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Explosive Touch [Bakugo Katsuki x OC] – Book 3

Chapter Text

"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."

"That was just uncalled for."

"Go on."

"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 usual. "Well anyway, Aizawa-sensei said we're gonna stop for a while. Should be any moment now so no point falling back asleep."

 

Chapter 1 – Surely Change the World (out on July 16th)

 

Now, onto some rambling from me... again. (Also, if you read the Author's Note at the end of Book Two and are now swinging by for more – you rock!!)

 

First of all, let me fangirl over my own story for a little because this is the book that I started writing because of. It should contain some of my absolute favorite chapters (though I haven't written them yet...) and the sweetest Katsuhi moments you will ever see. All in all, I don't wanna hype things up too much just in case, but I can tell you it's gonna be exciting.

I'm also thinking of upping my writing game. Like, what I mean is just don't rush things. Because I think it might've been kinda obvious that I do rush my chapters every once in a while (more often than not because of procrastination and my absolute inability to stick to my plans).

Good news is, summer break starts next week. It will be my first time posting a story throughout the summer but I'm crossing my fingers I can start writing a little more frequently so I can sneak in some writing of the story I'm planning to post later too (and by that I mean, a couple of months from now at the very earliest so more on that another time). To sum up, expect better phrasing in future chapters (hopefully)!

Speaking of free time, remember when I promised I'd go back and edit the first few chapters of Book ONE a few months ago? Yeah... I never got around to that. In fact, that would be one of my top priorities over the next couple of weeks. Just, completely rewriting the first four or so chapters and editing as many as I can. There are other things I wanna update – rewrite Book One's summary, throw in a few more illustrations here and there. Lots of cosmetic changes, but all for the greater good.

Okay, two things left. First is, I mentioned this last week, but plans still stand so I wanna say it again – I plan to release a pretty detailed bio/information/character page for Atsuhi alongside the first chapter of this book, so you can look forward to that! I plan for that to be something I periodically update as changes happen in the story and more and more information is revealed. Hopefully it would be something fun for you guys to read through and who knows, it might even attract a few new readers?

And the last thing is something I worry some of you might be a little sad to hear but it has to be said. At least for now, this might be the last book in the 'Explosive Touch' series. There are a few reasons. One, obviously both readers and writers get bored of stories that go on for far too long. As such, it had to come to an end somewhere. Also, it gives... well, not really a conclusion but it is definitely a good point to call it an end. The last reason is a little dumb but I simply don't have much good content planned for a potential Book Four... This is subject to change, but that's how things stand for now.

However!! I do have good news!!! The big, multi-chapter series coming to an end wouldn't necessarily mean Atsuhi's story is over quite yet! I have plenty of ideas, ranging from random daily mishaps, events happening in their second or third year at UA, even stuff about their children (I know what they look like, their names, Quirks, and personalities. They are literally the cutest. Though I will refrain from talking about them for now as I haven't yet decided where I want to 'introduce' them, so to speak).

In other words, I have a lot left to tell. So if there's interest, I can make a book dedicated to some oneshots about all these stories that happen. Because I know they do. I just don't know anything that transpires in-between them. And, I mean, if you're craving Atsuhi content, you can follow me on Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter where I post my drawings, often featuring said girl herself. (I go by Iya5RT just about everywhere so if you see the name, chances are, it's me!)

Buuut, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on long stories either. I'm in the early planning stages (as in, fleshing out the plot) of a Bakugo x Reader AU (let's just say Royalty AU for now and I might elaborate later down the line). If all goes well and I don't end up hating the idea a few months from now, this will be my next big project. That, and a potential story from a different fandom. The only thing is, my interests only last so long before I move onto a different fandom so those other non-BNHA stories might end up being oneshots to gauge interest first?

Anyway though, that's all too far into the future. We still have a full book ahead of us!! And possibly the longest and best one so far!!

If you somehow read through all of that – you are literally the most amazing person ever, like, I rambled for a thousand words straight, oops.

Anyway, I’ll proceed to shut up now – again, thank you for sticking with me through all those tangents, and I'll see you again on July 16th!

Chapter Text

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.

Very literally.

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.

...Pillow?

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."

"Go on."

"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-"

Wait.

I know what's so funny.

Oh no.

"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♥)

Chapter Text

Ah yes, summer. Some like it. Some don't.

One thing, however, is undeniable. Summer brings about a ton of exciting activities. In particular, the much-anticipated summer camps. The time when classmates gather at the same place during a period devoid of the boring activities typical for a regular school day and have fun together.

During summer camp, just about anything goes. Truth or dare? A necessary night-time game. Tests of courage? Bring on all the screams. Late-night crush talk? Slightly less desirable by some but still a viable option nonetheless.

To put it simply – summer camp was a time when everyone could just do all sorts of fun activities together, without a care in the world.

Atsuhi had an even more particular affinity towards summer camps. After all, her birthday often just so happened to fall right in the middle of said camps. Perhaps a downside for some (if the short conversation she'd had with Bakugo on his birthday was anything to go by).

But Atsuhi absolutely loved it. What was better than celebrating her birthday during summer camp? Simple – celebrating it with the whole bunch of awesome and fun people that were her classmates. Better yet – she loved proposing the idea of making a giant birthday cake together (under her strict guidance, of course, as were she to leave everyone else to do so by themselves, she wasn't sure they were even going to produce something edible in the end).

She had so many fond memories of similar celebrations.

And now, as her sixteenth birthday was nearing close, she was even more excited than usual. Let's just say that, while she had been over the moon to finally be accepted in UA, she had never expected she'd meet the whole class of incredible people she was now proud to call her friends.

As such, she had no doubt this year was going to be even more special than the ones before it.

Except, there is a little something that UA loved to do.

After all, nothing was ever quite the same there.

Sure, it wasn't even called 'summer camp' anymore, rather having a not-so-neat 'training' slapped in between. It was only now Atsuhi realized this 'training' part was no joke.

Because who in their right mind stopped their students hours away from their actual destination and forced them to make their way through a dense forest full of roaming creatures out to attack them!? Before they've even had lunch, mind you!

I'm still beat. And we already ate too...

Not to mention that this is still the first day. It feels like the Internships all over again. Let's just hope day three doesn't go as wrong as those did...

I know it's gonna be super brutal. But that's quite fine with me – if at the end of it my Quirk and body are stronger than ever before, it'll all be worth it! But chances are, I'll keep telling myself this until the end of Training Camp.

Hehe, well, if we're lucky about one thing, it's those awesome hot springs!!

Seriously, for a place where we're going to be training to death, it sure is surprising there is something as relaxing as hot springs.

That's right. It had been mere hours since the impromptu beginning of Summer Training Camp. Even so, it had been quite the eventful day already. And Atsuhi was ready for a nice and long (or, if we took into consideration the ungodly hour Aizawa had told them they had to be awake by, perhaps not so long) rest. And what better place to relax than some hot springs, after all?

I got it. The rest of today is gonna be all about relaxation. I'm gonna take it easy, not do anything in particular. Tomorrow the real thing begins. So it's fine if I take today off, no?

Atsuhi let herself be submerged deeper into the warm and pleasant waters, crouching down until only her nose stuck out above the surface, closing her eyes and savoring the enjoyable moment. She wasn't going to get very many of those these next few days.

However, it seems like she wasn't meant to savor in her peace for long. Soon enough, a pair of arms was flung around her neck, someone's body pressing up tightly against her back, as the person's head shuffled beside hers, fluffy hair tickling the girl's cheeks.

Due to the weight that had been pressed up against her all of a sudden, Atsuhi lost her balance, tumbling a few steps forward, and splashing along the water with her arms a few times until she finally steadied herself, turning to face her 'attacker', who had never once let her go throughout the whole thing. Of course, she long knew who that was.

"Mina, come on, I could've drowned, you know!?" the blonde exclaimed with a false hurt expression.

"Nice try, but no!!" Mina retorted back, not the slightest bit guilty. "Couldn't have you drowning before you've told us anything..." she whispered, tightening her 'hug'.Of course, even if Atsuhi had wanted to keep this conversation to as few people as possible, that was now impossible, the earlier scene having caught the attention of all the other girls too, who were now looking on with curious eyes, waiting for the information Mina was inevitably going to get out of the poor blonde, one way or another.

"Told you about what...?" And thus, Atsuhi decided to play dumb. She knew it was easy to infer what Mina was referring to. But the fewer people who actually figured it out, the better. After all, she'd much rather avoid such conversations on her self-appointed relaxation day.

"Aw, come ooon, Atsuhi-chan! Summer Camp's the time girls talk about their crushes and all that!" Mina whined, making both Atsuhi and a certain other brunette blush in response.

Can't they just get off my case already... I know, alright!? I'm going to do something about it, I promise!

But if I just go ahead and say this, I'm never going to hear the end of it.

So, Atsuhi remained silent for a couple of seconds, engaging in an unexpected staring contest with the pink-haired girl, brows furrowed and expression conflicted, as she was trying to decide what was going to have her hear the smallest amount of teasing. In the end, she sighed, giving in.

"Okay, look – please just give me a few days! I'll... answer any questions I'm sure you all have soon enough, I promise! I just... need a little bit more time to sort out some stuff..."

Perhaps the girls had expected her to freak out and go along with their teasing. Or to shrink back in a blushing red mess. Their surprised faces, however, seemed to indicate that they didn't think she was actually going to give them a serious answer.

"Oh... my..." Mina was the first to break the silence.

And a mere moment later, they were all exclaiming. Very loudly.

"I can't believe this!! Atsuhi is actually going to talk to Ba-"

"Mina, please, no!" Atsuhi panicked, shouting even louder than the rest, jumping to put a hand on Mina's mouth before anything else slipped past in that not-so-discrete volume of hers. At the confused expression the pink-haired girl shot back, Atsuhi scrunched up her eyebrows in a mix of embarrassment and concern, lowering her voice back to a normal volume. "The boys are literally on the other side of this wall. Bakugo-kun's there too. Please stop before he hears and I decide it's best I go crawl in a hole and die."

Mina's eyes widened in realization and as the hand was cautiously removed from her mouth, she grinned, rubbing her neck.

"Oops, sorry, haha. Didn't think about that." And then, just as Atsuhi had feared, that apologetic grin turned more sinister. "But, you know, I'm pretty sure they heard you-"

That evening, Atsuhi returned to the girl's shared room with face tinted an almost concerning shade of red.


 

Here I was, thinking that if I threw them a bone, they were really going to leave me alone for a little bit. Instead, they bombarded me with more questions even after we returned to our room.

I swear, I probably got like, 4 hours of sleep total. What with my mind racing as I was trying to sleep and all. Ugh, I really hope things won't be like that every day here.

It was now the morning of the second day of Summer Training Camp. Not a single soul was ready. And it was moments like these that yawns being contagious sucked.

Twenty students were gathered together. The moment one yawned (and there was always somebody yawning), it was time for a wave of similar actions to begin and gradually make its way though every person present.

Atsuhi was in the middle of her third or fourth yawn for just the past few minutes, this time rubbing her eyes as well, trying her hardest to chase away at least some of the sleepy that made her fear she was going to drift off to dreamland any time she even so much as blinked. Yeah, it was that bad.

So, she thought she'd play a game. She randomly picked someone to look at, focusing on them until she felt the urge to blink, then moving onto the next person. (And hoping no one was too creeped out in the process. Not that they were awake enough to even notice what she was doing anyway.)

She paused when her eyes landed on a certain blond that had (unfortunately for her) been the subject of conversation all evening the previous day.

Wow, Bakugo-kun looks pretty much as awake as always. Did he go to bed early again today or something...?

You know, I feel like if I don't talk to someone I'm just going to fall asleep so-

Atsuhi walked off, only to come to a stop when she heard the quiet giggles behind her. Turning around, she noticed the two prime suspects and main sources of anxiety for her the past couple of days – Kirishima and Mina, both snickering beside each other, making strange hand signals to her, the boy holding out a big thumbs up, while the girl made a heart shape with her hands.

I swear, those two...

Atsuhi shook her head though, deciding that perhaps ignoring them might be best for her sanity, and made a futile attempt to forget about their teasing. Instead, she walked up to Bakugo, who turned around to look at her when he heard her approaching footsteps.

"Good morning, Bakugo-kun," muttered Atsuhi, though still smiling, lack of energy showing quite clearly.

"Morning..." spoke back Bakugo, words much slower and drawn-out than usual.

Ah, so that's how his lack of energy shows! Hehe, and here I thought he was actually a morning person.

Next, the two sat in silence for a while, Atsuhi's plan to talk to someone to stop her heavy eyelids from closing shut by themselves now backfiring. Instead, she even yawned. Again. Soon enough, she might as well stop keeping track of the number. This, however, made Bakugo turn to her, looking a little surprised.

"You tired?" he asked, a hint of a smirk playing on his face.

"Don't act like you aren't."

"I ain't the one who can't fight off sleep right now."

"Yes, please. All I needed was another person to tease me."

"Oh? The hell does that mean?"

"Nevermind. You know how girls are."

"Not sure if you're joking or not."

"Yeah, you're right, my bad. Trust me, you don't need to know."

And then, more silence.

I swear, by this point I just want Aizawa-sensei to come here so we can start already.

"So. You alright?"

H-huh?

"What do you mean?"

"You know, after yesterday?" Bakugo spoke more quietly, looking off to the side, as if too shy to look the girl in the eyes, likely due to the uncharacteristic nature of his question.

Aw, Bakugo-kun, that's so sweet!

...

I'll never say something like this out loud though.

"Mostly fine, I think. I was really beat yesterday but nothing hurts anymore! Almost as if that fight with the Forest Beasts never actually happened! All ready for Training Camp, hehe!" Atsuhi even went as far as to accentuate her movements, grinning wide as she took a battle stance. Meanwhile Bakugo only looked at her with an unreadable face.

"..."

"Bakugo-kun....? Did I... say something stupid...?" Atsuhi was now blushing, hopefully not as noticeably as she thought.

Way to go, me. Ugh.

"I..." Bakugo began, his own face twisting in an expression Atsuhi wasn't quite sure she'd ever seen him make before. And once again, he looked off to the side. "I meant after what happened at the Hot Springs...."

At the Hot Springs!? No, no, no! There is no way he actually heard everything – no, I can't possibly live this do-

"Oh," she suddenly realized. "You mean Mineta-kun?" Bakugo finally looked back at her, nodding his head before he looked away again. The girl only giggled. And then again. In the end, she had to bend down laughing, leaving (a flustered...?) Bakugo to sharply turn to her.

"The hell's so funny!?" he called out. And between her giggles, Atsuhi finally managed to slip out.

"Ah, there's the Bakugo-kun I know!" (And love...) She paused, wiping away the tears that had somehow managed to form at the corners of her eyes already. "It's just... Ahaha, never thought you'd be worried about something like this, haha-"

Atsuhi had this habit of pushing Bakugo's limits when it came to how much of her crap he was willing to take (something which also applied the other way around as well). Up until this very moment, she had been treading a pretty thin line. With this though, she had officially crossed the point of no return. In fact, the boy was just about to snap.

It was Aizawa who saved the situation, leaving Atsuhi to continue giggling quietly while Bakugo had to settle for shooting her a few glares here and there.

"Today, Training Camp begins for real," Aizawa began, proceeding to explain how the students had to gain the skills necessary to obtain their provisional licenses in order to face off against an upcoming evil force lurking in the shadows. "To start – here, Bakugo. Throw this."

Eh, isn't that the ball from that test of Quirks from the first day...?

Atsuhi shivered just at the thought.

That had caused me so much anxiety, it's unbelievable... Then again, that was the first time Bakugo-kun willingly approached me to talk to me. So perhaps it wasn't all that bad.

Atsuhi smiled to herself, while the boy walked up to the teacher to take the ball, and proceeded to throw it, a grin even wider than the first time he'd done so months ago adorning his face.

Bakugo-kun was strong. And he's only gotten stronger these past few months. This might just be epic!

Beep, beep!

As the device in Aizawa's hand sounded though, Atsuhi's face fell.

You're kidding. There’s… barely any difference!?

"Yes, you've all grown recently. Your Quirks, however, haven't kept up with the pace. Starting today, you'll improve on them."

So... that's what Training Camp's all about... I am... now officially terrified.

Training my Quirk. Which relies on stamina. And distance.

On no. No. No. No, no, no. Something's telling me I have a lot of running in store.

Suddenly... Summer Training Camp was not so exciting anymore.

Even still, it really was time to begin. To begin what was, without a doubt, going to feel like the longest week in Atsuhi's life.

Though, for reasons much too different from what she thought.

•2 days remaining•

Chapter Text

Run, run, run!

Then touch!

And then back! As far as you can, c'mon!

And when my Quirk deactivates... running again!

To say Atsuhi had been right in assuming training her Quirk was going to involve a lot of running would've been an understatement. Because she had been spot-on.

Not long after Aizawa's initial speech, he had put an official start to the day's training, giving out instructions to each student individually, as all had to practice in a way that would improve their Quirks for such a short period of time.

And, just as Atsuhi had predicted, a Quirk which relied heavily on stamina, endurance, and running, couldn't be improved any other way to begin with. Of course, that didn't mean she enjoyed that fact.

She was stuck with a simple exercise, at least in theory. She had been pointed to a big rocky structure that she had to touch, activating the effects of her Quirk on it. Next, she had to run in the opposite direction (and Aizawa had been very adamant on saying she should be running, at least for the first couple of hours – so, no walking) and go as far as she possibly could, while still using her Quirk on the rocks.

This was supposedly meant to increase the maximum distance Atsuhi could go before she had to touch an object again, in order to use her Quirk on it once more. As of right now, that number was approximately 50 meters. In other words, to put it more simply, her training consisted of running back and forth a fifty meter distance (because she had to return to touch the rock again once she moved too far away), with her Quirk activated half that time.

And the 'best' part? This distance, if all went well, was only going to increase.

It had only been a few hours since the start. But Atsuhi could see she wasn't the only person wishing to just put an end to it already. And it was only day one...

For the first hour or so, she had been quietly giggling every time Ida would run past, shouting like a madman, or whenever she'd hear Bakugo scream when firing off an explosion with this overly-dramatic feeling surrounding him. She had once turned around to witness him with his hands submerged in a barrel and an intense expression on his face, and had been sent in a laughing fit. Which had soon been interrupted by Aizawa calling out for her to focus.

If there was one thing she was glad about, however, it was that her teacher seemed to have at least some compassion for his students. Even though he had made her run like crazy for hours on end after having her wake up much too early for her liking, he'd told her she could finally take a break.

Well, I wouldn't say 'break' is the right word for it...? I mean, I'm not running anymore but...

True enough, after running without a doubt at least a few kilometers, Atsuhi could finally sit and rest. Well, sit. At least.

Aizawa hadn't given her a break. He had given her a different exercise. For Atsuhi now sat in front of the same big rocky structure (which she had already decided was her sworn enemy that she had to defeat by the end of the week), and continued training.

She would use her Quirk on it, trying to push its temperature to as high as she possibly could, then sharply lessen it as far as possible. This was meant to improve a different aspect of her Quirk – the kinds of temperatures she could reach.

Aizawa had instructed her to alternate between high and low, though he had mentioned she could focus on the lower end of the spectrum if she wanted to, as that was the one she struggled with more and had more room to improve upon.

I have to be able to do this. If my Quirk is a combination of my parents', then I could surely do the same things they could.

Not to mention, they improved their Quirks with continuous training like this, no? Granted, it probably wasn't under such extreme circumstances. But surely it was similar enough.

As Atsuhi leaned back, catching her breath and wiping at the sweat forming on the side of her head, she sighed, furrowing her brows at the rock in front of her.

I gotta do it! Be all Plus Ultra, go beyond my limits!

...

She looked to the side, eyes landing on the blond occupying her thoughts a little too often lately.

Go beyond my limits, huh...?

In more ways that one, I guess...

He's already so strong – stronger than I could ever dream of being... Of course, if he heard me say this, he'd go into a fit and explain how I too am strong and how I shouldn't put myself down like this... He might not show it to others all that often, but he can be really sweet!

Atsuhi giggled to herself, embracing that, at the end of the day, she really was a high-school girl with a crush on a boy.

And yet, Bakugo-kun's still working as hard as ever.

I really hope that, when the time comes, I can be as strong as him.

The clock's ticking. There's what? Two days left now?

The moment will be here before I know it...


 

"Atsuhi-chan!! Can you help with the fire here real quick!"

"Sure thing!"

"Ah, Atsuhi, can you come tell us if this looks right once you're done there?"

"Yep, just gimme a second!"

The girl walked over to one of the fireplaces where she'd been called by Mina and Ochaco, laying a hand on the piece of wood inside, and using her Quirk to heat it up enough for it to catch fire, leaving the two girls to marvel at it for some reason.

Next, she went over to check up on Kirishima and Kaminari, who were standing with questionable expressions adorning their features in front of a pot full of ingredients. She slipped in between the two of them, eyeing up the contents of said pot.

"Does that look good?" Kirishima asked, confirming if the quantities were sufficient.

"I usually eyeball it but it looks good to me! You can go ahead and add the rest." The girl smiled, watching as Kaminari added in the final ingredients.

"Well, I mean, you told us how much of everything to put in. So I doubt there was much room for error to begin with..." said boy mumbled as he began mixing everything together. Suddenly, Kirishima's face lit up, as if he only just remembered something.

"Oh yeah – by the way, sorry for constantly calling you here or there like this, Atsuhi-chan! It's just – not a lot of people 'round here are good with cooking, so we kinda need someone to help every once in a while..." He made an apologetic smile, but the girl in question simply waved him off.

"Nah, it's fine. I mean, I'm pretty sure you can make something at least edible without any help anyway! Plus, I like cooking. And I like showing other people how it's done! So I don't mind at all – as long as everyone else is having fun!" she smiled, looking around to find each student working on something or other, for once combining all their efforts to make the best dinner ever.

I almost feel like this was an attempt to make this feel more like actual Summer Camp, rather than training. Have the two classes together like this, all doing the same thing. It's nice. I like it!

Atsuhi took a step back, realizing that everyone seemed to have been doing fine, especially after she'd spend the first half an hour or so listing off what needed to be done and instructing people of the individual steps of the process. She almost felt herself take on the teacher's role for that short while.

And now, seeing her 'students' managing all by themselves, she smiled with pride, walking off to the one person she noticed sulking away from the crowd. As she approached him, she made a small wave and smiled, sitting down beside him, back facing the picnic table.

"You still mad you can't light a fire with explosions?" she asked, giggling to herself, much like she had done that same morning. Bakugo didn't even have to look at her, already knowing just about the only person who'd approach him like this. Instead, he huffed, acting nonchalant about it.

"Tch. As if I care."

"Come on – that's just how Quirks are. If you take a second to look around, you'd notice you are only one of many who can't do that." At this, he glanced at the girl for a brief second, though he quickly looked away, uncrossing his arms and leaning back as his brows furrowed further.

"I can’t let that half-'n-half bastard get ahead of me..."

Atsuhi hummed in agreement, knowing there was no point trying to change his mind about that. Though it was ridiculous how Bakugo could link making dinner to his rivalry with said boy.

Once again, the two were engulfed by a comfortable silence. One that had befallen them many times since they'd arrived at Training Camp, but one Atsuhi didn't mind either way.

I wonder if it's obvious? I feel like I've been approaching Bakugo-kun more and more these past few days. Yet he hasn't said anything about it...

I can't believe how nervous I was around him when I first realized this whole crush thing. I kinda get it and I still get shy occasionally but... I can't fathom how I was depriving myself of such nice and peaceful moments with him like these.

I wonder how many people get to spend time with him in peace like this...?

"So-" Bakugo cleared his throat, making Atsuhi look at him with a raised brow. "You cook." The girl stared at him for a few seconds, resisting the urge to laugh at him again before she responded.

"That I do."

Was that his awkward way of starting a conversation?

Did Bakugo-kun really just push himself to talk to me!?

Awww!

"Is it cause you live alone?"

"Yep! If I wanna eat something other than expensive restaurant dishes or dirt cheap fast food I kinda have to make it myself." she spoke, words spilling out effortlessly, as if she knew she could say anything to him. But perhaps that wasn't all that far off from the truth.

"Huh. It better be good then."


 

"Atsuhi-chan – this is amazing!!" Mina, one of the few who weren't stuffing their mouths to the point where they wouldn't have been able to speak even if they had wanted to, exclaimed quickly before continuing to munch on the delicious food.

"Yeah! I mean, we made it so it's not like restaurant-quality food or anything but it's so good!" was Kirishima's response.

"What are you talking about – this is delicious!" chimed in Ochaco as well.

"Aw, come on guys, we all made this together! No need to thank me. That's all your hard work too!" Atsuhi retorted, smiling as she too enjoyed her food. Perhaps it was because they were all so tired, but this really was some of the best curry she'd ever had.

Just before having yet another mouthful of food however, Atsuhi suddenly remembered something, turning to Bakugo with a victorious smile, only to find him devouring his own portion just as hungrily as everyone else.

Noticing somebody's gaze on him, the blond looked up at Atsuhi, pausing before giving in and nodding. He was too hungry to try and actually say anything after all.

Haha! I got him! He is enjoying the food!

The girl continued eating, that same victorious smile still plastered on her face.

Told you I can cook!

...

Huh, I'm really just getting so worked up because Bakugo-kun said (actually, he never actually said it) he liked the food that I literally just explained wasn't made by me specifically...

Is this... also a part of it? I wonder... Everyone else is saying it's good and all and yet it's only when he confirmed it that I truly felt good about it. Is is because that's just how he's like?

What am I saying... Of course it's because it's Bakugo-kun. If I didn't get excited when the person I... I like complimented me, then when am I ever going to get excited about anything?

Speaking of that...

There's only two days left... Scratch that, today is practically over. And once tomorrow ends, it will really be time.

Of course, it's not just me confessing that will happen in two days. It's my birthday, I wanna celebrate, at least a little. With some cake or something? Ah, that sounds nice...

Yeah, I gotta ask everyone what they're up for tomorrow after training.

I can't believe it. We're getting there. We're really getting there.

It's almost time.

Ah, I'm about to get all nervous!

2 days remaining•

...

Author’s Note 1.0: Okay, okay, this is important so please take a minute to read through it! Book One of the series hit three hundred hearts on Quotev (one of the three websites I’m posting it on!) on Monday and Atsuhi’s birthday’s coming up in real time as well (August 14th). In order to celebrate I decided to do a special chapter – an In-character and Author Q&A!!

Sound interesting? Here’s how it works – I need you guys to ask the questions and me, Bakugo, and Atsuhi are going to answer them! The Q&A will be separated into two sections – an In-character Q&A which will be answered exclusively by Bakugo and Atsuhi, and an Author Q&A, which will include me answering any questions y’all might have!

I ask all of you to at least consider sending in a question since I will need at least a few to actually make the chapter … And I’m gonna make your job a little easier – if you’re too shy, here’s a little template you can use! (You don’t have to use it – it’s just for those who are worried they might not put it correctly – I’ve been there too, I get you.)

...

To: Bakugo and Atsuhi / Iya5RT (here, you just have to pick who you are addressing your question to)

Question: Who’s your favorite ‘My Hero Academia’ character? (this is only an example question cause I’m assuming the answer is pretty obvious. If you want to ask something but have trouble coming up with a question you can simply Google ‘fanfic ask meme’ or ‘otp questions’ to get some ideas! Also, don’t worry even if your question seems pretty cliché and simple – trust me, it would still be immensely appreciated!)

Optional: Do not show my username (this is something you can include if you don’t want me to mention you as the person who asked the question in the actual chapter. Of course, if you’re still worried, you can always comment as a guest!)

...

Yup, it’s pretty simple, I would say! Again, you don’t need to send in a question but I would REALLY appreciate it and hey, the more questions, the more content you’ll get, am I right?

A few last things to mention! You can send in multiple questions (in fact, that would be awesome!), and I will include all questions asked as well. You will be allowed to submit your questions until August 13th and the chapter will be out on August 14th cause that’s Atsuhi’s birthday.

Lastly, if you’re one of the (just as lovely as everyone else) folks who read this story without an account – you too can submit your questions – either through commenting as a guest on here or on my Tumblr  where you can submit anonymously (I go by Iya5RT on there as well!)

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read this and again – please consider asking a question or two. Also, I love you all! Now, onto the actual Author’s Note!

Chapter Text

It was kinda scary how quickly the days could fly by. It felt like the End of Term Exams were only yesterday, yet more than a month had already gone by.

Needless to say, Atsuhi knew she was going to start panicking any moment now.

It was the last day before her birthday and, according to the little promise she had made to herself, also the last day before her confession. In the morning, she had been delighted to discover that even a single day of training later, she could already use her Quirk a meter or two farther than before. It wasn't much but it was worth all the running from the previous day.

Time continued ticking by and while she wasn't freaking out quite yet, she knew it was only a matter of time. Was it going to be during dinner? The test of courage they were supposed to have later that day? Or perhaps only once all was set and done and it was time to go to bed was she actually going to be consumed by all these anxieties?

Whenever it were to happen, Atsuhi knew that this crashing wave of worries and restlessness was going to leave her wishing she could just get it over with as soon as possible. She'd already made up her mind to ask the girls what they thought about organizing some fun activities for her birthday before they went to sleep that night too.

It was kinda funny – she was getting worried about when she was going to start getting worried. A little paradoxical, no?

Any time these thoughts found their way to the front of her mind again, she just shook her head and continued on, refusing to let herself be overcome by them so early. After all, when surrounded by so many people, it was easy enough to find someone to distract her long enough.

Which brings us to her current activity.

"Wow, Bakugo – you're like some pro with that knife!" Ochaco exclaimed, capturing the blonde girl's attention as she turned around to witness her classmate mercilessly chopping that poor carrot into pieces. Granted, chopping the carrot was what he was supposed to be doing.

But it looks so brutal...

Even still, she smiled.

"It was time for that side of him that’s good at everything to finally show up," she called back to the brunette, giggling at the glare sent her way by Bakugo himself. In the end though, she wasn't complaining – she'd forgotten what a perfectionist he was. Seeing him be surprisingly good at something much unlike the impression he often left was without fail a funny sight to behold.

Everything is so calm and peaceful... I'm sure that, if I had the courage, I could ask him to come over with me for a second and confess right here and now.

I know I can do it but... I...

It's no use... I'm already starting to get worried. I don't think I'd be able to properly put my thoughts into words yet anyway. I'll just screw everything up and never live it down.

I kinda doubt I'll get much sleep tonight anyway so might as well take that time to figure out what I'm even gonna say, huh? See, I never thought that’s something I’ll need to do until now.

...

Well, one thing's for certain – I don't care how worried I'm going to be – I will do it tomorrow.

Oh God, it's tomorrow.

Oh no.

That’s… too soon...


 

Some more cooking, the consumption of the world's greatest stew, and a little bit of dish-washing later, it was time for the first actually fun activity of Summer Camp (though you could argue that to be the Hot Springs, as long as you ignored Mineta's attempt to peep in on the girls...)

That's right – a test of courage!

Atsuhi waved the Remedial Group goodbye with a pitiful smile, well aware that those five might just have been the most enthusiastic bunch about this activity. Too bad they hadn’t even been allowed to participate, being dragged away to their Remedial Lessons instead.

Once Aizawa had finally taken all of them away, the girl turned to the blonde cat-inspired pro hero, who began explaining all the rules.

All in all, it sounded pretty simple – class B were scattered around the forest to scare first, class A was separated into groups of two, a new group going in every three minutes. The objective was for everyone to get their name cards and come out the other end.

There were also some technical points, like no touching on class B's side and Quirks allowed, but that was standard fare anyway.

"Atsuhi-chan!" exclaimed Toru, running up to Atsuhi and grabbing onto her arm as she began jumping up and down in her excitement. Which was the only real indication of what she was feeling beside her chipper voice, as she was kind of literally invisible. "Ah, I'm gonna feel so much safer with you here with me!" Atsuhi smiled back, though she was just about to argue that she didn't do all that well with horror either. Before she could though, she was interrupted.

"Atsuhi! Switch with half-'n-half," grumbled Bakugo from somewhere nearby, making Atsuhi turn to him only for her to realize he had been paired with the very person he couldn't stand.

Well... admittedly, there were a lot of people he couldn't stand. But Todoroki was quite high up on that list. In reality though, Atsuhi wasn't sure which one to pity more – one had to deal with a person he hated, and the other had to deal with a person that hated him. Tough situation.

"Come on, Bakugo-kun..." she began, hands up as if she were nearing a wild animal. Because Bakugo happened to act a lot like one sometimes. But if he were to be compared to a wild animal, then Atsuhi was surely that one and only human whom said animal trusted with its life. Ah, how cheesy. "We drew lots – you know we can't switch. But you'll just make it outta there in no time ad be done! If it helps, me and Toru-chan and going in right after you!"

Actually, if anything, Atsuhi hoped that Bakugo and Todoroki would somehow be able to scare the people trying to scare them, maybe giving Atsuhi an easier time walking through the dark and unfortunately not-so-empty forest. Of course, this all just wishful thinking on her part.

Wait, does Bakugo-kun even get scared at all!?

I'll... have to ask Todoroki-kun about it later, hehe!

Although it had taken some convincing, in the end no changes had been made to any of the groups (or poor Midoriya who had been left all by himself due to the odd number of students present) and one by one, the pairs proceeded into the forest.

Unfortunately for the two, Atsuhi and Toru were the first pair of girls to walk in, right after Shoji and Tokoyami, and Bakugo and Todoroki. The boys didn’t have a tendency to vocalize their fear all that much. Which meant they’d have no clue what to expect.

Well, I guess we'll give those after us a heads up on what's coming... Though at the cost of our own screams.

Before they knew it, six minutes had gone by and it was the two girls' turn to begin upon the dreaded route. Atsuhi quickly realized what a mistake this all was.

The two were trembling, looking around like crazy, jumping at the smallest noise or movement. It was kinda funny how easily scared they were, considering that they were heroes who had fought off villains more than once. Yet their biggest enemy yet was just a big dark forest.

"Kyaaaaaaaaahh!" Scare number one. And scream number one. Great.

G-gotta admit though, that girl from class B – I don't even know what her Quirk was, but that was terrifying! I didn't expect someone was going to pop up from the ground like that!!

I don't do well with horror! Why was I ever excited about this Test of Courage thing!?

"Hey, Atsuhi-chan…?"

"Yeah...?"

"You think if we listen closely and look around… we'd be able to notice them before they scare us...?"
"God, I hope so. Good plan, Toru-chan. Let's try it out…"

And so, Atsuhi went quiet, eyes nervously darting back and forth, scanning every shadow, focusing on every tree, squinting at every leaf that swayed in the wind. She sharpened her hearing too, trying to listen for any suspicious sounds that were not their own footsteps. It didn't help that everything was dark and the girl's mind was playing tricks on her, making her believe every tree was a villain out to get her.

Training her Quirk? Screw that, she had to train to not get so damn scared all of the time!

They said we should be able to make the course within a few minutes... But we've been walking for a while and we aren't even at the halfway point yet. I guess we're just moving so slow because we're paranoid. We should try to speed it up a li-

...

....huh? Is it just me or... does the air seem kinda… wierd around here?

"Hey, Toru-chan, do you smell something burning...?" Atsuhi muttered, eyebrows furrowed in suspicion as her eyes scanned around once more, in search of any obvious signs of fire or smoke.

There were none though. No smoke, no fire and, most notably – no response.

"Toru-chan...?" Now Atsuhi was just straight-up panicking. She turned around, frantically looking for the girl she could swear had been right beside her just a second ago.

"Crap... Toru-chan!! Where are you!?" she called out, voice raising more and more with every following call, a sense of dread overcoming her as her heartbeat that echoed in her ears soon became as loud as her own voice.

"Come on, Toru-chan – where ar- brgh-" This time her desperate calls were cut short when a sharp burning feeling spread across her throat, causing her to let out multiple painful coughs, tears forming in the corners of her eyes at the stinging sensation that barely let her breathe. Only then did she notice the colored gas quickly spreading all around her.

Crap, what is this... It hurts...

If she had learned anything about weird gases those past few months, it was not to breathe them in at any cost. Atsuhi put a hand up in front of her mouth and nose, already knowing where the stinging sensation had come from. She was ready to book it. To go. To run. But-

I still don't know where Toru-chan is! If she's somewhere here, if she's already been affected by the gas- I can't just leave her here! What about everyone else!? Are they okay? I can't just-

It was then she got the push she needed. As her vision sharply blurred, the gas becoming thicker by the second, the girl knew she couldn't stay. She wanted to find everybody else. But she knew that if she did, she'd be the one who'd need finding when she inevitably blacked out no more than a minute later.

Instead, she grit her teeth, praying they would be okay.

I'm sorry.

I'm so, so, so sorry...

I... can't save anyone if I don't save myself here first...

God, I'm so sorry...

Toru-chan, everyone else – please be okay!!

With that, Atsuhi ran ahead. She didn't look back, not even once.

She knew that she had to get out of there as soon as possible. She didn't want to imagine what might happen otherwise.

Right now, there was no time to think about the questions. Why, when, who, and what.

Right now, there was only time to get away. And who knew if that time was even going to be enough.

She knew she might not make it. With every step she took, Atsuhi knew she had to take a breath any moment now.

But the gas just never ended. She might've been hallucinating, but she thought it was becoming thinner. Though that was not enough.

She'd been running for a while now, yet she was terrified upon realizing she hadn't run into anybody yet. Those three minutes between her and the two boys who'd gone before her? She was sure she must've made up for them long ago. Yet where were they!?

I... can't do this anymore...

Atsuhi didn't even feel her legs becoming jelly, movement slowing down, her "running" now akin to the speed of walking. Even worse, her hand had slipped away, her mind too oxygen-deprived to think before she soon began inhaling small and ragged breaths.

Soon enough, the stinging in her throat returned, alongside all the painful coughing and she knew she'd crumble to the ground any moment now. Yet even though she was so tired, ready to succumb to sleep, something quickly woke her up.

Before she could give up completely, a different hand took it upon itself to cover over her mouth and nose, and then an arm was placed around her waist, gripping her body tightly as its owner lifted her up in the air, never uttering a single word. Then again, perhaps that was because that person too was trying to hold in their breath, unlike the girl herself.

Upon realizing what was happening, Atsuhi began to struggle, waving her legs around, though they never actually connected with her captor's body. Instead the grip around her only tightened.

Can't... breathe-

She needed to inhale. She needed to so bad. It hurt. She knew she might just lose consciousness any second now. Was that the person's goal? Why didn't they just leave her to the gas then...?

With her last remaining energy and consciousness, she raised a hand towards her face, desperately moving to remove the one covering her mouth. She heard a grumble, yet her attempts all remained futile, as the person didn’t budge and kept dragging her away.

It's... too late... Any second now and I'll...

But then...

The gas cleared.

Sure, it wasn’t completely gone. Even through her blurring vision, Atsuhi could still make out some of it hovering around. But she was sure she could breathe now. If only she had made it this far by herself, then maybe she could’ve-

Huh…?

As if on cue, the hand clamped tightly on her face was lifted, the person holding the girl quickly kneeling to the ground with her.

"Ah-" was all she could exclaim, her surprise soon forgotten as she dropped onto her knees and elbows, coughing hoarsely, regaining all the air that she'd needed. Beside her, her former captor took in a few deep breaths as well.

"It's clearer here. Still – try not to breathe in too much," the person spoke, as Atsuhi's eyes widened.

Wait, that's-

Taking in a few more deep breaths until her lungs stopped aching and the dark spots in her vision finally cleared, Atsuhi sat up again, looking to the side, only to confirm her realization.

"B-Bakugo-kun...!?" She looked at him wide-eyed. The boy only sighed, motioning for her to cover up her mouth again. As Atsuhi noticed Todoroki standing nearby as well, though he was carrying a boy from class B on his back, the ash blond spoke again.
"Sorry for scaring you like that, but God knows what would've happened if you'd breathed in any more of that shit. You already looked about ready to pass out." Atsuhi only nodded.

"Yeah... T-thank you. And… you're right – I almost did..." Then, upon recalling something else, she lowered her voice, hands clutching into fists atop her knees. "I... I also left Toru-chan behind. She just... disappeared at some point... I hope she's alright-"

"Look," Bakugo interrupted, placing a hand on the girl's shoulder. "We found you. Someone will probably find her too. Don't fret about it now." He gripped her arm, helping Atsuhi stand up until her shaky legs got used to it again, after which he let her go. The girl sighed, agreeing with the blond. Just as she was going to ask them what they were supposed to do now however, Mandalay's voice sounded in her head.

Everyone!

Huh? Is that her Telepathy Quirk…?

A quick glance at the two boys seemed to confirm, as they too furrowed their brows waiting for any further instructions.

We're under attack by two villains! There might be more out there! All those who can make it back to camp, go there immediately! If you encounter an enemy, do not engage! I repeat – do not engage, and retreat instead!

H-huh...

Atsuhi couldn't process what she was hearing

Attack...? Enemies...? Retreat?

...

V...villains...!?

Her shoulders slumped, eyes wide as the realization hit her, heart pounding loudly in her ears.

No...

Please, no...

No way. This is... impossible. We... we should have been safe here.

This was supposed to be summer training camp.

It was supposed to be fun.

They shouldn't have been able to find us...

Not...not like this.

This wasn't how this was supposed to go.

None of this... Not so wrong...

•1 ͢d͠a͡y re͏ma͏i̸ni͢n̕g•̧


Chapter Text

"So, we going back to camp then?" Atsuhi muttered, sound muffled by the hand still covering her mouth in order to avoid a repetition of her earlier mistake by breathing in more of the no doubt dangerous gas still covering the surrounding area just as persistently.

"I'm worried about the others too... but we passed by Ragdoll at the halfway point before the gas appeared, so she should be able to handle that area. Plus, Mandalay said so in her message," responded Todoroki, walking in the lead, as he carried an unconscious Tsuburaba from class B on his back and regained his cool-headed nature even in such dire circumstances.

"They're just orderin' us around, goddammit," grumbled Bakugo, a hand put in front of his mouth too. He stood beside Atsuhi, the two walking at an even pace as his furrowed brows gave way to the minimal worry he felt, no matter how firmly he refused to express it verbally.

The three's footsteps were the only sound beside the light breeze picking up stray leaves to echo around the trees they were surrounded by. As such, it was no less than jarring to hear the pairs of footsteps suddenly decrease from three to two.

Startled from the unexpected change, Atsuhi glanced up at Todoroki, only to find him frozen still, and though it was only his back she could see, she assumed that he was staring at something up ahead. As the girl shifted her eyes to look on in the same direction, the other two pairs of footsteps went completely silent too.

"W-what is this…!?" Atsuhi breathed out, wide eyes fixated on the hunched figure up ahead. She first took note of the person's appearance.
They wore clad in only black, which covered their entire body. Here and there, something akin to restraints seemed to have been wrapped around them, restricting their arms and legs. The person moved sharply and with a twitch, muttering something about flesh and job underneath their breath.

"Oi, which pair went ahead of us...?" Bakugo asked cautiously, moving a step or two in front of Atsuhi.

"Tokoyami-kun and..." The girl glanced at the chunk of flesh beside the person's foot. "Shoji-kun..." She felt her heartbeat quicken at the sight of the bloody disembodied hand beside what she had now officially deemed to be a villain.

"Do not engage, huh..."

All three stood frozen still, as the villain slowly turned to face them, revealing a mostly covered face except for the sight of his disgusting mouth, held open by force via metal pieces attached to the black suit that looked much like that of a prisoner.

"Atsuhi... is this guy familiar at all?" Todoroki broke the silence, albeit with a quiet question, as if that was going to save them when the enemy already knew that they were there.

I might have heard about a lot of villains from my parents... but...

"Never seen him in my life..." she managed to squeak out through gritted teeth, as she gripped her fists in anticipation of his next move. This was not how this night was supposed to go.

The villain moved, turning in a speed so painstakingly slow, it only made the girl's heart beat faster.

And suddenly, her eyes widened.

"Bakugo-kun!!" she cried, turning towards the boy who only looked at her in surprise, as she pushed him away, the two tumbling down together.

Grunting when her elbows scraped the ground as she fell on her side beside the ash blond, it was only after a sudden ring from somewhere nearby that Atsuhi opened her tightly-shut eyes. Looking back towards the villain, she could now see the dozens of sharp blades sprouting from his mouth. And, more importantly, the single blade which had lodged itself within the ground a little ways beside her leg, where Bakugo had been standing moments prior, just until she'd pushed him out of the way of the momentary attack.

She looked at the boy, who returned a stare just as wide-eyed as hers, and the two then quickly pushed themselves back up, shaken by the first display of their opponent's Quirk.

Everyone from classes A and B!

Atsuhi jumped at the sudden sound, quickly realizing it was coming from her own head.

It's Mandalay's Telepathy again!

The pro hero Eraser Head says that you are now allowed... to fight back!!

And then, the voice of the pro, communicating to them through her Quirk, disappeared again.

"W-we can... fight back now..." Repeating the new information was all Atsuhi could do, the reality that they really were under attack and would have to once again fight for their lives finally setting in for real now.

Nonetheless, it wasn't until a shuffling sounded from the villain once more, that the three found it in themselves to move. Before the blades even had a chance to extend again, Todoroki created a thick wall of ice as protection – a solution that might've only been a temporary one, as the ice quickly began to crack when a blade or two struck it. It was but a matter of time before it was completely broken through.

Upon hearing Bakugo grumble something quietly under his breath, Atsuhi glanced at him to see him gripping his arm to prepare for an attack of his own. But-

"Bakugo-kun, don't!" she called, gripping his arm to stop him, before he could produce even a single explosion from his hands.

"Hah!? What the hell!?" The boy looked at her, tearing his arm away from her grip.

"You can't make any explosions. We can't risk starting another fire here!" she explained calmly, watching Bakugo's face fall in recognition. He turned to the side and grunted, but continued arguing.

"Half-'n-half can just stop it with his ice!" he said, though obviously displeased to have to rely on Todoroki for help.

"No good," Todoroki countered. "An explosion's going to reduce our visibility. What if it doesn't finish him off?"

Bakugo glared at him but sighed and gave in, smart enough to realize the two were right.

"Great..." he sighed, still assuming a battle stance, even when he knew his Quirk was useless.

Not just his either... I don't have my grenades with me. Which means that I can't do anything unless I touch that guy.

But with these blades... That's impossible…!

In the end, we're practically useless, only having Todoroki-kun's ice to rely on... But we still need to get out of this somehow, since who knows if there even is someone who can actually help us with this...

The three stood huddled close together and unable to move in fear of the villain's blades, all ready to stab through them at just a single wrong step. Instead, they cowered in fear behind the ice wall Todoroki renewed every now and then to keep it from crumbling completely.

But with the ice already covering his feet and the rims of his pants, who knew how long he would be able to keep it up too...

Think, Atsuhi! There's gotta be a way. A hero doesn't give up so easily – we just so happen to be facing off against a slightly tougher opponent. But that's to be expected, isn't it...

...

Okay, let's see. He's making great use of the terrain and his Quirk. The weird gas that's probably poisonous is right behind us. In other words, we're in some kind of trap here, aren't we?

Not to mention, I doubt we're the only ones struggling right now. So no help's to be expected – we have to somehow deal with this all by ourselves.

We have identified one of the villains' targets!

Mandalay's Telepathy again!? Wait... 'target'...?

It's the student known as Kacchan!!

Kach- Bakugo-kun!?

No… There’s no way...

Kacchan needs to avoid fighting at all costs! Do not make any moves alone either!!

You have to be kidding me...

Atsuhi stood motionless in shock, only daring to turn to see how Bakugo was reacting to the news. And judging by his frustrated face in comparison to Atsuhi's fearful one, you'd think she was the one named 'Kacchan'.

Kacchan, huh...? I guess it was Midoriya-kun who found it out then? No one else would default to using that name otherwise. Wonder if he's doing alright. What did he have to go through to find out this much...?

But Atsuhi shook her head.

No – now's not the time for this!

Bakugo-kun's always the one saving me, wherever we go, whoever we fight. I can't just stand here. I have to return the favor.

I need to tell him everything. In just a few hours, we all have to be alive and alright so I can tell him all that I've been keeping to myself ever since the End of Term Exams.

So, now it's my turn to be the one to protect him, and not the other way around!

The loud crack of the ice as a single blade broke through, snapped the girl out of her thoughts, only now making her realize that if she planned to act, it was now or never.

"Todoroki-kun!!" Taking a cautious step forward, she called out to the boy, making him turn to wonder what's gotten into her all of a sudden. "On my signal – fire off that giant ice structure from the Sports Festival!!"

Though hesitating briefly, Todoroki nodded in the end, ready to go along with whatever she had planned, if it meant they had the slightest chance. Satisfied, Atsuhi nodded back and set off, running around the now cracked ice wall and towards the villain, quickly closing the already small distance between them. The entire time, she payed close attention to him, carefully following his movements, until the moment he turned to her and a few blades headed her way.

Though her heart rate suddenly skyrocketed at the sight and the thought of what might happen if she were to make a wrong move now, the girl gritted her teeth and sharply changed directions, moving to go around the villain.

"Oi, what the hell, get back here, you-!!!"Bakugo cried out from somewhere now far behind her, the desperation on his voice making Atsuhi's heart squeeze.

I'm so sorry, Bakugo-kun. But please don't worry – I plan on making it out of this alive too.

For now, I apologize, Todoroki-kun, but I'm counting on you to hold him back...

But of course that's exactly what he must've been doing, considering that the ash blond hadn't come running after the girl quite yet.

She looked at the villain again, furrowed brows taking note of the positioning of his blades.

Still not there...

Said blades were spread out all around him, surrounding him in all directions. One by one however, he was slowly moving more and more of them, as he was gradually turning to chase after Atsuhi instead. It was only a matter of time before all his weapons were turned away and it was only his back that faced the two boys.

I just have to make Todoroki-kun freeze him over when he has nothing to protect himself with. But in order to do that, I need to make sure all his blades are facing this wa-

Atsuhi's thought were cut short when she sharply stepped to the side, only to avoid one of those very same blades by a hair, left only with a small shallow cut on her cheek. If it weren't for the adrenaline rushing through her body, she was sure her knees would've long become jelly by now.

Crap, that was too close. I can't let this drag on for too long or I'm gonna be done for.

And I am not dying right before turning sixteen!
A quick glance back showed her that there were only two blades left in the opposite direction. She also caught a brief glimpse of Bakugo's face, but shook the sight off before she could let herself start feeling bad about it. Another narrow dodge later (which might or might not have cut a few strands of her hair), Atsuhi couldn't help the single morbid thought.

And I guess if all else fails... Bakugo-kun would still be able to escape...

Ah, not like this, Atsuhi!! You are coming out of this alive!!

Noticing herself approaching the frozen-over ground from Todoroki's earlier attempts at immobilizing their opponent, Atsuhi scurried to a stop to check that there was only one blade left. But in the process, her feet slid across the slippery surface and she lost her balance, falling on her back on top of the thin layer of ice. That's when the last blade moved.

There it is-

"Todoroki-kun – now!!!" Atsuhi cried out so loud, her throat was sure to hurt afterwards, as she crossed her fingers, praying for success. Though Todoroki hesitated upon noticing her on the ground, he was still quick to follow through, producing his big ice attack and aiming it towards the villain.

The enemy noticed, though a tad too late, and the girl smirked upon realizing that he really was now immobilized. A small bead of sweat ran down the side of her forehead when she felt the ice slowly creep up her elbows and feet that were still touching said ground, as she soon realized she was literally frozen in place and couldn't even get up by herself.

But now that it's safe, Todoroki-kun or Bakugo-kun can just come here and help me up. So it's alright.

She breathed out a sigh of relief. Relief that was perhaps a tad too premature.

Because the moment she did so, the villain they'd somehow managed to immobilize was suddenly crushed underneath a gigantic shadowy hand right before her eyes, her heart almost jumping out of her chest that very moment. As the hand moved to grip the villain and throw him through the forest’s trees, no doubt leaving him more than just immobilized, Atsuhi's eyes finally lit up with recognition.

Isn't that... Dark Shadow? Then- Tokoyami-kun!?

What should've only been another cause for celebration.

But the sentient Quirk never once uttered one of its signature witty remarks.

Instead, the shadow creature turned back, its eyes larger than she'd ever seen them before, and now focusing on her frame. Its claw-like hand lifted, moving to swing again.

It was only then Atsuhi put everything together, realizing something was very off.

Very dangerous too.

She panicked, moving to frantically tear herself away from the ice, only to further realize she was completely stuck, unable to even move her hands close enough to melt the ice with her Quirk.

Unlike in all the cliches she'd heard and even lived through a couple of times however, her life didn't flash before her eyes. She hadn't even closed her eyes in anticipation of the impact.

Instead, something black quickly blocked her vision, soon followed by a strong and sudden light from very nearby, finally making her turn her eyes away to shield them from the brightness.

Wait, wasn't this the sound of... an explosion!!
She looked ahead again, only now realizing Bakugo stood in front of her protectively, with Todoroki a little to the side, while Dark Shadow was nowhere in sight anymore and, more importantly, in its place Tokoyami knelt on the ground as he took heavy breaths.

"Oi, you okay!?" Bakugo's sudden calls interrupted Atsuhi's empty staring at the scene before her, as the boy moved to crouch beside her and used a few small explosions to crack the ice around her elbow enough to help her pull it up (making sure not to actually hurt Atsuhi in the process), while discreetly stealing a glance at the small cut on her cheek too. With one hand now free, the girl melted the rest of the ice covering her body, a pair of strong arms gripping her waist and lifting her up on her feet the moment she was done.

Quickly shaking away this brief and uncharacteristic moment of worry however, the ash blond then turned to Tokoyami and Todoroki, shouting at them in his more typical angry way, while Atsuhi brushed off the dust and dirt from her clothes, putting a hand on her scraped elbows as if that was going to stop the small stinging coming from them.

"The fuck were you two thinking, huh!? You know that could've easily killed her, right!? RIGHT!?" Bakugo growled, though his threats felt rather empty after everyone had shaken off the brief shock which had come from hearing him say something so caring, yet masked to sound like his regular insulting speech.

Tokoyami seemed to be most affected by the angry words of the ash blond, as he lowered his head and apologized to Shoji, Midoriya and Atsuhi, who only now walked up to everyone else, no trace of the ice left around her body.

And though he continued speaking and muttering apologies, Atsuhi was forced to tune him out when Bakugo turned towards her next, his accusatory eyes glaring at her for a few slow and silent seconds, until Atsuhi looked back at him with a guilty smile, the boy sighing as he rubbed his temples.

"That goddamn plan of yours was so absolutely stupid and reckless, I... can't even-" He seemed to be at a loss for words.

"Well..." Atsuhi couldn't help but sigh in agreement too, already aware of that fact. "At least it all ended well, I guess. And thank you for saving me. Again."

Here I was thinking I was gonna be the one doing the saving this time. Who was I even fooling with this. Ugh.

But of course, Bakugo didn't stop muttering small curses under his breath. He probably swore to himself to never ever let Atsuhi come up with plans by herself anymore.

"So," Atsuhi cleared her throat to get the other boys’ attention, cutting their string of apologies short a little early. Once all eyes were on her, she continued. "Are we going?" she asked, aware under any other circumstances she might've come off as too impatient. Of course, 'under attack by villains' tended to be an exception from most rules.

"It would be best if we went to camp, like Mandalay said." Shoji was the first to respond.

"Agreed. But the Pussycats are probably still fighting in the clearing," Midoriya added, no doubt having already passed by there, if only to deliver the message about the villain's target.

"Right. Then we should probably cut through the forest instead," Atsuhi’s suggestion earned a few nods in return.

"But we have to keep in mind that a villain might pop up anytime," added Todoroki, still carrying the unconscious Tsuburaba on his back.

"No worries – me and Shoji-kun can keep an eye on our surroundings. I'll take the ground and Shoji-kun can listen for any movement around the trees and from the air. Is that alright with you, Shoji-kun?" Atsuhi proposed, earning a hum of agreement from said boy, as she gladly bent down to touch the ground once, activating her Quirk on it.

"Kinda crazy. If we count in Todoroki-kun and Tokoyami-kun too... With a line-up like this," Midoriya began, a hint of optimism lacing his voice. "...we might even give someone like All Might a hard time!"

"Oi, oi." Only then were they reminded of the presence of the ash blond they were actually supposed to be protecting. "You orderin' me around or something!?"

"You walk in the middle."

"We should probably go."

Even still, he was left ignored, likely since his classmates had long gotten used to his constant grumbles of annoyance and complaints, all of that now easily tuned out by them.

Atsuhi for one though, felt bad. She was worried. Almost as if she had a hunch something bad was going to happen. Then again, perhaps this was normal amidst the mess they'd found themselves in. So she shrugged it off.

Pacing her steps to match those of the ash blond, she now walked beside him, and looked at his pouting face.

"What? You here to tell me what to do too now?" he asked, obviously annoyed, yet Atsuhi couldn't help but smile.

Really, Bakugo-kun...? We're in the middle of some super messed up stuff and you're still making me smile like a high-school girl in love...

"Relax, Bakugo-kun," she assured him, keeping her voice down so as not to disturb the others walking in front of and behind them. "Even if it had been someone else they were after, we would've still done the same."

She paused to take a breath and then grinned, trying to lighten up the atmosphere under the guise that it was all for Bakugo's sake. Of course, it there was anyone who needed reassuring here, it was definitely her.

"Though those villains must be quite the stupid bunch! To even think they can split class 1A up like this!" She smiled, lifting a fist up in the air, as if she were about to punch some oblivious villain in the face.

Bakugo however, only glanced at her in confusion, making her blush a light shade of red, before she cleared her throat and sharply changed the subject.

"Anyway, so, umm...." Atsuhi began, a hint of awkwardness in her voice. Nonetheless, she needed to mention this. "There is something really, really important that I have to tell you tomorrow. Like, it's crazy important, haha..." She rubbed the back of her neck, looking away to hide the red on her cheeks, which only became brighter with each following word. "But... you have to promise me that you aren't going anywhere tonight, okay?"

It was her dumb way of reassuring herself. If Bakugo promised her, then she was sure he was going to keep his word and stay with her. It was really oh-so stupid...

A small pat to the head brought Atsuhi out of her little world. It was then followed by a small sigh and the girl turned to look at Bakugo, who only stared ahead, a gentle smile on his lips.

"Sure, sure," he muttered nonchalantly. He never realized how important that was for the blonde beside him.

The walk (or rather, short escort mission) then continued in silence. Atsuhi kept her ears sharpened to listen for any suspicious sounds around, though she knew that was a task reserved for Shoji.

Instead, she focused on the ground. She hadn't done this since the Battle Trials with All Might at the start of the school year – a time which now seemed so far in the past.

By touching something, she could not only use her Quirk on it to alter its temperature, but also discern its current temperature and any changes in it as well – an ability meant to let her know what temperature she should change it to, but also one that came in handy in situations like this.

Even if only by a little, the temperature of the ground did change every time someone stepped on it. It wasn't a change she would typically notice easily. But, if she were to focus enough on it, she could pinpoint any sudden footsteps appearing.

Putting her mind to it, Atsuhi took to analyzing what she could. One by one, she located each member of 'Bakugo's Bodyguard Brigade'.

First, Shoji and Todoroki at the front. She also knew they were carrying Midoriya and Tsuburaba respectively, though she couldn't tell just by using her Quirk, as the two's feet weren't actually touching the ground.

Next, a little ways behind them and in the middle of the formation, Bakugo and she, walking side by side.

And finally, at the very back, Tokoyami, guarding the rear with the very Quirk that had gone out of control minutes prior.

Unfortunately, nowhere within her fifty-something-meter radius could she sense the camp building, meaning they still had at least a few minutes’ worth of walking until they could hope to say they were finally safe.

It's worrying, yes. But I mean, Midoriya-kun was right – though some of us are wounded and Bakugo-kun's not permitted to fight, we can surely take on a villain even if by ourselves right now.

Of course, feeling optimistic was probably the last thing she should've been doing.

Because good things tended to come to an end right when you became a little too cocky.

Suddenly, there was a new presence.

Only for a brief second touching the ground.

But it was close.

So close.

Too close.

BAKUGO-KUN-

She would've screamed out loud.

She would've pushed him out of the way of whatever it may have been.

She only had time to look at him in panic, the words never leaving her mind.

Not before the world morphed before her eyes.

And just like that, there was black.

Just like that, there was silence.

•̨̢̕2͜ ̡Ho̸͝ur҉s͏̧ ̨̛R͢͠e͡m̸a͟i̸҉n̷i̴͜n҉҉̸g•̷͝

Chapter Text

Hey, hey – as promised, I’m back with the long-awaited special chapter celebrating two amazing things! For one, today marks two years since Atsuhi was created (I promise to get into some more sappy talk at the end of the special), but it’s also a way for me to celebrate all the love and support this story has received! As I’ve said many times before – you guys are literally the best and I appreciate everything you do!

A super quick thing before we start! The drawing at the beginning! That’s pretty much it lol It’s a cute drawing because I wanted something super fluffy to celebrate!

Also, if I somehow left something out (even though I triple-checked) – it was NOT on purpose, I swear!

Now here’s the good stuff! (And prepare for my longest single chapter yet! Oof)


 

Section One – Ask Katsuhi!

Atsuhi’s speech is presented in regular text, Bakugo’s speech is presented in italics.

(This takes place a few months/a year or so after the current chapters of the series! As such, the two are already a couple and Atsuhi refers to Bakugo as Katsuki-kun! Lastly, please do keep in mind that the two’s opinions do not necessarily reflect my own!)


Rebecca Rivera on Quotev asks:

Atsuhi, what was the first thing you loved about Bakugo besides looks?

Huh… Go ahead.

Hm, let's see... He was obviously really strong, so there's that! But that's not necessarily something that makes me fall in love at first sight. So... I think it's his more compassionate side. Like, how he might not look like it, but in his mind he always thinks about saving others! And always has the best interest of those close to him in mind, despite how tough he acts! I think that's what made me fall in love to begin with!

...

Eh? Katsuki-kun!? Are you okay!? Your face is-

Oh.

Don't.

Oh my God, are you-

Shut up!!

(He's blushing!!)


Kirasms on Wattpad asks:

Bakugo, describe your feeling towards Atsuhi in 5 words.

Awww!

No.

Katsuki-kun! Pleeaaase!

Annoyance, but five times.

Oh.

Is that so.

Wait, shit, what're you doing?

I guess that's what you really-

Okay, okay, chill.

And don't ever mention this to me ever again.

Here goes nothing.

Respect. Comfort.

...

Go on...?

Adoration...? Protectiveness. And...

And...?

You know what the last one is, goddamn it.

I wanna hear it~

For fuck's sake... love.

Happy? Next question!

No, wait-

Next question!!


Rebecca Rivera on Quotev asks:

What would you say is your best personality trait and what is your worst and why?

Can I answer this one for you?

Eh? You sure?

Yeah, cause you're too damn dense to notice it sometimes.

Um, okay then?

It's actually the same one.

What?

Both your worst and best trait – pretending to be fine.

On one hand, it's not healthy at all and you need to turn to others for help.

Look who's talking.

I'm going to ignore what you just said.

But it's also your best one. Because it's really difficult to smile through the pain and shit. You shouldn't. But the fact that you can, means you're incredibly strong. Of course, I've already said that before.

Aww, you're so sweet.

Don't repeat that sentence, please.

Okay, can I go now?

Sure.

Your best trait is that you’re so… determined. You don’t back down and you always aim to win, as if you know you will. It’s really admirable. And it’s inspiring to those around you too!

And your worst one should be kinda obvious. You have literally the shortest fuse ever.

What the hell, Atsuhi-

See!? Told ya.

Touche.

Just kidding though.

What!?

It’s actually the fact that you bottle everything up.

That was yours.

No, but like, you do it too. It’s just a little different.

I say I’m fine. You don’t. And it’s obvious you’re not. We try to talk to you but you don’t want to. It’s really difficult to help you sometimes, even if we wanted to.

Though I’m really proud of you because you’ve been talking about what’s been bothering you more and more lately!

What’s bothering me is the fact that you’re still talking about this – next question!


FtfanDessarai (guest) on AO3 asks:

Bakugo, what do you like most about Atsuhi and why? And how would you feel if something bad happened to her?

You already said what my best trait was, didn’t you?

Yeah. That’s obviously something I like. And simultaneously hate. But we already discussed that.

So is there something you like even more?

You’re really… ugh, I have no clue how to put it but like… really goddamn kind. Sometimes too kind but let’s not get into that.

Can you elaborate…?

What I mean is… You say that I’m always there comforting you or some shit like that. But your presence is enough to comfort others, or at least I feel like it is.

You know, you’re constantly smiling and always making sure those around you feel good and are happy, even if you may not be. In a way, it’s a perfect quality for a hero to have.

Now, if you laugh I swear I’ll kill you but… it’s much easier for me not to lose my temper when you’re around.

And what about the other question?

Well, aside from the fact that something bad has already happened to you a few times… It’d be awful. Like, end of the world kind of awful, you know?

First, I’d probably wanna kill the fucking bastard responsible. I’d even gladly spend the rest of my days hunting them down but then I’d probably remember you wouldn’t want that so I’d stop.

Then, I’d wanna be by your side as much as possible. Make sure you’re alright, cheer you up so you don’t have to feel bad. That kinda stuff.

The last thing is… I would feel like shit. For ever letting something bad happen to you in the first place. I’d probably beat myself up over it, wonder how weak I have to be to let you get hurt like that…

Why did you go all quiet like that…?

Ah?! Well… you were… incredibly honest and sentimental just now… Just outta respect for that, I guess.

Huh. Just to get things straight by the way, I ain’t letting you get hurt again, you hear me?

Sure, sure.


Gigi on Quotev asks:

Would you sacrifice yourself for the other?

...

...

Um, here's the thing...

The answer's absolutely 'yes'. From both of us.

But when both of us want to, neither can. Like, if Katsuki-kun were to do something like that, I'd want to stop him. Same if I do it.

But if it ever came down to it – yes.

Without hesitation.


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

Have you ever been interested in anyone romantically before?

Pfft.

What are you laughing about now?

Well, okay, here's a story-

Back in Elementary School – you know, when kids fall for anyone who doesn't have a snot hanging off their nose- there was one instance!

Name?

Oh, I'm not telling you that, I know you're gonna do something dumb.

But there was this one boy – all girls liked him. Every single girl from our class had had a crush on him at some point. For a child, he was pretty, I guess?

Me and my best friend at the time, Tomo-chan, liked him for a while too. But then he wasn't in the same middle school as us anymore, so we kinda forgot.

Well, when we started High School, I talked to Tomo-chan, and she said he's in the same school as her! I pumped her up to go ask him out on a date or something cause she said he was even hotter now! And you know what he told her?

...What?

He was into boys! Pfft, haha! Poor Tomo-chan! Honestly, that's the only thing I can think of. And I was like, 10.

Good.

What?

I said – good.


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

What would be your ideal date?

FtfanDessarai (guest) on AO3 asks:

Atsuhi, w hat would your ideal date with Bakugo be like?

Oh. My. God. Katsuki-kun – take notes here!

Shut up.

I am…

So, when I was little, I used to go to lots of places with my parents and just have fun all day. I’d love to spend a day like that with you!

The alternative is something that kind of already happened. Though I doubt either of us would’ve called it a date back then.

Huh?

I’m talking about the Ennichi Festival. I don’t know about you, but it was really fun for me – just going around the booths, eating some weird food, playing those random games. And the fireworks at the end – oh, the fireworks! It was magical.

That was a while back so we didn’t know anything back then. Plus, we only had about an hour or so and you looked pretty tired.

But I would love, love, love to do that again someday!

Is that so…

What about you, Katsuki-kun?

I don't know, going to climb a mountain together or something.

My body can't take that.

I know, that's why I've never asked you to that before.

Wait, seriously? No, no! I'm gonna try! I promise!

I wanna try your hobby too!

You sure about that…?


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

Bakugo, w hat would you do/think if you saw Atsuhi on a date with another guy?

Kill them.

That’s too harsh though...

Okay but like, why would you even go out with him in the first place!?

Okay, okay, imagine we weren't actually together though! Then what? You can't just say 'That's my girlfriend, back off!', no?

If that was the only difference... I'll be jealous for sure-

You say that as if you don't get jealous now-

Moving on.

I... might scare him a little bit. You know... so he doesn't do it anymore.

So if I weren't dating you, all the boys would've been avoiding me like the plague because of reasons I would've been unable to understand?

Well, when you put it like that...

...

Okay, I guess if he wasn't a bad person, and if you were happy... I'd just sulk from afar.

...

Well, good thing that's a hypothetical situation then, hm?

Yeah. I'm glad it is.

Aw, Katsuki-kun!


pokelover on Quotev asks:

Bakugo, d o you see a future between you and Atsuhi as anything from romantic partners to just close friends who do hero work together?

What’re you looking at me like that for?

I’m just… trying not to say something too crazy.

Aw, it’s fine, Katsuki-kun. I’ve told you what I want already, haven’t I?

I guess. We’ve actually talked about it once or twice. It’s still a few years away but…

It sounds stupid.

You don’t wanna say it?

Well-

It’s fine – I will. Katsuki-kun wants us to stay together. I do too. You know, get married, live together.

We can… probably open a hero agency. Like the one that Hiyamiku and Lava Floor had. It’d be the best goddamn agency in Japan!

Mhm! It would be a dream come true!

I know Katsuki-kun won’t say it but the point is, all I want from our future is to be together. I think he feels the same!

Stop saying embarrassing shit like that…


FtfanDessarai (guest) on AO3 asks:

What are you hoping to achieve after graduating from UA?

Rebecca Rivera on Quotev asks:

Bakugo, w hen you become the Number 1 Hero, what would be your next plans/dreams/goals? Can you list a few?

Well, honestly, I would, as we already said, love to stay with Katsuki-kun for as long as possible. You know, have a good life together but also become heroes who save lots and lots of people?

Of course, placing high on the top heroes list wouldn’t hurt either, haha~

And you, Katsuki-kun? Anything more specific?

Step number one – stay the number one hero for as long as I'm alive. That's pretty much it.

Really?

...

Well... I guess it'd be nice to get some real cool place to live. As far away from my parents as possible.

Anything else?

Aside from rubbing it into Deku's face, you mean?

...

I've been thinking... How much is it to renovate an agency and all that, you know?

Eh, why's that?

Well… it'd do your old man a favor, right? Like, fix it up a little, buy some new equipment, maybe attract some new sidekicks as well...

Katsuki-kun, you...

Oi, the hell!? Are you crying!? I'm trying to say something nice, for fuck's sake!!

No, no, I'm okay... Just... Wow, thank you...

Uh... um, yeah, you're... you're welcome, I guess.

Let's just move on.


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

Do you want to have children in the future?

U-um, well, you know... uh, I-I wouldn't really... I wouldn't mind- but I mean, only if you want to, Katsuki-kun!! Like, I'm okay with it if you're okay with it, you know?
Y-yeah, sure. Agreed...

(Iya chiming in here!! Excuse the poor children. Both are still virgins at the time, haha~ The answer is yes !)


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

What do you do in your free time?

Well, sometimes we hang out.

It's called a date, Katsuki-kun.

Right. Whatever. When we aren't though, I mostly chill in my room.

He goes to bed really early.

Like a normal person.

Like a normal person's grandpa.

Shut up, you-

I, on the other hand... Hm, I watch movies when I feel lonely sometimes.

Pro tip – if it's a horror movie, you'll stop feeling lonely pretty soon.

Katsuki-kun!


Raegan on Quotev asks:

What's something you've tried, and will never try again?

You go first. Because I know exactly what you are going to say.

You damn well do, cause it was your fault. Kirishima, Dunce Face, and Bug Eyes once challenged me not to swear for an entire day. Of course I wasn't gonna accept. But then they went and fucking told Atsuhi about it too. So then she pestered me to do it for two days straight – probably the worst two days of my life.

But it worked!

Yes. Unfortunately.

Wanna say how long you managed to last?

...An hour.

It was Saturday and we were talking at around 1AM. Katsuki-kun stubbed his toe and swore so hard.

Cool story, no need for details. What's yours?

Well, you were actually with me. You know how Katsuki-kun loves spicy food, and once he was like 'Hey, wanna come to this restaurant with some real spicy stuff?' And being the good girlfriend I was, I didn't have to make him pester me for two days to agree.

Shut up.

I got something a little spicy. Like, lowest level of spice on the menu. That day, I almost cried.

It was memorable.

You can be such a jerk.

Thank you.

In other words, yeah – I'm never going back there.


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

Do you wish you had siblings? If yes, then older or younger and of what gender?

Why would I need someone else to annoy or pester me. That old hag's enough.

Don't talk about your mother like that – she's awesome!

Wha- Ah, shit. Sorry.

Nah, it's cool. She feels like my own by this point!

So I guess Katsuki-kun's answer is 'no'...

I've always wondered if it would have been better to have a sibling?

If it's a younger brother or sister, it would be really fun to watch them grow up and everything! But with Mom gone and Dad away, it would've been difficult to take care of them.

So perhaps, someone older to keep me company after I moved away from our old place to study at UA. It would be really nice to go home and know that you won't be alone for the rest of the evening!

Of course, Katsuki-kun sometimes swings by or at least makes sure to talk over the phone so I'm fine now!

And for gender – I wouldn't mind either way! But it would be funny to see how Katsuki-kun would've reacted if I had an overprotective older brother, haha!
I'm suddenly infinitely grateful you don't…


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

If you could choose your Quirk, what will it be?

pokelover on Quotev asks:

Atsuhi, w ere you happy upon discovering your odd Quirk, and do you ever wish for a different one (if a specific one, then please detail what kinda Quirk if it's a non-existent one in the BNHA verse)?

Oh, you know, I haven’t thought about this all that much! I’ve always loved my Quirk cause it was like a crazy match-up of Mom and Dad’s! I sometimes complain about it, but in reality it’s pretty versatile and super useful in some day-to-day activities.

I’ve literally seen her use it to curl people’s hair.

Exactly! And about having a different Quirk… I talked about how Todoroki-kun’s is a lot stronger than mine, but then Katsuki-kun totally cut me off on that one.

Yeah, because both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Right. So that’s out of the question. The only thing I kinda wish were different would be that I don’t really have a lot of long-range attacks… And that sucks.

So I guess I’d love to be able to retain my current Quirk but also be able to shoot fire and ice like Todoroki-kun, you know? Still fits in with the theme, only it becomes stronger.

Atsuhi, that’s straight-up unstoppable.

Yeah! Could be called ‘Heat Wave’ or something like that!

And what about you, Katsuki-kun?

Honestly? I like mine as is. It’s fucking awesome. Would’ve been real neat if I could make even bigger explosions?

Or perhaps just detonate them at will, without needing to use my sweat for it.

I am incredibly glad your Quirk isn’t that overpowered. You’re much more tame in winter because of this!

I am what-

Moving on~


riceball-girl on Quotev asks:

If you were to swap your Quirk for any of your classmates (or 1-B's students), which one would you pick and why?

Oh, this one's about swapping specifically! I have a few in mind so why don't you go first, Katsuki-kun?

It's gotta be something badass. Nothing's better than mine.

But you have to pick.

Right. I don't know – Hardening or Electrification.

Oh – those do sound kinda like you!

What about you?

Well, I've always wondered what it would've been like to have your Explosion!

God forbid.

Yeah, I knew you'd say something like that. But! Ochaco-chan and Momo have really awesome Quirks! Of course, I hate being nauseous and I'm not smart like Momo, so...

I guess the one best for me might be Copy!

Copy?

Yeah! I don't have a very good first impression of class B's Monoma-kun. But he does have a very useful and interesting Quirk. Plus, I prefer working in a team anyway so it'd be no problem for me!


Raegan on Quotev asks:

How would you feel if I came up to you, and said I was gonna eat your kneecaps?

What the actual fuck-

Yeah, um, don't do that in front of Katsuki-kun. He'll probably break yours.

What? You won't!?
Well, I mean, I'll probably just laugh nervously and have the memory haunt me for the next few hours. Or weeks. Depends on how serious the threat was.


PheonixBird06 on Quotev asks:

What would you do if a random person walked up to you and asked you for your phone number?

That's the same as the previous person!

What!? You'll still beat them up!?

Well yeah – that's just weird!

Yeah but like – if you plan to be the number one, you are bound to have a bunch of fans! Some girls might even want your phone number!

Eh? That's weird!

Not as weird as you think. I'd say I'd just decline politely. Maybe ask them what they want?

Still beat 'em up.

Katsuki-kun, you can't do that-


Gigi on Quotev asks:

What are your spirit animals?

Okay but like, can I answer this one for you, Katsuki-kun?

The hell?

I know you'll say something like a lion or whatever but hear me out-

You know chihuahuas?

Atsuhi, what the fuck-

No, no, hear me out!
They bark a lot and try to look scary and they probably think they can scare you a lot-

Don't.

But in reality they're just soooo tiny. Like little mice! Harmless!

I swear to God-

Or – I guess you can also be a cat?

...Do I wanna hear why?

I don't know, you just look like a grumpy cat.

Okay, that's enough-

Wanna know mine?

What?

Cause I once took a quiz!

And apparently I'm a butterfly!

The hell?

It symbolizes something related to change and transformation, but also finding joy in life!

Huh...

Right? It's pretty accurate. Especially that last part!

(Iya speaking here: I took a quiz, answering as if I were Atsuhi and those were the results!)


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Pft, well, Katsuki-kun-

Shut up. Fucking chihuahua, you serious!?

I meant a cat this time but whatever.

You'd probably be some golden retriever who constantly sticks her nose in the cat's business then!

Oh, that's a good one!

What!? No, it's not-

What's wrong with you!?


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

Do you want a pet? If yes, then what animal?

I'd love to get a dog! Like one of those small fluffy ones! Or even a golden retriever! I'll just have to find one that will get along well with Katsuki-kun!

I don't need another thing to take care of. Atsuhi's plenty.

I can't tell if that was meant to be sweet or an insult.

The latter.

Actually, it was kinda kinky too.

...

Katsuki-kun...? You okay?

I can't believe the stuff you say sometimes.


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

What kind of movie genre do you like?

Hollywood blockbusters. Action. Guts are fine too. The more explosions, the better.

Figured.

Why, what do you like?

Hmm... Cheesy romance movies are always great! But!

When I was younger, my parents used to take me to see all the superhero movies! You know – the American ones? Even a few Japanese ones here and there! They were all sooo good!!

Your favorite moves are literally superhero movies...?

I guess, yeah... Oops, haha!


Gigi on Quotev asks:

Out of the two of you, who is most likely to plan an all-nighter and be the first one to fall asleep?

Atsuhi did it once.

Shut up.

She planned it with Kirishima, Dunce Face, and Bug Eyes.

Meaning Kirishima-kun, Kaminari-kun, and Mina.

Whatever.

'Come with us,' they said. 'We'll have fun,' they said.

Literally less than an hour later I had to go carry Atsuhi to her room.

Wait, you did what!?

Wah- you thought you just magically teleported to your bed or something?

I just... never thought about it...

Dumbass.


Raegan on Quotev asks:

Would you rather look like a potato, or feel like a potato?

What the hell kinda-

Okay, okay, Katsuki-kun, enough, please. Guess I'm going first on this one.

Hmph.

Let's see now... I mean, I love potatoes but in this context... I guess it's much better to look like one because then you at least feel good about yourself? Though... I'm guilty of kinda feeling like a potato every once in a while...

...

What is it, Katsuki-kun...?

You don't... look like a potato...

...

...

Ahaha, oh my God, Katsuki-kun, that's so adorab-

Don't say it, you-

I won't if you answer!

Hmph. Fine. Feel.

Huh? Why!?

I answered the damn question, let's just move on!!


Rebecca Rivera on Quotev asks:

Bakugo, what would you eat that is extremely spicy? Chicken, Pork, or Fish?

Pork. But like, extra spicy.

You are insane, are you aware of that?

Then you've fallen for an insane person.

I hate it when you're right.

And you're always right.


PheonixBird06 on Quotev asks:

How would you feel and what would you do if Kirishima, Mina, Kaminari, and Sero dumped multiple cans of canned pineapple on your head?

Kill them.

That’s like, the third time today, Katsuki-kun. Chill out a little, will you!?

We're just condoning violence here by this point.

The hell do you want me to do?

Well, sure, that's betrayal on their part.

But-

Don't smile all creepily like that.

You just gotta get it back at them. You know, make them think you don't mind. Then surprise them with it like three weeks later.

Point taken – do not give Atsuhi a reason to hold a grudge.


Raegan on Quotev asks:

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say cabbage?

Okay, how about we say this one together? On three?

Sure.

Right. One. Two. Three

Your eyes.../Midoriya-kun!!

Ah.

Eh?

Aw, crap.

The hell do you mean Deku!?

W-well, his hair's... you know... it's green. Like a cabbage...?

And here I was, actually saying something nice.

I don't know, Katsuki-kun. Comparing eyes to cabbage isn't the most romantic thing ever.

I'm so done with you. For the record, they're a much closer color than fucking Deku's hair!


Gigi on Quotev asks:

Which of you would be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse?

Me./Atsuhi.

...

I love how we're both just immediately writing me off.

Although-

Yeah, yeah, you're not that weak and stuff. If you're with me, you might even make it through.

I'm kinda scared of zombies though... Especially after that training exercise with those Isami High students...

...

Actually... I kinda hate saying this...

But there's a chance Katsuki-kun might... sacrifice himself if it were for me... So...

Ah, shit.

By the way, just in case there is a zombie apocalypse one day!! You are not permitted to do that!!

Atsuhi, what the hell, do you seriously believe this stuff-

Its not impossible, okay!?


 

Section One – End + A Small Break!

Ever wanted to see some Katsuhi textposts? Well boy, do I have just the thing for you!

(These are all quotes from different shows and whatnot just floating around Tumblr and other social media! I’ve simply changed the character names! With that in mind though – enjoy!)


 

Mitsuki (Bakugo’s Mom): Atsuhi-chan, will you do me the honor of becoming my daughter-in-law?

Bakugo: Did you just propose to Atsuhi for me?

Mitsuki: SOMEONE HAD TO, KATSUKI.


 

Atsuhi: I like my men like I like my coffee: hot as hell and stronger than I am.


 

Kaminari: What's up with Bakugo? He's been lying on the ground for like fifteen minutes.

Kirishima: He's just a little overwhelmed.

Kaminari: Why?

Kirishima: Atsuhi giggled.


 

Atsuhi: Is it okay if I swear?

Bakugo: Yes, Atsuhi, you can fucking swear.

Atsuhi: F

Bakugo: Yes, go on.

Atsuhi: I'm nervous.


Atsuhi: Oh c'mon, I didn't drink that much last night!

Mina: You were flirting with Bakugo.

Atsuhi: So what? He's my boyfriend.

Mina: You asked if he was single...

Kirishima: Then cried when he said he wasn't.


Ochaco: Hey, Atsuhi-chan, can you give me some dating advice?

Atsuhi: Just because I'm with Katsuki-kun doesn't mean I know how I did it.


(Psst, there will be some more at the end of Section Two!!)


 

Section Two – Ask Iya!

And – it’s now my turn! There are some really long answers mixed in towards the end so please do keep that in mind! Thank you!


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

What kind of movie genre do you like?

Okay, there might be some weirdly specific details in here but here goes-

I love, love, love mysteries! Horror is great but I don't handle live-action gore too well (whereas I don't mind animated/written depictions of gore) so I guess I prefer something leaning more into thriller territory?

I obviously like romance too and the more fantastical and whimsical a love story is, the more I'll like it. However, if it’s something very down-to-earth but super cheesy? Probably not my cup of tea...

Basically, I prefer movies which aren't dead-set on realism but instead explore a bit of a 'what-if' concept with some mysteries and a good romance!


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Probably a cat, to be honest. First of all – yes, I am a cat person and cats are literally the cutest things. So – I love sleeping and lazying around, but also sometimes want attention, and then I can get very annoying when I'm looking for said attention. Also, I get scared easily. And mood swings. Oh, mood swings.

Actually, I might or might not be three cats sitting on top of each other in a large trench coat to disguise as a human. The world may never know...


Raegan on Quotev asks:

What is the stupidest thing you've done on your own free will?

I wanted to come up with something really funny and irresponsible but then I realized that I'm that one sober friend that makes sure everyone else doesn't do something too stupid. So the story I have is actually from when I was about 6 or 7 – about a few months to a year after my sister was born.

Up until then, I had been an only child and got all the attention I could wish for. Suddenly, there's this small red creature that cries all the time at home with me (I loved her since the moment she was born but that doesn't change the facts). And the worst part was – she took all the attention away from lil’ ol' me, which didn't bode well apparently.

So I thought – what would make them pay more attention to me? You know what I came up with? Taking a pair of scissors and cutting my own bangs myself – very unevenly, mind you! I got attention, I think (I don't really remember, to be honest...) Yeah, I was emo when I was like, seven.

(Getting into competitive maths is probably a close second. This is only partially a joke.)


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

What would be your ideal date?

First and most important – not a place with too many people and not some fancy restaurant either because I'm too anxious for that. Those cliche bookstore dates sound cool except, get this – art/office supply store dates. We go around and look through a bunch of pencils, and pens, and notebooks, and erasers, and sharpeners, and then we get a handful and it's great!

Also, not as specific, but finding a common interest and doing something geeky related to that together would be neat – i.e. found a game both enjoy, read the same series, watch the same show, etc.


Raegan on Quotev asks:

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say cabbage?

Short answer – Zeref from Fairy Tail.

I swear the long answer makes some semblance of sense.

Basically, Fairy Tail was one of the first anime I ever watched. So one day, I was watching an episode and my sister was in the room with me and I was talking something about Zeref. So she suddenly went 'Zeref is cabbage'. Which makes zero sense. In English.

In my native language on the other hand, the word 'cabbage' is 'zele' (pronounced like the 'Zere' part of Zeref, except with an L instead of an R). We laughed a lot (that was years ago, don't worry – I'm kinda sane now). So yeah.

For some ridiculous reason, that was the first thing that came to mind (if you exclude a mental image of what cabbage actually looks like lol)!


Aurora Lilac on Quotev asks:

If you could choose your Quirk, what will it be?

I mean, there are so many possibilities here!! There would be very obvious ones like flying, teleporting, etc.

There was this character that was introduced in the manga recently whose Quirk is literally powered by stress and I... lowkey want something similar...?

Like, the more stressed out I am, the more motivated I feel to do something lol

(If I have to pick one strictly from canon though? I think it'll be a tie between Kurogiri's, Ochaco's, and Monoma's! Because teleporting sounds awesome, levitating objects is cool, and Monoma’s is because you can essentially have any Quirk in existence!)


Gigi on Quotev asks:

What My Hero Academia character do you relate to the most?

Ah yes, time for me to overshare...

Well, aside from obvious picks like Aizawa or Shinso, weirdly enough, it's probably Momo. I didn't care much for her at the beginning (though I admit, she's gorgeous) but ever since making this connection recently, I feel a little closer to her.

Her struggle during the End of Term Exams Arc was very familiar, though I didn't realize it until recently. She's this prodigy who suddenly loses a fight she should've been able to win if she really is as good as everyone says. She's smart but insecure.

I can't say all that for myself. But I was a "gifted" child (in quotation marks because as I came to realize, once you get to High School, it wasn't "gift" that made a difference, it was hard work). I mentioned competitive maths as a joke earlier. Yeah, I used to do those until a month or two ago.

I had been doing so well for a few years, and everyone had placed pretty high expectations on me (especially my math teacher who has a really wrong way of going about things but doesn't realize she's only doing harm and the entire class collectively hates her both as a teacher and a person but that's a whole other can of worms). Which weren't that difficult to live up to. Until recently.

It was quickly becoming a harder and harder extra-curricular activity, while I was also losing interest in it. Suddenly, it wasn't so easy anymore. Suddenly, there were people better than me. Suddenly, I wasn't that gifted anymore.

I've been meaning to pursue art as a career so it was a matter of time to give up competitive maths. And after a few breakdowns at the most random of times, I did. And I’m glad. The school year hasn't started yet but I'm trying to make it a good one!

(Also, since it kinda fit the question – there are only two quotes from fiction that have ever moved me. And one is All Might's If you compare someone at Level 1 to someone at Level 50, then the pace at which they grow is completely different!” /End of Term Exams/ – I've told myself that, I've said it to other people, and it has actually helped me get through some insecure periods of my life!)


FtfanDessarai (guest) on AO3 asks:

Favorite ships and their moments?

Not sure if you meant HeroAca ships only or just in general so I'll take it as the latter!

From BNHA, I actually don't have a ship that I go out of my way to look for content for and that I ship like crazy but I like just about anything that's popular (and don't mind most other ships too!)

My favorites, in no particular order, are: IzuOcha (OG for sure, loved the scenes they had in the Provisional License Exam! Also, the last school arc in the manga had that one great moment too!); TodoDeku (because come on, those two are so cute any time they're on screen together); KiriBaku (literally wouldn't mind if it became canon lol; 'It has to be you, Kirishima!’ and the following hand grabbing was golden); KamiJiro (again, any time they appear together really, since I love their casual interactions!); Kacchako (blame Tumblr for this one. Their interactions! Adorkable! There's some NEAT fanart for those two as well!! I once thought one of them was actually from the anime! It wasn’t!!) Last one's kinda random but – Kamui Woods and Mt. Lady – they need more screen time together for me to be able to choose a scene though...

In terms of other series, I'll try to keep it brief but-

The first thing I ever really shipped was Allen x Lenalee from D.Gray-man! I've read dozens of fanfcitions for them – actually, it was through that ship that I even discovered fanfiction to begin with! Fave moment is definitely Chapter 205. Like. Yes. So much yes.

This next one's a recent fave – Toru and Kyo from the Fruits Basket Remake! I haven't seen the original adaptation, nor read the manga but that scene where *spoilers for Episode 14* he was feeling all guilty and stuff and then he bent down while she was still asleep – don't you DARE play with my heartstrings like that!! Agh!!!

Yato and Hiyori from Noragami too! Again, OG but! Fave moment is the Capybara Land chapter/OVA! Too. Darn. Cute. Or the end of Season 2 – that was really good too!!

Ymir and Historia from Attack on Titan!! I just- they're the best ship ever!! I can't even. Fave moment? The entire second season, to be honest. Especially when Ymir revealed that something, something to everyone (avoiding spoilers here)...

There’s a few more but since I don’t wanna bore you any further, I’ll just throw in two more: Yumeko and Suzui from Kakegurui, and Mutsuki and Urie from Tokyo Ghoul:re!

Thank you for reading through that madness that were my very strong and passionate feelings about a whole bunch of ships, hehe...


Kirasms on Wattpad asks:

Is it hard to keep up with a consistent update schedule? And do you have a designated time for writing?

Well, as the great Todoroki once said – 'It depends!' (Referring to Kota and what Midoriya should do to help him. I don't know, it was just funny.)

On one hand, having to physically sit down and write something every week does create some frustration. There are weeks when I have zero motivation and it shows. Then there are weeks when I am full of motivation. And it shows. Of course, whenever I need motivation, I scroll through all you guys' kind comments and sometimes when I post a new chapter, I'm absolutely overwhelmed by your support so thank you so, so much

On the other hand, I know that if I weren't posting with a consistent schedule, I'd barely get anything done. I'd only write when I have motivation, but then I'd feel guilty not writing if I have free time. All in all, this is the best option for me, for sure.

And yes – I do have a specific time! I typically write on weekends. Usually, I start outlining (aka planning what's gonna happen in a chapter in a little notebook where I write a brief outline of it) my next chapter on Friday or Saturday, and then write it either on Saturday or Sunday. Sometimes I get lazy and put it off for Monday or Tuesday but I still manage. (By the way, I always write one week ahead so you guys can get a preview – that's the only reason why my deadline to write the chapter is always Tuesday!)

Of course, now that it's summer break, I'm a little more loose with this schedule. I sometimes start earlier, but more often than not, write on Monday because I know I don't have school so I should have enough time.


Pokelover on Quotev asks:

Do you regret any scene with Atsuhi and other characters or any of her backstory?

Hehe, well, if you look closely, there are a few little slip-ups here and there – Atsuhi freezing the melted ice cubes in Chapter 1 of Book 2 when she supposedly can't use her Quirk on liquids is one such example. There's another one or two that I know are there but can’t list off the top of my head. That's stuff I regret but it happens to everyone so I haven't gone back to fix it.

In terms of other scenes, hmmm... This is not exactly a scene, but the sheer amount of time I spent on the Midoriya vs. Shinso and Uraraka vs. Bakugo fights in the Sports Festival bugs me, because I should've just skimmed over them.

Overall – yeah, small regrets here and there but nothing major so far. Also, I absolutely LOVE Atsuhi's backstory (that sounds bad considering its nature) so absolutely none there!


pokelover on Quotev asks:

What was your inspiration for Atsuhi and the story?

FtfanDessarai (guest) on AO3 asks:

What inspired you to create Atsuhi?

PheonixBird06 on Quotev asks :

Was there anything that inspired you to write these books, and if so what was it?

Oh boy – here’s the first ridiculously long one!

First of all, she was my seventh OC and the fourth to be shipped with a canon character (though the others were all from different fandoms). I just had/still have a habit of creating characters for the series I really like and more often than not, shipping them with my favorite character in said series!

That's why, when I was presented with HeroAca, a series that I enjoyed immensely (I watched it while the second season was about 3/4ths done, and the week I finally caught up, the anime was on break so I caved in and read the manga in the one week before the anime returned. It was wild), which just so happened to have a very open world with so many possibilities! I couldn't NOT make a character.

That's how that began. But back then, I still wasn't sure who my favorite character was (I thought it was going to be Todoroki! Cause, you know – he was a super gorgeous Zuko but voiced by Yuki Kaji!! Yuki Kaji, you guys!! So I held off on the idea.

When I was reading the Training Camp and Kamino Arcs though, Bakugo officially became my fave for sure. Also, aside from very loose ideas about the Sports Festival, those were the first arcs where I really thought how to include her! So the stuff you're seeing in this arc are actually about two years old now! And that's how Atsuhi was born! (And apparently her name was going to be Hikari at some point?)

The inspiration for her story on the other hand, was pretty weird. So! I've always wanted to try writing! The first time I seriously thought about it, was when I was obsessed with my Attack on Titan OC (shipped with Levi, go figure)! I tried writing (in my first language) – I wrote the first 6 chapters of her story, though they were about 1000 words each, so a lot shorter than these here. And then I must've lost interest because I stopped.

A year or so later, Atsuhi was created. About half a year after I first thought of her, I was still obsessed with HeroAca so I thought – you know, maybe I'll be into this for a while (sike, it's been 2 years already – I was right!)

This part's kinda cool now. As I said, I'd figured out this current arc here before any other ones. And towards the end of it, there's this really beautiful scene/pretty much whole chapter between Bakugo and Atsuhi. It was my favorite thing I had come up with for her. One day, I thought – why don't I... try writing it?

Though it took a few sittings over a couple of weeks, I did write it in the end! It was about 5000-6000 words and I was so proud of it, I made it into a little physical book(let) to flip through. It was in my first language and I can't read it without cringing anymore but I'm really looking forward to rewriting that in a few weeks!

Anyway, shortly after that, I decided to write Atsuhi's whole story and um... here we are, I guess?

An alternative reason is that there weren't many Bakugo xOC or xReader stories out there that ever reached up to these arcs to begin with, so you know what they say – write what you want to read! (Or – if you want it done right, do it yourself lol)


Gigi asks:

What author (on Quotev or irl) is your biggest role model?

Oooh, yeah, about that – I haven't been reading all that much since I started writing this story for some reason (only reading for new fandoms I get into, when I rediscover my love for a different series, or occasionally rereading an old fave)... But – the two authors that have probably inspired me most are-

LadysDaze (on Wattpad, Quotev, and AO3) – if you haven't read her stuff yet, I totally recommend you do it asap! She writes a few other characters too, but is primarily a Bakugo author as well! Love the way she writes characters and her worldbuilding for her AUs is delightful too! (I totally recommend you check out Blood Bond, by the way – it's my favorite work of hers!)

And CrowsBeforeHoes/Marisandre (only on Quotev) – now, her stuff might not appeal to all of you as she writes Levi x Reader’s. And even though I don't read Levi stories anymore, I'd gladly read anything new she posts (yeah, she’s on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, I guess?) cause it's just that good! Awesome characterisation, super believable dialogue and freaking jaw-dropping AUs. Like, I love them! ('Queenie' is my personal favorite! But ‘Wendigo’ is super intriguing thus far too!)

(There’s a ton of other stories I adore out there but these are the only two authors that I actually look up to a lot! In terms of non-fanfiction type of stuff, I can’t really say as I… am ashamed to admit I barely read anything else… And I definitely haven’t read enough to choose favorites...)


Jennypenny on Quotev asks:

How do you make a good OC that isn't super overpowered or too weak? I want to make sure mine are at least fit for any anime/show I watch.

Strap in, because I can ramble about this for ages. Of course, I'm no expert but I have created a handful of OCs so I'd say I've somehow got the hang of it by now (not to brag, but there's 18 of them. I'm literally not bragging, I need help. That's too many.)

Naturally, your best friend is canon, even though you're trying to create something of your own. Once you've got a good grasp on how that works, I actually recommend reading some fanfiction!

It's not something you'll always feel like doing but I've lost count how many times reading someone else's story has given me inspiration to add a fun concept to a character (I once read a Fullmetal Alchemist story where the main character's name was Elizabeth but everyone called her Liz. I loved the name and later gave it to my Attack on Titan OC!) Of course, you have to make doubly sure you're just taking inspiration and not straight-up ripping off another person's idea! But that’s probably a concern for later!

Reading fanficion is also a good way to gauge what works and what doesn't, at least in your opinion. Did you feel the character seemed overpowered in that one story? Try to compare them to the character of that other story where you felt the character's abilities where extremely well-balanced and find the difference. Is it their number of special moves? Is it their ability (or lack there of) to defeat a certain opponent? It's a good way to see what seems fitting and what's very out of place.

My next piece of advice would be to then also compare it to canon. Duh.

Take the main character. Most of the time, the main character will not be the strongest in their own story – as HeroAca is right now, you could argue that both Todoroki and Bakugo are stronger than Midoriya. But more often than not, there's a reason these characters are stronger. Todoroki is the son of the number two hero, trained under extreme circumstances from a very young age. Bakugo was a natural-born genius who just so happened to get lucky and get a crazy strong Quirk he has continuously trained for years.

Is your character just a timid school girl who claims she's not very good with her Quirk yet can easily beat Midoriya or even Bakugo in a fight? Then something might be fishy here.

Even more important than that though, is how they fare against their opponents. I'd say that's the deciding factor in whether a character is well-balanced or not.

Let's go back to HeroAca for another example.

Nomus are generally pretty strong. But let's focus on the black one from USJ. Your character should not, under any circumstances, be able to defeat that thing at the time of the USJ Arc. Why, you may wonder?

It took All Might 300 punches. Sure, he was weakened. But that was still All Might. (The only other student who even came close was Todoroki, and even then the Nomu regenerated its lost limbs pretty quickly. Heck, it almost killed Bakugo!)

Let's move on to a different villain – Stain. Can your OC defeat him in a 1v1 with no outside help and just the use of their abilities and Quirk? If yes, then that’s probably a red flag too.

While all injured to different extents, it still took the combined efforts of Midoriya, Todoroki, and Ida to immobilize him. A single character being able to defeat them sounds a little too OP.

But let's take a look at the other end of the spectrum – a character that's too weak.

Your character still needs to be able to stand their ground in a fight. By the time they enter UA, they need to be able to defeat the robots from the Entrance Exam (Gimmick could or could not be included in that count – that’s your call). They need to be able to defeat some random small villains who showed up at USJ with Shigaraki and co. as well.

Basically, the point that I'm taking way too long to make is – choose how strong your character is relative to the canon characters. Here's a quick, one-sentence example for Atsuhi:

She's weaker than Bakugo and Todoroki, close in abilities to Midoriya though perhaps a little weaker (especially at the start of the series), and stronger than, say, Aoyama. This could also be visualised like this: Bakugo=Todoroki>Midoriya>=Atsuhi>Aoyama.

And here’s what all of this means! Atsuhi would lose a 1v1 against Todoroki. Meaning, if Todoroki cannot defeat Stain, neither can she. On the other hand, a fight between her and Midoriya would be a close call. So most opponents he can win against, should be a plausible win for her too! Of course, that also means that she should be able to defeat just about anyone Aoyama can as well!

Lastly, in terms of Quirk and other specific abilities!

First of all, come up with a basic concept for them! (Or if you're not making a HeroAca character, this can be their magic, their fantasy weapon, or even their brand of hand-to-hand combat – Atsuhi aside, I've got an OC with magic based on colors, and even one who lives in a regular world with few fantasy elements about it so her 'unique ability' is her nack for swift movements and using a switch-blade whenever she needs an actual weapon.)

Next up – you have to realize that initial concepts are just that – initial concepts! Atsuhi's initial concept means she can set anything on fire and do all sorts of crazy stuff with liquids and gases. They have no apparent weaknesses! Color magic girl can use the power of any (basic) color which essentially grants her more than 10 different kinds of magic. The other girl's so good at dodging, she can easily defeat any opponent as long as she avoids their attacks while closing in on them like the badass that she is.

Third- now break their legs! Or, to sound more humane – give them drawbacks! This is the trickiest part.

On one hand, you have to give them enough drawbacks to prevent them from being able to achieve things which they shouldn't be able to do in the first place. But on the other, you have to make sure they can still fight and don't need someone to save their butt every time.

Atsuhi suddenly has limiters on the temperatures she can achieve and can only control those of solid objects. But she can still use her Quirk on people and the temperatures she can reach are such that she hardly ever needs anything more extreme. Now she has a drawback yes, but it’s a drawback that doesn’t make her abilities completely useless!

Color magic girl suddenly realizes she has to study long and hard about each type of color magic before she can use it. But there are some real easy beginner colors, plus she loves reading about that stuff!

Badass switch-blade girl has some trauma and freezes on the spot if she sees a gun pointed at her. But even then, her self-preservation kicks in, and she can book it if things are looking too bad for her, gun be damned.

To sum this up as best I can – your best bet is to observe what works in both canon and fanon! You essentially have to learn from the masters. In this case however, the masters are simply the people whose work you enjoy most!

All in all, character creation is a tricky subject. The more characters you create, the more you realize they'll vary. Some will turn out very weak and need constant help to get by. Others will be up among some of the strongest characters even among the ones from canon. Few will hit the spot just right.

And that's okay. We make characters to enjoy ourselves. If you wanna write a total badass that kicks butt with their bare hands – go ahead and do it, I'm sure there is a way to make it work.

Then again, I totally understand the struggle of wanting a well-balanced character too... I already gave some pretty generic advice here. But I love talking about this kind of stuff (even if I have a hard time putting my thoughts down properly and end up rambling and constantly jumping to different topics)!

So, if any of you have any further questions about creating characters and whatnot – feel absolutely welcome to drop me a message on any site you're comfortable with (again, I'm Iya5RT literally everywhere except for Instagram) and I'll gladly share any info or opinions I have!


 

Section Two – End + Another Small Break!

Atsuhi: How's the most handsome hero in the world doing?

Bakugo: *without looking up from the table* I don't know, how are you?

Atsuhi: *voice cracking* I'm fine.


 

Atsuhi, thinking: I just need someone to be my friend. Maybe send me an angel. The nicest angel you have.

*cut to Bakugo cackling like a demon in the middle of an explosion he created*


 

Bakugo: What are you doing?

Atsuhi: [standing on a chair]: I live here, you know. I can stand wherever I want, thank you very much.

Bakugo:

Bakugo: Where's the spider?

Atsuhi: It's under the table. Please get it for me, please-


 

Atsuhi: *trips on air*

Bakugo: haha you are so clumsy

[later when Atsuhi is not around]

Bakugo, punching the air: Who do you think you are, who THE FUCK DO YOU THINK-


 

Section Three – Iya Gets All Sappy. Again

Honestly, I was gonna keep this special short. But screw that. I know some probably didn’t make it all the way here (or didn’t read absolutely everything anyway) – and that’s totally okay! Honestly, the fact that you guys are even here in the first place is so crazy to me!

I’m actually being smart for once, and writing everything a few days before posting it so the reality of it all hasn’t really dawned on me yet. I’ve already thanked you all numerous times for the support, whether it be just by reading the story, or going the extra mile to leave a comment and everything – it’s all meaningful, trust me

But it is… well, crazy. I’ll probably use this word a lot today.

Two years ago, I watched this one show that I liked quite a lot. Soon enough, I was obsessed with it.

One year ago, I was celebrating Atsuhi’s first birthday. I drew this really cool thing in my sketchbook.

BAM – Here it is!

Then I took a sheet of paper from some notebook I found, and I wrote the sappiest thing ever, where I freaked out over how important Atsuhi had ended up being for me.

At the time, I was nearing the end of all my preparations to post ‘Explosive Touch’ - to post my writing for the first time ever! I never realized what an important part of my life that would prove to be! I’m going to write an updated version of that sappy message in my sketchbook today, just for me to read back and reminisce over.

But yeah – seriously crazy. I know few authors go as far and get as wordy with their sappiness so perhaps that’s something I should stop doing too? For now though – here’s 10 000 words purely celebrating my OC’s birthday. Damn. Wild.

Also, I wanted to thank you all one last time – obviously for everything, but specifically for submitting all your questions too! They were a blast to answer, and I’m so honored to know people actually want to learn more about Atsuhi, Katsuhi, or even me! I know some might be shorter than you hoped, I apologize but the chapter’s already long enough as is – I promise, it wasn’t out of spite or anything! Seriously, I wish you guys all the best, please stay awesome, and one last time – thank you!

(See you all next Tuesday for a pretty climactic and dramatic chapter – hope you’re excited!♥♥♥)

Chapter Text

"Where is Bakugo then?"

Those had been Uraraka's dreadful words that had sent the small group in a fit of panic, upon the untimely realization that the person they were supposed to be protecting was, in fact, now gone.

Gone and taken by a peculiar villain clad in a long orange coat, as black gloves covered his hands, and a mask obscured his face, his whole appearance reminiscent of that of a performer at a low-earning traveling circus.

More important than his attire however, were the three small spheres he held in his hands, twirling them between his fingers, his voice giving the impression he was smirking, even when his mouth was anything but visible.

"You kids have all your values chosen for you... All we want to do is to show him that there are other ways..." the villain spoke, all while dodging Todoroki's ice blast with ease. Meanwhile, Izuku could only stare at him, unable to utter a word through the shock he felt, nor move his body into action due to his numerous wounds.

"It's not just Bakugo... Tokoyami and Saeki are both gone too!" Shoji made the next scary realization, perhaps giving a clue as to what the three spheres in the villain's hand might have been.

"Those three were at the rear... And he took them without a sound," Todoroki mused, a cold bead of sweat running down the side of his head.

The ones at the back...?

No, why would they do that? If they were only after Kacchan...

Tokoyami-kun... and even Atsuhi-san – what do they want with those two!?

"Ah, I apologize but it's a bad habit of mine," the villain spoke again, earning himself five shocked glares. "I'm an entertainer at heart, you see."

He landed on a tree branch further away from the group, twirling the spheres between his gloved fingers a few more times, before hiding them in his closed fist.

"It is true that capturing Bakugo was our priority. Tokoyami on the other hand? That was just improvisation on my part. For him to take down Moonfish – you know, the old 'blade-tooth', a death row inmate, with such ease – that's one impressive Quirk! Ah, and that Saeki girl – just an added bonus! 'Try to capture her too, if you can' – those were Shigaraki's instructions. Among calling her an annoying brat for apparently burning his wrists."

Izuku's eyes were wider than they'd ever been before. No way what he was saying was true... No way they were going to lose them so quickly.

"We’re just taking her to, you know, make 'negotiations' a little easier on our side." Those were the last of the villain’s words Izuku could take before he snapped.

They're taking Atsuhi-san because of Kacchan-

"We won't let you have them!!!" he screamed, as if he could actually do something with his shattered arms and beat up body.

Another ice attack followed, the villain avoiding it yet again. He moved a hand to his ear and spoke in what must've been a communication device, announcing to the rest of the 'Vanguard Action Squad' ,as he had called it, that its mission had been accomplished.

No!

No, no, no!!

There's no way...

There's no way we'll let these jerks get away!!

We're going to save them!!


 

But alas, fate had other plans.

Not letting them get away? Saving their friends?

As if.

Midoriya was the first of the three to fall, his injuries getting the better of him in the worst of times.

Now it was only Todoroki and Shoji reaching out to the three captured students.

Shoji was the first of the two to succeed, his strong hand grasping the sphere closest to him, as he too fell to the ground soon after. Now the captured were down to two.

Next was Todoroki, his goal a mere stretch of his hand away.

Yet, it was as if the two slipped right past his fingertips, instead snatched away by the black-haired and covered in burns Dabi, who smirked victoriously back at the boy.

Moments after this, Atsuhi's senses and awareness began returning at last.

First, she felt the nothingness beneath her feet, as her body materialized in the air, the ground left a little ways below.

Next, she saw the horrified faces looking towards her, eyes full of fear and regret, yet bodies unable to move. Soon enough, she felt a few presences beside and behind her, while her peripheral vision saw nothing but a swirling black mass, ready to swallow her whole.

This all happened in a single short second, which moved in slow motion, along with her wild thoughts, quickly helping her piece together the identity of the presences around her – the villains who'd attacked them, and the black mass that surrounded her, more accurately described as the same teleportation Quirk they'd first witnessed during the incident at USJ.

The very same short second continued with a hard push connecting with her side, as her body moved from the force, now falling not backwards, but towards the ground instead – away from the portal opened behind her.

And then, the slow motion was suddenly cut short.

Instead, everything returned to real time, when a hand locked its tight grip upon her upper arm, long before she could fall.

"Not so fast," the black-haired villain smirked, his smooth voice oozing the satisfaction of victory. The grip around Atsuhi's arm tightened and he pulled her up, holding her with one hand, while his other hand had taken hold of a certain ash blond's throat.

A certain ash blond by the name of Bakugo, who might have sported the most regretful eyes of the entire bunch, and whose arm was raised with his elbow out, as if he'd just tried shoving somebody away. As if he'd just tried shoving Atsuhi away.

Soon enough, the world faded once again, this time enveloped by an ever-encompassing black, as Atsuhi's mind finally managed to form even a single coherent thought.

We... lost?

Yet this time, the dark only lasted for a short while, first shaken away by a dull pain and a thud that echoed around a small and stuffy room.

Wah-

Atsuhi's body hit the ground, her back pressing up against something warm and soft, the gears in her mind quickly turning and making her conclude she had tumbled down beside Bakugo from the portal up above.

Blinking a few times, she noticed the villains landing in the small room (a lot more gracefully than she had), and moving to surround the two. Her head turned, eyes shooting to look at Bakugo, whose crimson orbs had turned towards her too, their gazes meeting as they nodded at each other.

I think I know what's happening right now...

Why am I here too though...? I... honestly wish I could know.

For now however, this is the best option – if Bakugo-kun isn't by himself, there might be a chance for escape...

I couldn't protect him while we were still in the forest.. I have to make it up to him somehow now!

In the blink of an eye, the two were up on their feet and standing back to back, battle poses at the ready, as the villains looked at them cautiously, though they too remained unmoving.

The small noises of explosions, coming from somewhere behind her, were all Atsuhi needed to know Bakugo was already long prepared to use his Quirk, her own hands rising as she prepared to activate her own ability too.

"What do you think you're doing...?" Those were the first words spoken to break the silence which had befallen the villain's hideout. Their blue-haired leader – Shigaraki Tomura, stood still, his face once again covered by a hand, unlike the last time Atsuhi had had the misfortune of encountering him at the shopping mall.

Only now did she realize the words he had said back then – 'We'll see each other very soon.’ were meant more literally than she'd ever wanted to believe.

"I don't know what the hell it is you want," Bakugo began, his voice making it sound like he was grinning through his nervousness, though Atsuhi knew he must've been just as afraid as she was. "But you can be damn sure you ain't gonna get it!!" he raised his voice – an action more than enough to act as the signal the girl had been waiting for.

Even in a situation like this... I still trust Bakugo-kun's calls, huh...?

As if in sync, the two moved in to attack, Atsuhi's ears soon tuning out the sound of the constant explosions behind her. She made a swift dash towards the two opponents in her field of view, ducking to confuse them, before grabbing the arm of the green-skinned, lizard-like masked villain, and using her Quirk on him until he began squirming.

She shoved his body (much bigger than her own) to the side with all the strength she could muster, just in time to duck and avoid the blade thrust her away by the fellow blonde high-school girl with messy buns and a big grin on her face.

When the villain moved to retrieve her knife, Atsuhi hopped back up and gripped her wrist, keeping both it and the knife away, while her other arm went to grab her shoulder and push her opponent back before she could do any real damage.

She would've used her Quirk on her too, if it weren't for the deranged girl jumping back and keeping her distance upon realizing she didn't want to meet the same fate as her fellow villain, still lying on the ground and only barely lifting up an arm to push himself upright again.

Now's my chance – Bakugo-kun!!

She took her attention off the two villains for only a second, eyes frantically scanning for the ash blond whose explosions still resounded across the room.

While those two are down – I need to help him on his side too! At this rate, we might even be able to really esca-

Thomp.

A situation all too familiar.

Wha-

Atsuhi's heart began beating faster and faster, her mind running wild, yet no thoughts really forming.

She stood frozen still, a single hand placed upon the top of her head, soon followed by another hand finding its place on her trembling shoulder.

Bakugo must have noticed the sudden lack of movement in his peripheral vision, as his attacks also ceased. His body mirrored that of Atsuhi by freezing in place at first, though only taking a second or so to compose himself and hide his panicked expression.

No, no, no…!!

I... got caught so easily...

I'm... I'm so...

"That's right," Shigaraki spoke, interrupting the silence that had once again settled in, once Bakugo's explosions had come to an end. "It's the end of the tutorial level – now the real game begins."

Atsuhi was sure she would've long crumbled to the ground, her shaking legs refusing to support her body any longer. Yet the adrenaline running through her body gave her the strength she needed to listen to her self-preservation instincts and stay right where she was, in fear that the smallest of movements might cause her captor to harm her in the blink of an eye. An action she knew he was all too capable of.

An action she knew he had every reason to take, if the burn marks in the shape of slender fingers wrapped around his right wrist were anything to go by.

"Now, lower your hands," Shigaraki commanded, and though Bakugo glared at him, he knew he had no choice but to comply, balling his hands into fists by his sides. Shigaraki seemed to smirk in satisfaction, despite the disembodied hand still obscuring his whole expression.

"Ah, looks like we were right," he muttered, as his grip around Atsuhi's shoulder tightened, yet one finger still remained up in the air.

Right... about what?

Does he mean that Bakugo-kun listened to him...?

"Just like that," he began again. "You keep listening to me."

The boy's glare only hardened, yet he made no move to oppose the villain, shooting a brief glance at Atsuhi, as both stood face to face, yet unable to move even to the door just a small leap away from them.

The girl gulped, gritting her teeth, as her brows furrowed in frustration, and she spoke in a small voice.

"Bakugo-kun... I'm... I'm so sorry-"

"Now, now!" Yet the voice beside her started up again, startling her and cutting her words off far too quickly. "You two are our honorable guests!"

He moved a single step forward, his tight grip forcing Atsuhi to move with him, as her heart almost leaped out of her chest any time one of Shigaraki's lifted fingers even so much as barely brushed against her hair or shoulder.

"We have to make sure you settle in accordingly..."


 

"It seems we can assume the villains occupy more than a single hideout," the black-haired police officer, Tsukauchi, announced in front of the multitude of impressive pro heroes gathered all around him. "That being said, we'll be sending the bulk of our personnel to the location of the abducted students. Retrieving the hostages is our top priority!"

Ryuu Saeki took deep breaths to calm his racing heart, as his dark green eyes scanned around the room and spent a brief second on the face of each and every high-ranked hero and member of the police force that surrounded him.

Why was his heart beating so fast though?

Under any other circumstances, he was absolutely sure it would've been an obvious answer – he was standing in the presence of many heroes he'd admired even through his own career, now breathing the same air as him, and, even more so – about to work on the same operation with him.

Yet today, that was no cause for celebration. Today was not the day that he had dreamed of.

It was a day he never realized might come. A day he wasn't yet prepared for.

Today, his heart beat out of nothing but concern.

A set of heavy footsteps soon approached him, the looming frame of All Might coming into view. Ryuu wanted to do something – to express his gratitude, his admiration, even squeal like a little child meeting its life-long idol. But of course, he couldn't bring himself to do it.

All Might cleared his throat and spoke, his voice much lower and more serious than normal, a dire face concealing his iconic smile.

"Lava Floor, as a fellow hero, I want to thank you – for your understanding and for your decision to take part in this rescue operation," he began, Ryuu's eyes widening in their lack of ability to comprehend that he had just received words of gratitude from the number one hero. "I also want to apologize – from my own name, but from that of Eraser Head and UA, too. What happened is unforgivable. Yet I hope you find it in you to forgive us."

Wait, he's-

All Might straightened his muscular arms by his side, bending his body down in a deep bow, earning himself and Ryuu the shocked stares of a handful witnesses, yet attracting many more that looked on at his actions in sympathy.

"Thank you, I..." Ryuu began, unsure of what to say. "But… there really is no need to bow, nor tp apologize..." At that, All Might finally lifted up his head, which was then followed by the rest of his torso, as he now towered above Lava Floor once more.

"This is something I would've done regardless if you'd asked me to or not. I simply cannot stay still. It's my daughter and her friend we're talking about here!" Ryuu spoke, a tired smile on his face, one that still expressed the worry he felt, while also giving light to the gleam of hope still shining in his heart. All Might gave a weary chuckle too, putting a hand on the brown-haired man's shoulder.

"Just like Young Saeki, you also smile and try to assure others too! It's good to see where she's picked up that habit from! Like father, like daughter," All Might's voice boomed, lifting up the heavy atmosphere, if only by a little.

They exchanged a few more words, geared closer towards strategy this time, and All Might was once again on his way, moving to talk to a short elderly hero in the room, unknown even to Lava Floor himself, yet enlisted to help with the rescue operation nonetheless.

Then again, I doubt many in this room know who I am either...

They're sending all their top forces here, and somehow I'm a part of it all too.

Ryuu lowered his head, closing his eyes and furrowing his brows, hoping to stop the wild and heart-wrenching scenarios from running through his mind.

Agh, that's just unbearable.

I feel so hopeless.

If it were my call, I'd storm this place right this instant and run to get her and give her a big tight hug right now!

...

But... I can't do that. I can't do it as things are right now, let alone if I were by myself.

Please... I pray to anyone who'd listen – I would give everything, everything I have!

Just...

Just make sure Atsuhi is safe and sound...

That's all I ask for.

Return my daughter to me alive.

Please... I beg of you!

And Atsuhi – I'm so, so sorry.

I wish that there was something I could've done. But in the end, there wasn't.

All I can promise right now, is that I'm not going to lose you too.

I couldn't save your mother. Please, at least allow me to save you.

I cannot live if I lose you as well.


 

The girl's eyes watched Bakugo, who sat in a big and undoubtedly very uncomfortable chair he was strapped to with all kinds of different restraints. His head hung low, that spiky ash blond hair of his obscuring the view of his face.

But even still, Atsuhi could tell he had his eyes pointed at the floor, glaring at the surface beneath his feet, knowing he was helpless.

And Bakugo Katsuki hated feeling helpless.

Every once in a while, he'd lift his head, either to point his glare at one of the villains all around him, or to take a second to check up on Atsuhi herself. It was in one of those brief moments that the girl caught a proper glimpse of his crimson eyes, only to again take notice that no matter how he tried to give himself the tough appearance and bear it all in silence, he too was afraid.

Of course, that's only normal...

It was supposed to be just Training Camp, some fun, a Test of Courage and whatnot.

How did we end up here in the first place...?

...

I... I was going to do it today...

I was going to tell him everything...

I don't even know what time it is anymore.

It feels like we've been here for hours, so it surely must be the next day already.

Which means it's... it's my...

...

No, no, no! Not like that, Atsuhi!

It's fine! You said you were gonna do it and you will!

But not here, not like this. We're both making it out of here as soon as possible.

The moment we're safe, the moment we're out of harm's way – that's when I'll do it.

It... has to be today...

She shook her head, shutting her eyes tight to shake off any more unpleasant thoughts.

Her heart was thumping and her hands were shaking.

So far, it seems like they want to convince Bakugo-kun to join them... But there's no way I'm here for the same reason.

Atsuhi knew something wasn't right. Not only was she never even mentioned as one of the villains' targets, but, unlike Bakugo, she got a slightly different treatment.

She sat on the floor, legs up against her body, as her back leaned on the bar, facing the ash blond himself, with just a few short meters of distance between them.

Her legs were free, but her hands were tied up tightly, her binds sure to leave bruise marks if she ever took them off at all. And though restrained, she was sure that she could use her Quirk if she ever wanted to.

That's when the fellow high-school girl leaning up against her came in. Toga, as Atsuhi had heard the rest referring to her as, hung on the strawberry blonde's back, arms draping around her shoulders, as if she were merely giving her a hug.

Of course, that's not what she's doing.

She's here to make sure that I don't escape or use my Quirk on anyone again.

Even though I can still use my Quirk on two of them, I... I can't....

Because unlike Bakugo-kun, I don't really think they need me alive.

Unlike him, they'll probably kill me if I tried something funny.

I... I have no choice but to comply...

It's so... so frustrating...

"Now that you're all settled in, it's time to get down to business," Shigaraki began, only earning himself a sharp glare from Bakugo. Of course, the villain merely shrugged it off and continued his speech from the bar stool where he sat right between the two abducted students. "Bakugo Katsuki – wanna join me?"

A heavy silence fell upon the room, only broken by the muffled sound of traffic somewhere far outside. Both students knew what it was the villains wanted. And now that it all was out in the open, Bakugo smirked, yet unable to hide the bead of sweat running down the side of his head.

"You can shove that offer up your ass, and go to hell!"

B-Bakugo-kun!?

Atsuhi wanted to ask him what he was even thinking saying something like this, she wanted to talk to him, maybe tell him to be cautious, maybe encourage him to mind his words. But the less attention she drew to herself, the better. Instead, she remained sitting on the ground with her concerns unvoiced.

This time around, the room was engulfed in silence very briefly (though the lack of movement or response from Shigaraki was certainly unnerving), before the sound of squeaking from the only occupied bar stool resounded, followed by the dauntingly slow footsteps of the League of Villain's leader.

Bakugo's eyes suddenly widened in concern, following Shigaraki's movements, as he turned his back to him and walked towards the ash blond's fellow classmate. Only now did Atsuhi realize things weren't looking good.

"Oi, oi, oi – what the hell do you think you're-"

"Ah, so now you start to pay attention?" Shigaraki interrupted Bakugo's frustrated words, turning to supposedly look at him (only a single bright red eye peeking through the fingers of the hand covering his face), before motioning for Toga to move out the way, the girl complying with a sour pout.

By this point, Atsuhi's heart had begun beating so loud, it drowned out any other sound around her, and she knew that if she were to try and speak, her racing worries wouldn't let her form a single word.

Shigaraki moved at an agonizingly slow rate, or at least that's how it felt like to the two students trembling in fear of his next move – an effect he seemed to be all too pleased to have on them. He knelt beside Atsuhi, making her head spin in worry when he moved his hands and slowly reached for her restraints.

Bakugo looked ready to jump up and the drag the chair he had been strapped to with him, if only to stop Shigaraki before he made another move. However, he probably knew that was perhaps more dangerous than simply observing his actions – for all he knew, Shigaraki wasn't planning on doing the girl any harm just yet. An intention that might just change as soon as the ash blond tried to make a move. Instead, Bakugo bared his teeth and made an almost inaudible growling noise. He could only hope it was the former.

Atsuhi, on the other hand, was frozen still, wide eyes tracing every movement of the villain's hands. She watched him grasp the rope tightly wrapped and tied around her wrists, closing his grip on it one finger at a time.

"The least you could've done is hear me out," he mumbled, his tone carrying a faked hint of hurt, but also ringing with the authority of someone who knew they'd get what they wanted one way or another. Finally, when all five of Shigaraki's fingers were wrapped around the rope, a quiet cackle sound resounded from it, and it crumbled to dust on the floor.

He... he decayed the rope...?

Why...

Atsuhi's heart had quieted down and now she felt much more aware of her surroundings. Though her hands were free, she didn't dare to move them yet, the villain's hand still lingering barely above her own. Instead, she gulped, and sat obediently still.

Is this it?

Was this all he wanted to do?

"I knew it would probably come to this." And with that, the girl's question had received its answer. Shigaraki moved again, four fingers wrapping around Atsuhi's trembling hand. Thus, the girl's frantic heartbeat accelerated once again.

"Oi, you bastard, stop-"

"Good thing we didn't bring you here alone," Shigaraki interrupted once again. Bakugo, on the other hand, didn't sit still anymore, pulling at his own restraints with all his might, though his attempts remained as futile as his calls.

The room wasn't silent anymore. And everything was moving way too quickly for Atsuhi’s mind to process.

Tightening the grip he had on her hand, Shigaraki pulled on it, making the girl raise her hand on his unspoken command, while the villain's other hand had moved to wrap itself around the girl's right wrist too.

Atsuhi could tell that there were tears forming at the corners of her eyes, watching on in ever-increasing horror, as the villain moved his fingers further down her hands, now touching not her wrists, but her palms instead.

Four fingers.

Suddenly, the fifth one made a move as well.

The girl had no time to think at all.

Because the moment she had seen his final finger move, it was already far too late.

A second later, he still held her hands, fingers laying on her palms.

"STOP-" But Bakugo had been too late as well.

Five fingers.

A piercing scream echoed through the small room.

•2 ̷̶3͘ ͞H͟o̷̶u̶̧͘r̡͠s̷̵͘ ͝͏͏I͏n̷͏•̸̶͠

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki's struggles had long ceased by now.

Instead, all he could do was stare with wide crimson eyes at the aftermath of the scene which had unfolded a mere few steps away from him. All the while, the scream that had cut off long ago still rung in his ears, the scene itself replaying with it, as if right before his eyes.

Shigaraki dropped the girl's small and trembling hand, and slowly got up from his crouching position beside her.

Meanwhile, Atsuhi curled upon herself the moment her hands had been set free of the villain's grip, her body on the floor looking even smaller. Her hair fell loosely over her face, hiding her expression and even the small cut on her cheek from the fight that had taken place before she and Katsuki had been abducted. But it couldn't quite muffle the small whimpers, interrupted by sharp yet quiet sobs and cries of pain, that still escaped the lips she was biting on hard in order to mask any such sounds, as she clutched her hands close to her chest, her whole body trembling violently.

No matter how he wished she wasn’t in such great pain right now, Katsuki could only assume she was also keeping her eyes shut tight, the tears streaming down her obscured cheeks.

A cold kind of rage swirled in his chest, the kind that only made him glare the hardest glare he could muster at the villain, while plotting his graphic murder in his head. Shigaraki stepped away from the girl beside his feet, ignoring her whimpers, and being careful not to step in the small pool of blood that had begun forming beside her, starting from where she was tightly clutching her hands, and slowly increasing in size with time.

"Now, let's try again, shall we?" Shigaraki spoke, and though his face was still obscured, Katsuki could sense the smirk in his tone from a mile away. He grit his teeth, an action which made an audible sound. But a sound that, much like Atsuhi's cries, went ignored and, if anything, served to fuel the villains' satisfaction even further.

It was all a not-at-all subtle sign that he had to listen. Listen and comply.

Shigaraki trusted Katsuki would know what would happen otherwise.

The villain took his silence as his cue to speak again.

"Heroes have it tough. It's unfair – how those who lose are never encouraged, and how those who are innocent suffer what they never deserved," Shigaraki explained, motioning with a small nod of his head towards the girl lying on the ground, while Toga stood beside her and observed her with that morbidly curious face of hers, eyes darting to the blood on the floor as if she'd go and have a taste of it if she could. "They can never win, can they?"

All the while, Katsuki's mind proved empty, with no thoughts of any overly-complicated plans, only a single goal ahead.

"And I know you love to win." Shigaraki made a dramatic pause, giving Katsuki just enough time to feign a reluctant compliance to help move the villain's plans along as quickly as he could. There was, after all, little time to lose. "Dabi," Shigaraki suddenly called. "Untie him."

Though a small argument ensued that Katsuki would immediately go wild once set free, the villains assumed he knew better than to try something funny like that, and Twice was appointed to remove Katsuki's restraints.

Twice moved in closer and carefully removed all the complicated equipment keeping the boy in place, then went to untie his feet too, as Katsuki rubbed at his sore wrists with a solemn expression on his face, and cast a quick but expecting glance at the wounded girl.

Perhaps he should've been surprised, but the moment he met Atsuhi's half-lidded and somewhat dazed green eyes, and saw the small nod she managed through the pain her face was contorted in, he realized how lucky he was.

When I said that you were strong...

I never said I wanted you to show me that when you were in so much pain...

Damn, Atsuhi... Just hold on a little longer.

Then, it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Because the moment Spinner and Toga began squirming for apparently no reason (of course, Katsuki knew better – it was Atsuhi that did it), he used the momentary distraction to send a powerful blast right at Shigaraki's face, knocking the hand that had covered his face all along down to the floor.

In the clearing smoke and shocked stares of the remaining villains, Katsuki made use of his now free legs and moved, stopping before the only partially conscious girl and standing in front of her protectively, as he turned to face the villains once again.

Way too soon for his liking, the remaining smoke had cleared and all eyes in the room were now on him. He smirked. But he hoped he was the only one who noticed it was the kind of smirk one showed only when their mind was going crazy and needed all the reassurance it could find. And although Atsuhi couldn't see it, he knew it was a hero's duty to smile to help others too.

But it was fine. She was going to see that 'smile' of his, no matter what.

I ain't letting it go any other way.

"No way to make me listen now, you shitheads!!" Katsuki cried, taking another small step back and closer to the girl at his feet. He cast her a brief glance, making sure not to take his eyes off the villains any longer than he had to.

If they pulled off a massive attack like that, all just to get me... There's no way they're gonna kill me... They need me.

And as long as I don't let them near Atsuhi, they can't hurt either of us.

Not any more than this anyway...

With every new thought, his confident smirk fell further and further. He clenched his fists tight, his nails leaving deep marks in his palms.

This is nothing compared to the pain she must be feeling right now. Those fucking bastards.

We have to get out of here. As soon as goddamn possible.

Yet another gritting of his teeth.

We don't have time...!


 

She could only see Bakugo's back, but she couldn't help but give a small smile, knowing he wasn't going to see it. She was glad she could help, even if only a little, her Quirk coming into use one more time.

And for all she knew – perhaps one final time.

She wondered if this was something she could ever hope to recover from.

Not that she had that kind of long-term plans anyway.

Right now, all that mattered was staying conscious long enough to maybe even get some help.

Through her messy bangs that fell over her face, she finally opened her tightly-shut eyes and peeked at the room.

All 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 dim room.

She could make out what she assumed to be Bakugo standing just before her, his body towering above hers but also making her feel much safer, even with his mere presence.

There were a handful of even blurrier people some ways away. But not one moved.

There were voices, though all remained muffled, conversing among each other somewhere in the distance. But within a room as small as this one, was there any distance to be had?

And though her sight and hearing remained dodgy, for reasons unknown, she could make out a sharp smell that pulled her attention away from her wandering thoughts, back to the dim room and dirty floor she lay and bled upon.

In an instant, the stale smell of old wood and the faint stench of alcohol attacked her senses.

And with the smell that brought her to reality, returned the pain as well.

Oh, the pain.

It hurt.

It hurt so badly.

So, so, so badly.

It was unbearable.

Every time she got hurt, she always thought it'd never get any worse.

She was sure today would be when this thought remains true.

Every nerve in her body was on edge, as her mind screamed for her to make it stop.

And yet, everything hurt like hell.

The bright red hue that stained the wooden floor she lay on and quickly soaked up in it, becoming an ugly brown color instead, trickled drop by drop from the hands she didn't even have the strength to clutch beside her chest any longer.

I didn't even see what happened.

I just... I just felt it...

I don't want to know what happened though.

If I look, I'll probably pass out for real... Not that I'm so far from that now anyway...

...

Ah, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

And yet it hurts so, so much that I can't even understand what hurts anymore...

Is it really all that selfish? To want us to get out of here so bad... Just so all this pain can stop...

Bakugo-kun, please... I'm begging you...

Suddenly, as if to break her non-existent piece, Atsuhi's hearing returned out of the blue as well. And aside from the faint ruffling of turning heads she could barely make out, the first actual words that she heard came from somewhere behind the closed door that served as the only barrier between the abducted students and the freedom they'd been denied.

"- mino Pizza Delivery!!" No sooner had the sentence sent a wave of confusion throughout the room, than the door had flown off it hinges and, creating a gigantic hole in the wall, a person jumped into the room.

In the next moment, all members of the League of Villains had found themselves immobilized, as restraints akin to wood branches wrapped around their bodies.

Though she lacked the strength to even gasp out loud, Atsuhi's eyes widened upon noticing the people entering the room one by one. Her vision hadn't really cleared yet, but even if by colors and assumptions alone, she could make out all the new arrivals.

All Might himself.

Kamui Woods.

A shorter hero clad in yellow she couldn't recognize.

Even Edgeshot.

And-

This time, she did gasp out loud, just as Bakugo turned towards her, back now facing the villains with no worries that they might attack again.

Atsuhi's sight became blurrier and blurrier, but not because of her slipping consciousness or overwhelming fear. Whether due to relief, or perhaps excruciating pain, tears welled up in her eyes. And upon the sight, she even managed to squeak out a single meek word.

"Dad..."


 

"Our young superstar – Kamui Woods! The speediest old guy we have – Gran Torino! And the long-time UA graduate hero and father – Lava Floor! There's nowhere left for you to run, League of Villains! Because we... are here!!"

A few simple sentences from All Might were all it took – both to make the villains feel as if they'd been defeated, and to give the heroes a boost of confidence, essential for the rescue operation's success. It truly felt like an honor – to even be mentioned in the same line as all those admirable heroes. But this was a matter of excitement for a different day.

Ryuu could tell the villains were surprised by their sudden appearance, no doubt being fooled by Aizawa's words during the conference which should have aired on TV just minutes prior. It was an essential tactic really – make your opponents think they're safe, and then strike just when they let their guard down.

But in a case such as this, even if their guard had not been lowered, the heroes surely would've had the advantage either way. With the team of five (including Edgeshot who had entered last) inside the hideout, and a handful of police officers, some other powerful heroes, and, last but not least, Endeavor himself, keeping watch outside to make sure no villain slips away unnoticed, it was as if they had it in the bag. The villains were simply surrounded.

Of course, now that the plan had finally been set into motion, Ryuu didn't give a damn anymore.

No, instead his eyes scanned the small and dimly-lit room, as his heartbeat accelerated with every passing second. It didn't take long before he spotted the head of ash blond spikes and the matching strawberry blonde locks that were slumped on the other person's shoulder.

Ryuu had noticed the two kids at the back of the room when he'd first walked in, and his heart had squeezed upon the realization that his daughter lay barely moving with a puddle of blood forming beside her. He could only guess that in the commotion that had ensued upon the heroes' arrival, Bakugo had picked Atsuhi up and lifted her on his back, probably taking the chance to make sure she was conscious too.

Ryuu wasted no time running over to the two students, followed closely by All Might too, though the latter's priority was warding off any who might try attacking, while the former had been tasked with making sure the hostages were alright.

"Hey, you're both fine now, we're finally here..." Ryuu spoke as he approached Bakugo, who at first looked on in confusion and took a cautious step back, arms tightening around the body of the girl he carried on his back. It was only after said girl muttered a barely audible word that he realized who he was looking at.

"Dad...!" Though weak, Atsuhi's voice was laced with relief. Bakugo's face lit up with recognition, likely laying eyes on the hero he'd used to admire for years for the first time in a while. In fact, he felt stupid for not recognizing even Lava Floor's costume, a suit much too similar to that of his daughter.

"Yeah, it's me. I told you, you're both safe now so don't worry. I'm so sorry. It must've been so hard for you. Thank you for holding out until now," Ryuu spoke, as he shot a concerned look at Atsuhi's pained face, his eyes then drifting down to the arms she had wrapped around Bakugo's shoulders, and then her hands which left a brownish stain where they barely touched the boy's black t-shirt.

"Oi, you heard that, right? Even All Might's here." Bakugo turned to say to Atsuhi, who in turn nodded weakly against his shoulder and lifted up her head to get a better look at the unfolding scene.

Ryuu's thoughts suddenly became even more worried, noticing his daughter's half-lidded eyes and her drowsy speech.

They weren't late. But he feared that the damage had been already done. Though he knew no amount of self-loathing and guilt were going to save their lives. They hadn't turned back time four years ago.

This time, there was no need to turn time yet. And he planned to make sure no such need was ever going to arise again.

Ryuu grit his teeth, but still put a hand on Atsuhi's back, giving her a gentle and reassuring squeeze as he leaned in closer to her and spoke in a hushed voice.

"It's okay. There's a few doctors outside, they'll fix you up in no time." He received a quiet hum of agreement from the girl. That didn't help the sinking feeling in his stomach that only grew, as the thought that the remaining scars were going to be more severe than he thought, plagued his mind.

He continued rubbing circles on his daughter's back when, upon noticing Bakugo looking at her in concern (which, if the stories he'd heard from Atsuhi were anything to go by, was not something he was willing to display for everyone), turned to give him a silent nod of gratitude for taking care of her as long as he had.

Since he wasn't sure whether it was okay to carelessly move Atsuhi around like that, Ryuu grabbed a small roll of bandages from the pouch of medical supplies attached to his costume's belt, and gently wrapped them around the girl's injured hands. He took care not to tighten them too much and upset her wounds, but also had to ward off any potential debris and dust to prevent infections.

However, although he was a hero, a person used to even the thought of death, both his and that of others, he couldn't help but frown at the sight. A situation not at all helped by the fact that it was his daughter's injuries he was looking at. He knew that he could only trust in the abilities of Recovery Girl and other medical experts to give their best. All the while, a pang of guilt shot in his chest every time Atsuhi flinched or grit her teeth at the sudden pain he'd accidentally caused her.

By the time he was done, she was even more dazed than before and, for all he knew, she couldn't even feel her hands, let alone the pain coming from them. In the background, All Might conversed with the leader of the League – Shigaraki, and tried to find out from him where their leader was hiding.

Things didn't seem to be going well though, as just when Ryuu finally laid a hand on the two's shoulders and began guiding Bakugo who still carried the girl towards the exit, Shigaraki suddenly raised his voice.

And just as he did, Ryuu's eyes widened upon noticing the dozen or so portals of black liquid opening up throughout the room.

But, no doubt worst of all, he didn't even have the time to react, when the two kids beside him coughed up the very same black liquid, which soon engulfed their whole bodies.

In the span of mere seconds, the two had disappeared from his side, his hand now simply hovering in mid-air and body frozen in shock.

They had disappeared.

They were, once again, gone.


 

"God, this stuff fucking stinks," Katsuki grumbled, after the much smoother landing than the last time he'd been teleported against his will (something which he really shouldn't be getting used to), not to mention the added factor of the girl he was carrying. A fact he was reminded of when Atsuhi too let out a few small coughs, making him realize it wasn't just him that had been taken away. Again.

"My apologies, Bakugo, Saeki. I simply brought you two along as Tomura has deemed you to be important pawns for his grand plans." Katsuki's eyes briefly widened, though he quickly composed himself and wiped the surprise off his face, instead glaring at the man in a formal black suit, whose voice remained muffled through the odd mask that covered his entire face.

Soon enough, the same stinky Quirk had teleported the remainder of the League of Villains along as well, now with two fewer conscious members,.

This guy... The way he speaks... And with how destroyed this whole place seems to be.

Is it just me or is this some strongass villain...?

Katsuki grit his teeth, brows furrowing, as nerves caused a cold shiver to run down his spine.

So... we escaped one trap... Only to fall into an even bigger trap, eh?

...

Shit.

He knew he didn't have time. If Atsuhi's weakening breaths against his back were any indication, that is.

It was time for one more fight.


 

Dodging yet another knife thrown at him, Katsuki only had but a moment on the ground, before he was forced to launch himself up with yet another explosion to evade the hands of the mask-wearing villain who had captured him in the first place. And even then, in midair, he had to sharply change directions, when some measuring tape tried to wrap itself around him, as ridiculous of a weapon as that might have been.

He landed again and had a few seconds longer to catch his breath this time around, before a small voice from beside his ear warned him.

"To the left...!" Atsuhi had woken up a little, no doubt shaken by the sudden slew of attacks in what was essentially a one versus six fight. Now she tried to make out approaching shapes through her blurring vision and warn Katsuki of any sneakier opponents. Though he knew that, on the inside, she must've been feeling awful for only being able to do so much.

With a frustrated sigh, Katsuki took note of her warning, and jumped to the side to avoid yet another attack. He couldn't keep this up for long. It was taking all his concentration to even barely avoid all these attacks, and he was quickly losing energy (the fact that he had been kept hostage and given no food for over 24 hours certainly not making things any better), moves becoming sloppy, and breath always seeming to run out.

He didn't even want to imagine what a burden the two must've been for All Might, who had arrived at the scene less than a minute after them, and was now engaging the villain with the black mask, who talked crazy stuff about having multiple Quirks. They had to get out of there as soon as possible.

Upon hearing a quiet mumble from Atsuhi, he stopped to catch his breath again and as he jumped up in the air again, spoke.

"What was that?"

"It's just..." the girl began, voice shaking but surprisingly audible, even through the explosions and nearby blows sounding all around. "You should leave me behind and go, Katsuki-kun..."

At first, Katsuki had been taken aback by... his own name. For a second there, he thought he might have been going crazy when he'd heard not his last, but his first name leave Atsuhi's lips. In the end, he reasoned that she was quickly losing her grip on what was happening and had likely let it slip without even noticing.

Next, he realized what she had actually tried to tell him.

He did not give it any thought. He just scoffed, responding while still dodging the countless attacks sent his way. Let's just say that this wasn't the most perfect of circumstances for conversing.

"That's bullshit," he quickly cut her off when he realized she wanted to give reason to her ridiculousness. "You and I both know I'm not doing that. What, I leave you behind, I run, and then? The hell am I supposed to go? You didn't really think this through, did you?" He remained silent for a moment.

"Not to mention-" A grunt upon evading two villains one after the other interrupted him mid-sentence. "The Atsuhi I know wouldn't say shit like that. What happened to getting out of this alive, huh?" The girl sighed.

"Soon enough, I'll probably black out, Katsuki-kun... You'll literally be carrying me around like dead-weight," Atsuhi mumbled as Katsuki noticed that this 'soon enough' might be any moment now, judging by her weakening voice.

If I lose her now, who knows what's gonna happen.

I have to keep her attention on the real world somehow...

"Say, how 'bout this-" Katsuki ducked to avoid a kick, then continued. "You tell me what it is you promised to say when we were back in the forest. Sound good?" He could tell Atsuhi flinched a little and then her grip around him tightened, though he wasn't sure if it was because of the question he'd asked, or the fact that he had launched himself up in the air with another explosion.

"Come on, you really wanted to say it, right?" Katsuki called when he realized the girl hesitated. He then felt a small sigh on his shoulder and Atsuhi began.

"I... kinda realized this a while back..." she spoke in a meek voice. But a meek voice was still better than silence. Not that the League's relentless attacks were going to give them any goddamn silence. "I would've told you sooner but I was looking for an appropriate occasion... That's not right now but... I was originally going to say it today. You know... 'cuz it's my birthday and everything..."

Katsuki would've been lying if he said he was taking in each and every word. His goal was to make sure Atsuhi didn't lose consciousness any time soon. She could always tell him everything again later. But if he were to miss evading even a single blow, one or both of them might not live long enough for the girl to share this.

Honestly, he had no idea what he was expecting to hear.

It was probably her worried mind getting the best of her and making her feel like she had something really important to say.

Atsuhi's next words rooted him in place.

"The thing is, Katsuki-kun... I... I like you..."

Atsuhi had said it somewhat casually.

Katsuki's mind however, went completely blank.

In fact, he would've surely been hit by the villain's next attack, whatever that may have been. If the villains hadn't suddenly all turned to look at the big spike of ice that had materialized a little ways beside them, as if from thin air.

But the surprises didn't end there.

As if Katsuki's mind wasn't already running haywire, three figures slid upon the ice and jumped up towards the sky, briefly soaring right above where Katsuki was desperately trying to fight off his six opponents.

It all went down quickly from then on, as if in a blur.

Kirishima calling for Katsuki and reaching out a hand, Katsuki telling Atsuhi to hold on tight and her quietly humming in agreement, as he used both his hands to launch himself high in the air while still carrying her, then grabbing Kirishima's hand with his own.

Even the villains desperately trying to chase after them and Mt. Lady's last-second reappearance to stop them before they could reach the kids.

All happening so, so quickly.

Before he knew it, Katsuki's feet were on the ground again.

But this time? This time he was far, far away from the villains, from those captors, far away from danger.

And upon realizing how far away from said danger he was, he suddenly remembered Atsuhi's untimely confession, while the three boys who'd rescued them had stopped to catch their breath.

"Oi, Atsuhi," he began in a quiet voice, stopping himself before he could inquire about the meaning behind what she'd said (a meaning he assumed he understood correctly, but decided not to get too helpful quite yet), and instead realizing he had to find somebody to help her immediately. "We're outta there. This time for real."

As he spoke, Katsuki's eyes scanned the crowds and tried to find anyone who could help – be it an actual doctor, a police officer, a hero, or even just a civilian for fuck's sake!

And then he froze.

He never got his answer. No quiet hum, sigh, or even a groan.

Atsuhi remained completely silent.

He could still feel her heartbeat pressing up against his back, but suddenly it felt as if his own had stopped.

Not noticing the worried face Deku made, or even the approaching Todoroki and Ida, moving in to help take the girl off the ash blond's back and gently lean her unconscious body against the concrete wall nearby, Katsuki panicked. And in the meantime of course, the scene quickly attracted the attention of the unsuspecting passer-by.

Katsuki lost himself in his desperation.

"Atsuhi! Oi!! You held out for so long, come on!! Just wake up, goddammit!" He tried shaking her awake but instead...

"..."

That was all he got in return. Silence.

His heart beat so fast, threatening to thump its way out of his chest. His arms were shaking too, though that went unnoticed by him.

He didn't even realize the little bit of liquid that had gathered at the corners of his eyes.

"..."

And yet, the girl didn't utter a single word.

Instead, the slow and weak rising of her chest and the silent prayers that she'd be okay, were all the hope that Katsuki had left.

0̴̦̤̰̘̮̲͎̻̫̪̩̞͇͍̩̼͕0̧̻͉̼̗̮̳̮̖̞̺͍̮͓̝̫̳͘̕ͅ:̴̛͓̹̩͈̙̯̯̫̭̗̺̩̖0͍̝̖͎̝̞̜̺͚͖̫͍̝̕͜͢͟͠0̞̪̳̤͠ ̴͈̼̰̥͈̼̲͓̲̜͚-̡̡̜̱͕̗̖͚̳͓ͅ ҉̶͡҉̺̲̤̞̯̞͇̮̺̻͔̰̠̹͖̙D̵̜͉͉͉͉̫̩̝̖̥̤͇͈̘̼̭͞͝a͏̶̴̙̞͕̫̜͉͉͉̳̩̻͉̻͘͠ͅy̷̴̶̧͚̠͈̞̬̣̤̰̣͓͍̰̘̙͔̳̮͓͘ ̨̺͈̝̘̣͈̺̼̘̤̺̕E̶̙̲͔͍̰̱̤̼͟͡n̷̨̯͚̟̪͔̗̱̜̫̱̰͈̰̺͉̣̞͝ͅd̶̵̢̤̪̼̘̟̟̱̲̫͎̹͔̮̭̪̬͍͡ •

Chapter Text

The sun had only just begun to rise a couple of minutes ago, its rays still shining rather weakly, though their light was bright enough to tint the previously pitch black sky into a calming mix of warm hues. The stars, which had riddled the night sky and had born witness to a fight that would change society forever, were now hidden by the creeping light of the sun which peeked above the horizon.

That day, the country had lost its Symbol of Piece.

Not literally, as the man was, fortunately, still alive.

But the Symbol of Piece that he represented was now gone. All Might was no more, the number one hero now reduced to nothing but another Quirkless civilian.

Of course, there was no doubt going to be plenty of media coverage on the topic across the next couple of days, maybe even weeks, so perhaps it was best not to dwell on it too much quite yet. If anything, everyone should've been rejoicing that All Might had defeated the villain in the first place. And that the two abducted students had been rescued.

But, among the surprisingly quiet hospital halls, all that hustle and bustle that seemed to have the rest of the world in an uproar now seemed so far away.

Even while All Might fought the terrifying villain now known as All for One, the heroes kept up with their tireless efforts of saving the civilians caught up in the clash of the century. While lots escaped unscathed, many wound up severely injured, and though the number of casualties hadn't been announced yet, it was sure to be bone-chilling as well.

In next to no time, medical teams had appeared on the scene to provide first-aid help and transport those in need of urgent treatment to a nearby hospital.

Naturally, the ones with life-threatening injuries were transported to the nearest location, while those with smaller wounds occupied a slightly further hospital.

With the advancement of a society full of different Quirks, came certain advancements in medical fields too. As such, only an hour or two after the fight and rescue operations, most patients had been taken care of, and worried relatives and doctors now awaited for them to wake up.

And so, the aforementioned hospital halls were much quieter than one would expect after a night filled with fights and destruction. This unnatural piece was only ever disturbed by the occasional hurried footsteps of the worried friend or relative rushing in to see an injured patient, or the chatter between nurses and doctors on their small breaks, if they'd for some reason chosen to spend them in the confines of the hospital building, as opposed to the fresh air they could breathe outside.

The small rays of light peeking through the windows of the halls shined white in contrast with the yellow (and sometimes flickering) lights of the hospital itself, giving the mostly empty halls a serene feel, as the colorful light seeping through the windows only barely lit up the edges of the few figures around.

That's how Ryuu spotted the two people talking at the end of the hall, one clad in white – a young nurse, by the looks of it, while the other sported a head of shaggy black hair, neatly trimmed for the conference that had taken place a few hours prior, the man still clad in the same black suit he'd worn during said conference.

Ryuu approached the figures and upon noticing him, the black-haired man gave a nod to the nurse, who then walked off in the opposite direction, leaving the two alone.

His eyes met those of his fellow hero and friend since their high-school years – Aizawa Shota, and then Ryuu looked towards the door Aizawa stood in front of.

"Are you ready to go in?" Aizawa asked, while Ryuu gulped in dread, giving a hesitant nod. The black-haired man moved to slide the door open, the blinding whiteness of the room inside seeping briefly into the much dimmer halls, until the two walked in, and the door was promptly shut once more.

Ryuu took slow steps, eyes scanning around the room, though he was still hesitant to look towards the only occupied bed in it.

Then again, he had no choice. He turned his head and his heart squeezed at the sight.

Atsuhi lay in the bed, sheets covering most of her body, though her arms remained on top and by her sides, her hands tightly wrapped in pure white bandages, which concealed what was underneath them. Not that Ryuu wanted to find out.

The girl looked to be sleeping, the pained expression that her features had been contorted in earlier, now replaced by a much more peaceful look, as she took slow breaths and regained all her lost energy in the faraway land of dreams. Or perhaps, she wasn't actually dreaming, for her face remained unmoving, showing neither pain, nor happiness.

There were lost of wires, tubes, and other stuff that Ryuu had frankly no understanding of, sticking out and monitoring his daughter's condition. But if the steady noises coming from the monitors beside her bed were any indicator, she seemed to be doing quite alright.

"The main injuries were on her hands," Aizawa suddenly began, and though he kept his voice low, he still startled Ryuu a little. "The police will question Bakugo soon enough, so he'll be the one to say exactly what it is that happened. But considering what we know about the League of Villains and their Quirks, our best guess seems to be that it was their leader, Shigaraki."

Ryuu moved closer to his daughter's bed while he listened, sitting on the edge of it and watching her, as he couldn't help but imagine every scene his fellow hero described.

"I take it you're aware of the nature of his Quirk – Decay," Aizawa continued, his hand subconsciously moving to lightly grasp his elbow, while the two remained silent for a few moments.

"You're... beating around the bush, aren't you...?" Ryuu finally realized and, tearing his eyes away from the unconscious girl for a second, he cast a tired look at Aizawa. "Just say it. Better to just get it over with already."

Aizawa hesitated for a second, glancing at the file and doctor's report he held in his hands. He then sighed.

"The skin on both of her palms was disintegrated. Emergency grafting of artificial skin was performed as soon as she was brought here. By this point, they're waiting for Recovery Girl's arrival for any further help, though they're not entirely sure just how much help she'd be." Aizawa stopped, and moved to sit on the edge of the unoccupied bed, leaving the papers he held beside him.
"In the end, Recovery Girl can only help accelerate the healing process. She can't heal something that wouldn't even heal in the first place." Then Aizawa took the file and handed it to Ryuu to read through for himself, watching as his brows furrowed in worry with each new detail.

"We can take a look at the documents for leaving UA afterwards."

This time, Atsuhi's father was caught by surprise.

He suddenly looked up from the papers in his hands, only to find Aizawa's serious eyes locked onto him. The teacher took that as his cue to explain.

"After so many incidents, it's understandable. First, there was USJ. Then, the Hero Killer Incident at Hosu. And now this. Clearly, UA has been unable to protect her all this time. It's a regrettable decision but we're the ones to blame."

"W-woah-" Ryuu tried to interrupt Aizawa. "I... I understand what you're saying, Aizawa-kun... And I've certainly thought about it briefly.” He paused and sighed. “However... call me a bad parent if you will, but I've never thought about taking this decision on my own.

"This is Atsuhi's future we're talking about here. Freak incidents are bound to happen, regardless of which school she goes to. In the end, I trust you and all the other heroes at UA to take care of her for me. But most importantly of all, I trust her and her judgment.

"I'm aware most parents in my place would react differently. Then again, most parents in my place might not be heroes themselves. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I take this away from Atsuhi. It's her decision through and through. If she wants to leave UA, then so be it. But if she doesn't... if she still insists on following so closely in the footsteps of her mother and I, then... I can only give her my fullest support..."

Ryuu finished, leaving Aizawa ready to protest, and perhaps maybe tell him that he was being unreasonable.

But he never got the chance to.

Out of nowhere, the quiet hospital halls were suddenly filled with the loud echoing sound of rushing footsteps, followed by the calls of at least two or three voices, all just close enough to distinguish that they were screaming something along the lines of 'Get back!' and 'You're not allowed there!'

The two heroes looked at each other in question, wondering who the 'intruder' might've been.

And just like that, they soon got their answer, when the door of Atsuhi's room was hurriedly slid open, and in the entrance now stood a young boy with ash blond hair sticking in any and all directions. He stopped and rested his hands on his knees, chest moving up and down as he took deep breaths after his sudden sprint.

Both father and teacher stood and looked at him wide-eyed for a second, until Aizawa shook his head and got up, walking past the boy, as he mumbled something about dealing with the nurses outside. The ash blond's crimson eyes followed him, until he exited the room and slid the door closed behind him.

And so, Saeki Ryuu and Bakugo Katsuki remained alone in the room with the still unconscious Atsuhi, a heavy silence falling over them.

Wasn't he supposed to be with the police? Aizawa-kun said they haven't questioned him yet.

Meaning he came here without their permission.

Meaning he came here just to see her.

Ryuu smiled without even realizing it, glancing at the sleeping girl.

You're lucky to have someone as caring as him around you, Atsuhi... I almost feel I don't need to worry quite as much with him by your side...

He was forced to shake away these thoughts when the boy cleared his throat to get his attention.

"I... don't usually do this kinda shi- stuff," Bakugo began, catching and correcting himself, before he could let his typical swears slip out. "But..."

And then, Bakugo Katsuki looked away, perhaps embarrassed, straightened his arms by his sides, and bowed, while Ryuu stared at him speechless.

"I apologize for everything that happened. It was me the villains were after and I let Atsuhi get caught up in it too. In the end, it was my fault she got hurt."

The shocked silence continued for a few more seconds, until a quiet shuffling accompanied Ryuu's movements, as he got up and walked over to the boy, placing his hands on Bakugo's shoulders and making him lift his head and stop bowing.

"You know, blaming somebody else is easy. You're right, I can say that it was all your fault. Atsuhi can say it too. And that would be it – a cop out." Ryuu noticed that Bakugo's face contorted briefly upon the mention of Atsuhi blaming him as well. "So, precisely because it's just so easy, I don't want to do it. A hero's job is never quite as easy anyway. Instead, perhaps we should look towards the future and figure out how we're gonna deal with all this from now on, yeah?

"That, and I'm afraid what Atsuhi would think when she wakes up and finds out that I've pinned all the blame on you..." Ryuu laughed, as Bakugo couldn't help but see the similarities between him and the girl that they talked about. It brought him the same kind of comfort that her presence and her smile always seemed to carry. Truth be told, he felt that much more at ease.

"Say, Bakugo-" Ryuu suddenly began again, his tone this time carrying a hint of ease, as if he wanted to put an end to all the wisdom and reflecting for now. "How did you get here in the first place...?"

Bakugo stiffened, making Ryuu realize that, true to what he had assumed, the boy wasn't supposed to be here.

"I..." Though he hesitated briefly, Bakugo knew he owed it to the hero to at least explain that much. If anything, he was surprised Ryuu hadn't asked him about everything that had happened at the villains' hideout yet. "I was supposed to get a checkup from a doctor before the police brought me in for questioning. But all the doctors at the scene were busy, so they brought me to the nearest hospital instead. Even though I insisted that I was fine the entire time..." Bakugo crossed his arms and pouted.

"Anyway, I had to wait here until they find someone who was free but then I heard the two nurses at the entrance talking about 'the girl that had been abducted by the villains'. They said she was here and happened to mention the room number too. After that I just... came here..." He then paused, as if waiting to be scolded. Though he should've known no such thing was going to happen. Instead, Ryuu chuckled.

"Ahaha, goes to show you how cautious the police officers escorting you were being." His laughs quieted down and he shook his head. "Thank you though. Atsuhi can get quite reckless. So I'm grateful to you for protecting her. Really, I am!"

Bakugo was left speechless.

As such, he was glad that Aizawa (who had come in again and was now leaning on the door frame) cleared his throat, making them both look at him, before his eyes shot towards Ryuu.

"The doctor wants to see you to talk with you about a few things."

Ryuu sighed but complied anyway and walked out, shutting the door behind him.

And of course, leaving Bakugo inside.


 

It was weird to think about.

How just two days ago, they were still at Training Camp, doing some ridiculous exercises to improve their Quirks, and even stupid 'fun' activities such as the Test of Courage.

How in just a brief second, all that fun had gone down in flames (somewhat literally, considering the fire the villains had started at the forest), and how just an hour or so after the initial attack, they'd been abducted.

They'd stayed at the villains' hideout for about a day, one suffering a terrible injury, while the other was forced to only watch and fight with the guilt.

And how now, they were finally safe again.

Katsuki replayed all those events in his mind, struggling to even realize they had really happened. But it was a reality he was forced to confront as he gazed at the girl laying on the bed at the end of the room.

There was so much he had yet to comprehend.

What had really happened that night? Who was this guy in the black suit? Why had he almost defeated All Might? Why was All Might keeping this other form of his a sectet for so long?

Why was Deku acting like this...?

...

And yet... Right now, none of those things seemed to bother him.

Instead, he subconsciously moved closer to the bed, lingering at the end of it for a little, before he sighed and sat down at the very edge, still giving Atsuhi all the space she might need, even though she was asleep.

I've... never really seen you like this, have I...?

I always say that you're strong and whatnot but I'm only now realizing that... heh, for all I know, you might be even stronger than me...

Never before had Katsuki seen her as vulnerable as she was right now.

Her sleeping face looked so peaceful, and yet it held none of the joy and reassurance that her smile always radiated.

He... almost wished to lean in and brush her hair away from her tired face, or lightly touch her cheeks, or even...

The hell!? That would just be creepy…!! At least it would be, if I do it while she's sleeping...

Ugh, what's with all these stupid cheesy thoughts...

So, Katsuki tried to clear them away by shaking his head.

But all that did, was replace them with a different memory.

The thing is, Katsuki-kun… I… I like you...”

That was not the time to say shit like that, you know? You can be such an idiot.

You didn't even give me time to respond before you slipped away back then.

Here I was, thinking it was just going to be another one of your ridiculous and baseless worries. Huh, maybe I'm the idiot...

You didn't even get to celebrate your birthday properly... It all just went to shit...

His eyes were pointed at the girl's face, sure, but he wasn't really looking, instead choosing to focus on his thoughts.

That is, until Atsuhi's face suddenly moved, eyebrows furrowing a little, as her mouth contorted and she didn't look serene anymore, but rather – troubled.

"Atsuhi...?" he let the name slip out, unknowingly leaning in a little further, only to hear the small noise that escaped her shut lips, as if she groaned a little in her sleep.

Was she having a bad dream?

If so, Katsuki really wanted to put an end to it already. It wasn't fair. Not after she'd just lived through the worst of any nightmare she could imagine. Then again, he wondered how much longer the events of that night were going to haunt her in her sleep.

He moved his arm, placing a gentle hand on her now trembling shoulder, and carefully tried shaking her awake.

"..."

And – it worked...?

One of Atsuhi's green eyes peeked beneath her eyelid, focusing first on the unfamiliar ceiling, then wandering briefly among the room, until it finally settled to look at Katsuki. Soon, her second eye opened too, and through her still furrowed brows, her blurry sight slowly adjusted to make out the figure sitting at the edge of her bed and giving her a worried look.

"Katsuki...kun?" she finally croaked out, though her voice sounded pretty weak and hoarse, no doubt a side effect of having stayed completely silent for a few hours.

Suddenly, Katsuki's heart sank. Did he really deserve to be the first face she saw after waking up? Wasn't she in this mess because of him in the first place?

Upon receiving no answer, Atsuhi moved her head to look around the room once more, before she turned her eyes back to Katsuki, who gave a tired half-smile, half-smirk in return.

"Good morning. Took you long enough." Atsuhi chuckled. This felt a little like when she had woken up after falling asleep on his shoulder in the bus a couple of days earlier.

"Don't worry... It wasn't a very good sleep anyway..." Katsuki's face twisted in concern.

"Why? You had a nightmare?"

"Mhm..." Atsuhi closed her eyes and looked as if she sank further into her pillow. "How'd you know...?"

"You were turning and groaning in your sleep. What was it about?"

"Mmm, I don't remember... Actually, I feel so light-headed right now… I doubt I'll remember any of this when I wake up again... I can't even feel my hands, so I imagine the amount of painkillers in my system right now..." She chuckled again, as if she were telling a joke.

"That's not funny, you know..."

"I know... But it's fine... It also means you can say whatever and I probably won't remember... It means that I can say whatever too..."

"Whatever, you say?" Katsuki went quiet for a second.

"Whatever you want, Katsuki-kun..." That's when he remembered.

"You've been calling me 'Katsuki' ever since we were at Kamino..." Hearing this, Atsuhi looked surprised.

"Have I...? Ah, I'm sorry... it must've slipped out... I'll try to-"

"I didn't say you shouldn't..." He could tell his face was heating up. He... wasn't blushing, was he?

"Oh... Haha, that's cool then... Anything else that's on your mind...?" Katsuki noted that her speech was much more clear now, compared to before, when they hadn't yet been rescued. Though she still looked tired, she at least seemed to be doing fine.

"Yeah, actually." As she listened to Katsuki, Atsuhi yawned a little, eyelids already beginning to droop down again. "What you said while we were fighting..." But the boy's words forced her to pause mid-yawn, turning to him, only to look away with reddened cheeks immediately after.

"I did confess, didn't I...?"

Ah. So it was that.

Atsuhi smiled at him.

"Yeah... It was exactly as I said. Katsuki-kun, I like you." Said boy gasped in surprise, when he heard her repeat her confession again. "You can tell me your answer now if you want to... And if you have one. Though... you'll have to tell me again later..." She only mumbled the last few words, as she turned her head to the side, her blinking soon consisting of keeping her eyes closed longer than they remained open. At this rate, she was going to fall asleep any moment now.

So Katsuki thought-

Might... as well...

"I..." he began, causing Atsuhi's half-lidded eyes to look at him again. "I think I feel… the same…?" he mumbled, though it still seemed to have been loud enough for Atsuhi to hear, as she smiled wider, eyes now closing fully.

"That's... good to know..." But by the end of her sentence, she'd already drifted off to sleep again. This time however, she didn't look serene or vulnerable. She looked... happy.

Katsuki smiled at the sight.

Saying what had been on his mind for so, so long... It felt good. It felt really good. And he was sure that it would feel even better, once he told her again when she woke up later.

But his smile then turned to a solemn frown.

Yeah, it would've felt quite nice.

It sure would have.

...

He got up from the edge of the bed, moving towards the door so he could alert the nurses (and perhaps Eraser Head and Lava Floor as well) that Atsuhi had briefly woken up.

But for him, this was it.

The last chance.

No way was he going to let her be caught up in something like this ever again.

Because of what he said to her just now, because of what he felt – that is why she always seemed to suffer, to get hurt and struggle.

He didn't want to let it happen. Not ever again.

Katsuki cast one final and regretful look at Atsuhi's sleeping form, a peaceful smile on her lips, and clenching his fists, he grit his teeth.

With that, he slid open the door and walked out.

He didn't plan on coming back.

Chapter Text

"Um... Pardon the intrusion, doctor," a small voice said, as the slender frame of a young but unfamiliar nurse peeked through the door of the hospital room. "But it looks like Saeki has some visitors." At the surprised looks she received from the two people in the room, she quickly spoke up again. "I can tell them to wait a little if you haven't finished yet, don't worry!!"

"No, it's alright," responded the middle-aged woman from inside the room. She'd already recognized that this nurse must've still been a little new to the job, as told by her lack of decisiveness and anxious voice. "Rehabilitation's done for the day – we just ended up running a little overtime." The woman turned to Atsuhi, who sat at the edge of her bed and watched the exchange with curious and perhaps a little excited eyes, and smiled at the girl. "I'll see you again tomorrow, yeah?"

Atsuhi finally shook off her confusion, and nodded back with a smile.

"See you tomorrow, doctor!" The girl waved at the woman, until the latter disappeared into the hallway, followed by the young nurse, who likely went to call in the visitors.

Atsuhi thought herself lucky to have such a kind and understanding doctor taking care of her and her rehabilitation. After a surgery when she was first brought in mere hours after the incident at Kamino, and the daily visits and healing sessions with Recovery Girl, she was finally recovering for real.

Of course, that was only the beginning. The amount of care she'd have to take not to damage the wounds any further, the pain that would serve to remind her of that night, even the limits this put on her Quirk. It was all effects she'd have no choice but to confront.

For a few days now, she'd received a visit from her doctor every day for an hour or two, deemed to essentially act as rehabilitation.

It was... a little embarrassing.

She'd had to do so many basic tasks, as if she were a small child learning things for the first time. But it was inevitable.

It had taken her half an hour to even figure out how to clench her fist without whimpering out loud. Not to mention gripping utensils she'd need to eat, or writing with a pen.

Sure, with every day the pain became less and less noticeable but... it was still there.

She was broken out of her thoughts when the muffled sound of talking from somewhere beyond the closed door to her room reached her ears. She could definitely discern the voice of the young nurse, though the words were impossible to understand, along with at least one or two more voices, perhaps (but not definitely) male.

However, she didn't have to wait all that long to figure it out.

Soon enough, the door that had blocked those voices was slowly slid open, and in poked his head a young boy with bright red hair, sticking upwards as if it had taken 20 minutes just to style it that way, and two small red eyes scanned the inside of the room.

Kirishima...kun...!!

Atsuhi was excited to hear she had visitors! Sure, there was her dad, who swung by every day, and all the nurses and doctors taking care of her happened to be especially kind! But... she wanted to see the rest of her friends so badly.

Now, seeing Kirishima, Atsuhi wasn't exactly sure what to expect. But that was certainly not the sight of said boy giving her a toothy grin, and then turning to nod at somebody behind him, before a whopping 17 more people walked into the room. Good thing it was a big hospital with spacious rooms.

W-wha-

Suddenly, the sound of shuffling and overlapping footsteps that had filled the air until everyone had walked in, stopped, and the room was engulfed in silence once again, as nobody seemed to know what to say or how to begin.

Atsuhi stared with her mouth agape for a few seconds, until she forced a small sentence out. Someone had to start, after all.

"H-Hi, everyone..." She then smiled and waved with one of her still bandaged hands. Though it looks like that was enough.

Not even a moment later, two arms wrapped around her and tightened their hold, as if she'd slip away if they were to let go. In the position they were in, Atsuhi could only make out the pink fluff on the person's head, but that was enough of a clue. She immediately hugged back, grip just as tight, and snuggled against Mina's shoulder, croaking open an eye to find a few more of the girls huddled around them too.

"I-I..." Mina began, imitating a sob (at least, Atsuhi hoped she was imitating). "I was so worried, Atsuhi!!!" She raised her voice, probably a little louder than she should've, considering that they were in a hospital, but Atsuhi just laughed a little at her over-exaggerated antics, patting her back, while she also realized how similar this whole scenario was to what had happened upon her walking into the classroom after the fight with the Hero Killer. Of course, the circumstances were a little different this time around.

Mina gave her another tight squeeze, and Atsuhi was about to call out to the girl and warn her that she couldn't quite breathe right now, but she was released just in time, only to follow Mina's swift movements with curious eyes, as she bent down to get something she must've dropped on the ground before giving that bear hug of hers. And before Atsuhi could even assure her that she was alright (and probably receive a few somewhat suspicious looks considering the fact that she hadn't even been released from the hospital yet), a colorful pattern invaded her entire vision.

"E-eh!?" she squeaked out in surprise, leaning back as a reflex. Upon noticing this, Mina pulled the object she'd shoved in the girl's face back a little, only now making her realize it was a gift bag, with a beautiful pastel pattern of birthday cakes, confetti, and neatly packaged presents. "W-what's this...?" Atsuhi asked, a little hesitant at the intense expression on Mina's face.

"Cards. And presents," she said sternly, but she couldn't help the smile that immediately lit up her face right after.

"We didn't really get to celebrate your birthday, you know..." Kirishima let out an awkward laugh, making Atsuhi look at the rest of the class too, as she just now noticed the smiles on everybody's faces.

That's... right...

That day was my birthday...

She slowly took the bag from Mina's hands and peeked inside. Her eyes widened upon noticing the multitude of birthday cards, some put in envelopes, some not, a few looked homemade, and one was even decorated with all sorts of stickers and fun magazine cutouts. A couple were attached to small boxes that certainly didn't look empty, and not to mention all the other presents that were inside the bag, all wrapped in different packaging, with pretty bows on top, and different variations of 'Happy Birthday, Atsuhi!' written on them.

...

The room was engulfed in silence once again.

While her classmates anxiously awaited her reaction, Atsuhi remained unmoving for a few short moments, before she inhaled sharply and a small tear rolled down her cheek.

"A-Atsuhi-chan...?" Kaminari exclaimed, sounding a little confused and worried, but didn't move, and instead only watched as more and more tears slowly spilled from the girl's eyes.

Noticing her classmates' stares (all varying in emotion), Atsuhi suddenly shook her head and went to wipe her tears, managing to talk with a shaky voice.

"N-no, I'm fine, I'm fine!! I... I just... didn't expect this... Thank you..." At the last two words, her voice cracked, and in the blink of an eye, Mina was back at her side, patting her back between her soft laughs, as Atsuhi let out quiet sobs in her futile attempts to stop her tears.

"You know, Atsuhi-chan! We really ought to celebrate properly!" Mina began, the heavy atmosphere in the room long gone now, as everybody watched on with small smiles on their faces. "How about making a giant belated birthday cake once we move into the dorms, huh?" she proposed, smile stretching so wide, she had to close her eyes. Atsuhi lifted up her head to look at her, and her lips curled in return.

"Mhm!" she nodded, not even speaking proper words, since she knew they'd come out choppy, interrupted by her sobs.

This sudden visit continued for another hour or so, complete with everyone exchanging exaggerated stories on what they had to do to make their parents agree to allow them to move into UA's new dorms, which they implemented now to supposedly help keep and eye out on the students and make sure they stay out of harm's way.

Soon, people had to leave one by one, and when the group was down to less than ten, the young nurse from earlier swung by and announced that visiting time was over, and they had to go too.

A few teary and dramatic goodbyes later (since they were going to see each other again in just a few days, after all), everyone was ready to leave. One by one, they all walked out the door, waving Atsuhi goodbye, and then went their separate ways.

All the while, not one had thought to address the elephant in the room. Or perhaps, they had collectively decided it was something they shouldn't have addressed.

A decision that was thrown out the window when a single person lingered in the room, stopping right at the door, and casting a single guilty look back at Atsuhi. She titled her head in confusion.

"Everything alright, Midoriya-kun...?" Though it was as if the second she asked, she suddenly realized what the answer was.

Ah, that's right. Since Katsuki-kun never came, I guess he has something to say about it...

He was smiling with everybody else earlier too... But now he looks so guilty...

"Hey, look, Midoriya-kun. If you plan to apologize in his stead, there's no need – it's not your fault. At all. You can't control it," she said, but the boy didn't look convinced. Instead, he looked to the ground and sighed.

"Even still. I'm sorry, Atsuhi-san. I'm sorry for not being able to save you on time, but also for the way Kacchan's acting." He didn't give her time to respond, leaving immediately afterwards.

Atsuhi was left to only stare at the closed door.

Perhaps she hoped he was going to open it any moment now. Tell her that he was waiting for all the 'extras' to leave so they could speak alone. Maybe give her an answer, or even pretend her confession had never happened. As long as he was here with her, she didn't mind either way.

So then... why?

What happened...?

But the door never opened. He never walked in. He never came.

Atsuhi sank back in her bed, staring this time at the ceiling. Not long after, the bright white felt too much for her eyes to handle, so she closed them, trying to fight off the anxious thoughts running through her mind.

And in a futile attempt to stop the tears from falling once again, she covered her eyes with her arm.

Not that it was any help.


 

A few days had passed like no time at all. The sun was high up in the sky, indicating that it was almost noon already. The weather wasn't as hot as one would expect since the summer was quickly coming to an end, and the new semester of school was about to begin in just a couple of days.

Not too long ago, the mood had been hyper, and everyone was excitedly exploring the new building they'd have to start calling home. The Height Alliance, or, in other words, UA's new dorms.

And yet now, as she stood in the middle of the bare room with only some basic furniture and her unopened boxes of belongings, Atsuhi couldn't feel this excitement.

This feels like a dream. We're practically living at UA!

So... why can't I feel as happy as I want to be...?

She frowned and looked at her feet. Of course she knew why. But she didn't want to admit it.

Now's not the time to sulk. I need to get this room ready by tonight.

Atsuhi scanned the room, counting the number of boxes to figure out how long she might need to unpack them all. The thought of starting with the small ones first crossed her mind, and she nodded to herself, moving to lift one of the cardboard boxes with the label 'clothes' up on the dresser, being careful to apply most of the pressure to her fingers, as opposed to the palms of her hands, which were still wrapped in bandages, and were likely going to stay this way for at least a few more days.

Upon opening the box however, she was greeted with the sight of a familiar pattern she recognized as that of one of her yukatas.

It's the one I wore at the Ennichi Festival...

With Katsuki-kun...

She smiled, remembering the great time they'd had back then. It had been the perfect way to relax and forget about the villain attack at USJ that had taken place a few days prior. Back then, things had been so simple.

No confusing feelings, no plans for confessions, none of that. She wished they could have a fun time like that again soon.

And then her smile slowly turned into a frown, as her brows furrowed with it.

They couldn't.

Because... Katsuki-kun seems to be avoiding me...

Before we went in, he'd always look away whenever I glanced at him. He didn't even try and talk to me.

And... I was too worried to approach him either...

I'm... such an idiot...

Without thinking much, she turned her head to look out the door and down the hall.

Sure, it was on the other side of it and there was no way it was going to be visible from here... but she knew his room was on the same floor...

Had she been left like this, she would've sunk deeper and deeper into her depressing thoughts.

Fortunately, not long after she looked back at the box in front of her and returned to sorting through her clothes, there was a knock on her (still open) door.

Jumping in surprise at first, Atsuhi quickly composed herself, and turned around to see Kirishima leaning on the doorway, a headband keeping his spiky red hair out of his face, as he flashed a toothy grin.

"Yo! Thought you wouldn't mind the help!" he said, not walking in quite yet. Atsuhi remained silent for a second, then waved her hand dismissively and smiled back.

"Thanks for the offer, Kirishima-kun! But it's fine – I can do this by myself, and you need to set up your room too anyway!" The boy made an exaggerated pout.

"Aw, come on, it's fine. We'll be done here quickly and I'll fix up my room afterwards. Plus, you're probably still healing – let me help, as a friend, you know?" He smiled again.

When you put it like that...

Atsuhi sighed, aware that she had been won over too easily. At least he wanted to do this of his own accord, and not out of guilt or something. She invited him in, and pointed out the heavier boxes in the bunch, asking him to help her lift those up and put away the stuff in them.

After that, the two got to work and the room was filled only with the sounds of shuffling and moving cardboard. In other words, it was engulfed in silence.

But... it was the kind of silence that indicated someone had a question they were dying to ask.

Sure enough, just a few minutes later, Kirishima spoke.

"So, um... What's... up with Bakugo...?" he asked, though he sounded unsure, as if he'd been debating with himself whether he should even bring up the topic in the first place. Atsuhi hesitated with her response.

"Honestly...? I-I don't know," she said, voice quiet and barely audible, causing Kirishima to stop moving boxes in order to hear her. Good thing they'd closed the door though. Atsuhi sighed. "But I should talk to him and find out. It's driving me crazy."

"Well… I could talk to him for you, if you'd like?" Kirishima offered, looking at her expectedly. But the girl glanced down at her feet, shaking her head.

"Thank you but... it's between me and him. Even though I don't know what it is that's between us. I have to figure this out. And I will."

After that, Kirishima tried to lighten up the atmosphere again, and the two continued their previous work engulfed in small talk and laughs.

Before they knew it, the room was all set (except for a few things Atsuhi was fine with on her own), much like the boy had said. There were still a few hours of the evening left, and Atsuhi had no doubts everyone was going to get together and hang out a little longer. She'd heard the girls mention something about a room contest earlier too.

But she was way too tired for that, likely a combination of her injuries, the long and exciting day, and the physical labor that had been putting this room together. All in all, she had no plans of wasting any more energy.

She knew it was still early (a fact that reminded her how early Katsuki liked to go to bed, which then only served to make her feel even worse upon reminding her of the problem between the two she'd have to deal with soon), but she went to bed anyway.

It felt like the world was against her though. Suddenly, a sharp pain in her hands made her flinch and gasp out loud, as she clutched them beside her chest.

I-it hurts...

She knew this was supposed to happen from time to time.

Her injuries were still healing and she was the one dumb enough to decide to return to UA despite that. She was simply paying the price for it. She knew she'd get used to the pain soon enough anyway. She just hoped it wasn't going to continue for too long.

Her mind was once again plagued by her anxieties upon the thought that something must've happened for Katsuki to act the way he did.

That night, she had a hard time falling asleep.


 

"Her Quirk seems to have adapted to the injuries and still works despite them. But applying a lot of pressure or exposing them to abnormal temperatures will surely upset them," the doctor explained, while the three other people in the room – Atsuhi, her father, and Aizawa, listened and nodded along. Despite what the doctor was saying, it almost sounded as if Atsuhi had lost a majority of the use of her Quirk. That's when her father chimed in.

"We have been thinking... Considering the Quirks of me and my wife, Atsuhi has inherited a combination of the two. Because of this, we're inclined to believe that her hands might not be the only way for her to use her Quirk. Mine activates through my feet. Perhaps it's possible for Atsuhi to have inherited that aspect of it too."


 

Shaking away the memory, Atsuhi continued staring hard at her personally assigned clone of Ectoplasm (he had enough for each of her classmates too), while she focused on her Quirk.

In order to get out Provisional Licenses, we first need to come up with two ultimate moves, which we have ten days to do. It's... manageable, at best.

"You should request some adjustments to your costume, so you don't go around barefoot in a battle," Ectoplasm suggested, looking at Atsuhi's bare feet on the cold cement.

"If this works, I definitely will," she responded, and focused back on the task at hand. Which was simple in theory, and way too difficult in practice.

If what Dad said turns out to be true, I should be able to activate my Quirk with my feet, just like he does.

But... how am I supposed to do this!?

It seems like she couldn't concentrate enough though, since the moment she glimpsed some golden blond hair in the distance, all her attention suddenly turned to All Might. Or, the more skeletal looking version of him that he had revealed during his fight with the black-clad villain with the mask that had wreaked Kamino Ward. Not that she'd been awake to see it. But she had watched a dozen different recordings of it, be it online, or on the TV.

I didn't even notice him come in...! Then again, I probably would've taken a while to recognize him anyway...

Before Atsuhi could return to her training however, All Might headed her away and stopped between her and the Ectoplasm clone.

"Young Saeki, you should try to imagine you're turning the ground beneath your feet into lava, like your father," he advised, pointing to the cement they stood on. "You've watched him in battle numerous times, right? So it shouldn't prove to be too difficult!" The girl nodded at him with a big smile on her face, and the (former) hero set out to advise the next student too.

Alright then, Atsuhi – imagine Dad and how he does things!

While the images were running through her head though, she couldn't help but think about something else too.

The Quirk improvements we worked on during Training Camp will be what I'm going to need for one of my ultimate moves. But the other one depends entirely on this technique...

She glanced at her feet, frowning at the ground as if that were going to make it heat up. But then...

Eh?

It did.

Not by much. Just barely.

In fact, if someone was just standing there, they surely wouldn't have even noticed.

But Atsuhi knew her Quirk had just activated, albeit briefly.

I-it worked…!

Her face lit up, and she jumped up in the air in celebration. Of course, almost immediately afterwards, that unfortunately familiar sharp pain surged through her hands again, and she was forced to grit her teeth and remain unmoving until said pain had passed away.

"That's... going to take a while..." Atsuhi mumbled, knowing she had a lot of training ahead of her if she wanted to perfect this newly-discovered aspect of her powers.

But... If I want to be a hero, then... I've got no choice.

No matter how long it takes, I have to do it!

Just like that, she went back to training.

She never noticed the two crimson eyes watching her silently.

Chapter Text

Not a sound. It felt as if there was no soul out there. As if she was completely alone.

A deaf silence.

Or... maybe not quite.

You know that feeling when this annoying noise in your ears, the one that usually fades to the back of your mind and remains unnoticeable, gradually becomes louder and louder, until it's the only thing you can hear, and it begins to drive you mad?

Yup, that's the one. So no, it wasn't a deaf silence. It was a deafening silence.

Upon the realization that there seemed to be no other distinguishable shapes as far as the eye could see, her fear only creeped up even further. That endless black void was, to put it mildly, terrifying.

Where was everyone? Where was everything? Where was she?

Try as she might, she couldn't even scream. As if her voice was gone, not even a sound escaped her trembling lips.

By this point, she was desperate. There were tears streaming down her cheeks, or at least that's what she felt.

But after despair, came acceptance. A reluctant, and painful acceptance. Because if you were helpless to do anything, was there any point in struggling? What choice did you have but to accept it?

Acceptance...

Was that really the only escape from this nightmarish prison? Was this really the only right choice? Was this the path of a hero...?

And then – a voice.

A single sound was enough to shatter the deafening silence to little pieces. She wasn't lonely anymore, she wasn't trapped in this nightmare anymore. She wasn't scared. A single voice had been enough to fill her with a sense of relief.

...

No. This voice – it brought about many feelings. Relief wasn't one of them.

Ever since that day, it was etched into her mind. She was sure she could recognize it anywhere. And she was sure it was forever going to haunt her in her memories and dreams.

Just a single word was enough to bring the image of his face into her mind. Or rather, the big hand covering his face, and the wavy light blue hair falling loosely around it.

A sight one couldn't not remember.

She tried to chase the thoughts away, she tried so hard. Yet, the memories still flooded her mind.

Or... was it really memories...? Things felt different. She felt like she really was back there, not merely recalling it.

Fear. Terror. Screams. Tears.

Courage...? Perhaps a little bit...

But also another voice. It screamed something. A name? This time, it brought nothing but comfort.

And then came warmth. Safety. More tears, this time caused by pure relief.

The first voice called again. A threat.

The warmth disappeared.

The second voice, screaming.

A sound of liquid splashing and dripping to the floor. The warmth never returned.

Then silence again.

Fear, again.

A hand neared, reaching out, about to-



"NO!!"

Unlike previously, this time she could physically feel her fear in the sweat dripping down her face and hands. The tears now blurred her vision, until a quick glance at her surroundings assured her that she was safe and sound.

Saeki Atsuhi was still in her dorm room at UA. Far from Kamino Ward, far from the League of Villains, far from the terrors that had haunted her in her dream.

It had been a couple of days since she'd started working on developing her Ultimate Moves in order to take the Provisional License Exam with the rest of her classmates. Progress was slow but steady, and she was sure she was going to make it by the tenth day.

All throughout, she smiled and laughed. She remained her cheerful self through and through. She remained the person she used to be. The person she wanted to be.

Yes, she tried to be brave in front of others. But on the inside... she was more scared than ever.

What an irony, no? To be so safe, yet so afraid.

She hated those conflicting feelings of hers. But even so, she couldn't shake them off. She could only do her best.

Naturally, her nightmares were also there to stay. At least for a while longer. And who knows, maybe if they liked it in her mind, they were going to settle there forever. Splendid.

Atsuhi sighed, turning in her bed and pulling up the blanket. Maybe it wasn't necessary during the summer, but oh, did she feel safer wrapped up in it. Sure, it was a child's way of thinking... But she was still a child, after all, as much as she wouldn't like to admit it.

I wanna sleep some more... But I don't know if I'm ready for another nightmare.

Atsuhi grumbled and furrowed her eyebrows. She hated nightmares. But there seemed to be a rule in this universe that ordered she be faced with everything she despised. How she envied all the people having a peaceful sleep right now.

She turned on her stomach, and used her elbows to support herself. Lifting up her torso, she checked the time on the digital clock above the headboard.

4:32

Well, it was worth a try. She wouldn't have minded getting up an hour or so earlier. You know, get ready in peace, maybe even have a little walk around, get some fresh air, make a proper breakfast. Anything to get her mind away from the haunting images that plagued her dreams.

But that was simply too early. She would be practically asleep by noon if she went through with the bright idea of leaving her bed now.

With no more good options on the horizon, she reluctantly buried her face in the pillow, muffling her second sigh, and found a comfortable position to continue with her not-so-peaceful sleep and hopefully happen upon a nice and happy dream this time around.

But of course, when had things ever been so simple in her life?

Beginning from the palms of her hands, a pain that had been unnoticeable at first, had suddenly become much sharper and stronger.

In other words – unbearable. An unwelcome feeling that was, however, here to stay. Between a few more grunts of pain, Atsuhi had shut her eyes tight in waiting for the sharpness of the pain to pass, and had sat upright in the bed. But with every passing minute, it became that much clearer that this was one of those 'favorite' times of hers when the pain was just too damn stubborn.

At four in the morning, with that terrible pain in her hands, she was just about ready to snap.

Okay, okay, calm down, Atsuhi – you've done this before, you'll do it again...

She took a deep breath, grit her teeth, and swung her legs to the side of the bed. It's not like she had a choice but to suffer through the pain until she took care of it.

Her fluffy green blanket was tossed carelessly to the side, but that was a concern for the Atsuhi a few minutes from now. You know, the Atsuhi who hopefully won't be barely suffering through her pain.

A quick look around the room, only lit dimly by a small night light beside the desk, later, Atsuhi spotted the pair of white slippers abandoned on opposite ends of the room. Slipping those on, she grabbed the sweatshirt hanging on the back of her chair (now thankful for being so lazy earlier that night and not putting said sweatshirt away), and clumsily slipped it on.

She hoped that, and the leggings she quickly put on, were going to be enough to keep her warm in the chilly almost fall weather. After all, the way from the dorms to Recovery Girl's office in the school should've been no longer than five or so minutes.

She was thankful to Aizawa who, after being informed of her condition and warned about side-effects such as this infuriating pain, had given her permission to use Recovery Girl's office whenever she needed to, even if it happened to be after or before school. Of course, in the middle of the night, she was going to have to do everything by herself.

Exiting her room, Atsuhi took care to close the door with slow and steady movements, biting her lip between the pain and every little sound the door made. Others were still sound asleep, after all.

It was a stupid dilemma for her. Should she be quick to stop the pain, but move carelessly and risk waking up her classmates, or should she move quietly and endure the pain much longer than she would've liked to?

Heh, I'm worrying about some trivial things, aren't I...

At long last, after her eternal descend upon the stairs, she could already see the light seeping in from the door. Of course, life loved throwing the unexpected her way, and she was overcome by another wave of sharp pain, flinching and grunting quietly again. Though it sounded more like a whimper than anything else. The pain was 'gone' (meaning, still very much present, but bearable enough so she could at least walk) as quickly as it had appeared, and Atsuhi went down the last two steps, turning behind the corner.

For a brief moment, she wondered if it really was the light from the windows that lit up the common rooms. Because she was pretty sure it was not supposed to be quite this bright, right...? It looked more like the lights in the common area were on.

Hmm, guess someone forgot to turn those off... Imagine if we were actually paying for all this electricity, geez!!

As she headed for the exit however, Atsuhi did not expect to meet a pair of crimson eyes with her own.

The boy's ash blond hair stuck up in all directions, while he sat comfortably on one of the big and wide sofas, feet up on the small wooden table in front of him. One of his arms was up on the armrest, and he supported his drooping head with his fist.

He wore all dark colors (his pants tinted a little more blue than his top), looking much like he did most days.

But unlike most days, today Bakugo Katsuki looked surprised.

It was the kind of rare sight you only maybe get to witness a time or two in your entire life. But Atsuhi was a little more lucky in that regard. She liked to think he felt more at ease showing his emotions around her. She tried her best to encourage him to do so too. Suddenly, she felt like there were butterflies fluttering around in her stomach, much like she had felt whenever he would compliment her, prior to realizing she actually had feelings for him.

But the butterflies, along with Katsuki's surprised expression, disappeared in a flash. Now that her sudden appearance and the distraction it had caused him were old news, his eyebrows furrowed again, making him look a whole lot more like the Bakugo Katsuki everybody knew. He didn't even move his body, only letting his shoulders relax and turning his head to the side, though his eyes strayed away from the girl standing a little ways behind him.

"Why the hell are you walking around here in the middle of the night?!" he asked, his tone not nearly as hostile as usual. Yet, it still sent a pang of sadness through Atsuhi's heart, upon making her remember that there was, in fact, something wrong.

He didn't ignore me this time, at least... I'd say that's an improvement. Though ignoring someone when it's just the two of you at 4AM isn't exactly natural...

Under any other circumstances, she would've smiled and told herself that this rude way of speaking of his was just like a trademark. Because it didn't mean anything.

But now...? Now she wasn't quite so sure anymore... What if... What if he really meant it?

This was simultaneously the Bakugo Katsuki that had risked his life for her at Kamino, and the Bakugo Katsuki that hadn't spoken a word to her since then.

"Oi."

Huh!?

"Oi, you gonna answer, or what?" he grumbled, crimson eyes staring into Atsuhi's again.

It's not like I can just tell him 'Oh, you know, I'm in too much pain from that wound I got when I was kidnapped because of you, haha, nothing much!'...

I don't know why he's trying to distance himself from me like this... But if it's because of guilt...

"Ah, well, nothing much really... I just needed a glass of water is all! In fact, I was just about to go back to my ro-" But just like that, without even letting her finish her sentence, that annoying sharp pain returned again for a brief second. Which, of course, was more than enough to make Atsuhi flinch sharply.

Oh no, no, no. Now!? Of all times? Seriously!!

It was a somewhat funny sight. She claimed she was fine, then suddenly grit her teeth and clutched her hands beside her chest. You know, just for fun or something. Katsuki on the other hand, shot her quite the skeptical look.

And if looks could speak, she was sure this one would be saying something along the lines of 'Yup, I totally believe that you're not currently clutching your hands in pain. Also, kitchen's the other way, so good try, but no.'

Of course, it was just a hunch.

"..." Katsuki kept looking at her with a frown, until he sighed and got up, going around the sofa he had been sitting on, and turning to face her, as he spoke. "You really think I'm that stupid? You haven't stopped doing this-" He motioned to her clutched hands, and continued. "-since you got here. So now – will you tell me what the hell's your problem?"

I seem to have forgotten just how easy it is for Katsuki-kun to see through anything I say... While I appreciate this whenever I'm having trouble with this whole 'actually speaking about your feelings' thing, I sure do hate it now.

Well, if lying's no good, then...

"No."

"..."

Just a single word. A single word, which left Katsuki staring with a dumbfounded expression.

If this were a comedy show, Atsuhi would've dashed away in the opposite direction, leaving Katsuki to continue with his dumbfounded look. Only problem was, he was kind of blocking her way right now. Perhaps on purpose, perhaps not.

"No?" he asked, absolutely confused.

"No...?" Atsuhi repeated, this time a little more unsure. In the span of a single second, Katsuki's face shifted from surprise, to sheer confusion, to anger again.

"The hell? What's wrong with you!?"

I might be just imagining things but... he looks offended.

Only then did Atsuhi realize her mistake. And the fact that she should probably think before she speaks next time. She waved her hands around nervously, trying to explain her stupidity away.

"N-no, I didn't mean that I don't want to tell you, it's just that I can't... because, um... I don't want to make you..." It felt like every new word had her digging that hole she'd suddenly found herself in deeper and deeper. But, she couldn't have made things any worse than they'd already been anyway.

"Make me feel guilty." The way Atsuhi had flinched upon hearing his words should've been an obvious sign that he was, in fact, correct. Especially if his following sigh was anything to go by.

So, I guess he figured it out, huh...

I'm starting to suspect he's hiding a telepathy Quirk or something.

"So... you're awake because of those injuries?" If it were anyone else, they would've surely freaked out when hearing this tender note to Katsuki's voice. Though Atsuhi wondered why he was speaking to her normally again. Not that she was complaining.

"Y-yeah, that's right..." Now it was her turn to feel guilty. She lowered her head, focusing on her slippers, after realizing she didn't have the guts to look Katsuki in the eyes. Was that how he had been feeling all this time?

Naturally, a heavy and awkward silence fell upon them. It was something that had only happened a few times whenever she'd been with Katsuki, and Atsuhi was afraid that soon this might become the norm for them.

Said silence was, however, briefly disturbed by the sound of shuffling and a few footsteps. When the noise stopped, she looked up, only to find Katsuki sitting on the sofa's armrest and looking at her expectedly.

"Well? I don't have all the damn time in the world. Where were you going?" Meanwhile, Atsuhi just stood there, looking at him, but finding herself unable to utter a word for a few moments.

"Um, I was going to Recovery Girl's office – you know, the one in the school? Though Aizawa-sensei did say there would be nobody there at night, so I guess it's up to me to- wah!? Wait, where are you going!?" During Atsuhi's explanation, Katsuki had headed for the door, turning his back to her. Only when she called to him did he stop, turning just his head to look at her

"What, you're not coming? I was going to help you, you know?" He cocked one eyebrow up, as if adding in an extra question like 'Are you stupid?' Katsuki then looked away and muttered something. "And I am kind of at fault for what's happening..." But in the quiet and empty room, Atsuhi did hear him.

And she smiled. Those butterflies in her stomach from earlier returned in no time, making her realize just how lucky she was to have his help. To have him by her side.

"Coming, coming!" she laughed, jogging a little to catch up to him, as the two left the dorms.


 

Thought it was the middle of the night, UA's entire campus was bright and shining, the only real clue as to the actual time of day being the crescent moon up in the sky. Even the stars that normally littered everything around, were now hidden away by clouds, which blocked their beautiful light.

All the lights lining the short path between the buildings of the dorms and the school itself, made it seem as bright as day.

That was only the second time Atsuhi had ever walked this normally routine path of hers in the night, as opposed to the early morning, and as such, she was still entranced by its beauty. It was almost like an illustration straight out of a fairy tale. Or a beautiful super hero comic book. Either way worked.

While her eyes scanned everything around her, and she tried to take in as much as she could to savor these beautiful memories, her gaze inadvertently wandered to the ash blond walking in front of her.

Wait... in front of her?

She smiled, resisting the urge to laugh out loud, since she preferred not to break this peaceful walk of theirs.

It almost looked like Katsuki was the one going somewhere, and Atsuhi was just there to keep him company, not the other way around. But she knew. He was always like this – full of pride, with a strong will, sometimes even stubborn and- oh, there were so many amazing things she could find about him.

So many amazing things she had found about him. If anything, she felt stupid for not realizing this any sooner. If she had, perhaps she wouldn't have waited so long to tell him how she felt, and perhaps there would've been a better time for it. Perhaps he would've given her an answer too...

I... have to bring it up now... If I put it off any longer, things might just get worse... I don't want them to be worse. I just... want everything to be like before.

Upon the depressing thoughts that flooded her mind, Atsuhi felt the stinging in her eyes, the push to let a few tears slip.

But she shook her head. If she went to plead with him while balling her eyes out, that wasn't really fair now, was it?

She didn't want to deal with this uncomfortable silence, with this sinking feeling, with this awful mood. Not anymore.

No, she wanted this loud, short-tempered, and confident Katsuki, who hid his gentle interior around others, back.

So, she got a hold of herself, took a deep breath, and opened her mouth to speak.

"How did you even plan to do this alone?" But it wasn't her voice that said this. Katsuki had interrupted her, without even knowing she had anything to say (since his back was still turned to her).

"Pardon me?" Katsuki sighed, the way one sighs when dealing with people who just don't seem to get anything. Atsuhi hoped it was an exaggeration. Seems like her confusion hadn't helped any with his weird behavior.

"You were going to Recovery Girl's place, right? To take care of yo-” He made a short pause, as if trying to retract his words. “Whatever. That's right, isn't it?" He waited for her to nod. "But I assume you also know we're not allowed to go there after curfew? Not to mention that if you're in this much pain, you won't be able to do shit..."

Well... he's not wrong.

Sure, Atsuhi avoided the topic, pretending it was nothing, because she didn't want him to feel bad. Of course, when you consider that he could both see through her lies with ease, and push her to give him an honest answer because he was just that stubborn, perhaps it would've been easiest if she just told him herself the first time.

"Aizawa-sensei gave me permission. As long as it's for this reason," Atsuhi motioned to her hands (though she avoided showing the left over scars). "I'm allowed in here whenever. And it's not my first time going there alone..." Katsuki's eyes widened briefly, but then he looked down, hands on his temple, as if disappointed. With himself.

"So you're telling me, this isn't the first time this has happened?"

Atsuhi paled. She hadn't meant to let that slip out. Speaking in front of Katsuki was sometimes too easy. She looked away from him, aware he didn't even need an answer to confirm his suspicions.

"That's what I thought..." Just before Atsuhi could panic that the atmosphere was going to become all awkward again though, Katsuki spoke up once more. "Is it that bad?"

The girl suddenly stopped walking altogether. She looked at him, trying to decide what to say.

"Of course not! No, I'm totally fine! It's a little uncomfortable, yes, but you don't have to worry!" All the while, she didn't even look at him. Which was his first clue that Atsuhi was lying. The fact that her words sounded incredibly sarcastic was probably the second clue. And if he wanted to, Katsuki would've surely found another dozen or so.

"If you were 'totally fine', you would've been sleeping in your goddamn bed right now." He then continued walking, leaving Atsuhi no choice but to follow after him. And if she had been just a little further away from him, perhaps she wouldn't have caught his next words. "What made you think I worry about shit like that, dumbass."

He had just contradicted himself. That very last sentence of his had already sounded so caring, yet he claimed he wasn't worried. Atsuhi couldn't help but smile again. Even the fact that he was actually talking to her was a major improvement already – was this weird behavior of his just her imagination? Maybe her anxieties had really just gotten the better of her? It was as if her face radiated happiness.

"Why are you grinning like a lunatic?!" Katsuki suddenly asked, making the girl relax the corners of her mouth a little. But just a little.

"Hmm, nothing much. I'm just happy things are like they were before!"

"Like they were before?" Katsuki cocked his head to the side, a funny habit that didn't fit his image of a tough delinquent all that much. Atsuhi realized it was time to address that problem she'd been mulling over for days now.

"It's just that... ever since what happened at Kamino... you... you were avoiding me, weren't you?" Katsuki froze. He looked away and a brief silence ensued. The two had already reached the school, having gone past the front gate, and lingering at the entrance while Atsuhi waited for the boy to find the words to answer her, and finally begin walking again.

Suddenly, Katsuki let out a loud sigh.

"Dammit, I had no idea you were going to take it so personally." He slung an arm above his eyes, hiding them from view. "If anything, I thought you wouldn't want to see me anymore. After all, I'm the dumbass that got you into this mess of a situation. I couldn't stand myself, so you have full permission not to speak to me anymore." He let one of his eyes peek from beneath his arm, looking at the girl, until he sighed again and removed his arm from his face entirely, lowering his head and rubbing his neck to calm his nerve. "Then again, looks like that won't be the case."

The way he was acting – it was something even Atsuhi hadn't seen before. It was always her feeling down, her needing reassurance, her doubting herself. She knew he had trouble voicing his feelings most of the time, but if the way he was acting right now was any indication, it really did look like he just wanted to say-

"Sorry. For every damn thing that's happened to you sine we met, and especially for what happened there..." Katsuki went silent.

Atsuhi, on the other hand, stared at him wide-eyed. She... didn't expect for him to really say it. To actually apologize.

She wouldn't have minded either way. She knew what he wanted to say, but she would've been okay even if he hadn't actually said it. Was 'sorry' even a word she'd ever heard from him before?

While she tried (and failed) to process Katsuki's apology, he went to her and gripped her wrist, guiding her frozen body inside the school and to the nurse's office. After making sure she'd followed him inside, Katsuki let go of her hand and closed the door, leaving the two alone and silent in the small room.

He began looking through the different drawers and cabinets, searching for bandages, painkillers, or whatever Atsuhi might have needed right now. His search didn't last very long however, as the girl's quiet voice distracted him from it.

"Katsuki-kun... I... I know you won't believe me when I say it but... I have never once considered this to be your fault." Katsuki stopped moving, but didn't turn to look at her. Meanwhile, Atsuhi looked at her hands, and her eyes traced the new marks on them. Marks that weren't going to go away. "In fact, I don't see these scars as a result of anyone's mistake. Not mine, and not yours either. To me, they're more like a reminder. A reminder that if I don't give it my all, I won't be able to protect others from feeling the same pain I felt. So... So because of this-"

She walked over to Katsuki, and just as he turned around to look at her, she put her hands on his shoulder, leaning in to look at his eyes.

"So because of this, please, stop blaming yourself for what happened! No one else thinks so. And you shouldn't either."

Atsuhi couldn't focus enough to read all the emotions that took their turn on Katsuki's face, for her attention was soon shifted to the new warm feeling on her upper arms.

Katsuki had raised his own hands, gently gripping the girl's arms, while his features were contorted in an unexpected, but somewhat familiar way. As if there were tears threatening to spill from his eyes.

Not a second later, Atsuhi's body was enveloped in a strong but tender hug. And it felt... it felt so, so pleasant.

"K-Katsuki-kun, what... what are you..." But she couldn't even bring herself to finish that question. Instead, she let herself relax in his embrace, laughing to herself upon remembering that this felt very similar to that time she'd accidentally fallen asleep on his shoulder in the bus a week or so ago. But now, it was so much better. She'd hugged him once before too, yeah. But there was something different this time.

Today, she was not only seeing, but also feeling this side of his that he usually hid away. It was a special privilege, reserved perhaps only for her.

Atsuhi closed her eyes. Yup, she could definitely get used to having his surprisingly gentle hands wrapped around her waist, and his warm body pressed up against hers, and-

She stopped herself before she could go too far with her thoughts though. Not to mention that her cheeks were likely redder and warmer than they'd ever been before. If she didn't know any better, she would've thought she was suffering a scary fever. At this realization, she suddenly flinched, alerting Katsuki too. His grip loosened, but he buried his head even further in the girl's shoulder.

"Goddammit, Atsuhi... I promise you're free to get mad at me, to hit me, or anything else later... Just... give me a minute... Who would've thought worrying about someone would be such a shitty feeling…"

She could easily feel how his chest vibrated with every word, how he wavered a few times. Soon enough, she couldn't stop those pesky tears of her anymore, and sniffed a few times, moving her arms to finally hug back.

"I don't mind... W-we-" her words were interrupted by a quiet sob. "We can stay like this as long as you'd like... I like it anyway..." As Atsuhi fully relaxed in Katsuki's hold, the two moved simultaneously, leaning their heads against each other, their foreheads touching.

With one final squeeze from Katsuki, his grip finally loosened completely (much to Atsuhi's disappointment), but instead of pulling away, he gripped her arms again, pointing his crimson eyes at the green orbs mere centimeters away. Then, he spoke, almost in a whisper.

"You have no idea how happy I am that I found someone as amazing as you."

Just a second later, their lips met.

And nothing, not even the deaf- no, deafening silence, in a nightmarish prison could ever stand a chance against this blissful late-night moment.

Chapter Text

The sensation still lingered on her lips, even a few moments later.

It continued to longer, even as she had long pulled away, desperately trying to act as if nothing had happened, only to realize she was failing miserably, and that her mind couldn't do anything but replay those few seconds over and over again.

Well, she wasn't going to forget them anytime soon. Though she couldn't help but wonder – was this ever going to happen again?

It didn't help that she and the very same person responsible for her racing heart and reddened cheeks remained completely silent, at first pausing just so they could catch their breath, only to forget to ever utter another word.

Atsuhi didn't have the confidence to even look back at Katsuki. Instead, she thought about the stupidest things that her mind had ever managed to come up with. And that said a lot.

Ah, we... we just... we just kissed, didn't we!?

Oh my gosh, this.. this was my first... my first kiss...

Woah, was it Katsuki-kun's first kiss too!? W-what if he gets mad he wasted it on me?? What if he didn't enjoy it!? What if he didn't want to kiss me in the first place!? Did I act without permission!?

But... but he did kiss back... So then, what does that mean? Is it possible he didn't enjoy it but still kissed back anyway? Was there something I was supposed to do, and I didn't-

Katsuki cleared his throat. A simple act, albeit one that was more than enough to break Atsuhi out of the ridiculous thoughts that only had her descending further and further down that rabbit hole.

She flinched a little, but took it as a sign that he had something to say, and finally turned to look at the boy, relieved to realize she wasn't the only one fighting her blush, as his cheeks were also tinted a light pink.

Katsuki looked at her too, but the moment their eyes met, his crimson orbs immediately darted away, not ignoring her completely, yet choosing to focus on anything but her. Meanwhile, Atsuhi gulped, and dug around to find the courage to actually face him now.

Quickly concluding that, despite trying to get her attention at first, Katsuki had opted out of actually saying anything, she was now left to fill the silence.

"So. Um... Can I... consider this to be my answer...?" she asked quietly, while intertwining her hands behind her back, and letting her eyes wander off of Katsuki's frame too. Though with her peripheral vision she noticed the quick note of surprise that took over the boy's features, only for him to shake his head and take a deep breath.

"I... don't know..."

If Atsuhi had gotten her hopes high, they were sure to crash down painfully right now. Fortunately, she had never hoped for anything. Or at least not all that much anyway. Instead, she was joyous that the response was not a hard 'no'.

Noticing that she had gone quiet, Katsuki continued.

"I think... maybe I need some time..." he sighed.

"It's fine – I'm in no rush anyway." Atsuhi smiled back.

"Hmm..." He went quiet for a moment. "How 'bout this? I'll tell you my answer once the Provisional License Exam is over. I'll get plenty of time to think about it."

"And you won't have anything distracting you! Sounds good to me!" Atsuhi felt a wave of relief wash over her, knowing that in a couple of days, she would hear a response.

A response to her confession. (Little did she know, she'd already gotten one, albeit while she was barely conscious and unable to actually remember anything...)

"After the exam it is, then!" she exclaimed, as she looked at Katsuki, waiting for his confirmation.

He nodded.


 

That's what I thought but...

It's really hard to focus on anything right now!!

Atsuhi grumbled (a little more audibly than she would've liked) under her breath, hands massaging her temples as she let out a deep sigh and did her best to set her priorities straight.

Upon opening her eyes though, a hint of red tinted her cheeks when she looked around to find the bus was almost empty. The only exceptions being: her, still sitting in her seat, as if she hadn't noticed that she was supposed to get off in the first place (truth be told, she hadn't), a deadpan Katsuki, already long used to her air-headed at times nature, who patiently waited for her as he stood beside his seat (let's not mention that they sat beside each other, 'kay?), and a snickering pair, consisting of Kirishima and Kaminari, who looked as if they had been about to leave the bus, but had stopped themselves to glance and see what was happening with their two dear friends. If she had to guess, Atsuhi was fairly certain Mina was jumping up and down beside a window somewhere, trying to just catch a glimpse of everything as well.

Well, guess the 'hint of red' had officially been promoted to an actual 'blush'. Here is hoping that it never went much further.

Why. Am. I. Like. This.

Clearing her throat to break the awkward atmosphere (and to hopefully give the other two boys the signal that they should just get out of there before she died of embarrassment), praying that it was enough to make the flush on her cheeks go away with it too, Atsuhi finally got up, briefly apologizing to Katsuki for making him wait for her.

Instead of giving her an actual response though, he just waved her off, muttering a small 'Come on' as both made their way outside.

Jeez, what is it with me and buses... I always embarrass myself like this...

Good thing Aizawa-sensei wasn't around to see this-

A glimpse of unruly black hair at the far end of the bus, its owner watching her and waiting for any lingering students to just make their way outside. You know, doing his job as a teacher.

Needless to say, Atsuhi was mortified.

Great start to a great day... No doubt about it...

She sighed again.

If things keep going like this, I might just fail the exam as well...

Speaking of which, now that everyone had been so kind as to leave the bus, it was time for Aizawa to join his students, and do his best to motivate them.

Today was quite the fateful day, after all.

As far as their education at UA was concerned, this might just have been the most significant event since their entrance exam.

It was time for everyone to acquire their Provisional Hero Licenses – something which allowed them to more or less act as heroes, even while they were still at school, without unnecessary consequences, and most importantly – without breaking the law.

Now, back on the topic at hand (aka the thing Atsuhi really shouldn't have been thinking about, yet she could do nothing but dwell on it) – she feared it might be hard to focus on the exam without derailing back into thoughts of the answer she was going to receive tonight.

Worst of all – she couldn't even tell which mattered more.

She had always thought being a hero was her first and only priority, the one thing that she strove for.

So then, how come something threatened to replace it now...

Fortunately for her, a very loud exclamation of UA's signature 'Plus Ultra', though coming from an unfamiliar voice that chimed in simultaneously with the rest of Atsuhi's classmates, had broken her out of her thoughts.

The source of said exclamation wasn't all that hard to spot either – especially considering how he towered above all other students, not to mention his strong build and wide shoulders. In other words, he was pretty noticeable.

But it wasn't his gigantic stature, nor his overly-enthusiastic and seemingly friendly behavior that caught Atsuhi's attention.

Instead, her eyes were fixated upon the black hat with the letter 'S' on it, that rested above his head (even as he practically slammed that head of his against the pavement in an overboard apology... This guy was kinda weird...). Any hero geek could recognize it in a heartbeat.

"UA's in the east..." Atsuhi mumbled.

"And Shiketsu is in the west," Katsuki finished.

...

Eh?

He... did he just finish my sentence?

Wait, he has done this before too, right? Huh, guess it took me by surprise.

...

It was kinda cool though...We should do that more often...

Good thing Atsuhi didn't feel the small blush this time around, otherwise she might've just lost it there and then.

Once the rest of the class was finally clued in on what Shiketsu High was (namely, one of the few hero schools out there that could rival UA), and once the UA-enthusiast boy from earlier had walked off with his classmates, Aizawa offered an unexpected explanation.

"Yoarashi Inasa," he muttered, looking at said boy from a distance. "This year, with his top grades and excellent performance, he got placed into your grade at UA under special recommendation." Atsuhi's eyes widened. "But for some reason, he declined."

H-he was a first-year!?

I thought we were the only first-years here...

Special recommendations too... So basically – if we run into him, we're screwed. Is that what all this is supposed to mean!?

It felt like things were happening too quickly.

While Atsuhi was still trying to jog up her memories and maybe recall something about Inasa (which she did not), another school by the name of Ketsubutsu, alongside their homeroom teacher – Ms. Joke, appeared.

And while Ms. Joke was busy trying (and failing) to get a reaction out of Aizawa, who, according to what she was saying, used to work close-by so the two actually knew each other, one of her students approached 1A.

What's up with all these overly-enthusiastic people today... Can't a girl have her exam in peace, please.

The boy introduced himself as Shindo, only to immediately go around and shake everybody's hand with this big bright smile on his face. Before long, he was standing in front of Atsuhi and Katsuki.

"Ah, and of course! We've got here Bakugo and Saeki – the two who stood right at the center of the Kamino Incident!" Shindo said, still keeping up this cheerfulness of his. Atsuhi did mentally grunt at the topic he chose though. It really felt awful to know that this might be somebody's first impression of her. She imagined it could only have been twice as bad for Katsuki.

"You two have got some iron will, alright!" Shindo tilted his head a little downwards, and reached out his hand in front of Atsuhi, waiting for her to shake it. "To face people of your caliber today – I'm so glad we'll get this chance!"

Atsuhi eyed the boy up and down.

He seems nice enough... But there's something kinda unsettling about that smile of his.

...

Well, I'd like to think of myself as a nice person, so...

Deciding to leave all the suspicions for once the test actually started, Atsuhi turned a blind eye to Shindo's unnaturally cheerful act, and reached to shake his hand.

Slap.

Except, there was now no hand outstretched for her to shake.

She could only gape in surprise (in the process also forgetting to even retreat her own hand, which remained halfway up in the air in front of her), as half of her vision was now obscured by Katsuki's back. The boy had stepped in front of her, forcing Shindo to back off, as the two now glared at each other.

"Yeah, yeah, cut the crap. What you're saying doesn't match that shitty look on your face," Katsuki said, as if managing to put into words the unsettling feeling Atsuhi had gotten.

Well, what can I say... Katsuki-kun's got an amazing intuition.

I'm... not sure what messes I would've gotten myself into, if it weren't for him looking out for me.

Unknowingly, Atsuhi let a small fond smile slip, as her eyes remained glued to the back of Katsuki's head.

Well, they would have, had Katsuki not suddenly turned around, crimson irises meeting a pair of green ones, as both blinked a couple of times in surprise, before Katsuki's mouth changed to a frown.

"The hell!?" he asked, making Atsuhi realize that staring was... stupid.

"N-nothing! Let's just move along, okay?" she pleaded, already going off without even waiting for him to follow. She knew he was going to anyway.

Look at it this way, Atsuhi.

You're getting your response tonight.

Which means, right now, everything is the same as it's always been. For now, we're simply friends.

For now, we're both heroes that desperately need to get their licenses.


 

Okay, one more time couldn't hurt.

We'll all be competing together, each equipped with six balls and three targets, which we need to attach somewhere on our bodies. I've already chosen where mine will be – one on my waist, one above my wrist, and-

Atsuhi moved to attach the final target, pushing her braid behind her shoulder.

One above my collarbone. That will do.

Next, we're supposed to hit people's targets with those balls, and once a target is hit, it lights up. If all three of your targets light up, that means you've been ‘defeated’. In other words, you've failed the test.

The person to light up your final target is the one who 'defeated' you. And in order to pass, we need to ‘defeat’ two people each.

Which would be difficult enough on its own.

But... Only the first one hundred people are going to pass. And this is just the first part of the exam...

"So the strategy here's pretty simple. Since people are going to group together regardless, it's probably best we stay together. It's way less likely we'll get ambushed, and we might help each other pass," Atsuhi muttered to herself (had she been spending too much time with Midoriya lately...?), going over a simple strategy that was, in all likelihood, already on everybody's minds.

Well, everybody, except for apparently one person.

You see, they were all already on the humongous site where the exam was going to be held, and any moment now, the starting signal was going to go off. It was a prime time for coming up with strategies and grouping up together.

But Katsuki didn't think so.

It took Atsuhi a solid couple of seconds to notice that she was currently being dragged away by a certain ash blond.

"Yeah, as if. This ain't some class picnic," he called, leaving Midoriya, who had just been in the process of explaining why staying together was such a crucial strategy, to stare at him dumbfounded, as he ran off on his own.

Well, ran off on his own, and dragged Atsuhi along with him. She still had a stupid look on her face, as she failed to realize what was happening. (Not to mention that Kirishima ran off after the two of them immediately as well.)

"W-wait, Katsuki-kun!" Her brain finally began to work again. "We shouldn't be going off on our own, it's- Ah!! I forgot!!"

Though he briefly stopped in surprise (giving Kirishima and, not surprisingly, Kaminari too, enough time to catch up to the two), soon enough he was on his way again, forcing Atsuhi to grip his arm and try to stop him from going any further. Naturally, it didn't work.

"Wait, Katsuki-kun, please stop for a second!!" she continued pleading, as she watched his barely contained annoyance finally spill.

"What!?" he snapped a little, at last complying with the girl.

"We- we have to warn them!!

“...”

“Warn them… about what? Atsuhi-chan...?" Kirishima, upon noticing that Katsuki had gone quiet in contemplation of the meaning behind Atsuhi's words, chimed in, a sinking feeling already settling between the four, as Kaminari too gulped loudly.

"The-"

START!!

In her panic, Atsuhi had completely missed the countdown – she hadn't heard the three, she hadn't heard the two, she hadn't heard the one.

All she had heard, was the 'start'.

She gasped.

She knew it. In the blink of an eye, the four UA students, easily recognizable from both their faces, which had been broadcast among the whole country thanks to UA's famous sports festival, and their fairly outstanding and obvious costumes, were surrounded. Students from every other school had gathered all around them, eyes looking as if they were watching their helpless prey.

UA st u dents' Quirks are widely-known thanks to the Sports Festival... So, other schools think they have the advantage over them, and every year, without fail, they gather together, and try to take down UA...

Thanks for war n ing me about that, Dad...

But I'm afraid I didn't manage to warn anybody else. To warn them about...

"The Crushing of UA."

Not that saying it was going to be any help. Not now, at least.

Their only choice? To just push through it. Like they always did.

Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't have been so worried...

I know everyone will be okay. I trust in them.

Now, time to fight some people.

Chapter Text

"The Crushing of UA!"

As soon as the words had left her mouth, Atsuhi was forced to jump back, avoiding a gooey projectile sent her way. She would've stopped to take note of whoever it was that had fired off this attack, but there were far too many people, all unleashing their Quirks simultaneously, for her to be able to distinguish something as trivial as that right now.

"I don't know what that is but it does not sound good!!" Kaminari exclaimed, most likely regretting his decision to tag along with the trio already. Atsuhi tried to raise her voice over the constant sounds of explosions and all sorts of other powers.

"It's a thing that happens every year during-" But she cut herself off, moving to the side to evade both a long metal beam aiming for her feet, and some dangerous-looking bubbles heading her way, only to then jump back, before two people who had managed to close in on her could light up any of her targets.

The weirdest part is... they're not even throwing those balls...

They're probably trying to immobilize us first, otherwise they might waste their only means of passing... It's too hectic for us to try and defeat any of them either.

Atsuhi grit her teeth.

"We need a way to get out of their sight." And just as quickly, she smirked. "Good thing I know just the trick."

Unfortunately for Atsuhi and her genius plan however, she was currently more or less cornered.

With all the jumping and moving to evade attacks, she hadn't even noticed when she had been driven to the corner of a dead-end alleyway. As things were right now, she could neither run, nor even see how the boys were doing on their end.

There's five- no, six people. They're blocking my only way out, but I can't deal with them one by one... I need a way to get past all of them at once.

She glanced to the side.

Well, there's technically only one person blocking my direct path. I should be able to get past him. The problem is, the moment I shift my attention to him, everyone else is going to jump at me.

In other words, what I need is a distraction.

Though no matter how much she thought, she still couldn't do anything but walk closer and closer to the cold wall behind her, back literally pressing up against it this time around, as the six people around her all looked at each other, proceeding to discuss how they should go about this.

Great, I have a few seconds, if I'm lucky enough they'll even start to- Aaah!

Atsuhi jumped a little, almost gasping out loud, as something brushed against the side of her leg. For a brief second, she thought it might have been somebody's Quirk, only to look down and realize it was just a little bush planted in a tall cement flower bed that just so happened to be right beside her leg.

Sure, this is what scares me now. What a hero I am...

...

Wait a second.

That... could work?

I've got a new ultimate move to test out, after all…

"It's just her, this isn't even enough for one of us to pass!!" The students surrounding her were still too distracted with their arguing.

"Well, once she's immobilized, maybe we can catch those three boys by surprise too, can't we? They're classmates, they gotta care for each other to some extent!"

"I don't know man... You see that spiky-haired guy? The blond one? He doesn't look like it at all to me."

"Oh my God, why can't you boys figure anything out by yourselves!?"

Well, she's right. If I were Katsuki-kun, I could've probably escaped ten times by now.

As she listened though, Atsuhi slowly bent down a little, touching the plant with one hand, before returning to her previous position. Thus, she activated her Quirk. It was only the beginning of the test and she had plenty of time until the six surrounding her came to an agreement, so she let herself raise its temperature slowly at first.

"We know she needs her hands to use her Quirk, so we just bind her hands!! How difficult is that!? Jeez, I swear you'll never pass if I weren't here with you... Rui-san, make some restraints out of your web, and we'll..." But the girl stopped, suddenly turning back to eye Atsuhi suspiciously.

Ah, so she did notice.

The other boys turned to look as well, all of them catching on one by one.

"Is something... burning?"

Atsuhi only smiled sheepishly. It was her time to shine.

"Heat Touch-" she began. After all, what good hero doesn't call out the name of their ultimate move? "Breaking Point!!" As soon as she raised her voice, the temperature of the flower bed beside her skyrocketed, and it went up in flames, while the six students surrounding her all scrambled to either get farther away from it, or put it out before the fire could spread.

Sorry, little plant! I promise I'll plant one just like you when I have the chance. Just to make up for this!

Atsuhi used this momentary distraction to slip past the five. Naturally, the sixth was still directly in her way, no matter how distracted he may have been.

But that's fine. Everyone else is focusing on the small fire. I can take this guy out, no problem.

As she approached him however, the boy (who was the same Rui with a web Quirk that the girl of the group had been addressing earlier) noticed Atsuhi and reached out a hand, presumably meaning to use his power to stop her.

But Atsuhi was faster. She was beside him in the blink of an eye, hand gripping his arm. Rui's eyes widened and he scrambled to free himself.

With his physically stronger body, he pulled hard, only for Atsuhi to suddenly let go, and let him fall flat on his butt.

Though noticing her running away, the other five never managed to catch up to her, as she ran out of the alleyway, frantically looking around for the three boys.

It was almost funny. I hadn't even used my Quirk on that guy yet. He was just that scared I was going to.

She chuckled a little at the thought, only for her small smile to extend into a full grin when she spotted Katsuki not too far away. Making a sharp turn, she ran towards him. She could already see that he too was surrounded by a handful of unique-looking individuals.

"Katsuki-kun!!!" Atsuhi only had to call out to make the students gathered around the boy turn their heads towards her approaching figure. Which, in turn, was enough time for Katsuki to blow them away with a (toned down) explosion.

Soon enough, the two were side by side again.

"Where the hell did you go off to earlier!?" They began running again, as Atsuhi looked for the other two.

"Same as you – fighting off a bunch of people. We don't have enough time! We need to find Kirishima-kun and Kaminari-kun!!" Katsuki looked about ready to protest but settled for a simple 'tch' instead.

"There – beside the overpass," he called out, making Atsuhi turn to look and smirk.

"Perfect! We're gonna go get them!"

This time, there was no need for distractions. Katsuki and Atsuhi just plowed through the group surrounding their two classmates and, when mostly all of them were down (of course, only temporarily – if things had been that easy, the four would've long passed this test already), Atsuhi turned to the boys.

"We're going on that overpass there, okay?" They nodded. "And I want you to stand behind me when I give you the signal!" This time, they looked a little confused but still nodded. This wasn't the first time they were together like this. And they knew they could count on each other.

Glad to be of help!

Once all was set, and the other schools' students were quickly getting up one by one and going on to chase after UA again, Atsuhi double-checked that all three boys were standing behind her and pulled the pair of protective glasses over her eyes.

I should get more use out of these things.

Reaching into one of the compartments of her belt, she took out a small plastic ball from inside it, twirling it between her fingers. And, taking a deep breath, she threw it.

The kids at the front lines briefly stopped, anticipating an attack. When nothing came however, they just shrugged and advanced forward.

Wrong choice.

As if in sync with their first steps, a loud 'pop' sounded from the ground, and in a single moment, half the overpass was enveloped in a smoke screen.

Once she heard all the surprised gasps and calls from inside the smoke, Atsuhi turned back to look at the boys and nodded, as the four ran off again.

"Wow, weren't those the things you used at the Battle Trial?" Kirishima asked, looking over his shoulder to see the aftermath of Atsuhi's move again.

"Yeah, against Uraraka, right?" Kaminari joined in, while Atsuhi smiled.

"Yup! I call them my 'Heat Grenades'! I just heat them up to make the gas inside expand and burst out! They're pretty cool!"

"Woah! Can't we just... get them while they're all confused and just pass this thing already?" Kaminari asked.

"No fucking way. This thing's gonna clear soon and all the extras are going to attack at once." A short silence followed, as Katsuki’s words cut through the optimistic atmosphere like a sharp blade.

"Katsuki-kun's right. It was meant for us to escape. We'll find a smaller group to pass-" Atsuhi suddenly stopped though, shoulders tensing up. Upon noticing her hesitation, the others slowed down, before coming to a halt as well. Three pairs of eyes were now on her. But as she turned to look back at the clearing smoke, so did they as well.

"It... suddenly went quiet..." she breathed out.

"You're right… There were at least a couple dozen people shouting and crying out up until now. But the voices stopped…?" Kirishima chimed in too, stepping forward.

What happened in there...?

The smoke was quickly clearing and, though it only barely covered even the ground now, there were no silhouettes emerging from it. Kirishima took another step forward.

I really don't like where this is going all of a sudden...

Finally, a single silhouette did appear, the smoke still lingering at his feet.

"Hey, what did you do to all those other guys...?" Kirishima asked, while Kaminari gasped, as if he'd been thinking that if they were to remain completely silent, the new foe wasn't going to notice them.

"Kirishima-kun, it might be best if you get back here..." Atsuhi called out quietly, taking a small step forward, yet she was still nowhere near close enough to even brush a hand against the boy's shoulder. "We don't know what that guy's Quirk is-"

Then, it all happened so quickly, as if in an instant.

The mysterious opponent sharply shifted his eyes towards the group and something shot at Kirishima, both attack and attacker still obscured by the clearing smoke.

That was the last straw.

I don't know where all the people who were here until mere moments ago went... But we're not leaving Kirishima-kun like this!!

In yet another instant, the group of three shot forward, a set of just as many vastly different attacks at the ready. They got much closer to their foe, who appeared as much more than just a silhouette now. In fact, Atsuhi could clearly distinguish his every feature – from his short purple hair and cunning squinty eyes, to the Shiketsu High cap his head adorned.

Huh, I had expected that Inasa guy to be the one giving us trouble... Seems like Shiketsu will always be a torn in our side though. Kinda sucks – I'm sure if the two schools hadn't met at an exam like that, we might've been able to become friends.

Well, not with this guy though.

Atsuhi shook her head. Now was not the time for such thoughts.

Instead, she suddenly realized something.

We're standing exactly where Kirishima-kun should've been... So... where is he?

She looked around, only to find that the smoke had cleared already, yet there was no sign of anybody else.

No, that wasn't quite right.

The smoke hadn't cleared completely yet.

The last of it still lingered barely above the ground, obscuring little beside the four's feet.

Or so she thought. Until that smoke too, had disappeared.

On the ground below, all around the Shiketsu student's feet, was... something horrifying.

There were at least ten, no- twenty of those things. They were deformed, gross... Were they in pain...?

All were questions that remained unspoken, that remained to linger in Atsuhi's mind.

What... are those things...

The color drained from her face, the sight almost making her want to puke.

Those... "things" on the ground... They were not "things" at all...

"Kirishima-kun..." she whispered, noticing how similar one of them looked.

That's right – those were no "things". Those were the deformed and jumbled forms of all the people who had stood there prior. Some were twitching, some were still. But all of them had been reduced to grotesque forms such as these.

How....?

Atsuhi wondered. It all looked too scary.

So, what now?

How are we supposed to fight... against a Quirk like that...?

Chapter Text

“You know, I actually have a lot of respect for UA. Perhaps you could even go as far as to say that I think it can measure up to our own Shiketsu High." Though he spoke so confidently and remained unmoving, the three UA students he had been addressing stood still, as if frozen in fear. “Yet your class A has done nothing but erode those feelings…”

That is, until a certain ash blond snickered, mumbling as he prepared to attack. They weren't here for a mere pleasant chat, after all.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Quit yappin'. Show us what you really got, senpai!" Katsuki accentuated the last word, turning a title of respect for somebody's experience, into but a snarky remark, meant only to piss his opponent off.

The Shiketsu High student's eyes turned sharply towards Katsuki, his body following suit, as he finally moved in to attack back.

"And you, Bakugo -" He sent a few of the chunks of flesh hovering behind him in the ash blond's direction. "MOST OF ALL!!"

"Katsuki-kun!!" At first, Atsuhi called out in concern, only to realize a mere second later, after the smoke from yet another clash had quickly cleared, that Katsuki was most definitely fine, standing almost victoriously. Unfortunately, his opponent was also quite alright.

So, in terms of strength, we might or might not have the advantage. What's stopping us is his Quirk. If it touches us, we're done for.

Kinda like mine.

This is so not good.

If it were just us versus him, I would've found a way to get him, even if I couldn't get close to him.

But with all those other people on the ground... Though they don't exactly look like people... Any of my long-range attacks would hit and hurt them as well… Kirishima-kun's among them too.

Both Kaminari-kun and even Katsuki-kun are holding back. We're not only fighting a human being, but he essentially has hostages we need to keep safe. Some heroic battle this is…

As Atsuhi's thoughts ran wild in her head, Katsuki continued exchanging blows with the purple-haired student.

A soft click to the girl's right made her turn to look at Kaminari, who prepared two disks in the brand new support equipment he had added to his costume a few weeks ago. He quickly noticed her gaze on him, and silently motioned towards the fight happening in front of them.

Ah, so he plans to attack while that guy isn't looking.

I wish I could do something to help too... But as long as we take him down, it shouldn't matter either way, so long as we all actually pass.

Her attention returned to Kaminari as he adjusted the position of his arm and aimed at somewhere near where the two were fighting up ahead. Now, he had to time it.


"Seriously!? Neither of you got any costume improvements!? Why...?"

"Weeell, I don't know about Katsuki-kun but I didn't really need much... Though it's not like there are no changes. The support company improved the fabric so that it's even more heat resistant now and they did some testing with samples of my hair to make the parts around my hands and feet different, so that I can use my Quirk without having to go around barefoot or something!!"

Kaminari looked on briefly, registering all the sudden information. Then, he mumbled under his breath.

"Yeah, sure. The power couple's gotta be all smart…"

"Pardon me, what was that?"

"Nothing, nothing, don't mind me!" Kaminari waved his hands, frantically trying to dismiss his earlier slip-up upon the sudden realization that Katsuki was very much within earshot. Though Atsuhi looked at him briefly with suspicion in her wide green eyes, she decided not to pry. (A good choice, for if she had heard him, she would've no doubt blushed a mad red, prompting Katsuki to come over and check up on her, only for this all to lead to Kaminari's premature death. In other words, it wouldn't have been pretty…)

"Hmm, okay then. What about you, Kaminari-kun? I saw those new parts but I have no clue what they're for." The blond seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, deciding that his life had been saved. He mentally thanked Atsuhi's respect of personal space.

"Well, glad you asked!!" He grinned proudly. "I'm not very good at aiming my electricity, and when we're fighting I'm always scared that my comrades will get caught up in my attacks too. So, I asked the support course for something to help me with that!!"

"Hmm, hmm," Atsuhi nodded excitedly.

"So, how's it work?"

"I shoot out these disk things wherever I want, and then I can automatically aim my electricity there! I haven't had the chance to use it outside of training yet but I can't wait to try it out in the exam next week!"


A loud click took Atsuhi right out of the untimely flashback, only to bring her back to the harsh reality of her depleting time limit and the blur that were Kaminari's two disks whizzing past her and flying towards the Shiketsu High student.

In an instant, Katsuki moved out of the way, leaving his opponent to fend off the attack all on his own, while he moved behind him and prepared to blast him away with one final move.

Katsuki-kun's back is facing all the... 'people' on the ground, so that his explosion doesn’t hit any of them. He might not look like it but he puts a lot of thought into these things! Even if it comes to him pretty naturally…

It would've been a nice change of pace if this impromptu plan of theirs had worked as perfectly as they had hoped it would. It sure would've been neat if Kaminari's attack really had connected. If it'd been enough.

If only things were that simple.

"Don't forget 'bout me!!"

"I haven't.”

In that single instant Atsuhi's eyes widened, a cold shiver running down her spine. Before she could even blink, she was already running forward, as if she could've done something either way.

"Katsuki-kun!!" she called out desperately, an outstretched hand hoping to somehow get a grasp of something, anything that she could do. Katsuki's eyes did briefly turn to her, then to Kaminari, whom he tossed one of his small grenades that were usually attached to his belt.

Thus, the chunk of flesh which had attached itself to the back of his neck, seemingly swallowed him whole, before he too turned into a mangled twisted thing on the ground, much to Atsuhi's absolute horror.

K-Katsuki-kun too!? W-we're done fore then...! Are we really going to fail just like-

...

No! Get yourself together, Atsuhi!! Both Katsuki-kun and Kirishima-kun are down. Which means it's all up to me and Kaminari-kun... We have to do it...

In the single spare second that they had, Atsuhi ran over to Kaminari's side and whispered one of her signature desperate plans that had a much higher chance of failing miserably than doing her any good. You know, the usual.

The boy nodded and before long, the two were beside each other, battle poses at the ready.

Right now, it was just the two of them.

Huh, seems like I'm gonna be the one saving his butt this time around. Well, I guess we still won't be quite even. But it's a start. Katsuki-kun, Kirishima-kun, we will get you out of this mess, I promise! Just you wait.

Chapter Text

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.

Almost.

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.

"What...?"

"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...

Chapter Text

Oct 30 at 19:43

Heeeeeey

Katsuki-kuuuuun~

...

???

You know I can see that you've read the messages, right?

Yeah

Unfortunately

Aww, don't be like that

Say, Katsuki-kun

I wanna ask you something

This is precisely why I didn't wanna respond in the first place

Ahaha, you're so funny.

Anyway

So, Mina and I were talking earlier

And since tomorrow is, you know, Halloween

We thought we should get together and do something fun! To celebrate!

I don't like the sound of that

Oh come ooooon

Pls, pls, pls, pls

...

Who's going?

Hehe, got you

It's me, Mina, Kaminari-kun, Kirishima-kun, and Sero-kun.

Aaaand potentially you too?

...

You're being awfully quiet

Not convinced yet?

Not really

Well, Kirishima-kun's advice shall come in handy then!

?

He said that if you were being stubborn and refusing

I should tell you that we're gonna be watching a horror movie together

There weren't many seats available but we managed to reserve a few that are right in the middle of the room!!!

Not sure why he wanted me to say it.

But I did.

You should be convinced by now, apparently

Is it working?

Let me get this straight

It's you, bug eyes, and the three guys

Yup. They've got names though

There will be a seat on either side of you

That's how seats at a movie theater usually work, yes

And there will be people sitting in them

Katsuki-kun, you are confusing me so much, are you sure you're okay?

So, dunce face, weird hair, or soy sauce face is going to be sitting next to you during a horror movie...?

Well, I guess

Again, that's how this stuff usually works

Katsuki-kun, you could've just told me you weren't coming

I'm coming.

It would've saved us all this weird talk

...

Wait.

You are!?

Yeah

Wow...

Kirishima-kun is something else alright

How does he always find a way to get you to agree to go with us...

Doesn't matter

Yeah, I guess.

Oh

Oh

Oh!!

I figured it out!

What!?

Eh??

Ah, no, nothing, don't mind me, haha (*^.^*)

Aaaaaanyway, I'll talk with Mina to figure out when and where we're meeting up and relay the info at school, okay?

Sure

Alright!! Good night, Katsuki-kun!!

Sweet dreams!

Yeah

Thanks

Sweet dreams to you too, I guess

???

Awww, Katsuki-kun!!

You know what, I take it back

Too late!!

 


Oct 31 at 20:32

You leaving soon?


Oct 31 at 20:57

Oh my god, I'm soooo sorry, Katsuki-kun

I was getting ready and didn't see the message until now

I thought we were supposed to meet up at 9.15, why did you text me so early?

Nah, it's fine.

So you're still at home?

Yeah, I'm about to put on my shoes and leave

Don't leave yet

Huh?

It's already dark out

I'll come to get you

Katsuki-kun, it's literally not even a 10-minute walk from here to where I was supposed to meet up with you, it's fine

Don't inconvenience yourself like that for me

I'm already almost there anyway

Eh?

Aaaaah, I'm so sorry then

And thank you!!

Sure, sure

Just be ready to leave in a minute

Yessir!


Nov 1 at 00:36

Oi, what're you doing?

I thought you two just went to the bathroom?

You've been gone for like, twenty minutes now?

We're gonna miss our train

Aaah, we are???

Ooops

You see, we have a bit of a problem here

Um, scratch that, it's a pretty big problem

Remember how we were carrying the two cups of cola we didn't manage to finish during the movie?

Atsuhi, get to the point please

To put it simply, they might or might not be on me right now...

What?

Like, literally covering me

We spilled them

Mina spilled them

On me

I'm covered in cola

What are you still doing in the bathroom then!?

Well excuse me but aside from my dripping hair and face

My clothes are still soaked

If I walk out with my shirt like this, I might as well be walking out in my underwear

Hm?

Katsuki-kun?

Hellooo, you still there??

...

Sorry

???

Haha, don't worry, omg

It's fine, just get me something wear

What?

I don't wanna stay in the bathroom all by myself so Mina's gonna keep me company

Meanwhile, I politely ask you, Kaminari-kun, Kirishima-kun, and Sero-kun to go get the cheapest clothes you could find in the 24/7 supermarket right across the street

Sound good?

You want a group of 4 boys to pick out clothes for you?

Katsuki-kun, I literally just want to wear clothes that aren't stained and soaked, that's all

It doesn't matter what you're gonna get, just get something

Please

I trust you guys, it's fine

I will be forever grateful

Okay, don't worry, I got it

We'll be back in 15

Woah, sure

Just drop it off to Mina, she'll be waiting in front of the bathrooms

And thank you!!

You already said that

I'll say it as many times as I need to (☆ω☆)


Nov 1 at 01:07

Katsuki-kun

You ready?

No, answer my question first

Who picked this out?

I don't know, at some point while looking we must have split up because a few minutes later Kirishima called me and said they found something for 15 bucks

Kirishima-kun, Kaminari-kun, and Sero-kun

Yes

Sigh

Did you just type out a sigh?

Perhaps

Is there a problem then?

Mmmm, yes, a small one.

When I said anything, I didn't exactly mean a Halloween costume...

A what?

You didn't even see what they got?

They never showed me

Oh I know exactly what they're doing...

I sent Mina away already

So, um

Would you come over for a second?

I can't go into the girl's bathroom and you know it

No, stupid, I'm in front of it

Please

Sure

Why though?

I wanna know if it looks stupid or not

Why would my opinion matter?

Because usually you're brutally honest

Point taken

Alright, coming

Thank you

Stop

Never


Nov 1 at 02:40

Heeey, Katsuki-kun

Are you about to invite me on another stupid 'celebration' that will only end in disaster?

Haha, no

I'd reconsider before agreeing to one anytime soon too

At least one that involves Mina and her clumsy hands

And those three with their obvious intentions

You do realize that leaves practically no one, right?

I mean

It leaves you?

Anyway

Don't mind that, please

Sorry for troubling you all night

I still had a lot of fun but I feel kinda bad for making you run all over the place

Just because of me

Hope you at least had some fun

Don't be like that

It wasn't too bad

The movie was pretty good too

Plus, seeing you practically make those three idiots piss their pants just by glaring at them was memorable

Okay but, it was their fault I had to go out in public like this

They deserved it

They sure did

Don't worry about it though

And don't apologize either

I vaguely recall telling you that a couple of times already

Ahaha, sure, sure, you got it

Thank you then

That too

Ha, not happening

Well shit

By the way, what'd you do with the weird cat costume thing?

Well, it's brand new and not covered in cola so I'm at least gonna wash it and keep it

Who know, it might come in handy

It feels like a waste to throw it away anyway

Why are you asking?

Well

It

Yeah, that's a movie but it wasn't the one we watched, silly

...

I'm sorry, go on

It wasn't that bad

???

What? The movie? You told me that already

No, I mean

The costume

Well yeah, it's pretty well-made. For 15 bucks, it's surprisingly sturdy too!

For fuck's sake Atsuhi

You are actually gonna make me say it

Say what?

It looked good on you

...

?

OH MY GOD KATSUKI-KUN

Oh no

DID YOU ACTUALLY JUST-

Alright, I'm immediately deleting that message then

TOO LATE!

Already took a screenshot!!

A screenshot? Okay then

Huh!?

Better keep your phone close to you next time at school

Eh!?!?

Less somebody steals it

KATSUKI-KUN!!

Chapter Text

Stuffing a hundred tired and sweaty kids, who had just completed a labor-intensive exam and were all still catching their breaths, into a single relatively small room was not a good idea.

In next to no time, the air became stuffy, hot. It was getting harder to breathe, not to mention that no amount of high-tech could mask the unpleasant smell setting in. Good thing they were only going to be in here for a mere ten minutes.

Though Atsuhi did wonder, perhaps it was her own thoughts that made everything seem so bad. She wasn't all that tired, not really. But her heart was thumping, she could even feel its pounding in her head, and it was quickly driving her mad.

She glanced around the room, noting what everybody else was doing. And she was not surprised to find that it wasn't much more than sitting around, and goofing off.

If they can actually have fun at a time like this, all the more power to them.

She leaned back against the wall she sat beside, and sighed, only for her eyes to immediately dart to the space on her left upon the sound of quiet shuffling. Glancing to her side, from her position of sitting cross-legged on the ground, her eyes landed on Katsuki's black booths, then trailed up his body, stopping at his eyes, which were already looking at her.

The two remained silent for a few seconds, but Atsuhi cracked first.

"W-what is it...?" Her face heated up, as she was suddenly a tad more self-conscious. Even still, she didn't look away completely, choosing to focus on his spiky hair instead. Meanwhile, Katsuki's eyes also widened briefly, as if he hadn't realized he had been staring.

"Nothing..." His eyes darted behind her, but were lost upon the crowd, as if he wasn't really looking at anything in particular.

Atsuhi mouthed a silent 'oh' and was just about to go back to doing absolutely nothing (or overthink this short-lived exchange – who knows where the tides would've taken her), but a few approaching figures, all wearing the same very recognizable Shiketsu High hat, caught her attention first.

Even more so, at the forefront of the little group was what she could only describe as a student who was completely covered in hair. Head to toe. Like an animal.

Must have something to do with his Quirk... Should I still be taking note of other people's Quirk at all anymore, or is that part of the exam already over?

Just a little earlier, the big TV in the room had shown live footage of the area where the first part of the exam had been held, only for multiple detonations and explosions to suddenly occur throughout it and destroy every last building. Soon enough, the message had sounded that for the final part of the exam, the students would have to carry out rescue operations of a group dubbed the 'Help Us Company', consisting of old people and children alike, all professional rescuees for... situations like this one?

It feels a little too specific to be an actual job... then again, anything goes nowadays, I guess?

Back to the guy covered in hair though, he had already walked over to the both of them and Atsuhi took that as her cue to stand up and dust off her costume, trying to show some respect for her seniors. She had to compensate for Katsuki, after all.

"Excuse me, you two are Bakugo and Saeki, correct?"

He is... so polite...!! Nothing like the guy we fought earlier...

That's the second person who's approached me and Katsuki-kun together like this today... Is it just me, or does the whole world seem to be very aware of what happened at Kamino?

...

Even though I wasn't actually conscious for like, half of it...

Nonetheless, Atsuhi nodded, while Katsuki just stared blankly, and the Shiketsu student continued.

"Our Shishikura... the one with the squinty eyes... He came after your group, right?" Upon the sound of Katsuki even so much as opening his mouth and inhaling, Atsuhi sharply cut him off, deciding it was best to hold the conversation without unnecessarily offending people.

"Ah, it was fine, really! It was an exam so we kinda had to go up against each other – please don't worry about it!" Despite Katsuki's surprised gasp (how dare she interrupt him), she stepped in front of him, and lightly bowed to the Shiketsu student, who immediately shook his head.

"No, no – you aren't the ones who need to apologize! He was probably very rude to you... He has this bad habit of forcing his values on others and, seeing opponents as notorious as yourselves, he likely couldn't contain himself." As he spoke, a small but kind eye peeked from behind the hair that covered his entire face. "We would like to build a good relationship with UA going forward. It's unfortunate that this was your first impression of our school. Please accept out apology."

"Of course," Atsuhi replied, smiling back. Building a good relationship with the only other school that could ever hope to match UA's fame? She would've loved that just as much.

Soon enough, the group of Shiketsu students walked away (though the one who had allegedly turned down his first place at UA – Inasa, had a brief conversation with Todoroki that, by the looks on both of their faces, did not seem to be going very well), and Atsuhi sighed, watching their retrieving backs.

"It's good to know not all of them are so self-centered," she snickered, finally turning to look at Katsuki, who at the very least seemed to be taking her total disregard for anything he had to say earlier pretty well. And 'pretty well' meaning he was gritting his teeth and she could swear a vein was practically popping out on his forehead, but he did hold back on cursing, so... it was a win then?

She opened her mouth to speak again. However, a loud buzzing, followed by the muffled voice coming from the speakers all around the room, came first.

"A group of terrorists has launched a massive attack! There is wide-scale destruction throughout the city. Buildings are collapsing left and right, and civilians are hurt!"

Though she felt a brief jolt of panic, Atsuhi soon remembered this was not a real emergency, but only the scenario for the upcoming portion of the exam.

But if I do get that license... I would have to deal with situations like this one on a daily basis... It doesn't occur to me how stressful this job is until crucial times like today...

"As most of the roads are out of commission, the rescue and relief squads are having trouble arriving at the scene! It is your job to rescue and take care of the civilians until they get here! Save every life you can, heroes!"

...

"START!"

In the blink of an eye, the one hundred examinees ran out to the destroyed exam site. And as of right now, running was the only thing Atsuhi was doing.

Her mind had drawn a blank.

People were whizzing past her (though some were just as baffled as she was), organizing into groups, rescuing people, doing their own thing. Doing what they were supposed to do. She could see Katsuki up ahead of her, having just landed on the ground after covering the initial distance with the help of his explosions. He looked around, as if surprised, and soon spotted her, staring at her with a single question written on his face.

'Why aren't you doing anything?'

I don't know, Katsuki-kun, I really don't...

She took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart, and looked at her hands. Though partially covered by her costume, the left-over scars were still there. There to stay. To remind her. Not of the terrible events of that night at Kamino, but of her reason for deciding to become a hero in the first place.

That's when she heard it.

Even among the noise, the booming voices of everyone around her, the sound of her own heartbeat ringing in her ears, she heard it clear as day.

A cry.

It sounded like it came from a child. Nearby. This was all she needed.

With a determined look at Katsuki, she motioned for him to go on without her, and, though a little reluctant, he complied, while Atsuhi hoped he'd be able to pass the test all by himself, or with Kaminari and Kirishima's help anyway.

Then, she looked around, eyes frantically searching for the source of the cry.

The reason why I became a hero...

Just a few meters to her side, she found it. A small child, sitting beside a big pile of debris, body covered in scrapes, bruises, maybe even some blood, with tears streaming down his cheeks. She ran over in the blink of an eye.

It was so I can go to people who are in trouble, in pain, who are suffering...

Atsuhi reached the child and crouched in front of him, whispering soothing words to stop his crying.

So I can tell them...

When his sobs died down, even if just a little, he rubbed his eyes and sniffed once more, looking at her big green orbs. She breathed a sigh or relief and smiled, reaching out a hand for him to take.

"Everything's alright now. You're safe."

The child sniffed again, as if about to tear up for the second time, but just as Atsuhi opened her mouth to comfort him in return, his tone changed sharply.

"What was that!? Points off for you!! Do you even hope to pass this thing!? Sure, the smiling and reassuring part is important too!! But you have to check for injuries!! That is your priority when saving lives!!"

“...”

...

"E-eh!?!?" Atsuhi barely held herself from shrieking any louder.

W-wha...!?

I thought I was doing so well too!!

So the 'Help Us Company' is doing the scoring!? Oooh, I'm sooo screwed...!

No, no, no – there's no time for hesitation! Not here anyway! If this kid really was dying, I would've failed as a hero!

Atsuhi looked around feverishly, while also asking the 'child' (which was really just an old man dressed as one, who had absolutely terrified her with harsh criticism moments earlier) questions to assure he was alright. Not too far away, she spotted the makeshift evacuation center, set up by some much better at quick, on-the-spot decisions students than her.

It wasn't very fancy, not at all actually. But there were already a dozen or so examinees gathered there, taking care of an even bigger number of civilians, ranging from distressed and crying but otherwise unharmed, to unconscious and on the verge of the death.

Carrying the boy with her, she ran into another girl, who quickly noticed her and asked to take a look at him.

"Mostly scrapes and bruises, the blood isn't even his," Atsuhi interrupted, having already assessed the situation herself. The girl paused briefly but nodded and pointed in the direction where the ones with few to no severe injuries were being taken care of and, nodding back in gratitude, Atsuhi headed over that way, leaving the child in the care of others, whose only job now was to reassure him and take care of his small wounds.

Instead, she went back to the same girl who had directed her earlier.

"Is there something wrong? Or are you going to stay and help around?" the girl asked, and Atsuhi made a small 'hm' of agreement.

"Yes. I can help with temporarily taking care of the more serious wounds, especially broken bones and even fevers." The girl gasped in delight.

"Perfect! We were running short on people who could actually help with the injuries! They're over on the right, you see that guy and the girl running around a lot? That's them. They could really use the help." Atsuhi followed her line of sight and noticed the two frantic students.

"Three it is then," she mumbled. "Alright, I'll go now. Thank you so much!" The girl waved goodbye and soon returned to her own job as a new group arrived, carrying even more injured civilians with them.

Atsuhi found her rhythm in no time, running back and forth just like the other two, and taking turns with attending the wounded. Which were rapidly increasing in numbers.

With time though, more and more people showed up to help out, while the incoming stream of injured lessened, until things were looking at least somewhat calm over in her area. Calm enough for her to have a moment to think to herself, that's for sure.

I wonder how Katsuki-kun's doing... He might be great at a lot of things, but being kind and reassuring isn't one of them. If he fails, I'll probably feel kinda guilty, to be honest.

Of course, it's hard to imagine myself being saved by his angry face with that scary costume of his. The poor people who will have to live through that…

She chuckled. Things finally seemed to have been going well.

But anyone who had followed her life long enough would surely know what this meant.

Because if things were ever going well, then they were about to go very, very wrong. In a matter of seconds.

BOOOM!!

A massive explosion suddenly sounded, coming from somewhere at the end of the examination site.

More debris flew off, scattering about everywhere. Good thing none had reached the evacuation center. At least not yet.

From the newly-appeared big hole in the wall, emerged many threatening silhouettes, all lead by...

Gang Orca!?!?

Atsuhi knew the Top 10 heroes by heart. She followed that ranking every time it changed and absorbed in all the information that came along with it.

So to see a fellow hero, who had even come to their rescue back at Kamino Ward (or so she'd heard – she'd never actually crossed paths with him throughout the whole event which, to be fair, she spent about half of in a state of unconsciousness), now attacking them? It was… terrifying, to put it mildly.

The hero (now playing a villain), whose Quirk made him look like some sort of anthropomorphic killer whale, was quickly approaching.

Worst of all, he was not approaching the general area as a whole. No. He was headed straight for the evacuation center – the place full of injured civilians and heroes whose powers allowed them only to help with the rescue part of the operation. In other words, a place severely lacking in fighters.

Atsuhi took a step forward, realizing that until the ones going around and bringing the injured over realized what was going on, only her and a handful of others were left to protect the place.

Saving... while fighting...

That sounds like quite the pain alright. But it's what heroes do. I really shouldn't be surprised by anything at this point.

Alright then, change of priorities.

We're not just saving civilians anymore. We're protecting them now.

Time to get on with it!

Chapter Text

Smoke and debris were still up in the air, turning the examination site into a real battlefield. Dozens of black silhouettes were approaching, running closer and closer, until they weren't mere shapes of color in the distance, but clear human figures still running forward.

There was a lot of movement all around. Be it from the pseudo-villains invading the area, from those who had not yet forgotten their rationale and knew they had to move the wounded to a safer place, even from the rescuers from far away, who had no doubt heard all the commotion by now and had realized the added challenge.

Through it all, Atsuhi remained unmoving, feet rooted in the ground, fists clenched by her sides, and a pair of eyes staring hard at the oncoming danger.

The fighters over here are few and far between. The rest are going to arrive sooner or later, but until then, someone's gotta hold them off...

She briefly tore her eyes away from the incoming enemies to look around, spotting but a few people who could fight at all. It wasn't going to be easy, that much she already knew for certain. The question was – was it even possible?

"Only time will tell," she mumbled under her breath. Noticing Gang Orca and his minions (whose style of dressing was surprisingly coordinated, as all of them looked identical) approaching dangerous territory, she turned to the one person she could still notice standing just as motionless as her in her peripheral vision.

"Midoriya-kun!" she called out, making the greenhead look at her surprised, as if he hadn't noticed her before. "Can you help me with holding out the front here?" Midoriya nodded, moving closer to the girl and taking on a battle stance. He looked to be in thought for a short second, only to turn to her with furrowed brows and a serious expression.

"I'll take care of as many as I can from up in the air. Can you handle those who manage to slip past?"

"You got it. What about Gang Orca?"

A brief silence followed.

"We'll try to hold him off, at least until the others get here. If bad comes to worse, you can use your new ultimate move, Heat Wave. Kirishima-kun told me about it during the break." Atsuhi chuckled a little. Ever the fanboy, she thought. Though she couldn't argue that it was a useful asset in times like these.

"Right. We can do this."

The first wave was almost onto them. And worst of all? Gang Orca was at the very, very front of it.

Crap.

Midoriya crouched lower, his final move before he could jump up, and Atsuhi prepared a hand on the grenades on her belt, running through the possibilities of taking down a pro with just the two of them.

Yet, a blur of black and green whizzed past before either of them could even move an inch.

The blur, whom she quickly recognized as the Shindo of Ketsubutsu High who had so enthusiastically introduced himself just before the exam, headed straight for the main hero – or rather, villain. He moved low, body close to the ground, and calmly handed out instructions.

"You two help get the civilians farther away from here. I'll hit those guys with shock waves spaced at one-second intervals," he said, and a mere second later, the ground cracked up beneath the villains' feet, sending them tumbling and falling around.

Unfortunately, it hadn't managed to hit everyone. It hadn't managed to hit a very troublesome individual. The moment Atsuhi realized what was about to happen, she cried out.

"Shindo-san, get back, you will-"

"Too slow," Gang Orca calmly said. Just like that, Shindo was knocked down to the ground, temporarily paralyzed. Both Atsuhi and Midoriya already looked alarmed, knowing what Gang Orca's Quirk was capable of.

He's essentially like an orca, except on dry land. And Shindo-san just got hit by his ultrasonic attack... For a second there, I thought we had a chance. But now it's back to two again... Where is everybody else...

In the next instant, ice swept the villain away. With it, came not only Todoroki, but a few other familiar faces too. With Mina, Ojiro, and Tokoyami now having arrived, things were looking just a little brighter. She could faintly see Inasa flying closer too.

So they did, after all, have a chance against the new threat.

Atsuhi noticed Midoriya gazing at the distance, where the still motionless Shindo had been knocked back to, and just before the boy could dash off on his own, she put a hand on his shoulder and motioned towards the oncoming minions Gang Orca brought with him.

"It's fine, I'll go get him to safety. You will do a much better job than me at keeping this place safe anyway." With no more time left for unneeded chats, Atsuhi scurried off to the slightly more quiet and farther area of the field, though her run wasn't nearly as peaceful as she'd hoped, having to take down a few attackers on her way.

She quickly spotted the black-haired boy desperately trying, but to his frustration, failing to get up, and went to him.

"Hey, hey, don't strain yourself now! Are you okay? You got blown off quite far..." She moved to put one of his arms across her shoulders and helped lift him up on his feet. To her surprise, he could support most of his weight himself already, perhaps lacking only the strength needed to get up. Shindo, on the other hand, looked at her with a dozen questions written on his face. Either that, or the paralysis was affecting his ability to express as well. Atsuhi suppressed a chuckle.

"What? I'm not gonna let an odd first impression influence me. We're supposed to work together here, after all!" She spoke cheerfully, moving with slow and steady steps towards the evacuation center. One thing she unfortunately didn't know about Gang Orca's Quirk, was how long the effects of this attack of his were supposed to last. Having no idea how long Shindo would be unable to move, she thought it best to get him to safety first.

"Huh? Who would've thought..." he mused quietly, but remained silent afterwards.

Jeez, thank you for making things awkward... We should be there soon enough anyway though.

By this point, she supported almost none of Shindo's weight herself, and the boy was almost back to normal. At this rate, they wouldn't even have to go back to the evacuation center in the first place.

"Wow, the effect really seems to be wearing off quickly," Atsuhi turned to him in awe. "How?" Shindo laughed quietly.

"Sound waves or vibrations, my brain is used to getting scrambled up by my own Quirk every day. Guess you could say I've built up some resistance to it." Atsuhi cocked an eyebrow.

"Come to think of it, I only saw your Quirk briefly there..." Upon feeling a slight resistance from Shindo, she slowed to a halt, as he slowly took his arm back by his side, making sure it wasn't numb anymore. He stretched a little, and turned to explain.

"I can make anything I touch vibrate. That's it, pretty simple. Though it sometimes leaves me immobile for a few seconds, depending on the scale of the attack." Atsuhi nodded along, taking note of how this ability could come into use very soon, when the two would have to return to the battle front. She kept casting concerned glances at said battle front though, noticing both Todoroki and Inasa were on the scene, only for them to be... arguing with each other.

"At a time like this? Jeez, good job, you're about to fail all of us..." Atsuhi couldn't help but mumble out loud, causing Shindo to look over in the same direction.

"Well, well, would you look at that, the two biggest hero schools in all of Japan, fighting between each other," he smirked, though the teasing look he cast at the girl clued her in that it was meant to be a joke. She pouted, barely containing her laughter.

"Anyway, we should go and help out..." Atsuhi's words drifted off, eyes briefly turning to the side, where she seemed to think the air had suddenly become a little too warm for comfort.

Wah-

In the blink of an eye, two things happened.

First, she realized the reason for her concerns, as she gazed at the flames headed their way, almost like they moved in slow motion.

Second, the scenery in front of her sharply changed, as a strong weight pushed her off the course of the flames, and towards the ground.

Between the sudden heat and the sharp impact, she coughed a few times, and opened her eyes, not realizing when she'd shut them tightly in the first place. She could feel the weight quickly lift off of her back, and she pushed herself up from where she'd fallen to the ground following the sudden pressure. Looking around frantically, she noticed the place where they’d been up until now was left scorched, but also Shindo right beside her, quickly realizing where the weight had come from. Upon opening her mouth to thank him however, she was met with a shake of his head and a particularly smart idea.

"Let's just move outta here." Atsuhi immediately nodded, and the two took off again, this time running and taking care to avoid any more flaming attacks. Every once in a while, they would glance back to where the real fight was in its wake, only to realize things weren't looking any better, with Midoriya trying his best to get Inasa and Todoroki to cooperate, yet seeing all of his attempts fail miserably. Worst of all, the three could barely handle Gang Orca by himself, yet there was a large group of his minions heading for the heroes transporting the injured.

Atsuhi could tell that's where Shindo was looking too. Without turning to her, he asked, eyes darting around and scanning the area.

"What about your Quirk?"

That's right. What's the point of having two heroes together like this if they can't figure out how to use their Quirks in unison, after all?

"I can alter the temperature of anything I touch. So mine's pretty simple too." She could hear him inhale and quickly continued, knowing his question already. "Yes, I can use it on the ground. My range there is only about 20 meters though."

"Good enough. We're gonna do this."

The two were almost there already, quickly finding themselves between those carrying off the wounded, and the villains. Atsuhi stopped in place and turned to face the latter, while Shindo crouched down beside her. She could spot Midoriya looking at them from afar and nodded to assure him that they've got it under control.

"Heat Wave-" Atsuhi called out, already activating her move, as the ground before her cracked a little due to Shindo’s help. "Breaking Point!!" With that, the two's Quirks took full effect, and the last of the villains were down.

Now, all that's left is...

"Gang Orca..." Just as Shindo got up and dusted off his hands, the two looked on at the main battle, only for the villain in its very center to suddenly be enveloped in a powerful fire tornado.

"W-woah! They really might just defeat him at this rate!" Atsuhi exclaimed, a grin already forming on her lips.

"Not to mention that the two are paralyzed..." Shindo added, eyes wandering beyond the massive attack.

Wah?

"Eh? Y-you're right!" She quickly spotted both Inasa and Todoroki lying on the ground motionless and on different ends of the examination site nonetheless.

It was a feeling unlike any other, knowing that the test may come to an end any second now. Knowing that soon enough, she was going to find out whether she had passed or not. Whether everybody else had passed or not.

No, now's not the time for thoughts like these... We don't actually know what's gonna decide when the test ends in the first place. Until then, all we can do is fight back and protect those who have been injured.

And oh, was she glad she had taken this moment of calm to psyche herself up. For in the distance, where the fire tornado should have still been going strong, there was now only Gang Orca standing in the middle of the clearing. A small blob of color moved somewhere far away, the colors she could barely see leading Atsuhi to believe this was Midoriya coming in to help at the most desperate of times again, only for him to go straight at the villain, pulling back his leg to deliver a strong kick.

Bzzzzzzt!!

All movement halted.

"Ahem! As of this moment, every single member of the 'Help Us Company' on the field has been rescued from immediate danger. As such, I officially declare the test to be over!"

After another brief moment of silence, Atsuhi’s eyes widened.

She knew that she should've felt a wave of relief wash over her, that her racing heart should've calmed down, that her thoughts should've slowed their wild speed. That she should've sighed and smiled at the thought of having made it.

But that was just the thing. She had no idea whether she had made it yet or not.

Because in times like these, there is only one thing more frightening to befall you once the test comes to an end.

Seeing the results.

Knowing if your labor really has paid off. If your best was just enough. If you were ever good enough to make it in the first place.

A sense of dread set in. Among everybody.

The students anxiously moved out, going to get changed as per instructions.

It's almost over, Atsuhi... You just gotta wait a little longer...