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It started with a project about teamwork. 

Shouto had been raised to rely on himself and having teammates to help him meant he was weak, at least that’s what Endeavor tried to shove in his brain. That’s how he worked and that’s how he wanted Shouto to do his hero work, but what the flame hero failed to take into account was that his son was his own person and no amount of yelling or belittling would get Shouto to listen to him. The reason Shouto was a loner was because his father isolated him, leaving him without an opportunity to ask for any help from others. It was always just Shouto by himself, doing things his way. 

Midoriya changed his perspective and if it hadn’t been for him, Shouto wouldn’t have been able to see what was in front of him. He was blinded by his hatred for his father and himself that he couldn’t see anything else. Turning his entire world view on its head was the wake up call Shouto needed and he would be lying if he said he wasn’t grateful for what his friend did to open his eyes. Shouto became more open to working with others, whether it was by choice or necessity, he would cooperate with his classmates. He learned that relying on teammates would be the difference between winning a battle and dying. He learned that listening to others got him a lot further than just thinking of everything himself. Midoriya, Iida, Yaoyorozu, they all had taught him something new and with every experience, he felt like he was gaining a friend along the way. 

He hadn’t interacted with Uraraka all that much. She was more of a friend to Midoriya than to him, even if they did have a mutual friend circle, the mutual friends being Midoriya and Iida. She wasn’t all bad, though. In fact, she was similar to Midoriya without the anxiety. She was clever and had a sense of humor, though a bit loud when she got excited. She kept to herself when she was nervous, though. He didn’t mind her. 

“For this next assignment on hero infomatics, you will be reporting on different types of hero work. What I require is to have statistics, articles, benefits, drawbacks, and other information deemed relevant to the topic. Check your names to see with whom you are paired up and the topic you will be working on. I will give you the rest of the class period so you can start planning your project. You have two weeks from today to complete it.” Aizawa’s instructions were clear and by this point, Shouto half-expected for him to stop making copies of the assignments since he basically summarized what he wanted. However, the copies were on his desk beside the pairs list and he hoped that his partner would at least have a decent work ethic. 

“Looks like you and I are partners,” Uraraka said as she approached him.

“Great,” he answered, expression unchanged. 

She had picked up two copies of the project and handed him one, saving him the trouble of having to get in line like the rest of his classmates. They walked over to her desk, Shouto nonchalantly stealing Iida’s chair so he could sit in front of her. 

“This shouldn’t be so hard…” she started to say as she opened up her notebook and found a blank sheet so she could write, neatly jotting down their topic and Aizawa’s requirements. “How do you want to break this up?” 

Shouto skim read the handout, taking mental notes on what they had to do. “We should do one topic a day so we don’t overload ourselves. It would probably take us around a week to do.” 

Uraraka wrote down his suggestion. “We can probably do each section in a few hours, too.” She added asterisks to her notes, something Shouto couldn’t read upside down, but it wasn’t something he was going to try to decipher at the moment. “Do you have somewhere you like to work?”

“My room, sometimes,” Shouto answered as he thought about it. “The library is better, though...if I want to get things done and focus completely.” 

“Okay,” she nodded in acknowledgement. “I work better with noise...if it’s too quiet, I get easily distracted,” she answered sheepishly. 

“Does it help if people are talking?” Shouto asked, raising an eyebrow. “Like how our classmates are doing right now?” 

“Well, no, I meant having music,” Uraraka said, pink dusting her cheeks.

Ah, that wasn’t unfamiliar to Shouto. It’s what he liked to do to drown out any noise in the dorms, too, or intrusive thoughts if he wanted to avoid flashbacks. “We can get a study room in the library, then,” he suggested. 

They exchanged phone numbers, set up a schedule, and came up with a plan B if their arrangement for meeting at the library didn’t work. They had enough time to look for a couple of sources before Aizawa dismissed them for their next class. 

Shouto went back to his desk, not missing how Hagakure and Ashido came to Uraraka and told her how lucky she was. He wasn’t sure what they were talking about and he had no intention of finding out, but if they were happy for their friend, then Shouto was as well. If good things happened to good people, then he was glad the universe worked in such a way. 

They were able to complete the project in around a week like they had planned, taking an extra day to polish their presentation, paper, and poster. Shouto was the least qualified for creativity, but luckily Uraraka was decorative and was full of ideas. She told him what she had in mind and he did his best to search for images and other information that was helpful. They split the paper and he took care of corrections and making sure it read fluidly. Their presentation had to look professional--Aizawa may not look the part, but he could be anal about details--so they took the extra measure to ask Iida and Midoriya to look over it, Iida because he was the definition of professional and Midoriya because he eye for these things. Shouto didn’t know what it was, but he just knew what they were supposed to look like. Or maybe it was just that Shouto hadn’t learned how to do presentations properly, but if he and Uraraka had a hard time with them, then maybe he wasn’t in such a bad place. 

They practiced on what to say a couple of times, both of them giving each other feedback on what they could do to use the time limit given to them by their teacher. Whereas Shouto went straight to the point, Uraraka stretched their time and sugarcoated her words, adding some humor into the mix. That was something he couldn’t do since it wasn’t his style and he wasn’t going to attempt to change it, but he did have to watch the way in which he said things. Speaking too quickly would get them points deducted. His suggestion to his partner was for her to use more factual information and sugarcoat that rather than saying something random. Her suggestion for him was for him to have more details to say about the subtopic he was presenting so he could take up more time instead of speeding through things. 

In the end, they ended up giving a decent presentation. Aizawa seemed pleased with their work, commenting on how the presentation was something he hoped to see more of since it was what he was looking for. Uraraka was so relieved and content that she hugged Shouto, and it was so sudden that he jumped in surprise. He didn’t move away, though, because he’d learnt that was a way to express joy--at least that’s what he picked up from Midoriya hugging him at times--and he was glad for his partner’s excitement. 

Shouto thought after that assignment, they would go back to how they were before. Just mutual friends hovering over Midoriya and Iida, didn’t turn out that way. 

Not even a day later, Uraraka had texted him an invite to a sleepover their friends were having in her room. Seeing as how Shouto had never been to one, Uraraka was shocked that he had been deprived of such a childhood landmark. She was even more shocked when he told her he’d never watched Disney movies or Studio Ghibli films. 

Midoriya and Iida brought their collection of movies and together with Urarakas and Asui’s, the five of them had a movie night, enjoying the cheese doritos and savory chips (did Midoriya really say the flavor was sourcream….and onion?) as well as very sweet popcorn--

“It’s called caramel corn,” Uraraka explained as she popped a piece into her mouth, chewing on it, and licking her lips. “Try it!”

He did...and although he loved sweets, he thought that was too much for him to handle and opted for the butter popcorn that Midoriya had shared with him. 

They couldn’t watch every single movie--the abundance was overwhelming--but Uraraka and the others promised to educate him on these movies on their next sleepover (and yes , they did have more sleepovers during their three years at UA….and yes , they got through them all).

Uraraka started sending him funny videos and memes, and Shouto’s response was to do the same, even if he had to get Midoriya and Kaminari to explain some of them to him first. He’d see her laughing at her phone in the dining room and she’d catch his eye so he could come watch it with her. There were times when he was in the common room and he’d call for her if she was passing by so she could join him in video hunting, sharing theory videos with her he’d usually send to Midoriya. 

When he would find a cooking video he found interesting, he would share it with her, and she would send him recipes she’d find online of food she wanted to make. They eventually found themselves in the kitchen, both wearing aprons and flour all over the place, Uraraka’s face partially covered in the cocoa powder that was supposed to be for brownies they were making for Iida and Midoriya, but they proved to be more of a challenge than they thought. With the help of Satou, they managed to get things under control--who knew it really was that easy to assemble all of that shit together? He also gave them tips on baking and keeping a steady hand for when they had to measure and mix. Uraraka had more of a sweet tooth than Shouto, so she added all kinds of chocolates to the mix and they ended up being thick and loaded. And their friends fell in love with what they made. So much so that Midoriya couldn’t stop eating and had a sugar high afterwards. He went out to run and even All Might was concerned. (He did stop running after a while and he fell asleep on the couch that evening; Shouto, Uraraka, and Iida camped out on the common room next to him, Iida providing a blanket for their exhausted friend.) 

Working on assignments and studying for tests became...more enjoyable, too. Maybe it was because he himself was finding his studies more interesting; maybe it was the way Midoriya explained things; maybe it was because Uraraka brought her energy that was infectious; maybe it was Iida who kept them in line. What he was certain about was that his grades benefited as well as him and they rose a few ranks. When Uraraka found out she had sixth place on their midterm exam, she couldn’t stop jumping and she even embraced Shouto because if he hadn’t shared his methods for studying, she probably wouldn’t have been as efficient. That was endearing and it warmed Shouto’s soul to know he had helped someone out in such a big way. Iida stayed in second place (Yaoyorozu was unbeatable in academics, but that was her thing), but Midoriya rose to third while Shouto rose to fourth. Which meant that their explosive, loud mouth classmate was not happy about that. And while he yelled and threatened them that he would surpass them (he got so close to hurting Midoriya that Shouto had to step in between them and actually freeze him in place), he wasn’t able to. In fact, he had to watch himself with Uraraka who was becoming a lot more strategic. 

And she proved her skills when she and Shouto had to partner up again for their final exam that term. This time, their opponent was Cementoss and he was relentless in the way he attacked them. Concrete wasn’t easy to melt and Shouto’s flames couldn’t reach the temperature for it, at least not during that time, but he could freeze it and give Uraraka time to make her attack. It wasn’t easy with their teacher coming at them from all different angles, so Shouto provided ice for her to use. She was getting better at fighting in the air and maintaining a large number of objects by cancelling their gravity. Shouto and her came up with a strategy that would allow them to use their assets. She took to the sky, the boosters on her boots aiding her to get some leverage in the air while she floated Shouto’s ice. He joined her in the air by propelling himself with the fire on his left side, the heat gathering in his own left boot to allow him to blast off into the sky. Cementoss couldn’t get to them in mid air and with the icy meteor shower that Shouto and Uraraka unleashed to trap him, their teacher wasn’t able to defend against the attack. Apprehending him gave them the satisfaction of besting yet another teacher where they could both shine. 

Another hug, another cheerful remark, another memory made in their friendship. 

12 years later…

The villain had been on the run for twenty minutes and Shouto was getting antsy. They should have caught him by now, but he knew that their line of work wasn’t that easy, no matter how badly he wanted to go home and rest. It had been a long day. He finished a case that he turned into Tensei that morning; did his hours for combat, quirk, and team training with Ochako, Soshi, and his sidekicks, respectively; started a new case; and went out for his shift to patrol with Ochako. They were almost done. Had it not been for this stubborn villain, they would have gone home for now, but he knew he would have been called in for backup anyway. He was the number 3 hero, after all. 

“We have to corner him,” Ochako said, her voice mixing with the static in his earpiece. He made a mental note of taking those to Mei so she could get that fixed; the static gave him headaches when he was stressed. 

“I haven’t lost sight of him, but he’s still ahead. I need you to go high while I go low,” Shouto ordered, huffing as he spoke. 

The villain’s quirk wasn’t particularly strong from what Shouto observed, but he was quick and that was annoying. However, when Ochako let him know of her location--closeby to his--Shouto released his fire to overwhelm the villain. The criminal, in turn, stopped to cover his face and as soon as he did, Ochako jumped out of the corner of the building he was rounding, her combat abilities evident in the kick she delivered to knock him down. She stepped out of the way and Shouto was able to apprehend the villain by freezing him, his ice thick as it shone in the sunlight. With caution, Ochako clasped the quirk cancelling cuffs on him and Shouto melted his ice so as to not hurt him with the low temperature. Sirens rang in the air as police cars approached them and Shouto felt relieved when they took the villain away. 

“Nice job, partner,” Ochako chirped as she smiled, high fiving Shouto. 

“You, too,” Shouto nodded as he met her half-way to return the gesture. Finally...he would get to go home soon. 

“This was such a workout,” Ochako said as she stretched her arms. “If only Tenya and Izuku had been here to help out. They’re the speedster.” 

“That’s okay, you and I can make up for our lack of speed,” Shouto shrugged. “Plus...they’re away at a conference. It’s not like we could have called them to come take care of it, anyway.” 

“Well, yeah , but it would have been cool to see Tenya in action. You know how much I love to see him take care of villains,” Ochako gave him a toothy smile and Shouto swore he could see hearts around her face. 

He rolled his eyes goodnaturedly and chuckled, ruffling her hair as he told her to hurry up or else he’d leave her behind. He, too, loved watching Izuku beat up was hot. “I’m tired and I want food.”

“Tired enough to sleep or tired enough for a movie?” Ochako asked as she caught up to him. 

“Both?” Shouto raised an eyebrow in confusion. He didn’t think those two options were mutually exclusive. He would fall asleep if the movie was boring.

Ochako pouted at him. “Could you be a man and watch Ponyo with me?”

Shouto narrowed his eyes at her, thinking about his choices here. He knew he couldn’t refuse her, even if she’d understand he wanted to nap. But was Ponyo...and that was their comfort movie…. 

“Fine, but we’re not getting caramel corn. We’re getting butter popcorn like normal people,” he said with a sigh. 

“You have a sweet tooth, though,” Ochako said with an incredulous look. 

“I also like regular popcorn,” Shouto answered matter-of-factly. 

She smiled nonetheless. “They’re Izuku’s favorite.”

“Yes, they are,” Shouto nodded. “And also mine.” 

“Hmm, so how about we get popcorn and pizza? So the movie hits better,” Ochako offered. 

“And the weird flavored chips you like so much,” Shouto added. “The onion ones...the ones in the green bag.” 

“Oh, Shouto,” Ochako laughed, telling him the proper name for them. 

As they walked to her home with the food they’d decided on purchasing, Shouto thought about how they came to this point. Their friendship was a strange but heartwarming ordeal and he admitted that if Ochako hadn’t been there for him during difficult times, he probably wouldn’t have made it this far. Tenya and Izuku had been there for him, too, and they helped him grow...Izuku helped him figure out his full potential, and Tenya taught him that regardless of mistakes made, he could still be a better person. But there was a different kind of sentiment when it came to Ochako. They were best friends, but they were also a team , and if he was being honest with himself, he wouldn’t want it any other way.