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The Maiden and the Monster

Chapter Text

I’ll give you one chance to break the curse.

If you can do this, everyone will turn back to normal.

But! Too bad for you…

 

 

“Hm...” Dabi glanced around as he stepped into the kitchen, apparently deserted. “Saw us coming, I bet.” He ran his hand over the countertops. There wasn’t a speck of dust on it, so where were all the servants…?

A blur of grey fur crashed into Dabi from behind and four sets of claws raked into the back of his neck and shoulders. He snarled and grabbed at the offending animal, which managed to avoid his hands long enough to get several more gouges in before Dabi managed to snatch it by the scruff of the neck and hurl to the ground. It rolled across the floor before scrabbling to its feet and darting off through the doorway.

“Vermin...” Dabi winced and rubbed at the fresh scratches. He stalked after it, adjusting the gauntlets on his hands. He stepped on something soft and paused, then looked down. Who put a rug in a kitchen?

Suspicious, he moved back to examine it. It was an ugly, ragged black woven rug, nothing remarkable. He kicked it aside, but there was no hidden doorway underneath. Disappointing. He tapped it a bit with his foot, then caught a movement in the corner of his eye and snapped his head up.

The rug he’d just kicked up against the wall shifted around a bit, as if something was hiding around under it, perhaps that vermin from before…? A wide grin spread across Dabi’s face as he crept over.

“Here kitty kitty…” He spread his hands out, and blue flames flickered around his palms. “Got a surprise for you…” The rug’s movements stopped, then before Dabi’s eyes the whole thing rose up on itself, no strings or wires in sight.

“You’d attack a cat in cold blood?” It, the rug, was speaking; In a low, gravely voice at that. “That’s terrible, no matter how you slice it.”

Dabi didn’t waste any time being shocked. He shot a torrent of fire to incinerate it, but the oven leapt forward into its path, opening its mouth up to catch the blaze. The door snapped closed for a second, then opened again to release a belch of dark smoke and burnt sugar smell into Dabi’s face. Dabi gagged and stumbled back, swinging his arm to clear it.

“This crazy house,” he muttered, then clapped his hands together. His entire being exploded into blue fire, rattling the kitchen with the sudden rush of heat. He spread his arms out with a smirk. “Guess I’ll burn the whole thing down after all.”

Aizawa rose up, then in a flash unraveled, the ropes of his being whipping out to wrap around Dabi 

“Hagakure!” Aizawa shouted, “Freezer!”

The door to the freezer flung itself open and Aizawa hurled Dabi inside. As soon as he hit the far wall it swung shut and locked tight.

“Hhaa...” Dabi staggered up, one hand glowing blue. “You think I can’t-”

The sprinklers above his head turned on so hard the faucets ripped off, dousing him in an intense spray. Meanwhile, the temperature plummeted far past freezing, and by the time the sprinklers turned off, the water on Dabi’s coat already began to ice over.

“Gah…” Dabi grimaced and rubbed at his arms. “Very c-clever. But don’t think this is going to-” He broke off into a sneeze. “-Shit.”

“Oof,” Sato shuddered and settled back down again. “Been awhile since I had a good clean like that.”

“You alright?” Shinsou asked Aizawa, who smoldered a bit as he wove himself up again. The sprinklers had activated here as well, dousing any flames that remained.

“I’ll live,” he grunted. “Let’s check on the others.”

 

000

 

It’s too bad, it will never happen.

You’ll just have to stay like this foreeeever.

After all…

 

“He has some scheme,” Shiozaki spoke as she eyed Shigaraki with suspicion. Shouji nodded in agreement.

“Do you know anything about how he fights?”

“Not a thing, except that I wager it’s dirty.”

“Those gloves he’s wearing look special.” Shouji shifted his extra limbs into arms, spread out and ready to grapple. “Stay back, for now.”

“Well?” Shigaraki strode forward and spread his hands out. “I thought you were going to make this interesting.”

Shouji moved forward, walking at an angle to circle around him. Shigaraki turn to face him, watching in amusement.

“Hmph, boring.” Shigaraki slouched forward and beckoned him closer. “Come on, take the first swing, monster.”

Shouji’s eyes narrowed. He went tense for a moment, then charged. Shigaraki laughed and spread his arms out.

“Yeah! Come on!”

Shouji lunged in for a punch but Shigaraki slipped aside and, grinning wide, set his hand against Shouji’s forearm.

“You lose.”

Shouji jerked his arm free and jumped back out of reach, then froze and looked down at his hand in shock. Shiozaki slapped both hands over her mouth, watching in horror as one of Shouji’s arms began to dissolve away into dust.

Shouji grasped at his half-destroyed arm, and Shiozaki could see him grimacing under his mask. His arm shifted, then morphed back to its default. It bled, but didn’t dissolve any further.

“I’m ok,” he told Shiozaki with an extra mouth, keeping his gaze on Shigaraki.

“Hmph,” Shigaraki dusted off his hands and began to stride forward. “Neat trick. How many times can you do it?”

“Shouji,” Shiozaki came over and offered him her fire poker. It would give a little distance at least. Shouji nodded in thanks as he took it, then faced Shigaraki and shifted his feet back into a dueling stance.

“Metal or flesh-” Shigaraki rolled his shoulders back. “It’s all the same in the end.”

Shigaraki rushed toward him, and Shouji raised his weapon to meet him. As Shigaraki stretched his hand out toward him, Shouji batted it away at the wrist, then whipped the poker around to swing it hard into Shigaraki’s shoulder. Shigaraki’s eyes snapped wide and his other hand flashed toward the weapon.

Something crunched and Shigaraki hit the floor from the force of the blow. Shouji stepped back as the fire poker dissolved and fell apart in his hand.

“Hah...” Shigaraki pulled himself to his feet, gripping his shoulder. He hissed his breath in and out through bared teeth. “I’ll...take...your arms...one by one...for that.”

Shiozaki bit her lip, watching them square off again. If she just jumped in like this, she might get in Shouji’s way. And now, neither Shouji nor she had a weapon, but Shigaraki had those gloves. If only they had something, some kind of barrier? Shiozaki supposed she could use her shawl to tangle him up-

Tangle...Her mind flashed to the moment in the forest, where her hair had lunged out to catch that beast. It had worked quite well, but she wasn’t even sure how she had done it in the first place. Still, if she could...

It was raining.  The water pelted down and soaked into her vines. Shiozaki straightened up, then took a deep breath.

“Please...” She held her hair out in both hands. “Please help, do something, stop him!” Her hair stirred, then began to grow, falling out past her hands to the roof below. Shiozaki pushed them onward, watching the fight with an anxious gaze.

Shouji noticed the vines first with an extra eye. Catching on, he circled around so Shigaraki turned his back to them to face him.

“What’s wrong?” Shigaraki called out to him. “Lost your nerve already?” He stalked after him. Shouji backed up, coming close to the edge of the roof.

“Goddamn eyesore,” Shigaraki taunted him, “Makes me sick just looking at you.” Shouji showed no reaction, but Shiozaki bristled. Her hair surged forward like a wave to slam against the back of his legs. Shigaraki made a surprised noise and twisted around to look down at the vines twining around his legs. He snarled and shoved both hands into the mass. The vines dissolved away but more slithered in to replace them, wrapping around his arms as well as his legs. He hissed and ripped his hands free, managing to kick his way out of the mass, then skipped backwards as they followed after him.

“That’s a cute gimmick,” he grunted, “This manor really transforms people, huh? What kind of power-” He stopped, realizing he had come to the edge of the roof. Shiozaki took the moment and had her vines fan out to surround him. They followed her command eagerly, running along the ground on either side of him. Shouji hopped over the greenery to rush toward Shigaraki while he was distracted. He grabbed him by the wrists, and with his extra hands wrestled the gloves off of him to toss them away.

“Enough,” Shouji spread his arms out to block his escape. Shiozaki stalked over as well, dragging her vines with her. “Everyone else is captured. You can’t-”

Shigaraki reached into his pocket and pulled out Shiozaki’s rose. They both froze as Shigaraki raised it up above his head, then flung it off the roof.

In that split second Shouji turned to reach out after it, and Shigaraki slammed both his hands against his side to shove him stumbling over the edge.

Shiozaki didn’t think. She jumped, and her hair flew out past her. The manor was several stories high. Even if Shouji hit the ground instead of the stone walkway, a fall from the roof was death.

“Catch him!” She thought desperately , “Please, catch him, save him!” The vines wrapped around him, tried to cushion him, but the ground rushed up toward them both, far too fast.

He hit the ground with a thud that made Shiozaki’s blood go cold. The vines dug into the dirt and used the support to slow her own fall. She landed on her feet, and ran to where Shouji lay on his back, unmoving.

“Sh, Shouji...” she fell to her knees, then gingerly lay one hand on his shoulder. “C-Can you hear me? Please don’t...don’t be...”

Shouji opened his eyes. They were glazed, cloudy, but as they moved over to look at her, some focus returned. He turned his head away and peeled his mask down to cough a mouthful of blood onto the grass. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. Shiozaki cradled his head in her hands.

“Shh,” she whispered. Her vision was getting blurry all of a sudden. She couldn’t stop shaking. “Don’t talk. Don’t move. We can-” Her mind stalled. She only knew some basic first aid. Was anyone here a doctor? If they told her what to do, maybe she could…

Shouji raised his other hand, which grasped the remains of the rose. A single petal stubbornly clung to it, and he stared at it with a pained expression.

“You deserve...to be free.” he kept talking despite her protests, forcing each word out through wheezing breaths, still focused on the dead rose. “Go back...to your home...your life…” He closed his eyes. “To leave this place...to be happy.”

“Stop it!” Shiozaki shook her head back and forth, making her vines whip against her cheeks. “Don’t...Don’t say things like that. Where does it hurt?” She placed a shaking hand on his chest. “C-Can you tell me what’s broken?” She tapped at his arm. “...Shouji?”

Shouji didn’t answer. He lay still, eyes closed. Shiozaki forced a swallow, then reached over to pat him on the cheek. “Shouji...” She called out. “Shouji! Wake up! Y-You can’t sleep now!” In desperation she clapped both hands to his cheeks. Her hands grazed against the slit of his mouth. The rain was dying down, but drops of water were still landing on his face.

Slowly, Shiozaki pulled her hands back, letting them fall onto the bed of vines between them. She sat there, staring at him in a silent, anguished helplessness.

 

After all…

 

“I was happy,” she whispered, “Here, outside, anywhere, I could be happy as long as it was with you-!” She squeezed her eyes shut, letting the tears run down her cheeks. Distantly, she thought she heard the tolling of a bell. “Please don’t…don’t leave me now…”

 

Who would love someone like you?

 

Something shifted under her fingers. She lifted her hands and wiped away her tears to look.

An Octopus Flower. She felt a pang of guilt, that she had been crushing the poor thing and not noticing. Then before her eyes, another one sprouted up right beside the first. Its petals did a little twirl as it bloomed. Another one came up a little to the left. She gave it a puzzled look, then looked around. They were popping up all around her and Shouji. What’s more, spots of light were appearing in her vision. She scrubbed at her eyes, but they still remained when she checked again.

The bell’s ringing was gradually getting louder. Shiozaki glanced back up to the manor, but she couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. She turned her attention back to the flowers; they had created a little patch now, dancing around in the wind and filling the air with a strong, heavy scent. Shiozaki felt a fresh ache in her chest when she realized perhaps the manor was trying to give its master a proper burial.

The ringing of the bell was getting unbearable, combined with the blinding lights shining out over the manor. Shiozaki clamped her hands over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut. “What’s happening?!” She could barely think through the noise, the light, and the pain in her chest.

The bell gave one final echoing toll, then everything went perfectly silent. So silent that for a moment Shiozaki wondered if she had gone deaf. Then she heard the rustle of the wind on the grass, the call of some birds, and then-

“Shiozaki?”

She opened her eyes. Shouji was propped up on his elbows, looking at her with a bewildered expression.

“Shou-!” She choked, then raised one shaking hand toward him. “Y-You’re…Are you…?”

Shouji’s eyebrows drew together and he patted his chest, then sat up all the way. “…The pain’s gone,” he said, “-mostly. I feel…odd, but I think I’ll live. What-” He cut off into a grunt as Shiozaki crashed into him and flung her arms around his neck.

“You’re alive!” Shiozaki sobbed, “Th-Thank heaven and earth you’re alive!”

“I’m alive,” Shouji agreed, still a bit befuddled. “I heard the bell. What-”

“I love you,” Shiozaki whispered into his ear, frantic and intense as if he may go and die in another second. Shouji went stiff, and they just sat there for a moment. Then, Shouji pulled his arms up to wrap around her, hugging her close.

“I wanted you to be happy,” he murmured, “and I couldn’t bear to think you would be trapped here forever. I thought it would be best if you escaped…but part of me, so much of me, wanted to stay by your side.” Shiozaki gave a shaky laugh. She was crying again, but it was happiness, not grief.

“I want to stay by your side,” she said, “I want to stay with you.” She loosened her hold on him just enough to lean back, then plant a kiss on his exposed mouth. He made a surprised noise and flushed beet red as Shiozaki burst into laughter again.

“…I still don’t get it.” Shouji turned his attention to their surroundings, then reached out to touch one of the flowers growing around them. “What happened?”

“I’m…not sure?” Shiozaki helped Shouji stagger to his feet. She had one of his arms over her shoulder, but her vines were doing most of the work. She peered around the area, eyebrows knit together. “Something feels different…”

“Shouji!!” They looked up to see a young man with brilliant red hair sprinting across the lawn towards them, waving his arm wildly as he went. “Shouji! Shiozaki! Holy shit!!”

“Kirishima?” Shouji stared at him in surprise, then hastily tugged his mask back up. “You’re...human again?”

“Hell yeah I am!” Kirishima grinned wide and slammed his fists together. They made a rather non-humanlike *clang* but he didn’t seem too bothered. “I mean, mostly! My hair is red now, which is weird but I kind of like it!”

“It looks nice,” Shouji commented. Kirishima beamed.

“I know, right??”

“Kirishima…?” Shiozaki leaned in to examine him. She recognized his exuberant affect, and yes, there were those too-sharp teeth flashing out of his grin. “How did you-?”

“Shiozaki!”

The familiar voice grabbed her attention, and she spun around to see Tetsutetsu and Kendo jogging toward them. Tetsutetsu swung his arm out in greeting, just as Kirishima had a second before. “Hey!! Are you alright?!”

“You two-!” Shiozaki gasped and hurried to join them. “You’re ok! What happened?! How did you get back in?”

“We jumped the gate!” Tetsutetsu jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “That guy punted us back into the forest. We split up to look for the manor again, and just now there was this huge flash and everything just showed up!”

“Is the curse lifted, then?” Shouji looked down at himself. “I didn’t turn back…perhaps it was too strong.” He shot Shiozaki and her vines a guilty look, but she just smiled back in response.

“It’s fine, Shouji. I’m not bothered in the slightest.” She blinked as something dawned on her. “But what about the others-”

Then down the path, the doors to the manor burst open and a crowd of people flooded out. They all wore formal, fancy clothing, and when Shiozaki looked closer, she realized there was something familiar about them. That and there were a few odd characteristics for each.

“Heeeey!!” There was a young woman with pink hair the exact same shade as Ashido’s rug surface. She was helping to support a thin man with blond hair, who clutched at his stomach as he limped toward her. “Guys! Guys check it out! We’re all back!”

“Oh Shiozaki, Shouji!” A young woman with long raven-black hair tired up in a ponytail hurried toward them. “There you are! Are you alright?”

“Yaoyorozu!” Shiozaki gasped, recognizing her voice. “Oh my, you’re so beautiful!”

“O-Oh!” Yaoyorozu blushed and looked away. “Th-Thank you very much, Shiozaki! It seems like we’ve all regained our human forms. Well, more or less.”

“Yo Shiozaki!” A thin man with black hair punched both hands into the air, showing off elbows that were rounded like tape wheels. “It’s Sero! My arms are funky now, Ashido’s pink, and Ojiro has a tail!”

“E-Everyone…” Shiozaki gave a wide smile as she looked around. There was Ojiro, with a bushy tail that resembled a broom, and the woman beside him with a familiar hunch, and droopy long hair like a mop’s, must have been Asui. The man Ashido was supporting had a...sparkling aura around him, so she guessed Aoyama. And…

“What about…oh!” She clasped her hands together and scanned the ground. “Where is Mr. Iida, the little Roomba?”

“Right here, Miss Shiozaki!”

A familiar, though much louder voice, spoke up behind her, and she spun around. She blinked, then craned her head back to look up at a rather tall, rather broad figure of a man, with dark hard, a square jaw, and a bright smile.

“Shiozaki!” Iida grinned and jerked one hand up in greeting. “It is I, Iida!”

“Wow,” she squeaked, “I, I admit not what I was expecting.”

“Oh?” He wore a puzzled frown and looked down at his hands. “Hm, strange. This is how I recall being…ah, but I think there are still some wheels on my feet-”

“Shiozaki Shiozaki!” Something crashing into her side and she felt two arms gleefully wrap around her neck. “Hey hey guess who??”

“H-Hagakure?” She guessed by the voice, then looked around. “But…I can’t see you?”

“Aw crud!” The hold on her released, and Shiozaki could see a floating set of clothes step away from her. “I’m still invisible? This sucks! But I can run around now at least!”

“I feel ya, Hagakure!” Another woman with a brown bob and pink circles on her cheeks bounced over. “Iida!!” She crashed into Iida with a hug of her own. “I missed you!!!”

“I as well, Uraraka!” Iida gasped and returned the hug, carefully. “Ah, is that too hard? I need to recalibrate my strength. It is so nice to have arms again!” To demonstrate his point, he swung both his arms out to either side of him, nearly smacking Hagakure.

“Whoa Kirishima!” Ashido gasped as she jabbed a finger at him. “What’s with the new hair?!” Kirishima laughed and crossed his arms.

“You should talk! You’re pink!”

“So everything is ok?” Kendo asked Shiozaki. “What about Shigaraki and those other guys?”

“Some of the others are watching them!” Iida announced. “That said, we should probably go back to check on them, and also take inventory of any injuries. I think Aoyama has some stomach pain, and Kaminari is still a little dazed, and we should also do a full patrol of the manor to see-” He started to ramble off on a long list of plans, to which Kendo just gave a strained smile and nodded along.

“Iida’s right,” Shiozaki pressed her fist to her chin, thinking hard. “So much just happened, we’ll have to sort it out-”

“Wait,” Shouji scanned over the people gathered around him. “What about Tokoyami? Is he still…?”

 

000

 

“Ha...” Shigaraki tugged his gloves back on, grimacing as he looked out over the area. “What a mess.” He growled and stalked off toward the rooftop door. Given the situation, it would be best to find Kurogiri and get the Hell out of here-

The door snapped off its hinges and a mass of darkness slammed into him. He hit the stone of the roof, pinned down by a massive shadowy claw.

That was definitely not Kurogiri. His first thought was to slam his hand against whatever was holding him down, to dissolve it into nothing. His gloves made no effect, however, and a growling, distorted voice spoke up from above him.

“Yer in trouble now, buddy.”

 

000

 

“Oh!” Shiozaki’s head jerked up in realization. “Shigaraki! We left him alone on the roof!” Shouji’s eyes went wide, but before he could answer an enraged shriek from above made them all look up.

“PUT ME DOWN YOU FREAKISH BIRD!”

“Hey Shouji!” Dark Shadow called down to them, holding Shigaraki over the roof with one hand. “Should I drop him??”

“Don’t drop him!” Shouji hastily shouted back. Shiozaki stifled a giggle, feeling both guilty for laughing and not guilty at all. Tokoyami’s head, still that of a bird, appeared over the side of the roof.

“What chaos is this?” He muttered, “Shouji, are you all alright?”

“We’re fine!” Shouji called back. “Hang on, we’ll come back up in a second.”

“Take your time,” Tokoyami glanced at Shigaraki screaming as Dark Shadow dangled him over the edge by one leg. “I think we have things handled over here.”

“Can’t I drop him?” Dark Shadow whined and shook Shigaraki a bit. Tokoyami’s eyes narrowed.

“No. You may not.”

“He could drop him,” Shiozaki whispered, “I think I could catch him, and it would give him a scare.”

“Damn Shiozaki,” Tetsutetsu looked at her with a kind of stunned respect. “You got a little harsher, huh?” Shiozaki huffed and crossed her arms.

“He pushed Shouji off the roof!”

“Eh?!” Kirishima whipped around to look at Shouji. “Dude, you alright?!” Shouji could only give an awkward shrug.”

“I guess so? Also, it seems Tokoyami hasn’t changed either, since-”

“Hey!” Dark Shadow called back again from the roof. “How about I throw him? I bet I can get him over the fence!”  Both Shiozaki and Shouji spun around in alarm to shout back.

“No!”

 

000

 

“Is this the last one, Mr. Aizawa?” Shiozaki finished smoothing the burn ointment over Aizawa’s arm, then wrapped it up in a bandage. Aizawa nodded.

“Yeah, what’s the status on the others?”

“Aoyama is feeling better,” Shiozaki packed up the medical supplies as she talked, “Kaminari is sleeping right now. Um, Uraraka has some slight nausea and Hagakure is still invisible, but everyone is getting used to their bodies again.”

“That’s good.” Aizawa ruffled a hand through his hair. It had the same shaggy texture as his rug form, but Shiozaki hadn’t had the nerve to ask if it had always been like that. “And what about you?”

“Hm?” Shiozaki drew her attention away from his hair and back to his face. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve been through a lot today.” Aizawa sat back and flexed his hands, testing the bandages. “And now you and Shouji both are running around helping with everything.” He rubbed at his chin, where a faint stubble was visible. “It’s better to pay attention to your body’s needs, before you end up keeling over and inconveniencing everyone.”

“...Oh!” It took Shiozaki a second to realize he was showing concern for her. She smiled and shook her head. “Thank you, Mr. Aizawa, but I assure you I am quite alright!” Aizawa just gave her a droll look in response, then sighed and shrugged.

“Kids always think they’re invincible,” he muttered. “Sure, whatever, it’s hardly my business.”

“Er, very well then.” Shiozaki got to her feet, “I should go check in with the others.”

“You do that,” Aizawa crossed his arms and closed his eyes. “I’m taking a nap, don’t bother me unless we’re getting invaded again.”

“R-Right!” Shiozaki offered a quick bow before hurrying out. It seemed he was even more intimidating when he wasn’t a rug. No surprise there, she supposed.

“Oh, Shiozaki!” Yaoyorozu caught up to her in the hall. “Have you seen Shouji?” Shiozaki frowned in thought.

“No...I think he was helping to clean up the dining room?”

“He was…” Yaoyorozu pursed her lips and shuffled through the papers she was holding. “But it looks like it’s all been finished. I wanted to report to him about the manor’s status…”

“Have you asked Hagaku-” Shiozaki began, then caught herself. Yaoyorozu gave a sheepish smile.

“Between you and I, I did, but thankfully the area was empty so no one heard me.”

They shared a soft laugh together, and it helped ease the tension in Shiozaki’s shoulders. She smiled and wiped at her eyes. “If I see Shouji,” she said, “I’ll let him know you’re looking for him.”

“Thank you, Shiozaki.” Yaoyorozu nodded. “Also, please don’t push yourself too hard as well.”

“I won’t!” Shiozaki assured her as she went trotting off back down the hall. So, where would Shouji be…?

She wandered down the corridors with no particular destination in mind, until she found herself recognizing her path down the hall. She came to a stop in front of the study that she and Shouji would read in, on occasion. The door was just slightly ajar, and she peeked in.

Shouji was there, his back to her as he stared out the window, watching evening fall outside. One eye peeked out over his shoulder, and he turned as she stepped inside.

“Shiozaki,” he nodded in greeting. “I was just checking through the manor for anything different...and I ended up stopping here.”

“Was something on your mind?” Shiozaki guessed. Shouji hesitated, then turned his head back to the window.

“I was thinking about what’s going to happen now,” he said, “There are...a lot of things I’ll have to do, but right now I’m not sure where to start.” He tilted his head down as his expression turned ponderous. “I’m not sure what I’ll do now.”

“Well,” Shiozaki clasped her hands together with a warm smile, “You are hardly alone in this.

“I know,” Shouji nodded. He kept an extra eye facing Shiozaki as he continued to stare out the window. “I’m thankful for that, for everyone who has been with me this entire time. And...” He hunched his shoulders and rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly bashful. “-for you, of course. You saved my life, and have helped me, and all of us, in countless ways.”

“I was happy for every way that I could help,” Shiozaki answered simply. Both of them were aware of the unsaid things floating in the air. They would certainly have some things to talk about in the future, but that could wait for now.

“Oh,” Shiozaki’s eyes lit up in realization. “Yaoyorozu was looking for you.” Shouji faced her with a look of alarm.

“Was it urgent?”

“Oh no,” Shiozaki waved off his concern, “I think she just wanted to report to you about...” Her words broke off into a yawn. “-Oh my,” she murmured, “Mr. Aizawa must have been onto something.”

“Why don’t you take a rest?” Shouji nodded toward the sofa. “You’ve been working non-stop since right after the fight.”

“So have you,” Shiozaki countered, “I suppose the only fair thing would be if we both took a break, then.”

“Hmm...” Shouji crossed his arms, but his eyes twinkled with amusement. “Just for a bit, then.”

 

000

 

“Shouji?” Iida called out as he and Yaoyorozu walked down the halls. “Shiozaki?? Goodness, where have they gone off to?”

“Midoriya said he saw Shiozaki go off this way…” Yaoyorozu strode forward down the hall, and spotted one door that was open just a crack. She rested her hand on the knob and peeked in.

In the dark of the setting sun, she could just barely make out Shouji and Shiozaki curled up on the couch together, both fast asleep. Shiozaki rested against Shouji’s chest, one hand grasping his shirt, and Shouji’s arms curled around her like a blanket as his head lay only an inch or so from hers.Yaoyorozu gave a faint smile and turned back to Iida. She pressed a finger to her lips as she closed the door.

“We’ll let them rest for now.”