The hazy silhouettes blurred together, coming in and out of focus, as all objects in the room wandered between a mess of shapes and colors, and misshapen look-alikes of their real form. Every once in a while, albeit briefly, the blur would become just distinguishable enough to make out a rough outline of the dark room.
It was a small space, and the part of it within the girl's sight appeared empty. Apart from the figures moving about it. Some closer, some farther away. Walking in and out of view.
All sound was muffled. There were voices. Conversing among each other somewhere in the distance. But within a room as small as this one, was there any distance to be had?
The dull thuds echoing in sync with one of the hazy figures’ movement confirmed that it was not distance that distorted the sound.
Slowly but surely, her senses, as incomplete as they may have been, were returning to the girl. And each new one added its own splotch of color to the incomplete painting that were her thoughts.
Where was she? What had happened? Who were those people? Whose were those voices?
Questions piling up one after another yet no answers ever came to them.
Following her sight and hearing, it was now in order for her sense of smell to make its way back home. In an instant, the stale smell of old wood and the faint stench of alcohol attacked her thrid sense.
This time, however, the girl's next sense followed almost in an instant.
And it hurt.
As she could now discern she was sprawled on her side, lifelessly lying on the cold rough floor, she felt every nerve in her body was on edge as her mind screamed for her to make the pain stop.
And yet, everything hurt like hell.
She didn't know. Did all of her body really ache? Or was the pain too great for her to even find its source?
With every passing second, she felt she had a clearer image. But her memories were still fuzzier than any of the blurring shapes she tried to make out.
The pain didn't stop. But the room might've become darker.
She couldn't really tell anymore.
And as one of the hazy figures leisurely closed in on her, as if it knew there was no use rushing, the girl's eyes focused upon something covered in a bright red hue.
It was her own-
As her mind nudged her awake, Saeki Atsuhi was left no choice but to begrudgingly force her eyes open. Hard as she tried, only one of her eyelids moved and she was left waiting for her one open eye to adjust to the sudden brightness, slowly revealing the scenery around her.
She blinked a few times, shaking off the last lingering notes of sleepiness from her eyes, and any memories of the scary dream she'd had along with them.
While the inside of the school bus came into view, a soft and warming sensation on the girl's squished cheek made its presence known. Atsuhi grumbled softly, rubbing against what she could only assume was a small pillow there just for her, as she breathed in the pleasant smell it carried and only wished to indulge in this peaceful feeling for a little longer.
It was in this absolute peace she stopped to consider where she had left off before drifting to dreamland.
That's right... Training Camp, a bus, traveling...
Mhm, that's it...
Glad I packed such a cozy pillow. Must've washed it with something nice too...
Atsuhi was just about ready to succumb to the sleep she'd been denied earlier again.
I... don't think I packed any...?
Then what am I...
"Kyaaah!" A brief shriek escaped her throat, as she jumped up, her warm cheeks now tinted a bright red. Her sharp movements, however, also served to startle her 'pillow'.
"About time you woke up... I thought you were seriously going to sleep the entire time."
Ah yes. Her 'pillow'.
Or, as sane people typically referred to him, Bakugo Katsuki.
A dear classmate, friend, and unfortunately for the present situation, her crush.
Such a cliche scene in any romantic movie. A truly adorable instance of one resting their head on the other's shoulders as they tried to 'catch some z's'.
But between two people who have never even come close to confessing to each other, it only made things awkward.
But no, that wasn't right.
Because while Atsuhi was desperately cupping her face so as to hide her flaming cheeks, Bakugo acted as if nothing had ever happened.
And it's moments like these that I really start to wonder – is he... doing this for me...?
"How'd you even fall asleep anyway? The bus is uncomfortable as hell." Once again, the boy's words stopped Atsuhi's train of thought before it could tragically derail away, leading her into a conversation she hoped she wouldn't overthink.
I mean, not mentioning how comfortable your shoulder is... Which is something I'm never going to live down...
"Umm... it's kinda my fault?"
"Yeah, no shit."
"Well, that was just uncalled for."
"Well, let's just say I have a habit of packing late. Like, very late..."
"Care to elaborate?"
"We left at 10. I began packing at 1. In the morning."
"You should've been asleep by then, you know."
"I don't want Mr. I-go-to-bed-at-10-pm-like-some-grandpa's opinion."
"Okay, listen here-"
"Anyway, by the time I could finally go to bed it was like, past three."
No need to mention that I stayed awake an hour after that, just stressing about that while trying to fall asleep.
No one said confessing was gonna be easy. But I never thought I would be anxious so early.
"Jeez, you're hopeless."
"Thank you, Bakugo-kun, but I think I've heard this from you enough times already."
"Someone had to say it." Bakugo stopped, leaning back in his seat as if satisfied, knowing the girl had nothing to retort back. Just like always. "Well anyway, Aizawa-sensei said we're gonna stop for a while. Should be any moment now so no point falling back asleep."
"Sure." As the two remained silent, comfortably enjoying the rest of this trip just like that, Atsuhi couldn't help but mumble one last thing. "You could've woken me up though..."
Especially if I feel asleep on you!!
Atsuhi walked down the two narrow steps, finally leaving the stuffy air of the school bus behind. She stretched, legs sore from sitting for so long, and yawned, brushing off the last bit of tiredness from her face.
She glanced at Bakugo, who had walked off to the side ahead of her (since Atsuhi had been the once sitting beside the window and was thus left behind due the surging wave of students all just as eager to feel the breeze outside). Before she could call out to him, a hand landed on her back, patting it a few times, before its snickering owner came into view.
"Good job, Atsuhi-chan-" The redhead was forced to pause as his laughing refused to cease. From behind him, a second figure, one of a blond boy with an unnatural black streak in his hair, emerged. He too looked to be facing trouble keeping his giggles at bay.
"Okay, look – Kirishima-kun, Kaminari-kun – I don't know what's so funny but-"
I know what's so funny.
"Oh, you remember now?" Kaminari laughed, as Atsuhi was stuck looking back and forth between the meaningful smiles the boys were exchanging. "I have to admit it – I turned around to ask Bakugo for something and wasn't prepared for what I saw. But like, you two were really-"
"That's enough, Kaminari-kun, please stop!!" However, the cry slipping from Atsuhi's lips turned out to be a little louder than intended, as Bakugo must've heard it too, turning to look at the three with a suspicious look.
At a loss for what to do, Atsuhi could only wave back nervously, waiting for him to look away again, only to shoot the two a glare in response. Of course, coming from her timid and blushing face, said glare was anything but scary.
"'Kay, 'kay, we get it! Sorry!!"
"That did not sound very sincere, Kirishima-kun..."
In the end, the girl sighed, knowing this was only the beginning.
They've been on my case for a while now... What was it, since I-Expo I think?
I don't wanna give them the satisfaction of being right...
But if all goes well, they should learn in just a few days.
'If all goes well'... What is that even supposed to mean?
If Bakugo-kun says he... feels the same? That's... definitely a success.
But is everything else really failure?
What if this freaks him out a little but he just says he can't reciprocate my feelings and we remain friends? You know, pretend none of it ever happened?
Now that I think about it, I can't help but admit I'd be heartbroken. How can I not be...?
But, in reality, if that's what happens, then nothing should change, right? As long as things remain the way they are now, that shouldn't be a problem... right?
After all, I can't go into this with unrealistic expectations.
"So... can we get somethin' to eat around here?" Kirishima mumbled, looking around suspiciously.
What's up with people breaking me out of my thoughts today!?
"Yeah, come to think of it, I don't see anything around, let alone food and bathroom... Why'd we even stop here?" Kaminari chimed in too, every new question feeding into the new sinking feeling in Atsuhi's stomach.
"Huh... Yeah, you're right. That's... pretty unusual." The girl gulped. "Aizawa-sensei?" she called, hoping that if there was anyone that could clear up what was hopefully but a misunderstanding on her part, it was their teacher.
"Well, of course, we didn't stop here for no reason." As he answered to the call, however, the sinking feeling only grew.
Aizawa-sensei, please don't act so mysterious. It's scaring me.
Somewhere behind the girl, two women, dressed in cat-inspired costumes – no doubt heroes, entered the scene in a manner too flashy in contrast to the grumpy pro class 1A had for a teacher. One of the 'Wild, Wild Pussycats' as they called themselves – the one with short brown hair, smiled brightly and pointed at the general direction of the mountain which spread as far as the eye could see.
"You'll be staying at the base of that mountain over there," she said, tail twirling in the air behind her. A few, Atsuhi included, cautiously stepped back, soon realizing where all of this was headed. As the hero's smile turned a bit more sinister, the students were just about ready to dash off. "Kitties that don't make it by 12:30 won't get any lunch."
Those final words were all it took. In the blink of an eye, something akin to a wave of shrieking teens made a run for the nearby bus, panic overflowing in the air.
And yet, none made it. As the ground beneath them came alive, surging withing the air and bending into flowing shapes, all of them were thrown up into the air and across the steep cliff, twenty or so bodies hurdling towards the ground at an alarming speed.
And as she fell, plummeting downwards beside her friends, Atsuhi thought.
Gimme a break already!!
It's too early for this stuff!!
But nonetheless, her prayers went unheard.
Surprise, surprise – training camp had already begun.
It was a small dark room. One which remained mostly empty if not for the bar-like furniture along one of its walls. The small space smelled of old wood and, if you focused hard enough, you might sense the faint stench of alcohol as well.
In it were only two figures. One stood behind a counter, dressed much like the appropriate position. The other sat in a small stool, dressed in pure black, apart from his bright red shoes, which stood out among the dark and dingy atmosphere of what could only be described as a stereotypical villain hideout.
"Foul-proof, you say?"
"That's right. You can't go into a game blind. You study your enemies. And you find ways to break them. It's basic strategy. You always need insurance. Just in case. Isn't that right?"
"You are correct so far."
"We need 'insurance' more than anything. And as long as we have it, he surely can't oppose us. If everything goes as planned... He can get rid of it himself."
"The League trusts in your plans, Shigaraki Tomura. Now that we know the location of the students' training camp, it's up to you to decide when we strike."
"This time, for sure. The League of Villains isn't going to fail again."
The small dark room has not changed. It has been this way for a long time now. It has been a witness to many plans, strategies, tactics.
Some had failed.
Some had almost succeeded.
One was bound to make it.
It had been the home of alliances.
Some too short to make an impact.
Some that had never happened.
One that was going to prove itself very soon.
And so, it was with one leader's cruel plan, that everything began.
A plan that was soon to be set in motion.
A plan that, true to its intent, would surely change the world.
•3 days remaining•
(Edit: Here's the updated bio I talk about in the next chapter! The other one's still up, but this one's just nicer~)
(Before I end this chapter – here’s the link to the Atsuhi Character Bio I promised. Have you ever wondered what the details of her Quirk are, what her Reference Sheet, Shifuku or UA File would look like, what her parents’ Quirks are (this one’s been asked a couple of times actually!), some random trivia about her, or even what her theme songs are? Well, all of this and more – in this lengthy 6000-word bio! Please take a second to check it out because I put a ton of effort into it! Thank you♥)