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Cherry Bomb

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Kyouka Jirou was by no means what anyone would call an ostentatious kind of girl.

She strived to not necessarily be forgotten, but to blend into the background of things.  Her style was definitely rebellious, mostly black clothing with a punk rocker edge, but it was never too over-the-top. She wore makeup, but not much - just black eyeliner nowadays. She had stopped painting the red triangles on her cheeks at the end of her second year at UA.  It was just for fun, and really, it gave her more attention than she had wanted. She had grown sick of answering the questions as to why she wore that particular shape on her face. She just really liked Princess Mononoke, alright? Was it such a crime to want to emulate a badass female character?

Jirou, shortly before starting her first term as a fourth year at UA, had opted to change up her hairstyle a bit too.  She was a little nervous about how it would be perceived by her classmates, but after some debate, she decided she wanted to do it, others’ opinions be damned.  It would look pretty much the same as before, afterall, besides an undercut on the back and sides of her purple-haired head. 

Yes, purple. You would think she would stick out more for someone with such oddly colored hair, but that was not the case, especially in the newly-dubbed class of 4-A.  First, there was her best friend, Mina, who was entirely pink, as well as the brightly red-haired Kirishima, Mina’s longterm boyfriend.  Not to mention Midoriya’s emerald green hair or Todoroki’s red and white colored locks split evenly down the middle.  No, in class 4-A, she was...normal. Average. Nondescript. Just the way she liked it. When school started up again after summer break, she had gotten a few compliments on her new hairstyle from the girls in her class, but none of the boys had seemed to notice - that, or they had decided not to comment on it...typical.

Our heroine Jirou Kyouka was now a few weeks into her fourth year at UA. She was walking by herself to homeroom from the class A dorms, her wireless earbuds blaring her current favorite song in her ears, trusty coffee thermos in hand.  In her second year, she had gotten into the habit of getting up early to avoid people in the breakfast hall and on the way to class, as she was barely even a person in the mornings before having consumed at least one cup of coffee. She got up so early, in fact, that the only other one of her classmates that rose around the same time as her was none other than Bakugou.

Bakugou woke up every morning at precisely 6 am to go for a run prior to coming to class. She would know this because her hearing was, as expected, excellent, and her room was the closest to the class 4-A boys’ hallway. She could hear his alarm go off as soon as the clock struck 6. Thankfully, this worked in her favor.

The explosion quirk user was usually just returning from his run when Jirou was walking out the door each morning, not that he paid her any mind.  They had been going to school together now for over three years and both had - mostly - the same circle of friends, but she doubted Bakugou even knew her real name. He insisted on calling her Ears on the rare occasion he would ever address her, which she hated.  She was hyper aware of the wires permanently hanging from her earlobes, thank you very much, though she had grown more confident with their appearance over time. 

She was capable at this point of retracting the wires to a much smaller length at will, to about the length of a rather dangly pair of earrings, and she would do so if they ever got in the way during her workouts, but she had grown comfortable enough to not want to bother shortening them for the sake of vanity.  Besides, it kept the extremely shallow boys in her class and other classes at bay, for which she was thankful. If you couldn’t accept her at her weirdest, she didn’t want you in her life. Which was more than fair, Jirou often thought.

She opened the door to the classroom to find that she was the first one to arrive, no surprise there.  She let out a little puff of breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and took her seat at the back of the classroom.  Setting her black leather backpack at her feet under her desk, she decided to take out her sketchbook to do a little doodling before class started.  It was the start of Inktober, an October-based art challenge, and she wanted to actually try to finish it this year. Her art account on Instagram was pretty popular despite being a well-kept secret from most of her classmates.  Her best friends Mina, Toru, and Yao-momo knew that she liked to draw and really encouraged her to keep at it, as well as about a thousand other like-minded strangers on the internet, which was more than enough support for Jirou.

Prior to enrolling at UA, she had considered going to an art school to study fine arts, dance, or music like her parents, as she was relatively gifted in those areas as well, but her extremely useful quirk and her drive to be a hero won out in the end. Although, her desire to go generally unnoticed did sometimes conflict with her desire to make a name for herself in the hero world.  Overall, she wanted to be successful, but not too successful. She wanted to help people because she cared - sometimes too much - but not in a boisterous fashion. Her decision to be a stealth hero was really the perfect compromise. 

Because of her specifically tailored espionage quirk, she had bagged a work-study position with Edgeshot at the end of her second year.  She had done a lot of great work with him and his team over the past two summers. Her work with Edgeshot, the number four hero since All Might’s retirement, had gotten a lot of accolades from her teachers and class, but that turned out to only be a few minutes of fame sort of deal.  Plenty of the more popular people in her class also got chosen to take part in work-studies with other exceptional heroes, like Midoriya working with All Might’s former sidekick Night Eye, or Bakugou continuing his work with the Jeanist, the number three hero. Tokoyami had also been chosen to work with Wing Hero: Hawks, the number two hero in his second year and had been working with him ever since.

Her work-study this summer had been a rather life-changing one for her, much more so than just shaving the sides and back of her head. Edgeshot had become very aware of that fact that she had been masking the majority of the potential of her sound manipulation quirk when she was forced to defend herself on a mission gone slightly awry. She had begged him not to tell anyone, and he had reluctantly agreed.  Though he was slightly disapproving, he understood why she did not want everyone to know her full capabilities.  

She really had no desire to be pushed to pursue a career as a combat hero, and Edgeshot could respect that. To be fair, even though she wasn’t fully forthcoming with all of her quirk’s capabilities in her hero training, she did incorporate some of her sound manipulation into her ‘persona.’ Her hero costume even had speakers on her shins that she used to project amplified sound waves - in moderation - as an offensive move.  She also manipulated the sound around her so as to walk with a silent tread, which came in handy while on covert missions. All in all, her ruse was involved, but necessary...or so she thought.

She had almost completely finished drawing a rather detailed forest scene when the door to the classroom squeaked open. She slowly closed her sketchbook shut, so as to appear nonchalant - and to not smudge the ink - as Bakugou entered, hands casually shoved into his school uniform pockets.  He paid her no mind as he took his seat two desks to the right of her, his typical scowl firmly etched into place on his unfortunately handsome face.  Yes, Jirou thought he was good-looking, so sue her.  He had filled out into a really attractive guy over the years, his shoulders becoming broader, muscles a bit larger and more defined, and he towered over most of the class with his 6’2” stature.  His light blonde hair didn’t change, however. It was still the unruly spiked mess it had always been, but it did nothing to take away from his chiseled jawline and simmering red eyes.  

Said simmering red eyes glanced over in her direction briefly as she rifled through her backpack, tucking her sketchbook safely inside.  He could have been looking at the wall though for all her presence appeared to register to him. She shook her head lightly as if that would help clear her thoughts. 

 ‘No use going down that road, girl,’ she thought to herself.  ‘You are definitely not his type...if he even has a type…which is doubtful.’

Bakuguo seemingly went on as if he had no interest in anyone romantically or sexually whatsoever. Which was totally fine, it’s just that he was pretty, and most of the girls - and some of the boys - at UA really wanted to get with that hot bod, pun definitely not intended...or he’d kill you. He never dated anyone since his time at UA, and Toru would know, the shameless invisible pervy gossip that she was. According to Midoriya, his longtime childhood nemesis - though he would insist, friend - Bakugou had never dated anyone at all.  He only seemed interested in becoming the greatest hero that he could, and really, Jirou admired him for that...begrudgingly...because he was an ass.

The rest of the class trickled in after awhile, Mina plopping down between her and Bakugou, Toru on her left, and Yao-momo arranging herself much more delicately in the seat in front of her.  They all asked excitedly in hushed tones if they could see her Inktober sketch later, and she nodded her head, small smile in place. She really loved her friends.

Aizawa-sensei sauntered into the room at 7:45 AM, late as usual. She shook her head, amused. Some things never changed.

He took his place at the podium in front of the class and began doing the usual headcount. Once he made sure everyone was present - as if anyone had ever been later than him - he cleared his throat to quiet everyone’s chatter.

“Good morning, class,” he greeted, his bored, droll voice somehow carrying well across the room.

“Good morning, Aizawa-sensei,” the class echoed in unison.

“As you know, we have the annual Sports Festival coming up in a little less than two months.  Make sure to train your hardest and do your best.”

“Yes, sensei,” class 4-A parroted back.

“In order to make sure that 4-A performs optimally, I will be pairing you up into sparring partners that I think are best suited to your individual quirks. We have done something similar before in years’ past, but this time is different.  You will be charged with coming up with a combination move that effectively utilizes both you and your partner’s quirks. I am giving you 6 weeks to brainstorm and practice, which is more than generous.”

Some mutters erupted but quieted as soon as Aizawa-sensei began again.  

“In the field, you should be aware of your fellow heroes’ quirks.  When called to respond, you must realize that you will not be the only hero summoned to the scene.  Situations may arise where you will have to think on the fly to combine your quirks effectively, not only as a duo but sometimes with a multitude of other heroes.  This is practice for life out in the field. You will show off your combo moves the Friday before the festival...and you will be graded.”  

A few people groaned.  Jirou furrowed her brows.  This should be interesting.

“This will count for fifty percent of your final grade. No exceptions.”  Aizawa was stern, no room for arguments.

Most everyone began chattering worriedly at that, some groans thrown into the mix. Mina and Yao-momo gave each other as well as both Jirou and Toru inquisitive looks. Jirou wondered who they would all be paired with...or more importantly, who she would be paired with.

She tapped her pen on her chin in thought, eyes scanning the classroom.  She could probably partner well with Shoji, Toru, or even Koji. They were pretty well-matched with her stealth quirk, and they were super sweet on top of already being her friends. But if Aizawa-sensei was going for a stealth-to-combat hero matchup, she hoped she would be paired with Kirishima or Mina, as she knew them the best out of all the others. It was difficult enough for her to maintain confidence around those she was comfortable with, let alone with her classmates that she didn’t know as well.

“Alright, alright. Quiet down, class!” Aizawa-sensei spoke up authoritatively.

Obediently, the class quieted down.

“I will begin by asking you all to stand.”

The class stood, chairs screeching backwards in their haste.

“I want you all to go and stand by your partners once I call your names. Now, in no particular order, the first partnership is...Midoriya Izuku and Kirishima Eijiro.” 

Midoriya smiled widely and went to stand by Kiri, who looked extremely excited to have been paired with one of the smartest kids in class.

“Rikido Sato and Ojiro Mashirao.”

Sato grinned and went to go stand by his best friend. They then proceeded to fist bump.

After awhile, the class was slowly paired up.  Yao-momo and Uraraka. Yao-momo smiled shyly at that. Uraraka was a hard-worker, and Jirou was sure they’d do well together. 

Shoji and Koji. Koji nervously waved at Shoji as he came to stand next to him. ‘Hmmm,’ Jirou thought. ‘Interesting pairing.’

Aoyama and Toru. Toru’s shoulders slumped. Jirou was sure Toru was thankful that no one could see the disappointment on her face.  

Tokoyami and Tsuyu. Tokoyami said nothing as he sidled up to Tsuyu.  She wondered what moves they would come up with.

Mineta and Kaminari, the class pervs, were paired up next.  They high-fived over Uraraka’s head before going to stand next to one another. 

Mina and Sero. Mina shrugged as she went over to him. Well, at least Sero was a nice guy, as well as athletic.  She should be fine with him. However...

‘Shit...’ Jirou panicked a little in her head.  ‘That just leaves me, Todoroki, Iida, and Bakugou…’

“Iida Tenya and Todoroki Shoto,” Aizawa called out, sounding tired.

Iida nodded determinedly, pushing up his glasses as he went to stand next to an indifferent looking Todoroki. That’s a smart choice, but...

‘Wait, that means…’ Jirou’s eyes widened comically.

“Bakugou Katsuki and Kyouka Jirou,” Aizawa-sensei said with finality,  sounding positively done with everything.

Bakugou, to his credit, did not look surprised at all as he went to stand next to Jirou.  He also didn’t look much more irritated than normal. If Jirou wasn’t standing so close to him, she wouldn’t have noticed the almost imperceptible twitch of his left eye.

Well, fuck.  The one person in the entire class who was her polar opposite in temperament, and Aizawa had chosen to pair the two of them together.  What was he thinking?! She swallowed and began fiddling with her ear wires - her nervous tick. She wondered, briefly, if Edgeshot had said anything to Aizawa-sensei about her ‘incident’ this summer.  She trusted him, though. She didn’t think her mentor would do that, but...why else would her sensei think this partnership was a good idea? She really didn’t want to use the combat capabilities of her quirk, but in order to pass the exam, she may have to.  Off the top of her head, she could think of no other way to combo effectively with Bakugou.

“Alright, you can take the remainder of the class to talk strategy before moving on to your next period. As for me, I will be sleeping.” Aizawa-sensei then proceeded to pop in his ear plugs and wiggle into his sleeping bag, inching himself under his desk like a caterpillar.

Mina glanced over her shoulder to look concernedly at me, mouthing ‘we’ll talk later’ before jumping into conversation with Sero about their pairing. Yao-momo gave me a sympathetic look before mouthing much the same at me. I sighed, feeling defeated already. This would inevitably be quite an ordeal.

Shockingly enough, though, Bakugou was the one who decided to speak first.

“Well, Ears. You better fucking work hard.  I’m not going to settle for anything less than your best. I don’t tolerate useless extras not pulling their weight,” Bakugo told me rather calmly...for him. 

‘Seems like his work-study the past 2 years has mellowed him out a bit,’ Jirou mused.

Despite her generally timid nature though, Jirou was not a doormat. She squared her shoulders. 

“If we’re going to work together, Bakugou , I’m not gonna tolerate you not using my real name. It’s Jirou, in case you still didn’t know,” she hissed at him, purposefully keeping her volume low so as not to draw attention to their minor dispute.

He smirked, angling his infuriatingly attractive physique towards her small 5’5” frame.

“I don’t care what your name is. Just try to keep up.”

Jirou rolled her eyes, at this point extremely annoyed. “Whatever. Just give me your phone.”  She put her fingerless gloved hand out towards him, done with his attitude already.

“Hah?! Why would I give you my phone?” Bakugou protested loudly. 

Ah, there it was.  The infamous temper has sparked. They got a few looks from some of their fellow classmates, but Bakugou yelling wasn’t exactly revolutionary, so they didn’t hold their attention for long.

“So I can put my number in, dipshit. We have to talk about when we’re gonna meet up to train and stuff.” Jiriou rolled her eyes again. Honestly, why did he have to be so difficult?

Bakugou grunted and jerkily handed her his phone with no further complaint. Jirou raised her brows a little but didn’t comment. Their fingers brushed lightly in the exchange, and Jirou shivered imperceptibly as she felt a small tingle.

She tsked, filing that away for later as she entered her number skillfully into his phone. She handed it back to him, and their fingers touched again, that same sensation igniting something fuzzy in the pit of her stomach.

‘Weird,’ she thought, shaking her head. ‘Jirou, calm yourself, girl. Now is not the time to ponder on sexy assholes and strange feelings.’

“So, do you wanna talk strategy or whatever?” Jirou tried to open up the conversation, but it was in vain.

“As if an extra like you would even have any good ideas,” Bakugou rebutted gruffly, not even looking at her. “I’ll text you later with my training plan, and you better follow it. Don’t expect me to go easy on you just because you’re a girl with a useless quirk.”

Jirou didn’t think her eyebrows could rise any higher. Wow...that was low, even for him. The shock of his insult wore off quickly though, and she narrowed her eyes at him, the blackness of her irises burning like coals.

“Fuck you, Bakugou,” Jirou spat. “You better keep your shitty attitude in check, or I’m gonna train by myself and ignore the shit out of you till the festival. My grades are good enough that I can take the hit for failing this exam, but you? I know you hate to look nothing short of perfect.”

He actually made eye contact with her this time, sizing her up. Seemingly unimpressed by what he saw, he just shrugged at her as if he couldn’t care less and sat back down in his chair, gaze turned away from where she was standing.

Really?! Was he really just gonna ignore her now?! 

She shook her head, trying to dispel the angry words bubbling up. If he wanted to be that way, fine.  She would deal with it later, though, in private. She was not about to rise to the challenge and yell at him in the middle of class. Instead, she sat down in what was originally Mina’s seat and popped her earbuds back in, cranking up the volume on her phone. She closed her eyes, sipping her lukewarm coffee which helped calm her nerves a bit. Honestly, in Jirou’s opinion, the Sports Festival couldn’t come soon enough.