hadn’t realized that it was already dusk, but for now it didn’t matter. Soft pop music played from speakers in the ceiling. The shelves were organized and in place, all the materials mentioned by the man plus more littered them. They were all over the place, some even hung on hooks on the cream-colored walls. Those were mostly dream catchers and masks that were sold in different designs and colors. Even on the tables displayed, the items were filling each space to the point there seemed to be no vacancy.

The most surprising part though was its lack of customers. When the small man spoke of it, the place sounded like a tourist's paradise. An addition to that is the mention of All Might, which might have attracted more people to the store. But in front of him, the place was void of them.

“I think the hero is impressed,” the man behind the cashier said. He was more laid back compared to the advertiser, but either way he still seemed friendly. “How may we help you, Kamui Woods?”

Baffled, Kamui glanced around. “We?”

“The short man,” replied the cashier guy casually. He looked up and revealed a snout, probably a result of his quirk. “He and I are currently the only workers. We didn’t have any customers all day until you came over, Kamui. Ha, you see, the only reason people even come here is because either A, they’re too easily persuaded, or B, they have nothing else to do with their lives because they feel a ping of depression.” He smirked, and Kamui groaned silently.

“Neither of the above,” He said. “There’s a reason C too: out of plain curiosity.” He lied, knowing that reason B was the true answer to the unasked question of the man at the counter.

The guy clicked his tongue amusingly. “Just have a look around.” He suggested, leaning back on the chair with booted feet on the counter.

Kamui Woods walked to one table, viewing the knick-knacks with curiosity. The leather wallets were displayed based on color, arranged like each color location in a rainbow. Different shades of the same color were still side-by-side, making the entire thing nicer to the eye. Beside the wallets were painting palettes, with oil or watercolor paints in tubes taped to each one. And next to those, postcards of different places in the world: the Great Wall, the Taj Mahal, the Sphinx, and more. It only broke his interest when he saw the picture of a mountain that he didn’t even bother to know which mountain it was anymore.

He walked to the other side of the table, where perched on top of it was a glass stand holding several different keychains. Some were shaped with All Might’s face, others of Endeavor’s (though there were a lot, meaning they didn’t sell too much), and others of Hawks and Best Jeanist. Others were typical backgrounds, others backgrounds with printed quotations on them: All Might’s “I am here”, a “Life is what you make of it”, “Remember to smile”, “Always be thankful.”

But one caught his eye: “I’m always a hero.”

Kamui picked it up, feeling its rubbery texture. It had a background of a very beautiful view of a forest. And as much as it was comfortable to the hand, it was comfortable to Kamui’s mindset, a reminder, at most. That Mt. Lady’s intrusions into his work won’t stop him from his job of saving the world. With the growing population, he didn’t need to worry about his loss of work in one area because he can move on to another. A villain’s mind wishes to explore his quirk to the negativeness to those around him, but as a hero, Kamui was one of those to stop them. Or even to help them, if he can. With that keychain, it served as a reminder to quit having an insecurity that now looked dominant when Mt. Lady enters the scene. Plus, heroism isn’t about fame. What was he thinking?

Carrying the keychain, he turned to the cashier. “Sir, I--”

Cling-cling!

Standing at the store’s entrance was Mt. Lady. She stretched her arms with a yawn as Kamui clutched the keychain in his fist, the cashier guy turning to the female with slight interest.

“Dang, paparazzi. In my face again,” she complained. “Glad I got away. This little store was the perfect escape route.” She put her weight on one leg until she seemed to notice Kamui there for the first time. She smiled lazily. “Kamui Woods.” She greeted.

“Mt. Lady,” Kamui responded, biting back the upcoming distaste.

She twirled. “This place looks nice,” she said, innocently peering at the displayed mementos. “Do you sell hair clips?”

“Yes, Mt. Lady, miss,” came the cashier guy’s response, returning to leaning back on the chair lackadaisically. “By the left wall.” Kamui was surprised that his response to the heroine held no admiration or affection that other countermen might give. Not even a faint blush

But Mt. Lady seemed to be unaware of that. She positioned herself a few feet away from Kamui, taking in the painting palettes. After a few seconds, she suddenly looked towards him, her eyes landing on his hands. “What’s that?” She questioned.

“Nothing!” He slammed the keychain down, and it sank underneath a set of leather wallets. He reared back before setting his arms at his sides, regaining composure with a sigh. “Nothing at all.” He felt like he was saying those to himself rather than to the 23rd pro hero.

Her head was tilted at the side before she straightened up. “Well then,” she said turning away. “Planning to buy anything, Kamui-kun?”

Feeling the rage rising, he clenched his fists. “No.” He said lowly.

“Ooh!” Mt. Lady held up a small statue carved into the shape of the Greek god Apollo. “How about this? This man is so dreamy, isn’t he?” She batted her eyelashes, as if the statue was going to respond.

Kamui Woods took a step back. “No.”

Mt. Lady lowered it and brought up a statue of Dionysus instead. “How about him? He can control vines, similar to you, Kamui-kun! And he’s into grapes, same color as my hero outfit, don’t you think?” She spun, her hair acting like a curtain around her as she did so.

“No!” Kamui said.  

She pouted, but it was immediately replaced with a warm smile as she lifted the postcard with the mountain. “How about--?”

Kamui put his hands to the sides of his head. “No! I don’t want anything! Just…” he paused, knowing he was beginning to rage inside the store of that innocent but nice man. “…leave me alone.” He turned and stormed out of the store, the bell singing as the door swung shut.

Mt. Lady and the cashier guy watched him go in silence before the man whistled. “Reason B it is then.” He mulled.

All Mt. Lady did was glance back at the wallets and the sunken keychain.

 


 

Now Kamui chose to use his quirk for faster travel. His “Lacquered Chains Prison” mostly. The ends of his branches sprang out in quick paces, attaching themselves to structures before the man swings. Right now, he hated himself. He had fled yet again from a scene with Mt. Lady because of insecurity. That’s why he chose that keychain. But now that was lost too.

Kamui could only blame himself and his dumb conscience. The master of his emotions. The one in control.

The branches spread further as he moved longer distances. He heard some citizens crying out happily, “It’s Kamui Woods!” but he didn’t care. Not now anyway. He would be no help to them with his current state. First he had to teach himself to solve his own problems before learning to solve those of the world around him. Night had finally settled in when he retracted his wooden branches and landed on the sidewalk. He slumped tiredly, exhausted from the effort to take different turns to find himself somewhere else. He began walking once he decided on his next destination:

Home.

All day, he was cursed with Mt. Lady’s naive demeanor, now he just wanted to rest. Lie down on bed and have a nice snack while watching a movie. Be able to take off his hero costume and call it quits for the day. He had enough. He no longer wanted to go where he can’t enjoy peace and quiet.

“Kamui-kun! Kamui-kun!”

He stopped dead in his tracks, eyes widening in shock. He was scared of turning to reassure himself that his speculation was wrong, but when he did, he saw Mt. Lady, the size of a building, walking over to him. Her hair blonde shined in the moonlight, but he never let that swoon him over. Maybe he won’t ever.

When she was close enough, she shrank to her normal height--smaller than him--and ran over to his side, panting lightly. “You tired me out there, Kamui-kun.” She said. “For a while there I thought we were playing chase.”

“You followed me?”

“I didn’t see you immediately!” she snapped. “I had to use my quirk to find you.” She released a high-pitched laugh, one that would attract a ton of suitors. “It was funny how you looked like a spiderweb made of wood from a distance! So tiny yet so--"

"What do you want?" Kamui interrupted, patience running thin with the woman in front of him. As much as he disliked her, he knew he should still be a gentleman. But he felt he wasn't at his best as this moment. Maybe if it was Mt. Lady, he would never be.

Then unexpectedly, Mt. Lady smiled at him, her rose-colored eyes glittering in the moonlight. "I think you might have left something back there." She pulled something from her back, and clutched it in her fist. When she uncapped her fingers, the item revealed itself to be the keychain Kamui was admiring earlier.      

He was speechless.

"You know what they say," Mt. Lady continued, toying with the item around her fingers. "Broken items need to be paid for." She stopped playing and handed the keychain to Kamui as his senses returned.

"Did I break it?" He said with worry, looking the item at every angle.

She scoffed playfully, waving her gloved hand. "No, it was perfectly fine. Something else was broken though. That something..." she trailed off, suddenly looking very interested in the ground.

Me. She's referring to me.

Though she wasn't too smart, she still was intelligent enough to read him. That or his stupid idea to drown the keychain underneath leather wallets made him obvious. Either way, he looked at the keychain, felt the rubbery texture of the souvenir in his palm. "Did you buy yourself a hair clip too? How much do I owe you for this? "

Putting her arms behind her back, she shook her head. "I'd rather not answer those, Kamui-kun." Following those words was a giggle.

So she didn't buy the clip. She spent the money she had to buy him the keychain, which he only realized now, he had no idea how much cost. He didn't ask the fat guy or the cashier guy if any of the items were expensive, for Kamui was too eager to get his own price for effort to care about reading the prices.

It hit him, why nobody wanted to buy from that store, and why All Might had. It was expensive, and not all items were worth it. The things there were beautiful, but not all were affordable. Being too caught up in his self interests made him miss the obvious. Now here was Mt. Lady, having bought something for who heck knows how much, because he was dumb enough to behave like an idiot in a shop ran by two people.

Yet, she still did so. She took the fame, but still decided that she wanted to do something for him, to make him feel better. She might not have even known what she unintentionally put him through, but she was still wise enough to do something to boost him. He liked that.

"Thank you," Kamui said, bowing. He admired the keychain once more as Mt. Lady grinned in front of him proudly.

"Whatever," she said, growing into her tall size again. She faced the opposite direction before adding, "Seeya the next time we meet, hero." Then she stomped off.

Kamui Woods continued to stare at her as she got further away, until he finally began walking back home, still clutching the keychain. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day for him, he thought, maybe less annoying. Maybe even reassuring. He smiled as he faced the sky, wondering where he can hang his brand new good prize of reassurance.

Chapter Text

Even if it was raining, it was hot. Being inside the Gym Gamma, with working students and dancing kids, Tsuyu can see why. Even she was having a hard time in what she was doing thanks to the sweltering atmosphere of the room. She put down her paintbrush and held her hair up, using her tongue to grab one of the ponytails around her wrist to tie it. Then with a bun in her hair, she picked the brush up again.

Fumikage Tokoyami looked at her from his position on the floor, carrying a paintbrush of his own. Separating him from Tsuyu was a long cloth the length of those typical long tables in family gatherings. Painted on the pale cloth were artworks based on UA, and the school’s theme for the dance competition: Greek gods.

Tsuyu placed a finger on her lower lip, eyes meeting that of her classmate’s. “Did I do something wrong?” She asked, hoping that her interpretation of a pegasus was okay.

Looking down at her painting, Fumikage shook his head. “No, it’s great. I just glanced at the cheer practice behind you.”

Behind them was the Cheerleading team of UA, led by Mina Ashido. Principal Nezu agreed that their school was to take part of a dance competition against other hero schools in Japan, a regular school activity UA was happy to participate in. When their homeroom teacher, Mr. Aizawa, asked who wanted to join the dance team, many hands went up: Toru’s, Yuga’s, Ochaco’s, Denki’s, Minoru’s (but he wasn’t taken into the team), and Mina’s. When asked who should lead the team, points sailed to Mina, who agreed without hesitation. Now here they were, practicing the choreography in the school gym, with Present Mic and the other teachers yelling at the other students to cheer loudly the yell composed by Kyoka Jiro and Mirio Togata. Thirteen and Midnight were the teachers mainly responsible for the props to be used  for the competition.

Tsuyu and Fumikage were only some of the students assigned to help out with the props, others being Shoto, Kyoka, and other kids from other classes, now all painting banners and posters, creating paper mache spears and thunderbolts. With the theme of Greek gods, the students made sure that the designs looked close enough to actual structures and myths, others having researched deeply.

“It’s a shame that Yaoyorozu couldn’t make it,” Yuga said, a few feet away from Tsuyu on the floor, carrying another paintbrush. His leg was wrapped in a cast after last week’s incident when Tetsutetsu accidentally dropped him during one of the flips. Now he just wanted to work with the props team, to at least contribute something for the school. “Madam’s sick, is she not?”

Tsuyu croaked, returning to her work. “Though quirks were prohibited to create props for the competition, she might have made extra paint for us.”

“Are you out of paint?” Yuga questioned, leaning over to see her painting.

Tsuyu placed the brush on a newspaper as she checked the cup of gold paint given to her to work with. She was surprised to see it almost empty. “Almost.”

We are,” the voice of Dark Shadow complained, angling his cup of blue paint to his yellow eyes, Fumikage resuming painting in front of him. “Fumikage’s literally just smudging the paint now, aren’t ya?”

A snarl was the bird-headed hero’s reply. “We can still work with this, Dark Shadow,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “We just need to finish up the empty spots in this painting.” He pointed at his work, which Dark Shadow studied.

Tsuyu looked over it as well, having finished her pegasus. “That’s a nice painting of a cyclops there, Tokoyami-chan,” she commented.

Oui,” Yuga agreed.

Looking flustered, Fumikage set his brush on one of the newspapers close by. Thunder roared above them, and lightning followed, lighting the room in a faint yellow glow. There was a soft shriek from the other students gathered to practice the yell which sounded like Izuku. Fumikage sighed, turning to Tsuyu’s and Yuga’s direction, he said, “If we need more paint, might as well get it now. We wouldn’t want to be caught in the rain.” Behind him, Dark Shadow nodded.

Yuga clicked his tongue, beginning to paint his naiad picture again a shade of emerald green. “Do you want to get the extra box, Tokoyami-san?”

“If I must,” Fumikage replied, standing.

Tsuyu raised her hand. “I can come with you,” she announced. “You might need eyes during the rain.”

Yuga smirked, purple eyes shining with amusement. “Very well. But you might not want to ruin those PE uniforms more.” He gestured to their clothes, splattered with different colors of paint. Behind them, Mina’s voice cried out in a firm “Hi-yah!” as they flipped Ochaco, who landed safely between the outspread arms of Tetsutetsu and Denki.

Tsuyu handed her paintbrush to Ibara then ran to Fumikage’s side. “Where’s the box, Aoyama-chan?”

The blonde student pointed towards one of the exits. “Mon amie, near the restrooms. It’s in a separate shed by the left corridor. Careful, though. It’s pretty dark.” He winked.

Tsuyu nodded once, and the two were off, Dark Shadow glancing once more at the practice dance of their classmates.

 


 

Tsuyu and Fumikage found themselves staring up at one of those small wooden sheds the size of a forest toilet, nimbus clouds continuing to gather around them. The music from the gym still jingled, along with the loud cheering of their classmates and fellow-students. When lightning irradiated the sky again, it set haunting shadows on the shed, as well as on the tall twisted tree standing next to it. Tsuyu shivered, seeing a horror movie scene seem to unfold itself despite being four-thirty in the afternoon.

“Let’s be quick,” Fumikage said, their cue to move towards the creepy shed. Once they opened the door, they were greeted by a room filled with boxes and old office supplies. Three brooms were placed at one corner, and spiderwebs stuck to the ceiling. There was a small hexagonal skylight, but only a part of it was visible, the rest of it covered with stacks of boxes. Due to the appearance of dark clouds, not enough light entered through the skylight to brighten the place. It was still gloomy and gray, pale brown and faded hues.

This shed is in UA?Dark Shadow whined, shuddering. “This feels more in place beside a cemetery.”

Tsuyu rushed to a set of boxes in the back, gripping the sides of one to see the box underneath. She was welcomed by the sights of old paper clips and clipboards. No sign of paint.“Tokoyami-chan, help me by searching near the door. If it gets too dark, you need to exit first.” He nodded, going for the closest stack. A few more boxes were set to the ground before Tsuyu commented, “This space is quite tight, isn’t it?”

Fumikage nodded again. “Not recommended for the claustrophobic.” He set down a box filled with scratch papers filled with mathematical formulas and old report cards. The sound of pounding water began bouncing on the roof, the glass covering the skylight presenting the upcoming rain with spherical droplets. “We need to hurry.” Lightning struck again, and the rain strengthened.

Tsuyu lifted one box and stocked it on another as more thunder groaned in the sky. White light flickered inside, making her jump. “Ribbit!” She unintentionally dropped a cup full of of non-radiant sequins.

The sound of music died out as the storm grew. The open door began swinging back and forth, allowing rain to enter and sprinkle lightly on Fumikage. He swirled and grabbed at its edges before getting a perfect slam on his face. He motioned backwards with an annoyed grunt.

“I think we should go back,” Tsuyu concluded, leaving a box of dusty plastic water bottles on the wooden floor.

Just as they were rushing to the door, more white light flickered with roaring thunder, and the door swung shut, coating them with water. They fell back, and what seemed to be a crash of a huge object emitted from outside. They desperately got up, and Fumikage punched the door. But whatever fell outside was blocking the way.

Dark Shadow nudged Fumikage’s shoulder timidly. “Try kicking it down, Fumi!” He tried sounding tough, but his voice betrayed his wish. Slowly, the place was getting darker, which scared him as he never had a good reputation in the darkness, especially not in the forest camp.

Fumikage followed the direction, but the door didn't even groan. It was so perfectly stuck that even water didn’t manage to leak through the tiny spaces visible. He nodded once at Dark Shadow, signaling the quirk to try pushing the door with him. No movement.

The sound of their heavy breathing filled the tight room. Tsuyu sensed his heart pound faster as the rain got stronger as if the activities were parallel to each other. Of course, she knew why. Placing her big hand on his shoulder, she suggested the three of them try pushing it down at the same time. They nodded, but still, the door didn’t even budge. Lighting spasmed and thunder roared.

They were trapped.

Dark Shadow dragged Fumikage underneath the skylight, trembling. “Fumi, don’t…Fumi, no… He repeated to them, trying to help his companion equal his emotions. The latter clenched his fists in both anxiety and anger, his red eyes shut tightly.

Tsuyu stepped towards them, grasping Fumikage’s arms. “Tokoyami!” she shouted, and that seemed to calm him down. He sank to his knees, Dark Shadow loosening his hold on Fumikage’s shoulders. “Are you okay? Try….not to panic.” She advised.

He released one more breath before he finally let his tense shoulders drop calmly. “I’ll try.” He opened his eyes, blinking them hard. “Nobody wants to be in a state of panic.” He stated.

“Ribbit,” Tsuyu flushed in the grayish room.

Massaging his wrists, Fumikage inclined his head to her direction. “We need to get out of here.” Despite his uneasiness, he managed to make his voice monotonous. “How do you feel, Asui?”

“I told you to call me Tsu.”

“Of course,” he quickly amended. “Tsu.” Dark Shadow smirked from behind him. “It seems we might need to wait for someone to find us. Let’s hope Aoyama would at least tell them where we went, suggesting we get the extras.” He shuddered, hugging himself.

Tsuyu raised her head to the skylight’s direction worriedly. “How long do you think you can hold up?” She asked him, estimating the time to be about five-fifteen already. It was hard to tell with the storm outside.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “We just need to be calm.”

Dark Shadow was already bigger in size, the tenebrosity already affecting him despite being under a skylight. But all he did was chuckle lowly. She’s always calm, Fumikage. If anyone was to be calm right now, it would be you.” He rested one of his elbows on Fumikage’s shoulder.

Tsuyu lifted her finger to her lip again, tilting her head sideways. “I’ve always thought Tokoyami was calm, Dark Shadow.” She said, which amused the quirk even more.

Told you she’d think you’re calm,” he teased.

Fumikage rolled his eyes. “Behave yourself, Dark Shadow.” He ordered.

A snort. Yeah, sure.

Silence followed after. The two teenagers listened to the continuous sound of the shower, the thunder, and the lightning. Either the music was completely drowned out by the storm, or they had stopped to get the students back to the dorms. That was the only explanation they had to the silence from the gym that greeted them. Tsuyu hugged her knees to her chest, staring blankly at the floor, Fumikage crossing his arms from across her. Dark Shadow quietly watched the weather through the skylight anxiously.

Seconds turned to minutes without stirring. A loud shriek erupted from the gym, but they ignored it. When Tsuyu was leaning on the side of an old chalkboard, Dark Shadow finally break the quiet, though it was addressed to Fumikage.

Your fly’s down,” He said, pointing.

“Our PE uniform doesn’t have one,” Fumikage grumbled, his voice groggy with disuse. Once again, his eyes were closed, as if he were trying to contain his emotions through meditation before he was interrupted by his naughty quirk.

Dark Shadow turned to Tsuyu. “So, I think we’ll be in here for a while.” He announced. Behind him, Fumikage opened one of his eyes. “So, why not small talk?” He cleared his throat. “So, did you hear about the baker who died in Tokyo last week? Heard he was about as tall as Iida-san or taller, with a black bushy beard and sparkling onyx eyes. Like the night.”

Fumikage’s attention was caught now. “Don’t make up stories--”

“I actually know him,” Tsuyu replied, untying the bun from her head, reducing it back to a ribbon by her hips. “If I’m not mistaken, he might have been a lawyer once. I think he was at it for thirty years before becoming a town baker. I remember my mother talking about him to me and my siblings. And once, my grandmother brought home some cookies that might have been from his bakery.” She thought for a while. “That was when I was about nine.”

The quirk smiled. Young.He commented.

Fumikage was now quietly watching them.

“His wife was a widow,” Tsuyu added. “When they got married, it was due to premarital sex and early pregnancy. But in the end, they knew that they truly loved each other, so they did what they can to raise their child. The kid would probably be about fifteen now, but I’m not sure. And I believe her quirk was to make stick drawings reality?”

Dark Shadow dipped his chin in agreement.

The tale reminded me of Romeo and Juliet,” Dark Shadow said, eyes half closed as he grinned. Their families actually really hated each other too. Always at each others throats. It was only when the baker’s eldest sister was murdered by Stain did…” he trailed off, smile fading.

Tsuyu crossed her legs. “I’m sorry to hear that. Was it the reason the families made up?” An unpleasant image of Stain the Hero Killer stabbing a young woman holding a tray of bread made her flinch.

Yup,” Dark Shadow responded, beam already returning. He twisted to look at Fumikage, who was listening to them. Ah, Tokoyami! You seem awfully quiet. Engage with us, won’t you?”

Startled, Fumikage’s elbow bumped into a box that stumbled onto the wooden floor. Rolling out of it were bottles of multicolored paints and excess brushes.

Oh, you found them!” Dark Shadow laughed victoriously.

“Nice work,” added Tsuyu, smiling at him.

Fumikage didn’t respond. He just looked upwards at the skylight, remaining muted.

Tsuyu frowned, lifting herself to get closer to her classmate. “Tokoyami-chan?”

He returned his eyes to her. “Tsu.” Her lack of replies made him fully aware now of the situation. “Oh--right. It’s just that it’s getting darker in here. My phone was back at the gymnasium, so I couldn’t use the flashlight now even if I’d want to.” He hummed. “I don’t even think it has battery anymore anyway.”

“Same,” Tsuyu said. After a while, she sneezed.

Dark Shadow saw Fumikage evidently blush. “Asui, are you alright?”

She smiled at him. “I’m alright, ribbit. Someone probably just mentioned me in a conversation.” She joked lightly.

For the first time, Fumikage returned the grin. “If that’s the case, then we’re saved.” He lifted the fallen painting tools, setting them inside the box. “We’ll also need this.”

She laughed. He chuckled. They stared at each other quietly.

Dark Shadow held in his laughter.

Tsuyu was first to look away. “I saw Bakugo-chan listening to music via headphones earlier. What kind of music do you think he listens to?”

Fumikage thought for a moment, catching a glance at the skylight. “Songs about revenge, anger and uncontrollable rage. Heavy metal, maybe.” He looked at his open palms, dirty with paint, dust, dirt, and sweat. “I assume he’d like to listen to that one Metal band from 1989 if he got his hands on a copy of their album.”

“I know what you mean.”

Another set of no exchanges. Tsuyu began toying with the edges of her PE pants. Eventually, Fumikage broke the silence with a miserable sigh. “I apologize for this, Asui,” he said. “I just needed to smudge the paint to get the artwork of the banner done. I didn’t mean to drag you into this. Now we’re stuck here in a dusty shed in the rain without an exit. Not to mention the darker its been getting as time passes. I should have gone alone with Dark Shadow.”

“Don’t blame yourself for any of this,” Tsuyu replied with surprise. “Finding extra paint would’ve been better than improvising with colors. Mixing might not get us with the exact hue we might’ve wanted, so I think this entire trip was reasonable. A new experience too.”

“If I lost control and anyone would’ve gotten hurt, it would be you,” Fumikage pointed out roughly. “You know what I did in the forest when Shoji lost his hand! I destroyed part of the woods. And I was weak too, Asui. I was kidnapped by a villain, only luckily freed on time. I lost to the second group of class 1B. Now this!” He spread his arms irritably. He lowered his head, hiding it between the knees pulled to his chest.

Tsuyu pulled his arm, alarming him. “You can’t be serious!” There was a groan, and she turned in time to see Dark Shadow begin increasing in size again, growling as he did so. She snapped her head back to Fumikage, pulling his other arm. “Don’t lose control. Stop feeling guilty. Look at me.” She tried to pull his knees apart as he struggled to keep them pressed together.

Dark Shadow became bigger.

“Tokoyami!” She said, almost ordering him now. She pulled his legs apart, Fumikage releasing a grunt. He was shivering, teeth clattering as he tried to regain composure. Dark Shadow continued growing, eyes shifting into a scary ruby glow. White light glowed from Fumikage’s eyes, darkness of black and purple beginning to cloak around him. So Tsuyu did the first thing that came to her head--she hugged him.

Dark Shadow shut up. Fumikage began panting heavily, his eyes returning to its regular state.

Tsuyu wrapped her arms around his back, resting her chin on his shoulder. Fumikage was stiff, almost unmoving save for the breaths he was taking. He began relaxing before at last he put his arms around her as well, setting his head on her shoulder.

“Are you sure this is okay?” He whispered.

“Ribbit,” she responded.

The two and Dark Shadow remained stationary for the rest of the time. After a while, the storm ceased, leaving a faint drizzle to hit the top of the shed. Still, the sky was dark, almost night already. If they were to estimate the whole time they were inside the shed, they’ve been there for more than an hour. Time flew fast it seemed. It didn’t reassure them.

Then there was the sound of a vacuum. The noise of matter being sucked up in some sort of mini black hole, opening up an empty space. That thing that was being sucked seemed to be really big. Tsuyu and Fumikage were still in position in the hug, but their eyes widened. The room was suddenly filled with outside light as the door was thrust open.

“There you are!”

Thirteen rushed inside the shed; Ochaco, Izuku, and Tenya behind them. Ochaco was in a new black shirt, having changed her top after their dance practice. The other two had sweaters overlapping their PE clothes. Izuku’s was a yellow one with All Might’s face printed on it. Tenya’s was plain blue with a few shades of white. All three of them wore expressions of fear, relief, and surprise.

Fumikage and Tsuyu immediately let go of one another, falling into opposite sides of the room. As soon as he went under the light, Dark Shadow shrunk.

“We’ve been looking all over for you!” Thirteen explained, relief coating their words. “When we told the props team to clean up, you two were the ones we didn’t see moving. Present Mic wanted to scold you but he realized that you weren’t even in the room.” They sighed. “We were searching the campus top to bottom! All Might was so worried sick he vomited blood again.”

Fumikage and Tsuyu spoke in silence, registering their next question. “Then where was Aoyama?” asked Fumikage, facing Thirteen again. If they were missing, Yuga should’ve told them where they were. He was the one who suggested they would get the extra paints. However, that didn’t seem to be the case.

Izuku was the one who answered. “Aoyama-kun had to go to Recovery Girl,” he stated. “Unfortunately, while running, Tetsutetsu ran over his injured foot, so he was rushed to the clinic. Tetsutetsu’s probably there too, apologizing repeatedly.” The corner of his mouth slightly lifted, as if there was more than just one apology that he knew about. “In the end, we managed to ask him, so he told us where you were.”

Tsuyu and Fumikage groaned in exasperation.

“At least you’re okay,” Thirteen said, lifting a phone to the side of their dome-shaped head. “Hello? Aizawa! We found them!…They were in the shed, sir! No the tree was blocking the door…” they turned, leaving the students together.

Tsuyu stepped out of the shed, and fresh, humid air kissed her skin. Fumikage followed suit with Dark Shadow, who carried the box of paints with a sinister grin. The night was fresh and wet, the best territory for Tsuyu, being a Frog-quirked heroine.

Ochaco raised her hand. “If you don’t mind me asking,” she told Tsu. “But what did you two do the entire time you were trapped in there?”

Neither responded. Dark Shadow snorted.

“It was quite a journey,” he replied, earning a sharp glare from Fumikage, Tsuyu only croaking to the statement.

Izuku, Tenya, and Ochaco exchanged confused looks, Thirteen returning to them a short while later. “Let’s get you to the dorms.” They seemed to catch Dark Shadow with the paints, for they got closer and assisted him by taking the box. “I can’t believe you found these!” They exclaimed. “I thought these were lost!”

Dark Shadow snickered. “Luckily Fumikage bumped into them,” he received another glare from Fumikage thanks to the pun.

Thirteen straightened up, carrying the box with both hands. “All right, then,” they said. “Let’s get you to the dorms. Your classmates are waiting for you.”

They began moving, Fumikage and Tsuyu sharing a sidewards glance at each other as they walked, Dark Shadow bursting to laughter behind them.

Chapter Text

Overhaul hated the mechanical arms. But as he rushed past the surrounding police vehicles following his fight with Deku and that Lemillion, he had no other choice. When he saw a fallen villain with two mechanical arms being defeated by a pro hero, he knew that he had to take them. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to achieve what he wanted if he didn’t act immediately.

So he kicked a random, innocent man into a convenience store. Nothing mattered even if Overhaul lost his arms. He was still Yakuza.

The pro hero rushed to the scene, leaving the villain fallen on the bloody roadside. Overhaul was quick. He was suddenly towering over the fallen villain such as himself. Even without arms and his mask, his purple-furred green jacket, he knew his glare and the blood running down his body made him look menacing. The villain looked up at him with pleading eyes.

Overhaul saw the evildoer whimper, blood spilling from the side of his lips. But Overhaul said nothing. He stomped on the weak man’s mechanical right arm, right at his shoulder blades, rendering it unconnected as it lay on the road. The man released a yelp as Overhaul glared at him, the man already weeping below him.

“You’re helping me put that on,” Overhaul commanded lowly, and the man obliged. After he got up, he attached the mechanical arm on Overhaul’s shoulder, securing all the necessary locks to stop it from falling off the villain. They both stood with one arm each afterwards. Then Overhaul tore the criminal’s other mechanical arm off with his new one, and locked it on himself. As the pro hero’s footsteps loudened, Overhaul delivered one quick kick to the now-unarmed villain’s stomach before sprinting to the opposite direction.

Stopping in a private alleyway surrounded by twinning garbage dumpsters, Overhaul began getting used to the cyborg arms, still hating them either way. He recalled seeing Mr. Compress with a similar when he and Shigaraki cut off his arms, already looking used to using it. For Overhaul, it felt different. He bore two of them, and he was unsure if his quirk can manifest itself through these artificial limbs. He guessed not.

He dug his new hand into his pocket, pulling out white surgical gloves. Even without real hands, he wanted to be clean, at least. He slid them on before brushing the dust from the car crash off his suit.

Then he ran again. Ran through the most quiet parts of Japan, the probable spots for the Hero Killer’s murders say he wanted to trip from here to there. His directions played like a map in his retina, guiding him to the path he wished to take. He didn’t stop, not even to catch his breath. It didn’t matter if he was taking the long way instead of the shortcut, but as long as he was hidden and alive from the previous incident, he knew what he needed to do.

And he needed to do it fast.

He was already out of breath when he reached the building. The small clinic as big as a one-storey house, gray-shaded from years sitting in a dirty atmosphere surrounded by trees and away from the main city streets. The walls were cracked, and ants went in colonies by a lump in the muddy dirt. Overhaul flinched, but it didn’t matter. He ran to the entrance, scanning his backside for possible spies and stalkers before getting inside, locking the door for safety.

It was so dark, the place shaded with a greenish blue light, with a mixture of black and gray. It opened to a living room with broken furniture and torn-up sofas, wrinkled blinds, and a broken television set. There was a kitchen counter on one corner that had bottles of wine and an empty glass brimmed with a liquor of a red hue. Spiderwebs were everywhere, and it smelled like a mouse died. Overhaul wished he had brought a mask.

The only light was caused by the open window. It cast a yellow light on the floor, tiny dust particles flying in its wake.

Filthy and disgusting. Nobody can make a living here, Overhaul thought, feeling the hives.

But Overhaul continued and stepped towards an equally darkened hallway, footsteps echoing before stopping in front of the door at its end. With a deep breath, he knocked on it rather hesitantly before going inside. There, on a bed, was his boss. The man who took him in as a child, the leader of the Shie Hassaikai. A monitor showing his heartbeat was present by his side alongside tubes of water, dextrose, and a glass of mineral water. His hands lay on his chest as he breathed softly, but the only sound was that of the monitor.

He was looking at Overhaul, finally awake from his coma--the one Overhaul had put him in. And he didn’t look too happy about it.

Overhaul stepped inside, walking over to the side of his bed, mechanical hands clutched.

“Kai,” the Boss weakly said by way of greeting.

Overhaul bowed vaguely. “Boss Man.” He greeted back.

The Boss studied him carefully, Overhaul well-aware of all the blood and scratches on his clothes. And of course, the arms.

“I see you survived,” the Boss said. “I heard something pretty noisy before I was lifted off my little prison. You have your secrets, Kai, don’t you?” He made for a wicked smile, one Overhaul remembered when they did something sinister back in his younger days. “Thank you for the warning.”

Overhaul dipped his head, but kept his eyes on the old man. “So you heard me.”

“Of course,” the Boss responded. “At first I thought it was a dream. But then I managed to crack my eyes open, and I saw you fighting some green-haired kid in a different form. I was being dragged away then, Chisaki. I suppose you gave that order to my rescuer?” He coughed then, echoing in the silent clinic bedroom.

Overhaul’s hand went up to his mouth, trying to protect himself from the germs his father-figure might have released. The Boss laughed.

“You didn’t change much, did you, Kai?” He asked, facing the ceiling.

Overhaul lowered his hand slowly. “I requested you’d be taken to safety,” he answered the first question, suddenly interested in his shoes. “I did give the order to one of the Yakuza, before he too, passed away in battle. He handed you to another ally of ours before he returned to the fight.”

Another faint chuckle. “Answering the first question before the next,” he mused. “I taught you that.”

Overhaul said nothing.

With a twinkle in his eyes, he repeated his second inquiry. “Did you change much, Overhaul?”

Hearing the sound of his villain name, Overhaul raised his head to the boss again. “More than anything,” he whispered, even when nobody else was there. “You can see it, can’t you? You can read the damage?” He almost sounded desperate, but being used to acting calm in almost all his situations, he managed to control his tone.

The Boss nodded, which was difficult since he was lying down. “I can read you.” He said. Seeing the younger man’s clenched fists, added, “And you’re guilty?”

Overhaul exhaled. “Not entirely, sir. We managed to have the drug affect someone, and it worked. His quirk disappeared. That, I do not regret. But through this inevitable process, foreseen by one of the heroes, there was more to loose.”

“And Eri?”

“She was lost too,” Overhaul admitted sourly. “Rescued by the young heroes. The source of the drug is now gone as well, plus the last drug I had was too, stolen by Tomura Shigaraki. Now I am left here, speaking to you in a tight room.”

The boss hummed. “My granddaughter lost, eh? In that case, what about the rest of the Yakuza?”

“I’m the only one left,” Overhaul reported. “All the rest were arrested, maybe tortured by now. I was almost caught myself, luckily able to escape when the League of Villains intervened with the travel.” He rolled one of his shoulders, biting his tongue to stop himself from saying any more. The action was useless, as the boss understood the gesture.

“That’s how you lost your arms, isn’t it?”

Overhaul nodded, lips pressed in a thin line as he reminisced the moment.

The boss thought for a while, registering the information. “How does it make you feel?”

For the first time, Overhaul was uncomfortable with the conversation as he took a shaky breath. He grabbed a monobloc chair from the side and sat on it, resting his new elbows on his knees. To distract himself even more, he slid off his gloves and set them on the table beside the glass.

The boss smirked tiredly, the machine beeping in sync with his heartbeat. “You’re sad. Based on how your body is acting, you’re sad.” He teased the younger villain lightly, but knew he was right. He knew he was, when Overhaul hung his head in defeat, dropped his eyelids, eyelashes brushing his skin lightly.

“You really are my boy.”

Overhaul raised his head again, words struggling. “But I let you down,” he said. “I wanted to repay my debt to you. But in doing so, I lost everything. Hard work, allies, variables, my quirk…” he paused, trying to keep himself at bay. “Everything you’ve done for me, I wasted. I failed so miserably. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make it up to you.”

“I told you not to go this path, Kai. You didn’t listen to me. You put me in a coma. Now you come crawling to this room, wishing you made none of these choices. You wish to repay me for taking you in as a child, for raising you. But can’t you see? You already have.” He chuckled.

Surprised, Overhaul returned the old man’s stare with his golden eyes shining.

“You said that you requested someone to rescue me during the fight, didn’t you? Tell me, Kai, don’t you think that was good enough? I saved you from decaying as a child, and you did the same for me. You didn’t need to try ridding the world of quirks to do so, didn’t need to get yourself involved with illegal drugs. But to you, a debt is huge. You’d do whatever it takes to get what your mindset wishes to get, that sometimes, you couldn’t see what you might have done.” He coughed from the action of speaking too much, but this time, Overhaul didn’t cover his mouth. “You already saved me even before you lost your quirk, before Eri was truly taken by the heroes. If only you’d known, maybe you wouldn’t have tried so hard. Either that, or you’re just insane.” He smiled painfully. “That makes us even.” He watched Overhaul’s expression shift to uncertainty.

“Then where does that leave us?” Overhaul whispered hesitantly, his brain already concluding the boss’s answer. “If the deeds are done, then where will that leave…you?” He impatiently grabbed the blanket of the bed. “I can continue doing what I want. But where will that leave you?” His voice rose, combined with unbearable emotion that he no longer tried to hide.

The boss’s eyes swept to the monitor with a slower-playing heartbeat. “I’ll see my daughter’s husband.” He confessed, angling his head to see Overhaul clearly. The latter bit his lip, shoulders trembling as his eyes dilated in horror.

“Don’t you dare,” Overhaul insisted. “Don’t you dare try!” He slammed his hand on the table, knocking down the glass of water, shattering it on the floor. Then he fell silent, covering his mouth with both hands. “Don’t you dare…” His hands slid to cover his whole face, and Overhaul finally let himself break.

The sound of the machine was no longer alone. Overhaul was breathing heavily as he buried himself and wept. Hiccuping, shuddering, he released the side only this man in front of him had ever seen. The cyborg hands were cool, cold, unlike human skin, unlike his hands before. The thought of that just made it worse for Overhaul.

“Kai, Kai, Kai,” the boss said, hand moving towards the younger villain’s direction as a gesture of comfort. “You’re such a great liar.” Overhaul eyed him sorrowfully and suspiciously between his fingers, making the boss laugh again. “You said you weren’t guilty.” He pointed. “That’s the face of someone guilty.” He tapped the spot closest to Overhaul, alerting him.

“I’m scared of letting go.” Overhaul rasped.

“If you put me in a coma, then why are you acting this way? Shouldn’t you have been happier?” The Shie Hassaikai boss coughed, following it with a broad smile. “Or has Kai Chisaki gone soft?” When he didn’t respond, the boss’s face softened, and he sighed. “You know, I wish I can hug you, like in our younger days when you were crying this way.” He paused, watching the young leader of the Shie Hassaikai continue his sobbing. “When was the last time you hugged someone, Kai?”

Overhaul completely uncovered his face, allowing his tears to fall freely. “I’ve only hugged not out of will, but for the sake of manipulation.” He responded honestly, remembering the times he hugged Eri when he lied saying that she was his daughter, and he was just chasing her as they played around. He frowned, then said, “What’s your point? Trying to make things hard for me?”

Mimicking Overhaul’s voice, the boss said, “I enjoy the suffering of others. I do not really care unless it helps me.” He released another coughing fit, and the machine’s beeping slowed.

Overhaul wiped his face with a snarl, expression still showing his misery. “You witty old man…” He said. “You stupid piece of…!” He ruffled his dark hair, sinking onto the bedside. The boss only smiled, knowing the words weren’t meant for him. Kai was already talking to himself. When Overhaul faced the boss again, his eyes still brimmed with unshed tears. “You’d better have a different motive, pop.” He said, voice suddenly strong and sturdy.

“What do you think?”

Overhaul brushed his remaining tears off and sat up, then stood from the monobloc chair. He pulled it to the far corner of the room and returned his gloves before returning his attention to the boss. “You aren’t the smartest person, you know.” He stated with disgust. “That green-haired boy you mentioned earlier, he knows his limits. He knows his fights. He never gives up, even for doing something as hard as changing the future. I witnessed it, pops. And he was stronger than you ever were.” He walked to the door, each step heavier than the last. “If you want to do what I think you’re thinking, then you’re dumber than anyone I’ve ever known. If you’re playing with me, then perhaps you’re just as bad as I am.” He met the old man’s eyes. “And I know I’m bad. This will be the last time I cry for you.”

“I raised you as a fierce boy,” the Shie Hassaikai boss proudly said. “You were always by my side. And even though you seem to be walking to a new road right now, you are still here. That’s what made me want you to replace me someday. I still think I made the right choice, but I hope you make yours. If not now, someday.” He tilted his head upwards. “Now, if you excuse me, I need to go home.”

Overhaul flinched when the bar flattened and the room suddenly filled with the sound of one whole beep. Tears again threatened to spill, but with new-found determination, he approached the bed once more, putting his hands in his pockets, and his posture relaxed. “Boss, I’m sorry, pops.” He said firmly, face set emotionless as deja vu took its cue. “It’ll probably get kind of quiet in here.”

A few minutes later, the cops were called to dispose of a human corpse in an abandoned clinic, but Overhaul was already out of sight.

I don’t think I’ve payed my debt to the old man. I think I’m just getting started. So he planned to avenge him.

As for you, Shigaraki…you’re going down.

Chapter Text

What the heck did you do?!

“Just killed this girl who was fangirling over that handsome movie actor.”

The front of the cinema house sizzled with the following scene: Himiko Toga with a bloody knife; the corpse of a brown-haired girl with a stabwound at her side; and Twice, staring at the scene with complete horror. At eight-thirty in the evening, Tomura had ordered Twice to find Himiko for an important meeting to discuss. He had assumed that the villainess was stalking Izuku, so he decided to drop by the cinema to buy himself some popcorn to eat while watching her do so for a while. He hadn’t expected to see her here, already having murdered someone.

Himiko pointed at the poster that read “Great Expectations: The Movie”, specifically at the boy in the middle with dark hair and wide, innocent green eyes. Twice didn’t really find the boy that good-looking. He thought he looked more handsome than that.

You aren’t, you idiot, Twice’s second voice muttered in his mind.

“The lead character was supposed to be seven years old,” Himiko cooed, running her fingers down his face in the poster. “But in reality, the boy’s just eighteen years old! Oh, so young!” She suddenly turned to her companion, eyes wide. “You should get him for me.”

“Uh,” Twice held up his pointer finger. “He’s in America.”

“He’s in my heart!” Himiko placed her hands over her chest, her face beaming, eyes sparkling like stars. “Pull him out, Jin! Bring him to the sidewalk so I can talk to him!”

“Girl, you’re weird,” Twice stated, suddenly shifting his previously crossed arms' fingers to the shape of a heart. “I love it!” He advanced forward, his foot nearly tripping over the woman’s corpse. He looked down and caught her eyes, vacant but fully open. “Woah!” He yelled in disgust, trying not to throw up. “We should probably dunk this body in the dump first.” He ran to the woman’s legs, lifting up her knees. “Ladies should always take the head.” He excused himself, not wanting to touch her horrible face. Luckily, Himiko obliged.

They lifted her up together, hoping no one saw them. With the townsfolk busy with the seven o’ clock screening, they had no issues as they went around back and threw the body between empty bags of popcorn and empty soda bottles. Himiko hoisted more garbage bags over the corpse for safety.

They no longer wanted to stay outside and entered the brightly-lit movie house, Himiko having hidden her dagger already at who knows where. She quickly ran back to the poster of the boy and began giggling, admiring his facial features.

Twice crossed his arms, one eyebrow lifted under his mask. “And I suppose you’ve moved on from Deku?” He drawled.

Turning to him with a genuinely confused expression, Himiko asked, “Who’s Deku?” When Twice cocked his head, she laughed, spinning. “Oh! Izuku! Of course I’d never move on when it comes to Izuku!” She giggled, walking over to Twice.

“Who were you admiring earlier?” Tested Twice, a grin playing on his lips.

She waved her hand dismissively. “Just some boring movie actor.” She casually said. “I’m still interested in seeing the movie though. It premieres next week Saturday! Isn’t that exciting?” She mimicked Tsuyu Asui as she placed a finger on her chin. “You should come watch too, Twice. I bet you fifteen yen you’ll cry.”

Twice scoffed. “No way!” Then, “Is it that sad?”

Just as Himiko was going to respond, the sliding doors of the theatre opened, and another one of their colleagues entered. He was carrying a drumstick, which he probably took from the security guard that recently returned from his jingle to not spy Himiko commit murder. He shook his head, playing with the stick around his stitched fingers.

“Tomura’s waiting, you airheads,” Dabi said, walking towards them. “Are you planning to leave this theatre or not?”

Himiko’s eyes continued twinkling. “Dabi! You should join us! We’re watching this movie next week and I think you might like it!” She pointed to the poster, Twice giving a two thumbs up beside her. “I bet him fifteen yen that he’ll bawl watching it.”

“Mind you I never agreed,” Twice protested. “I’m not interested. I’m in!” He gestured to Dabi. “Whaddaya say, Dabs?”

The dark-haired villain rubbed his nape. “I say Tomura’s gonna kill you if you don’t get to the meeting right away. Why are you so caught up with the movie anyway?”

Twice smirked. “She likes this young man, you see. So she invited us to come see the movie.” He copied the way Dabi unintentionally rhymed his ‘away’ and ‘anyway’ during the male’s previous question. Himiko obviously understood the joke, because she clapped and laughed.

Dabi seemed to ignore the joke. “Whatever, Twice. Even if you were going to a movie, you wouldn’t have any money to pay for it.” He spun the stick again amusingly. “You are the one treating her, aren’t you?” When he knew he put Twice in the spot, Dabi grinned. Twice chuckled nervously, eyeing Himiko with affection.

“Of course I’ll pay for it,” He said, but he didn’t sound too confident with his words. “I have to be a gentleman, right?” He clicked his tongue, Himiko tilting her head sideways.

Dabi’s grin didn’t fade yet. “How much do you even have?”

“Enough for one box of cigarettes,” Twice said, receiving a look of annoyance from Himiko. His posture slouched, knowing he wouldn’t be able to actually buy even one ticket. You always put yourself in a corner, Bubaigawara, his second voice mused.

On the other hand, this just amused Dabi more. He glanced once to a wall of numerous movie posters before he faced the loud-voiced duo again. “Forget it. I’ll pay for the screening, Toga.”

Himiko glowed with thanks. “Really? You will?” Dabi dipped his chin, and Himiko squealed, clutching the older boy’s collar. “Thank you! You will not regret this at all!”

Twice tapped his foot, unamused. “You don’t even like classics!”

Letting go of Himiko’s hug, Dabi shrugged. “I have my ways.” He gave her a lazy smile, and she hid her arms behind her back with rosy cheeks. “C’mon. Let’s get back to Tomura--”

“Excuse me.” The three villains turned to see a different security guard approaching them. He had doughnut cream on his beard, with a few sprinkles. Himiko and Twice held in their laughter; even Dabi seemed a bit amused by the sight. “If you’re not going to watch anything, sir, you might as well not loiter around with your kids.” Twice realized the guard was referring to him.

“Are you calling me old?!” Twice squeaked in alarm, rage building up his system as Himiko burst into laughter and Dabi chuckled lowly.

 


  

When Saturday came, Dabi was first to arrive. The three tickets were tucked in the pocket of his sweater. He looked up at the night sky, shutting his eyes to feel the cool air, and he let his breath fog. He had plans tonight, plans he didn’t tell both Himiko and Twice. He waited for them for fifteen minutes before they both arrived, Twice carrying cheese-flavored popcorn and iced teas.

“Dabi!” Himiko called, sharp teeth flashing. She paused in front of him, swiping stray hair from her cheeks, tucking it to her bangs. “Sorry for the delay. Someone wanted to kiss Izuku’s picture, so I had to stab them.” She pulled out a crumpled picture of Izuku from her pocket, swinging it in front of Dabi.

Twice huffed. “Dang, girl,” he rasped. “You’re fast!”

“You’re just carrying too much,” Dabi pointed out. “Wouldn’t want to spill the popcorn, would you?” He turned. “At least you still managed to buy something.”

Agitated, Twice shoved the food into Himiko’s arms, the female yelping in surprise. “Now who do you think you’re kidding with that attitude, you blue-eyed, fire-quirked moron?” He demanded.

“I’m kidding myself,” Dabi replied sarcastically.

Twice jumped back. “Don’t say that! We do not tolerate any hypocrites in the League of Villains! We must know that we are all trusting each other equally to be able to reach our common goals. Therefore, I advise you to be much more open to others, Dabi. But it only starts when you learn to take yourself seriously.”

Holding the food in a dangerous way, Himiko smiled. “When did you get so smart, Jin?”

The eyes of his mask angled in a flirtatious way. “I always have been, my dear.” He straightened up. “That is not the truth!”

Dabi rolled his eyes as the three of them entered the cinema house, Dabi walking over to the guard to show their tickets. Once the guard gave them the go signal, Dabi motioned his colleagues to follow him to cinema house 4. Himiko looked at the movie’s title, and her smile disappeared.

“This isn’t Great Expectations,” she said. “This is ‘Blood of the Innocent’.”

Twice followed her gaze, carrying the food again. “Yeah, you’re right.” He shouted at the slim villain. “Hey, Dabi! This isn’t Charles Dickens! I’ve never even heard of this movie!” But he didn’t respond. Twice and Himiko exchanged wary looks.

They entered the darkness of the movie theatre, illuminated only by small lights. They were greeted by the big screen and the cool aircondition, and Twice wished he could hug his arms. Dabi led them up a few steps, choosing seats somewhere in the upper corner of the cinema. He sat down, waiting for Twice and Himiko to do the same. Himiko sat first, followed by Twice. He handed Himiko and Dabi some bottles of iced tea, and gave the popcorn to Himiko. As soon as it was in her hands, she began munching on it. As she was in the middle, Dabi and Twice were quiet.

As the commercials and trailers played, Twice had fallen asleep, Himiko had finished the popcorn, and Dabi’s head went to the clouds. There was a huge banging sound that scared half of the audience, and the three villains were stirred to reality once more.

“Is it All Might?” Twice whispered with tension to them.

Himiko elbowed him. “All Might’s retired.” She hissed.

Dabi squinted in suspense.

There was silence and anticipation in the room, quiet enough that one might hear a pin drop. Then a voice from the outside called out, “There are villains in that cinema! Let us find them!”

There were a few gasps and wide eyes. But the majority of the crowd yelled, “It’s Endeavor!”

The three villains ducked onto the floor, bringing their trashes. Twice began sweating, Himiko readied her knife, ready for battle. Dabi led them off the side, and they pushed themselves onto the wall. He signaled them to follow his lead. The three slithered by the wall just as the door burst open. They halted, breaths held.

Endeavor stood at the entrance of the theatre with Kamui Woods standing beside him, and they didn’t seem like they were here to watch a movie. The crowd watched them with awe as the lights flickered open, and the big screen had a paused image of a sneezing teenaged boy. Endeavor walked closer to a security guard, Kamui searching through the crowd.

“What’s with that huge scar?” Twice muttered.

“Beats me,” Himiko responded. “But it made him look uglier.”

Endeavor pulled out a mobile phone with pictures of Himiko, Twice, and Dabi. “These three were spotted here, I believe.” He said. “Have you seen them enter? They are members of the infamous League of Villains, and we would all be much safer knowing they were captured. Have you seen them?”

The guard turned pale.

“We gotta go. Now,” Twice murmured. He caught Dabi’s eye, and they reached an understanding.

Dabi crawled towards the back row, sending a fizzle of flame to the opposite direction. The spark caught on a plastic bag, and it erupted into an explosion of blue fire. The crowds screamed, Dabi and the rest flattened themselves on the floor.

“There!” Kamui yelled, and his quirk activated as he went to the flame’s direction.

At the opposite side, Twice did his job. He began creating clones of his two companions, and ordered the two new clones to begin causing chaos. Those versions of Himiko and Dabi leaped from different places, scaring all the people out. Blue fire spread all over from the Dabi clone, and blood leaked from different people as the Himiko duplicate slashed and stabbed. Kamui, having realized that the explosion was a diversion, returned to the battle, wrapping his roots around different clones. But each fought back.

Screams and battle cries filled the air.

The real Dabi’s eyes scanned for Endeavor, finding him dealing with the real Himiko on his back. Each time he shot a wall of flames, she always managed to dodge, allowing the swift Himiko duplicate to run and attempt at stabbing Endeavor. He released a yell when she stabbed his shin.

Twice pointed to a slope at the side that they can slide on to reach the exit. The only problem was that Endeavor stood directly in front of it as he squirmed. Himiko, having noticed the direction Twice was staring at, took now as the time to act, impaling the edge of her knife on Endeavor’s shoulder. She swung on the hilt as she winked proudly at her companions.

They slid down, landing lowly as the Dabi and Himiko clones tried to bury Endeavor. He roared, and released a wave of fire, But the clones ducked and swiped. On the floor, the trio took a run outside before more flames reverberated. They were thrown onto a wall, sliding down it as posters burned.

As Himiko’s head spun, Kamui was suddenly in front of them, parts of his body bleeding and darkening from burned spots.

“You’re the tree man who hugged me, right?” Twice said, pulling his whip-like measuring tape. Kamui dodged the slap, but Dabi released blue flames from behind him, and the pro hero rolled from the spot. He was about to stand before Himiko’s blade stroke on his shoulder. He yelped in pain and surprise, blood leaking.

“Hi! I’m Toga! But you probably already know that,” she said, punching his jaw as her fingers scooped up the spilling blood. But the branches from his hand wrapped around Himiko’s waist, and threw her towards the direction of Dabi. He ducked, and Himiko crashed into the opposite wall.

Kamui stood, pain throbbing from his shoulder.

“Does it hurt? I pity you. Not!” Twice smirked, Dabi behind him as he advanced.

When a portion of Kamui’s branch scratched Twice’s mask, that portion tore off, revealing parts of his face. He swore colorfully as he stepped back, Dabi resuming the attack.

Branches and blue fire danced in the lobby as more people attempted for escape. Twice’s measuring tape wrapped around Kamui’s leg, tripping the hero to lose his balance. Back in action, Himiko tried sticking her blade on him again, but this time he made a grab to stop her. His arms trembled from the effort, his teeth clenched with pain. Himiko’s feet pinned down his legs, making them vulnerable.

Twice was about to shut the door that had Endeavor inside when Dabi slapped his hand off the knobs.

“Dude, what the heck?” Twice protested, shaking his wrist, the other covering his half-seen face.

Dabi’s blue eyes narrowed. “Let me in there, Twice.”

“Yes, sir! Why would I do that?”

Behind them, the Himiko had transformed into a copy of Kamui Woods, and she was towering over the original one with lustful eyes. The copy of Himiko was doing the same, licking the tree hero’s blood off their hands. At one point she had managed to get out from the cinema room. Kamui continued to keep the blade from piercing his heart as he bellowed.

Dabi didn’t respond, only glare at Twice with warning.

Twice sighed. “Fine.” As Dabi entered, he added, “If you die that’s not my problem!”

Dabi’s palm slammed onto the stabwound Himiko earlier created on Endeavor, and the pro rolled onto his side. He looked up with vengeful eyes at Dabi, towering over him with blue sparks dancing on his fingertips. “Looks like Enji Todoroki isn’t so strong after all.” He mused.

Meanwhile, Twice ran towards Himiko and Kamui Woods, whose quirk didn’t seem to be doing well. The branches on his fingertips attempted to throw Himiko off him, but it didn’t seem to be doing the trick. The Himiko clone was catching his dripping blood in tubes. Then with all his might, he twisted sideways on his shoulder, and Himiko collided with the floor. He cried out at the pain, but snatched Himiko’s knife. He sliced it through the clone’s body, and it melted to a heap of mud.

“Toga-chan!” Twice called, and Himiko, still transformed into a perfect copy of Kamui Woods, raised a bloody blade in response. She raised the blade over the original hero, who also had a deep cut below his navel area. He clutched it, and he tumbled onto the floor. His knife clattered helplessly on the floor.

“So much blood tastes so good!” Himiko cheered in Kamui’s voice as she raised her knife.

Dabi dodged the flames that Endeavor threw his way, docking under the hero’s arm and wrestling it with one hand, sending blue fire towards Endeavor. He darted backwards, Dabi running towards the stairs. He sent more flames erupting, and the rest of the cloned either melted or fled to the lobby.

Then they were alone.

The fire continued expanding, but Dabi was unfazed. “Remember me?”

Endeavor rubbed his chin, but he looked concentrated. He growled, and Dabi smiled, eyes dilating. With Dabi’s expression, Endeavor’s eyes did the same.

“Miss me?” Dabi said, and another firestorm commenced.

The security officers surrounded Kamui Woods from the clones, one trying to help the pro stand. He was quickly losing blood, and each step was painful. The original Himiko and Twice began fending off the upcoming security officers, knowing that sooner or later, they needed to flee. More pros might arrive soon, especially after what they did to Kamui, Himiko still shifted into him.

“Where’s Dabi?” She asked. It was weird for Twice to hear Kamui’s voice speaking to him, even if it was really just Himiko.

Twice groaned as he sent a punch to a man’s private part. “Wanted to one-on-one Endeavor, it seemed.” With the cloth now wrapped around his face, he was already calmer. “I bet we just leave him.”

A huge blast suddenly threw them off their feet. They both looked up to see Dabi running towards them, the room he fought in now in shambles. Endeavor was heard grunting. Dabi approached the duo and shook Twice’s shoulder. “Let’s get out of here. Now.”

They all stood, knowing the clones would be able to finish the last fights. Dabi scanned the outside, and seeing it clear, they ran. Down the street. Under the shades of the night. When they were twenty houses away did they stop running, panting and breathless.

Himiko was already back in her regular form, but she still wore Kamui Woods’s costume. “Well that was fun.” She said through her panting.

“So much for a movie,” Twice commented bitterly. “What the heck was all that, Dabi? Lead us to the wrong movie then have that number-one hero attack us? Did you plan this out from the start, you selfish nincompoop? Did you stage this little occasion?” He demanded, brushing dust off his costume.

“Yeah,” Himiko added, her smile replaced with irritation. “I didn’t see that hot boy tonight!”

Dabi had his back faced to them as he remained quiet. Then he chuckled lowly before turning to them, blue eyes wide and triumphant. “I just wanted a little reunion is all.”

Himiko and Twice could only watch in genuine awe as Dabi walked down the road, leaving them under the light of the cloudy night sky.

Chapter Text

The loud disbelieving voice of Denki Kaminari caught the attention of the entire class 1A. “What are you doing with your legs!?

Minoru slapped Denki’s gloved hand off his small shoulder, crying out in frustration and humiliation as his small legs wobbled on the frozen lake. “Shut up! I’m trying to attempt it too here, okay?” He nearly tripped, only managing to grab a hold on the edge of Denki’s scarf. The movement made the electricity-quirked boy slip slightly, luckily managing to regain his balance.

Hanta released a set of guffaws. “Mineta, dude! You look ridiculous!”

“You too, tape man! Hold your tongue!” Minoru whined helplessly, unaware that he was clutching Denki’s leg for support.

The frozen pond was occupied with almost every student of UA, with a few students from other schools. The snow landed softly on the ground as children and teachers alike ran through it, laughing as if the world didn’t contain any league of wanted criminals.

Minoru seemed to be the only one who wasn’t smiling, not as Denki, Hanta, and Eijiro snorted at the purple-haired pervert. Eijiro was on the snow, building a cute snowman with Hanta and Mina, who also began giggling as she saw what her companions were staring at. Fumikage sat on the snow, enjoying the cool air as his quirk threw snowballs at some of their classmates. Izuku and Ochaco were gliding through the lake easily, as if they had rehearsed that dance of theirs. Katsuki grunted while Camie Utsushimi of Shiketsu tried dragging him towards their temporary skating ring. But despite that, Katsuki didn’t seem too bothered by it.

Mirio Togata at Nejire Hado were calling over to Tamaki who was sitting on a rock, having a conversation with Mashirao Ojiro. And by a pine tree, Momo was playing a game of hide-and-seek with Toru, Tsuyu, Jiro, and Tsuyu’s friend Habuko Mongoose.

The only one who was at a distance from the entire thing was Shoto Todoroki. He stood watching them as he leaned on the railing of a small cottage-like structure that looked over the snowy area. He felt the air pass through him, the wind blowing his hair towards his eyes as he toyed with the texture of the rail turned blue with the ice.

He heard humming, and he turned to his right and spotted the pro hero Hawks walking side-by-side with Shoto’s father. The number two caught the glance of the young student and winked at him, while Endeavor just rolled his eyes, breath visible as he sighed in annoyance.

Shoto shook his head as he watched them pass. Almost everybody was here, including his siblings, who were skating with the others. Still, he wished his mother were here too. Unfortunately, she declined the invitation to come, even when Natsuo suggested that they take her on a wheelchair. “You just go ahead,” she had said. “I bet you wouldn’t want to worry about me if I were there. I’d just ruin the fun.” She gave them a warm smile, warmer than even their father’s quirk.

The gesture only angered Natsuo. But in the end, Shoto saw him smile. Now, while he was skating with a pretty girl, his sister held up her camera-phone secretly as she snapped pictures of them.

“You won’t join them?”

Shoto turned around to see All Might exit the small house, a tray of warm chocolate chip cookies balanced on a tray. Shoto felt his stomach rumble, and he was glad he was the only one who noticed. It looked like Izuku’s mother was doing a good job in teaching the former number one hero how to bake. “All Might.” Shoto greeted casually.

All Might rested his elbows on the railing as he took in the outside air. Shoto’s attention returned to the lake again, almost laughing after seeing Minoru slip and fall, Denki tumbling after him with a girly shriek.

All Might placed the tray beside Shoto. “Hungry?” He asked. With the oversized sweater that had the print ‘Captain America’ on it covering his sad but slim build, it looked like he gained a few pounds. “I swear I didn’t burn them this time.” He promised.

Unable to resist the urge, Shoto took one off and sniffed it. Oh, it smelled good, unburnt and fresh. He took a bite, and it was even better. “Thank you.” He said.

Probably catching the glow on Shoto’s face, All Might did one of his rare, genuine smiles. “Glad you like them,” he said. “Want more?”

Taking another bite, Shoto shook his head. “But they are impressive,” he stated.

All Might nodded approvingly. “Yes,” he said. “Young Midoriya’s mother is good, isn’t she?” He sniffed the scent of fresh snow, and his breath left his lips with a puff. “How about you, young Todoroki? How is your mother? I wish to know, so I can help you if I must.”

Shoto gulped part of the cookie. “She’s okay,” he said, but for him, he wasn’t sure if that was entirely true. “I want to believe that she’s enjoying the soft fall of snow.” He held out a hand, catching the precipitation on it before it melted to water on his palm. He rubbed it on his jacket as he took another bite.

Eyebrows scrunching, All Might turned his body so that one elbow rested on the rail as he faced his student. “She was supposed to be here, wasn’t she?”

Finishing the cookie, Shoto closed his eyes as he bobbed his head.

All Might sighed. “Your father, that Endeavor.” He bowed his head, and Shoto could’ve sworn he heard the former number one snarl. All Might then brought his senses back to the frozen pond and the playing children. “You don’t…” He hesitated as he tried choosing the correct words. “You don’t want to join the others?”

Shoto hadn’t answered the question when All Might first asked, and he wondered if All Might actually wanted to know Shoto’s answer. He shrugged lightly, and another gust of cool air pushed his hair. “I’m all right just watching from here.” He admitted. “There’s honestly not much for me to do if I were there with everyone else.”

“That’s not true,” All Might said. “You can ice skate or make a snowman. Snow angels if you wanted. You can try playing hide and seek, or just have a conversation with Young Tokoyami. He doesn’t seem busy at all.” He glanced at the bird-headed boy, who was protesting against Dark Shadow’s attempts to pull his master onto the icy pond, where Tsuyu watched them with confusion. All Might cleared his throat with embarrassment, blood leaking from the corner of his lips. “On second thought…”

“I’m okay, All Might,” Shoto promised, once more trailing his fingers over the rail. “I feel happy just standing here.”

“You can’t mean that.”

All Might and Shoto found Momo Yaoyorozu approaching them, carrying a pair of red and yellow ice skates. The cold rendered her cheeks a beautiful rosy color as her eyes beamed with energy and relaxed joy. Her dark hair swayed in the faint wind, and she had to pull it back from her face from time to time.

“Good afternoon, All Might. Hello, Todoroki,” she said, staring up at them from the snow-covered ground. They were a few inches above her due to the architecture of the porch they stood in. “Those look good, All Might.” She said, referring to the cookies.

All Might grew into his regular muscled form, white teeth flashing. “Of course! I made them myself.” He poofed back to normal, almost dropping the cookies in the process. He smiled apologetically, and Momo giggled. She looked like she was in a good mood, Shoto thought.

He leaned forward on the railing, elbows resting on it as All Might offered the Creation-quirked student a cookie. She chewed it, and it looked as if her face grew brighter. Shoto couldn’t help but watch them both.

“This is good!” she said. “Has Todoroki tried them?”

“I have,” Shoto said softly.

She quickly finished the cookie, and walked over to Shoto. “Hey,” she said, quite softly. “Your brother noticed that you were just standing here. He asked me to talk to you so, I don’t know. Maybe you’d like to ice skate or something like that.” She bashfully lifted the skates.

Shoto took the skates from her. He thought for a moment, catching the eye of Natsuo, who watched them. Shoto extended his arm, returning the skates to Momo. “Thanks, but I think I’ll pass for now.” He caught her shoulders sag, and he felt a ping of guilt sting his heart.

“Oh,” she muttered, and she readied herself to leave them. “Okay then.”

All Might began munching on a cookie, looking as if he were watching an interesting movie.

Momo began walking away, and Shoto knew that Natsuo pouted from a distance. He knew what he was thinking: Mother would not like this. He guessed he was right, for Natsuo nodded in agreement. “Yaoyorozu.” He called, and she turned curiously. All Might bit another cookie beside him. “On second thought…I guess I’ll try skating.”

She smiled. “Great.”

Minutes later, the two of them were at the edge of the lake, Shoto wearing the skates handed to him. Momo was beside him, taking in the sight of their friends as she tied the laces of her own skates.

“You know I could just as easily glide on the ice without skates,” Shoto reminded her calmly. “I got used to it on account to my quirk.”

She hmphed playfully. “I know,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s as fun.” She winked, standing and walking onto the icy lake.

Shoto followed.

Minoru was still trembling, but he focused his eyes on the newcomers as they moved towards the center of the lake. Denki already abandoned him, but he still looked like he was cackling as he sat on the snow with Hanta and Denki.

Shoto stopped abruptly as he waited for Momo to catch up to him, almost bumping into Mashirao and Toru as he did so. “Sorry.” He said.

“No big deal,” Mashirao responded while Toru seemingly giggled beside him. “Just enjoy the ice.” Then they glided across the ice.

Momo stopped next to Shoto, eyes blinking in curious interest. “Well they looked happy.” She noticed. “Ojiro was bright pink. Or maybe it was just the cold.” Their eyes followed the direction Mashirao and Toru took, seeing them split up, Toru with Mina, Denki, and Hanta; Mashirao towards Mezo and Rikido. The latter burst into laughter as Mashirao buried his face in his hands.

“Huh,” Momo said, smiling faintly. “I think I see.”

Shoto nodded in agreement. He took Momo’s arm, and led her to a better area. “How is this even supposed to be done?” He asked her. She touched his shoulder, and he felt a chill coarse through his body. He didn’t know why. It was snowing, and he had an ice-based quirk.

“What do you mean?” She bent her left knee. He could’ve sworn that she was beginning to turn as pink as Mashirao.

Shoto cleared his throat. “This skating. What was the plan?”

“Oh,” she released him, taking a few steps back. It was interesting how she seemed so balanced that skating was like walking to her. “I just came over because your older brother Natsuo Todoroki requested it. I didn’t know what you were thinking. I’m sorry.” Snow caught in her hair as she said those.

It was Shoto’s turn to feel hot. He ducked his head, despite knowing that a flush won’t reach all the way to his cheeks. “Argh…” he almost felt the urge to put his hand on his nape awkwardly, but he knew that would make his embarrassment obvious. “No, Yaoyorozu. I think I was imagining something else. I’m sorry.” He scooted backward as well.

“So you don’t…?” She put her hands behind her.

“I…” Shoto lost his words, clicking his tongue instead. Momo seemed to have taken the sound as one of irritation, because her face turned dismayed. The truth was, he felt like skating with her, and he didn’t understand why. His mind assumed that he would if he went with her and followed Natsuo’s instruction. He understood then that it was just an instruction. She was only tasked to talk to him, not really do much more than that. Now he wasn’t sure what they should do. All he can do is stand in front of her.

Just then, music began playing in the background. He heard a song that would have probably been downloaded by Present Mic, and the others around them began dancing to it. The song was a typical Present Mic song. It had a bouncy beat, and a good combination of instruments in the background. But there was a different aura in it, something…romantic. The others seemed to feel it too, for all the others found a partner from the opposite sex, and began twirling like in a Disney on Ice show.

That was when Shoto realized that they were the only ones not dancing. Minoru was on the snow now too, whispering to Denki who glanced their way with a teasing grin.

“Um, Todoroki,” Momo began. She looked tense, obviously aware of their situation as well.

Shoto anxiously searched the lake for his brother, spotting him beside their sister, both supporting saucer-round eyes. Based on the way they were, they didn’t look like they would be any help. Shoto looked down at Momo, extending an arm. “I think we should dance.”

She took it with hesitation, but allowed him to lead her away from anyone who can be watching. That didn’t work well, but they ignored that idea.

Then they started. Shoto carried her hips, setting her down afterwards as she did a twirl. They held hands, making a straight line, reconnecting later as she put her hand on his shoulder, his on her hips. They glided, following the beat of Present Mic’s song with perfect synchronization. Izuku and Ochaco stopped dancing just to watch them, both with astonished smiles. Seeing them, Eijiro and Mina did the same, and they also bore faces of interest by doing so.

A smile began inching its way on Momo as they danced, unaware of the eyes suddenly drifting to them. Shoto looked relieved, which he was, as he he released her and both made their own spins before rejoining. They were caught up in this solo of theirs, lost in the sound of song and the soul in front of them.

They danced until the song was over, and they both exhaled, locking eyes, dark to one blue and one gray for one full minute.

“Incoming!”

Both Shoto and Momo split up startled as Katsuki and Camie slid between them, crashing into a pile of snow off the lake. Camie burst out laughing as she popped herself up from the pile, Katsuki following her with a stream of curses leaving his mouth.

“Utsushimi?” Shoto called.

“Sorry, fam!” Camie said, holding up a peace sign. “We just tried copying you two. Because dang you were bang-up awesome AF!” She winked, and Katsuki slumped as he rolled his eyes, growing quiet. “That choreography was amazing! When did you learn to skate like that?” She added, turning to Katsuki. “You should try learning it.” She said, and Katsuki groaned in response.

“You watched us?” Momo asked, placing her hands on her chest.

“Duh!” Camie laughed. “Everyone did!”

Shoto and Momo turned slowly. Sure enough, almost everyone was looking at them, including Endeavor and Hawks, the latter having a hand on his lip as if he were holding in laughter. Present Mic was beside All Might, eating some cookies, phone in the other hand as he grinned wickedly.

Both Shoto and Momo tensed immediately, the female turning red. Shoto crossed his arms, trying to hide his face by lowering his head.

Crap. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Why are they staring at us? Shoto clutched his fists, his shoulders barely moving.

Momo cleared her throat quietly, telling Shoto in a barely audible voice, “I need to go.” Then she moved away, trying not to meet his eyes. Shoto saw her go to the snow and bend her body to untie the skates before walking away to the shed where All Might waited with sorry eyebrows. But when Momo approached him, back turned to Shoto, All Might suddenly smiled. Present Mic brought a fist into the air as he let out a “Woo-hoo!”

“Shoto!”

Shoto turned and saw Natsuo skating towards him, expression unreadable. The others were still staring, and all it took was a pointed look from him and they’d look away. Almost everyone had when he finally reached Shoto, his face somewhere between amusement and pity. Even Shoto was having a hard idea understanding how that worked, still Natsuo managed to pull it off.

Natsuo clapped Shoto on the back, and Shoto almost slipped. “Smooth, young brother. Endeavor was totally watching.”

Shoto glared at his brother.

“Yeah, sorry,” He crossed his arms. “I honestly didn’t think any of this would happen either, but let me just say: I bet mom would’ve loved all this. That was, crediting Utsushimi, awesome. I didn’t think that you can skate that well, more or less with a girl.” Oh, he was definitely amused now.

Shoto rolled his eyes. “Was that supposed to be reassuring or insulting?”

Natsuo laughed. “Any way you’d like. But speaking honestly, I think you kind of liked that.” Shoto put a hand on his hip. Natsuo sighed. “Walk with me, brother.” They left the lake, taking a seat on the snow beside a small snowman that Eri and Mirio made earlier. Natsuo offered Shoto a container of warm hot chocolate, which Shoto took. As he drank, Natsuo’s smile remained.

“About Yaoyorozu and stuff,” Natsuo said. “There was a reason why I requested her to talk to you, Shoto. Remember when I had that short conversation with Mr. Aizawa? Well, he told me a few things about you two that he observed during your final exam. He said you two made a good team-up, and that it was nice to see Todoroki collaborating with someone instead of trying to fight them. Plus the fact that she was a girl, that made it more exciting.” He paused, making a snowball. “I knew when we got here that you’d think about Mom, so Fuyumi suggested trying to distract you. So, that’s what I did. It didn’t matter what you’d do, as long as you do something. And Yaoyorozu was just my tool in trying to get you to do so. I really didn’t expect…any of this.”

Shoto leaned backward. “So what now? Do you think I’m happy?”

Natsuo seemed to study him for a while, fingers drumming on his arm. “Yeah,” Natsuo concluded. “I can see it in your eyes.”

Shoto turned one last time towards the shed, and at Momo who was talking to All Might. Since the pro had a smile on his face, Momo might not have been in a bad mood about the little spotlight they had entered, which melted the last bits of frost in Shoto’s heart. He allowed himself a small smile, meeting his brother’s eyes. “Maybe a little.” He admitted.

Natsuo pulled Fuyumi’s phone from behind him. “I’ll show mom the video.” He declared.

“Don’t,” Shoto said bitterly, but truthfully, he didn’t really mind.

Chapter Text

“What’s wrong with Midoriya?”

All Might glanced at Present Mic, the Voice-quirked hero typing words on his keyboard as he spoke to the former number one. For the first time in who knows, he didn’t look like he was in a good mood; he looked like there was a huge problem. If he were like that, All Might knew there really must be something wrong. It was true, there were occasions when Present Mic overreacted, but there was always a difference between lighter moods to heavy moods. And with the current tension he carried, All Might knew this wasn’t light.

“Young Midoriya?” He asked nervously. “I don’t know. Is there something wrong?”

Present Mic pressed one more key on the keyboard before dedicating his full attention to All Might. “If anyone knows, you would. The kid wasn’t acting like himself all day. I am inclined to assume you did something to crush him, for he spends most of his time with you.” Present Mic began typing again, carrying a sour expression as he did so.

Biting back the slight bit of offense, All Might scratched his head. “I didn’t do anything. Last I saw he was normal.”

With a mocking but non-genuine grin, Present Mic scoffed. “Yeah, real nice.”

The door to the faculty room opened, and Eraserhead and Midnight entered. They stopped, taking in the expressions of All Might and Present Mic. Eraserhead cleared his throat, getting Present Mic’s attention. “What did you do to the students this time?” He said with his iconic monotone.

Pressing a key on the keyboard, Mic waved a hand. “I didn’t do anything. What makes you think I did anyway?” He narrowed his eyes under his orange glasses. “This is about their behavior isn’t it?”

Eraserhead nodded.

All Might frowned. “Okay, what’s going on? There’s something you aren’t telling me. What’s wrong with the kids?” He looked at his grading components, seeing majority of the students got a passing score on their written school reflections. With performances like that, it was hard to see something wrong.

Eraserhead tapped All Might’s desk. “Of course with you gone earlier, you wouldn’t notice,” he mused. “Anyway, we teachers all observed strange behavior from the entire class 1A earlier today. They weren’t acting normal, very out of the ordinary. There was some sort of dark cloud over their heads, each one of them. The entire class was sad and silent, as if they walked through an army of ghosts on a way to oblivion, barely making it out alive. They looked scarred, like nothing was possible anymore.” He paused, thinking. “When I entered the class earlier this morning, they were fine: happy, carefree, in a joking mood. But once first period came, they started having that weird mood swing, like the teacher’s lesson plan was one to depress them.” He jabbed his thumb at Present Mic’s direction. “Usually, I see him as the culprit. I just want to know if it’s true.”

Mic scowled. “I told you I didn’t do anything! They were already like that when I entered the classroom for English period.”

“And Mathematics,” added Ectoplasm from from his seat, apparently overhearing. “And they’ve never really had issues with radicals.” His eyebrows lowered, then added, “Maybe Kaminari, Ashido, Mineta, and Kirishima. The others are okay, I guess.”

Midnight shifted restlessly. “Then what’s wrong with them? And I don’t think anyone came to visit the guidance counselor either.” Hound Dog shook his head as he typed on his own laptop.

All Might leaned back on his seat, knowing the last time the class had been really shaken was the time Katsuki was kidnapped by the League of Villains, as well as the tension they all had while waiting for some of their classmates who were battling the Shie Hassaikai. Those cases all had missing people involved, but the way their situation was described, there didn’t seem to be any hint to what can be wrong. “How about Bakugo, Todoroki, and Tokoyami? How were they acting?” As the students who rarely showed numerous emotions, All Might had to ask.

Midnight cleared her throat, seating on a bench edged to the wall. “Tokoyami was depressed too, Dark Shadow constantly rubbing his shoulder. Todoroki didn’t show much, but I saw his clenched fists and tight lips. Bakugo was doing the same.” She clutched her knee, as if the memory bothered her. “They all looked pitiful. It’s tragic.”

“And the others?” All Might asked. “The Big Three? Mei Hatsume? Class 1B?”

“Other students noticed the change,” Eraserhead said. “They just didn’t pester the kids about it.”

“Minding privacy,” All Might muttered. “That’s good.”

The door opened again, this time Thirteen and Cementoss entering. Cementoss raised his pointer finger as his mouth opened to speak, but Mic cut him off.

“It’s the kids, isn’t it?” He said, head resting on his palm.

Cementoss’s mouth slowly closed before he nodded glumly.

Midnight’s knee began bouncing as she scoffed. “What’s wrong with them? As teachers, we must be able to help them if something’s wrong! Moral support, medication, something!”

“I know,” Eraserhead said.

“Yo, Eraser,” Mic called, but still didn’t sound too upbeat. “Try calling Ms. Joke. She might make them laugh.”

“Then what?” Eraser said, cutting a glare at his companion. “That won’t take away their problems. That’s just extending it. Besides, she’s busy in another school. We should just work with what we can since the problem might not be as deep as losing the Symbol of Peace or battling Overhaul for Eri.”

“But I thought I saw you two hanging out the other day--”

Another glare, and Mic shut up.

Thirteen sighed. “Well, whatever the case is, I think it’s best to try talking to them. If they wouldn’t mind, for us to be able to help them in any way we can. I can try going to the dorms if that’ll work with you.” They began turning, but Cementoss raised a hand.

“Hold it,” he said. “Has anyone gotten an idea what time they started getting depressed? If we know who was scheduled to teach them by that time, we can know which one of us was at fault here. Managing to sadden one entire class is a huge deal that needs to adjust.” Nobody replied, nobody confessed.

“Midnight requested a subject swap earlier,” Present Mic said after a minute of solid silence. “She said that she’ll teach during my period, and I’ll teach during hers.”

“That’s impossible,” Midnight contradicted. “I didn’t request a swap from you. I can’t even remember us talking! Cementoss requested a swap with me.”

“I don’t remember that,” Cementoss said. “Ectoplasm did.”

“Present Mic,” Ectoplasm explained, pointing.

All Might blinked rapidly, head spinning. “Wait, what?” The teachers were quiet again, some looking at the other suspiciously. All Might rubbed his temples. “Wait a second. Subject swap? When was the last time we even did a subject swap?”

“When Present Mic came to work drunk,” Eraserhead replied casually with a small hint of amusement in his voice.

All Might waved his arms. “Hold it! Nobody actually subject-swapped here? At all? So no one came to their classroom at that time? It was all a loop of nothing?” The teachers exchanged looks of uncertainty, worried glances meeting pursed lips and nervous eyes. All Might started toying with a pencil. “So the classroom was empty, because all of you expected each other. So what of our students? What happened?”

Thirteen spoke up hesitantly. “I still think we should talk to them.”

“And ask what? ‘Why were you so sad’?” Mic mumbled.

“Listen,” All Might said, losing patience. “Everyone here right now, did you notice the strange behavior of the students in class 1A?” He asked in a loud voice, hoping everyone would hear. “If not, I want you to sit down.” Immediately, teachers rose from their seats: Present Mic, Midnight, Ectoplasm, Hound Dog, Snipe, and many more. Nobody was seated in the faculty. All Might cursed, knowing Izuku will be furious if he heard it. He growled. “What time was that vacant period?”

“Roughly first subject,” Eraserhead said, leaning on the door frame.

“So what?” Demanded Snipe, speaking for the first time from where he stood by his desk. “Do what Thirteen said and talk to them? Or should we observe our students a while longer? You don’t know, it might be a one-day thing only!”

“But it affected all of us, Snipe,” Midnight protested. “If it were something that can pass off as minor, then we wouldn’t even be this agitated and stressed now! Even Mic is on the edge of his seat! And if Bakugo is unhappy in an unusual way, then there’s something really serious bothering them. We can’t just shrug it off.” Snipe quieted down, realizing that she was right.

“Then what will we do?” Mic asked silently.

A new voice entered their conversation, and everyone was surprised to see their principal walking towards them. “If you ask me, I think we should wait, watch them once more.” Nezu stopped in front of All Might’s desk, all eyes on him. “Snipe is right about our lack of knowledge on the students’ point of view, so I think it is wise to just observe them once more before jumping to conclusions. Maybe with the subject-swapping, there was a misunderstanding between the teachers, but that we will have to investigate. For now, let’s just go home. We have another day tomorrow.”

All Might bowed, but sweat continued popping on his forehead. “Thank you, Sensei.” He said, and the others followed. When it came to the principal, he always managed to make things so easy. But of course, all those important matters they discussed stayed in All Might’s mind. The news was hard to shake, hard to understand. He was about to check the CCTV cameras before the principal entered the scene and said that they shouldn’t jump too much. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the teachers swapped subjects. Still, Katsuki, Shoto, Fumikage….the most unlikely to get affected by bad news were shaken too. That was information All Might got worried about.

It seemed all the teachers were thinking the same things. The aura of unease continued to linger in the faculty as the teachers arranged their things, saved their works, and got ready to leave. As All Might was about to stand, someone tugged his collar, and he turned to see Midnight standing with Present Mic, both sporting troubled looks.

“Are you sure Midoriya was okay?” Midnight asked softly.

Now All Might really tried to recall the last time he and Izuku last spoke, before All Might had to take a trip to the heart of Japan to arrange his taxes. He told Izuku to enjoy school, and the boy nodded with his signature twinkle in eye, ready for anything.

Closing his bag, All Might could only wish Izuku was still the same way. But after what he heard, that didn’t seem to be the case. “He was,” All Might said. “He had that Deku smile of his.”

Present Mic hid his hands in his pockets as Midnight rubbed her arm.

Tomorrow. They needed to find out tomorrow.

 


 

UA’s teachers had come up with a strategy overnight: fake another teacher swap, then watch the classroom of 1A through surveillance. Some teachers were to position themselves near the classroom as defense if there was an intruder in school, for it had happened before, almost killing Eraserhead and Thirteen. They watched the corridors left and right, pointing other students which way to pass to not disrupt their game plan. It was Eraserhead’s genius idea, so immediately the teachers gathered to a good spot in the CCTV room.

Midnight walked towards the room, having faked a conversation with Present Mic. She stood beside him in the room, lowering her body to watch the footage.

Snipe did a thumbs up from his position in the corridor at the camera, a signal of safety. Then they focused on class 1A.

They were normal, as if nothing happened the day before. Izuku was laughing in a conversation with Tenya and Ochaco like usual, the class representative doing wild hand gestures as he spoke. Minoru was attempting to peak under Mina’s skirt as she sat on her desk, only to get tape wrapped around his body as Hanta smacked him back to his original desk with a pleased grin. Fumikage was seated quietly on his chair as he sketched a fantasy battle armor at the back page of a textbook. Katsuki just sat on his chair, looking out the window, frowning each time Eijiro said something to him.

It was ordinary.

The classroom door opened, and all the students stopped what they were doing, others rushing back to their seats. Nobody entered yet. All Might glanced at the camera with Snipe and Eraserhead, but the two only looked at the classroom door curiously. On its other side, nobody was there. Something invisible opened the door, yet Toru Hagakure was in the classroom with everyone else. Something else was in the campus.

“What the crud?” Present Mic shuddered, despite the sweat on his forehead. “Is it a new quirk?” He pulled out his mobile phone, and on the screen, Eraser picked up his. “Yo, Eraser. I-I think someone entered the classroom.” He stuttered.

Eraser turned, suddenly running down the corridor. When he was about to enter the classroom, the door slammed shot, and Eraser almost crashed into it. Snipe nearly slipped from running, managing to balance himself on his legs.

“Aizawa!” He yelled.

Eraserhead kicked the door, but it didn’t budge. “It’s locked,” he reported. He brought up his phone. “Mic! Who’s in the classroom?” He demanded.

Present Mic gulped. “N-n-nobody’s in there.” He said.

Which was true. All Might and the rest of the teachers found only a white smear of light on their screen, a ghostly figure hovering in front of the chalkboard. The occupied area of the creature turned the screen pixel-like, making it difficult to decipher its features. The students, on the other hand, remained visible. Each one of them developed a vacant look in their eyes, staring in an endless nothing. Their mouths slimmed into lines, their hands turned limp. A ringing noise began filling the room, vibrating from there to their current location. And the creature just hovered there.

Then some of the students began to cry.

“Kids!” All Might yelled, making his way outside the room, ignoring the protests of his companions. Midnight followed shortly after, and Thirteen. All Might wished he could use his more muscle-y form, but with his powers already stripped, he had no choice.

They made it in front of the door, finding Snipe firing bullets at the door as Eraserhead kicked the walls. But no scratch was left, as if the walls were made of the strongest elements. Eraserhead turned, running towards the newly arrived.

“What’s happening inside?” He asked, yellow goggles on.

“Some kids are tearing up,” Midnight said. “We need to get inside.”

“That’s all?!” Snipe demanded, still firing bullets.

“There’s this ghost thing,” Thirteen explained, panic present in their voice. “We couldn’t make it out too well because it pixelates the screen, but all it does is stand there and…” Thirteen clutched their helmet. “Oh, I don’t know! We just need to hurry!”

“Aye!” Snipe said, yet wasn’t really doing a good job.

All Might summoned his muscled form and furiously lay a punch on the door. It dented, and Snipe sent an army of bullets. The door cracked, and Eraserhead peeled off the bent metal with his capturing weapon. The four heroes stepped inside, almost deafened by the high-pitched ringing noise.

“Shield your eyes!” Present Mic’s voice rang from the intercom.

They immediately followed, but Snipe said, “Then how will we see the villain?”

Present Mic was silent.

Eraserhead uncovered his eyes, and activated his quirk. But once he opened his eyes to directly see the intruder, there was nobody. Even the ringing sound stopped. “All Might,” he said.

All Might, reduced to his original state, stared wide-eyed at the classroom. The window was shattered, Midnight’s ears were bleeding, and the students were passed out on the desks and floor. He rushed Mashirao, who was closest to him as the younger boy tried to sit up. “Ojiro!” All Might said, shaking him. “Open your eyes! Can you see me?”

Mashirao squinted. He looked tired, All Might noticed. Like he had gone through hell and back. “A…All Might?” He asked roughly.

Midnight ran towards Denki Kaminari, who was wiping his wet cheeks with the back of his hand. “Kaminari,” Midnight ordered. “Talk to me.”

“Um,” he said, regaining consciousness. He looked at her, and his expression was oblivious. “Midnight? What are you doing here?” He asked, adding, “Not to be rude, ma’am! I just…” he realized his face was wet, and he grew apprehensive. “Uh, why am I crying?”

“All Might, what’s going on?” Toru asked, sitting up from being sprawled on the floor. “Why am I on the floor?”

All Might and the other teachers crowded together as they inspected the scene. Students waking up with no memory of what just happened. “Class, I don’t know how to explain any of this, but--”

“Why is the window shattered?” Hanta asked as he hovered over a vomiting Minoru. “And why is he puking?”

All Might took in a deep breath, and told them everything, the story of what happened, his companions adding details from time to time. Once he was done, the entire class 1A was listening intently, sitting on their chairs as if he explained a lecture on heroics.

Izuku raised his hand. “A smudge of white?” He asked once the story was over.

“Pixelated white, it seemed,” Midnight agreed.

“In this room?” Mina gasped. “That’s horrible!”

“We tried the best we can to catch it,” Eraserhead said. “But for some reason, it still managed to get away. Present Mic told me that the thing mysteriously disappeared, that’s why he went quiet for a while. He looked over the surveillance and lost the thing.”

“Could that be someone’s quirk?” Shoto muttered.

“Maybe,” All Might said. “But for now, we will need to investigate the case. If this is anything like the USJ attack, then you will need to be prepared for anything. Look, I know you can handle yourselves. You have your hero licenses, so you can already defend yourself. But, you are still kids, and this is still school. We as faculty will still need to protect you and keep our eyes on you. So, this is what I tell you.” He stepped forward. “Classes are cancelled for today, and you can go to your dorms. But hear me out: if you plan on going off campus, I want you to have a companion--teacher, or fellow-student. If you’re familiar with the famous Buddy System, then that would be better. As long as you are both on-guard, then you will be safer. Make the right choices, if it comes to that.”

The class nodded, some looking at each other.

“If this were a prank,” Midnight added. “Then it isn’t funny. But--” she pulled out her whip, slamming it on the isle between Yuga and Mashirao “--if it were real, we’ll be ready for them.” She raised her whip. “Plus Ultra!”

And the class followed her lead.

Chapter Text

Denki limped down the hallway, right arm in a huge cast. He wished nobody was seeing him, not while he was in this pathetic state. He swallowed as he stepped on a candy wrapper, its texture already enough to make shivers run through his body. It was painful, for both his body, and his heart.

His free hand tightened on its grasp at his pale t-shirt, decorated with the picture of Totoro from that famous movie, one he always liked as a kid. Now being a teenager, he couldn’t remember what about the big guy made him so happy. Maybe it wasn’t Totoro. Maybe it was the sisters.

It didn’t matter anyway. Not now. Not while the hallway of the dorm looked like it extended more and more as he walked, trying to make it harder for him. But Denki knew it was just his imagination.

He stopped in front of Kyoka’s room, fist hovering over her door. Denki bit his lower lip and shut his eyes, finally mustering the courage to knock. He quickly put his hand behind him and dropped his head as the door opened, the purple-haired girl in the doorway.

“Kaminari,” she said with genuine surprise, as if she didn’t expect to see him there.

Denki only looked her up and down, and once again guilt punched him in the stomach. She had a bandage on her forehead, and her right leg was wrapped in her own cast. She had a few scratches, but thanks to her clean white shirt, she looked cleaner. Cleaner than the last time he saw her.

“Hey, Jiro,” He managed. “I just wanted to…” He saw the wall clock inside his classmate’s room, seeing the time as 11:30 PM. If Mr. Aizawa saw them awake at this time, they would be in trouble. Denki shook his head miserably. “Mind if I come inside?”

Kyoka’s eyes softened. “Sure. Get in.”

As expected, the room was filled musical instruments. Denki had to be careful where he stepped, for there might be wires connected to electric guitars and the like. He finally managed to make it to a nice chair, usually where a drummer would sit. As Kyoka got closer to him, he couldn’t meet her eyes.

“What did you come to talk about?” Kyoka asked, playing innocent. Denki knew she had an idea for why he came over. It was his fault they were this injured, his mistake. She began playing with her earphone jacks, ant Denki confirmed her tension. He dropped his posture, yellow eyes set on his faded blue jeans.

“How are Ashido and Kirishima doing?” Denki whispered, surprised when Kyoka heard him.

“They’re okay,” she said. “I saw them in the common area of the dorms earlier watching a nature show for our project under Cementoss. They seemed happy, so I want to assume they’re fine.” She smiled faintly, as if there was something more she wasn’t telling him.

“And you?” Denki asked, slightly louder. “How are you doing?”

Kyoka released her earphone, crossing her arms. “I’m alright. Don’t worry about me. As heroes, we’re all used to pain and injuries.”

She was trying to be reassuring, but he wasn’t satisfied. In fact, he only felt worse. Denki snapped his eyes shut, forcing his words out of his mouth. “Jiro, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I got you guys into this huge mess I put you through, all the pain it gave you. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. I wasn’t supposed to let you down. But now, here we are, both covered in my mistakes. I know I-m just that Jamming-Yay you said, but I’m serious now. I’m stupid, the dumbest in our class. I thought I had to tell you personally.”

Kyoka’s eyes dilated. “Kaminari, don’t blame yourself for that. It was just an accident.”

“That I made,” Denki chimed. “Of course it was me. Thinking about it just makes me want to leave now, get out of UA. It was totally not…” He sighed. “…plus ultra.”

Kyoka leaned on one of the cymbals, frown deepening. “Everyone makes mistakes, Kaminari. You can’t deny that. Even heroes. Remember that time when Snipe accidentally elbowed Hagakure in her…ahem!” She coughed intentionally, a small smile present. “And when Mt. Lady accidentally stepped on Endeavor and her boyfriend while she was arguing with Midnight? It’s common to make mistakes, so don’t take it so personally. Not to mention the fact that we’re just kids.”

“But I knew we might get hurt, but I still did it anyway,” Denki said. “I knew Mineta was an idiot in his own way, yet I took the bet. I heard Sero protest. Heck, even Midoriya. But no, I took a bike, asked three other people to ride behind me, rolled down a deep slope of a bridge and crashed us into the side of a truck. What kind of stupid moron even tries doing that?” He was almost shouting now, which he hoped hadn’t woken up the others.

Straightening the position of a guitar, Kyoka began toying with her earphones. “I’m sure you had something to prove. Doing something so reckless in the middle of the night always has its reasons for being done. Maybe you can tell me what it is?”

Denki straightened, raising his head. The truth was, his mind had been clouded that night. Clouded with thoughts about Stain the Hero Killer, and his justifiable motives. There was always a sort of interest that Denki found himself watching the clips of Stain’s arrest. He searched deep enough into the web that he learned more about Stain, how he killed members of the Yakuza and how he lost his nose from the punch of a Vigilante. Each piece of information must have fed Denki’s mind temporarily, that for a moment he lost the thoughts of heroism.

Maybe it came from the mention of Izuku, Tenya, and Shoto’s fight against him. Maybe that was what made Denki feel so awed.

While feeling the texture of his cast, a solid reminder of his foolishness, Denki released a low whimper. “It’s Stain, Jiro.” He said. “It was influence from Stain’s works, you know. It made me feel bad for that moment, like doing something illegal. It was Mineta’s bright plan that was dark, and I decided to make it darker by doing it. I was wandering, Jiro. Wandering in a loss of paths, good and evil. Admiring Stain must’ve unintentionally made me do wrong things, things only villains would enjoy.”

Kyoka remained silent, but it was a fact that she was listening.

Denki continued. “I always thought Stain was cool. There was always something about him that despite being an evildoer, I always found amazing. It must be how he views the world of heroes: that heroes do acts not out of selfishness, but of selflessness. He almost murdered Iida for the reason of going after him to avenge his brother. It was an act of selfishness, to go to an agency where he could find the hero killer.

“Then he rescued Midoriya from a Nomu, all because…I dunno, he saw a hero’s heart inside him. If I were to judge, Midoriya is better than each one of us, both in power and hero determination. His personality, his generosity, his kindness…I can see him one day, standing on top of a mountain and yelling ‘I am here!’. It suits him well too! And that’s probably what Stain might have seen as well. He saved the one worthy instead of killing him, like he does with most heroes. That’s what I like: the truth of being a true hero seen by the eyes of a villain.”

Kyoka was already sitting on the bed by the time he made his confession. She was drumming her fingers over her leg, looking down on the floor. “I see your point there.”

“It’s my confession,” Denki claimed. “The baddest villain in a world with quirks, admired by a Jamming-Yay such as me. It’s ironic, but it’s real.”

There was a knock on the door, and Denki flinched with the thought that Eraserhead or All Might was at the door. But when it opened, the faces of Mina Ashido and Eijiro Kirishima were seen standing there, the former with a bandage on her shoulder as her hand lay in a sling. Eijiro was unharmed, having activated his Hardening before the vehicle crashed. Denki suddenly felt guilty again, and all he can do is grind his teeth and face their feet.

“Jiro!” Mina squealed with excitement. “You won’t believe it! Ojiro finally managed to ask Hagakure…!” Her smile faded when she caught sight of the scene, with Denki seating dejectedly on a drummer’s chair and Kyoka studying them with pitiful eyes. Mina cleared her throat as Eijiro bit his lip.

“Kaminari!” Mina scolded lightly. “You aren’t being emo, are you? That’s Tokoyami’s job! Well, not that I’m judging him or anything, but he is the most--” she stopped herself, stomping her foot on the floor. “Whatever, Mr. Chargebolt! Just quit the face! I can tell that the entire time you were here in Jiro’s room, you were spilling your heart.”

“You can’t possibly think that,” Denki said.

“Actually, we can,” Eijiro replied. “Man up. Quit sulking.”

“You’re the man,” Denki muttered. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

Mina growled, running across the room to grab Kyoka’s hand and bring the two of them towards Denki, who she hugged tightly. Denki gasped in alarm, not because of how Mina amazingly avoided contact with his cast but by the fact that she was hugging him at all.

“You moron!” Mina said. “Be glad you’re okay, too! You weren’t killed in that devastating crash, and that you’re alive enough to feel this hug! C’mon, Kyoka! Get in here!”

Kyoka stooped down and wrapped her arms around them, also managing to avoid Denki’s broken arm. “Yeah, should’ve said that sooner.” She whispered to herself teasingly.

Denki snapped his attention towards Eijiro, nearly blocked by Mina’s back. The Crimson Riot fan had misty eyes, likely feeling moved by Mina’s act of forgiveness. He jammed his hands into his pockets, lowering his gaze to the floor.

“KIRISHIMA!” Mina called angrily. “Get over here, you manly urchin!”

The boy sprang to his feet, and then did Denki feel pain on his cast. He heard Kyoka and Mina yelp in surprise as well, as Eijiro’s arms blanketed them in his embrace. “You shut it, Kaminari! Forget the crash! We’re all okay, right? And we’re all still friends? Then none of that crap of Stain and Mineta even matters! Hear me?” His arms tightened, and he buried his head into Mina’s back. “Don’t think about all the bad stuff. As your friend, who was there when it all happened…it pains me to see you pained. I’ve had my share of pathetic moments, times I felt like a total loser.” His mind flashed back to the time when he was helpless in helping Katsuki, how he was arguing with Tenya in the hospital. “But in the end, things always work out. The hero always wins, no matter the cost.”

“Plus it was just a crash,” Mina added. “Yeah, you almost injured us, that’s true. But compare it to actually rushing us straight into the hideout of the League of Villains, and you like, betrayed us.” Mina laughed, but it didn’t sound too genuine, almost cautious. “That’s when we’ll never forgive you. But a crash? Ha! That’s the least of our problems, Kaminari-kun.”

Eijiro wiped his eyes. “So stop it with the blame. Don’t take it. If you do go all emo on us, then nobody can replace that numb-headed loser in class. You and Mineta won’t be the pervs anymore. Jiro won’t be able to tease anyone. Hero Killer, yes. He has correct thoughts on hero organization, but he is still a villain. Next time, know your boundaries, dude. Control them.”

Denki knew he was right. Then he adjusted his head as realization struck him. Eyes widening, he looked at his two classmates with curiosity. “Wait…” he began.

Were you eavesdropping this whole time?” Denki and Kyoka said in surprise unison.

Yes!” Mina and Eijiro said in their own chorus.

Denki grinned, amused by the dynamic they always seemed to have whenever they were together. Sometimes, he wondered what it was like to have your childhood classmate as a current friend, one with the same goals and dreams as you. Denki removed his free arm from Mina’s back and pressed it onto Eijiro’s shoulder. “Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.”

WHO’S MAKING ALL THAT NOISE AT 12:00 IN THE EVENING?!

The group let go of each other, but all were smiling. Eijiro got up first, pushing part of his red hair away from his eyes. “Whelp, when we hear Bakugo screaming like that, then that means we’ve gotta book it, right?” His thumb’s tip pointed to the direction of the door.

“Only if Kaminari’s okay,” Kyoka said, shrugging. There was a pale redness on her face that Denki found cute. “Are you alright?”

Denki laughed, a warm feeling. “I’m hyper. Thanks a ton.” He stood up, following Mina and Eijiro to the door. As the two went outside, Denki waved once more to Kyoka, then he went out. As he walked back to his dorm room, he couldn’t help but gather his thoughts. He was alive, yes. And his friends were safe, able to smile, able to hug the doubtful. They were right about that. Yet Denki knew that he will never be able to wash the feeling of stupidity off him, and that his actions will always leave a permanent scar on him. It was his mistake.

But the joy of having warm hands around you, along with the feeling of forgiveness from those he hurt, that made him stronger. They knew he was wrong in choosing this path, but still, they forgave him. They welcomed him again, as part of what Mina and Eijiro called as their little “Baku-Squad”. A hilarious name for a hilarious group of friends.

Denki couldn’t have it any other way.

Chapter Text

Truth or Dare was a game common for all girls, and Toru was no exception. She was in her pajamas, sitting in a circle with all the girls in the common room of the dorms. With the next day being a weekend, nobody had an issue with being told off by the teachers.

The room was filled with class 1A students doing numerous activities. Toru’s group sat in a small circle on the floor, an empty water bottle at the center. Izuku and Tenya were talking on the couch, as beside them, Eijiro and Denki were wrestling over a video game console while Hanta scored the most points next to them. Shoto, Fumikage, and Mezo were caught up in an intense game of cards, while Mashirao and Yuga watched them. Minoru was reading a porn magazine (go figure), which was suddenly swiped by Rikido before he shoved it down a garbage can. Koji was at a side, listening to something in headphones while Katsuki was on his phone next to him.

“Okay,” Mina said, her hand on the bottle’s body. “Truth or dare.” She spun the bottle, which stopped pointed at Kyoka. She gasped, earphones reddening. “All right,” Mina licked her lips. “Jiro, truth or dare?”

Kyoka crossed her arms. “Truth.” She answered.

“Again?” Toru complained. “You always pick truth!”

“Let her be,” Momo said, a hand combing through her dark hair, which fell like a curtain down her shoulders. “Just give her a hard question.” She grinned, a dark twinkle in her eyes.

Kyoka gulped, but Mina nodded. “Jiro, if you were in a burning building, and you can only rescue one of us, who would it be? And don’t say all of you because I have a quirk. That’s not an answer.” She leaned back proudly, gold eyes gleaming.

Kyoka’s expression relaxed, as if the question were no true bother to her. “Tsu,” she replied. “Because frogs and fire don’t match.”

Ochaco and Momo raised their eyebrows at Mina, clearly annoyed at how much of a waste and unintelligent the question was. The pink-haired girl just laughed out of embarrassment. Kyoka put her hand on the bottle, a smile playing on her lips. “Truth or dare.” She mused and spun it.

The bottle landed on Tsuyu, who croaked in surprise.

Kyoka grinned. “Truth or dare?” she asked.

“I’ll go for a dare,” Tsuyu said, a finger on her lip. The girls around her oohed.

Kyoka picked up the bottle, spinning it in her hands. “Well then,” she said. “I dare you to…” she thought for a moment, eyes scanning the room. “Ah, I dare you to ask Tokoyami to accompany you to the kitchen to grab some apple juice. You know how he loves apples.” She winked.

“Ribbit,” Tsuyu said with a blush, but she stood up without protesting. The girls watched with amusement as she neared the cards-playing boys, and Fumikage turned to her. She said something, and he nodded. He stood, and the two of them exited the room, the other boys looking after them in confusion. They returned after two minutes, both carrying glasses of apple juice. Tsuyu waved at Fumikage and he nodded in response, both going back to their small groups.

When Tsuyu sat down, she looked satisfied with her drink. “Next,” she said, taking the bottle from Kyoka. She noticed all their eyes on her, and she placed her hand on her chin. “What? We both got apple juice. He likes apples too.” She spun the bottle, and it landed on Ochaco. “Uraraka-chan! Truth or dare?”

Ochaco straightened. “Dare.”

Toru was surprised. The last time they challenged a lot of girls, dares were never options unless one was feeling confident. With the scolding that Eraserhead gave them earlier, confidence was the last thing that should have been present now. But here it was, gathered in the systems of each one of these girls. Toru wondered what she would pick if ever she was put on the spot. Being invisible, she hoped they won’t be able to tell what she was feeling about a situation.

Tsuyu leaned into Toru and whispered, “Should I dare her to do something to Midoriya or pick someone else?”

Toru tapped her chin. “Make her think Deku,” she replied. “Then go for someone else.”

Tsuyu nodded, intentionally looking over at Izuku, who was trying to help Tenya calm Eijiro and Denki, who were in the middle of snapping the game console in two. Tsuyu tilted her head to the side, eyeing Ochaco. “Uraraka-chan,” she said, glancing once more at Izuku. “I dare you to ask Bakugo who he’s texting.”

Not only was Ochaco surprised, but the rest of the girls as well. They all turned their heads to Katsuki’s direction, then back to Tsuyu and Toru, who was invisibly beaming with satisfaction.

Ochaco looked more hesitant and less confident than Tsuyu had been when she approached Fumikage, but she didn’t protest either. Perhaps if it had been Izuku, she would be like a strawberry, but she was just more nervous about Katsuki. One wrong move and the boy might get into cursing her.

As she approached him, she knelt down and pointed to his phone, which he leaned towards himself to hide what was on the screen. He narrowed his eyes as he spoke, but he didn’t seem pissed yet. Ochaco said a few more words, but Katsuki just rolled his eyes. He stood up from his spot, then walked to the stairs. He ascended, leaving Ochaco alone. She returned glumly.

Shrugging, Tsuyu said, “I didn’t dare you to succeed though.”

Ochaco groaned. “It started with a C.” She reported. She took the bottle and spun it, and Toru was surprised when it landed on her.

Momo swiped her hair over a shoulder. “Hagakure, truth or dare?”

“Dare.” Oh, now even Toru felt confident. She felt as if she were a coward if she didn’t pick that choice tonight.

Momo brushed the ends of her hair casually. “Go to Ojiro. Tell him what you told me the other day.”

At first, Toru tried to remember what she had said, then before she knew it, Toru was thankful for her invisibility, because she knew she would have been red to the tips of her hair. “No! I don’t want to! Yao-Momo, don’t you dare!” She waved her arms frantically, but to the others, only her sleeves moved up and down.

Regaining interest, Ochaco sat forward. “Wait! Yaoyorozu, what did she tell you about Ojiro?”

Momo shifted, a dangerous look on her face. Toru was nearly standing now, ready to go on her knees and beg Momo to take the dare back. Momo shrugged innocently at Ochaco. “Oh, just that Ojiro was cute and she wondered what it would feel like to kiss him.”

Ochaco and Mina squealed so loud that the entire couch turned their way. There was the soft sound of an explosion, followed by a “You’re dead!”, and Hanta looked down at his game in disappointment. The girls smiled at the boys apologetically, then they returned to the conversation. The boys exchanged looks, but they ignored the girls, thinking ‘Girl stuff.’

Mina’s hands were on her mouth as she contained herself. “Oh, Hagakure-chan~”

Toru collapsed herself on the floor as Momo giggled, Izuku glancing at the group one last time before Denki handed him the controller. Toru groaned, letting the others hear. “Why are you even giving the dare, Yao-Momo? Uraraka-chan was the one who spun the bottle!” She began kicking her legs in the air.

Momo crossed her arms with apparent pleasure. “There’s no rule saying I can’t do that.”

Toru sat up. “Do I have to?”

“Yup!” Mina said, two thumbs up in the air. “It’s your word against yours, my friend.” She gave her a lazy half-smile, something she might have learned from Hanta. “You aren’t scared, are you? I mean, Uraraka and Tsu did their dares without a problem. I don’t see why you need to be hesitant.”

Toru bit her lip. “But they didn’t tell Bakugo or Tokoyami how it might feel if they…kissed.” She protested. “What would you feel, Ashido? If I dared you to kiss Kirishima or Sero?”

Mina shrugged, but there was a hint of unease on her posture. “I won’t mind. It’ll be for thanks, and on the cheek anyway.”

“Wait,” Kyoka interrupted. “You’re actually willing to kiss Kirishima if we dare you to?”

This time, Mina looked like she was sweating. “Of course! We’re just friends anyway.” Her eyes traveled to Eijiro, who was watching how Hanta pressed the controls on the game with a look of someone impressed. His eyes widened, punching Hanta lightly on the arm as the duo laughed. “Yeah, just friends.” She mused.

Toru didn’t believe it. She stood up, the other girls watching her with anticipation. She spotted Mashirao with Fumikage and the rest, and with clutched fists, she walked off. When she approached, Shoto was first to notice her as he set down a seven of diamonds.

He nodded in greeting, and the rest of the boys turned to her. “How can we help you, Hagakure?” Mezo asked.

She put her hands behind her back with agitation. “Um, this is just a dare.” She promised, then turned to Mashirao, who was studying her with his dark eyes. “Um, I think you’re cute. Real kiss-worthy.”

Mashirao gulped as he flushed, and Toru giggled nervously before she sauntered back to the other girls.

“How’d it go?” Kyoka asked.

Toru could sense eyes staring at her back, which scared her. But she forced herself to be upbeat as she replied. “It was okay. The other boys didn’t judge me, which I think is good. Yeah?”

Mina leaned sidewards. “Ojiro-kun is coming this way.”

Toru swore in her head. “What?”

Mashirao approached them, a hand on his nape. “Um, hi, girls.” Toru felt chills. She loved how flustered he could become, how much of a sweetie he was. “Mind if I talk to Hagakure for a short while? Just a minute, at least. Can I borrow her?”

Toru looked at her friends for protection, but they didn’t seem like they were protectors. They looked like traitors. Mina beamed up at him, giving him a toothy grin. “Sure! Take her as long as you may need.” Beside her, Momo nodded. And Kyoka only smiled.

“Gee, thanks,” Mashirao said. He extended his hand to Toru, who took it halfheartedly. He brought her towards the kitchen, where they were safe from the publicity of the dorm. They both knew that Katsuki was the only one absent, but he was fine. Even if he spotted them, they didn’t really worry about him.

Mashirao released their hands, thankful also for the darkness in the kitchen. Neither bothered to switch the lights on, and that was okay. Toru wished for the privacy, the time to spend with him. “So,” she said after a set of wordless silence. “What did you come here to talk about?”

Mashirao’s tail twitched. “Um,” he said. “I honestly don’t know. I was thinking about what you said earlier. Was all that true?” He looked so unconvinced about his words that his arms were involuntarily shielding his mouth and face.

Toru rubbed her arm. “Well…” Now how was she going to respond? There was no way that she was going to admit that kissing him would be cool, and there was no way she was going to lie to him. “You are a cute boy.” She admitted. “I’m surprised you aren’t courting anyone yet.” Which was true. But in all fairness, none of the boys in their class was courting any girl. Toru and Mina have seen the plausible pairings in their class, but they’ve never really wondered for themselves.

Mashirao chuckled. “Um, thanks. I think I’d like to focus on hero studies first.”

“I see,” Toru said. “I’d recommend that as well for anybody, especially if they were in the hero course.”

He nodded.

This was so awkward. Toru wished she just went to the bathroom instead of agreeing to come with Mashirao. “So, why the privacy?”

The sound of music filled the common area, and Toru and Mashirao looked to see that Mina and Denki were having a dance-off as a guide danced on the television screen. Mina spun with ease, but Denki hadn’t even finished one whole rotation yet as he slammed into Fumikage and they toppled on the floor. The class gathered around them laughed.

“Because I don’t like the spotlight,” Mashirao said. “I wanted us to avoid being put on center stage. I mean, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all!” Toru claimed. “Do what you need, as long as it’s appropriate.” She winked, but no one saw that.

Mashirao gave her that shy smile. “Anyway, I was wondering if you wanted to go to that restaurant by the corner street tomorrow. They sell caramel treats there, and they show a movie every nine-thirty in the evening. I thought you might be interested, since you like caramel treats.”

“So you’re literally asking me out on a date?” Toru asked innocently.

“Eh, yeah,” Mashirao said. “As study partners, classmates, and upcoming heroes. What do you say?”

”Sure!” Toru said immediately. “I’d be happy to come with you, Ojiro-kun! I bet it’ll be fun as heck!” She leaped, an invisible fist in the air as she kicked the air behind her. She leaned forward, and kissed his cheek.

He turned so red that she could see it in the darkness.

“Thanks, Ojiro-kun!” She said, jogging back to the other girls. “I’ll see you in my nicest clothes!”

 


 

“How’d it go?” Mezo asked as Mashirao walked up to his side, the scene of Denki and Eijiro dancing in front of him.

“It was awesome,” Mashirao said, rubbing the spot on his cheek where she kissed him. With her being invisible, he couldn’t have possibly predicted that she would do that. He remembered how she told him that he was kiss-worthy, and he wished after she did, she still thought so.

“What gave you the courage to ask her out?” Mezo turned one of his hands into a mouth to whisper.

She called him cute.” Dark Shadow peeked from behind Fumikage’s back.

“Close,” Mashirao said. “I always wanted to ask her, but I never really got the guts to do it. I sort of waited for her to approach, you know? Because I was too shy to do it myself. Even if I knew that it might take a while, I stayed back. But when she said those words…I guess that was what I waited for. It’s give and take.” He saw Mezo’s puzzled look. “I’m not good at explaining! I’m sorry!”

“No, don’t fret,” Mezo said. “I understand.”

Mashirao smiled, his hand still on his cheek as he watched Eijiro trip and fall.

 


 

“What was that about?” Kyoka asked when Toru returned to them.

Toru smiled. “He asked me out.” She said calmly.

Kyoka’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”

Toru chuckled in reply. “I’ve gotta dress in something nice tomorrow. What color do you think he’ll like my kimono to be?”

Chapter Text

Obviously, Toru was disappointed when she learned that Mashirao couldn’t join the school field trip. And honestly, Hanta couldn’t blame her. Being seatmates with him on the bus, Mashirao had shown his character of trustworthiness. It was true that he was a sweetheart, so cancelling with the field trip to attend to family matters, Hanta knew better than to stop him.

Now, Hanta sat alone at the back of the bus, reviewing the previous pictures in his camera, one he borrowed from his parents specifically for this trip. With new batteries, extra space, Hanta was prepared. The only pictures there were those of his family: dinner selfies, pool pictures, and graduation images. Photos his parents wanted to keep in the camera, for purposes Hanta didn’t know.

There was a yell from somewhere in the front of the bus, and Tenya was ready to scold in an instant. The class representative stood up, hands waving frantically as he tried to quiet down his classmates. Apparently, the yell came from Mina when Eijiro showed her something on his phone. Hanta was given the choice to have his closest friends sit beside him, but he declined. He wanted an excuse to look through his camera, and he didn’t want to get distracted from it.

The bus came to a stop beside another bus, one which carried the students from class 1B. Hanta had never really been a fan of the other section, for majority of the kids there were jerks to them. It was good that a few of them had grown closer after a while, but Hanta still didn’t have full trust on them.

As Aizawa directed the students off the bus, Hanta strapped the sling of his camera around his neck. When he touched the ground, he was greeted by a building carved with the shape of an arc. It was yellow and blue, reminding him of a public school gymnasium. The sides of the structure was covered with small trees, and the ground was covered with pebbles. Each step, a sound like millions of marbles being triggered played. Hanta lifted his camera to his eye as he snapped a picture.

Denki stepped beside him, hands gripping the straps of his backpack. “Is that a new camera?” He asked. “Dude, imagine the selfies we can take! That’ll be sick as heck!”

Hanta flashed his signature grin. “Yeah, man. Memories and all that.” He raised his camera at Denki’s direction, and the Electrification-quirk user pulled Eijiro beside him as they showed off their pale teeth in huge smiles. Already, Hanta had seven pictures of his two closest friends in different poses.

“Yo, Ashido!” Denki called, and the pink-haired girl turned their way. “Do me a solid and have a picture with us, won’t ya?”

“Sure!” Mina ran to them, Toru right behind her. More pictures were taken, each one wackier than the previous. Once Mina was satisfied with her picture with Kirishima holding peace signs over their heads, she turned to Katsuki, who was walking with Fumikage with a yawn. “Bakugo! C’mon! Join us for a picture!”

Katsuki sneered and walked off, ignoring them fully.

Mina pouted. “Such a killjoy.”

Hanta raised the camera one more time. “Forget him! Move closer ‘cause this one’s for the bulletin board.” He snapped the picture. As his friends gathered around to see the picture, Vlad King and the rest of class 1B unloaded their bus. They had umbrellas ready, having anticipated the sunny afternoon. Neito Monoma made a face at them, one of pride. Itsuka had to smack him at the back of his head to get his attention.

“What a jerk,” Toru grumbled.

Hanta scoffed lowly as he smiled. “But he doesn’t have a camera,” he said with satisfaction, chuckling.

“C’mon. Let’s go,” Aizawa called to them, and the group disbanded into their pairs, Hanta forced to come with Denki and Eijiro. They all exchanged grins as they followed their classmates.

They entered the small building, and they were surprised to see a gallery of portraits. The paintings were that of nature, combinations of art techniques found from the stone age, the medieval age, baroque, renaissance, and the present ages. There were sculptures present as well, that of the infamous naked Aphrodite, which Minoru began drooling over before Mezo pushed him forward. Pottery lay displayed on pedestals: horses, pots, and an impressive rocking chair. Hanta raised the camera, and Denki and Eijiro grinned as they secretly posed in front of the artifacts.

The tour guide began leading them down the hallway, their classmates oohing and aahing when they come across something majestic. Izuku was noting things on a notebook as Tenya asked the most questions. Ochaco and Tsuyu were admiring a sculpture of a frog dressed in princely clothes. Katsuki had earphones on as his hands tucked into his pockets, Fumikage quiet beside him. Momo and Kyoka nearly screamed when they met face-to-face with a Phantom of the Opera mask that was placed on a mannequin with similar-styled clothing. Shoto just trudged after the tour with Yuga trailing behind, comparing himself to the old statues of quirkless legends.

Denki and Eijiro continued posing, Mina and Hagakure photo-bombing from time to time. Hanta was already walking backwards as he took the photos, and nearly tripped when he bumped into someone’s back. He spun and found Neito’s stupid face looking at him.

“Watch where you’re going, Tape Hero,” he said with fake disgust. “I wouldn’t want to pay for broken things in this little museum.”

Hanta rolled his eyes. “I get it. I was just lucky that you were the one I had to run into instead of anyone else. You know, 1B jerk and all.” He shrugged.

Neito’s face scrunched up in distaste. “I really hate you fools.” He sneered.

“Don’t bother,” Denki snapped. “We hate you too, and your steaming butt.”

Neito made a noise, but he left, going back to the rest of his classmates muttering.

“That guy’s a nincompoop,” Denki grumbled, good mood replaced with burning anger. “Can he seriously become a hero someday? Or is he just here as a test to play as a villain?” He bitterly tugged on his backpack, eyes flaming.

Eijiro adjusted his jacket. “Beats me.” He replied, but he sounded just as pissed.

“Leave him alone,” Hanta said, clasping their shoulders. “We’ve got a tour to complete. Besides, I’ve still got a ton of pictures to take! Throw those frowns at the garbage bins and let’s grin from ear to ear.” He pointed the camera at the duo, who managed smiles as they stopped in front of a statue of the Thinker.

They exited a set of doors, and the group of three found themselves having a picture by a fountain. After taking another picture, they saw they were in a garden so huge that it extended over a small hill. There were flowers everywhere of different kinds and colors, and vines sprouted grape fruits by a side wall. There were small garden gnomes, statues of swans, and wells scattered around the area. The walkway was made of orange marble, and it caught the light illuminating it until it looked golden.

Denki gasped. “Bro, this is awesome.”

Eijiro squinted. “I dunno. Butterflies aren’t really manly.” He said, sliding his jacket off his arms.

“Yeah,” Hanta agreed. “Still, it’s nice scenery. You’ve got to give it that, Kirishima.”

“I guess so.”

The tour guide resumed speaking as they moved onwards, the students all in awe at the beauty of the plants. Even Momo was dazzled, for she can make all these plants but never get them together in one area such as this one. Tsuyu was playing with fishes by a crystal blue stream, Fumikage watching her with a small smile. Mina was dancing in the field, butterflies floating around her that Hanta had to take a picture. Tetsutetsu from class 1B had a handful of birdseed as he knelt to feed some baby birds perched on a small basin of glittering water.

Even the teachers were having fun. All Might was admiring the positioning of a bench as it overlooked the view of a bridge. Midnight had placed a flower in her hair, Present Mic looking at the grape vines with interest. Eraserhead spotted a cat run by, and he checked for anyone watching before he scampered off after it.

Hanta approached Tsuyu as Fumikage continued to watch her. “Hey, Tsu.” He said, waving.

“Sero-chan,” Tsuyu said. “I see you brought a camera.” A goldfish leaped over her hand, dipping into the water with a silver splash.

Hanta smirked. “Yeah, about that.” He grimaced at Fumikage, whose red eyes widened in sudden realization. “I want you to have a picture with Tokoyami, if that’s okay with you. I want to have photos of all my classmates in a small album I have back in the dorm. Since he’s just here, I thought now would be a good time for it. Is it alright?”

“Ribbit,” Tsuyu responded, nodding. “I don’t mind. Where should we take it?” She stood up, looking for Fumikage. The male approached them, hands pocketed in his hoodie.

Hanta regarded their current location, observing the lightning and the view. “Here’s nice,” he said. “Why don’t you two stand by the lake?” He angled the camera to his eyes, Tsu and Fumikage squeezing together as they positioned themselves. “On three,” Hanta called to them. “One, two, three.”

The camera flashed, just as Dark Shadow pulled himself from Fumikage’s body and joined the picture raising peace signs.

“Thanks, Sero-chan,” Tsuyu said. “Can you send that to me once you have it printed out?”

Hanta laughed. “Of course. I’ll even send it to you through chat.” He waved at her as she left, and Fumikage approached him. “I’ll send this to you too, Tokoyami.” He said.

Fumikage didn’t reply, but Hanta knew him well enough to tell that his state wasn’t angry, but almost thankful. Dark Shadow shot Hanta a thumbs up as they walked over to Mezo and Minoru.

“Hey, Sero! I heard you had a camera!”

All afternoon, Hanta allowed his classmates to use him as their personal camera man. And the thing was, he was fine with it. He enjoyed watching his comrades share their huge smiles with him, a sign that they were happy and having fun. He knew from the number of students in each picture that nobody in their class was without a photo. Even Shoto Todoroki had pictures, poses with Izuku and Tenya, sometimes with Ochaco and one with Momo. Yuga requested the most pictures, which was normal for him. Yuga was one who might’ve enjoyed camera spotlight, and that was fine.

After hearing about the camera, teachers came over for pictures themselves. All Might and Izuku sported hero poses in several. Present Mic was laughing in one picture as Aizawa rolled his eyes. Midnight had a flower crown in another, Minoru staring at her in the background. Katsuki was in several pictures with Eijiro, even though the former’s face said that he’d rather stay on the bus.

The quick trip ended with a bang. Aizawa was calling them all back to the bus at five in the afternoon, and the tired students all lined up with their seatmates, all excited to see Hanta’s new pictures.

Hanta was already kicking some pebbles on the walkway when a flash of green caught his eye. He spun, seeing emerald-green hair vanish into a tent of plants. Hanta checked his classmates before following, curiosity taking the best of him. With the sun close to its sleeping spot, the world was cast with an orange glow, making water look like soft lava. Hanta always loved that kind of scenery, but he didn’t capture it on camera. He was busy.

He entered the tent, which was surrounded by more plants. When he scanned the tent, he found his eyes meeting those of a girl--a familiar girl, one from the class that he despised. He remembered that green hair. She was the lass who beat Denki during the sports festival, except she only managed to do so because Denki was too focused on one move to come up with a good game plan. Yet Ibara Shiozaki didn’t walk out of the ring proudly. She left it thankful, for the opportunity in victory. She wasn’t like Neito. She was not like the rest of class 1B.

“Hey,” Hanta called to her. “Hanta Sero from class 1A. Aren’t you going to your bus yet?” He sent her his trademark smile, and for once when it came to class 1B, it was a genuine one.

Ibara stepped back, hands clutching a pink rose. “Oh, yes. It’s just, with my quirk being about vines and all, I just found myself curious with more types of it. I admit to myself that today’s tour was lackluster and lacking.” She shuddered, clasping her hands over the rose. “Oh, Lord, forgive me for taking this detour.”

“I bet He will,” Hanta said, moving closer. “There’s no harm in taking trips along the way.” He progressed until he was standing next to her. She tightened her grip on the flower’s stem, as if not wanting him to see it. Hanta didn’t know if he should feel bad, if he should turn away based on her gesture. He set his middle and pointer fingers on a rosebush, feeling the softness of the petals. “This is nice. Roses aren’t just symbols of love, now. They’re just as simply soft too.”

Ibara loosened her hold on the rose, smiling faintly.

With the contrast of the pink roses on the bush, Hanta’s eyes couldn’t help but land on Ibara, her rose, her hair. Suddenly, he got an idea. “Your hair and that rose, they make a nice color combo. You should stand by more pink things sometimes. I bet it’ll look lovely.”

Shyly eyeing the flower, Ibara’s smile widened. It was that sort of smile made by those gentle girls, those who are happier with doves than makeup. It didn’t make her less pretty, which was a plus. “Do you think so, Hanta Sero?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he raised his camera. “May I have a sample?”

Ibara hesitated, only standing there with the flower, smile fading. She looked so unlike everybody in class 1B that Hanta wondered how she kept up with them. Well, Itsuka was alright. And Tetsutetsu. But the class as a whole were always there when Hanta and his classmates were trying their best. It was unnerving, especially at times when they managed to outshine class 1A. Ibara wasn’t one of them. She was a clean girl, the opposite of an assassin. If he sounded like he was forcing her for the picture, he wished he had shut up.

“Sorry,” Hanta said, lowering the camera. “If you’re not interested, then maybe I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s not that,” Ibara said. “It’s just that all day you were taking pictures of you and your friends. I would view myself as a trespasser to your privacy, to your personal life. I would not want that. I would prefer you look through your pictures as you wanted, just you and your companions.”

“Seriously? That’s what you think?” Hanta couldn’t help but snort. “It’s no big deal at all. A picture is a picture. It holds memories, may it be of any kind. It captures moments that couldn’t be retaken in the future. Photographs are always rare, and that’s what made me want to bring this camera this day. I think, having you here would be kinda sweet.”

Ibara studied him, her face slightly doubtful. Then she chuckled, one that would have made Minoru drool. “If I must be a Samaritan for you, then I shall pose for the camera.” She unclasped the rose, tucking it behind her ear. “But may I request to view your pictures?”

Removing the strap from around his neck, Hanta handed her the device. “Be my guest.”

She took the camera, her fingers touching the buttons with such delicacy. It was amazing that she was also an amazing fighter in contrast to the sweet girl she was right now. Her smile then twisted to a sad frown. “That’s unfair.” She said.

“What is?”

Ibara viewed the images once more before saying, “You have so many pictures of your classmates, but none of the pictures have you. As owner of the camera, are you not supposed to be in at least one? There is no fairness in this act. It’s questionable.”

Hanta blinked. Did he seriously have none of himself? Yes. All day, it was Denki. Eijiro. Mina. Toru. Everyone else. The only smile he hadn’t seen was his own, despite having done so numerous times that day. He was known for his smile, his relaxed attitude, his positive nature. But for the day, he didn’t even capture that.

“I didn’t notice,” Hanta rubbed his elbows, rough with the lumps of his quirk. He had to admit that he was a bit saddened by that.

Ibara raised the camera, the lens facing her direction. “May we take this picture together? Selfie?” She asked him politely.

It was Hanta’s turn to feel hesitant. But he straightened up, walked to her side, and grabbed the other edge of the camera. He bent down, his head too close to hers that he smelled her: roses and fresh morning dew. He flushed lightly, but smiled wider.

“Say cheese, Shiozaki,” he coaxed.

“I’d prefer bread alone,” Ibara said, but she smiled as Hanta pressed a button.

They viewed the picture a few moments later, that and several other shots of Ibara and Hanta solo, some together. Hanta was satisfied with each and every one, somehow even happier than when it was Denki and Eijiro.

“We should get to the buses,” Hanta said, sweatdropping.

“I agree,” Ibara nodded. “I will see you in school.”

And they separated. Hanta was the last one to enter the bus, and found himself staring back at eighteen puzzled faces, plus Aizawa’s pissed one. “Where have you been?” He asked Hanta emotionlessly.

“Toilet break,” Hanta said, walking towards the back of the bus as he rubbed his stomach for emphasis. When he was seated, Minoru and Rikido were the first ones to turn to him with excited eyes that reminded him of stars.

“May we see the pictures?” Rikido asked.

Hanta handed them the camera, and the two snickered as they passed through a slide show of images. When they reached the ones with Ibara, their laughter faded, and Minoru turned to Hanta with shadows crossing his features.

“You secretive a--!” Minoru swore, pointing accusingly. “You never told me you and that Vine girl from class 1B were an item!” A few heads turned, but Hanta only grinned lazily.

“Because we aren’t,” he said. “I just wanted pictures is all. Hey, I’ll send the rest by 8:30 tonight, okay?”

The distraction worked, for everyone began returning to their conversations and naps. Hanta only leaned back on his seat, looking through his new pictures for the first time after the trip in his personal camera.

Chapter Text

Izuku was the last one to pass his homework in Midnight’s class for he was hesitant. Despite staying up late the night before to do intense research, Izuku found himself staring at a paper full of random words and sentences. He alone could’ve recognized what the words meant, but he knew that others wouldn’t. That was why he was always embarrassed when he shared his notes with his classmates, because they were always just a mess of words.

He ended school muttering, an act he always tended to do. Walking into the dorms, he knew that Midnight might call his attention at one point to talk to him about his handwriting. Despite his yearning to be a hero, Izuku knew that school was also important. Failing would be awful. What would All Might think?

He was overreacting. He shook his head, trying to stop his assumptions. Midnight would understand, she has to.

Izuku dropped himself on the sofa as his classmates began entering, talking and exchanging stories. Only when Tenya and Ochaco sat by his sides did he glance upwards, forcing a smile. “Hi.”

Ochaco grinned somewhere between pitiful and amused. “Hope this isn’t about the assignment with Midnight, Deku.”

Izuku wasn’t surprised. If anybody would understand him this well, it’d be Ochaco and Tenya. He inhaled deeply before releasing a sigh, trying to release his negative energy along with it. His green eyes met hers, a chocolate warmness that held love for her family, a characteristic Izuku always liked about her. Tenya cleared his throat, and Izuku and Ochaco winced. The younger Ingenium sent them a grin, Eijiro, Denki, and Mina looking at them from behind.

The door opened once more, and the 1A students present that moment found themselves smiling as Eri was also entering the dorm room, Mirio and Tamaki behind her. The latter was gripping the straps of his backpack as they were greeted by Tsuyu and Toru before soon, almost everybody was at their side, with Tamaki beginning to display his normal timid nature.

Izuku stood up. “Hi, Eri!” He greeted, leaving the sofa to walk to her, kneeling down to shake her little fingers.

She beamed up at him, her scarlet eyes glittering with innocence.

Mirio ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Something wrong, problem child?” He asked Izuku, sporting a friendly smile despite having lost his quirk.

Izuku shrugged. “School work.”

“Ah,” Mirio made five tsk sounds as he waved his pointer finger. “Always a bummer. If there’s one thing both heroes and the normal folk would hate…” He launched a set of textbooks on the space beside Shoto on the couch, the younger boy not even giving it a glance as his eyes swept through the pages of a book on dealing with sick siblings.

“...it’s school,” Mirio finished with a wink. He then seemed to notice Ochaco watching them curiously, for he widened his smile and extended a hand. “Uravity! It’s been a while, hasn’t it, huh?”

“Kinda,” Ochaco said, shaking it. She smiled widely, and Izuku turned away, trying to hide his blush. “Still, nice for you to drop by. What’s going on?”

Mirio chuckled, a light-hearted laugh that made anyone in the room’s negativity fade. “Why not? I mean, there’s not much to do, so I thought it would be nice for Eri and the rest of us to hang around your little dorm for a while. It’s relaxing, and the vibes here are always so nice. Shame that Hado couldn’t come with us. I’m sure she would’ve wanted to.” He was still grinning, but it was obvious that he had grown a bit sadder. Izuku knew him enough.

“Where is Hado-san?” Izuku asked, turning his attention to the older teen.

Surprisingly, it was Tamaki who answered. He was so quiet that it was easy to forget that he was in the room with the rest of them. “She’s sick,” he responded quietly but steadily. “It’s just a little fever though. By Wednesday, I’m certain that she would be able to return.” His sentence didn’t seem complete, but he didn’t seem to care. He continued untying his red neck tie.

Mirio smirked at him, a smile saying that there was something only the two of them knew.

Izuku blinked, turning back to Ochaco, something dawning on him. “Oh, Uraraka!” He began ruffling through his backpack, through papers and notebooks before pulling out a red ribbon as long as a cubit. He held it out for her, suddenly interested in his red sneakers. “I saw you drop this earlier when we were training. I thought I’d give it back to you, because…” Oh man, what was he supposed to say? Because it’s the right thing? Because he thought she’d look cuter if she wore it on her hair? He put himself in a corner, and it looked like some of the others were thinking the same.

Ochaco took it out of her hand in a hurry. “Thanks, Deku! I didn’t even notice that it was missing! Oh, Yao-Momo would be furious if I had lost this.”

Something inside Izuku shattered, and he left his hand hanging. “It isn’t yours?”

Ochaco shook her head, smiling guiltily. “No. Yaoyorozu just lent me that for a little…thing me and the other girls were doing. She usually used it to tie her hair, but she prefers ponytails now, that’s why this ribbon is rarely seen on her. She wears it to parties though.” She glanced at Shoto, whose grip on his book seemed to tighten.

“Oh.” For some reason, Izuku wished it had been hers. He knew that she would’ve looked just as pretty as Momo if she used it on her hair. He scratched his head, the corner of his eye noticing Mirio raise his eyebrows in interest. Eri was eating an apple, Tsuyu beside her, but both were obviously watching them. He than realized that also Tamaki was looking at them, Tenya…everyone. Only Shoto wasn’t giving them a dang. He had made a scene.

Ochaco must have noticed the numerous eyes, for her smile faded. “Deku, are you okay?”

Izuku forced a laugh. “No, it’s nothing! Just thinking about Midnight!” He turned, snatching his backpack and marched out of the room, sweating worse than a pig. He just wanted to collapse. He shouldn’t have jumped to the thought that Ochaco owned the headband if it weren’t even the case. The worst thing was the others though. They might all be friends, but they should at least respect each others’ privacy. He marched to the elevator then to his room and shut his door, before he threw himself on the bed.

Ochaco coughed into her fist, which was carrying the ribbon. Her face was almost as red as it. “I should go.” Then she left too.

Once they knew that both Izuku and Ochaco were gone, Mirio turned to Tenya. “I want to assume that he and her are…” He made a hand signal crossing his middle finger over his pointer finger, raising it for everyone in the room to see. Minoru coughed, receiving a slap on the head from Mashirao’s tail.

“Knew they’d blow it,” Shoto muttered as he flipped a page.

Mirio clasped the sofa’s back. “So they are.”

Shoto shrugged. “Maybe.”

“That is not necessarily the case,” Tenya announced, creating motions with his hands. “But we must respect whatever we must. It is certain that Midoriya and Uraraka have a chemistry that we view as a romantic crush, but we are unsure until both of them state their true feelings for one another. Until then, we must not pry. Midoriya was doing a good deed of returning Yaoyorozu’s ribbon. There is no harm in that. But our eyes on them during that situation must have unnerved them. I feel the need to apologize.”

Hanta wiped sweat off his forehead. “Gee, thanks for the speech.”

“So Deku is in love?”

All eyes turned to Eri. It was an innocent question, but one that would have certainly made Izuku humiliated if he were there. A few of them held in their snickers, as to not upset Eri for asking. The young girl looked at Tsuyu in question, but Tsu didn’t respond.

Mirio tapped his chin as an idea clicked into his mind. “Looks so, Eri-chan. In any case, I would like to propose that they should go on a blind date.”

There was silence, only Mirio looking proud of himself. He had his hands on his hips, smile satisfied. Even Shoto stopped reading to look at Mirio in bewilderment.

There was the sound of a skirt adjusting: Kyoka shifting her stance. “Well that was out of nowhere,” she said, twirling her earphones around her finger.

“Mirio.” Tamaki’s voice held warning, but he didn’t sound too threatening. Still, it was enough to make Mirio sweat.

“What? Okay, yes, out of the blue. But at least give ‘em time to talk or something. Trap them in a storage room. Something.”

“I don’t recommend being trapped in a storage room,” Fumikage said, entering the room. He was already wearing an oversized sweatshirt and loose jeans, and it looked like he had taken a shower, for his feathers glistened slightly.

Mirio cleared his throat. “Either way, I think they’re cute. Problem Child sure has chemistry, and it would be nice if that chemistry turned into an explosion! Boom!” He spread out his arms for emphasis, and Shoto returned to his book. “But seriously, get them together for a group project. And get that ribbon in the hair of Uravity. If it fits Creation-girl, it’ll work on her.”

“I cannot deny that,” Denki admitted softly.

Like asking permission from a superior, Mirio turned to Tenya who clicked his tongue, unable to answer. But his expression said that he too saw the potential of Izuku and Ochaco. Finally, he sighed and said, “Do you even know what you are suggesting? I know that since you are older than all of us, you do know what you are doing. At the same time, I wish to preserve my friendship with both Midoriya and Uraraka. If your plan of a blind date interferes with current friendships to the point of collapse, I apologize but I would have to decline.” He looked genuinely conflicted as he shook his head.

“Mirio works his magic,” Tamaki said, surprising Mirio and everyone else once more. “If he wants to do something right, he can do it right.” His eyes swept over to Eri, his mind replaying what Mirio had gone through just to get her to where she was now. Tamaki pressed his hands together in timidity. “Sorry.” He muttered. “I’m just saying that I trust him. You can have your own opinions, Iida-san…”

“I respect your words,” Tenya said.

“How long has this even been going on?” Mirio asked, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

“Since I met them here in UA,” Tenya responded. “He had rescued Uraraka from a giant robot during the entrance exam, and after that, they’ve gotten closer. We three are mostly together, for they are my best friends. Normally, those sort of closeness might have made someone jealous--two people you are close to sharing a romantic relationship. But I admit that they are suited for each other. I just wish they were more open.”

“Like a man must be,” Eijiro said, a thumb under his right eye as he wiped it.

“That’s why we need a blind date!” Denki exclaimed. “We’d all want Midoriya to ‘man up’ and talk to her on more…personal matters, not just heroism. What’s Zero Gravity like? How does it flow and counter to Newton’s Law of Acceleration? Etc.” He shrugged. “I dunno, dude. But Togata’s right. Get Midoriya and Uraraka on a boat in the middle of the ocean. I won’t mind.”

“It has its pros,” Hanta agreed, nodding.

“And just as many cons,” contradicted Shoto. “If they were alone, then they’d be more open for massacres from the League of Villains or any evildoer in general. They can fight, but they still aren’t professional. If something happens to them, UA is responsible. The teachers will kill each and every one of us, whether we agreed to the date or not. If we didn’t give the thumbs up, they’ll scold us for not having stopped them in the first place. I’m sure the school is avoiding another incident similar to what happened with Bakugo in the woods.”

Minoru clapped his hands with a loud slap. “Then we behave as bodyguards! Watch the restaurants or shores in a distance as to not interrupt the date!”

Toru rolled her invisible eyes. “Please, Mineta. You just want to see Uraraka-chan with that ribbon.”

“It reminds me of stripped v--” Minoru received another tail whip from Mashirao before he managed to finish.

Mirio ignored them, tapping his jaw. “Right,” he mused. “Except that Stain, One For All, Overhaul, Gentle, La Brava, and alot more villains are already captured. So we’re free of them. Then the League mostly strikes when All Might would have possible involvement…” He squinted his cartoonish eyes. “Deku is involved, but the school still pursued with the Sports Festival despite the USJ attack…”

Denki grunted loudly. “Just get them on the boat already!” He yelled impatiently.

“Be quiet, Jamming-Yay,” Kyoka teased, releasing a snort.

“I vote for the blind date,” Eijiro stated. “Playing cupid will certainly be cool.”

“Plus, we are acting like Midoriya’s heroes if we get him and Uraraka together,” added Hanta.

Fumikage just rolled his eyes before leaving the room and heading for the elevator.

“So what? Blind date or what?” asked Kyoka lackadaisically.

“I want Deku to be happy,” Eri spoke up, raising her small hand in politeness. “If Deku will be happy with her, then I want to make sure he is. He has done much for me…make him happy.” She was so young and so shy, yet here she was, speaking her mind in front of a group of silly teenagers. She wanted Izuku’s happiness as he gave her her own, saving her from abuse from her grandfather’s adopted son. She was thankful for that, and felt that Izuku needed that same joy, that same relief of calm and light.

Tamaki bit his lip, Eijiro’s eyes twitched, and Mirio fell silent.

The girl was correct. Sure, they can do the date, but would that make Izuku happy? Will their actions embarrass him, scar him eternally? They were being childish, they knew. Imagine what Izuku would be like if his relationship with Ochaco was forced, what would that be? If they took it slow, that would make it better, easier. But for the rest, who have no business in Izuku’s private life, to meddle with his romantic emotions…it was wrong.

It depended on Izuku’s happiness, and how he would grow into a better person. If being with Ochaco strengthened him, then so be it. But they need to decide on that, not anyone else.

Mirio rubbed his forehead. “Yeah. I’m stupid.”

Denki looked around uncertainly. He was obviously still thinking of doing the blind date. “So, uh, it’s cancelled?”

Eri suddenly played with the tips of her dress guiltily. “I’m sorry. I should not…”

Eijiro laughed, the red-head sweeping hair from his forehead. “Don’t sweat it! I think you just thought us a thing or two. I mean, sometimes adults can be worse than crap.”

Kyoka nodded, raising a thumbs up. Tsuyu croaked, and Toru’s sleeves flapped, as if waving her hands in agreement.

Mirio was handed his textbooks by Shoto. “It’s cancelled all right,” he confirmed, but still with his glowing smile. “Taking it slow, but hey. What can the future hold?” He flashed back to Sir Nighteye, and a part of him broke. But he didn’t let it show, just covered it with a smile. “I bet Uraraka and Deku will get it on. Based on everything you said, it seems possible.” He winked at Eri. “Just wait, Eri-chan. Deku will be happy! It’s just a matter of time.”

Any sadness on her face before that moment vanished as she beamed at him, tiny hand in fists as she nodded in determination.

Denki slouched, but didn’t complain.

As it turns out, Izuku was standing behind a wall, having went down from his room after a short while to grab a glass of water. He happened to overhear his classmates talk about him, but he didn’t feel betrayed. A little embarrassed, yes, for he now knew how much of an idiot he was with his ability to be an obvious fool. Still, he was fine. But mostly, he was impressed.

Eri was getting stronger and smarter. She was growing so much that it was somehow hard to imagine how she was when they first met her. Then, she was scared, asking for help. Now she behaved as if she was tutored and taught everything in UA and with Eraserhead. It made Izuku happy, how far she’s come. He supposed that was what made the conversation of his classmates worth listening to, to see how they would react.

His happiness. His choice. His romance was his option, not theirs. He sighed in relief, then went over to get his water. Just as he was returning to the elevator, he was surprised to find himself face to face with Katsuki, looking very fresh and out of the bath. His blonde hair was wet, and his onyx shirt looked fresh. He didn’t look mad, though. Just emotionless.

Izuku straightened up. “Kacchan…”

Katsuki made a noise, pushing past the smaller boy, on his way to the kitchen. Then he stopped, hands limp at his sides. With his back on Izuku, he said, “Take romance seriously, Deku.” He proceeded to the kitchen, leaving the green-haired boy staring after him. But Izuku would’ve sworn that there was a trace of amusement in Katsuki’s voice while he said it.

Izuku was confused, but he entered the elevator which ascended upwards at the push of a button.

Chapter Text

A few seconds ago, Eijiro felt like he was about to die. Now, he was frowning as he watched Tetsutetsu attempt to pull a straight face, but it was obvious that the silver-haired boy was trying to hold in his laughter. It was an accident after all, that Eijiro had unintentionally deactivated his quirk and allowed his companion to whip a steel-hard hand across his face. Eijiro had tumbled to the ground groaning, and Tetsutetsu stared at him in confusion. The red-haired hero bit his bottom lip and tasted blood, making him assume that he was slapped too hard.

Tetsutetsu, on the other hand, almost guffawed. “Man,” he snorted. “You ain’t dying. I just cut your lip a bit. What happened to you? Lost your train of thought?” He patted his PE pants, and dust flew lightly.

Eijiro sat up, wiping his lip with the back of his hand. He grinned goofily, slightly embarrassed. “A little. Just remembered that I ordered cupcakes from a bakery downtown. I was supposed to pick it up hours ago but forgot because of training.” He shrugged. “Maybe they sold it elsewhere now.”

Tetsutetsu sat down, his hands resting on his knees. “Then get ‘em now. If they give it away, then your money was wasted. Where you supposed to give them to someone special?” Tetsutetsu had a grin of mockery, reflecting to the core of his eyes.

Eijiro shook his head, but he wasn’t sad. He was just being honest. “Nah, man. I was planning to binge-watch this show Hagakure had recommended. Honestly, it looks like it sucks, so I thought that I at least enjoy something later tonight.”

His companion nodded.

From a distance, the sound of a school bell rang, and different students from both class 1A and 1B began showing themselves, some deep in conversation, others alone and bruised from training. Both Eijiro and Tetsutetsu caught the eye of Denki walking beside Manga, and the blonde boy waved at them. Naturally, Eijiro and Tetsutetsu waved back. Just as Denki began mouthing some words to the two of them, Mina Ashido was suddenly in front of him, and it was her pinkness that blocked the brightness of Denki. Having noticed her interruption, she giggled.

“Sorry, Kirishima!” She cupped her hands around her mouth as she yelled. “Didn’t know you were talking!”

“No worries!” Eijiro yelled back, getting a look from Tetsutetsu. Mina smiled before returning to her walk, catching up to Toru and Momo.

Tetsutetsu nudged Eijiro harshly, but to both of them, it was as soft as a pat. “You got something going on with Ashido?”

Eijiro scoffed, rolling his crimson eyes. “No way. We’re just friends.”

“Yeah, okay,” Tetsutetsu didn’t sound like it. He still wore that stupid grin, as if all afternoon had been his special afternoon. It just made Eijiro sick. Tetsutetsu shrugged. “Oh well. Since class is officially over for today, might as well pick up those cupcakes. Mind if I come?” He already stood, and stared down at his friend.

Eijiro’s grin was disdained. “Yeah.” He grabbed Tetsutetsu’s outstretched hand, allowing him to lift him from his position.

They didn’t bother to change clothes. They immediately ran for the outside of UA’s boundaries, walking past streets and walking folk. Vehicles zoomed past them in a blur of colors, and birds chirped as they positioned themselves on wires. Eijiro pressed his lip once more as the two of them walked, and was relieved to find out that the bleeding had finally stopped.

“So,” Tetsutetsu said. “How long have you and Ashido known each other?”

Since we were kids. Eijiro thought, but instead smiled a wolfish grin. “Can’t say. How long have you and Kendo known each other?”

Finally, Eijiro was thankful for the heavens when Tetsutetsu held his tongue. The retort obviously caught him off guard, his eyes widening in shock. Eijiro raised his brows, awaiting his answer, proud of his idea of bombing Tetsutetsu’s comfort. But Tetsutetsu didn’t respond, only change the topic to one about a fighting game that was free online.

Minutes later, they approached the store. Eijiro noticed the disappointment on Tetsutetsu’s face when he read the store’s name.

“Cupid?” Tetsutetsu blurted out in disgust. “That’s nasty.”

Pushing the door open, the bell rang. Valentine-themed music filled the area, which was surrounded by white shelves containing different sweets. Cakes were inside a refrigerator with a glass door: chocolate, strawberry, red velvet. Candy canes were displayed at one side, lollipops at another. There were wooden tables at the store’s center, with white tablecloths draped over them. A card was at the middle of each table, with the Japanese symbols that read “Valentine's Day is the poet's holiday.” – Ted Koosner, Poet. The place smelled like sugar, which wasn’t surprising with the amount of gummy worms they sold as well. But there were no customers. Just the guy who sat at the cashier, looking as if the bell woke him up from a nap.

“Still, they make excellent sweets,” Eijiro said to Tetsutetsu as he led them inside. “Sato actually said that he loved it here, and I asked him why. So, I guess you can tell how I discovered all this. And as soon as I did, I was sold. Their stuff is really good.”

“Really now?” Tetsutetsu picked a lollipop from its position on the shelf. It had a spiraled effect, with the color combination of green and pink. It smelled like either mint or strawberry, but Tetsutetsu couldn’t decide which scent dominated the other. “Mind if I catch this up, Kirishima?”

“Sure thing.” Eijiro went to the counter, and the guy who was positioned there. He looked about early twenties with curly dark hair, with small tawny wings visible behind his ears due to his quirk. Eijiro almost wanted to guess what the man’s quirk was, wondering if that was a way to fly. If it was, that looked ridiculous. “Hey, sir. I’m Eijiro Kirishima. I reserved a box of cupcakes from here, and if I ain’t too late, I’d wish to pick ‘em up. So…can I?” Tetsutetsu ran up to his side and placed the lollipop on the counter’s surface. “I’ll add this too, sir.” Eijiro followed up.

The man nodded, though he looked bored. “Wait here.” He said, then went to the back of the store through a heart-shaped doorway. Eijiro wondered if that wasn’t really a storage but more of a make-out room for the store’s employees.

“This pop’s calling me,” Tetsutetsu commented, toying with the end of the lollipop’s stick.

“The thought of eating those cupcakes later tonight makes me starving!” Eijiro said, rubbing his belly. “But don’t worry ‘bout it, man. I’ll give you one before we got to separate dorms.” He sent him a thumbs up, flashing his sharp teeth.

Tetsutetsu mimicked the gesture, then suddenly turned towards the entrance of the store.

Eijiro glanced down at a menu that was taped to the counter’s top. There were desserts on it, milkshakes and ice cream and the like. “Tetsutetsu, wanna have some dessert before we go?”

“Yeah, about that,” Tetsutetsu said, still looking at the entrance. “There’s a shop at the other side of the street that I’d really like to see, so do you mind if I pass by it or a while? I’ll be back right away.” Eijiro couldn’t help but notice that his voice betrayed his words. He didn’t really sound like his heart was into going to the shop, but as if he wanted to leave. Somehow, that made Eijiro a bit downcast. Maybe he didn’t really like this place and wished he had stayed at UA.

“Go ahead,” He said.

“Thanks. You won’t regret it,” Tetsutetsu made a run, and the sound of a bell rang throughout the shop. Eijiro sighed.

“Why’s he in a hurry?”

Eijiro’s head spun faster than Tetsutetsu’s run, for it was Mina Ashido’s voice that asked that question. She, like Eijiro and Tetsutetsu was still in PE uniform, though she didn’t look like she went through too much. She had her hands clasped in a similar way to how Ibara Shiozaki of class 1B did, and her eyes were speaking inquisitiveness. Her color in contrast to the store’s candy-like atmosphere made her look like she belonged here.

She raised a brow at him and pouted, and Eijiro realized that he had been staring at her.

“Oh sorry!” He said, chuckling. “I just didn’t expect to see you here, Ashido. Hi.”

“Hey.” She approached him, setting a purple backpack at her feet. Eijiro was granted then to see the other side of the door, where Tetsutetsu was watching them from the side of a streetlight. Noticing Eijiro, he nodded as he raised a thumbs up. Mina once again grabbed Eijiro’s attention when she leaned past him to read the paper taped to the counter, the one that showed the numerous desserts.

“Want anything?” Eijiro asked, sticking a hand in his pocket.

Mina studied the menu for a while before saying, “No. I’m good.” She straightened, stretching her arms as she yawned. “But…I do want to dance. What do you say we have a dance competition at the dorms later? You and me versus Kaminari and Jiro?” She gave him a look of confidence.

“Um, two things,” Eijiro said. “One, I’m no good dancer. And two, Jiro won’t want to dance. She’s a musician, but she won’t take dance to heart.”

“You’re right,” Mina giggled. “I just want to win.”

Eijiro let himself laugh as well. “So I win too if we were on the same team.”

“Probably!”

The counter guy returned, carrying a baby-blue box. In the box’s lid, lay the logo of Cupid, which was automatically that of a baby with a bow and arrow. Below it, there was a spot that was transparent, allowing others to see what it contained. Inside were different cupcakes with different styles and colors, sprinkled with different toppings. At the side of the box was Eijiro’s full name.

“Wow!” Mina gasped.

“This it, sir?” The guy said lazily.

“Yup,” Eijiro said. “I’ll take that, and I’ll take this too.” He pushed the lollipop of Tetsutetsu across the counter. The man nodded as he took it; began pressing buttons on his cashier. Eijiro glanced at Mina, a thought occurring. “Wait. Why’d win all of a sudden?” He asked, remembering her statement of wanting to win.

Mina looked confused for a while, staring into Eijiro’s eyes. “Oh. It was because I was beaten by Kaminari-kun earlier during training.”

Eijiro snorted. “Kaminari? Really? What happened?”

“Well,” Mina began. “We were fighting and I was beating him up pretty easily, then Mr. Aizawa announced that training could be done dual. So Jiro joined Kaminari’s side, and two against one? You know which number will stand more triumphant in the end.” She beamed at him, unbothered. “Still, it was fun! I realized how fun fighting them would be. They make a good team. As for you…”

Eijiro eyed her suspiciously. “What about me?”

She shrugged. “Well, I thought if any one else were gonna beat them, it’d be us. I mean, we’ve known each other since before UA. We were in Team Bakugo in the Sports Festival. You alone managed to rescue Bakugo from the League of Villains, and managed to help in Eri’s rescue! But back to the former, the two of us have gotten so intertwined that I couldn’t help but trust you. You are a man. I’m Pinky!” She pointed at herself boldly. “I thought you were cool, so, yeah.” She noticed the look on his face, and she exploded into laughter. “Kirishima! Ha-Ha! Sorry! Did I say something wrong? What’s with the face?”

She must’ve noticed his face of absolute shock. All his life, he looked up to her: her bravery, her pride, her strength. Then, all he had was dark hair and a dream to become like his idol Crimson Riot. Now, he was here, with the same scar on his left eyelid, but with a wilder life--a heroic one. If anything, he was going down the path he always wanted to go, step by step.

Eijiro rubbed his nape bashfully. “Thanks, Ashido.”

The man behind the counter was blushing hard, obviously uncomfortable with being present during Mina and Eijiro’s private conversation. Even his wings were pink. He cleared his throat, unable to look at them. “Sir.” He stuttered, handing out the box and the lollipop.

“Thanks,” Eijiro said, feeling sorry for him. “You can keep the change.” He added, which seemed to satisfy the man. He then turned to Mina, who was looking at the box in interest. “Wanna eat?” Eijiro didn’t ask, but suggested. If they were going to eat the cupcakes together, he knew that eating the cupcakes alone while watching a lame TV show would be less gratifying.

“Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, for real.” Eijiro jabbed a thumb at the cashier guy’s direction. “They need people to eat here too.”

To his relief, the horned girl smiled. “Sure!”

Eijiro set the box down on a table before going to the door, searching for his previous traitor. But Tetsutetsu was nowhere to be seen. Eijiro shrugged, returning inside before sitting across Mina, who had already began munching. Her cheeks were smeared with blue icing, and Eijiro admitted that it was cute.

“Tetsutetsu’s a goner,” Eijiro shook his head slowly with fake remorse. “Let me reserve one for him at least.” He gestured to a cupcake.

She waved a hand dismissively. “No prob,” Mina said.

Before they knew it, they were having more conversations, more fluid discussions. Eijiro began telling her about when he thought he was about to die, and the way Tetsutetsu went through the Try Not to Laugh challenge and failed. Mina told him about Momo and Shoto during a festival, when she said she swore she saw them holding hands, but wasn’t sure. Then Eijiro told Mina about a picture Hanta had sent of Izuku and Ochaco, where the green-haired boy was caught looking at her mid-take. At a specific time, Tetsutetsu had texted Eijiro that he went ahead to their dorms and told his other friends what happened. Eijiro sighed in annoyance, but it didn’t bother him too much. They finished eating and came out when the town was cast in watercolor-like streaks of orange and lavender, the beautiful shades of dusk. For some reason, the cashier guy had waved at them and told them to come back, despite the fact that they might have made him uncomfortable.

They approached the road, which was with less people now, some of which were already going home. And speaking of home…

“Walk me to the dorms?” Mina asked in a teasing matter.

“We live in the dorms,” Eijiro stated with an eye roll, but didn’t decline.

Chapter Text

Sports equipment was not Katsuki’s meaning on ‘training’. When he heard ‘training’, he always thought of the desire to kick Izuku’s ass. But obviously, Camie’s meaning on ‘training’ didn’t match his. Not that he wanted it to. Still, if sports equipment were the meaning, then fine. But walking to a store that sold sports equipment…

Katsuki snarled in irritation.

Camie shot him a glance. “Growling again?” She questioned, twinning shopping bags bouncing as they walked.

The mall as well was not Katsuki’s example of a battle arena. He would expect guns and rifles, villains with multiple hands and those with a misty-purple head. But people sharing fliers, people in mascots, people in brightly-colored t-shirts and bright smiles--Katsuki had to shoot his companion a look

“Remind me why I had to do this,” he demanded lowly. Truthfully, he had agreed to Camie’s terms, agreed to come with her. She was known for speaking…factual. So technically, if one analyzed Katsuki’s current position, he was in a battlefield. He had to fight his disappointment. He knew that was her plan, still, he was a fool to have fallen for it. He wondered how he ever became friends with her.

And so Camie reminded him again about the verities that he knew. Hearing her state those plus with all those slang terms that she knew made Katsuki want to punch a child. She wouldn’t have liked that. But he continued controlling himself, trying to walk casually. He was even wearing casual clothes, thinking they’d change once they reached the battlefield. But no. And Camie didn’t even wear her hat.

What made it worse is that Katsuki knew that somewhere in this dang mall, that stupid classmate of his with violet balls on his head was around, maybe in the women’s section in the department store running his hands down the mannequins. Maybe he’d get kicked out. That was a reassuring thought.

“What have you bought, fam?” Camie suddenly asked him.

“Your manicure,” Katsuki replied not-too-kindly. “It was really costly, you know. You owe me a lot after this.”

“I didn’t buy too much!” Camie protested.

Five bottles isn’t too much for you?!” Katsuki demanded, hands twitching.

Camie lazily put a finger on her chin, contemplating. “Well, if you put it that way, it does seem a bit much.” She muttered. Katsuki slumped, running a hand through his spiky blonde hair. Noticing this gesture, Camie giggled. “You’re agitated.” She chirped.

“Who wouldn’t be?” Katsuki said. “You told me we’d go through training!”

“We are, fam,” she said calmly. “And I know that explosive brain of yours knows that too.” She poked his temple lightly.

He couldn’t argue, which made Katsuki really need Izuku as a punching bag. Instead, he sighed, immediately following it with a click of his tongue. “I wish this day was over.” He said lowly. He didn’t know if he should be pissed by the fact that Camie took in this conversation as if it happened to them all the time. Sadly, it was normal. He couldn’t really say that he was used to it, but for certain, he was still furious about it. She knew that he was too. Which made everything one-hundred percent worse.

“You’re having a blast.” Camie replied sweetly.

“I’m not.” Katsuki stated monotonously.

“Fam, there’s a twinkle in your eye.”

“It’s an explosion. This mall will burn down soon if you don’t shut it.” Katsuki threatened, but Camie only snickered.

“You’re so funny.”

“Fine.”

Camie regarded him, brown eyes searching his red rubies. She looked like an animal ready to pounce on her prey despite that sweatshirt and ripped jeans. Those boots made her even more appealing, like she could easily break into a full-speed run. Perfect for animals to run free.

Katsuki groaned in irritation. “What do you want from me, woman?”

A giggle, sweeping her shopping bags over a shoulder. “Nothing! Betcha having a good time, yeah?”

We’ve gone over this! What do you wish to accomplish? Deja vu?!”

She scoffed playfully. “Eh. We’re here anyway.”

Indeed, the sports store loomed over them with neon colors. Camie and Katsuki entered with the accompaniment of more customers. The place was what it was: a sports store, with multiple equipment that had a relation to different games and related activities. Golf clubs, volleyball nets, basketball rings, baseball bats, boxing gloves, jumping ropes, hockey sticks…you name it. Music blasted from the speakers--some popular songs with upbeat bases and electric strumming. And autotune. Lots and lots of dang-awful autotune. But it was fawned over by plenty. And with all that music and sports equipment clustered in this mall, it resulted in having attracted tons of people. All ages were here, in family groups or with some friends. Katsuki flinched when he saw himself in a mirror, where he and Camie had looked like a couple. Hmph. Over his dead body.

Camie gripped his hand, which he knew was sticky with sweat. But she didn’t seem to mind as she excitedly dragged him over to a column of punching bags. A few men looked over when she approached, running her hands reading through the price of the thing. Katsuki noticed those men lower their eyes towards Camie’s chest, and he snarled. That scared them off, leaving them as the only people under that isle.

“Where did all them peeps gone?” Camie asked Katsuki ignorantly, not having noticed while admiring the punching bag.

Katsuki shrugged. “To hell.” He said, but somehow wished it were true.

Straightening from her slightly slouched position, Camie began wandering off to the archery area. Some people were seen wielding the bows and shooting arrows at targets as practice, others watching in amazement by their skill. A girl with auburn hair and wolfish ears sent an arrow flying into the center of the target so strongly that the arrow’s tip protruded at the others side. People clapped as the girl herself was awed.

Clapping, Camie approached and clapped a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “That was lit!” She exclaimed.

The girl flushed.

Katsuki studied the mark it left, wondering who’d be responsible to pay it. Should be the girl, he thought. She made the hole. He shifted his weight to his right leg as he stifled a yawn. Even that moron Kaminari was better in aiming than her. It must’ve been his practice in aiming ever since he had that costume upgrade.

Noticing, Camie waved back to the girl. “Sorry, fam, but my friend’s a bit bored stiff. Still, I’d totes want to seeya ‘gain. I’ll add you in social media, kay?” She stuck out two thumbs ups before returning to Katsuki’s side. “She’s nice. You’ll like her.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Whatever. What are you still gonna look at anyway?”

Camie tapped her elbow. “Ah-ha! The ping-pong table!” She began walking, and Katsuki had no choice but to follow her.

“Do you even like sports?” Katsuki asked.

“I like kids. Kids like sports,” Camie stated.

“Is that seriously your reason?” Katsuki almost laughed at the stupidity in her answer. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What others like doesn’t always have to be what you like. That’s just idiotic.” He realized he just spoke morals again, and Katsuki said no more. If Izuku were there, the boy would be beaming with tears in his eyes going all, “Kacchan~”

Camie didn’t seem surprised by his lines. In fact, she looked dismissive. She only winked at him, a movement that would send Minoru and Denki stumbling and dropping. Katsuki was never bothered when she did that, but today it felt almost shocking. She stopped abruptly, yelping as she slammed backwards into Katsuki’s chest so harshly that Katsuki almost stumbled. They dropped their shopping bags as two small children at about only three to four years of age ran in front of them trying to catch each other.

The mother ran after them, grabbing the first child’s little hand. Sweat dripped down her forehead as she glanced up at Camie and Katsuki apologetically. “Sorry! I didn’t mean for them to get in the way.”

Katsuki picked up one of the bags, frowning deeply. Camie laughed. “It’s no biggie, madam! You’ve got precious little angels if you ask me! I think it’s quite swell!”

Katsuki cleared his throat, and Camie began looking uncomfortable. He glared at the mother’s eyes without pity nor understanding. “Keep watch on your little charlatans. If I see them causing more trouble, then they won’t just be running through our path.” To prove his point, he connected his fist to an open palm, and sparks crackled through the touch that ascended it dark smoke. The mother trembled.

“Baku-boy, calm your nerves,” Camie cooed, but Katsuki can tell that it was more of a warning.

He ignored her, moving to tower over the mother. He was a giant compared to her, who was kneeling on the floor. “Be warned, woman. Watch those brats.”

Two security persons approached them with crossed arms. Katsuki stood back, but kept his lips pressed in an unamused line. The mother stood up, carrying her child as the other one clutched the edge of his mom’s blouse. Camie stepped in front of the guards.

“Top of the morning,” she greeted with a bow. “Sorry if we seem to be causing trouble. My friend, he…” she turned to Katsuki for help, but Katsuki didn’t know what to say. He just dipped his head once, a signal to just end it there and to be careful next time. She understood, for she managed to explain well enough that the guards left them with a warning.

The mother thanked Camie before she too left, and Camie returned to Katsuki’s side. She took one of the bags from him, giving him a nervous smile.

“Still think the same about children, Utsushimi?” He questioned her calmly. “Still think of them as little angels?”

“I do,” Camie admitted. “But, Baku-boy, didn’t I tell you to just call me Camie?” She nudged him lightly, clearly unharmed by their previous incident. Shrugging it off, Katsuki knew. But he also knew that she will remember it until later. For now, she’d entertain him and hide any trace of discomfort.

Katsuki sneered. “Whatever, Camie.” It felt weird calling her by first name, especially since the closest people he knew, were called by their last names or hero names by him. Eijiro Kirishima. Izuku Midoriya: Deku. Then Soy-Face, Round-Face. He didn’t know any other names. “Just stop calling me Baku-boy. It’s annoying as crap.”

She giggled. “Whatever, Baku-boy. C’mon! The day ain’t over just yet!”

She led them to a row of life jackets. Yes, life jackets, as if it were to come in handy in their path to becoming heroes. It made Katsuki want to slap her, but he knew better than that. He followed her, eyeing the designs. It was amazing how they managed to anticipate what quirk a user could have, for the life jackets were altered in so many ways. The world today really was unpredictable, but guess what, so was he.

After the life jackets, the sweat bands. Katsuki didn’t dare ask her if she was thinking of him when she thought to come there, but he guessed so. She had that dark gleam in her eyes, that hungry animal look all over again. Katsuki felt the need to cage her, but for a reason he didn’t truly understand, he liked seeing her free. Not to mention those dumb children, he knew she needed some fun. Won’t she have thought of those kids as fun? Maybe. Katsuki didn’t.

Then the roller blades. Katsuki had a vision of Eijiro sporting manly roller blades in a park, that pink girl what’s-her-name by his side. He was smiling, a unique sort of smile that was only present when she was around. Katsuki remembered when Eijiro had mentioned something about knowing the past, but he wasn’t entirely certain anymore. Besides, they were just friends.

“Fam! Look out!”

Katsuki fell face first to the floor, his grip on the shopping bags loosening as he grunted. He had tripped over something small, and Katsuki wasn’t surprised to see that he had tripped over you guessed it, a child. He--or was it a she?--was sobbing, maybe because of the force her tiny body had endured from Katsuki. Katsuki bared his teeth, his fingers whitening from grinding the floor beneath him.

“Katsuki!” Camie called to him.

The parents that approached didn’t look as weak as the previous one. They were storming towards their child, the mother cradling the small bundle in her arms. The father walked straight to Katsuki, who sat on the floor as he shared the frown. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt. He’d fight if he needed to.

The father crossed his arms. “Explain to me, son.”

“You should do the honors,” Katsuki said. “It was your child that was in my way. What kind of psycho parents would even leave their dang child to run around in a public store? The stupid ones? You ain’t doing a good job if you ask me.”

The father was furious, his fists madly gripping the fabric of his sleeves. He looked ready to fight.

Katsuki spread his palms, and blasts of flame began puffing as he smirked.

Camie let out a groan. “Not again, Baku-boy. Don’t make a scene!”

Katsuki stood, pointing at the mother and her child. “You guard that little brat of yours, woman. Or else, you won’t be seeing any stars in his future.” He pressed a foot backwards, one foot forward, and positioned his body in a fighting stance. “What do you say? Want me to beat her up for you instead?”

“You don’t even know the gender,” Camie complained, walking towards Katsuki. She placed a hand on his shoulder, and a chill ran through his body. She wasn’t cold, but there was something more that surprised Katsuki. His flames weakened instantly, but he was still posed for battle. Camie faced the parents. “Sorry! He’s just a bit off the hook as of now! He isn’t usually like this.”

“Quit it,” Katsuki ordered.

“Nah,” she said, patting him. “I need to discipline you. Didn’t I tell you we’re in training? Calm down, boy. Just relax. Think of paradise and all the such.” She licked her lips, bringing a hand to her lips. Then she blew, and her quirk immediately played itself.

He saw a vision of the mother and her child suddenly tearing each other apart. Mostly, the child got torn apart. Splashes of red gushed from the decapitated child’s body, and the mother herself had hair torn off her scalp. They looked like they had a disease, a plague even, that had spread. People from the store began running towards them to stop the fight, but in reality, they just came to see the commotion.

The sight disappeared as the smoke dissolved. Camie was watching Katsuki intently, and Katsuki realized he was smiling. He had laughed through the entire thing, and it was enough to let the family leave, replaced by the store’s manager and the same duo of security guards.

They were kicked out.

The sight of the outside was refreshing: The arrangement of colorful stores. The smell of food. The sight of composed families and lovers. The thought that they had abandoned a planet full of distaste and smelly diapers. Then Camie giggled.

“What are you laughing at?” Katsuki demanded.

“You’re still smiling,” she snickered.

Then he frowned. “What the heck is wrong with you? We got kicked out! Shouldn’t that make you sad?”

But Camie only shrugged. “Kids these days are plenty playful, no? But blast their crooked behavior sometimes, eh? Better than remedial classes but we pushed through!” She showed him a fist, waiting for a fist bump from him.

Hesitant at first, but ready in the second. His fist collided with hers, and she laughed. He couldn’t help but release a quick snicker.

“Right,” he said.

“Hey, Bakugo!”

Camie and Katsuki turned around to see Minoru walk towards them with a lustful smile. Just when Katuki thought the day was over. But still, he looked Camie over once more, and felt his insides light up in its own mini explosion. Time. He had spent time with her in the most unsettling way. Then he remembered Minoru was there when Camie crossed her arms over her chest with slight discomfort. Katsuki snarled. “What do you want, Balls?” He grumbled.

Minoru grinned. “You and her…?” His eyes swept past both of them in a teasing manner.

“You piece of--!” Katsuki began chasing Minoru around the mall as Camie laughed, trailing close by.

Chapter Text

Tsuyu heard the crash before she saw the source. The small house in the middle of the woods released a wonderful-smelling scent as the smoke exited the chimney. Tsuyu wiped her hands on her red dress, squinting through a new shield of smoke, this one not caused by cookies, but by a crash landing. Her hands delicately adjusted her curtain, just enough a gap to see. But she couldn’t. The smoke was still too thick.

With the cold weather, Tsuyu would’ve slept. She was prepared: her cookies, her apple juice, her perfectly-made bed. She had listened to nice violin and lyre music through what one of the king’s servants called a radio, and the song just melted her heart. She was ready for wonderful dreams, for fantasies she wouldn’t have ever thought of.

Then there came the crash, and the sound of something really big crashing at the front of her cottage. She was stirred awake as a tremble ran through her home in waves. She was just lucky enough that nothing slipped off any shelf. And the cookies! If anything happened to those cookies…

The smoke finally began to clear, and Tsuyu managed to make out the form of a large creature, black as the night. It lay on the ground, shuddering as it raggedly breathed. It looked seriously hurt, but Tsuyu knew better than to approach. If that thing would threaten her, she might become a dead frog. As more smoke dissolved, she was finally greeted with the outline of a giant bird. It was then that she noticed that the bird wasn’t pitch black, but it had a purple shade on it too.

Then she saw the rider. He was about her age, wrapped in a dark cloak that she was now certain was as dark as the night. He had the head of a bird, and under that cloak of his, he was dressed as some sort of thief, those you’d imagine would run down small compacted villages in the dark. Around his neck were golden tassels, which also coated the cloak draped over his shoulders. He lay unconsciously on the ground, the pebbles under him cracked from force.

Tsuyu left her position from the curtain, running towards her door. She opened it, taking slow steps towards her porch. She gulped, straightening her green apron as she took in the full sight. The rider was trembling. Though his right knee was covered with his dark pants, she managed to catch the fact that it was wet. With blood.

She ran down the steps, stopping abruptly by the giant bird, who looked as weak as the rider. He whimpered, or made a sound she thought was a whimper. It sounded so defeated that Tsuyu couldn’t help but feel sorry. She allowed the creature to notice her, to see her as a threat or a friend, it was up to him. When he did, he weakly nudged her, motioning her to attend to his fallen captain. Already, he trusted her.

Approaching the bird-boy, she first felt his pulse. His heart was thundering, a sign to an adrenaline rush that he felt before they crashed. She noticed the way his eyelids shook, a clue that he was dreaming. And from the tightness of his beak, it wasn’t a pleasant one. She studied his wound and almost gagged. The cut was deep, a scarily crimson wound dragged on his pale skin. She needed to get them to safety or else they would die.

She knew she was weaker than her victim in muscle, so she slung one of the boy’s arms over her shoulder as she tried to get up. The bird squawked helplessly, a sort of sadness in its yellow eyes.

“Can you walk?” Tsuyu asked him, but she didn’t know if he understood her.

Apparently he did, because he made another choking noise. The boy Tsuyu held suddenly coughed, and blood leaked from his beak. The giant bird nudged his owner as he slowly tried to rise from his position in Tsuyu’s front.

She began limping back to her house as quick as she could. The boy was heavy, but that didn’t mean that Tsuyu wasn’t strong. She even released her tongue, wrapping it around the boy’s body for extra muscle. It seemed to have worked, for they sped up.

Before she knew it, they reached the door. The bird wasn’t small enough to fit inside, but he was willing to wait. He and Tsuyu had reached an understanding:the healing of the rider, then the bird himself. Tsuyu didn’t argue with him. She went inside, dropping the boy on her sofa. She ran to her kitchen, fetching the cookies she had made and a glass of fresh apple juice, setting them on a tray. She returned to the living room, placing the tray on a table. Then she went to a closet to grab white cloths and scissors for his wound. She sat on the floor, raising his pants to inspect it. Goosebumps ran down her arms as she worked, allowing the pale cloth to absorb the blood that leaked. But she was fast, minutes later having his knee wrapped in a bandage. She sighed.

The bird outside squawked, relieved. Tsuyu prepared the bandages again and went outside, ready to heal the bird. His injuries weren’t as bad, so it didn’t take long for her to patch him up. But he wouldn’t be able to take the skies yet, not in his condition.

When she returned inside, the rider was awake, staring at his injured knee in obvious surprise. Tsuyu hesitated, clasping her hands over her blood-wet green apron. She didn’t know how to speak to him, so she decided to approach slowly and softly.

When he looked up at her, he turned pale.

Tsuyu cleared her throat, placing a finger to her chin anxiously. “Sorry to bother you,” she said to him. “You seemed like you needed help.”

The boy didn’t respond immediately, only think for a few seconds. “Perhaps I did,” he finally said. “I thank you for your generosity.” He looked as if he noticed the tray of food for the first time, but he didn’t attempt trying to get anything.

“Are you hungry?” Tsuyu asked.

He made a low noise, a rumbling sound of clashing thoughts. “Even if I was,” he said. “I must be returning to the fight.” He tired to stand up, but only ended up landing butt-first onto the sofa again. He gritted his teeth in pain, eyes watering.

The bird outside cried out.

Tsuyu ran to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “You can’t. You’re hurt, and your bird is too. You won’t be able to return to any battle with injuries like yours.” She observed his leg, but it didn’t seem to be triggered by his endeavor to stand.

“Dark Shadow?” The boy asked worriedly. He turned to the door, and found the giant bird waving a weak wing at his rider, his beak forming a smile. The boy leaned back onto the sofa’s headrest, looking relieved in every way. “He’s okay, thank goodness.” He muttered.

Tsuyu glanced at the giant bird. “His name is Dark Shadow?”

The boy nodded. “But he isn’t really what I’d call dark in the inside. He’s actually a real pain.”

“He was really worried about you. If you ask me, he’s a real sweetheart.” Tsuyu said, allowing herself a small smile.

The boy studied her intently, red eyes curious. “May I know your name?” He asked her.

“Tsuyu Asui.” She said. She didn’t really know yet if he was one of those people she’d let to call her Tsu. “How about you, traveller?”

He bowed. “Fumikage Tokoyami. And I thank you once again for your kind services.” He said that, but still didn’t touch the food on the tray. Those might’ve been getting cold. Tsuyu knew that if he didn’t eat now, they won’t be as good. She had already given Dark Shadow something to eat, and that was already cold.

“You might want to eat that,” Tsuyu said. “It could cool off. And with injuries, the tummy yearns.”

Fumikage once more glanced at his leg, but shrugged as he finally leaned forward to get the tray. He sipped a bit of the apple juice, and color returned in his complexion, his eyes lighting up. He began eating the cookies faster than the first, but not in a way that playboys did. He had manners, and Tsuyu felt that he wasn’t being a well-manered man intentionally for being in another’s house. She felt he was just acting like his usual self.

“I love apple juice,” Fumikage said.

“Ribbit,” she said, tucking her hands behind her back. “There are a lot of apple trees by these parts. I like picking the fruits, and apple juice is just the product.”

Fumikage hummed. “I see. In that case, I must return to these parts more frequently.” He took another bite before saying, “Aren’t you going to eat?”

She giggled. “You’re my guest. I don’t find it polite if I do so, Tokoyami-chan.”

He shuddered, almost out of guilt. “But it’s your house.”

She waved a hand. “Forget it. Just eat.”

He didn’t look reassured, but he continued eating. Every so often, he would look out the window to check Dark Shadow, but always, the bird sent Fumikage signs of being fine. Tsuyu had bought Dark Shadow more cookies, and the bird gulped them down fast.

“You might be here for a while, Tokoyami-chan.” Tsuyu stated sadly. “I should ready a place for you to rest. I won’t allow you to stay here in my sofa.”

“You don’t have to, Asui,” Fumikage protested. “I’ve caused you enough trouble. I stained your apron.”

“It’s just an apron,” Tsuyu pointed out. “Apron’s are worn specifically to get dirty.”

Fumikage looked ready to complain, but kept his beak shut. He slumped down, resting an elbow on his good knee as he buried his head in his hand. There was still one more cookie, but he didn’t touch it. He only sighed in exasperation, unable to meet Tsuyu in the eye.

“Tokoyami-chan,” Tsuyu said.

“I’m pathetic,” he said lowly. “If I couldn’t defend Dark Shadow and myself, then how would I save a kingdom? If I cannot play as Prince Shoto Todoroki’s bard, then what am I? A runaway, a vigilante. A nobody.” He no longer sounded like he was talking to Tsuyu, and maybe he wasn’t. He sounded like he was talking to himself, calling himself a loser.

“Don’t think that,” Tsuyu told him. “There’s so much more.”

“What?” He hissed. “I got shot out of the sky by what? An ally I always trusted but is an out-of-control donkey? A short-circuited idiot with a feathery hat? No. He’s saved a warrior with dark hair. He has potential as a hero. I don’t. I’m just…” He didn’t continue.

“Quit that,” Tsuyu scolded. “Dark Shadow is still alive. You managed to save yourselves. Before you save others, you must learn to save yourselves. Get rid of all those bullet-holes in your mind, Tokoyami-chan. You’re doing great.” She squeezed his shoulder lightly.

Fumikage shut his eyes tightly, his hands squeezed together as he tried to stop trembling. But with Tsuyu’s hand on his shoulder, she felt the quivering. “I’m not.” He said roughly.

“Rid of the demons, Tokoyami-chan,” Tsuyu said. “You are a bard. A bard of eternal darkness. You seem to like those dark things, don’t you? It’s in your name.” She stepped away from behind the couch and sat next to him, grabbing one of his hands.

“It is,” Fumikage said.

Tsuyu glanced at the apple juice, a thought clicking into her mind. “Tokoyami-chan, that glass, is it half-empty, or half-full?” She tested him, waiting for him to respond.

“Half-empty,” Fumikage replied. “But either way, you can also say that it’s half-full. Why would you ask?”

“You’re confused,” Tsuyu concluded. “When looking at that glass, you can say if it’s half-empty if you look at a side that doesn’t exist anymore. It represents hopelessness and negative-thinking. If you say half-full, you look at a side that is still there. It’s like determination and positive-thinking, Tokoyami-chan. If you say both, I can tell that you’re confused.”

“You are wise,” Fumikage said, wrapping his fingers around her hand. “I am lucky to have crashed in front of you.”

She flushed. “Ribbit, ribbit. So, will you stay longer?”

Fumikage sent a look at Dark Shadow, whose wings formed the shape of a thumbs up. The bird had his tongue out, as if he had been grinning teasingly as Tsuyu and Fumikage had their exchanges.

Fumikage smiled, a small smile playing lightly at the edges of his beak. “Perhaps, if I really must.” He met her eyes. “May I request a full glass of apple juice, Asui?”

She stood, picking up the half-full glass of apple juice with a smile. “Ribbit. Please. Call me Tsu.”  

Chapter Text

 

How could she have let this happen? Momo trembled with anxiety, staring at the front door of Denki’s little party place. Something went wrong, something has to gave gone wrong. Toru and Mina were in there already, but the difference was that their party outfits were more casual looking than Momo’s. While Mina and Toru were dressed in checkered polos with their loose white shirts tucked into their ripped jeans, Momo was dressed in a very short red dress with fishnets. Her hair had purple highlights in its ponytail, and she fashionable boots.

It conclusion: Momo looked most out of place in the party.

She tried to rewind her memory to the reason she wore this outfit in the first place. An anonymous email had said to “Look your best” with a winking face emoji. That was it, she thought. The mysterious email user’s instruction to wear clothes suitable for a drunk party, but of course that was just a theme. It wasn’t really a drinking party--they were too young, and if that were the case, Momo would certainly not attend. She gritted he teeth in frustration, wanting to whip her fist on anonymous-named classmate of hers.

“Yaoyorozu?”

Momo turned when she heard the voice. Standing behind her was Shoto Todoroki himself, the moonlight sending a beautiful blue glow on his red and white features. Like everyone in the party, he dressed casually, and by casually, she meant gray shirt, blue varsity jacket, and jeans. He was staring at her in confusion, his eyes the size of saucers.

“Todoroki-san…” Momo whimpered. “Please tell me this is a dream.”

“Um,” he said hesitantly. “What exactly is going on here?”

She told him about the anonymous email, and a shadow crossed Shoto’s face, like he understood the situation entirely. He released a steely breath, advancing towards the door. “Let’s get inside.” He instructed coldly.

He pushed open the door, and the entire party room stopped. Toru who was by the DJ table paused the tunes. Denki, Hanta, and Mina were previously on the dance floor before they halted. Eijiro and Katsuki had been in the middle of a card game before they quit. And even Fumikage who was just leaning casually on a sofa looked up to stare at the scene. Despite the dark lighting, only a few neon spotlights, Momo knew that the attention of each of her classmates was directed to her. She flushed, clasping her hands together.

It was quiet for a while before Minoru broke it when he asked, “What’s going o--hmph!” Hanta slapped his hands over the smaller boy’s eyes, to avoid having him stare at Momo’s outfit.

Momo placed a hand over her eyes. “Eiyee! This is so embarrassing! Oh, why did I go to this party…? Why did I let this happen?”

Then most of the boys started blushing intensely, with the only exceptions being Shoto, Katsuki, Fumikage, and Minoru, who was unaware of everything happening. Fumikage approached them, leaving his position on the couch. He tucked his hands inside the front pocket of his oversized black hoodie, which had a giant X in the front as a design.

“Yaoyorozu,” he said. “What happened? What’s with the outfit?”

Momo sighed, giving Shoto a look. The boy nodded. She turned back to Fumikage, saying, “Tokoyami-san, the email I got about the party said that we need to wear these sorts of attractive dresses. But when I got to the door, I saw all of you wearing such casual outfits! That email, it tricked me! Someone anonymously sent it to prank me!” She took a few steps back, blocking the doorway.

Shoto cleared his throat. “Funny you even mention that. Does anyone here remember this sort of scenario?” He raised his hand for others to do so if they did remember, but all he got were weary looks and more blushing faces.

“I bet Mineta would,” Denki blurted out, pointer finger facing the ceiling. He was still red, not facing Momo’s direction but that of his shoes.

Minoru had managed to get Hanta’s hands off his face and was drooling intently as he stared lustfully at Momo. Only when Denki mentioned his accusation on Minoru did his attention snap back to reality, turning his purple head towards Denki Kaminari.

“Woah, wait, hold on!” He protested. “I didn’t send anything like that! Why would you think it was me?”

Hanta waved a hand, eyes unable to face Momo’s direction. “Oh, c’mon, Mineta. You’re the only candidate for pervy actions such as this one.”

Minoru squinted. “Then why are you so flustered, Hanta Sero?”

Momo could’ve sworn he had tinted a few shades redder as she walked inside completely and shut the door. Hanta bit his lip before retorting, “Well, I…dude, just look at her. No wait, maybe you shouldn’t do that.”

Shoto claimed a seat on a table, pulling a bowl of noodles to his direction. “Whatever the case, class 1A has its own shenanigans. This is just one of them.” He began sipping noodles off his chopsticks, ignoring the stares his classmates were giving him. Momo squeezed her legs together in insecurity, hoping there was a way out of her situation.

“I demand to know who sent that email!” She shouted. “It’s disrespectful and rude to women! I am giving you a warning, whoever you are!”

“You won’t find out if it’s anonymous,” Katsuki muttered, his head sleepily rested on the palm of his right hand as his left lifted a glass of strawberry juice. “You’d be fooling yourself. You should know that, you of all of us.” Momo didn’t know if that was his way of saying a compliment, but she ignored it for now.

“I will, Bakugo,” She said. “I will find out who sent it.”

“You’re overreacting,” Katsuki continued, patience slowly fading from his voice. “It’s just a trick email! It’s not as if the letter sent to you was about murdering a friend or crap like that, was it?” His red eyes met those of Eijiro, the latter as crimson as his hair.

“Maybe not,” Momo admitted. “But it was crude, Bakugo. If that happened to any other girl…” Her voice trailed off as she slowly began to realize something. Scanning the room, she found it empty of three more of their female classmates, and she turned to Tenya Iida, who was standing by the couch beside Izuku, blushes having paled and gone. “Where are Jiro, Uraraka, and Tsu?” She asked the class representative.

Tenya pushed the center of his eyeglasses with his middle finger. “They have not yet arrived, Yaoyorozu.” He said.

“Late?” Momo asked suspiciously. Turning to Mina and Toru, she asked, “When did you see them last? They’re coming too, right?”

Mina shrugged her shoulders. “I think so. I mean, Jiro won’t pass off the opportunity to be a DJ. It’s in her genes. She won’t miss it for the world!”

Toru’s sleeves flapped. “I agree! As well as Tsu and Uraraka! They’d have loved to be here!”

Shoto paused eating, returning his attention to the situation. “Thinking of something, Yaoyorozu?” He asked.

She brought a thumb to her chin, mind calculating. “Actually…Ashido, Hagakure, did you happen to have received an email from anyone about clothing choices?”

Mina pouted. “I didn’t. Even though I know it would’ve been quite embarrassing, I kinda wished I had.” Momo couldn’t deny that she saw Mina’s eyes shift to Eijiro’s direction, the boy watching Katsuki shuffle their cards with suspicious curiosity. “Still, the answer’s no. I didn’t receive anything.”

“Ditto,” Toru said. “I didn’t receive anything either.”

Momo tapped her boots impatiently. “Strange.”

Shoto leaned back casually. “Anyone have a crush on Ashido and Hagakure?”

The whole room didn’t wish to make it obvious, but a few eyes had landed on Eijiro and Mashirao, both boys pretending to be busy. Eijiro was talking to Katsuki about getting a king of hearts, but nobody could deny the fact that one: he was still blushing, and two: that Katsuki was trying not to laugh. Mashirao had his back on them as he drank a glass of juice, but his tail was visibly shakier and more carefree than usual, as if it was too agitated and uncomfortable to be still.

Fumikage shifted his stance. “Nobody answer that.” He defended emotionlessly.

“Thing is,” Shoto began, twirling his chopsticks around his fingers. “If somebody liked Ashido and Hagakure, then they’d be too bashful to try sending something as inappropriate as a message like that, unless they had the need to. Others in this group of ours just won’t care.”

“What are you saying, Todoroki?” Izuku asked.

Shoto stopped with his chopsticks, glaring intensely at his hands. “Pranksters. Class pranksters. Some of our classmates created a group chat discussing a specific prank, one to trick the girls into wearing inappropriate clothes in this party, for it serves as a time that our female companions would be found as…ahem.”

“Why would you know this, Todoroki?” Mina asked.

“Because they added me to the chat,” Shoto replied, a hint of victory coating his words. “They wanted me to join their prank. I’d tell you who thought of this idea, but I’d let them confess it themselves. As of now, Asui, Uraraka, and Jiro are probably dressing similarly to Yaoyorozu because they received similar emails. Want deeper details? I’ll tell you: it was a betting game, one where the boys will bet on who the female thought sent them the email. For example, for Jiro, Tokoyami sent her the message, the guys will bet on who she’d think sent the letter. The biggest bet is Kaminari, but that’s for her to confirm when she gets here.”

“So who sent mine?” Momo questioned.

Shoto pointed. “Sero did.”

Minoru spread his arms wide, frantically waving them as he jumped up and down. “What the heck? Why wasn’t I part of that stupid group chat? Girls are my specialty!

“Because you’re a perv,” Hanta said. “Having you there would ruin the fun. We wanted to prank the girls but not in a way to offend them too much.”

Katsuki snickered. “Well look who failed in that category. Creation here’s been mentioning how rude you all were. Looks like offense to me.”

Momo frowned deeply, teeth baring. She faced Hanta, and he flinched, bumping into Yuga. “So this was all a prank and I was first of the pranked girls to show up here?”

Hanta ran a hand through his dark hair. “That sums it up. Sorry.” He looked genuinely so, making Momo accept the apology. “Didn’t think the plan would’ve gone this far. If I were in your situation, I’d pee myself out of shame.”

Momo clicked her tongue. “Forget it.”

Denki raised his hand. “But, Yaoyorozu, who did you think the email came from? Can we at least know?” A few glares were sent his way, but he didn’t mind them.

“Actually,” Momo said softly. “I might’ve thought that it was Todoroki. He…he’s the one in this class I trust most.” She didn’t dare look up, knowing the Shoto’s eyes were on her as she mentioned his name.

The room’s silence returned, with Izuku cupping his hands over his mouth.

Denki yelled, “I WIN!

Eijiro shouted, “HECK YEAH!

Yuga said, “I saw that coming.”

Rikido complained, “Was I blind?

And a few more comments from everyone, only Shoto and Hanta quiet when it came to the boys. Even Mina and Toru were gushing, hands pressed against the other’s as they squealed in delight. Shoto rose from his seat, walking towards Momo’s direction, expression unreadable. When he stopped in front of her, Momo was forced to look at his face.

“I trust you the most too.” Was all he said.

"Then who messaged the other three girls?" Tenya demanded, and their classmates began whistling and minding their footwear.

Then the door slowly opened, and the other boys started blushing intensely again, Fumikage included this time. In the doorway were Tsuyu, Ochaco, and Kyoka, dressed almost as revealing as Momo. The difference was that their outfits fitted their styles in their own unique ways, having rocking the looks. Momo wondered if she had managed to look that flawless tonight, but based on her classmates’ reactions, maybe she had. And the way that Shoto had looked at her just now…she couldn’t help but smile as she watched the last three girls speak.

“Hi, Deku,” Ochaco said, waving without a single trace of embarrassment. “Did we miss much?”

“Sorry we’re late,” Tsuyu said. “Ribbit!”

Kyoka stepped back cautiously. “Wait…why are they dressed so casually?”

Chapter Text

“I spy with my little eye, a van filled with chocolate cookies!” Bubble Girl--Kaoruko Awata--said with a cheerful tone coating her voice.

“I see it!” Mirio said, pointing as they watched the van pass by the streets under them. The watchtower was an amazing spot for hero training, and the duo found themselves lucky to be able to do so, as Nighteye had assigned them here that day. Mirio had gotten bored just waiting for criminal activity that took so long to show themselves that he had suggested a little game with his companion. From their spot, and as tasked to watch the city, ‘I Spy’ was just the perfect game to play. Plus the fact that they had to keep Sir Nighteye amused just added to the points of having fun during their shift.

“Okay, okay,” Mirio said. “My turn.” He squinted his cartoonish blue eyes as his vision swept over the afternoon-lit town. “I spy with my cartoonish eyes, a red-headed boy walking down the sidewalk.”

Kaoruko licked her lips as she searched. “That’s hard, Mirio.” She commented with surprise. “No wait! There he is!” She pointed.

Mirio laughed. “Knew you’d see it! Besides, redheads aren’t really hard to spot. All you’ve gotta do’s search for scarlet tops.” He thought for a moment. “Well, unless of course they’re wearing red hats.”

Kaoruko giggled, a beautiful sound that equaled the wonderful lighting cast on her from the afternoon sunlight. She looked like she was glowing, her eyes bright with excitement, from their game or just as an effect of the surroundings, Mirio couldn’t be sure. But for certain, she was magnificent today, but honestly, she was everyday.

Kaoruko leaned on the railing of the watchtower. No, not a watchtower, but a water tower. Mirio and Kaoruko just wanted to call it a watchtower since that’s where they watch the world and their numerous activities. It had been a name that lasted for a while, since Mirio had first joined the Nighteye agency. Kaoruko breathed in the fresh air, her short hair blowing in the wind. They were lucky that this wasn’t one of those hot days, or Mirio knew they’d skip duty for ice cream.

“It’s your turn,” Mirio said with his signature grin. He wiped his hands on his costume as he looked over the city in anticipation of Kaoruko’s next spy.

“Hmm,” she said, pouting. “I want to play something else. Or, should we just watch the city like Sir told us to?”

“It’s up to you,” Mirio shrugged. “You are the older one of us. I must listen to you.”

“Is that automatic?” Kaoruko asked him with a wolfish grin.

Mirio nodded enthusiastically. “Absolutely.”

Kaoruko didn’t answer after she laughed. She stared at the sky, watching the clouds move in one direction as the wind scattered their parts. Birds flew by, chirping and singing as they searched their companions, their lovers. Birds of a feather.

As Mirio studied the world again, his mind returned to school, to the little issue there was with Tamaki during class. Tamaki had been chosen as group representative during an activity, but Mirio knew deeper than his group mates had. Tamaki had a sensitive topic to spill, so it didn’t surprise Mirio when Tamaki faltered and tripped over his words. The teacher had understood it seemed, for she allowed him to take his seat. Once classes ended, Mirio wasn’t able to catch up with Tamaki when he ran out of the classroom. Mirio tried calling for his friend, but Tamaki had been long gone. Mirio reported to Sir Nighteye without his one-hundred percent enthusiasm. Only after their little ‘I Spy’ did his mood lift.

“You’re scowling, Mirio,” Kaoruko said, her eyes on him as she leaned backwards on the railing, almost looking as if she were lying down just to stare at him. “What’s wrong?”

Mirio forced a smile. “Nothing. Just thinking of Tamaki.”

“That shy friend of yours?” She asked in confirmation. She twisted until she was in upright position.

Mirio released an uncertain laugh, one he hoped she thought was a genuine one. “Yeah. He kinda had a bit of spotlight in class earlier that I’m certain made him feel…maybe a bit sad and discouraged. I tried looking for him after class, but I didn’t find him. Not to mention that I had to get myself here ASAP.” He shrugged unhappily. “Hope he’s okay. I haven’t asked Hado if she found him or saw him.”

Kaoruko nodded. “Amajiki’s a nice boy. I wouldn’t want him to feel low either. Say what, you have your phone, right?”

Mirio nodded, brows rising in anticipation.

“I say you try calling Hado,” Kaoruko said, winking. “Ask her if she met up with him and ask if he’s okay. Don’t worry about watching Japan. You have a partner, remember?” She pointed to herself.

“Seriously?” Mirio asked.

“Yeah,” Kaoruko said. “Heroism isn’t just about punching bad guys physically. It’s also about punching internal demons and saving those who can’t do that. That’s another element to having the heart of a hero.” She made a clicking sound, her fingers folded with only her thumb and pointer finger stretched, making the position of a gun.

Mirio slipped a hand into his pocket, dialing Nejire’s phone number, putting his phone to his ear as he heard the phone ring. He waited for about thirty seconds before Nejire picked up. “Hado?” Mirio asked, voice somewhere between happy and worried, as to not let her think he was too jittery about Tamaki’s situation. “Hado, are you there?”

Yeah, Togata,” Nejire responded, though he noticed her voice wasn’t as upbeat as it usually was. “What’s going on? Have a problem?”

Mirio rubbed his nape sheepishly. “No, but…Tamaki does. Have you seen him?”

I’m talking to him,” Nejire said from the other side of the line. “He has his head on the wall again, and he won’t look at me. I mean, I’m sure that sounds normal to you, Togata. But…there’s a different ambience to him today. He looks ready to cry…Hold on, I shouldn’t say too much. I won’t want to interrupt your duties there, ha-ha!

“C’mon, Hado,” Mirio said. “Please tell me how he’s doing!”

Sorry, Togata,” Nejire apologized. Enjoy your time there! Bye!And then she hung up.

Mirio slouched on the railing. “Dang it.”

Kaoruko raised a brow. “Why?”

Mirio hung his head. He didn’t know how much to explain to Kaoruko, for she was wasn’t really what he’d call a friend. She was more of a companion in Sir’s agency, not really the type to share too much with. But the story stung him, and he wanted to admit already that he was worried about Tamaki, his best friend. But the thing was, he did trust Kaoruko. It was just that his side was knotted and spiraled in directions he didn’t know.

All he managed was, “She found him.”

“Good,” Kaoruko said firmly. “It ends there for me.”

Mirio’s head snapped up. “Wait, what?”

“I dunno,” Kaoruko said. “I mean, it’s not in my right to dive deeper than that. It’s private, isn’t it?” Her fingers twiddled on the railing casually.

“It is,” Mirio said. “But…really?”

“Yeah,” she flashed him a smile.

He smirked. “Thanks. I should’ve known that’s what you’d say.” He saw her expression shift, and he began feeling sweat run down his skin. “Wait, I hope we don’t have trust issues against each other.” He said. “Just because I have to keep things…” He was saying too much. Mirio knew that if he went on, he might make her feel bad. He shook his head, trying to form up a decision. What kind? He didn’t know. But for certain, he knew he should stop.

She chuckled. “Not at all, Mirio.” She turned towards the horizon, where they noticed the sun had reduced to a warmer glow, an orange hue. In that lighting, Mirio thought she looked like a painting, brushed with quick strokes to blend colors together. The vision was better when he knew she was smiling, an element to having a beautiful lady: her smile. Kaoruko had it.

Mirio followed her stare to the edges of mountain silhouettes, purple with the upcoming dusk. The air began getting cooler, and despite his hero costume, he felt the chill, goosebumps running up his arms. “Quite cold, huh?” He tried to say lightheartedly.

“Yeah,” she replied with admiration. “Doesn’t ruin the view though. It’s still very pretty.” She thrust her open palm towards the scenery, specks of gold light playing at the outline of her palm. “Don’t you think, Mirio?” She returned her hand to the rail, clasping it.

“It ain’t bad,” Mirio agreed. “What makes it better is that there were no bad guys to ruin it for us.”

“Yup,” Kaoruko said. “Notice how Japan looks like watercolor in this position atop the watchtower?”

“I was actually just thinking that,” Mirio said with surprise. “You read my mind, Bubble Girl!”

She shrugged. “It’s not hard to do that, really. Just analyze their faces, their vision trails, then you got yourself a thought. Sir actually taught me that a few months back. I say it works like a charm. Can you guess what I’m thinking?”

Mirio victoriously tapped the railing. “About how Sir taught you how to read minds properly.” He said boldly.

Then she laughed, a beautiful laugh. “How silly of me!” She snorted. “Think Sir will find all this funny though?”

“Sometimes, Sir is hard to understand,” Mirio stated. Like emotions and feelings can be. Mirio thought miserably. “But maybe. We haven’t really made him laugh, have we? Only amused his insides?”

Kaoruko stepped back, walking towards the wall. She leaned back, yawning as she stretched her arms. She then tucked them behind her, tilting her head once more to view the clouds, this time looking like they were spray-painted a sandy hue. “Let’s continue the game shall we? It’s my turn. I spy with my little eye: a wonderful Saturday night.”

“But it’s Friday,” Mirio said, then realized she was talking about tomorrow. She was excited for the next day. “Tomorrow? You have plans tomorrow?”

She shifted her stance. “Uh-huh. There’s a party my parents would be attending tomorrow, so I have the house all to myself. I can do anything I want, may it be watching a movie, eating ice cream, or even dancing in refrigerator light, I can do that. I’m free, with no duties as well.”

“That’s awesome,” Mirio said. “I wish I can do the same. But I don’t really mind. Me and Tamaki were supposed to go rollerskating in the park tomorrow, but it was temporarily closed. It sucks, but we’ll certainly find a way to spend our time. I mean, Tamaki is really smart. He is the Suneater after all.”

“I’m sure he would, plus he’s got an amazing friend who knows how to make laughs.”

Mirio felt his cheeks warm, turning to Kaoruko. She was still admiring the sky lovingly. “Thanks,” Mirio said. “You know, you aren’t bad yourself. Maybe we could come over at your place tomorrow, so that you two can get to know each other more. That’ll be so cool!”

Then she looked at him, eyes wide. “You would do that?”

Mirio held his hands up as he laughed. “Yeah! School life and hero life combined in one relaxing night! I can’t miss that!”

Kaoruko showed a glimpse of teeth. “I don’t mind. It could lift his spirits as well.”

“Totally.” Mirio’s phone rang, and he checked in to see Sir Nighteye calling them back to the agency building. Their shift was over. “Time to head back.” He announced.

Kaoruko left her position on the wall. “Let’s go.”

They went down the water tower in their own ways, with Kaoruko using the ladder and Mirio just simply phasing through the building’s side. When they landed on the ground, they had once more agreed on tomorrow’s little play date. Once they left Sir Nighteye’s agency, Mirio called Tamaki, who to Mirio’s happiness, replied.

Mirio?” Tamaki’s voice answered hoarsely, as if he had been crying. “How was duty?

Mirio had no time to ask about Tamaki's earlier disappearance. He no longer wanted his friend who finally answered and showed himself to feel lower again like he must have earlier. So Mirio replied with zeal. “We’ve got a place to go to tomorrow, man. We don’t have to wander around like vagabonds anymore!” He told Tamaki the details of he and Kaoruko’s agreement, with Tamaki being quiet at the other side of the line.

Once he finished, Tamaki said, “Sure. I’m sure that would be nice.” He sounded a bit happier, and since Mirio knew him all too well, he knew he was. Maybe even desperate.

“Cool.” Mirio said before giving Tamaki a farewell. He walked down the streets to his home, but his mind was elsewhere. His mind was in a world of possibilities, futures that Sir might’ve seen and called very positive and happy futures.

Chapter Text

 

Kyoka’s room was not a meeting place. Kyoka’s room was not a therapist’s office. Kyoka’s room was not a place for broken people, maybe except for herself when she was. But, Kyoka sadly had to admit, her room, it can be a meeting place. It can be a therapist’s office. It can be a place for broken people that weren’t just her, herself, and she.

First, there was Denki Kaminari, the blonde boy with powers of electricity. Then there was Eijiro Kirishima, the red-headed boy with hardening abilities. Then the third one, Hanta Sero, whose quirk manifested itself as tape at the edges of his elbows. The funny thing? They were a troop, a group that were always defined in the classroom as the clueless type. Having to be seated near them during classroom hours, Kyoka couldn’t deny that. But all three of them had gone to her room to…well…

Kyoka had opened a red notebook, one that had a lot of scribbled poetry that might’ve been even harder to understand than those in Izuku’s notebooks. She had sat on a comfy chair next to a table, one that held all her recording gizmos: microphone, speakers, recorders, etc. She had pulled the mic close to her mouth after pressing a recording that held an instrumental to an original composition, one about dancing in the rain in the dark, under the spotlight of a lone streetlight. She had found it a wonderful thought to compose a song out of it, that she took the shot.

Then a knock. Denki peeked in with a goofy smile on his face, wearing a loose shirt that displayed the famous character Pikachu. He didn’t even bother to wait for her to let him in. He pushed the door, ran to her chair to announce the good news.

“Kirishima asked Ashido out!” He said, golden eyes wide with excitement. “Their going to the Dance Festival this weekend, gonna participate in it as a team! Jiro, don’t you think that’s freaking exciting? If that gets broadcast on television, I will have to buy that man meat for a whole month!”

“Good for them,” Kyoka forced a grin, being irritated with his abrupt disturbance in her recording. He didn’t even notice that she was bright pink.

“Which reminds me,” mused Denki, tapping his jawline. “Didn’t you tell me that you’ll be expanding my guitar lessons? We usually have them during Wednesdays, but due to quizzes and the like, out chances were doomed. So let’s have one tonight. Whaddaya say?” He grabbed another extra chair, sitting on it before he pulled a guitar off its position by a wall.

Kyoka sighed. “Yeah. Sure.” She lowered her headphones, placing it on the table. She took another guitar, her feet pushing the ground as she adjusted her seat to face Denki. “Where did we stop last time? Wasn’t it the line ‘Hold me like the lenses of your camera; useful only when the job is done’?”

Denki blinked. “I’ve never heard that song.”

Kyoka bit back a curse. She just recited a line from her own song without realizing it. “Sorry. Forget I said that and answer the question.”

Denki laughed. “We were singing the song by Alan Walker, Jiro. ‘Faded’, I think.” He cleared his throat. “These shallow waters, never met. What I needed. I'm letting go. A deeper dive. Eternal silence of the sea. I'm breathing. Alive.” He recited, mimicking the way Fumikage recited his words like a poet.

Kyoka cracked a grin. “Why didn’t you just sing it?”

“I can’t sing,” Denki said matter-of-factly. “If anyone were singing here, it’d be you. I’m just learning chords."

“Knowing how to sing helps with finding chords, Kaminari,” Kyoka said. “And humming the melody too. Those are really important.”

“If you say so,” Denki shrugged. “You are my Sensei in all this.” He bowed his head in a joking manner. “Ms. Jiro.”

Kyoka made a face. “Quit it!” She pushed him, and he nearly stumbled out of his chair. Kyoka burst out laughing.

“You still love watching me suffer, huh?” Denki teased her, regaining composure that didn’t seem like wanting to come to him as he fidgeted with the guitar on his lap. “Just watching Bakugo do stuff to me makes you so amused I feel as if you’re abusing me.” He meant it as a joke, of course.

Kyoka wrapped her arms around her as she chuckled. “You fall prey so easily. Shiozaki took you out in a flash.”

“I was holding back,” Denki lied.

Then there was another knock on the door, and this time, it was Hanta who was there. Unlike Denki who had come inside looking so cheerful and full of energy, Hanta looked defeated, sad even. He wore a blank expression, but there were shadows under his eyes and lines on his face that told a deeper story. Plus his hair was a mess. His sweater was way too oversized. His jeans were in no way his actual size, for it looked loose. But as Kyoka and Denki regarded him with quizzical expressions, Hanta smiled. But Kyoka knew it held no actual happiness. It was fake.

“Hope I’m not interrupting anything here, Kaminari,” Hanta said. “But I just wrote something and was wondering if Jiro-san can turn them into song lyrics and I dunno. Maybe a song itself.”

Song lyrics?” Denki gasped with a huge smile. “Dude! That’s awesome! Jiro, you should totally do it!”

Kyoka glanced at her own notebook for a second before returning her attention to her classmates. “I don’t see why not? Get in here, Sero. Let me see those lines of yours.”

It wasn’t like Hanta to ever be hesitant. But he looked a bit so as he moved towards them to hand them a piece of paper, one that looked like it was torn from a spiral notebook. He took a seat at the edge of the bed, hands hidden under his sleeves.

Denki bit his lip. “Sero, man. You okay? Either you just woke up, you got in a fight, or you just finished crying. What’s with you and you know…?” He waved his hands in a circular motion.

Hanta snorted. “What’re you talking about? I’m perfectly okay! It’s the dorm! Anyone can look like anything when they’re home.” He might’ve thought that he hid it well, but Kyoka managed to catch the way his hands clutched her bedsheet under the sleeves.

Kyoka read through the lyrics. “Sero, these lyrics are a bit…unlike you. They’re about heartbreak.”

Hanta blinked. “They are?”

“Wow, seriously?” Denki stood to loom over Kyoka, his eyes dancing over the words of Hanta’s writing. After reading a few lines, he clapped as he hollered. “DUDE! That’s why you look like a mess! You’re heartbroken! C’mon, tell me! Over who?”

“I’m not heartbroken!” Hanta protested, hands up as he did so.

“You are,” Kyoka stated monotonously, so Hanta won’t try guessing how she felt about reading him, and as to not make him feel too bad. “You’re talking about grief and hands that aren’t your own, clutched in the fingers of another. Callused fingers, you emphasized. And…what you thought might’ve been so sweet, turned into a bitter taste. It says that what once was sweet now suffocates you, that you can’t even breathe through your mouth, as you feel the pressure even greater as you swallow what you can’t have, what flavor you always wanted to taste.” She glanced at Denki, who was quiet with wide eyes and a jaw on the floor.

Hanta’s cheeks were flushed. “It was a challenge, okay? Mineta said that I should try writing some bull, so I dunno. Gave it a shot, gave it a try. Then I kinda felt proud of them that I thought I’d show it to you guys as to…maybe check grammar and convert those words into lyrics.”

“You and Tokoyami should collab, man, like wow,” Denki commented. “I thought your room was surprising, but you have skills. Dude, you’re so cool!”

Hanta didn’t seem to take the compliment to heart. His eyes met his knees, visible through the rips in his pants. “Thanks.” He muttered.

“Did you watch sad videos on the internet to feel a deeper connection to the persona in the story?” Denki continued. “Or in the poem rather. You’ve gotta tell me ‘cause, man I’m totally jealous right now! Sero is a genius! You’ve gotta tell me!”

“I-I…” Hanta stammered.

“These are unique word combos,” Kyoka added with raised eyebrows. “Creative lyrics. You must’ve had help from Tokoyami when writing this, but something tells me you didn’t.” She glanced at him, who shook his head in agreement. “Collab. Yeah. I can see it. Maybe it would turn out so symbolic that I won’t even be able to decipher what any of those words and sentences mean.”

“That’s the thing with Tokoyami,” Denki said. “Deep words that nobody knows.”

“Bakugo’s commented on your vocabulary too, Kaminari,” Jiro stated with a smirk. “You know your own words.”

“That’s me,” Denki proudly said, then his eyes returned to Hanta. “You’re quiet.”

“I’m tired,” Hanta contradicted.

“Heartbroken?” Denki tried again.

“No,” Hanta said with an eye roll.

Then the door received a knock for the third time. Eijiro peeped in respectfully, analyzing the situation of the trio. “Hey,” he said, smiling with uncertainty. “You all okay here? Me and Ashido just wanted to ask you guys if you wanted to come to the Dance Festival with us.”

“Isn’t that supposed to be a date?” Denki asked, scratching his head.

“We’re not really on the ‘date’ thing to be honest,” Eijiro admitted. “It’s more of a friendly outing, as to not disturb our main focus on being heroes in training. That’s really it, so we both decided to give invitations. So far, all we got were denials. How about you guys? Jiro? Kaminari? Sero? You don’t really need to join the competition, just be present.” Then his smile withered when he ran his eyes over Hanta. “You alright, man?”

Hanta smiled at him, but it was far from his trademark grin. “Thanks for the offer, Kirishima, but I’ll pass. You enjoy your time with…” He bit his lip, face hidden by his messed-up dark hair. Kyoka and Denki both stared at him as a gear clicked into place inside their minds. Only Eijiro looked oblivious.

“Okay…” he said with apprehension, seemingly ready to go to Hanta and try prying more. “Kaminari? Jiro?”

“No thanks,” Denki said. “Have fun, horn buds.”

“Same here,” Kyoka said.

Eijiro looked a bit saddened, but he nodded, teeth flashing as he grinned. “If that’s the case, sorry to disturb you. Seeya in class tomorrow.” Then he shut the door.

Kyoka and Denki stared at Hanta at the same time, finding their classmate staring down at his knees, face in shadow, fingers clutching his pants by his thighs. His mouth was a tight line, and he looked as if he weren’t even breathing.

“You’re heartbroken over Ashido,” Denki concluded after a few seconds of silence. “That’s what’s going on.”

Hanta didn’t answer.

Kyoka softened, walking closer to him. “I’m so sorry…”

Denki sucked in a breath. “Sero, dude. You could’ve just told us from the start. We are your friends after all.”

“Not all friends are trustworthy in every situation,” Kyoka reminded Denki calmly. “Sometimes we have to spill our beans indirectly for them to understand. You know, with lyrics and such.”

“Right,” Denki said. “I should’ve known that hardening was equal to callused fingers.”

Hanta raised his head. “I should go.” He said evenly. “I still need to finish Present Mic’s homework.” He stood to go, unable to look at their faces.

“Your lyrics though!” Denki protested, elongating the word ‘though’. “C’mon, Sero! This isn’t like you to be so down in the dumps. Let’s help each other here, figure this out. When you finish a song, you’d sing it, feel raw emotion, then move on. You’ll find another lovely face, find another lovely body of beauty and purity. Leave the past. Make a song.” Denki pointed to the bed, specifically to the spot Hanta had sat on earlier.

Kyoka had nothing to add, for to her Denki had said it all. She just nodded reassuringly, lifting his paper with a smile.

Hanta’s brows furrowed moderately. “What will you do? Be some sort of therapists for me? Wait for me to cry on your shoulders?”

“No,” Kyoka said. “We will make your song as friends, and heroes who heal broken hearts.”

Hanta faced the doorframe, saying nothing.

“Dude, you’ll be fine,” Denki said. “Let us collaborate here. Who needs that bird-headed boy as collab number one? You can have Kyoka Jiro herself! And of course, her assistant Chargebolt.”

“Jamming-Yay,” Kyoka corrected.

“Whaddaya say?” Denki asked Hanta, ignoring her.

He was quiet for a moment, visibly deciding as Kyoka and Denki waited with anticipation. Finally, Hanta turned to them, his smile showing traces of lifted spirits. “Thank you.” He said, walking back to them. Kyoka readied the lyrics as Denki readied the guitars.

Chapter Text

Inko had business to attend to that Izuku needed to join her to the trip to the airport. Though the following day they had a test in Midnight’s class, Izuku had agreed to come with his mother to the airport, not because she dragged him to do so, but because he wanted to. Even if she didn’t tell Izuku what it was about, he planned to obey his mother out of love.

They were lucky when Eraserhead agreed to drive them to the airport after Mirio told him that Izuku had plans with his mother. Izuku had said quick goodbyes to his classmates, saying that they might all be asleep by the time he returns to the dorms. The only one he didn’t see was Ochaco, which saddened him, crushed him. Tenya had said that she had her own family matters to attend to, so it wasn’t as bad as ignoring him. He understood Ochaco’s wishes on supporting her family in any way she can.

The trip had been a smooth one, without traffic, without stops to the gas station. Izuku and Inko tried conversing with Aizawa in any way they can as to keep the mood cheerful and non-boring. Aizawa rolled with it, saying that he felt generous. This wasn’t his last stop, he had said. He needed to come over to Ms. Joke’s after this.

So they were dating? Izuku had wondered. Either way, he saw a flicker of passion in Eraserhead’s dark eyes when he mentioned her.

They were dropped near a donut shop, where Izuku and Inko had a snack. After that, they went straight to the airport, Inko asking the guards for those people she needed to meet. Izuku had stood next to her, having brought his textbook and notes to tomorrow’s upcoming quiz. Inko then turned to him, saying that they needed to stay in the waiting area for a while.

Not a while. A few hours. Izuku had turned on his notifications in his phone, as to check on his classmates’ messages in the chat. It was flooding with words from Mina Ashido, with Eijiro being another and Denki being another. Tenya continuously scolded them, which made Izuku laugh.

Then there was a message from Shoto, asking Izuku how he’s doing in the airport. Honestly, Izuku didn’t know. He was caught up with them, being in the chat. He had his notes, so he can review. His mother, well, she was fine. She was watching television as they waited, her legs swinging as she stared at the screen.

We’re okay. Izuku typed, sending the message to the chat. I can review here while my mother works her thing. How’s it going there?

Ever thought of Bakugo dating? Mina sent, ending it with a winking emoji. Because the other day, by a bookstore, I happened to catch him there with that girl from Shiketsu. She was laughing and he looked amused, as if he had the privilege to pound down a villain into a pulp.

Or he watched a murderous horror movie. Hanta Sero added.

Izuku’s eyes widened. If Kacchan was dating, then that would be good for him. It would honestly make Izuku jealous, for he knew he was just a stumble of words in trying to talk with Ochaco on topics that weren’t related to certain issues. Casual topics? He messed those up. Shoto and Tenya caught those, and already made their confirmations.

Then Kacchan said, I’M NOT DATING YOU IDIOT! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT

Shoto replied. They’re saying they saw you hanging out with Utsushimi.

SO WHAT IF I AM? WE’RE JUST FRIENDS!

That’s what they all say. Eijiro messaged with a laughing emoji.

The chat then followed with more retorts from Katsuki and more opinions from the rest of the class, Denki even sending a picture of Camie to the chat. A picture of Camie with a peace sign, in hero costume as she posed in front of the gates of Shiketsu.

Izuku rolled his eyes in amusement.

“Things okay in school, Izuku?” Inko asked, happening to glance over at her son as he read through the chat. The television was presenting a live-action series about children in a fantasy-like universe. Inko didn’t seem too interested anymore, Izuku thought.

“They’re great,” Izuku responded. “They keep saying that Kacchan is dating, and it’s hilarious watching how he answers to their words. But still, it’s kind of nice to know that he’s defending he and Utsushimi’s relationship. Not necessarily a romantic one, but if they really are just friends, then at least he’s trying to prove that it is so.”

“That’s new of Bakugo,” Inko said with surprise. “When did he meet her?”

“Remedial classes,” Izuku replied. “After he and Todoroki didn’t manage to get their hero licensees, they needed to take make-up classes to catch up with us. Turns out that Utsushimi was there too, and after that, they seem to have gotten closer to each other. But I still won’t call it dating. Kacchan doesn’t really look like he’s the ‘dating’ type.”

Inko nodded. “But I don’t see why not. I mean, all of you are growing. It won’t be a worry if he has a crush on her.”

Izuku looked down at the chat, seeing that Momo had just asked if Katsuki had a crush on her as well, which Katsuki replied with curses and swears. “He is defensive.” Izuku noted. He scrolled up the chat to the picture of Camie, which he showed to his mother. “This is her.” He announced.

“She’s pretty!” Inko said. “If I were Bakugo, I’d court her already!”

“We’re too young!” Izuku laughed. “Plus we’ve gotta focus on hero training!”

“I know!” Inko rubbed Izuku’s green hair as the two of them laughed in delight. As they composed themselves, Inko asked, “How about you, Izuku? Do you have a crush on anyone?”

“None that I can think of,” Izuku said. He didn’t really know if he can call Ochaco his crush, but what was for sure was he liked her. He was disappointed when he wasn’t able to speak to her before they went to the airport. He was happy when they were hanging out, training to be the best they can be. Still, Ochaco’s smile, those lovely chocolate eyes, the way her hands clasp when she uses her quirk…Izuku tried to shake those from his head.

Inko tilted her head, a look of curiosity passing her features. “Everything alright?”

“Of course!” Izuku said with alert. “Why would you think otherwise?”

Inko grinned. “You were muttering again.”

Izuku flushed. “I…was?” He asked in a small voice.

Inko nodded as she giggled. “You were thinking of someone, weren’t you?” She pulled her brown envelope closer to her, her eyes jubilant as it caught the afternoon light.

Izuku sighed, returning her smile. “A classmate of mine. Honestly, my first friend here in UA.” He rubbed a hand over the cover of his textbook, full of wrinkled corners and scratches from multiple holdings. “Ochaco Uraraka. Do you remember me mentioning her, mom?”

“I do,” Inko said, sounding lost in thought. “That girl with zero-gravitational powers. I recall your stories of her all too well. I admit I even looked through her social media page a bit a few hours after you locked yourself in your room for the rest of the night.” She sent Izuku an apologetic but amused look.

“Mom, no!” Izuku gasped.

Inko shrugged innocently. “I have to say that she’s pretty as well. You can’t deny that, can you?”

Izuku shook his head. “I can’t.”

Inko smiled. She didn’t push any more than that, only meet his gaze with eyes like his own. No matter how much older Inko became, his eyes were his own, his blood hers. Izuku clasped her hand as he chuckled, lowering his phone.

Vibration buzzed in Inko’s pocket, and his mother removed her phone from it. She read over a text before sending an apologetic look at Izuku. “Sorry,” she said. “I need to go now. Is it okay if I leave you here? Just a while. Promise.”

Izuku smirked, releasing her hand. “Of course, mom. You know I can handle myself.”

She had stood. But before leaving she leaned down and kissed his forehead, rubbing his mass of hair afterwards. With a wink, Inko left, vanishing behind a crowds of people with briefcases, phones against their ears, and children hugging their overseas parents. Izuku could only stare at them all with respect. If only they knew how much harder things were…

He returned his focus on his phone. The chat resumed escalating, more all-cap messages from Kacchan and teases from Eijiro. Nothing related to school, nothing related to emergencies or the League of Villains. He still had his test tomorrow, and all he felt was relieved. To cram less. To just sit here and inhale…the airport aircondition.

Jasmine was what it smelled like. He wondered if they managed to buy half the stock for van air fresheners just for this airport. A silly thought, but in this modern world of heroes and quirks, anything was possible. Jasmine was the least of his problems. He first had to figure out when to do square roots when he was greeted with a complicated set of given numbers in a problem. Who knew that Midnight had these sort of things in her subject.

Izuku brought out a scratch paper and pen from his backpack, clicking the end of his pen against his chin. As he analyzed the example in his notes, he allowed his hand to freely soar across the paper in swift maneuvers, quick to be able to jut down anything to help solve the problem.

Would you really need to study, Midoriya? You’re already quite smart. Denki had complemented him before he left that day.

Yes. Not all people who were smart knew everything, Izuku had equally explained to him. Hard for one can be hard for another. He had met that fate many times before UA.

And All Might said the same thing.

Izuku encircled his final answer on his paper before checking the final one in his notes. Correct. He had gotten it. Izuku couldn’t help but feel a little bit proud of himself. And maybe a bit hungry. Seriously, for he felt his stomach thunder beneath his plain white t-shirt.

He checked for his mother before standing. Texting her that he will be in the canteen of the airport. He shouldered one of the straps of his backpack before leaving, asking a few guards the direction to the canteen. They had replied honestly, one even claiming he remembered Izuku from the Sports Festival. Izuku was surprised the man even remembered that still. It had been some time ago after all.

But Izuku thanked the guard for the comment. The guard lifted his hat in response.

Like all other parts of the airport, the canteen was packed with guests, not just Japanese folk. Who he assumed was the American Hero Captain Celebrity was by a table, drinking some diet coke with a pretty woman with pink hair, sat beside a boy with lazy eyes. Children with balloons ran around, ignoring the warnings of their parents to behave. Women with revealing outfits were carrying glasses of liquor, and Izuku wondered if that was even allowed. If it weren’t, where were the guards?

Feeling lazy, he guessed sadly.

At least the counter wasn’t sporting a line too long, he reassured himself. He stepped towards it, his eyes scanning the menus placed above the counter. With the donuts still digesting in his body, Izuku wanted to just settle with a plate of spaghetti. Yeah. That was enough, plus he had enough yen in his wallet. The order was up in two minutes, so as Izuku walked to find a seat, the sweet smell of his pasta snaked into his nose. His stomach grumbled louder.

He realized with amusement that finding a seat here was like finding a seat in school during your first day, without friends, without people who seem nice enough to approach. The days quirkless quickly returned to his mind, that with the insults Katsuki always threw him, the laughs he had received.

Past is past.

“Hey, kid!”

Izuku turned round to see the lazy-eyed boy seated beside Captain Celebrity call him, the pink-haired girl watching her male companion, her indigo-colored eyes wide with anticipation under her glasses. Captain Celebrity was too busy munching on a blueberry cheesecake to pay them any attention, though still looked aware.

The lazy-eyed boy sent Izuku a warm smile. “There’s still space here on our table. Might as well have someone sit on this empty chair. You alone?”

Technically speaking, it can go half ways. At this moment, Izuku was alone, his mother accomplishing errands elsewhere. But that was the other thing: he was with his mother. Inko might come here if her tasks concluded early. Still, Izuku remembered her saying that this was the sort of task that might take a while, so…

“Yeah,” Izuku shrugged honestly. “You can say that.”

The boy nodded. “That’s good. If you weren’t, there wouldn’t be enough seats.” He gave Captain Celebrity a look, and with a forced smile, the pro tapped the empty chair beside him. Though it was still a few inches away. With Captain Celebrity’s huge build, it was not a problem for him to do so.

Izuku approached their table, setting his plate down before taking a seat, setting his backpack by his feet. “Thank you.” He said.

The girl smirked, wolfishly eyeing the boy, who sweat-dropped. “That’s Mister Nice Guy to you.” She mused.

And Izuku began his meal, looking through his phone again every once in a while as he did so. The chat had moved on from Katsuki’s date and had gone over to a set of pictures sent from Hanta Sero, with Denki and Eijiro as the main characters. Likely taken during their recent field trip. What stroke Izuku’s interest was the number of pictures his classmate sent, for he recalled an almost full storage last he checked that personal camera. Perhaps there were some pictures Hanta refused to share to them.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one to notice, for Mina sent, I could’ve sworn you were in a few of your own pictures.

Those were family pictures I didn’t send. Hanta typed back.

Family. You mean you and that girl from class 1B? Minoru was probably wearing a teasing smirk, Izuku guessed.

Hanta took a while before replying. I told you we’re just friends.

Toru responded to that. Bakugo said that earlier as well! Ha-ha! Coincidences everywhere!

Then Izuku typed back. Have you guys studied for Midnight’s test tomorrow?

A pause in the chat, and Izuku scratched his head in confusion.

After a while, Minoru sent a message. Bro, there’s a test?

I didn’t know. Eijiro said.

WE’RE SO DEAD!!! Mina exclaimed.

I totally remembered! Denki typed.

Shoto only ‘saw’ the messages.

Izuku rolled his eyes in exasperation. Typical of them to forget, when they were so caught up in this little group chat of them. Mr. Aizawa would probably scold them if he saw this, then give them a penalty to clean the classroom or something like that. Still, over time he had gotten used to them. He placed his thumbs over his keypad again as he typed in the chat.

Pages 214 to 230.

Mina sent with a crying emoji, That’s a lot of pages!

Izuku mumbled, “If you don’t start early.” But not in a mean way, but more of a common-sense type of way.

The boy with lazy eyes must have heard him, for his attention drifted to Izuku. “School work?”

Izuku sniggered. “Yeah. We have this test tomorrow and--”

The boy waved a hand. “I get it. The rest of the class didn’t know about it. Believe me, I’ve become a victim to that during my earlier days.” Izuku stared at him, only realizing that this boy must be at least in his twenties now. But his smile made him look much younger, much more friendlier, and approachable.

Raising a fork to his mouth, Izuku chuckled. “I didn’t say that I haven’t as well.”

The girl sent Izuku a smirk, toying with the hem of her beige jacket. “Unavoidable irresponsibility. Koichi here’s still a culprit to that, even in the current days of this timeline. He’s…an idiot.”

The boy, whose name was apparently Koichi, sent her one of those faces, one that revealed irritation, but eyes that betrayed his attention. His eyes showed a longing, amusement, as if she always teased him and toyed with him. The look of someone who had love for another.

Izuku felt a tightening in his chest as an image of Ochaco flashed in his mind. He brought the forkful of pasta into his mouth, lowering his gaze to the table again, and away from his phone. He bet they were just whining about the test there, so not much importance.

Koichi pursed his lips as he studied Izuku and his sudden silence. “You okay, kid?” He asked politely.

“Uh-huh,” Izuku sent Koichi a smile, one mirroring those that Hanta always seemed to wear. “Just…thinking.”

Koichi dipped his chin once, clearly not going to push Izuku for more details. Nice, and respectful. Izuku wondered if Koichi was a hero himself when he wasn’t dressed in casual clothes, someone who watched the city of Japan when the world slumbered in the night.

The girl averted her eyes to something behind Izuku. “Hey, Problem Child.” Izuku had no idea how she guessed Aizawa and Mirio’s nickname for him correctly, but let it slip. She might’ve just thought of him as one of those problematic children, young and dumb. She cleared her throat. “Someone’s coming over.”

Maybe it was Inko. Izuku turned around, but soon he had his eyes like saucers and his jaw on the airport floor. Ochaco was walking towards him, dressed in a white shirt, jeans, sneakers, and a black jacket. She was wearing one of those warm smiles Izuku always loved, one to clear his head whenever he had problems. He lost his voice, and words that threatened to spill caught in his throat, like they wanted to retreat to a deeper part of him.

“Deku!” She beamed over him, tucking her hands behind her back. “I’m surprised to see you here! What a coincidence!” She giggled.

Without the intention of doing so, Izuku glanced at Koichi and his female companion, who have returned to their meals, though had their eyes on them. Already, Izuku wished he wouldn’t embarrass himself, not in front of them, and in front of Ochaco. “Hi, Uraraka.” He sent her a shy wave.

“What are you doing in the airport?” She tilted her head sideways, her hair brushing her shoulder lightly.

“I might ask you the same thing,” Izuku said. Having already finished his pasta, he pushed in further on the table, grabbed his backpack, and stood. He gestured to his now-empty seat. “Wanna sit?” He asked her.

“Oh!” She shook her head. “No! I’m fine! I just found you here and I thought I’d say hi.” She pointed her thumb at the exit, orange with dusk. “We’re going home already. I’ll see you in class tomorrow. Hope you studied for Midnight’s test.”

“I have,” Izuku replied. “The true warning should go to our classmates.”

Ochaco pouted. “Kaminari-kun?”

“He actually remembered,” Izuku said. “I was surprised myself.”

“Good for him.” Ochaco relaxed, her face relieved.

“You’re sure you don’t want anything?” Izuku asked. “Drink? Snack? Hot dog?”

She waved. “I’m okay. Besides, our next stop is dinner. I wouldn’t want to be full for my parents’ cooking, would I?” Certainly not. It was one of the greatest ways of support she could give her family. With Ochaco. “Bye, Deku. Say hello to your mother for me.” Then she turned, just like that and went out of the doors.

Izuku stood for a while longer before he reclaimed his seat. He grabbed a bottle of water from his bag and drank. He then stood once more, submitting his empty plate to the kitchen staff. He thanked Koichi once more for giving him a place to sit, the boy giving a genuine thumbs up.

Then he met once more with Inko in the waiting area. They got a taxi, and were off from the airport. The tasks Inko was assigned to accomplish were done swiftly and without problems. She was proud when they met, bright and full of life.

As for Izuku, he could say that he was as well.

It was already 12:30 am when he arrived at the dorms, the darkness of the place indicating the slumbering classmates of his. When he climbed up for bed, he could only smile, imagining all those people who interacted in the beauty of sundown, in an airport that he wouldn’t have guessed could intertwine the way it did for him.

Chapter Text

Once more, Katsuki found himself surrounded by people in the mall, phone gripped in his hand as his fingers trembled with the urge to call Camie Utsushimi. When she had told him that she wanted to meet up with him, he had been pleased and ready for it, the clouding thoughts of celebrating his birthday discarded immediately like they were nothing more than dust. He had made it clear to everyone else in the dorm months prior to this day that he wasn’t interested in celebrating, giving emphasis on explaining to Eijiro and Izuku that he wasn’t going to be satisfied with the royal treatment.

Obviously, an order of his that was delivered quite well, for upon leaving his room that fateful Saturday morning, he was not even voiced with a single greet, not even from Eijiro. The rest of UA’s famous class 1A treated the morning like usual, with video games, backyard training, and movie-watching in a friend’s room in privacy. The casualty in the atmosphere almost made Katsuki actually smile, the rare occasion already a birthday gift to him.

Still, it kind of felt a bit painful being forgotten. Despite his mother having added extra money to his allowance, the sight of seeing others act like he was just as young as he always was, his superiority rising with age a tad bit harmful for his pride.

It never mattered to him before, so Katsuki questioned why it did now. Perhaps because he actually had troops before who laughed with him instead of constantly teased him. Maybe it was because he saw no need for actual competition of skill before. Maybe it was because he saw no need to blame himself for hero falls before.

Well, it was high school got you. More distractions.

So when she had asked if he wanted to hang out, Katsuki was eager to oblige. He always did feel more relaxed when he hanged out with Camie, her simple attitude and sense of humor enough to make him crack a grin every now and then. They had this ongoing gag with themselves, that each time they were pissed off by someone trying to interrupt their good times, Camie would create a vision for both of them to witness of that specific pisser-offer being a cheery moron. It had brought them so many laughs each time.

But as of now, Katsuki didn’t laugh, not as he scanned the mall, his feet pressing aggressively on the tiled floors as he searched for his Shiketsu company. He realized late how he didn’t ask her where to specifically meet him, as he was too excited to bother so. Now at the moment, Katsuki cursed his stupidity.

Unable to hold it in, Katsuki texted her, keeping his capitalization on as to let her know he was furious at her side. She didn’t tell him their meeting point, so he didn’t think why only he should get the blame for it. It was also the need to be fair that created a perfect hero after all.

Though Katsuki was aware that not the entire world followed this philosophy.

As he pressed the Send Button, Katsuki averted his eyes to the people around them, the laughter and chatter emitted by the thousands of people that roamed this very floor, and littered the upper ones, all busy with their own things, their own issues, their own praises. Disgusting, how calm they were, when they were so helpless when evil was on the rise. Katsuki never thought these people mattered when the time came to do heroics, all that mattered was reducing the bad guy into ashes, into guilt of the horror he had done.

Just the thought of it made Katsuki form a fiery fist, a maniacal smile pursing its way over his once pressed lips. He enjoyed every second of causing justice, even if it meant sending the biggest explosion under the eye of a fake hostage, of some sort.

His phone buzzed, and upon checking, Camie responded that she was currently at the fountain by the food court. Katsuki groaned. The food court was at the other side of the spot he was currently standing, and he was familiar with the news of a broken escalator a few blocks away. He didn’t want to walk there all casual, like an idiot resembling these crowds of helpless folk.

Katsuki extended his hands backwards, and with sparks came the explosions, explosions that lifted him off the floor. He soared high towards the visible third floor, ignoring any possible looks from others before landing on the other side of the railing. As he studied where he had gotten himself to, he saw that he was in front of the movie theatre. He recalled what Camie had told him recently, about her being interested with this very ‘action-packed’ film, with superheroes bitten to dust. She was so excited about it, that he was surprised when she told him that she wasn’t going to be able to, not with the threat of what they all called ‘schoolwork’.

But with the poster of that said movie and its schedule hung on the wall, it was a confirmation for Katsuki to buy two tickets for both of them. Controlling his patience, Katsuki tried as much as possible to keep his voice calm as he bought the tickets with the money Mitsuki offered him. With the deed done, with the time set to one, he continued his way over to the fountain, hiding the tickets in a pocket inside the brown, leather jacket he decided to dawn today.

When he found her, she was already waving, a phone to her ear as she did so. Her legs were bare as she crossed them, her position on the edge of the fountain affecting enough to make Minoru drool. Katsuki rolled his eyes, tearing his gaze away from her as she came close.

As for Camie, she pocketed the phone, running quickly over to the ash-blonde boy who looked busy with something on his phone. As she approached him, Katsuki squeezed his jacket tightly with a snarl, his eyes almost bulging out of his head as his face twisted with anger.

“What is it now?” Camie questioned as she stepped to his side. She noticed his shoulder muscles throb slightly, the best he’d reveal of being startled by anything.

“Nothing,” he responded lowly, evening his voice like he tried composing himself. He shut his eyes as he lowered his hands to his sides limply. “Reloading stinks as heck. Cards are useless.” To prove his point, he brought a card out of his pocket (one he actually forgot he had), showed it to her, then tossed it behind him. He didn’t care to pick it up off the floor when he began a stride, ignoring the obvious sin he did of littering.

“Bakugo!” Camie’s voice held authority.

“What? Gonna scold me for littering?” Katsuki retorted, amusement revealing itself without hiding.

“No…” Camie hesitantly darted her eyes sideways, secretly bending low to pick up the card from the floor. She read over it, eyes squinting as she went over the letters and numbers on the thing. “Hey, Katsuki!” Calling, she ran over to follow him, who was already a few paces ahead. Neither gave heed the few heads that turned their way. “Did you try dialing four then seven before pressing number one?” she asked upon arriving at his side.

“Is there meaning to that?” Katsuki stopped walking to cross his arms.

“Duh! That’s why there are instructions, genius! They’re there for a reason, ya know!” She waved the card in front of his face, his crimson eyes following the movement. “C’mon! Try it again! What prob could it be?”

He seemed to consider it for a moment, but his expression shared no actual conclusion for them. Instead, his hands went to grab the tickets from the inside pocket of the jacked, something Camie only saw him wear today. It was unusual, but she did have to admit that it was a color that suited him, matching undoubtedly with his fiery red eyes. In a way, perhaps even he wanted to treat himself kingly during the celebration of his birth.

In truth, who wouldn’t? Birthdays were some sort of ‘celebrity-for-a-day’ kind of occasion. Being wealthy in appearance was part of it. Perhaps it was just interesting to see Katsuki try taking part of it in some way, who always only cared for being top of the world.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t to weird after all.

Finally, Katsuki sent her a crooked smile, pulling out two small papers from the jacket and extended it for her to see. Camie raised a brow, and Katsuki’s grin was replaced with an impatient scowl. “What? You don’t wanna watch that stupid movie you’ve been so excited for?”

Camie’s eyes dilated. “Woah! For reals?!” She grabbed the movie tickets with enthusiasm, with the loading card slowly being released before sinking onto the floor once more. “Katsuki! This is so cool! Thanks so much! Though shouldn’t I be the one who should have bought these since it’s technically your birthday?”

He shrugged carelessly. “Eh. My mother gave me extra allowance. It’s the least I could spend.”

“Thanks again, bae!” She went on her toes and pressed a kiss onto his cheek. She could’ve sworn he was as close to being flustered as he could be judging from the expression that flashed in his eyes, a tenderness that held some sort of happiness that Katsuki so rarely showed. A side of him nobody else might’ve seen. “C’mon, fam! We must get to the cinema now if we want to catch the trailer lineup as well, wouldn’t we?” She beckoned him with a hand.

“If you say so,” he responded nonchalantly.

They went together to the direction of the cinemas, the way itself a set of conversations with Camie doing the most talking. Katsuki responded sarcastically at most times, sometimes growling and nearing biting her head off at other occasions, with Camie not caring at all save for a pout and a wiggle of an index finger. The type of actions that both of them had gotten used to by now, having known each other a bit longer than necessary.

As they approached the snack bar, Camie abruptly stopped talking. With a quick check, she learned that she had just received a text, and she grinned when Katsuki gave her a look of curiosity. But she quickly hid it when Katsuki stepped to her side, though decided to speak of their food. “Want anything?” his monotonous tone questioned.

“I’ll take the nachos,” Camie decided before saying, “Excuse me, fam. But I believe I was brought into a recommendation by a friend of yours.” She brought out the phone again, pointing to it while Katsuki’s head throbbed. Friend, she said? Please let it not be who he thought it was.

“Who?”

“Kirishima,” was Camie’s jubilant answer.

Ugh! What does he want?!” Katsuki demanded. His hands racked through his hair, ready to tear it off into chunks of pale blonde. How Eijiro even knew of this meeting, Katsuki didn’t care to know. But when they met face-to-face, he was sure to burn the redhead’s entire wardrobe.

“Reminder, actually,” Camie responded. “He wants us to buy you a new toothbrush. You’ve broken quite a few this week, I heard.” From the shock Katsuki might’ve been displaying, she pressed a finger over her lip, her expression calculating. “Hmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that out loud, fam. It’s embarrassing to let a girl hear.”

Katsuki stiffened. Her point itself was what made him feel a bit humiliated by the fact. Not letting defeat overwhelm him, Katsuki placed his hands in his pockets, a grin forming. “So? We might miss the movie. Why’d care about my dental hygiene now of all days? It’s not like I’m gonna blow any stupid birthday cake or anything. That’s for baby bones.”

“Fair.” Camie fiddled with the tips of her hair. “Still, your breath isn’t the most pleasant. You had a sandwich before coming here, didn’t you?” She giggled, shoulders bouncing. “Sorry again! Imma bit happy is all! It’s your birthday!” She threw her hands up, wrapping them around his neck, the sudden action making Katsuki stumble.

He kept their balance, his feet strong enough to hold both of them as his hands protectively gripped her sides. They stared at each other in the eyes for a while, his ruby eyes and her chocolate ones deep in concentration, sweeping over the features of the other.

“Get a room, love birds,” a random teenager said to them as he passed by.

Quickly releasing each other, Katsuki’s hand was engulfed in spasmed explosions as he yelled, “What did you say?!” repeatedly at the kid, who sniggered.

“Katsuki,” Camie piped in, tapping a fingernail on his collarbone. “The toothbrush,” she reminded him cheerily.

Letting the flames disappear, Katsuki huffed. “You infuriate me,” he mumbled. “I’d burn you first before I do so with everyone else. Well, you and Deku.”

Camie scoffed playfully. “That’s all you want, hon.” She massaged his biceps. “Although, with muscles like this, I think you’d be a man to be able to pull it off.” She squeezed them, her fingers meeting hard skin beneath her touch. “Not to mention that freaking awesome quirk of yours. You’re bound to at least get to the top ten.”

Obviously satisfied with the comment, Katsuki lifted his head up. “That’s the next generation’s number one for you, Utsushimi. It’s how I roll.” He let a spark run across his palm, and Camie giggled. He lowered his hand, a frown returning to his features. “Don’t laugh at me, woman. I’m serious.”

“Ooh! Scary!” Camie cowered with false fear.

“Don’t make me choke you,” he warned.

“I’m sure you won’t,” Camie said with a challenging tone. She checked her watch, then gripped his hand as she confirmed the advancement of their arrival. The movie started in another hour, enough time for them to be able to buy the much-needed toothbrush of Katsuki Bakugo. “C’mon, fam!” She pulled him off, and his only protest was a grunt.

She dragged them quickly, her pace swift as they ran over to the closest Pharmacy. As they entered, the bright, pale green walls of the store gathered in their gazes, the pale luminosity of the room matching the bottles of medicine that lined the equally pale shelves. On their right, they saw the pedicures, on their left, the shampoo. Katsuki groaned again, hoping that no one else familiar were going to see the two of them here.

Camie walked close to the counter, getting a pack of toothbrushes off the shelf. “Check this one, Baku-boy. There are three colors in this: red, blue, and yellow! Ooh! They’re All Might’s colors! You’d love this one!” She showed it to him.

“Or primary colors,” he pointed out. He just then realized how true that the hero’s colors were that of the basic color wheel. What are the odds.

“So you don’t want these ones?” She pouted.

Katsuki scoffed, grabbing the pack from her hands as he checked it in every angle. “Dang, as if it matters! Why would Kirishima even text you about something as shallow as a toothbrush?” He faltered then, a sudden realization hitting him. “Wait, why do you even have Kirishima’s number? I haven’t even seen you speak with him in person!” he demanded.

Camie just released a breath, one that indicated how much joy she got out of this experience. “Bakugo, is it wrong to have the number of your boyfriend’s best friend?”

Now Katsuki was really pissed. “WE’RE NOT DATING!” he yelled, his lungs aching with the effort.

But she only chuckled, sweeping her hair over a shoulder. “I never said we were. You’re so defensive. Couldn’t a boyfriend be a male compadre? Do you really need to take it that literally?” She casually plucked the pack from his hands, twisting her body the other way smoothly. “Besides, if there was anything wrong with you, Kirishima will have easy contact to me. I’ll be there to cheer you up soon.” She winked.

Katsuki shoved his hands into the pockets of his pants. “And you?” he asked lowly, controlling the urge of his words becoming a whisper. “If anything happens to you? I have no other contact.” The way he said it made Camie’s eyes soften in a way he was unfamiliar with. Not wanting her pity, Katsuki growled. “Who’s even paying for the toothbrushes anyway?”

“Has to be me,” Camie said. “It’s your birthday. I might even make this my gift to you.” She grinned happily, and Katsuki’s insides calmed.

“Fine. Whatever.” He shrugged. Walking up to the counter and the line that had a bit of length, Katsuki noticed the bit of color sticking out from the pocket of Camie’s shorts. He squinted, but had a hard time identifying what the object was. It caught the light, and the way it was folded in her pocket made the thing look like soft plastic. “Hey, what’s that bull?” he asked.

“Hmm?” Camie peered to her side, and her shoulder tensed. But she laughed, waving a hand in a dismissive manner. “Oh, it’s nothing, fam! Don’t be too inquisitive on what’s unimportant!” She immediately shifted the subject, turning to him fully. “So, how long have you and Kirishima been friends?”

“Why care about that crap?” Katsuki snarled.

“You two are my BroTP,” she replied with jubilee. “Ya know, a brotherhood kind of ship. Capeesh?”

“Like I care about that sort of Millennial bull,” he hissed. “Why’d you even think that?”

Sighing, Camie placed a hand on her hip. Her way of smiling told Katsuki that it was better that he hadn’t asked. “This will take a bit explaining. So be quiet, boy.” She placed a slim finger over her lip. “So to begin, let’s say he’s a supportive bro, willing to do what’s best for you even in the most dire of situations. I was told of your capture, by the League of Villains, and he, along with a group of your friends in school, came to rescue you, in a way that didn’t break the law. By that, I see the bond both of you have, and that’s exactly the type of chemistry in a BroTP!” She lowered her finger. “Not to mention the many times you and he agreed to be together, in terms of groups and competitions. You make the ultimate brotherhood banger!”

“So that’s mine and his status. How about ours?” The question was out before he even had the chance to stop himself.

Clearly, even Camie was surprised by the question. It took a moment before she had the chance to respond, but when she did, she had a light flush on her cheeks. “Well, I want to think we’re friends, at least that’s for me. How about you?”

Katsuki found renewed interest on the floor as he scoffed. “I don’t care. That’s all there is, isn’t there?” He didn’t know how to actually answer the question, and was unsure if he even said the right one. Katsuki shut his eyes, picturing the times she had made him laugh, in a way no other had managed to make him do. The memories filled his head with a slide-show of some sort, some featuring the faces of Shoto Todoroki and the other Shiketsu morons he already forgot the names of.

“We’re next, fam,” Camie announced, snapping him out into attention.

“Oh, right,” he muttered as she handed the cashier guy the pack.

 


 

About an hour later, the movie had ended, and the duo had decided to go to the dorms of UA. Katsuki was skeptical on why she wanted to take him there, but he wasn’t going to complain. Despite how awkward things might have gotten at times, he couldn’t deny that he had a good time today, her presence illuminating this day of his birth. He contemplated about turning to his parents’ house instead, and inviting Camie there, but he had the feeling it were better if he told his folks beforehand.

Yet perhaps if they were all in the same place, things would get a little embarrassing. He was well aware of a parent’s ability to make their child look like an idiot in front of their friends. His mother wouldn’t hesitate to show Camie his baby pictures, and she’d snap for Katsuki to shut up if he even dared protest against it. As for his father, he’d roll with his wife, maybe while entertaining Camie with stories behind each image.

Forget it. The dorms was a better option.

As they walked, Camie’s fingers laced into his. Katsuki felt heat shudder through his body at the mere touch, but he didn’t want her to notice any emotion out of it. He kept himself as flat-faced as possible, raising his chin to the orange skies that indicated dusk.

“Did you like it?” she asked him, keeping her hand in his.

“Sucked,” Katsuki groaned. “The villain’s such an idiot. He should have killed the whole cast. Instead of being a tad bit too kind.” His smile was sinister and bloodthirsty.

“It’s his mission,” Camie said. “He had no intentions to get rid of everyone else.”

“That’s why the script sucks,” Katsuki stated, then lowered his head again. His eyes gave her a sideways glance. “Hey, Camie. I don’t really know how to properly do this, but I didn’t have a horrible time today. The best gratitude I can give you is taking you out for dinner. You didn’t make my day of my mother’s birth to me too bad as I had expected.”

Amusement danced in her eyes. “So you’re basically saying ‘thank you’ to me? Jeez, why is it so hard for you to be nice? You’re such a tsundere sometimes, seriously.” She wrapped her other hand around his arm. “Really, it’s quite cute.”

Huffing, Katsuki didn’t protest against her. “Whatever. C’mon, let’s go to that one restaurant.”

“No, I want to go to your dorm. I want to see what it’s like there in UA.”

“Fine.” He rolled his eyes.

When they approached the building end entered, the lights were all shut, the constant whispering silencing at the sight of Katsuki and Camie. Katsuki cursed in his mind, already anticipating what was going to happen, and wasn’t surprised when the lights flipped open, and a cacophony of sounds rang all at once: whistles, mini explosions, and horns. Each student from Class 1A stood with multicolored party hats perched on their heads, mouths stretched in wide smiles as they all said, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” in unison.

Katsuki didn’t budge.

“Hey, Bakugo!” Eijiro Kirishima walked over, a white shirt peaking underneath his unbuttoned PE uniform top. “Hope you had a good time with Utsushimi! We all had to arrange this party for almost hours, just to make things right!”

“We made cake and everything!” Rikido Sato exclaimed, pulling out a strawberry cake with an ice figuring of Katsuki on top, smiling boldly in his hero costume.

“They made me do that,” Shoto Todoroki monotonously stated, his finger pointing to the direction of the figure.

“And we have gifts!” Denki Kaminari added, approaching with two boxes balanced in his arms. “Some of us had to get these last minute, so we’re sorry if they kinda look crappy. But that’s okay! It’s the heart that counts, right?”

Katsuki’s eyes scanned the setup, the cloth that had ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BAKUGO’ hanging from wall to wall, the confetti that littered the floor, and his classmates who had gathered around to greet him. Tenya Iida nodded at him enthusiastically, while beside him, Fumikage Tokoyami crossed his arms without interest. Mina Ashido and Toru Hagakure stood next to each other, the pink girl’s face with anticipation. Izuku Midoriya was standing beside Rikido, the birthday cake’s sculpture beginning to melt.

And when he looked at Camie, he saw the satisfaction on her face, the happiness she had for him to receive such a heartwarming welcome from his classmates.

But he didn’t want any of this.

All day, he felt his gift being out in the mall with Camie. To know it was a distraction all along returned the dark feeling to his insides, and any joy he had prior to this surprise vanished away. The pack of toothbrushes suddenly felt heavy in his pocket as he turned to Camie. “Can I talk with you?”

“Sure, fam,” she said with excitement, but even she knew there was something off.

He led her out of the dorm, shutting the door in the faces of the rest of the class. When they were truly alone, Katsuki said in a low tone, “Were you part of this from the start?” He was ready to hear her words that would make him feel betrayed, but they never came. Instead, she smiled fondly at him.

“No! I really wanted to hang out with you! Someone must have spotted me at the mall earlier and reported it to Kirishima before we met up. I mean, that’s my only conclusion.” She shrugged. “Still, I have to apologize. Though the blonde boy said that they all had gifts, I wasn’t able to contribute to that. You won’t open anything from me later, fam.”

Smirking, Katsuki grabbed her waist. “Who are you kidding? The mall and the movie itself was the best gift I could have received.”

Her expression was brighter than before after hearing those words. “Katsuki!”

“Heck yeah,” the boy smirked, and was ready to pull her face closer to his.

Happy birthday, young Bakugo!” All Might’s vibrant voice yelled, and the two found him landing on the ground next to them in his muscled form. Upon realizing he entered at the wrong moment, he spat blood out and poofed into his skinny, real form, rubbing his nape sheepishly with an apologetic smile. “Well, this is embarrassing,” he chuckled. “Anyway, would you two care for some cake inside?”

Katsuki and Camie exchanged a glance before both grinned.

“Sure. Why not?” Camie said for both of them.

Chapter Text

“Stop moving! The thermometer won’t be able to do its job if you keep squirming!”

Then don take ma temperata! Jeez!

Denki Kaminari scowled first, but a triumphant smile crept its way afterwards as he victoriously slammed his fist on Eijiro’s chest, shutting the redheaded boy up enough to stop his squirming, and in answer, still the standing of the thermometer in his mouth. Eijiro no longer protested, but he gave Denki a sharp glare, almost as slicing as his Quirk permitted.

“Dude, you’re such a pushover,” Denki said, strapping a surgical mask over his mouth. He already had gloves on, so Eijiro had the opinion that the blonde was starting to get a little overboard with the look. How he even managed to get the mask and the gloves, Eijiro didn’t care to know. But Denki’s wish for fantasy in the real world never stopped him from his games of make-believe. Turns out that maybe Eijiro was his victim this time. “How’d you even get sick anyway? It isn’t like you, ya know.”

Eijiro spat out the thermometer aggressively, and it splat onto the floor. “Dude, I don’t care. I got a bit of a flu, so what? It’s not like I can’t train anymore or something.” To express his point, Eijiro sat up from the couch in the dorm’s common area with little difficulty, ignoring the ping of ache that erupted in his skull. But in the end, Eijiro’s back was straight, his eyes digging into Denki’s ignorant expression.

“Yeah, Mister Prove-me-wrong,” Denki mused, eyes rolling towards the ceiling. He stood up, shifting the folds in his school uniform. “If you can really go to training, then why did Recovery Girl tell you to get some sleep and not attend class today?”

Eijiro was furious at the fact that Denki had a point--Denki wasn’t supposed to be right, was supposed to be one of the dumbest people in class. There were reasons that he was paired up with Mina against Principal Nezu, reasons that Eijiro never tried to tease them with. They were his friends, after all, so the most he did for them was to make them feel good. But rarely was Denki even above average, yet his current words were enough to punch Eijiro’s pride straight in the middle.

Amused by his silence, Denki boldly placed his hands on his hips. “I rest my case.” He leaned forward, flicking a strand of Eijiro’s non-gelled hair off his face.

“Kaminari,” Kyoka Jiro’s voice called from behind him. She raised a brow, a hand on her hip as the other toyed with her earphones, her expression unreadable. “What are you even doing to him? Making him feel worse? You’re the absolute worst doctor in the world.” She stepped away, earning high-pitched protests from Denki as he followed her, tearing off the mask and gloves. Eijiro shook his head at the sight, finding comfort in the truth that he was to be bothered less by Denki for the rest of the morning.

“Hey, sick boy.”

Speak of the devil, Eijiro didn’t bother to turn as Minoru Mineta propped himself on the spot next to him, visibly adjusting his tie to get on Eijiro’s nerves. The latter merely leaned back, crossing his legs as he spread his arms over the backrest of the sofa. “What,” he deadpanned.

“Don’t look so down,” Minoru reassured, but didn’t sound like he really meant it. “I’m sure you’ll be okay tomorrow! Just try to catch Zs for today to get your body healthy. Everyone else’s are, so you should do the same.” He flexed his nonexistent muscles.

Smirking, Eijiro pulled up the sleeves of his plain white shirt. “I have more muscle than you could even have, Mineta.” He flexed, proud of himself with Minoru’s scowl.

“Grow up, Mineta,” Hanta Sero said, walking up behind the couch as he peered over with his signature smile. “Don’t fret, Kirishima. I’ll promise you I’ll let you copy my notes later tonight, okay? As long as no one hides them.” He shot Minoru an accusing glare that made the smaller boy walk off tensely.

“Thanks, man,” Eijiro said, giving Hanta a fist bump before sneezing.

“Oh,” Hanta said, pulling back his hand. “You really do got a cold. Well, rest up! You’ll be ready tomorrow hopefully!” He ran over to the door as their other classmates exited the place. “And if you ask me,” Hanta added, “you should rest up in your room. Not here in this dusty place.” He gestured to the place.

Finally, Eijiro received a clamp on the shoulder from Katsuki Bakugo, who smirked at the sick boy menacingly, red eyes gleaming. He then went over and joined the rest of the class before Hanta closed the door behind all nineteen of them.

Alone, Eijiro slumped back, reaching for the remote of the television. When he pressed the button that turned the TV on, he was greeted by a Spanish telenovela, a man and woman talking in front of a window with pouring rain outside that streaked the view with shades of gray.

¡Tu nunca me amaste! ¡Fue todo un engaño instalarte con esa estúpida chica del teatro!” The girl from the screen was yelling, her eyes brimming with tears.

¡Estás siendo egoísta, Minerva! ¿Por qué me acusarías de algo tan atroz?” The man barked back at her.

Without the subtitles, Eijiro could only snort in disgust. What these two people spoke of, he was unaware, giving him the opportunity to make up words on the spot that could mean absolutely anything. As the lady began speaking again, his mind played with words, and he found himself laughing like a lunatic on his own here in the silence of the dorms. He had the feeling too, that the kind of sentences he brewed were enough to give him cleaning duty from All Might and Mr. Aizawa.

Things about beds. Stuff about missing garments. Those stuff.

The male spoke, and Eijiro came up with another set of inappropriate sentences that would make Minoru jealous. He kept himself entertained this way for the time being, though a part of him did try to decipher what the flow of the story was through context clues. What he got was…interesting.

The woman was sixteen-years-old, depressed from the huge amount of bullying she received wherever she went, no matter what school she went to. She met this boy who she fell in love with, and who loved her back, and all this while, he was protecting her from her urges to cut her wrists with the blades of her knife collections, until the day she discovered that he went out with a girl from the theatre that she spotted him making out with. Now the lovers were in the midst of battle.

It was this moment that Eijiro stopped making fun of the show and began watching it intensely.

With it on marathon, he had discovered a new-found interest that he wouldn’t have realized if he had gone to school. Hours went by, and Eijiro had a bowl of Cheetos in hand, eyes fixated on the screen, wide with intrigue.

The girl--named Minerva--stepped out of her classroom one day after telling her ex that she deeply loved him. Though the boy didn’t think much of her message, Eijiro knew what she was up to. He stopped his eating to concentrate as Minerva opened the door of her house, her dark hair falling over her face like Sadako. As she rushed up the stairs, Eijiro hugged his legs to his chest, feeling the emotions in his chest begin running raw.

When Minerva reached the bedroom, she opened her drawer, revealing the collection of knives that Eijiro had seen her complete throughout the entire series. But before she managed the first slash on her wrist, Minerva caught something at the corner of her eye shaped like a…

“Holy crap! No!” Eijiro screamed out loud.

The scene cut to her ex-boyfriend--Connor, his brown hair cast over his eyes as he scribbled on his notebook. His internal dialogue and facial expressions showed that he had a bad feeling, and he raised his hand, making an excuse that allowed him to leave the classroom. But he didn’t go to the restroom like he might’ve said he would. Instead, he turned and bolted out of the school itself, running speedily directly to the house of Minerva.

But Eijiro knew that Connor was already too late.

The pain of the scene felt like it was clawing at Eijiro then, the thought of someone you really cared about suddenly getting lost because of the wrongdoings caused by your decisions. He pictured his inability to rescue Katsuki back at the Forests, the result being the fall of All Might, now reduced to a weaker man.

He couldn’t imagine himself being that helpless again, especially not to any of his closest friends.

Just as Connor reached the front door, the door itself to the dorm opened, and Eijiro dropped the bowl of Cheetos in surprise, quickly going for the remote and changed the channel, with Mina Ashido and Denki Kaminari entering the place, the female carrying a tray of food, Denki with boxes of juices.

“What’re you two doing here?!” Eijiro yelped, his voice cracking.

“Bringing you lunch,” Denki announced with puzzlement, brows pressed. “Why are you so shaken up? It’s just a nature show.”

Eijiro glanced at the channel he had switched the television to, and sighed at the sight of a mother bird feeding her chicks. So much for an exciting climax to an interesting series. “Ah. Just the circle of life, I guess,” he said instead.

“...right,” Mina said, placing the tray on the table in front of the couch. “Anyway, I hope you’ll still eat what we’ve brought you. I mean…” She chuckled nervously, scanning the mess of Cheetos that had scattered on the floor. “Look at all those Cheetos. I feel like you’ve had a good morning.” She set herself to Eijiro’s right as Denki sat at his left.

“Bro, this is boring as heck,” he commented, inserting a fry into his mouth. “Mind if we flip the channel?”

“Knock yourself out,” Eijiro said with a shrug, even while he cared about what might happen in the process.

“Cool.” Denki picked up the remote and pressed the Next Button. Immediately, it flashed back to the Spanish telenovela Eijiro was watching earlier, where Connor was staring at the hanging body of his beloved, hovering over a pool of blood and knives. Connor collided to his knees as both Denki and Mina shrieked in horror. “DANGIT! DANGIT DANGIT!” Denki cried, shielding his eyes from the screen. “Please tell me to change the channel!” he begged them.

“Wait, wait!” Mina protested, fanning her hands over Eijiro and Denki. “What even is going on here? Are you sure you want to change it?” On the screen, Connor had approached the limp body of Minerva and propped her body into his arms, ignoring the blood absorbed by his school uniform as he began weeping for his lost love.

Feeling his eyes begin stinging, Eijiro said “Flip the channel” hurriedly as he lowered his head to avoid the spoilers.

Denki pressed the button, and they landed on a cooking show, with a robot as its main chef. “Phew…” Denki moaned. “That was horrifying. Don’t ya think so, guys?”

“Y-yeah!” Eijiro agreed, forcing in his distaste and his frown of disapproval.

“But it was a romantic scene!” Mina explained to them. “I would have wanted to watch it! You boys and your hatred towards a true story that tugs your heartstrings!” She crossed her arms and pouted like a child whose toy was taken.

Snapping his fingers repeatedly at her, Denki scoffed. “Ashido, it’s all about invulnerability. We’d look like total dorks if we let something as petty as romantic shows raw us. It’s stupid!”

“It is not stupid!” Mina yelled. “Tell him, Kirishima!”

Normally, Eijiro would agree and side with Denki on these things, but he couldn’t deny that he too had a connection with a much more vulnerable side. So as to not let anyone down, he smiled at them and leaned back on the couch, a chopstick of noodles entering his mouth as he did so. “I’ve no opinion on it,” he said.

“You killjoys!” Mina angrily shrieked, standing up from the sofa, waving her arms frantically. “What’s with you and your manliness personas?! Why are you so scared of being someone else beneath all that thick skin you keep showing off so narcissistically?! If you ask me, your brains are even thicker than your skin!”

“Woah! That is rude!” Denki gasped as Eijiro pressed his head into his hands with a groan.

She stubbornly raised her chin. “You’re one to talk, Kaminari. You and Mineta.”

“Oh, now you’re trying to get all Plus Ultra there,” Denki grit his teeth, starting to lose his patience.

“Yo, yo!” Eijiro interrupted them, standing himself to put his body between them. “Why don’t we just continue eating? We can continue this debate some other time, when there aren’t any classes for you guys after this.” He laughed nervously, but was relieved when the tension between the two of them lifted slightly.

“Fine, just because you say so, Kirishima,” Mina concluded, retaking her seat as she began eating.

“Cheers,” Denki piped in without enthusiasm.

Oh boy. Eijiro ignored the voice of the robot on TV as the three of them ate in silence.

 


 

When he received Hanta’s notes later that night, Eijiro didn’t immediately go into jutting them down into his own notebook. Instead, he hopped into the internet, looking for the actual telenovela in the internet, and where he could watch the rest of the episodes, hopefully with subtitles.

As soon as Mina and Denki left, Eijiro didn’t want to see the rest of the series with its spoilers. So he had went up to his room and napped as Recovery Girl instructed, waking up just in time as the rest of his classmates arrived back. Luckily, Eijiro had cleaned up the Cheetos, now long gone and retired to the silence of the garbage bin. Not even the carpet was stained, each crumb with the rest of its body, allowing his classmates to enjoy themselves with video games and games of truth or dare.

But Eijiro’s plans were different.

He had told them that he was going to catch up on their notes, but in truth, he was going to binge-watch. So when he found the website, he locked his door and shut the lights at the back of his manly room. He readied the dinner he managed to buy minutes before the rest arrived, and leaned back, his hair wet with a fresh bath.

He couldn’t lie when he said that the show was even better this way. He had better understanding on the details of the characters, like how the parents of Minerva were alcoholic and abusive. As for Connor, he was always picked on by his older brother and his gang.

So the death of Minerva was much more heart-wrenching when he actually watched it that Eijiro’s palms constantly found a spot by his eyes. Leaning back on his chair, he saw Connor cry for an ambulance, the neighbors of Minerva gasping and getting their phones, a man named Chris getting Minerva and setting her down on the couch inside her house as his wife tried to calm Connor down.

A knock erupted from the other side of the door, and Eijiro quickly lowered the monitor of his laptop as he wiped his eyes. Switching on the lights, he opened the door, and standing in front of him was Izuku Midoriya. The boy’s oversized All Might t-shirt would have emitted a laugh from Eijiro if he weren’t watching what he just did.

“Midoriya!” Eijiro pushed a cheery tone out. “What brings you here?”

“Hey, Kirishima,” he greeted with a wave. “I was just wondering if you were done with me and Sero’s notes? Not that we need them or anything, but we just wanted to know if you were done with them. It is almost nine-thirty, after all.”

“Really?” Eijiro searched for the wall clock in his room. “Shoot, you’re right.” He returned his attention to Izuku. “Is it okay if I give them to you tomorrow? I’m not yet done with them.” And by not done, not started at all.

Blinking, Izuku nodded. “Ah, yes, of course. Don’t worry about it--I’ll just tell Sero. Goodnight for now,” he said as he stepped back, giving Eijiro space to close the door.

“Yeah, man. Don’t sweat it,” Eijiro said with a bob of a head.

When he returned to the chair, he raised his screen, resuming to watch the telenovela he got unexpected interest in.

Hours passed. Slowly, all the lights in the Heights Alliance went out, each student slowly falling into a relaxing slumber. The only light remained from the screen of Eijiro Kirishima’s laptop.

It was about one-thirty in the morning, and Mina Ashido was thirsty. Leaving her bed, Mina left her room, yawning as her fluffy slippers slid her across the floor of the building. But before she could reach the stairs, she found one of the rooms of the boys having a slightly ajar door. Recollecting her thoughts, Mina recalled the floor being shared with Katsuki, Eijiro, and Mezo. She tip-toed towards the room at the left, her pink ears pressing onto its texture.

Snoring, a peaceful sound that was heard from any sleeping male. This was a kind of peaceful way to snore, and because she was familiar with it, she came to the conclusion that it belonged to Katsuki. As she began to move, she realized the greenish signs next to the doors indicating who owned the room.

Stupid, she thought as she face-palmed.

So the door was Eijiro’s, she concluded as she moved on towards his door. She peeped slightly, praying that no one would suddenly catch her peaking into a boy’s room, and hoping she didn’t see him naked or anything like that. But what she saw just surprised her.

Eijiro’s back was facing her as he ate ice cream, his eyes fixed on the drama they were flashed earlier on the television screen. The boy was sitting alone on a chair in the middle of the cemetery dressed in black, probably from the burial of the girl who committed suicide.

But it was Eijiro that startled her the most. He looked so distraught, so broken, his hair a mess that he might not have needed to gel it anymore from how it looked all over the place. His skin was pale, his oversized clothes matted with ice cream.

Mina didn’t remember the last time she had seen him this way, as this sight scared her in a way. Eijiro Kirishima, a boy so focused on strength and manliness, alone in one in the morning with a dramatic series playing in front of his face. The situation worried Mina, terrified her for what might be going on in his mind for him to do this to himself.

She pushed the door wider and whispered his name. “Kirishima?”

He flinched so violently that he dropped the ice cream, and the cold food collided with the ground. Now Mina understood why the Cheetos were the way they were when she and Denki entered the dorms earlier.

“A-Ashido?!” he stuttered, standing up. “What are you doing up in this hour?!” he hissed.

She entered the room and crossed her arms. “I’d ask the same of you, Red Riot. What happened to ‘I have no opinion on it’?”

Defeated and caught red-handed, Eijiro slumped back down on the seat. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d come over here. How’d you even get in here?”

“Obviously,” Mina began as she approached him, kicking his door shut. “Someone didn’t close their door earlier. It just so happened that I wanted to grab a glass of water that I noticed.” She sat on the edge of his bed, her foot sliding a sweaty shirt away from herself. “Now answer my question. Why?”

He deflated. “Why…what?”

“Don’t play dumb with me!” Mina ordered. “I saw you were watching that show! Why are you watching it?! What’s going on in your mind to bring you to see something so out of your interest, huh?”

“Ashido, it’s not like I’m…” he faltered, casting his eyes elsewhere. He had no idea what she was thinking, but his theories began forming in his mind. If it was the top theory that was the truth, Eijiro had to reassure her of the other. He didn’t want anyone to think of him something other than the truth. “I just stumbled across the show. I kind of found it interesting is all, not that I’ve been addicted in a bad way. But…I think you did shoot me in the face with facts earlier today.”

Mina narrowed her eyes. “What did I say?” she cautiously asked him.

“About vulnerability,” Eijiro said. “I mean, you were right about that. We don’t have to hide our emotions when we reveal our interests, right?” But he twisted her words. She never said anything about interests--that was all him. He had only absorbed her words after the talk, and he was watching way longer before it. He realized that he was trying to use it as an alibi for his current situation.

"Kirishima," Mina's voice cut through his thoughts, her tone so soft and sympathetic. He was unable to meet her eyes again when he saw the empathy her face showed. "Are you relating? To the series? In any sort of way?" There it was. The question that confirmed his suspicions on what was going on in her mind. There was no more doubt that she was thinking about contrasting Eijiro with Minerva.

But that wasn't the case. He didn't feel like that at all, but his situation with his insecurity of helplessness was enough for her to contemplate his decisions. He truly was happy, happy to be with Katsuki Bakugo, Denki Kaminari, Hanta Sero, class 1A, and her. 

Still, her care for him was one he hadn't expected. She was so tense, thoughts focused on the intentions of her childhood friend. "Eijiro," she pushed, emotion seeping its way with her words. "Please. Are you sure you're okay?"

"I promise," Eijiro rasped. He wasn't sad because he was helpless, but he was happy to learn that she cared enough for him to react this way. His vision blurred, and a laugh escaped, one that had joy so new to him.

"Kirishima?" Mina asked. As tears began flowing down his cheeks, Eijiro continued to laugh, leaving the chair to sit next to her on the bed. Her touch made its way onto his shoulder, then to his cheek as she lifted his head close to hers. "Kirishima...?" she asked again, but softer.

"Thank you," EIjiro said, getting her hand in his. Composing himself, he met her gaze. "For being so kind to me. Your reaction gives me the impression of your...care for me." He shrugged slightly. "I promise. Really. A Horn Buddy swear."

She eyed him quietly before speaking again.“That’s really your truth?” Mina rested her palms over his bed. “Fine. You’re manly and all, but you like Spanish dramas. What’s the shame for? Why not tell directly earlier? Was it because of Kaminari’s presence?” When he didn’t reply, Mina actually giggled. “Man, peer pressure, huh? I didn’t think that would get to you. You, so bold and everything, I can’t believe you can still surprise me sometimes.” She crossed her left leg over her right. “And I thought I knew everything about you. We had secrets, remember?”

Horn Buddies. That was what they were.

“I know, I know,” Eijiro said. “What will you do now? Tell the others?”

She laughed again, the sound startling him. “Of course not! You hid from the others for a reason, you know! Do you think I’m that heartless, Kirishima? No way! Do what you want! I won’t judge you.” She stood up. “In fact, I kind of feel like watching a bit of drama right now. Mind if I joined you, maybe even for a bit?”

Eijiro’s cheeks flushed. The pain of the scenes he had been watching reminded him of earlier’s visions that had been at Eijiro then, the thought of someone you really cared about suddenly getting lost because of the wrongdoings caused by your decisions. But instead of seeing Katsuki again, he saw Mina, a girl he had known since they were children, now in the same school with her, now one of those licensed heroes whose job is to protect.

He couldn’t imagine himself being helpless again, especially when he had so many people who loved and supported him.

Yes. Mina. Katsuki. All Might. Class 1A.

They themselves have become a family to Eijiro, one he could never let go to waste. So that was why he liked the show so much. No wonder Mina had mentioned a trace of being relatable earlier. It was these little things that could make someone the way he felt.

“Yeah. Yeah! Come on.” Eijiro went over to the desk and pulled out two pairs of headphones and attached them separately on the computer. “Can’t wake Bakugo up at two, can we?”

“Nope!” Mina smiled as she lowered herself to his side. “You know, I heard Mineta sneezing in class earlier today. Maybe while we’re in school tomorrow, he’d be the one home alone to watch these sort of stuff. It’s funny.”

“I think I just discovered a pro in being sick,” Eijiro joked at her as he readied the episode for both of them to watch.

Chapter Text

Laughter and music filled the air. These sounds were loud enough to drown out the sound of the rain that it was almost nonexistent, a faded thrumming on UA’s Heights Alliance. The class of 1A had decided to distract themselves on this after all, by playing games inside the place. Now the music was ear-piercing, music that would make even Present Mic impressed. Kyoka Jiro was behind the tunes, her body on the sofa as she toyed with her phone and a Bluetooth speaker, her head threw back as she laughed at her unfortunate friends.

The game of Musical Chairs had lasted for almost ten minutes now, the boys like Minoru and Denki slapping each other aggressively to gain the only empty chair. But being smaller, Minoru was overwhelmed, and Denki got the spot with a weird cackle of victory escaping his throat.

But it wasn’t like the entire class was part of the game too. Those who usually preferred keeping to themselves just watched from the sides, though they did have the tendency to crack a grin here and then when something hilarious happened. Part of this crowd was Tamaki Amajiki, as UA’s very own Big Three decided to come over earlier, only being trapped inside when the rain strengthened. So far, everyone was having a good time.

Kyoka stopped the music, and the kids scrambled for the remaining seats. Eijiro nearly tripped over Denki’s foot as he reached for one chair, and Denki was so distracted that he nearly missed one. Mina managed to grab one of the other seats and claimed it, with Ochaco and Momo having done the same. Toru’s floating outfit found its way last, leaving Izuku standing with bewilderment itched into his face.

“Don’t fret, Problem Child!” Mirio said from the couch, holding in laughs. Beside him, Tamaki leaned back, but not without a smile of his own.

“Yeah, Midoriya!” Hanta added, a can of cola gripped in his hand as he exited the kitchen’s direction. “You’ll do better next time!”

With a nod of determination, Izuku left the game and went to Tenya’s side by the windows.

“Next round!” Kyoka called out, and an American pop song filled the room, shaking it as the students all stood and danced happily around the last few chairs. Unlike many other teenagers who found dancing wildly in their ages embarrassing, the students of UA treated dancing like muscle memory, going for it like it was naturally a part of the way they moved. Their fluid movements glided across the floor, all the while keeping an eye on the closest chair.

Mina and Denki presented the most groove, their arms reaching out far as they kicked and swayed. Eijiro’s movements were consisting of snapping and skips, the occasional “Yeah!” getting released as he jumped up and down, a hardened fist punching the space beside him occasionally. Ochaco and Momo’s moves had less aplomb than the rest, but were cute enough that Minoru had to be slapped across the face multiple times by either Mezo's arms or by Dark Shadow himself every time he attempted to slip his hand over their hips when they passed by him.

It was Toru’s steps that were harder to trace, and in a way, that helped her. Her ability to fool them if she were already seated was a way to make their loss even more dissatisfying. She could easily press her hand on one of the chairs and rush to it when the song ended.

As if on cue, Kyoka halted the bouncy beat, and the kids rushed to the closest seat. Denki had nearly sat on Toru’s lap when she pushed him onto the seat next to her, which he managed to occupy before Momo got to it on time.

Kyaa!” she wailed. “I’m out!”

With a wolfish grin, Denki clicked his tongue at her with a purr. “You can sit on me if you want, Yaomomo.” He winked, and Momo’s nostrils flared in anger.

“No, thank you,” she said with annoyance and stomped away.

“Ooh,” Minoru whispered to Denki with a teasing tone. “Rejected.”

But Denki grinned at him in reply. “Says the one with two body guards.” As he said it, both Mezo and Dark Shadow squinted at Minoru, and the boy cowered with a groan and a sweaty forehead. It was a blessing Minoru was the first one terminated from the game. The opportunity for Dark Shadow to try scolding him was one he had been talking excitedly about to Fumikage for months now. At first, Fumikage and the rest had thought that he was just bluffing, but the sight of how seriously Dark Shadow was doing the job now opened them all to a new light.

The beats resumed again, and the remaining group danced along, the others standing by clapping along with small movements as they danced on their own with the music. As Toru passed by the spot of Yuga Aoyama and Hanta Sero, her ears managed to have a bit of an eavesdrop on their passing conversation.

The blonde boy tossed his hair back, his right hand tucked in his pocket, other making movements as he said to the ink-haired hero. “That Hagakure, I’d watch her, Mon amie. With her Quirk to blend in with the world around her, she could as easily sit down without anyone noticing. Don’t you agree?”

“Really? That’s what you think?” Hanta replied, tilting the can as he made its insides swirl.

Oui.” Yuga nodded. “It shouldn’t come as a shock that some of us in class are rebellious at times. I don’t see why she won’t use her Quirk for her own self-appeal at times.”

Hanta weighed his reply, and Toru felt his eyes following her as she danced around the circle of chairs. “Maybe. Would you really distrust her though, Aoyama? When’s the last time you saw her even cheat?” He took a sip of the soda, and his eyes widened, suddenly spitting out what he had just drank. “Ugh!” He swiped his lip with his wrist, eyes burning. “That isn’t soda! I-is this concentrate?! Who’d even do this?!”

Yuga got the can from his hand and read the label. “Oui. It’s concentrate,” he confirmed.

Hanta swore so loud and filthily that many heads turned his way, including Toru’s.

So when Kyoka stopped the music, Hanta’s distraction was Toru’s moment of weakness. She attempted to get to one of the occupied chairs, but Eijiro got there first, and she was the last one standing. “Oh! Dang it!” she cried out, stomping on the ground impatiently as others laughed at both her and Hanta’s misfortune.

“In the nick of time,” Eijiro breathed in relief as Denki smiled beside him.

Toru defeatedly walked over towards Tsuyu and Momo, arms crossed. “Thanks a lot, Sero!” Toru exclaimed.

Heavily slamming the can on the table, Hanta walked away, clearly still pissed off by the taste of the drink. But as he walked, his steps got heavier, his stomach rumbling with acids that wished to spill out. Hanta cupped a hand over his mouth as he picked up the pace and went over to the other room. Meanwhile, Yuga winked at Toru, and she felt the hairs on her arms rise at the move. “Aoyama! You aren’t off the hook as well!” she blurted out, and Yuga stopped waving. “I’m not a cheater!”

“Oh?” Yuga said with a grin. “That’s what this is about?” He chuckled. “I did not know you were so defensive, Hagakure.”

“I’ll show you! I’m not a cheater!” Toru fumed. “I’ll win the next round of Musical Chairs without needing to feel the bases of the seats! Just you wait!”

Eyebrows rising, Yuga’s expression shifted from challenging to surprised. “You heard all of that?” he asked.

Scoffing, Kyoka adjusted her position on the couch. “Duh. Obviously,” she said.

“Then it’s official!” Toru yelled, the entire room having their eyes on her floating garments as she announced boldly. “In the next round, I am going to be the champ! I’ll prove to you boys that not just me but not all girls are cheaters! We’re independent and strong on our own! Amma right, ladies?!”

Tsuyu and Momo raised hesitant fists, smiling nervously as they did so. “Yay…!”

“Yeah!” Mina said from her seat in the circle. “You show ‘em dumb boys, Toru!” She cackled menacingly. “Yeah! Yeah! Women rights!”

“Ah-ah-ah,” said Eijiro, waving his index finger. “If that’s the case, then in the next round, only Hagakure would be allowed to play, the rest of the competitors boys. In that way, we’d know that no one else would try to cheat their way into her victory. Do we have a deal?” He flashed Mina a toothed grin.

“Deal!” Mina stole his hand and shook it violently, Eijiro’s face hilariously startled. Seeing Mina and Eijiro’s handshake, Toru felt her confidence begin dropping.

“Don’t you think we should pick out some guys to play in the next round first?” Denki asked them, elbow propped onto the backrest of his chair. “I’m down for the next is an emphasis I’d like to make. Kirishima, you in with me, bro?”

“Heck yeah,” Eijiro replied, releasing Mina’s hand to form a fist. “Midoriya, you should come along too. And Aoyama as well. Tokoyami, Todoroki, would you two want to dance with us?”

“No,” both Shoto and Fumikage simply said in unison.

Izuku raised his hands up. “Woah, woah, I don’t think I really want to do this either. I mean, it feels kind of unfair for the girls. Do we really have to challenge them this way?”

“Yes, Deku!” Ochaco answered with an excited gleam in her eyes. “It’s a challenge for us! By doing this, we can prove our worth! Don’t think that you’re going to down our spirits! We have strength! Just believe in us!” She shot him a thumbs up, and Izuku turned pink. “So c’mon! Join the boys’ team!”

Sighing, Izuku nodded. “Yeah, okay,” he said, convinced enough. He was wise enough to balance his feelings on these situations, and he must have felt the light weight the competition really was. But that didn’t stop him from giving Toru a sorry look, one that made the invisible girl sweat even more.

Denki turned towards the wall that separated the common room to the kitchen, beaming. “How ‘bout you, Sero? Wanna join the dance group?”

Hanta stepped in, his hand clutching the wall tightly, body bent lower as his other arm wrapped his stomach. He looked greener, sickly so as he approached them, eyes red and skin pale. “No thanks,” he weakly said, and he suddenly ran back into the kitchen after his eyes widened, nausea forming in his mouth from what he might have swallowed from the ex-soda.

As everyone else watched him retreat, Minoru said, “I want to join the mix! I bet my speed will get Hagakure’s butt on me before she even realizes that I was there.” He giddily laughed. “I can’t wait to tickle her hovering shorts.”

No!” Eijiro and Mina yelled at him at the same time. “That’s nasty,” Eijiro added, cringing.

“Additional detail,” Denki said, standing up. “We can’t have Jiro as the DJ for this little competition.”

“What? Why?” Kyoka’s face morphed to disbelief.

Denki shot her a finger-gun. “Because you’re a girl. You’ve got deep bias. And even Sero wouldn’t be permitted to do it even if he weren’t sick. He’d be biased for us. We need someone who won’t care enough to even care about the competition, but say ‘yes’ because he or she’s a pushover.”

Kaminari!” Kyoka, Eijiro, and Izuku shouted. A few people began grinning at the fact that there have been a lot of unison shouts despite the conversation having lasted for perhaps not even a minute yet. Toru herself cracked an invisible grin, but her heart began pounding at the spot she had put herself into. She was in so much trouble.

“Hello?!”

The class turned, and a few flushed at the fact that they forgot that the Big Three of UA were actually inside the room with them. Mirio looked like he was going to explode with laughter anytime soon, with Tamaki looking up at the youngsters through the dark hair that fell over his face. It was Nejire who called the class’s attention, and the periwinkle-haired heroine had a huge smile on as she pointed her two index fingers towards Tamaki’s direction.

“You can use Amajiki!” she animatedly offered. “I’m sure he won’t mind!”

“Hado…” Tamaki whispered, but no one heard him but himself.

“But so there still won’t be any bias,” Nejire continued, “we blindfold him! He won’t hesitate to keep that thing on his face! It’ll be so much fun!” She pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, which was the color of ice. She then handed it to Tamaki, who took it without further words. Mirio regarded them, stretching his arms over the backrests of the couch.

“You okay with that?” Mirio whispered lowly to Tamaki. The blonde hoped that Nejire’s suggestion didn’t offend him, especially after Denki’s adjectives.

“Yeah…” Tamaki muttered back. He played with the tips of the indigo handkerchief, trying not to catch anybody’s eyes. “I mean…” The corners of his lips lifted in a tiny smile, Tamaki Amajiki style. “…this could be really fun. I just hope I won’t mess it up.”

“You’ll do fine,” Mirio reassured him before his spirits could fall. With a clap on the shoulder, Mirio relaxed his posture on the couch again.

“Alright then!” Denki said, rubbing his hands together. “We’ll just finish this round, then we’re gonna have out Boys versus Girls activity.” He smirked, shadows passing over his eyes, and his face turned sadistic. “Or in this case, Boys versus Girl.” He cackled lowly.

As Yuga and Eijiro neared him, Toru was ready to collapse. There was absolutely no way she was going to be able to win this. These boys, they were going to put up a fight, and they weren’t going to stop until they know they’ve won. After that, who knows what will happen. The girls would likely be teased every day in school, all because of her. She knew that some of the girls here got easily offended when they received teasing, especially Momo and Kyoka. She wouldn’t be able to stand it if something rattled them because of her stupidity.

“C’mon,” Eijiro ushered to Kyoka. “Let’s continue the round.”

With a light nod, Kyoka continued to play the tunes, and the remaining few players began dancing again. Toru slumped onto the floor, and Tsuyu and Momo immediately hovered over her. She was going to be so dead to all of them.

“Hagakure-chan?” Tsuyu croaked.

“Oh my Cod!” Toru whined, but nobody was paying attention to her anymore, most eyes focused on the game. “What am I supposed to do?! There’s no way I’ll be able to get to the last chair on time! These boys will all be under my skin! Especially Aoyama-kun!” She leaned back against the sofa. “I’m sorry, girls. I can’t believe I did this.”

But Momo chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a game after all, and a lot of the boys here are actually more gentle than you think. Especially Midoriya. You don’t have to worry about losing. They’ll go easy on you, I think.” She looked at Tsuyu, but the smaller girl shook her head.

As Toru was about to just curl up into a ball, Nejire was at her side, the third-year giggling happily to herself. “Hi! You’re name’s Toru Hagakure, isn’t it? Well, let me just give you some support. You know, us girls work together, don’t we?” She squeezed Toru’s shoulder. “Let’s just have fun! Don’t let the weight of the situation suspend our ability to enjoy our time together during this rainy weather.” With a bob of her head, Nejire helped Toru sit up straighter. “Although, I do think it would be right to discuss how you would be spotted not cheating.”

“Right,” Tsuyu mumbled, a finger on her chin. “Aoyama-chan would have eyes at the back of his head.”

“Can you deactivate your invisibility?” Nejire asked.

“No!” Toru moped, extending the O in No. “Not even Mr. Aizawa could get rid of it, I think.” She recalled never really having had the need for him to do so. “So what am I supposed to do?”

“Dress her head to toe to get her shape formed.”

The group of girls turned at the sound of the male voice, seeing Mashirao Ojiro stepping towards them, obviously having come out of the shower, his pale hair glistening. And he smelled fragrant too, like flora Toru wasn’t familiar with. As soon as he was beside the girls, Toru blinked at him, but he didn’t see it. Instead, the next set of words came from Nejire, her face calculating as she rubbed her chin. “Huh, yes, that could be. But why do you care to help us females?”

His face darkened with a blush. “I want to help Hagakure,” he said lowly.

Silence in the group, save for the laughter from the players and its watchers when Ochaco was out of the game.

And from denial, Nejire’s face lit up. “Ohhh! I see! I see!” She swept her gaze over both Mashirao and Toru excitedly like a child’s. “Are you really though? A couple already, I mean.” Beside her, both Tsuyu and Momo began smiling, but across them, Toru and Mashirao flinched.

“Do we have to be one to be supportive?” Mashirao croaked, a muscle flickering in his jaw out of discomfort.

Nejire giggled, but waved a hand dismissively. “Okay, okay, whatever. I won’t pry anymore, kiddos.” She sat on the floor, crossing her legs as she rested her elbows on her knees. “So, what’s the plan, Tail Boy? Are you sure about this?”

Toru watched Mashirao closely, her senses tingling with the thought if he were here as a spy from the males’ group. But she was aware of his absence earlier, not even close to silent characters like Shoto and Fumikage. Maybe he really was here to help them. She wanted to trust him, as his solution was logical and plausible enough for the girls’ advantage. If that were the case, he really was such a good guy, a kind boy who didn’t get enough respect for what he did.

Mashirao said, “Well, the best way for no one to underestimate her is if they could completely see her. So what I think we should do is get her into a had to toe costume, something that will tell everyone that she is there, like her uniform, for example, and gloves, stockings, the like.” He took a breath. “Then for her head, we can give her a hat, a scarf, and maybe a mask to tell where her face is.”

“I think we’ll already know where her face is, Ojiro-chan,” Tsuyu pointed out.

“Of course,” Mashirao corrected. “It’s just for…certainty, anyway.”

“Ah!” Momo interrupted, a bright beam on her face. “I have just the thing.”

 


 

“This is gonna be so good,” Denki whispered to Eijiro minutes later, Izuku and Yuga beside them, the former still uncertain as he tried to search his way out of this one. Tamaki was being presented the controls by Kyoka at the couch as Mirio tied the handkerchief around his neck temporarily. Toru and a few of the other girls were nowhere to be seen at this moment, arising suspicion from a few other children.

“Where’s Hagakure?” Rikido asked the question that had been in almost everyone’s minds. Beside him, Hanta nodded in agreement, still looking pretty weak. He had white flower oil on a cotton ball, which he smelled occasionally when his head felt like spinning.

Arranging a chair into place, Mina shrugged. “I dunno. But I’m sure she’ll come around.” But she didn’t sound too sure about that.

“Think she chickened-out?” Minoru said to Denki with a teasing grin, and the duo chuckled.

“I’m here, you foolish boys!”

Toru emerged from behind the wall, her entire body covered in a pink, glittering unitard. Shiny purple boots covered her feet, matching gloves on her hands, and a hood over her head. Over her face was a surgical mask, with goggles over her eyes. This was the most exposed she’d ever let herself be, and to everyone, it was rare. Almost everyone’s eyes were bulging. Minoru’s eyes focused on her breasts and her waist shape, and he received a well-deserved smack at the back of the head by Dark Shadow.

“Oh heck yeah!” Nejire said, a fist in the air as she, Momo, and Tsuyu also exited the kitchen after Toru.

“This is gonna be so good,” Mirio said with a snort, nudging Tamaki.

“Nice clothes,” Yuga commented with a sly smirk.

Toru modeled it, hiding any trace of embarrassment. “Like it? I believe we still have a male’s size. Want it, Aoyama-kun?” she purred sweetly, and Yuga’s expression shifted.

Eijiro laughed. “Yeah, man! Hagakure’s fighting back, yo! This will be so great! Manliest challenge in history!”

Smirking, Denki ran his hands through his blonde hair. “Fine then,” he said. “Ready to lose this game?” His eyes glittered with mischief.

“You must be talking to a mirror,” Toru shot back at him, her gloved hand pointing at him directly, a gesture that was rarely seen when it came to the invisible girl. A few kids oohed, and a few were relieved to remember that Eri wasn’t here to witness this petty tournament. “Let’s do this, Jamming-Yay.”

Kyoka Jiro grinned as Denki snarled.

Bien alors. Then let’s go,” Yuga said before giving Tamaki a thumbs up. The shy boy put a finger over one of the buttons before lowering his blindfold, then pressed the button. Music blasted through the speakers, and the students began dancing around the chairs again.

Toru danced like she enjoyed it, her hips following the beat of the song. She didn’t care if Minoru was staring--what was important was that she knew what she was doing, and how she was going to do it. In front of her, Eijiro snapped his fingers as he stepped forward with enthusiasm, while Yuga twirled behind her. So far, she was honest, and she was able to tell by the dark shadows on his face that it was what he was seeing as well.

Then Tamaki stopped the song.

Toru scrambled down, easily getting a seat at what she was standing next to. The boys did the same, nearly tripping over each other until Eijiro was the only one standing. “Oh! Dang it!” he cried out, and a lot of the others burst out laughing, other girls shouting Toru’s name in encouragement and congratulations.

“Sorry, Kirishima!” Rikido laughed. He slapped Hanta at the back, and the young hero grunted.

As Eijiro dejectedly walked over to the couch next to Hanta, Mina gave him a thumbs up for effort enough to add light into his face. Toru didn’t miss the way his expression brightened, and he focused his eyes on the game once again.

Tamaki played the song as Dark Shadow took out a chair, and they started dancing around the remaining chairs again. Now in front of her was Izuku, the boy’s dance a bit shy, but not shy enough to look like he wasn’t having a good time. He laughed a lot, with Denki elbowing him from the front. Toru couldn’t help but smile at them, the friendliness they had with one another. Looking over at the other girls, they were all cheering, Nejire included. Mashirao exited from the kitchen and nodded firmly at her.

The song stopped again, and they scrambled. Toru was already seated when the others ran, with each seat taken that Izuku was left standing. He blinked in surprise, and Toru jabbed her thumb in Ochaco’s direction, knowing that the girl was going to give him light words to improve his mood.

“Nice try, Deku!” Ochaco said to him, and Toru could’ve sworn there was a brush of pink on his cheeks again.

“Thanks!” he said, walking off.

With another chair out, Tamaki played the song again. They danced, Toru fully-aware that Denki and Yuga were giving her looks now. Two boys were out. And so far, she was the quickest to take her place in a chair. She didn’t know if she was lucky, or if she really was just good at it and was kicking their butts in the process.

“You’re good,” Denki mumbled to her. “Think you can win this round?”

“Course,” Toru whispered back, craning her body sexily. “How ‘bout you? Think you can beat me, Kaminari-kun?”

“I’m a lucky guy,” Denki bragged.

But when Tamaki stopped the music, Denki was the one left standing.

“That doesn’t mean that a lucky guy can’t get jinxed,” Toru said to him, and the class reacted with yells and hollers. Yuga himself was bewildered, and Denki stomped off to Eijiro’s side.

That left Toru and Yuga. Before Tamaki played the song again, Yuga glared at her, and even if he didn’t see it, she glared back. She was going to win this. She was going to prove to them that she wasn’t a cheater, but was a winner by heart. Something as simple as getting zero teasing for the other girls was the best prize she could receive after this silly game was over.

Tamaki’s music resumed, and Toru and Yuga danced around the last chair standing. They were barely dancing now, mostly keeping their concentration on the chair that separated them from each other. But Toru forced the moves, keeping her energy up as they anticipated the moment Tamaki pressed pause.

Everyone was focused now.

Mirio rested his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward. Eijiro and Denki were both sweating as they watched with wide eyes. Shoto and Fumikage tried looking as lackadaisical as they could, but they had their eyes on the same spot in the room. Nejire and the girls were all quiet, all praying for Toru’s success. Mashirao had his fingers crossed while Minoru continued to admire Toru’s booty beside him.

Then Tamaki paused the music.

 


 

When Katsuki arrived back to the dorms, he was soaking wet. He was stupid to not have brought an umbrella, and was cursing himself for his ignorance. His clothes were heavy, and his hair was nearly flat on his head. There was absolutely no way the day could worsen from there.

That was when he opened the door.

He was greeted by the scene of cheering girls and crying boys. He stood stunned as females wrapped their arms around a weird girly unitard, who had her arms stretched out as she rejoiced with them. The electricity boy and grape-headed one were wailing, running around the room as if their heads were on fire. The tailed one was clapping happily with Izuku and Mirio, the shy boy Katsuki couldn’t remember the name of also smiling fondly, a handkerchief suspended around his neck. The frenchy one had his arms wrapped around his stomach, his normally happy face darkened. 

“What the fudge,” Katsuki muttered, and the class president, Tenya Iida, stepped to his side. Craning his head, Katsuki asked, “What the heck’s going on?”

“You missed a ton, my explosive friend,” Tenya said. “The most interesting of battles occurred, and coincidentally, that what the majority of the votes on the victor was proven true. Nearly each one of us wanted Hagakure to win, and it just so happened that we were brought to that satisfying conclusion. What do you think, Bakugo?”

“Whatever, four-eyes,” Katsuki sneered. "As if I give a dang. Why even did you let them do this one? This sounds so stupid!"

"Because we deserve equality," Tenya explained to him with a nod. "It was a certainty that even this simple enough game was enough to let that right shine. You would have to agree with this. Heroes, of all people, deserve to understand the happenings showering our world, and do anything to restore the good nature it once possessed. You do get it, do you not?"

“I need a shower.” Katsuki shrugged past him, the sound of squealing seemingly following him as he left the room.

Chapter Text

One part of hero training was the hand-to-hand combat activities presented in UA’s education system. Tamaki didn’t protest against these, but he was sure that he was going to fail every test. He wasn’t even as strong yet as they said he was. He believed that the only reason that others treated him the way the did was out of pity. He didn’t want to deny that others whispered to each other to spite him too. He didn’t blame them. He thought he deserved it.

With these thoughts clouding his mind, Tamaki didn’t notice when the dodgeball slammed straight into his chest, and air rushed out of his lungs as he fell flat on his back. He immediately sat up, coughing harshly as he patted his chest, which he felt was throbbing, his sweat dripping down his body from the abrupt adrenaline rush.

“Tamaki! You okay?” Mirio caught up to him, kneeling down as he rubbed the back of the shy boy. “I called heads up to you! Didn’t you hear me?”

When Tamaki calmed down, he rested his arms on his knees, shaking his head. “Sorry, Mirio,” he whispered. “I think I might have spaced out again there.” He brushed his sides, which were dirty with soil and grass. At least he had fallen on something soft instead of something concrete like the floors of the Gym Gamma. And with the sun hiding behind the puffy white clouds, the weather was swell enough for training outdoors.

“Seems like it,” Mirio chuckled, helping his friend up before getting the dodgeball. “But seriously, did you get hurt? Need to see Recovery Girl?”

With a low laugh, Tamaki took the dodgeball from his friend. “No. I’m quite alright, really. I just wish class ended so I could change out of my sweaty uniform.” Consciously, Tamaki hugged his arms, hoping that his armpits didn’t look darker with any trace of sweat. But Mirio didn’t mind the gesture, focusing his eyes on a few of their other classmates that resumed training around them.

“Same, bud,” Mirio said. “But, hey, I wanted to ask you if you were going to that party later. You know, the one hosted at Momo Yaoyorozu’s place.”

Lifting a brow, Tamaki said, “Party? I didn’t even know there was one to begin with.” Maybe they didn’t want to invite him to it because they didn’t think it was necessary to. Sighing, Tamaki forced the best smile he could. “Why? Are you going to it, Mirio?”

Laughing, Mirio placed his fists on his hips. “Of course I am. Even got Bubble Girl to come to it. Though…” A flash of sympathy passed his cartoonish eyes. “I wouldn’t understand why no one told you. It’s pretty big after all, you know. Yaoyorozu is one of the richest people in all of UA.” The dark-haired pretty girl wasn’t mistakable, her beauty itself something that no one could forget. Her intelligence was even more commemorable, her Quirk requiring intense knowledge to work. With those characteristics, it was hard to remember that she was also very rich, her house like a manor.

Tamaki understood why the class 1A pervert boy was so interested in getting his hands on her. He wondered if he was invited, after the reputation he had bestowed upon himself.

Still…

“Wait.” A gear clicked in Tamaki’s mind. “Mirio, did you just say that you invited Bubble Girl there?”

“That I did!” Mirio beamed proudly. “You should be there too, Tamaki! With all of the other children there as well, I’m certain that it will be a blast!” He gave Tamaki a thumbs up, but the dark-haired kid just dropped his shoulders. “Hey, don’t be sad! I don’t know why you weren’t given an invitation sooner! I’ll clear it up with Deku later, okay?” Mirio placed his hands on Tamaki’s shoulders and massaged them upwards. “Don’t slouch, my friend. It doesn’t suit anyone.”

“S-sorry,” Tamaki stammered. “Don’t worry about me. If I could, I promise I’ll certainly be there.” Did he though? Tamaki feared the future of his words becoming nothing more than a hollow promise. But even of he were attending…he didn’t know how he’d know. Only Mirio was his source of news, and maybe Nejire, occasionally.

“Really?” Mirio asked him with a hint of doubt. “You’re making me feel guilty here. C’mon, follow me. I’ll try to confirm with Yaomomo.” He beckoned Tamaki with a hand, leading him to the side of the gym, isolated from the view of anyone else. Tamaki bit his lips in discomfort. This felt a bit too rebellious for him. Mirio then leaned on the wall, bringing out his phone from the pocket of his pants. He then dialed, putting the phone to his ear. Then as Tamaki was about to tell Mirio to change his mind, Mirio said, “Hello, Problem Child! Yes, Tamaki here is curious about his party invitation.”

Tamaki felt his face heat. Sometimes, maybe the truth was a bit to true to be unhumiliating. But he didn’t deny that it was a question he wanted answered.

“I’m really glad you replied,” Mirio continued on. “Aren’t you in the middle of class?” He paused, as if Izuku was talking before he chuckled. “Well, maybe Denki is a sweetheart for doing that. Wait…oh! Okay, okay, I get it.”

Tamaki hugged his arms tightly, lowering his posture again. He felt shame in his system, the mere thought of Mirio being the one responsible for knowing of his invitation enough to crumble Tamaki’s walls of confidence. He was being pathetic. Mirio shouldn’t be doing this for him. After battling the Shie Hassaikai, Tamaki should have been stronger than this. But here here was, waiting for the opportunity to touch his forehead in the wall.

“Thank you, Midoriya!” Mirio finally said. “I’ll tell him, promise. We wouldn’t be complete without him there. Seeya then! Plus Ultra!” He hanged up, turning to Tamaki with excitement weaved through his face. “Guess what! You’re in!”

“Wooh,” Tamaki replied unenthusiastically. “So I do need to get something fancy to wear. Can’t walk into the place looking like a ragged vagabond, yeah?” He angled his eyes downwards. “Dang it. I don’t even know if I have something in the dorms.”

Laughing, Mirio patted his shoulder. “You’re such a downer! You don’t have to go if you don’t want to, you know. You’re invited, but your presence really is your decision, isn’t it?”

Gripping his elbows, Tamaki weighed Mirio’s words. He had a point. But Tamaki kind of did feel like coming. The only thing was how he knew that he wouldn’t fit in if he were there with them. He’d be an outcast, someone no one would even notice was there. Maybe Momo didn’t even remember who he was anymore. If he left early, what effect would that have? Probably nothing. Still, maybe if Mirio wanted him there, the least Tamaki could do was go for him. “Would you want me there?” he asked.

“You know I would,” Mirio said, but Tamaki noticed that Tamaki’s hesitation was starting to make its way to Mirio. Tamaki bit back an apology.

“Fine then,” Tamaki confirmed with a curt bob of his head. “I’ll come. I just…what am I gonna wear? I don’t have anything formal. A-and I-I…” He ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t have a date.”

“Is that your biggest problem?” Mirio threw his head back and guffawed. “I don’t think a date is required here! It’s just a party for fun after all. Hang around me and Kaoruko if you wanted, maybe take Hado with you. I’m sure the four of us will have a blast!” He paused, his eyes running over Tamaki from top to bottom. “Hold on, why don’t you just take Hado to the party with you? I think she’ll say yes.”

“Mirio, no!” Tamaki protested. Just the idea of himself standing on the dance floor with her made his already crimson cheeks flush deeper. Her smile was such a huge contrast to his timid stance. It would make him feel even more out of place if it actually happened. Not to mention her beauty, which opened the chance of her victory in the beauty pageant not too long ago. In conclusion, she was out of his league. “I can’t do that! I don’t think I even have the ability to--”

“Tamaki.” Mirio placed a hand on the wall. “What’s the worst that could happen? Tell me. You’re part of the Big Three after all; wouldn’t you be one of the most notable faces in the whole thing? Plus seeing you and Hado together, I bet a lot of people would stop underestimating our friendship.”

Tamaki had to analyze Mirio’s last choice of words for a moment. Finally, so far with the most even and steadiest voice during the course of this conversation, he said, “We’re not dating.”

“Yup,” Mirio said, nodding vigorously. “The two of us? Nope. But I admit, you and Hado would make a good couple. The outgoing girl and the introverted boy? That’s a common trope if I’d ever seen one.” He slapped Tamaki’s back. “You two should go for it! No forcing though.”

Tamaki sighed. “Sorry. But if a date isn’t in need, then I won’t ask anyone out. I’ll just stay over at a snacks table, improve my Quirk.” To demonstrate, Tamaki changed his hand into a lobster’s claw. Compared to his meals on better days, the lobster he had ingested earlier wasn’t as delicious, resulting in a claw that looked a bit weaker compared to usual.

“Your decision,” Mirio repeated.

“Yeah.” Tamaki brought his eyes to the ground. “I know.”

The bell rang, and both Mirio and Tamaki averted their eyes abruptly. Their classmates began stretching, shaking hands with one another as a sign for the end of classes. Their teachers waved their hands, telling the children to start their way to the dorms, and Tamaki saw the brightness in some of their eyes.

"Are they all invited to Yaoyorozu's party?" Tamaki asked as they emerged from the gym's side.

"I'm actually not sure," Mirio replied, handing the dodgeball to one of the school's personal helpers. "Still, she's pretty popular being, you know, one of the recommended kids. Maybe she knows a lot of other kids, or maybe some decided to invite themselves into it. Who am I to judge?" He shrugged.

“What’s the occasion of this party anyway?” Tamaki asked.

“It’s her birthday,” Mirio said with glee. “She wanted to be able to celebrate with all of us after all we’ve been through, so at the same time, it’s some sort of heroes-get-together. Shame though that not all heroes will be there though, like Mt. Lady and Kamui Woods. UA’s teachers will arrive soon enough though.”

That was cool. Seeing All Might and the others looking like royals other than heroes for a change. "Do you…?" Tamaki placed his right thumb beneath his chin. "Do you know what you're going to wear?"

As Mirio and Tamaki themselves made their way towards the dorms, Mirio said, "Beats me. I mean, maybe I'll tell you later, but I might have to pick Kaoruko up after a quick change." He halted, and Tamaki had to stop himself as Mirio gasped with the light-bulb that lit over his head. "No! I must pick her up now! Yeah! Yeah! I'll do it now! Mind if I go, Tamaki?"

Ignoring the ping of sudden loneliness, Tamaki gave Mirio a reassuring bob of his head. "Yeah. Go ahead. I'll..." Expect a text? See you later? Tamaki wanted to say anything, but his voice let nothing out.

But Mirio didn't wait for him to finish. "Thanks, man! You're a pal!" And he ran the other way, leaving Tamaki to walk towards the dorms on his own once again.

 


  

Later that night, Tamaki realized that he really didn’t have any suit or tie in his closet in the dorms, so he had to contact Mirio on confirmation on the formality of the occasion, but the other hero didn’t pick up, not even after Tamaki’s fifth ring. Defeated, Tamaki lowered the phone onto his bed and settled on a plain polo shirt and dark pants.

Wait a minute. Tamaki stopped buttoning his shirt, turning towards the cabinet again. Beneath the doors that revealed his clothes, he remembered the other sliding drawer beneath it. Swooping low, Tamaki opened it, and his spirits dropped. The most formal clothes in his dorm was his funeral clothes, the garments he wore to Sir Nighteye’s burial. He let out a sound between a sigh and a whimper as he pulled the clothes out.

He could take the tie, he thought with regard, and these pants. They didn’t look to far off from the one he was currently wearing, but these were cleaner and more stitched in a cleaner way. More formal, generally. He could come over to his parents’ house, but it was too far away. He’d get caught in traffic after the party finished. That would be useless.

So Tamaki swapped his pants. Once it was done, he went over to his mirror and fixed his hair, making it less unruly than usual. But as he did so, his eyes met those in his reflection, and for a moment, a flash of a weaker version of him stood in front of him, with hunched shoulders, trembling shoulders, clutched fists, and tear-streaked cheeks. But that old version of him…Tamaki was certain that he might have moved on from that horrible past.

He didn’t understand why this vision would show itself now, but Tamaki concocted his theories. Maybe his lack of invitation made him feel less worthy again? That might’ve been it, but Tamaki wanted to shake his head at that. He didn’t want it to be true. But that didn’t stop the voice of the darker side of his conscience, whispering at the back of his mind.

No longer wanting to think of that, Tamaki turned away from the mirror. He proceeded to brush his teeth, then minutes later as he sprayed himself with cologne, Mirio finally texted him. Tamaki’s phone was immediately in his hand as he read over Mirio’s message to him.

I kinda dressed formal--Kaoruko too. But I really have no idea how this should be. Anyway, hope to see you soon!

Satisfied enough, Tamaki pocketed his phone by his right, wallet on his left. Then he exited the dorms, texting Mirio if it were possible for them to meet up by the school gate. But he didn’t wait for Mirio’s response and went there straight away, watching as more of their schoolmates in UA went out, wearing clothes so formal that Tamaki wished to return to get the funeral jacket.

The class 1B representative, Itsuka Kendo, was beautiful, her dress sparkling like a thousand sapphires as she clutched her gloved hand in that of Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu’s, the silver-haired teenager wearing one of his most relaxed smiles. The invisible girl, Toru Hagakure, was jumping happily with Mashirao Ojiro next to her, the two looking ready for a night in prom. Eijiro Kirishima had a portion of his hair over his forehead, the rest remaining styled in its normal rocky structure. But his smile didn’t change, not as he exchanged a joke with Mina Ashido that made her giggle and punch his arm.

“Amajiki-Sensei!”

Tamaki found Izuku Midoriya running towards him in a red suit and a black bow tie, Ochaco Uraraka trailing after him in a pink dress with off-shoulders. A few others were behind them as well, like Tenya Iida, Mei Hatsume, Denki Kaminari, and Kyoka Jiro. He didn’t know how to properly react, and he almost felt his feet beg him to run away, but he pressed his soles to the ground, exhaling deeply.

Upon getting to his side, Tamaki gave them a small smile. “Hello, Midoriya. May I help you?” But he somehow felt like he were in need of the most help right now.

“Why are you here alone?” Denki asked him, his black and white suit and tie matching well his regular hero costume. “Don’t you have a date with anyone?” He grunted loudly as Kyoka elbowed him harshly, and he doubled over. Tamaki actually felt himself flinch in the inside.

“Don’t be a jerk,” she hissed, making Tamaki chuckle.

“No, I don’t,” he admitted. “I’m actually supposed to wait for Mirio, but…” He pressed onto his phone. “He hasn’t responded. Maybe he and Bubble Girl are already there.”

“Then you should come with us!” Ochaco offered to him. “We won’t want to leave you here alone, so join our group! I promise we’d be good company! Right, guys?”

The pink-haired Mei Hatsume laughed. For once, she wasn’t dressed in workshop gear and machinery, but was in a nice, simple polo the color of clouds, her jacket and pants the hue of smoke. Her hair was styled in a bun, with strands sticking out of the bun in curls. “Course! Iida here will take us there in a snap that none of us will even be in need to talk to each other.”

Tenya glanced at her through his peripheral vision, but he didn’t protest.

“If you say so,” Tamaki replied, shrugging lightly. “I don’t mind. What time are we going?”

Mei pulled a pocket watch from the inside of her jacket. It glistened gold in the moonlight as she checked it. “Right now,” she announced.

“Right then!” Tenya lowered himself abruptly, and everyone stepped back. “Grab tightly on me, and grab tightly on one another. I promise I won’t mess up your make-up and hair, my friends. But to be there soon is better than being there late, am I wrong?” Everyone shook their heads, and he chuckled. “Then grab on! We shall go!”

Mei was the first to grab him, her arms wrapped comfortingly around his waist. Then Ochaco grabbed onto her next, laughing as she did so. Then Kyoka did, followed by Denki, who looked comfortable touching her body without Minoru to share it with. Then Izuku held onto him, then finally with a bit of hesitation, Tamaki. It felt weird holding onto a younger kid like this, but Izuku didn’t complain.

“On three,” Tenya called to his train of schoolmates.

Mei was the one who counted. “One, two, THREE!”

They raced off so fast that Tamaki didn’t even have the chance to question what they were about to do. But for a moment, his life flashed in front of him, and his grip on Izuku tightened as he held on for dear life. The world of Japan was a blur of dark blue and gray, other colors nothing more than brief streaks present for not even a second. The stop was sudden, and Tamaki slammed onto Izuku’s back, and he thought the rest of the crowd in front of him slammed into each other as well. Letting go first, he realized that they did.

“Oh my,” Tsuyu Asui mumbled, she and Fumikage Tokoyami standing right in front of the Yaoyorozu household when they stopped.

“What a ride!” Mei squealed, and like Tenya promised, she wasn’t a bit messed up, her hair in its regular style on her head.

“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Denki said, clutching both his head and his stomach.

Fumikage crossed his arms. “Would you need directions to Yaoyorozu’s restroom? You might be requiring it.”

Tamaki watched as the blonde boy gave Fumikage a thumbs up, and they along with Kyoka and Tsuyu immediately rushed off.

“I apologize for that,” Tenya said solemnly. “It might be a first for those not used to my Engine. But at least now you have experience on my sort of transportation.” He looked at Tamaki. “Amajiki-Sensei, I repeat my apology to you. You do not have to come again if you want to deny it.”

“It’s fine,” Tamaki told him. “It’s quicker.”

“Then let’s get in!” Mei excitedly exclaimed.

But it took a while for them to do so, their eyes wandering to the world around them, a world that only the wealthy could live in. Momo’s home was not a mansion as Tamaki guessed it might have been, but it was almost a full-blown castle on its own. The sound of music that emerged from inside even added to the aura of monarchy as they got closer, and Tamaki felt even worse about his clothing choice. This didn’t feel like Japan anymore. This was too foreign for the shy boy.

As they approached the front steps, a petite man with salt-and-pepper hair stood in front of the doors in formal wear of his own, a journal-like notebook in his right hand. A butler, he seemed like. Tamaki wanted to shrink down lower.

Clearing his throat, the butler said, “Good evening. I am Uchimura, the Yaoyorozu family’s household butler. I presume you are some of Ms. Momo’s friends from school, am I right?” He pulled a pen from his coat as he flipped the notebook open. “May I have your names?”

“A real butler…” Izuku mumbled in awe as Ochaco said her name from beside him.

“Ochaco Uraraka! I am one of Ms. Momo’s classmates all right! One of her friends!” She excitedly pulled Izuku closer to herself, the move bringing the green-eyed boy back to the present. “And this is Izuku Midoriya! Another friend of hers.”

With a satisfied grin, Uchimura checked two names off the guest list. How he managed to find them out of the entire kingdom Momo seemed to have invited over, Tamaki wasn’t sure. Uchimura used the end of the pen to point at Mei next. “And your name, young lady?”

She pointed to herself. “Mei Hatsume! Though I never met the birthday girl in person, she has met their class president, of course. This is Tenya Iida.”

He bowed. “It is an honor to attend the celebration of Yaoyorozu’s birth.”

The butler checked off another pair of names from the list. “Well, that’s quite interesting. Not met in person, but Ms. Momo still wanted you to come,” he mused to himself, probably referring to Mei. If that was how Momo saw her, Tamaki didn’t know how she saw him. “And you, sir? What may your name be?”

Tamaki’s tongue fumbled before he actually spoke. “T…Tamaki. Tamaki Amajiki.”

For the first time, Uchimura’s expression was confused as he went through the list. Tamaki’s heart dropped that moment, and he felt embarrassed, sensing the eyes of his younger companions landing on him. He must have looked pathetic, still, he hoped for the best. Or maybe the worst? He didn’t know anymore.

“Tamaki Amajiki? Can you give me a brief explanation on who you are?” Uchimura asked him, but he had an apologetic look in his eyes.

Before Tamaki could respond, Momo herself peaked from the door, a beautiful green dress around her body. “There you are!” she said to the gathered group, and she pushed the door wider, wide enough for each one of them to walk in. “Come in! Come in!” She excitedly wiggled her fingers.

“I…” Tamaki faltered, and Izuku and the rest stopped. Uchimura waited for Momo’s response, the entire group unmoving. This was so humiliating.

“Amajiki-Sensei!” Momo gasped. “Aren’t you on the list?!” She was handed the guest list by her butler, and she read through all the names. Her brows furrowed, and she glanced up at Tamaki. “I am so sorry! I know I told my staff to add your name! Come inside! Come inside! Togata-Sensei's waiting for you.” She beckoned him to follow them with a gentle smile.

“Thank you,” Tamaki said to her, his shoulders a bit droopy. “And happy birthday, by the way,” he added.

“Yeah, happy birthday, Yaomomo!” Ochaco hugged her friend from behind, and Momo laughed.

“Happy birthday!” Izuku and Mei said at the same time, and Tenya dropped to his knees.

“Forgive me for not arriving sooner!” he said loudly, enough to draw the attention of the closest groups. “I give you my deepest wishes on this day, Yaoyorozu!”

“Thank you so much everyone,” Momo said, her cheeks a rosy hue of pink.

And when they actually got to the grand room for the celebration, it felt like they stepped into a royal ball. Dressed of different colors, music of formal dance, and foods for the rich were all over the place, the curtains expressing enough moonlight through their gaps. Almost everyone Tamaki knew was here, more than who he might have anticipated in a million years.

Katsuki Bakugo and Camie Utsushimi were at one side, the female giving Katsuki treats by the snacks table. The newly arrived Mashirao and Toru were twirling on the dance floor, the boy allowing his joy to carry on in his movements. Even young Eri was here, a cute dress dawned as she spoke with another young boy about a year younger than her.

“Cool party, eh?”

The voice was owned by Mirio, and he was at Tamaki’s side. His hair was combed back as he sported a white suit, his tie black over his blue polo. Beside him was Kaoruko Awata herself, her lips parted in a genuine grin of her own. Mirio said to Tamaki, “Nice clothes there,” and meant it. Tamaki wondered if he didn’t look too bad to receive that comment. Maybe Mirio was just being nice to him. It was something friends did.

“Thanks,” Tamaki replied. “You too.” Still, a part of him felt a bit uncomfortable with Mirio’s lack of responses. If it had something to do with Bubble Girl, Tamaki understood why. But that didn’t mean that he was to be treated lesser, like a weekday friend, or something like that. He kept all that to himself, allowing Mirio to beam at him.

“So you were right about formality,” Mirio said, Kaoruko giggling next to him. “I praise your wisdom on this.”

“Thanks,” Tamaki said again. But he felt bare, his body uncomfortable with his lack of look in an in-between sort of outfit style. Sticking his hands into his pockets, Tamaki observed the vastness of the place, the grand appearance of the area. Momo really was such a rich girl to have prepared all this in a short period of time, or at least, what Tamaki assumed was a short period of time. “Ah.” Tamaki heard the shift of music, noticing a couple others startled faces at the unexpected change. Tamaki noticed Hanta Sero approach Ibara Shiozaki then, and she took his hand as he led them to the dance floor before creating a new dance pattern as well, following the beat of the new track.

“Dance time!” Mirio was about to rush to the dance floor with Kaoruko too, but he stopped himself. “Wait, what about you?” As he said this, his dance partner also looked at Tamaki with empathy.

It took a while for Tamaki to realize that the question was aimed at him. He brought himself back into reality, blinking rapidly as he did so. “Oh. Just…go ahead. I’ll watch you.”

“That ain’t good enough!” Mirio said. “You should enjoy this party with the rest of us!” Turning to Kaoruko next to him, Tamaki felt worse when Mirio’s words of, “I’ll catch up with you later.” was said to her. Understanding the signal for privacy, she nodded at him with a smile and left.

Tamaki turned his head, seeing the rest of the group he was with earlier having the time of their life. Tenya and Mei were talking about a new pair of goggles by the window, Izuku and Ochaco on the dance floor, smiling from ear to ear. Momo was in conversation with Shoto Todoroki, the boy looking as flustered as he could be. They were all so happy with their partners that Tamaki didn’t get why they haven’t been called official yet.

“I spoke with Hado earlier,” Mirio stated. “Maybe you would like to do so too. I mean, us three are usually together, right? No point in being shy.”

Tamaki gave him a sideways glance. “Are you trying to set us up?” was the question that arose in his mind.

Taken back by the question, Mirio stiffened before pulling a nervous laugh. “W-what? No! Of course not!” He shrugged. “It’s just a suggestion, so you won’t get too bored here. Sure, there are a lot of things you could do, but I don’t think they’re really your type.”

Or nobody sees me as a ‘type’ at all, Tamaki thought painfully. With this huge room of boisterous laughter and glee, who needed to mind a nobody like Tamaki Amajiki?

“Your face suggests doubt,” Mirio commented, the usual zeal in his voice dropping to concern. “I can tell when something’s wrong. Please elaborate?”

“I don’t fit in” was all Tamaki said as he looked down.

Mirio blinked before pushing Tamaki’s right chest. “Don’t think that. Don’t you think this party looks worthy for enjoyment?”

Hugging his arms, Tamaki met his eyes. “It does. But not for me. I respect Yaoyorozu, and I wish her the best, but…” His body tensed, his lips pressing. “…it’s not for me.” No one even remembered to write his name on the guest list. Could he have been that forgettable? Obviously, and the idea multiplied the tensity inside him, making him begin to turn away.

“Tamaki!” Mirio called out.

Ignoring him, Tamaki walked onwards, eyes set on his shoes that clacked against the tiled floor of the house. He felt his shoulders brush against other guests, but he didn’t care. Any apologies would be unheard, and he didn’t want to use his voice for nothing. So he walked, each step sending a pillar of hope crumbling, his anxiety rising. He never wanted to be here. He shouldn’t have promised to Mirio that he was coming.

He slammed into something, and he stepped back. He raised his head, and towering over him was his old friend Fatgum, the chubby hero having made a formal version of his hero costume, one that still complimented him enough. “Suneater?” he asked, an eyebrow lifted as a sly smile crept to his mouth.

“Y-yeah,” Tamaki responded. “Excuse me. I need to go.”

Fatgum snorted. “To where, the bathroom? You literally just walked into the center of the dance floor. Anyway, seeya later! I have a table to consume!” He ran off quickly, and Katsuki and Camie jumped back at the sudden fists that dug into the table.

And Tamaki realized he was at the center of the dance floor, surrounded by dancing children and romantic stares. They all swayed slowly, females resting their heads on the males’ shoulders, their faces nothing but loving and happy. But Tamaki stood stunned, a spotlight seemingly flashed on him as he stilled at the center of this circle. He hated it. Searching for any other corridor, he was satisfied with one; took off again.

More bumps at the shoulders. More feet in the way. He said sorry, but no one minded him. When he got to the private hallway, he saw a maid walking down with juices balanced on a tray she held in her arms. Tamaki approached her, and she stopped with surprise.

“Do you have a back exit?” Tamaki asked her, and once the question was out, his last pillar collapsed, and he knew his will to stand here was broken down.

“Yes, sir,” the maid said, her eyebrows worried. “Take a right then another left. You’ll find it there.”

“Thank you.” Tamaki fought his urge to feel too down and tried to keep a good posture as he walked silently, following her instructions. And when he got to the door and opened it, he saw that the night sky was a beautiful navy blue, the stars like gemstones in a cave. The moon, at its peak, brightened the streets enough worthy for a picture.

He grabbed the side of the door, caressing it softly. He shut his eyes, calming his breathing and his beating heart. He wanted to go home. He no longer wanted to stand with these people, friend or not. It was useless being someone for them when they treated him like he wasn’t there.

Treated him like a nobody.

He stepped out, and grass surrounded him, and the chirping of crickets replaced the music inside. Bright lights of the wealthy was changed into moonlight and starlight, and the public dance was turned into beautiful privacy. All he needed, for now anyway. He studied the place, searching for the exit gate. He spotted the entrance, where Eijiro and Mina were just arriving, Uchimura accompanying them to the house. This was his chance to leave. If he wanted to go, he had to do it now.

As he began his quick stride, the sound of the doors opening caught him off-guard, and he froze.

“Amajiki?”

The unmistakable voice of Nejire Hado cut across him, and he couldn’t turn to look at her. He knew she was going to be pretty, like she always was, and he couldn’t stand seeing her now at this kind of moment when he barely saw her at school today. Still, as a gentleman would, he forced himself to look at her, and his heart stopped.

She was dressed as formal as he was.

“Sorry about this,” Nejire said, referring to her simple purple dress, one less glittery and sparkly as those of the guests inside. “I didn’t really know how to dress for this, so I decided on a cross between formal and just plain party.” She crossed her arms with a smile. “How about you? What are you doing over here?”

He was not going to tell her the truth. Better to just excuse himself and leave instead of confessing his nature of introvert mannerism. Repeat, he was not going to tell her the truth. “I was planning on going home,” he said. “I don’t think I fit in here. Might as well stay where I can be myself without receiving judgement from the rest.” He tried to turn, but he heard her laugh and he halted, eyes widening. She left the door’s side, going to his.

“Well, aren’t we both,” she mused. “I knew something was off with you when I saw you take that corridor. I had a feeling this might happen.”

“You followed me?” Tamaki’s eyes widened with this.

She shrugged. “Yeah! Why not? I never got to talk to you today, see?” She tapped his shoulder. “Besides, as Big Three must stick together. Let Mirio do his thing with his girlfriend.” She grinned menacingly. “Even though they’re technically not a thing yet, you’d be stupid to think not.” She laughed again, and Tamaki felt his heart lighten.

“They are cute,” he admitted. He noticed that Uchimura was still absent, and he spun his heels. “I must go now, Hado. I enjoyed this chat with you.”

She stopped laughing, but her smile remained, but it had a trace of disdain in it. “I didn’t think you were serious. Are you really thinking of ditching this thing? Can’t give Yaomomo a bit more time?” She said this so casually that Tamaki bit his lip. This was getting difficult for him.

“I-I would…but I think I’ll just--”

“Dance first?” she blurted out, and he quieted. She giggled. “I mean, I saw everyone dancing there, and I never had a partner. I was wondering if maybe you’d like to dance with me. I’m not forcing you to, but I’m asking. You know, as friends?”

Dance with him? Did she mean that? She had to be joking. “Hado, I don’t think--”

“Please? Just one?” She gave him an innocent smile.

“I-I-I…” Tamaki felt his face heat, but his bangs was enough to hide it from her. He’d been denying this sort of dance of happening, yet here it was, in front of his eyes, in the form of a question. He knew Uchimura was going to return to the gate soon, but here she was in front of him, standing to the entrance of what might have been the biggest party of his life. Should he say yes? Should this be an experience for him to remember? Tamaki’s limbs went limp, and he hung his head. “Hado…I think…” He met her eyes, with desperation. “Ah.” He lifted his chin. “Okay. One dance.”

“Yay!” She hopped up and down. “Thanks, Amajiki! This will be fun! I promise!”

As she celebrated, Tamaki’s frown twisted to a small smile. Her happiness from his agreement, the joy in her eyes…She wanted him here. It was as if she were the missing piece for him to enjoy this celebration, even when he didn’t realize it. He wasn’t sure, but he felt all the holes in his heart stitch back together.

“C’mon, Amajiki!” she said, and she grabbed his hand, pulling him after her back into the house.

Yeah. Maybe with her with him, his anxieties could lessen, and he won’t care as much for them after that.