It all started when he was fourteen years old. All he was back then was a quirkless boy with a big dream, a golden heart, and the determination to achieve his goal. All of his life, he dreamed of becoming a hero like All Might, to help people with a smile and to support them in any way he could. He yearned to become a beacon of hope - a light against the darkness of this world he knew of firsthand. And yet…
“ Can you be a hero without a quirk? ...No, I don’t think so.”
His dream was shot down by practically everyone for most of his life. His childhood friend, his teachers, his classmates, his mother all doubted him… and now, his idol told him to give up, let it go, and find life elsewhere. He wanted him to stop his childish dream and become the useless Deku he was. It hurt… but he knew deep down that it was true; he just didn’t want to accept it. However, he now accepted that his dreams were done. All he could think about on his way home was how Kacchan was right. He was just a quirkless loser - a useless Deku. Maybe he would finally take the advice his childhood friend gave him.
“ Just take a swan dive off the roof and hope you’re born with a quirk on your next life. ”
...But did he have the guts to do it? In hindsight, he couldn't. Not when he cared about his mother so much. Even if she didn’t believe that he could be a hero, she was the only one to support him, to give him hope, and to push him forward past the bad childhood experience he had. He just didn’t want to burden her, not when he was such a disappointment. The proof was right in front of him.
He was quirkless; a scrawny kid with impossible dreams and a disappointment to others. He could recall so many people who were disappointed in him: everyone in school, his mother…and his father. He left his mother because of his quirklessness. The thought itself hurt. He was the reason why his mother was alone, why he never met his father too many times before the age of four, and why he left afterwards.
And to be honest, he actually missed him. Every time he saw a classmate or someone be with their father, his heart sank. He could tell his mom missed him too. Having your husband living abroad and being barely able to talk to him was probably painful, and knowing it was his own fault made it even more difficult to bear it and push it down.
He knew from a young age that something wasn’t quite right with himself. If there wasn’t then why did his father leave? Why did Kacchan hate and bully him so much? He knew now as to why, but it was easy to just push it back down and ignore it for her mom’s sake. But now… now it was different. When he finally reached his apartment complex, he walked up the stairs to his floor and sighed.
He opened the door to his apartment, the smell of katsudon overwhelming his senses. He walked to the living room, setting his backpack down on the couch and made his way to the kitchen. He just wanted to get the day over with; he was tired of everything already.
“Hey Izuku! How was school today?” his mother asked, smiling brightly at him. He smiled back, but it felt fake on his face - a mask to hide his real emotions. He’d better not make her worry now though, at least until he could get the letter done.
“Well, I made katsudon to cheer you up! I know life isn’t the best sometimes, but maybe we could try something new? I do have to start teaching you how to cook after all!” she suggested, going back to serving his favorite meal onto two plates.
“ Something new, huh? ” he thought. Suddenly he gasped, eyes wide with hope. Maybe he couldn’t be a hero, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t make people smile! He knew he was very good at taking notes, if he went by what his mother and what his grades said. All he had to do was change the object of his hopes - from hero work to cooking. He smiled a real smile and helped his mother set the table. From there, things took off.
Six years later, he found himself as the owner of a small cafe. He went to culinary school once he was out of middle school -to both the chagrin and joy of Bakugou- and used his note taking skills to learn and understand ingredients. “ At least something from that time became useful to me, ” he thought.
It all changed from there. He studied, improved on dishes he was taught, and worked on his cooking technique. He gained life-long friends and even got to meet a couple of heroes! But his life wasn’t perfect. After his graduation ceremony, a villain attacked and destroyed part of the town, taking the lives of many. One of the victims was his mother… how he missed her immensely. He liked to think she would be proud of him with where he was in life, but due to his insecurities he was never sure.
He continued his career by working in small restaurants and learning new sides to cooking. Once he had the money, and in the honor of his deceased mother, he created a little cozy coffee shop. Inko’s Cafe. He was quite proud of his little coffee shop. It was the perfect size and in the busier area of Musutafu. Thanks to the great location, he was able to get a lot of Pro Heroes’ autographs and a lot of traffic in and out of the cafe. It also was close to his apartment, so he didn’t have to wake up too early to get things going. He always remembered the day his mother and he cooked together for the first time. He recalled with fondness the sizzle of the oil on the pan, the smells and tastes the food brought, and the happiness his mom showed. It was the first time he truly felt like she was proud, and he was more than willing to give it his all to make her happy again.
Now, he was the main chef of the cafe, with a couple of other employees working with him. With time, almost all of them bonded into a small tight knit group. He could tell their general banter made the shop feel more homey, casual, and accessible to others. But, one thing that made him feel lonely was the constant flow of couples in the shop. Many were laughing together, talking, and enjoying their time, and it made Izuku wish he had someone special, too. But no matter the circumstances, the cafe always had a relatively calm and enjoyable environment which he thoroughly enjoyed, unlike the stressful times he had back in culinary school.
When exams came around back then, all he did was cook constantly, to the point where his kitchen was full of steam, dishes all over the place and the counters looking like a hurricane passed through. But, it was worth it in the end. And now, he could enjoy his years working here, finally being able to have friends and have a clear path in life - one that wasn’t shrouded in doubts. And today seemed like most days: calm, relaxed, and a good general environment.
However, something did catch his eye. It was a relatively young pair -about his age he would say- talking loudly and making hand gestures, and he could tell that it was not going well for them.
“... so it’s all my fault now?!” the male shouted, standing up and glaring daggers at his companion.
“It has been ever since you cheated on me, Netsuo,” the girl retorted. By now, many of the customers were staring at them. Izuku had enough. He approached the couple with a stern look.
“I need you to leave, sir,” Izuku said confidently.
“Why do you want ME to leave, when this bitch-”
“Okay, that’s enough! You here are the one that started this commotion, and as such, you will leave, or I will drag you out myself!”
“Fine then, and by the way,” he looked at the brunette, “We’re done.” With that, he grabbed his bag and walked away, leaving an angry Izuku and his ex behind. The girl sobbed, covering her face with her hands and sitting in her seat.
Making sure that the guy was gone, he checked that the other customers were alright and tried his best to make the environment a little less hostile. Then, he approached the crying girl. As he sat down across from her, careful to avoid her suitcase and bags, he realized he had no plan.
He sat down in front of her, making sure not to sit on her bags and suitcase. “Are you alright?” he asked with a friendly smile on his face.
She looked up, her eyes shining with tears. She bit her lip, looking back down to the table and shaking her head.
“H-hey, if you need to talk or anything, then I’m here to help,” Izuku murmured, rubbing the back of his neck.
“T-Thank you,” she replied.
“What’s your name, if I may ask?”
“O-Ochako U-U-Ururaka” she stuttered, sighing and rubbing her eyes.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Izuku Midoriya. I see you haven’t ordered yet. Do you want something to eat? A drink maybe?” he asked.
“Tea would be good, t-thank you.” Izuku nodded, standing up and walking to the counter, and asked for two cups of tea.He returned and sat across from her, only a table between them.
“U-uhm, c-can I, uhm... t-t-talk to you about this?” Ochako asked, avoiding his gaze and on the verge of tears.
“Yes, of course,” Izuku replied in a soothing tone.
“W-well it started back in high school. Me and him were close to each other since the beginning of the year and our friends teased us about it. Eventually, I started crushing on him, and three weeks later he confessed and asked me out. In the beginning, he was very sweet and caring and a pretty likeable guy, and I felt l-lucky t-that-” she paused, a sob interrupting her. Ochako covered her mouth with her hand, the other resting on the table, tears rolling down her face.
Izuku hesitantly put his hand on top of hers, rubbing his thumb reassuringly. She closed her eyes, blowing air onto her face with her hand. “Take your time, you don’t need to rush it,” Izuku said softly, intertwining their hands together.
“I-I’m sorry. B-But anyway, me and him w-were so close. W-We’d go on dates, we’d kiss and cuddle and have fun together like the teens we were, a-and it was r-r-really fun. T-Then we graduated, moved in together, and started our careers as heroes. I-I did as much work as I could so I c-could help my parents financially, a-and then o-once I was finally a-a-able to, we were happy and all that. Then, the... incident happened.” She stopped, her bottom lip trembling and her emotions so close to breaking all over again. Breathing deeply, she tried her best to relax, wiping away her tears with a napkin.
“D-do you remember an article about a hero being accused of doing... not-so a-appropriate acts in public?” she asked hesitantly. He did remember that. It was a news article from about a year or two ago where two heroes were caught making out near the main plaza in Tokyo. His heart sank, realizing what she was implying. He nodded, again rubbing his thumb over her hand.
“W-well, being naive back then, I thought it was a simple misunderstanding. News outlets seem to love making stories up for the fun of it, and I just thought that it was another one of those cases. But after that, he started changing. Every now and then before graduation he’d have these moments where he would snap at me, and then apologize saying that he ‘cared about me and didn’t mean it and was sorry’.”
But after the news a-article happened, he started being more cold, distant and less emotionally affectionate. He’d normally just do things with me that were... physical. At first, it was subtle: a kiss there, a touch there, and so on. T-then, I started noticing it more often. F-f-finally, I c-came home late from a m-mission, and I c-caught him cheating on me with the same girl that h-he was caught with in the n-news article. T-that was a week ago. Since t-then, we both knew that it was going to end. S-so I called him and told h-him to meet me here, and, well, you know what h-happened,” she stuttered, before drinking her tea and sighing.
“I-I’m so sorry that you had to go through that,” Izuku soberly said, squeezing her hand gently.
“I-It’s fine,” Ochako muttered. “W-well I was never one to own a lot of things at home, so it was easy to move out” she sniffed, biting her lip and looking at the bags and suitcase. “T-the only issue I have now is that I have to look for a place to move to. W-w-when we moved together, h-he was the one to get the apartment since I was s-saving up my money to give to my parents. S-so now I have nowhere to go”
“W-well you can stay at my place if you want to. I have an empty room you can be in while you find an apartment,” Izuku offered without thinking. ‘ Wait a minute… did I just offer a girl to live in my apartment? O-oh no, a girl’s going to be in my apartment. What if she thinks I’m weird? What if I push her away or make her uncomfortable? I’m so scre- ’ His thoughts were interrupted by Ochako.
“S-sure, if you want to. I-I don’t want to intrude on anything,” she replied, relieved she didn’t have to live at her agency.
“Would you like anything to eat? I wouldn’t recommend going without food for too long,” Izuku suggested.
“Well, what would you recommend for me to get?” Ochako asked in a more steady voice, apparently finally feeling better.
“I’ll make it a surprise how about that?” Izuku said, smiling at her.
Ochako smiled back, nodding excitedly. “Cook me your best!” she said, raising her arms high in the air and beaming.
Izuku smiled back, standing up and walking past the double doors towards the kitchen and grabbing the necessary ingredients, slowly preparing the dish. He hummed to himself, holding the ingredients with care and using them efficiently. He always liked to make sure his dishes always had that home-cooked feel to them. He also always followed his mother’s recipes to a tee, even if his lessons in culinary school said otherwise; nothing beats a mother’s touch in cooking, after all.
He served the dish onto two plates, making sure they looked perfect before putting them on a tray and walking back to Ochako’s table. Setting the tray on the table, he put their plates in their respective places and took the tray back to the kitchen. Izuku returned to the table, sitting back across from Ochako.
“I hope you like the dish!” Izuku exclaimed excitedly, waiting for her to try it first. She smiled, holding a piece of pork with her chopsticks and taking a bite.
She grinned and gushed at the flavors before digging in thoroughly, Izuku following soon after. “Wow, this is really good!” Ochako said. “What is it?”
“Katsudon, actually! It’s my favorite dish, so I decided to cook it for you!” He grinned, eating his dish slowly. “It also brings a lot of memories back when I still wanted to be a hero,” he continued, looking down at his plate at the last part.
“Oh, you wanted to be a hero? Why didn’t you?” Ochako asked curiously.
“W-well…” he hesitated, recalling his past rejections from his father, Kacchan and others, not wanting for her to reject him as well. “I-I’m… Quirkless,” he finally replied, avoiding her gaze.
“O-oh, I’m so sorr-”
“I-It’s fine. I accepted it a long time ago, plus I wouldn’t be able to achieve this dream if I was still stuck having fantasies about becoming a hero,” he replied dryly, finishing his plate and sighing.
“Well, we can talk about it if you would like?” she offered softly, not wanting to scare him away. She finished her plate soon after Izuku. He nodded, setting the plates on top of each other and cleaning up the table before coming back. He sat back in his seat, sighing. “Well, it started back when I was four years old…”
“...so wait. You’re telling me that you tried to bake a cake, but it lit on fire?” Ochako asked, laughing and clutching her stomach. Izuku nodded, both of them gasping for air as their cackles were heard all over the cafe. It had closed hours before, and the night light entered through the windows.
“Y-yeah, my friend Satou came over to my place to help me with the recipe, a-and we both decided that we would add something new like a coating to make it seem shiny, right? What we didn’t k-know at the time was that it was flammable. So here I am presenting my cake, and it was near a stove, so it caught on fire. But hey, at least it got me a 100 on the assignment!” he wheezed, clutching his stomach and laughing. He wiped a few tears away, breathing heavily and smiling widely.
“Oh w-wow, I haven’t laughed this hard in forever” she replied, gasping for air and beaming.
“Well what’s your best memory? You know mine now so what’s yours?” Izuku asked curiously. Ochako blushed lightly, looking downward and smiling “Oh well mine isn’t as extreme as yours is but I remember when I was younger that my parents and I used to stargaze together. When they weren’t busy with their projects in the construction company they owned, we would try to spend as much time together as we could. Sometimes we would go out to a park late at night, set up a blanket and stay there for a couple of hours just looking at the sky, trying to find constellations and planets until I fell asleep. When we couldn’t, we would go to the roof of our apartment building and stare up the night sky for 30 minutes before going back inside. Those were some of the moments I can remember, where I felt in peace the most, where I could just be Ochako, a young girl with her parents enjoying time together. No worries about debt, no thoughts about our poor life. We could just enjoy that time together and be the happy family we wanted to be, without any of the stress piling up on us.” she smiled widely, fond memories washing over her. Izuku smiled back, glad to have been able to spend time with her.
Ochako looked at her phone, gasping. “Oh, I just realized it’s really late! We should probably go to your place,” she blushed, grabbing her bags and sliding out of her seat. She stood up and sighed. Izuku nodded, going into the kitchen and grabbing his bag, turning off the lights and making sure everything was tidied up. When he returned to Ochako’s side, he grabbed her luggage with his free hand. “Here, I’ll help you with it,” he said, smiling at her and taking their stuff as they headed outside together.
Izuku set down the luggage on the ground, locking the door of the unlit cafe. He took the luggage in his hands, shrugging his backpack onto his back. Ochako walked beside him, looking up at the night sky. Izuku and Ochako walked together side by side, a comfortable silence setting between them, until they finally arrived at the parking lot where Izuku’s car was. He opened the trunk, putting their stuff inside gently so as to not damage anything.
Closing the lid, he walked to the left side of the car, opening the door for Ochako. She smiled at him, muttering a thanks as she entered the vehicle. She put on her seat belt and sighed sadly, her mind lost in thought. He closed the door for her, going to the driver’s side of the car and entering it. The car ride to his apartment went by quickly, the passenger too lost in her own mind to create conversation and the driver too nervous to talk.
Finally, they arrived at the apartment complex Izuku lived in. He still lived in the old apartment he used to share with his mother as a way to remember her. Izuku popped out of the car, opening the door for Ochako and offering his hand to her. She smiled at the gesture, taking his hand with hers and standing up.
She wondered what life would be like now that she was no longer with Netsuo. Would she be happy? In all honesty, she was happy she didn’t need him anymore. While her relationship with him was nice, she never felt like it was right. She loved him, but she didn’t feel like she belonged with him. Oddly enough, she had actually started to get over him months before without realizing it. What was even more curious were the butterflies in her stomach as she walked with Izuku, the feeling of their hands fitting together perfectly not being lost to her.
Izuku on the other hand was also lost in his own mind. What was that weird feeling in his chest whenever he looked at the girl beside him? How long was this going to go on for? He shook his head, deciding it was better for him to make her feel at home now before deciding those matters. They made their way inside the apartment, both feeling oddly at ease with the situation they were in. While their future was a mystery, they were eager to see where life took them. Now that they had someone to rely on, Izuku and Ochako could finally focus on living past their dreams to something beyond, with the other by their side. And the best part was?
They never stopped holding hands.