The concept of a 'plan' existed for a reason. There are times when you find yourself in a tough place, more often than not with nowhere near enough time to come up with anything even akin to a sound strategy. It is precisely in such instances that you are in a desperate need for a so-called 'plan'.
What if your life depended on a single choice? If your entire existence hinged on this very escape route? If you were to lose something precious unless you find a way to save it?
What if failing simply wasn't an option?
So, you would think you need to come up with a plan that was completely foul-proof, one that would let you get away unscathed, with minimal losses. In other words, a plan that would actually succeed. A plan you knew was going to succeed.
Here's the thing though.
Planning ahead was never been something Atsuhi has been particularly good at. Never.
For her, life was more about taking it one step at a time. It's not that she had never tried looking at it any other way. It's just a matter of fact that those attempts had never actually succeeded.
This is how we get to the present situation.
The Provisional License Exam – one she couldn't really afford to fail. A team formerly consisting of four – now reduced to a mere two. And a single powerful opponent – one neither could even get close to, unless they risked their safety. They weren't all that keen to meet the same fate as their former foes and both of their friends, after all.
And of course, all they had to go by was a single hand grenade, which Katsuki had tossed to Kaminari before he too had been immobilized (that was the word Atsuhi decided to use for everyone affected by the strange Quirk they were facing off against, otherwise she was going to drive herself crazy trying to find the proper words to describe such a monstrosity), and naturally, one of Atsuhi's practically notorious by this point on-the-spot plans.
And as just about anybody was aware already, those plans usually consisted of no more than two or three quite simple steps, their success always hinging on nothing but pure luck.
In other words, it's no good. But as of right now, this is all we have.
"All Might's retirement marks a turning point for society as we know it, you see. This world isn't meant to have a constant influx of new and good-for-nothing heroes." By this point, Atsuhi and Kaminari were left to simply watch the purple-haired boy, as he went on and on in these supposedly wise tangents of his. Chatty opponents were frustrating to deal with. "And it seems like they have finally begun to search for those who truly do posses the qualities of a real hero – an effort that I will show my support to by removing people like you from the equation."
And, true to how she usually did things, Atsuhi was going to stay silent. Let him finish with all his ridiculousness, only to show him that he was wrong by way of actions, as opposed to words. But this time, he had hit a nerve. A very big one at that.
She furrowed her brows and grit her teeth, before glaring hard at him and speaking in a voice so low, she might've even surprised herself, had she not been too preoccupied already.
"True heroes this, true heroes that. Why in the world is everyone so obsessed with this stupid title!?" Kaminari flinched a little beside her, but took that as his cue to act and reached to grab the hand grenade he'd tucked away earlier. Their opponent, on the other hand, simply glared back. "You say all this, but wanna know what I think? It's all bullshit." Atsuhi finally raised her voice, subconsciously articulating with her hands as well. "Being a hero isn't about wanting no reward, about being the best, about sacrificing yourself! It's about being there to help others when they are in need!! It's just that simple!"
The three were briefly engulfed in silence, until the Shiketsu student let out a quiet 'tch', as he put a foot on top of what was formerly Kirishima, and spoke with disgust lacing his voice.
"It precisely because of those 'simple' motivations as you called them, that our society is over-saturated with unworthy heroes. You think so highly of yourselves, yet you're the lowest of lows." His eyes darted to Katsuki. Or... the 'immobilized' Katsuki on the ground. "Take Bakugo for example. He may be taking part in this exam, yet has he ever done something to display this heroic side of his? Has he ever done something but be saved by others and cause the fall of All Might?" Atsuhi sucked in a sharp breath, her eyes widening. "I assume you see my point."
No, absolutely no!! Katsuki-kun has done so much for me! For other people! You and your selfish motivations are nothing compared to his heroic drive and power! If anyone here has the potential to be the new Number One some day, it's him and only him!
She wanted to say all this out loud, to argue back, to show him he was wrong.
Yet... no words escaped her mouth. He hadn't just insulted her – no, she could care less about that. But to go out of his way and speak so ill, not only of all heroes in general (and she could barely contain the words of how this made him no different than the Hero Killer himself), but of somebody like Katsuki. Of her friend. Of the person that she liked. Of the person that she cared so, so deeply for.
Her wide eyes only narrowed, and she could tell she'd need all the willpower she could find to keep herself from thoughtlessly jumping at him to fight right this second. After all, she knew she didn't stand a chance. Not like this anyway. Fortunately, she wasn't in this fight alone.
"Man, you really do know how to hurt someone with those words of yours, don't you..." Kaminari had taken a step forward, effectively blocking Atsuhi's way with his body, while also using his words both to rile up his opponent, but also bring the girl back down to earth with him. "I really wish you would just cut it out already..."
"That's because you recognize what I'm saying to be true," he said, calling all the chunks of flesh by his side again. "It would do you well to reflect." He prepared to send them over towards Atsuhi and Kaminari. And just like that, it was time for their plan to be set in motion.
"Oh, I'm not talking about me," Kaminari said, throwing the hand grenade before the Shiketsu student could attack. Oh, how thankful Atsuhi was that he had stopped her from rushing in early and abolishing their last hopes of success in her blind rage. The explosion, albeit much smaller than what Katsuki could've produced himself, still forced the Shiketsu student to retreat to the side. Away from where his victims lay.
It might be difficult to use this move with too many allies nearby. But here? I got this.
"Nice dodging," Kaminari smirked. "Right into the perfect spot." He quickly nodded at Atsuhi, signaling that it was time to finish this.
Atsuhi planted her feet firmly on the ground, bringing up the mental image of her father and how he used his own Quirk. It was time for her newfound trick to shine.
"Heat Wave!!" As she called out, the ground below suddenly became almost burning hot to the touch (something which she herself couldn't physically feel, thanks to the Support Company's absolute genius in creating a costume that shielded her from such heat). Then, the heat extended, in what was almost a straight line, the burning feeling reaching as far as her opponent.
Meanwhile, Kaminari pointed his finger forward, shooting electricity in the direction of the disk which had embedded itself in the nearby iron fence after missing the purple-haired boy at first.
And now, they had him stuck between a rock and a hard place.
With his feet screaming for him to just lift them off the ground already, while a bolt of electricity hit him, before he knew it, he was almost done for.
As Atsuhi looked on expectedly, trying to discern whether the fight really was done or not, the purple-haired boy lunged forward once again, much like villains in their final moments of despair, upon the realization that they really weren't as high and mighty as they once had thought.
"Know your place, you worms!!"
But just like all those stories Atsuhi thought of, the 'villain' never got the chance to do much before he was finally brought down once and for all. She smiled at the sight.
Standing tall on either side of the defeated Shiketsu student were her very two friends.
"Looks like taking damage reverses the effect."
"Yeah, no wonder he was sticking to long-range attacks all the time."
As they looked on with wide smiles at Katsuki and Kirishima, both as good as new, Atsuhi and Kaminari turned towards each other and exchanged a set of grins, before giving each other an excited high-five.
Just when the four reunited again however, Kaminari made a concerning discovery.
"L-look behind you, you guys!" He pointed his finger and three sets of eyes turned to see the supposedly frightful sight. Only then did Atsuhi realize it.
"You two weren't the only ones he turned into meatballs..." Though the three boys focused on the crowd of twenty or so people slowly straightening up and preparing their Quirks to attack, Atsuhi was briefly distracted.
Wait, 'meatballs'!? No, no, no – that doesn't sound right!! Those were people! Living, breathing people, Atsuhi!! You can't... call them meatballs…?
Though I have to admit, the resemblance was… kinda uncanny...
She shook her head, banishing the untimely thoughts. And by the time she looked up again, she gasped at the sight of her three friends quickly taking down foe after foe.
W-wait a second-
"I gotta pass too, you know!?"
"I. Am. Beat," Atsuhi sighed for the thousandth time, prompting Katsuki to grunt again (she swore she could hear him gritting his teeth but was eternally grateful to him for putting up with her). Her shoulders were slumped as she walked behind the ash blond and Kaminari, and beside Kirishima, who on the other hand, looked anything but exhausted, his hand darting around wildly as he pointed out all the fights happening around them with a big childish grin on his face. At least Kaminari looked kind of sympathetic, still catching his breath himself.
Nevertheless, even through all her complaints, she still wore a big smile.
It might've only been the first part of the exam but hey – we passed!! Though those two must be superhuman with all that energy they’ve still got left…
Just like Kirishima, she too looked around and tried to take in how everybody else was doing, though she severely lacked in the energy department to be anywhere near as animated as him in her movements. She did however, spot a small but familiar group of three, walking not too far from them, and in the same direction nonetheless. Her face suddenly brightened.
"Ochaco-chan!! Guys!!" she called out and waved her arms until they spotted her and walked over, or, in Ochaco's case, practically ran towards her with wide open arms. The two girls exchanged a tight hug, giggling against each other's shoulders, only to dance around in celebration afterwards. Maybe she really did forget how exhausted she was...
Meanwhile, the two boys Ochaco had been with – Midoriya and Sero, had approached Atsuhi's own group. And even amidst her perhaps premature cheering, she overheard a certain sentence that made her pause.
"So you passed... Deku..." It was odd. He hadn't said it with the intent of picking a fight, or offending the green head for that matter. He didn't even sound surprised...
That's strange... What are you trying to do, Katsuki-kun...
Atsuhi sneaked away from the celebratory group, which had now expanded to include Sero and Kaminari too, and tried to discreetly move in closer to hear the rest.
"No wonder, with that power of yours." Now Atsuhi was incredibly confused. Was there something here that she didn't know? Was Katsuki just acting unnaturally out of character? "That borrowed power of yours... Seems you've finally made it your own, huh..." Katsuki turned away, not even sparing another glance at Midoriya. Meanwhile, the girl just stood there frozen, too lost in her confusion to even move.
She did briefly intend to bury those thoughts in the back of her mind and forget about them – they were most likely something personal between the two childhood friends anyway. Of course, the moment Katsuki noticed her dumbly staring at him with furrowed eyebrows, those intentions went out the window.
"Eh? W-well, ah, I just noticed you talking to Midoriya-kun is all... I-I'm sorry, maybe I shouldn't have listened in like this!" Though she almost waved the topic off, Katsuki's sudden silence seemed to be a glint of hope. He looked at her for a couple of seconds, as if contemplating something, before he turned away and mumbled under his breath.
"I'll tell you about it... some other time..."
Atsuhi also remained silence for a little in return. In the end however, she nodded. So, the group of seven was now on its way.
I can't quite place why, but I have a bad feeling about this...
Katsuki-kun said he was going to tell me about it... But he kept the time pretty vague. If it were me, I'd do that if it was a topic that I wanted to avoid, or at least put off as much as possible.
Sure, I might've accidentally pushed him to tell me by sticking my nose in other people's business but nonetheless, whatever this is, just the fact that he's unsure whether he should tell me or not probably means I'm not going to like it.
She sighed again.
Why does everything have to be so complicated...? Can't we all just get along and live happily ever after?
Ah, of course life is never that simple. You'd think I would've learned this by now...
Well, as Katsuki-kun said, we should really leave this for another time. Now's our only chance to pass this exam. Talking, on the other hand? We'll have plenty of opportunities for that later.
After all, the test isn't even over yet.
As much as I hate to admit it...