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Spice, Not Sugar

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Saying he was excited about his new job was an overstatement. Really, he was more annoyed about having to work than anything—and having to work /here/, of all fucking places—but Katsuki didn’t have a goddamn choice.

He needed the money. He’d been fired from his last job for a “poor attitude”. Really, his former boss was the one with the poor fucking attitude, /not/ him.

Oh well.

What the fuck ever. Working for a pro hero was probably gonna be a goddamn hassle, but at least the pay would be good.

He’d gone in for the position interview the previous Thursday, and to his fucking surprise, he had gotten a call back the previous day (Sunday) asking if he was available to start Monday.

Fuck yes he was.

Katsuki was down to his last thousand yen, and he needed money /badly/. Especially if he wanted to keep eating.

So, Monday, he walked into Red Riot’s office.

The ground floor was pristine. Very clean-cut. Bright red modern leather couches sat around a steel coffee table, offset and joined by black leather chairs of the same style. The floor was crisp and black tile, neatly polished.

The reception office’s walls were painted with bright red, black, and charcoal gray, and a graffiti artist had been hired to write RIOT in big, bold letters across one wall. The word was heavily stylized and had metallic accents in silver and copper.

For a pro hero’s office, it wasn’t too shabby. But Katsuki wouldn’t be working reception. No, he bet his office—even he even got one—would be boring compared to this.

He strode up to the receptionist’s desk; it sort of reminded him of a bank, with numerous receptionists and security officers milling about and offering to help people. Behind them was a wall of flat-screen TVs.

The screens showed a number of things, such as event schedules and the massive, beaming pro hero himself.

Katsuki scoffed and narrowed his eyes. Kirishima Eijirou—better known as Sturdy Hero: Red Riot—was in his early thirties. He still looked pretty young, but his shoulders were broad, sun-kissed skin covered in freckles.

He was filled out and mature, his body sturdy and strong. Hell, he looked /good/. Katsuki wasn’t blind, after all.

He had brilliant red eyes and short red hair, cropped with an undercut. His hair was spiked, and he had two short horns in the front that poked out from his stupid mask thing.

The worst of it, though, was that his hero outfit had no shirt. The idiot’s full, round pecs were on display, and Katsuki’s gaze dipped to his left nipple, which was pierced.

/Shit./

He didn’t let his eyes linger long.

He was here to start his damn job, not ogle his way-too-old-for-him-and-probably-not-gay boss.

See, Katsuki was barely twenty. This was about to be his third in the professional sector job since graduating high school. Most people his age were aiming for college or trying to become pro heroes.

Well, Katsuki didn’t /want/ to go to college. He’d never wanted to.

Not that he was sure what, exactly, he wanted to do… but he knew college wasn’t for him.

Sure, his mom and dad both worked in fashion, and sure, they were pretty well off, but he wasn’t /exactly/ on the best terms with his parents right now. He’d moved out after they’d had a big argument about three months ago.

Since then, he hadn’t talked to them.

(Okay, so he wasn’t /really/ that mad at them, but his mom had pushed her damn luck about him going to school and getting a degree, and he just… wanted to live his own fucking life.)

He shoved aside the discomfort at their last fight and glared at the receptionist in front of him. She was helping someone else, and after the man she was helping left with a smile, she motioned Katsuki forward.

“Hello!” she chirped. “Welcome to RIOT, agency of and home to Sturdy Hero: Red Riot!”

/Wonder how much she gets paid to sound so fucking happy,/ he thought bitterly.

“What can I help you with?”

Dear god, that high-pitched, too-cheerful voice of hers was going to fucking kill him.

Hopefully, he wouldn’t be on this level that often.

“Bakugou Katsuki,” he grunted out. “’M Red Riot’s new personal assistant.”

She blinked her owlish brown eyes at him, then nodded. Her lips rounded into an O, and she swiveled to type into her computer. A few seconds later, she grinned and said, “Great! Takaiyo-kun will be down in just a few minutes to show you around! Please take a seat. Would you like any water or soda while you wait?”

“No,” he muttered, and he headed over to wait on one of the black leather chairs. At least it was comfortable.

Magazines, like KO! and Pro Hero Weekly were laid out on the coffee table. All of them were new issues, and Katsuki didn’t need to flip through them to know that Red Riot was ranked highly. His face beamed up at Katsuki from a few of the covers, but more of them showed a familiar young man with green hair.

Intrepid.

He rolled his eyes and slouched backward, folding his arms over his chest.

Since he didn’t have his own quirk, Katsuki didn’t really waste time following heroes and their ranks. He’d never had any need to. Before this job, he’d worked as an office assistant for a finance company, and before that, he’d worked in retail.

This was the first job where knowing his boss’s rank might actually /matter/, but Katsuki couldn’t bring himself to give a shit.

He was only going to work here until Red Riot got tired of his “attitude” and fired him, anyway. He’d have to find a new job after that, and a new one after that, and so on. It was a never-ending cycle for him, unfortunately.

Even if he tried to be nice, like really /tried/, he was still a dick.

So, really, learning anything more about Red Riot than that his hair was shitty and he had a shitty, annoying smile was beyond Katsuki’s projected pay grade.

Finally, after ten fucking goddamn minutes of waiting, a girl with short blonde hair, a big chest, and glasses appeared. Bitch had to be Takaiyo.

“Hi!” she said, extending her hand to him and smiling warmly.

He didn’t miss how the top few buttons of her white blouse were undone. Katsuki stood and glared at her hand, stuffing his own in the pockets of his slacks in a blatant “Don’t fucking touch me” move.

Even if he’d been into women, he sure as shit wouldn’t be into /this/ one.

“I’m Takaiyo Shiori!” she said, wiggling her fingers and waiting for him to take her hand.

“Bakugou,” he said, annoyed. Obviously, he wasn’t gonna fucking shake it. “The fuck took you so long?”

Takaiyo sighed, sounding a bit overdramatic, before dropping her hand back to her side. Aside from the white blouse, she was dressed in a knee-length gray skirt and a pair of knee-high white stockings. Her work shoes were nondescript brown loafers.

“I was working. Anyway, welcome to RIOT, Bakugou-kun!”

“’S just Bakugou.”

She beamed at him, but the expression seemed… off. Almost false.

Bakugou was pretty good at reading people, thanks to his parents’ jobs. He’d been around the superficial people at their work enough to know what a fake smile meant.

This bitch did /not/ like him.

She walked him to one of the sleek elevators near the back of the room, behind the reception desk. “I’m so excited to work with you!”

He grunted, shoulders folding forward in an attempt to silently say, “/I’m fucking not./”

Takaiyo smirked, and once the elevator doors shut, her smile dropped entirely. She pulled her phone out and began typing away at it. “You’re my replacement.” Her voice had changed, too. It wasn’t high-pitched anymore, more bland and annoyed.

He glowered at her. /Fucking knew it./

“I’ll give you the run-down today,” she continued. “My last day is Friday, and Red runs a tight schedule. You should be here by seven every morning. Quitting time is five, but it’s probably good if you can stay late the first few weeks. Good news is you’ll get OT.”

Blunt, but fine. He could take it.

“I’ll do my best to show you what you need to do. I don’t wanna hand this job off to just /anyone/, and I don’t like repeating myself, so pay attention. Got it?”

He rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

She smirked. “That’s the spirit.”

The ride in the elevator was fairly silent after that. They clicked past the second floor, the third, the fourth…

“So why the hell are you leaving, anyway?”

She put her phone away and raised an eyebrow. “Red Riot’s ranked eleventh, but I’ve been wanting to work for Intrepid /forever/, and now that I’ve finally landed a job at his office, I’m not passing up the opportunity.”

Fucking /Deku/.

Katsuki knew Intrepid. The asshole was his childhood friend—or had been, at one point. They’d both been quirkless—or Katsuki /thought/ they had. Deku had been keeping his quirk a goddamn secret, though. Their last year of junior high, he’d applied to UA and had been accepted.

Fucking dick had the opportunity to be what Katsuki had always wanted: a pro hero.

Katsuki, poor quirkless Katsuki, was left rotting in the dust. He’d hoped for years that his own quirk would manifest latently like it had for Deku.

But it never had.

And every year during the sports festival, Katsuki had watched as his /former/ friend had done better and better. He’d ranked first his third year, then as soon as he’d graduated, he’d been hired as a sidekick for Endeavor.

After that, Deku, the fucking /prodigy/ that he was, had struck out on his own. He’d risen through the ranks in record fucking time, and now, at age twenty, he was sitting at number five.

His rank was the only one Katsuki had paid any attention to, and it was more because it felt like everywhere he turned, he saw Deku’s fucking face and his rank. People were losing their goddamn /minds/ over him.

Fucking asshole.

He supposed it made sense that she’d want to work for him, though. Who wouldn’t? The jackass had to be making millions at this point. Every investor out there was looking for ways to get their brand on his toned ass.

She paused and tilted her head, scanning his face. “RIOT’s not a bad place to work,” she said at last. “It just isn’t the place for me. Red’s great, but he’s never going to be the number-one hero, you know?”

He glared. “Don’t care.”

As long as he had food on the table and a roof over his head, he couldn’t be bothered to give two shits about whether this place was a good or bad office to work in.

Takaiyo shrugged. “You should. Come on.”

He followed her out of the elevator and past a bull pen of cubicles. Offices rimmed the outside of the floor. Most of the doors were shut, and almost all of them looked empty.

“So, the basement is the training arena,” she said, ticking off the first finger on her hand. “It has a gym, combat rooms, and a bunch of other stuff. You’re welcome to use it as an employee. Red actually encourages it.”

“Keep callin’ him Red,” he grunted. “Why?”

“That’s what we all call him. I think he likes it?” She shrugged and ticked off the second finger. “Main floor is reception. The first floor is accounting and HR, second and third are for sidekicks and interns. Red has almost fifty sidekicks working for him, and he has fifteen hero partners.”

He nodded, not sure how useful any of this shit would actually be to him.

“Most of the pros work on the fourth floor.”

They’d gotten off at the sixth floor.

“Fifth floor is marketing and media relations,” she added, ticking another finger off. “They’re pretty great people, and you’ll be working with them and accounting and financing /a lot/.”

Another nod.

“And sixth floor is where the high-ranked pros and Red himself work!” She stopped as they reached the back of the sixth floor and gestured to a closed door with “RED RIOT” stamped into a metal plaque on the wood.

To the left of the door was a steel desk with two monitors, a wireless keyboard, and a high-tech mouse.

Takaiyo dragged a chair over from an empty cubicle. “This is my desk—or, rather, /your/ desk.”

She sat in her own chair and patted the spare she’d grabbed.

Katsuki frowned, but sank down beside her.

“He likes coffee from the place down the street,” she said as she logged in. “I’ll show you tomorrow morning. I stopped by on my way in this morning because it’s faster. Always order him a cherry mocha with extra whip and chocolate syrup.”

/Ew./ He wrinkled his nose at that. “Fuckin’ gross.”

She laughed. “Yeah, well. He has one hell of a sweet tooth, so be ready for all sorts of weird requests.”

Fine. Weird, he could do.

She navigated to a window with a schedule. “This is his calendar. You’ll need to be /very/ familiar with it. I recommend syncing it with your phone. The app I use is call ProMange. It’s pretty great. I’ll set you up with a password and everything if you install it.”

She motioned to the computer. “Every morning at seven thirty, I go over his daily with him. He can be pretty forgetful, so if you see that he’s not on a call when he /should/ be, make sure he gets on it ASAP.”

“Fine.” Great. So he’d be babysitting the fucker. F a n t a s t i c.

The clock read 7:15, so he’d probably see her go over the daily with Red Riot this morning.

“The rest of the day, you’ll be fielding calls from investors, other hero agencies, and media outlets and partners,” she explained. She reached across the desk and pulled over a large three-ringed binder. “Their numbers are all in here, and so are the names of their representatives and our contacts.”

She flipped the binder open. “Numbers are all arranged under categories. Like, say, Kijiraro is one of our donors, so the name of our contact at Kijiraro, Yamaki Hiro, and his contact information is all listed under K in the Donor section of the binder.”

She showed him a few other examples before shutting the binder and putting it away.

“When someone calls Red’s personal assistant, they’re usually trying to set up an appointment to either talk with Red or with someone higher up in financing or marketing. Sometimes, we get calls for our media department.”

She clicked through and showed him where to find the numbers for the department heads. “You’ll need to delegate calls to the managers in those departments if they’re not for Red himself.”

As she continued, she said, “The ones that /are/ for Red will ask when they can set up an appointment to talk. Some will try and be pushy, but most of them know he’s pretty busy.”

Takaiyo pulled up the schedule again, and Katsuki frowned.

It was color coded, from the looks of it. Pink was for lenders and banks, yellow for investors, light blue for media, and so on. The majority of his calendar was green, though.

“The green is when he’s on patrol,” Takaiyo explained, tapping the screen.

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. “He ever take a damn day off?”

“No,” she said with a soft huff. “He works every day. I think maybe he’s taken /one/ day off since I started working here.”

“How long’ve you been here?”

“Since January.”

So about nine months, then. Not very long, but Katsuki wasn’t one to compare his own work history with hers. The longest anyone had put up with his attitude had been six months.

“Tch.”

“You’ll also be in charge of entering billing and other damage reports from when he /is/ out on patrol. While we don’t strictly deal with payouts—that’s HR’s thing—we do have to make sure that the records are all consistent.”

He nodded.

She glanced at the time and stood, pulling her phone out and scrolling through it until she opened the schedule app. “I’ll show you that when we’re done. Come on. It’s time for his daily.”