Fuyumi wanted to see the best in her father.
Sitting here at the most expensive restaurant she’d been to in her entire life, in an uncomfortable dress, was honestly making her second guess herself.
The man sitting across from her, talking at her instead of to her, was not helping Father’s case either.
Some part of her still could not believe that her father set her up on an omiai. She’d always assumed that her father didn’t really care what she did with her life. He certainly had never objected to her teaching career, nor her tendency to do “servant’s work,” taking over the kitchen after three years of take out and housekeepers who were just plain unnerving.
She wasn’t particularly interested in marriage, to be honest. Especially not her father’s idea of marriage where she was expected to pick someone of good breeding, a useful quirk, or some kind of clout he could use, and spend the rest of her life popping out babies.
She wasn’t particularly interested in sex. Period.
Girls were okay, but even the prettiest girl didn’t make her interested in sex. For years it had bothered her, but eventually she had found the word asexual and thought, ‘This is me.’
It would ruin her father’s idea of her future but honestly, if he wanted her to care more he should have paid more attention to her as a child. Or better yet, he should have let her bond with Shouto and Touya for longer than she got.
Fuyumi shook her head to clear her thoughts, taking another look at her date.
The man across from her was attractive enough, she supposed. He’d clearly taken care of his appearance, wearing a dapper suit that suited his silver hair and icy blue eyes. He’d introduced himself as Ekino Eiji and quickly lost her in his monologue about his work as a neurosurgeon and how he was unappreciated at the hospital he worked at.
My, my, how familiar that sounded. She already put up with that for years under her father’s roof. She was unwilling to put up with it anymore.
“Are you alright?” he asked, pausing his monologue.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Fuyumi said with a perfunctory smile. “You were saying something about your coworker?”
Ekino smiled, pleased she had apparently been paying attention. “Yes. He was so upset that—”
Fuyumi tuned him out with a practiced ear. He was… very much not her type. Too braggadocious, too uncaring of her own interests.
“And how is Endeavor doing lately? I know that he said something about your youngest brother’s move to another agency. How is he taking it?”
Too much a fan of her father, truth be told.
“He’s doing fine,” Fuyumi said, uncaring that “he” could have been taken as either male.
Ekino probably thought she meant Father, but to be honest, Father was resigned. Slightly furious, but a few pointed words reminded him that Father had no right to expect anyone to forgive and forget and pretend like nothing was wrong with their family.
So what if Shouto transferred from Endeavor Agency to Iidaten? So what if he was taking the time to go to college, to explore other options besides being a Pro Hero?
Shouto wanted a fallback option, wanted to explore what he could be instead of what he was mostly forced to be. Fuyumi couldn’t fault him that.
The food arrived, high-class food Fuyumi rarely had—a combination of mostly cooking for herself and unwilling to spend more than what she made unless it was for her brothers—and Ekino at least was polite enough to cease speaking while the food was present.
It was delicious, but every bite reminded Fuyumi of exactly how uncomfortable she was with this kind of thing. She was a simple girl, she didn’t need more than her brothers’ favorite foods and maybe some inarizushi for herself.
The worst part was that she could feel Ekino’s eyes on her, watching her like a hawk.
Nope, she couldn’t do this.
The rest of the meal went by sedately, Ekino refusing to speak while he ate and Fuyumi attempting to figure out the best way to word her rejection to both her father and Ekino, if need be.
As the wagashi came out, Ekino asked, “May I interest you in a drink?”
Fuyumi shook her head, “No thank you, Ekino-san. I have a class to teach tomorrow.”
“You teach?” he asked, surprised.
And if Fuyumi needed another reason to leave, there it was. “Ekino-san, how much do you know about me?”
“Well you’re Endeavor’s daughter and Entropy’s older sister, you’re 28, and you have an ice quirk,” he listed.
“Is that it?” she asked.
“What else is there to know?” he asked, as if anything else was unnecessary.
Fuyumi moved her chair back, pushing away from the table. “The fact that I teach, Ekino-san. The fact that I have two younger brothers and a twin brother. The fact that I have a life of my own that does not need to involve my father. I’m sorry Ekino-san, but I will not be seeing you again.”
She stood up, unwilling to stay. It was the height of rudeness, but the way he had disregarded her as anything but a pretty thing and Endeavor’s daughter grated on her in a way that made her want to lash out. it was probably Touya's fault, if she was honest. He’d been pushing for her to stop letting people walk all over her.
Well, here she was, standing up for herself. Her twin would be so proud.
Ekino reached for her arm, but Fuyumi let her ice form over where he reached, covering her skin in a thin sheet that froze to anyone who didn’t have an internal core that ran hotter than the average human.
But Fuyumi had inherited something from Endeavor besides the red streaks in her hair. It helped her now, frost beginning to sparkle and cling to his arms until he pulled away.
“Goodbye, Ekino-san,” Fuyumi repeated. “We will not be meeting again.”
This time, when she walked away, he did not reach for her.
No, instead he screamed shrilly. Fuyumi whirled around, just in time to raise an ice wall as a figure burst through the floor-to-ceiling windows and headed straight for her.
Her father may have disregarded her for not being useful for his lifelong ambition, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t made sure she knew how to use her Quirk and defend herself if needed. Quirk laws meant that she tended not to showcase this knowledge, but if the glimpse of the man hurled her way meant anything, she could claim self-defense.
After all, that was the villain who’d been evading her brother’s agency for the last two weeks.
The man hit her wall with a crash, and Fuyumi could hear her self-defense instructor in her head— “Stop blocking your field of vision! ”— as she scrambled out from behind the wall and away from the villain’s point of entry.
Luckily, Crow had taken the time to reorient himself. His large black wings, bedraggled and twisted thanks to his entry, flared menacingly. “Well, I thought this would be an easy snatch and grab, but I guess not.”
“What do you want with me?” Fuyumi asked, shivering. The dress was fairly modest, but not warm in the slightest. With the way they were in a restaurant at the top of a skyscraper, the wind was brutal and unwelcome.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he stalked his way closer to Fuyumi, teeth bared in a grin that showed sharp incisors.
Fuyumi refused to back down. Her eyes twitched towards the other diners of the restaurant, who were hiding behind their own tables.
Ekino, she noted with vague disgust, was curled up in a ball, gibbering to himself after his near brush with a villain.
Her expectations of the man dropped to the negatives, even as she scrambled to figure out why she was the one her brother’s latest target was looking for.
“Leverage?” she asked. Fuyumi smiled when Crow slowed his approach.
Bingo. Fuyumi pulled herself straight, feeling her ice crackle underneath her skin.
“You think that by taking me, Entropy or Endeavor will go easy on you,” she concluded aloud.
Diamond dust began to flutter around her fingers as Crow came ever closer.
“Nothing personal,” Crow said as he came within arm’s reach. “I just need a quick getaway, and you’re the insurance. So come along, or I’ll murder every person in this room.” He grabbed her arm.
It was not a nice smile.
Her own fingertips touched his chest.
“What made you think I would come so willingly?”
From her fingertips came ice cold enough to cause frostbite. It wrapped around his chest, grew on him like a second skin.
In seconds, Crow’s torso was covered in ice, his wings trapped and frozen solid. He scrambled back on his feet, but Fuyumi was faster.
She didn’t have her brother’s power or her father’s fire, but her ice burned with cold. What she did not have in output she made up for in control, and in sheer freezing power.
Fuyumi’s temper was always the one to burn freezing.
She dove for Crow’s legs, easily caught and frozen as his torso was. She froze his legs together for good measure and stood, leaving him lying at her feet on the floor.
In her hands, her ice formed a javelin. Her gym teacher always said she was good at it. “This wasn’t your best idea,” she told the villain. She hefted the javelin and tossed it out of the window.
With a thought, it burst into snow.
“What was that for?” Crow asked, scrambling for bravado. He struggled to get up, to do something, but the more he moved the more energy her ice absorbed, and Crow tired quickly.
“I’m not a hero,” she said simply.
“She’s just calling for someone who is,” came her brother’s voice from the smashed window.
Pro Hero Entropy jumped off his ice ramp and onto the carpeted floor of the now ruined dining room. He surveyed the scene and somehow was not surprised when he saw Crow shivering, covered in ice from the neck down.
He swiftly approached and kicked Crow in the head, knocking him out.
“Did you have to make him a mummy, nee-san?”
Murmurs began to filter through Fuyumi’s hearing, but she ignored them the same way she’d ignored Ekino’s bragging.
Thank God for anxiety meds. She was much calmer than she expected.
“When he wants to use me as collateral, yes,” she told her brother.
“Self-defense then,” Shouto said with a nod. “I’ll take him from here. Do you mind if I melt that?” He gestured to the half-ruined wall of ice and Crow’s restraints.
“Far be it for me to tell you what to do. You’re on duty after all,” Fuyumi laughed as she stepped closer.
Behind her, she could hear the police coming through the elevator, but made no move to leave her brother’s side.
“Why are you even here anyway?” Shouto asked under his breath as he worked on thawing out the ice.
“Father asked me to,” she murmured.
“I don’t see him,” Shouto grumbled. He carefully thawed Crow’s torso so that he could press the villain’s wings against his back, cuffing the man’s arms behind his folded wings.
“Well, it was an omiai dinner,” Fuyumi said.
Shouto’s head snapped up. “A what?” His voice was sharp as a blade, louder than she expected.
“Hush you,” Fuyumi said, one hand on her brother’s arm. “We’re not making a big deal out of this. Not here, at least.”
“Fine,” Shouto grumbled. He hauled the villain up and over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. “Come on,” Shouto said as he began walking towards the elevator. “We’ll probably need your statement.”
“In a moment, Shouto,” Fuyumi said.
Shouto nodded and continued to the elevators.
Fuyumi walked over to where Ekino was still curled into a ball. “If you can’t handle this,” she said, staring at the huddled form before her, “you should give up now.”
Fuyumi turned to the elevator, intent on catching up with her brother and the authorities who she’d probably have to explain herself to when she was interrupted by another person.
“Yes?” Fuyumi asked. It wasn’t the most polite of her, but her adrenaline was crashing and she honestly just wanted out of these heels and into her pajamas.
“Thank you,” the woman before her said. “I hope no one charges you for Quirk usage without a license.”
Then she walked off, and Fuyumi was left staring quizzically at the dark-haired woman in the deep purple dress.
Shrugging it off, Fuyumi continued her way down.
She had a statement to give.
Ironically enough, the one most calm about her brief hero moment was Shouto himself.
Mother had fretted but ultimately was proud of Fuyumi for defending herself.
Natsuo was stuck between panic and pride and terror.
Touya hadn’t said a word, but the way Crow had vanished from jail only to end up a charred husk several prefectures away said a lot.
Father? Father was furious.
And for all of the wrong reasons.
“What do you mean you won’t be seeing more of Ekino?” he demanded. “His Quirk is perfect for yours and his status is unmatched in his field!”
“He’s a spineless coward,” Fuyumi retorted, without any real heat. “Crow came crashing in and the man failed to do anything but run and hide, even when he knew Crow was after me to get to you and Shouto.” Her smile turned mocking, “What use was his Quirk in that situation? His status?”
“No, Father. The man knew nothing about me even though I know you sent over a profile. I will not be seeing him again.”
Father sighed. “Fine. But you turn down every suitor who comes your way. Don’t tell me you’re going to end up unmarried Fuyumi. I don’t want that for you.”
Bold of you to say, Fuyumi thought, when your marriage was in shambles because of you, when you are the main influence on my view of marriage itself.
“We’ll see,” Fuyumi said.
She would soon marry the stranger who thanked her earlier this evening rather than Ekino.
Ironically enough, Fuyumi actually did meet the woman again.
It had been a Bad Day, and Fuyumi had decided to decompress by actually going out to drink for once. Her usual place was small and quiet, perfect for her needs. The bartender was a friend from college who was mixing drinks to pay for medical school, and usually drove her home if she couldn’t call herself a cab.
She didn’t drink that often, but when she did, it was a valid concern.
Fuyumi looked up as a glass was placed down next to her. “Kiyoko, what’s this? I didn’t order anything?”
Kiyoko didn’t look up from the drink she was mixing. “Someone bought you a drink.”
“You know I don’t accept drinks from strangers,” Fuyumi said with a frown.
“She said it was a thank you? For something from last month. Also, it’s water,” Kiyoko said with a shrug.
Fuyumi looked around, trying to see if she could spot her mystery provider.
Her eyes fell on the woman from last month, who was in much more casual jeans and a blouse instead of the purple dinner dress Fuyumi last saw her in.
The woman smiled.
It was, a buzzed Fuyumi decided, a very nice smile.
Her gut told her that the woman was harmless enough. And to be honest, Fuyumi was very intrigued by the pretty woman with the pretty purple eyes. She gestured at the empty seat next to her, eyes never leaving the pretty stranger’s.
The woman got up from her seat in the corner, drink in hand, and took the empty seat at the bar. “Hello.”
“Hello yourself,” Fuyumi greeted. “Not that I mind, but why the drink?”
The woman shrugged, long brown hair falling over one shoulder. “You looked like you needed it. Besides, I never did thank you for taking down that villain at the restaurant.”
“You did though,” Fuyumi protested. “I remember you thanking me. You were the only one, and too pretty to forget besides.”
The instant the words left her mouth, Fuyumi blushed. Perhaps she shouldn't have drank so much.
The woman laughed. “Thank you for the compliment. You were quite stunning as well. I’m Naoi Megumi.”
She held a hand out.
“Todoroki Fuyumi,” Fuyumi said, shaking the hand.
“So, what do you do?” Naoi asked.
“I’m a school teacher,” Fuyumi said. “First year elementary.”
“That sounds stressful and delightful at the same time,” Naoi said.
“It is, but I love my kids,” Fuyumi said. “What do you do?”
“I’m in graduate school actually. I’m getting a Master’s degree in business and social work,” Naoi replied. She took a sip of her drink.
Fuyumi probably should not be staring at the long line of Naoi’s throat. She was anyway.
“At the same time?” Fuyumi asked, astonished. “Congratulations. That sounds just as stressful.”
“Odds are, it is just as rewarding to me as teaching is to you,” Naoi countered. “Speaking of teaching, what brings a teacher here?”
“It’s been a long week,” Fuyumi said.
“Too right,” Naoi said, raising her glass for a toast.
Fuyumi raised her own, their glasses clinking.
“The week was worth it to meet you again, though,” Naoi said once she finished her drink.
Fuyumi flushed. She couldn’t tell if it was the drinks or the compliment.
“I realize we don’t know each other very well, but can I take you out to dinner, Todoroki-san?” Naoi asked.
Fuyumi looked at her. Naoi’s name was familiar, but she couldn’t remember it for the life of her. But she was pretty, and apparently interested in Fuyumi. Not a single one of her questions even alluded to her family.
“Alright, Naoi-san,” Fuyumi said. “I’m free on Saturday night.”
“Give me your number,” Naoi said. “I’ll text you.”
When Naoi finally left, insisting that Fuyumi call her Megumi—which was reciprocated—Fuyumi looked at Kiyoko with disbelieving eyes.
“Did I really just get chatted up at a bar and accept a date?”
Kiyoko didn’t look up from where she was serving a clearly inebriated salaryman. “Yes, yes you did. But hey, she’s cute. And if my memory doesn’t fail me, she’s from the Naoi family that owns a shitton of property in Musutafu. Congrats Fuyumi, you have a date with the heiress of a real estate empire.”
“Oh. That’s great,” Fuyumi said faintly. “I think I need to go home now. I’m clearly past my normal intoxication levels.”
“Lie,” Kiyoko said. “You drank less than you normally do after shitty work days. But yeah, I’ll call you a cab.”
When Fuyumi was about to leave for the night, Kiyoko called out, “Enjoy the date on Saturday!”
To Fuyumi’s surprise, she thought she just might.