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A Different Perspective

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This is not going well.

The thought came unbidden to Ochaco’s mind as she slammed a chunk of concrete into the space the villain had been seconds before. It squelched into a puddle of magma that was promptly left behind as the villain popped away from the hefty rock. He had, quite literally, disappeared from his location only to relocate several feet away from the giant boulder Ochaco was smashing into the ground. Again. For what felt like the millionth time in a row.  

She humphed in frustration at her inability to move faster than that stupid villain could be teleported out of the way. She considered herself to be a generally optimistic person, more jaded than she had been as a newly minted hero a few years ago, but optimistic none the less. She believed that Good would triumph in the end. She believed that what she did as a pro hero made a difference, even if it wasn’t always super clear that it did. And on this day, she believed that she and her allies could and would win this fight. Despite this outlook, even she could acknowledge that this disaster of a fight was not going according to plan. 

Ochaco had gotten the call while finishing up a long day of patrols, the sun was setting and Ochaco was doing one last round of the neighborhood before she would head home. Today had started fairly average, with several mundane calls to help cats out of trees or elders who’d fallen and need to be transported to the hospital and the such. She had finished a more strenuous rescue call thirty minuets before, a burning apartment building where she’d lifted 17 civilians and the collapsing 5th-10th floors of the building. Her agency had offered to send help, but Ochaco had waved off the backup, knowing she was perfectly capable of handling it on her own- she wasn’t the Number 7 Hero for nothing after all! Thinking back on it now though, she probably should have accepted the help. She was definitely feeling the fallout from over-exerting herself as she jogged around the block, just looking around for any suspicious activity. She was contemplating her plans to head home and drink a glass of wine with a book before passing out when her comms gave a high pitched beep, indicating her agency was contacting her. She lightly tapped the edge of the ear piece to pick up the call.

 “Uravity, I know it’s the end of your shift, but we’ve got an emergency call” She heard her sidekick, Plantasma’s silky voice speak through the earpiece. Plantasma was a fresh UA grad whose quirk let her summon ghost plants, which Ochaco thought was a freaky quick by all accounts. Like, what even was a ghost plant, let alone a quirk that could animate it? This new generation of heroes certainly had some weird quirks.

Ochaco sighed before replying, “It’s okay Lilly, what’s the call?”

“Well, it’s Young Heroes Middle School, there’s an attack underway. There are kids at the school doing after-school-programs, they're in danger.” Plantasma replied, her voice cracking halfway through with repressed emotion. With that, Ochaco immediately forgot her plans for her evening.

“I’m on my way” She said as she made a sharp right turn towards the school, breaking into a sprint.

She rapid fired questions into her comms for details on the attack as she ran. Apparently, a group of five villains had decided to try and take out an entire school full of kids. Red Riot and Creati were already on the scene, having been at the school to give a presentation to the kids about what it was like to be a pro hero. Other pros in the area were being called in, just like her, to deal with the fight and its inevitable fallout. 

She rushed through the city, making a sharp right turn onto the street the school was on. Pillars of black smoke billowed from the sprawling one storied building. Ochaco took a deep breath and ran towards the building, vaulting herself over the big fence that surrounded the campus. Looking around as she ran across the front of the school she found no actively attacking villains. She assumed that the fight was in the back, though she could see evidence of a fight here. There was a particularly concerning stain of blood on the windowsill of one of the classrooms closest to her. She wrenched her eyes away from the sight, she couldn’t worry about that now. Take out the threat, then rescue.

There were sounds of a fight-cries, grunts the sound of heavy objects impacting flesh- coming from behind the building. It was the best lead she had at the moment, so she headed towards the edge of the building, following her instincts. She rounded the corner of the building to find said threat. 

She got a quick glance at the surroundings as she swung around the corner of the building, noting Creati and Red Riot fighting with several villains, an unconscious mental count tallied five in total, before she was caught off guard with an insanely hard punch to her gut, delivered by a greasy looking man whose yellow teeth were clenched in a manic grin. Well, she'd successfully found the fight, she noted sarcastically as she felt her lungs spasm as they tried to pull air in.

“Oh Uravity is here, this aught to go fast” The villain taunted as Ochaco doubled over attempting to regain her breath.

“Uravity!” Momo yelled to Ochaco while simultaneously creating a dual set of swords, “He’s got super strength!” 

“Ugh.. yeah you think?” Uraraka wheezed under her breath as she dodged a follow up punch from the grinning villain. He seemed peeved off that she had dodged his second punch and started to flail punches and kicks at her. He clipped her on the side of her forearm she was using to protect her face and she heard, more than felt, one of the bones crack.

“Just stop MOVING! Let me kill you like all of those little kiddies” He spat at her as she dipped and dodged his blows to the best of her ability.

That had stopped her heart for an agonizing second. The children. Surely, they wouldn’t have killed them... right?

She did not have time for more than that second's consideration of the possible consequences of this attack because by the next beat of her newly heavy heart the villain’s super powered punch was rushing towards her again. She ducked the blow, reaching out to make contact with the villains torso with her fingers, only to have him twist away millimeters before she could land all five. She huffed, partly in frustration and partly in pain, as her sudden movements sent bolts of pain from her bruised ribs and broken arm.She had to get away from this guy, or she’d be broken before being able to rescue the kids.

The villain brought his leg up in a kick to follow through on his twisting away from her fingers. Ochaco relieved herself of gravity just as his boot made contact with her chin so that instead of delivering a head rattling kick, the villain gave her the momentum needed to be kicked off into space away from his offensively painful attacks. Ochaco grit her teeth as she flew head over heals backwards, spinning weightless in the air in a nauseating trajectory away from the villain. She painstakingly brought her fingers together to release her quick, which stopped the spinning, but also slowed her momentum and she started to arch back towards the ground as gravity grasped her weight again. She quickly activated her quirk again and her acceleration stopped so she was lazily drifting towards the ground- rather than accelerating towards it. She saw the villain she had been fighting glare from the ground and her eyes widened as she watched him reach behind his back, while a second villain, an older female with white hair, appeared behind him hand extended. Ochaco would have done a double-take at a second villain appearing in out of thin air if she wasn’t so focused on gun the strong villain pointed at her.

 Crap… she thought right as the woman touched the barrel and he pulled the trigger. 

At that point several things happened at once: Then gun fired with a flash, but the sound was drowned out by a massive boom, which Ochaco knew meant that reinforcements had arrived. Thank god.

Bakugou exploded, literally, onto the scene aiming a set of explosions toward the super strength villain's extended arm. Unfortunately for Ground Zero (and for the villain) Deku got there first. Moving as fast as the green lightning crackling around his limbs, Deku slammed his red boot into the greasy villain's forearm. She unconsciously blinked, missing the slip second it took Deku to completely annihilate the villian's arm. She noted that the blow was so strong the villain’s hand was literally dangling, both bones poking out of his skin. The second villain popped back out of existence right as Deku aimed a second kick at her continuing his momentum. Izuku's eyes widened in surprise as the female villain disappeared before he ducked so Bakugou’s incoming blast didn’t hit him. It did however, connect with the villain’s severed forearm, effectively cauterizing the wound and making the greasy villain scream in pain. He wasn't getting that hand back without some serious medical intervention. 

“DEKU! YOU FUCKING DICK, THAT WAS MY HIT!” Ground Zero screamed at the grinning Deku who had returned to Ground Zero’s side, though not close enough to be in range of the small explosions Bakugou fired in frustration.

“Too slow Kacchan” Ochaco heard Deku reply cheekily. These two never stopped their stupid pissing contest, though she supposed she should just be happy Bakugou wasn’t actively attempting to assassinate Deku. She started to roll her eyes, but it was at this point that Ochaco’s right thigh exploded in sharp pain so intense her vision blacked out for a moment. She gasped as she unintentionally dropped her quick and started falling out of the sky.

When did I get hit? I thought the bullet missed?!

“Ochaco!” Deku’s tone changed as she plummeted out of the sky and she grasped her leg, which… wasn’t, bleeding..?! Ochaco’s thoughts scrambled, attempting to process the situation she found herself in. Was she shot? Was it another injury? Why wasn’t she bleeding? When did she start falling towards the ground in a tailspin? How did she stop falling? 

Breath. Focus.,/p>

Thankfully, her thoughts quickly righted, thanks to years of training in equally awful situations. She was falling. She had to activate her quirk. Easy peasy, she'd been in this situation a million times...But, oh… she was hellishly nauseous. 

She was gonna puke. She was totally gonna puke. Why, oh why, was her body’s first response to stress intense nausea and immediate voiding of her stomach? Why hadn't she accepted the backup her agency had offered earlier that day so she wouldn't be on the edge of her limits?

She plummeted from the sky, accelerating toward the ground, vomit from the pain and overuse of her quirk on the back of her tongue. Ochaco git her teeth in anticipation.

Since that point it had been more or less downhill. She’d managed to activate her quick just in time to slow her progress towards becoming a human pancake, which was a plus. Then she’d immediately vomited, which was super gross and embarrassing, but not anything her comrades hadn’t already seen. It’d been, like, five years since she’d vomited from quirk use, but whatever- she’d get over it sooner or later. Then she'd bucked up and acted like the goddamn professional hero she was and kept fighting. 

The five villains had a really symbiotic set of quirks as far as Ochaco could tell. The greasy man had some sort of strength enhancing quick, there was a girl with short bronze curls and and insane looking scar down her face who could create telekinetic shields, a tall willow of a man who spewed lava from his..ehm… orifices and an older woman who could freaking teleport anything she touched. There was a fifth member who they couldn’t get a read on- a boy with creepily long index fingers who kept trying to touch the heroes, but who hadn’t landed a hit. Ochaco shuddered to think what he could do, given the other villains' quirks; after all, the freaking teleporter had teleported one of the bullets directly into her leg( which definitely hurt way more than being shot normally, by the way). They’d figured out the teleported bullet was her mystery injury to her right leg when Deku had attempted to dress her wound, only to find there was no wound, just a hard excruciating lump in her thigh where the bullet had warped into her body. 

The sum of the villains quirks turned out to be a pretty great foil for the combined set of quirks of the heroes who showed up to the fight in the last ten minutes. Deku’s kicks were blocked by the shield, the teleporter just moved any of Creati’s objects away, the strong dude went head to head with Red Riot, Magma man was unaffected, if not fueled, by Ground Zero's explosions and she couldn’t get close enough to touch anyone because of salad fingers ridding her friggin' ass the whole time! It didn’t help she basically couldn’t use her right leg. 

Everyone had sustained hits (well except Deku who was too fast to be hit with anything short of a targeted missile). Creati had verified that the majority of the school children who had stayed for the after school program were dead in a heart wrenching tear streaked shake of her head when Ochaco had asked her as they met up in the throws of their own fights. This knowledge that the heroes had ultimately failed an entire school of children served to throw the whole lot of them off their game with the intense emotions it elicited. She'd swallowed her horror down with her bile and focused on capturing the villains who'd caused such a tragedy

All in all, Ochaco knew that this fight was not progressing in a promising way, the heroes just couldn’t seem to get the jump on these guys, they were just trying to keep up. Reacting, not proactively destroying their asses like they normal would have. 

At the current moment, Ochaco was back to back with Ground Zero attempting to fend off Magma Barfer and the Finger Kid thinking this is not going well. Deku was 100 feet away doing his damned best to get past the shield, or at the very least wear down her quirk. Red Riot and Creati were teaming up against the villain with the strength enhancing quirk. The teleporter was zipping back and forth between the fights mucking everything up.

“I need another block” She tossed over her shoulder to Bakugou, who’d been segmenting parts of nearby concrete structures for her to lift and, ideally, crush the villains with. She kept trying to get the timing right and catch the magma man under a boulder, seeing as he was causing the most problems for the pair by spewing lava from his nostrils at them in targeted jets. Unfortunately, Teleporter Lady kept teleporting herself to him , tapping him and moving both of them just before Ochaco managed to land a hit. 

“I just gave you one! Can you please learn to aim like an actual fucking hero?!” Ground Zero shouted at her dropping into a squat to duck the outstretched hand of the finger kid. He followed up with a kick to the chest and blast to the face, physically removing the kid from their general area.

“Or you could take out the teleporter, Lord Explosion Murder, so my target stops being teleported out of my range! Your pick!” She fumed back at him as she swung her weightless body out of the way of several smoking balls of molten rock that the Lava Man was flinging at her. He was using them to keep her occupied while he advanced towards her from the place he’d been teleported to last.

“I’m a little busy protecting us both from freaky fingers over here!” He quipped raising both his palms to incinerate a bench that had appeared over their heads courtesy of Teleporter Witch. “Oh yeah and blasting all the shit that keep appearing above us! Pull your own weight for once, Pink Cheeks!”

“Arg!” She grunted out as she snagged one of the solid chunks of cooling magma from the air with her un-broken arm and lobbed it back at the lava villain. She hated that nickname!

 “I would really like some ammo that does not burn my hands when I use it, Bakugou!” She yelled whipping her head around to catch his gaze, trying to impress upon him that she wasn’t messing around and really did need some help. His eyes narrowed at her, reluctantly compliant.

“Alright, alright! Fucking give me a damn minute” Bakugou grit back, turning his head away from her launching AP shots at the Finger Kid, who was surprisingly good at wiggling out of the way and relentless in his pursuit to get a finger on one of them. Ochaco could see Bakugou was having trouble keeping the kid away from them, but she trusted he would be able to handle it. 

She whipped her head back around just in time to see a stream of magma headed right for her. She activated her quirk on herself and jumped, twisting the air in an attempt to move out of the way of the scalding rock.

“AH, goddamn it! Why the right leg?!” Ochaco yelled as a spray of magma caught her right foot. She hadn’t been able to move out of the way fast enough thanks to the bullet still lodged in her thigh. She sucked in pained breaths through her teeth as she felt the molten rock melt through her costume and then through the first layer of her skin. She shook the magma off her foot, hissing in pain as her skin blistered before her eyes.

“Get it together Uravity!” Bakugou glared over his shoulder at her floating form, flinging magma off his left forearm with a grimace.

Uraraka scoffed, feeling slightly guilty that he’d gotten hit while he had entrusted her to protect his back. Only slightly though, because this wouldn’t have happened if he’d done what she’d asked in the first place and given her some ammo. 

“We don’t have enough man power for you to pussy out over some lava!” He continued unapologetically as he grabbed her left foot. Ochaco decided to let that comment go unacknowledged as he yanked her weightless form back towards him with his right hand to get her out of the way of one of Creati’s spears that had been teleported into the air Ochaco had perviously occupied. In a show of his multitasking talent, he simultaneously used his left hand to blast into a crumbling wall. The action loosed a hearty chunk of concrete for her to use as ammo. He tossed her towards it with a bit more force than was strictly necessary, especially considering she was weightless.

“Release!” She let herself fall to the ground next to the newly loosed chunk of wall and backed up so she was once again back to back with Ground Zero, strategically best place to be for them both.

“Seriously Uraraka, I can’t keep saving your ass, get your shit together!!” He continued his insults as he spun back around to face off with the Finger Kid, who’d managed to get within hand to hand range again, the sneaky fuck.

Ochaco touched the now loose concrete and lifted it up to shield them both from an incoming wave of magma while Bakugou let loose an impressive chain reaction of explosions at the touchy feely kid. She could feel the wave of heat blow past her from the sheer size of the explosions. The finger kid was enveloped in a cloud of smoke, while magma flowed harmlessly to either side of the concrete she held up and Ochaco exhaled forcefully in pain as the heat from his explosions and the magma licked her already burned skin on her foot. To be honest, it was all a bit overwhelming. Particularly considering she had been up and working for over 20 hours at this point. She really did not need her current fighting partner giving her crap. She really didn’t. 

“Oh SHOVE OFF, Bakugou!” She yelled as she kicked the car sized piece of rock towards the lava leaking freak, and then promptly made a mental note to not drop kick anything else as her leg protested in a scream of white hot pain. She let out a pained grunt before continuing her scathing remarks, “as if you didn’t pause for a freaking second when you got hit by lava! In case you missed the memo, lava hurts!”

She was right, of course, he had indeed paused for a freaking second to scream “SHIT!” when he’d been splashed across his left side a few minutes ago. He was covered in a blistering burn where his costume used to cover his flank, that caused him to flinch with any movement on his left side.

“Release!” She yelled bringing her fingers together as the chunk made contact with the villain, finally! That should hold him for a few minutes, which meant she and Bakugou had a few moments of breather with both their opponents down. Bakugou grabbed her shoulder and spun her to look at him, which sent a shock of pain though her right leg and bruised ribs.

“Ow!” She exclaimed, “What the heck?!” She shoved his chest with her good arm without actually putting any strength behind it. He glared at her with the fury of a man who was fed up.

“Of course it fucking hurts, It’s a goddamn burn from LAVA! But you don’t see me bitching about it!” His brows were drawn down in anger, a bead of sweat ran down his face, which was streaked with soot and dirt. Ochaco, glanced down to his left side, where his skin was badly burned, feeling a slight twinge of guilt before she got over that and glared back with just as much fervor, because screw him. Seriously screw his attitude, she was doing her best.

“I am NOT bitching! I said ‘ah goddamn it!’, because I got hit with frickin’ lava, you asshat!” She growled at him, “I’m allowed to be in pain when I’m injured!”

Their glaring contest was interrupted by Kirishima shouting “Impact!” As he went flying towards them, having taken a powerful hit from strong villain. Ochaco really hadn’t been keeping track of the others heroes as well as she should have, having been wrapped up in her own fight and trying to keep tabs on Bakugou’s. 

Quickly calculating trajectories, Ochaco jumped up after activating her quirk, intercepting Kirishima as he went flying over their heads. She connected all of her finger pads to to his hardened skin and removed his weight then started incrementally slowing his momentum. 

“Thanks Uravity!” Kirishima smiled at her at the same time she heard Bakugou mutter “Idiots”.

She returned her gravity pulling them both back to the ground where she held out her new Red Riot balloon to Bakugou, glaring at him. He was insufferable! She literally just saved his best friend from crashing into the ground.  

“Hey guys this isn’t a good time to-“ Kirishima started to say looking between the two of them, clearing seeing that they’d been fighting each other just as much as the villains. 

“Light” Ochaco instructed Ground Zero, who growled and placed his hand up against Kirishima's hardened back, releasing an explosion that sent the weightless Kirishima rocketing back towards the strength villain. 

“YOu guuuyyyyss!” Red Riot yelled as he was launched away from the two, aimed straight for impact with the villain who’d sent him their way in the first place. He collided with the villain with a sickening cracking sound. 

"Release!"

Bakugou planted his feet facing Uraraka, an infuriated glare on his face, Ochaco cocked her hip and mirrored his expression. They opened their mouths at the same time:

“You are always BITCHING-“

“ I am not always-“

“-ABOUT THE STUPIDEST-“

“-bitching. You’ve always had some sort of-“

“-EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE!”

“-BIAS AGAINST ME!”

Ochaco stood scowling at Bakugou. How they always managed to get into a fight was beyond her abilities of explanation. It wasn’t like they were still in high school, this sort of degradation of conversation was not warranted for two professional heroes. Since their years at UA, nearly six years ago now, he had grown a lot, to the point he had a working friendship of sorts with Deku. It was more of a deep mutual respect than friendliness, if she was being honest. He’d been able to learn to control his outbursts, if only for the purpose of climbing the hero rankings, and he’d made friendships with the majority of their class. Why he couldn’t seem to play nice with her was as annoying as it was insulting.  

They were so wrapped up in their argument Ochaco almost did not notice the teleporter appear next to the finger boy, who held out his hand to her. As the villains’ fingers connected he popped out of existence. Ochaco promptly forgot she was pissed off at Bakugou as she felt her stomach drop in worry.

“Ground Zero, the finger guy-“ Ochaco started to say at the same time he said “Shit” as they both watched the Finger Kid disappear.

She pulled up her hand to guard her face as Ground Zero started heating up his palms, but there wasn’t enough time to react as the creepy kid appeared in thin air in front of Uravity and Ground Zero. His long index fingers reached forward towards both of their faces and they both leaned back in an unsuccessful attempt to put more distance between them. The kid’s left finger reached Ochaco as the right reached Bakugou tapping them in the space between their eyebrows. Some part of Ochaco’s brain noted that his finger had a strangely cool touch. Bakugou reached up and hit the villains hand away from where it had connected to his forehead, his face contorted in anger.   

 A psychotic grin spread across the boys face as he pulled his hands together and touched the tips of his index fingers together. Ochaco heard him release a manic laugh right before her mind exploded.

Chapter Text

What AHH the fuck FUCK! is going WHAT THE HELL?! on?!

FUCK I feel like Why does my my brain is leg imploding? feel arg! like it’s it’s been dislocated? so painful! I haven’t Where am been hit I? I can’t in my think leg?

Ochaco felt like her whole existence was being sucked into her thoughts, which were running so quickly she couldn’t focus on a single one. They were so alien and strange, she’d never had thoughts like these before. She felt irrationally angry, white hot fury that made her hands shake. She realized she had collapsed onto the ground. Oh she was nauseous. And her head was ringing like a bell. She started to panic and felt it swell and combine with the fury she was feeling until it was suffocating her.

I’m gonna I can’t puke. breathe

She started hyperventilating and vomiting at the same time, but not...? She gagged, interrupting her hyperventilation and gasped for breath after finishing vomiting at the same time. She felt herself doing two things at once, which was impossible and incredibly disorienting. She didn't understand, what was happening to her?

Ugh. What did that kid Gotta do to me? move. Wait.

Some part of Ochaco was starting to untangle the mix of thoughts bouncing around in her throbbing head. She fisted her hand on the ground and let her finger nails dig into her palm. The bite of pain snapped her thoughts together into something that resembled organized thought. She felt an echo of pain and annoyance that definitely felt foreign. It had a different...flavor? color? One thing was certain though, these thoughts were not her own.

Ugh! That Who’s smarts! voice Fuck this! is that?

She could swear she recognized the sound of the half of her thoughts that she seemed to not be in control of. It was hard to tell though, she was in so much pain, she’d never had a headache like this, never so cripplingly bad. Not even when she’d accidentally blasted himself through a fucking wall. Wait. No. She’d never done that. What was this flash of a memory she had? She couldn’t blast herself through a…It hit her suddenly, She knew who her thoughts sounded like.

My thoughts sound If just like I could Bakugou?! just think no way. straight. This is crazy

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Why did her thoughts sound like Bakugou?! Was she reading his mind? Could he read hers?!! Panic swelled in her again and she felt it whip around in her brain melding with an uncontrollable anger. It was a shitstorm of emotions so intense she gasped for air like a fish left on a dock as it just magnified the pain her mind was experiencing. She had an inkling what was going on, but was terrified to test her theory.

I’m going to Bakugou, can you fucking hear me? murder that no this is crazy- the kid little can’t possibly punk. have made me I just gotta be able to read get up minds, right? and moving. no, it’s like I can’t I’m thinking move. FUCK! his thoughts?

He was screaming in her mind, which was really not helping her think her own thoughts and disentangle his from hers. Or what she thought were his. It wasn’t super clear that his thoughts actually were not her own. She didn’t really want to think of the alternative: that these were all her thoughts and she’d gone crazy. She really had to figure it out fast because, as she’d just remembered, they were in the middle of a fight for their lives.

GODAMN IT he’s so HOW fucking loud! DID THIS-

He really needed to shut up and calm down, she was feeling increasingly unhinged by her (his? their??) anger. They didn’t have time for this.

BAKUGOU!

Ochaco all but screamed in her mind. She felt (how the hell could she feel that?!?) a beat of surprised silence. Blessed silence! Her pain diminished to a manageable level. She opened her eyes, letting out a sigh.

Ugh finally! you’re so loud.

She turned her cheek on the pavement, she must have fallen after that kid touched their foreheads. Looking around she saw Bakugou lying a few feet away grasping at his hair, eyes wide. She met his eyes and felt a weird electric jolt go though her spine. It wasn’t painful per say, more like someone had turned on all of her sensation all at once. She felt a jolt go through his spine at the same time, as if his body was hers. She didn't even want to begin unpacking that one.

Uraraka?

He responded hesitantly and totally confused. She looked away from him, waiting for him to understand the situation, checking for the villains they’d just been fighting, who appeared to not be near them at the moment. Which was good, because she wasn’t sure she could get up.

She felt his epiphany as if it was her own, several thoughts raced through her brain as he connected the dots. The flew around with dizzying speed. A dagger of pain lanced through her forehead, which then echoed back to her as she felt him experience her pain. She was stuck in an echo chamber of pain with him, this was not good.

WHY stop thinking ARE YOU so hard IN MY it hurts my head HEAD?!

His yelling (thinking..? How did one categorize what was happening?) was causing a deep throbbing pain in both their brains, which she couldn’t really distinguish between at this point. It was like she simultaneously had one and two bodies. She groaned and rolled over onto her back reaching up to her head and squeezing her eyes shut in an attempt to block out some of the stimuli assaulting her mind. An intense stab of pain sprang up her leg as she moved causing her to freeze and him to choke on his breath.

OW gah! OW OW She struggled to breathe through the combined amount of pain she was currently experiencing. She gripped her leg, which was a bad plan. The contact launched a whole new wave of torture through her mind. Their thoughts fizzled out in the blinding intensity of their combined pain.

Ugh your leg hurts, stop moving!

Ochaco thought this was a good plan and stopped moving. She felt him start to sit up to take a quick look around. A new pain ripped though her- or his?- left flank. He collapsed back onto the ground, which sent another wave crashing into their shared mind-space. Or at least she thought it was his pain, the sensation of being mentally connected was so disorienting she couldn't really tell. Definitely his injury, she realized as she reached down to feel her own side, which was intact and pain free. The burning sensation his movement had elicited bounced back in forth in their brains magnifying the overall sensation, crippling them both. He stopped moving, taking his own advice, and the pain decreased. A few tears slipped out of her eye, she opened them and glanced back to where he was laying.

This doesn’t make any sense. Why is this happening

Well obviously this is that creepo’s quirk! I’M GONNA FRY THAT FUCKER!

Stop yelling, you’re making it worse!

NO Bakugou I you swear to stop- God if you just let keep me screaming at talk me for a-

STOP THINKING FOR A FUCKING SECOND!

She stopped thinking, yielding to the biting pain his yelling sent through her psyche. She narrowed her eye at him from their spots on the pavement.

God thank you. Okay clearly this kid has a mind altering quirk-

- It’s a mind melding quirk I think.

THAT’S WHAT I JUST SAID!

FUCKING STOP YELLING!!!

That stunned him for a second, she felt a whisper of amusement. His amusement, which was making her feel amused. Ugh they were so messed up right now.

We’ve got to get out of here and wait for this to I agree wear off.

She felt his irritation at being interrupted. But it wasn’t like she could control when her thoughts decided to happen!

We’re sitting ducks until then. Does your comms work?

“We’re sitting ducks until then. Does you comms work?” He said out loud as he thought it, which created a weird sort of echo in her brain. She pulled a face at the strange sensation.

Don’t talk, it’s really weird and just making things more complicated.

Fine. Does your comms work? Mine’s shot.

Ochaco reached up to her ear piece and pressed the on button. Static buzzed through the unit.

Shoot. Mine’s busted too, I wonder if they did that on purpose?

Who, The villains, the villains? dumbass.

Ochaco sighed. She could not wait for this quirk to wear off, this was exhausting. She felt his irritation and frustration building.

Okay lets go, we gotta power through and get the fuck-

His thought was interrupted as a streak of green lightning came flying into their proximity. Her heart swelled with emotions, too many for her to process at the moment: Love, pain, heartbreak, admiration, relief.

Deku! you’re disgusting no you idiot, he can help us!

She felt his begrudging admission that that was right.

Deku!

“Deku!” Her voice was scratchy and raw. She felt stupid calling from where she was stuck on the ground motionless. She could count on one hand the number of times she'd been this incapacitated and they'd all been with in her first year as a sidekick. Embarrassment, frustration, shame and guilt flooded her brain, both from herself and Bakugou.

I see what you mean, hearing you think and speak at the same time is a really uncomfortable sensation.

Ochaco ignored his comment and his rising anger at their predicament. Deku skidded to a stop in front of them, his face screwed up into a worried, tear streaked mess.

“OH I was so worried about you guys! I saw the long fingered kid touch you and you both just dropped!” He fell down to his knees next to Ochaco and pulled her into a tight hug. Normally, she would have welcomed a hug from Deku in a moment like this, but currently she was mind-linked to someone who seem to be a sounding-board for any pain either one of them had and Deku had jostled her leg, ribs and broken arm.

AH!! FUCK! DEKU STOP MOVING HER

“AH!! FUCK! DEKU STOP MOVING HER!” Bakugou shouted as Uraraka let out a strangled cry. Their minds exploded with pain that bounced back and forth. Deku froze holding Ochaco, who just panted as the pain subsided. Bakugou’s hand grasped at the torn up pavement as he recovered too.

DON’T FUCKING MOVE

I know! God! Stop yelling!

"What’s going on?! Oh my god are you hurt? How bad? I can-“ Deku started rambling looking confused between her and Bakugou.

Izuku, I need you to listen to me very carefully do not move me again.

“Izuku, I need you to listen to me very carefully, do not move me again.” Ochaco said interrupting his frantic rambling, she made eye contact with his bright eyes. They were a tragically beautiful shade of green. She felt a pang of heartbreak, which was immediately followed with Bakugou's annoyance.

“Tch” Bakugou vocalized his irritation at Uraraka’s feelings. She whipped her head around to glare at him feeling a multitude of emotions she couldn't seem to source to either person well. It was just a giant mixing pot of hurt, annoyance, pain, heartache, longing, irritation, anger, disappointment and on and on. Endless in its depth.

You’re pathetic, pull it together.

I can’t control how I feel, you of all people should understand that!

Can you at least try not to feel it while I’m along for the ride?

Can you stop being an asshole while I’m along for the ride?!

“Uh guys?” Deku was looking back and forth between the two heroes, clearly understanding there was more going on than he initially thought. “What exactly did that villain do?”

Ochaco paused. What was actually going on? How could she accurately describe how it felt to suddenly have both one and two bodies? To be psychically linked to Bakugou, of all people? She opened her mouth to explain right as Creati and Red Riot ran up.

“Ochaco! Are you okay? I saw you get hit with that one kid’s quirk” Momo said stopping next to Deku giving Uraraka a once over. Momo herself had a large gash on her forehead, which was leaking blood down her face. Kirishima arrived shortly behind her, looking worse for the wear as well.

“I’m glad you two are awake, you both dropped like a ton of bricks!” Kirishima said in concern, “They totally turned tail and fled the second you two went down! I think they probably were just trying to get a second to breathe so the teleporter could get them out. ”

“What did he do to you guys? Are you okay?” Deku interjected with concern, shining in his eyes and he carefully held Uraraka still.

i’m…

“I’m…” Ochaco started then paused, realizing she had no idea how she planned to express her current state. She blinked up at Momo in confusion. She was still unprepared to answer the question. How did she even start explaining all that had happened in the past five minuets since she’d been inexplicable connected to Lord Explosion Murder’s mind. Luckily Bakugou caught on to her lack of explanation and took over.

The creepy kid hit us with his quirk, which we think is mind melding or some other shit, and now we can’t move without our pain bouncing back and forth.

“The creepy kid hit us with his quirk, which we think is mind melding or some other shit, and now we can’t move without our pain bouncing back and forth. “ He stated in a matter-of-fact tone from his spot on the ground. It was weird to see him not move as he talked. Ochaco never realized how much he normally used his hands to express himself until it was taken away.

The group was silent for a moment trying to process what Bakugou said. Kririshima’s mouth actually hung open.

“That’s incredible!” Deku exclaimed. Ochaco blanched, that wasn't exactly the reaction she'd been expecting, “Think of the application of this. You can feel each other’s pain? Can you communicate telepathically? See out of each others eyes? There are just so many applications! What an amazing quirk! I wonder…” Deku started mumbling to himself contemplating the new information. Ochaco awkwardly cleared her throat.

What a fucking nerd

I can’t believe he chose to focus on the usefulness of the quirk. We’re literally incapacitated.

Fucking rude is what it is. Doesn’t really matter how it works- it’s fucking us up!

Ochaco didn’t have a response to that, she knew Deku didn’t mean anything by it, he was just trying to figure it all out for the future fight he would inevitably have with the villain. He couldn’t help himself. He had built his mind to be a one-track analyzation of everything he needed to be the best hero possible.

It isn't because he doesn't care about our pain, he just cares more about his job as the Number One Hero.

Her heartbreak and sadness washed across their minds, unbidden. She felt a jolt of sympathy from Bakugou, which was unexpected. Ochaco knew he thought her and Deku's relationship, or rather fallout from said relationship, was a waste of time. He'd said as much last year when everything had gone down. He didn't comment on her thoughts though, which Ochaco was grateful for.

“Wait. So if you guys are all..” Krishna gestured generally in their direction, clearly lacking words to describe their current mind-meld “ ... immobile... from each-other's pain, how are you guys planning on getting home?”

Gee, asshole I thought that’s what having allies was for.

“Gee, asshole I thought that’s what having allies was for.” She felt Bakugou’s budding anger flow through her. It was so weird, feeling his anger as if it was her own. It had a different..flavor?... than hers normally did. Some how sharper and less diffuse. The longer she spent connected to him the more she was able to tease apart what was hers and what was his, though it was exhausting just trying to do so. She couldn’t wait until the quirk wore off and she could go back to only feeling her own emotions. That was going to be great.

I think what Bakugou means is that we were hoping for some help? Maybe try getting Recovery Girl out here to fix our injuries or Aizawa to cancel out the quirk?

“I think what Bakugou means is that we were hoping for some help? Maybe try getting Recovery Girl out here to fix our injuries or Aizawa to cancel out the quirk?” Ochaco restated his general idea of getting assistance, much to Bakugou’s irritation. She felt his anger at her lick her mind, leaving a sort of sting. She mentally flinched away from it reflexively and he calmed down, having felt the pain she had secondhand.

“Oh, I don’t think we're gonna have time for that. “Momo interjected, all business. “The press got ahold of the story and they’re already on their way. We can not let your… condition… get out until we know more.”

Ochaco blanched. Great, the press. The last think they needed was to be photographed in a compromising position. Seeing two of the Top Ten down didn't exactly inspire confidence in heroes in a time of tragedy.

“Creati is right, having two of the Top Ten Heroes weakened by a single hit will spell disaster for morale and incite panic. “ Deku added in nodding vigorously.

I AM NOT WEAKENED!!

“I AM NOT WEAKENED!!” Bakugou spit fire at the insinuation. Ochaco grimaced as his psychic shout wreaked havoc on her already bruised mind. She shot him a venomous glare.

Stop yelling! My brain is going to completely to disintegrate if you keep at it!

“Stop yelling! My brain is going to completely disintegrate if you keep at it!“ She chastised him. He had the good grace to stay quiet after that, no doubt because his head was killing him as much as hers was. Actually she knew it was, because she could freaking feel it. What a weird day. During his outburst Momo had made two cots out of her back.

I do NOT like the look of those…

You don’t think they would try to carry us out of here by hand?!

The both physically flinched at the same time as she envisioned the pain that would come with them both being jostled around on those. Deku watched the flinch with interest. Great, she wasn’t going to hear the end of his list of questions.

Oh HELL No!

“Oh HELL no!” Bakugou said shaking his head. This whole hearing it in her thoughts and out loud thing was getting really annoying, but Ochaco had to second Bakugou's sentiment.

“Do have a better idea? Or would you rather face the press in your current… state?” Momo launched the rhetorical question right back at Bakugou. She felt him relent his position more than saw it, his face still held the scowl, but his mind had resigned himself to his fate. Their fate.

Ochaco took a deep breath and nodded to Momo in consent. Momo frowned, but turned to Deku and Kririshima.

“Kiri, Deku, can you help me carry them out of here?” Momo asked, setting the cots next to Ochaco and Bakugou. Deku nodded and Kirishima made a fist in affirmation.

“Ochaco first” Momo said nodding. Ochaco froze up. She felt her anticipation and fear amplify as Bakugou added his own. This was going to hurt. If they couldn't even have just one of them sitting up without crippling pain, she could only imagine what have them both moving around would feel like.

Oh man I am this so not is going ready for to suuuuuuck this

Deku shifted her in his arms and Ochaco whimpered as pain lanced through her and Bakugou’s minds. Bakugou sucked in a sharp inhale of breath.

Fucking be careful, that shit hurts!

“Fucking be careful, that shit hurts!” He snapped at Deku, who just grimaced apologetically. Momo and Kirishima exchanged a concerned look, clearly freaked out by their show of shared pain. Which was a fair reaction, Ochaco supposed if she saw someone exclaim in pain because another person was injured she'd be pretty weirded out too.

Just get it over with Deku, I’ll be okay

“Just get it over with Deku, I’ll be okay.” Ochaco whispered making eye contact with him. Her heart stuttered again, traitorous thing it was.

“I’m really sorry about this, Ochaco…” Deku said apologetically. Then before Ochaco could analyze the way her heart sank at his words, he moved her onto the cot with a swift movement.

Ochaco literally lost her vision the pain was so intense, but then it was over and she was on the cot panting as the pain receded. She felt dizzy. Or maybe Bakugou felt dizzy. It was hard to tell. He was groaning both verbally and with his thoughts, which was distractingly noisy. If the pain wasn’t enough then the sudden swell of emotions they both were having was more than enough to fill her brain to the brim. Pain, Hurt, Anger, Confusion, Determination and too many others to count whipped around her brain in a tornado of feelings, sweeping her ability to think clearly with it. She couldn’t process everything that was happening, it was too much for her brain to do. To make matters worse, before they had recovered from her being moved the three heroes were already moving Bakugou.

“Wait- we aren’t ready- “ Both Ochaco and Bakugou said at the same time right as Kirishima moved his hands under Bakugous torso, brushing the pervasive burn wound on his flank. The pain returned, doubling from its previous intensity as Bakugou was moved onto his cot. She heard herself scream through Bakugou's ears, but didn't have time to process how strange it was because she was lost to the world in an ocean of hurt. At some point the heroes lifted their cots and began moving Ochaco and Bakugou. She could hear them talking back and forth but couldn't understand what they were saying, as she and Bakugou were jostled on their cots. For the first time since this nightmare began she felt her brain totally in sync with Bakugou’s as they suffered through it together, completely consumed by their shared pain.

Make it stop!

Thankfully it did stop as Ochaco's brain gave up and she faded into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

Ochaco came into consciousness in a cloud of confusion. She opened her eyes, staring blearily at the ceiling. She noted that it was a standard white tiled ceiling with white fluorescent lights beating down on her, very industrial and bland in nature. She stared up into the light, fascinated by its soft, white glow. She felt…what was the word? Sort of floaty, inexplicably happy and very, very relaxed. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt like this…probably the after she’d broken her ankle in the earthquake rescue two years ago when she’d been in the hospital. They’d given her pain medications and she’d felt just like this. Loopy, that was the word!

Her brain caught up to itself and she realized she was in the hospital and probably being treated for something.

Oh. I’m in the hospital. How did that happen?
You idiot, we got… hit with a quirk…duh.

The foreign thought floated into her brain slowly. As if the thought was whispering to her through a blanket. Actually, wait the voice mentioned a quirk. She vaguely remembered something about a quirk… long index fingers. Oh, yeah that was right! She and Bakugou had been fighting a group of villains and a weird kid had sent their minds on a one-way-collision- course with each other. Oh man, that had been so painful, she was so glad she didn’t feel that now.

The quirk must have worn off, thank god!

Dumbass.

Wait. That voice was… Bakugou? She couldn’t be sure, everything was so fuzzy. It felt way weaker than it had before she had passed out. It definitely still sounded like him though, they must’ve still been connected, right? That or she was crazy, which (as far as she could tell) was a real possibility. At least the pain was gone. Man, her brain was slow on the uptake today! Ochaco tried to make herself focus. She needed to figure out if the quirk was still active.

Bakugou?

She thought it lazily, barely an afterthought. There was no response. That was fair though, she hadn’t really been trying. It felt really hard to focus with all this cotton in her brain, like she was swimming through a fog. Just like that time she’d been in the hospital with a broken ankle and they put her on drugs.

Oh, she must be drugged up right now. That’s why her brain felt so funny. She wondered if Bakugou was also on drugs. Darn it! She kept getting distracted. She was testing to see if the mind bend-y connect-y quirk thingy was still active.

Bakugou?
She thought a little… harder? Yes, harder was the right sentiment. Like shoving it through the fog of her own thoughts forcefully.

What do you want? ….I’m trying to sleep.

Ah ha! It had worked! The quirk definitely hadn’t worn off yet, it must only have been a few hours since they got connected. She patted herself on the back for her powers of deduction, smug that she’d cracked the case. She was a drugged-up genius! The drug genius! That had a ring to it, she giggled at her own cleverness. She had to remember to think about changing her hero name…
What had she been doing? Ochaco took a curious look around the room. Yep, it was definitely a hospital! She was in a gown, tucked firmly into a hospital bed. An IV ran out of her arm up to some hanging plastic bags that contained a clear liquid. She squinted to read one of the labels on the bag, 'Normal Saline' printed with some numbers and a handwritten note of 'Morphine'. AH HA! She was on drugs! She paused, remembering she was going to do something… That’s right she was gonna see if Bakugou was drugged up too.

Are you on drugs?
She thought at him. She couldn’t really explain what direction “at Bakugou” was, but for some reason she kinda felt like she had this...this.. pit in the back of her mind that he was just on the other side of. Anyway, apparently, she was right about his location in her brain because he clearly got the message.

What the fuck… did they put you on?

She had the weirdest sensation that he was almost..laughing at her? She then remembered that last night she had been able to feel his feeling as if they were her own. Super weird. She then realized that she wasn’t feeling his emotions as if they were hers, merely the fact that he was experiencing them. Their emotions were separate. Finally! This new change of just knowing what he was experiencing without having to go through it herself was a welcomed one for Ochaco. This whole mind thing had been weird, but not not being able to tell what she was actually feeling or thinking was definitely the freakiest part of the ordeal.

It so nice that we don’t feel everything the other does now.
Speak for yourself, I can feel …how high you are right now.

His thoughts were coming in broken up, like there was static on the call between their minds. Or maybe she just wasn’t able to focus on them well enough to make them seem whole? She didn’t know, her brain was so foggy.

No, no. silly. I mean I can still feel what emotions you’re having, I’m just not having them! It’s nicer, I don’t like your anger.
Rude much?!... I’m not that angry…

Was Bakugou… offended..? She probed around the place where she could feel him in the back of her mind. Yes, she was definitely picking up a feeling of offense from him. Oopsy daisy! She didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. She’d only meant it like being angry with her own anger was okay, but being angry with someone else’s anger was not.

Come on, you know what I meant.
Yeah, yeah. Tch… I get your point…. I didn’t like feeling your mushy, gushy …emotions either.
Also, you are definitely as ‘high’ as I am right now. You’re way too calm.
Well your leg no longer feels like it’s gonna fucking fall off and my side is no longer a goddamn open wound so yeah, I’m fucking calmer!

Ochaco ignored his retort as his comment brought her attention to her injuries. He was right, her leg did feel a lot better. She looked down at it and saw a blooming bruise covering her upper thigh. Further down her lower leg, where she had been burnt, was still bright pink, but blister free. She assumed this meant that the hospital staff had only healed her partly, as was common practice. Gone were the days of Ochaco as a student, where Recovery Girl was obligated to fully heal her. Now, as a pro hero she had to use the official medical system, which was designed to heal to the point of being functional and nothing more. Healing quirks were hard to come by and those who wielded them needed to be able to last an entire shift of continuous quirk use, after all. That also made sense as to why she was currently on pain medications. At least they’d healed her broken arm completely. She flexed her hand experimentally, smiling happily at the lack of pain. It felt good to stretch out the newly healed tissues.

She felt Bakugou’s presence in her mind intensify with fear, like he suddenly wasn’t on the other side of the mind-pit, but had crossed over into her brain. One mental foot in her mind one mental foot in his own mind. He was anxious and resentful. Or maybe she was. Someone was.

What? What’s going on? Are you okay!?

She sent the thought worriedly across the link(the pit? thier connection? she wasn't really sure what to call it) when she felt his anxiety spike sharply, his presence still stronger than it had been before. It was followed by her sensing that he was uncomfortable and then she felt a sting on her arm. She flinched and gripped her forearm, confused. Had she been bitten by a bug? She didn’t see a mark on her arm. She frowned, confused.

Bakugou faded back to where he had been before, behind that mysterious hole in her mind, as quickly as he’d breached into it. He felt more annoyed than anything and she was relieved to notice that she herself did not feel it, just that he was currently experiencing it. Things were back to the separated state, thank god.

What was that…? Are you okay?

I’m FINE!

He snapped back at her, like a dog reflexively lashing out. Ochaco was mildly offended, she was just trying to help. Whatever, he could deal with it by himself for all she cared. Instead of thinking a reply toward him she sat up in bed to further investigate her surroundings.
She had a wave of dizziness at the movement, which, thankfully, quickly passed. She was pleased that her injuries didn’t hurt with the movement, they were merely sore from the healing process.

She glanced around and found that she was in a modestly sized private room, one of the perks of being a Top Ten Hero. The room had a nice view out onto the park across the street. The lone visitor chair in the room had her costume folded neatly on top of it. There was a table next to the bed with several vases of flowers on it, she assumed from friends or fans. She hoped they were from the former, though. She always felt guilty and embarrassed by fans sending her gifts, they really shouldn’t be spending money on her for just doing her job.

She clumsily reached over and wheeled the table over to the bed to get a better look. The first card she plucked from a bouquet of pink flowers read “We’re all rooting for you! Get well soon! -Class 3-A”. She smiled at the card. Despite the fact that they’d graduated six years ago, the class was still close by virtue of being in the same profession. Some of her classmates even went on to work in the same agencies. Kirishima and Momo had both been contracted together, as had Ahshido and Koda. She was always happy to run into them at hero conferences or on patrols. She smiled at their thoughtfulness, though to be honest it was probably the Todorokis that had actually coordinated the group of friends to send something.

She tossed the card carelessly on the bed, giggling as it fluttered down like a falling leaf. Oh man, maybe Bakugou was right, she was definitely a little high. She’d have to remember to ask the nurse to lower her dose.

She looked through more of the cards attached to various sets of flowers. There was one from her parents, a large bouquet from her coworkers at her agency, a bouquet of ghost plants from her bizarre sidekick, a few from fans and one from Deku. Her parents’ card had been mostly filled with concern and ended with a request for a phone call when she woke up. There was a really cute fan card written by young girl named Melody who drew a stick-figure picture of Uravity floating around the moon, a few from concerned citizens and a bouquet of red roses sent from a man named Shino. He was one of her more.. ehm… persistent fans, proclaiming his undying love for her at any given chance. She blanched at his card and tossed it onto the floor, grimacing. It was kind of creepy, but it came with the territory of being a female pro. She didn’t even open Deku’s, she just…couldn’t.
Several minutes later she was surrounded by a spattering of cards that she’d dropped onto the bed (and the one from Shino she’d tossed on her floor) and she had finished with her uplifting gifts. Ochaco looked for something else to do. The medication she was on seemed to be dropping down to a less extreme level and her brain fog was clearing somewhat.

She spotted the TV in the corner of the room and decided that TV was a good enough way to pass the time until a doctor came by to check on her. She grabbed the bed control that for some reason also controlled the TV. She’d been in the hospital frequently enough to know how it worked more or less, and she only had to fumble with it for a few seconds before she turned the TV on. It was already tuned to the news. A female reporter with a set of rather fetching purple horns was speaking. She was surprised to find the story to be about herself, weird timing.

“An update on the Middle School Attack of this week. A new report has come in that the heroes Ground Zero and Uravity remain in the hospital under lockdown due to exposure to an unknown quirk. Our anonymous source reports that they are currently still recovering from non-quirk-related injuries and have yet to be assessed for possible complications of the unknown quirk. “

The reporter spoke in that weird news-reporter-voice Ochaco secretly hated. Next to the reporter the network displayed her and Bakugou’s most recent hero portraits. Bakugou stood smirking at the camera arms crossed in just about the cockiest pose possible. He was all hard lines and harsh contrasts, simultaneously menacing and alluring. Contrastingly, Ochaco’s picture was all curves and soft lines, calming and approachable. She smiled at the camera as her long hair floated around her head, her fingers poised inches apart ready to release her quirk. At least they had used a good photo of her. The one she’d taken as a sidekick had been horrendous and some news stations hadn’t bought the rights to her newer ones so they continued to use it. The devils.

Ochaco vaguely wondered who on hospital staff was leaking information about their current condition. It was not unusual, it had happened a few of the times that she’d been hospitalized, but it was certainly annoying. She hadn’t realized as a student how invasive being a pro was. She had virtually no privacy since she’d cracked the Top Ten.

“Our source reports that they are both currently healing well, but that the staff do not know when they will be released. Both The Tokyo Hero Alliance Agency and All Might Agency have released ‘No Comment’ statements regarding their heroes’ current conditions.”

As much as she hated getting information secondhand from the news networks, at the moment her contact at her hero agency, The Tokyo Hero Alliance, hadn’t been by to debrief her. Or at least not while she was conscious… Actually, how long had she been out of it? She had no idea how long she’d been unconscious. Maybe Bakugou knew?

Hey Bakugou?
She pushed the thought over to him in the same way she had before, it felt much easier to do now, like the fog in her brain was thinner and offered less resistance. She had a brief moment of mental fugue as she considered how normal speaking to him mentally was becoming.

“The Tokyo Police Department released a statement that they have not apprehended the criminals responsible for the attack that killed 37 young heroes in training, but that they are working with top pro heroes to find and apprehend the group of villains…“ The TV reporter continued the story, but Ochaco muted it while she tried to focus on the place she could feel Bakugou. She reached into the back of her mind where she felt the pull of the …link? Sure, that worked to describe how it felt, like the linchpin between their minds.

As she mentally got closer to the link she could feel that he was generally irritated, which in and of itself was not surprising. What was surprising, however, was the subtle undercurrent of embarrassment that ran concurrent with it. She could also sense him decidedly ignoring her, even when he seemed to notice her getting closer to his side of the pit. He was mentally scoffing at her greeting. How she was able to interpret all of this from the newly made link was beyond her. She just ...could? It felt shockingly natural.

Don’t ignore me!
She chided him, feeling his irritation grow and morph into animosity. He had a particularly short fuse today it seemed.

Fuckin’ what?!
Why are you so touchy?
NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUISNESS!

As he thought-screamed at her, Ochaco got a flash of fear and anxiety and the general concept of needles. She paused. Since when could they communicate general concepts? She gapped for a bit at the idea that they might be able communicate thoughts that weren’t technically words. Like, this kid’s quirk was insane! And seriously dangerous, considering it was quite literally in the hands of a villain.

Then she realized what the implications of Bakugou’s unintentional message meant. Suddenly the earlier prick of pain on her arm made sense.

Bakugou Katsuki was scared of needles.

She let out an uncontrollable giggle, pressing her hand to her mouth in an attempt to hold it in.
Bakugou, are you afraid of needles?!

Ground Zero was afraid of needles. The same hero who blasted himself several hundred feet in the air with explosions from his hands with the utter confidence of someone with no fear of dying… was scared of needles.

Bakugou simmered on his side of the link, feeling both pissed off and embarrassed that she had figured it out.

You are! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it!

He sent her the general impression of flipping her off. Dang, he was a fast learner with this whole no-language-communication thing.

How long has this been a thing? I can’t wait to tell Don’t you Deku! dare tell anyone! FUCKING NOT DEKU!

She felt him become furious at the implication of appearing weak in front of Deku.

Okay no need to yell! Your secret is safe with me.
She tried to send him the idea of a pinky promise, but she only felt his confusion at what she was trying to do. She frowned, puzzled at the way this new aspect of the link worked.He seemed to have no trouble doing it, why was she not able to as well? Maybe it was wearing off and got weaker over time?

Before she could delve deeper into the mystery or continue her conversation with the fuming hot head she was linked to, there was a polite knock on her door.

“Come in!” She shouted eagerly, hopefully her agency was here to debrief her.

The door opened and she was mildly surprised to see Aizawa walking into her room silently raising a hand in greeting when he saw that she was awake. Ochaco observed that he looked as sleep deprived as ever, despite having retired last year. She worried he wasn’t taking his retirement seriously. Though, she contemplated, pro heroes never really retired. They were always on-call for situation specific use of their quirk. Case in point, Eraserhead was here now to relieve herself and Bakugou of the quirk side effects until it wore off.

“Aizawa-san! It’s so good to see you!” She cheered, smiling brightly at him. He walked across the room and moved her costume onto the foot of her bed, taking a seat in the now open chair. It really had been too long since she had seen him. She felt a rush of affection for the composed man. He really had been the most influential teacher she had at UA, she still really admired him for how much he promoted her growth as a hero, despite her comparative weakness to her peers.

“Hello Uraraka, I’m happy to see that you’re awake, you gave us quite the scare.” He said kindly, eye crinkling with the hint of a smile.

“Yeah about that… how long have I been out?” She asked cautiously. It was weird not knowing how long she’d been sleeping. It had been at least 12 hours, because it was clearly daylight outside. He gave her a strange look, tilting his head slightly.

“You’ve been out for four days.” He said slowly, as if unsure she was comprehending correctly.
Ochaco balked at him. Four days? FOUR DAYS?!

“I-I, wwhat? Four days? How!?” She stuttered out in shock. She seriously only believed that she had slept overnight. She had somehow unknowingly missed four days to the void of unconsciousness. She had never, NEVER, been out for that long after a fight.

“ehm.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably, looking away from her “Well, you were originally only out for a few hours, but then you and Bakugou woke up and kind of went crazy.”

Ochaco just stared at him. The information he was giving her just keep getting more and more unnerving. She didn’t remember waking up and ‘going crazy’, whatever that meant. She was feeling some kind of combination of shock, confusion and anxiety.

She suddenly felt Bakugou very close in her mind. How she knew that's what it was, she didn't know. Somehow she just knew. She could tell that he was curious as to what had gotten her all riled up, but was too stubborn to ask. She didn’t think she had been pushing her feelings across the link?

“I don’t remember that at all! What happened?! I didn’t hurt anyone did I?” She asked scared of the answer.

People often thought of her quirk as protective, she was primarily a rescue hero after all, but it could also very easily be used for harm; they often forgot that there isn’t air in space, having not considered the possibility that the cute girl with a pastel pink costume could quite literally throw them into orbit with little-to-no effort on her part. Not to mention the damage that could be brought down on them in the form of a weightless building being dropped directly onto their heads. So Ochaco felt that her worry for having accidentally hurt someone while she couldn’t remember what she was doing seemed like a reasonable concern.

“No, god no.” He comforted her, waving his hand nonchalantly, then paused thoughtfully. “well you didn’t, Bakugou got a few hits in on Kirishima…” He tapered off like the details weren’t important, which they definitely were!

Ochaco looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to explain. He sighed deeply, clearly annoyed at her reasonable request for more information about what she had done while she was unconscious. Or not unconscious, apparently.

“Anyway, the staff at the hospital couldn’t get you to calm down, so they gave you both a sedative and some morphine for the pain while your injuries healed. Apparently, it worked really well because you both kind of just slept for the next few days. It really freaked Midoriya out, he thought you were going to be permanently damaged from the quirk you got hit with, but I told him to give it time, that’d you’d both be okay. And here we are, you’re just fine.”

Well at least that explained the morphine and crazy weird drugged up feeling she’d been having when she woke up. Ochaco paused at the last thing he said. 'Just fine', as if he thought she and Bakugou were back to normal. Did he think the quirk was gone? He must know that mind altering quirks were short acting, usually less than 24 hours. Not enough time had-

Ochaco’s stomach dropped. Oh god. The quirk. It was still active! It had been four days, not 12 hours! Four days and the creepy Finger Kid’s quirk was still working… Oh no. She started to feel her heart in her throat, the beginning stages of panic.

What is it?! Why are you panicking?!

“Uraraka, what is it? What’s wrong?” Aizawa asked his eyes narrowing at her expression. She floundered trying to answer them both. She swallowed loudly, taking a deep inhale.

Bakugou, Aizawa-san says that we’ve been asleep for four days…

“Uhm, about the quirk…” She started in a daze “it’s, uh, it’s still active…” She finished lamely, tapering off at the end.

Aizawa’s eyes widened, his mouth tensing into a firm line.

WHAT THE FUCK?! FOUR DAYS?! That’s what Wait, the I said! quirk is still active, that’s not possible.

“Uraraka,” Aizawa’s voice got very serious, commanding her attention, “Are you saying you and Bakugou are still mentally connected? The way Deku described?”

Ochaco swallowed, she felt her own fear and panic start to spill over to his side of the link, like her mind just had too much of it so it was leaking into his brain. Bakugou started to panic too, feeding hers in a vicious cycle. She felt the realization hit him and suddenly his emotions were washed out with a sort of shocked calm.

This is permanent isn’t it?

Yes
She answered him in a small voice, feeling his numbing shock start to leak into her emotions, absorbing their previous panic.

“Ochaco.” Aizawa pulled her out of her head, away from Bakugou’s ever more present consciousness. They seemed to be getting closer with every increase of emotion. Ochaco snapped her attention back to the man who was actually physically in front of her, rather than the one psychically in her head. Aizawa looked at her with a probing expression.

“Yes. The link is still there, I’m talking with him right now.” She replied to her former professor. Aizawa grimaced and sighed deeply. Ochaco furrowed her brows, that wasn’t the reaction she’d been expecting. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say that he didn’t seem all too surprised by it at all.

“I was afraid of that…” He stated cryptically.

“What do you mean Aizawa-san? What do you know? Is this permanent? What are-” Ochaco rapid fired questions at Aizawa, who interrupted her.

“Uraraka, you better ask Bakugou to come here. It seems we have a lot to discuss”

Chapter Text

Ochaco took a deep breath at Aizawa’s words, she felt like she was back in school waiting for someone to tell her everything was going to be okay. That the professional heroes would come rescue her. She obviously knew that at this point she was the pro hero and that she was going to have to figure this out herself. That’s why it was so strange that Aizawa had held back information from her. She was nervous to figure out why he had been holding knowledge back about the quirk that seem to be connecting her and Bakugou’s minds. Her nerves stirred, making her stomach pang.

Bakugou? Aizawa-san wants to speak to both of us, together. Can you come to my room?
She felt Bakugou’s interest pique as she asked, then felt it turn sour as he processed the request.

He knows more than he’s letting on, doesn’t he?
It appears so, yes.
Bastard!
Okay no need to be rude, he’s just trying to help…
She felt what seemed like the equivalent of a grumble come from his side of the link, which she took to mean he’d be coming by.

What room are you in?

Ochaco realized she had no idea what her room number was at that moment. It was a silly thing to forget to mention when you were asking someone to come over. How awkward of her.

“eh.. Aizawa-san, what is this room number?” Ochaco asked bashfully, fully aware of how dumb the question sounded. She supposed she could blame it on the morphine if worse came to worse.

“436” He motioned to the whiteboard on the wall. Ochaco looked over to see that on it the hospital staff had written the names of her doctors and nurses, the date and that her room number was 436. Ochaco felt her cheeks heat up in even more embarrassment. Her brain really was somewhere else today!

“Guess I ought to pay more attention” She said under her breath, wringing her hands together in embarrassment.

“It’s okay, it’s disorienting to wake up in a different place” He said waving away her apology, “You can tell Bakugou that it’s just down the hall from his room.”

We’re in 436, Aizawa-san said it’s just down the hall from where you are.
He didn’t respond, but she felt him get dizzy briefly and assumed he was on the way. He felt, per usually, mildly annoyed at the task of walking to her room. She rolled her eyes at his general attitude, it wasn’t like he was the only one inconvenienced by this whole thing.

“He’s on his way” She informed Aizawa, who nodded in affirmation, “well at least I think he is, he didn’t exactly tell me.” She added as an afterthought.

Aizawa looked at her curiously, “Deku described the you were fully immersed and couldn’t not tell each other what you were thinking.” He stated as if it were a fact. Ochaco knew Aizawa's tone indicated that it was a request for explanation rather than a statement.

“Well, no. I mean… it’s different now than it was last ni- er, four days ago.” Ochaco offered lamely, struggling to figure out how to describe the change. Also how the heck would Deku know what it felt like?! It was kind of off-putting that Aizawa trusted Deku’s analysis so much. He could be wrong about things after all.

Yeah he was wrong about me, for example.
Ochaco mentally cringed away from the thought, thankful that she and Bakugou were no longer so intimately connected that he could hear everything that happened to pass through her mind.

“Different how?” Aizawa inquired stiffening in his chair, he was clearly uncomfortable with the way the quirk was changing. It made Ochaco more curious as to what information about the recent changes he was privy to that she wasn’t.

“Well, it’s… muted” She started looking at her hands, “It’s like... the link is fuzzy, I can feel what emotions he is experiencing but they don’t affect me. Before it was all together. Like, anything either of us thought or felt the other also felt. It’s the same with pain.” She grasped at the air trying to find the correct way to describe it. She figured that trying to explain the hole in her brain where the link was wouldn't be a good place to start. Or how she felt like he was on the other side of a window, visible but separate. She didn’t even really understand it herself and Aizawa probably wouldn't understand the analogies.

“Link?” He asked impassively, seemingly more relaxed after her explanation, as if he expected things to have worsened rather than get better.

“Oh, yeah that’s just what I call it. There isn’t a really good word to describe it, but 'link' is close enough.” She explained her personal nomenclature for the weird connection to Bakugou she felt in the back of her head.

“Was it harder to communicate when you first woke up?” He asked clearly onto something Ochaco wasn’t grasping yet. He was asking some very specific questions. She wished Bakugou would just hurry up so she could learn what Aizawa was waiting to tell them, then she could at least attempt to connect the dots that Aizawa was already connecting.

“Yeah it was, but I was still feeling the effects of the sedative.” She said as way of explanation. She figured that if her mental capacities to think clearly were affected as much as they had been earlier that it was safe to assume the link would have been too. Before Uraraka could think more on it though, there was a sharp knock on her door.

“Come in Bakugou” Aizawa called towards the entry. Ochaco watched as Bakugou came into the room wheeling an IV stand behind him, still being infused with fluids and morphine like she was. His eyes roamed around the room before locking onto her own. She jumped when a jolt of intensified sensation went up and down her spine, just like it had when they’d first been connected. She felt and saw him start as the feeling went down his own spine too. The hairs on her arms stood up on end and it felt like he was suddenly a lot closer to her side of the link.

…that was weird
Super fucking weird.

“What just happened?” Ochaco whipped around to look back at Aizawa as he spoke, who was looking between the two, “Why did you both just jump?”

She looked back over to Bakugou, not sure how to explain it. He just shrugged at her and sent the sentiment of ‘Whatever’ across the link. She felt mildly annoyed and a bit jealous that he already seemed to have a better handle on the link than she did. He appeared to be able to do the weird no-talking communication thing like it was second nature now. She shouldn’t be surprised, he was good at everything he tried. Just one of those Bakugou-isms.

“Er, we both felt a shock go up our spines and now our minds feel ...closer?” She tried to explain to Aizawa. Her eyes darted over to Bakugou to see his reaction, which was just to have brows furrow. It was a look that she would have previously interpreted as ‘pissed off’, but the link informed her that he was just concentrating, deep in thought. She vaguely wondered how many times she’d misinterpreted his facial expressions.

“…Or at least that’s what it felt like to me.” She added as a qualifier, not sure if she’d over-stepped her bounds trying to explain what something felt like for Bakugou. He seemed to not have heard her, though. Aizawa was looking between them with narrowed eyes, calculating.

“I can’t hear your thoughts echoing when you speak, like before. “ Bakugou spoke up, meeting her eyes, “do mine echo for you?” His side of the link broadcasted that he was curious and a bit frustrated.

Ochaco paused. No, she couldn’t hear his voice echoing, which honestly, was a relief. While that hadn’t been painful, it was a really weird and grating phenomena, like nails on a chalkboard.

“No, I can’t. It’s honestly a relief, that was really annoying. I can’t hear any of your thoughts either, just a vague impression of how you’re feeling.” She replied to him shaking her head.

Can you hear this?

“Yes, I could hear that one.” She nodded in assent to him, confused at what he was trying to get at.

She suddenly felt him, for lack of a better description, pressing on the hole in the back of her mind. Then, without warning, Ochaco was abruptly standing half-in and half-out of his mind. It was like he was reaching across the link into her mind and simultaneously pulling her across it into his. She felt his curiosity and mild discomfort at being vertical. He was tired of standing. He wanted to figure out how this whole quirk catastrophe worked so he could control it. As she was going step by step through his thoughts with him, she noticed that she still wasn’t experiencing his emotions as she had the first night. However, with his pulling them together like this she could better distinguish the finer intricacies of his emotions and their causes. He really just wanted to lay down. A flash of stubbornness combated his discomfort. He needed to figure this out while they were brushing mind like this. He wanted to focus.

If I push into your mind like this does it change for you too?

“Yeah that feels a lot... closer, I guess? How did you do that?” She replied out loud, “You know, you should just sit down if you really want to” She scooted over in her bed and patting the side. She felt his hesitancy at the familiarity of her proposition along with his slight offense that she thought he was not strong enough to stay standing.

“Just sit down Bakugou” Ochaco said as she rolled her eyes at his ridiculous weakness complex.

“Tch” He said as he reluctantly took a seat at the foot of the bed, as far away from her as possible, folding his arms while an eyebrow twitched. She felt his indignation at her bossing him around and a small sliver of appreciation that he quickly buried under an avalanche of irritation.

Figures.
Ochaco thought quietly to what she thought was herself, forgetting that they were more closely linked at the moment than they had been all day. He definitely heard that.

YOU WANNA GO CHEEKS?!
He screamed into her brain and she narrowed her eyes at him, folding her own arms across her chest.

If you don’t wanna hear it, back off my brain!

She felt him rapidly pull back from the link at her suggestion, verbally grumbling under his breath. It left a sensation of tingling where he had previously been occupying her psyche.

“As much fun as it is watching two people have a conversation in their heads, I have some information for you…” Aizawa monotoned to the two. Ochaco looked back over towards him, flushing. She had almost forgotten he was there. It was strange, when she was focused on speaking with Bakugou through the link she paid significantly less attention to the outside world. It was not a good habit to get into.

“What do you know?” Bakugou's tone was clipped, he was still mad that Aizawa had attempted to skim over this information when he was with Ochaco. Ochaco wouldn’t admit it out loud, but she was also super annoyed he’d tried to get through their initial conversation withholding information that was very relevant to the current situation they found themselves in. Would he have ever told them this information if she hadn’t mentioned they were still under the quirk’s effects?

Aizawa sighed, dragging a hand down his face, pulling at the bags under his eyes. “While you were out we looked into the registry based on what information Deku had collected regarding the effects of the quirk. We found a registered user that matches pretty well with the symptoms you experienced. We think the person who got you two is Kanayami, Hito. His registration was updated when he entered middle school two years ago, but he never entered high school; He’s been off the grid for the last three years.”

“When you say ‘matches pretty well’ what do you mean” Bakugou said suspiciously. Ochaco hadn’t picked up on the turn of phrase, but he was right. It was an odd choice of words to describe the system. Usually quirk registrations were very detailed in recording the effects of a quirk. It was important to distinguish, for example, between someone who could produce red flames as opposed to blue flames. Similar quirks often popped up, but each one was unique, like a fingerprint. A registry of unspecific information didn’t help to identify any one individual.

“Up until you two, all of his victims either died or went insane, so there wasn’t a lot of data on what the quirk actually does” Aizawa said making some seriously intense eye contact with Ochaco, who promptly choked on her subsequent inhale.

“w-what?!” She managed to get out, she felt a burst of annoyance from Bakugou as he turned to glare at her, sending her a vague message across the link. He seemed to mean ‘get it together’, though Ochaco was still not a pro at interpreting non-word BakuSpeak.

“How many victims?” Bakugou refocused on Aizawa.

“At least 7 people.” Aizawa answered curtly, “We think his first victims were his parents, who were found dead several weeks after Kanayami dropped off the map. At the time the coroner had no idea what had killed them, but a few weeks later witnesses watched Kanayami link two civilians’ minds and watched as they collapsed and died shortly after.”

“Why did we survive?” Ochaco blurted, feeling a bone deep fear at what could’ve happened to them. Bakugou however, just felt angry.

“Well, like I said there has been at least one set of survivors. It seems Kanayami was experimenting with his quirk and tried to link three people up. They almost died, but somehow survived” He sighed deeply pausing, “But they are all totally insane, we can’t make a lick of sense out of what any of them say or do.”

Ochaco shuddered. She felt as thought she sort of understood why the victims had lost their minds. Being connected with Bakugou like she had been several days ago had been the most intense experience of her life. It was maddening to not know what thought or feeling was your own. Hell, she was barely keeping it together now when she wasn’t simultaneously feeling and thinking everything he was. She couldn't imagine being linked to two people.

“Shiiiiit” Bakugou drawled out in disbelief. She could feel him processing the information with about as much comfort she was- which was none.

We could’ve died.
I wonder why we didn’t. It’s fucking bizarre. Why us?
“Do you have any theories as to why we are the only ones who are okay?” Ochaco asked Aizawa instead of trying to answer Bakugou’s question.
Aizawa shrugged, if he had any idea they were talking telepathically he didn’t show it. “I have a few personal theories, but honestly only time will tell.”

“Humor us” Bakugou growled, annoyed at the avoidance of the question.

“Well I suspect that there is some additional factor that affects how Kanayami’s quirk manifests. Things like the mental resiliency of the individuals or maybe mental compatibility with the other person in the link. You two must have some sort of additional trait, either as individuals or as a pair that makes you well suited to being connected psychically”

Ochaco snorted, amused. Mental compatibility between herself and Bakugou. HA! They were about as compatible as oil and water. She felt Bakugou’s own amusement at the idea.

“Or I suppose Kanayami could be gaining better control over his quirk and is able to influence the degree of severity his quirk has when he applies it. Like you learned to do with your own quirk, Uraraka.” Aizawa continued, tapping his chin thoughtfully, “Though, that doesn’t make as much sense. Why would he purposely spare your lives and mental capacities?”

Ochaco couldn’t fault his logic, the last one made the most sense from a quirk application standpoint, but made no sense as a battle strategy. The whole thing was strange and seemed to be way more complicated than she had initially considered.

“Like you said time will tell…” Bakugou grit out between teeth. She glanced over at him, seeing the tension in his body. Ochaco could tell he was on edge, clearly thinking about something hard.

What is it? What are you thinking?
She attempted to get closer to his side of the link, like he had a few minutes earlier to be able to interpret his emotions better, but just as she approached the edge of where she felt his mind, she was roughly shoved back into her own. She felt her thoughts mentally sputtering at the action.

Fuck off!
He snarled at her mentally. Okay clearly this was something he didn’t want to share with her, but there was no need to mentally shove her so hard. Wait, actually...how the heck had he done that?

“How did you do that?” She asked him out loud, which seemed to throw him off.

“Do what?” Aizawa asked with barely contained curiosity, capturing Ochaco’s gaze.

“He just, like, shoved me away from the link” She explained to her mentor quickly before returning her attention to Bakugou, who was scowling at her.

“Yeah? Well you were being fucking nosey, mind your own goddamn business!” He replied sneering at her. She felt him attempting to pull away from the link, but he was mostly unsuccessful. It was like he was trying to run away from her while they were tied together with a rope, he just ended up dragging her with him. She could feel his dissatisfaction with the situation as a whole and a sort of desperation to not be tied with her in this way. It dawned on her then: He felt powerless. He was realizing that he couldn’t control what was happening and he did NOT like that one bit.

Not that she did either, but it wasn’t as foreign a feeling to her as it must be to him. She had felt powerless for the majority of her life. It had only been the last few years as a pro hero that she had truly felt her own independence and agency. She could imagine that he hadn’t ever had to deal with this feeling for more that a short period of time. It must’ve been hard to experience it for more or less the first time. She felt a pang of guilt and sympathy for him.

“Yeah, you’re right. Just because we can have total access to each other’s thoughts doesn’t mean we should be able to do it without permission. “ Ochaco said apologetically. She reached out to touch his hand where it rested on the bed, “I’m sorry”

When her hand connected, she felt the link snap their minds back together, like magnets zipping across space to connect with a violent smack. Within a nauseating millisecond, she and Bakugou were back to how they’d been that first night. She felt overwhelmed by the influx of information her brain was now receiving. It didn’t help that they were both disoriented and panicked at the sudden change in mental state. He wasn’t just scared of the powerlessness; he had realized that they might still be in danger of going insane or dying. They had no idea what was going to happen. He was terrified of the unknown nature of their new existence. She hadn’t considered that they may still be in danger. Of course she hadn’t she was an idiot. They could die still. They were probably, definitely at this rate, going to go insane. She felt two sets of emotions rage through her mind in a hurricane of feelings. It was just as intense as it had been before and she was just as unprepared to deal with it as before.

TAKE what just YOUR happened? FUCKING HAND oh OFF MINE right! !

Just as fast as she had placed her hand on his, she ripped it off and her brain shot back into her own head, recoiling from their forceful disconnect. Or maybe his mind was ripped away from hers? It wasn’t super clear. What was super clear was that she was dizzy and lightheaded. The psychic rattling of being launched together then ripped apart was an incredibly disorienting sensation.

“ngh!” She groaned out as she collapsed back onto her pillow, too dizzy to stay upright.

“Fucking-“ Bakugou spit out at the same time and swayed dangerously at the foot of the bed. Aizawa reached out to catch his shoulder, keeping him from face planting.

“…okay” Aizawa said after a few seconds of the two catching their breath, “so no more touching…”

“Yeah, you think?!” Bakugou retorted bitterly jerking his shoulder out of Aizawa’s grasp. He scooted infinitesimally away from Ochaco. Which, if she was being honest, kind of hurt her feelings. She sure as hell wouldn’t have touched him if she knew that was going to happen!

“It think it’s safe to say that we have a lot of work ahead of us.” Aizawa droned returning his hand to his armrest when he seemed confident Bakugou wasn’t going to nose dive off the bed.

“Wha..What do you mean Aizawa-san?” Ochaco said still recovering her breath from the psychic whiplash, not really understanding what he meant.

“Well, I figure that you can’t stay on morphine to control the quirk forever, so you two have a lot of training ahead.” Aizawa said shrugging, “We can’t have the Number Two and Number Seven Heroes out of commission because of a mind-melding quirk.”

“What do you mean morphine?!”
“What do you mean training?!”
Ochaco and Bakugou spoke at the same time, then turned to glare at the other.

“You haven’t figured it out yet?” AIzawa queried raising an eyebrow in amusement.

“Tch” Bakugou bristled at the implication. Ochaco merely shook her head.

“This is acting like a second quirk that you now both control. Or at least, it seems to be under your control. That means we can train it like any other quirk to better control it. It’s pretty clear the morphine and sedative had an effect of the strength of the connection too. It’s been getting more intense the fewer drugs you have in you system, no?”

Oh duh. That seems obvious now.
Ochaco felt her neurons connecting at his words. Obviously, the connection had been fuzzier because of the drugs, she’d realized it herself earlier today! She couldn’t believe she hadn’t put it all together earlier. This was acting like a second quirk, they could control it and maybe even use it to their advantage. The just had to train it like they had their own quirks over the course of their time at UA. They could totally do this! It's kind of insane how strong this next generations quirks are.... Yeah...this kid effectively gave us a second quirk...

Ochaco chose to file that particular thought away for later analysis and decompression, she couldn't worry about the next generations woes right now. She needed to focus on herself and Bakugou for the moment. She felt determination flow through her like fire. She was ready to tackle this new challenge.

I can’t believe I’m going to have to train with you.
Seriously, that’s what you’re worried about?!

“When do we start?” Bakugou asked in lieu of actually answering Ochaco’s annoyance at his dismissal of her. Ugh, he certainly had a way with ruining a good mood.

“Tomorrow. We’ve got to get you up and functioning as soon as we can.” Aizawa answered with an authority that turned his word into law. They would start training tomorrow to learn to control this weird second quirk they were somehow forced to receive. Ochaco couldn’t tell if the twisting of her gut was due to excitement or terror at the thought of training with Ground Zero.

Chapter Text

The rest of the night had passed by relatively calmly. As soon as Aizawa and Bakugou left Ochaco called her parents. They were positively relieved to hear she was okay, the news stations apparently had been less than optimistic about her odds of recovering. She assured them that she was okay, but that she was going to have to spend some time in recovery and wouldn’t be working for a bit. She promised them she would continue to send them money, despite their protests. It really wasn’t a big deal, Ochaco had plenty to give (yet another perk of being in the Top Ten). She didn’t mention her new reality of being permanently mentally linked to her former classmate. She felt like they had enough to worry about without the fear that their daughter being linked to the explosive Number Two Hero.

Then she responded to the texts from her friends who were concerned for her. She explained in the Class 3-A group chat that she and Bakugou were awake and were actively in recovery. Momo and Kirishima had been particularly worried, both sending her individual messages outside the group chat asking about the quirk. She ignored the private conversations not sure how to explain the situation. She tired to not put too much emphasis on Deku’s outpouring of support for her, but her stupid heart had other ideas and decided to flutter at his texts. That really pissed Bakugou off, which just made the whole situation worse. Ochaco put her phone away at that point, deciding that it was more trouble than it was worth, she’d have to set up a time to talk to them all at once in person about the new situation.

Ochaco got to meet her doctors, a series of specialists working to catalog every aspect of the new quirk. They were attempting to both enter the quirk into the registry more accurately, but also attempting to answer the question of why Bakugou and Ochaco were the first set of victims that had survived. It was also fairly rare, though becoming increasingly more common, to have two quirks and the impact on the users body was still unclear. Sufficed to say, there was a line of doctors and researchers who wanted to inspect, talk to and record anything Bakugou and Ochaco did. Ochaco tolerated it with a smile, and the occasional grinding of teeth, while Bakugou just did his best to not blow up anyone who lit his short fuse. Ochaco felt like she was constantly trying to mediate his emotions though The Link, talking him down and trying to keep her own emotions in check. On top of all that, the press was relentlessly trying to get into their rooms to talk with one of them about what was going on. She even caught one photographer attempting to climb the building to her window. They had to move rooms after that. It was an exhausting day to say the least.

Despite all the buzz, Ochaco was doing her best to get as much rest as she could before training started, especially given who she was going to be working with. Aizawa and Bakugou were not exactly known for their relaxed training techniques, she couldn’t imagine how they would be together. Probably just a feedback loop of crazier and crazier standards. She was soo not ready to deal with them together.

When she was still a sidekick, she’d had the pleasure of training one-on-one with Aizawa for 6 months. She had almost died. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but it had been the toughest six months of her life. She had come to Aizawa to increase her capacity with her quirk. She wanted to lift heavier, faster and for longer, having come to realize that her current level was not going to cut it in the world of professional heroes. Aizawa had agreed if she agreed to give him her entire effort for the whole time she trained with him. Little did she know, “her entire effort” meant training before and after work and all day on any days off she was lucky enough to get off. Then he’d upped the ante by making her float herself all day every day. As in 24/7. She literally almost starved from not being able to keep things down that first week. Plus, she really had a hard time sleeping the first few weeks; after all, the ceiling is not exactly the most comfortable place to try and catch some rest. But true to her word, she gave him her all, day in and day out; and true to his, she got exponentially better at using her quirk, nearly quadrupling her load capacities. She also had the added benefit of discovering that she could incrementally adjust the amount of gravity she removed from something she touched.

So yeah, she was nervous to mix that bag of crazy with Bakugou’s particular brand of number-one-or-nothing crazy. She didn’t know if she could handle another 6 months of sleeping on the ceiling, or whatever this new quirk’s equivalent was, but she was damn well gonna try. This quirk could legitimately ruin her career, and even worse if she failed she could be responsible for the end of Bakugou’s. She couldn’t have that failure on her consciousness, the world needed Bakugou, he was too good of a hero to lose. She couldn’t let them down.

All that being said, she was still not exactly stoked when she was abruptly woken by the sound of Bakugou yelling in her head.
It’s time to get up, we’ve got shit to do!

Ochaco groaned and rolled over in her hospital bed to peak out her window. Just as she had suspected, it was still the middle of the night. Early morning, whatever. It might as well be the middle of the night for how well-rested she felt.

I swear to god Uraraka, I will set an explosion of in your ear if you aren’t up by the time I get there.

For probably the millionth time Ochaco pleaded with the gods to explain why she had to be linked with Bakugou-totally-unhinged-Katsuki of all people. Like, who the heck wakes people up by setting off explosions? Even if he didn’t really mean it, which was debatable given the vibe he was giving off through The Link, who even threatens to do that? Seriously, she’s asking.

She willed herself out of bed, not deigning to respond to Lord Explosion Murder. They had decided to walk to the training together in the morning to give themselves some time to “warm up The Link”, as Bakugou described it. Things yesterday had started off a bit sloppy in the psychic communication department and Bakugou, ever the perfectionist, wanted to get through that phase before Aizawa showed up. Ochaco was finding out she was not very good at saying no to Bakugou and as such had agreed to get up earlier to meet with Bakugou first.

Ochaco got herself moving, starting her morning routine. Well, as close to it as she could get being in the hospital. The doctors had finally let them dress in something other than hospital gowns, seeing as they were going to be here for a while. Ochaco had asked Lilly, her sidekick, to run home and get her some casual clothing to wear while she was stuck in the hospital. They were going to be confined to the hospital grounds for the time being to receive a low dose of morphine until they could manage to get a hold on The Link. They needed to be able to keep their minds separate without the use of drugs in order to continue their jobs as pro heroes. Both her and Bakugou’s agencies had cleared temporary leave for them until then, seeing as the law prohibited intoxication while doing hero work. Lilly had returned with a full suitcase of Ochaco’s clothing and condolences, clearly understanding that this was going to take a while.

She carefully maneuvered her IV and stretched her arms over head, appreciating the fact that she was pretty much fully healed. She started unbuttoning her Froppy pajama shirt (the girl knew how to design some good merch) and walked over to her suitcase, debating what kind of clothing she should wear to training. She didn’t think they would be doing anything physical, so jeans should be fine right?

“Let’s go!” Bakugou barged into her room with an energy not befitting the early hour. He paused giving her a once over, his gaze halting on her unbuttoned shirt. His side of The Link flashed with several emotions too fast for Ochaco to register before settling on amusement tinged with embarrassment. He met her eyes smirking and twitched as the same unusual jolt of energy they'd felt the last times they'd been together went up both their spines.

“BAKUGOU!” Ochaco yelled spinning around gripping the sides of her shirt together, “What the hell?! Have you ever heard of knocking?!” He brain was still trying to process the fact that she was awake, she really couldn’t add ‘Bakugou seeing her with her shirt half-off’ to the list of things to process at the moment.

“I warned you I was coming.” He said nonchalantly as if he barged in on half naked people all the time, “Hurry up we’re gonna be late.” He was feeling way too casual about this. Granted, they had seen each other in all sorts of stages of undress while on the job, due to the unpredictable nature of a hero costumes’ resistance to any given quirk, but this was different! This wasn’t Uravity and Ground Zero, this was Ochaco and Bakugou and the distinction between personas had never felt clearer to Ochaco.

“Well get out then! I’ve got to change!” She felt her cheeks burning in both anger and embarrassment. Seriously, what was he thinking?! Clearly, she would not have been ready to go at this point, he had literally woken her up not even five minutes ago. Sometimes she wondered if he just liked making people uncomfortable for the thrill of pushing the limits or some other psycho motivation.

“You have three minutes before you go alone.” He stated annoyed before she heard him pace through the door, as if hadn’t been him that asked to go together. How he was the one who was annoyed was beyond Ochaco’s powers of reasoning. She stood frozen to the spot trying to process what just happened. Thank god she hadn’t undressed fully yet, that would’ve been a truly horrible situation.

I can tell you’re not moving, you know. Get that ass in gear!

Ochaco fumed, letting out a barely controlled exhale, Bakugou was mere just amused. It pissed her off more; The nerve of that man! She took some calming breaths, doing her best to let it go.

She shoved her anger to the bottom of her brain and quickly undressed and changing into jeans. She rummaged around for a shirt and grinned when she saw her favorite Deku shirt. It was old, from his first year after he’d been promoted from sidekick to hero, but it was soft and incredibly comfortable. While she was still feeling very emotional about their breakup, she only felt fondness for this shirt. It held many happy memories for her, memories of the times when things were good in their relationship. She could use some of that good will for her first day with Bakugou and Aizawa. It would certainly calm her nerves, so she pulled the green shirt on over her head. She rushed into the bathroom to brush her teeth and roughly pull a brush through her hair before bolting out the door.

Bakugou was leaning against the wall just outside her room idly crackling explosions in his palm. Ochaco brushed by him and turned down the hall, heading towards where she knew the physical therapy rooms were. Last night, they had agreed that it was best to not let the public know what had occurred with the quirk, at least not yet. To cover they’d agreed to act like they were doing recovery from the physical injuries they’d received, and the Physical therapy rooms suited that image perfectly.

Bakugou pushed off the wall and followed her, still feeling some amusement. Ochaco had decided not to mention the earlier incident and just pretend like nothing happened. It seemed like that would be the best way not to get into a fight with Bakugou before they’d even started the day.

Are you seriously wearing a Deku shirt?!

Bakugou’s side of The Link switched from amusement to raw irritation at the sight. Ochaco decided to not do him the favor of responding to that. It really didn’t matter whose merchandise she was wearing, they had training to do. He needed to get over his Deku Complex pronto.

You wanted to warm up The Link this morning, right?

She thought at him pointedly, switching gears and refocusing him on the fact that they had bigger fish to fry than his petty feud with Deku. It was getting easier to navigate his wild emotional swings and she never thought his one-track goal-oriented mind would be to her advantage, but here they were.

Yeah, it takes me a while to sort it out.

This piqued Ochaco’s curiosity, she felt like she currently did not had any difficulties understanding the signals coming from The Link, at least not with the steady drip of morphine in her system. It felt almost natural at this point to sort between hers and his. She had assumed that it felt the same for him.

What do you mean?
She glanced over to where he was walking beside her, he was pointedly staring straight ahead, not looking at her.

I have difficulty distinguishing between your emotions and mine for the first couple of minutes after the…

He seem to be at a loss for words. Frustrated, he sent he the vague impression of what she had been referring to as ‘The Jolt’, which she figured happened every time they came back in psychical proximity of each other after having been separate for a period of time.

The Jolt is what I’ve been calling it.

His eyes swung around to meet hers, then nodded.
Okay, yeah after The Jolt.

Ochaco thought about what he was saying for a second. He apparently was having trouble sorting out the emotional aspect of The Link, even with the morphine. She was a little relieved that he was struggling with something about this whole ordeal, she had been under the impression he was a total natural at being psychically connected to her. It was nice to know that she wasn’t the only one having trouble mastering the finer details of The Link.

See like right there, I couldn’t tell if I was feeling relief or you were until I took the time to trace it back to you.

Ochaco nodded, thoughtful. How could she explain to him how she could so easily sort between their two brains?

“How does The Link feel in your mind?” She asked him, still considering how to explain to him how the hole in the back of her mind felt. How his emotions had a different flavor to hers, like the pit was tinging everything coming from him with a different color. A Bakugou flavored color.

Use your thoughts, we’re practicing for a reason.

Ochaco blushed. Right, they were trying to warm up The Link. It was so easy for her to revert back to talking out loud. Sending thoughts towards him still felt somewhat cumbersome.

Right. The question still stands though, how does The Link feel to you?

I’m not sure I understand what you mean. How does what feel?

Ochaco turned to stare at Bakugou, stopping in her tracks. She suddenly realized that they had vastly different experiences with The Link. She had just assumed that his experience was the same as hers, but clearly it was not. It made her wonder what parts of it she was missing that he was experiencing. It scared her that they seemed to only be scratching the surface of what this thing was.

What?!

He was frustrated and impatient as he came to a stop, glaring at her. She assumed he was frustrated because he was coming to the realization that he was not as in tune with this as he previously thought.

Bakugou, I think we’re experiencing The Link very differently.

He grimaced at her, placing a hand thoughtfully at his chin. He went through a flurry of emotions, chiefly concern and curiosity. She waited for him to process, idly fiddling with her shirt. That seemed to irritate him for some reason, and he glared at her to make her stop. She released her shirt dramatically, glaring right back at him. He snorted in annoyance at her antics.

“What do you mean differently?” He spoke out loud this time, pushing his irritation back.
Her face screwed up in confusion, hadn’t he just told her to not speak out loud for practice?

“I think we should speak verbally until we clear this up, I don’t want to miscommunicate because of The Link” He explained seeing her face, or maybe because he felt her confusion. Oh duh, it probably wasn’t a good idea to use a form of communication two people were experiencing differently.

“For me, I can feel a hole of sorts in the back of my mind. I can tell you’re on the other side of it, so anything you send me, whether that’s feelings or thoughts comes from that hole.” She started to explain, attempting to put words to the feeling of having his mind located adjacent to hers, “when it passes across The Link, it gets tinged with a, uh, Bakugou-ness, I guess. It’s like a different flavor or a color filter.”

She watched him as she explained, his right eyebrow lifted at her explanation. She felt his curiosity rise along with his focus, he was thinking very hard about this.

“Fuck. That’s totally different from how I feel it” He said suddenly, perturbed by the difference. Ochaco waited for him to elaborate, but he seemed to be too deep in thought, or self-important, to remember she existed.

“Well, how do you feel it?” She asked impatiently, putting a hand on her hip. He could be so dismissive of others! It was infuriating. He glanced up at her, mirroring her frustration.

“Calm your tits, Round Face, I’m trying to figure out how to describe it.” He all but growled at her. Ochaco let out a huff, counting backwards from ten to calm herself. She waited patiently while he grasped for the vocabulary to describe his experience.

“I feel it more like layers. Most of your thoughts and emotions come into the most superficial of them, but sometimes, like the first few minutes after The Jolt, they come through at a deeper layer. I have to spend time separating the layers in my mind the first few minutes. “

Ochaco was surprised with how candid he was being. He wasn’t exactly good at admitting he was struggling with something; it was unusual to see him so vulnerable. It was a pretty vulnerable situation, though, having to share thoughts and emotions with someone else. He still deserved credit for admitting that she was better at something than he was, it wasn’t exactly standard Bakugou behavior.

Ochaco squinted at him as she considered his description, trying to translate what he was saying into something that made sense. It sounded like he was experiencing The Link as more of a gradient, where thoughts and feelings were shared in degrees of overlap, rather than ‘sent’ across a boundary. He didn’t have a hard stop to the end of his mind and the beginning of hers, no pit-like barrier in his brain.

“So to send me thoughts you just push your own up to the superficial layer?” She asked as way of clarifying that her mental picture was accurate. His eyes sparked a bit as he came to realize she had figured something out that he hadn’t.

“Yeah, more or less.” He stated gruffly, “I hadn’t really thought about it”

“I can see how that may get confusing to distinguish between, when everything is just a shade of grey” Ochaco nodded, “I’ll try to keep that in mind when I have any strong emotions…”

“You can’t control how your emotions come across The Link, they just do.” He scoffed at her, rolling his eyes.

Not yet. Was all she said as she started walking again, all the more eager to start training. He fell into step beside her, their mutual amusement once again flooding The Link.

Turns out, Ochaco had reason to be scared to start training. Aizawa seemed to have a death wish pushing Bakugou like he was. When they’d first gotten there the first thing Aizawa did was to slow the drip of morphine in each of their bags. Then he instructed them that they were under a strict ‘Link only communication’ until further notice. That hadn’t been to difficult to manage as she and Bakugou had gotten more or less proficient at talking through The Link over the last 24 hours. Aizawa then challenged them to keep the connection at the same level it had been, which had been fairly easy at first while there was still drug flowing through their veins. However, over time The Link had gotten harder and harder to keep at a manageable level. It felt like, to Ochaco at least, that the hole in the back of her brain was growing, sucking her towards Bakugou like some sort of psychic black hole. She assumed Bakugou’s layers were collapsing into one big mess. They had been doing okay thus far, but it took all of their combined effort to keep their brains separate. It was like trying to pull apart two very strong magnets.

“Focus Uraraka, control the connection!” Aizawa instructed unhelpfully several hours into the training. Yes, obviously she should control the connection, that was the whole point. She was tired and irritated from the relentless effort keeping her mind apart from Bakugou’s. Not to mention trying to keep Bakugou’s irritation and anger from stinging her. Managing their mutual frustration was wearing her out.
They were all sitting in the training room, Bakugou and Uraraka facing each other, Aizawa sitting off to the side. She and Bakugou were both sweating with the effort and the room smelled like the burnt caramel of nitroglycerin. She tried not to think about how flammable the air must be at this point. She really tried not to think about how much Bakugou wanted to blow something up.

“Yes, sir” She grit out instead of voicing her frustrations, staring into Bakugou’s eyes. She wouldn’t be the first to give up, she refused to be the weak link in their little training trio. Bakugou smirked at her, red eyes flashing dangerously, clearly feeling that she was pissed off at Aizawa’s unhelpful advice, thanks to The Link.

“We aren’t leaving this room until you two can handle The Link at this level of morphine without effort.” Aizawa warned.

Ochaco groaned, already knowing that it was going to be hours before she even got the basics down. It was like learning how to use her gravity quirk all over again, except her success also depended on Bakugou being successful. They’d slipped up several times already, falling into a deeper connection than they were supposed to be at. The very low levels of morphine that Aizawa let them use kept them from falling all the way back to a full immersion, but they still ended up sharing way more than either wanted to do. It didn’t help they were both exhausted from the effort of keeping The Link under control, any time they slipped their exhaustion bubbled together making it harder to pull themselves back apart and narrow The Link.

As Ochaco buckled down for several more hours of mental weightlifting when she felt Bakugou suddenly get an idea. His eyes widened as he whipped his head around to look at Aizawa.

“Remove my quirk” He commanded roughly. Ochaco furrowed her brow in confusion attempting to get a read on what his idea was. She grunted as she felt the hole in the back of her mind widening at her lack of attention to it. She didn’t have the bandwidth to focus on both Bakugou’s idea and her control on The Link.

“Why should I do that? The whole point is to get you two to control The Link, Bakugou.” Aizawa replied with a hint of sarcasm.

“Just do it.” Bakugou growled sending a venomous glare at the retired pro. Aizawa sighed and turned to look at Bakugou, his hair floating eerily around his head, indicating his quirk was active.

Ochaco let out an audible sign when she felt the pressure of Bakugou’s mind pressing on hers cease. It was a strange feeling to suddenly be completely cut off from Bakugou, she hadn’t realized how much she’d gotten used to constantly feeling him on the other side of The Link. Now, it just felt like she had a gaping hole in the back of her mind. Actually, it felt really disconcerting, like wearing shoes on the wrong feet.

“Oh, that feels really weird.” She mumbled, looking at Bakugou and Aizawa. Bakugou looked like he was really focused, his eyes were closed, brows lowered into a glare. She unconsciously reached for The Link to double check her interpretation of his facial expression, only to grasp into the blank space where she previously felt his mind. She shuddered at the feeling, it was like her mind ended in a cliff. The sensation further confirmed her notion that this was permanent, her mind never had a drop-off into empty psychic space before she had been linked up with Bakugou.

Bakugou opened his eyes and grinned toothily, “Okay you can give it back now.” He told Aizawa, who nodded as his hair dropped. The Link came rushing up to meet Ochaco and she groaned as the pressure returned, giving rise to the return of her headache. But as soon as it arrived the pressure suddenly lessened. Surprised, she reached into the back of her mind to probe for Bakugou and found his mind sitting on his side of The Link, totally self-contained. He was there, but not actively pressing on her own mind.

She made eye contact with him across the room, he was still grinning. She realized she wasn’t passively getting what he was feeling across The Link anymore. He had managed to separate his mind from hers. He didn’t even look like it was causing him any effort either. She gaped at him.

“What did you do?” She asked incredulously.

“Uraraka. Speaking ban” Aizawa reminded her gently, “Bakugou, you seem oddly relaxed.”

Clearly I fucking figured it out.
But how? What did you do?
I realized we are trying to do something we haven’t felt yet. So I asked Aizawa to separate our minds so I could get a better picture of what I was aiming to do.

Their thoughts flew back and forth lightning fast, Ochaco was excited to note that when they were talking she could feel his emotions again leaking through with the thoughts. It was oddly comforting to know he hadn’t totally disconnected. She realized that if she just mentally leaned towards him across The Link to touch where she felt his mind she got a general feel for his emotional state. She experimentally brushed up against his mind and away a few times to test it out. Bakugou gave her a weird look, confusion spanning The Link. He shook his head as if trying to shake her off his mind and turned towards Aizawa, refocused.

“I needed to feel what the goal was. You let me do that, now I’ve reached the goal.” Bakugou answered Aizawa’s implicit question, smugly crossing his arms over his chest. Ochaco was astounded at his ability to figure it out so seamlessly, she doubted she could do that in one try.

“Hmmm, very good.” Aizawa nodded at Bakugou, clearly pleased, “Your turn, Uraraka.” They both turned their attention on her. She gulped nervously, doubting she would be able to impress so soundly as Bakugou had. There was nothing to do but try, though, so Ochaco steeled her nerves.

“Okay, I’m ready” She nodded to Aizawa. His hair raised into the air as she felt his quirk activate on her.

If being on the side of The Link still open when Aizawa took the other half away was weird, this was down right alienating. Ochaco had trained with Aizawa before so she was familiar with the feeling of having her gravity quirk ripped from her being, which was uncomfortable enough on its own, but this was the first time feeling the new quirk being removed. It felt like he had placed her mind in an insulated soundproof box and sloppily stitched up the pit in the back of her brain. It made goosebumps raise on her arms and left a bad taste in her mouth. Instead of feeling like her mind was connected to an expanse, as it had when he’d removed Bakugou’s quirk, this felt much more like being shoved into a coffin and buried, very claustrophobic. Ochaco wrinkled her nose in distaste.

Bakugou gave her a look that said ‘get on with it!’ and Ochaco remembered what she was supposed to be trying to do. She closed her eyes and focused on the pit in the back of her brain where she usually felt The Link, inspecting what Aizawa’s quirk had done to it. It appeared to be hastily stitched closed, as if done by someone not aware how to sew. Well psychically sew at least. Feeling the shoddy job Ochaco contemplated that there had to be a better way to do this, she just had no idea how.

She opened her eyes looking over to Aizawa, “Thank you.” She said as way of telling him to relax, which he did right away. The bond ripped open again and Bakugou struggled to segment himself off for a few seconds. Ochaco tried in vain to sew up her side of The Link, but couldn’t seem to recreate the seal Aizawa had. She grimaced, attempting to pull the edges of The Link closer together, but failed as the edges of the hole seemed to slip away from her mental grasp. Bakugou at this point had gotten his end to shift away, under his control.

She was acutely aware of the other two looking at her expectantly and she huffed in frustration.

What’s the hold up?
I’m trying! I can see what I have to do, I just can’t actually do it!
Try harder.
She harrumphed at his response crossing her arms, as if it was that easy. She fiddled with her side of The Link, which was admittedly much easier with Bakugou’s side under control, for the next few minutes. She gave up after the slippery sides of The Link faded from her grasp for about the sixth time.
“I can’t get it. I need another go” She directed to Aizawa in defeat. To his credit Aizawa didn’t say anything just activated his quirk, giving her a second look at the closed off link. Bakugou sighed in impatience.

An hour and a half later, Ochaco finally got it. She had figured out that picturing sewing up The Link helped her get a grip on it and after several tries had managed to pull the sides together, more of less. It was sloppy and took an insane amount of concentration, but she had it controlled.

“Heck yeah!” She shouted happily at her efforts. Bakugou glared at her, but his lip twitched upward. She reached through The Link to brush his mind and felt the amusement he was attempting to hide under his impatience. She grinned at him, seeing through his façade.

Admit it, you’re as excited as I am…
Psh, in your dreams.

“Good job Uraraka.” Aizawa congratulated with a tight smile, “Now you just have to hold that for the rest of today and then tomorrow we’ll lower the morphine again”

Ochaco’s good mood evaporated with his declaration, realizing they were just getting started.

Chapter Text

‘I think you should set up a time to tell with everyone what’s going on with you and Kacchan.’

Ochaco read the text two more times before she was able to squash the hope that bloomed in her heart just seeing that Deku was texting her. On the third read-through she was finally able to translate the letters into something that her brain recognized. Telling class 3-A what had happened. She’d been dreading and avoiding that very conversation for days now.

It had been about a week since Bakugou and Ochaco started their training to learn to contain The Link and they were making steady progress, though probably not as quickly as Bakugou would have liked. Just yesterday they’d finally gotten off the morphine completely and were working on making their management of the The Link effortless. They needed their control of it to be unconscious, they couldn’t do their job if their minds fell back together under stress. Making it an unconscious effort was a whole tangle of problems for Ochaco. At this point in their training she was half present in what was going on around her and half focused on keeping her side of the link separate from Bakugou’s. It diminished her ability to do anything with her full attention, which led to several instances of lapsed awareness. Yesterday she’d almost fallen down the stairs while she’d been splitting her attention between making a step and keeping her hold on the hole in the back of her mind. Luckily for her, Bakugou was there to snag her arm before she face-planted. She’d stuttered an apology in embarrassment that she'd been so distracted that she couldn’t even manage to activate her original quirk to stop herself from falling. He’d just grumbled under his breath and walked away. Thankfully, she’d been wearing long sleeves, preventing them for having skin on skin contact, which would’ve thrown them into a full immersion. Overall, it’d been fairly embarrassing, particularly in front of Mr. Good-At-Everything. Bakugou was having no problems keeping his side of The Link locked down, already feeling like it was natural to keep his mind quarantined from hers. He had no qualms reminding her about that fact at any given opportunity, the asshole.

However unsatisfied Bakugou was with her abilities, Aizawa had been pleased with their progress and had lifted the ‘no verbal communication ban’ once Ochaco had mastered sending non-language based communication, which they’d nicknamed ‘impressions’. It wasn’t quite sending images, but more general feelings and expressions. They hadn’t figured out if they could send images while not in full immersion as it was relatively low on the priority list for their training, the top slot going to being able to function normally and contain The Link.

So Ochaco was understandably distracted as she stared at the text from Deku with some consternation. She wasn’t sure she was ready to talk with anyone about the quirk yet, especially since it was still a work in progress. Thus far it’d been contained between a small number of people, mostly her, Bakugou and Aizawa. Telling people mean that there would be judgement and consequences for what had happened, and quite frankly, she liked living in her bubble of just the three of them. It was easier to throw herself into training all day every day and forget the world than to face it with a half-finished quirk. However, she knew that the first step of getting justice for the victims of the attack (herself and Bakugou included) was coming clean about the whole thing.

‘Sure! When do you want to meet? I can get Bakugou on board.’

She was admittedly eager to see everyone and get it over with, so Ochaco texted Deku back quickly agreeing to meet up with everyone as soon as they could set up a date and time. Then she resolved herself to tell Bakugou. He was not going to want to go talk to his friends about his current state, but Ochaco knew that they really ought to be there together to tell everyone. Especially seeing as she was only one half of this situation. He would have to accept his role as the other half and go with her.

Actually, that made her think, how much more intertwined were their lives going to be moving forward? Would they ever get a good enough hold on the link to be able to go on with their lives as they were before? Would they have to forever work together to function? How would this change their lives as heroes? As individuals? She immediately shut her thought process down, that was a question for a later time. A difficult conversation she didn’t think either she or Bakugou was ready for. She shook her head just as her phone buzzed.

‘Actually, I’ve already set up a time for everyone to meet up tonight if you can come by my place? 7?’

Ochaco just stared at her phone reading Deku’s reply. She couldn’t decide if she was relieved that they could get this over fast so she wouldn’t be ruminating about it for days or pissed off that Deku hadn’t even waited for her to respond before setting it up.

‘Yeah that’s fine, we’ll be there.’

She ended up replying to Deku with a non-confrontational text, reminding herself that this was just Deku trying to be helpful. She then reached out through the link to Bakugou. When she brushed up against his mind she felt his curiosity at her mental greeting. It was like he was cocking his head at her mentally. The visual almost made her laugh out loud, Deku’s inconsiderate behavior mostly forgotten in her mirth.

We’re going to Deku’s at 7 tonight to talk to the class.

‘The fuck do you mean ‘we’?!

Well there goes the good mood she was in, it was nice while it lasted. Ochaco sighed and steeled herself for the stupid fight she knew was coming next.

We’re going to inform them about what is going on, they deserve to know.

They don’t ‘deserve’ anything!

As our allies in battle and as our friends they deserve to know.

That made him pause for a millisecond in consideration, then she felt his frustration rise. He couldn’t argue with that logic. If they ever got caught in battle with anyone in the class as an ally, which was more likely than not, they would need to know about The Link. But Bakugou could be really stubborn and she felt him mentally dig his heels in.

They really don’t, though. It’s none of their goddamn business.

Agree to disagree. We’re going. And we’re going to tell them.

Ochaco sent him the idea of rolling her eyes at him to accompany her thought. She could be stubborn too, maybe even more than him.

Again with the ‘we’ shit!

Whether you like it or not, we’re in this together. I think we should show a united front.

Bakugou didn’t respond to that, seething and thinking desperately for any logical reason he shouldn’t go. Ochaco waited for him to relent to her position patiently, he always did when faced with logic.

Fucking fine, but you do all the talking, I’m not speaking about the inner workings of my brain with those extras.

Thanks, be ready at 6:30.

Ochaco smiled in victory and pulled back from her light contact with his mind, as she felt his mental scoff at her glee. Once again separate from him, she could still feel the occasional flair of irritation from him, but otherwise her mind was her own. They’d discovered over the last few days that they could never truly separate fully, any particularly strong emotion would inevitably flow across the link to the other. So long as she was able to keep her side closed anyway. Anytime she slipped up and let her side of the link widen (which was an annoyingly frequent occurrence), she got a lot more information just by virtue of slipping adjacent to his psyche. She had yet to feel Bakugou slip up on his hold of The Link for more than a few moments. Once she’d caught him slip while he was sleeping. He’d lightly brushed against her mind and Ochaco got a taste of his dreams, something about effortlessly cruising through clouds, but he’d recoiled and sprung awake the second she’d tried to inspect further. She’d gotten an earful about privacy after that.

Ochaco took a look at the clock, it was currently 8 am. She had about an hour before training started, thirty minutes before Bakugou showed up for their ‘warm up’. She couldn’t imagine what Aizawa had in store for them today, they’d already gotten off the morphine, at this point they should just be working on making their separation unconscious which they didn't necessarily need his input to work on. However, she didn’t doubt that Aizawa had some other tricks up his sleeve, the man was a genius when it came to quirk training. An evil genius to be sure, but he got results and she and Bakugou needed results fast to be able to go back to work as soon as possible.

Ochaco had spent her free time the past few days looking into the details of the attack on the Middle School, trying desperately to figure out what the villains hoped to achieve by killing 37 innocent children. The police were not giving out any details to the press and she and Bakugou technically weren’t on the case because they were on temporary leave to get the quirk under control. It was incredibly frustrating to not be able to take action against such evil. Ochaco was heartbroken to have had to watch the candlelight memorial from her room last night. She’d decided to double down on her efforts to master The Link so she could get out there and get justice for the victims.

Bakugou arrived at 8:30 on the dot, punctual as always. They’d decided to walk together every day in an unspoken agreement after the first day of training. Bakugou had said he liked to spend some time warming up the link, which was good enough reason for Ochaco to accommodate him. It was only fair after he’d had to slow down during training for her to catch up to his lightning quick mastery of the new quirk they shared.

He knocked on her door, having learned his lesson that first day, and Ochaco opened the door. She met his red stare and felt The Jolt go through her spine. As always, she felt their minds brush across the link at The Jolt, as if in an unconscious greeting. It was strange how easily she’d gotten used to this aspect of the quirk, embraced it even. Their minds receded back into their own spaces as Bakugou nodded to her in greeting, his arms folded across his chest.

“Good morning!” She smiled sunnily at Bakugou, ready to get the day started on the right foot. She always felt more at ease after they’d met up in the morning. Bakugou just grunted in reply, seemingly deep in thought, hands stuffed in his pockets. Ochaco glanced over to him curious as to what held his attention. She noted that he needed a haircut, the buzzed sides of his undercut had grown out and the top was starting to fall into his eyes. She wrinkled her brow, that was a weird thought to have, she’d never noticed things like that before. She double checked, but it had definitely been hers, The Link was under control. Maybe she’d just been spending so much time with him that she’d been picking up on things unconsciously.

“Oi! You’re letting your side slip” Bakugou pulled her out of her introspection. He was glaring at her accusatorially, irritation sparking across the link. She blushed and pulled her side of The Link back together. She was starting to get annoyed at her own incompetence with controlling the quirk.

“You’re distracted today, what are you thinking about?” He asked as a follow up. Ochaco was appreciative of the respect for the unspoken boundaries they’d fallen into over the last week. If he really wanted he could’ve just pushed against her mind and see what she was thinking, but he respected their rules enough to ask instead. It was a nice show of restraint for a notoriously impatient and impulsive person like Bakugou, though he’d never given her reason to expect him to do something like press her for details she didn’t want to give.

“I was actually thinking you need a haircut.” Ochaco said glancing at Bakugou, blushing. She could’ve lied, but he probably would’ve been able to tell so there wasn’t really a point.

Bakugou snapped his head to look at her, eyes wide in surprise. His side of the link stuttered with confusion and he blinked, before bringing his hand up to his hair pushing it away from his face.

“Yeah, I guess I do.” He said contemplatively then awkwardly cleared his throat, tucked his chin and shrugged his shoulders, “Come on, we’re gonna be late.”

His long strides carried him down the hall quickly and Ochaco rushed her steps to keep up with him, letting out an amused chuckle at his reaction. He just sent her a glare over his shoulder, which made her laugh more. They walked to the training room in relative silence, presumably Bakugou was working on separating his layers, sorting through their different emotions one by one. Ochaco just enjoyed the quiet time to mess around with her hold on the Link.

“Today we're going to turn it up a notch.” Aizawa said from his spot in the corner of the PT room. Ochaco inwardly sighed. What more could they possibly do? They were already off the morphine 24/7 and she was just barely managing that. She wasn’t privy to whatever fresh hell Aizawa had in store.

“What exactly do you have in mind?” Bakugou questioned for both of them, folding his arms and raising his eyebrows menacingly. Flickers of stubborn confidence flashed to her side of The Link from him, which she enviously observed from her corner of self-doubt.

“I want you two to touch.” Aizawa stated nodding towards Ochaco.

“You want us to what?” Ochaco blurted out, remembering what happened the last time they’d made contact and had been psychically flung at each other’s’ brains into a full immersion. Bakugou seemed to be similarly stunned, a scowl forming on his lips.

“At this point we need to push your limits of control.” Aizawa explained, “We could, I suppose, just wait for you to adjust to being off morphine over the next several weeks. Or we could fast track this and push your limits to make you more accustomed to being linked faster.”

Ochaco couldn’t argue with that logic and she did want to get this under control as fast as possible to be able to get back to work. Bakugou’s scowl morphed into a grin and she felt his elation at having a new challenge leak over her side of The Link. The man’s emotions were more hot and cold that freaking Shouto.

“Makes sense.” Bakugou agreed easily, holding his hand out to Ochaco, who just looked at his offered hand as if it was a snake. As much as she respected Aizawa’s logic, she hadn’t forgotten the discomfort of being shoved into Bakugou’s mind by physical contact. She was not willing to go there today, when she was barely holding her side of the link together as it was. She stared at his offered contact with trepidation.

“Round face.” Bakugou said impatiently along with a nudge across the link for her to get moving. He caught her gaze with his and Ochaco squirmed uncomfortably at its intensity. She still hadn’t gotten used to the concentrated pressure of having his attention fully on her, something that had happened a lot during their training as she held him back.

“Wait.” She said and instead of reaching for his hand held hers up, “I need some sort of game plan, like what if it goes wrong and we get stuck, or I can’t get my side of the link together? There’s a million things that could go wrong-“

“-yeah, but we won’t know until we fucking try it!” Bakugou interrupted her spinning thoughts with a solid glare, “Come on Uraraka, show some fucking courage.”

Ochaco huffed at that, sending him a venomous glare back. God forbid she want to have an idea of what they’re trying to do. He was sending wave after wave of his impatience and self-confidence her way, battering her defenses.

“You can do it, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think that” Aizawa added in, more gently than Bakugou. Ochaco sighed and felt Bakugou impatiently prodding her mentally.

You know this is the best way for us to get back to work soon. We’ve got some child murders to kill.

Curse him for having overhead her intentions to track down the bastards and use it against her. Ugh! He was right though, they needed this to get better. Ochaco submitted to the Bakugou way of just launching herself face first into her problems.

Fine. But you have to be patient while I figure it out.

I’ll play nice.

Ochaco sighed in defeat and reached for Bakugou’s hand as he smirked at her in victory. Ochaco’s hand made contact with his and Ochaco sucked in a breath mentally bracing for the barrage.

Ugh Gah! Uraraka this never you’ve gets got easier to breathe.

Ochaco felt herself suck in a deep breath at Bakugou’s insistence, almost as if he had been the one to instruct her lungs to expand. He felt that too. Weird. They couldn’t think about that right now though. He was focused on collapsing and segregating the layers of his side of the link. Ochaco watched from inside his mind for a few seconds fascinated. He was somehow organizing their thoughts into a more synced pattern, working together as one mind with two parts rather than two clashing psyches. It was really awe-inspiring how flawlessly he instructed organization into The Link.

Oi! Focus on your own side!

Right, sorry! Ugh I can’t orient myself, I’m lost.

Look here

Bakugou forced her attention to the back of her mind again, and Ochaco was struck with a feeling of being mentally dragged from his mindspace by him. He directed her to her edges of the link, having already figured out how her side worked. He understood now that showing her was way more helpful than letting her figure it out on her own. He was only slightly annoyed by this revelation. She observed him orchestrating the link with fascination. Why is he so good at this? He mentally snickered at her. She felt his supreme pleasure at being better than her at this. His smugness bled into her own emotions and Ochaco felt a beat of unbridled confidence. She could do this. Fuck yeah she could, he never had any doubts in her. He knew that she was her own biggest obstacle, over thinking not just doing. She felt herself aligning with his way of thinking, his overwhelming confidence was contagious. Bakugou wanted her to focus.

Pull away from my side.

Ochaco desperately pulled herself back towards her own side of the link, grasping the edges of the hole and pulling it together, trying to imitate his methods. Bakugou pulled away from her at the same time and she felt their minds begin to separate again.

Like this?

Good girl.

Ochaco’s stomach dropped and then promptly filled with butterflies as he positively purred out the compliment, feeling supremely smug at his own teaching efforts. She was shocked to also feel his pride in her, a totally unexpected feeling. If she thought having his full impatient attention on her was intense, it was nothing compared to his praise. She felt all kinds of flabbergasted, but her own feelings were quickly buried by his avalanche of emotions. His feelings were just so much more intense than her own. He was elated and proud and excited and happy and a million other things at her success in picking up his instructions. They flooded her mind in their volume and power, especially when they were linked this closely.

Ochaco took a second to surface from his emotions to assess the status of the quirk, remembering their mission of staying separate. The link was separate, but still closer than it was if they weren’t touching. Emotions flowed more freely than when they weren’t physically touching, but they still had their own mind spaces. It was an interesting middle ground between full immersion and how they normally separated. They seemed to be successfully fulfilling Aizawa’s request, minus the emotion-sharing imbalance.

She felt Bakugou’s pride at their work deluge the link and she couldn’t help but mirror his reaction a huge smile breaking out onto her face. Seeing him pull his side apart had been surprisingly instructive for her, like watching a step by step for a difficult combat move. She found it easier to hold her side closed both from having watched him and from the sheer effect his emotional high had on her own confidence.

Bakugou began cackling audibly and Ochaco opened her eyes. He was sitting next to her grinning viciously at Aizawa.

“We’re fucking crushing it.” Bakugou declared with the utmost confidence at Aizawa. His emotional elation was constant across the link making Ochaco dazzlingly excited in response. A small part of her mind noted that she should figure out a better way to ward herself against his potent emotions, but she was quickly overcome with her own elation at their success.

“Uh, yeah I think we’ve got it.” Ochaco stuttered out grinning at Aizawa. She was feeling the high Bakugou got from doing something impossible on the first try. It felt really good to be linked with Bakugou right now.

“Do you always get this excited went you do something spectacular?” She asked Bakugou, letting out a giggle and covering her mouth with the hand currently not resting in his palm. He turned to smirk at her, tilting his head and leaning towards her.

“Nah, I think this is a combined effect.” He responded thoughtfully, “This is a fucking high.” He grinned at her and she couldn’t help but reflect the expression and match his energy level.

She nodded vigorously, “It’s pretty great!” then she frowned in thought and realized how dangerous this feeding off of each other’s emotions could be. What if they were in battle and they were scared or in pain? It would be just like that first night. They had to learn to control this.

“Actually, we should probably figure out how to stop this from happening.” She voiced, grimacing and looking to Aizawa, who looked like he’d seen a ghost. She felt Bakugou’s good mood flicker at her contemplation, reacting to her sudden shift towards sobriety.

“Uh.. yeah I agree” Aizawa spoke up looking between the two of them with wide eyes, “You two look like lunatics”

Ochaco glanced back to Bakugou, realizing how close they’d gotten to each other while feeling the combined effects of their positive emotions. Bakugou was gripping her hand and she was pulled into his space leaning against his arm. She jerked upright and moved away, suddenly very uncomfortable with his proximity. She tugged her hand away from his and gasped when the connection was broken. The Link snapped back to the normal they’d established this week and Ochaco was pleasantly surprised to find it was easier to control now, Aizawa had been right.

As Bakugou’s intense elation faded from her mind she was surprised to note that he had been right, she was feeling pretty darn happy all on her own. She was proud of herself for doing what Aizawa wanted on her first try.

“Well that was a goddamn ride.” Bakugou stated, still grinning at her like a crazy person. Ochaco let out a wheeze of a laugh nodding in agreement.

The spent the rest of the day trying to get a better hold on their combined response to each other’s emotions while touching. Surprisingly, Ochaco had come out on top in this particular area, being able to regulate her own emotional response much more easily than Bakugou. He became increasing frustrated as the practice continued, making Ochaco work harder to regulate their emotional state. It was a rapid flip flop from their earlier success and resulting good moods to the ragged frustrated mood they ended the session in. Their emotional control was certainly not ideal and they most definitely did not meet Aizawa’s expectations. So when Aizawa assigned them the homework of staying in physical contact for the foreseeable future Ochaco wasn’t surprised. Neither was Bakugou, who just groaned angrily and flopped onto his back, dragging Ochaco down with him.

“Come on, we gotta go to Deku’s” Ochaco said to Bakugou sitting up and tugging on his arm. Already pissed off from the training, he glared at her baring his teeth from his spot on the ground.

“Fucking, I just.. Gah!” He grit out too frustrated to form words. She felt his exasperation and fatigue grate on her psyche and reached out to his mind to try and sooth it with her own emotions as she had been all day.

“Stop that.” He slapped her mental touch away and stood up moving his hand to grip her wrist and tugging her up too. He walked away pulling her along with him. Ochaco sighed and followed him out of the training room. She totally understood his unspoken sentiment of wanting to just be alone for a bit. They’d basically spent the last nine hours mentally intertwined and he need to just feel his own feelings uninterrupted for a bit. She honestly felt the same, so she mentally pulled back and tried her best to cordon off her mind from his. She wasn’t super successful, as their physical touch made it impossible to truly separate, but she turned a blind eye to any feelings that floated her way.

They walked in silence to the exit of the hospital, diligently following Aizawa’s instructions to remain in physical contact. They both froze when they saw the crowd of people outside the hospital doors. The media. How could they have forgotten? The media had been stalking them industriously the whole week, waiting for them to be released form the hospital.

“Fuck!” Bakugou cursed his grip tightening on Ochaco’s wrist. She flinched at the pain and elbowed him in the ribs hard. He glanced down at her in irritation but loosened his grip. He was thinking rapidly about how to get out of the situation when Ochaco saw one of the camera men point at them through the glass and shout excitedly. The rest of the journalists jumped into action and started to film or take pictures through the glass in a frenzy. She could hear their muffled cries and questions. Great, just the way to end an already difficult day.

Ochaco smiled and waved automatically, having spent the last six years drilling herself to put on a consistent show for the cameras. It had gotten her into the Top Ten and it was what was going to keep her there while she was out of commission. Bakugou glared, eyebrow twitching and spun around to face Ochaco, his back turned to the reporters. He seethed with anger.

We were going to have to face them eventually anyway. They’re just curious to see how we’re doing.

Oh fuck off, they’re just being nosey assholes. I don’t have to face shit.

Oh so you’re just going to stay at the hospital for the rest of your life?!

She shot him a knowing glance, feeling him frustratingly relent to her logic. His only response was to glare at her and mentally flip her off.

Fine. Be an ass, we’re still going to Deku’s.

She told him this with such authority that she dared him to question her. They’d already had this argument and she would win it again if he chose to tread there again. She did her best to send him that impression through the link. His eyebrow started twitching in irritation. He knew she was right, he just had a physical aversion to admitting it.

You’re going to be the death of me I swear…

He sighed and tilted his head back to the ceiling at the thought, admitting that she was right in a small corner of his mind.

So dramatic.

Ochaco poked fun at his salty attitude, a real smile emerging from her fake camera smile. He tilted his face down and made a point to make eye contact with her so she could see him roll his eyes at her. Meanwhile, the media people were getting more and more antsy as the two heroes stood indecisively inside the door, just out of their reach. Ochaco had made sure they were legally prohibited from harassing them inside the hospital on the second day here. She had been through this situation enough times to learn that lesson. Well not this exact situation, but a similar hospital stay.

“Come on, it won’t be that bad” She said to Bakugou tugging him forward with his grip on her wrist, “I’ll handle all the talking”. He followed her pull impassively attempting to school his expression into a neutral face. He failed.

Bakugou glowered at the reporters, his face a direct translation of his loathing for their presence. He was chalk out of fucks to give apparently. They walked through the doors into the throng of reporters.

“Bakugou, Ochaco!”
“What were the effects of the mystery quirk?”
“Over here!”
“How is rehab going?”
“What do you plan on doing about the child slayers?”
“Uravity, look here!”

They all started yelling at once, pointing microphones in their direction, a few print photographer’s cameras flashed, but the majority of media were from news stations. Ochaco held her free hand up good naturedly, smiling at the crowd. They quieted as she stopped to make a statement.

“We’re doing fine and we are working through our rehabilitation together.” She stated diplomatically looking into the various lenses around them, “We plan to get back to work on the case as soon as possible. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have somewhere to be.”

Bakugou started to walk away from the reporters, trailing her with him. The reporters apparently were not planning on respecting their wishes and were shouting follow up questions at them and following as fast as she and Bakugou could walk away.

“Uravity, are you still under the effects of the quirk?”
“Are you dating?”
“How about a classic Ground Zero smolder!”

Bakugou actually growled at them, then he suddenly stopped. Ochaco bumped into his back at his sudden stop. She sent him a questioning thought:

Bakugou, what the hec-
I’ve got an idea.

He spun around to grin at her and sent her a strange idea, a rocket ship?? She was utterly lost. He was… excited? What the heck? He sensed her confusion and quickly sent a succession of concepts at her attempting to explain while mentally narrating the whole idea.

Hit me with your quirk and I’ll blast us into the air and fucking FLY us to Deku’s!

Ochaco started at him, mouth hanging open. Where the hell did he get that idea? He just looked at her imploring her to try it. He was like a kid before he jumped off the roof into the pool, hyped to try something new and dangerous. An adrenaline junkie. It was contagious, she felt the same cyclic building of his emotions they’d been battling all day. She was getting excited to try it too. The news reporters were surrounding them at this point and Ochaco was too tired to try and change Bakugou’s mind. It was a truly stupid idea, but Bakugou’s self-confidence was contagious when they were linked this close and Ochaco found herself trusting him to execute his idea.

Eh, What the hell.

She thought smiling back at Bakugou ruefully. Oh she was going to regret this, she could just tell. She reached out and touched his chest removing his gravity before removing her own. A gasp went through the group of reporters as the two heroes started floating.

“Hold on.” He said out loud, tugging her closer to him. Ochaco had about half a second to wrap her arms and legs around his solid torso before he shot two large explosions at the ground with his hands launching them into the air. The reporters jumped away screaming at the sudden explosion of fire in front of them. Ochaco couldn’t help the startled cry that left her mouth as Bakugou let of a series of explosions to get them up to speed before changing their trajectory, jerking them around with every new blast.

GIVE ME BACK SOME GRAVITY!

He was yelling in her brain unintentionally just from the exhilaration he was experiencing from FUCKING FLYING. Ochaco noticed that he was letting his side of The Link slip more and more as he focused more heavily on steering. Their thoughts were getting more muddled. Ochaco focused on giving him back a portion of his gravity and keeping the link at a manageable level. She was trying very hard to not watch how quickly buildings were flying past as Bakugou weaved in and out, releasing explosions out of his palms. He was ecstatic! She felt the adrenaline flowing through his system and felt her own heart start to race in response.

Bakugou, we’re gonna pass Deku’s apartment if you don’t slow down!

Then give us some more weight!

Ochaco did as he asked, bringing her hands together behind his back shouting “Release!”. She felt the familiar tug on her stomach as gravity grasped her weight again and felt Bakugou let off a long series of explosions to adjust for the added weight. They were headed towards the ground at this point, going pretty damn fast. Ochaco started to freak out, she rarely got going this fast with her quirk. Bakugou, however, was grinning into the wind totally at home going 80 miles an hour. Sometimes he could be such a freak.

Oi! Stop thinking rude things and get rid of some of our momentum!

Ochaco pressed her fingers to his back, which was tensed with the effort of minimizing recoil from the blasts he was starting to use to spin them in the air. Ochaco relieved them of their weight and held on as Bakugou maneuvered them into a spin to let out a massive chain reaction of explosions at the ground. Ochaco and Bakugou were jerked to a halt in the air about 20 feet above the ground outside Deku’s apartment. They floated in zero-g, Bakugou breathing rapidly in exertion or excitement, maybe both. Ochaco sucked in several breaths, not sure if she was terrified or exhilarated. She figured it was the first and she was just feeling Bakugou’s exhilaration secondhand. She was thankful she was not nauseous from quirk use, that would’ve just add a whole other level if complication to their emotional state.

“You can let us down now, Angle Face.” He told her tapping her on her shoulder, seeing as she had her face pressed to his chest. She let go of his torso, her hands shaking and met his gaze. He snickered at her, thoroughly amused at her unease. The smug asshole was laughing at her reaction to basically almost dying!

Don’t be dramatic.

She narrowed her eyes into a glare at him and jerked her hand away from his grasp bringing her hands together. She watched his eyes widen for a second as he read her intent through the link.

“Release.”

She let his gravity come back full force and he dropped out of the sky like a rock, barely catching himself with a few explosions before he slammed into the ground. She let herself float down more gently laughing at his face of indignation glaring up at her from the scorched ground.

Yeah yeah, very funny Cheeks.

He scowled at her as he seized her foot yanking her down to his level, grabbing her wrist again when she finally touched down. She jumped a bit as The Link sprung to its state of high intensity again at the contact. The first thing she noticed was what a remarkably better mood he was in than he’d been just five minutes ago outside the hospital. She once again marveled at his emotional whiplash.

If I knew that blasting us across the city flipped your mood this easily, I would’ve done it a lot sooner!

He let out a bark of laughter at that, shaking his head. She grinned at him, he had a nice laugh. It made her surprisingly pleased to see him happy. Almost enough to let herself be fired across the sky with him again.

Oh, we are sooo doing it again.

Ochaco rolled her eyes at him. His crimson eyes flicked away from hers to look over her shoulder and his face fell back into the familiar scowl, red eyes flashing with anger. Ochaco turned to see Deku watching them with a strange look that she couldn’t quite place on his face. She met his green irises and her heart fluttered with misplaced palpitations. Bakugou’s mood soured and he retreated from their shared mindspace back into his own.

“Well that’s one way to make an entrance, I guess.” Deku said with an awkward, almost pained, smile.

Chapter Text

Ochaco beamed at Deku, in an attempt to cover the emotional turmoil he always produced in her and started to walk forward towards him, only to be anchored by Bakugou’s iron grip on her wrist. She came to a halt at his immobility with a jerk. She tossed him an annoyed look over her shoulder and a not so subtle mental poke and he grumbled under his breath but walked forward with her towards his rival.

“Hi Deku! How are you doing?” Ochaco greeted pleasantly, genuinely curious as to how he was feeling. Ochaco had never been the type to hold grudges and ultimately Deku was her friend, breakup or no. She could put aside her personal feelings to retain her friendship with him. Bakugou however, was apparently not even a little bit over his Deku-complex because Ochaco kept getting flairs of annoyance tinged green with envy from his side of the link. She thought it was ridiculous that he couldn’t just accept the fact that Izuku was deserving of success and help to lift him up rather than attempt to tear him down. But the supposed that it had always been this way between those two and Bakugou was at least attempting to keep his jealousy to him himself by not acting on it.

“I’m doing pretty well! Better now that you’re here, though” Deku exclaimed, returning her smile, the strange expression leaving his face, “I’ve been so worried about you both!”

He wrapped her in a hug, which Ochaco found to be sort of awkward given that one of her arms was out of service thanks to Aizawa’s assignment of staying in constant contact with Bakugou. The half-hug still managed to make her heart shudder though. Her stupid heart that hadn’t caught up with her head’s position of ‘Izuku will hurt us again if you let him’ and just wanted Deku to love her again. Ochaco tried to physically reign her heart in and slow its gallop, which failed miserably. However, Bakugou’s sour mood did a pretty good job of squashing her heart’s elation as it sloshed over to her side of the link.

“Yeah, yeah, we fuckin’ get it Deku” Bakugou grit out between his teeth in irritation, “let’s just get this over with.” He said the latter part more to Ochaco, giving her a tug on her wrist and a mental nudge. Ochaco pulled back from her hug with Deku and made eye contact with his bright green eyes. She rolled her own eyes at Bakugou’s antics and Izuku let out a hearty laugh.

“Okay, let’s get inside then. Everyone is already here.” He said as he started to head into his building. A large modern design with lots of large windows. Ochaco had been impressed the first time he’d brought her here as it was an expensive place to live. She reconciled the discomfort she felt by reminding herself that Deku didn’t send money back to his parent like she did to hers, so he probably had some spare change to throw at expensive apartments. Now she just understood that being the Number One Hero meant Deku was loaded.

“Um, yeah sorry we were late, we got held up with some of the media” Ochaco stated as way of explaining their tardiness. Deku just waved it off as he keyed in, opening the front door in a gentlemanly fashion for them to walk through. Ochaco walked straight through the lobby towards the elevators, having been here many times throughout the last three years. Bakugou trailed behind her doing his best to remain impassive and keep his annoyance at the situation from spilling over The Link.

It amazed her how quickly he flipped moods, he lived fully in the moment and had no holdovers from earlier. It was totally different from how she carried her emotions, which could linger for days, adding layers to how she would feel. He was more like an on or off switch, 100% or 0%. It was more exhausting than she thought it would be, possibly explaining his short fuse.

Ochaco considered reaching across the link to attempt to sooth his anger, but decided against it given how annoyed he’d been earlier tonight at her for attempting to that very thing. They’d spent so much time together this last week, it was honestly a miracle they’d managed to keep civil at all. They both needed some space from each other at some point and she wasn’t going to try and invade his if he didn’t ask for it, despite their current assignment forcing them to do just that. She wasn’t suicidal, she was not going to get exploded for pushing Bakugou to hard, assignment or no.

There was awkward silence while they waited for the elevator, Ochaco standing between the Top Two Heroes, as if to buffer their eternal rivalry. They all got into the elevator when it arrived and Deku reach forward to press the 5th floor button and cleared his throat.

“What’s with the hand holding?” He asked in a trying-to-be-nonchalant way. Looking pointedly at Bakugou’s grip on Ochaco’s wrist. He clearly was uneasy with this new development, though Ochaco couldn’t for the life of her figure out why.

“Wouldn’t you fucking like to know.” Bakugou snarled back at him reflexively. Ochaco sent him the equivalent of a mental kick-under-the-table. He whipped his head around to turn his glare onto her, which she gladly returned. He would not get away with being be rude to Deku with her here.

“It’s for training The Link” Ochaco explained simply to Izuku with a smile, who nodded thoughtfully. Ochaco could see the gears turning in his head with a million follow up questions, but he restrained himself from asking them, probably because of Bkaugou’s presence.

Bakugou let out a huff and leaned back against the wall of the elevator, generally irritated at the situation. He went to cross his arms, but paused realizing that would break their contact. All of which Ochaco could understand because he was thinking so friggin’ loud. Well, it was more like his general disposition was being broadcast at her, they weren’t fully fledged thoughts. Ochaco briefly got distracted trying to categorize the different flavors of thoughts Bakugou tended to have.

Anyway, she gave him a sigh and slid her hand up his arm to rest on his shoulder, which was exposed due to his inability, or rather his unwillingness, to wear sleeved shirts. Not that she was particularly complaining, the man had some attractive arms. Even she could admit that, so long as the admission was shoved away in the small corner of her mind that contained any of her acknowledgements that her friends even remotely attracted her. She suppressed her attraction to Bakugou’s muscular arms right next to her more-than-friendly appreciation of Kirishima’s abs.

As she slid her hand up his arm she felt goosebumps raise and he suddenly locked his side of The Link down. Like, he suddenly disappeared from her brain space in way she hadn’t known they could do while in physical contact. She mentally sputtered at the sudden lack of Bakugou in her mind.

She turned to give him a what-the-hell stare and sent him a confused jumble of questions through the link, which probably ended coming across as ‘??HUH??’. He just shrugged, ignored her mental questioning and crossed his arms, doing his best to glare a hole through the elevator doors. How did he even do that? Did he know he could do that? Could he show her how to shut down the link so definitively?

“Did something just happen? What am I missing?” Deku interrupted her flurry of confused thoughts looking emphatically between the two. Ochaco briefly wondered how much their internal conversations were apparent to those around them. They may have to consider adding some training to get their physical reactions to their psychic communication under control.

“Oh shoot, sorry Deku, I forgot you were here for a second.” Ochaco spoke without thinking then realized what she said and psychically face palmed with her free hand. Bakugou let out an amused “Tch” while Deku just looked genuinely confused and a bit hurt.

“I didn’t mean it like- I just” Ochaco started to try and explain the feeling of being so wrapped up in her and Bakugou’s shared mental state that she tended to forget anything but them existed. Which, like, how could she even start to explain in any way that made sense to someone who hadn’t experienced what it was like to have their mind tied to someone else’s.

She took some deep breaths attempting to cool off her burning cheeks before continuing, “It’s just Link stuff.” She explained lamely, finally deciding they didn’t have enough time to even scratch the surface of questions she knew Izuku had for her. She made a mental note to schedule a time to meet up one on one so she could better explain.

“…link stuff” Deku echoed, clearly not satisfied with the answer sending her a questioning gaze. Ochaco nodded rather unhelpfully right as they arrived at the Deku’s floor with a ‘ding!’.

Deku led them to his apartment a bit stiffly and gave them an apologetic glance before swinging his front door open. As the three stepped into the room they were met with the familiar undercurrent of noise a room full of people make while waiting. The former students of class 1-A were situated throughout Izuku’s living room perched on various furnishings or standing in groups. Tsu noticed their entrance first, meeting Ochaco’s gaze with wide green eyes.

“Ochaco!” She croaked as she hopped over to the door. Ochaco grinned toothily at her friend as she bounded into Ochaco for a hug. Ochaco wrapped her arms around her best friend in a deep hug, she hadn’t realized how much she missed the woman this last week. The Link faded away as she let go of Bakugou and Ochaco had a moment of reprieve from his volatile emotions.

“Oi!” Bakugou snapped at Ochaco gesturing to his shoulder, which she had released to hug Tsu. Tsu gave her a probing look as Ochaco sighed and reached back to reinstate contact with Bakugou’s firm shoulder. The Link lit up again as she made contact and she once again felt Bakugou’s disdain. Man, she was emotionally exhausted.

“What’s going on Ochaco, ribbit?” Tsu asked as the rest of the classes quieted seeing that the three missing members had arrived. Momo stood up from her spot on the couch next to her husband and nodded at Ochaco encouragingly. Ochaco frowned at the pink puckered skin above her eyebrow, apparently the cut she’d received from the villain fight was deep enough to scar. Iida sprang up blocking Ochaco’s view of Momo. He maneuvered himself roughly in front of Tsu grasping Ochaco’s free hand.

“Uraraka, please tell me you’re okay!” He implored her, eyes pleading with her melodramatically, “I’ve been besides myself with worry!” Ochaco smiled at his antics, getting a hit of nostalgia for the time he was their overprotective class president. The other members of the class started to move towards Ochaco, Bakugou and Deku, curious as to what they were all gathered for. Bakugou made an unhappy sound from the back of his throat.

God, they turned this into a fuckin spectacle, didn’t they?

“Let them at least close the door before we interrogate them, you guys.” Momo told the group, shaking her head at their overbearing presence. Ochaco ducked around Iida smiling and mouthed ‘thank you’ to her, before dragging Bakugou into the room with her. They side-stepped Iida’s sputtering at his unanswered question and made their way further into Deku’s apartment.

They’re just worried. The news hasn’t exactly been optimistic about what’s been going on with us.

Bakugou did the thought-equivalent of biting his tongue and held back his retort, feeling generally uncomfortable at the whole situation. For someone so interested in being front and center as Ground Zero, Bakugou Katsuki did not like being the center of attention. Ochaco was moderately surprised to feel his discomfort while his face contradictorily just read ‘Bite Me!’ with an epic scowl. She once again was forced to wonder how much of his bad attitude and glares were a front to keep people away from him when he didn’t want to deal with his unease. She shouldn’t be surprised at this point though, the longer she was linked with him the more she started to realize how nuanced his emotional expression was, it wasn’t unusual for his face to say one thing and his head another. She was starting to give him the benefit of the doubt. What did surprise her was to see Kirishima giving Bakugou a knowing jab of a smirk and Bakugou flipping him off in return. It appears that Kiri knew Bakugou better than she ever thought he had. Strange.

The class backed off and relaxed more, Momo sat back down next to Todoroki and Ochaco dragged Bakugou to the front of the room, next to Deku’s ridiculously huge fireplace. Tsu, Ida and Deku followed behind taking a place among their peers, who were look at Ochaco and Bakugou with varying levels of interest.

“Okay so I guess Deku wanted us all to gather so we could keep you up to date on what’s going on.” Ochaco started to speak gesturing at Deku who smiled encouragingly.

She scratched the back of her head nervously, “uh, so yeah I guess it’s easiest just to say it. Bakugou and I were hit with a quirk that permanently linked our minds together.”

Ochaco paused watching the varying levels of shock across their friends faces. Kirishima was nodding sagely, Todoroki seemed totally bored by this whole conversation and Tsu just swallowed loudly.

“Erm, yeah so basically we just need you to know that we're fine, but are gonna be working on learning to control this for a few weeks.” She finished unclimatically, “uhm…the moral of the story is, don’t get hit with that one finger kid’s quirk while you’re out fighting this group of sickos.”

“wait wait wait.” Mina spoke up raising both her hands in the air theatrically, “So this kid’s quirk-“
“-Kanayami, Hito” Ochaco interjected with the villain’s name.

“Yeah what’s his face, Kanayami,” Mina continued with the new information, “He was actually able to permanently turn your minds into a two-way street? What do you mean linked? How freaking strong is this kid?” He voice got higher and higher as she continued, starting to connect the dots of how weird this whole situation was. Kirishima reached over and covered his girlfriend’s mouth with a “mmmpft” and playfully pulled her into his side.

“I think what Mina is try to say is: Uhm what the fuck?” The red head clarified, eliciting a chorus of chuckles from the group. Ochaco couldn’t help but joining in in the uplifted mood, giggling a bit. The tension at their news seemed to dissipate at Kirishima’s masterful charisma.

“Yeah it’s pretty crazy, but not any crazier than that one kid who could run faster than the sound barrier, or the kid in Germany that got a quirk that lets him survive indefinitely without oxygen.” Ocahco listed some of the viral news stories that had broken in the last year about the strange quirks the youth of the world were developing.

“Oh! Oh! or that American that was lifting cars as a toddler?” Hagakure’s voice came from her position in one of Deku’s green armchairs, her gloves waving around excitedly.

“Yes exactly!” Ochaco exclaimed, “Anyway, we’re working on being able to control it, but until we’re confident in our ability we don’t want the villains knowing what’s going on.”

“Oh so you’re keeping it on the down low” Sero said in conclusion, giving Bakugou a sly look that clearly held a different… implication… that made Ochaco flustered. Ochaco followed Sero’s gaze to see Bakugou sending mental daggers at him with his eyes, which was nice because now she didn’t have to. He had an aura of Baku-rage about him, but Ochaco could tell he wasn’t any more annoyed than he normally was. Again, Ochaco paused to wonder how much he used his reputation to his benefit.

“Mostly we just don’t want to clue the villains in on what we’re doing. For all they know we’re still incapacitated. It’s the only advantage we have against Kanayami right now.” Ochaco explained after a beat, which Sero, Minetta and Kaminari had been filling with amused snickering, while she was willing the heat in her cheeks to go away. Why did they have to make everything so dirty sounding? She and Bakugou were totally platonic friends forced together into this weird situation by chance. It honestly stressed her out.

Bakugou’s shoulders stiffened and he was actually getting angry at this point, sending a glare promising bodily harm towards the three class idiots. He swung his fiery gaze to her, effectively commandeering her attention.

Ignore them, they’re just idiot extras.

Ochaco nodded, feeling that he was talking as much to himself as he was to her. She gave his shoulder a light squeeze and a small smile.

Yeah they kinda are right now, aren’t they?

“Is that what all this, er, touching, each other is about?” Kirishima asked tactfully, looking pointedly at where Ochaco’s hand rested on Bakugou’s shoulder. Mina nodded vigorously in agreement eyes sparkling with mischief. Bakugou apparently noticed the look Mina was pinning them with too, because she felt a swell of suspicion and hesitant expectation from him. That look from Mina only meant trouble down the line for Ochaco, she would bet on it.

Ochaco cleared her throat aggressively, her hand twitching at the sudden attention of several pairs of eyes zeroing in on its contact with Bakugou, “Er, yeah. It’s harder for us to keep our psyches separate when we’re in physical contact. Aizawa suggested we stay in contact to learn mastery faster.”

Mina’s face morphed into a mischievous grin and she opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by Bakugou, who seemed done with being the focus of the conversation.

“We should be back to normal within the next few weeks.” Bakugou interjected in a low voice as if to end the conversation’s focus on their unfortunate circumstance, “Until then, what the hell are you guys planning on doing about the villains?”

It was a good question, Ochaco knew Bakugou was as starved for information as she was, there was an eagerness in him as he waited for the class’s response. He wanted to take out the threat as badly as she did and was frustrated being put on the bench. The room seemed to tense a bit as the topic shifted to the more serious matter at hand. Now that their worries about Bakugou and Uraraka had been eased, the next biggest worry was front and center.

“Well, we really don’t have a lot of information to go on.” Deku responded dejectedly with a deep sigh, “We don’t even know why they decided to attack. We really only have their names, quirks and the time when they went off the grid”

“So you’ve got jack shit.” Bakugou summarized exacerbated and frustrated. His eyes narrowed dangerously at Deku. Ochaco could tell he was at the end of his rope, it’d been a long day and he was just about out of emotional fuse before he exploded. It was actually kind of amazing he hadn’t already, he’d been sliding towards a rage quit since Deku greeted them outside.

Fucking morons.

“How can we help?” Ochaco was shutting this conversation down before Bakugou had a chance to get to the end of his fuse for the day. She did her best to exude calm from her every pore in attempt to get through the end of this conversation without a fight.

“You could help with the history cataloging.” Todoroki spoke up from his spot on the couch. Ochaco cocked her head at him questioningly, not sure what that particular combination of words was supposed to mean.

“You think this isn’t the first attack.” Bakugou apparently had become fluent in Shouto at some point during their shared time interning for Endeavor, because he translated for the rest of 1-A flawlessly.

“Yeah, actually we do need some help sorting through past police reports looking for previous incidents that one or any number of these villains committed. It rare that these things start with a full-fledged attack.” Momo finished her husband’s thought contemplatively.

Ochaco nodded encouragingly, Momo was right about that. People don’t just go 0 to 100, and certainly not if the 100 puts them in the sights of pro heroes. No villain tries to get the attention of the pros unless they have a serious goal or a death wish.

“I could pull some strings to try and get you guys access to desk work while you're off active duty.” Deku added helpfully. She felt Bakugou's physical tensing at Deku’s suggestion. It wasn’t that it was a bad suggestion, he just disliked everything Deku said on principle and was too emotionally exhausted to moderate his response. Ochaco sighed inwardly, her own irritation rising at Bakugou. She was trying to be understanding, but he wasn’t the only one who was exhausted from their training, the situation and having to spend essentially 24/7 with another person. Yet, she wasn’t one emotional stimulus away from exploding. Why did he get a pass for his poor behavior when she didn’t have the same luxury? It wasn’t fair.

Bakugou seemed to feel her irritation, and maybe snips of her thoughts, because he started gritting his teeth and positively glaring at her. She ignored him and responded to Deku instead.

“That would be great Deku, we’d love to help” She said with a sigh, letting some of her frustration slip into her tone.

That seemed to be the last straw for Bakugou though, because he suddenly jerked his shoulder out from her grasp and let loose a tidal wave of animosity towards her.

AGAIN WITH THE FUCKING ‘WE’! STOP VOLUNTEERING ME FOR YOUR SHIT!

Ochaco physically flinched as his yelling sent a spike of pain through her forehead. As Bakugou jerked away from her, The Link snapped back to their normal separation. She felt him seclude his mind off from hers with a flourish of spite. He forcefully exhaled closing his eyes briefly then opening them to glare at her and stomped out of the room, shouldering Deku out of the way to get to the front door.

Bakugou, what are you-

-Piss off Uraraka!

He punctuated the thought with the slam of Deku’s front door. The rest of 1-A glanced back and forth between the door and Ochaco in a mix of shock and confusion. Ochaco hesitated, wanting to follow after him but also superbly annoyed with his bad behavior. She knew that to the others it was probably baffling what had happened, Bakugou had huffed and stomped out of the room without explanation. Actually, on second thought that probably wasn’t all that strange to a group of people who’d gone to high school with the volatile blonde. However, what was strange for them was the apparent use of silent communication between herself and Bakugou. Given the way people around them had been reacting it must be fairly obvious when they were speaking telepathically. Some part of Ochaco’s mind made a mental note to add that to the list of things they needed to train.

“So not manly.” Kirishima muttered under his breath taking out his phone, presumable to text Bakugou.

Ochaco shifted from foot to foot indecisively. One the one hand, she had a responsibility to do what Aizawa asked and learn to control the emotional volatility of being connected, and boy oh boy were they emotionally volatile tonight. On the other hand, screw Bakugou’s attitude.

“Uhm, am I the only one confused?” Kaminari spoke up looking around at his classmates, “What just happened?” Tsu just shushed him with a nudge to the shoulder. He looked at her questioningly, to which Tsu just shook her head.

Ochaco pinched the bridge of her nose, head bowed, and eyes closed in frustration letting out a long breath. She opened her eyes and smiled apologetically at her friends.

“Thanks for taking the time to meet up guys, please keep us up to date on the investigation.” She thanked the group then turned to Deku, “Please send over any reports you’d like us to review and we’ll get it done.” Deku nodded in response, a dubious expression on his face. He had both brows drawn down in a dissatisfied way, a deep frown on his face. Tsu mouthed the words ‘text me’ at Ochaco and Ochaco gave her a curt nod of affirmation.

Ochaco bowed to the group and walked out to the front door, opening and closing it quietly. She then stalked down the hallway to the elevator, pressing the down button waiting impatiently for it to open. She tried to reach out to Bakugou’s mind, brushing against it softly and getting tastes of anger and frustration. He ignored her contact and continued fuming. Okay so he was going to play it that way then.

She arrived at the lobby and glanced outside the building to see Bakugou standing outside staring at the sky. She sighed, irritation at his actions melting away and leaving weariness in its wake. She didn’t have the energy to fight with him toe to toe at this point in the day. Plus, he wasn’t at the point where he was actively exploding, literally. So maybe this wouldn’t be too bad of a fight given the circumstances.

She walked out the lobby doors into the cool evening air and came to stand next to Bakugou, who stiffened at her approach expectantly. She gazed up at the sky as he had been earlier and noted the stars just starting to appear as the last remaining parts of the sunset dissolved. She felt him brush her mind tentatively, as if testing her mood. As he did she got flicks of exasperation and fatigue from him and she’s sure he felt her own resignation and exhaustion. He pulled back contemplatively and kept his mind separated, as if to buffer the conversation against the emotional turmoil they’d been dealing with all day.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asked peering up at him in interest. She knew they would have to talk about The Link and emotional regulation in general eventually, but she wasn’t sure if he was willing to do so pivoting around this particular blow out or at a later time. It didn’t really matter when, merely if he was going to be capable of hashing it out without blowing up again. It was up to him, she would leave him alone if he said no and consider the day a loss.

He sighed and tilted his head back, lips tensing. She felt sparks of emotions jump across the space he’d created between their minds but they were too fast for her to keep track.

“Tch. We’re going to have to eventually, so might as well.” He finally settled on after a few seconds of contemplation, shoving his hands into his pockets. She nodded, more to herself than to him and waited for him to continue patiently. When he didn’t after a minute or two, she spoke up, trying to be considerate but also feeling mildly impatient.

“What’s wrong?” She prompted cautiously, because realistically pretty much every part of their lives had been thrown off, so a lot was wrong at the moment. He let out a snort of amusement.

“What’s not fucking wrong?” He mumbled with a sarcastic edge in his voice. She shook her head with a small grin, bemused how sometimes they were miraculously on the same page without The Link informing them what the other was thinking. She found it to be amusing and ironic as heck.

“That’s fair.” She responded with a shrug, deciding not to push him into answering her actual question that she knew he was avoiding. Silence descend upon them once again as he gathered his thoughts.

“What they fuck are we doing?” He finally questioned her swinging his head around to catch her gaze.

“Uhm we’re standing outside Deku’s apartment talking.” She answered sardonically. Trust Bakugou to avoid answering a question by any means necessary, including by asking another question. He just rolled his eyes at her.

“No, I mean like..” He seemed to debate his word choice, “what are you or I…or us, or whatever, what does this quirk mean for who we are?” He questioned her with the very existential dilemma she was hoping to avoid until after they were done training. She froze, not really having an answer for him, she didn’t know what this meant. She didn’t know how this would change their identity, their individuality their lives. She didn’t have an answer for him.

“Because you fucking seem to believe this makes us a unit and I am not on board with that.” He answered his own rhetorical question with a hint of venom. Ochaco felt stunned, she didn’t think that about them at all! Sure, they were forever going to be in each other’s lives from this point on and yeah, they’d been spending basically 24/7 together this week, but that would end once they managed the quirk. For all they knew they could return to their old lives without so much as an afterthought.

“I don’t think we’re a unit.” She said confused as to how he’d gotten that idea from her. She unconsciously reached out for his mind to see if she could figure that out, but realized what she was doing when he slapped away her psychic brush with a scathing glare.

Stop that.

At the same time that he shot the thought at her he continued his tirade out loud, “Oh really? Because you seem willing to speak for my wishes as if they were your own.” He bit out to her, waving a hand around to emphasize his point, “Just because you can read my goddamn mind doesn’t mean you can fucking make decisions for me.”

Oh. Oh. Ochaco suddenly realized how much she’d been doing just that. She’d basically informed him that they were going to come here tonight and cornered him into her decision. God, right after she’d been annoyed at Deku for doing the same thing. She was such a hypocrite. And she’d just volunteered him for working on the paperwork Deku and the others needed help with because she assumed he’d want something to combat the stir craziness he’d been feeling all week. Oh man she was the worst.

She buried her face in her hands with a groan once she saw it from his perspective, which was ironic because all she had to do was look for it or ask for it in The Link, instead of assuming what he wanted solely based off his feelings.

“Oh my god Bakugou, I’m so sorry.” She admonished herself feeling a deep wave of guilt wash through her, “I am such a hypocrite. It won’t happen again.”

“Yeah you’ve been a real fucking asshole.” He gruffly responded crossing his arms.

“Ugh. I really have been haven’t I” She sheepishly admitted, looking up to him, “I can go tell Deku to just send me the paperwork if you want?” She offered as a reparation for her actions.

He scoffed, “No. You were right, I want to help them out however I can, but you still gotta let me speak for myself. No more ‘we’ bullshit.” He said the last bit with the finality of a contractual agreement.

“Of course. I am so sorry I crossed that boundary.” She blushed with her guilt but then turned her eyebrows down in thought, “But you have to promise to tell me what is going through that messy brain of yours. You can’t just hold it in until you explode on me and walk out. Like it or not, you feeling upset affects how I feel now, so you can’t just repress all of your emotions”

Ochaco felt like that was a reasonable deal to strike. After all, her transgressions did not forgive his bad behavior, especially since it now so directly affected her too. They had to strike up a balance between autonomy and responsibility of sharing to the other. It was a hard balance to strike and Ochaco had a feeling they were going to have to have many many more discussions about it.

Bakugou grumbled at her request, but relented, “Shit. Yeah, that’s fair too, I guess.” He hunched his shoulders and gestured with his head towards the train station. She felt him reconnect the Link so their minds were lightly touching, enough to exchange sentiments more easily. It had the added benefit of making her brain feel more complete, filling up the psychic abyss that opened between their minds when they were separate.

You ready to head back or do you still want to talk with those extras?

He quirked a sort of half smirk at her, eyes flicking up to the building behind her, amused and moderately bothered. Ochaco turned to see a good portion of the class staring at them out one of Deku’s large windows. They jumped or scattered when she looked up, caught rubbernecking. She let out an exacerbated chuckle and waved at them.

Let’s go back, I’ve had enough feeling like I’m in a fishbowl for the night.

His smirk widened at that and she reached out to grip his wrist tugging on it to pull him towards the train station. The Link slid back into a comfortable distance and Ochaco was pleased to note they seemed to have mastered The Link while touching. She cursed and thanked Aizawa for that silently as she and Bakugou walked back to the hospital.

Chapter Text

Ochaco awoke the day after she and Bakugou met with their former classmates to the sound of her door opening and the feeling of sudden jostling of her bed. Her eyes flew open, hands instinctually curling into fists ready to fight, only to see Bakugou dumping a box filled with files onto her bed. He glanced amused at her fisted hands the way a large dog looks at a puppy. She blinked at him owlishly, supremely confused by his actions. What was he doing in her room with a box full of papers? The Jolt ran up her spine with Bakugou’s fiery gaze on her and she felt his jittery energy wash over her, more awakening than any amount of caffeine could be.

“Uhm, what the heck…?” She questioned staring at the banker’s box that was quite literally overflowing with manila files. Then back up to Bakugou, who was watching her attempt to wake up with an undercurrent of amusement and strangely, relief. He had dark purplish circles under his eyes and his hair was more of a spiky disaster than usual. She probed The Link and found him to be exceptionally tired. He didn’t sleep, she realized. That was surprising given how much they’d packed into training yesterday.

She’d gone to bed straight after they’d awkwardly said goodnight, hesitating for just a second, both wondering if Aizawa’s instructions meant they had to be in contact, like all the time. As in, while asleep. They both came to an unspoken agreement that he probably didn’t and backed away from each other in an awkward fluster. They were getting more comfortable around each other, but not that comfortable. She poked around his psyche trying to figure out why he hadn’t gone to sleep like she had.

“Good morning to you too.” He grumbled out, tolerantly letting her feel his mind to satisfy her curiosity. She took full advantage of the access and pushed up close to his mind, enjoying the feeling of him being closer, like being wrapped a blanket on a cold day. Almost as cozy too, except for the occasional grating sense of fatigue because the fool didn’t sleep last night.

You didn’t sleep She thought narrowing her eyes at him in accusation, she knew that he had a tendency to let himself get caught up in his work, but she’d only ever heard it secondhand from Kirishima or Deku. It was different seeing it (and feeling it for herself thanks to The Link) in person. He followed her emotional gauging of his current state and merely brushed her worry about his exhaustion off as secondary, unimportant.

We’ve already lost enough time. We gotta catch these fuckers.

He was gruff in his response pulling away from her mind again placing a sense of separation in their shared psyches. It appeared he was done letting her prod around his mind for the day. She found herself sighing in disappointment at the lack of contact, only slightly worried about the desire to be closer to his mind, a relatively new development. She was becoming way too used to having him close, feeling like it was a sort of safety blanket. She knew, however, that he meant the distance he created to be a prompt to get serious and focused again, not to make her uncomfortable. They had work to do, which included continuing to master their separation in The Link. She couldn’t argue with the desire to catch the villains, so she accepted the black pit that opened between their minds and the discomfort that came with it.

She pushed her hair back from her face, confident it was a mess, but was having trouble caring about it. Hair out of the way she stared at the box on the bed and Bakugou seemed to understand her non-verbal question because he pushed it into her reach.

“Did Deku drop these all off already?” Ochaco asked reaching into the box to pull a file marked #1065H7 out, opening it and giving it a cursory glance. It seemed to detail a purse snatching from fifteen years ago involving a low-level villain.

“Nah, I got a head start myself last night. No time to waste waiting for that fuckwad.” He replied as he slumped onto her bed reaching for a file himself. Bakugou glanced up at her flair of irritation at the nickname, but merely smirked at her and kept reading. She frowned grumpily at him in return, he seriously couldn’t have just waited a few hours for Deku to come by? He had to go and sacrifice his sleep to get the jump on the other man, typical.

“You went all the way to the police records department last night?” She questioned him incredulous at his gall to do so without a warrant from his agency and in the middle of the night to top it off. The police records department was located in a building all the way across the city, it wasn’t a trip most people just did on a whim!

He shrugged, “Yeah, like I said. Loosing time.” He sent a nudge her way across The Link with the impression of ‘let’s get started’. And buried his nose in the file. She glanced over at the clock on the wall, 6:30am. This freak had woken her up at six freakin’ thirty to go over files?! Sometimes she was horrified at the guy’s dedication.

Oi! We only have 2 hours before we have to leave to meet up with Aizawa, get reading Cheeks!

She looked over to him to see his eyes with raised eyebrows peaking over the folder, looking at her expectantly. She sent him her best death glare, which she has been told was most potent in the morning.

Okay fine! Let me get up and dressed first. Sheesh!

She threw the blanket back on her bed, walked over to her suitcase, digging out some clothes and heading into the bathroom, feeling his eyes on her the whole time. He had an aura of amusement emanating from his side of the link, which was admittedly putting her in a better mood. It was annoying, didn’t a girl have the right to feel annoyed when her..her… Link partner …woke her up obscenely early? Why did the stupid Link have to go and make her feel his amusement instead?

She got dressed and brushed her teeth feeling Bakugou’s delight fading into a calm focus tinged with fatigue. Given how he was feeling she bet he would drop before 3pm today.

I can fucking handle being awake for 48 hours, Round Face.

She started as he responded to the quiet chatter of her brain, she had no idea how he was able to pick up on the subtlest of her thoughts sometimes. Maybe she was just bad at keeping them quiet. She pursed her lips and walked back into the room.

Bakugou had made himself comfortable on her bed, moving up to lean against the headboard, legs strewn out in front of him. The sun was just starting to rise in the window behind him, casting him in a golden light. It was a striking image, he looked so at ease, peaceful and in his element. It was kind of beautiful, in a very domestic way; He was kind of beautiful with the sunlight illuminating his golden locks and causing his red irises to shine like rubies. Sometimes she could forget how attractive Bakugou was when he wasn’t actively being an asshat.

As soon as she thought it Ochaco immediately shoved the notion way down in her mind, right next to the realization of how nice Momo’s cleavage looked in her hero costume. She shook herself out of her enrapture, doing her best to get her mind out of the gutter and walked up to him.

“Skootch over.” She said making a shooing motion with her hands, doing her best to not notice how perfect the lighting was for his skin tone.

He looked up and rolled his eyes, moving over to the far side of the bed. She crawled in next to him, letting their bare arms brush together. The link glowed to life at their contact and she suddenly felt Bakugou’s… apprehension? No that wasn’t quite right, it was different than apprehension. She cocked her head at him face screwing up slightly in confusion, what did he have to be nervous about? He looked over at her form the corner of his eye and quickly stamped out the hesitation she’d been picking up on with a load of annoyance. Weird, but not any weirder than usual Bakugou emotional tribulations so she shrugged it off and grabbed a folder to start reading. After a beat of silence he resumed his own scrutinizing of the documents.

Two and half hours and 56 files later they walked into the PT room, with no new leads on the case. They’d kept a comfortable silence for the majority of the time they’d spent reading, only stopping to comment on a particularly interesting file or the occasional yawn. It was a surprisingly comfortable way to pass the time, by far the easiest time she’d spent with Bakugou up to this point.

“What part of ‘constant contact’ was unclear for you two?” Aizawa chided the second she and Bakugou stepped into the Physical Therapy room, both lost in their own thoughts. Ochaco jumped and quickly grabbed Bakugou’s hand in an attempt to appease Aizawa. Bakugou merely glared at Aizawa, his lack of regard for the older hero’s instructions flowing across The Link.

“Nice job blowing your ‘recuperating from injuries’ cover yesterday.” Aizawa said with an eye roll at Ochaco’s speedy reinstatement of contact. Bakugou froze, something akin to guilt sweeping through him at the mention of blowing their cover.

“What do you mean blowing our cover?” Ochaco asked confused, looking between Bakugou and Aizawa. The latter reached into his bag and pulled out a tabloid newspaper, handing it to Ochaco.

She opened it up to find a front page story titled: ‘Uravity and Ground Zero, Recovery from a Broken Heart?’ with a picture from outside the hospital last night of her and Bakugou gazing at each other, with what could only be described as a completely enraptured look, him holding onto her wrist.

Ochaco gaped opened mouthed at the story, which she skimmed quickly, finding out it speculated that she and Bakugou were secretly dating and using their recovering-from-and-unknown-quirk story to hide their love. It detailed Ochaco’s breakup last year speculating that she had broken it off with Deku for Bakugou and that they had been hiding their relationship ever since. The story actually had the guts to end with the line ‘this new quirk they’re ‘recovering from’ is just another word for love.’ Could it get any more insulting?!

“thi-this is..” she sputtered totally shocked, “This is totally unfounded!” She shook the paper in her hand, feeling her cheeks redden with either her embarrassment and anger about the situation. Bakugou felt a weird mix of anger and resentment, fuming beside her. He clenched his free hand tightly into a fist, which started smoking ominously.

“Well, regardless of the more…romantically, based claims, you’re little flying stunt yesterday wiped any notion that you are still recovering from physical injuries.” Aizawa deadpanned, clearly disappointed in them. She knew she was going to regret that! Stupid Bakugou and his stupid overpowering emotions, not to mention her own weakness to saying “no” his stupid grinning face. They’d gone and blown their carefully crafted cover. (She secretly admitted that it had been a lot of fun, though.)

“Whatever, let ‘em fucking talk. Doesn’t change what we’ve got to do.” Bakugou said with callous indifference. Like his reputation wasn’t being smeared by this whole thing, which to some extent it wasn’t. No, it was just Uravity who looked bad. She particularly didn’t care for the insinuation that she had been cheating on Deku, with Bakugou, of all people! Like that would ever happen!

Oi! I happen to be a fucking catch, for your information!

Bakugou narrowed his eyes at her, hurt at her unconscious thoughts. More deeply than she expected. Usually he wasn’t that much of a showoff in the romance department, he couldn’t care less what people thought of his romantic escapades. It was weird he would be so hurt by her declaration of dating him as an impossibility. He had once again surprised her with his response, she wondered if that was ever going to stop happening. She also wondered when he was going to stop eavesdropping on her thoughts.

Bakugou you have GOT to stop reading my personal thoughts...

Stop thinking so goddamn loud then!

It’s like a million times less loud than me thinking like this. You need to stop listening so close!

“Well then there’s really no reason for you to stay at the hospital anymore.” Aizawa said giving them pointed looks that indicated he knew they were having a private back and forth.

Bakugou just clenched his teeth at her request for him to stop listening to the thoughts she elected to not send his way and turned his attention back to Aizawa. Ochaco huffed and did the same, then processed what Aizawa had said when she got a lid on their combined irritation.

“We get to go home?!” She practically squealed with excitement; she hadn’t wanted to admit how much she missed her apartment. Her own bed, Gods-her own bed! Bakugou felt some semblance of relief too, though it was nothing compared to his lingering irritation.

“I think that should be fine for now. I want you two to continue your practice with The Link, though.” Aizawa said impassively, already bored with the conversation.

“So you still want us in physical contact as much as possible then?” Bakugou questioned straightforwardly, once again feeling that weird shade of apprehensive. Ochaco couldn’t put her finger on what it felt like, it was some sort of weird nervous energy, but very subtle in its nature.

“Yes. You two are going to be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks.” Aizawa lamented, “Once I feel like you’ve got a good enough handle on this mess I will approve you for active duty again.”

“Aizawa-san,” Ochaco interjected remembering that Deku had said he’d bring over some documents given the blessing of their respective hero agencies, “Deku asked if we could still work on some desk work to help find the villains, do you think you could help us get set up with that?” She figured it would be good to have Aizawa backing them up to allow them to work on the case, even if it was just paperwork.

“That’s definitely something I can do. “ He nodded with a slight smile at Ochaco, to which she smiled back and Bakugou blinked impassively.

“I have some people I want to talk with about where to take your training next, so until then just work on what we’ve been working on. If you can make headway into the villains group at the same time that would be great.” Aizawa instructed the two, standing up rapidly, “Oh, and try to keep yourselves out of the tabloids.” He said snidely as he strolled out of the room as if he had all the time in the world.

Bakugou exhaled forcibly through his nose, futilely trying to release his re-inflamed irritation at the press exposure. Ochaco did her best to let it slide off her mind and not seep into her own emotions, but failed miserably.

Fucking tabloid pieces of trash.

The both rose from their spots on the floor and made to follow Aizawa out, Bakugou grabbing her wrist gently, as was custom at this point. Ochaco adjusted the grip and grabbed his hand instead, it was much more comfortable than having a hand on her wrist all day. Bakugou’s side of the link lit up with subtle flairs of confusion, off-brand-apprehension and frustration. He squashed them all down rapidly with shear willpower, though. Ochaco wasn’t paying too much attention to his never-ending battle with his emotions, instead she was still caught up in the tabloid and its ridiculous interpretation of her and Bakugou’s appearance last night.

I can’t believe the press thinks I could have cheated on Deku! It isn’t like that at all!

Well to be honest the excuse you gave them at the time was total bullshit.

They turned the corner heading to their rooms and paused outside her door, before they spit up. Ochaco looked at him, offended at his words. He had no idea why she and Deku broke up, he wasn’t even there! Besides it didn’t excuse the tabloids for accusing her of cheating!

It was the truth! We did break up to focus on our careers!

BULLSHIT, you guys did NOT break up because you wanted to ‘focus on your careers’. You broke up because Deku was an asshole who couldn’t balance his job and his love life.

Oh. Well when he said it like that… he had a point. She felt her stubborn nature dig in, though, and she doubled down, full on glaring at Bakugou.

Okay so maybe it was more that Deku needed to break up for his career, but it’s basically the same thing. I agreed with his sentiment and did it for both of us. It’s basically the same thing.

It really fucking isn’t, but whatever let’s you sleep at night.

Ochaco couldn’t decide whether she was mad at Bakugou for being rude or mad that he was right. It wasn’t the same, she had wanted to stay together and work it out, but Deku had been an emotional wreck trying to choose between her and his job. She’d elected to end it for both their sakes. The way she saw it, she didn’t deserve to be relegated to second best and Deku didn’t deserve the guilt for not being able to make her the priority. It was a self-sacrificial decision for both their sakes, because Deku was never going to have the ability to do it himself.

Whatever, let’s just go get packed up and out of this freaking hospital.

She tugged on his hand, pulling him into her room. Thankfully he let the Izuku-issue drop, possibly sensing that he’d hit a sore spot for her. She tried her best to put her thoughts about her relationship with Deku to bed as she and Bakugou walked into her room. Thankfully she didn’t have much to pack, having only asked Lilly to bring a small amount of clothing to the hospital. As she moved over to start throwing her clothes into her suitcase, she glanced pointedly down at their joined hands.

I need my hand to pack, please.

Bakugou huffed and looked her up and down for a place to place his hand instead, giving up after a second and looking at her questioningly. She rolled up the sleeve on her tee shirt so he had access to her shoulder, which he then grasped. Was it annoying and inconvenient to have to be in constant contact, yes, but Aizawa was right, having constant contact was making them much better at handling The Link.

Bakugou was calmed down again, any residual irritation leaving him as quickly as it came, and Ochaco was once again a bit jealous of his ability to move on from his negative emotions. She was still feeling the lingering effects of her irritation at the press and knew she would probably be stewing about it for several days.

She walked over to the side table next to the bed, Bakugou trailing passively behind her, and started picking up the get well cards she’d received. The flowers had long since wilted, but she felt some sort of obligation to keep the cards, at least for a while longer.

“Did fans send you all of these?” Bakugou asked surprised and somewhat impressed, picking up a card to read over it. Ochaco glanced over to see Shino’s card in his hand and blanched. Of course, he would pick up her stalker’s card. Of. Course. She felt Bakugou’s mood shift to anger as he read the card and a sort of protectiveness of her. It was kind of sweet that he thought of her as such a good friend to feel protective of her.

“You keep cards from freaks like this?” He accused her holding the card up. Ochaco blushed and rolled her eyes at him.

“Oh yeah, I love cards from my stalking fans” She replied sarcastically, grabbing the card from his hand, crumpling it and tossing it in the trashcan. He followed its trajectory with narrowed eyes, looking like he was seriously considering setting it on fire with an explosion.

“Do you have many fans that say things like that to you?” He asked gruffly, feeling a swirling concoction of negative emotions. Ochaco got the sense he would be totally willing to beat up any fans who gave her any unwanted attention. She couldn’t tell if it was just a hunch or if she was legitimately feeling that vibe from him through The Link. He was getting better at keeping his side of the link closed off from her every day, even when they were touching.

“Not many” She shrugged and his hand briefly tightened its grip on her shoulder, “It’s just part of being a female pro.” She answered the question truthfully. She remembered how she’d spent some time working alongside Mt. Lady when she was in third year at UA and had witnessed first-hand just how much sexualization of female heroes was a part of Mt. Lady’s day to day. She’d been physically disgusted by the notion, but resigned to the fact that it was the reality for female pros.

Bakugou seemed to be struggling with something, his face was screwed up into the glare that Ochaco now knew meant he was thinking very hard.

“That’s such bullshit!” He blurted out eyebrow twitching as his contemplation came to the realization that the sexism female heroes lived through was a breech in his moral code. His free hand glowed faintly as it heated up and a few explosions crackled his palm.

Ochaco giggled at his reaction and he swung his furious gaze from the trashcan over to her. She found it highly amusing that he had apparently never thought about the inequities of the genders in hero work.

“Bakugou, it’s really okay. It’s just how it is for females. It's part of the gig.” Ochaco said thoroughly amused by his response, “Did you think I wanted to wear a hero costume as tight as mine is as a 15 year old?”

Bakugou just sputtered, gaping at her, he was flustered and genuinely shocked as the revelation washed over him.

“Holy shit they made you wear that?” He said as his cheeks colored, either with anger or embarrassment- both of which Ochaco could feel emanating from his side of the link.

“They strongly suggested I, oh what was their wording…” Ochaco searched he brain to try and remember what Midnight had told all the girls during orientation freshman year, “oh something along the lines of ‘spice up our costumes’ or something like that. Midnight Actually came around and made adjustments to our suggestions before we turned them in.”

Bakugou ground his teeth together in retroactive anger, “Why didn’t any of the guys know about this?! “

“Not your problem, I guess. Plus, we all got used to it quickly enough.” Ochaco brushed off the past easily. She was quite comfortable in her costume now after having had to wear it everyday to work for six years. It could have been worse after all, poor Momo basically had been coerced into showing as much skin as possible ‘for her quirk’ by Midnight. Ochaco’s suit was tight, sure, but at least she was covered head to toe.

Bakugou was having trouble putting his thoughts into words and kept opening and closing his mouth in rage. Instead he just sent her the general impression of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘fuck that’. She laughed at his defensiveness on her behalf.

“I appreciate your belated frustration for our plight.” She chuckled towards him, having finished packing up her suitcase. She zipped it up and reached up to grab his hand from her shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

“Your room is next! Let’s hurry, I’m ready to go home!” She said happily glancing up at his face, which seemed to still be recovering from his new commiseration with female heroes. His eyes met hers and she felt his mood flicker back to content as he boxed up his righteousness. He gave her a smirk and a returning squeeze of her hand. She jumped a bit as she felt a shiver go down her spine as his eyes connected with hers. It was less intense than The Jolt but similar in nature. She furrowed her brows briefly, unsure of what had occurred, but determined it to be the fact the room was so cold. She shrugged off the strange feeling and followed as Bakugou led them over to pack up his room.

They had packed up all of Bakugou’s belongings, which took significantly less time than it had for Ochaco by virtue of him being a much neater person than her. (Not that she was dirty, just disorganized. What kind of psycho folds their dirty laundry, really!? ) Anyway, packing up Bakugou's things was a speedy affair and they both were ready to leave hospital within the hour. After a quick peak outside to see that the media had vacated their positions, she and Bakugou headed to the train station. She had floated their bags beside them as they had ridden over to her apartment first, the closer of the two. She’d sent a quick text to Deku asking if he could meet them at her place to drop off the files he wanted them to review. He had been excited that they’d been released and had agreed to come by as soon as he could.

When they finally arrived at her front door, Ochaco juggled her bag and Bakugou’s hand to pull out her keys, unlocking the door. She pushed it open and led him inside her place. Although it was still the nicest apartment she’d lived in to date, Ochaco was still slightly self-conscious of the apartment being significantly lower quality than that of her friends. Despite being in the Top Ten, Ochaco was still fairly cash poor and old habits of penny pinching died hard.

Bakugou didn’t seem to notice anything odd, though, as he shook his hand free from her grasp and dropped onto her worn brown couch, flinging his legs onto her worn out coffee table, totally at ease.

“Release.” She said quietly to drop their bags watching Bakugou with amusement. He had tilted his head back and closed his eyes, though she could tell that he was still awake. The bags dropped to the floor light as a feather and Ochaco made her way into the kitchen.

Deku will be here soon, do you want anything to drink while we wait? Err… I mean if you want to stay here and wait? I wasn’t trying to imply that you had to-

-Some coffee sounds great.

He interrupted her frantic thoughts as she tried to correct her ‘we’ mistake. She could practically feel him smirking from his spot on the couch, though he hadn’t sent any impression of it. She breathed a sigh of relief and walked into her small kitchen tucked on the other side of the wall behind where Bakugou was seated on her couch. She went to her basic run of the mill coffee maker to make a pot for them to split. It was noon, but hey- what the hell! They had probably about a million files to sort through as fast as they possibly could, they were gonna need every drop of coffee they could get.

She leaned against the counter as she waited for it to brew and took a moment’s breather. She felt like this past week had been non-stop and was happy to have a moment to just be. Not training, not working on the case, not arguing with Bakugou, just leaning against her counter listening to the dripping of freshly brewed coffee. The moment was very peaceful, and for that she was thankful, Bakugou’s mood was a steady, peaceful, calm which definitely helped.

She poured two cups of coffee into two mugs (an All Might mug for Bakugou and a Creati mug for herself) and rounded the corner of her kitchen back into the living room. She let out a quiet giggle when she saw Bakugou slumped, head tilted back resting on the back of the couch passed out. No wonder his mood was so peaceful. She brushed carefully against his mind, bridging their separation and felt his mind relax against hers, almost sighing in contentment giving her the equivalent of a psychic nuzzle. He was fully unconscious, not even dreaming from what she could tell, though she didn’t go digging around to find out. He would sooo not be okay with how his mind was essentially cuddling hers if he was awake, she made a mental note to tease him about it when he woke up. For the moment, she let herself relax into the mental contact and put his mug on the table in front of him for when he woke up.

She gave him a small smile, keeping their contented mental contact and took a seat next to him on the couch. For all his bristling behavior Bakugou was a kind soul, with truly good intentions and feelings. As annoying as the mind link was, she was glad it had given her an opportunity to get to know him well enough to see that side of his personality.

She grabbed her laptop, which was on the coffee table where she’d left it after her last furious research session two weeks ago. She opened it up and started some basic research on all that they knew about the villains, taking notes as she went. As expected, there wasn’t much available, but she kept digging just in case.

A knock on the door roused her from her task, Bakugou stirred, but his mind stayed deep in unconsciousness. She glanced over to him and had the strangest desire to run her fingers though his hair, which seemed to echo in his brain with increased longing. Super weird, where had that come from?

She shook herself out of it and stood to answer the door. She swung it open to see Izuku standing in her hall with three huge boxes resting on his outstretched right hand as if they didn’t weigh a thing, which they probably didn’t for the green haired man. Stupid strength quirks.

Ochaco smiled gently at him and brought a finger to her lips as Izuku opened his mouth to speak. She opened the door wider and gestured with her head over to where Bakugou was sleeping soundly on the couch. Deku clamped his mouth shut with a contemplative slant to his mouth, then shook his head lightly and smiled at Ochaco.

“Hey Ochaco.” He whispered and Ochaco moved to the side to allow him in. He stepped through the threshold with a tentative glance around, looking for where to set down the boxes of paperwork he’d brought.

“You can set the boxes down in the living room” She whispered back and then headed towards the kitchen, expecting Izuku to follow. He did as she expected, and she hopped up to sit on her counter as he rounded the corner. She had déjà vu of them in this very kitchen a year ago, tense as she called it off. She realized he hadn’t been over to her apartment since that night and felt bittersweet about it.

“Wow, he’s really out, isn’t he?” Deku commented quietly as he leaned against the counter opposite of her. His voice was relaxed, playful even, but his shoulders held a tension that others may have missed, but Ochaco had known Deku far too intimately for far too long to not notice.

“Yeah, the idiot didn’t sleep last night.” She said rolling her eyes with a fond grin, chuckling quietly “Couldn’t get the caffeine into him fast enough, I guess. Oh, would you like any coffee, by the way?” She gestured towards the half full pot to her right already moving to reach for his mug, the Uravity mug he’d bought to keep at her apartment when they’d been together. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to trash it after they’d split, even though she’d never used it since.

Deku let a small smile slip onto his lips and shook his head, “ah, no thank you. I’m trying to quit caffeine”

Ochaco gave him a skeptical glance. When they’d been dating Izuku basically lived off of caffeine, working himself to the bone to remain the top hero. The man was a workaholic and had required caffeine to allow him to keep his insane work hours.

“Um, so how are you?” He asked awkwardly with a small cough. His gaze kept moving around the room, attempting to focus on anything but her. She could tell he was worried, but didn’t know how to ask about whatever was bothering him with their current emotional distance.

“I’m good Izuku, really.” Ochaco said in reassurance, letting her leg kick out to nudge his hip affectionately with her foot, trying to ease some of the weird tension he seemed to have. She, contrastingly, felt supremely at ease, though that may just be Bakugou’s peacefulness rubbing off on her, given how close he was currently. He was still practically wrapped around her mind in his unguarded state, she found it oddly calming.

Izuku nodded, finally making eye contact with her at her foot nudging. His eyes still held concern though. He opened his mouth to ask something, then shut it again as if he’d decided against it on second thought.

“Izuku, you know you can ask me anything, right?” Ochaco said kindly, seeing his struggle, “That hasn’t changed you know.” She still had a soft spot for the man and nothing would change how much she loved him, just that she couldn’t be in love with him. He was still one of her best friends and she’d made a promise when they’d ended their relationship to not let it end their friendship. They both needed the other’s support too much to let something as petty as a breakup come between them.

“I-“ He started then stopped, brows furrowing before, “I guess I just have so many questions about you and Kacchan and I don’t know where to start” He finished looking at her for guidance, green eyes imploring her.

“Okay, why don’t you start with the most important, then and we’ll work our way through them.” Ochaco suggested with a shrug. She had known this was coming, given the pointed and curious looks he'd been sending her way last night. Deku paused for a minute and then nodded, bringing a scarred hand to rest on his chin thoughtfully.

“Are you in love with him?” He blurted out suddenly, if not some what accusatorially. Ochaco’s mouth fell open in shock. What the-, where did-, … What? Her mind spun with questions and confusion and she felt Bakugou’s mind stir in response, coming into a fuller awareness, though not quite ‘awake’. She heard him grumble audibly from the couch and watched as Deku turned to look at the entrance to her kitchen, towards the living room, in shock, clearly connecting that she had somehow disturbed his sleep through The Link. She moderated her swell of emotion to a quieter level and Bakugou’s brain settled again, sliding next to hers in a resting state again. She breathed out a sigh and made a mental note to try and keep her reactions to a minimum so as to not wake him. She knew he really needed the sleep, the idiot.

“No, of course I’m not in love with him!?” She meant it as a statement, but it came out as more of a question when her pitch rose at the end in defense. Deku swung his eyes back to look at her, troubled.

“Oh.” Was all he said, voice downtrodden and thoughtful. ‘Oh.’? Just ‘oh.’?! Ochaco was not about to let this particular burning question slip unnoticed.

“You don’t get to ask something like that and not explain.” Ochaco said, placing her hands on her hips, annoyed at his unresponsiveness. Seriously, where had that come from? Why was everyone so interested in her and Bakugou dating? First the media, then the Baku-squad and now Deku too? Deku met her gaze and swallowed loudly, now even more uncomfortable looking than he had been. He tilted his head towards the ceiling, avoiding eye contact, clearly thinking. Which meant he was editing his response to be what she wanted, an annoying habit she’d started to recognize a few months into dating him. He always just told her what he believed she wanted to hear, not confront her with his actual thoughts. Another aspect of their relationship that hadn’t worked well, in hindsight. It was like he didn’t trust he to handle the entirety of his opinions, like they would hurt her feeling or some other such nonsense.

“You two have just gotten really close this last week. So absorbed in each other… I’ve never seen you so distracted by someone else,” He said tentatively as if testing her mood, “not even when we were dating.”

If she didn’t know better, she would say Deku was jealous, which was ridiculous because she’d broken up with him last year after he had basically told her she would always come second! He'd all but asked her to do it! She’d broken up with him with his insistence it wouldn’t work!

“Well of course we’ve gotten closer!” She practically hissed out, exacerbated, “We’re literally sharing our every thought with each other!”

Every thought?” Izuku asked suddenly pinning her with his gaze, he looked…scared? What on earth did he have to be scared of?! That she’d accidentally shared thoughts about him with Bakugou?

Ochaco sighed, “No, not every thought now. We mostly keep in our own heads, but we do share a lot of emotions. And we’re almost always keeping a conversation up.”

“I’ve noticed that, you both make weird faces when you do that, you know” Izuku said confirming her suspicions about them not being as subtle as they thought with their mind speaking. She did not fail to notice that Izuku had still avoided her question as to what would prompt him to be so concerned about her and Bakugou.

“But no, Izuku, I’m not in love with Bakugou.” She answered his question with a pointed look, one she knew he understood to mean ‘you’re not getting out of this so easily’.

Deku was stubbornly silent for several beats.

“Even though I still don’t know why you’d be so keen to know if I was…” Ochaco continued her thought, pushing him to actually answer her. A blush raised on his neck and he heaved a mountain of a sigh, lips pulling down unhappily in defeat. He seemed to be weighing something in his head, deciding whether or not to speak.

“Ochaco,” He started tentatively, staring at his hands, “I think we made a mistake. I don’t think we should have broken up.”

Ochaco, for the second time in this conversation let her mouth fall open in shock. Her stupid, dumb heart fluttered in her chest excitedly. Then her stomach clenched painfully at the thought that she couldn’t weather this conversation again. Their relationship didn’t work the first time, hell, they had both been miserable those last few months before they’d called it off! Nothing had changed in the last year either, save for the addition of her being mind-linked to his eternal rival, which, let’s be honest, was not going to grease the friction in their relationship. Deku was still far too driven to give her the respect she deserved, and she was not nearly forgiving enough to put up with it anymore. Deku continued to stare at the floor, oblivious or politely ignoring Ochaco’s reaction. Bakugou’s brain sluggishly roused at her flurry of emotions, though at this point Ochaco was only half-paying attention to Bakugou’s state.

“I- I just. Izuku, you can’t be serious.” She finally got out, still incredulous at his admission. She was also kind of pissed, why was he making her go through this with him again? Didn’t he know how much it pained her to have to choose between her self-respect and his attentions?

“I’m still in love with you” He once again hit her with an emotional battering ram as he finally met her gaze, “I never stopped loving you.” Ochaco’s heart actually skipped a beat, whether in excitement or terror, she wasn’t sure. Bakugou was now half-awake and sleepily concerned at her turbulent emotions.

What’s goin’ on, why are you all bothered? His thought was half-formed and groggy as he attempted to figure out what was happening. She felt him testing the link to figure out what had riled her up. She ignored him, too focused on Izuku to respond.

“Izuku,” Ochaco started slowly, storm of emotions pulling her thoughts a million different ways, “we can’t do this again. Nothing has changed in our goals and –“

At this Deku lurched forward and grasped her hands, leaning into her space, “But that shouldn’t matter! I love you and you love me, isn’t that enough?”

Ochaco froze, her thoughts racing. This could not be reality. She thought she had laid this to rest last year. She wasn’t sure she had the strength to do this again, her heart couldn’t take more heartache- wait. She felt around for the heartbreak she’d been carrying around in her chest for the past year and found none. She dug deeper trying to find the hurt she’d felt last year at Deku’s admission that he would never love her more than he loved being a hero and came up empty handed. She wasn’t heartbroken. Just sad and nostalgic for the past.

I’m not in love with him anymore. The realization hit her like a building she had dropped with her quirk hits the ground: hard. She didn’t know when it had happened, but it had.

In love with- what the fuck are you talking about Cheeks?

Holy cow. How long had she been okay with this? How long ago did she move on? She realized that for the past several months she wasn’t feeling heartache from a broken heart, but rather heartache for the nostalgia of a time past. Heartache at the end of something that could have been great. She stared at Izuku, unsure what to say.

“Uraraka-“ Bakugou said in annoyance as he swung around the corner, then froze, his eyes landing on Deku. Several things clicked for him in that second and Ochaco watched as his brain flew through the connections.

“Deku,” He ground out, “What the actual fuck are you doing?” His voice was menacing as he glared at his rival. He was pissed, mad at Deku for making Uraraka upset enough to wake him up, or so Ochaco interpreted. Deku looked back and forth between Ochaco and Bakugou, lips coming together in a scowl.

“Did you just tell him what we are talking about?” He accused Ochaco releasing her hands as if she’d burned him. Ochaco’s eyebrows rose incredulously. She’d seen Izuku jealous before, but he’d never lashed out like this. Not at her. It cemented in her brain how much of a bad idea this was, especially now that she and Bakugou were mind linked. She was so not game to come in the cross fire of these two's ridiculous pissing contest.

Bakugou growled, crossing his arms over his chest, feeling Ochaco’s indignation and offense and magnifying them. He was feeling very protective of her, probably just because her emotional tornado was making him feel all sappy and defensive. Ochaco gently pushed Deku back and jumped off the counter.

“No Deku, I did not just tell him what we were talking about,” she said addressing Deku with a punctuated poke in the chest, “He has goddamn ears and he heard for himself, so you can stop the jealous rage, yeah?” Bakugou gave a snort of amusement, at which Ochaco rounded on him, eyes narrowed slits of frustration.

“And you!” she shot at Bakugou, who had the guts to look shocked that she was also upset at him, “Did it ever occur to you that maybe this was a private conversation that you should not be a part of?” He just narrowed his eyes at her, irritated and angry.

Well you were the one who fucking woke me up with your emotional life or death shit.

Yeah and then you figured out it was about me and Izuku’s relationship and you thought ‘hey guess I'll just butt in this very personal conversation that’s clearly not about me?’

OH! IT IS SOO ABOUT ME, CHEEKS, AND YOU KNOW IT!

We will talk about this later!

She pointed out of the kitchen, indicating he should leave her to handle Izuku. She sent him the general impression of 'fuck off', which was very uncharacteristic of her, making him hesitate, determination to stay wavering. He didn’t budge, feeling stubborn and angry at being ordered around.

GO!

He gave one final huff and stalked out, doing his best to pull away from the link to give her space. She turned around to face Izuku with a sigh.

“Izuku, I will always love you, but you have to know that this” She gestured between herself and him, “is a terrible idea.”

She watched him open his mouth to retort, then freeze as his phone went off, the same ring tone he had when they were together indicating it was his agency. His eye widened and his fingers twitched to answer it.

“Ochaco, I really should-“ He stuttered, clearly fighting with his desire to finish their conversation and the bone deep need to do his job. It threw Ochaco back to when they were together and he would just drop everything, her included, at that stupid ring tone. He was sickeningly dedicated to saving the public.

Ochaco smiled gently, fondness creeping through her anger, a bittersweet mix of emotion. “Go be a hero.”

Izuku grimaced painfully, struck by her words and the realization that she was right: nothing had changed. Deku, the hero, would always beat out Izuku, the person, for his time, and loving Ochaco wasn’t going to be able to change that.

Izuku just nodded and turned to leave, giving her one last longing, desperately sad look before swiveling around the corner. She heard him chant a short greeting into his phone and then felt Bakugou’s rage spike as Deku crossed the living room and then heard the door close. Izuku’s muffled voice faded down the hall as he rushed to go save someone. She slumped against the counter placing her hand over her eyes warily.

Holy shit, she had not been ready for that. Where the hell had that all come form? She was still trying to process the revelation that she was no longer in love with Izuku, let alone that fact that he appeared to be jealous of how close she’d gotten to Bakugou. And just when she thought things couldn’t get weirder.

Bakugou was brimming with barely contained curiosity and frustration, creeping closer to her side of The Link to try and figure out what had happened. She sighed, not really feeling like going for a second fight after the monumental one she’d just had.

I’m not ready to talk about it, please give me some space.

She pleaded with him to just let it be for a bit while she tried to wrap her head around what had just happened. Thankfully, he seemed to understand her need and immediately pulled back from her mind, somewhat satiated by her response. It could wait.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she heard Bakugou’s go off on the coffee table in the other room. She furrowed her brows in confusion, maybe someone was talking in the group chat. She fished out her phone and took one look at the message from Aizawa before her stomach dropped.

‘There’s been another attack. Stay put. Will keep you up to date’

Chapter Text

Bakugou was pacing anxiously back and forth across her apartment, clenching and unclenching his hands. He’d had to go grab his gloves a few minutes ago to avoid dripping nitroglycerin all over her floor with his current state of readiness to fight. He’d spent too many years conditioning his body to produce the explosive substance in times when he was stressed to have any control over it now. The Link was a potent mix of both of their anxious states, Ochaco could feel him attempting to reign in his desire to run towards the combat as she tried to keep her own anticipation at bay. It wouldn’t do to have them both amplifying the other’s instinctual need to go to a site of trouble.

“GODDAMNIT!” Bakugou exclaimed looking out of Ochaco’s apartment’s window, a few small explosions crackling in his palms, “I want to go kill those fuckers!”

Ochaco nodded from her spot on the couch sympathetically, flinching at his sudden explosions. God she hoped the smoke curling off of his palms didn't set off her smoke alarms.

“I know, I do too, but you know we’d be more trouble than help at this point.”

She responded to him trying to keep herself from reactively riling up at his turbulent emotions.

He didn’t dignify this with a response other than a frustrated growl and resumed pacing the room. Ochaco sighed and looked at her phone for the nth time, waiting for news about the attack. After she’d gotten that text from AIzawa she’d rushed into the living room to intercept Bakugou, who was intent on disregarding the message from Aizawa and going to help out. He’d already managed to grab his black combat boots off the floor and was in the process of lacing them up aggressively when she’d run into the room, having felt his intent to go to the fight across The Link. She’d somehow managed to get him to back down and stay put, only by explaining how little control they had. They hadn’t even attempted to train in any physical combat while they were connected with The Link yet. They had no idea how it would work, it wasn’t a good idea to bring their hot mess of a shared mind into battle, let alone a battle with the villain who'd linked them in the first place. They had no idea if the finger kid would have some sort of residual control on their link; for all they knew Kanayami could completely unravel their minds. Bakugou had begrudgingly agreed with her logic with an exclamation of ‘FUCK!’ as he’d slumped back into her worn couch.

They’d flipped on the TV to a news station that was currently covering the attack and had it running in the background, desperate for any sort of news about what was going on. The news channel was at the scene of the attack, though it was largely uninformative. The police had arrived and had instituted a barrier around the elementary school that was currently infiltrated by villains. The school was pictured behind the chattering reporter, smoking slightly and eerily quiet. Occasionally there would be a loud noise or an eruption of lava from one of the windows and Ochaco knew that there was an intense fight going on inside the halls. The longer it lasted the more anxious she became, as time was a sure measure of the difficulty of a fight.

The news had reported that currently all pro heroes on call in the immediate surrounding area were being called in, though Ochaco knew that any hero in the area worth their license was heading that way- regardless if they were being paid for their time. She would’ve have gone in if she could have, on-call or not. Elementary school kids for God’s sake!

It seemed like the villains were the same as the last attack, though the reports varied. With the police barriers the news crews couldn’t get close enough to see any action, something Ochaco used to think was super helpful as the Hero in the fighting; crowd control was always a major issue and was crucial to ensure bystander safety. Now though, she begrudgingly admitted that it was much more annoying that they couldn’t get any information from the news as she was benched from the action. As far as anyone knew, the children were still trapped in the school. Or dead. Ochaco didn’t want to think about that as an option though.

She tried to take solace in the fact that Deku was probably there, seeing as he’d been called by his agency right before Aizawa had texted her and Bakugou. If Deku was there, there was a good likelihood everything would be okay. The Number One Hero was there, there was a chance that the villains would be stopped. They had to be stopped.

All of this right after Deku had dropped a bombshell on her was really not resulting in quality thoughts or feelings for Ochaco and she lamented about the terrible timing of her life. She was just a ball of barely contained emotions, despite her best efforts to categorize The Deku Incident, as she had started calling it in her mind, in her mental 'to process later' pile.

Abruptly, Bakugou sat down next to her with a huff, clearly frustrated beyond what pacing could alleviate. Ochaco just reached out and grabbed his wrist above his gloved hand, giving it a light squeeze. After all, their assignment to stay in contact wasn’t over, it was perhaps even more important now to get The Link under control than ever. The Link bloomed to life as she made skin to skin contact with Bakugou and Ochaco had to physically stop her leg with her hand from bouncing with Bakugou’s overwhelming twitchy energy that now freely flowed across The Link.

“Geeze, and I thought I was itching to join the fight…” Ochaco said as she stared down at her bouncing knee, willing it to stop bouncing. She was not used to this level of adrenaline and was having trouble processing it. How the heck could Bakugou manage this level of sympathetic nervous energy? She once again found herself marveling at the intensity of Bakugou’s emotions, still shocked at how well he managed to not get totally swept up in them.

“Hmm.” Bakugou hummed distractedly, clearly not really paying attention. He glared out the windows, as if he could get a better view of the battle if he glared hard enough. Ochaco felt herself twitching anxiously with the amount of desire for a fight he was washing The Link with and she rolled her shoulders compulsively, letting out a shaky breath as she tried to modulate his emotions.

“Okay we have got to get something to do other than staring wistfully out the window and waiting for news.” Ochaco said running her free hand through her hair. Bakugou’s energy was going to drive her up the wall if she didn’t find some way to occupy him. She noticed the box of files and sighed, it wasn’t her first choice, but it would do. He needed an outlet, or they would both go crazy. Well, she would. He would probably be fine, being accustomed to his own volatility.

“Here.” She said as she unceremoniously dropped a rather thick file onto Bakugou’s lap and pulled one out for herself. Bakugou looked at her mildly startled as the contact pulled him out of his brooding. He gave her an annoyed look.

What?!

“We might as well make ourselves useful while we wait.” She nodded towards the paperwork and felt Bakugou’s disdain for being reduced to a mere desk worker. He didn’t say anything though, and just opened the file, picking up a pencil and notepad to take notes. She had a sneaking suspicion he could feel how antsy his current state of anticipation was making her and took pity on her. Just a suspicion though, he was doing a pretty good job of keeping his thoughts locked down. Now if he could just figure out how to do that with his emotions...

Bakugou gave her a scathing look, clearing eavesdropping on her thoughts again. He sent her a rather defensive impression of 'I can't fucking help it'. Whether that was about the emotional hurricane or his eavesdropping, Ochaco wasn't sure.

They passed the next hour in tense silence, only broken by the occasional grunt of annoyance by Bakugou and moments when Ochaco would unmute the TV when it looked like something was happening. Both were tense beyond belief and Ochaco was working hard to modulate her emotions to try and contribute as little as possible to Bakugou’s increasingly bad mood. It was, as always, exhausting work to try and keep Bakugou’s emotions in check and it was wearing on them both.

On top of that, neither had been able to find anything of use in the files, just random crimes with little relevance to their mysterious group of villains. Ochaco felt particularly useless and Bakugou wasn’t much better, though he mostly felt angry at being kept inside during such a devastating attack.

An hour or so in, Ochaco glanced up from her file at the TV and saw a commotion, the camera jiggling as the film crew ran over towards a blurry group of figures. Ochaco grabbed the remote and turned the sound back on, anticipation spiking. The camera stilled and focused to reveal Deku pushing along a snarling Kanayami Hito from the entrance to the school towards a police van, which was parked right in front of the blue doors Deku had just emerged from.

Ochaco’s mouth fell open, Deku had caught the quirk user responsible for the chaos that had descended upon her life this week. Deku had Kanayami’s hands wrenched behind him in a painful looking hold with quirk repressing cuffs as the long fingered kid was jerking and trying to get free. Kanayami looked positively feral, eyes alight with a sort of desperation Ochaco only saw in villains that were truly unhinged. Deku didn’t budge a bit at the kid’s flailing though, his quirk giving him an insane advantage against the rail-thin villain. Izuku was, per his hero honor code, smiling in determination at the camera and waving as he moved Kanayami towards the waiting police van. Red Riot and Froppy were following behind Deku, looking very bruised and worse for the wear, but followed Deku’s lead smiling tightly at the camera.

“Deku!” The reporter called out to the heroes as she and the camera man rushed up, “What is the status of the fight? How many villains have you captured? How are the children?!”

Deku glanced back over at the reporter as they approached, his smile faltering just enough that people who knew him well would catch it, but not enough for the general public to notice.

Oh shiiiiiit…
Oh no…

Ochaco knew what that falter meant, and so did Bakugou. Something had gone wrong. Maybe more than one something. Deku’s eyes flitted over to Kirishima, who nodded and stepped into center frame of the shot. Nobel Kirishima was taking the media’s heat for Deku, who turned away and climbed into the back of the police van with the mind-melding villain. Kirishima put on what Ochaco recognized to be his ‘shit-went-down-but-they-can’t-know-that' face, which was a carefully crafted neutral expression and guarded eyes.

“We are currently still assessing the damage with the help of the Tokyo Police.” Red Riot said to the camera doing his best to keep his faced schooled into an unreadable expression, “We have captured a villain who will be detained and questioned by police.”

“Are the children alive? How many villains escaped?” The reporter pressed, turning the microphone back towards Kirishima aggressively. Kiri’s eyes flicked down to the microphone being shoved towards his face and took a small step back, putting himself more directly between the rest of the heroes now exiting the school and the media.

“That’s all I’m allowed to say at the moment. “Kirishima shook his head solemnly, “The TPD will hold a press conference shortly to answer those questions.” He then turned and walked back towards Deku, who’d emerged from the van again, and the other heroes that had gathered at the site. Ochaco spotted Iida, Froppy, Shouto and Tokayami among the group surrounding the police van, though she knew there had to be more of them still inside the building.

Oh this was bad. Ochaco knew that the fact that there had to even be a press conference meant things had gone poorly. So poorly, that several of the top heroes in the country had not been able to take down more than one villain. Oh god. She hoped the children were okay. Her mood plummeted and she felt suddenly empty, worried and devastated at the probable reality of the situation.

Next to her Bakugou was fuming with guilt and frustration. She could practically hear his mantra of ‘It wouldn’t have happened if I’d been there’ running unconsciously through his mind. He shifted on the couch next to her to pull his phone out from his back pocket.

“What are you-“ Ochaco started to ask as he furiously typed in an unsaved number.

“I’m calling that fucking nerd” He interrupted her question putting the phone up to his ear, scowl on his face. Of course he didn’t have Izuku’s number saved in his phone… but he did have it memorized. How predictably Bakugou of him.

Shh, you’re thinking loud again.

Sorry! Uhg, I really don’t know how I-

Bakugou cut her off with a glare as the phone rang, sending the impression of ‘what did I just say?! SHH!’. Ochaco crossed her arms across her body in annoyance, removing her hand from his wrist. She immediately felt the level of Baku-rage she was feeling drop to a more manageable level.

Ochaco watched in fascination as Deku on the TV pulled his phone out, looking at the screen, pausing and sighing with his eyes closed, before he put it up to his ear opening his mouth to speak.

“WHAT THE FUCK YOU WORTHLESS NERD!?” Bakugou yelled before Deku could even say ‘hello’. Ochaco watched as Izuku glanced towards the camera and started replying to Bakugou, saying something Ochaco couldn’t distinguish.

“YES OF COURSE WE’RE FUCKING WATCHING!” Bakugou shouted, “HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO FUCK THIS UP? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE GODDAMN NUMBER ONE HERO!”

Izuku on screen dragged a hand down his face in exhaustion and Ochaco saw shame flicker across his expression. This was supper weird, Ochaco had never watched coverage of something this big, she was almost always called in to deal with clean up and was there in person. The anchors were chatting non-stop speculating and narrating what the heroes in the background were doing. She muted it again, finding that the chatter held no pertinent information, instead turning to watch Bakugou attempt to have a conversation with Deku.

“DEKU I SWEAR TO GOD-“ He started and Ochaco felt his mood plummet, being infiltrated with swells of grief and guilt. The intensity of it knocked Ochaco’s breath away and her eyes watered reactively to her sudden swell in emotion as his spilled into her mind.

What?! What did he say?

Bakugou looked up at her, making brief eye contact before looking away, teeth grinding, and fists clenched. The air suddenly smelled strongly of nitroglycerin as his hand began reactively sweating.

The current death count is well into the 60’s. They failed.

Ochaco’s heart deflated, crushed with the realization that children in the school had been killed. She should have been there, she could have done something. She could’ve saved them if she’d just been better. If she’d tried harder, she and Bakugou wouldn’t be handicapped by the stupid Link and they would’ve been there to turn the tide.

“Fuck.” Bakugou continued his conversation with Deku, “How many are injured?”

We should have been there. I feel so useless.

We’ll be there next time. You can fucking count on it.

Bakugou’s thought came across with such certainty and resolve that Ochaco couldn’t possibly question it. There was no question, they would not rest until they had mastered this stupid thing so they could return to being the best heroes they could be. Ochaco felt a lift in her own determination at his thought and decided to try and share it with him. She pushed the emotion over to his side forcibly, sloshing the resolve she felt through the pit in her mind. It was messy, and harder to send across the link than a thought was, but she did it. He started and looked at her, confused. It was strange feeling him react and absorb her own emotions, his own determination swelling once hers had been incorporated with it.

What did you just do?

I sent you my resolve.
This seemed to confuse him even more and Ochaco shrugged. He sent her the impression of ‘explain.’ Which she ignored, now hyper-focused on never letting something like this attack occur again. Determined to get this link under their command.

“I’ll explain later, for now put Deku on speaker” Ochaco brushed off his unspoken demand for an explanation, “we need to figure out what went wrong so we can be better next time.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes, not happy to be denied an explanation, but put his phone down, between them putting Deku on speaker.

“Okay you damn nerd, tell us how the hell you managed to fuck this up.” He growled into the speaker and Ochaco braced herself for a long and difficult conversation.

Deku explained how the battle had been doomed from the start. By the time he’d gotten there, the villains had already managed to go through two classes of students, systematically murdering them. He had choked up trying to explain how he’d interrupted their process in the middle of the third classroom, too overwhelmed with the horrors to speak clearly. Bakugou had reactively jumped up, ripped his gloves off and stomped out of the room to her small balcony at the descriptions, letting loose as massive explosion over the side of her building in anger. Ochaco just did her best not to let the tears spill over her cheeks as she continued to get details while Bakugou blew off steam. In the end the villains had all teleported away, but not before Deku caught the mind-melding kid as he cruelly linked two children’s’ minds, something that had resulted in what Izuku described as ‘one of the worst forms of torture I’ve ever seen’. The linked children had died shorty after Deku had contained Kanayami. It was horrific.

Ochaco hadn’t known how to end the call, desperately wanting more details but also not sure she could handle more guilt for not being able to be there. She’d just told Deku to keep her and Bakugou up to date. Deku mentioned something about the interrogation process and how he expected the Tokyo Police would want to involve her and Bakugou, but she wasn’t really listening.

She sat in silence after hanging up, setting Bakugou’s phone back down on her coffee table. Bakugou walked back in, having set off a sufficient number of explosions to vent his anger and guilt. Ochaco vaguely hoped he hadn’t scorched the side of her building, that would be hard to explain to her landlord.

He stalked across the room towards her spot on the couch and she looked up to meet his eyes. He quickly sat next to her on the couch and Ochaco got a hit with the smell of smoke and caramel clinging to him, as it always did when he’d set off several explosions. It was an oddly comforting smell, one she’d come to associate with the ass-kickery Bakugou brought to a fight. It was unusual for her to smell this scent and have a battle go poorly, in the same way seeing green lightning streak across the air meant Deku was going to dominate the battle.

“Give me your hands” He instructed holding out his own palms to her.

His side of the link radiated motivation and a rock-solid sense of focus. Ochaco felt herself dipping into The Link to try and absorb some of it. She brushed his mind and felt him nudge her back, impatient. She placed her hands on his feeling their minds pulled closer together and felt the full spectrum of his emotions, anger, resentment, guilt. Lot’s of guilt, but somehow motivating, rather than the depressing kind she harbored currently. She stared into his eyes as they made contact, watching the flickers of thoughts as he felt her current emotional state too, searching for something. He smirked at her when he found whatever he was looking for, though, and Ochaco got the vague impression he was satisfied with her.

“What are you thinking?” She asked, respectfully not pushing into his mind to find out for herself.

It’s time to learn some offense.

Ochaco barely had time to process the thought he flung at her, before she felt him widen The Link, seemingly grabbing her mind and dragging her into his own mind, displaying his thoughts for her.

It was nauseating as ever to suddenly be flung into each other’s minds, but Ochaco was finding more and more familiarity with the way his mind worked, no longer a foreign space but one she was accustomed to. The strange flavor his thoughts and emotions had now felt almost natural to her, and she felt a sort of fondness for his particular flavor of thoughts. Like having only had vanilla ice cream her whole life then suddenly getting the opportunity to try chocolate, disorienting and comparatively bitter at first, but enjoyable over time. She followed Bakugou’s thought process and felt her eyes widen in surprise. Bakugou wanted to learn how to keep her from entering his mind, like putting up a mental shield as she tried to break it down. Then he wanted to do the same to her. He wanted to make them able to keep the other one out, so if something overwhelming happened they could “protect” their own mind from the other. Something like this hadn’t even occurred to her to be something they could do, but it made total sense. He thought about the Link as if it was a river between their minds, they’d figured out how to make the river of thoughts and emotions bigger or smaller, by tightening or loosening The Link, but hadn’t thought to try and damn off the flow directly where it met the edge of their consciousness. He’d figured it out yesterday when she’d been close and he’d put up a wall so she wouldn’t see-

She was unceremoniously thrown from his mind as he psychically pushed her back out as quickly as he had pulled her in and Ochaco felt a stab of pain through her mind at the force of the action.

“Ow!” She exclaimed as her hand went up to grip her forehead and she glared at Bakugou, “What the hell Bakugou?!”

He just glared at her, his side of the link one again locked down. He was apparently not going to waste any time explaining his hot and cold actions.

“Come on, we’re wasting time.” He grunted at her, impatiently gesturing with his open palm for her to re-establish connection, “Try it, see if you can get past my walls. Barriers. Whatever”

She rolled her eyes at his impatience, but placed her hand back onto his palm, felling The Link pull them closer, but instead of brushing against the soft edges of his unguarded mind, she found herself pressed against a solid barrier. It felt less like a wall and more like a thick water balloon, still moveable but thicker skinned than his unguarded mind usually was. She curiously pressed against it and felt his mind resist the action, but it gave slightly. Flexible, but strong.

She furrowed her brows and pushed a bit harder, staring unseeingly at the wall behind Bakugou’s head in focus. He grunted at her action, hands twitching under hers. She felt the strange sensation of wanting to know what he was feeling or thinking, but not being able to, despite being so close to his mind. The barrier was insulating his thoughts and emotions from her. Her eyes flicked to his, seeing him staring intently at her, brows drawn down in focus. At her glance he quirked a brow challengingly and cocky, as if to say 'that's all you got?'. Ochaco felt a flair of indignation at his condescending attitude and leveled him with her best intimidating glare and closed her eyes to try and better get a picture of his mind.

She pushed against his barrier again, feeling it give the same way it had, almost rippling at the force of her action. She distantly felt his hands tighten the smallest amount on hers. She paused, thinking. It seemed like pushing against his mental wall with her whole mind was not working, the whole barrier just rippled, flexing under the stress rather than breaking. But… what if it was like a water balloon, as she’d initially described, and what she needed to do was not so much push as puncture? She pulled back from his mind, idea taking shape in her mind as she opened her eyes again. Bakugou was looking at her with guarded curiosity, clearly having felt that she pulled back. He cocked his head, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at her.

She grinned at him and launched a spike of her mind towards his barrier, feeling it rip at the contact. He physically jerked back from her and Ochaco felt the rush of emotions that he’d been containing behind the barrier leak out, curiosity, determination, pride and the joy of having training to do. All buried under the avalanche of guilt and sorrow he felt as it swept through the barrier she'd broken. As he realized what had happened, she felt his disappointment in himself, but a swell of pride in her abilities. The rest of the barrier crumpled and Bakugou scrambled to get his side of The Link closed off once again, managing to get it back under control quickly.

Damn that was fast. Fucking hell that hurt, though. Could you maybe try to NOT stab my fucking brain next time?

Ochaco just giggled, and nodded, feeling pleasantly surprised in her abilities. Ochaco was stoked to have so quickly broken through his defenses. He gave her an uneasy glance, faint weariness drifting across The Link from him, distrusting her response. She mentally reached out and stroked his mind fondly where she’d just poked through his barrier, as if trying to ease the pain from her earlier stabbing. He shook his head, in the involuntary way people do when the get a shiver, and squared his shoulders. She felt a flash of affection from him followed swiftly by embarrassment. He felt oddly uncomfortable by her action, which confused Ochaco. She edged a bit closer to better assess what he was feeling, but he just closed off The Link more. He was sitting stiffly on the couch, watching her with his red eyes narrowed wearily, leaning away from her.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. “ She said curiously, not sure why he’d been weirded out by her mental brush. It had been a fairly familiar gesture, sure, but one she didn’t think was out of the ordinary for them. For god’s sake, she had literally been inside of his mind not even ten minutes ago.

“Yeah just be better next time.” He said shortly, calming a bit as she apologized. His posture eased a bit and she felt him relax his hold on his end of The Link. She felt him refocus on the task of building a barrier, never one to be distracted for long.

She watched him both mentally and physically while he assembled another wall, damning off the flow of The Link once more. She patiently waited, astutely watching how he erected the barrier, knowing it wouldn’t be long before he demanded she try it out.

“Again.” He stated shorty with a nod at her when he was ready, face furrowed in concentration. Ochaco took a deep breath and closed her eyes, getting ready for another attempt.

Chapter Text

To say the rest of the night was intense would be an understatement. Both Ochaco and Bakugou had a metaphorical fire lit under their butts with their mutual desire to figure out The Link as fast as possible, they both knew they would not be able to sit ideally by while another attack happened, they would not let it happen.

Bakugou spent the better part of two hours repeatedly being assaulted by Ochaco’s mind. Building up barriers and watching as she tore them down invariably. He tried a number of different-feeling walls, until he’d finally settle on one that Ochaco struggled to break down. It ended up feeling like a very sturdy sort of bulletproof material, Kevlar was the only word Ochaco could think of to describe it. Bakugou had let out an exhausted chuckle when she’d told him as much, amused by her unusual analogies.

Then he’d turned his attention onto her, instructing her to try to resist his approaches. She’d gotten it down in less than an hour, much to Bakugou’s irritation. She tried to ease his bruised ego by pointing out she’d been watching him develop the technique firsthand through The Link and that he shouldn’t feel bad. He’d come up with the idea after all! That seemed to ease him a bit, though Ochaco could still see his irritation in his tense shoulders and feel it radiating through The Link.

In a truly Aizawa inspired action, Bakugou suggested they try to stay walled off for the rest of the night, while in contact for as long as they could. Ochaco felt a weird sense of déjà vu, trying to focus on keeping her wall up. It reminded her of when they’d first gotten off the morphine, or when they’d first instituted the skin-to-skin training of The Link. It gave her a really inspiring sense of reflection on just how much she and Bakugou had accomplished. It sometimes felt like they were moving at a snail’s pace, but since they’d been linked a little over a week ago, they’d progressed hugely. It gave her hope that they would eventually get a handle on this thing, maybe even be able to use it to their advantage. She could hope right?

They spent the rest of night, or at least as long as they could hold their eyes open, looking through files with rebounded vigor, desperate to find something, anything, that would clue them into the intents of the villains. At around 1am Ochaco suddenly felt Bakugou’s mind press up against her barriers sluggishly. She looked over to see him fast asleep, having finally succumbed to his exhaustion. He still had a file open on his lap and a pen loosely grasped in his hand.

She let her mental walls down, much to her relief, and sighed at the feeling of his sleeping mind slipping into place next to hers. It felt ridiculously good, like this was their new resting state, how it was supposed to be. She tried not to worry about how having his mind curled around hers felt more normal, natural even, than having their psyches separate was. It was a real shift from how she’d felt those first couple of days and the sudden change in her impression of this whole thing was unnerving to say the least. None the less, she couldn’t help but relax into the contact, finally feeling at peace.

She had gotten up, closed the file and removed his pen from his loosely clenched hand, setting both on the coffee table in front of him. The whole time she kept close watch on his mind to see if her was waking up, ready to spring away from him at a smallest hint he was becoming conscious. He’d never be okay with her fussing over him like this, stupidly obstinate in his proclamations of never needing help.

She’d gently pushed him over so he was at least in a horizontal position on the couch rather than sitting upright, and had covered him with a throw blanket. She let herself be okay with the wash of affection she felt for the stubborn man, since he wasn’t there to chaste her for being a softie. She reasoned to herself, as she had gotten ready for bed herself, that it was impossible not to feel much closer to him with how much The Link had changed. She was a naturally affectionate person and he was just going to have to deal with her showing it to him now that they were close friends.

Eventually, she’d settled into her bed in the sole bedroom of her apartment, just down the hall from Bakugou, but feeling as if she was sitting right next to him due to how firmly his unconscious mind pressed against hers. She fell asleep ridiculously quickly, feeling at ease for the first time in a week.

 

Ochaco woke up the next morning to a loud BANG and the very distinct feeling of the wrenching of her stomach, indicating she was going to throw up. She gasped, attempting to catch her breath, cold sweat dripping down her spine. She had a terrible feeling that something was very wrong. She tried to force her sudden nausea down as she moved to sit up, only to have her head smack against something hard. She opened her eyes, realizing she had hit her head on her ceiling. Oh crap, she’d activated her quirk in her sleep. She looked around herself, still very disoriented, noting she was in her room floating several feet above her bed. She lowered herself back to her bed, biting back the weirdly strong nausea she was feeling, as she woke up more soundly and recalled what had happened. This was the first night she’d spent back at home since she’d been hit with the mind-melding quirk. It was also the first time in years she’d accidentally floated herself in her sleep. Definitely the first time in a long time something as low level as floating herself made her nauseous. A chill went down her spine and she felt her stomach drop in anticipation of the terrible something she could feel was about to happen.

“GODDAMN IT!” Came the cry from down the hall, making Ochaco reflexively reach across the Link for Bakugou, only to find him hastily putting up a wall, more sloppily than he had yesterday. He was successful, however, and she couldn’t get through to feel what was causing him to exclaim so loudly.

Ochaco willed her nausea away, knowing she’d delt with way worse situations and informing her body that it had to get its shit together. She curiously poked her head out of her door frame, glancing down the hall, smelling the distinct smell of smoke and caramel. Oh no…

She leapt out of her room, into the hall now in full panic mode, worried something had happened. What if the villains had infiltrated her apartment? Was Bakugou okay? Was he walling himself off because he was injured? She was suddenly very awake and ready for a fight, adrenaline pumping.

“What’s wrong? Where-“ She burst out into the living room, fist raised only to falter. Bakugou was sitting on the couch, head between his legs breathing deeply. Her throw blanket was smoldering slightly and there were scorch marks on her ceiling. At her entrance he glared up at her pointing a finger accusatorially. Ochaco felt her panic fizzle out as she failed to find any sort of threat.

“Fucking. Stop.” He instructed her firmly, his face pale. Ochaco stopped moving forward, confusion screwing up her face. Stop? Stop what? What was going on?

“I..uh. Okay?” Ochaco said unsure, “Stop what, exactly? I can’t see what you want with your wall up.” she gestured vaguely towards him, subtly eyeing the smoking blanket, worried it may catch fire again.

“Stop whatever they fuck you’re doing that made us so nauseous.” He said as color returned to his face, clearly the wall he’d erected to keep her out had successfully stopped her nausea from leaking over to his side. Well, at least they knew his theory about the mental walls stopping flow of damaging emotions worked.

“Oh, yeah that.” Ochaco stated, swallowing her fading urge to throw up, “I accidentally activated my quirk while I was asleep. I’m not so nauseous now.”

Bakugou made eye contact with her as he slowly straightened up from his bent over position. The Jolt snapped Bakugou’s mental wall apart as their eyes connected and Ochaco shuddered at the shock that went through them both as their minds were forced back together. She didn’t think she’d ever get use to the feeling of The Jolt, and certainly not one like this morning that left the tips of her fingers tingling. It must have been the adrenaline they were both feeling that made it this strong.

Ugh. Well I guess our walls are not match for The Jolt. See? Not so nauseous now.

Ochaco disentangled her mind from his, happy to find he wasn’t feeling secondhand nausea anymore, but was instead feeling very annoyed and kind of jittery. He leaned back into the couch and ran a hand through his spikey hair, which now was desperately in need of a haircut, seeing as he still hadn’t had time to go get one yet. It was mildly distracting to Ochaco, and she had to wonder, again, what had changed so drastically in the last week that made her focus on the mundane things like his need for a haircut. He sighed heavily, glancing around and Ochaco felt both their spikes of epinephrine fading as they both realized there was not threat.

“That made my Top Ten worst ways to wake up.” He stated, “Can we never fucking do that again?”

“Sorry” Ochaco said rubbing her arm, embarrassed, “I haven’t done that in years, I don’t know what happened. I must have had a nightmare or something”

He just grunted, irritation and unease rolling across The Link. Ochaco was happy he’d put down his wall, it felt way weird to be separated that much. Like when she got the feeling she forgot something, but couldn’t remember what. Being separate left her with… just this nagging sense of… not right. The feeling of The Link ending in radio silence was just enough to put her on edge. It was much more comfortable to have him there, just brushing against her mind.

“Don’t be sorry, just be better” He mumbled irritably. Ochaco quirked a small smile at that, what an incredibly on-brand statement for him. Ochaco’s amused gaze slid to the charred blanket, which thankfully had stopped actively smoking.

“err… Do you maybe want to tell me why you set my blanket on fire?” She asked with a pointed stare at the now wrecked item. He followed her gaze and sighed, more irritation spilling across the link. It was tinged with a sense of unease, which Ochaco didn’t know how to interpret.

“I’ll replace it.” He said scowling at the item as if it had offended him, the unease he felt growing. Ochaco blinked, confused. She sided up to his side of The Link, suspicious at his mood and evasive answer. Why was he avoiding the question?

Her prodding caused him to swing his glare to her, giving her mental searching a swift slap to get her to stop.

Just fucking leave it.

Ochaco, recoiled from the sting his mental batting had caused and rolled her eyes at him. He was so touchy this morning. It wasn’t worth a fight though, so she relented her mental inspection.

Fine. I’m going to start some coffee, do you want some?

She pulled back from The Link, letting it return to their established normal resting distance as she moved past him into the kitchen. He snorted at her rapid shift in mood, slumping back into the couch as she passed.

I’ll have a cup then I’m going home to nap. Your couch fucking sucks to sleep on.

Ochaco let out a low chuckle under her breath as she measured out the grounds and started the coffee maker. Like it was her fault he had exhausted himself to the point he fell asleep on her couch. What was her other option, wake him up? Let him sleep with her in her bed? As if! She liked her head on her shoulders and not exploded across her wall, thank you very much!

Sure, but take some files with you to look over.

He scoffed mentally at her, sending the impression of ‘no shit’. She felt an undercurrent of appreciation from him. Though he’d never admit it, he was thankful she’d just let him crash here, despite not having planned to do so. She could also feel how eager he was to get to his own apartment and she totally commiserated with his desire for alone time. She was so down for her first no-Bakugou-with-in-100-feet-of-her time in almost two weeks. It should be nice to reset for at least a few hours, Aizawa’s instructions be damned.

Ochaco brought Bakugou’s mug of coffee out of the kitchen, her own warming her palm in her other hand. She took a seat next to him on the couch as handed him his mug. He was avidly reading something on his phone and distractedly took his mug from her. He took a hearty sip and turned to give her a small nod, left side of his lips upturning slightly in thanks. He continued reading and Ochaco sipped on her coffee observing the rises and falls of his emotions with mild interest. He was intensely focused and had random bursts of anger. After a minute or two, he sighed and turned to face her, grabbing her full attention with a mental poke.

“The Police have invited us to come and speak with Kanayami Hito at three today.” He stated, though Ochaco could tell from his general curious attitude and his mental probing of her response that he was questioning if she wanted to go.

“Oh?” She asked quirking her head to the side curiously, “What do they think that would provide? I can’t imagine we could do a better job than the police.”

“Apparently he is insatiably demanding to talk with us…” He hesitated, anger flaring acutely, “The fucker doesn’t believe we could have survived his quirk. The police think that we could shake his confidence if we proved him wrong.”

That gave Ochaco pause, from what she’d seen both personally and on the news, when he was arrested, Kanayami was an unstable individual. Seeing herself and Bakugou alive and well, hell, thriving even, after his quirk certainly could shake him up enough to get him to talk.

“It could work…” She said tentatively, “But it would mean putting us back in his radius. We don’t know how his quirk works after it’s activated. What if he can somehow affect The Link while we’re near him?”

“There are a lot of fucking what-ifs with this kid” Bakugou countered gruffly, scoffing at her concerns mentally, exuding confidence from his side of the link.

Ochaco sighed, knowing he was right that they couldn’t worry about ‘what if’ situations, but still had reservations. Feeling accepting of his personal philosophy to launch face first into trouble and actually doing it herself were two very different things. She just wasn’t sure she wanted to jeopardize all the work they’d put into this quirk to have the kid mess up their balance again. They’d made so much progress! She would be lying if she said she wasn’t afraid of what could go wrong, this kid’s quirk was just so much stronger than anyone had thought was possible, there was nothing indicating that strength couldn’t affect their Link should they get into physical proximity to Kanayami.

Ochaco, it’s going to be fine, stop worrying.

Ochaco started at the use of her first name, eyes snapping to his. He felt equally as surprised that he’d used her name and his side of the link flared with embarrassment and regret. His thoughts were whirring so loudly she could almost hear them leak across their current mental distance. Ochaco realized that obviously, he had just slipped up and was currently trying to figure out how to proceed.

Ochaco cracked a smile after a beat and gave a delighted chuckle. It was rather ridiculous that they hadn’t moved passed sur names, given how closely linked their minds were. Ochaco was fairly certain she knew things about him no one else did and visa versa. He seemed to relax with her response, shock slowly drifting back to his irritated default.

It’s fine, I suppose it’s kind of silly that we haven’t been calling each other our first names! You can call me Ochaco if you want.

He nodded, and Ochaco noticed what had to be a blush creeping up his neck and blooming on his cheeks, which was definitely a new sight for her. She felt her grin widen reflexively.

“But only if I can call you Katsuki too!” She chided verbally, watching in delight as his flush deepened. She tried very hard not to take delight in his discomfort, but it was such an unusual occurrence, she was going to milk it for all it was worth.

Whatever.

He rolled his eyes at her, doing his best to squash his anxious, nervous energy with his characteristic indifference, but Ochaco was Linked to him and could totally feel how uncomfortable he was. She stuck her tongue out at him playfully, giving him a mental poke to punctuate it.

He cleared his throat loudly and shook his head, as if trying to shake off his discomfort.

“Fucking- we’re going.” He said as he returned the topic to their invite to go to the police station, “It may be the only thing we can do to help catch these assholes until we master The Link”

He had her there. Ochaco desperately wanted to do something to catch the rest of these horrible villains. Bakugou was practically twitching with his desire to burn them alive, which was a very un-hero -like mentality. She couldn’t really blame him though; these guys were truly evil.

“Ugh! Okay fine!” She relented throwing the hand not holding her coffee up in the air in surrender, “We’ll go”

His emotions flared smugly, and he smirked at her, exuding that Baku-Brand confidence that was so infectious to her. She wondered briefly if he was feeling that way on purpose, just to make her cave to his mental state, but remembered that Bakugou had probably even less control than she did over how he felt.

“Read the email they sent us before we go.” He told her downing the rest of his coffee in a giant gulp and standing, “Mind if I use your shower?”

“Oh.. uh, sure! Clean towels are in the hall closet” She replied, not expecting the turn of the conversation. “There should be a spare toothbrush in the third drawer down too if you want, I guess I could’ve woken you up last night to-“

“It’s fine.” He interrupted her, already stalking towards her bathroom. As an afterthought he added, “thanks.”

She just nodded dumbly, suddenly left on her couch, still not really sure how the morning had taken so many twists and turns. Hell, how the last few days had taken so many twists and turns. She heard her shower turn on distantly as she processed the last few days of chaos. She felt her stomach drop at the memory of The Deku Incident and shoved the feeling back down, planning to deal with it later today when Katsuki wasn’t currently naked in her shower.
… naked in her..!? Uhm. What? What the hell was up with her brain today!? Ochaco blushed furiously at the intrusive thought, which she loathed to admit came with some very …ehm… appealing images, curtesy of her guttered brain.

Oi! You okay? You got all adrenaline-y all of a sudden. You’re not fucking bleeding out or some shit right?

Ochaco let out and audible “meep!”, cursing his somehow awful timing to be eavesdropping on her thoughts.

I.. ER.. Y-_YEAH. I’m FINE!

She could feel his suspicion rolling across The Link at her response and could practically picture his eyes narrowing, clad only in a towel. GOD DAMN IT. Ochaco cursed her stupid brain. He didn’t seem to notice the turn her thoughts had taken (which they had done FOR NO APPARENT REASON might she add!). She thanked the heavens that he hadn’t picked up on her less than friend-like thoughts.

Stop eavesdropping!

She added defensively, trying her best to pull back from The Link and simultaneously wash the all-too-attractive mental image of Bakugou’s muscles rolling under the spray of her shower from her mind.

‘Katsuki’s’, she reminded herself of their recent name change; Kastsuki’s muscles…GAH! NO!

You’re the one fucking calling for my attention across The Link! What do you expect?

What do you mean ‘call for you’?! I don’t call for you?

Ochaco was supremely confused, she didn’t know anything about ‘calling for him’. Just thinking about him and then he….oh. Oh crap. Was she somehow notifying him whenever she was thinking directly about him? She tried to think back on all the times he’d been able to read the thoughts she hadn’t intentionally sent across The Link, but couldn’t remember well enough to determine if her hypothesis was right.

Uh, yes. You do. It’s really annoying, it pulls me right out of whatever the fuck I happen to be thinking at the moment.

Okay that’s weird. She had definitely never had that happen to her from Bakugou’s thoughts, as far as she knew.

That’s never happen for me with you…

What, really? You’ve never… that’s a fucking relief.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Don’t worry about it. What the fuck are you doing then?

He back-peddled, closing off his side of The Link more as she tried to figure out what he was so relieved about, before distracting her with a more interesting question. She paused pondering, she had a hunch that it had to do of her thinking about Bakugou directly, like he was overhearing her say his name and snapping his attention to her. Like overhearing you name spoken in a conversation you weren’t participating in. Or something. Well one way to find out, she supposed. She carefully thought to herself about how Katsuki was going to use all her hot water if he didn’t hurry up, the brat.

That! Whatever you just did! Also, it’s been like five minutes, chill.

Okay yeah, so she was right. He definitely was picking up on her subconscious thoughts about him. Or she was subconsciously calling out for him when she did. God, just when she thought she had a handle on the nature of The Link.

Oh my god. He could pick up on her thoughts about him. She had to get a handle on her less than pure thoughts about- Nope. she would avoid thinking directly about it from now on. Especially now that she knew he was being hailed by any mention of him by her subconscious. This was already awkward enough, he did not need to be privy to her random thirsty images of his-

Ochaco stood up from the couch interrupting her own thought process. She hurriedly scooped up her and Bakugou’s mugs. Cleaning the dishes would keep her mind off of it right? She went to her kitchen sink and began to wash the mugs and other dishes that had gathered in the last day with fervor, trying to get the imagined picture of-

“Are you sure you’re okay? You’re feeling very...weird.”

Ochaco jumped and spun on her spot at the sound of his voice, only to have her blush spread more at the sight of him rounding the corner into her kitchen and leaning against the wall, all the while ruffling his spikes dry with a towel. Without a shirt on. With his very defined muscles rippling with his arm movements.

“EEP!” Ochaco squeaked out, quickly spinning around and furiously scrubbing the dishes feeling supremely awkward and embarrassed. “I’m fine, just remembering how horrible yesterday was.”

She covered for herself, knowing he could feel her... emotional turmoil…and not wanting him to figure out she was really just doing her best not to salivate over his deltoids thanks to her mind’s sudden reminder of her attraction to Bakugou. Sure, she knew he was attractive, but she’d never had to modulate her thoughts about it so he wouldn’t know. It was turning into a darn cyclic nightmare. Like normally, she’d just have acknowledged the random thought and moved on, but because she was worried about him picking up on it the more she thought about it and therefore the more she had to cover it up. Which made her think about it more. Ugh.

“Deku’s a moron, don’t let it get to you.” He replied with a scoff, assuming her emotional state indicated she was talking about Deku. He paused like he wanted to say something else, words caught on his tongue.

Ochaco turned to meet his gaze questioningly, he was looking at her with trepidation, red eyes narrowed in his patented scowl. He met her eyes briefly before turning his head away and stalking back towards the living room, apparently having decided better of it. Ochaco was still reeling from her own emotional crisis and she barely noticed the awkward air about his side of The Link. She let out a heady sigh as he left her immediate vicinity and slumped against the sink. It seemed she had one more thing to add to her “To Process Later” pile in her head. As if she wasn’t already overflowing with weird, horrific and emotionally taxing shit to sort through. Tsu was going to get one hell of a phone call this morning.

Chapter Text

“So Bakugou crashed on your old lumpy couch, set a blanket on fire, used your shower, walked out half naked and then left?” Tsu’s voice croaked over Ochaco’s cell after she had finished summarizing the insanity of her current life.

“It’s weird right?” Ochaco responded pacing around her living room, twirling a strand of hair anxiously.

Bakugou left shortly after what was hands-down one of the weirdest mornings of her life. Almost as soon as he was out the door Ochaco had called Tsu, long overdue for a conversation about how bizarre the last two weeks had been. The conversation had served as a hard-core reality check. Ochaco had been so wrapped up in The Link and her training with Katsuki she had gotten tunnel vision about the situation. This was Bakugou they were talking about after all, and the amount of change in his and Ochaco’s dynamic over such a relatively short period of time was really something when seen from a third-party perspective. A third-party perspective Tsu was more than happy to provide.

“Yes, very weird. Though, it’s Bakugou, so I guess weird is to be expected.” Tsu confirmed, “This whole mess is very strange. I mean, with Izuku’s confession and this Link thing I don’t know how you haven’t imploded yet. Ribbit”

Ochaco nodded enthusiastically, “Honestly, it’s unnerving… I feel like I’ve been linked with Katsuki for way longer than two weeks. The Link feels totally natural at this point.” Ochaco confessed biting her lip looking out the window, “Like, so natural it feels weird, uncomfortable even, when I can’t feel his mind right next to mine.”

For example, this very moment. As Katsuki had gotten farther and farther away from her apartment, she’d felt his mind get further and further from her awareness. Apparently physical distance, just like medications, made The Link weaker. It was making her feel anxious, feeling that massive psychic distance in her mind. She had sent him a few thoughts, which he seemed able to reply to, but they were almost as separated at this point as when Aizawa was using his quirk on them. She was struck again with how unnatural it had become to be separated from each other’s minds and wondered if Katuski felt the same way.

“Katsuiki?” Tsu asked in a surprised tone, “Since when are you on a first name basis?”

“This morning,” Ochaco replied, blushing at the memory, “He accidentally called me ‘Ochaco’ and we decided it made more sense to just go with it.”

“Wow. That’s big for Bakugou. I’m not sure he even knows my last name, let alone my first.”

“Oh, no he knows it, he’s just a stubborn asshole” Ochaco laughed at the notion. Being linked to him did have the benefit of seeing through his bullshit.

“Anyhow, it just makes me nervous how suddenly having our minds separate feels like the unnatural thing, as opposed to the other way around.” Ochaco continued her original thought with a sigh.

“That is concerning, certainly.” Tsu stated thoughtfully, humming, “Didn’t you say Aizawa thought you two could have some sort of natural compatibility, which was what prevented this quirk from making you go insane?”

Ochaco froze, shocked at the notion. She had laughed it off at the time Aizawa had first suggested it, but now… now she wasn’t so sure. In some ways it felt like she and Bakugou were meant to be mentally linked. Which was crazy of course, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that The Link was exactly how her brain was supposed to operate, like it somehow completed her. Ridiculous.

“I- I guess.” She replied, concern filling her voice, “but what are the chances? I mean, Me. And Katsuki. We’re, like, total opposites. Even the way we feel The Link is different.”

“Maybe it’s not about being similar, but having strengths where the other has a weakness” Tsu said thoughtfully, ever observant, “maybe it’s more about balance.”

“Like puzzle pieces.” Ochaco said, realizing what Tsu was getting at, “Our minds fit together like puzzle pieces, one’s positive space fills the other’s negative space to make a whole...”

Tsu was thoughtfully silent as she waited for Ochaco to process the notion. Holy cow. She and Bakugou were compatible. How could she have not seen it before now? He was much stronger at the more concrete aspects of The Link and she managed the emotional side better. He was quick to action, while she was more cautious. He was emotionally distant while she wore her heart on her sleeve. He was confidently rash she was thoughtful and restrained. They were balanced.

“Oh my god, Tsu, Bakugou and I are complimentary.” Ochaco stated, shocked at her revelation, “Like, in every way.”

As she continued down the list she just kept coming up with more and more examples. Hell, even their quirks worked together better than she’d thought possible, given their recent flight across the city.

“I think Aizawa was right, ribbit.” Tsu’s voice crackled over her phone, “You guys survived because you happen to be well-matched, mentally.”

Ochaco sat down on her couch in shock, glancing at the ruined throw blanket she had yet to do something about. She didn’t know why this was shocking her so much, she hadn’t ever disliked Bakugou, per say. Maybe during their first few months at UA, but not since he’d fought her in their first sports festival. She had just never considered that they would make a good team, she’d been so keen on teaming up with her friends instead. She’d been so focused on Izuku, on being someone who complimented his skill set, she hadn’t ever considered anyone else in their class.

“Okay, wow. That’s a new thought I didn’t think I’d ever have, but yeah you’re right.” Ochaco all but whispered in a daze, “Oh, Katsuki is going to have a hay day when I tell him.” She added as an afterthought.

“He’s not there right now? Mentally, ribbit?” Tsu asked, confused. Ochaco had told her about the way he seemed to be able to read her subconscious thoughts about him. How he seemed unable to not be called to those thoughts.

“No, since he’s physically father away from me I can’t feel him as well, and visa versa.” Ochaco explained, reflexively feeling for him in The Link, but not feeling him immediately close. She shivered at the sensation. Man, she had to get a grip on herself, this was ridiculous! She was a grown ass woman, she didn’t need anyone else to make her mind feel complete!

“But, it’s good. We both needed some space I think. There’s a lot to process right now, what with the villains and Deku...” Ochaco said, trailing off as she tried to convince herself that this distance was good for them despite how uneasy she’d been feeling since his mind had slipped out of reach. The psychic cliff where her mind ended echoed unnervingly empty.

“Do you still love him? Midoriya?” Tsu questioned curiously. Ochaco groaned and looked towards the ceiling.

“Of course I still love him! He’s so important to me…but I’m not in love with him anymore, I think. It’s too complicated anyway, we couldn’t handle it a year ago and I think being Linked with Bakugou would make things worse. “Ochaco spilled her thoughts about The Deku Incident concisely, finding that the truth rang clear in her words. She truly didn’t believe being with Deku was an option. It just wasn’t in her cards, as much as she had believed it was as a young hero.

“Not even if there was the infamous make-up sex you always told me about?” Tsu teased, clearly more relaxed now Ochaco had laid it all out. Ochaco’s cheeks heated at the Frog Hero’s words. She and Izuku did have a history of amazing, make-up sex, almost good enough to warrant the endless arguments they had been having those last few months, but that was beside the point!

“Tsu!” She squealed, embarrassment burning through her cheeks, “I told you that in confidence!”

“What? It’s not like I’m telling anyone!” Tsu replied with a throaty chuckle, pausing deviously, “Besides I bet sex with Bakugou would be better anyway.”

Ochaco’s jaw hung open in shock. The nerve of this girl, she swears.

“TSU!” Ocahco shouted in shock at the gall of the girl. How had a conversation about her and Deku’s past relationship turned into a conversation about sex with Katsuki?

“Well, he does have that whole ‘smoking hot, bad-boy’ thing going for him.” Tsu said as if it was a fact (which it kind of was), “I’m sure everyone in 3-A has thought about sleeping with him at least once.”

“I can’t be talking about this.” Ochaco said attempting to shut down both the conversation and her suddenly awakened dirty mind.

“I mean just think,” Tsu started in a suggestive tone completely ignoring Ochaco’s plea, “With those muscles, he could totally hold you up against a wall and-“

“Seriously, we have got to stop this discussion, if he overhears even a passing fancy-“ Ochaco interrupted, just about ready to hang up on the girl. Her mention of Bakugou overhearing seemed to distract Tsu though, because she stopped talking to listen.

“- I thought you said he was far away?” Tsu interrupted Ochaco’s worried rambling as she frantically checking The Link to make sure said man was not anywhere near her mind. Which he wasn’t, thank god.

“Yeah, but now I’m not gonna stop thinking about it when he is near! The seed’s been planted!” Ochaco sighed in defeat, knowing her stupid brain would bring up the very vivid image of Katsuki’s rock solid abs after his shower at exactly the wrong moment later today.

“Oh Ochaco, this is a problem. You gotta control yourself.” Tsu was positively snickering by this point, enjoying the discomfort she was causing her friend. Ochaco wondered if she’d started this whole conversation just to make Ochaco uncomfortable.

“I know that! So be a dear, and help me by not mentioning anything remotely related to how amazing it’d be to sleep with Katsuki.” Ochaco grumbled, “Besides, it’s not like that between us. It would totally throw us off balance again, it’s taken us two weeks to get to a normal level of functioning, I am not going to mess that up just for a passing curiosity.”

“So you admit there’s a passing curiosity then?” Ochaco could practically hear the grin on Tsu’s face as she firmly declared check-mate in their conversation. Ochaco just sighed in defeat.

Ochaco thought this was an absurd conversation, it was ridiculous that they’d even gotten on the topic to begin with. They had so many more important things to focus on. Like the child killing villains they were currently trying to catch. Ochaco glanced over towards the box containing half of the files Katsuki had left for her to start reviewing before they went to talk to Kanayami. So far, she’d spent nearly an hour on the phone with Tsu talking about his presumed sexual prowess instead of doing the work. So yeah, great progress. He’d be so proud.

“Enough about me, how are you holding up after the villain fight yesterday?” Ochaco effectively ended the conversation, switching instead to concern about her friend.

“Ribbit. I was honestly hoping to avoid talking about it.” Tsu said quietly, “I don’t think I’ve fully processed what happened. I couldn’t sleep last night. I just kept seeing their faces. Those kids…”

“Oh Tsu, I’m so sorry.” Ochaco willed Tsu to feel her sympathy and regret, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to help, I’m so sorry you had to see that.” Ocahco felt utterly helpless in the face of her friends despair, only able to offer flimsy words of comfort in the face of the horrors she’d had to face.

“Yeah.” Tsu said sadly, “It’s okay, I’ve got a session scheduled with our agency’s therapist later this week. And you and Bakugou getting the drop on the villains by talking with Kanayami will help.”

“I know what you mean, I’ll only feel better about this disaster once I know those evil bastards are behind bars.” Ochaco all but growled at the thought. She got the sense Tsu didn’t want to talk about it yet, that she wasn’t ready. A sad silence filled the air after Tsu made and affirming noise.

“You know, if you ever want to talk about it I’m here.” Ochaco said into the silence from the other end of the line.

“Of course.” Tsu said sounding more watery than usual, “You’ll be the first one I call, ribbit.”

“Good.” Ochaco nodded, glad her friend knew she could count on her. It was the least she could do, really.

“I should go, I’ve got patrol in thirty minutes, ribbit” Tsu said after another pronounced silence, this one more comfortable than the last.

“Okay.” Ochaco said trying to sound upbeat, “Hey Tsu?”

“Yes, Ochaco?”

“Be careful, okay?”

“I will.” Tsu said and Ochaco could hear the tight smile in her voice, “Bye Ochaco.”

 

Ochaco spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon on edge, busily reviewing files and compiling a list of questions she wanted to get answers to from Kanayami. It was all in and attempt to try and get her mind to calm down. It seemed like having this much physical distance between herself and Bakugou was not what her brain had in mind for the day, and her mind was freaking out on her. She was a nervous mess(for no apparent reason, might she add) without Katsuki next to her mind. So she threw herself into her work, working on her list of questions first. The biggest one, written in all caps at the top of her yellow note pad was ‘WHY?’. As she had been writing down questions her eyes kept darting back to that one. Why were these villains targeting children? What possible motive could they have?

The files offered little to no answers, though Ochaco did read one file, #1035A6, that may have been related to their current case. It detailed an attack on a middle school student from five years ago by a couple, a man and woman who had gotten away after brutally attempting to murder the kid. He had been put on life support at a hospital and had been in a coma for several months before coming to. He couldn’t remember many details but recalled that the two people who had attacked him had mentioned something about having a son of their own. It seemed like they hadn’t used their quirks on the boy, but he couldn’t remember. The boy had changed schools, moving to a non-hero focused curriculum and declining his offer to UA for the following school year, stating he couldn’t do hero work after what had happened to him.

Ochaco took studious notes on the file, it wasn’t a perfect match, but it fit their profile close enough to be of interest. A young student who was attacked by strangers, nearly killed, for no apparent reason. It was a shame the boy couldn’t remember more about his attackers, but Ochaco couldn’t help but just be happy he’d survived at all. It was quite a sad story and Ochaco hoped the boy was doing okay now.

At 2:30 Ochaco left her apartment to go to the police station, her yellow notepad with questions in hand. She was motivated to get answers and prayed that Kanayami seeing her and Katsuki alive and well would throw him off enough to warrant some answers. They needed answers, they had no other leads to go off of, and waiting for another attack was not an option.

On the train she caved into the instinct she’d been battling all morning and reached out to Katsuki, feeling her mind stretch impossibly far across the void their physical distant created, eventually making slight contact with his mind. The contact roused his interest, almost startled him. Meanwhile, Ochaco almost sighed as she felt the anxiety of having him apart from her mind melt somewhat.

Ochaco?

Who else would it be?

He gave a mental scoff at that and Ochaco grinned. God, this felt stupid good, talking with him again. She had a momentary flashback to her conversation with Tsu earlier in the day, about how they complimented each other. How he made her mind complete. It was getting harder and harder to deny it, her brain just did not feel right without his there next to it. Not whole.

What’s going on?

Just wanted to see if I could reach you.

At that she felt his mind nudge the part of hers that was bridging the distance, almost as if to say ‘well you did it, now what?’.

I’m almost at the police station, where are you?

Really?! You’re so early! I just boarded my train!

If you’re late…

I’m not going to be late! You’re just insanely early!

Whatever, just hurry up.

I can’t make the train go faster!

He didn’t bother with a response to that, but he kept his mind connected with hers, almost holding her against his own mind across the distance. As her train approached the police station, she had the most interesting sensation of feeling him get closer and closer. More and more of his emotions started to come across The Link the closer she got and she was surprised to see he was also feeling the effects of being separated. He was twitchy and uncomfortable, just like her. She tried not to worry about how much more relaxed she was getting as his mind became within a normal distance as her train pulled up to her stop.

She hopped off the train, feeling his restless energy. He knew she was basically there, being able to feel it just she could, and it seemed she wasn’t the only one itching to get back within a normal distance. This was going to be a problem, it was one thing if she was getting all clingy and weird about The Link, it was a whole other level if they both were feeling psychological effects from being separated.

This is going to be a problem.

She thought towards him as she navigated from the train station towards the Tokyo Police Department’s headquarters. She felt a weird sort of yearning in her gut, almost like nervous energy before doing public speaking. Anticipation. He seemed to understand what she meant because she felt his affirmation and mirrored anxious mood.

We’ll deal with it later, we’ve got a motherfucker to interrogate.

She sent him the impression of a nod, along with some of her burning fury. He seemed shocked at the intensity of it as it washed over him, attempting to keep his own anger from rising to meet it. She couldn’t tell if he was exacerbated by her randomly shoving her fury at him or proud that she could send it at all. Maybe a bit of both.
She rushed through the doors of the police station, head whipping around looking for his distinctive spikey blond head of hair. She tried really hard to crush her ridiculous anticipation of seeing him, convincing herself it was just whatever weird side effect The Link was throwing at them now.

To your left.

She whipped her head left and saw Bakugou leaning impassively against a wall next to a door marked ‘Secure Access Only’. As her eyes met his, The Jolt ran through her, more intense that it ever had, making her knees almost buckle and her breath leave her lungs as fire raced down her spine. Bakugou had a similar reaction and Ochaco watched as he jerked back against the wall he was leaning on, smacking his head with the force of his shiver.

Oh shit!
Motherfucking-!

Their minds crashed together as Ochaco gasped for air and Katsuki attempted to stand up on his wobbly legs, hand flying to massage his scalp where he’d headbutted the wall. Still, even despite all of the ridiculous nonsense happening with this unusually strong Jolt, Ochaco couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief as she felt Katsuki’s mind slide next to hers. They quickly separated their minds, an automatic response at this point, and got a hold on The Link, settling at their normal distance. Finally.

She nervously glanced around, feeling the curious eyes of strangers in the station on them, clearly confused as to what the heck had just transpired. She nervously looked down, still trying to get a handle on her fully body shivers. Holy shit, that had been intense, like someone had lit her nerves with fireworks.

Once she had recovered from that super-Jolt, she walked towards Katsuki rubbing the goosebumps on her arm. He met her halfway and she watched as his hand twitched towards her, as if he wanted to reach for her. His feeling were a hot mess, to put it nicely, but then again, so were hers. They were both weirdly on edge from the intensity of The Jolt and immensely relieved to be back in the other’s general vicinity. Katsuki seemed to be wresting with this strange new desire to be closer to her, at least from the read she could get off of him. She couldn’t blame him, this reaction seriously freaked her out. She was also wrestling with her subconscious, trying to impress the notion that the desire to be right next to someone else’s mind was not normal and was in fact very strange. Her subconscious appeared to not be listening.

“What the actual fuck.” He grit between clenched teeth as he attempted to reign-in his emotions.

“That was…intense” Ochaco replied, searching his face as she felt him transition from uneasy to angry with the flip of a switch. She herself was finally starting to feel the left-over tingling in her fingers and toes fade from the Jolt and a sort of floaty sensation at being back to their normal distance.

“UGH!” He growled out, “Just- just, Fuck this. Seriously, Fuck. This.”

“I know what you mean, just when I think I understand The Link, it throws some shit like this at us and I just-“ Ochaco plucked the sentiment he was trying to express from The Link and verbalized her agreement. Bakugou just watched her, listening intently while running a slightly shaking hand through his hair roughly.

“I mean, separation anxiety, are you freaking kidding!?” Ochaco continued, giving an incredulous chuckle, “How the hell are we supposed to deal with that?”

Bakugou let out a dark chuckle, closing his eyes letting out a sharp exhale. She felt him let his anger go, attempting to modulate his emotions. She considered reaching out to help him, but decided against it, given how freaked out they both were at the turn of events that had just transpired.

“Fuck if I know,” He said opening his eyes again, capturing her gaze before glancing pointedly at his watch, “but it’s now five past and we are officially late.”

He gave her a mental bump to punctuate his point and she sputtered in response.

“I was right on time!” She protested weakly, “It’s not my fault The Jolt decided to go all supernova on us and make us late!”

Bakugou just rolled his eyes, jerking his head towards the door he had been standing next to earlier, sending her the impression of ‘let’s just go’. She sighed, shaking her head before pulling out her Hero License ID to swipe herself into the restricted section behind the door.

“Fine, let’s go” She grumbled in defeat walking towards the door, feeling Bakugou’s mood shift from angry towards amused. He fell into step behind her and Ochaco hardly noticed the wide-eyed glances the people in the lobby were pointing their way.

 

As they walked through the familiar halls of the TYPD, Ochaco couldn’t help but notice the stares the staff and officers were giving her and Katsuki, clearly word had gotten around about their new status as mind-melded. Great. That meant it would only be a matter of time before someone leaked it to the press, something she was not prepared to deal with yet. Katsuki had noticed too and was fuming next to her, practically stomping down the hallway. She sighed and did her best to keep up with him and ignore the looks they were getting.

They arrived at the desk of Chief Natsuo, who had been the one to send them the email asking for their assistance. The mustached man looked up from his computer as Bakugou’s black combat boots alerted the entire friggin’ floor to their presence.

“Good afternoon Ground Zero, Uravity” The Chief nodded to them respectively in greeting, “I was relieved to hear you would be coming by to help us.”

“We are more than happy to help!” Ochaco said with a bright smile, then paused realizing she was speaking for them both again and gave Katsuki a questioning prod through the bond.

“Screw Kanayami” He voiced gruffly shoving his hands in his pockets, which Ochaco interpreted as meaning she was in the clear.

“Yup! We’re totally stoked to be here!” Ochaco summarized, turning back to look at The Chief who was glancing between them with a concerned expression. The Chief seemed to remember his task and coughed gruffly.

“Right. Well I’ll take you to Kanayami’s holding cell” He stood from his chair and started walking towards where Ochaco knew the cell block was, “Mostly we want you two to try and shake him up, since his quirk didn’t- well it didn’t-“

“It didn’t make us go bat-shit or kill us, we know.” Bakugou interrupted the Chief’s fumble for words impatiently, rolling his eyes. Ochaco mentally sighed in exacerbation, trust Katsuki to disrespect any and every authority. She felt Bakugou give her a look and she just knew he was doing that thing where he eavesdropped on her thoughts again. She turned to meet his glare, sticking her tongue out at him.

“Er, yes.” The chief blushed and glanced back at the explosive hero, seeing their exchange and huffing flusteredly, “Right. Well, anyway… If you happen to get a good rapport going and want to try to question him, be our guest. We will be recording the whole time so everything can be used as evidence.”

They had arrived at a heavily bolted door by this point and Ochaco felt some apprehension at being near the mind-melding villain. Her fears of his unknown effect on their Link hadn’t disappeared since the morning and she felt a nervous flutter in her stomach. Katsuki glanced over to her as he felt her sudden change in demeanor.

It’s going to be fine, relax.

Oh, because telling someone to relax ALWAYS makes them relax.

Ochaco though back bitterly, giving him a glare. He just sighed, irritation sparking across their minds, which he seemed to wrestle back. He then did something Ochaco didn’t expect by grabbing her hand, lacing their fingers together. The Link glowed to life and Ochaco felt his intention to try and sway her emotions to be calmer, effectively offering up his self-confidence as emotional fuel to replace her fear.

Ochaco looked up at him in shock to find him staring pointedly at the wall in front of him, decidedly not confronting the situation. His side of the link was a carefully balanced constellation of emotions and Ochaco had the weirdest sense he was very focused on keeping it with exactly the right levels of each emotion. Concentration, confidence, anger, irritation and one she would just call “I don’t give a shit” were all kept steady by his focus on them. It almost felt staged.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Ochaco shrugged off his weirdly stiff emotional setting and let herself be influenced by his confident feelings. Once Katsuki felt like she had gotten a good grasp on his confidence in particular, he seemed to pull back from her. Well this was new. Ochaco focused on his thoughts, picking up his plan. Oh, right he wanted to share one emotion, but not all of them. Hmm well, it was worth a shot. She redirected her focus and somehow managed to keep a steady flow of his confidence coming through her side of the link, but allowed him to pull the rest of his mind back to their resting state: adjacent but not immersed. She watched him smirk, glancing down at her from the corner of his eye. She felt his flare of pride at them having figured something new out on their first try. They were getting better at this. She felt elated- though maybe that was just his confidence influencing her. Either way.

While this new development in their usage of The Link was being processed the Chief had opened the steel door and was gesturing for them to enter. Inside there was a small closet sized room with a door directly across from the one they’d entered the room in and a two-way mirror to the left. Ochaco could see through the mirror into a concrete walled room and felt her breath catch as she saw the Finger Kid sitting on the other side. Kanayami Hito was dressed in an orange jumpsuit glaring unseeingly at the mirror and Ochaco worriedly wondered if he could sense their presence.

After a beat or two, she realized he couldn’t possibly know they were here, just from the fact that nothing had happened. Kanayami hadn’t moved or acknowledged their presence at all and The Link felt stable. She felt Bakugou’s flair of smugness as he came to the same realization that he had been right. Kanayami couldn’t affect their Link. The damage he had wrecked on their life was now out of his control, his part was done. She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding in a tense exhale, feeling relieved for the second time that day.

“I’ll be just outside if you need anything.” Chief Natsuo whispered before retreating out of the small room, shutting the heavy metal door behind him surprisingly softly.

Let’s go get our answers.

Katsuki’s thought came across The Link with a gust of confidence and determination accompanied by a small, reassuring squeeze of her hand. Ochaco looked up to meet his fiery gaze and felt her stomach flutter for a completely different reason than before. She silently cursed Tsu.

As they walked through the door into the cell, Kanayami’s head snapped to the two heroes, a too wide grin breaking onto his face. His eyes darted back and forth between the two rapidly, then down to their joined hands curiously. His unnaturally long index fingers twitched and he shifted his hand restlessly in their quirk suppressing cuffs.

“Well well well, look who we have!” He spoke, his voice was raspy and dry, “Ground Zero and Uravity in the flesssh”

Ochaco narrowed her eyes at the villain, hate burning in her veins. This kid had killed countless children. Innocents! For what?! She seethed and felt Katsuki’s anger rise as well, melding with her own in a formidable fiery tornado.

“We’re not here to chat, we have questions that need to be fucking answered.” Katsuki’s tone was cold, his voice rough with repressed anger.

“Oh do you?” Hito replied, tilting his head to an absurd angle, “Well how about a trade then? An answer to your questions for an answer to mine?”

Ochaco’s face paled. They weren’t here to negotiate, they were here for answers, but Kanayami had the upper hand here. He could stay silent and they would still be without a lead. Ochaco wondered what on earth he could have questions about.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…
Me too, but it might be our only fucking option.

“How about this,” Ocahco said, a hard edge to her voice, “You answer our question and in return you can ask yours, and we will decide if we want to answer it”

“Nononononono nooooo,” Hito said in a sing songy voice, shaking his head, “That is not the deal. A fair trade only, question for question or I will stop playing.”

Katsuki’s hand twitched in hers, his side of The Link was an inferno of fury. She felt her own anger rise to meet his, absorbing any excess that spilled over to her side of The Link. Ochaco suddenly realized that they were close to the cyclic building of emotions between them if they didn’t get it handled soon. They couldn’t afford to lose themselves now.

Let go of my hand, we’re gonna go into an emotional tailspin at this rate.

Bakugou glanced over to her, nodding and dropping his hand from hers. She felt her own level of anger drop sharply as soon as his was no longer feeding it. She took a breath, calming herself. Refocusing. Kanayami’s eyes were bouncing back and forth between them, enraptured with their silent exchange. His eyes held that quality Ochaco had seen on the news when he was captured, the same as when they’d fought him nearly two weeks ago: insanity. His eyes held the look of someone who was totally disassociated from reality.

“Fucking fine.” Katsuki spoke stepping slightly in front of Ochaco, as if he was subtly trying to block her from Kanayami’s attention by shifting the focus to himself. He crossed his arms across his chest, which only served to make his shoulders appear broader. Looking at him now, Ochaco remembered why most people were intimidated by Ground Zero, he was all raw edges and aggression when he had an enemy in front of him.

“What was your group’s motive in killing all those children?” Ochaco blurted out before Bakugou could. She ignored his flair of irritation as she stepped forwards, so they were side to side, watching Hito’s reaction closely. Kanayami’s eyes narrowed and he left out a huff of frustration. Ochaco stared him down, waiting for him to answer her.

“I killed my parents.” He finally stated. Ochaco’s eyes narrowed further, where was he going with this?
“It was an accident, you know” The villain continued, his eyes fixed on his hands as he tapped his index fingers together, “I didn’t mean to do it. I’d never tried my quirk on humans and I wondered what would happen, so I just tapped!” He punctuated his point by tapping on the metal table three times in rapid succession, “And then they died. Because my quirk was too much for them to handle.” He paused to sigh dramatically, as if acting like he was upset about the event, though his eyes held no emotion.

“Get to the point.” Katduki growled impatiently, “I don’t care about your fucking sob story.”

Kanayami looked up, glaring at Katsuki with dark, red rimmed eyes before he turned his gaze back to Ocahco, much to Katsuki’s displeasure.

“Aaaaanyway,” Hito continued, “Once I realized what I’d done, I freaked out and started panicking. I knew I had to get rid of the bodies, had to do it quickly. Sooo I went to leave my house to get supplies, you know the usual: chainsaw, tarps, bleach and the like”

He listed off the items conversationally and Ochaco’s stomach turned realizing that this kid had meant to chop up his own parents and dispose of their bodies. He had been barely 14 at the time of their murders. She repressed a shudder at the gruesome nature of the kid’s mind.

“Well, as I went to leave my house I ran into the most wonderful couple, they told me that they had a life mission to rid the world of kids like me, kids with a quirk that’s just too much for society. They said they needed my help. So, I agreed to join them. It sounded like fun, a challenge.”

They were killing kids because they had strong quirks…? Ochaco couldn’t understand the logic, but something else in the kid’s narrative caught her attention and she couldn’t stop herself from questioning it.

“Who were the couple?” Ochaco interrupted his story, a red flag going off in her mind at the mention of a couple, remembering the file she’d found earlier today. Katsuki sent her a startled ‘HUH?’ impression, his eyebrows raising as he turned to look at her.

“No no no!” Kanayami said grinning, “It’s my turn now, fair trade remember?” He suddenly jumped in his chair, yanking his handcuffs taught as he started cackling. Both she and Katsuki jumped at his sudden movement. Ochaco narrowed her eyes at him, resuming her glare.

Fuck. This. Guy.
Seriously

Ochaco was unnerved by his outburst of laughter and she shifted nervously on her feet as Kanayami giggled to himself seemingly contemplating his options. She could feel Bakugou’s every nerve repressing his instinct to light the guy up. She could smell his sweat as his body responded to his stress.

“How are you surviving my quirk?” Kanayami finally shot across the table, a deep frown marring his face as he suddenly stopped laughing just as fast as he’d started.

Ochaco rolled her eyes, having seen the question coming a mile away. The police had told them he was asking as much.

“Don’t know. Don’t care.” Bakugou stated uninterestedly, “We did and that’s all that matters, guess you aren’t as strong as you thought you were punk.” He uncrossed his arms and rolled his shoulders, which served to make his deltoids and biceps flex and roll, something both Kanayami and Ochaco noted with very different reactions.

“Now who were the couple?” Katsuki asked in a low voice, placing his palms on the table and leaning intimidatingly towards Kanayami, who’s frown deepened at Bakugou’s answer.

“That’s not an answer,” The kid stubbornly stated narrowing his eyes at Bakugou. Katsuki bared his teeth as his palms stated to smoke on the table.

“We think it’s because our minds are mentally compatible, perfectly matched to be linked together.” Ochaco interrupted their stare down, supplying the answer the kid was looking for. Katsuki, for the second time in this interrogation sent her a pronounced ‘HUH?’ across The Link. She sent him a vague ‘tell you later’ in return, brushing off his concern to focus on Kanayami.

“Oooh, fascinating.” The villain all but purred at Ochaco, which only served to make Katsuki more pissed off. He was downright ready to rip this kid’s head from his shoulders, irate at the presumptuous way he was speaking to Ochaco.

Katsuki, you need to chill. We have a mission here, don’t forget it.

Little punk, I’ll kill him.

Yes, we all know you could kill him very easily, but we need him alive right now. Alive and talking. So chill.

She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, feeling The Link light up with their contact. She got a better taste of his emotions, surprised to find him feeling very protective of her. He wasn’t so much pissed about the kid’s attitude in general, he was pissed about the kids attitude towards her. An undercurrent of ‘how dare he’ was running through his mind. Ochaco bit back her surprise and started the work of sending him her focus and calm. She reached out and soothed his anger, taking the edge off with calming strokes of her mind. She was suddenly very thankful for Aizawa’s Mind-Meld bootcamp.

Bakugou physically relaxed and surprisingly let her calm him down, annoyance only flaring slightly at her actions. Having that squared away, Ochaco turned back to Kanayami, who was watching the interaction with his head tilted and one eye twitching.

“We answered your question, now ours.” Ochaco said coldly, “Who are they?”

Kanayami nodded quickly, “Right right. Musai and Shounji. That’s what they said their names were.”

Ochaco waited for more information, but Hito seemed to be done suppling details. She let out a frustrated sigh, “Surnames? Quirks? Do you know any more information about who they are?”

“I answered your question, it’s my turn” He answered with a Cheshire grin. Ochaco rolled her eyes and cocked her hip, crossing her arms. This hardly seemed like a fair exchange…

“What are you going to do when one of you dies?” The kid asked with look of a psychopath, who’s only interest was in causing pain in others. Ochaco froze.

Katsuki scoffed, “We’re not gonna die anytime soon.”

He was the picture of confidence, anger still simmering, but now under control with Ochaco’s help. She on the other hand, was thrown by the Villain’s question. What would happen if one of them died?! She hadn’t even considered that, but now that she had: she was terrified.

“Are you sure about that? I know for a fact Magman has got it out for Gravity Girl here, he’s got it all planned out to make the hit in her own home of all places -“

“you little FUCK-“ Katsuki spat as his fury was flamed by the villains words. So much for controlled, Ochaco was a bit too preoccupied by the thought of one of them dying to really be effective in emotional control at this point. This loss of function was not helped by the mention of a plan to kill her specifically. Crap.

“-What are you gonna do when he melts her flesh right off her bones in her own living room?”
Bakugou’s palms were smoking in earnest now and Ochaco felt his self-control slipping as he had a sudden rush of fear.

“You’re bluffing you don’t fucking know where she lives.” Bakugou commanded Hito’s attention, his voice nothing but confidence, but Ochaco could feel his bone deep fear, clearly a part of him believed that Kanayami was speaking the truth.

“Oh, but we do!” Kanayami gave a maniacal laugh, grinning gleefully at Katsuki’s distress, “That cute apartment just about eight miles southwest of here? I must say that old brown leather couch is really a terrible place to take a nap- far too lumpy and it’s angled so the light from those windows just shines right in-“

Katsuki stood up suddenly, inhaling sharply, “This interview is over, go drink some bleach fuck face.”

He was shaking with his potent combination of fury and panic and Ochaco struggled to try and keep him at moderated level while dealing with her own spike in alarm at hearing her notoriously lumpy old couch described. He turned to leave the room and Ochaco followed, glaring over her shoulder at the creepy kid.

“I was bored with the game anyway.” Kanayami muttered under his breath, once again tapping his index fingers together, enraptured in his own anatomy once again.

As they shut and locked the cell door behind them, Ochaco breathed in a gasp of air, considering all the things the villain had told them. She met Bakugou’s widened eyes, both of them hyped up on adrenaline and fear. The villains knew where she lived.

Chapter Text

“Bakugou- wait! Slow down!” Ochaco scrambled to keep up as Bakugou pulled her down the police station hallway at a breakneck pace. The staff members of the station froze in their paths in his wake of rage, skittering out of his (and by default her) way. Ochaco was clinging to his hand and had to jog to catch up as he stormed through the police department.

Bakugou, despite his show of anger on the outside, was quenched in fear. It leached across The Link, making the hair on the back of Ochaco’s neck raise. His mind was whirring about a mile a minute, circling around Kanayami’s assertion that there was an assassination attempt on her life in the works. She couldn’t hear his thoughts exactly, but she got strong general impression from his deluge of emotion.

In all his preoccupation with her future safety, he seemed to have forgotten about the current Ochaco, who was being painfully dragged down the hall in a rather indelicate way. He dragged her through the door to the lobby and was making a beeline for the exit, presumably to get her away from Kanayami.

“Katsuki, stop- we should talk about this-“ She attempted to get him to pause, to give them time to talk their plan out, but was cut off with a growl and glare over his shoulder at her. He gave her an impression of ‘Fuck Off’ through The Link as she balked at him. He spun back around and continued his advance, dragging her along with him once again.

Oh hell no! He did not get to just drag her along with him without thinking this through. She narrowed her eyes at his back in irritation, feeling her stubbornness rise to match his.

Katsuki. Stop.

Ochaco drug her heals into the ground and activated her quirk on his hand. His head whipped around in a furious glare as he started to float, no longer able to stomp towards the door with her in tow.

“Put. Me. Down.” He ground out at her, anger flaring acutely, though in no way matching his current level of fear. Ochaco stared back obstinately.

“No.” Ochaco met his glare with one of her own, gripping his hand to tether him to her, “Not until we talk about what we’re doing.”

“Ochaco, I swear to god if you don’t fucking release me-“ He spoke through clenched teeth, red eyes glinting with the unspoken threat.

“You’ll what?” She interrupted him rolling her eyes at his theatrics, “Blow me up? Please.”

She shifted her free hand to her hip, giving Katsuki a look. They both knew she had the upper hand the second her quirk was activated. Katsuki fumed, literally, his free hand smoking ominously. Some civilians in the lobby of the police department glanced nervously at the two Pros, skittering away from their general vicinity. Ground Zero certainly had a reputation of collateral damage when he was angry and the general public knew it. She supposed that the fact his clenched fist was smoking in earnest now didn’t help the public feel secure.

“Whatever.” Bakugou said in a low voice, acquiescing to her request, eyes darting away from hers. His palm stop smoking as he tasted her mood, deciding he wasn’t in the position to argue with her request. Her rational mood quenching some of his fear and anger as he let her mood influence his more.

Ochaco pressed up against his mind, just to double check he wasn’t faking her out and nodded when she was satisfied with his more stable mood. She let go of his hand and he crossed his arms as he started to drift upwards. She brought her hands together and released her quirk quietly. He fell the few feet to the ground, landing surprisingly quietly given the heavy combat boots he was wearing.

Ochaco glanced around nervously, noting the nervous stares they were getting from the civilians in the lobby. They couldn’t talk about such classified information with so many eager ears around. She reached out, grabbing onto one of his crossed arms (very decidedly not thinking about how firm his biceps were) and tugged him out of the center of the lobby. Once she felt satisfied with how few people were within earshot, they were situated off to the side of the busy station (Also further out of range for civilian casualties), she turned to Katsuki.

You seem intent on going somewhere. Where?

To my apartment, obviously.

He rolled his eyes to punctuate his point, fury and fear still rolling off of him in waves. He kept glancing from her face to the space over her shoulder, where Ochaco knew the door they’d just barged through was located. Ochaco rolled her eyes right back at him, mirroring his attitude.

No, not ‘obviously’. Why?

Well we can’t fuckin’ go back to your apartment!

Why not?

Why not- are you kidding me Cheeks? They know where you live! They have an active plan to take you out! I am not about to walk you towards a group of villains who’re intent to fucking murder you!

But- -But nothing. I am not discussing this with you.

The hell he wasn’t going to discuss this with her, he couldn’t just suddenly decide what they were doing without her input just because she had a death threat. Especially given how mad he’d been when she’d been speaking for both of them earlier this week. It was very hypocritical of him to be doing it now, even if he was just acting out of fear. Ochaco sighed, lifting her hands up to rub her temples as a headache started to set in from all of his intense emotions bombarding her from The Link.

Katsuki. My apartment has classified police information just laying out on the coffee table, I can’t exactly just leave it there for them to find. We have to go back to get it.

Fuck the files, they aren’t THAT classified.

This is hardly the first time someone has threatened to kill me. I’m a big girl, I can handle it.

He didn’t seem to have a response to that, just staring her down firmly with an emotional attitude that read very clearly as ‘FUCK NO’ and a slight whisper of 'yeah I know that'. Ochaco tilted her head back in annoyance at his unmoving conviction to keep her from returning to her home. They really couldn’t just leave those files for the villains to find. Especially if her hunch was right and the file she’d found earlier about the couple who’d tried to kill a child were the same as the couple Kanayami had mentioned. They couldn’t let the villains know they had a lead.

How about I just go back really quick to pick up the files and a couple of my things and then I meet you at your apartment after?

Are you even hearing yourself?! No! The fuck is wrong with you?! You are NOT going to your apartment alone!

Then come with me!

He scoffed, looking at her incredulously as she emphatically argued her point.

We’ve been over this: no.

I’m going, you can come or not. I refuse to let the villains get any tips as to what leads we have.

She held her ground, looking up at Bakugou imploringly and holding her resolve firmly in The Link. One of his eyebrows twitched with withheld emotions as he stewed. He could feel that she meant what she said, and was probing trying to see if there was any way to convince her otherwise. She waited patiently while her probed around her mind, looking for any sort of waver in her conviction he could use. After finding none, he let out a low, unhappy sound form the back of his throat.

Fine. Five minutes at your apartment.

He spun on the spot and started walking away from her towards the door again at an impressive pace. Ochaco grimaced and ran to catch up, steeling herself for the possibility that they could be walking into an ambush.

 

Katsuki cracked the door to her apartment with extreme caution, as if were attached to a bomb (which in a way it was). He was poised and ready to explode at the slightest indication that there was even one hair out of place. She hung back in the hall, watching as he crept through her apartment strategically clearing each room. Ochaco let him have his paranoia, knowing that he wouldn’t be satisfied until he had checked every inch of the perimeter himself.

Personally, in the part of her mind Bakugou couldn’t see, Ochaco thought it was rather silly to do so, given that the villains could literally teleport. It didn’t really matter if it was safe now, it could flip at a second’s notice should they choose to teleport inside. Then again, maybe that’s why Bakugou was so on edge, they had no advantages here. He was trying to regain as much control as he could.

“You’ve got five minutes.” He said gesturing for her to enter with a motion with his head. He stood, arms crossed in her living room eyeing the windows across from her couch warily.

“Okay, I’ll pack some basics, you grab the files.” She replied breezing past him, alert but not nearly as antsy as he was. He nodded, bending over to coffee table to collect the files she had scattered earlier today.

Ochaco hurried down the hall into her room, grabbing a generic duffle bag from her closet and quickly grabbing some clothes off the rack and stuffing them inside. She moved away from her closet, grabbing her hero suit off her bed, where she’d left it when she’d left this afternoon, on the way to her dresser. She pulled up short before she could open the first drawer, breath catching in her throat.

There was a scorch mark on her floor.

It was small enough that she would have missed it, had missed it, when she hadn’t been looking for signs of an intruder. She knelt down and ran her hands over the burned spot on the wood flooring, noting it was cool. She suspected that it had been here for a while and that she had just failed to see it last night when they’d come back to her apartment.

Well, if there was any doubt that Kanayami was lying, it’s been resolved.

She heard Bakugou’s footsteps flying down the hallway and felt his spike of alarm through The Link. He burst into her room, glowing palms facing out, eyes searching the room with a fierce glare. When he found nothing but Ochaco kneeling on the ground he let out a frustrated noise.

“You scared the shit out of me Round Face.” He said rolling his head on his shoulders in exasperation and relief, letting his palms cool with a sizzle of black smoke.

“Oh, sorry.” Ochaco said innocently, “I found evidence that they’ve been here, or at least the magma guy has been. Unless, you did this at some point…?” She continued pointing at the scorch mark.

He came up next to her squinting at the spot and his anger flared. He stood back up swiftly and started to scour the rest of her room without answering her. Ochaco gave a sigh at his behavior and continued throwing things into her suitcase, just as eager as he was to get out of here before the villains decided to come back. It was unnerving that they had been in her personal space, where she felt secure and at home, without her even knowing it.

“Okay, I’m done let’s blow this joint.” Ochaco said giving her room a quirk once-over. Katsuki gave a snort at her phrasing.

“That can be arranged.” He joked back raising a sweating hand in jest, a smirk on his face.
She grinned tensely as they hurried out of her place.

 

The train ride across town to Bakugou’s apartment went by much more quickly than Ochaco had expected. They were both contemplatively quiet, reviewing the conversation with Kanayami across The Link. They plotted their next moves, both deciding that they needed to do combat training with The Link as soon as possible. They also agreed they needed to talk with Aizawa tomorrow about the developments in the case- particularly the names of the couple that had recruited Kanayami: Musai and Shounji. They also needed to dig into any records available about the two and see if they could get a lead as to the location or plans of this villain group. They had no idea when the next attack would be, and they had to work fast to try to prevent any future actions.

Bakugou’s anxiety about their safety seemed to wane the farther they got from Ochaco’s apartment, which she was grateful for. His jittery energy was starting to grate on her nerves, it’d been a long day.

By the time they reached what Ochaco came to assume was Bakugou’s apartment building it was well past sundown. He led her up to his apartment (a freaking penthouse suit, flashy just like his quirk) and unlocked the large black door for her.

Looking around, Ochaco could tell that Katsuki, just like Izuku, had plenty of cash to spare thanks to his salary as the Number Two Hero. The apartment was massive and furnished sharply in a style she would have expected from someone as big of a neat freak as Katsuki was: namely very modern and sparse.

“There’s a guest room down the hall and to the right.” Bakugou said gesturing vaguely to the left of the entry way as he stalked off towards what looked to be a sizable living room directly in front of them carrying her half of the boxes of police files. He set them next to his own pile at the side of a sleek black leather couch and started walking meticulously through the space. She could feel him checking his apartment from top to bottom the same way he had done with hers.

She walked down the indicated hallway, curious and cautious. The hall had an open door on either side and one at the end of the hall, which was closed. She had never been into Bakugou’s apartment. She hadn’t even seen inside his dorm room when they’d been living at UA during school, as he’d skipped the “Annual Coolest Room Contest” every single year.

She turned to the right, as he had directed, and found herself in a moderately sized bedroom that fit with the minimalism of the rest of the house well; a bed and small chair being the only furniture items in the room. Whether this was an active choice or just Katsuki not caring enough to spare thoughts on decorating was unclear. Ochaco dropped off her bag on the end of the bed and turned to return to the living room, where she guessed Katsuki still was.

She peaked into the door across the hall from the guest room as she passed and found a bathroom(with a shower and a bathtub! What luxury!). She presumed the door at the end of the hall was the master and decided to leave that discovery for later. Obviously Katsuki was a very private person, he wouldn’t appreciate her snooping around his room just to satisfy a curiosity.

Bakugou was indeed still in the living room when she emerged from the hall, sitting on the rather fetch black couch reading over her notes of the files she’d reviewed. The Link informed her that he was focused on the task, thinking hard.

“Thanks for letting me crash here.” Ochaco said gratefully as she gingerly took a seat next to him on the couch, blanching as she noticed the huge TV mounted on the wall in front of it. It was connected to several gaming consoles, which was pretty spot on for Katusuki, seeing as he and the Baku-squad were known to have serious gaming tournaments. She felt slightly out of place surrounded by such shows of wealth, just as she had while she was at Izuku’s.

“You’re not going to break anything, you can relax.” He commented with an eyeroll instead of responding to her thanks, clearly picking up on her unease. Ochaco glanced around nervously and cautiously leaned back on the couch, not trusting herself to not accidentally ruin his belongings, despite Katsuki’s apparent faith in her abilities.

Katsuki pulled the folder she had flagged, #1035A6, and started looking through it himself, having finished reviewing her notes on the other files that she hadn’t found useful. His brow was drawn in concentration and Ochaco blushed when he bit his lip distractedly. She once again cursed Tsu for not so delicately bringing certain things about Bakugou to her attention.

Bakugou glanced up at her unconscious mention of him with a distracted curiosity, quirking a brow at her questioningly.

Goddamn it.

Her blush deepened and she whipped her head away from him with an awkward clearing of her throat, a touch too high pitched to be heard as anything but an attempt to clear her discomfort. He gave her a skeptical glance, The Link flaring with curiosity from him, before he returned his glance to the file in his hands at her conspicuous silence.

“So…did you find anything like that in your half of the files?” She blurted out the first appropriate thought that came to her mind, gesturing towards the file he still held.

“Nah, nothing like this.” He replied in a sigh, shutting the folder and running a hand through his disheveled hair in frustration.

Ochaco sat contemplating their next steps, in terms of research. They still had more case files they could be going through, but with the new lead of the couple’s names, it may be a smarter and more efficient play to start digging up as much on them as they could. Then again, the police and Pros assigned to the case would be doing that, so it may be a better use of their spare manpower to look through remainder of the unreviewed files rather than cover the same research twice.

“Not a lot else we can do tonight,” Bakugou said suddenly as he stood up, “I’m going to go make some food. Any requests?” He looked at her impassively, waiting for her reply.

“Oh, thanks! That’s really sweet of you! I’m sure whatever you make will be fantastic!” Ochaco smiled, thrilled that he would be cooking for her. She had the honor of eating his food a few times while they were at UA and she had yet to have a better home cooked meal. The man was a GOD in the kitchen. He was also notoriously stingy with sharing the fruits of that particular skill.

“Eh, whatever.” Bakugou said grouchily, but Ochaco caught the appearance of his flush, The Link reflecting his bashful reaction to her praise, before he spun on the spot and started towards the open concept kitchen.

As Bakugou started cooking, Ochaco occupied herself with looking over his notes on his half of the files. She laughed under her breath at his handwriting, so chaotic it was nearly indecipherable, and did her best to read through them. As he had said, his notes indicated that the files he had been looking at were are unrelated to the case, mostly a combination of decade old accidents and petty crimes. Still, Ochaco knew the importance of having two sets of eyes review information, especially when they didn’t know exactly what they were looking for.

She got through his notes relatively quickly, not finding anything in his scrawl that she would flag as important. She sighed and returned his notes to the top of his neatly stacked boxes. They had so much work that still needed to be done.

She pulled out her phone and sent Deku a quick text asking for more files to go through, hoping he had some ready for them to continue working on. The files she and Katsuki had gone through over the last two days barely scratched the surface of what the department and heroes on the case were trying to cover and she knew they weren’t the only ones go through files. Hopefully the work they’d done to rule out several old cases would be helpful.

Deku responded quickly, as she expected him to, considering how glued to his work phone he was, letting her know he could come over to her apartment tomorrow to exchange their files and notes for some new boxes. She cringed, realizing she would have to tell him she was staying at Bakugou’s place for a bit because the villains had threatened her bodily integrity should she return to her own. Two things Izuku was (apparently) not good at dealing with: Bakugou’s perceived relationship with Ochaco and death threats against her.

She felt Katsuki’s curiosity at her mood change, but he didn’t say anything. She could practically feel his eyebrow raising in patient expectation behind her in the kitchen. She ignored his unspoken question and drafted a text to Izuku: ‘I’m actually staying with Katsuki right now, my apartment is apparently no longer secure.’

She read it again and then erased it and rewrote it, chickening out: ‘Bring them by Bakugou’s instead. Long story’.

She sighed, sending the message before she could change her mind again. Juggling Izuku’s weird possessiveness, confessed feelings and The Link with Katsuki was getting complicated. Not to mention the death threat thrown in the mix. He phone buzzed with Izuku’s prompt response, ‘okay…?’ and Ochaco sighed putting her phone down on the couch. She wasn’t going to get out of explaining this, but she would postpone it as long as she reasonably could.

“Call Aizawa and ask him to come by tomorrow.” Katsuki called from the kitchen interrupting her thoughts of procrastination. Ochaco turned around on the couch, sending a questioning look at him. He glanced up at her, feeling her eyes on him, red meeting brown. He had a massive wok in front of him and he broke eye contact to dump a pile of precisely cut vegetables into the hot pan, which sizzled.

“Why?” Ochaco asked when he didn’t answer her questioning look. Damn, whatever he was doing to those vegetables smelled amazing.

“We’re gonna start combat training,” He said smirking, “He could be helpful for that. And we need to talk with him about the couple”

Ochaco nodded in affirmation. Apparently, Katsuki had just decided how they were going to spend the day tomorrow, not that she disagreed. They needed to get up to speed with their combat skills as soon as possible, and tomorrow was as good a day as any. She figured they could spend the evening buried in the files to make the most of their limited time.

She turned back around on the couch and picked her phone back up, dialing Aizawa. It rang twice before he answered in a disinterested tone.

“What.”

“Is that really a way to answer the phone, Aizawa-san?” Ochaco chided, a smile creeping onto her face despite her best efforts. The man was a parody of himself at this point.

“Why did you call, Uraraka?” He sighed, ignoring her teasing.

“Katsuki wants you to come to our combat practice tomorrow.” She answered sweetly, glancing backward at Bakugou. He appeared to be dishing his food creation into two white bowls. Her mouth watered; delicious food was imminent.

Aizawa sighed, “I wanted to set up a time to meet soon anyway, I have an idea that I want to try.”

“What idea?” Ochaco asked, confused by his cryptic proposition.

“Eh…not sure it’ll pan out. I have to call in a favor first.” He replied in a bored tone, “Regardless, I’ll be there. Bakugou’s usual Hero gym?”

Ochaco deadpanned at Aizawa’s insisted lack of information, the man refused to give any more information than he deemed necessary. She glanced back over to Katsuki, who was walking over towards her, bowls in hand. She took the one he handed to her with a broad grin, pushing her appreciation across The Link. He shrugged and slumped down next to her, faintly embarrassed at her praise.

Aizawa wants to know if we’re meeting in your normal gym?

Yeah, tell him we’ll be in my usual studio.

Ochaco gave Katsuki a perplexed glance. She knew that Aizawa and Katsuki had maintained a close relationship after their class’s graduation, but she hadn’t realized it was close enough that Bakugou invited Aizawa to his training sessions frequently enough that they had a ‘usual studio’.

“He says the ‘usual studio.’” She relayed for Katsuki, who had started eating with gusto.

“I’ll be there at 10am” Aizawa confirmed and hung up before Ochaco could say goodbye. She pulled the phone away from her ear, frowning at Aizawa’s sudden departure from their call. She shrugged it off and switched her phone for chopsticks, digging into what seemed to be some sort of fusion stir fry.

She groaned, closing her eyes in blissful appreciation when the first delicious bite touched her tongue. It should be a sin to be this good at cooking. Damn him.

Katsuki cleared his throat awkwardly and Ochaco turned to look at him, noticing a faint flush creeping onto his cheeks.

“oh naigh gobd” She said, mouth full of food, “dis itsh so goodt”

“Oi!” Bakugou exclaimed, looking at her like she had grown a second head, “Close your mouth you heathen!”

Ochaco swallowed and choked out a giggle at his now furiously blushing cheeks, The Link alight with his flustered energy. When she had calmed her outburst, she gave him a genuine smile.

“It really is good, thank you!” She thanked him one more time.

“yeah, whatever.” He mumbled tucking into his own food again. Then after a second of thoughtful chewing he corrected himself gruffly, “You’re welcome.”

Ochaco took that as her cue to stop bugging him about the impossibly appealing flavors he’d managed to create and happily continued eating the delicious food in front of her, never one to let a meal go to waste. They ate in comfortable silence after that, until Bakugou suddenly stood up, placing his bowl in the sink. He made to start the dishes, which Ochaco vehemently disapproved of, assuring him she would take care of them. He had glared at her skeptically, before Ochaco scoffed and assured him she could clean dishes just fine.

After some hesitation he left down the hall, instructing her to be ready to go at dawn. Ochaco nodded, ready to attack the following day with steeled determination.

Chapter Text

The shrill sound of her phone ringing woke Ochaco up with a start. She slowly blinked open her eyes and blearily stared at the unfamiliar ceiling above her, yawing widely. She wasn’t in her room back home…Where was she again? She glanced around the dark room, sitting up slowly as she did. Modern, minimalist, with lots of black- oh right she was at Katsuki’s. Crashing in his guest room. Because of the death threat at her apartment… right. The previous day’s revelations came back to her as she woke up sluggishly.

She noted with mild amusement that Katsuki was pressed up against the edges of her consciousness again, still sleeping. She smiled faintly at the cozy feeling of his mind right next to hers. She caught flashes of his dream, something about aerial acrobatics and was surprised at the similarities to the dream she had been in the middle of…that was weird. She reluctantly began to disentangle her mind from his, so as not to wake him. It was unusual for her to wake up before him, she didn’t want to wake him before he was ready by thinking too loudly.

Her phone trilled again and Ochaco reached over to the nightstand beside the bed and grabbed it, looking at the screen. Lilly’s name, along with the plant emojis Ochaco had added to her contact name were lit on the screen. Ochaco sighed, already knowing this was going to be an annoying phone call. She knew it was only a matter of time before her agency checked in, but why did it have to be at this very moment? At, she glanced at the time, 4:17am?! She grumbled unhappily at the ungodly hour, fumbling to answer her phone.

“Hi Lilly… how’s my favorite sidekick” Ochaco mumbled into the phone, attempting (and failing) to sound upbeat. After all, it wasn’t Lilly’s fault their agency had decided that it was time to check in. Luckily, she’d been working with Lilly for over a year now and the young hero was more than familiar with Ochaco’s loss of function in the mornings.

“Good morning, Uravity. I am doing well today, thank you.” Lilly replied stiffly. She reminded Ochaco of a young Iida, formal to a fault.

“What’s up?” Ochaco asked lamely, working to wake herself up more fully. She pushed her unruly hair out of her face, only to have it spring back, as if to spite her. God, she needed a cup of coffee STAT.

“The media knows.” Lilly said ominously. Ochaco blinked slowly, confused as to what the plant summoner was talking about. It was too early for cryptic messages.

“Er…” Ochaco hedged, “What exactly is it that they know about?”

“About your…situation… with Ground Zero.” Lilly replied, her emphasis on the word ‘situation’ made Ochaco roll her eyes, comprehension dawning on her.

“When you say it like that you make it sound much more scandalous than it is.” She said plainly.

Really, she couldn’t understand the obsession people seemed to have with insinuating that her change in relationship with Katsuki was anything more than it was. It was just a super weird event with an unfortunate quirk. It could have happened to anyone! It wasn’t like they wouldn’t be doing the same thing if it had been Kaminari she’d been linked to, they were just desperate to make a scandal for the sake of controversy.

“The media parked outside his apartment seem to think it’s pretty scandalous. They’re waiting to ambush you.” Lily answered matter-of-factly, “and I am currently ringing the doorbell at your apartment and you haven’t answered the door yet, so I think it’s safe to assume that whatever lead the media has about you being there is accurate.”

Ochaco groaned, placing her head in her hands. Of course, the media would see it as if she was sleeping at his apartment. As in, sleeping with Katsuki. Of course, they would sniff out the scandal in that. When she and Izuku had been together there was a near-weekly tabloid rumor that they were moving in together, secretly engaged or some other such nonsense. Now that the media had a sense that she and Katsuki were staying overnight in the same place, even if the purpose was to prevent her from being freakin’ murdered, they would run with a similar romance scandal angle. Speaking of which, if Lilly was at her apartment…

“Lilly, first of all, get away from my apartment as fast as you can.” Ochaco said, worried for her sidekick’s safety, “The villains know where it is and are apparently actively attempting to assassinate me.”

“Good lord!” Lilly said in a huff and Ochaco her breathing get heavier as she hurried away.

“Second,” Ochaco continued, “not that it’s any of your business, but Bakugou and I are friends. Stop indulging the media’s ridiculous claims of a secret romance. I’m surprised you’re buying that story at all anyway, you usually have more common sense.”

“It’s not implausible…” Lilly defended herself breathlessly. She was clearly taking Ochaco’s request to get away from her apartment very seriously, Plantasma was not known for her level of cardio conditioning.

“Well it’s not true, so it’s a moot point.” Ochaco said in an uncharacteristically high-pitched voice, trying not to think about the recent revelations of her attraction to Katsuki. It really didn’t help this argument’s point. Tsu’s observations be damned.

Lilly was silent, insightfully choosing not to respond or acknowledge Ochaco’s strange tone, once again exemplifying why Ochaco had chosen her as her sidekick over the other choices last year.

“Now that’s sorted, was there any particular reason the agency is so interested on how the media is covering The Link between Bakugou and me? It better be a good one, I’ve got a lot of training to do.” Ochaco pushed on, refocusing on the important part of this conversation, namely that she was being told to confront the media by her agency, which would be taking time away from training with Katsuki and the investigation. Dismissing baseless rumors was not something she was interested in doing with her limited time.

Lilly scoffed, affronted, “Yes of course the agency has a reason! They want you to get ahead of this story as soon as possible to avoid any miscommunications about how your new, er, relationship with Ground Zero will affect your career. “

Great. This wakeup call just kept getting better. She felt a nudge against her mind as Katsuki stirred at her sour mood leaching into his sleep. Ochaco segmented her mind off more in response, ignoring the nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling separating her mind from his gave her, before refocusing on her conversation with Lilly.

“I’m trying to catch some child killers and the agency wants me to go on TV to stop dating rumors?!” Ochaco did her best to push down her irritation at the triviality of such a request.

Seriously, there were so many more important things she could be doing with her time. The last few weeks had been a nice break from the less desirable aspects of being a hero, such as dealing with the media’s insane speculation. Ochaco was not excited to get back into the constant tug-of-war for her time between her agency’s business requirements and her actual job of saving people.

“And you don’t think that those rumors will interfere with your ability to that?” Lilly pointed out, “From what I’ve heard there are scores of journalists blocking off Ground Zero’s apartment right now trying to get the scoop on what’s going on. You know it’s only going to get worse. Take the initiative and give them a story so they leave you alone to do your work. You know how this goes.”

Ochaco did know how this went. When she and Deku had started dating, they initially tried to keep it secret from the media. They had wanted to keep it private for as long as possible, which had worked until a photographer had chanced upon Izuku entering her apartment with flowers and snapped a picture that ignited a frensy of media about the two. They’d tried to ignore it, not giving any statements or doing any media appearances, but had caved eventually when it became impossible for Deku to leave his apartment without using his quirk to avoid the legions of reporters. Two members of the Top Ten dating was just too juicy of a story to miss, apparently. Ochaco loathed to admit it, but Lilly and her agency were right, she had to get ahead of this before it got out of hand.

“Ugh. I hate it when you make sense. Fine I’ll go. What time tomorrow?” Ochaco verbalized, hating being forced to go explain this non-story. Yes, they were hit with a quirk that did some funky things to their minds, but it’s not like it was altering the fabric of reality. She wished the media had just a smidgen more chill. Like, even a teaspoon more chill.

“The show has requested you be there at 7am” Lilly informed her. Ochaco groaned again. Why the early morning show time? Why not the afternoon? Did her management and PR team know her at all?

“Okay, fine. But you’re coming with me, I refuse to face those vultures alone.” She grumbled, irritated but resigned to her fate of being bombarded with probing questions for the entertainment of the masses early in the morning.

“I can arrange that, I’ll let the agency know.” Lilly said curtly and Ochaco could picture her nodding swiftly, “I’ll have Anita send you some talking points today.”

“Good, I like Anita’s work. Oh, and Lilly,” Ochaco started before her sidekick could hang up, “Make sure the agency sends you with fresh coffee. For both of us. They owe me at least that… freaking 7am…” She mumbled out the last part in irritation.

“I will make sure that happens Uravity” Lilly affirmed, the sound of a smile creeping into her voice.

They said their goodbyes and hung up the phone. Ochaco sighed and put her phone down before checking The Link as non-invasively as she could, creeping up to edge of Katsuki’s mind just to see if-

I’m awake Cheeks.

Oh shoot, I didn’t mean to wake you up!

I was planning on getting up at this time.

Ochaco felt his thought was off kilter. Like it was a song in a minor key. She somehow knew that he was lying. His side of The Link was faintly disingenuous, though not maliciously. He was trying (and failing) to make he feel like it wasn’t a big deal.

That’s a lie, I can feel it.

Whatever. It’s time to get moving, we’ve got a scheduled training in a few hours anyway.

Whatever floats your boat, Katsuki

Ochaco rolled her eyes at his insistence that it wasn’t an inconvenience to be woken up by one’s Link Partner’s loud thoughts, which maybe was true- he’d always been a morning person.

Get your ass moving, if Ghost Gardener was right about the media, we’re gonna have to be real fucking creative to get out of here.

 

 

Ochaco should have known this is what he had in mind when he said ‘they’d have to be creative’. She should have seen this coming, especially given how unusually hyped he’d been as he bounced about earlier this morning. She was naïve to think it was just because he was excited to get back to physical training.

Katsuki was standing on the very edge of the roof of his apartment building (which he had a key to for some reason…? She had so many questions about that) grinning at her like a mad man. He had his left arm extended, palm open, waiting for her to join him so they could jump off the top of his apartment building. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon, casting the roof in a golden glow. The light illuminated his face and hair, giving him a chaotically spiked golden halo. It was quite the striking image, like he was some sort of angelic creature offering to take her to the heavens, rather than the devilish man he actually was, asking her to jump off a building with him.

“Come on Pink Cheeks,” He persuaded suavely, “you know this will be way fucking faster than trying to muscle our way through the mass of soul sucking leeches at the door…”

He wanted to blast his way across the city. Again. Ochaco wasn’t completely opposed to the idea. It had been a lot of fun the first time. Exhilarating. Intoxicating in the way it made Bakugou (and by extension Ochaco) feel limitless. However, and this was a big however, she didn’t necessarily trust him to avoid accidentally killing them. Last time he got a bit... ehm… high off of the adrenaline and had stopped thinking like a sane person. Which made her think less like the sane, doesn’t-like-to-fly-at-90-miles-an-hour, reasonable person she would be without The Link influencing her emotional state by washing her logical thoughts away with Katsuki’s fortifying confidence.

“Only if you promise you won’t be reckless. I don’t want to die because you want to push limits just for the sake of it.” Ochaco said giving him a skeptical look, eyes narrowed.

His side of The Link was bouncing with excitement and he kept pushing against her mind to taste whether he was convincing her enough. He definitely felt her indecision and was trying to tip her over the edge, figuratively and literally, so she’d cave to his wishes. He gave her a mental nudge, as if to say ‘how bad could it be?’ and raised an eyebrow at her cockily.

“Have a little fucking faith, Ochaco.” He stated with a genuine smile that stopped Ochaco’s heart, “You’re way too reliable to let us die anyway.”

Ochaco felt her stomach erupt in butterflies at the look her was giving her, like he was sharing a secret with her. Like he couldn’t hurt her if he tried. Like he knew her, saw right to her soul. She took a shuddering breath, shivering at the sheer intensity of the look they were sharing. The Link was pulled taught, reflecting the weird tension between them as they both focused entirely on the other.

She blinked and shook her head a bit to break the tension, slightly freaked out by the intensity of The Link. She tried to calm her rapid pulse rate and looked down at her feet, collecting her mind from where it had been pulled into orbit with his by the intense…whatever…that was. She felt a flair of disappointment from Katsuki before it was bulldozed by his returning excitement. He was itching to try joint flight again, twitchy and antsy to try his hand at becoming a Human Rocketship again.

Ochaco sighed, knowing the battle was basically lost. They both knew she would cave eventually; she wasn’t good at saying no to him when he got all excited and invigorated like this. Not when he felt this way- just so alive. Not when he gave her a genuine smile and a look like that.

Bakugou’s grin widened incrementally as he picked up on her surrender and Ochaco got slammed with an emotional wall of, what can only be described as, ‘mischievous’ and her stomach dropped. She whipped her head up to look at him on the ledge, her eyes widening.

“When have I ever been reckless?” He said with a Cheshire grin before he unceremoniously launched himself off the ledge backwards and headfirst, like he was diving into a pool rather than into the thin air off of a 25-story building. He arched gracefully through the air before he fell below the ledge of the roof towards the ground and out of her sight.

This bullshit right here. This is why Ochaco was skeptical of this idea.

She reacted without thinking, a trait she’d developed in her time as a hero, and sprinted towards the ledge after the idiot she had the pleasure (Pfft!) of being linked to.

KATSUKI! WHAT THE HELL!

She jumped onto the ledge then immediately vaulted into the air with as much strength as she could muster, activating her quirk on herself at the last possible second to launch herself upwards. A loud BOOM sounded below and she looked down to see manically grinning Katsuki blasting himself through the air towards her, leaving a cone of smoke and glowing embers in his wake.

Fucking ready ‘Chaco?!

His thought blasted into her mind accompanied with a vague impression of ‘hold out your hand’ and a boat load of exhilaration, confidence and.. appreciation..?

She didn’t have time to process his emotional state or use of the new nickname, instinctively reaching her hand out towards him as his impression had directed, readying herself for the impact. He was losing speed as gravity slowed his upward movement, but was not decelerating enough to make this a light impact. As he came within her reach, Katsuki stretched his right hand out to her, an ironic mirror to how he’d offered his hand while they had both still been on the roof. This time she took the offered hand as she slid past his open palm, wrapping her fingers around his corded forearm instead for a better grip. She pinned him with a targeted glare, still pissed at his rash actions, but he just grinned back, eyes shining with excitement. She activated her quirk on him as the last of her five finger pads made contact and felt his stomach clench across The Link as her quirk took his gravity away. She met his eyes again, this time with a smirk of her own, his mood unstoppably influencing her’s.

His momentum carried him up to her level and he pulled on her arm, swinging her weightless body behind him to his back. Realizing what he intended, thanks to how closely The Link had pulled them together, she wrapped her legs around his waist and hooked her arms around his shoulders so that he was essentially giving her a piggyback ride. A weightless, rocket-fueled, piggyback ride.

Without much warning, aside from a spike of Katsuki’s anticipation, at which Ochaco tightened her grip, he let of a chain of precise explosions which rocketed them higher into the sky, before he turned them towards what she assumed was the direction of his gym.

Katsuki let out a delighted, if not slightly manic, laugh and Ochaco grinned in response. She’d never admit it to him, but this was pretty incredible. She looked over his shoulder down at the city as it blurred past them, enamored with the way she felt: like she was literally on top of the world. Katsuki’s pervasive enthusiasm was just adding to her joy, she loved that something like this could make him so satisfied, make his soul sing they way it was right now. It made her want to do it more often, just to make him happy.

In the next few moments Ochaco felt like they were bordering on a speed that was too fast for her comfort, so she steepled her fingers together and muttered “release” into Katsuki’s shoulder. Bakugou gave a start as he felt her quirk deactivate and turned his head to glare at her quickly.

We were just getting to the fucking good part!

Ochaco rolled her eyes, not deigning to respond to his whine. He could deal. If he wanted to go fast he was going to have to do it without her strapped on for the ride. At least for now, until they could figure out how to manage better control.

He let out some more stabilizing blasts, angling his hands towards the ground to keep their altitude controlled and they started to curve back towards the ground. They would need to either land or have her reactive her quirk soon, depending on how far away Bakugou’s gym was.

I hope you know where we’re going!!

I’m not a fucking amateur! Get ready.

Ochaco tightened her grip, ready to activate her quirk at the right moment to ensure they wouldn’t have a crash landing. Katsuki steered them towards a large building, nearly as tall as his apartment complex, but without any windows on the upper portions of the structure. She squinted at it and scoffed. The roof had a freaking helicopter pad. Ochaco had a sneaking suspicion that Katsuki had more to do with that feature than he probably should have. He was notorious as a hero that would rather blast himself through the air in a semblance of flying than deal with rush hour traffic any day. Again, he was reckless.

At some unmarked distance that Bakugou seemed to be very astutely waiting for, he lifted his arms in front of him to release two twin explosions from his hands. Ochaco felt his deltoids and upper back flex to absorb the recoil from the swimming-pool-sized expanding spheres of fire and appreciatively thank the gods he had spent his whole life building up the musculature needed to control the sheer amount of force his palms generated. They jerked to a stop midair above the helipad and Ochaco pressed her right hand to his chest, then onto her left forearm in quick succession to remove their gravity. She off-handedly marveled how precisely he was able to calculate and create the correct size of blast to slow their momentum just enough to stop them without blasting them backwards instead.

Ochaco let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, relaxing slightly now that she was the one in control. Katsuki turned his head to look at her, grinning from ear to ear. God he looked positively edible when he actually smiled.
She was suddenly struck with how close they’re gotten in The Link during their flight, his mind was right next to hers. She could feel the slight ache of his forearms as they recovered from his quirk use. He let out bark of a laughter at her expression as they floated. She supposed he was probably savvy to her not-so-quiet thoughts of appreciation of his skills (and face) and was laughing at her.

“You’re up Cheeks” He let out with a low chuckle, his side of the link alight with his amusement and delight.

He gave her a mental nudge, affectionally urging her on, and patted her thigh, just above her right knee, hand still hot from the bomb he’d just set off with it. Ochaco physically startled with a small “eep!” as the touch sent a spark of electricity up her leg and was surprised to feel a similar sensation flit up Katsuki’s hand. Ochaco furrowed her brow in confusion and felt Katsuki’s mind go blank in shock before he abruptly pulled back from her in The Link, not quite putting up a wall, but far enough away that she couldn’t feel his emotions instantaneously anymore. Ochaco wobbled at the blending of sensation the combination of the two created.

“…um…” Ochaco hedged, perplexed by the whole incident, “…Release…?” She brought her fingers together in front of Katsuki’s chest, incrementally releasing their gravity to pull them towards the roof.

Katsuki’s boots touched down and she released the rest of her quirk, unlocking her legs from his waist. She descended from her spot on his broad back, landing on her slightly wobbly legs (thanks to all the adrenaline and the weird electric zap) with a low giggle. She was amazed at how much more smoothly that had gone from the previous attempt just a few days ago. Weird Link stuff aside, she and Katsuki had something pretty awesome going with the flying thing. So long as he didn’t take it too far and try to hurl them into the side of a skyscraper at 90 miles an hour, she mentally amended.

Tch. I’d stop us before we could face plant into a fucking skyscraper, they’re pretty damn easy to see coming.

Bakugou rolled his shoulders and shook his right hand, as if trying to shake the electric zinging from his fingertips. He glanced down at it, as if it had offended him, before turning around to look at her briefly.

“Come on, Kirishima is gonna be here soon.” He stated as he turned and started walking towards the door sticking up from the other side of the roof, pulling a key out of his pocket (the man had a lot of explaining to do about his apparent access to every roof in the friggin’ city).

“Wait, since when is Kiri is going to be here?!” Ochaco called as she jogged to catch up.

 

 

Turns out, Katsuki had invited Kiri to their workout the night before. Without asking her. Something Ochaco was more or less pouting about, even two hours after they had started training, much to Bakugou’s annoyance.

“LET IT FUCKING GO CHEEKS!” He shouted at her as she attempted to land a punch to his solar plexus. He slapped her punch away, diverting it to the side with a block.

“NO!” She buckled down stubbornly, “You can’t. Just. Make. Decisions. For us. Both.” She punctured each word with another swing, which he dodged breezily before countering with a right hook. She sucked in a surprised breath and flipped away from the blow in a back handspring. She tried to catch his jaw with one of her feet as she went, but his (stupid) lighting fast reflexes had him out of the way before it could land.

“Remember?! That rule that YOU made?!” She finished her sentence in a huff and they circled each other again. Katsuki, scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“I invited a friend to training,” He growled out, sending two explosions her way, “That’s hardly a fucking life or death decision!”

She danced around the fire balls with lithe movements, scowling sourly at the blonde. She gave him a mental shove, which he returned with a glare. They both had shields up in an effort to keep the fight unpredictable. They’d realized they could easily read each other’s next moves with The Link, a flaw they had figured out within the first few minutes of sparing where they’d essentially just moved around each other preparing to defend against attacks that never happened, the battle just occurring in their minds. Kirishima had laughed until tears came to his eyes at the sight.

“Guys, It’s really not a big deal, I can leave.” Kirishima chimed in from his spot in the sparing triangle the three heroes made, glancing between his friends anxiously. They were supposed to be all fighting each other in a three-way spar, but Eijirou had disheartenedly backed up when Ochaco and Katsuki had started to argue more heatedly a few minutes ago.

“FUCK NO!”
“Stay right where you are!”

Ochaco and Katsuki both turned to shout at the redhead at the same time, then turned to glare at each other anew. Kirishima let out a nervous laugh and scratched the back of his head, backing away from the two.

“You’re such a prick!” Ochaco yelled activating her quirk on herself and leaping into the air to deliver a spinning kick to the assholes smug face. Bakugou reached out and grabbed her leg, swinging her around with the momentum of her kick, hurling her off towards a slack-jawed Kirishima like some glorified frisbee.

“You just won’t admit it was a good idea!” He sneered, planting his boots in expectation of her next counter-strike. Which was not an incorrect statement, but it was one that pissed her off. It didn’t matter that Katsuki had predicted that The Link would make training with only each other a less than productive venture, he still should have explained to her what she was walking into! Plus! It was.. It was hypocritical of him!

Ochaco flew towards Kiri, connecting her finger pads to his shoulder to activate her quirk on him. She rotated her body, transferring her momentum to him by spinning around him them jerking him with a grunt (and some serious abdominal strength) until she became the axis on which they rotated. She let the hero go at exactly the right second to send him flying toward his best friend, adding some muscle to increase the force behind her throw.

“Uraraka- wait n-no, AH FRICK!” Kirishima stuttered out in realization of what was about to happen, having seen Uravity use this move on the battlefield before. He hardened his body as he noticed Bakugou’s hands glowing brighter, ready to blast Ochaco’s impromptu projectile.

“RELEASE!” She called, wasting no time as she ran towards Katsuki, who was sparking an explosion into existence directly in his friend’s rock solid face. The explosion echoed through the massive space of the quirk studio, Kirishima was blasted back across the studio while Ochaco leaped through Katsuki’s smoke screen with another flying kick. This kick took Katsuki by surprise and Ochaco watched with delight as his eyes widened a fraction right before her foot connected with his jaw. His head was snapped to the side and he stumbled backward as Ochaco landed roughly. Ochaco was slammed with his pain as soon as her kick landed and she gripped her own jaw reflexively, letting out a groan.

“WHAT THE FUCK URARAKA?!” Katsuki fumed and her rubbed his jaw and spat some blood onto the ground. He turned to glare at her in fury, then barked out a grungy laugh when he saw her cradling her own jaw. “Fucking serves you right!” He stopped short when his laughter sent a flair of pain through his jaw.

“Shut up!” Ochaco barked, now feeling slightly guilty over having kicked him so hard, “It hurts when you talk.”

Katsuki was struggling to hold back his grin as he shook his head ruefully. She cautiously took her mental shield down and felt an immediate increase of pain as Katsuki’s mind sided up next to her’s when The Link reestablished. He was in a remarkably good mood for the level of pain he was in. Bakugou glanced over to where Kiri was extracting himself from the crater he’d made in the concrete wall.

“You both suck.” Kiri said brushing some concrete dust off his shoulder with a grimmace, “now can we move on?”

“Looks like we arrived at just the right time.” Aizawa’s distinctive baritone cut across the room with a note of sarcasm.

Ochaco snapped her head over towards Aizawa’s voice, then did a double take. Aizawa was slouching towards where the three heroes were standing, in the middle of the studio, and walking next to him, with equally slouchy posture, was Shinsou. With brown hair. When had he dyed it brown?! Also, why was he here?

“Shinsou? What are you doing here?” Ochaco questioned dumbfounded. Was this the favor Aizawa had to ask for? What on earth could Shinsou help them with?

“Oh HELL no!” Bakugou called, pointing a finger agitatedly at the mind-control hero, “He is NOT fucking fishing in our damn minds.”

Ochaco looked back over to Katsuki sending him a ‘huh?’ impression across The Link, still not getting it. She was kind of amazed at how quickly Bakugou had picked up on Aizawa’s unspoken meaning. Katsuki swung his irritated gaze to her with a sigh.

Aizawa wants him to control us to get a better idea of what The Link is. What our limits are.

“We need to know how other mind altering quirks work on you two.” Aizawa sighed exhaustedly, “You’re going to let Shinso try whatever he has up his sleeve to make sure it’s not a problem, or you don’t get active duty again.”

“Oh. Oh snap.” Kiri’s surprised exclamation of understanding just about summed up Ochaco’s feelings, “That’s gonna be freaky as heck.”

Chapter Text

“Okay I’ve got SO many questions…” Ochaco stood across from the newcomers to their training session. She absently rubbed at her jaw where it was still aching with phantom pain from where she’d kicked Bakugou.

“Tch.” Katsuki scoffed, tilting his head back threateningly. The Link informed her that he was very much unhappy with this situation, stubbornly refusing to be compliant with Aizawa’s request to have Shinsou train them. She was getting the sense that he really didn’t like Shinsou.

“Shinsou, what does Aizawa-san want you to do exactly?” Ochaco continued ignoring Katsuki’s disdain. Shinsou’s purple irises flicked over to her and he gave her a small smile and tilt of his head in greeting.

“Aizawa asked me to come help out.” Shinsou stated smoothly with a shrug, “He wants me to test the depth of connection your minds have. Seemed like fun, plus I owe him.”

Aizawa gave a snort at Shinsou’s comment and Ochaco looked back and forth between the two. She didn’t even know that Aizawa and Shinsou were talking, let alone doing favors for one another. Katsuki was so skeptical it bordered on paranoid, Ochaco gave him the mental equivalent of a kick under the table and a look that indicated he needed to chill. He narrowed his eyes at her in disparagement.

“uhhh…okay.” Ochaco said, still not super clear on what was going on, “ so what exactly does that entail?”

“Obviously, trying to activate his slimy-ass quirk on one of us and see how it affects the other. And probably dig through our brains like a fucking creep.” Katsuki spat, glaring with fury at the pair of adversaries Aizawa and Shinsou had become to him.

“You’re just butt-hurt that he made you his personal bazooka in the preliminary round of our third sports festival, Baku-bro.” Kirishima chimed in good naturedly from behind Bakugou. Ochaco burst out laughing at the face Katsuki made, a twisted mix of horror and fury with a dusting of an embarrassed blush on his cheeks.

“SHUT IT SHITTY HAIR!” Katsuki whirled around pointing his palms threateningly at Kiri, who just let out a laugh and shook his head. Katsuki’s side of The Link was awash with stinging embarrassment and anger. She peeked over at Shinsou, who was smiling at Bakugou condescendingly. As if he felt her eyes on him, he met Ochaco’s gaze and winked at her subtly. Ochaco let out a chuckle as Katsuki’s hands started to smoke.

He’s got you pinned, you are SO not over that yet.

Fuck off! I’m not ‘butt hurt’ or what-the-fuck-ever else Rock for Brains is implying!

Suuuuure you aren’t.

Katsuki’s eyes slid to hers, from where he was glaring at Kirishima, as they conversed through The Link. Ochaco rolled her eyes at his denial, grinning broadly. He huffed and crossed his arms, glaring at her, annoyed that she saw right through his protests.

“I see what you mean Aizawa, that is fascinating.” Shinsou mumbled, hand coming to rest thoughtfully at his chin. Ochaco returned her gaze to her fellow UA grad as he pondered their silent interaction. He raised an eyebrow at her and she blushed. He had an uncanny ability to catch her when she glanced at him.

“Fuck you hypno-freak.” Katsuki glared at Shinsou, “I’m not letting you anywhere near our minds.”

“Katsuki, I’m not letting you back on duty again until we can be sure that quirks like Shinsou’s can’t affect you both. It would be a fatal weakness should we not account for it before you’re allowed to resume patrols.” Aizawa sighed, tone suggesting he already regretted this idea.

“Katsuki,” Ochaco said soothingly reaching out to rest a hand on his shoulder. His eyes snapped to meet hers at the contact, narrowing in distrust. “Aizawa-san is right, we don’t know enough about this yet. Especially, given how The Link affected us yesterday. We need to know as much as we can.”

“Wait, what happened yesterday?” Kirishima interjected at her words, concerned. Aizawa’s eyebrows rose in alarm.

“Well, we experienced some pretty intense…um… psychological effects from The Link.” Ochaco hedged in an attempt to avoid the question. She’d wanted to talk with Aizawa about this today, but hadn’t necessarily wanted to share with Kirishima or Shinsou. She mentally kicked herself for speaking so carelessly. Katsuki sighed loudly at her admission, clearly not happy she’d decided to share. He felt distinctly annoyed and impatient at the conversation, his anger was dissipating as the conversation changed topics to something that didn’t involve mind control.

“What effects?” Aizawa asked concerned.

“A sort of separation anxiety.” Ochaco stated, seeing no way around sharing this with everyone present.

“Explain.” Aizawa said narrowing his eyes at Ochaco. Kirishima was glancing back and forth between Ochaco and Katsuki, who just grit his teeth together and stared pointedly at a wall.

“Well, we ended up on opposite sides of the city for, like, the first time since this whole thing started and we both were just…” Ochaco paused looking to Katsuki for a better description than ‘anxious’. Something to encapsulate how unnatural and not-okay it was to have a gaping void in The Link. Katsuki turned his head at her mental cue and met her gaze thoughtfully, right next to her mind in The Link.

“Super fucking NOT okay with it.” He supplied with a snort, translating her feelings into Baku-speak. Ochaco let out a chuckle at that and she caught Shinsou’s mouth twitching upwards in amusement. She looked up at Katsuki again with amusement, he smirked at her warily, still on guard about letting Shinsou use his quirk on him.

That wasn’t quite what I was going for.

Eh, it was what you were thinking.

Not exactly, certainly not the ‘fucking’ part.

Don’t I know it…

Huh?

Never mind.

By this time the other three were looking between her and Katsuki, clearly understanding they were speaking privately in The Link. When Ochaco finally noticed, she blushed and dipped her head. She needed to get a better handle on carrying on two conversations at once, rather than getting sucked into the black hole that Katsuki’s undivided attention was for her. She cleared her throat awkwardly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, pushing down her embarrassment.

“Uh, yeah we both were just unconsolably on edge until we got back with in each other’s proximity.” Ochaco finished, trying to explain, “I can’t explain it any other way. It just felt-”

“Wrong. Unnatural.” Katsuki interjected thoughtfully, picking the words straight out of her brain. Ochaco glanced his way and nodded in affirmation.

“Well that is certainly a new development…” Aizawa said pensively, eyes troubled.

Katsuki coughed conspicuously. The others turned to look at him and his eyes shifted from face to face before landing on Aizawa. Aizawa gave him a pointed look, clearly demanding an explanation.

“Not exactly.” He admitted gruffly, “I noticed it a few nights ago when I left the hospital to go across town.”

Wait what? Why hadn’t he mentioned this to her? She knew he’d gone across town to pick up some files, but she hadn’t felt any of those effects. Granted she’d be soundly sleeping (because she was a reasonable person who valued her sleep, unlike some psychos…), but she figured she would have felt something? Right?

“Katsuki!” Ochaco exclaimed looking at him affronted, “Why didn’t you say anything?!”

“Didn’t think it was important.” He said with a shrug, avoiding eye contact, “It wasn’t as bad that first time.”

Maybe it’s because you were asleep.

He added the thought silently to Ochaco as way of explanation. She sided up to his mind subtly, considering his current emotional state. He was mostly feeling frustrated and resigned, an interesting combination for him. She sighed when she felt a flash of guilt at his omission, he didn’t mean to keep things from her, he truly hadn’t thought it was relevant.

… Or maybe it’s been getting worse without us realizing it.

It was a worrying thought. She’d be lying if she said that The Link wasn’t getting stronger. Even in the past two weeks The Link had stitched her and Katsuki’s minds together so tightly it was nearly impossible to imagine what it would be like, had been like, to not have him there. The better they got at managing it seemed to also make them more intrinsically linked. It was worrying.

“All the more reason to let Shinsou test his quirk out.” Aizawa stated firmly, giving Bakugou a very clear look of ‘Don’t test me on this’. Katsuki let out a huff and gave the smallest incline of his head in affirmation, knowing the battle was lost. He wanted to get back on active duty, this was just another hurdle to get to that point.

“Fuckin’ fine.” He relented, “but if you do ANYTHING even remotely fishy, I’m going to fry you.” He warned pointing at Shinsou accusatorily. Ochaco rolled her eyes at his theatrics. Shinsou was a good guy, he was here to help. Katsuki just had a bad habit of keep grudges for way to long.

“Eijirou, you can go home now” Aizawa said to the red head as if in an after-thought.

“No way Boss Man! I am not gonna miss this!” Kirishima barked, grinning excitedly, “It’s been to long since I’ve seen Baku-bro fail miserably at something.”

“One of these days I am actually going to fucking kill you…” Bakugou mumbled grouchily in response, running a hand down his face. Ochaco giggled, feeling his begrudging amusement at the comment. She’d never really understood their relationship, until she’d felt his admiration for the red head first hand. Katsuki felt a deep respect and love for Kirishima. He trusted him absolutely, no exceptions. Ochaco stared at Katuski as she felt his appreciation for Kirishima through The Link, as always, astounded by how deeply he felt any emotion that possessed him.

“Who’s first?” Shinsou’s voice interrupted Ochaco’s deep dive into Katsuki’s emotions. Right, focus. It was time to get back to business.

“Who the fuck do you think?” Katsuki spat, snapping his head up to glare at Shinsou. Ochaco opened her mouth to protest. Clearly Bakugou did not want this to happen, so why should he go first?

“Very well” Shinsou said with a smile, watching as Katsuki’s eyes went blank, before Ochaco could voice her protests.

Ochaco held a breath as she focused all of her attention onto The Link, unsure of what would happen. She felt, more than saw Shinsou’s quirk take hold of Katsuki. Katsuki’s mind suddenly felt intangible, like it was comprised of smoke. It dissolved until it was drifting in curls around the edges of her mind, rather than resting against it with the solid pressure of his thoughts, as it normally had. If that wasn’t chilling enough, when she felt his electric flash of panic flare into her mind Ochaco realized that she was still feeling Katsuki’s emotions. The hairs on the back of her neck raised at the sensation, and she gasped slightly. Katsuki was mildly panicking at the sensation of losing control.

Distracted by Katsuki’s panic, anger and claustrophobia, she didn’t notice the creeping numbness reach across The Link. The tendrils of mist from Katsuki’s mind infiltrated The Link and drifted into her mind within seconds of Shinsou activating her quirk, and Ochaco had barely a second to realize what was happening. She scrambled to put a shield up as she fought for control, but it was too late: she felt her mind pushed off to the side as Shinsou took control.

She silently cursed herself, feeling annoyed she hadn’t thought to put up a shield befoer the test. She felt very confined and powerless like this, and though she was familiar with the feeling thanks to years of training and working with Shinsou, it was still very disconcerting.

Curiously, she could still feel Katsuki’s emotional state, which was reeling in panic and discomfort. He seriously hated this, which made sense given how much of a control freak he was. She could still feel The Link, high above where her consciousness had been shoved, just out of reach.

She watched from the small corner of her mind that she had been shoved into as her body smiled and spoke out loud.

“I’ve got them both.” Her voice stated, more monotonously than she would have said it. She felt Katsuki’s reactive disgust and anger.

She could still feel him, the emotional side of The Link had not been compromised….Wait. The emotional Side of the Link had not been compromised. Did that mean they could still communicate that way? She considered sending him some of her resignation and calm, but wasn’t sure it would work…?

Ah, what the hell. She focused all of the remainder of her consciousness on the steady flow of feelings she was feeling drift through what remained of The Link and shoved her resignation and calm through.

Katsuki’s reaction was instantaneous surprise and relief, and Ochaco watched as his body’s hand twitched. Her (metaphorical) eyes widened in excitement. His hand had twitched! Maybe they could snap the other out of it, as Deku had somehow been able to do to himself during the first sports festival.

Outside her confined mindspace, Aizawa was looking between the two of them and Shinsou with a frown on his lips. His face showed his clear disappointment. This was not what he had been hoping would happen, he looked almost worried as he turned to face Shinsou.

“Well this is discouraging…” He sighed aggravatedly, “How does The Link feel to you?”

“It’s…strange.” Shinsou said brow furrowed in concentration, “They have separate minds, but there is a distinct… bridge… between them. It is also- hmm” He paused in thought, faltering for words.

It was super strange, but Ochaco couldn’t feel Shinsou at all. Her mind, where she assumed she would have been hearing Shinsou’s thoughts, felt like a void, filled only with lazily drifting clouds of numbing smoke. She had expected it to feel like it did when Katsuki was in her mind, like a solid presence, full of emotion and thought, but it was just…empty. Numb. Like her brain was an empty shell that Shinsou was puppeteering, rather than inhabiting. It was nothing like how it felt to have Katsuki in her mind.

“What? Any detail could be crucial” Aizawa probed encouragingly.

“It’s almost like- like there’s more to it.” Shinsou sighed, “I can tell that there’s a big part of this bridge I’m not able to touch somehow.”

Ochaco paused, listening. She wasn’t super sure what Shinsou meant, but maybe it had something to do with the way she could still feel Katsuki, even if their minds weren’t in direct contact due to Shinsou’s control. She returned to her idea to snap them out of it. Maybe… she could use that part to get them out of this.

“What do you mean?” Kirishima questioned, his face wrinkled in confusion.

“I don’t know how to describe it.” Shinsou said a slight edge in his tone, distracted “It’s like this thing between them goes deeper than just between their minds. There’s some part- something I can’t influence.”

Ochaco felt Shinsou’s fog thin slightly as he focused on talking with Aizawa and Kiri. She took the chance that the lapse in control gave her, doing her best to send Katsuki a ‘Move!’ impression as she shoved a mound of excitement and agitation at him across The Link. She had no idea if this would work, but it was worth a shot.

She watched as Katsuki’s body heaved, a harsh breath forced out of his lungs. Shinsou’s and Aizawa’s head whipped around to look at him. Kirishima squeeled in surprise. Bakugou’s right arm raised jerkily, palm pointing towards Shinsou.

“What the-” Shinsou muttered raising a hand, causing the fog in her brain to swirl around her more quickly, oppressively. Katsuki’s body tensed, as if being pulled in two different directions, eyes still dull. His hand quivered in the air.

MORE!

Shinsou’s eyes widened and his mouth gaped open as Katsuki’s voiced echoed across her empty mind, rebounding to where her consciousness was located. She supposed that Shinsou could hear Katsuki’s thought, just as well as she could, which was probably a very new sensation for the mind controller. She felt Shinsou tighten his grip on her mind as the fog around her thickened. It pushed her further away from her own mind as well as The Link.

Ochaco didn’t give it another second, shoving as much excitement and energy towards Katsuki as she could muster, as he’d requested. It took way more out of her than the first time to get the emotion to flow across The Link, but she managed to throw the mountain of energy and emotion through the thick fog of Shinsou’s control.

She watched as Katsuki jerked again, head snapping up to glare at Shinsou with a ferocious grin on his face, red eyes alight with their usual fire. Ochaco felt his flair of triumph as his hand started to glow, heating up. Shinsou saw it too, and reacted by clamping down on Ochaco’s mind, smothering her consciousness by flinging his arm out towards her, clenching his hand. Uh-oh… This was not going to be good.

Ochaco panicked as the swirling mists enclosed on the small space she had been relegated to, numbing her awareness as it closed around her. She lost track of what was happening outside her small space. Vision, even the secondhand vision she usually had while under Shinsou’s control, faded to black. Sounds grabbled until they were just white noise, then became an eerie silence. The pressure of the sensation-numbing fog was simultaneously immense and contradictorily light, freezing all conscious thought. She felt one last flair of panic, then there was nothing.

 

 

Ocha… Come…you…eed… wake up.. Please…ake up…

Ochaco started to shift into awareness with the sound of Katsuki’s thoughts reverberating in her head. She heard sounds filtering into her mind, but couldn’t think straight enough to process them.

“I didn’t mean to-”
“Shut the fuck up! You’ve done enough!”

If you don’t fucking wake up in the next thirty seconds I’m revoking all comments about your strength.

The first thing Ochaco was truly able to process was the emotional state that seemed to be flooding her mind. Katsuki was PISSED. She could feel his anger whipping around her mind in a firestorm, being fueled by his panic and fear. Contrastingly, she felt like her brain was made of cotton, insulated and numb.

“She should wake up soon, I didn’t put her too far under.”
“Get the FUCK out of my site before I try my hand at painting walls with your exploded entrails!”

Ochaco was starting to be able to understand what was happening, as her memories came back to her. She had obviously been knocked unconscious, under the influence of Shinsou’s quirk. She vaguely wondered how long she’d been out as she slowly started to bubble back up to fuller awareness.

“He didn’t mean to-“
“I swear to God, Shitty Hair if you’re defending him-“

She felt Katsuki’s anger flare acutely and felt the sting it brought with it, the emotional and psychic numbness of being unconscious faded with each flare. Ugh, he had no chill sometimes, it was not exactly pleasant to go from numb to on fire. He could at least try to contain his stinging emotions...

Fuck, just- please wake up.

She became aware of her lungs pulling in air, and with it a crystal clear clarity, in a soothing rhythm. She was stretching closer to fully conscious with each breath.

In and out.

In and out.

Her consciousness slowly rose from where it had been forcibly pushed down, floating back up next to The Link. She blearily attempted to open her eyes, but found her body to be sluggish in response.

“Bakugou, relax.”
“DON’T FUCKING TELL ME TO-“

Katsuki

She instantly felt his mind side up next to her emerging consciousness, cutting off his speech as the whole of his attention shifted onto her. His mind flittering nervously around her, doing a head-to-toe check of her mind looking for any damage. She brushed his mind reassuringly, trying to impart that she was fine. His relief at the motion was palpable, a cooling balm to his intense fire of fury. He let out a shaky breath in relief.

YOU FUCKING SCARED THE SHIT OU-

Stop yelling, you idiot.

You just, fucking- disappeared from The Link.

mmm, pretty sure my mind stopped existing for a bit there.

She tried to explain the way Shinsou snuffed out her conscious mind to ease his anxiety about the integrity of The Link. He didn’t need to worry, that’s just how Shinsou’s quirk worked. It suppressed someone’s consciousness until it stopped existing for a while. Unfortunately, her attempt at reassurance just sent Katsuki’s stomach to his toes as his anxiety increased.

Fuck! Don’t say shit like that!

I was trying to reassure you. I’m fine, really. The Link is fine. You can relax.

At this point her connection to her body seemed to have reestablished as she felt her limbs tingling with pins and needles. She also felt a lancing headache start to glow to life in her temples. She blinked open her eyes with a barely audible groan as her eyes adjusted to the bright lights of the training center.

She saw that the members of their little training session were are circled around where she was laying, half on the floor and half in Katsuki’s lap. He had pulled her head and part of her torso to rest on his crossed legs and was anxiously rubbing her arms up and down, as if to bring feeling back into them. It actually was helping a lot with the pins-and-needles sensation her limbs had as they came-back-online. She wondered if her could feel the sensation through The Link and was trying to help.

Aizawa was watching her with eyebrows drawn together in concern, an arm slightly extended in front of Shinsou, who was just behind him, as though to put himself between the fuming Bakugou and Shinsou. Kiri was kneeling next to Bakugou gripping her hand tightly, and she gave it a slight twitch in an attempt to squeeze his hand in reassurance. The red head seemed to understand and let out a huff of relief, squeezing her hand back with a tense smile.

“Uraraka?” Shinsou’s said leaning in, his expression marred with guilt, “I am so sorry, I –“

“Back the fuck up or I will blow you into next week.” Katsuki growled, baring his teeth as Shinsou moved closer to her, hand outstretched. Shinsou froze at Katsuki’s threat, eyes darting back and forth between her and her overbearing guard dog of a Link partner.

“Itz ph- Ochaco started, but stopped as her words slurred and her head throbbed. She made a frustrated sound at her bodies lack of response, this was like being on pain killers and hungover at the same time. There was a strand of her hair tickling her nose, but she couldn’t get her arm to move to sweep it away, it was distracting. This was so annoying.

Tell him it’s fine, I just need a second to wake up my body.

Katsuki turned to look down at her, reaching up to tuck the ticklish strand of hair behind her ear (god bless him), brows furrowed in frustration.

I am not going to tell that greasy motherfu-

She arranged her face into a glare and gave him her best mental shove, which ended up being more of a nudge than a push. Katsuki sighed unhappily and resumed rubbing her arms, which really felt quite nice. He was mostly just relieved, though his anger still glowed like embers in the background, threatening to flare into a firestorm of fury at any minute.

“She says she’s fine, she just needs a couple of minutes.” He ground out, clearly not pleased as he glared at Shinsou. She experimentally flexed her fingers, which stiffly and belatedly responded. It was progress at least.

What happened? How long was I down?

“You broke me out of the trance and this asshole” Katsuki answered her out loud jerking his head towards Shinsou, “shoved you so far under that you went unconscious.”

“I didn’t mean to, I just reacted…” Shinsou protested weakly, ignoring Katsuki’s scowl.

“You gave us quite a scare,” Kiri chimed in giving their joined hands a pat with a relieved smile, “you were out for a solid five minutes, we weren’t sure if you were going to come to without healing intervention. Bakugou said he couldn’t feel you at all. He was freaking out.”

Ochaco nodded her head shakily, ignoring the spike of pain it sent through her forehead. All in all, five minutes was not that bad, it could have been way worse. Shinsou’s quirk could do some serious damage if he wanted it to.

There had been several instances where villains had been transported to the hospital after he’d snuffed out their consciousness so severely that their bodies went comatose. Most of them required healing quirks to get their minds to resurface. She knew Shinsou felt bad about it every time it happened to villains, she couldn’t imagine how guilty he must be feeling for accidentally forcing it on a friend.

Once, after a particularly brutal fight, where he’d caused a particularly vicious self-healing villain to go comatose, he had confessed to her over a bottle of wine that he felt bitter how effective his quirk could be at incapacitating villains. She’d told him it wasn’t any worse than Deku’s or Bakugou’s, who physically damaged villains until they couldn’t act any more, but he protested saying he didn’t incapacitate them, he erased them. She hadn’t had a response to it then, just shrugging and pouring him another glass.

Ochaco cleared her throat gruffly, looking over to where Shinsou was looking at her anxiously. Aizawa, was dispassionately watching the entire group, though she knew he’d been worried too.

“It’s ok- okay.” She managed to speak shakily, smiling weakly at Shinsou, “I know you didn’t m-m-ean to.”

She felt, more than saw Katsuki roll his eyes as his fear for her wellbeing dissipated into disbelief at her blasé response. Shinsou just pressed his lips together and nodded, she could tell he hadn’t forgiven himself yet. Eh, she’d convince him eventually.

She had feeling in her limbs again, though Katsuki was still rubbing her arms compulsively, as if he couldn’t stop. She let go of Kiri’s hand and moved to push herself into a sitting position, Katsuki moving to help her sit up. She felt a brief wave of dizziness, which went away fairly quickly, unlike the headache that seemed to be sticking around.

“Well, shit.” She said reaching a hand to rub her temples, “Now I know why villains always are in such a terrible mood after they wake up from your quirk, Shinsou.”

Kirishima laughed, giving her a toothy grin, which she returned glad that at least one person wasn’t taking this so seriously. Shinsou just pressed his lips together in displeasure again and Katsuki gave an incredulous snort.

“Let’s go again.” She said, bringing her hand into a fist determined, making significant eye contact with Aizawa, who nodded with an approving smile.

“Fucking hell Ochaco…” Katsuki groaned out in exacerbation.

After a long discussion (argument really) about whether they should attempt to continue training with Shinsou, in which Katsuki and Shinsou were unlikely allies arguing for them to skip it and try something else, Aizawa determined that they had found a weakness in their Link that needed to be fortified. Ochaco somehow convinced Katsuki to chill, a feat all on its own, and they decided to try it again. The second time went much the same way, though this time it was Katsuki who broke Ochaco out of the trance with a shove of emotion so intense it caused Ochaco to physically jump as she jerked out of Shinsou’s control, accidentally activating her quirk on herself. Kirishima had gotten a good laugh at that, which seemed to put everyone to ease.

After that, they worked mostly on seeing how far they could go until this little trick, of pushing emotions at each other, didn’t work. It seemed that the better control Shinsou had, the less able they were to communicate and therefore the less successful their attempt to escape was. They couldn’t feel each other at all if he activated his quirk on both of them, rather than activating on one of them and controlling the other vicariously through The Link.

Concerningly, they also discovered that their mental shields did virtually nothing to stop the flow of control across The Link, merely just slowing it down by a few seconds, which Ochaco found to be mostly unhelpful. Katsuki was convinced that it was useful to know, a few seconds of time could be enough time to act.

Aizawa sat watching intently, taking in all the information the party offered to him with a look of calculation behind his eyes. Ochaco knew he had something brewing and was curious to find out what it was, though Katsuki told her to be patient when he picked up on her barely contained curiosity. Aizawa would tell them when he was ready. She begrudgingly agreed with his assessment and let it go… for now.

It was late afternoon when Shinsou finally called it quits. Which was just as well, because Ochaco had told Deku to swing by Bakugou's around 5 so they would need to be leaving soon anyway.

“I’m at my limit for today. I have to keep some reserves for later.” He said silkily after Ochaco and Katsuki had broken themselves out of his hold in a record 15 seconds, the two of them breathing heavily at the effort. She was bent over, bracing herself on her knees as she caught her breath and waited for the tingling in her fingertips to fade.

“Later?” Ochaco asked curiously, looking up at the mind controller from where she had been letting her head hang between her arms.

“I’m on an undercover assignment” Shinsou explained vaguely with a shrug. His eyes flickered over to Aizawa, before flitting away quickly. Comprehension dawned on Ochaco.

“AH-HAH! That’s why your hair is brown!” She exclaimed, to which Shinou gave a slight nod, “Oh man, that was bugging me this whole time!”

“Yeah, I gotta say,” Kirishima said walking over to Shinsou and resting a heavy arm on his shoulders, “Brown does not suit you, my man.”

“er..” Shinsou replied, puzzled “well, it’s less noticeable than purple so..”

Ochaco let out a chuckle at Shisou’s awkward response and clear discomfort as she straightened into a standing position. She glanced over at Bakugou, who was standing a few feet away with arms crossed agitatedly. His mood hadn’t ever waivered from annoyed, angry with a tinge of anxiety since they’d started up again. If anything, he disliked Shinsou more than when they’d started. Shinsou seemed to be avoiding looking in Bakugou’s direction for fear of pissing him off even more.

“Well this has been a great bonding session.” She said sarcastically with a pointed look at Katsuki, who just grumbled unhappily.

“Thank you for putting up with us for the day. It really was very helpful.” She said to Shinsou emphatically. She watched as he smiled slightly, a blush rising to his cheeks. He started to nod, then froze as if he’d just had an epiphany.

That’s what it is.” Shinsou said in shock, looking between Bakugou and Ochaco. Ochaco furrowed he brow in confusion and felt Katsuki tense reactively.

“What what is?” Aizawa asked raising a brow.

“A bond.” Shonsou said quietly, bringing a finger to rest against his chin.

“I don’t get it.” Kirishima said, and Ochaco had to agree with him. What on earth was Shinsou talking about? Shinsou seemed to come out of his thoughts with a shake of his head, looking to Ochaco cautiously.

“Today, there was always a part of this Link I couldn’t touch.” He started, watching Ochaco carefully, “Something that was deeper, more intrinsic than your minds being connected.”

“Yeah, you mentioned that…” Ochaco nodded, still not quite picking up what Shinsou was laying down.

“I think-“ Shinsou said hesitantly, “I think, you two have some sort of bond, one that goes deeper than your minds. To the core of your beings, even.”

“Whoa whoa whoa” Katsuki ground out, “Back the fuck up. What the hell are you talking about?! ‘to the core of our beings’ what sort of psycho bullshit are you proposing?!”

“Well, think about it. “Shinsou said eyeing Bakugou distrustfully, “My quirk allows me to control minds, but I can’t influence emotions or any of the other things Aizawa described to me that you guys do with this new quirk. Additionally, you shouldn’t have been able to break out of my hold without some sort of stimuli that was external from your mind. It has to be deeper than just a mind link. It can’t be just your minds, or I would be able to control it completely.”

Ochaco’s mouth dropped open, Shinsou was proposing some kind of … some kind of …soul… bond? No way, she would know if she’d had her soul linked with another person, surely?! Like, there was no way something like that could happen and she wouldn’t know…right? She felt like she was in shock. At this point she shouldn’t be surprised The Link was throwing something like this at them. It was a nearly daily occurrence at this point.

Bakugou was radiating a sense of annoyance and ironic humor. She never failed to be confused at his emotional response. She turned to look at him, confused, to see he had his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. He seemed to be focusing very intently on his breathing.

Uhm… I- what do- What do you think?

Goddamn it. Just- goddamn it.

Chapter Text

“Shinsou,” Aizawa’s voiced cautiously stated, “Are you saying that Bakugou and Uraraka have some sort of…soul bond?”

Ochaco watched as Sinshou sighed heavily, frustrated at his loss for words, “I don’t know what to call it but it’s definitely not just a mind link.”

Katsuki had been conspicuously silent verbally, but also through The Link as he slowly pulled back and put up a solid shield, stopping the flow of his thoughts and emotions (much to her disdain). He must’ve just wanted some distance to think things though, away from her, this was some heavy conversation. She understood his desire to have some distance from her as they processed the new revelation about The Link…The Bond? She wasn’t even sure what to call it anymore. Soul bond. The thought seemed to fit… it felt right.

“Soul bond…” She said quietly to herself, testing it out on her tongue. They were just words, but it somehow felt right, like it encapsulated the way she just felt, the way she knew and understood Katsuki on a deeper level. She knew his soul.

Okay that sounded dumb. Even she could admit how freaking cheesy that sounded. No wonder Katsuki wanted to process this alone. She didn’t even know if she believed in souls! Maybe this was not souls in the literal sense then, but metaphorically. She certainly felt like this Link, Bond, Connection- whatever they called it was more. It was just more than any other mind-affecting quirk she’d experienced. More natural, more profound, more real. Just more. But still…how corny was ‘soulbond’? She’d given up any romantic world views she’d once held when she and Izuku (a man she had once considered to be her destiny) had crashed and burned last year. ‘Soulbond’ was sooo not her jam, let alone Bakugou’s.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Kirishima suddenly cracking up into hysterical laughter. She looked up at him to see him bent at the waist as his laughs wracked his body. She watched as some tears escaped his eyes.

“Oh, oh man. I can’t. believe-” He choked out between cackles, “I just, Katsuki…man, you gotta admit-“

“Say another fucking word I dare you…” Bakugou had crossed the space between himself and the red head in an instant to get into Kirishima’s personal space threateningly, palms glowing and smoking already. Kiri attempted to rein in his laughter, shaking his head and sharing some kind of look with Katsuki.

Ochaco furrowed her brows, confused, but shrugged off the interaction. There were somethings that she didn’t need to know, and this felt like one of those weird “bro” moments (BROments as Kaminari would say). Plus, Katsuki had cut her off for a reason: he wanted the emotional space to process this on his own. She would give it to him, it was the least she could do.

“Let’s not make any rash assumptions about it.” Aizawa said pensively, “I think it is safe to assume that whatever this quirk is, it somehow encompasses more than your minds. It’s not new information, just a new way of looking at what we already knew.”

Ochaco listened intently and felt palpable relief at Aizawa’s words. He was right. No need to get all deep with their descriptions of this, nothing had changed in the quality of The…Bond. Just that they were relabeling it to better describe what it was. Not soul-bonding, just a bond. She could live with that. That held fewer...implications. Implications she was sure Tsu would love to rave about. She could hear her ‘I told you so’ already.

There was silence as the group considered this information. Ochaco unconsciously tried to reach out and feel how Katsuki was taking the revelation, but he was broadcasting a very clear message of ‘don’t want to share’ at her subtle brush. She tried not to feel hurt by that (she was definitely hurt by that).

“Hem.” Shinsou cleared his throat, “I really do have to go now. I’ve got a prior commitment.”

“Yeah, we should probably head home too,” Ochaco nodded to Shinsou, “Izuku is swinging by with some more desk work for us to complete tonight.”

“Yes, I think this has been…enough for today” Aizawa concluded, “The best thing you two can do for now is try to spend some time apart and see if you can de-sensitize this anxiety you felt yesterday. It may help in the long term.”

Ochaco squirmed internally at the thought. It had been so uncomfortable to not have Katsuki’s mind next to hers. She wasn’t exactly thrilled to have to go back to that state. Like choosing to willing put rocks in her shoes. Or taking an ice bath. Even with him shielded as he was now, she could still feel his mind, right next to hers, a small comfort she was not excited to voluntarily get rid of.

“Can we go on active duty again?” Katsuki’s gruff voice chimed in from his spot beside her, “We did what you asked, we know it’s a weak spot, and how to counteract it more or less.”

Ochaco kind of hated that he still had a shield up. She’d gotten so used to getting some sense of his intent with his actions, it was hard to go back to not knowing how he felt or what he thought. His crimson eyes were focus intently on Aizawa and he ground his teeth together as he waited for a response, something she knew was a nervous tic. It was weird seeing it without feeling the nerves to go along with it.

“Yes.” Aizawa said after some consideration, “I will put in the paperwork later today recommending you for active duty again. Keep working on it though, you’re far from proficient”

Bakugou nodded, a smirk creeping onto his face. Ochaco sighed, still feeling annoyed she couldn’t get a read on him but trying to respect his boundaries. It’s what good partners did and Ochaco and Katsuki were at the very least partners in this.

“Oh! Shoot!” Ochaco said, her thought line suddenly reminding her that they’d meant to tell Aizawa about the couple, “Aizawa-san, When we were interrogating Kanayami, he told us about the couple who recruited him. Their names are Musai and Shounji.”

“Yes, I’ve listened to the tape already.” Aizawa nodded. Ochaco blanched, of course he’d already listened to it, the man had his fingers in every freaking information stream in the country.

“We think that we found a file about them from several years ago.” Ochaco continued, unperturbed, “it’s in the lot Deku is picking up today.”

“Hmm. I will be sure to take a look at it. Thank you, Uraraka.” Aizawa said pensively. Ochaco smiled at him appreciatively. It was out of their hands now, hopefully the police would be able to dig up some information on them.

“With that classified information I was not supposed to know, I’m leaving. Thank you for such an interesting afternoon.” Shinsou said calmly to Bakugou inclining his head before turning to Ochaco, “I am so sorry for what I did to you.”

“Don’t be, it was an accident. I forgive you.” Ochaco waved a hand at him with a smile. Shinsou nodded solemnly and turned to leave. Aizawa turned and followed him out, waving passively over his shoulder as he left.

Ochaco turned to Kirishima, “Well, thank you for all your help this morning, sorry you had to stick around for that mess of a training session.”

“Are you kidding?” Kirishima grinned his 1000-wat smile, “This was the most interesting thing to happen to me all month!”

“Somehow I find that hard to believe given you live with Chaos Incarnate Herself…” Katsuki snorted and rolled his eyes, shoving his hands in his pockets agitatedly. Ochaco got the sense he was avoiding looking at her. She felt a pang of hurt at the thought.

“Oh! Don’t worry, Mina keeps things plenty interesting” Kirishima said waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“Fucking gross, that’s not what I meant you dolt.” Katsuki scrunched his nose disgustedly with a sigh.

Kirishima laughed heartily at Katsuki’s discomfort, who glanced over at Ochaco, meeting her eyes. She looked back at him confused by his actions, he seemed to be searching her face for something. She gave him a questioning look, seeing as how he had decided to cut off all contact through The Link. He sighed and looked away.

“Come on Rock for Brians, you wanted to go to back you your place, right?” Katsuki snapped, irritated at something. Ochaco was annoyed she couldn’t just reach for his mind to find out what.

She blinked confused. Kirishima’s place? What? When had they discussed that? She looked back and forth between the two. She thought that they were going to go Katsuki’s to meet up with Izuku.

“When did I say that?” Kirishima voiced her very thoughts, tilting his head to the side.

“Come on you idiot.” Katsuki unceremoniously said as he turned to leave. Kirishima startled and jogged to catch up with him. Bakugou paused suddenly and turned back to face her, fishing something out of his pocket. She felt distinctly off balance. She had no idea how this conversation, and her plans for the night had turned so suddenly.

“Here.” Katsuki said tossing her what Ochaco realized was a key. She caught it, brows still furrowed at his distant behavior.

“Make sure you’re up later to let me.” He said impassively, giving her one last look with a weird expression on his face before turning, grabbing Kirishima’s shoulder and dragging him out the door.

Ochaco stood, blinking for several minutes. What…what had just happened? How had her plans gone from: go home with Katsuki, bum some more home-cooked delicious meals from him, talk with Deku while she had back up and go to sleep without fear of being murdered: to do all of that alone? Why had he walled off his side of their Bond?

She still had a freaking headache.

It was fine. Maybe he was just taking Aizawa’s advice literally, getting a jump on being separated to make sure they weren’t crippled by their weird separation anxiety. It wasn’t a bad idea, she just wished he’d talked with her about it. Then again, it’s not like they’d had a plan to spend the day together, she shouldn’t just assume that he would want to spend 24/7 with her.

She sighed, trying to calm her running thoughts. It was silly, she needed to chill. This was just the effects of the separation anxiety. Katsuki was getting farther away, his shielded mind being pulled away from hers as the distance increased. The anxiety, she was feeling was making her thoughts run faster and faster.

She really should do something about this headache.

With that thought she sighed and gather her things exiting the gym and heading back to Bakugou’s apartment alone.

 

By the time the doorbell rang in Bakugou’s apartment that evening, Ochaco was feeling the separation anxiety full force. She had spent the hour before Izuku was supposed to arrive pacing nervously around the apartment, trying to not read into Katsuki’s strange change in behavior. She had to keep reminding herself that she was only feeling this anxious about his behavior because the gaping hole in the back of her mind was ripping into her nerves, rubbing them raw.

She walked to the door, thankful for a distraction from the gaping void in the back of her mind and opened it to a grinning Izuku. He was dressed in his hero costume, so he must have just gotten off of patrol. In his hands were five more boxes of files stacked one on top of the other in a dangerously teetering tower. Ochaco tried her best to be enthusiastic at the fact they had work to do, but five boxes?! Five!

“Hey Ochaco!” Deku said brightly, motioning with a shoulder to ask if her could come in. Ochaco stepped aside, gesturing into Katsuki’s apartment.

“Hi, Izuku, how are you?” She replied politely as Deku walked in and navigated easily to the kitchen table on the other side of the room, like he’d been here many times before. Which, maybe he had. She couldn’t really say how often he would have need to be over here in the past, aside from the collaborations she knew they had worked on together in the past. They did run an agency together after all.

“I’m doing well, I heard you’re approved for patrols again?” He said running a hand through his unruly curls. She was surprised that the news had traveled that quickly, they hadn’t technically been approved yet, just told it was going to happen. Ochaco’s eyes followed his hand, trying to decide how she wanted to approach this conversation. Should she clear the air about their last conversation and the emotional atom bomb he’d just dropped, or just act like nothing had happened?

“Eh, yeah.” Ochaco said, “Aizawa said he’d put in the paperwork tomorrow.”

Pretend like everything was okay it was.

Izuku nodded thoughtfully, glancing around Katsuki’s apartment. He was doing that thing where he was acting conspicuously comfortable. Hands resting at his side rather than busily fidgeting, shoulders slightly tensed, a media-worthy fake smile resting on his lips.

“So…” He drawled out rocking awkwardly back and forth from on his feet.

“So?” Ochaco asked raising an eyebrow at him, waiting to see if he would choose to act like it hadn’t happened too. She knew he wanted to revisit their earlier conversation, but he was going to have to bring it up. No way in hell was she willingly walking into that emotional trap.

“Uh.” He hedged, nervously glancing at the floor, “so, uh, are you staying here now?”

“Yes” Ochaco said simply with a shrug, “Kanayami claims the villains know where my apartment is, so we thought it would be better if I stayed here until we get them.” She tried to ignore the slight downward twitch of Izuku’s mouth at the word ‘we’. She definitely avoided mentioning the death threat, not wanting to add that to the list of things for Deku to worry about. She had it handled.

Ochaco suppressed the urge to tap her fingers on her leg, feeling nervous about the conversation and just generally anxious as her thoughts and emotions fell off the cliff in the back of her mind sending echoes of emptiness to the front of her brain.

“I heard about that.” He said, “I can’t believe they threatened you like that! I’ll get them, Ochaco, you don’t have to worry!”

“Thanks, Izuku.” She smiled, so much for avoiding the topic, “I know we’ll get them eventually. Heck maybe if they come after me we could catch them sooner.”

She let out a few chuckles at her attempt to break the tension, but Deku’s face turned grave.

“Don’t joke about that. They could seriously hurt you, Ochaco.” He said seriously. Ochaco just sighed. See this is why she didn’t want to bring it up. Normally, in their usual fights, this would be where she protested that she could handle it (because she could!) and he would insist she shouldn’t underestimate her enemies. Then she’d say he shouldn’t underestimate her and blah, blah, blah, they’d just devolved into chaos. She didn’t want to do that today, so she swallowed her automatic response.

“Yup, well…that’s why I’m staying here, so no need to worry.” She allowed, trying to avoid a fight. She knew he only meant the best.

“You know you could’ve stayed with me too, right?” He said earnestly.

Ochaco squirmed as he gave her his best puppy dog eyes, something he was inherently good at doing on an unconscious level. He was hurt she hadn’t asked him, that she’d agreed to stay with Bakugou instead. His green eyes shone with genuine emotion. Curses.

“Yeah, Izuku I know.” She said simply, smiling faintly. Damn her weakness for his puppy dog eyes. He nodded to himself, glancing around again. Ochaco sighed internally, she was going to have to talk about this. She couldn’t live in this awkward state with Izuku. Not with the puppy dog eyes.

“Would you like something to drink?” Ochaco said after an awkward silence, deciding to grow a pair of ovaries and face this conversation, “How about something to eat? You must be hungry after patrol.”

“That would be great!” Izuku said brightly. Ochaco strolled over to Katsuki’s kitchen, somewhat tense, still not feeling at home in Katsuki’s space. Deku followed behind, she could feel his eyes on her back, assessing her. She tried to not let it bug her, he would say what was on his mind eventually.

“What would you like?” She asked amicably, feeling more comfortable talking about something as simple as food.

“Oh! whatever is on hand!…and a coffee…” He answered ruefully. She raised her eyebrows at him questioningly, remembering that last time they’d spoke he was ‘trying to quit caffeine’. He grinned embarrassed and rubbed the back of his head. He gave her a shrug and she grinned back, giving a giggle as she went to start the coffee pot. It was moments like this that she remembered why she loved Izuku. These were the moments she had dreaded after they split, because they would make her heart heavy with pain. Now she just felt happy, she had missed her friend.

Luckily, Katsuki had made enough food last night for leftovers, which Ochaco took out for Izuku. She tried to not think about how pissed off it would make Katsuki to know she was giving Izuku the food he had made. She heated up a plate for Izuku, handed him a mug to fill with coffee and headed over to the table, ignoring him trailing after her the whole time like a strange shadow.

“I guess we should talk.” She said as she sat, placing the food across from her. Izuku sank into the chair, his expression flickering briefly. He nodded thoughtfully, staring at the food rather than at her as he took a hearty sip of the coffee.

“You eat,” She said gesturing to the plate, “I’ll talk.”

Izuku nodded and began to eat, green eyes focused on her face intently. Ochaco placed her hands in her lap, fingers fidgeting nervously. God, this was hard to do while still feeling the anxiety The Bond was flinging at her. She took a breath, steeling her nerves and trying her best to ignore the gnawing edges of the open psychic space at the back of her mind.

“Izuku,” She said, making direct eye contact, “I will always love you, but I cannot be in love with you-“

He opened his mouth to protest but Ochaco just held up a finger, indicating he should wait. She was the one who had to explain this time, not him.

“I can’t be second to your work, I can’t be tossed aside when you don’t have time and picked up again when it’s convenient. And yes, I know that you never meant it to feel like that, but it was. Like, I’m in the Top Ten too and I ALWAYS made time for you! Do you know how many times I stayed up waiting for you to come home? Of course, you don’t, you never came home, sleeping in the office for nights on end. And, God! You are too important a hero to give up your work, the world needs you to be as dedicated as you are! Nothing has changed, except that now I’m Linked to your eternal rival, which WOW not a cool move fate, and anyway, I refuse to be the rope in your and Katsuki’s superpowered tug of war for number one. I won’t put myself through that, I deserve more.” She huffed out, ranting all of the thoughts she’d kept cooped up the past days since Izuku had decided that he was still in love with her. She gulped in a big breath as she finished, out of air.

He listened intently, frowning at parts, but silently chewing Katsuki’s stir-fry fusion masterpiece. She took a few deep breaths, recentering.

“So, yes Izuku, I love you.” She whispered kindly, “But I’m not and cannot be in love with you anymore. For my own wellbeing.”

Deku sighed and put down his chopsticks, once again running a hand through his hair, which was now an absolute disaster. He seemed to be processing all she said, his expression flicking with hurt.

“I don’t know what to say.” He huffed out, slumping into his chair, “I’m so sorry Ochaco, I never meant to hurt you.”

Ochaco felt her heart break a bit, old fissures that had since healed reopening slightly. He looked miserable, and she hated hurting him like this. Hated what they had become: best friends ruined by love.

She hated how their relationship had been more though, so she toughened up and reached across the table, grasping his hand, feeling the familiar scars he had self-inflicted. In some ways Izuku was the world’s biggest masochist, willing to take on immense pain to alleviate as much suffering as possible. She hadn’t been lying, people needed a hero like Deku. She couldn’t take him away from the world.

“I know.” She said simply, giving him a watery smile, tears coming to her eyes despite her best efforts to keep them at bay.

“All Might warned me about this, you know.” He said sadly, staring mournfully at their joined hands. Ochaco didn’t have a reply to that, she was sure All Might had warned Izuku about the perils of being the Symbol of Peace. Toshinori had lived a lonely life due to the pressures of the job. She sincerely hoped Izuku would not be doomed to the same.

“I really am sorry, Ochaco.” Izuku repeated looking up at her, eyes brimming with tears, “For everything.”

“It’s okay Izuku, I’ve moved on. It’s time you try to do the same.” She gave his hand a squeeze and retracted it, once again fidgeting with her finger pads nervously.

Tears started to leak from his eyes silently, rolling down tanned, freckled cheeks and Ochaco lost it. She never could watch him cry without starting herself. They cried together, mourning the loss of their future together and washing their emotional wounds clean with their tears, finally getting closure on the end of Them. Of the We they had been. Of the life they had been building together before they burned it to the ground.

When they both had run out of tears they sat in silence with the weight of this new reality and for the first time in over a year Ochaco felt she was in a good place with Izuku. Her heart had fully healed, finally.

 

 

Ochaco said goodbye to Deku shortly after their therapeutic cry session, she may have been healed, but he was just starting the journey she had begun a year ago. He needed time and space to come to terms with this change, to figure out how he fit into the world now that she wasn’t a central part of it.

She then cleaned up any evidence that Deku had eaten some of Katsuki’s food (she very much-so valued her body intact and not blown up) and began scouring the files. She was looking for any information on the mysterious couple, or possibly anything on the history of any of the other villains. She tried very hard to ignore the raw feeling of not knowing where Katsuki was, or how he was feeling. It was just a side effect. Nothing more.

She had gotten through a box of the files when she’d finally had enough, placing the box and her notes on its contents off to the side. She couldn’t focus with her mind racing so quickly anyway.

She pulled out her phone, resisted the urge to text Katsuki to make sure he was okay, and checked her email. There was one from her agency informing her she was back on active duty with a schedule attached. It seems like Aizawa had gotten on that paperwork much sooner than he had indicated.

She opened the attached schedule and groaned. Looked like they expected her to hit the ground running. Immediately after her press even tomorrow morning (which she was still very much so not over being forced into) she was to start 12 hour patrols again. It was good though, she convinced herself, it something to focus on. Being able to actively help against this villain group would make her feel like she was avenging the children that they’d killed. She was gonna take these fuckers down.

There was another email from Anita in the PR department with talking points for tomorrow’s interview. She opened the document and looked over the notes quickly, nodding to herself. She always appreciated how Anita was able to encapsulate Ochaco’s opinion in a more crowd-pleasing manner. She knew how to play up the interest just enough to get people hooked, then refocus their attention to the important manners at hand. Normally Ochaco would just flounder helplessly, getting flustered and not actually utilizing the exposure well. It also helped that Anita had a bulleted list of what she coined her “No Nos”, a list of all the things Ochaco was absolutely not, under no circumstances to say. They usually included things the police had notified the agency to keep quiet about and inflammatory comments that would only rile the media up more.

All in all, Anita’s notes were a god send. This set was no exception and Ochaco sent an appreciative email back quickly. She was sure to include a postscript demanding payment in fresh coffee for agreeing to go through with this circus in the first place. Never hurts to emphasize the important things.

Then she sat anxiously on the couch debating whether or not to reach out for Katsuki. It was well past 8 pm now and she knew his inner old man wouldn’t let him stay awake much longer. Surely, he would be back soon, right? Would he tell her if he chose to stay with Kiri? Should she ask him? What if he was already asleep? What if he was hurt and couldn’t make it back? What if he’d been captured? Maybe she should just reach out to make sure…

She inhaled deeply, halting her train of thought. She needed to stop obsessing over this, it was just The Bond messing with her. Besides, she had made the decision to give him his space. He clearly was trying to process the whole “soul bond” thing on his own and she had to respect his wishes. He was the Number 2 Hero, he could take care of himself, she didn’t need to worry. He was fine. Right.

She started pacing again, attempting to rid herself of her twitchiness. Gah, her muscles felt like they’d been clenched for hours. She seriously needed to relax. Maybe meditating would help? She paused, feeling her thoughts racing. No way was she going to get her mind empty in this state.

An idea struck her: what she needed was a hot bath and a good book. And wine. Yes, lots of wine. It sounded divine, only way it’d be better would be if Katsuki was somehow hiding a hot tub with jets in his apartment that she could use(she didn’t think he was).

Katsuki wouldn’t mind if she borrowed a bottle and used that magnificent bathtub he had, right? She’d replace the bottle tomorrow and clean up after herself. He didn’t even have to know about it necessarily… and she was staying here as a guest. He had said to make herself comfortable…

She bit her lip in indecision. It still felt like something she should ask for permission for. She unconsciously started reaching for him across The Bond and stopped herself short when she realized what she was doing. Arg! This was ridiculous.

Yup. She needed a relaxing soak pronto. He’d understand.

 

Several minutes later Ochaco found herself leaning back in delightfully hot water, glass of wine in hand. She had been right, this was a fantastic idea! She had raided Bakugou’s apartment for a book, grabbing the first one she found, a biography of All Might. She hadn’t even tried to contain her eyeroll at his unabashed fanboy status. She was one chapter in, it was actually pretty good. She had no idea that Toshinori had be a late bloomer, his quirk had taken an incredibly long time to manifest. It reminded her of Izuku’s story, no wonder All Might had seen something special in Deku.

 

The water was as warm as her flushed cheeks were( thanks to the two glasses of wine she’d finished) when Katsuki decided to unceremoniously appear within range of The Bond. She started, spilling some water over the side of the tub as she scrambled to not drop Bakugou’s book into the tub. He was still a fair distance away, but she could feel him without stretching her mind. Once the shock of having him suddenly there wore of she sighed in relief, feeling her anxiety melt away the closer and closer he got. He was still shielded, but anything was better than the raw emptiness of him being away.

She sank deeper into the bath, feeling her shoulder muscles relax in a way the wine and hot water could never accomplish. Ugh, this was stupid. She should not be this happy to have someone else in her mind. But, damn her relief was palpable, literally, in the way her tension melted from her muscles.

I’m walking up, open the door.

His though slid into her mind with a flash of his own relief at being home, back in her vicinity before his shield went back down. Ochaco rolled her eyes at his rude manners. Like, the least he could do is say hello. Or let her reply before slamming his shields down again. She scoffed.

She slipped out of the bath, gabbing her towel and pulling the drain. She dried off quickly, setting the book on the counter with her half full wine glass. Katsuki’s mind slowly sided up next to hers, he must be in the building now. She roughly dried her hair then wrapped her towel around her torso wondering if she had enough time to get her pajamas on before Katsuki-

Oi! Cheeks, open the door!

Apparently not.

She sighed, grabbing her wine and putting the book under her arm before padding down the hall to the front door, feeling tipsy, slightly annoyed and bold. He wanted her to open the door right now, huh? She could do that! It’s not like she’s virtually naked or anything! No need to wait or open The Link so she could tell him to chill. Nope. (she ignored the part of her brain anticipating his reaction, stupid Tsu.)

She slid the lock open and pulled the door open, hip cocked unamused by Katsuki’s attitude and bolstered by the liquid courage the wine gave her. Katsuki was on the other side, arms crossed in the way he did when he was properly annoyed.

There was a beat of silence as Katsuki’s eyes widened slightly, eyebrows raising practically to his hairline in surprise. She didn’t have to be Linked with him to know when a man was surprised to see a woman standing in only a towel at the door. She took a sip of wine calmly, before she met his eyes, expecting an intense Jolt, if past experiences were anything to go by.

She was not wrong, the Jolt rocked up her spine, forcing the breath out of her lungs and raising goosebumps on her entire body. Katsuki made a choking sound and physically shuddered as their minds were flung together roughly.

“What- what the fuck Cheeks?” Katsuki managed to sputter out, giving her a once over as he scrambled to get his brain separate from hers.
He was a mess of emotions, relief, discomfort, embarrassment, curiosity and arousal, all of which he quickly stamped out and pushed down. His shield came back up before she could get a better read on him. Damn his stupid ability to do everything perfectly. The asshole.

Ochaco ignored the tingling sensation his once-over provoked in her and gave him a slight frown, trying to not read to much into his mood. She was a girl answering the door in nothing but a towel, of course he felt aroused. Don’t over think it. He clearly did not want to feel that way, given by how quickly he’d snuffed it out. Not that she wanted him to feel anything for her…right? For better or worse, before she could investigate further, he was gesturing for her to move back inside so he could enter his own home.

“Well, you seemed to urgently need me to open the door.” She squeaked in explanation as she stepped back into the apartment to let him in, deciding to head for the guest room straight away, liquid courage of the wine wearing off with his intense stare. Her boldness was quickly replaced with embarrassment. This had been a dumb idea, she was never drinking again. He followed after her, faced flushed bright red, and closed the door.

“I can fucking see that.” Katsuki grumbled, voice taut, finally looking away as she hurried to get dressed.

They would never speak of this again. And she would not be using his bath and drinking wine at the same time ever again. Really, she reasoned, as she got into her Froppy Pajamas, this was all Tsu’s fault. Planting all of those…steamy…ideas in her head, ripe for sprouting with a few ounces of alcohol in her blood. Curse her to the Sahara Desert.

She was happy he’d decided to shield himself for the first time today, at least he couldn’t pick up on her embarrassment and awkward attraction this way. Small victories.

She was pulling on her pajama shorts when she heard him yell, “ROUND FACE, DID YOU FUCKING SPILL WATER ON THE TILE AND NOT CLEAN IT UP?!”

She chuckled, leave it to Bakugou to repress any awkward emotional exchanges as if his life depended on it. Things would be fine, normal. Now if that nervous fluttering in her stomach would just go away…