WARNING: slight spoilers for Kirishima's backstory (mentions of who he went to school with and what he was like) and ep68 overall/ep5 of season 4
It was a warm Wednesday afternoon when Eijirō woke up, having arrived at the dorm in the early morning hours after a job the previous day. Pushing himself up and out of bed, the soon-to-be pro hero stretched and looked around in search of his slippers. His dorm room remained almost exactly identical as when they’d moved in, so it was always a bit of a shock for him to instinctively glance at the calendar and see the graduation day nearing. In three weeks’ time they would finally and officially become pros. A big chunk of their final year at U.A. was practical, not much would change in terms of doing hero work, but the cozy little universe called class A’s dorm would be gone. People were already moving out, bit by bit. Eijirō was no exception, the empty boxes in the corner of the room, waiting to be packed, made him a bit sad, a bit nostalgic. Three more weeks.
Sighing longingly, the student headed for the bathroom, checking his phone on the way. There was a follow-up message regarding their report of the mission from Bakugō, a photo - most likely another meme - sent by Ashido in their group chat and a missed call from his father. Right. He was supposed to text him when to meet and where. Eijirō had decided that he would move everything back to his house instead of searching for an apartment right away, since he had yet to choose an agency and part of town to live in after U.A.
It felt unreal still - that there would be such a thing as ‘after U.A.’.
His phone buzzed and lit up, a new message incoming. This time from Heijima, a friend from middle school who had several weeks prior organised a get-together. The party had been nostalgic and good, getting to see his friends and ex classmates again was pleasant, to hear what they had all been up to - a few of them had even enrolled in hero courses like him, just at different schools. Even the two who had gone to study abroad had been able to make it to the party and tell him all about American and German heroes. Eijirō had exchanged numbers and linked up on various social media with those he’d lost touch with, so ever since that get-together rare were the days he wouldn’t get a text or two from someone from middle school.
According to Heijima, he and Mina were the two most talked about among the alumni as well as current students of their school. A lot of people had congratulated him or told him they’d been following him as a hero since first year and his debut as Red Riot on that patrol with Fat Gum and Sun Eater. Most had noted the changes - the hair, the confidence, the strength of his quirk, even the size of his muscles (ironically from the one girl he’d kind of had a crush on, but who wouldn’t spare him a second glance all those years). Those were interactions he was used to, being a hero and a U.A. student and all. But the interaction which really stuck with him had been one with the former class president. As per usual, the girl had spent most of the night smiling, politely answering questions and listening way more than talking. Shyly but firmly, she’d refused to dance or join in when they sung karaoke and since all the trains had gone by the time the get-together had ended, she’d kindly offered to have two of the girls stay at her place, since it wasn’t that far to walk to - 30 minutes or so. Kirishima, Heijima and two other boys had walked them home and that was when it had happened. The first moment alone he’d had with her that night, when the others started fooling around, chasing each other and taking pictures, it ended up being the two of them walking side by side.
As they passed by a park, the girls suggested taking some pictures to remember the night. The president declined their invitation to be in those and Eijirō distinctly remembered her always volunteering to be behind the camera or ducking into a hallway or classroom, red-faced and uncomfortable, to avoid having to be in pictures. Something he’d always seen as unusual, though other girls from class had said it was because the prez was self-conscious. Not that the boy could ever think of a reason for her to be. Prez was voted class president because she was among the best students not only in their class, but the whole school. The teachers loved her because she studied meticulously, because they could rely on her to get things done - she was responsible, smart and a good leader to her classmates. Always willing to stick her neck out for them, to take responsibility or punishment, to be the one to fight for them and their ideas and needs at student and student-teacher meetings. As far as Eijirō could remember she was always fair and kind, but firm or even strict when it was necessary. He remembered her as the smart, organised girl who most of the time only spoke when spoken to. Insecure was never a word he would’ve used to describe her. Maybe shy or even a bit timid, nonetheless, she always came through when it mattered. So what was there to be insecure about?
Smiling sheepishly when the other girls pouted and pulled on her sleeves, she apologised.
“I’m sorry, maybe next time? I don’t really look presentable right now, and we’ll see each other more often once we’ve graduated, right?” the girl said softly, pulling away from the other two.
“No way, Prez! You never take pictures with us! I flipped through our class album the other day, you were in only 3 pictures!” Sakamoto complained, pouting even more.
“Yeah! Besides, you look great! I can tell you’ve totally lost weight,” Miyano added, seemingly not noticing the way the girl in question flinched, smile faltering momentarily.
“I’m sorry. Another time, ok?” she repeated, just as apologetic, but firmer.
“Buzzkill,” Miyano muttered jokingly, lightly bumping a fist against the girl’s shoulder.
“Let’s climb the monkey bars, it’ll look so quirky!” Sakamoto shouted after shrugging, already running into the park. Miyano and the rest followed. Prez sat down on the bench in front of the entrance to the park, sighing softly as she watched them leave. Almost like a mom, watching her kids race each other, hoping they won’t get hurt.
Instead of following the others, Eijirō decided to keep her company. The girl almost jumped in her seat when he sat down next to her.
“Kirishima-kun!? Don’t you want to take pictures with everyone?” She looked down the empty road, putting her purse onto her lap. Weirdly enough, Eijirō realised the way she sat was really elegant and lady-like. Her whole posture was so proper, he wondered if she’d always been that way. His memories of her sitting in the front row were mostly her hunching or making herself smaller in some other way.
“Nah, I’m glad everyone’s super energetic, but I think I’ve already been the center of way too many pictures. From the restaurant, then the karaoke, even when we said goodbye to the people who went the other way, a few took a picture with me. It’s a bit embarrassing,” Eijirō mumbled, scratching his nose sheepishly at the thought. Some of the people he hadn’t been that close to treated him almost like some kind of celebrity. He was flattered, of course, but also slightly uncomfortable. A hero is just a regular person with a peculiar job. Just because they made the news some times didn’t mean that he was some hotshot or influencer or something.
The class president brought a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle, which was just the cutest sound.
“W-What?” Eijirō stuttered, even more embarrassed.
“No, it’s just,” she smiled, shuffling her feet a little,”you really haven’t changed at all, Kirishima-kun...”
It was something Eijirō had not heard in a long while, possibly ever even. He couldn’t tell whether it was an insult or a compliment, though he seriously doubted that the Prez would insult someone, especially so directly.
“What I mean is - on the inside you’ve stayed the exact same.” She looked up at the cloudy sky, pursing her lips, “When Miyano-chan called me to ask me to come, she talked about seeing everyone again and about those of you who’d enrolled in hero courses as if you were these new, different people altogether. Honestly, when I saw you I wasn’t sure, because your hair is different and you do seem to carry yourself a bit differently, but then under that you haven’t changed much at all.” She blinked and started waving her hands around nervously. “I mean that in a good way of course!” Then she folded them into her lap and leaned back. “Because even back then, you wanted to help people, to do the right thing…” When she looked at him her eyes shone and Eijirō found himself dazed and awestruck. “To be a hero who protects people, who charges into the fray with no regrets, right?”
Those words, he remembered them very well. The final essay they’d had, about who they wanted to become and how they were planning on going about it. Those were his exact words.
“I was roped into helping Kawari-sensei grade those,” she said sheepishly. “I was supposed to correct the grammar and leave the rest to her. And your essay…” the girl trailed off, looking around as she bit her lip. The moment he saw it Eijirō remembered it being her bad habit - some days when she was really stressed out she would bite her lips until they bled. Miyano used to nag her about it and drop chapsticks or lip glosses into her backpack.
“I remember it - your essay - because it kind of helped me figure out where I wanted to go from there. The passion you had, the resolve to become a hero - I couldn’t remember myself ever being so determined to make a dream come true. I used to let things go when they got too hard, but when I read that, I think… I think something in me really clicked.” She rose from the bench gracefully. “I never got to thank you for that, so - thank you, Kirishima-kun.” Seeing her bow at the waist, Eijirō finally found his voice.
“You don’t have to-” Yet, the words died in his throat the moment she raised her head. The hero remembered her quirk having something to do with light and even though she wasn’t using it, to him she looked like she was glowing.
“I guess even back then you were a hero, you just didn’t know it yet.” She bit her lip again. “Inspiring people… that’s a part of what heroes do, right?”
Eijirō opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted before he could.
“There he was. Kirishima-kuun! We thought you disappeared into the night or something,” Sakamoto exclaimed.
“A-Ah, no, just, uh, keeping Prez company,” Eijirō responded, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Don’t tell me you’re not in a mood for pictures either,” Miyano said, waving her phone around.
“Oh, no, it’s just a bit late, we should walk you guys home.”
“Uwaah, Kirishima-kun, so hero-like!”
“That’s because he is a hero,” Heijima grumbled, a bit playful, but also a bit jealous of the attention the heroes had been getting all evening.
“He is also right, come on,” Matsumoto, one of the two other boys said, nudging Miyano forward. She whined for a bit, but gave up eventually.
The ex class president took the lead as they kept going and stayed silent for the rest of the walk.
Having finished his morning routine, Eijirō started making his bed and responding to messages.
What do you say to a nice outing tomorrow?
You have free days after jobs right?
Let me know if noon works for you!
Biting the inside of his cheek, Eijirō thought about it. He did have free time, since U.A. allowed up to two rest days after long or difficult hero missions for students in their final year. Going out was also good for taking his mind off things.
Noon works, text me where we’re meeting!
With a sigh, he grabbed the nearest box and dragged it to the closet. Packing time.