Chapter 1: Homecoming
Ochako Uraraka was ecstatic, just like everyone else at the Tokyo International Airport. After all, today was the day that, after three long years, All Might was returning to Japan. She, her friends, and basically every other person in the country that could fit inside the airport were all crammed into every conceivable nook and cranny of the airport as they waited with bated breath for his private jet to land.
All Might had taken a temporary teaching position at a prestigious, but very secretive, private hero academy in the United States, apparently returning the favor to a long time friend of his, the renowned inventor, David Shield. But that’s not all that happened while he was out of the country.
Over two years ago, All Might had engaged a terrible villain in a battle that left him emaciated and forced his retirement, much to the shock and horror of the rest of the world, especially Japan. The American government had to declare a state of emergency from the devastation of their battle alone. The destruction was terrible, but it would have been so much worse if All Might hadn’t given his all to bring down that mysterious villain.
Nobody knew what happened to that villain, but rumors swirled around that he had been extradited to Japan of all places, and was being held under maximum security in Tartarus, but nobody knew for sure. Ochako had barely signed on as a sidekick, she didn’t have any insider information just yet.
Cheers went up around the airport as the PA system announced that All Might’s plane had begun its approach. Ochako giggled as her friends Mina and Tooru were literally bouncing with excitement, which she found infectious enough to join them. The plane hit the tarmac smoothly, slowing down and eventually coming to a steady taxi as it approached its destination.
The plane came to a stop as a great staircase was wheeled out to the door. After a few breathless seconds, the door opened and the tall, blonde form of All Might stepped out into the Tokyo sunshine, waving widely to all the people gathered around.
Ochako had to cover her ears as the cheers crescendoed even further. People were laughing, crying and screaming as perhaps the biggest celebrity in the world descended down the staircase with several men and women in suits, none of which Ochako recognized. The Prime Minister of Japan herself was there to welcome him, shaking his massive, emaciated hand with both of hers as both of them turned around to smile and pose for the swarm of media that had gathered outside.
In the commotion, nobody noticed the freckled man in the beanie and sunglasses exit the plane quietly with the flight crew.
Three years later…
Ochako woke up an hour before her alarm that day, but she wasn’t upset. She was so excited that she couldn’t have slept more if she wanted to. Today was the first day that she was a bonafide, independant pro hero. She had spent a good three years with Gunhead, but she had finally gained enough experience and clout that she could set out on her own. She had finally gotten the keys to her agency yesterday, and was so over the moon about it that she was surprised she had gotten any sleep that night.
She jumped out of her bed and nearly skipped to the kitchen of her small apartment on her way to make herself breakfast, flipping on the television on her way there to watch the morning news.
The top story, of course, was the same as it had been for nearly three years. The exploits of the number one hero, Redacted.
Redacted technically wasn’t his hero name, but that’s what everyone called him. He went by Nimbus, but after nearly three years of people calling him Redacted, he seemed to have given up.
He was called that because, for some reason, nobody knew anything about him, beyond that he was apparently American, judging by his accent in the rare interviews he gave. He wore a heavy green helmet with two antennae on the front that were more than a little reminiscent of All Might; the helmet was identity-concealing, functional, and so durable that he had taken direct hits from major villains with barely a scratch on it. Support companies all across Japan- hell, the world- wanted to get their hands on it to see what exactly it was, but the hero never gave them the chance.
He apparently had some sort of deal with the government that kept his identity secret, and every official document about him listed his name and any other identifiers simply with a large black box that read [REDACTED] in red ink.
Thus, the name was born. The number one hero, with talents and abilities that even surpassed All Might but the secret identity of an underground hero.
The man had come out of nowhere, streaking to the number one spot nearly without contest in only a matter of months. She still giggled slightly as she remembered how absolutely furious Bakugou had been about the man. Bakugou's own rise through the ranks was nearly unprecedented, as the man had claimed the number two spot in less than a year, but then Redacted had streaked past him into an untouchable first place. He was still pissed, and bringing up Redacted was a sure-fire way to start a fight with the ornery number two hero; being firmly in second place hadn't dulled his drive to be the best, but it had dulled his rage a little.
She found herself staring at the news report, watching Redacted smash through a group of five villains in just over a second. She paused and rewound the broadcast, watching it in slow motion. The way the hero used his body and the way his muscles bulged with every motion and the way he had so much power that he could generate typhoon-level winds with just flicks of his fingers…
Ochako was just watching for tips and tricks, of course. To be the best hero she could be, she had to learn everything she could, and who better to learn it from than the top hero himself?
That’s what she told herself, at least.
She shook her head and returned to making her breakfast. Or rather, she did, until she made a depressing realization. “Oh, shoot,” she said aloud, “I forgot to go shoppin’ yesterday.”
However, Ochako was a bright and bubbly person, and something as simple as having no food in her apartment wasn’t about to get her down. Instead, she was struck with a brilliant idea. ‘I need to get to know the neighborhood around my agency anyways, I’m sure there’s a place I can pick up some breakfast on the way!’
She cheerfully slipped on her shoes and coat and headed out into the brisk autumn morning.
The early morning wind sent a slight chill up Ochako’s spine, despite the bright sunrise behind her. She passed several restaurants, but none of them felt right to her. She still had plenty of time before she needed to be at her agency, so she wasn’t in any rush.
After twenty minutes of walking, she came across a quaint, simple shop set just off the main road. ‘Serendipity, huh? This place seems nice…’
The store was built into a row of buildings lining the street. With what she assumed was a small apartment above for the owners to either live in or rent out. There was a small patio out front, the two tables covered for the cold season, while the large glass front proudly declared the shop’s name.
She entered the door, a small bell announcing her arrival to the quiet bakery. Once inside, she couldn’t contain the happy smile that broke across her face. The small, cozy shop was colored with calming, earthy tones and lined with intimate tables and even some comfortable recliners. Just by stepping inside, she felt like she was a bit at home.
“Good morning, miss! Come in, come in, let me warm you up!” A short, portly woman with a motherly smile and green hair appeared behind the counter and ushered her inside. She passed by the counter and took Ochako by the hand, leading her gently to one of the comfy chairs next to the window, giving her a peaceful view of the softly blowing trees outside.
“Can I get you a coffee, dear? How do you take it?” The way she smiled at Ochako disarmed the pro entirely. She could feel the caring energy coming from this woman, whom she could only assume to be the proprietor.
“Oh, uh, just a bit of milk please, thank you.” Ochako was nearly overwhelmed with how hospitable this woman was acting. The chair was so comfy that she felt like she was nearly melting.
The woman hurried off back to the counter and began to brew hurriedly, humming a happy tune to herself. Ochako took a moment to relax as the morning light shone through the glass in front of her. If she wasn’t already so wired, she might have been at risk at falling asleep.
“Izuku, we have a customer!” She heard the woman call into the back.
‘Izuku?’ Ochako thought, turning around as the woman came hurrying back with her coffee.
“Here you are, dear. Can I get you anything else? Have you eaten yet?”
Ochako took the cup graciously. “Thank you, uh-”
The woman blushed slightly. “Oh, how silly of me. Please, just call me Inko. Everyone does.” Her bright smile filled Ochako with warmth more than the warm coffee in front of her.
“Thank you, Inko,” Ochako said with a giggle. “And no, I haven’t eaten. I’ll take whatever you recommend. Nothing too heavy, though.”
Inko nodded and headed back to the counter. Ochako sipped her coffee, appreciating the taste. ‘Much better than the stuff I make in the mornin’, maybe I’ll come back here more often…’
Over the next few minutes, several other customers entered the store, each of them greeted happily by Inko. She smelled the delicious scent of a pastry cooking as she took another sip of her coffee, her eyes closing as she appreciated the smells, sounds, and atmosphere of the small shop.
She opened her eyes as she heard footsteps approaching, her eyes catching on the plate of food moving towards her. She tore her eyes away from the meal to look at the person carrying the plate.
A young man, just around her age, with messy green hair and a freckled face carried the food along with a wide smile that made her mouth turn up as well. His big, green eyes looked at her kindly as he set the food down in front of her. He was pretty cute, all things considered. “Here you go, miss. I hope you enjoy.”
Ochako beamed back at the man. “You must be Izuku- oh, uh, sorry if that’s too personal!” An embarrassed blush filled her cheeks.
The man blushed as well, seemingly growing a little hot as he pulled at his shirt collar. “No, that’s fine. If you’re uncomfortable, you can call me Midoriya, but otherwise, I-Izuku is just fine.”
She nodded her thanks as he stepped away to attend other customers. Ochako’s first bite of eggs caused a fond warmth to spread through her body and the pastry that Izuku had brought nearly caused her to squeal. ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ll definitely be comin’ back. Wow, who knew this was right under my nose?’
Before she could finish her coffee, a great crash shook the whole shop. Her years of training kicked in as she shot up out of her chair and looked out the window. She spotted a cloud of smoke rising several blocks over. Before she could realize what she was doing, she was out the door and stripping her coat away. She clapped her hands together and jumped up over the buildings between her and whatever was causing trouble.
The culprit became very clear very quickly, as a huge villain came into view as she soared over the rooftops. She restored her gravity and landed on top of a nearby building, putting her within 50 feet of the muscle-bound goliath.
He was standing in the middle of the street, at least 20 feet tall, posturing and roaring as a crowd gathered a distance away. He was bulging with muscle under his pink skin, with a strange hood-like growth of muscle over his head. She gasped as she saw a group of three people gripped tightly in one of his arms.
Ochako scanned around but saw no other heroes on site. She rolled up her sleeves.
Combat may not be her specialty, but she could kick ass if she needed to.
And it looked like she needed to.
She removed her gravity again, long years of training allowing her to suppress her nausea with relative ease as she jumped toward the villain at high speed. Ochako clapped her hands together again, her suddenly reappearing weight causing her to land in the middle of the street in front of the villain.
The huge thug’s eyes filled with rage. “Who’re you supposed to be? One step closer and I’ll kill this whole family! You don’t want the blood of these damn yuppies on your hands, now do you, hero?
“Bastard,” Ochako spat under her breath as she dropped into a ready stance.
The villain sneered and picked up a nearby parked car with a single hand, rearing back and hurling it toward the crowd behind her.
“No!” Ochako yelled, quickly removing her weight and kicking off toward the flying vehicle as fast as she could manage. She streaked towards the metal mass as it tumbled towards the scattering onlookers, her hand stretched out in front of her.
With a grunt of effort, she slapped her hand onto the steel right before it hit the ground, quickly negating the weight and sending it gently floating up into the air.
Unfortunately, Ochako couldn’t stop her own momentum quite as easily. She continued in her trajectory at high speed, heading straight for a building on the other side of the street. ‘Oh man, what I wouldn’t give for my boots right now,’ she thought as she braced for impact.
Suddenly, a green blur filled her vision as she felt herself being pulled through the air at incredible speeds. Ochako found herself standing on the other side of the villain, blinking in confusion.
The villain seemed to be equally confused as he stared down at her. “How did…?”
“Never fear, citizens.”
Ochako froze. She knew that voice.
She turned to her left and gasped as the familiar helmet and green suit of Redacted came into view, just a dozen or so feet from her.
The villain didn’t even have time to react before another blur of green knocked him stumbling backward and then, before Ochako knew what was happening, the three civilians were sitting, confused, on the ground at her feet.
“ I am here.”
The villain blinked a few times as he stared at his suddenly empty arms. He looked up at the masked man and roared in fury. “Redacted!”
“That’s not my name!” Redacted yelled in exasperation as, in another blur, he appeared above and behind the villain, his foot raised above his own head.
“ St. Louis Smash! ”
Redacted brought his red and black armored shoe down in an arching roundhouse kick to the back of the villain’s head, flattening him against the pavement before the villain had a chance to react.
Just like that, the fight was over.
The crowd began to cheer as the dust settled. Ochako herself felt weak in the knees, especially when Redacted hopped over the unconscious villain and jogged over to her.
“Uravity!” he yelled with his American accent. “I’m a big fan of yours! You do great work!”
Ochako felt like the world had turned on its head as she fumbled for words. “Y-you think-”
“Yes! You’re opening your agency today, right? That’s great news, I look forward to working with you more in the future!” He seemed more like a fanboy than the number one hero.
“Y-yes, I am, how did you know that?”
He chuckled awkwardly. “Like I said, I’m a big fan. Thank you for getting here so quickly and saving those people.” He pointed at the car that was still floating above them. “You’re a real hero, Uravity. Don’t forget that.”
Ochako felt a small blush creep into cheeks as she smiled dumbly. “Th-thanks.”
The next few minutes passed in a blur as Ochako tried to come to terms with what she had just experienced. Not only was Redacted a super down-to-earth guy, he was kinda awkward, in a cute way, and apparently, he was also a big fan of hers? ‘Maybe I’m still dreamin’?’
After the villain was handed off to the authorities, Redacted gave the crowd a big wave before turning back to Ochako. “Until next time; keep up the good work, Uravity.”
Before she could respond, the man was gone in a green blur. Ochako stared for a few seconds before shaking her head. ‘Oh crap, my food!’
Ochako panted as she jogged back into Serendipity, Inko was standing behind the counter, cleaning something as Ochako caught her breath.
“Oh, there you are. Have you seen Izuku?”
Ochako raised an eyebrow. “Izu- where did he go?”
Inko smiled fondly. “That boy loves heroes. He never misses a chance to meet one of them or watch them fight. He ran out right after you, but I haven’t seen him come back yet.” She sighed as she shook her head. “He probably got caught up fishing for another autograph or something.”
“I don’t think so, Inko,” Ochako responded. “The only pros there were myself and R-Redacted.” She still couldn’t quite believe she had met the man. “He left pretty quick and I made my way back here as fast as I could.”
“Oh, I see,” Inko said quietly. “Well, then I’m sure Izuku will be back soon.”
As if on cue, the man came stumbling back into the store from the back room, panting from running, Ochako assumed. “Sorry Mom, I’m back.”
“There you are, Izuku,” Inko said quickly as she gave her son a quick hug. “Did you have fun?”
“Oh man, it was so cool!” he said excitedly. “You should have seen Uravity go! She saved a bunch of people like it was nothing.”
Ochako blushed under the praise. “W-well, Redacted was the one who-”
“Hey,” Izuku cut her off. “Don’t let anyone else take away from what you’ve done, alright? You did something incredible out there.”
Ochako’s eyes went wide at his firm, reassuring words. “T-thank you, Izuku.” She felt her face growing warmer still.
She stared into his big, green eyes for a few moments, then a few moments longer. She saw him staring back into her eyes, but she couldn’t bring herself to react.
After a few seconds longer than was proper, she broke her stare as she remembered something important. “Oh my gosh, I forgot to pay. I’m so sorry for running out like that, please-”
“No need,” Izuku said firmly. “It’s on the house.”
Ochako couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Oh, I couldn’t. Please, you’ve already been so kind to me.”
Izuku shook his head. “We do just fine. We do this more for the joy of seeing people’s smile than the money. Besides, don’t you have an agency to open up? You wouldn’t want to be late for your first day! You're going to be watching over us, so take it as preemptive thanks.”
Ochako blushed harder as Inko merely looked on happily. Izuku was right, she was cutting it close. “T-thank you again, Izuku. Inko. The food, coffee- everything was wonderful!” She bowed politely as she jogged out the door. ‘Wait, how did he know that? Is he a fan, too?’
Izuku smiled fondly as he turned around and walked into the back room to change his shoes. He was fortunate that the counter kept Uravity from seeing his bright red shoes before he had time to trade them for the black pair he wore while he was working in the shop.
He put the shoes in the trunk with the rest of his hero gear, continuing to smile as he closed the lid. ‘I really am looking forward to working with her more in the future.’
Chapter 2: The First Day
Izuku welcomes his new neighbor.
Izuku finished strapping on his heavy, steel-soled, double-action boots and stood up as his mother held out his helmet with a kind smile. “Going on patrol, honey?”
Izuku nodded. “I want to touch base with Uravity, too. What kind of neighbor would I be if I didn't welcome the new hero on my block?”
“Oh, I have an idea!” Inko said happily. “Wait just a moment!” She hurried off as Izuku put on and secured his helmet.
The visor in front of his face sprang to life, filling with a diagnostics and cursory scans. A digital voice played in his ear. “Good afternoon, Nimbus.”
‘At least someone calls me the right name,’ Izuku thought sarcastically as his mother returned.
She held up a small bag filled with pastries. “Take these as an agency-warming gift!”
Izuku paused for a moment before taking the package. “Thanks, Mom. I'll be back soon.”
Inko wrapped her arms around her son. “Be safe, Izuku. You make me so proud.”
Izuku returned the hug. “I will, love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Izuku nodded before turning to the door out of the back of the shop. The monitoring system indicated that there was nobody in the alleyway, giving him the green light. “Blending: on.” The helmet whirred to life, along with small hidden devices along his suit. In seconds, he was covered in a simple, but convincing hologram of a man in a simple jacket. ‘Melissa really outdid herself with this one. It blows me away every time.’
He stepped out into the shadows behind Serendipity and began to weave between the buildings. He walked a good half mile from the store before he looked around, checked his scanners, and jumped up to the rooftops as he deactivated the holograms.
He gazed out over Tokyo and felt One For All flowing through his body. He jumped, soaring over the buildings as he felt himself being pulled into his memories. He landed on another roof and sighed, feeling the warm sun on his body.
‘How did I get here?’
Izuku had no way of knowing that his life would be changed forever when he had latched onto All Might's leg after he was saved from that sludge monster. He had no ulterior motives for running out as Bakugou was being suffocated and attempting to save him. But regardless, that day was the beginning of the rest of his life.
All Might's training was both a dream come true and a nightmare at the same time. The amount of pain and torment his body was put through was nearly unbearable, but Izuku pushed through. For the most part.
One day, while cleaning up the beach, Izuku felt a little more curious than normal. “All Might, do you have a family?”
Toshinori looked down at the boy with a sad expression. “No, I don't. Not really. I've distanced myself from all of my relatives, for their safety. Being the number one paints a target on your back, as well as your family. That's the same reason I've never been in a relationship.”
Izuku felt shamed for bringing it up. “Oh, I'm sorry, All Might, I didn't mean-”
“Hey, no sweat, kid,” Toshinori said, trying to find a smile, “it's something you'll have to deal with too, once I give you my power.”
Izuku looked down as he considered what the man had said. ‘My mom…’
And in that moment, Izuku asked a question that would change the path of his entire life.
Izuku looked up to the hero. “But what if nobody knew who I was?”
All Might raised an eyebrow. “Young Midoriya, how do plan on doing that?” He chuckled lightly.
Izuku's mind went to work. “I couldn't be an underground hero, not if I want to be like you, but I could keep my identity a secret!”
All Might couldn't help but be intrigued. “If you wanted to be hidden, you would need to be careful. I've had to work hard to keep my name from the public. It might be harder for you.”
“I could wear a mask, like those heroes in those old American superhero comics!”
“What's it?” Toshinori didn't know whether to be worried or curious.
“I could go to a hero school in America! They have those private academies that keep everyone's names a secret!” Izuku's hero nerd knowledge was finally being useful. “I could go to school in America and then come back here to be a hero! Then I wouldn't have to leave my mom…” Izuku looked down. “We only have each other, All Might. I don't think I could do that to her… I don't think I could do that to myself .”
All Might was moved by his passion and his plight. He kneeled down next to the boy. “This wouldn't be easy.”
Izuku looked All Might in the eyes. “If you help me, I know I could do it… in fact, I couldn't do it without you.”
Toshinori felt his heart clench a little. “Are you sure, young man?”
Izuku nodded. “If it keeps my mom safe, anything.”
All Might stood up and proudly buffed up into his hero form. “That heroic passion just makes me more confident that I've chosen my successor well! Young Midoriya, I will help you.”
“R-really?!” Izuku nearly tripped and fell back onto the sand.
All Might nodded and gave a thumbs up. “I have some friends in America that I can call favors in from.”
Izuku came to another realization. “My mom wouldn't believe me. She wouldn't let me go…” His hands were shaking from his nerves. “Not unless I tell her the truth.”
Toshinori considered his words. He let his hero form fall away as he flopped down to take a seat on a nearby washing machine that had washed ashore. “Sharing the secret of One For All is dangerous, young man. This decision can not be made lightly.”
“If I can’t trust my mom, who can I trust?” Izuku argued. “I’ll go to America, become a hero, then come back to Japan. That way, I can provide for my mom and give her an easy life, all while being a hero and saving lives. Nobody will know who I am, so she won’t be in danger!”
All Might smiled. “Sounds like you have a solid plan.” He stood up off the sand and pointed at a pile of trash. “But you’re not getting into any hero school if you slack off! Let’s get back to it!”
Ochako slumped back into her chair, spinning it around as she looked around her new office. ‘An office. I have an office …’
Today had been exhausting, to say the least. That’s not to say it was bad, quite the contrary, in fact. She had stumbled into a new bakery that she had immediately fallen in love with, met Redacted of all people, and opened up her agency. She had finished her first press conference a few minutes ago, which had been stressful as hell.
‘How does Redacted do it? I would ask Bakugou, but I don’t think I wanna copy his style of doing interviews…’ She half-shuddered and half-chuckled as she recalled his famously-short patience for the press. ‘Maybe I could ask Yaomomo? Or Mina, she’s always so comfortable being in the spotlight. Or maybe even Aoyama, but maybe I don’t want to be that ‘confident’ in front of the camera…’
She sighed and stretched a little. ‘Well, time to go o-’
A knock behind her caused her to leap out of her chair. She whipped around and stared at her window, her fists clenched in front of her.
Kneeling on the windowsill, waving cheerfully at her was Redacted.
Ochako stared for a few seconds. And then a few seconds longer. She kept staring, completely frozen, until Redacted cocked his head to the left in a clear expression of concern.
She shook herself out of her bewilderment and hurried over to unlock the window. As she opened it, Redacted hopped inside. He rose up to his full height, standing several inches taller than her.
She stared at him again, finding her tongue completely inert.
“Hello again, Uravity,” the American said cheerfully. “I watched your press conference. Much better than the first one I ever gave! You’ve got a real knack for this hero stuff, don’t you?”
Ochako’s brain short-circuited a bit. “I-I-I-I-”
Redacted rubbed the back of his helmet. “Uh, sorry, are you okay?”
She shook her head, attempting to reground herself. ‘Alright, Ochako, the number one hero just paid a personal visit to your office, which you have now, and gave you a compliment. Keep your eyes off his chest and arms and own this. Be confident.’
She took a deep breath. Halfway through, whatever thought she had died and something else came out of her mouth. “Can I have your autograph?”
‘I hate you, me.’
Ochako’s cheeks began to turn red as she tried to formulate an apology. However, before she could, Redacted had reached around to a pouch on his hip and produced a small notebook. “Only if I can have your’s, too!”
Ochako’s attempts to ground herself were thrown out the window. Her face turned absolutely scarlet as she clutched at her face. “W-what?! W-why would y-you want-”
Redacted was, curiously, similarly flustered. “Y-you’re Uravity , h-how could I not want an autograph!”
He held out the notebook and a pen. “ Please? ”
She took a few steadying breaths, fanning herself slightly. ‘Wow, way to freak out like a schoolgirl, Ochako. You’re really puttin’ on a respectable show for him.’ She forced a smile and took the notebook. “O-okay.”
She scribbled her signature down, the practiced ‘Uravity’ only showing a couple signs of her shaking hands. Reaching into her desk, she pulled out a notebook of her own. It was brand new and as such, she had to tear the plastic sealing off it. She handed both notebooks back to the other pro.
As he eagerly took them, she noted that his hands were shaking slightly too. He stared straight at her autograph and she could almost hear the smile growing on his face behind his mask. “Oh man, so cool… ”
Ochako couldn’t help but be flattered.
He tucked his notebook away and opened her book to the first page. He was about to touch pen to paper when he stopped suddenly and turned his visor up to look at her. “Which…?”
He quickly scribbled down his signature, a large ‘NIMBUS’ that dominated the top quarter of the page, followed by a stylized ‘[REDACTED]’ underneath. The man handed her the notebook back as he stashed his pen back into his belt. “I still can’t get over people wanting my autograph…”
Ochako raised an eyebrow. “What? You’re the number one hero, why is that surprising?”
He whipped his head back around to her. “Did I say that out loud? Oops.” He rubbed the back of his helmet again as he laughed awkwardly.
‘Oh no, he’s adorable.’
Suddenly the hero stiffened up slightly and snapped his fingers. “I almost forgot!” He hopped back into the window and jumped straight up, almost faster than she could follow. Just as quickly, he was stepping back into the room holding a small paper bag.
The freshly-familiar smell of Serendipity filled the room as Ochako felt her mouth begin to water. She was suddenly acutely aware that she had missed lunch. Redacted held out the bag to her. “An office-warming gift for you.”
Ochako took the bag, a little greedily, but she was hungry. “You know about this place?”
“What, Serendipity? Sure do. I go there every once in a while,” Redacted explained.
“I just went there for the first time today,” Ochako said as she pulled a chocolate pastry out. “It’s super yummy!”
“Tha- I mean, I’m glad I chose well, then,” he laughed a little. “But I didn’t just come to say hello.”
Ochako looked up at him, her mouth full of pastry. Not wanting to be impolite, she cocked her head to the side in confusion.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go on patrol with me? I know the area pretty well, and I can show you the big trouble spots. I tell you what, I’m so glad there’s another hero moving into the area, especially one as capable as you.”
Her mouth began to fall open, but she quickly covered it with her hand and swallowed her food. “Y-you want to go on patrol with me?”
He nodded. “I-if that’s okay with you, of course. I didn’t mean to assume.”
“I’d love to!” she blurted out before she could stop herself.
He paused for a few moments. For a man in an enclosed helmet, he was surprisingly emotive. She could tell he was a little stunned. “G-great! Here, I’ll let you eat in peace, I’ll wait for you on the roof.”
“Oh, okay,” Ochako said, a little sadly. She watched him hop back into the windowsill then up onto the roof with ease.
She took out another pastry, this one savory and full of delicious meat. ‘Oh good, some protein. Redacted sure is thoughtful. And humble. And nice. And cu-’
Ochako shook her head and took another bite. ‘Professionalism, Ochako. Professionalism.’
After finishing the food and giving her stomach time to settle, she went out to the roof by using the stairs like a normal person. She found Redacted sitting, cross-legged, in the corner of the roof, seemingly concentrating on doing something in that notebook of his. Before she could get a good look of what it was, he noticed her and closed the book.
He hopped up as he stuffed the paper and pen back into his belt and jogged over to her, his eagerness plain to see. “There you are! Ready?”
Ochako gulped and nodded. “S-sure. Where to first?”
Redacted paused for a moment as he glanced out over the city. “I think this way would be best to start with. It’s been a pretty quiet day so far, thankfully. Any day we don’t have to do anything is a good day, you know?”
“That’s how I feel.” Ochako nodded again.
He nodded, then crouched down slightly. Ochako saw faint traces of green lightning hopping along his body, the signature sign of his quirk, or at least, one part of his quirk. Redacted was truly in a league of his own, for more than one reason. Being this close, she could actually feel the energy coming off of him, which sent a shiver up her spine.
“Right, let’s go.” And with that, he jumped to a building across the street. Ochako nodded and followed suit, degravitizing herself to clear the gap with ease.
Over the next ten minutes, the two of them hopped from building to building, keeping eyes and ears out for any disturbances. Redacted was obviously holding himself back to let her keep up, which she appreciated, but felt a little guilty about.
As if he could read her mind, he looked back and reassured her. “Hey, teamwork is important, right? Just because you’re not as fast as me doesn’t mean you’re holding me back. I’m not patrolling with you out of charity, Uravity.”
She felt her face growing a little flush, but she nodded. “Thanks.”
After another ten minutes, Ochako spotted something down on the street that caught her eye. She grabbed onto the edge of the building and pushed herself down towards the ground, landing a few feet in front of the person.
“Kyouka!” she said happily, throwing her arms around her friend.
Kyouka, who was a little surprised with Ochako’s sudden appearance, took a few seconds to realize what was going on, but then returned the hug. “Hey, girl. Congrats on opening your agency. You out patrolling alone? No sidekicks?” The women split apart as both of them smiled.
Ochako smiled sheepishly. “W-well, not exactly…”
With a stunning sense of dramatic timing, Redacted suddenly appeared next to them in a green blur. “Earphone Jack! Oh man, can I have your autograph?” He held up his hands up in front of him, balled into fists in his excitement.
Kyouka blinked a few times, clearly having trouble processing what had just happened. She looked to Ochako, then back to Redacted, then back to Ochako again, seemingly asking for an explanation.
“Um,” Ochako began, “Kyouka, meet Redacted. Redacted, Earphone Jack.”
“I love your new album!” Redacted almost shouted with excitement. “I listen to it all the time when I’m fighting! It gets me so amped up!”
“Uh, wow…” Kyouka was still stunned.
“Here, see?” He stood up a little straighter. “Speakers: on.”
Suddenly, music started playing, coming from his helmet. Sure enough, Kyouka’s gorgeous voice rang through for a few seconds before Redacted followed with a “Speakers: off.”
“So it turns out…” Kyouka looked to Ochako nervously, “that the number one hero is a fanboy?”
Redacted laughed nervously. “I love heroes; always have, always will. So about that autograph?” He whipped out his notebook and pen again, holding them out to Kyouka.
The Hearing Hero took them with a small amount of hesitation and began to flip through the pages. Ochako saw signatures from dozens of different heroes, some big, some small and some she hadn’t ever heard of. Eventually, she got to the first mostly blank page and penned her autograph right underneath Ochako’s.
Redacted took the notebook and pen back with nearly the same level of excitement that he had after Ochako’s autograph. “Two of my favorite heroes in one day… awesome…”
“Um, wow, really?” Kyouka raised an eyebrow.
He placed a hand on his helmet, leaning into his palm. “I said that out loud again, huh? Dang it.” He sighed, then shrugged. “Anyway, do you-”
Redacted suddenly tensed up and looked away slightly, as if he was listening to something. He turned back to the women after a few moments, his energy completely different. No longer was he the awkward, eager fanboy, but undoubtedly the number one hero.
“Earphone Jack, Uravity, there’s a bank robbery in progress a few blocks over. Will you join me?” His tone was serious and level. Ochako felt slightly intimidated by the intensity radiating off of him as his shoulders squared and lightning began to spark from him. She was emboldened that he was on her side.
“Of course,” Ochako responded.
“I’m in,” Kyouka added.
“Thank you,” he took a step towards them. “Please forgive me, but we have no time to lose.”
He reached one arm around each of their waists, lifting them off the ground with seemingly no effort. Ochako felt the energy radiating off of him begin to grow rapidly and then before she knew it, the three of them were carried off at unreal speeds, suddenly appearing in front of a bank.
His arm unraveled instantly from her waist as she was placed back on the ground. She wasted no time observing the situation.
It looked like the police hadn’t arrived yet. Hopefully that meant that the crime was just getting started, so they had a better chance at stopping it.
Redacted turned to Kyouka. “Earphone Jack,” he said simply.
His intent was apparently clear, as she nodded and stuck her jacks into the street. She closed her eyes and listened for about ten seconds before turning back up to the other two heroes. “Five thugs. Two out front, two working on the vault, one holding hostages. 6 hostages in total. The one on the hostages has a gun.”
Ochako felt her gut twist. “Hostages… dammit.”
Redacted put a hand to his chin and began to speak. What he was saying, she couldn’t tell. He was muttering, so fast and low that she could only catch about every fifth word.
“Um, Redacted?” she tried, but he ignored her completely.
“Sounds like he’s planning something,” Kyouka said softly. Ochako trusted her hearing.
After a good thirty seconds, he suddenly stopped talking. He turned to the women. “I have a plan. Can I ask that both of you put your trust in me? I need your help.”
Kyouka and Ochako both nodded firmly.
Izuku jumped high and slammed down in front of the bank, causing a large shockwave that kicked up dust and rattled windows. He stood up slowly, lightning crackling all around him. He glared forward as wind and dust swirled around, creating an intimidating display.
One of the two criminals on lookout took a hesitant step backwards. “Oh shit, it’s Redacted!”
“Voice Distortion: on.”
“C̮̗͂̀ọ̄̄͟m͙̫͌̚e̹̓ ͔͈̇̏q̲̍uie̟͑ẗ͓́lý̡̥͛,” Izuku said coldly, his voice warped and laced with frequencies on either edge of human hearing in an effort to unnerve the thugs.
The other thug was braver (stupider) and stood his ground. “Hey, stay back, hero . One step closer and we’ll start killing hostages! You’re fast, but are you faster than a bullet?” He gestured to the villain inside with a pistol pressed to the head of what looked like a bank teller.
Izuku stood still. As long as he was keeping their attention, he was doing his job.
“Y͔͞o̪̙̽͐u͈͕̅͒’re͎̓ ̡͖̓̌m̜̔̎͢ą̒ki̕͟ng ͈͙̍͞me̝̝̿̋ ̩͒å͚̽͜ṉ̄g̟̿ry̜͓͌̎.” Black flecks of energy danced at his fingertips.
Now both were starting to have their doubts.
Elsewhere, Ochako had floated herself up to a second story window and was creeping through a hallway. She pressed the communicator in her ear twice, sending a tone to Kyouka and Izuku, informing them that she was in position.
Kyouka stabbed her jacks into the concrete wall on the side of the building. She sent a single pulse through the building, making sure her bearings were right.
The villains began to look around uneasily at the apparent nothing that was happening. “H-hey, we said no funny business.”
Izuku held his hands up, blank energy continuing to swirl and crackle around them. “I͔͆’̡m͔̉ ̳͑ṅ̯͎̈́ö̝t̛̘ ̨̾d̪̐oi̟͠ņ͡g̰͑ ̯̈̋͟ä̩͠ͅn̯͕̿͝yṫ͕̰͌h̭̗̍͠in͍̈g͍̻̔͞.̤͈͐̎ ̩̼̓͘A̞͘r̹͊e͍ ͙̄ỵ̟̿͒ọ̧̕͝u͇̦͆̆ ̟̝̉s̻̃e̘̬̊̂e̬͍͆̍i̖̯̿͗n͉̂g̬̺͋̍ t̢̝̓͂hi̻̓͟͠ṉ̡͛̀gs̺̒?̓”
Ochako peeked out of the stairwell behind the villains. She had a straight shot at the thug with a gun and beeped her communicator three times.
At that moment, Kyouka shoved everything through.
The entire bank shook with enough force to crack windows and send desks tumbling to the floor. In the confusion, Ochako removed her weight and kicked off from the wall behind her as hard as she could.
She streaked like a bullet towards the armed villain, lowering her shoulder and hitting him square in the back and sending him spiraling through the air.
Izuku held his hands out as black tendrils of energy shot forth, quickly wrapping up the two villains out front. With the gun out of play, he leaped into action. A green blur shot through the front doors of the bank and in less than a second, all five villains were piled in the middle of the floor, constricted by his Black Whip.
Ochako retrieved the firearm and ejected both the magazine and the chambered round safely as Kyouka came jogging inside.
“Did we win?” the Hearing Hero asked.
“We did,” Izuku answered in his fake accent. “I have to say, you two are even cooler in person. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
At this moment, a squadron of police cars pulled up in front of the building and the heroes got to work with the necessary proceedings to exchange the criminals and secure the crime scene.
Twenty minutes later, the three heroes, finished in their task, were gathered outside the building. Izuku, who had just finished giving autographs to the crowd that had formed on the perimeter, raised his arms wide. “Again, you two were great. I’m looking forward to working with you more in the future.”
Kyouka smirked. “You know, this isn’t how I envisioned you’d be. I thought you’d be all cool and stoic, maybe a little bit of a bad boy.”
Izuku raised an eyebrow that the women couldn’t see. “Uh… sorry?”
“Nah,” she waved her hand dismissively, “don’t be. I think I like this better. You’re a good guy, Redacted.”
Izuku laughed, a little embarrassed. “Well, t-thanks. That means a lot.”
Ochako giggled a bit as well. “Thanks again for the pastries. I look forward to working with you more, too. I have a lot to learn from you.”
Izuku was glad that nobody could see him blush behind his helmet. “Anyways, I best be off. There’s a lot of ground I need to cover today. Good luck to both of you, and stay safe!” He charged up One For All in his legs and with a small push, kicked himself into the air and away.
Ochako and Kyouka watched him disappear over the rooftops together before turning to each other. “Wanna patrol together?” Kyouka asked.
Ochako nodded cheerfully.
As the two heroes walked away, Ochako finally took the time to remember how his arm had felt wrapped around her waist. “So unbelievably strong and powerful, but his touch was nothing but gentle and kind.”
She had no idea that, a half mile away, Izuku was reminiscing about how she had felt as well.
See you next time!
Leave a comment because it makes me feel all fuzzy inside :)
Chapter 3: Secrets and Pastries
Thanks to my betas!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A couple days later, Ochako found herself entering Serendipity once again, this time with someone at her side. Tsuyu was one of her best friends and Ochako absolutely insisted on taking her out for breakfast and what better spot than Ochako's new favorite?
It was just after seven in the morning when the two of them entered the front door of the Serendipity, the two women sighing slightly as the chill of the autumn air was immediately dispelled by the warm atmosphere within. The two women exchanged happy smiles as they approached the counter.
Standing behind the counter, brewing a coffee for another customer, was not Inko, nor Izuku, but another man. He was taller, probably close to about six feet tall, had messy black hair flecked with gray and a smattering of freckles on his face. He was older, probably in his fifties, a few years older than Inko was.
He finished brewing the coffee and passed it to a businessman waiting patiently in front of the women, who thanked the man and left the store with his drink. The older man turned a kind smile on the two of them. “Good morning! What can I do for you?”
Before either of them could answer, Inko appeared from the back. Her face broke into a wide, motherly smile as she saw the two young heroes. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you again, Uravity!”
Ochako smiled back and blushed a little in embarrassment. “Oh, I never told you my name, did I? Sorry about that. I’m Ochako Uraraka, and this is Tsuyu Asui.” She gestured to her friend who smiled and waved back.
“No need to apologize!” Inko quickly assured them as she turned to Tsuyu. “Please, call me Inko, Asui. This is Hisashi, my husband.”
Tsuyu nodded and tilted her head slightly as her smile widened. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
After the two of them ordered and began to go sit down, Ochako turned back around to the happy couple. “Where’s Izuku?”
Hisashi chuckled softly. “He’ll be down soon, I’d imagine. He stayed up too late last night watching Nimbus on the television.”
Ochako understood. A cursory glance at the hero news this morning told her that Redacted was doing hero work pretty late last night. Something else caught her attention however. “Huh, you don’t meet a lot of people who call him that. N-not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just usually hear people call him Redacted.”
The older man looked straight at her in the way a father only could. “It’s a sign of respect to call people what they want to be called. Nimbus has done more than enough to earn my respect. I think he’s gotten used to the nickname, but I’m sure he’d appreciate it if you called him Nimbus.”
Ochako’s eyes widened. “You’re right, sir. I was just so… starstruck when I first met him.” She felt her face glow a little red. “I felt like such a fangirl. I’ll be sure to call him Nimbus the next time I see him- er, if I see him again.”
Hisashi chuckled again. “I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. I saw you two working together the other day. You make a good team.”
Ochako felt her heart leap a little bit “Y-you think so? Thank you, sir!”
“Please, call me Hisashi.”
“Yes, si- Hisashi.” She smiled as she caught herself. The man smiled back before turning away to make their coffee. She walked over to the spot Tsuyu had picked out, which just happened to be in front of the television. The station was showing the scarce footage from Red- Nimbus’ heroics last night.
They watched in silence for a few minutes together while their coffee brewed. Tsuyu took a tentative sip and gave an approving smile before turning back to the television. Nimbus was chasing a villain with some sort of speed quirk who had been caught breaking into apartments nearby.
The footage was shaky at best as the news helicopter desperately tried to keep up with the two superhumanly fast men. She could tell that Nimbus wasn’t using his full speed nor power as he pursued, but she couldn’t figure out why. If he wanted to, he could have been on the villain in an instant and ended the chase, but he was holding back. She saw him dash forward with a burst of speed and reach his hand out and barely touch the hem of the criminal’s clothes before tripping and crashing into the ground as the thug sped off.
Ochako couldn’t believe it. Nimbus had never failed to capture a criminal; what was going on?
Her bewilderment only grew as Nimbus stood up and dusted himself off. Instead of pursuing, he just stood there. Hopping up and down and rocking back and forth on his feet. At one point, he turned up and waved at the camera. It almost seemed like he was waiting on some-
Ochako’s confusion gave way to an impressed smile.
Nimbus gave the camera a small salute before suddenly dashing off faster than the camera could see.
That was the speed she knew.
The news footage cut back to a studio where a smirking, smiling broadcaster explained that they had caught up to “Redacted” a few minutes later. Beneath the helicopter’s spotlight, the hero was standing next to a shipping container, holding the massive door in one hand and the villain in the other. He set the door down and reached over to the thug, the camera zooming in to show the man pulling a small tracking device that he had planted.
The news reporter told them that the hero had tricked the villain into leading him back to his stash, bringing an end to the villain’s month-long crime spree and recovering an estimated 30 million yen in stolen goods.
Ochako had to resist cheering out loud right there in the store.
Izuku’s eyes opened slowly as the morning sun broke through the window of room above Serendipity. He was so tired last night that he hadn’t even bothered to put away his hero gear; he woke up cuddling with his helmet like it was a teddy bear.
He smiled sadly. Being the top hero was rewarding in many senses of the word, but the nature of his secret identity meant that yeah, maybe he was a little lonely. It was something he was willing to endure, of course. His other options were not telling his parents or endangering them, neither of which were particularly appealing.
He heard the voice of his father echoing from downstairs. After years of not hearing it, it was still a welcome sound. In the bright sunlight of the morning, Izuku found himself staring out the window and reminiscing again.
“What do you plan on telling her?” Toshinori asked as the two of them approached Izuku’s apartment on a cold December evening. “You could just tell her you have a quirk, instead of explaining One For All.”
“I know,” Izuku responded, “but I think that she would be more willing to be understanding if I told her everything. Especially if I want to leave the country. Knowing that you’ll be there to protect me will put her at ease… I hope.”
Toshinori sighed heavily. “I don’t think I like this, young man. Are you sure?”
“I am.” Izuku spoke with a conviction Toshinori had only heard a few times before.
“Well, my boy, then I’ll stand with you.” Toshinori clapped him on the back as Izuku took a deep breath and reached up to open the door.
“Mom!” he called inside. “I brought a guest. It’s important!”
Inko came scurrying in as fast as she could. “Did you get in trouble, Izuku?” Worry filled her voice as she caught sight of the tall, trench coat-wearing form of Toshinori. “Is this a detective? Oh, sir, what did my baby do?”
“Mom, calm down!” Izuku pleaded. “This isn’t a detective, but we need to talk to you about something important. You might want to sit down. I promise, it's good news- great news. The best news I could ask for.”
Izuku’s reassurances did little to calm his mother, but she acquiesced and sat down on the couch once Izuku and Toshinori had entered the humble apartment. Toshinori sat down opposite her while Izuku pulled up a chair between them. Inko took in a great breath and sighed before looking at her son. “Alright, Izuku. What’s all this about?”
Izuku pulled at his collar a bit. “Well, first of all, introductions. I’m going to ask for you to please not freak out, but I, uh, don’t know if that’s possible. I freaked out when I found out too.”
“Mom, this is All Might.”
“Izuku, is this some sort of practical joke? It’s not very funny.” Inko’s vision snapped between her son and Toshinori.
“Ma’am, I assure you that this is no joke,” Toshinori said firmly. With a grunt, he buffed up into his hero form, suddenly dominating the entire couch by himself.
Predictably, Inko didn’t take it well.
Izuku had already moved to catch her when she began to faint. He propped her up on the couch and began to fan her as she regained her senses. Toshinori had the good sense to shrink back down before she woke up completely.
“Mom? Mom, are you alright?” Izuku said as she held her head.
Inko was shaking. “I-Izuku, what is A-All Might doing in our house?”
“Well, you see,” Izuku said nervously, “he’s been giving me personal training for the past… eight months. That’s the reason I’ve been eating so much more and why I’ve been so exhausted all the time.”
“P-personal training?!” She looked between All Might and Izuku in a panic. “W-why? Oh my, we haven’t paid you for your time, Izuku wh-”
“Mom, please!” Izuku begged. “It’s not like that. He offered to train me after the sludge villain thing last April.”
Inko gasped. She stared at Izuku for a few moments. “So… that’s why you’ve been so much happier since then… oh, baby…” Tears began to leak from her face, which, honestly, Izuku was surprised they had held back this long.
Toshinori spoke calmly and with years of experience. “Make no mistake, ma’am, I am not doing this out of the kindness of my heart. Your son is an amazing young man, and he had promised to do something for me in return. You see, I have chosen him to be my successor as Symbol of Peace.”
Inko fainted again.
Okay, so maybe Toshinori still wasn’t the best with people. It was hard, alright?
He raised his eyebrows in worry. “My boy, I’m sorry, I-”
“No, no, this is normal,” Izuku assured him. “There’s really no way around it. It might be best to just get it out of the way instead of tiptoeing around.”
“If you say so…” Toshinori muttered, unconvinced.
Inko woke up again, a little quicker this time. “W-what are you saying, All Might? Surely you know that Izuku is quirkle- Izuku?! You told him, right?!”
“Yes, he knows!” Izuku explained quickly.
“Ma’am, if you would allow me,” Toshinori began. “Your son is quirkless, yes, but he has demonstrated a heroic spirit that is truly rare. He has earned my respect and my trust over the past eight months and, should he complete the challenge I have set before him, I intend to remedy his quirklessness.”
“W-what? You can do that?”
“I must impress upon you, keeping this secret is of the utmost importance. The only reason I am telling you is that your son wishes for me to do so.” Toshinori steeled himself with a deep breath. “I have the ability to pass my quirk onto someone that I choose. I intend to give my quirk to your son.”
Inko… remained conscious this time. But she did stare.
“I… you… what?” Her voice was almost empty as she sat there, frozen.
“That’s the plan, Mom,” Izuku said softly. “If I prove myself worthy, All Might will give me his quirk and I’ll begin my journey to be a hero! It’s my dream come true; I couldn’t ask for anything more!”
“I need a minute,” she pleaded.
The other two nodded as Inko came to terms with the world-shattering revelations being dropped on her. It took her nearly five minutes for her to compose herself.
She slowly turned her head towards her son. “I-Izuku, are you being serious?”
He nodded firmly. “I… I have one more thing to tell you.”
She held her cheeks. “I don’t know if my heart can take it, but alright, go ahead.”
“I want to protect you, Mom.” Izuku spoke with the conviction that he had previously. “Taking this quirk, this burden… it will put you in danger. But I have a plan. I want to go to a private academy in America and train in secret. Then I’ll return here under a secret identity. That way, I can be a hero and keep you out of harm's way.”
“And before you ask,” Toshinori added, “you need not worry about the finances. He will be taken care of.”
She stared at Izuku for what felt like an hour before she looked down. She sat there in deep thought for a while, her eyes moving back and forth over the carpet. After nearly ten minutes of silence, she spoke.
“Is this what you really want, Izuku?” she asked finally.
“It is.” Izuku was tearing up too.
“Hisashi,” she said simply.
“All Might, my husband Hisashi lives in America. He’s a businessman, working abroad to pay for us to live here.” She looked the number one hero straight in the eyes. “He loves Izuku as much as I do, but he makes sacrifices so we can be comfortable. If Izuku is going to America for school, I demand that Hisashi know about this.”
Toshinori nodded immediately. “Understood. In fact, if you wish, I can easily afford to relocate you as well. You can live with your husband near to your son until you return to Japan, should you choose to do so.”
Inko gasped. “But...you’re already doing so much for Izuku! I couldn’t ask you to do that!”
The hero looked very seriously at Inko. “Your son is doing much more for me, I assure you.”
Ochako was a little disappointed she didn’t get to see Izuku, but she understood the need for a good night’s sleep. Tsuyu and her left Serendipity in opposite directions, exchanging a friendly hug before the greenette literally hopped off in the direction of the agency she worked for. Ochako watched her leave with a smile. ‘Once I get settled in, she’s the first person I’m gonna ask to join me at my agency.’
Speaking of her agency, she didn’t want to be late, so she headed off.
She was nearly two blocks into her journey when she heard someone running up behind her. Judging from the footfalls, the person was a fully grown adult, and not a light one at that. Whoever it was knew how to run, too; they weren’t moving flat-footed or clumsily. Her training triggered in the back of her mind, preparing her around to intercept whoever was moving so quickly toward her.
She whipped around, dropping down slightly as she brought her hands up in a ready position. To her surprise, skidding to a sudden, wide-eyed stop a few meters from her was none other than Izuku.
“Ah! I didn’t mean to scare you!” he held up his hands defensively. She noted that he stopped very quickly, almost as if he had expected her reaction.
“You didn’t scare me, silly,” Ochako said with a giggle. “But what’re you doing here?”
Izuku held up a small, brown bag, noticeably not panting after jogging two blocks. “You forgot your pastry!”
She raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t order that.”
“Oh.” Izuku began to blush slightly. “My mom said that you forgot this…are you sure you don’t want it? We can’t take it back; if you don’t eat it, it’s going in the trash. Please?”
‘He’s so earnest…’
Ochako opened her mouth to speak when suddenly she heard Izuku’s stomach growl loudly . She blinked a couple times and then smiled at him. “You could eat it, Izuku. It sounds like you’ve skipped breakfast. I wouldn’t mind.”
“No, no, I couldn’t!” he argued back. “It’s yours, please.” He held out the bag to her.
“Hmm, fine.” She took the bag and then immediately handed it back. “Now it’s my gift to you. Please enjoy.”
He looked absolutely stunned, standing there frozen for a few seconds. “I… Miss Uravity, a-are you sure?”
“Yep! And please, my name is Ochako Uraraka.” She rubbed her head in embarrassment. “I can’t believe I forgot to tell you that when we met.”
He stared at the bag for a few moments before looking away with a much more significant blush than he had previously. “Thank you, but… Uraraka, would you like to split it?” he mumbled.
Her smile grew wider and wider until she had to squint. “I’d love to! Want to walk with me to my agency while we split it? I wouldn’t want to eat alone.”
Ochako screamed inside her mind as she realized what she had just done.
“A-are you sure?” He had turned almost pink.
She followed suit, looking away as her face lit up. “Y-yeah, i-if you want to, of course.”
Izuku gulped and then nodded. In an almost robotic fashion he took out the pastry and carefully split it in half. He quickly judged which one was the larger ‘half’ and handed that one to Ochako, a gesture she pretended not to notice.
Ochako felt like she was walking on clouds as she ate the chocolate pastry, savoring the feeling of warmth that spread throughout her body as she and Izuku walked in silence. The two of them ate cheerfully, smiling the entire time, but never making eye contact.
Both still had a small tinge of pink on their cheeks, and not just the pink that she normally had.
“S-so, Izuku,” Ochako finally broke the silence. “I noticed that Serendipity serves mostly American food, why is that? N-not that there’s anything wrong with that!” She quickly waved her hands. “I was just curious!”
Izuku smiled softly. “I guess it’s because I was such a fan of All Might growing up. I always asked my mom to make me American style breakfasts so I could be more like him. I guess it just stuck.”
Ochako snapped her fingers. “That reminded me! Your mom talked about how you love heroes, and your dad told me you stayed up late last night watching Nimbus.”
“Nimbus?” Izuku grew a small smile. “Weren’t you calling him Redacted the other day?”
“Well, yeah, everyone does, right?” She poked her fingers together. “Your dad gave me some good advice, though. You should call people what they ask to be called.”
Izuku’s smile grew wider for some reason.
“B-but yeah,” she returned to her previous point. “Did you try to be a hero? Oh, uh, sorry if that’s personal!” She found herself apologizing again, something about him just made her so curious. Maybe it was because she knew so little about him.
Or maybe it was those cute freckles.
Izuku’s smile shrunk a little. “It’s fine. Yeah. I did. I wanted nothing more than to be one.”
“It just didn’t work out?” Ochako’s embarrassment faded a little as it didn’t seem like Izuku was too upset. “Was your quirk not suited for heroics?”
‘Why am I asking him all of this?!’
Izuku shifted slightly, avoiding her gaze. “Something like that.”
They walked together for another ten minutes, their conversation much less personal and much more enjoyable. Ochako grew a smile that lasted the whole way there as the two of them spoke. Something about him just made her feel friendly and comfortable. It was probably his experience at the restaurant. It was his job to make people happy, after all.
Eventually they arrived at her agency. “Thanks for walking with me, Izuku. You’re pretty good company!”
“T-thank you, Uraraka.” He seemed uncomfortable with the praise.
A thought struck her as the man waved and began to walk away.
“Hey, actually, Izuku?” The man turned back at her call. “It’s not fair that I call you Izuku. Call me Ochako.”
His eyes went wide before he hid his face behind his hands. “W-wha- no way, I can’t do that, Uravity!”
‘Ugh, he’s gone back to my hero name. He’s too cute.’
“Hey,” she shot back in mock-anger. “Listen to your father, young man! You should call someone what they want to be called!”
Izuku’s blush grew stronger even as his hands fell away slowly. “O-okay.”
“Come on,” she teased, internally screaming the entire time. “I wanna hear you say it so I know you’re not lying!”
“O-O-Ochak-ko.” The poor man was nearly neon.
Her smile widened into a wild grin as she felt a strange leaping sensation in her chest. “There you go! See you later, Izuku!” She waved to him as she entered her agency, ready for the day.
Today was going to be a good day, she could feel it.
See you guys next time!
Leave a comment :)
Running a hero agency was hard work, so it was several more days before Ochako woke up early enough and found time to visit Serendipity again. Unfortunately for her, the restaurant was much too busy that morning for any of the staff to spend much time with her. Izuku, bless his heart, made a special effort to ask her how she was doing and spend some time with her, but there were just too many people there for the pair to have a decent conversation.
She felt a little guilty that she was a little disappointed in that fact, after all, shouldn’t she be happy that the Midoriyas had such a booming business? She knew that Izuku had told her that they ‘do just fine’, but she knew how expensive running a restaurant could be.
Ochako decided to just focus on how good the food and atmosphere was and not to worry that Izuku or Inko or Hisashi were too busy to talk to her. That’s what made a restaurant good, right? The food? Oh, and the atmosphere, of course, but that was still great. Even with every chair and recliner filled, the place still felt homey and cozy.
She finished her food and was getting ready to leave when a thought struck her. She remembered how good she had felt that morning after she had eaten one of those chocolate pastries on her way to the agency. Ochako turned back around and ordered one, smiling as Hisashi gave her the fresh, still-warm treat.
She walked through the streets to her agency, holding the comforting pastry close as she watched the trees changing colors. She took a bite, expecting to feel the sensation of warmth and joy that she had a few days prior, but nothing happened.
Not to say anything was wrong with the pastry, of course, it was still delicious and just as good, if not better, than when she had it last time. But something felt like it was missing. Ochako took a few more bites as she passed by the stores and apartments of the city, trying to figure out what was different.
As she arrived at her agency, she realized what was missing. Or rather, who was missing.
Her eyes went wide and she felt her cheeks heating up slightly. She desperately tried to hide the blush growing on her face as she opened the door and headed up to her office.
About a week later, Izuku was on patrol when he heard reports of a villain attack downtown. That wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, criminals tried things all the time, despite him being in the area. He knew he didn’t have the respect that Toshinori had, but it was still frustrating. Maybe one day his very existence would be a deterrent to crime, but today was apparently not that day.
He landed at the scene of the attack: a devastated street lined with smoking cars. According to the report he had received, the woman had tried to kidnap a prominent businessman, but was foiled in the attempt. Izuku had arrived shortly thereafter and took stock of the situation.
The villain stood at the far end of the street. She wore a black business suit and had her white hair flowed loosely behind her. Circling around her was what looked like a mass of obsidian slime, likely her quirk. In front of her stood a shirtless man with bright red hair, who was interposed between the villain and what she could only assume was the target of her aggression. The older gentleman was currently being supported by a long, pink tongue, extending from the mouth of a green-haired woman.
“Red Riot, Froppy!” he called as he landed. “Good to see you here! Nice job securing the civilian!”
“Wh-” Red Riot turned around confused for a moment before his eyes went wide and a sharp, toothy grin spread across his face. “Holy- Nimbus? Oh man!” He turned back to the villain with confidence. “You here to help me beat this guy?”
‘Nimbus?’ Izuku smiled underneath his mask. “You bet.”
“Alright!” The man pumped his fist. “Listen up, I’ve already tried giving her the beatdown, but see that black goo stuff floating around her? It’s been protecting her from all of my attacks. You wanna take a swing at her?”
Izuku nodded. Out of the corner of his eye he heard Froppy get to work moving other civilians out of the way, giving him space. It was good she was so focused. He ground his feet into the earth, charging One For All through his body. “I’ll give you one last chance to come quietly, villain.”
The woman laughed back. “I’ve been looking forward to testing myself against you for months , Redacted! I think you’ll find me quite untouchable.”
Izuku kicked off, surging towards her at blinding speeds, faster than she could hope to react. He aimed for her unprotected legs, aiming to sweep her off her feet and pin her to the ground. Izuku’s leg flew forward, but suddenly the black sludge rushed forth and blocked his attack, absorbing and returning the blow.
He was flung backwards, streaking back and slamming into a parked car.
Izuku blinked a few times before groaning and pulling himself up. He flexed his leg as he stood back up, feeling soreness streaking through it. He was fortunate that he had pulled back his power for the attack, or his leg might have been broken by that recoil.
The woman cackled. “See? You cannot touch me, you brute.”
Izuku glared under his mask. This wasn’t going to be something he could beat down, he needed a plan, and for that, he needed information. “Call Mother,” he spoke into his helmet.
A small image of a blonde woman appeared in the bottom right of his helmet’s display. She was typing on a keyboard with a bored expression on her face. As the call connected, she jumped a little and spun around to face the camera. “Nimbus, what’s up?”
“Hey Melissa,” Izuku responded. “Got anything on this villain I’m up against?”
“Hmm, let me see.” Melissa Shield, the mind behind his technology, turned around and accessed his helmet’s camera feed. “I’m running a search, it might take a minute.”
“Right, thanks.” He hopped away from the villain, dashing back to Red Riot.
The other hero nodded. “Damn, that looked like it hurt. You alright?”
Izuku nodded. “That’s one hell of a quirk.”
The woman began to slowly walk towards them, a confident sneer on her face as her white hair blew around her head.
Melissa turned back to the camera in Izuku’s helmet. “Alright, got it. Looks like she is ‘Black Cocoon,’ a villain from Japan that made her name here in America. The most recent reports show that the American authorities believe she left the country a few weeks ago, guess they were right.”
“Great, but how do I beat her? I’m gonna break my arms if I try to just beat her down.”
Melissa rolled her eyes. “You wouldn’t want to do that to your mom again, would you? Alright, so her quirk absorbs and redirects energy. It’s been documented blocking bullets, so I don’t think you’ll be able to out maneuver it. The last time she was captured was after a fight with…” she trailed off, mumbling slightly; a bad habit she had picked up from Izuku.
“Alright, got it. Looks like her quirk has more difficulty redirecting energy the harder the object is. Bulldozer beat her last time, just smashing into her enough with his quirk. Unfortunately, you’re only as tough as your bones.”
“Noted. Let’s test that theory; Red Riot is like Bulldozer.” He turned his speaker back on. “Red Riot, can you go take a swing at her? Hard as you can.”
“Like you even had to ask!” He slammed his hardened fists together and ran forward and crashed into the villain. His fists flew forward, each one blocked by the black ooze. Unlike Izuku, he wasn’t flung backwards, but he wasn’t making much progress on her.
Suddenly, the ooze surged forward and smashed into him, sending him streaking back towards Izuku. He shot his Black Whip out and caught him before he crashed into anything, bringing him back to Izuku’s side.
“Well that didn’t work,” Red Riot huffed as he flexed his hands.
Izuku rubbed his chin. “Yeah, but she didn’t hit you as hard as she did me.”
“So I don’t hit hard enough, but she doesn’t…” A look of inspiration crossed Red Riot’s face. He turned to Izuku with a gleam in his eye. “Hey Nimbus, you’re American, right?”
“Yeah,” Izuku lied.
“You ever read old American comics?”
“Yeah,” Izuku said truthfully.
Red Riot hardened himself. “You ever heard of the Fastball Special?”
He couldn’t see it, but Izuku’s eyes went wide and his mouth grew into a huge smile. “Red Riot, you are a beautiful man.”
Ochako’s jaw dropped as she watched the hero news in Serendipity the following morning.
She had watched Nimbus and Eijirou get tossed around like ragdolls with baited breath, but then...
“ Red Riot: Unbreakable! ” Eijirou yelled, hardening his entire body into a rough, spiked bulwark. That was normal, she was used to that. Even after seeing him use it for nearly six years, it was a little unsettling, but it was normal.
No, what caused her to nearly drop her food was what happened next. She wouldn’t- couldn’t have seen it coming.
Eijirou stood behind Nimbus, who held his right arm out behind him as he crackled with more and more green lightning. Her former classmate ran forward, jumping up and landing his foot on the number one hero’s open palm before Nimbus flung his arm forward, yelling a triumphant “ Cooperstown Smash! ” as he literally pitched Eijirou at the villain.
Judging from her expression, Black Cocoon didn’t see it coming either.
Eijirou had slammed into her black sludge with a force she had never seen before. It had resisted only for a moment before the unbreakable hero crashed through, sending the sludge exploding into the air as he slammed the woman to the ground, pinning her arms and legs down as they skidded along the ground. Eijirou wasted no time as he flipped her over and restrained her once they had stopped.
Despite how stressful the previous day had been, Ochako felt a warmth in her heart watching Nimbus fight. If he was on their side, what did they have to worry about? Eijirou was no slouch either, but Ochako couldn’t help but smile as she thought how excited the man must have been to finally meet Nimbus. He was probably just as star-struck as she was, he just didn’t have any shame about it. ‘Manliness’ meant living with no regrets, and Eijirou embraced that ideology fully.
Turns out she was right, as the news showed Eijirou and Tsuyu both staring is disbelief as Nimbus attempted to get them to sign his autograph book. ‘Manly’ tears fell from his face as he signed his name and gave Nimbus a big hug. Tsuyu was ribbiting softly- her version of a chuckle- as she also signed the book while Eijirou refused to let Nimbus go.
The broadcast ended and the weight of her world came back to her. She sighed heavily, standing up to head to work after her breakfast was done. Izuku was standing behind the counter and washing some coffee cups when she caught his eye. He smiled kindly back at her, causing her mood to lift slightly.
She almost began to head for the door when she stopped. ‘Come on, Ochako, remember what Mina always tells you. Take care of yourself, do what makes you happy.’ She turned back to the counter with a smile. “Hey, Izuku, can I get another one of those pastries?”
“Oh, of course, Ur-” He froze as she shot him a frustrated look. “Er, um, I mean Ochako.” She smiled again as he scurried off to grab the treat. He quickly returned to the counter and held it out to her.
Ochako took it and looked at it for a second, working up her courage. “H-hey, Izuku? Would you have time to walk with me again? I’ll split this with you.”
Izuku froze, staring at her for a few moments as his cheeks began to turn a faint red. “A-are you sure?”
Now she was blushing. “I m-mean, if you want to.”
“I-I would love to- I mean, that sounds g-great, but I can’t leave the store-”
Inko appeared from the back room as if on cue. “Izuku, I’m back. Did everything go alright?”
“Yeah, but-” He looked from Inko back to Ochako, who had a slightly pout on her face. “Actually, I was a-about to step out for a moment, is that okay?”
She smiled, almost knowingly so. “Of course. Have fun, dear!”
Izuku removed his apron and slowly stepped out from behind the counter, walking up to Ochako with a nervous smile. She matched his smile as they walked out of the shop and she split the pastry, this time giving him the slightly larger half.
Ochako had hoped that his presence would have helped her feel better, but she couldn’t take her mind off her worries. They walked in peaceful silence for a block or two before Izuku spoke up. “O-Ochako, you seem a little tense, are you alright?”
Ochako almost jumped. She had been so caught up in her thoughts that she had nearly forgotten he was with her. “Oh, uh, well, maybe… maybe a little. You don’t need to worry about it though. Sorry I got distracted, didn’t mean to be silent!” She forced a wide smile, but he still looked concerned.
“If you want to talk about it, I’m more than happy to listen.”
Something in the honesty and gentleness in his voice made her reluctance fade away. “If you’re sure, then I guess it would help.”
The next ten minutes of walking consisted of Izuku silently listening and nodding along as Ochako talked about all the stresses of being a pro hero and running her own agency. By the end of their walk, she was loudly complaining about this upstart hero who had yelled at her about ‘encroaching’ on his territory.
“What was I supposed to do, not help the person trapped under the car?! The nerve of some people!” She flung her arms in the air in frustration. Ochako noticed that her mouth was turned up into a slight smile. Talking to Izuku had really helped; he was a really good listener.
They stopped in front of her agency as she finished her complaining. “Thanks for listening, Izuku. I feel… a lot better.”
He nodded cheerfully. “Happy to help. Oh, and by the way, that thing you were talking about, with the, uh, investigation thing? The protocol… whatever it was?” She nodded as she giggled slightly. “Instead of doing them top down, try going at it with a wider approach. That’s how All Might used to do it.”
Ochako stopped for a moment, thinking through his suggestion. “That...makes a lot of sense. Wow, thanks, Izuku! That should be way easier. Why didn’t they teach me that at UA?”
He shrugged. “They can’t teach you everything, right?
“How did you know about it though?”
He flinched slightly. “W-well, like I said, All Might did it that way. I uh, studied him a lot.”
She giggled. “More ideas like that and I’m gonna ask you to come work at my agency!” Ochako joked.
Izuku began to blush harder. “O-oh, that won’t be necessary.”
“You know, if I supervise you, you could get a provisional license under me.” She was actually considering the idea now. “I could help you train your quirk and everything! Wait, what is your quirk anyway?”
Izuku froze up. He looked around nervously before reaching suddenly into his pocket. He held up his phone and read something on it. “Oh, there’s been a spill back home. I gotta go! Bye, Uraraka!”
Before she could correct him, he was dashing away. She paused for a moment, watching him run down the sidewalk.
‘Dang, he’s fast,’ she thought, admiring the way his body moved. ‘Maybe he ran track in high school. I’ll have to ask him about it.’
She turned away and opened the door to her agency. For the first time in several days, she didn’t feel the crushing weight of stress on her shoulders.
Today was going to be a good day.
Every couple of months or so, Ochako and her classmates made an effort to get a meal as a group to help stay in touch. Fortunately for Ochako, it was her turn to pick the place. Normally, she had difficulty choosing, but after the past few weeks, she knew exactly where to go.
It was later that week that Ochako walked into Serendipity with Tsuyu, Mina and Momo. Inko was working the counter that morning and she was delighted, as always, to see new faces. The jolly woman hurried them off to a table as she called Izuku in to help.
“Be right there!” Ochako heard him call from the back room. He appeared and began to hurry over to his mother, eager to help. When he caught sight of Ochako, he smiled warmly, causing her to return the gesture, but then he caught sight of her companions. His smile fell from his face as his eyes widened, but he quickly caught himself and shook his head.
“Izuku, honey, can you take care of them?” Inko asked kindly.
“Of course.” He nodded as she smiled and left.
Izuku set to work taking their orders and getting their drinks. Tooru and Kyouka showed up soon after, followed by Tenya and Denki. Ochako had a good time watching Izuku attempt to contain his excitement and surprise behind his professionalism. Each time he was introduced to someone new, she saw his eyes sparkle a little more.
She knew that he was a fan, based on the first time she came, but she hadn’t seen him interact with any other heroes until now. After all, when she had brought Tsuyu here, he was sleeping in.
She smiled as he shook Denki’s hand eagerly. ‘Maybe I could introduce him to Nimbus. They could bond over their love of heroes.’
“I like that guy!” Denki declared as Izuku left to go check on something in the kitchen. The dopey grin he grew when Izuku shook his hand was still there.
“He’s very well mannered,” Momo agreed.
Mina leaned over to Ochako and whispered in her ear. “He’s a cutie is what he is. He seems to know you quite well, too…”
Ochako hated it when she got that look in her eyes. “W-well, I come here a lot.”
“Is that so?” Mina grinned wider. “Is it just cause of the food… or does Ochako finally have a crush?”
The brunette huffed. “Mina, you tried that all throughout UA. The answer is still no.”
Mina leaned back, relenting for now. “I see the way he looks at you, but if you say so, Ocha.”
“Hey, guys!” a voice called as the door opened. Ochako turned around and saw Eijirou waving at them. “Sorry I’m late, I was trying to convince Bakubro to come out and join us.”
Denki laughed. “Did you actually succeed this time?”
“Nobody can resist the Kirishima charm, bro!” Eijirou flashed a thumbs-up.
Tooru giggled. “Except for all those other times he did, right?”
“Well, yeah,” Eijirou waved his hand as he pulled up a seat next to Tenya. “So what’s for breakfast?”
“Izuku stepped out for a moment, he’s our waiter,” Tenya explained. “He’ll be back shortly, I’m sure. He’s been very attentive.”
“Yo, Kiri!” Mina called across the table. “I saw you team up with Redacted a few days ago. What was that like?”
“You know his name is Nimbus, right?” Ochako interrupted.
Mina shrugged. “Sure, but it’s just a nickname.”
“I think it bugs him,” Ochako said sternly. “There’s a nickname, and then there’s something that’s replaced your name. I know some people who wouldn’t even know who I was talking about if I said ‘Nimbus’.
“I...hmm.” Mina scratched her chin. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Tenya chopped his prosthetic arm down. “We should give our colleague the respect he deserves by calling him by his proper name. Especially a colleague like him.”
“Sounds like someone’s impressed,” Kyouka teased.
“Are you not? He’s the number one hero for a reason!”
“ Anyway ,” Mina interrupted, “what was it like, Kiri?”
“Oh man, it was super cool!” Eijirou was fanboying. “I’m still a little stunned he went along with my idea, but it was awesome! Tetsu was so jealous when I told him about it!”
Before he could continue, the door opened again and Bakugou came strolling in with his patented permanently-irritated expression. Ochako had never gotten as close to him at UA as she had with most of her other classmates, partially because of his incredibly hostile attitude. Even Todoroki’s icy exterior was preferable to Bakugou’s vitriol most days. She really didn’t understand how Mina, Denki and Eijirou were such good friends with him.
“Hey, over here, Bakubro!” Eijirou called across the small restaurant.
Bakugou’s eyebrow twitched. “I can see you, dumbass.” He stomped over towards them.
It was at that moment that Izuku returned from the back. “Oh, mor-”
Ochako looked back and forth between the two men staring at each other. The smile fell from Izuku’s face as his eyes were filled with a strange mixture of emotions: pain, sadness and… regret? Bakugou’s eyes were wide in disbelief as his mouth hung open slightly.
“Uh, guys?” Denki asked, voicing the confusion the rest of them were feeling.
Bakugou’s expression slowly shifted into one of fury and rage, one Ochako had seen before but never looked forward to dealing with. His shoulders hunched slightly as he grit his teeth.
Then Bakugou opened his mouth and snarled a single word that was dripping with more hatred and rage than she had ever heard.
“ Deku… ”
It was inevitable, right?
See you guys next time :)
Chapter 5: A Long Time Coming
The fated battle between rivals?
“Deku?” Ochako asked curiously.
“K-Kacchan!” Izuku stuttered.
“Kacchan?!” The rest of the table shouted.
Bakugou ignored them. “Don’t you ‘Kacchan’ me, you damn nerd! Where the hell have you been?”
Izuku glanced around nervously for a second before catching Ochako’s eye. They looked at each other for a moment before he turned back to the glowering blonde. Izuku’s timid aura suddenly vanished. His brow furrowed in stoic determination as he stood up straight. Ochako hadn’t really noticed how meek Izuku’s posture was, but that was gone. He stood tall, his shoulders broad and back, showing just how surprisingly fit he was, even underneath his baggy long-sleeve shirt and pants. He projected a completely different air as he looked slightly down on Bakugou now.
He stared back. “Why do you care? I would’ve thought you’d be happy that you hadn’t seen me in nearly seven years.”
“Wait, do you two know each other?” Eijirou asked with surprise.
Neither man acknowledged him, both locked in a staring contest.
Abruptly, Izuku broke eye contact and began quickly scanning around the restaurant. It wasn’t the nervous look he had earlier, but a calculating one, as if he was appraising the situation. He shot his eyes back to Bakugou. “Follow me. Let’s talk on the roof.”
“Don’t tell me what to d-” Izuku had already turned away and began walking towards the back room. “Don’t turn your fucking back on me, Deku!” He stomped after Izuku.
After both men disappeared into the backroom and up the stairs, the restaurant was quiet. Ochako glanced around nervously, looking at all the other patrons, who were just as stunned as she was. Some of them even looked incensed. She could understand that, she felt protective of Izuku too, and for that reason…
“I, uh, guess they know each other,” Kyouka said quietly.
“Y-yeah,” Momo agreed.
Mina gulped. “I haven’t heard Bakugou that angry since Redacted got the top spot.”
“What did you do, E?!” Denki asked his friend.
“How was I supposed to know?!” Eijirou defended himself.
In their confusion, nobody noticed Ochako quietly stand up and sneak out the front door.
She moved quickly, using the stealth training that Aizawa taught her to duck into the alleyway without anybody noticing. A quick application of her quirk allowed her to silently float up to the roof, or rather, just underneath it, landing on the top level of the fire escape without a sound.
Just a moment after, the door to the roof flew open and she heard the two men walk outside. “Don’t you fucking ignore me! Who do you think you are?”
‘Bakugou,” Izuku said sharply, causing the blonde to audibly falter. “Why do you care? Why are you so angry?”
Bakugou was silent.
“After years of you yelling at me to get the hell away from you, I finally did. Are you just mad at me for old times’ sake?”
Ochako could barely breathe.
“Where did you go?” Bakugou finally spat. “You just fucking vanished.”
Izuku’s voice was level. “I moved to America for high school.”
“Just like that?” Ochako heard Bakugou take a step forward. “You pulled that bullshit when All Might was in town, then all of a sudden you start bulking up. I was sure you were gonna try to get your ass into UA, but then just before, you just fucking disappear. Do you think you’re better than me? You pull some useless ‘hero’ crap and then you suddenly think you’re hot shit?”
Ochako could almost hear Izuku’s jaw drop. “You’re mad because I didn’t keep you in the loop? You think this is about you? You think any of this is about you?! You know what? I did try and tell you. I worked up the nerve to tell you; I thought, for some reason, you deserved to know. Do you know what happened? Before I could tell you that I was moving, you told me ‘fuck off, Deku’. So I did.”
Bakugou growled, but didn’t say anything else.
“It’s all you ever wanted, right?” Izuku laughed dryly. “You wanted Deku to leave you alone and never come back. And that’s what happened. Because over the past six years, I moved on. You were my only friend... all I wanted was me to be your friend too." Izuku paused for a moment. "I wanted to see what you would do! You were my idol!”
Izuku took a shaky breath. “But all that’s changed. I moved to America, I reconnected with my dad, I made real friends who like me for who I am. I met real role models and teachers who supported me, challenged me and made me a better person! So in a way, you got your wish, Bakugou! Deku is gone. Deku is dead and gone forever! Congratulations!” He sounded almost sarcastic for a moment.
“Don’t you talk to me like that!” Bakugou roared back. “I’ll kick your ass!”
“No you won’t,” Izuku responded flatly, but not calmly. “Because you’re a whole lot of things, but you’re not an idiot. You’re not gonna attack me; you would lose your hero license in a second. You know what I think? You’re not mad that you were kept out of the loop. I don’t think you’re really mad at me at all.”
“Why would you be mad at me? It doesn’t make any sense. You’re the number two hero, and I’m just a quirkless loser, right?!”
Ochako barely held in her gasp. ‘Q-quirkless?’ She thought about how she had bugged him about his quirk. She felt awful, and not just about that. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Izuku paused for a moment. “I saw how your eyebrow twitched when I said ‘number two’. That means I’m right. You’re frustrated at Nimbus, aren’t you? Your entire life you’ve wanted nothing more than to be the best, but now it’s so far out of reach. You must be furious. So you saw me, someone you spent your entire life beating on and abusing, and you figured you would take your frustrations out on me. Because I’m an easy target, right? Am I some representation of your inadequacies? Am I the man you thought you could break but now I’m standing tall? Do you want to tell me to jump off this roof instead of the one at our old school this time?!”
Bakugou was silent.
‘Jump off... roof…?’
“I bet your classmates- I assume that’s who those people are- I bet they didn’t take your crap, did they?! Well I’m not going to take it either! I’m not the spineless kid you bullied for a decade! I have real friends, a real purpose! I’m doing something with my life and I’m not going to let you take that from me!” Izuku was choking up at this point, his emotions pouring out. “So you can either go back down and act like a normal human being or you can get the hell out of my shop and never come back!”
“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Bakugou muttered through what sounded like gritted teeth.
“Bakugou, you’re the number two hero,” Izuku said, audibly trying to calm down. “In a way, I’m proud of you. I always knew you were going to do great things.”
“What are you going on about now?”
Izuku sighed, his voice finally controlled again. “I know UA changed you. I know you're different than you were when we last spoke. But most of all, I know you’re better than this.”
The rooftop was silent for what felt like an hour.
Eventually she heard Bakugou’s signature scoff and him walking away. A grunt of effort and an echoing explosion later, the man had jumped off the roof and landed safely in the alleyway behind Serendipity. From her vantage point, she could see him stomping off, visibly furious.
Izuku sighed again and she heard him sit down on something. He sat there for a good few minutes in silence, likely trying to process what sounded like an emotional explosion a good six or more years in the making.
“Ochako, you can come out now.”
Inko and Hisashi smiled as they walked into their shop after their peaceful morning walk. After over a decade apart, they savored every moment they got to spend together.
They looked around and were immediately able to tell something was off. The store was quiet, much quieter than normal, and it wasn’t normal, early-morning quiet, it was subdued. Inko’s motherly senses were going off: something had happened.
She looked around and saw that her son was nowhere to be seen. She had left him in charge of the shop, it wasn’t like him to step away unless there was something that Nimbus needed to do, and when that happened, he always sent her a text or something.
Hisashi had the same idea, as he quickly made his way to the back to check if Izuku’s hero gear was still there. He returned with a look that told her everything she needed to know.
Inko walked up to the table of young heroes that were all eating very, very quietly. She noticed Ochako was missing too; while that normally would cause her to smile, she didn’t think it was a good thing this time.
“Tsuyu,” she asked the one woman she had seen before, “where is Izuku?”
“Well, Bakugou showed up an-”
“Bakugou?!” Hisashi interrupted.
“Katsuki Bakugou?” Inko asked, her worries rising.
The one with red hair nodded. “It seemed like they knew each other?”
“You could say that…” Inko began. “He and Izuku have known each other since they were very, very little. Basically since they were born.”
“Really?” The blonde man asked. “Bakugou never talked about him.”
Inko hesitated. “They… weren’t on the best terms the last time they saw each other. Bakugou, he…”
Hisashi spoke up. “He bullied our son, that’s what he did.”
The table all gasped.
“Hisashi!” she hissed. “Izuku asked us not to talk about that to anybody!”
“Where are they?” Hisashi asked the young adults. “I don’t trust that man with my son.”
“You know as well as I do that he can take care of himself,” Inko scolded. “If Izuku is talking with him then… we should let him be.”
Hisashi sighed. “Fine, Inko. You’re right.” He turned back to the table. “Apologies, Izuku is very precious to me. I didn't mean to cause you distress.”
“That is quite alright, sir,” the tall, blue-haired man said sharply. “It is admirable for a father to care for his son.”
Hisashi smiled. “Please, call me Hisashi.”
The other heroes nodded, but Inko noticed them shooting each other worried glances.
Izuku slumped down on a metal pipe on the roof. He hadn’t meant to get that upset or to say those things. They had never had any farewell or proper closure, so he was dealing with almost seven years of pent up emotions. Did Izuku really stand a chance? He felt a little bad for basically running Bakugou over in their conversation; it was so one-sided that Bakugou didn't really get a chance to speak. Who knows what he would have said. How different was he now? Surely his ego wouldn't have- couldn't have- survived UA.
At some point in the past, he had held respect for Bakugou. All Might was his idol, sure, but Bakugou had been the one who was actually in his life... until that changed.
Once he started training with All Might and moved with his mother to America and he reunited with his dad… once he met his classmates and teachers and experienced how they all not only supported him but genuinely liked him… Well, he saw just how messed up his relationship with Bakugou really was.
In the past, Bakugou had been his friend in some way, but now… now he didn’t know what he they were to each other. He hadn’t been expecting to see him today, but he knew that their paths would probably have crossed at some point.
In an objective sense, he had respect for the man. He was the number two hero, there was no doubt about that; there was an appreciable gap between him and the number three. He was the only person even close to Nimbus, but he still wasn’t that close. It wasn’t exactly fair, of course; Bakugou didn’t have the benefit of 8 previous generations of holders behind him. Izuku was in a class on his own, just like All Might was. Even more than All Might was. That was something he came to terms with a while ago.
So maybe Izuku had respect for Ground Zero , rather than Bakugou. Bakugou was his old bully, Ground Zero was an abrasive, destructive hero that was the Endeavor to his All Might. Sometimes thinking about that caused Izuku to chuckle. It was funny how history repeated itself sometimes.
That wasn’t entirely true, however. Deep down, Izuku felt like he still had some respect for Bakugou. He wasn’t a good person in nearly any sense of the word, but he admired his tenacity and his drive. After all, he was the only one even trying to keep up with Nimbus. When he was training in America, he actually used Bakugou as an example of how he needed to act to achieve victory over his opposition. Maybe it wasn’t healthy to hold onto a memory like that, but he had to credit Bakugou with a portion of his success in that small way.
He definitely respected him enough as a human being to not want to expose him or demonize him publicly. Airing dirty laundry was never classy, and hindering the number two hero was selfish. Every person he prevented Bakugou from helping and every villain he kept him from stopping would be on his hands. He didn’t like Bakugou as a person, but he was a damn fine hero.
Honestly, if he had known that Ochako was listening, he wouldn’t have said half of those things.
“Ochako, you can come out now.”
He heard her squeak and then a few seconds later she poked her head up over the edge of the roof. “H-how did you…?”
“You were crying,” he said flatly, looking at the ground. He hadn’t heard her until after Bakugou had left.
She gasped slightly. Apparently she hadn’t noticed.
Ochako floated up, landing a good few feet from Izuku. She hesitated, taking a few, cautious steps towards him. When he didn’t react, she stepped quickly, surprising him as she suddenly threw her arms around him.
“Izuku, I-I had no idea, we wouldn’t ha-have-”
She stopped as Izuku put his hand on her head after he recovered from the shock of her hug. “It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m just sorry you had to hear it.”
Ochako sniffed she she held him. “It’s just… you’re such a nice guy and Bakugou was so... I’ve never seen him like that and I was in his class for three years. I was so worried about you! Not many people would stand up to the number two hero...”
Izuku almost laughed. “He wasn’t always like that.” He was emotionally exhausted and it was barely eight in the morning. He patted her on the head and nervously reached to hold her with his other hand. 'Come on, Izuku. Basic calming and comforting. You were taught this.'
It was no use. Melissa always told him that he wouldn't be Izuku if he didn't cry, and he was proving her right. The emotions were just too much.
The two of them cried together, holding each other gently for at least a few minutes, silent beyond their sniffles.
Eventually Ochako pulled away, but she grabbed his hand and held it between them. She looked him in the eyes in a way that told him that there was no doubt that she was Uravity, confident, kick-ass hero. "Izuku, are you okay?" she asked directly.
He nodded as he dried his face. "I am, no small part because of you. Thank you."
She took a calming, centering breath. "Okay. Okay." She nodded, patting her chest. "I'm sorry I eavesdropped."
Izuku looked down. "I wish you hadn't. I didn't want that getting out. Can you keep it a secret?"
Ochako looked slightly frustrated. "But why? He bullied you for years, right?"
Izuku nodded. "Basically since we turned 4. It was… bad. I came home with bruises, scrapes, and sometimes even burns. You heard that name he called me? Deku? It's a creative reading of my name that means useless. It's all he called me for a decade."
Ochako squeezed his hand a little harder. "That's terrible! Was it… was it because you're quirkless?"
Izuku flinched. 'Crap, she heard that.' He saw the guilt in her eyes.
"I was asking you about it and why you didn't become a hero yourself and-"
"Ochako, it's fine. I'm-" He stopped himself, thinking hard. "Can I tell you a secret? You have to never mention it to anyone."
Ochako looked stunned and confused, but after looking at how serious his face was, she nodded. "I promise. I'll keep it like I knew Nimbus' name."
Izuku fought hard to keep his smile hidden. "I'm not quirkless."
She looked up at him in confusion and excitement. "Oh, I feel so much better! N-not to make it about myself, sorry."
"No, y-you're fine. I'm glad you feel better." Izuku smiled.
"You selfless little- ugh!" She couldn't help but smile a little too. "But wait," her smile faded, "why does Bakugou think you are?"
"I was a late bloomer," Izuku half-lied. "I didn't get my quirk until I was almost 15." He saw the look of curiosity on her face. "But I can't tell you what it is, sorry. Please don't dig, either. It's better for both of us if you don't know." He saw the look of curiosity turn into further confusion and a little fear. "It's not bad or dangerous or anything, don't worry," he lied. One For All was nothing but dangerous.
He rubbed his scarred arms unconsciously.
It would be more believable if he told her a small lie, something to satisfy her and keep her off the trail, but he couldn't risk even giving her a hint about one of his quirks. Hopefully she would trust him and drop it.
"Okay, fine," she relented.
He sighed in relief.
"But I'm gonna earn your trust one day!" she declared triumphantly.
He gulped. That was a the nicest threat he had ever received.
Her mood dropped suddenly as a look of horror crossed her face. "Wait. I just remembered. Did Bakugou tell you to uh, jump…"
He winced. He really, really wished she hadn't been eavesdropping. "Yeah. Back when we were in school together. I never considered it, don't worry, but it hurt. It hurt a lot."
"Why do you want me not to tell anyone?" she nearly yelled in her frustration. "He can't get away with that!"
"It was a while ago, O-Ochako. I'm over it." He was being entirely truthful. "Besides, he's the number two hero, any personal issues I have with him aren't worth disrupting his hero duties. He may be, uh-"
"Well, yeah, that, but he's still a hero that saves lives nearly every day. I'm not gonna get in the way of that."
She glared at him. "That's really mature, Izuku, but there's selfless and then there's self-sacrificing. Do you ever think about yourself?"
He laughed awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand. "H-hey, All Might once said that nothing is nobler than self-sacrifice."
She relented as her frustrated expression gave way to one much softer. "You know, I wish you'd take me up on my offer. I think you'd make a great hero, no matter what your quirk is."
He felt his heart fill with a strange, tight sensation. "Th-thank you. That means a lot, e-especially from Uravity."
"I mean it. Maybe this is bold of me, but I think you've got a hero's heart." She looked kindly at him. "I'll try to be more like you when I'm in uniform."
Izuku felt himself tearing up again. "That's the n-nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time, O-Ochako."
"Don't let anyone bring you down, Izuku. Especially not Bakugou." Her words were sincere and earnest.
"I won't," he responded with a smile, looking into her big brown eyes. "Besides, I'm happy. I'm satisfied with what I'm doing and I'm surrounded with good people a-and hopefully more good people-" he looked at her hopefully- "so in a way, I think I'm living my best life. And that's the best revenge you can have on someone."
She giggled. "That's pretty wise. Where'd you hear that?"
Izuku chuckled awkwardly. "One of my high school friends told me that once."
"Well, its getting late- or er, rather, less early, uh-" She stopped and took a breath. "I've gotta get to my agency."
"Right." Izuku nodded.
"Yeah." She nodded.
Izuku started turning red. "Do you… want to let go of my hand?"
Ochako turned a bright shade of red and nearly threw him backwards with how hard she let go. "S-sorry!"
"It's fine, r-really!" He looked away, trying not to make her blush worse.
"I'mgladyou'refeelingbettergottagobye!" she rushed out of her mouth as she scrambled to the edge of the building and degravitized herself, leaping down and away towards her agency.
Izuku took a few breaths as his blush faded. He held up his hand, feeling a little guilty as he relished the echoing sensation of her soft skin on his.
He stood up and looked over the horizon of the city. He let some of One For All surge into that hand, green lightning dancing over it lightly.
Izuku smiled as he watched the energy dance over his skin. If only Ochako knew how much of his 'best life' he was really leading.
But that would never happen.
See you guys next time :)
The table had been silent for a while, nobody really eating and nobody talking. They had noticed that Ochako had left and it wasn’t hard for them to guess where she went. Mina knew that Ochako was a sweetheart who couldn’t help but be concerned for people who were struggling, although basically anybody who knew her could tell you that.
“Kyouka,” Mina whispered, breaking the silence. “Can you hear what they’re saying up there?”
Kyouka shot her a disapproving glare. “I could, but I won’t. That’s tasteless.”
“Oh, like you’ve never eavesdropped. Like that one time at the forest camp wh-” She flinched as one of her friend’s jacks shot forward and stopped an inch from her face.
“Shut up!” she hissed, her face tinged by a little embarrassed blush. “The answer is no .”
Mina huffed. “Ugh, you’re no fun.”
An explosion echoed from behind the shop, causing the heroes to all flinch and look around wildly.
“Can you listen to that? ” Mina asked.
Kyouka was already on it, her eyes closed as she focused. “Bakugou jumped off the roof and is walking away. Izuku is up on the roof still… and so is Ochako.”
“I knew it.” Mina smacked her palm with her fist.
“Yeah, well that’s all I’m telling you. Izuku is fine and Bakugou is gone.” Her jacks slumped back down and she went back to her food. “This would’ve been a really nice breakfast without Boom Boy showing up.”
“I already said sorry,” Eijirou muttered. “How was I supposed to know that they had so much history together?”
“Well…” Tooru began, “that just means we’ll have to come back some other time. Everything was really nice until… until it wasn’t, you know?”
Momo nodded. “It’s a bit of a trip for me, but yes, we should return.”
The group finished their meal in relative silence after that, all of them very aware at the muted stiffness that filled the restaurant. Bakugou’s arrival had ruined breakfast for more than just them.
What surprised Mina the most was when she tried to go pay for her meal. No check was delivered, so she and the others went up the counter. Inko and Hisashi were nowhere to be seen, instead they found a small sign that simply read ‘Free breakfast! Enjoy the rest your day!’ with a small smiley face drawn at the bottom.
The heroes shuffled out, pretending not to notice the large stack of bills that Momo placed on the counter anyways.
“Oh hey,” Denki said as they stepped out into the street, “look.” He pointed down the street where they saw Ochako hopping along rooftops, hurrying off into the distance. “She’s got the right idea. We’re gonna be late if we don’t hurry.”
“Indeed,” Tenya agreed. “Good luck to all of you today.”
The group split apart, each heading in the direction of their agencies. Or at least, most of them did.
“Mina,” Eijirou whispered as everyone else walked away, “I’m not okay with this. I want to go talk to Izuku.”
Mina nodded. “I’m feeling the same thing. We gotta find him first, though.”
She and him ducked back into the restaurant and sat down, waiting in silence for one of the Midoriyas to show back up. After about twenty minutes, Hisashi appeared back at the counter. Mina saw him take the sign down and look with mild surprise at the money Momo had left behind.
She smiled, knowing it would probably make his da-
Mina blinked as she saw Hisashi take the bills with a soft smile and quietly place them in the charity box on the counter. ‘Why did he just turn down that much money?’
Eijirou and her exchanged curious looks and then approached the counter.
The older man looked at them kindly. “Oh, I didn’t know you were still here. Can I help you?”
“Can we speak to Izuku?” Mina asked.
“He went out for a walk,” Hisashi explained. “He won’t be back for a while, sorry.”
“Oh.” Eijirou’s mood dropped. “Alright, sorry for bothering you.”
“Nonsense,” Hisashi responded. “I’m very happy that you are concerned for Izuku. It does my heart good.”
The two of them smiled and waved goodbye as they walked out of the building again. They walked a couple blocks. “Shame,” Mina muttered. “We’re gonna be late for nothing.”
“Late? We can’t have that.”
Mina and Eijirou whipped around as a familiar sight appeared behind them. A tall, green and helmeted man dropped from the roof above them and landed with ease.
“Red-” Mina caught herself. “Nimbus?”
He nodded. “Want me to give you a lift? It’s really no trouble, I would hate for two heroes such as yourselves to be late.”
Mina blinked. “Uh, s-sure.”
Eijirou nodded as well. “As long as you’ve got the time.”
“It’ll be no time at all!” Nimbus responded. He flicked his right hand forward as black tendrils shot forth and wrapped the two of them up securely. He pulled them in and wrapped an arm around each of them, holding them steady.
“Wait, do you know wh-” Mina’s words were cut off as they suddenly shot into the air at seemingly impossible speeds. Before she could get her bearings, she and Eijirou were standing on the roof of the agency where they worked.
“Wh-” She was cut off again as a torrent of sound rushed past her head. Nimbus let the two of them down safely on the rooftop.
“Was… was that a sonic boom?” Eijirou asked.
Nimbus nodded. “My quirk protects me and people I’m holding onto from whiplash and such. I’m not sure how it works, but if it didn’t, I would kill people I rescued at high speeds, you know? I try not to question it.” He laughed.
Mina smiled wide. “That was awesome! Thanks for the ride, dude!”
“No problem!” Nimbus saluted and turned around.
“Hey, hold on,” Eijirou said suddenly. “Can I ask you something, man?”
Nimbus slowly turned to face the two of them again.
“What do you think about Ba- Ground Zero?”
Mina looked at her friend with concern. “Kiri?”
Nimbus didn’t answer for a few moments. “He is a fine hero. Many people owe him their lives and well-being.”
“Yeah, but like…” Eijirou rubbed his head. “How well do you know him?”
“What are you getting at?” Nimbus responded instead of answering.
Eijirou took a deep breath.“Well… he’s our friend, right? And we just sorta found out that he used to bully this guy when he was younger.”
Another pregnant pause. “And?” Nimbus said eventually.
Eijirou’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t know. I feel really lost right now. I thought I knew the guy and… and I guess I’m just grasping at straws. Sorry, man. Thanks for the ride.”
“Red Riot,” Nimbus began. “Here’s my advice: the past is the past. We can’t change what we did but we can change what we do going forward. That isn’t to say that all should be forgotten, but try to understand that the world isn’t black and white. Shades of gray are… difficult, but it’s what we have to deal with. Do the thousands of people he’s saved make up for bullying when he was younger? I would be inclined to say yes, but I can’t make that decision for you. In the end, it's between him and his… victim.”
Mina and Eijirou both stared for a few seconds. “We should still talk to him about it,” Mina suggested. “Both Bakugou and Izuku. I am not okay with bullies.”
“Right,” Eijirou agreed. “Thanks, Nimbus.”
“No problem. Good luck today.” Nimbus seemed a little more muted than normal as he turned around and left.
The two heroes sighed.
“I hate drama,” Eijirou muttered as they headed for the door on the roof.
Mina smiled a little. “For once, same.”
Izuku grumbled as he hopped from roof to roof. He didn’t like that people were feeling bad for him. His dad already apologized for letting it slip, but he really wished he hadn’t. He wasn’t upset with his father, he was just upset with the whole situation. Izuku knew the advice he gave to Red Riot and Pinky wasn’t the best, but he was hoping they would just drop it. However, it didn’t seem like they were willing to do that.
He thought he was over it. Seven years away and a whole lot of growth made him confident that he was over it, but it seemed to all come spilling out when Bakugou showed up.
Maybe that was naive. Maybe it was best that he got it all out in the open and actually dealt with it. Maybe talking to them would help him move past the whole thing. He was Nimbus, number one hero, he didn’t have time for childhood arguments and silly grudges.
He landed on a rooftop and froze.
‘Why… why did I come here?’ He was moving on autopilot; jumping around, lost in his thoughts and he had somehow come… here.
The roof of the Uravity Hero Agency.
‘Maybe…’ He shifted back and forth on his feet. ‘Ah, screw it.’
Ochako was sitting at her desk, eyes unfocused on the paperwork in front of her. The revelations about Izuku’s past were weighing on her mind. He seemed alright with things but something about it just felt wrong. She didn’t like not being able to help someone.
She blushed a little bit, reminding how she had accidentally held his hand while she was comforting him. Ochako remembered his smile; maybe she had helped him a little.
A rap at the window behind her caused her to crash back to reality. She spun around in her chair to see Nimbus waving at her though the glass. Ochako hopped up quickly and opened the window, letting the pro hero in.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” he responded. The two of them stood silent for a second as he rubbed the back of his helmet. “I uh… I don’t know how to say this, but uh, that day we spent on patrol together was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. If it’s not too much trouble, would you like to…”
Ochako felt her face warming up slightly. “R-really?” she repeated. “N-Nimbus, you want to…?” She looked down and thought for a moment. “I… yeah, that was a good day. I could do with some Nimbus and Uravity butt-kicking today.”
“Great! I’ll wait on the roof again for you.” In a flash, he was gone.
Ochako hurried through the rest of her paperwork, a fire lit underneath herself. She dashed to the roof as quick as she could, throwing the door open to find Nimbus stretching on the far side of the roof.
He apparently hadn’t heard her arrive; she was about to say something when she stopped herself. Nimbus was leaning, stretching, pulling and flexing all of his dense, bulging musculature. His thighs were like tree trunks, pushing tightly on his suit as he stretched his quads. Her eyes danced over his deltoids and the defined muscles on his back.
Ochako felt her mouth dry a little, causing her to lick her lips like she just tasted a particularly nice pastry. A small blush formed on her cheeks as she stared at every part of his body. ‘Forget abs, I could grate cheese on any part of his body.’
Truth be told, Ochako felt a little guilty, but she was only human. After a few minutes, she finally shook her head and scolded herself. “Nimbus?” she called, hoping to get his attention, but to no avail.
She took a few steps forward and called again. This time he flinched a little and turned around. “Oh, Uravity,” he responded, a little louder than she expected. There was a small pause before he continued. “Sorry, I was listening to music while I stretched; I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”
“Uh, no!” she lied. “I just got here.”
“Ah, good.” He nodded his head a few times. “Anyway, ready?”
“Yep!” She just hoped all of her blush was gone. Maybe he would assume it was just her natural pink cheeks.
The rest of the morning passed quietly, at least by hero standards. They helped a few people with some minor issues, Nimbus helped a cat out of a tree and she helped a man change a flat tire by lifting his car up. Ochako wasn’t with Nimbus the whole morning; sometimes he left to go take care of something a few blocks away, and other times she went to help somewhere on her own.
It felt… nice. Sure she couldn’t pull the weight that he could, but not once did she feel like a burden. If anything, the man drove her to do better, which was something she appreciated and admired.
Around noon, the two of them stopped for lunch. Or rather, Ochako grabbed food from a stand while Nimbus tried not to get trampled by a crowd of fans nearby. He was very grateful when she floated overhead and tapped his outstretched arm, pulling him up with her and away from the swarm of autographs.
The two of them sat on a rooftop overlooking the ocean. Or rather, she sat there, while Nimbus ducked behind a wall to quickly shove the food into his face. Ochako laughed a little; she hoped to earn his trust some day, just like she wanted to earn Izuku’s, but she understood why he wanted to keep his identity a secret. As time went on, she was getting more and more popular and it was already stressful to be out in public. Nimbus seemed to have the right idea, keeping his work and personal life separate.
He sat back down next to her on the edge of the roof as her phone buzzed. She pulled it out and opened the message, her face immediately breaking into a wide smile. “Hey Nimbus, check it out, isn’t she a cutie?” She held up her phone to the helmeted man.
“Aw, she sure is. What’s her name?”
“Eri,” Ochako explained. “We rescued her in my first year at UA. My old teacher, Aizawa, adopted her and has been raising her ever since. She’s gonna turn 12 in a few months.”
“Rescued her?” Nimbus asked with concern.
Ochako’s smile faltered slightly. “Yeah. The Yakuza were holding her captive, using her in some sort of horrible experiment to make bullets that could erase quirks.”
She nodded grimly. “Luckily we stopped him. One of the older students- you know him as Lemillion- got hit by the bullet. Luckily Aizawa was able to get to the leader and shut him down with his quirk.”
Nimbus nodded. “So the effects of the bullet aren’t permanent?”
“They are,” Ochako began. “But Eri is a very special girl. Her quirk lets her essentially rewind a person. Once she got better control of her powers, she rewound Mirio until he had his quirk back. It was kinda weird to see him de-age, but now he’s a hero again!”
“Woah…” Nimbus leaned back. “She sounds like a really special girl.”
Ochako smiled. “She is. We- my class I mean- we all adopted her, in a way.” She scooted closer to him. “I got a bunch of pictures, wanna see?”
They spent the next twenty minutes going through her phone, laughing and chatting about all of the photos of Eri on her phone. She showed him all of her birthday parties, her first day of school, that time she accidentally rewound a dog into a puppy. Nimbus was horrified for a moment, just like they were at the time.
“It actually worked out,” she explained. “It had a condition that they caught too late to fix, so she accidentally gave the dog a new lease on life. The family was in tears when they thanked her. Even so, she still thinks it was embarrassing; we always tease her, calling it the start of her hero career.”
Eventually she ran out of photos and they figured that their lunch break had gone on long enough. They spent the next several hours much the same as they had spent the morning.
That was, until Nimbus got a call.
“A villain attack in a business quarter,” he explained as he picked her up again and dashed across the rooftops. She blushed a little, but there was no time to waste.
The two of them hit the pavement and took stock of the situation. Immediately, she saw the trouble.
A man, musclebound and quite tall, stood in the middle of the street. “Redacted!” he shouted. “Stay back!”
“Police caught him mugging someone,” Nimbus explained. “He ran and injected himself with Trigger. He’s been freaking out ever since.”
Ochako’s brow furrowed. “Trigger? Crap. We gotta be-”
She was cut off by the sound of a roaring engine- a very familiar sound. She turned to her right to greet her arriving friend. “Tenya, I’m glad you’re here!”
“Ingenium!” Nimbus called.
“Uravity. Nimbus,” her friend responded. He was always so formal when on the job. “What’s the situation?”
Nimbus turned back to the villain. “We got a Triggered thug. I could try and rush him, but we don’t know his quirk. Last time I tried that I got smacked back and nearly broke something. We should try and surround him to keep him from running again.”
Ochako and Tenya nodded, each of them slowly moving to either side.
“I said stay back!” the man yelled again. He was twitching and unstable- side effects of the Trigger. “Why won’t you listen?!”
“We’re not going to hurt you,” Ochako tried. “We’re trying to help.”
“Who’s going to help you?!” He slammed his foot down and a massive crack opened up in the road, streaking towards Ochako. She dove out of the way, rolling to the side. The crack shot past her, widening the whole time.
A deafening rumble echoed through the streets. The five-story building behind her was tilting, beginning to fall.
Nimbus leapt into action. “Ingenium, the villain!” he ordered. “Ochako, you have to hold the building up! I’ll get the people out!”
She turned around without hesitation and dashed toward the falling structure. Ochako grit her teeth and grabbed on to the concrete side, letting her quirk flow through it.
The strain felt like Nimbus had just punched her in the gut. “I- I got it! Go!”
Nimbus dashed inside the front door as lightning sparked around him. She vaguely heard Tenya dash behind her, going after the now-fleeing villain.
In and out, in and out. Again and again Nimbus flew inside, each time returning with armfuls of civilians.
Her world was nothing but pain. Even with her years of training, this was a lot of weight. But she held on. She didn’t have a choice.
After what felt like hours, but she was sure was seconds, Nimbus ran out with the last of the victims. He set them down a good ways away with the rest of them and ran back for her. Ochako felt his arms wrap around her and his voice yell “clear!”
She slapped her hands together and opened her eyes to watch the building resume its fall, smashing into the miniature canyon the villain opened up. A storm of dust and rock was kicked up into the air as the building shattered.
Ochako panted for a few seconds before the all-too-familar sensation of nausea came rolling over her like a tsunami. She only got a few steps away before she doubled-over and hurled up the remains of her lunch all over the dust-covered street.
“Uravity!” Nimbus called. “Are you alright?”
She waved a hand and gave a thumbs-up, still too ill to speak otherwise. She heard him sigh audibly with relief.
It took about an hour for the citizens to all be cleared by EMTs and sent home. Tenya had apprehended the villain with little trouble but had left early to deal with another incident, leaving Ochako and Nimbus alone to supervise the civilians. That was fine, they were more than capable.
No sooner had the heroes stepped out of the police cordon than were they set upon by the media. She was comfortable enough, but Nimbus was a league ahead. She chalked it up to experience; this was his life every single day.
Everything went fairly smoothly until a reporter from a tabloid got in his face. “Redacted,” she began, “why is it that you’re taking pity on Uravity? Are you hoping to help her popularity by letting her seem like she is helping?”
Ochako rolled her eyes. Sharks like this were common, ready and eager to turn anything they could into drama.
“What?” Nimbus’ voice was… cold. He sounded angry. “How dare you? If she hadn’t held up that building-”
“With all due respect,” she said as she rudely cut him off, “we’ve seen you lift things much heavier than that. It’s clear that-”
Nimbus returned the favor. “Care to explain to me how I would both hold up the building and run inside of it? Even if I did grab onto the side, all I would do would act like a hinge and the building would topple over at that point. If Uravity wasn’t here today, there would be dozens dead that are alive now. I’m not taking pity on her-” He spat the word- “I’m working with her because she is an incredible hero capable of things I couldn’t even pretend to do.”
Ochako was stunned silent, just like the rest of the reporters.
“I’ve had a long day, this press conference is over. Uravity, let’s go.” He took a step back then jumped high, launching himself to the rooftops once more.
She had never heard him that mad, not in all the years she had watched his interviews. Ochako quickly tapped herself and jumped after him, letting her weight return as she landed next to him on the rooftop.
“Sorry about that,” he muttered. “I didn’t mean to make a scene… I’m just tired.”
Ochako panted a little; her quirk was still painful to use after the strain she had put on it. “It’s fine, Nimbus. I… appreciate it.”
He turned to her. “Oh- oh, I’m so sorry. Here, let me carry you back to your agency. It’s the least I can do.”
Her pride told her no, but the aches in her body told her yes. She nodded. “A-alright.”
It didn’t hurt that she would get an opportunity to feel his arms around her again. She didn’t like to think of herself as shallow, but come on. There were women out there who would probably kill for an opportunity like this.
He scooped her up and dashed off, a little slower than usual. ‘Is he drawing out how long he holds me?’ she wondered. ‘No, no, he’s just tired, too. Don’t be silly, Ochako.’
They landed back on the roof of her hero agency as the sun began to drop in the sky. “Thanks again for all your help today, Uravity,” he muttered as he placed her down. “Don’t let those reporters get to you.”
She giggled. “I think they got to you more than they got to me.”
“Well, uh, maybe?” He rubbed his head awkwardly as he laughed a little too. They stood there for a little bit, simply enjoying the slight breeze on the rooftop. Ochako was running through the events of the afternoon again in her mind when something caught her attention.
She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Hey… back there you called me ‘Ochako’.”
The man suddenly stiffened up. “Well, uh, I thought it would be the best way to get your attention, yeah? I r-read it in your hero profile. Your last name is Urararaka, right?”
“Just Uraraka,” she said with a smirk.
“Right.” He took a step back. “Hey, uh, I gotta go. Thanks again!”
Before she could say anything, he turned and streaked from the roof, fast enough that she had to take a steadying step backward against the air pressure. Ochako raised an eyebrow as she saw the green speck disappear over a rooftop.
With the man gone, she became acutely aware just how sore she felt. She winced and headed toward the door. ‘I think I’ll go home early and take a warm, relaxing bath.’ She sighed at the thought. ‘Yeah, that sounds nice.’
See you guys next time :)
Chapter 7: The First Step
The aftermath of the confrontation continues.
Izuku knew he was blushing like mad underneath his helmet as he streaked across the rooftops. He was mentally berating himself for his slip up, even if it was made in the heat of the moment during a villain attack. There was no excuse for letting something like that happen, not when there was so much at stake.
He had maintained his secret identity for three years, but in all that time, he had never let someone get close to him like he had let Ochako. Sure, she was still at arm’s reach in many ways, but he definitely felt a… connection. A connection like he had felt in America, with his old friends. His friends he had left behind.
He had made new friends, of course… kinda. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of people who liked Izuku and would probably call him a friend, thanks to his work at Serendipity. He was sure that if he was ever in trouble, many of those people would help him.
Just like Pinky and Red Riot had tried.
But no, he couldn’t let them into his life, it was too dangerous for his family for his identity to become public. He would protect that secret as well as he could.
Then why was he letting Ochako get close to him? Was it because she had formed a connection with him faster than he could realize it was happening? Was it because she felt like his first real friend since he had moved back to Japan?
Friend, yes, but this connection was… different. He hadn’t felt like this with anyone else; he didn’t know exactly how to describe it. When he was with Ochako, his heart felt light and he had a hard time keeping a smile off his face. When he was on patrol with her, the stress of being Nimbus was hardly there at all, letting him fall in love with being a hero all over again.
That’s not to say he ever stopped loving being a hero—quite the contrary, he wouldn’t trade it for anything—but going on patrol with her was on another level altogether. He found himself selfishly wishing he could patrol with her every day and that she would come by Serendipity mo-
Izuku froze, nearly falling off a roof as a realization came crashing over him.
‘Do I… have a crush?’
No, no, that would be ridiculous. He was 22, he didn’t have a crush on Ochako like he was a hopeless teenager. He was much too mature for that.
Izuku hopped back and forth on his feet nervously as his brain fired off thought after thought.
Finally, he sighed.
‘I need to go talk to Toshi.’
Izuku knocked on the door of Toshinori’s townhouse, waiting patiently for the door to open. It slid open slowly after a small while, revealing his tall, gaunt mentor.
“Oh,” Toshinori said with a small surprise in his voice. “Please, come in, sir.”
Izuku stepped inside and dropped the hologram that was making him appear as a middle-aged businessman before taking off his helmet and giving the former pro a great hug.
“Toshi! It’s been too long!”
“It’s been less than a week, Young Izuku,” Toshinori responded with a chuckle.
“Really?” Izuku said as he released the hug and headed to the couch in the nearby room. “It feels like much longer.”
Toshi laughed again as he sat down opposite Izuku. “I feel like we have this conversation every time you visit.”
Izuku rubbed the back of his head as he grinned. “Well, after seeing you everyday for years…”
“Yes, yes, I know.” Toshinori’s smile was kind. Fatherly. “But what brings you back so soon? That look on your face tells me that this isn’t just a visit for pleasure.”
Izuku sighed, his shoulders dropping. “...I need advice.”
Toshinori smiled knowingly. “I figured as much.”
“Do you remember Katsuki Bakugou?” Izuku began.
Toshinori raised an eyebrow. “The one who bullied you for being quirkless and the one I saved from that sludge villain. Ground Zero.”
“Right,” Izuku said with a nod. “He showed up at Serendipity today.”
Toshinori leaned forward slightly, his brow furrowing in concern.
“We had a… confrontation,” Izuku continued, “and a lot came crashing out of me. I guess I wasn’t over it like I thought I was.”
Toshinori continued to listen.
“There were a lot of heroes there. Uravity had brought her friends from UA: Creati, Ingenium, Froppy, Chargebolt… you get the idea. They were all there and I was serving them breakfast when Bakugou showed up. Long story short, they found out that he bullied me.” Izuku held the bridge of his nose. “Two of them, Pinky and Red Riot, they wanted to talk to me.” Izuku opted out of telling Toshinori about Ochako.
Izuku continued his explanation. “I wanted to clear my head, so I had already donned my helmet, but I wound up talking to them a little as Nimbus. They were really upset that Bakugou had done that, but I told them to leave it alone.”
Toshinori looked a little confused.
“I—” Izuku sighed tersely. “I didn’t want them to get involved. This is between Bakugou and me. I don’t want to burden them with my problems and I don’t want them to get any closer to Izuku or Nimbus. I can’t risk it.”
Toshinori leaned back, staring at Izuku for a few moments before he began to speak. “Do you remember what I told you about what makes a hero?”
“You said a lot of things,” Izuku replied sheepishly. He was pretty sure he knew exactly to what Toshinori was referring.
“The true essence of being a hero is interfering where you don’t belong.”
Izuku sighed. “I know, it's just—”
“Just what?” Toshinori interrupted him. “Think about it, what if you had found out one of your friends had been bullied? Wouldn’t you have done exactly what Pinky and Red Riot are doing?”
“Well, yes, but…” Izuku rubbed his hand down his face. “They don’t have a burden like I do. They don’t have a secret identity. They don’t have One For All.”
“That is true,” Toshinori muttered. “But I don’t see how that would stop them from helping Izuku out.”
“I… I can’t risk it.”
“Why not?” Toshinori sat up a little straighter. “Would it be so bad if some people you trusted knew who you were?”
Izuku’s head slumped. Friends sounded… nice. “I… guess not. But I don’t think I’m ready for that. I would have to trust them a lot to tell them…”
“Then don’t tell them,” Toshinori suggested. “Keep your secret, but open yourself up to them. They don’t need to know that you’re Nimbus to be your friends.”
Izuku sat there for a while, thinking. “Nimbus is… who I am, Toshi,” he said finally. “Who am I if I don’t tell them that?”
“You’re Izuku, my boy!” Toshinori laughed. “Or am I no longer myself because I’m not All Might anymore?”
“You’ll always be All Might,” Izuku muttered, “but I know what you’re saying. I suppose some… duplicity might be necessary. But… is it worth it? Isn’t focusing on being a hero more important? I should give my all, use this power you’ve given me to help as many people as I can. Do I have time for anything else?”
Toshinori nodded slowly, leaning back slowly. “That’s how I lived,” he said simply. “Always focusing on being the best, saving everyone. I don’t regret it, but I wish I had made more time for friends.”
There was a pause, the emptiness and quiet of the house seeming more absolute than it normally had.
“I’ve been telling you for years, Young Izuku,” he continued. “You need to learn to do things your own way. My way worked for me, but it might not have been the best way, especially not for you. Make time for your friends, let them earn your trust, should they prove worthy, and then maybe Nimbus won’t have to be the lone pillar holding up society. Maybe the Symbol of Peace can have some help some day.”
Izuku grumbled. Toshinori knew he didn’t like being called that. Even though by all accounts, he was more powerful than Toshinori ever was, it still felt wrong in a small way.
“Whether you take my advice is up to you. You’re a friendly young man who needs more support than you think. As someone who bore the weight by himself, let me say that if I had to do it over again, I would have shared some of that burden. There are a lot of fantastic heroes out there who can help you, if you just let them.” Toshinori smiled kindly as he finished. “Don’t be All Might; be Nimbus.”
Izuku rubbed his chin, mulling over what All Might had said. “I suppose I could at least… try it, right? If Pinky and Red Riot show up to Serendipity again, I can at least try.”
“And what about Uravity?”
Izuku sputtered, tugging at his costume’s neck. “Oh, uh, what about her?” He could feel his face turning red.
“Why so bashful?” Toshinori asked. “You were telling me all about her the last few times you visited. What’s changed?”
“Oh, uh, nothing. Nothing.” Izuku coughed into his hand. “She’s… fine.”
“Son, you don’t have to lie to me,” Toshinori said with that fatherly tone. “If you don’t want to talk about it, fine, but don’t lie.”
“I… may have already made a friend,” Izuku muttered.
Toshinori grinned. “Oh? That’s wonderful! I’ve seen you both working together on television; you seem to be a good team.”
“Yeah!” Izuku said, getting excited for a second before he could stop himself. “Er, I mean, yeah. We are. She comes by Serendipity, too.”
“So is she both Nimbus’ and Izuku’s friend?”
Izuku hesitated, then nodded. “Y-yeah. She always makes my days better when she’s around.”
“Oh?” Toshinori’s smile grew wider. Izuku wasn’t sure he liked it.
“I feel relaxed around her. Happy,” he continued. “She’s nice. Really nice. Genuine. Kind. Brave. Strong.”
“Is she pretty?”
“Oh yea-” Izuku froze, catching his traitorous tongue. “T-TOSHI!”
Toshinori was laughing hard . “Oh ho, my boy, it seems that you’ve developed something of a crush!”
“I—I have not!” Izuku returned defiantly.
“If you say so,” Toshinori responded, clearly not convinced. “But you trust her?”
“I do,” Izuku admitted, deflating. “She overheard me yelling at Bakugou and then she… she comforted me. I may have… told her that I wasn’t quirkless.”
Toshinori’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Wasn’t the guise of quirklessness part of your plan? It seems you’ve already started down the path of telling Uravity who you are.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Izuku mumbled, looking down again. “She was so sad because she thought I was quirkless. She had been bugging me—playfully, of course—about what my quirk was. She felt so bad about it and I… I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn't stand to see her sad.”
“You really sound like you care a lot for her,” Toshinori observed. “Would it be so bad to trust her with your secret?”
“I haven’t told anyone outside my family!” Izuku retorted.
“What about me?” Toshinori asked.
“You’re family, Toshi, you know that.”
“She’s basically my sister.”
“Okay, so Recovery Girl is the one person who knows who isn’t family.”
Toshinori looked at him for a few moments, a smirk that Izuku definitely didn’t like growing on his face. “You know, wives are legally family.”
“Toshi, please ,” Izuku whined, sinking into the couch.
“Fine, fine, I’m done,” Toshinori chuckled. “But promise me this: give her the chance to earn your trust. If she proves worthy, it might be wise to tell her. I’ve noticed ever since we returned, you’ve seemed to be quite lonely. Don’t lock yourself away; you can protect your family and still have happiness.”
Izuku looked up at the man. “You think so?”
“I know so,” Toshinori said kindly. “I’ve never seen you fail to achieve something once you’ve set your heart on it. Not only do I think you can do it, I think you should do it. You deserve friendship and happiness, my boy. The man who protects Japan shouldn’t be lonely and sad.”
Izuku didn’t say anything as he hung his head.
“Would it be such a bad thing to have a nice young lady your age who you could talk to with your guard down? Someone you could be around where you don’t have to be constantly pretending you’re not who you really are?”
“That… does sound nice,” Izuku admitted quietly. “But doesn’t her getting close to me mean she’s in danger?”
“Tell me,” Toshinori began quietly, “do you think Uravity to be weak?”
“Of course not,” Izuku responded immediately.
Toshinori raised a finger. “There’s no point living a life where we are too afraid to actually live , young man. Being a hero means she isn’t afraid of danger. Besides, knowing that you’re Nimbus and knowing about One For All are two very different things.”
A silence hung in the air for a few minutes as Izuku thought. His secret had been absolute for years. Could he really change that? Could he let someone else into his life? Was it safe? For them? For his family?
“I'll… think about it,” Izuku said finally. “It’s a big decision.”
“Indeed it is,” Toshinori agreed. “So take your time with it. For now, what do you say staying for dinner? I’ll order something.”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Izuku said with a sigh as Toshinori stood up. “Oh, and Toshi?”
“Thank you. F-for everything.”
He smiled warmly. “Anytime, my boy.”
The next morning, Izuku smiled wide as Ochako entered the front door of Serendipity, her own expression brightening as she spotted him.
“Good morning, Ochako.”
“Good morning, Izuku,” she returned. “Are you doing better today?”
Izuku smiled, feeling his chest tighten. “I am. Thanks for asking.” He was already making her coffee the way she liked, causing his smile to widen as she closed her eyes and inhaled fondly.
“Will you sit with me?” Ochako asked, blushing slightly.
Izuku realized that to her, the last time they saw each other was when she ran away from him on the roof. He nodded quickly. “Sure, I’d love to.”
He made himself a quick cup of coffee for himself after he gave Ochako her cup and followed her to a small table in the corner. They sat there in silence for a few minutes, both sipping on their drinks after they had cooled slightly.
“Izuku,” she began quietly, “I wanted to apologize for running off like that.”
Izuku smiled softly. “You don’t have to. I don’t want you to be late on my behalf.”
Ochako grew a slight pout. “It’s my agency, I think I’m allowed to be late if I want to. There’s no excuse for me running off when you’re recovering from something like that. I—” She looked away, biting her lip slightly. “I should have stayed with you for a while. Really made sure you were okay. That’s what heroes are supposed to do.”
Izuku’s eyes went wide and his mouth hung open a little. He felt his stomach do a somersault and his heart squeeze. ‘Oh no, do I really have a crush? No, no, I’m just being over-sensitive because Toshi teased me about it yesterday. I can’t possibly—”
“Um, sorry…” Ochako muttered, her face reddening.
Izuku realized he had been staring silently at her. “O-oh, no, no! I’m just… really flattered that you would even c-consider doing that for me. I’m just a guy, you know?” He gestured weakly around the store. “B-besides, I read the hero reports every morning; I saw how much good you did yesterday. I would hate to take away from anybody you can help.”
“You’re not just ‘a guy’!” she fired back.
Her face went neon as soon as the words left her mouth.
Izuku blinked. ‘What does she mean by that? Does she maybe— no, don’t be insane. There’s no way a woman as amazing as her could ever like Izuku. Nimbus, maybe, but not Izuku.’
“W-what I mean by that is that you’re my f-friend, Izuku!” she clarified. “A hero is supposed to help people in need, and that goes double for their friends! There were other heroes in the area; Nimbus was around! He could have covered everything I did that morning by himself.”
Izuku’s mind completely forgot about anything she had said before as his brow furrowed fiercely. “That’s not true. Nimbus did a lot, but so did you. There’s no way he could have covered everything you did. You're an incredible hero capable of things Nimbus couldn’t even pretend to do; don’t let anyone else take away from what you’ve done.”
Ochako’s blush faded as she looked at him with her big, brown eyes. There was a pause, slightly longer than Izuku expected, before she spoke again. “T-thank you, Izuku, but I’d like to make it up to you.”
Izuku tilted his head slightly in confusion. “T-there’s no need.”
“Too late,” she said with a soft smile. “I already took the morning off. There’s a park nearby, would you like to walk with me?” She looked away, her cheeks reddening from her boldness.
Izuku’s eyes went wide again as words escaped him. His mind tried to rationalize this new reality, where someone like Uravity would take off work to spend time with him. That someone like her—strong, brave… amazing —would willingly do that for him was something he couldn’t really comprehend.
To her, he wasn’t Nimbus, he was just… Izuku. How could she do that for a lie she barely knew?
“Y-you…?” was all he could say.
“If you don’t want to…”
His mind smashed through his confusion, desperate to not lose this opportunity. “N-no!” he sputtered, much too quickly. “That s-sounds really, really n-nice!”
Ochako’s blush deepened, but not as much as her smile widened. “Great! But uh, breakfast f-first?”
“Breakfast? Mind if we join you?”
Izuku and Ochako whipped around, looking up at the grinning faces of Pinky and Red Riot, who had apparently entered while he had been stunned by Ochako.
“Mina! Eijirou!” Ochako squeaked in surprise. “W-what’re you doing here?”
The grins on their faces faded as they glanced at each other. Red Riot rubbed his head, looking right at Izuku. “We missed you yesterday, but we wanted to talk to you, buddy.”
“Talk to me?”
“About Bakugou,” Pinky clarified.
Izuku’s shoulders dropped. He had figured that was what they meant, but he had hoped it wasn’t. “Oh.”
Red Riot held up his hands defensively. “If you’re okay with that, of course.”
He thought back to what Toshinori had said yesterday. “Alright. I’ll go get breakfast.” He stood up and gestured at the open chairs. “Please, make yourselves at home.”
Pinky and Red Riot looked at each other again and then took seats next to each other, Pinky sitting next to Ochako.
Izuku entered the kitchen and set to work. His hands were so well-practiced that he didn’t have to commit much brain power at all to making the food, which unfortunately left his mind to wander.
He ran over what the two might possibly say to him, what he was okay telling them and how he would deflect topics he didn’t want them to know about. Toshinori’s words hung heavy in his mind; he would give them the opportunity to be his friends if they wanted to be, but he wasn’t ready to open himself up fully. He wasn’t even there with Ochako.
Before he realized it, he was shoveling the last of the food onto the plates. Izuku sighed as he gathered all four plates in his practiced arms and carried them back outside, bracing himself for whatever was coming.
He placed the plates around the square table then sat down in the open seat between Red Riot and Ochako.
Pinky inhaled deeply. “Wow, this smells amazing!”
“You made this yourself?” Red Riot asked.
Izuku laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah. We’ve been open for three years, it would be a shame if I couldn’t cook.”
“It’s great as always, Izuku. Thank you,” Ochako said brightly.
Pinky leaned over to Ochako with a smirk on her face. “He can cook...” She yelped as Ochako stepped on her foot.
Izuku pretended not to notice.
“I hope you enjoy, Red Riot, Pinky.”
Red Riot had a bite halfway to his mouth when he stopped and put the fork down. “Hey now, I told you yesterday to call me Ki—you know what? Call me Eijirou.”
“Call me Mina! We’re all friends here, right? It would feel weird to call you Izuku and have you not do the same for me.”
‘Friends…’ Izuku smiled awkwardly. “Are you sure?”
They both nodded.
“Okay. Thank you,” Izuku muttered with a smile. “Oh, and it’s on the house.”
“But—” Eijirou began to protest.
“I insist,” Izuku said firmly.
Eijirou grumbled but began to eat.
So as not to spoil the meal, the four of them ate their food without bringing up the… controversial topic. They chatted happily, talking about their jobs as heroes while Izuku listened eagerly and his father and mother tended to the rest of the restaurant and their customers.
Soon, far too soon, the meal ended.
“That was amazing ,” Mina muttered contently.
“Always is,” Ochako agreed.
Eijirou grinned his sharp grin. “Way better than the food at our agency, huh? Hey, if you’re ever looking for work…”
Izuku laughed politely. “I’m happy here, thank you though.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Mina said kindly.
Eijirou’s expression fell slightly. “Yeah, it’s good to hear that you’re happy. But uh…”
Izuku’s shoulders dropped. “Yeah. Bakugou.” He leaned back in his chair, slumping slightly. “What do you want to know?”
“He bullied you,” Eijirou began flatly, causing Izuku to wince slightly and look away. “I want to know about that. I’ve known Bakugou for… six years now. The dude is abrasive, but I don’t know if I’d see him as a bully.”
Mina put a hand on his shoulder. “Remember how he was when he first got to UA? Before Aizawa and Todoroki and the others put his ego in check?”
Eijirou sighed. “Yeah… He was real prickly then.”
Izuku laughed sadly. “We’ve known each other since we were really little. I’m talking before I could even remember, before he had his quirk, even.”
Mina, Eijirou and Ochako were listening closely.
“The other neighborhood kids and I always hung around with him. He’s always had a… powerful personality, one that draws people to him. Part of the issue was that he was never really told no. We all told him how amazing he was and how cool he was.”
Izuku leaned back, running his hand through his hair. “Then he got his quirk. We could tell immediately that he was going to be something special. That quirk combined with his tenacity… even the teachers praised him. He grew up with an ego the size of Fatgum.”
That got a laugh out of the other three.
“He… didn’t like me,” Izuku explained. “He thought I was annoying, weak, in the way. He called me…” Izuku sighed, bracing himself. “‘Deku’. If you read the kanji in my name in the right— wrong —way, you can get that instead of Izuku.”
Mina and Eijirou both thought for a second and nodded.
Izuku had to admit that he felt a little better getting it off his chest. “Means ‘useless’, right? Well, that was all he called me and as he was the de-facto leader in not just the neighborhood but pretty soon our school, everyone started calling me that.”
“He doesn’t seem like much of a leader,” Mina muttered. “I guess he winds up with people following him around a lot.”
“Right,” Izuku agreed, nodding his head. “So I was ‘Deku’ to everyone, but I kept hanging around him. He, uh, made it pretty clear that he didn’t want me around, but I didn’t listen. He would shove me down, make fun of me, talk behind my back, everything you could think of… but I kept hanging around him.”
His audience recoiled, exchanging nervous glances with each other.
“But…” Ochako began slowly, “why didn’t he like you? I’ve never seen anyone besides him not like you.”
Izuku smiled as he felt his heart fill with warmth. “I’ve asked myself that question dozens of times over the years, Ochako. I think it all started back when we were… five or six, I don’t remember exactly. Maybe we were four—anyway, the other neighborhood kids and me were following Bakugou into the nearby woods, playing make-believe. He led us over a log stretched over a stream, but he slipped and fell in.”
The three in front of him gasped.
“He was fine, but even so, I scrambled down to give him a hand. He pulled himself to his knees, but when I held out my hand to help him up, his expression turned from disbelief to rage. He shoved me down into the water and stomped off, leaving me there. Gave me a nasty bruise.”
“What?!” all three of them exclaimed at the same time.
Ochako looked incensed. “How could he do that?”
Mina didn’t look as surprised. “Again, remember the beginning of UA?”
“Yeah, teamwork wasn’t exactly his forte,” Eijirou agreed.
“But still!” Ochako protested. “Why would he push you down?”
Izuku smiled sadly. “My guess? He saw the weakest, most helpless kid he knew offering him help, which to him meant he was weaker and more helpless. In school, whenever someone offered him assistance, he would accuse them of ‘looking down’ on him. My money is that’s why he shoved me. Ever since then… he really, truly hated me.”
Eijirou rubbed his hair, careful not to hit his carefully-constructed horns. “ Damn. ”
“The sad thing is that I believe it,” Mina muttered.
Ochako looked hurt, but not as much as she had the day before. She gave him a comforting look, as if telling him that she was there for him.
“But…” Eijirou began, looking back up. “Why do you keep saying he thought you were ‘weak’. That doesn’t really seem right, was it because of your quirk or something?”
Mina tilted her head. “Yeah, you seemed to be just fine standing up to him yesterday. Why did he think you were weak?”
“Yeah, something like that,” Izuku muttered, gesturing to Eijirou. “It was because I’m…” He shot a pointed look at Ochako, who had a determined look on her face. “Quirkless.”
There was a pregnant pause. Izuku met Ochako’s eyes, seeing that she understood that he wanted to keep his secret.
“ Damn, ” Eijirou repeated after a while. “Come on, Bakugou. You’re better than that.”
“I agree,” Izuku said flatly.
“Huh?” Mina and Eijirou looked at him in confusion.
“He’s a different guy than he was then,” Izuku explained. “He mostly left me alone our last year of middle school and then we went our separate ways. I went to school in America, while he went to UA. I hadn’t expected to see him again and I bet he thought the same. Yesterday was as much of a shock for him as it was for me.” Izuku shrugged, even as he lied slightly. He knew that he would see Bakugou again one day.
Izuku sat up straight, removing for a moment the permanent slouch he adopted when he wasn’t Nimbus. “I’m ready to move on. That was a long time ago, for both of us.”
“That still doesn’t make it right,” Eijirou countered.
“No,” Izuku admitted, “it doesn’t. But in my eyes, he’s made up for it by helping others. He’s a different person now and so am I; I don’t have any interest in dredging up the past. I made it clear to him yesterday that I’m not going to be his punching bag anymore. If he wants to come back here, he has to act like a normal person, or he’s not welcome.”
Eijirou nodded with a proud smile. “Manly. I don’t know what he didn’t see in you, but I’d like to call you my friend, if that’s alright with you.” He held out his hand.
Izuku hesitated for a moment before he took it. “You’re very forward.”
“No point in not being,” he responded with a grin. “I aim to live my life with no regrets. So I mean what I say and I say what I mean.”
“Just like Crimson Riot,” Izuku remarked.
Eijirou’s grin widened. “Exactly.”
“Unfortunately, we have to get going if we’re going to make it to our agency in time,” Mina interjected. “But if you want to, I’d love to do something as the four of us sometime. You seem like a really cool dude, Izuku.”
Izuku felt his face warming under the long-missed show of kindness. “That sounds n-nice.”
“For sure!” Ochako agreed.
“Yeah, that sounds nice,” Eijirou began as he stood up from the table and turned to Mina with a furrowed brow. “But I’m not going in yet.”
“Why not?” Mina asked as she stood up as well.
Eijirou pulled out his phone and began to type a message. “I’m telling boss man that I’m using some of my vacation time. I gotta go talk to Bakugou.”
Mina nodded, looking at her friend with concern, but understanding. “Thanks for the meal, Izuku.”
“You’re welcome,” Izuku returned graciously.
Mina and Eijirou both said their goodbyes and left, leaving Izuku and Ochako alone.
After a few minutes of silence, Ochako put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
He nodded. “It actually felt nice to talk about it. You have good friends, Ochako.”
“Don’t you mean we have good friends?” she corrected him with a smirk.
“I guess so, huh?” Izuku smiled widely.
Another silence hung in the air, but unlike the previous ones, this one was comfortable and peaceful. Finally, Izuku spoke up again. “Do you still want to take that walk?”
Her permanent blush widened slightly as her eyes sparkled. “I’d love to.”
See you guys next time :)
Chapter 8: A Day Out
Ochako and Izuku enjoy the day together.
“I hope the park is nice,” Ochako said quietly. “I didn’t do too much research into it.”
Izuku laughed. “That’s fine, I know the place you’re talking about. In fact, I go there all the time. Shall we?” he asked, gesturing to the door.
“Lead the way,” she chirped, standing up as Izuku took off his apron and put it near the back of the front counter.
Izuku and Ochako set off walking down the street in the mid-autumn sun. It was brisk and the wind carried a chill, but the sun warmed their faces. Ochako wore a light scarf and a comfortable-looking jacket, while Izuku felt warm enough in the long, baggy clothes he always wore. His unflattering clothing and his slightly slouched posture were both ways for him to distance himself from Nimbus; after all, there was no reason for a simple waiter to be as muscular as Izuku.
They walked in a comfortable silence for several blocks until they arrived at the park. Izuku looked between the different paths around the generous-sized natural sanctuary and chose the one he thought was the most beautiful, hoping to make a good impression.
Ochako seemed to agree with his choice as she smiled contentedly, apparently satisfied with simply enjoying Izuku's company. They chatted about nothing in particular as they walked, but eventually, she asked a question that set off warning bells in Izuku’s mind.
“So, what was America like?”
The question was seemingly innocuous, but any sort of delve into his past like that could potentially undermine his secret. He had to be extremely careful not to give her any information that could link him to All Might or his old school or him being a hero at all. It was okay, he had practiced this before, but something about Ochako made it so easy to put his guard down. He just had to focus and-
Izuku blinked. “Oh, uh…”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Ochako muttered quietly, sounding slightly hurt. “I was just curious.”
“No, no!” Izuku shot back, horrified by the idea of upsetting her. “I just got distracted reminiscing, I didn’t mean to not answer.” Izuku cleared his throat. “America was great. I miss it sometimes, but I know my place is here.”
Ochako immediately cheered back up, satisfied by his excuse. “You went to school there, right?”
“Yeah,” Izuku responded, still wishing that Ochako hadn’t overheard his conversation on the roof with Bakugou. “My dad lived over there, working to support us back here. After a… less than stellar childhood, I was ready to have a fresh start. My mother and I moved there to be with him and for me to go to school.”
“It must have been nice not to be around Bakugou anymore,” Ochako remarked.
Izuku nodded. “It was.”
There was a small silence.
“Why did you come back?” Ochako asked quietly.
Izuku smiled. She couldn’t know the real answer. “Like I said, I belong here. I love America, but I’m Japanese, not American. I had always intended on coming back home, so I never integrated.”
“Well, I’m glad you came back,” Ochako said cheerfully. “That way I got to meet you!”
“Yeah…” Izuku agreed. “I’m glad I got to meet you, too.”
Both of their cheeks reddened slightly and suddenly the trees over to the side of the walking path were much more interesting than they were a few seconds ago. Izuku didn’t feel as awkward as he thought he would; the benefits of growing up, he imagined.
They walked in silence for a few more minutes, enjoying the sun, the trees, and each other’s company. A breeze blew along the path, chilling them both. It wasn’t until after the breeze had finally died down that both of them realized they had instinctively moved closer together to shield themselves from the cold.
They both blushed again as they took a step away from each other; a new silence fell over them, but it was much more awkward. Ochako broke first, speaking up to try and move past their nerves. “You must have had a lot of friends over there, yeah?”
“I did… for a change,” Izuku said sadly. He realized his slip up and tried to play it off by laughing awkwardly.
It didn’t work. “For a change? Izuku, how many friends did you have back here?”
Izuku gulped. “A few.”
“Hey…” she began, looking up at him. “Didn’t you tell Bakugou that he was your “only friend” back on the roof?”
‘Crap,’ Izuku thought. He had forgotten he let that part out. “W-well…. Look, you don’t have to worry about me, alright?”
“No, not alright!” Ochako shot back. “I took this day off because I’m worried about you.”
“And I appreciate that,” Izuku continued. “I really do. But middle school was over 6 years ago, I’ve moved on. Sure, it sucked, but it’s in the past. I’m doing fine now. Better than fine. I’m great! Honest!” Izuku smiled wide.
Ochako smiled back, but it was muted. “Izuku, how many friends do you have now?”
“Your parents don’t count.”
“Well, then…” He paused to count. He spent so much time as Nimbus that he had basically lost contact with everyone except for those that knew his secret. So that meant he could only really include Toshinori and Melissa. “...Five.”
“Does that include Mina and Eijirou?” Ochako asked.
“...It does...” Izuku admitted.
Ochako stopped walking. Izuku turned to her and saw her standing still with her arms wide but a determined expression on her face. “Um, Ochako?” he asked nervously.
“Hug.” Her words were almost an order, their intensity matched by the fire burning in her eyes.
“Hug?” he repeated.
“Hug. Come here and give me a hug.”
“That doesn’t look like hugging!” Her determined frown was turning up ever-so-slightly into a small smile.
Izuku couldn’t help but smile and laugh a little as he moved closer to Ochako and leaned down, giving her a hug while she reached up and hugged him back.
It felt… nice. Really nice. The contact made warmth spread across his body and comforted him against the autumn chill. They broke apart after only a short while, each smiling with slightly flushed cheeks at the other.
Ochako took a deep breath, looking at her hands for a moment and then at him with a slightly puzzled look before smiling again. “Izuku, I’m here for you, okay? I can’t stand the idea of you being lonely and I’m sure Mina and Eijirou feel the same way.” She smiled up at him as they started walking again. “They’re great people; in fact, almost all of my old classmates are. You didn’t really get to meet most of them properly, but I’m sure once you do, they’ll be your friends too.”
More friends? Izuku didn’t know if that was wise. The more people that got to know him, the bigger the chance of his secret getting exposed. The secret was the most important thing in his life—other than his family, of course—but that was just it: his secret was for his family. If people knew that his parents were the parents of Nimbus, there would be no way they could live like they had been. It wasn’t even wise for him to be talking to Ochako like this, let alone a bunch of other people.
“Keep your secret, but open yourself up to them. They don’t need to know that you’re Nimbus to be your friends.”
Toshinori’s words rung in his mind. Maybe he was right. And if he was being honest, having more friends sounded nice. It would be like old times.
Izuku smiled and looked up into the clear sky. “That sounds great; thank you, Ochako. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Great!” Ochako chirped. “Momo is already talking about all of them coming back to Serendipity soon. Uh, minus Bakugou, of course. But we should hang out with them when you’re not working. They should get to know the real you, like I do, or at least, like I’m starting to.”
Izuku felt a little guilty. She didn’t know the real him; not by a long shot. He had already given her some small hints that he wasn’t what he appeared, but there was no way she would ever connect Izuku to Nimbus. They were just too different.
“Yeah, someday,” Izuku agreed as the two continued their trek through the park, their silence even more comfortable than before.
Once again, Ochako broke it. “So, this is a really nice place, huh? You said you come here a lot?”
“Yep. It’s nearby, right? And I jog here most mornings,” Izuku explained. “It’s got a nice track that’s a good length to get me warmed up and ready for the day.”
“You jog?” she asked simply.
Oh no. Was telling her that a mistake? Would she find out that he was more fit than he let on? Would she figure out that-
No. Izuku stopped himself. He was being paranoid. Ochako just wanted to be his friend. He should listen to Toshinori and let people in.
“It’s a yes or no question,” Ochako said with a laugh. “Is everything alright?”
Izuku smiled awkwardly. “Y-yeah, sorry. I’m just not used to people being this interested in me. Yeah, I jog daily, why?”
“No need to be shy!” she giggled, patting his shoulder affectionately to try to get him to relax. “Ever since Tsu moved to her new agency, I haven’t had a good jogging partner. Would you like to run together in the mornings? We can keep each other accountable and stuff!”
Three years of secrecy told him that this was a terrible idea, but that part of his brain wasn’t in control right now. Spending more time with Ochako sounded heavenly and maybe this was what Toshinori was talking about when he told him to give her a chance to earn his trust.
“That sounds like a great idea,” Izuku agreed. “I just hope I can keep up with a pro hero.”
That made Ochako laugh again. “We’re just warming up, I’m not going to run you into the ground. Plus, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I’m sure you’ll keep up.”
“That’s very kind of you to say,” Izuku responded warmly. “I’ll do my best.”
“Aw, no need to be so serious!” Ochako scoffed jokingly. “We’re just two friends spending time together. No stress!”
Izuku smiled wider as they crossed a small wooden bridge over the creek that ran through the park. “I guess you’re right.”
After the two finished their walk, they headed back to Serendipity to let Izuku change clothes. Ochako waited down below, not wanting to intrude upon the family’s private life. His absence allowed Ochako some time to reflect on her rather eventful morning.
Their time together was… really nice. There was something relaxing about being with Izuku, which was a relief. They had been so nervous and awkward around each other up until now; it had made Ochako feel like she was an awkward schoolgirl again, which wasn't a good thing. She had done her time as a hormonal teen and she wasn't interested in going through it again.
But that wasn't the case. She had been worried that it would be and had acted accordingly when she had shown up this morning at Serendipity, but… it hadn't been that way. Their walk in the park was peaceful. Friendly. Comfortable. Even a little exciting.
Exciting because of the hug she had given him. The hug was purely friendly and supportive, but she had discovered that Izuku was much more muscular than he looked. Ochako had only really touched his back, but even that was well-defined and strong. She reasoned that with only a few friends and nothing seemingly going on in his life besides Serendipity, he might spend his free time working out. If that was the case, maybe she could invite him to work out with her in the future too, in addition to jogging together. Maybe they could help each other out with their lifting.
She was a little impressed with how calm she was being about the whole thing, but maybe their shared… experience the previous morning on the roof had helped them both get more comfortable with each other. Izuku had hardly stuttered at all and she couldn't remember the last time she had smiled and laughed so much. Even though they had only known each other for a few weeks, she didn’t think twice about taking the day off.
Which made her feel a little uneasy. She was just taking the day off to make sure Izuku was okay, right? It was purely a platonic decision that certainly didn’t have anything to do with…
Ochako sighed as she took another drink of the coffee Inko had made her while she waited.
Who was she kidding? Mina was always on her about being honest with herself regarding her feelings and she had just thought about how much she hated the idea of being a shy and awkward teenager. Sure, she was concerned for Izuku, but she couldn’t pretend like she didn’t feel something between them. A connection of sorts. She had never made a friend as quickly as she had with Izuku and now she was feeling like for the first time, she might actually feel something deeper.
Sure, she was nervous, but at least she wasn’t running and hiding from her feelings or turning into an incoherent, blushing mess like she was sure she would have done if Izuku had known her in high school. Ochako was old enough to be mostly over childish crushes and hormonal infatuations, so her interest in Izuku was more… refined was the word she was going to use. She would keep spending time with him and if things worked out, then perhaps they could be something more.
But that was a thought for a different day. Izuku had just returned downstairs, wearing a simple black hoodie and jeans. He smiled at her kindly. “Thanks for waiting. Ready?”
Ochako nodded and thanked Inko again for the coffee as she hopped up from her seat and walked with Izuku out of the shop.
The two of them walked downtown for lunch, where they spotted a ramen stand that looked nice and decided to give it a try. It was a little more pricey than Ochako had hoped for, but she also wasn’t as poor as she used to be. Despite her having enough money to help her parents out and still live comfortably, she was raised frugally. Those habits were hard to break.
However, she wound up not having to worry about it at all, as Izuku had insisted upon paying. She had protested, as it felt wrong for a pro hero to have her meal paid for by a waiter, but he refused to budge. Ochako felt a little guilty, but was more grateful for his kindness and generosity than anything else.
The two left the stand warmed and satisfied by the delicious ramen; it had certainly been worth the extra money. She felt fortified against the chill in the air as she walked down the busy streets with Izuku, looking at all the neon signs and talking about anything and everything.
Izuku was brilliant; it didn’t take long for Ochako to figure that out. He had a knack for analysis and reasoning that she simply didn’t. However, instead of making her feel dumb like Momo sometimes did by accident, she only felt pride in Izuku. Whenever she didn’t understand something, he would explain it in a way that not only made sense, but respected her intelligence. He never talked down to her and just being around him made her feel smarter.
She felt like she did around Nimbus, truth be told. The American hero was also brilliant and had the same knack for explaining things that Izuku did. She appreciated that about the two of them and it really spoke to a deep-seated kindness in their hearts that couldn’t really be taught.
The two of them also had the same almost-overbearing passion for heroes. Ochako had to cover her face in embarrassment a few times over the course of the afternoon when Izuku saw a pro hero walking down the street. She had to admit, some of them were so small-time that she didn’t recognize them, but Izuku never failed to not only know who they were, but even spout of some of their recent achievements. He was nearly vibrating every time he added a new autograph to the notebook he always seemed to be carrying around.
Just like Nimbus did, actually. Ochako smiled softly to herself; Izuku was such a fanboy, she wouldn’t be surprised if he had started carrying a notebook around because Nimbus did. Maybe she could get the two of them to meet up someday; it made her smile wider just thinking about how Izuku would act in front of Nimbus.
However, before she could continue her thought, the ground shook violently. Ochako and Izuku both whipped around as a massive cloud of dust rose up from the small urban park they had walked past a few moments ago. As the dust was cleared by a rush of air, a massive villain came into view. He had to be at least thirty feet tall and covered in brown fur. The claws on his hand gave her the impression that he had some sort of mole quirk, which perhaps explained why he had burst from the ground suddenly.
She took a step forward to go after the villain, but realized that Izuku had stepped forward as well. Her protective instincts flared like she had never felt before as she whipped around and put her hand on Izuku’s chest, stopping him from moving. “Izuku, you need to get to safety,” she ordered, immediately going into ‘hero mode’. She had a fair bit of experience handling civilians during villain attacks and right now, Izuku was a civilian who she was tasked with protecting. “Go into that alleyway and wait for me.”
Izuku blinked down at her a few times and looked like he was thinking things over. She nearly sighed with relief when he seemed to finish his mental argument and nodded. “Be safe,” he responded quietly.
Izuku nodded again and turned around, hurrying toward the alleyway and ducking into it but not before giving her one last glance.
She smiled back with a confident look, intending to reassure him. As soon as he turned the corner, she whipped back around and began to run toward the park. She didn’t have her uniform, but she never went anywhere without her emergency hero gear. She pulled out the smaller cuffs and placed them around her wrists and pulled out her pair of pink protective glasses. The cuffs weren’t as good at curtailing her nausea as her normal hero uniform, but they were functional and when combined with her years of practice, it would be more than enough to handle a villain like this. Her only real limitation was her lack of boots, which meant she had to be careful about any sort of altitude, as her landing wouldn't be safe.
Ochako made herself weightless and jumped forward, keeping low enough that she wouldn’t be at risk but getting enough air that she reached the park quickly. She quickly took account of the scene, seeing several other heroes, including some that Izuku and her had met earlier. Unfortunately, they were all side-kicks or newbies, but they had already done a fine job getting all the civilians out of the way, which meant that all they had to do now was to deal with the villain.
She quickly took charge of the situation, as nobody else had done so. Ochako called out to the other heroes; she was grateful for Izuku’s fanboying now, as he was the only reason she knew some of their names.
“You three, keep him contained to the park if he tries to escape,” she called out. “You two, you’re wi-”
A massive rush of wind cut her off as a thunderous crash shook the ground again.
“Another villain?” she asked aloud. Maybe he had a sibling with a similar quirk. It wouldn't be the first time. She opened her eyes as the rush of wind died down, only to see the villain shrunk down to a normal human size and lying unconscious in a crater that hadn’t been there a few moments prior.
A second rush of wind caused her to whip around as she saw a familiar green streak vanish over the roof of the nearby buildings.
“Redacted?” one of the other heroes asked dumbfoundedly.
A small smile grew on her face, but then her brow furrowed. She was grateful for Nimbus helping them out, but a smash-and-dash like that wasn’t his normal modus operandi.
Ochako chuckled to herself slightly at her little joke.
Maybe he had somewhere to be, like on his way to another villain attack, or maybe he was simply passing by. Even so, it wasn’t like him to not stop and check to make sure everyone was alright or to congratulate the other heroes on a job well done. Part of the reason he was so popular was because he was such a genuine, nice guy on top of being the most powerful hero the world had ever seen.
Ochako realized that she hadn’t seen any news regarding Nimbus all day. Maybe today was his day off, too? He was only human after all, he surely had days where he just wanted to relax. Being in his position must be incredibly stressful, many times more so than Ochako’s own position and she had taken the day off, right?
She was extra grateful for Nimbus’ intervention as it meant she could get back to her friend. He was clearly worried about her and the rest of the heroes here could handle the cleanup here. She wasn’t even officially on duty, so not getting involved meant a bunch less paperwork for her. If she had fought, she would have been caught up for at least an hour with this or that.
She took off her protective glasses and wrist braces and jogged back to the alleyway she left Izuku in, spotting him poking his head out curiously from around the corner. They both smiled wide as they spotted each other, Izuku stepping out of the alleyway and jogging toward her. “Are you alright?” he asked, although there was no worry in his voice. He was sweating the smallest amount, so maybe he was just good at hiding his worry. Either way, it was flattering that he was both concerned for her and confident in her abilities.
“I’m fine,” she answered. “Nimbus swooped in and took out the villain in an instant. He really is something else; I didn’t even see him coming!”
“I’m sure you could’ve handled it,” Izuku said confidently.
“Well, sure, probably, but it’s still so cool to see him work!” Ochako cheered. “Well, I didn’t see much of anything, but you know what I mean, right? Too bad he didn’t stick around, I’m sure you would love his autograph.”
Izuku smiled and rubbed his head. “Sure, but I’m pretty satisfied by the three I have.”
Ochako gasped. “You have three autographs from Nimbus?!” She stopped and laughed. “I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a hero nerd like you has caught him a few times.”
“Hey…” he muttered, pretending to be hurt by her jab, but his smile gave him away.
“Well, I’m still glad I didn’t have to get involved. The less paperwork I have to do, the better, yeah?” She smiled up at him again as she pointed down the street. “Come on, I know this great mochi place around here.”
“You like mochi?” he asked.
“It’s only my favorite food!” she bubbled.
Izuku raised his eyebrow in interest. “I’ll have to see if my mom can put some on the menu. She’s always looking for new things to make for people.”
“Oooh!” Ochako squealed happily. “I’m sure her mochi would be amazing . But let’s stop standing around, I’m starving!”
“Fine, fine,” Izuku chuckled. “Lead the way, Miss Uravity.”
“Oh, and I’m paying this time,” she demanded.
Izuku held up his hands defensively. “If you insist.”
The two grinned at each other again as they began to walk down the street again. There was something about Izuku that made him so easy to talk to, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Maybe it was just his natural exuberance that matched up so well with hers, or maybe it was because they had spent so much time together as of late.
Ochako looked up into the setting sun with a soft smile. In the end, no matter what it really was and no matter what happened, Ochako was confident that she had made a friend for life.
See you guys next time!
It was a few weeks after their outing and Ochako was finishing up her jog with Izuku; they had met up almost every day since then to warm up together. Ever since she had moved to open her agency and couldn’t jog with Tsuyu anymore, she had missed this. What made things even better was that it was with Izuku, who, much as she expected, was quite fit.
He had more endurance and better form than many pros she knew, not to mention he looked better doing it than any pros she knew, even in his baggy clothes. Well, any pro other than Nimbus.
So Ochako thought Izuku and Nimbus were hot. Sue her. She was allowed to think it.
She had asked Izuku if he wanted to weight train with her, but he had said that his weight training schedule was harder to plan for, as he lifted when he had the time. He hadn’t said no, but that they would have to find a time later.
Ochako was satisfied with that. For now. She didn’t want to rush things with her new friend, but she did feel like it was time for a second date. Not that their first outing was official or anything, but when Mina had found out she had spent that afternoon with Izuku, she had nearly exploded with excitement.
Mina had tried to get Ochako interested in boy after boy at UA, not to mention a few girls, but she just… wasn’t into them. She was much too busy training and studying for a relationship and all of them just seemed to be missing something. She didn’t really know what that something was, but she knew it was missing.
But… she had met a couple people who seemed to have it. Nimbus and Izuku seemed to have that something . Maybe it was just a fire in their spirit that matched with hers, maybe it was a kindness in their hearts, maybe it was an unbreakable will, or maybe it was all of the above.
Or maybe it was something else; she really didn’t know. What she did know, was that she felt closer to the two men than she did with most.
Nimbus had made a habit over the weeks of visiting to patrol with her at least once or twice a week, which she looked forward to much more than she would ever admit. At first she felt a little like a burden, but she impressed even herself with how fast she was picking things up and improving. Just being around Nimbus made her want to do better. Besides, who was better to emulate than Nimbus, the greatest hero the world had ever seen? He didn’t yet have the fame and respect All Might had at his peak, but he was getting there.
Ochako was confident that Nimbus would surpass even All Might sooner than later.
Unfortunately, the tabloids paid attention to their outings more than she liked. The gossip rags speculated on their burgeoning romantic relationship, as if it existed, and dramatized every time they were apart with stories of supposed messy breakups. The more cynical publishers called her a leech and a parasite, claiming she was latching onto Nimbus and using him for his fame and fortune, or that he was taking pity on her.
Nimbus seemed to hate all the rumors, but none made him more frustrated than the ones that put her down. People could slander him all day and he didn’t care, but the moment anyone took a dig at her, he was suddenly bristling and defensive. He made sure to never take pity on her, but he made his displeasure known. It was flattering, knowing that Nimbus thought so highly of her.
“Are you alright, Ochako?” Izuku asked as they wiped their sweat off. “You’ve been quiet.”
Ochako blinked. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I was just thinking.”
Izuku smiled. “I understand, I do that a lot, too.”
“Yeah?” Ochako giggled. “What do you think about?”
He paused for a second, smiling softly as something crossed his mind. “Mostly about hero stuff. I like to analyze and theorize; I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.”
“That makes sense,” Ochako remarked. “You know stuff about heroes that I haven’t even heard of.”
That got a chuckle out of him. “It’s a passion. I’ve always loved heroes. People who take their quirks and dedicate themselves to helping and protecting people; what could be cooler?!”
“You think pretty highly of me, don’t you?” Ochako teased.
“Of course!” Izuku responded without missing a beat. “You’re the coolest person I know.”
If she were six years younger, Ochako was certain that she would have accidentally made herself float away while turning beet red, but instead, his compliment just made her heart soar. “That’s really nice of you to say,” she muttered quietly.
“And I mean it too,” he added. “You’re a true hero, Ochako. I’m proud to know you.”
Ochako blinked up at him. “...Thank you.” Now he was just trying to make her blush.
He was succeeding.
The two of them kept walking for a little while quietly, a peaceful, comfortable silence hanging between them. It was flattering knowing that Izuku thought so highly of her, too. He wasn’t the number one hero, but he was a great guy and one of her best friends, even after their relatively short time knowing each other. He wasn’t rich, famous, super powerful or anything like that, but he had a heart and a spirit that rivaled any top hero, including Nimbus.
They were a lot alike, now that she thought about it.
Suddenly, she was shaken out of her thoughts by the sound of tires squealing and people shouting.
Ochako began to turn around as time seemed to slow down. Somehow, Izuku had vanished from her side and was already halfway into the street. There was a small boy walking across the crosswalk, his eyes wide as a car closed in on him.
Even with the brakes slammed down, there was no way it was going to stop in time.
Luckily for everyone, Izuku was there.
He dove forward, grabbing the child and twisting around in mid air, slamming onto his back just past the car with the child held tightly to his chest.
Ochako and the rest of the street breathed a collective sigh of relief as the car finally came to a stop a full length beyond the crosswalk. Izuku stood up slowly, holding the child carefully, babbling to him softly to keep him calm.
The child’s mother was sobbing as she ran out into the street, taking the child gently from Izuku as she hugged him desperately with the other arm. He smiled down at her calmly, giving off the confident air of a hero.
Ochako smiled. It was just confirmation of what she already knew: Izuku could make a great hero.
If only he would let her help him.
A thought came to her; how did Izuku move so fast? He was most of the way to the child before Ochako could really figure out what was happening. He must have insane reflexes, which would also make him a great hero. She mentally added it to the list.
Ochako smiled as Izuku jogged back over to her, once the woman finally let him go. “Are you alright?” she asked.
He dusted himself off a little. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.”
“Man, that reaction!” she gushed, now that she knew he was alright. “Those instincts! Izuku, I’m gonna get you to come to my agency yet! Just you watch.”
Izuku blushed a little. “W-we’ll see. I’m pretty happy with where I am, though.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Ochako giggled a little as they resumed their walk. She couldn’t help but smile widely; her heart was bursting with pride for her friend. If it wasn’t for him, that child might have died, but he had acted like a real hero. If only he would tell her about his quirk, she was sure that she could help him.
Suddenly, Izuku’s watch started buzzing and his vision snapped to it, concern growing on his face.
Coincidentally, her own watch buzzed only a second later. She looked down at her wrist and saw a hero alert scroll up.
There was a villain on the loose nearby after he broke out of a prison transport. All nearby heroes were called to assist as soon as possible.
Ochako turned her head quickly to Izuku, who was reading his own watch with similar intensity. It was kind of adorable, in a way. He had a very noble sense of responsibility that would serve him excellently as a hero, if Ochako could ever convince him to trust her. She was very serious about taking him on as a sidekick.
“Izuku, there’s a villain on the loose,” she said directly. “I have to go.”
Izuku nodded. “There’s been a thing back home, I need to go, too. Stay safe, alright?”
Ochako nodded back. “I promise.”
She grabbed her bag, reached inside and pulled out her compact hero gear, slapping her backup bracers and glasses on. With a touch of her wrist, she lost her gravity and began to streak toward the coordinates in the message.
She just hoped she wouldn’t be too late.
Ochako’s heart dropped as she arrived on the scene. It had only been a few minutes since the alert went out, but the devastation was horrific. Smoke filled the air as fires raged across several city blocks, even as water heroes contained them. She saw broken cars, broken buildings… broken people.
Destruction. Death. It never got any easier.
She didn’t see the villain, but she did see a woman struggling to move a destroyed car. Ochako jumped down to her and noticed a child trapped beneath the metal wreckage, bawling hysterically. The girl couldn’t have been older than two.
“I’m here to help!” Ochako called out as she touched the car and lifted it slowly, allowing the woman to pull the child free.
“Oh, thank you, thank you!” the woman exclaimed hysterically.
Ochako saw blood pouring from a cut on the girl’s head; she needed to staunch the flow. “Here, hold still,” she instructed as she reached into her pack and pulled out her first aid kit. She quickly cleaned the wound and applied a small wrapping to the child’s head. “It’ll be okay now. Let’s get you two to safety.”
“Safety?” a snide, arrogant voice came from behind. “What makes you think any of you are safe?”
Ochako instinctively grabbed the woman and child, taking both of their weights as she stole a look back.
The man stood well over a foot taller than her, sneering down at her cruelly. He had short, spiky blonde hair, a little like Bakugou, but he was missing an eye, which was probably taken by whatever gave him that nasty scar down the left side of his face. His quirk was apparent, as strong muscle fibers coiled out of his skin and wrapped around his arms and legs, giving him a truly terrifying appearance.
Ochako kicked off with the two civilians, shooting away from the villain as fast as she could.
The man was fast. Faster than her.
Ochako caught herself and prepared to make another jump, but he had already caught up to her. He reared a massive fist back as his face twisted into sadistic pleasure.
Ochako didn’t have time to move away. She pulled the woman and child down and twisted, putting her own body between the civilians and the villain. The only thing that mattered was keeping them safe.
The villain laughed cruelly.
She braced herself for the punch.
A rush of wind and a deafening impact as his fist found contact.
But there was no pain.
“Don’t worry, you are safe now.”
Ochako opened one of her eyes and saw the villain’s fist less than a foot from her face, being held back by a single hand.
“Because I am here .”
Nimbus stood between her and the villain, his left hand blocking the attack with seemingly little effort. Lightning danced off his body as he stared down the much larger man.
He sounded mad.
“Redacted?” the villain asked in surprise.
Nimbus flicked his wrist, sending the man flying backward into a car.
The man pulled himself up, regrowing his sinister smile as he glared down at Nimbus, who was walking slowly toward him. “Oh, ho, ho. I was hoping to run into you. You think you’re some sort of All Might character, don’t you?” He laughed maliciously. “I’ll tell you what; I fought All Might. He’s the one who put me away originally. You’re no All Might. ”
Nimbus stopped a good twenty meters away from the man. “Alias: Muscular. Known as ‘The Carnal Murderer’.” Nimbus didn’t just sound mad; his every word dripped with cold, righteous fury.
“Aw, you know me,” Muscular responded snidely. “I’m flattered.”
“I will give you this one opportunity to stand down and come quietly,” Nimbus offered generously. “Surrender now or suffer the consequences.”
Muscular began to laugh. “But I was having so much fun! I haven’t been able to crush a skull in years ! I can’t just give that up!” Muscles began to grow over his entire body as he bulked up into truly obscene proportions. Even All Might at his peak would look small compared to him.
Ochako looked over at Nimbus as she still sat there, stunned. He wasn’t the same man that All Might had been physically; he stood “only” at six feet tall, compared to All Might’s impressive 7-foot-two and his musculature was always more dense and lithe than his predecessor.
But right now, his every muscle seemed to be bulging as he stared down Muscular. His already tight uniform strained slightly as it dug into his deepening definition along his arms, back and legs. The concrete under his feet cracked even though he wasn’t moving and the lightning that was crackling along his body began to fade slightly, until it was dancing only lightly along his edges.
Recovering from her near-death experience, Ochako jumped away, getting the civilians clear now that Nimbus had Muscular’s full attention. She handed the pair to an EMT and then jumped onto a roof to get a better view of the two powerhouses as she searched for more survivors. If Muscular was able to cause this much destruction in such little time, he was truly dangerous.
Muscular took a step forward.
In hindsight, a mistake.
Faster than she could track, Nimbus seemed to appear in front of Muscular. The villain couldn’t even react before Nimbus’ fist flew upward, catching him in the chest and sending him streaking into the sky.
Three sonic booms rushed over Ochako. One from Nimbus’ leap forward, one from his fist and one from Muscular.
Was this Nimbus when he wasn’t holding back?
Ochako hopped down from the roof she was standing on as she saw a man limping in the street.
A fourth sonic boom shook the street as Nimbus jumped into the sky after Muscular. Ochako tapped her glasses, telling the camera built into the pink glass to zoom in on the action. The villain was still recovering from the attack as he soared into the sky. Nimbus reached his left arm out and his black energy shot out, wrapping Muscular up and then he pulled back, dragging the villain down. He began to throw his foot forward, but stopped when he realized that the villain was already unconscious.
Nimbus had knocked him out with a single punch.
The two men tumbled back to Earth as Muscular hung limply in Nimbus’ energy tendrils. With several carefully controlled kicks, Nimbus guided and slowed their descent until they landed back on the ground.
Ochako deposited the civilian back with the medics and then rushed toward Nimbus. The number one hero retracted his black energy as he exhaled, letting Muscular fall limply to the earth.
No, he wasn’t All Might.
He was better.
“Nimbus!” she called. “Are you alright?”
The American looked over at her and visibly relaxed. “I’m fine. I should be asking the same about you. Did you get out okay? Did those civilians get out okay?”
“Yeah,” Ochako confirmed. “They’re safe. I’m safe. Thanks to you. I was almost…”
“Don’t.” His voice was firm. “Don’t think about it. I’m just so happy you were on the scene. If you hadn’t gotten them out, Muscular would have gotten to them before I could have arrived. They owe you their lives as much as they owe me. Thank you for being here when I wasn’t. I feel… content knowing that you’re out protecting people when I can’t.”
Ochako’s jaw nearly fell off her face as her heart did flips. “That’s high praise. I don’t know if I’m worthy, but thank you.”
“You’re more than worthy,” he responded confidently.
There was a small, awkward pause. “Let’s get back in there,” Ochako offered.
Nimbus nodded. “You take right, I’ll take left.”
Ochako gave him the thumbs up as she removed her weight and jumped away. There was a lot of work still to do, but Nimbus had saved her, that family, and who knows how many more by taking out that villain. In the dreary smoke of the disaster site, Nimbus was a beacon of hope.
It took them several hours to finish the cleanup and rescue. Everything was so terrible, but it could have been so much worse. Ochako said goodbye to Nimbus and headed off to her agency around noon, looking forward to taking a shower and finally changing into her proper hero costume for the rest of the afternoon.
Nimbus gave her a salute and dashed off, soaring over the roofs and disappearing from sight much too fast for her tastes.
A morbid thought crossed her mind: if it wasn’t for Nimbus, she would have broken her promise to Izuku. He had asked her to stay safe and she had almost gone and messed that up; she would have to remember to thank Nimbus for allowing her to keep her promise.
Shaking her head to dispel the macabre thought, Ochako hopped along the rooftops herself and reached her agency just after noon. As she trudged up the steps to her office, her stomach rumbled; all that hero work had made her hungry.
Strangely, as she neared her office door, the mouth-watering smell of Serendipity wafted under her nose.
“Oh no, I’m going crazy,” she mumbled under her breath.
Ochako unlocked the door to her office and the smell redoubled in strength, causing her stomach to roar in anticipation. She gasped as, sitting on her desk, was a simple brown bag. A bag she had definitely not left there the previous day.
She tossed her bag into a chair and almost ran over to her desk, nearly squealing with joy as she saw a selection of fresh-baked pastries and a takeaway container which, judging by the smell, held a cheeseburger and fries—something she had taken a liking to since she became a regular patron at Serendipity.
“But how?” she whispered to herself.
That’s when she noticed the note pinned to the side of the bag. She lifted it up to get a good look.
Thanks for being a true hero.
P.S. Enjoy the mochi.
Ochako gasped and looked inside the bag again. She placed the neatly-packaged pastries aside and pulled out the takeaway box to see a small, cute package at the bottom of the bag. Slowly, like she was opening a treasure chest, Ochako lifted the lid and was greeted by some of the most delicious looking mochi she had ever seen.
“How did he know?” she whispered breathlessly, sitting down in her chair.
“Wait, how did he get in?” Ochako spun around in her chair, spotting her window sitting cracked open just the smallest amount.
With a small smile, she turned back to her desk and opened up the box, letting the smell of the savory American classic overwhelm her senses.
“Thank you, Nimbus.”
See you all next time!
Chapter 10: Best Laid Plans
Things don't go how Izuku expects.
Izuku slumped back on Toshinori’s couch as he rubbed his forehead. He was sweaty, dirty, tired, and most importantly, upset.
“Your parents will be here soon,” Toshinori called from the kitchen. The Midoriyas came over several times a month to eat dinner with Toshinori, but Izuku had come over early for more advice.
“I saw the footage, Izuku,” Toshinori said lightly as he returned and placed a cup of hot tea in front of Izuku, then took a seat opposite of him with his own tea. “Muscular was no pushover. Seeing you take him out in a single punch…” He smiled fondly. “There’s no doubt you’ve surpassed me.”
Izuku leaned forward, taking his helmet from the seat next to him and staring at it, his eyes lingering over the soaring V that he wore in homage to his friend and mentor.
He felt like he didn’t deserve it.
“Toshi, I…” Izuku placed the helmet on the table between them, turning it so it was facing away from him. “I almost wasn’t there in time.”
Toshinori took a sip of tea. “But you were there soon enough.”
“I know,” Izuku admitted with a sigh. “But it was too close. If Uravity hadn’t been there, I wouldn't have been.”
Toshinori eyed him for a few seconds. “It isn’t like you to get hung up on ‘what ifs’. What’s really going on?”
“It’s the reason I was late,” Izuku explained. “I was late because I was out with Och-Uravity and had to run back to Serendipity without anyone seeing me so I could change. She was able to just run straight there, like a real hero, but I had to go get my costume first.”
“I see,” Toshinori mused quietly.
Izuku ran his hand through his hair roughly. “Who knows who I could have saved if I just went straight there…”
“This hadn’t come up in the past three years?” Toshinori asked.
Izuku shook his head. “I was always either on the job or at home so I could change almost instantly. I guess I just got lucky, but today was unacceptable.”
Toshinori rubbed his chin. “Your friend has field gear, yeah? Why not invest in something like that? A simple mask that could hide your identity. And remember the first iteration of your gauntlets? They were about as compact as a bracelet; I’m sure Melissa could do something like that again if you asked.”
“I… no.” Izuku sighed. “It would be too easy for me to get exposed. I would be wearing the same clothes as Izuku and Uravity knows me well enough to be able to tell its me if I’m not wearing my full suit. Besides, it’s too risky, even beyond her.”
Toshinori took another sip of tea. “Well, then I only see two options. You either cut off your relationship with Uravity…” He paused as Izuku flinched. “Or you tell her.”
Izuku sputtered, trying to find the words to argue back, but he couldn’t. He sighed in defeat and hung his head.
“Your tea’s getting cold,” Toshinori reminded him calmly.
Izuku nodded and took the mug, sipping slowly.
Hmm. Green tea.
“I hope you make the right decision,” he continued, looking over at Izuku. “You’ve been happier these past few months than I’ve seen you since you got back. This isn’t me teasing you, well, it’s not me just teasing you when I say that woman is good for you. You’ve carried yourself with an entirely different energy, especially in the recent weeks.”
Izuku took another drink of tea and stared down at the simmering brew. “I still don’t know.”
Toshinori placed his empty mug down and chuckled. “Do you trust her?”
“I do,” Izuku answered.
“Do you think she’s a competent hero?”
“More than competent,” he mumbled. “She’s great.”
“Do you think she would do anything to hurt you or your family?”
Izuku shook his head. “Never.” He could feel his walls of excuses being battered down.
“Do you think she wants to be around you and be your friend?”
Izuku nodded, downing the rest of his tea like a shot and looking down, sighing loudly.
Toshinori paused as Izuku thought, then added a final question. “Do you think she’s dumb?”
Izuku recoiled in offense. “Of course not!”
“She’ll probably figure it out on her own then,” Toshinori added. “You’re far too genuine to keep up the charade perfectly. You’ve always been a terrible liar.”
“I guess that’s a good thing,” Izuku muttered.
Toshinori laughed. “You’ve kept your identity because you’ve kept your distance, but it’s taken its toll on you. Both your parents and I see it. Over the past two years and especially the last one, you’ve gotten quieter and more reclusive. Izuku, my boy, you need friends, people to share the burden. You’re not giving up your identity, you’re not risking yourself or your family. What’s stopping you?”
Everything Toshinori was saying was making sense. Too much sense. He needed time to process it all. Going through with this would change everything. Could he afford to do it?
He looked over at his helmet on the table.
Could he afford not to?
“I’ll… think about it,” Izuku mumbled.
“That’s what you said last time,” Toshinori retorted.
Izuku hummed in acknowledgement as he kept staring at his helmet.
The doorbell rang and Toshinori stood up slowly. “That must be your parents. I hope Inko made apple pie again…”
A week after the Muscular incident, Ochako and Izuku were walking down the path in the park in the late afternoon. It was one of Ochako’s day off and they had spent it together, jogging in the morning, but spending most of the rest of the day walking around Tokyo and talking.
Unlike most days they spent together, Ochako had been the one dominating the conversation, with Izuku being mostly passive. He seemed deep in thought and there were long stretches of time where neither of them talked at all, but the silence was far from uncomfortable. It was nice, she thought, to be able to just spend time near Izuku and be content.
Izuku had been quieter since the Muscular incident, but today was the quietest he had been. She guessed it had to do with the ‘something’ that happened back at Serendipity on that morning, but he hadn’t seemed to want to talk about it. Izuku was a private person in many ways, which she respected. It didn’t stop her from being his friend.
As winter approached, the days got shorter and the air grew colder, meaning both of them were wearing simple hoodies as they walked through the crisp autumn leaves that were strewn about the path. It was peaceful. Serene.
That serenity was promptly interrupted by a rushing noise quickly approaching them.
The reason Tokyo had such a high density of pro heroes was because it had such a high density of villains.
She just wished they would stop interrupting her time with Izuku.
Ochako saw a red blur approaching them and her body began to move on instinct. She turned and shoved Izuku, who was still trapped in his thoughts, away, but the blur reacted too quickly. It diverted into Izuku’s path and before Ochako knew anything, the man was gone.
A fire erupted in Ochako’s heart and mind. Nobody was getting away with her friend.
She touched her arm and removed her gravity, before jumping toward a nearby tree. She planted her feet on the trunk and kicked off, streaking toward the villain dragging Izuku. One of the many advantages of her quirk making her weightless was the ability for her to move around at high speeds with ease. Without her boots, this made it dangerous, but she had trained extensively.
She just had to make her shot count.
Another blur blew past her as she heard the familiar sound of Tenya’s engines. No wonder this guy was in such a rush, what with Ingenium on his tail.
A villain taking a hostage was no time for her to sit back and let Tenya handle things, even if she had the utmost confidence in him. When civilians were in danger, it was the duty of all heroes to act.
She took her aim and jumped, aiming for a tree nearby and then another as she hopped and swung along branches to close the gap. With Izuku in tow, the villain was fortunately, noticeably slower.
Ochako made eye contact with Izuku, who the villain was holding in some sort of strange energy field. He gave her a calm look, which told her everything she needed to know.
He trusted her.
Ochako nodded. She wasn’t going to let him down.
She jumped to a tree just behind the villain as he ran along the path and took a final, daring leap, streaking toward the two men like a rocket.
Her feet landed in the square of the unsuspecting villain’s back as she clapped her hands together, sending him sprawling forward as she bent her knees and cushioned her own impact. The energy surrounding Izuku snapped away, sending him flailing through the air for a moment before Ochako reached up and grabbed him by the wrist with all five fingers, removing his weight.
With a practiced, acrobatic twist, she sprung off the villain’s back and grabbed onto Izuku, landing on her feet with her friend held weightlessly in a bridal carry.
The villain hit the ground and began to skid, his forward momentum doing him no favors as he dug up a massive swath of dirt. With the civilian clear, Tenya could stop holding back. He burst forward and grabbed the villain’s arms, pulling them behind his back as he clamped handcuffs on his wrists and then his ankles, securing him fully. Tenya turned around and gave Ochako a professional salute, before picking the villain up and dashing away. He was always so focused when he was on the job.
“Woah,” Izuku almost whispered as he blinked.
Ochako beamed down at him proudly. “Are you alright?”
He looked up at her with a calm smile. “I am. Thank you, Uravity.” He smiled a little wider.
“You are welcome, citizen,” she returned with a giggle.
There was a small pause.
His cheeks reddened slightly. “Do you uh, want to put me down?”
“Not really,” Ochako answered, laughing and holding him proudly for a second before she helped him stand up.
Izuku smiled back, although his expression became distant again as he seemed to fall back into his thoughts for a moment. “Thank you for saving me,” he said sincerely as she returned his weight to him. “I’m lucky to have you around.”
She waved her hand dismissively. “I don’t doubt Tenya would have saved you, but I wasn’t about to let that villain get away with you.” She punched him in the shoulder softly. “You’re under my protection, Izuku.”
He smiled again, but there was a faint hint of sadness behind it and a slight tinge of guilt in his eyes. They vanished as soon as they appeared as he shook himself out. “Well, may I treat my protector to some afternoon coffee? I know this nice place nearby called Serendipity.”
Ochako giggled again. “That does sound like a nice place. Lead the way!”
A few days later, Ochako was sitting on the roof of her agency, waiting for a certain someone. It was an unseasonably cold day, even for late autumn, so she was wearing her insulated suit and her winter-style helmet. Unfortunately, the nature of her quirk meant she had to have her fingertips exposed, but Hatsume had made her some special gloves that could retract and expose her fingertips when she needed.
Ochako still didn’t understand how Hatsume had made gloves explode the first time she tested them out, but after years of knowing her, Ochako knew it was better to not ask.
A familiar rushing noise filled the air as Ochako’s friend arrived. Nimbus landed next to her on the rooftop. “Good morning, Uravity!”
“Good morning,” she returned. “Aren’t you cold in that?”
She looked over Nimbus, his red, twisting gauntlets and boots laying over his normal green and black jumpsuit. Besides some gadgets and extra armor in some places, the jumpsuit was the only thing between his body and the cold. Ochako reached out and touched his upper arm, confirming that there wasn’t any extra padding or insulation like her suit had right now.
Nimbus laughed. “I am cold, yes. I’ll be okay once we get moving though. Thankfully, my helmet is climate controlled, so I’m not fogging up my visor, at least.”
Ochako giggled, her own breath forming a faint cloud in front of her face. Her winter helmet was tighter to her face, almost more like a skull cap and glasses rather than her normal protective helmet. At least it wasn’t the huge, unwieldy thing she wore back at UA. Thankfully, Hatsume had also made it so her visor was resistant to her breath fogging it up, so she was good to go.
Nimbus paused, looking down at her for a few seconds. Thanks to their time together over the past few months, she had gotten surprisingly good at reading his body language; she could tell he was considering something, but why he was looking at her, she didn’t know. “Ready?” he asked.
Ochako pulled up the white facemask that covered her mouth and nose and nodded. “Ready!” she returned, a little muffled.
The two hopped off the rooftop and began their patrol like they had so many times before. Just like every time, they worked both together and apart, but almost always nearby each other. They felt like a real team and the gap between what he was doing and what she was doing, while still being large, was smaller than it ever had been. She really appreciated how much being around him inspired her to do her best and after so many patrols together, she was doing better when he wasn’t around, too.
Nimbus had also told her before that he really appreciated having someone around whom he could trust and rely on. She could tell he was visibly more relaxed when they worked together and, while maybe it was just her seeing things, she felt like when she watched footage of him on days when they weren’t together, he wasn’t quite as on his game.
It was a nice thought, at least, that she could have an effect on him like that. It was almost certainly just wishful thinking, but it made her feel better nevertheless.
It may be a little selfish, but Ochako was happy that both Nimbus and her were ‘rooftop’ heroes. The roofs provided greater mobility and visibility for them compared to being on the street, but there were also relatively few heroes with the quirks needed to travel across them. That meant they had to deal less with rabid fans and were able to travel easier, but it also meant that their time together felt more personal… more intimate. Sometimes, domestic even.
Near the end of their patrol, Nimbus and her were standing on a roof together, overlooking a busy intersection. She had felt warm enough most of the day thanks to her winter costume, but the downside of being ‘rooftop’ heroes meant that they were exposed to winds with very little protection.
One such gust blew past them, chilling Ochako and Nimbus both to the bone. Without thinking, both of them stepped closer to one another, her shoulder pressing into his chest and his thigh on her hip as the tried to find shelter from the cold.
After the wind passed, they stood there for a moment. Ochako would be lying if she didn’t enjoy the feeling of his muscles on her shoulder and hip, as well as the sensation of him being so close to her. A wanton, needy part of herself wanted him to just take his arm and fully pull her into him, but she knew that would be highly unprofessional. They were just friends and colleagues, nothing more.
She couldn’t deny that their relationship felt deeper than that. She had just used the word ‘domestic’ and ‘intimate’ to describe it, right? Maybe if Nimbus felt the same way, they could patrol more often or maybe he could even tell her what his name was or show her what he looked like… But no, there was no way Nimbus felt anything like that toward her. She was just being wishful again because he was strong and noble and determined and dedicated and everything else she sought to be.
“If only the tabloids could see us now,” Nimbus said with a laugh. “Nimbus and Uravity: dashing hero and beautiful heroine seen huddling on rooftop. Are they together?” He waved his hand as he read the mock headline.
Ochako froze. Did he just…
“Beautiful?” she repeated breathlessly. “Did… did you just hit on me?”
Nimbus tensed up and hopped back. “Uh…” He looked down at her… but he wasn’t denying it.
Her mind was racing. Nimbus just hit on her. On her ! The number one hero, the greatest hero there had ever been, just hit on her. He wasn’t just that, he was a good friend of hers and he was, of course, smoking hot. Could she? Did she dare?
No. No, it wasn’t right. That base part of her wanted to hit on him back, to go and seal the deal right there, but she couldn’t. No matter how much she wanted to give him a hug, it just wasn’t right.
“S-sorry, Nimbus,” she returned nervously. “I have a boyfriend.”
Nimbus almost fell over. “Wh-what?! You do?!” He coughed. “I mean, of course you do! I didn’t mean anything by it, I apologize.” He bowed slightly.
Ochako was a little hurt that he was so surprised, but it wasn’t his fault she hadn’t ever mentioned him, not really. She wasn’t offended at his compliment; quite the opposite in fact. She held nothing but respect and admiration for Nimbus, so his words were flattering, even if she couldn’t return them.
“It’s fine, Nimbus,” she said truthfully. “Thank you for the compliment, anyway.” She pulled down her mask and smiled at him, trying to show her sincerity. “I think you’re handsome, too.”
Nimbus flinched in surprise, then sighed in relief and deflated slightly. “Thank you, as well. I’m still not as familiar with Japanese customs as I like, please don’t judge me too harshly.”
Oh, of course. Even with his accent, it was easy to forget that Nimbus was American. “I told you, it’s fine. You’ve done a great job integrating into our culture, but I’m not going to hold an honest mistake against you!”
Nimbus rubbed his helmet nervously. “You’re too kind.” There was a small pause. “Either way, it’s getting late. Are you available to patrol tomorrow?”
Ochako looked away. “Actually, no. I have a date. The next day works though.”
“I… see.” He took a few steps back and prepared to take off. “I will see you then, Uravity. Stay warm.”
“You, too,” she called as he jumped away. She sighed, using her quirk on herself as she began to make her way back to her agency.
After all that, there was only one thing to do.
But first, a hot shower.
Izuku had been sweeping the same spot for about ten minutes, but he didn’t care. He was too lost in his own thoughts.
He had been lost in his own thoughts for over a week now, but after today, it was worse than ever. How could he have been so foolish? Of course a beautiful, brave, strong, amazing woman like Ochako had a boyfriend. How could she not ?! It was just weird that she hadn’t ever mentioned him before.
After a week of deliberation, Izuku had decided to try and let Ochako know that Nimbus was interested in the two of them growing a little closer. He was planning on having them up their patrols together to build his confidence and help her get to know the real him a little better.
But then that stupid wind had blown and she had pressed herself into him and… and she was just so beautiful and soft and amazing that he went and said something he hadn’t meant to say. How dare he imply something like that to her? Who did he think he was?
He hadn’t planned on asking her out or anything—he had thought about it, but it wasn’t in the realm of possibilities—but for some reason, finding out she had a boyfriend had felt like a knife through his heart.
He didn’t really have any experience with women, not like that at least, so this was an entirely new experience for him. Was this… was he heartbroken?
Izuku wrinkled his nose, disgusted with himself. How dare he? Ochako was just a friend who wanted to be just a friend; where did he get off going and getting feelings? At least she only thought Nimbus was a creep and not Izuku.
The door opened, knocking him back to reality.
“Sorry, we’re clo-”
Izuku froze, because standing in the door was the last person he wanted to see.
Beautiful brown hair, beautiful brown eyes, beautiful rosy cheeks, a beautiful smile.
Why was he feeling this way about her? Since when did he have a bleeding heart?
“Ochako?” he asked. “What are you doing here?”
“Sorry,” she offered weakly as she walked up to him. “I know it’s late, but I wanted to show you something.” She held out a small pamphlet.
He took it gently, turning it around and reading the front. “A nature trail?”
Ochako nodded, her smile wide. “Do you know the hero Anima?”
“Oh yeah,” Izuku responded quickly. “His quirk lets him speak to animals and-”
“Yep!” Ochako interrupted him before he went too deep. “He’s one of my old classmates and a forest ranger. The park he works at is opening this new trail next week, but he told all of us about it first, so we could see it without all the people there. It goes along this river bank and to this cliff where you can see for miles . He says it's one of the most beautiful and serene places he’s ever seen.”
Izuku opened the pamphlet and looked at the pictures inside. She wasn’t lying, it did look amazing. “They’re opening a new trail this late in the year?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Ask Kouda.”
“This looks amazing, Ochako,” Izuku admitted.
“Doesn’t it?” She giggled excitedly. “Do you want to go with me tomorrow?”
Izuku recoiled slightly. “You want me to go?”
She laughed. “Of course, silly! I didn’t show this to you just to show off! We can see it together, it’ll be great!”
Izuku felt a pit forming in his stomach as his heart sank. “I… that sounds great, but… but shouldn’t your boyfriend go with you?”
She flinched slightly, her permanent blush immediately growing as she looked away and rubbed her head nervously. “I, uh, well, um…” She took a deep breath and looked up at him, straight into his eyes. “I was hoping that he would?”
Izuku furrowed his brow. “Hoping that he would go-”
His eyes widened.
“You… what?” He was glad he was leaning onto his broom slightly or he might have fallen over.
Ochako closed her eyes and nodded. “I was gonna ask you tomorrow, but since you brought it up…” She took another deep, centering breath and looked him in the eyes again. “Izuku, I feel like there’s something… special between us. I’m at my happiest when I’m with you and well, I’d like to get to know you better. We’ve already been on several dates, basically, and I want to make it official. I’d like you to be my boyfriend, if you’d have me.”
Izuku was half-convinced he was dreaming. “I… me? You’re asking me out?”
“There’s no one else here,” she answered with a small, shy smile.
“I…” The reality began to sink in. “That would make me the happiest man in Japan.”
Ochako let out the massive breath she had been holding in, her great sigh quickly turning into relieved laughter. “That’s so corny!”
“S-sorry,” Izuku mumbled awkwardly. “It’s true though…” His head felt light, but maybe that’s just because his heart felt like it was about to shoot into the sky out of pure joy.
“I never said I didn’t like it!” she said with another laugh. “It makes me really happy, too. So, we’re on for tomorrow?”
Izuku nodded. “Y-yeah, yeah, of course. Where should we meet?”
Ochako tapped her chin. “I’ll meet you here at… does seven sound good?”
“Sounds great,” Izuku almost whispered. “Does… does this make you my girlfriend?”
Ochako stared dumbly at him for a moment then laughed again. “Of course!”
“S-sorry,” he muttered again. “I’m not very experienced with this sort of thing; I never would have expected this.”
“I don’t have any experience either,” Ochako admitted. “We’ll figure it out together, alright?”
Izuku nodded, his shock finally beginning to fade. “Absolutely.”
“Great!” she chirped. “Now, come here.” She held her arms wide for a hug.
Izuku almost threw the broom down as he stepped toward her and bent down, wrapping one arm under hers and another over her shoulder, bringing her in tightly as she hugged him just as firmly. They held each other for several seconds before they broke apart and looked at each other with slightly red faces.
“Our first official hug,” Izuku noted softly.
Ochako nodded. “Much better than our other hugs, wouldn’t you say?”
Izuku laughed softly and smiled. “Yeah.”
Ochako sighed again, looking up at him. There was a small silence between them as they gazed into each others eyes. Izuku felt like he was seeing her for the first time all over again; had her eyes always been that gorgeous?
“Well, I need to get going,” she said finally.
“R-right.” Izuku gulped. “See you tomorrow?”
She smiled and nodded softly before turning to leave. However, she froze, then turned back to face him again. Ochako bit her lip nervously as her eyes darted back and forth, as if she was debating something.
He could almost hear her think ‘screw it’.
She put a hand on the back of his head and pulled him down slightly before planting a quick kiss on his cheek and then turning away again before he realized what was happening.
“See you tomorrow, Izuku,” she called as she opened the door again and stepped out into the evening glow.
Izuku stood there, stunned and completely still for what felt like several minutes before his mind finally started running again.
Ochako had… she had kissed him. They were dating.
A smile wider than any he’d ever had broke across his face as he ran to the door, locked it, and sprinted up the stairs to his room. He opened his case and pulled out his helmet, scrambling to turn it on and slam it onto his head. Izuku pressed the button on the side that muted his speakers and then screamed .
After emptying his lungs, he pulled off the helmet and rubbed his slightly sore throat. After the emotional roller coaster he had been on, he needed to let off some steam.
He realized that Ochako had made a choice. She had her pick between Izuku and Nimbus and she had chosen Izuku. She chose him over the number one hero. That 'boyfriend' she had told Nimbus about was him .
It felt like he was on top of the world.
Izuku turned over his helmet and looked it in the face as a sobering realization washed over him and brought him back to earth.
He already felt bad enough about building a friendship around his deception, but he absolutely refused to build a relationship around it.
Izuku felt that determined fire roar to life in his chest, that same fire that burned when he had first accepted One For All from All Might and when he faced down villains.
He didn’t care if Ochako broke up with him because of it. He didn’t care if she hated him or never wanted to speak with him again because of it.
Izuku made the decision right then and there.
He had to tell her.
See you guys next time!
Chapter 11: A Journey of a Thousand Miles
...begins with a single step.
Izuku didn’t sleep too well that night, as he was too excited but also far too nervous. He hadn’t ever told anyone about his secret identity; everyone who knew had known since day one, or—in the case of Recovery Girl—Toshinori had told them.
He was terrified. After his euphoria had faded, he had spent half the night staring up at his ceiling going through different hypothetical scenarios. He had thought of a hundred different ways he might tell her, but his imagination had also come up with a hundred different ways that Ochako might react.
‘How could you lie to me like that?’ she would say. ‘Our entire friendship is a lie!’ she would yell.
His stomach churned. It’s not like she would be wrong.
At the same time… he felt bad for thinking that of her. She had been nothing but kind, accepting, and encouraging since they met, for both Izuku and Nimbus.
But at the same time, she had trusted him that entire time. He had been lying to her since day one and she had trusted him.
That kind of betrayal…
But no, she would understand, right? Ochako liked both sides of him, so she would like him together, right?
No, he couldn’t assume that. Maybe she wouldn’t like a man who could lie to her like that…
Izuku shook his head. He had been arguing himself in circles for most of the night and it wasn’t getting him anywhere. He rolled over and looked at his clock.
5:00 AM. Still too early to get ready.
Izuku sat up and picked up his helmet from where he left it the previous night and put it on again. After the short boot-up sequence, he spoke. “Call Mother.”
A small spinning animation played for a few seconds before a video of Melissa popped on. He could see the midday American sun illuminating her lab as she flashed him a slightly concerned smile.
“Good morning, sleepy head. You’re up early,” she noted. “What’s the occasion?”
“It’s nothing major,” Izuku began quietly. “I can’t sleep.”
Melissa grew a look of greater concern. “Well, that’s not normal. What’s on your mind?”
“You know the girl I’ve been telling you about?” Izuku began.
Melissa laughed. “Uravity? She’s basically all you’ve talked about for months.”
Izuku smiled awkwardly. “Yeah, fair enough. Well, um, yesterday she uh…”
“Spit it out,” Melissa prodded.
“Yesterday,” he continued with a nervous sigh, “she asked me out.”
Melissa gasped. “Congratulations! Oh, that’s great-” She stopped. “Wait, you didn’t turn her down, did you? Izuku Midoriya, I will fly to Japan today and kick-”
“I said yes!” Izuku explained hurriedly. “I said yes, it’s just…”
Melissa’s eyes widened. “You’re gonna tell her who you are, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Izuku admitted. He smiled slightly, happy that Melissa knew him so well. “But I’m worried about it. She’s only ever known me as a liar, Melissa. Our entire friendship was built on a lie.”
She smiled kindly at him through the screen. “If she’s half as amazing as you make her out to be, then she’ll understand. You gotta tell her ASAP, though.”
“I know,” Izuku sighed. “But I’m scared. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.”
Melissa leaned back in her chair. “Well, you either tell her now at the beginning or you wait until later and tell her. Or worse, she finds out for herself. The longer you wait, the worse it’s gonna be. You gotta rip this bandage off, Izuku.”
He nodded a few times. “You’re right, of course.”
“I’m always right,” she quipped, smirking.
Izuku smiled a little. “What about that time back in second year when-”
“We don’t talk about that,” Melissa shot back, her grin still wide on her face.
The two of them talked for almost an hour and Izuku was feeling better by the end of it, but as soon as they said their goodbyes and hung up, the pressure came back. It wouldn’t be easy, but Melissa convinced him of what he already knew: he had to tell her today.
Izuku grabbed his backpack to get ready for the hike, packing a few things he might need, but as he got ready to leave the room, he paused. Slowly, Izuku turned around and opened his hero case and pulled out one of the heavy, red gauntlets.
He admired it for a few moments, thinking about all the memories. Melissa’s original design was groundbreaking: they were the size of a wristband but could expand to the full gauntlet size almost instantly. Despite her incredible skill, even as she learned and discovered more, she couldn’t make a modular design that could keep up with his quirk. In the end, she had to make full-sized gauntlets without the size-changing design to make them durable enough for him to use without risk of shattering them.
He gulped and placed the gauntlet in the bottom of his bag.
He might need it.
Izuku headed downstairs and placed the backpack down behind the counter, before starting to get Serendipity ready for the day. It wasn’t difficult, but it helped the time pass, although it was so routine that it did nothing to distract his mind. Inko helped him to make food for the day, which he was sure Ochako would appreciate the gesture, at the very least.
A painfully slow hour later, the person he wanted to see the most and the least finally entered the shop. Izuku smiled at her as best he could as he grabbed his backpack, hugged his parents goodbye, and walked out of the shop with Ochako as he put on his coat and hat.
Ochako looked stunning, even in her pink jacket and hat. Her outfit couldn’t be called anything but comfortable, practical and cute, but for some reason, he found it incredibly attractive.
“Good morning,” she said softly, the faintest blush on her cheeks.
“Good morning,” he returned.
There was a small pause before Ochako let out a big sigh. “I was planning on today being super awkward when I was walking over last night! I was freaking out about how I was gonna ask you out today and what if you said no, or what if you said yes, and blah blah blah. Then you went and made it happen last night instead!” She giggled. “It was so cute how you assumed I had a boyfriend. Flattering, too.”
Izuku smiled awkwardly. Toshinori was right; he was absolutely terrible about keeping a secret. “W-well, I thought someone as amazing as you would have to have one, right?”
“You’re so sweet,” she cooed, still giggling. “And now I do have a boyfriend!”
Izuku felt his heart swell, both with joy and regret. She was too wonderful. Could he do this? Did he deserve her?
“Are you alright?” she asked.
Izuku realized he had been quiet for a while. “Er, yeah, just… nervous.”
Ochako smiled kindly. “I get it. I’m still a little nervous, too. Here, this might help.” She held her hand out toward him.
Izuku looked at her empty hand dumbly for a moment.
She chuckled and moved her hand down, grabbing his and wrapping her fingers around his own. Izuku felt his chest tighten a little more as his smile grew.
“Oh,” he said simply.
Ochako giggled again. She seemed really giddy today. “There, isn’t that better?”
Izuku paused for a moment. He actually did feel a lot better. Something as simple as holding Ochako’s hand as they walked down the street had made his anxiety feel so much… less important.
“It is,” he admitted. “Thank you.”
Ochako’s cheeks were a little pinker than normal. “Come on, the station is just a little further.”
They made it to the station after a short walk, their hands only parting once they had to buy tickets. Ochako insisted that she pay, which Izuku only agreed to if he could buy the tickets back home. She accepted cheerily and the two boarded the train, taking seats next to each other.
Izuku felt his worry returning. He hesitated, but reached out and touched Ochako’s hand, which quickly grabbed his, calming his nerves again as she smiled warmly.
Maybe Toshinori was right; he had been… exceedingly lonely over the past few years. The idea that something as simple as holding Ochako’s hand could bring him such comfort made him feel almost a little pathetic.
The train ride lasted for around an hour, during which they conversed softly about various things, from politics, to heroes, to their high school memories, which Izuku lied about, of course. It was nice to know that even when he was nervous, it was almost as easy to talk to her as it was to breathe.
A not-so-small part of him noted that it would be nice to be able to not have to lie to her anymore.
As they approached their destination, his chest felt tighter and tighter, his clothes felt less comfortable and his mouth dried out slowly. Even Ochako’s soft hand in his did little to assuage his nerves.
It was hard enough thinking about what he was going to do; as the actual event loomed closer, it became even more terrifying.
Izuku wanted to beat his head against the wall of the train. He could face down the world’s scariest and most powerful villains without hesitation, but he was balking in the face of telling Ochako the truth.
Why? Why was this causing him so much stress when could stand so calmly in front of people who literally wanted to kill him?
He sighed softly.
He knew why.
Ochako was more important than them. The thought of losing her or the worse— much worse—thought of hurting her? It was too much.
They stood up as the train came to a stop and as Izuku picked up his backpack, the gauntlet hidden inside felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. He slung it over his back and walked with Ochako off the train and onto the platform, turning to look over the small mountainside town.
“Oh, it’s so cute,” Ochako cooed. “I want to have a house in a place like this someday. A place I can go and relax for a while, you know?”
Izuku nodded softly. “Yeah, that sounds really nice. A place where you can forget all your worries.”
“Exactly!” Ochako agreed. “Now come on, I wanna get to the view by noon!” She took him by the hand and began to lead him down one of the streets, in the direction of the mountain that loomed over the town. They walked past a few quaint shops and a small park, letting the quiet, peaceful atmosphere fill them with a sense of calm.
It… helped. Izuku still felt the weight on his shoulders, but it was hard to smell the fresh mountain air, still tinged with the brisk chill of the morning, and not smile.
All too soon, they got to the edge of the town and saw the road snaking into the woods.
“How much farther is it?” Izuku asked curiously.
Ochako looked up at him with a small smirk. “Oh, a few miles.”
Izuku furrowed his brow. “Well, let’s get going, I guess.” It was a little strange that she didn’t want to get a cab or something, but maybe she just wanted to spend more time outside.
“Oh, you’re no fun!” she pouted. “You were supposed to groan or something!”
Izuku recoiled slightly. “Uh, sorry?”
She pouted a little harder, but he could tell by the sparkle in her eye that she was faking it. “Do it right!”
“Right, sorry.” Izuku cleared his throat. “Ugh, do we have to?”
“Oh, fine,” she huffed theatrically. With a wink, she pulled off her gloves and touched Izuku and then his backpack, making them both weightless. With a quick motion, she effortlessly pulled him onto her back, wrapping his arms around her neck. “I guess I can speed it up. Now, hold on tight!”
Izuku grabbed onto his own arms to secure himself to Ochako, who touched herself and began to jump, soaring through the air between the trees and rocks. He had seen her put people on her back like this countless times as Nimbus, so he knew she was well practiced.
It was thrilling, being weightless and flying, but there was more focused on something else.
The smell of her hair filled his senses, but that wasn’t what he was focusing on either.
With his arms wrapped around her, in more than one way, he felt weightless.
It took about twenty minutes for them to arrive at the entrance to the trail, or at least, what Izuku assumed was the entrance. There were no markings at the trailhead, but it all looked quite new. Ochako let him down and returned his weight to him, sweating slightly from the journey.
“Thank you,” he said politely. “Much better than walking.”
She giggled once. “Isn’t it, though?” She turned around and looked at the trail leading into the woods. “Alright, this is the place. Let’s go!”
They began down the trail, passing through the pristine trees and listening quietly to the sounds of nature that surrounded them. Neither of them spoke for the first ten minutes or so as they both soaked in the sublime beauty of nature, content in knowing that they were the only ones around for miles.
Then Izuku was struck with a thought. “We’re not gonna get in trouble if we run into a ranger out here, will we? Isn’t this place closed?”
Ochako stopped and looked up high in the trees. “Nah, Kouda gave us passes if we run into any trouble. Besides, we’re not gonna run into any ranger, per se, we might run into… there she is!” Ochako’s vision locked onto something above them and she began to wave.
Izuku looked up, searching through the high branches for a moment before he saw what Ochako was waving at. Staring down at them with piercing eyes was a huge mountain hawk-eagle.
“Akiko!” Ochako called excitedly.
The raptor dove down, circling around through the trees majestically and landing on a branch a few feet above the ground. She clicked her beak once as she tilted her head slightly.
“Hey girl,” Ochako cooed softly. “Good to see you again. This is Izuku, he’s my boyfriend.”
The hawk-eagle looked at him once and then back at Ochako, clicking her beak again impatiently.
“It’s okay, Kouda said we could be out here,” Ochako explained. Izuku wasn’t sure if the bird could understand her or not, but he couldn’t deny the glint of intelligence in her beady eyes.
Ochako pulled out a small card that was covered in a bright pattern. She held it up to the raptor, who looked at it for a second then clicked her beak again, this time sounding… less annoyed?
This was weird. But really cool at the same time.
Ochako laughed. “I know, I know. Don’t worry.” She reached into her backpack and pulled out a small plastic container, opening it up and holding it out to Akiko.
The raptor’s eyes glinted as she dove her head inside and pulled out a large, dead rat. Ochako reached up and petted her head once before the raptor spread its wings and soared back into the sky with its meal.
“Say hi to Kouda for me!” she called after it as the bird disappeared into the treetops of the forest.
Izuku was quiet as Ochako sighed. “That was Akiko, if it wasn’t obvious. She keeps an eye on the woods for Kouda. We should be good now! No more interruptions. Just you, me, and this mountainside!”
He cracked a smile, but it was forced. There were less and less excuses for him every second that passed; he just had to find the right time to tell her. Would he know it when it came? Would he miss it? Would he choke and get cold feet? Would he make everything worse?
There were too many questions. Too many questions and not nearly enough answers, but in the end, he knew how to get those answers.
He just had to do it.
He just had to tear off that bandage.
But… every time he opened his mouth to try, his tongue failed. He couldn’t bring himself to say the first word; it felt like he was trying to force himself to vomit.
They continued their hike, the trail winding higher up the mountain as it went, but neither of them struggled. They were professional heroes after all, doing their best to be at the peak of physical fitness. Izuku tried to lose himself in the moment, but when he tried to forget about telling her, he felt guilty that he wasn’t focusing on figuring out what was most important. However, when he tried to focus on figuring out how to tell her, he felt guilty that he wasn’t focusing on experiencing the beautiful mountainside that Ochako had invited him to enjoy.
No matter what he did, he fell further into his guilt.
About halfway to the vista, they crossed over a clear mountain stream. A bridge had been built recently over it; the wood was still fresh and undamaged by the weather. The two stopped at the bridge and silently listened to the cold, pristine water rushing over the rocks down the mountainside.
Then suddenly, Ochako spoke.
“Izuku… do you think I’m dumb?”
Izuku physically recoiled. “N-no! Never! You-”
Ochako held her hands up. “Sorry, sorry, bad choice of words. What I meant to say is that I’ve noticed that you’ve been off all day.”
“Oh, r-really?” Damn, he was a bad liar.
“Did you notice that you’ve been completely silent for the last twenty mintues?” she asked softly.
Izuku cringed. “I… no, I hadn’t.”
“You just sort of… stopped responding to me when I was talking to you,” Ochako continued. “You did the same thing on the train ride, too.”
Now he felt even worse. “I’m sorry I just… have a lot on my mind.”
“I can tell,” she said sweetly. “I didn’t bring it up because I’m upset, I brought it up because I want to know if I can help. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
‘Do it,’ he thought. ‘Tell her.’
‘ Tell her .’
‘ TELL HER! ’
Ochako furrowed her brow. “Well, okay, but I still want to hear it. If I can handle the obnoxious paperwork it takes to be a hero, I can handle your problems.”
Izuku smiled weakly. “I do want to tell you, honest, but I don’t know how.”
She pursed her lips for a few moments as she studied his face. “Hmm, fine. But I don’t want this to overshadow this hike—and I don’t think you do, either—so how about you tell me when we get to the vista and have lunch, okay?”
Immediately he felt a weight lift from his shoulders. It was only kicking the can down the road, but it was a reprieve nonetheless. “Deal. I’ll tell you then.”
“Great!” She wrapped her arm around his and pulled him forward, resuming their walk. “Then there’s no time to lose!”
What had he done to deserve her?
It was just before noon when they came over a hill and their jaws dropped.
In front of them, spread out to the horizon, was one of the most beautiful sights that Izuku had ever seen.
A mountain valley stretched out, filled with trees in the vibrant colors of fall, creating a breathtaking mosaic of reds, oranges and yellows. A pristine mountain lake was visible at the bottom of the valley with a small stream feeding into it, glistening as the sun shone brightly across the rolling hills below.
Ochako and Izuku walked forward to the viewing area that was constructed at the edge of the cliff. Several wooden benches were built behind the waist-high stone wall to give people a comfortable place to sit while they admired nature.
Which is just was Izuku and Ochako did.
They silently shrugged off their backpacks and sat down next to each other, staring out over the valley as a cool mountain breeze rustled the trees around them.
Sitting there with the majesty of nature before him, it almost felt… spiritual.
As he took in the view, slowly moving his head around, the great mountains surrounding the vale instilled a sense of just how small he was in the great scheme of things. This valley had been here long before he was born and it would be here long after he passed; even with the great power of One For All at his disposal, he was still only human.
Sure, he could kick up some storm clouds if he wanted to, nothing he could do could rival the massive typhoons that crash against Japan. He could never build up these mountains and shape the land like they did, nor could he make them so beautiful if he tried. In the end, he was just a speck on the planet in a vast universe that was so large and complex it was impossible to fathom.
Izuku blinked. He had gotten a little more philosophical than he had intended.
Still, against all the majesty before him, he couldn't help it. Beauty like this made him—and his problems—feel small in the best ways.
It seemed Ochako felt the same way because she finally broke the silence. “Are you ready to talk about it?” she asked quietly.
Izuku nodded slowly, both of them still looking over the valley. “I am.”
All the terror, hesitation, and doubt flooded back into him as the moment of truth finally arrived.
All in all, he felt nauseous.
“I…” He gulped, trying to organize his thoughts one last time.
Or was he trying to stall just a little longer?
“I’ve been lying to you,” he finally began.
He didn’t dare look at Ochako’s face, but he could almost hear her brow furrowing. “Lying?” she asked softly.
Izuku nodded, his stomach twisting itself into knots. “I tried to find a diplomatic way to phrase it, but I just want to be honest with you. That’s what I need. Honesty.” He sighed heavily. “Finally.”
He looked down, then back out at the valley. “I’ve been lying to you,” he repeated. “Since day one, in fact. I tried to excuse myself that I just wasn’t telling you the whole truth, or that I was just keeping things secret, but no. I was lying.”
“About what?” she asked, an undeniable hint of worry in her voice.
It made his chest tighten. He hated himself.
“A lot of things,” he responded weakly. “And… I’ll understand if you don’t want to date me anymore after this. I’ll understand if you don’t want to… be my friend anymore or have anything to do with me at all.” Izuku stood up from the bench, grabbing his backpack with a white-knuckled grip as he walked a few feet away from her.
Ochako was quiet for a while as he put his backpack down and began to unpack things. “Izuku, I can’t see myself doing that.”
“I hope not,” he muttered with a sad chuckle, “but this isn’t a small thing. I’ve thought about telling you for a little bit now, but after last night. After this… I refuse to build a relationship on a lie. I would rather my honesty destroy it.” He spoke with a sudden rush of conviction, as he meant every word he said with all his heart.
“It’s about my quirk,” he continued.
Ochako laughed once, clearly nervous. Honestly, he knew he was being a little dramatic, but it was partially because part of his mind was still trying to drag him back as hard as it could. “Your quirk? Izuku, I knew you were hiding it from me, that’s not a lie. That’s just a secret, I knew-”
“No, it was a lie,” he said quietly, interrupting her.
Finally, Izuku unearthed his gauntlet, his back still facing Ochako. He pushed his hand inside like he had countless times before, but this time it felt different, like it didn’t fit right. It squeezed around his hand and fingers as he flexed them, feeling the weight in more way than one.
Slowly, he stood up tall, his shoulders back as he turned around, holding his right hand in front of him. For the first time since he began to speak, he dared to look at Ochako.
Izuku didn’t think that simply showing her the gauntlet would be enough; maybe she would think it was a replica or that Nimbus had loaned it to him or something. However, when he was about to open his mouth and explain, something gave him pause.
Ochako’s eyes were wide, but he could almost see the gears turning in her mind. Her vision darted back and forth from his gauntlet to his face to his body and all over as the air in the vista seemed to stand completely still.
Then, finally, she spoke.
“You’re Nimbus.” So quiet that he could barely hear her.
“You’re Nimbus,” she repeated, a little louder.
Izuku gulped and tried to speak again, but Ochako wasn’t done.
"But wait, Nimbus is American; he had the accent and everyth-" Ochako gasped. "You were faking it! You went to school in America and picked up the accent to throw people off."
Izuku blinked slowly. Her training and experience had really honed her detective skills.
She stood up slowly. “That explains… everything. That explains why you’re so in shape; why you can run with me and not break a sweat. Why you’re so buff beneath those baggy clothes, why you’re so hot.”
Izuku's mouth opened then closed promptly. ‘Hot?’
She was slowly moving closer to him, one hand rubbing through her hair as her eyes darted around wildly. “That’s how Nimbus knew how much I loved Serendipity. That’s why he called me Ochako that one time. That’s why you knew how best to do that stupid paperwork!” She gasped. “That’s why Nimbus smashed that villain that interrupted our first date!”
Date? Is that what she considered their outings?
Ochako was only a few steps away from him. Izuku didn’t dare move. “That’s how you saved that girl in the street. That’s why Nimbus always seemed to show up when I was feeling down. I would go to Serendipity to see you and start my day off right, then Nimbus would always show up.”
She looked up at him, her eyes full of fire and brilliance. “That’s why you never could tell me about your quirk.”
Suddenly, Ochako’s eyes went even wider as she clapped her hands on her cheeks in embarrassment. “Oh my God, I tried to give Nimbus advice on being a hero. I tried to bring Nimbus on as a sidekick. ”
She turned away and slowly walked back to the bench, sitting down and putting her head in her hands. Ochako began to speak slowly and repetitively, chanting to herself over and over. “You’re Nimbus. Izuku is Nimbus . You’re Nimbus.”
He felt awkward, standing there dumbly while the waves of Ochako’s shattered reality washed over her. Even if she hated him now—which didn’t seem as likely as he feared—he needed to do something.
Izuku cautiously moved back to the bench, sitting down on the end, leaving a wide gap between him and Ochako.
All of a sudden, her chanting stopped. Ochako suddenly turned to him, rapidly sliding down the bench and wrapping her arms around his chest, holding on for dear life like she was going to be blown away by the wind, as if he was the anchor keeping her tethered to reality.
Izuku was completely stunned, his arms frozen in the air as Ochako hugged him tight.
“Y-you’re not mad?” he asked meekly, his voice feeling like blasphemy for even daring to speak.
Her arms pulled harder on his torso, letting him feel the strength from years of training. “No. Never. I could never be mad at you for this.” Her voice was quiet, but firm.
Izuku felt his heart squeeze. “But… but I lied to you!”
“With good reason!” she retorted, pulling her head back slightly to look up at his shocked face. “What, should you have just told me your secret on day one?” She giggled slightly, some of her stress escaping. “I always figured Nimbus kept his secret to protect his friends and family, not to mention his privacy and his free time.”
Her arms slowly pulled out from around his body as she leaned back, her smile wide as a single tear fell from her eyes. “Glad to see I was right. I’m just… so happy that you trust me enough to tell me.”
Now she had gone and done it. With her crying, there was no way that he could keep his own tears back. “I-I didn’t want to build a relationship without telling you,” he muttered, sniffing once. “I was already feeling guilty about building a friendship without telling you.”
She smiled wider somehow. Reaching up and wiping his tears away with a finger. “And that’s so sweet of you. Don’t worry, I still want to be your friend and I still want to date you.”
His tears began to fall harder as an entire morning’s worth of anxiety surged out of his body. “T-thank you,” he managed to blubber out.
Ochako’s expression softened. “That’s why you were so lonely. All your time was spent either working or being Nimbus. You were either a masked, unknowable hero or a quiet man keeping that secret.”
Izuku smiled weakly; she really was smart. “I didn’t dare let anybody get close, not that there was really anybody in my life to get close to me. Well, not before you.”
Ochako reached over and hugged him again, but this time Izuku’s arms moved as well, softly wrapping around her back. “I’m so glad you let me in, Izuku. Thank you for trusting me with this. Your secret is safe with me, I promise. Even if we… don’t work out. I won’t tell a soul.”
Izuku pulled her closer. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me… Being honest with you… it feels nicer than I ever thought it might.”
They sat there quietly for several minutes, both of them hugging the other close before Ochako finally pulled back. She sighed heavily, almost dreamily, as she looked up into his eyes.
Suddenly, her soft kindness gave way to a teasing glint and a small tinge of pride. “I can’t believe you tried to make me choose between you and Nimbus! Do you know how hard it was to choose between the two of you? The two of… you. Hmm.”
Izuku smiled weakly. “Uh, I was really surprised that you picked me. Er, civilian me.”
“Let me tell you,” she continued, “it was actually pretty easy. I was tempted for a bit, but I didn’t really know Nimbus. I knew Izuku.”
His heart pounded a little faster in his chest. “O-oh.”
“Although, I guess I knew Nimbus better than I thought, huh?” She giggled a bit, then cocked an eyebrow. “It’s gonna be weird not separating you anymore. It’s not Nimbus and Izuku, it’s just… Izuku.” She sighed dreamily again.
Ochako hopped to her feet, spinning around to face Izuku properly. She looked down at him with a slight smirk and cocked her hip to the side. “If you’ll allow me this small indulgence…” She puffed her chest up a little and pointed her thumb at herself. “I’m dating the number one hero!”
“Ochako…” He smiled, but he was a little worried. “Please don’t treat me any differently.”
She clapped her hands together. “Sorry, sorry. I won’t, it’s just… hmm.” She put her hand to her chin as she thought for a moment. “It’s more like I just found out that my boyfriend got a big promotion! You’re still the same Izuku to me!”
That made him feel a lot better.
“You know,” she continued, “looking back, it all seems so obvious. I don’t know how I didn’t see it.” She looked down at him again. “All things considered, you’re pretty bad at keeping a secret.”
Izuku rolled his eyes a little, but he was still smiling. “You sound just like Toshi or Melissa. I know, I know.”
Ochako gasped again as yet another revelation crossed through her mind. Izuku had nothing but sympathy for her; he had dumped a lot on her.
“Bakugou!” she exclaimed.
Izuku recoiled slightly. Thinking about Bakugou was a bit of whiplash he wasn’t expecting.
“That whole thing on the rooftop… he thought you were quirkless.”
“Well, it was when he knew me,” he explained. “I didn’t get my quirk until I was 15.” He felt an undeniable pang of guilt, lying to her again so soon, but One For All was a less important secret, at least in this case. He was used to keeping that one longer, anyhow.
He would tell her eventually, but there was no rush on that one. There was only so much he wanted to dump on her at once.
“A late bloomer, huh?” she asked. “Well, looking back it’s kinda funny, isn’t it? You fed him that line about him hating Nimbus and not you… you pulled one over on him.” She laughed a little.
Izuku rubbed his head awkwardly, realizing he was still wearing his gauntlet. “Well, yeah, I guess.”
“That’s a whole lot to unpack, huh?” she muttered. “This whole thing is… I’ll be thinking about this for a while.” She stepped back over and flopped down on the bench right next to him, sighing and leaning against him. “My mind is racing.”
“Sorry,” Izuku offered weakly.
She laughed again. “Don’t apologize, silly. I can’t express in words how happy I am that you told me, it’s just… wow . You’re Nimbus. It’s crazy!”
Izuku chuckled awkwardly. “I am. But uh, maybe some lunch would help?”
Ochako perked up immediately. “Oh, yes! Serendipity on a mountainside with you, what could be better?”
The two of them ate lunch happily, looking out over the beautiful valley while leaning against each other the whole time. After another hour or so, they headed back down the mountain, albeit a little reluctantly.
The whole time, Izuku’s heart felt lighter than air, even though Ochako hadn’t used her quirk on him. He talked with her, laughed with her, lived with her, and he felt better than he ever had. No longer was the fear of his secret weighing on every word he dared to speak. No longer was he living in fear that he would slip up and expose himself to her.
They made their way back down the mountain all too soon, but then Izuku had a plan.
“You know, it’s only fair that I return the favor,” he said, looking over at her with a small smile.
“What do you me- woah!” Ochako gasped as she suddenly found herself in a bridal carry as he picked her up.
He smiled down at her as she blushed slightly. “Unless you’d rather walk…”
“No, no, this is good,” she muttered.
He double checked to make sure nobody was around and then in a flash, Izuku shot off through the woods. It only took a few seconds for them to reach the edge of the town, although Izuku stopped well off the road to avoid any witnesses.
Ochako blinked a few times. “A little faster than what I did,” she muttered. “I feel a little silly now. I thought I was doing something so cool for you when I gave you that ride.”
“Hey now,” Izuku returned as he helped her stand back up. “You did! Do you remember what I said to those reporters after you held that building up?”
Ochako thought for a few moments. “I’m working with her because she is an incredible hero capable of things I couldn’t even pretend to do. Guh, it’s still so weird to think that it was you the whole time!”
Izuku laughed awkwardly again. “Well, I meant it. I’ve never taken pity on you, Ochako. Please don’t ever think badly about yourself.”
All things considered, he was impressed with how fast he had begun to regain his normal confidence.
“I know,” she said with a sigh. “I really do. You’ve never made me feel like a burden. That’s part of the reason I like you so much. You’ve got this… way about you that just makes me feel so capable and confident! That’s another thing! I felt that same feeling from both you and Nimbus. How did I not see it sooner?!” She threw her arms up in the air in frustration.
Izuku laughed louder. “That makes me feel really nice. Maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s just so easy to make you feel that way because you are so capable.”
“Flatterer,” she muttered with a smirk. “Come on, we don’t want to miss the train.”
The two of them walked back through town, holding hands happily as they arrived back at the station. It was there when Ochako revealed with a small, smug chuckle that she had bought round-trip tickets the whole time and Izuku couldn’t pay for anything. He sighed, admitting defeat as they made their way to their seats.
As the train began to move, Izuku began to feel quite tired. It had been a mentally and emotionally exhausting day, not to mention the energy he expended hiking up a mountain combined with his poor night's sleep.
His head slowly drifted to Ochako’s shoulder as his eyes grew heavy.
A small smile graced his face as he drifted off to sleep.
Finally, after all this time, Ochako knew he was Nimbus.
Finally, she knew the real him.
Ochako’s mind was racing, like it had been ever since Izuku had revealed that he was Nimbus.
She couldn’t believe that her kind-hearted sweetheart of a boyfriend was the world’s greatest hero.
Although, after she thought about it, she totally could believe it. All the signs had been there, she just hadn’t been looking. She didn’t have any reason to look, after all. Who would have guessed that Nimbus would spend his free time making coffee and serving people in a small restaurant.
She felt a little funny, knowing Nimbus had waited on her so many times.
But no, he wasn’t Nimbus. He was Izuku.
He might have finally shared his big secret with her, the secret that had dominated his whole life and their entire relationship, but there was a big reason why that didn’t upset her.
Under the relaxing hum of the train, she reached over and brushed a lock of hair from Izuku’s eyes, looking at his peaceful, sleeping face with affection and joy. Seeing him so relaxed around her— truly relaxed for the first time… it meant the world. It let her mind slow down; being next to him like this was calming.
She yawned widely as Izuku rested his head on her shoulder. It had been a mentally and emotionally exhausting day, not to mention the energy she expended hiking up a mountain.
Her head slowly drifted to rest on Izuku’s as her eyes grew heavy.
A small smile graced her face as she drifted off to sleep.
She wasn’t upset with him because she had already gotten to know him properly. He may be Nimbus, but more importantly, he was Izuku.
She had known the real him the whole time.
I've received some wonderful fanart! Thank you to JelloJolteon for this artwork of Nimbus! Please go give her a follow on twitter; she does a bunch of cute art!
It's not over yet! We've got a bunch more story to go still!
See you guys next time!
Chapter 12: Letting It Sink in
The morning after.
Izuku awoke the next morning with a smile on his face. After Izuku and Ochako had arrived at the station and woken up, the two had exchanged a long hug and gone their separate ways for the evening—and Izuku had been wearing that smile ever since.
He was honestly surprised that his cheeks weren’t hurting yet.
After quickly rolling out of bed and getting ready for the day, Izuku hurried downstairs with a spring in his step, giving his mother a hug as he bounded past her grinding coffee beans.
“I haven’t seen you this happy in years,” Inko said as she gave him a warm, motherly smile.
Izuku had told his parents that he had shared his secret as soon as he had gotten home the previous night. Both of his parents had taken it well, with Inko even calling it ‘overdue’; they both thought that Ochako was more than deserving to know his secret.
"I don't think I've felt this free in a long time," Izuku responded after his short reverie.
He looked up as he felt a hand clasp on his shoulder. "You know, you don't have to keep this secret up," Hisashi said softly. "Your mother and I want nothing more than to see you happy."
Izuku smiled warmly at his father, averting his gaze slightly. "I know, but… if I gave up my secret now, it would be chaos. What we have here is nice, and I don't want to mess it up."
"Izuku," Inko began, "it's going to be chaos no matter when you do it. You're too honest of a boy to keep a secret like this well; the only way you've been able to do it is by isolating yourself all these years. Now that you're finally getting some friends, it might be impossible."
Izuku looked down. "But you'd rather have me relax and be happy with my new friends than the alternative."
"Exactly," Hisashi added, squeezing Izuku's shoulder again before walking off to attend to a boiling kettle.
Izuku looked back up and into his mother's kind eyes. "I don't know if I'm okay with that. If people knew who I was, villains could track you guys down and hurt you to get at me. Maybe I can tell some of the others, but only once I trust them completely."
"I understand, sweetie," Inko finished, turning back to the grinder. This was far from the first time they had gone through this conversation, but Ochako had brought up the thought again.
She had already upturned and shaken up so much of his life, just by being there, and he couldn't say honestly that he hated the changes. On the contrary, Inko was right: he was happier than he had been in a long time. Maybe… maybe he would see where things took him.
Izuku settled into his morning routine, cooking food, serving coffee, and making small talk to customers both new and old. The time ticked by, and Izuku began to wonder if Ochako didn't have time to stop by that morning.
Then the door opened one more time and Izuku felt a wide smile break across his face.
Ochako quickly locked eyes with him and smiled back, walking slowly over to the recliners and taking a seat.
Izuku whipped up her favorite coffee and walked over to her a few minutes later, handing her the cup as they both blushed a little.
Ochako took a sip and sunk into the chair a little deeper, sighing happily. Izuku glanced over at his parents, making sure they had the store under control before he sat down in the chair next to his girlfriend.
"Morning," Ochako hummed.
Izuku blinked, realizing they hadn't actually spoken yet. "Good morning," he replied.
Ochako looked over at him, her eyes tracing him up and down before her expression went from content to slightly… nervous .
"Izuku," she began quietly, "yesterday… all that stuff happened, right? I didn't just dream it all?"
He stared at her for a few seconds before smiling softly, chuckling under his breath. "It happened."
Ochako sighed again. "Sorry, it just kinda feels too good to be true, you know?”
Izuku’s eyes widened slightly as he felt his face heat up even more. “I… wow.”
Ochako began to blush a little more as she giggled softly. “That was kinda corny, wasn’t it?”
“No, no,” Izuku said softly. “It was… really sweet of you.”
She smiled wider and took another sip of her coffee, humming again as she looked through the windows, out into the morning sun.
They spent the next five or so minutes talking quietly with each other about this thing or that, but it quickly became time for Ochako to leave so she could get to her agency on time.
“Before you ask,” Izuku began as she stood up, “you’re not paying for that. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you paid for anything ever again here.”
Ochako put on a playful pout. “No fair.”
“You’re the one who chose to make me the happiest man in Japan, not me.”
Ochako rolled her eyes. “That was corny then, and it’s corny now.”
She leaned down so she was only a few inches from his face and looked him straight in the eyes. “I’m heading to work now, will I… see you there?” she whispered.
Izuku didn’t answer for a moment, as he was distracted with just how good she smelled. Was it her shampoo? Was she wearing perfume? Whatever it was, Izuku finally pulled himself back to reality and nodded. “I’ll be there.”
Ochako smiled again as she leaned in and pecked him on the cheek. “Don’t keep me waiting.”
The blush on his face darkened further as he reached he blinked up at her. She smiled one last time and then left Serendipity, leaving Izuku feeling like he was floating, even though she never used her quirk on him.
Mina spotted her target walking out of Serendipity and wasted no time running up to her and throwing a big hug around her shoulders.
“Mina?!” Ochako exclaimed as she recognized her mysterious hugging assailant.
“Hey, hey!” Mina chirped as she released one of her arms, but kept one around Ochako’s shoulder as they began to walk.
“What’re you doing here?” Ochako asked. “Aren’t you going to be late?”
Mina smirked. “If I am, it’ll be worth it. Kiri is gonna cover for me.”
“Okay,” Ochako huffed, “but that doesn’t explain why you were outside of Serendipity, waiting to ambush me.”
There was a faint note of nervousness in Ochako’s voice, which told Mina she probably knew exactly why she was here.
Mina smirked. “Like I was going to accept just hearing about your date over the phone! Come on, how did it go?”
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you about it,” Ochako groaned.
“I would’ve just found out some other way,” Mina responded teasingly. “You can’t hide this sort of stuff from me, Ochako! Come on, you owe it to me, especially after you lied to me back when we ate there. No crush, my pink butt.”
“Fine,” Ochako said with a sigh. “It went well. We took the train up to the little town nearby, ran into Akiko and then made it to the viewpoint. It was really spectacular; you could see for miles. We ate lunch up there, then walked back. It may sound simple but… it was truly unbelievable.”
Ochako drifted off a little at the end, which Mina picked up on. What’s more, Ochako was being very sparse on details.
“Why so secretive?” Mina asked with a little whine.
Ochako stiffened up a little, then let out a nervous laugh. “Well, it’s just kinda personal, you know?”
Mina rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to know what color his underwear is, I just want to know how it went! Did he pack food? Did you guys take pictures? He seems like such a sweet guy, I’m curious!”
Ochako began to blush slightly more. “Okay, fine. Yeah, he packed a lunch from Serendipity, of course. It was amazing, and being there on the mountain only made it better. He was a little quiet at first, but it was just him being nervous.”
“Well, of course he was nervous,” Mina scoffed, “you’re a catch and a half, Ochako! The boy probably couldn’t believe his luck!”
Ochako smiled and looked down a little. “Yeah, something like that.”
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a cutie, too,” Mina teased.
“We had a great time,” Ochako continued. “It was a beautiful view that really made you feel small, but at peace at the same time. We sat there together, arms around each other and just watched in silence for a while. It was… really nice.”
Mina stuck her tongue out a little. “Sounds like you’ve really fallen for the barista boy. When’s the wedding?”
Ochako’s brow furrowed as she grew a small pout. “I could ask the same thing about you and Kirishima, Mina.”
Mina almost physically felt the whiplash. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come on,” Ochako said, her voice taking on a slightly teasing air herself. Her arm moved out and grabbed Mina around the waist, pulling her in a little closer. “Do you know how many people think you two are already married? You act so familiar with each other!”
“I… don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mina offered weakly. This wasn’t right, she was the one who was supposed to be teasing Ochako.
“Uh huh,” Ochako muttered, clearly not convinced. “You should see the way he looks at you when you’re not looking. I don’t believe for a second that Mina Ashido is this unaware. You used to get on any of us if one of the boys ever looked at us for more than a second, but you’re trying to tell me that you’re just friends with him?”
“Well, yes,” Mina mumbled. Of course she knew how Kirishima looked at her, but something had always made her hesitate.
“Uh huh,” Ochako repeated. “It’s so easy to play matchmaker for others, but now that you’re a piece on the board, suddenly it’s not all fun and games!”
Ochako was right, Mina was never a fan of these reversals. “You and Tooru, I swear.”
“Oh, is Tooru on about this, too?” Ochako asked, a glint in her eye. “Tell you what, Mina, I know this perfect place for a date. It’s a mountain trail just a quick train ride away. Here, I have a pamphlet!”
Mina bristled a little, a light blush on her face. “You scoundrel! How dare you turn this around on me!”
“En garde,” Ochako huffed, raising an eyebrow.
Both of them smiled widely at each other as they began to giggle.
“Fine, fine,” Mina chuckled, “you win this time.”
Ochako sighed, her smile dropping just a little. “I know you’re just looking out for me, Mina. But for real, think about Kirishima. I think he would be good for you.”
“Yeah, maybe,” she deflected as the two arrived at Ochako’s agency. “But hey, by the way, we’re having a girl’s night on Friday. You in?”
Ochako’s eyes lit up. “Of course! Where at?”
“Kyouka’s place,” Mina answered.
“Great, looking forward to it,” Ochako said happily as she let Mina’s side go and pulled around in front of her.
The two women shared a quick hug before wishing each other well and going their separate ways.
Mina looked at her phone and gasped when she saw the time. It seemed like Kiri was going to have to cover for her after all; she didn’t realize she had taken so much time talking.
Ochako’s words echoed in her mind, causing Mina to gain a slight blush as she took off running in the direction of her agency.
Ochako put her signature on the final piece of paperwork and set the pen down with a sigh. She had a little bit of a backlog because she took the previous day off to spend time with Izuku, but it had been worth it. It had been worth it a thousand times over.
However, her conversation with Mina had gotten her thinking. When she began to pry like she always did, Ochako had realized that Izuku hadn’t just given her a delicious meal on top of that mountain, but a burden as well.
She was now responsible for keeping his secret as well, and she was much less well-practiced than he was at it.
Perhaps she was a little too close to the chest with Mina, but she was erring on the side of caution. Mina was astute and a brilliant socializer; it would likely take a lot less for her to figure out the connections between Nimbus and Izuku than it had taken Ochako. Because of that, she couldn’t take any risks.
Fortunately, she had managed to change the subject and turn Mina’s inquisition back on herself, teasing her about Kirishima, but that was unlikely to work a second time. She had only managed it because the had the element of surprise; she would have to talk to Izuku about how best to keep his secret.
Ochako and the rest of the class A girls knew that the two had something between them, but they hadn’t ever acted on it. It was probably wise to wait until after they graduated to think about stuff like that, but they were three years out of UA at this point. Mina and Kirishima were such good friends and they spent so much time around each other, both in and outside of work that some people really did assume they were dating.
Ochako remembered that the two had offered to hang out with Ochako and Izuku as friends, which gave her an idea. Perhaps Ochako could turn their excursions into double dates of sorts and pay Mina back for the years of teasing.
However, now wasn't the time to think about Mina. Ochako's thoughts returned to Izuku and the secret that she had to keep. It was a big deal, but she didn't resent him for it at all, nor was she upset about it. Now that she had begun to grasp and appreciate how large of a burden it was, her main thoughts were of gratitude.
Izuku had opened himself up, made himself supremely vulnerable to her, because he trusted her and respected her too much to keep 'lying' to her. It was both flattering and endearing to think about how big of a leap of faith he had taken, even with how well they had gotten to know each other.
Although, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. She was still reeling from the paradigm shift, and she didn't know when she'd be able to truly steady herself again.
Truth be told, she was a little nervous. She had known for almost 24 hours now that Izuku was Nimbus, but it still didn’t seem real. Part of her mind refused to truly comprehend it, but she had a feeling that things would change soon enough.
In the silence of her office, she was able to pick up a faint thud from above her head. Her heart began to beat faster as she sat rooted at her desk, listening to the rooftop door opening and the footfalls coming down the steps. The steps approached her office door and there was a small knocking before the door opened.
Standing there in full uniform, like he had a dozen times before, was Nimbus.
But this time, things were much different.
Ochako stood up slowly, her eyes never leaving Nimbus’ visor as she pulled herself to her full height and began to walk closer.
In that moment, her mind was racing. There was even that tiny, irrational seed of doubt that wondered if Izuku had lied to her about the whole thing. She knew he wasn’t lying, especially after the ride he had given her back through the forest in his arms, but there was still that tiny, obnoxious voice saying ‘what if’?
“Izuku?” she asked quietly.
Nimbus nodded. “It’s me, Ochako.”
Her heart began to beat faster, as if it was trying to break out of her chest. Hearing and seeing was so much different than simply being told.
“It sounds so weird to hear your voice come through that,” she mumbled. “To think you were faking that accent all along… you’re pretty good at it.”
Nimbus laughed and reached up to take off his helmet. There was a slight mechanical noise as the lock disengaged and then he slowly began to lift it off his head.
She saw his chin, then his soft lips, those freckled cheeks, those big, green eyes filled with kindness, and finally his messy green hair.
Izuku cupped the helmet in one arm and held it to his side, looking down at her with a gentle, kind smile.
Finally, that voice was silenced completely. All of her unreasonable doubts were burned away, and that fact that she knew for almost a day became reality.
Ochako moved forward and hugged him tightly, throwing her arms around his midsection and pulling him close.
Izuku seemed surprised for a moment, gasping slightly before he hummed and moved his one arm around her back, returning her hug. “Is everything alright?” he asked softly.
Ochako nodded as she squeezed him a little harder. “Seeing is believing, you know? For so long, Nimbus and Izuku have been completely different people, and I know you weren’t lying, but now that I’ve finally seen you like this…”
“I get it,” Izuku mumbled as he rubbed her back gently. “Do you remember the shock when the world saw All Might’s shriveled body after that big fight a few years ago?”
She pulled back, looking up at him curiously as she nodded.
“Well,” Izuku began, still holding his arm loosely around her back, “I found out about it before all that. I met All Might and I wound up basically following him because I was a big fanboy. He shrunk down before my eyes and… it took a bit for me to reconcile that the man in front of me was the world’s greatest hero.”
“Wow…” Ochako muttered. He really did understand. All Might’s sudden retirement had shaken the very foundation of the hero world; she fully appreciated how shocking it would have been for a younger Izuku to find out that the All Might wasn’t the unstoppable juggernaut he appeared to be. She had watched that television broadcast of his departure from Japan, never thinking that he would return as-
The gears of her mind began to turn rapidly once again.
“Izuku…” Ochako said slowly, looking up at him with a piercing glare.
He seemed both curious and a little nervous under her gaze. “Uh, yes?”
“Did All Might go to America to teach you?” she asked.
Izuku blinked for a few seconds before beginning to laugh, softly pulling her back into his side with his arm. “You really are brilliant. Yeah, he did.”
“That’s why all your moves are smashes like his,” Ochako continued, her smile growing, “and that’s why your helmet has those antenna things on them! You’re a huge All Might fanboy!”
Izuku laughed. “I was. I guess I still am, but it’s different now. All Might is… very important to me. He’s basically family at this point.”
“You still talk to him?” she asked. It made sense, she supposed, but she hadn’t ever thought about it.
“Oh, yeah!” Izuku responded. “I talk to him in person at least once a week.”
“That must be really cool,” Ochako muttered.
Izuku got a glint in his eye. “You know, I talked about you a lot with him.”
“Only good things, I promise,” Izuku chuckled. “In fact, he was the one who first really encouraged me to tell you who I was.”
Ochako’s eyes went wide as she stared up at her boyfriend.
“It was before you asked me out, and I wanted to tell you,” Izuku mumbled, looking away slightly, “but I was scared. It had been so long since I trusted anyone new that… well, you know.”
She nodded. “Yeah, well it’s all worked out now, right? I’m so glad you decided to tell me.”
“So am I,” Izuku hummed as he smiled softly. “Hey, would you like to meet All Might? I’m sure he’d love to meet you.”
“Really?!” Ochako gasped.
Izuku nodded. “Really.”
Ochako’s surprise turned into a slightly teasing smirk. “Introducing me to your family already?” she asked with a giggle.
Izuku laughed again. “Well, you’ve already met my parents.”
Ochako smiled softly as she finally pulled back from him fully and began to walk over to a cabinet at the side of the room. “You seem to be a lot more confident today,” she hummed as she began to enter a code into the keypad.
Izuku rubbed the back of his head as he smiled. “I think it’s the suit. I always feel more confident when I’m in uniform.”
“I like it,” she said quietly as she opened up the cabinet and pulled out one of her heavy wristguards.
Izuku began to blush a little and quickly put his helmet back on. “I’ll meet you on the roof,” he muttered, securing his helmet and heading back upstairs.
Ochako smiled to herself again as she turned back and finished putting on the rest of her equipment.
Today was going to be a good day, she could feel it.
Been a while, eh? Well, the good news is that the next chapter should be a lot sooner. I've officially put a few of my other fics on hiatus to focus on this fic, What's in a Hoard? and Heroes by Choice, so expect more of this story until it finishes!
See you next time!