Hanamaki Satsuki is quiet. She likes to keep her head down; it's easier that way. She never says much, but she’s always paying attention. She can’t really help but pay attention. She has a Quirk that boosts all her senses. Everything is louder and sharper, even the things she wishes she could ignore. She sits in her seat at the back of the classroom and watches as Bakugo Katsuki gets away with hurting a classmate... again, right in front of their teacher. It’s always the same student, a small, Quirkless boy. She’s ashamed to admit that she doesn’t know his real name. She knows it’s Midoriya something. The only other name that comes to mind is an insult. She hates that she can’t remember anything but Midoriya Deku. Midoriya is nice, if a little weepy. She can’t remember his name, but she can remember a day in primary school when she was crying, upset about something trivial she can’t even recall now, and Midoriya—scraped and bruised with light singe marks on his gakuran—bought her a snack from the vending machine and offered it to her with a beaming smile to try to cheer her up. He doesn’t smile like that anymore. At least, not at school.
That small kindness burns guiltily in her stomach whenever Bakugo gets worked up. Because when Bakugo gets worked up, Midoriya is always on the receiving end of his ire.
And she does nothing.
She’d never thought herself brave or selfless enough to be a hero, but she never thought she’d be a culpable bystander either. Every day she sees Midoriya mistreated in some way, and every day all she thinks is if I stand up for him, I’ll be the one mistreated. She’s a coward. It’s not something she’s okay with, but it’s not something she’s actively trying to change either.
Bakugo is going on and on about how he’s destined for greatness at UA. His inflated ego fills the entire room full to bursting, and the teacher only chastises him after Midoriya is on the ground and cowering against the wall.
She doesn’t care much about heroes, but the thought of someone as outright volatile as Bakugo Katsuki being synonymous with the term hero is a farce. Satsuki seems to be the only person that thinks so. Everyone—even Midoriya, to some extent, which utterly baffles her—seems to think that Bakugo will become some great hero. She pushes her thoughts away in favor of filling out the high school preference sheet that finally makes it to her desk.
Satsuki never rushes to leave the classroom, not even on Fridays. She’s always one of the last to leave because she’s never in a hurry to do anything, go anywhere. She plans to spend her weekend at home, away from loud noises, shut up in her room with a good book. When she leaves, the door is hastily shut behind her, even though there are still people in the classroom. Some kind of wary feeling spikes through her like a shot, a shiver up her spine. Something is wrong. Her Quirk does this sometimes. She suspects that her Quirk also boosts something of a sixth sense: intuition. So, she listens. Her Quirk lets her hear enough of the conversation on the other side of the door, even amidst the muffled explosions.
“You wanna be a hero so bad? I’ve got a time saving idea for you, Deku. If you think you’ll have a Quirk in your next life, go take a swan dive off the roof!”
Satsuki has half a mind to barge through the door. If she were braver she would, but she isn’t. She’s no hero, but… she can’t let this go. She can’t just let this play out with no interference. She reaches for the door handle, trying to pluck up some courage, only to lose it all when the handle jiggles. She dashed around the corner like the coward she is and hides.
When Bakugo and his lackeys turn out of sight down the hall, Satsuki makes her way back into the classroom. When she sees Midoriya, it feels like all her internal organs are plummeting to the floor. She feels like someone dumped ice water on her head. She jolts and calls out because Midoriya is leaning out the open window and looking down. And it doesn’t matter that they’re only on the second floor and he wasn’t yet jumping out of it because all she could think about was all the times she’d done nothing.
“Hey,” she says, startling herself by how frantic she sounds. She almost never speaks at school, but now is not the time to be a silent bystander.
Midoriya flinches and gives a little squeak. Satsuki feels bad, but she’d feel worse if she hadn’t stopped him. He turns to look at her, thus stepping away from the window and Satsuki feels like she can breathe again.
“Oh, hi, Hanamaki. Are you alright?” Midoriya asks. She’s immediately frustrated and guilty all over again because not only does Midoriya remember her name, but even though he’s obviously crying and possibly suicidal, he asks if she’s alright.
“Midoriya,” she starts, trying to be delicate, fumbling for anything to say. Midoriya jolts at the sound of his name, like he can’t quite believe it’s being said and it spurs her on. “What Bakugo said. That was—it’s not right. Has he said that to you before?” Her voice comes out breathy and horrified as she stumbles over words that don’t mean much.
“Oh, it’s okay. I know Kacchan doesn’t mean it.” Midoriya gives her a wobbly, wet smile that does little to convince her.
“Why were you so close to the window?” Satsuki immediately regrets her tactlessness when Midoriya’s eyes widen in understanding.
“I was just looking for my notebook! I’ve got to go fish it out of the koi pond. Don’t worry about me,” he says, a little frantic and a lot self-deprecating. He tells her not to worry in a way that let’s her know no one worries for Midoriya, and he knows it. He hurries past her to the exit with a twitchy expression and hunched shoulders. She doesn’t want to let him go, really, because what Bakugo said needles at her. She’s disturbed by it, and it wasn’t even directed at her. How must Midoriya be feeling? He stops short in the doorway.
“Um, Hanamaki? T-thanks. For checking on me.” He smiles shyly at her and scurries off like a frightened animal.
Satsuki is no hero. She’s not brave and she’s not selfless, but she isn’t cruel enough to let Midoriya walk away, alone with his thoughts. For the first time in her life, she rushes out of the classroom, determined to do something.
Midoriya is shaking the excess water off his charred notebook by the time she catches up to him, her Quirk spiking with intuitive jolts the whole way.
“Midoriya! Um, let’s walk home together, yeah?” She tries to phrase it in a way that won’t let him refuse, but she immediately feels bad for being pushy.
“O-okay. Are you sure?” It’s a simple question, but it festers with self-deprecation and underlying disbelief. She knows what he’s really asking.
Are you sure you want to be seen with Quirkless Deku?
Are you sure it won’t inconvenience you?
Are you sure I’m worth the ten minute detour on your way home?
“Yeah. Let’s go get a snack at the konbini. I’ll buy.”
For a second, he looks like he’s going to say no. Satsuki suspects that he’s trying to say no without being rude, but she can also see that he doesn’t really want to be alone. Slowly, he nods.
They spend the short walk in heavy silence, until she asks him about his notebook. From then on, the conversation is filled with talk of hero stats and rankings and theatrical fights he’s seen on the news. Satsuki doesn’t care for heroes, but watching Midoriya come out of his shell is a sight to behold. In no time at all, he’s beaming.
They sit outside the konbini and Midoriya stares guiltily at the onigiri she bought him. She pointedly takes a bite, and he follows her lead. When he’s done chewing, he speaks.
“I don’t have any money on me today, but I’ll pay you back on Monday.” He looks stressed out about the idea of accepting anything without paying her. Like she bought him an entire sushi bar instead of some pre-packaged onigiri.
“It’s my treat. Don’t pay me back.” Satsuki gives him a polite smile. Midoriya still looks uncomfortable, but he takes a few more bites without protest.
“Why won’t you let me pay you back?”
“Because someone gave me a snack when I was sad once. It made me feel better,” she says, and her cheeks go a little red because she isn’t sure if he’ll remember what she’s referring to. “And everything tastes better when it’s free. Trust me on this, I have a sensory Quirk, and a very refined palette.”
Midoriya huffs a small laugh, keeping his eyes on what’s left of his onigiri. She knows he remembers that day in primary school because she notices a fat tear roll down his cheek, despite his small smile. She immediately looks away.
Satsuki spends most of her weekend in her room, but instead of curling up with a good book, she first makes a to-do list.
- Police report.
- Tell the principal.
- Write to UA. (Shiketsu, Ketsubutsu, Asami?)
- Be nice to Midoriya.
She writes the same letter four times addressed to the admissions office of each well-known hero school. She plans to attach a copy of the police report to each letter before sending it off. She’s never been filled with so much determination. If she’s being honest, her determination is also tempered with malice. She’ll be damned if Bakugo Katsuki gets anywhere near a hero course after what he said to Midoriya.
She files the police report early Sunday morning. There’s tired-looking officer with a cat mutation behind the front desk. His badge says his name is Officer Tamakawa.
“How can I help you?”
“I need to report a case of severe bullying.”
“Have you told your school principal? Usually, we don’t get involved unless the school files and official report,” he says. She can tell it’s just the protocol talking. She can tell he wants to do more than pass off her claims to someone else.
“My school probably won’t do anything. They never do anything. That’s why I’m coming to you first,” she says, trying her best not to sound too meek.
“Are you being hurt at school?” The officer’s face looks as serious as a cat’s face could.
“Not me. My classmate. His name is Midoriya… well, they call him Deku.”
“Does this Midoriya know you’re here?”
She shakes her head and the guilt is back again, gnawing on her insides. She should tell Midoriya, but some part of her knows he’d never stand up for himself this way.
“Is he in immediate danger at school?”
She doesn’t know what exactly about the question sets her off, but she suddenly feels as if the blood in her veins is on fire. Her throat burns with sympathy for Midoriya. Her words fall out in a jumble of nonsense.
“I don’t know! He doesn’t—he isn’t—I don’t—ugh! Midoriya is too nice to care about himself enough to come here. He doesn’t want to make trouble! But he told him to swan dive off the roof and I’m tired of being a bystander! See something, say something, right?”
Officer Tamakawa looks as if he understood maybe four of five words out of everything she said, but they were enough for him. He nods, sullen.
“Wait here, please. I’ll be right back.”
She’s seen enough crime dramas to know she’s in an interrogation room. It immediately makes her nervous, but she assumes it’s probably the only place with cameras to record her report. The man across from her—the chief detective—looks kind enough to ease some of her tension. He presses the red button on the recording device and clears his throat.
“My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa. My Quirk is called Human Lie Detector. I have no reason to think you’re lying. That said, with such accusations, we like to be sure. Especially, when the victim is not the one giving testimony.”
Satsuki nods. It was easy enough to understand, and maybe even better this way. Midoriya most likely wouldn’t press charges, but at least UA would know the truth about Bakugo.
“Alright, please state your name for the record.”
She sends the letters Monday morning on her way to school. She does so with an acute sense of dread. She doesn’t know why she feels so bad about it. Maybe because she hasn’t told Midoriya, and she feels bad for butting in. Maybe she feels bad because she’s actively trying to ruin someone’s future prospects. She pushes away that thought viciously. Bakugo ruined his own future with his actions. She does not feel guilty.
She has to say that a few more times to get the feeling to stick.
School goes on the way it always does. Midoriya is quiet, half-listening to the teacher while he writes in his notebook. She purposely avoids his eye when he looks her way and feels endlessly bad about it. She’s a coward, and it takes her a long time to pluck up enough courage to approach him. At lunch, she sits at the empty table he always occupies, waiting for him.
He freezes when he makes eye contact with her, and starts looking around like he’s trying to find another empty table. He starts to move toward one across the lunchroom, and Satsuki find the courage to speak.
“Midoriya,” she says. He flinches at his name, but only a little. When he locks eyes with her again, he looks unsure.
“Can I sit with you?” Satsuki asks, as if she isn’t already sitting at the table. He nods slowly, and takes the seat across from her. They eat in silence. It’s far less awkward than the silence they shared on their walk home, but the air is still heavy between them. Satsuki likes silence. She usually spends her lunch hour with noise cancelling headphones on. School is always so noisy. It hurts her head. She thinks Midoriya instinctively understands that about her because he knows so much about Quirks, so she makes an effort to speak.
“How was your weekend?”
Midoriya looks up from his bento, eyes wide. He puts his chopsticks down and gives a small sigh before replying.
“Hanamaki, I appreciate it, but you don’t have to do this.”
Midoriya presses his lips together in a thin, hard line. He squirms in his seat, and even though she can’t see his hands she knows he’s probably wringing them nervously under the table.
“Th-this. I’m not… gonna kill myself. You don’t have to feel bad for me.”
She’s caught off guard by his blunt words, and she doesn’t know what to say. She’s never been good at saying something. That’s why she’s usually more than okay with life just happening around her. She’s a backseat lifer with little to no drive.
“I don’t… think that.” She can’t bring herself to say kill or suicide or anything like that. “You just… look like you need a friend. Maybe I need a friend too.” She tries to smile at him, but she knows it looks too pained.
“You shouldn’t be friends with me. I know the explosions hurt your ears,” he says, his voice small. She’s reminded of a time when she got too close to one of Bakugo’s fights, and the ensuing explosion made her ears bleed. That day, someone left a small pack of tissues and ibuprofen tablets on her desk, the kinds that come pre-packaged in first aid kits. She never gave it much thought until now. Why was Midoriya so kind to everyone but himself?
“I’ll be fine. See any cool hero fights over the weekend?”
Midoriya only hesitates for a few seconds before he’s regaling her with all the details of an attack that happened while they were walking home on Friday. He talks so fast that she only really gets about half of the story. Something about sludge and All Might and soda bottles.
A few days go by like this. Satsuki and Midoriya quietly revolving around each other. An encouraging smile before class, a wave as they part ways to head home. They eat lunch together in companionable silence, only speaking about light topics like homework assignments and upcoming quizzes. They aren’t friends , not exactly. But Satsuki is actively trying. It takes a few days for anyone to notice that Midoriya is no longer constantly alone. On their third day of eating lunch together, some of Bakugo’s followers, Tsubasa and Kageyama, approach their table. They’re not usually so bold without him. Bakugo was called to the principal's office during lunch, and ever since Satsuki has gone back and forth between feeling vindictive pleasure and dreadful guilt. By the time his lackeys start talking, she’s feeling vindictive.
“Quirkless Deku got himself a girlfriend, huh?”
“She’s not much to look at, but she still too cute for your worthless ass.”
“What, is he paying you?”
It’s a rapid fire round of insults and grating laughter. There’s no room for her or Midoriya to defend themselves. Satsuki doesn’t even know if she’d have the courage to speak even if they did leave room in the conversation. She’s more than happy to continue reading her book. She expects Midoriya will go back to writing in his notebook as well.
That’s not what happens.
“Leave her alone,” Midoriya says. His voice is small, but there’s a hard edge to it she’s never heard. His soft baby face looks angry for once, his eyebrows knit together.
“Midori—“ she starts, but the other boys are much louder than she is.
“You must really like her if you’re finally growing a spine!” Tsubasa says, and then Midoriya is shoved out of his seat. The laughter burns in her ears. She goes to help Midoriya up, but she finds herself being shoved away. The corner of the table digs into the small of her back. He doesn’t push her nearly as hard he did Midoriya, but the poor treatment still smarts.
“Don’t think I won’t shove a girl. If you hang out with useless trash, you get treated like useless trash.”
“Good to know you’re an equal opportunity asshole,” she says, the words acid on her tongue. She has to stop herself from slapping a hand over her mouth. I can’t believe I just said that.
Midoriya looks like he wants to laugh as she helps him up. He settles for a small smile. As soon as he’s up, Kageyama grabs the front of his gakuran and starts to violently shake him. Midoriya just… let’s it happen. And Tsubasa holds her back from doing anything to stop them.
“Midoriya Izuku and Hanamaki Satsuki, you’re needed in the principal’s office.”
The crowd in the lunchroom emits an ominous ooh and Satsuki feels like a thousand eyes are watching her. She’s not used to any attention, much less the negative kind. She knows exactly why they’re being summoned to the office, but Midoriya doesn’t. They share a glance amid Tsubasa’s and Kageyama’s sneers, and head out of the lunchroom.
“Are you okay?”
Of course the first words out of his mouth are concern for someone else. It almost makes her angry.
“Why do you let them treat you like that?” Satsuki snaps.
Midoriya doesn’t flinch, but he averts his eyes from her gaze and looks down at his red sneakers. He doesn’t say anything. The closer they get to the principal’s office the more suffocating the silence becomes. All she can think about is the impending conversation on the other side of that door. Midoriya will be completely blindsided.
“Before we go in there, I have to tell you something,” she says, coming to a halt a few steps from the door.
The door opens before she can say anything. A tired-looking man with long, dark hair walks out into the hall.
“Hanamaki Satsuki?” He asks, his voice sounds just as dead as he looks. Something about him is terrifying. All she could do was nod. She felt like she had tar in her mouth.
“We got your letter. Thank you for your candor.” He dips his head in some semblance of a bow. He eyes Midoriya for a moment, like he’s taking in every little detail about him, from his rumpled clothes to the scrapes on his hands.
“Chin up, kid. You’ve got a good people on your side.” he says, gruff, and continues walking down the hall. When he’s out of earshot, Midoriya whispers, “What was that about?”
“I—“ She’s interrupted again.
“Don’t dawdle out in the hall. Come in,” the principal says from inside the office. It’s just short of a snap. He’s clearly not happy.
There’s an ungodly amount of people in the small office. It’s standing room only, and it gets that much more crowded when she and Midoriya step inside. There’s a plump woman who looks exactly like Midoriya in one of the chairs. In the other, sits a woman that could be Bakugo’s older sister, but she’s assuming it’s his mother, as there’s an older man standing near her. Bakugo is sulking in another chair next to his mother. Tsukauchi stands nearest to the door, and greets them with a warm smile.
“Mom, why are—“
Midoriya’s question is cut off by his mother’s muffled sob. She stands and immediately wraps him in a hug. Midoriya goes rigid in her arms, and his head slowly turns to Satsuki.
“What did you do?” He asks, horror and accusation in his eyes.