Momo sighs, gazing down the hall. She’d been hoping that the kitchen would be unoccupied so that she could just find some leftovers by the light of her phone and go back to bed. Judging by the soft glow coming from the kitchen, that’s not the case tonight.
Oh well. She straightens her shoulders, redoes her ponytail, and makes sure she looks presentable enough for human interaction. Some nights she misses living at home, where she doesn’t even have to leave her room to get a healthy snack from the minifridge, but that’s neither here nor there, really. She barely has room in her dorm for her bed, let alone a minifridge, so she’s just going to have to make do.
She squints against the bright lights of the kitchen as she enters, socks sliding against the cold floor. It takes a moment for her eyes to adjust-- the only other occupant is Midoriya, who’s cooking something-- she can't see what it is at this angle, but it smells delicious.
“Oh, hey!” Midoriya greets her quietly from his place by the stove. “You’re up late.”
“Yes...I’m afraid I didn’t get enough at dinner, and now the cafeteria is closed.” She opens up the fridge, hit with a sudden wave of longing for home, where the floor isn't so cold and everything in the refrigerator is “fair game” rather than being divided up by sections and sticky notes and passive aggressive reminders for Kirishima to stop stealing Kaminari’s snack food. She's not even sure what to think about the fact that Uraraka has her own Tupperware set, each container marked with the date of origin and wrapped securely in masking tape to prevent theft.
“Oh, all right. Is this because of your quirk? I noticed you seemed pretty tired at the end of training.”
“Yes, but it’s just an issue I’ll have to learn to deal with if I want to become a hero.” There's some fruit, an obscene amount of jelly packets, and a few experimental sweets left by Satou. Momo sighs, and takes a pair of bananas that are only slightly bruised. “I suppose that starts with stocking up on my own food, like Uraraka does.”
“Wait, is that all you’re eating?”
She freezes, halfway through the motion of closing the door. “Well, there's not much else available. The cafeteria opens up again at six for breakfast.”
“Yeah, but…” His brow furrows in concern. “Skipping meals isn't good, especially at this age. Here, I can share with you! I’m making katsudon, and I’m almost done.”
“You don't have to,” Momo replies uncomfortably. “I wouldn't want to make you feel obligated to share.”
“Hey,” he says, uncharacteristically serious. “You're always taking care of the class. It's okay to let someone else take care of you for once.”
“Ah-- well-- thank you,” Momo replies, a little flustered. “I appreciate it a lot.” She replaces the fruit and shuts the door.
“I mean...you’ve been like the dorm mom, and you made the air filter during hay fever season, and you’ve tutored half the class to help them prepare, and you're always willing to help people out. And no one really asks you if you're doing okay, because they assume that you are, and-- I don't know? I just...figured you deserve to have people do nice things for you.”
“That's-- that's very kind of you, Midoriya.” Why is it that her words are failing her now? She's always been an eloquent speaker, but there's something so disarming about his eyes, so sincere and bright. It's hard to find adequate words when confronted with such honesty.
“It’s no problem, really! The recipe uses a lot of weird fractions, and I always end up making too much since it’s kinda hard to make it smaller by using three eighths of an egg, or something. Do you mind getting bowls out for us? I’m done.”
“Not at all.” She finds a mismatched pair of bowls from the cabinet-- plastic again, she’s tired of eating off plastic, but that’s all right. She’s grateful that she even has these opportunities.
It’s fascinating to watch Midoriya build the dish-- she’s always received her food fully prepared, but now she gets to see how katsudon is completed: first rice, then the sautéed onions, then the egg, then the fried pork, then a garnish of scallions. It smells heavenly as well-- perhaps a little simpler than what she’s used to, but it’s a new experience.
Midoriya’s so utterly focused on his task, too. She’s always admired the dedication it took for him to master his quirk, even if he is something of an enigma to her. Just the way his hands move over the steps he’s done thousands of times before, even if they shake slightly or stiffen at times from his injuries. He’s--
“I’m done!” He turns to her, bowls in hand and a bright smile on his face. “Want to sit down and eat?”
The end up sitting side by side at the table, which still bears the scorch marks of an ill-fated fight between Kirishima and Bakugou. She finishes up quickly-- she’s always been a fast eater. Midoriya’s portion is smaller, but he eats slower, so they progress at about the same rate. A small part of her brain notes that it’s perfectly proportioned in that way. That it’s perfect.
“This is incredible, Midoriya,” she says after her last bite. “You’re a very good chef.”
“Aaaaahh, it’s nothing,” he deflects, waving his hands wildly. “I just followed my mom’s recipe! I kind of have it memorized since I make it for myself a lot.”
Huh. It’s sort of like how she has chemical formulas memorized. “If I may ask, what were you doing cooking so late at night?”
“Just...one of those nights, you know?” He shrugs. “Sometimes it happens. I usually try to get up and do something productive before I go back to bed, and the next day I just manage on whatever sleep I get.”
“Nightmares?” Momo guesses. Between all the times their class has been attacked, it's not uncommon for her to come here to find one of her classmates huddled alone in the kitchen, as if the bright lights and warm microwave ramen are enough to keep the memories of villains away.
“Not really, those are different. This is just…” Midoriya sets down the spoon. “Do you ever get this feeling that you're not enough? Like you're constantly chasing this thing that's just out of reach?”
“All the time,” she admits. It does make her feel vulnerable, honestly, but Midoriya's already shared so much, she feels comfortable sharing her feelings in exchange. “I'm...at the top of the class, and I feel like I'm not getting anywhere, really. I’ve been blessed with an amazing quirk and a comfortable life, but it isn't helping much in actual combat. I haven't really experienced much for myself outside of books, and I feel like I’m being left behind a lot.”
“I’m… really sorry, that must suck. And, um….is the class election part of that?”
“A small portion, yes.” It’s surprising that he still remembers that, much less seems upset about it. “Why?”
“When I volunteered to step down because I thought Iida would do a better job than me, I wasn’t even thinking of you, and I didn’t know you but now that I do I’ve felt really bad and I’ve actually wanted to apologize for months and I had no idea it was contributing to this, and--” he pauses to take a breath in the middle. “I’m sorry, that’s what I mean.”
“Midoriya, it’s all right.” She gives him a small smile that she know doesn’t quite reach her eyes, but she’s too tired to fake anything more. “I’m not living in the past. I’d like to move on, I just...don’t know how, that’s all.”
“Oh. I think I understand.” He takes a moment to recollect his thoughts. “I guess...lately I've been feeling like this more, and cooking is sort of a comfort thing for me. My mom taught me how when I was little, and it sort of-- well, it made me feel less useless, you know? So, I don’t know how it is for you, but maybe--? I know for me it’s mostly because my emotions are a mess and-- I’m sorry, I’m rambling about myself and probably not making any sense. What I meant to say is that cooking usually helps me, so, is there anything that helps you when you’re stressed?”
“I’ve-- never had to deal with that much stress before now, so I don’t really know. Sorry. You must think I’m spoiled, growing up so sheltered.”
“That’s not what I think of you at all!” Midoriya protests. “Honestly, I was intimidated when I first saw you. I mean, you're tall and confident and mature, and you're incredibly smart, and you can stay calm in a crisis, and you’re a better strategy analyst than I am, and--” at this point, he's blushing furiously. “I just-- I think you're really amazing, that's all.”
Then the implications of it hit her. So that's why he was blushing. Momo...isn't sure how to feel about this at first. She's been hit on before, but it was mostly limited to catcalls from guys who obviously just saw her for her body. The fact that her quirk requires exposed skin hasn’t made things any better, and she’s mostly resigned herself to the fact that she’s going to be harassed over this.
But Midoriya isn't like that. He’s the kind of person who always notices when other people need help, even if they didn’t ask for it. The kind who doesn't mind staying up late talking about their insecurities. The kind who's not afraid to open up and let her know that she's not alone.
He’s the kind of person she never knew she needed until she met him, and now she realizes she doesn’t want to let him go.
For him, she's willing to give it a try.
“Hey...do you think maybe we could get tea together sometime?” Her hand finds his from across the table, soft fingers curling around his calloused, scarred ones. Midoriya startles, but doesn't pull away. Just looks at down at their hands in wonder.
“A-as friends, or-- a d-date?”
“As a date,” she clarifies. “I mean, we can go as friends if you really want, but…” Now she can feel herself blushing, too. “I’d like it to be a date. You're a pretty amazing person, and I’d like to get to know you better.”
“Someone like you...could actually have feelings for someone like me?”
“Don't sell yourself short, Midoriya.” She makes sure to look him right in the eyes, and almost loses her train of thought because they’re just so...amazing. “You’re incredible, as a hero, and a person. I’m the one who should be asking that, if anyone.”
“But-- no!” he exclaims. “I just-- oh my gosh, we’re not the best at self-esteem, are we.”
“Not really, no.”
“We’ve got a long way to go before we can really see ourselves in that way, huh.” He laughs softly. It’s a nice sound. “Do you want to, um...get there together?”
“I’d love to, Midoriya.”
“You can just call me Izuku if you want! I don’t mind. And since we’re, you know...” his gaze falls to their hands, still intertwined on the table.
“Izuku,” she says, just to try it out. “And you can call me Momo. Or Yaomomo, if you want.”
“All right. Momo.” He leans his head against her shoulder, and sighs. Dang, he’s cute. His green curls brush against her cheek, and she has to resist the urge to pet them.
You know what? He’s her boyfriend now. She’s allowed to touch his hair. She runs her hand over the top, then giggles. She seriously didn’t expect it to be this fluffy.
“I know, my hair’s soft,” Izuku says resignedly, but not without amusement.
“Sorry, I should have asked.”
“No, it’s all right. When I was a kid, my mom’s friends used to ruffle my hair a lot. I actually like it. Do you want to play with my hair?”
“I’d love to.” She plants a kiss on the top of his head, and makes a small rubber band and comb using her quirk.
The next day, both Momo and Mido-- no, Izuku are tired in class. But Momo has a little more confidence in herself than before, now that she's gotten out of her head and set aside some of her assumptions about how people view her.
Maybe it's not much. But it's a start. And if she happens to look over and meet Izuku’s eyes, if they happen to share a secret smile, if she happens to notice he still has a little braid in his fluffy hair, then she knows he feels the same.
And that's all she needed, really.