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Just A Touch

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Just A Touch

Chapter One

A Game of Chance

Everyone has a soulmate, my ass. I had heard about it all my life, people telling me it would happen one day, but that was just a pipe dream. It was probably worse for me since my brother had his mark at birth, the first in the family in a generation. My great grandmother used to tell us stories about how it used to be, most everyone knew who their soulmate was back then, their name was literally tattooed on their body somewhere. Not anymore. They think with the emergence of the first quirk generation that started with my great, great, great grandmother, something effected the soulmate marks. Back then, 80% of people had marks and 20% had quirks. Now it’s the other way around. There were probably some unlucky people out there that didn’t have either. I may not have had a soulmark, but I had a quirk. I could control all forms of metal, bend it to my will. It’s one of the reasons I had finally broken into the top thirty in the hero rankings this last poll. At number twenty-six, I started getting offers from all over, some incredible agencies wanted me. Kamui Woods, Mt. Lady, Edgeshot, they all sent offers and I was blown away. My parents were thrilled for me, even though it meant I would be moving away. My apartment was only a few miles from their house, and I saw them all the time. Even at twenty-four, it would be hard saying goodbye. I heard my laptop ding and headed to check my messages. I was waiting for word on potential interviews, and I almost fell over when I saw who it was from. Uravity’s Agency. I had admired her for a very long time, watching her in UA’s sports festival back when we were in school. She looked so cute and timid, but was fierce when it came to getting the job done, it’s probably why she was the number ten hero. I never imagined being in the right place at the right time could have given me these opportunities. I was at a large outdoor concert, hanging with my friends and having a blast when a storm came out of nowhere. A huge gust of wind blew through and toppled the large metal beams and scaffolding holding up the stage, sending thousands of people running for their lives. I didn’t hesitate, using my quirk to stop the destruction, lifting the beams up and back into place. The stage was still damaged, but no one was injured and I was hailed a hero. It’s been a few months since that day, and after making the news, offers from the mainland began to arrive. Living in Okinawa was so peaceful, and usually quieter than the mainland, but it had always been my dream to go there and become a top hero. Now, I was actually getting that chance, and I had my pick of agencies. The email said she would like for me to call her about it, so I picked up my phone and immediately dialed. The other agencies were great, and I admired all the heroes, but if I could work with Uravity I would be thrilled. The phone rang twice before she picked up.

“Uraraka Ochaco, how can I help you?”

“Hello, my name is Nagura Anna, I just received…”

“Wow, that was quick! Thanks for responding. I was afraid I had waited too long to send the offer to you. Is it too late to come in and give me an interview? Has someone snatched you up already?”

“It’s not too late at all, in fact you are the first agency I have talked to on the phone, everyone else is email. I would love to come. Just tell me when and where.”

“How is Monday morning at the main office here in Tokyo?”

“Perfect. What do I need to bring?”

“Well, I want to see you in action, so bring your costume and accessories. If everything works out, we can have the paperwork ready in a day or two.”

“Sounds good, I’ll grab a room in the city then…”

“Nonsense, we will put you up. The hotel is just around the corner from the agency, it’s the least I can do since you are coming from paradise to see me.”

“Ah, so you have been to my home island?”

“Only once, but it was so beautiful I never wanted to leave. The room will be ready for you Sunday, and we will figure out the check out after our meeting. I’ll send you the info. I look forward to meeting you, Nagura Anna. See you Monday.”

The hotel was amazing, and the city full of bright lights when I arrived Sunday night. This was it; I was living my dream. Uraraka had sounded excited to speak with me, and I was holding out hope I would be employed by her by the end of tomorrow. I thought I would be too tired to sleep, but I did and woke when the alarm went off. She was right; the office was just a few blocks from the hotel and I was starting to get super nervous. A lot of top pros worked for her and I still couldn’t believe this was all happening. Uravity herself was waiting in the lobby. She waved and smiled.

“Nagura Anna! It’s so good to meet you. Uraraka Ochaco. Please, let’s go to my office.” She said as I followed her down the hall and to her space. We each took a seat and she started the interview. I think overall it went pretty well, she seemed just as nice as I hoped she would be. “So, are you ok with running a training exercise with a few of my friends?”

“Sure.”

“Great. We just have to take a quick ride over to their training facility. I have a small one here, but the one the boys have is much better suited for what I have in mind. Go change into your costume.” She pointed down the hall and I headed to the locker room. My costume wasn’t super special or anything, but I designed it so I loved it. A simple, hunter green full bodysuit with a silver mini skirt was accessorized with metallic looking wrist bands, a neck brace and knee-high boots. My mask was black with metallic silver trim. I usually had long, sliver gloves and a belt pack that went along with it, but I must have left them in the room, or maybe even at home. I was so excited to get here; I wouldn’t doubt they were still laying on my bed where I left them. We hopped in a taxi and it didn’t take long before we pulled up in front of a large building. “All right, let’s go see what you can do.” We piled out of the car and headed inside, loud explosions rocking the building.

“Who the hell is in there?” I laughed as she shook her head.

“Sounds like your sparring buddies are getting impatient. Sorry about him, Bakugo really is an ok guy when he’s not all worked up about something.” We walked in and I recognized both of them right away. Red Riot and Ground Zero, the latter making all the noise we heard earlier.

“Hey guys, I’d like you to meet Iron Maiden. I have already decided to bring her on board, but wanted to have a little exhibition. This is Red Riot, and Ground Zero.”

“Bring it on, heavy metal.” Ground Zero screamed. Clever. Not the first time I had heard that joke, and the best part was, I actually liked that kind of music. I took a quick glance around the arena, there was plenty for me to work with. Bakugo wasted no time, charging me with gauntlets aimed. Red Riot was right behind, but didn’t get far. The metal guardrail whipped off the floor with one flick of my finger and pinned him in his Unbreakable form to the ground. He was struggling to get up, but was failing miserably. I dodged Bakugo at the last second and he flew past me, explosions igniting from his hands as he screamed. I was on him when he landed, landing punches and kicks like the black belt I was. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell them about that. He looked at me with confusion as my foot landed on his jaw, knocking him back and to the floor. My fist landed one last punch to his cheek when suddenly a searing pain ripped across my chest. I stumbled back and he let out a yelp, looking at me like I had done something horrible. Heat boiled in my core as I stared down at him, his eyes glistening back at me. It broke my concentration and Red got free and came barreling at me. Bakugo was still stunned and I used it to my advantage, trapping him easily with a piece of guardrail before turning my attention to Red. I used a few beams from the ceiling and pinned him down, finally trapping both men and rendering them helpless. Uraraka squealed from behind me and was clapping her hands.

“I knew it! I knew you could beat them. I’m going to make to an offer you can’t refuse. Come on, let’s go back and get the paperwork in order.” We started to head out when Red Riot called out.

“Hey, you just going to leave us like this?”

“Whoops, sorry boys. Here you go. See you again soon.” I waved and freed them as the door shut behind me. My hand went up to the still aching spot on my chest, just below my left collarbone.

“You ok? Did something happen out there?”

“No, I’m fine. I just got a weird pain. I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“Let me see, maybe Bakugo burned you when he made that first move.” I pulled my untouched costume back and almost tipped over. Her eyes got huge and she took a step back as she shook her head. “No. Way! Do you see that?” I was looking at it upside down but there was no question, it was a soulmark. The only way someone could activate their mark was if they made skin to skin contact…OH MY GOD.

“Does…that…say…”

“Bakugo Katsuki. It says Bakugo Katsuki. Holy shit, Anna. This is the craziest thing I have ever seen!”

“Dude, what did you do to get her to free me? She flinched a minute and I could move.”

“I don’t know, you idiot. I’m taking a shower, leave me in peace.”

“Whatever dude. She was pretty impressive. It will be good to have her as a teammate…hey bro? What is that on your back?”

“What? Where?”

“Your left shoulder blade, it looks like a tattoo…wait…it’s a soulmark!”

“WHAT? HOW?”

“Nagura Anna. That’s Iron Maiden! I read her file at the office, it’s her for sure! Dude, you are so lucky, she is smoking!”

“Shut up dumb hair. How does a soulmark just appear?”

“I have heard it happens when you touch them. It’s rare, but it happens. Imagine, casually bumping into your soulmate randomly. That’s so manly.”

“TCH. Whatever. I don’t have time for that shit.”

“Well, you did just fine out there all things considered. Bakugo wasn’t using his full power, but it was still super impressive.”

“I guess. Sorry, I’m still kind of reeling.”

“I get it. That was a whole lot to take in at a rapid pace. Nice martial arts moves, by the way. You have trained?”

“Yes, black-belt. My parents insisted on it so I could defend myself. Came in handy when I became a hero.”

“I appreciate that, I have some moves of my own.”

We arrived back and she gave me her offer and I almost fell over. I thought for sure she had added a few extra zeroes to the number. She assured me it was valid, and that I was worth it. It was more than twice my sidekick salary, with benefits and personal time and all kinds of extras.

“I would have to be crazy to ignore this offer. Thank you so much, it would be an honor to work with you. I remember watching you on tv back in high school, the schools on the mainland were so much cooler than our boring ones. I admired how strong you were and how you always gave your all. You inspired me, in a way. Being small sometimes sucks, but you always helped me see size doesn’t matter, it’s what’s in your heart.”

“You are going to make me cry, stop it!” She wailed as I laughed. “Speaking of what’s in your heart, what are you going to do about Bakugo? Are you seeing someone already?” I shook my head.

“No, my ex and I split a few years ago. I honestly don’t have a clue what I am going to do. He doesn’t work here, does he?”

“No, he works with Endeavor, that’s who owns that training facility. Kirishima works here. Oh, sorry, that’s Red Riot if you didn’t know. You will meet all your coworkers soon enough. For now, you have to focus on getting a place and moving, right?”

“Oh shit, yes. I was actually excited and found a few places I liked already. I’ll call and see if I can look at any tomorrow.”

“That’s fine. You will have the whole week to get settled, and start work Monday. That gives you enough time, right?”

“As long as I find a place, that’s great.”

“You can stay in the hotel until you do, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Oh, this will help.” She handed me an envelope. It was full of cash. “Consider it a signing bonus. It will help cover your down payment. Please let me know if you need anything, ok?”

“I will. Thanks so much, I can’t wait to work with you.”

As I was walking out the front door of the agency a voice called out from across the street.

“Oi, Nagura, we need to talk.”

Bakugo crossed the street and headed right for me. He was right, but it didn’t mean I wanted to. What the hell was I going to say? He stood in front of me and just stared, like he was trying to come up with something to say. At least we were both in the same boat.

“Do you want to get dinner?” He finally sputtered; ears flushed as he looked at his feet.

Holy shit, I can’t even talk to her. What the hell is wrong with me? It feels like my insides are melting. I want to touch her creamy skin, taste her mouth. Is this what love is supposed to feel like? She’s my soulmate, is this what’s supposed to happen?

“Sure.” I whispered as he looked up at me. “Is the place in the hotel any good? It smelled great when I arrived last night.”

“Oh, Ochaco put you up in the agency hotel? Yeah, actually that place has great food. We can just go there if you want. Wait, you aren’t from around here. I know the perfect place to go.” We started walking and after a few blocks came upon a small soba shop. We sat in silence while we waited for our food, awkwardly looking away when we met each other’s glances.

“I’m sorry I don’t know what to say. This whole thing is a bit overwhelming.”

“Don’t apologize, I don’t know what to say either.” The food came and we ate, I would be coming back to this place often. Great food at a great price. We were supposed to be talking, but we weren’t getting anywhere.

“Dinner was good, but I think I need a drink. This has been a crazy day.”

“The hotel bar is fantastic.”

“Let’s go.” I knew a drink or two would help me calm down and maybe I could actually speak in whole sentences around him. It was making me feel better that he seemed equally as tongue tied. I never would have guessed after seeing him in action. We sat in a small booth in the back of the bar that was only peppered with customers. That was the other good thing about the hotel bar, it was guests only so no fangirls would be interrupting. I ordered a bourbon on the rocks and his eyes grew wide.

“Well, I didn’t expect that. Make it two.”

“What did you expect?”

“Some kind of fancy drink like Ochaco would get. You know, with bright colors and fancy straws.”

“Not tonight. Those kinds of drinks are for the weekends.” I laughed. He smiled but quickly looked down at his hands again. So awkward. All of a sudden, the universe threw us together with no warning, leaving us to figure out how it would work. We were tied together for a reason, and now we had to decide if this would work for us. “So, let’s start with the basics, I guess. I’m 24 and lived in Nago in Okinawa Prefecture. You already saw my quirk; I can manipulate any metal as I see fit. I’m a black belt in Karate, and I like horror movies. And Gelato.”

“I’m 25 and grew up here. Your martial arts moves surprised the shit out of me, and I was expecting the gelato part, but not the horror movies. Do you like heavy metal music, too?” he smirked.

“I do, and all I have learned is that you are avoiding answering. Since we are soulmates, I suppose I should just ask…do you have a significant other?” The second round of drinks had arrived and I grabbed mine, taking a big swig before he answered.

“No. Do you?”

“Nope. Single a few years.”

“Vampires or Werewolves?”

“Uhh…zombies! Silly question. If I would have ordered a sissy drink, what would you have ordered?”

“Not the one you did. Probably sake, or maybe a beer. Why zombies?”

“Well, it probably sounds silly, but because I think they are the closest to coming true. I mean, some people already are basically zombies. Believing everything they hear, not thinking for themselves. Numbing themselves with drugs to hide. I also like watching people stab things.”

“That took an amazing turn. Honestly, I’m a fan of the fast zombies.”

“You mean the infected. Those movies are not true zombie movies.” He squinted his eyes at me.

“Oh god no. You aren’t one of those…people.” I let out a loud laugh.

“You mean the ones that nitpick shit to death and make it no fun anymore? No, I was feeling you out. The bloodier the better, I don’t care how they reanimated.”

“So now, vampires or werewolves?” We ended up sitting in the bar, drinking and talking until the bartender said it was closing time. While the drinks were probably helping a bit, after we started asking questions and giving straight answers, I found we had more in common that I thought. As weird as it sounded, I didn’t want to stop talking to him. “Shit, really? Closing time already?”

“It’s only midnight!” I groaned as I finished my fourth drink. I wasn’t drunk, but I had a slight buzz. I had stopped and nursed my last one, but he kept ordering. He wasn’t drunk either, but his cheeks had turned a slight hint of pink after he downed two in a row after I told him he couldn’t do it. Show off.

“We were in such a good conversation too. Damn…” He looked up at me, his ruby eyes sparkling back. Shit, did he want to come to my room? Should I ask him? Is that appropriate, we just met? We were soulmates, though. The Universe chose to put us together, we were literally meant for each other. So, when is too soon?

“We could always go see if there is anything good on the horror channel. The hotel has a great package.”

The next thing I knew we were in my room. I turned on the tv, but we ended up talking over most of the movie that was playing. In just a few hours we had gone from awkward to familiar, chatting about nonsense like we had known each other for years. It was getting late, and I yawned and he laughed.

“You have a big day tomorrow apartment hunting. I should go so you can rest.”

“Thanks for the talk, Bakugo. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had fun.”

“So did I. But there is so much more to talk about. We didn’t even touch on anime yet.”

“Oh no, if we start that now we will be here until next week.”

“I wouldn’t mind.” He stood and headed for the door. “Would you like to have dinner again tomorrow?”

“Do you have another amazing place in mind? If it’s anything like the soba joint, I’m in.”

“It’s even better. Pick you up at 7?”

“I’ll be ready.” The door shut behind him and I collapsed on the bed. Holy shit. I pulled down my shirt and stared at the mark in the mirror. Bakugo Katsuki was my soulmate, and surprisingly, he seemed to be ok with it.