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More Than Just a Smile

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* ~ _ ~ * One * ~ _ ~ *

“Annyeonghaseyo, dowa deulilkkayo?”

Ochako's mouth puckers awkwardly as she stands there, watching the Korean tourist try and beg for directions just ahead of her. She agreed to meet Tsuyu and Touru at the mall this afternoon to try and buy presents for Touru's parents – something about helping her mother wanting to brighten up the house, she's not sure. And right now, she can't really remember, not with her heart going out to the poor guy struggling to make sense of the Japanese map in his hands.

'You don't know Korean,' she tries to tell herself, even as she's gathering up her courage to go talk to the anxious man. 'You're barely passing English and the only Korean word you know is Bibimbop. You won't be able to help him.'

But no one else is stopping to help him. And Ochako is a hero... So she takes a deep breath and strides over with as much confidence as she can. “Hi!” she greets, waving to get his attention. When the man turns surprised – and hopeful – eyes to her, she smiles. “Are you lost?”

“Naleul dowajugo sipni?” the man asks, eyes literally brightening as he smiles.

“U-uh...” Ochako's smile wavers. She points at the map, gesturing for him to hand it over. “I-if you need some help, I might be able to help you.”

The man holds the map out to her, opening it up. “Yeogwan-eul chaj-eulyeogo nolyeoghago issseubnida,” he says slowly. At the slightly overwhelmed look she shoots him, the light in his eyes dim just the tiniest bit. “Ah... Yeoinsug, yeoinsug... H...Hotel?”

Ochako brights, sighing in relief. Good, a word she understands. “Oh! Yes, I can help with that!” Happily she takes the map from him, turning it face her to look it over. Hopefully from here it'll be easier to help him to where he needs to go. With careful eyes she scans the map, humming as she picks out all the hotels in the area.

And there are... A lot. And they're spread out all over the area, too. “U-um, do you know what the name of the hotel is?” She tries asking, looking up at him.

He only stares at her with confusion. “Ihaega an dwaeyo...”

“Umm...” Ochako clears her throat, cheeks burning. Alright, so she's not as helpful as she was hoping to be. “Uh, Y-your hotel – the name? Which one, um, which were you staying at?”

“Hey, hey, little listener! What're you up to?”

Ochako turns, surprised, and spots her English Teacher walking up to her, bright smile on his face and hair just as tall as ever. “Oh! H-hi, Mic-sensei,” she greets, eyes darting between him and the tourist. “I'm just – well, I'm trying to help this man with directions to his hotel, since he seems a bit lost.”

The tourist in question is staring at Present Mic with wide eyes, a bit of light coming back to them. “Ooooh, yeong-ung...”

The meaning of the word goes right over Ochako's head. “Mic-sensei, you wouldn't happen to know someone to help him, would you?”

Green eyes peer down at her with amusement from behind tinted shades, and Present Mic's lips form a lopsided smile. “I think I know someone,” he says, voice shaking a little as he laughs. He turns his smile onto the tourist, blinding and bright, and shimmies a little in spot. “So! Mister tourist man!”

“Ah, Mic-sensei, he doesn't speak - “

“Je hagsaeng-i dangsin-i gil-eul ilh-eossda go malhabnida!”

Ochako isn't proud to say that she's gaping.

She watches as, before her very eyes – and ears – Present Mic speaks rapid-fire Korean with the lost man, looking over the map with him and helping point him in the right direction. They speak for a little longer, the hero's hands flailing happily as he asks questions and the man answers back. Present Mic laughs and points and gestures at the map, and Ochako thinks he might actually be pointing out things to try in the area. And when the man pulls out his cell phone, a hopeful look in his eye, he grins and snuggles close to his side, beaming wide for a selfie and giving finger guns to the small camara.

“Daedanhi gamsahabnida,” the man says, bowing several times over with hands clasped politely in front of him. “Daedanhi gamsahabnida!”

“Amugeosdo anieossda!” Present Mic laughs, waving it off. “Joh-eun halu doeseyo!”

Ochako waves distractedly as the man walks away, eyes wide and stuck on her teacher. “Mic-sensei, I – I had no idea you spoke Korean.”

Present Mic looks down at her, his smile replaced by an exagerated pout. “Aw, Uraraka-san!” he whines, dramatic and over-the-top. “Why would you think that? I'm your English teacher, after all!”

“Well, yeah,” she says with an awkward shrug. “English. How was I supposed to know you were fluent in another language?”

The pout disappears as the man breaks into snickers. “Y'have a very good point there, little listener,” he says. When his snickers die (mostly) down, his grin is back, this time with an innocent glimmer to it that makes him look more mischievous than anything else. “It's not like you kids are able to look at my resume whenever! I can speak English, Korean, aaaand French!”

“R-really!?” Ochako boggles. “W-where did you learn all of that? Was it in a university or something?”

“I'm all self-taught!” Present Mic laughs brightly at her when all she can articulate coherently is a strangled noise of distress. “I'll let you get back to your day, listener – my pro hero duties await! Annyeong!”

She stares after him, watching with her mouth dropped open as he all but dances away, huming loudly and wriggling his hips to the beat. It's not until her phone buzzes in her pocket that she realizes that her friends are still waiting on her.

“Ah, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!” Ochako apologizes as she answers her phone. “I'm on my way – but you won't believe me when I tell you what just happened...”

* ~ _ ~ * Two * ~ _ ~ *


Kyouka stares at her test in dismay, looking over all the red marks and corrections to the short essay section. In the history of her schooling – ever – she doesn't think a test has come back with such a low score. It's like... A nightmare! And her parents are going to clap her on the back and tell her that it'll all be okay but really they're going to be so disappointed that their only daughter can't freaking conjugate in the English language to save her life...!

“Alright, class!” Present Mic calls from up front. She raises her eyes slowly, suddenly not in the mood to pay much attention to anything. “After grading all of your essays, I've seen exactly which areas of English we need to be focusing on. So, by tomorrow I'll have a new review for you all to go over, and we'll go over some of the more missed questions from the test. Sound good to all of you?”

There's a groan from the majority of the class. Kyouka isn't ashamed to admit that she's one of them.

“Hey, hey, hey!” Present Mic pouts, one hand on his hips and another holding up a piece of chalk to point at the unenthusiastic student body. “English can be fun! Just think, once you know enough you'll be able to talk to most people in other countries! It's becoming such a international language!”

The lesson gets going shortly after, and Kyouka tries to pay attention. She does. But nothing is making sense, and apparently she's the only one in the entire class that didn't understand conjugation. Why, oh why, can't they just go over what the hell the difference between “am”, “is”, and “are” is? They don't make sense! And “was” and “were” and so many other words that just make her head spin... Instead they're going over things like whether or not to add the “s” at the end of a word. Why is that important!

God, English is such a stupid, difficult language.

But... Kyouka takes a deep breath and tries to focus. She needs to pass this class. Not passing means having to repeat a year – or worse, winter or summer classes. Mina was always complaining about the horrible remedial classes during the camp and how awful they were.

Actually, extra classes... Probably wouldn't be so bad. Kyouka looks up at Present Mic, who's sing-songing some weird phrase that doesn't make any sense to her whatsoever. He's not a bad teacher, really. A lot of the time he makes learning English fun (not that she'll ever admit it). Maybe it's just that she needs a more one-on-one go at it?

“Mic-sensei?” Kyouka asks after class is over. It's technically still a few minutes before the next teacher arrives, but the hero is already packing his things up and getting ready to walk out the door.

“Ah, yes! Jirou-san, what can I do for you?” Present Mic asks, turning to look at her as she approaches the desk.

She shrugs, trying not to seem self conscious. It's a little hard, with how her earjacks move on their own to poke each other like a stammering school-girl might poke fingers together. “I was wondering if I could get some extra help on conjugations,” she says. “It wasn't really touched on today, and I guess I didn't understand them as much as I though I did...”

“Oh, absolutely!” Present Mic says, eager. He's not talking loudly like he usually does, something she's thankful for since having everyone privy to her dwindling grades isn't something she wants. He beams at her, pulling a little journal out of his pocket. “Lemme just check my schedule, here.”

He keeps his schedule in a little journal? Kyouka hides a smile. How old fashioned. “Will this afternoon not work? We could meet in the common room of the dorms.”

At that Present Mic shoots her an apologetic look. “Unfortunately, I'm unavailable after school today. It's all taken up by some hero work – Best Jeanist himself asked for me help!”

“Oh...” Kyouka blinks at him, surprised. “Well, when can we meet up? I'm not in an internship at the moment. Most of my afternoons are free.”

The hero hums as he flips through the little journal, tapping his fingers on some pages as he looks through and contemplates an answer. “Weeeell... I'm assuming you'd like at least a few extra lessons to help get it all to stick, so how about...” He flips some more. “Can't do the weekends, not with my radio show...”

Which Kyouka will not admit to listening to religiously.

“The next few days are sort of full,” Present Mic says slowly. “I have a few patrols scheduled and some consulting work that needs to be done...”

“You do consulting work?” Kyouka asks. “About what, music?”

“Hm? Oh, not at all! It's actually for hero cases, or even sometimes support equipment design,” he says offhandedly, waving away the question with a distracted hand. “It's just something I do on the side. I like to keep busy, after all!”

Kyouka scrunches her nose as she thinks that over. “Wait... So you teach and work at the radio station... And you consult?” She looks at him with a considering eye. “Mic-sensei, do you ever sleep?”

“I also go on the occasional patrol and help take care of my agency!” he chirps. “And I get plenty of sleep!”

“When?” It's not an unreasonable question. She remembers what sort of hours most heroes keep. On her internship, Kyouka watched as sidekicks clocked in 16 hour days, choosing to sleep in the agency's barracks instead of going home for some rest. In fact, she remembers the hero that had taken her in sleeping there as well, claiming that he liked to always be ready to pop into action. And that was his only job!

Present Mic smiles at her. “Thank you for the concern, little listener,” he says to her. “It's very sweet. But managing my schedule is actually really easy – I just have to stay on top of it, and the resting and eating comes naturally. And! Speaking of schedules, I think I can rework my 'Eraser Socializing Time' tomorrow. Would you like to meet an hour after school lets out?”

Kyouka stifles the laugh she wants to let loose. “Um. Yeah, that works for me, Sensei.”

Eraser Socializing Time...

* ~ _ ~ * Three * ~ _ ~ *

“Wow, it’s a real, live, Panic at the Disco,” Present Mic mutters beside him.

Isoka sighs, shooting the man a scathing look before turning back to the crowd of anxious, quickly panicking people in the room with them. “Mic, no one needs your commentary right now.”

“We’re stuck here!”

“What if we run out of oxygen!?”

“Are the heroes just going to leave us to die!?”

“Well, better than the comments currently flying around in here, huh?” the Voice Hero says, giving the Bouncing Hero a look over his shades. “I’m pretty sure someone is going to get hurt if we don’t step in soon.”

Really, the situation isn’t quite as dire as all the civilians keep making it out to be. Isoka and Present Mic are playing hero on duty for a gig at a performance in Harajuku, some Italian rave artist who somehow made it big in Japan. Everything was going fine - having a hero at a concert is really on a formality, to make sure everyone feels safe - until an angry civilian outside tried to sneak into the show.

The security caught them, of course, but the person didn’t necessarily like being kept from what they perceived to be the best concert of the year. And their quirk? Just so happens to be a force field that complete cuts off whatever is inside it from whatever is outside of it.

Now, the concert hall is completely contained within the force field, which had startled all of the people inside since suddenly security had decided to interrupt the show to inform everyone of the situation. Now, Isoka feels like everything is being entirely blown out of proportion, nobody is keeping calm, and of course he’s stuck with the worst partner for something like this.

Present Mic isn’t even taking this seriously!

“We need crowd control,” Isoka says. “Even the performers are freaking out.”

“Of course they’re freaking out!” The man next to him scoffs. “Their show got cut off by some green security guy! Honestly, I think they should keep going. Their music is really good, y’know?”

“Can you just… Take this seriously?” Isoka begs him, shooting him another scathing look. “Please?”

Present Mic sighs, pushing himself from his place on the wall and walking towards the stage. “Fine, fine. It’s not even that bad - obviously it’s been a while since you’ve last seen high schoolers freak out about the cafeteria being out of pork buns.”

“What does that mean?

Isoka groans as the ridiculous man - with his stupid hair and his obnoxious amount of leather - walks up to center stage. What is that man doing? Nobody seems to notice him at first, the fishnet and glowstick-covered people of the crowd more concerned with frantically trying to call loved ones or make their way to the doors. … Wait, he’s not planning on screaming them into obedience, is he?

As he watches Present Mic take a big, deep breath, horror grips him. He is.


His shout near vibrates the air, loud and flooding every single corner of the room. When the echoes, long and just as loud, finally die down, the few hundred people in the hall are staring up at Present Mic with wide eyes. Not a single person moves or makes noise.

“Well, that worked!” Present Mic chirps, grinning out at the crowd. He claps his hands, bouncing a little on his toes. “So - Hi, I’m Present Mic, Pro Hero and everyone’s favorite radio host - “

Isoka rolls his eyes.

“And I am here to tell you that not only will you guys be able to leave just fine, but there’s still another half of the show!” He says, wriggling in place in a silly dance. “The person who tried to trap us in here - well, according to the police chatter, they’re only capable of producing their little bubbles for a couple hours at most. So, why don’t we take this time for a brief intermission? Get some food from concession, get something to drink from one of the many bartenders who need a distraction just as much as you do, and maybe use a toilet before you piss yourself in fear?”

Laughter rolls over the crowd awkwardly. Some of the people that were beginning to clamber over each other in panic settle down on their own feet, and a good portion of the tension leaves the room at large.

“That’s the spirit!” Present Mic cheers, pumping a fist. “Alright, we’ll give it, say, 25 minutes? And then the artist you guys all paid so much money to see will be back on stage to perform just for you guys! And hey - isn’t their best selling album called Lock In? Let’s get this party started!

Isoka stares as the crowd cheers right back, a bit of excitement back in the crowd. They start filing out calmly, and Present Mic leans down on the edge of the stage to talk quietly, yet brightly, with a small teenage fan. He laughs at something she says, reaching out to ruffle her wildly dyed hair. The girl seems cheered by the action, grinning up at the hero before jogging off to go join her friends again.


“So! Do you think I helped out enough here?” Present Mic asks as he strides back over, a bounce in his step.

Isoka shrugs helplessly, something of a reluctant smile on his face as he shakes his head. “I had no idea you could get a crowd to calm down like that,” he admits sheepishly. “Honestly, I thought you were just a silly radio host.”

“Hey, hey!” Present Mic laughs, slapping him good-naturedly on the shoulder. “If I can work a crowd into an excited frenzy, I can certainly get them to calm down and focus! Alright, you keep an eye on things here, and I’ma talk to the band, see if I can help them get set back up.”

* ~ _ ~ * Four * ~ _ ~ *

"... All the forums had on him was that his quirk was some sort of temporal distortion… But how did it work? He just made time slow down around him and yet he was able to go at full, normal speed… Did it have something to do with actual time or was it something else? Maybe I need to do some more research on the subject - but where would I look for the information…"

At this point, Izuku was jotting more stream of conscious than he was writing actual notes about an older, lesser known pro hero by the name of Time Tiger. He'd heard a couple weeks ago about the hero - about how his fledgling agency flopped after a group of sidekicks had assaulted a minor. The agency was completely overhauled, all of the sidekicks put through extensive psychological re-evaluations, and a couple months later made a come back. It never made it big, not like Endeavor's agency or other similar ones, but the forums that talk about Time Tiger and his small agency all talk about how the hero made it almost a legacy to make sure his agency did their part to protect children and minors.

Apparently, Time Tiger is one of the lucky heroes to make it all the way to retirement, settling down with his husband – also a retired hero – and children somewhere far from the city. Reading about this lesser known hero having a career like that and still ending successfully, peacefully... Well, Izuku may not know much about him, but he'll take all the notes he can get. He wants to be the best, and he'll learn as much as he can from those he thinks are great.

Now if only he can figure out this quirk...!

“Mi~do~ri~ya~saaaaan~! What're you doing so far out this way, kiddo? Not too many first years camp out in this part of the school grounds!”

Izuku jumps, knocking his plethora of notebooks clear off the bench he's sitting on with a yelp. “M-M-Mic-sensei!” he gasps, scrambling upright and trying not to flail his hands in a panic. “Am I not allowed to be over here? I-is this track only for upperclassmen? D-did I mess up? Oh my god please don't tell me I'm in trouble I had no idea, I swear – “

“Whoa, hey, chill out, kiddo,” Present Mic says, shoulders shaking a little with laughter as he steps closer. He kneels down with a grin, starting to pick up some of the scattered notebooks. “I was just curious, Midoriya-san. And the only areas you can't go into without permission are the training grounds and the gyms, remember? You aren't in any trouble.”

“R-right,” Izuku says, sighing in relief and trying to get his heart to calm down. And then he realizes that his teacher is on his knees cleaning up all of his notebooks for him. He yelps again, all but throwing himself down and scrambling to scrape his notebooks toward himself. “Ah! Sensei, you don't have to pick these up!”

“It's fine, it's fine!” A cheery smile gets tossed to him. “Heroes are supposed to help others, no matter how big or small!”

“But still - “ These journals are both precious and his guilty pleasure...!

“What's this?” Present Mic asks, and Izuku flushes when he looks up and sees that his teacher has picked up his newest notebook. The page he'd been scribbling on miraculously is still wide open, and as he watches his teacher scan the page with curious eyes he think the ground could possibly open up and swallow him whole, now, please and thank you. “You doing a report on Time Tiger for one of your other classes or something?”

“U-um... No.” Izuku can't meet his eyes and can feel his face absolutely burning. “I – I like jotting down notes about heroes I see or hear about, a-and I heard about Time Tiger's retirement recently...”

“Yeah, lucky guy, right?” Present Mic says with a smile. “Your notes here are a bit all over the place, though – Ha, did you really write that down?”

Taking a peek at where his teacher is pointing at a sting of words, he groans in embarrassment as he reads the words “timey warpy thingy”. “There's not a whole lot of information on him, so I've been trying to figure out how his quirk works on my own,” he explains. “But I don't know the first thing about how time can be distorted or anything, so...”

“I can help fill in the holes, if you like.”

Izuku's head snaps up. “R-r-really!?”

Present Mic grins at him, handing the journal over to Izuku and going to plop down on the bench. “Yeah, sure! You probably don't know this, but I had one of my internships with Time Tiger when I was a student here, y'know?”

As Izuku sits down next to his teacher, eyes wide, his fingers itch with the need to start jotting down as many notes as he possibly can. “That's amazing.”

“Nah, Time Tiger is amazing.” The man leans against the back of the bench, propping his elbows up on the back rest to lean his head back. “Man, that guy was cool as a cucumber. Even though he'd just completely thrown out half of his sidekicks and was still trying to get his agency back up off the ground, he was a real stand-up hero and took the time to mentor me for the two weeks I was with him.”

“Did you learn about his quirk while you were with him?” Izuku asks eagerly. He really, really wants to ask more – like what was being mentored by him like, what sort of things did he learn? But the mysteries of the retired hero's quirk keeps him focused.

“Well, his quirk, as most people who know about him would say, creates a bubble around him that slows down time for everything around him while allowing him to go at regular speed, right?” Present Mic looks at Izuku to make sure he's paying attention. “People think it's a control over time – time quirks are pretty rare and hard to control, but Time Tiger had a pretty good handle on it. Thing is, that's because it's not a time quirk.”

Izuku wrinkles his nose in confusion. “Wait, then why does it effect time around him?”

“His quirk is actually a control over his own body's electromagnetic field and the ability to spread it out around him in a bubble,” Present Mic explains, moving his hands as if to make a bubble around him. “Electromagnetic fields are weird things, and if they're strong enough they can mess with things like gravity and how fast or slow things move – or, otherwise known as gravitational irregularities. So when he activates his quirk...”

“Oh,” Izuku gasps, a smile spreading across his face. He grabs up his pen and begins jotting down what he's just learned. “I get it. His quirk only makes it look like he has control over time around him – when in fact his own electromagnetic field is just causing these irregularities.”

“That's right!” Present Mic cheers, and out of the corner of his eye he can see his teacher firing some finger guns at him. “And he could go at his normal speed and everything because it was his own electromagnetic field – he's used to moving in it. It's actually a pretty cool quirk, and you gotta admire a guy who can make his quirk work for him like that, y'know?”

Izuku grins as he finishes writing the notes, putting the last word down with a flourish. “Thank you, Mic-sensei,” he says earnestly. “I probably would have been distracted by this for a while trying to figure it all out for myself.”

“You got it, little listener!” Present Mic says. He cocks his head to the side consideringly and hums. “... Do you want to know more about him? I could pass on all the Time Tiger knowledge I have. And I've got a lot in my noggin! It was only two weeks with his agency but I learned a whoooole lot! Like the fact that he was obsessed with fruit bars, or that he kept no less that ten spare blankets in his office!”

Really, Present Mic didn't really need to do any major convincing. Izuku is always, always ready to learn more about heroes. Though he does plan on going back into his notes about the voice hero – clearly he underestimated exactly how good his memory was.

* ~ _ ~ * Five * ~ _ ~ *

“I think the next corridor is clear, sir,” Nanao says in the microphone, eyes on the feed in front of him. “Not getting any sort of signatures for another several meters.”

“Ah-ah, Color Blind! What have I told you?” Present Mic practically chirps over the radio, slightly out of breath for how he's been running. “I don't like that 'sir' nonsense! You can call Eraser that, but not me!”

“R-right,” Nanao stammers out, ducking his head in embarrassment even though the Pro Hero can't see him. “I'll try to remember that.”

“Ignore him,” comes Eraserheads voice from over his shoulder, startling him. Nanao peeks back at the underground hero, and the man is simply leaning against the opposite wall of the surveillance van, eyes tired and yet focused. “He's just upset that he's getting old.”

Eraser I heard that!

Nanao winces at the volume of the scream. Not only had Present Mic forgotten to mute his microphone before screaming, causing massive feedback, but the hero's words could be heard clear all the way to the van. With a few hundred meters of space and several walls of nothing but concrete and steel in between them, that makes for one very, very loud scream. “Mic, volume!”

“Ah, sorry, sorry,” comes a quick apology, but Nanao rolls his eyes at hearing the laughter in the man's voice.

'Does this guy ever take anything seriously?' he can't help but think, even as he knows that's not true. The entire reason Nanao is in a van with an underground hero while monitoring Present Mic's advance through the villain base is because he knows the man takes his hero work seriously.

For almost seven weeks Present Mic has been consulting for another agency to hunt down a group of villains that seem to be trying to take Stain's creed to a whole new level. So far, the villains have taken out a handful of sidekicks, never hitting the same city twice. Nanao can't quite get the image of the hero's normally happy-go-lucky face twisting into a scowl of determination, telling the other agency that he wanted to run point on the operation. “Stain had hurt a good friend of mine,” he'd said. “These villains are no better than the one who had hurt my friend. Let me put a stop to this legacy.”

Needless to say, they let him run point on the operation.

The presence of Eraserhead on the operation still confuses him, though. From what he understands, the underground hero isn't in either of the agencies working on this, nor was he a consultant on it. All he's learned about the hero is what Present Mic had said before he'd skipped off to the gate entrance for the facility. “There's no one I trust more to watch my back than good ol' Eraser!”

...Maybe they're friends?

Nanao jumps again when Eraserhead leans over his shoulder to press on the microphone button, eyes narrowed on the screens. “Mic,” he says, sharp and clear, and maybe a little intimidating. “Sensors are showing movement up ahead. Keep sharp – it might be the boss of these guys.”

A quick whoop of excitement comes through the speakers. “You got it, Eraser! Thanks for the tip!”

Quickly, he turns back to the screens and focuses on the readings, watching the slightly wobbly camera feed from Present Mic's shoulder cam. Just like Eraserhead had said, the sensors are showing something moving up ahead. It's almost like someone else is running towards where the pro hero is heading, as if to cut him off. As he watches, Present Mic slams through a door and then he's stopping.

The camara doesn't quite capture the person in the room with him – all Nanao can see is booted feet and cargo pants above a deep, thick shadow on the floor. Whoever it is, they must be a big guy to cast a shadow like that. “So, you're Present Mic, huh?” the man asks, voice just catching on the microphone. “Bit scrawnier than I'd thought you'd be, for such a powerful set of lungs on you.”

Present Mic huffs in fake annoyance, stomping a foot. Of course he's acting like a child when facing off villains. “Hey, hey, I'm lean, not - “

And then, curiously, there's silence.

At first, Nanao thinks perhaps the microphone had gotten muted somehow. He frowns at his set up, glancing to where he can see whether or not Present Mic has hit the mute button or not. But, no, the little light is on. “Mic? What's going on?”

Someone's laughter comes over the speakers. “What's the matter, Present Mic?” the man asks, tone wickedly amused. “All tongue-tied without your quirk? Just a normal, annoying man without it, aren't you?”

Eraserhead goes still behind him.

“Wait, did that guy take Mic's quirk?” Nanao mutters to himself, alarm sweeping over him. “Will he be okay without it? D-does Mic even know how to take on villains without it? I've never seen him against a villain that he hasn't screamed down – “

“He'll be fine. Mic knows how to handle himself,” Eraserhead says, voice sharp. In contrast to what he'd just said, the underground hero is straightening up and marching to the doors of the van, one hand on the long wrap of white around his neck. “Keep an eye on the feeds. I'll go to assist.”

“Wait,” Nanao yelps, stumbling upright. “Eraserhead, what's wrong?”

He doesn't get an answer.

“How about you get a taste of your own medicine!?” The words are shouted, loud and angry, and Nanao jumps as they blare through both the air and the speakers in the van. He scrambles back into his chair, stammering to himself as he flicks new feeds on to keep track of Eraserhead's progress as well.

“Mic? Eraserhead is on his way to assist!” he calls through his own microphone. “He should be there in just three minutes. Do you think you can hold?”

Something of a huff comes through the speakers, and Nanao can't even help the relieved way he sighs when the camara picks up a thumbs-up from the pro hero's hand. The man doesn't say anything, only shifts in a way that takes Nanao a moment to realize he's widening his stance. That realization takes him off guard.

Is Present Mic planning on actually fighting the guy?

And just before his eyes, the camera wobbling worse than it has the entire rest of the operation... He does.

It clearly seems to catch the villain off guard, if the startled, quirk-loud shout is anything to go by. The volume doesn't seem to bother Present Mic at all still, thankfully, so maybe the man is just naturally resistant to loud noises, and the pro hero's movements are sure and quick as he darts forward with an open palm to the villain's neck. The hit is dodged, and Nanao watches in awe as the two begin fighting hand-to-hand, hits fast and brutal and dirty.

With the camera shaking as much as it is, it's hard to figure out exactly what sort of fighting style Present Mic is using. It's not like Nanao is much of a martial arts expert himself, but... He squints at the screens. Open palms, fluid movements, seemingly good control of his core... It kind of reminds him of watching T'ai Chi videos. He's never seen it in action like this before – most people tend to use T'ai Chi as a meditation art rather than a martial art. It's...


The villain growls and shouts at Present Mic, attempting again and again to hit the hero and again and again he misses. Nanao can't help the cheers and gasps whenever Present Mic dodges only to twist and fling out a palm or arm. The fight isn't going the villain's way and it shows – the man keeps attempting to put space in between the two of them, keeps sucking in air to try and shout Present Mic down. Over and over the distance between them is closed.

You're not going to win this!” The villain manages to shout, loud through the speakers and in the air -

And immediately gets clocked in the jaw.

Nanao bursts into laughter at the way the villain goes still and falls backwards to the concrete flooring, absolute dead weight. It's like a cartoon! His body just hits the floor and his legs fly upwards before sprawling unattractively, and if he tries to concentrate Nanao can see the way the villain's eyes have rolled backwards and his mouth gapes open almost stupidly. “Whoo! That was amazing Present Mic! I had no idea you could fight like that!”

He's so busy laughing and cheering, though, to realize that Present Mic... Isn't cheering back.

It's not until there's a whump from the speakers and the camera goes dark that Nanao realizes anything is wrong at all. He jumps, going quiet, and stares at the screens in shock. “... Mic?”

“Color Blind,” comes Eraserhead's voice through the speakers, rough and slightly out of breath from running. “Talk to me – what happened? I'm almost there.”

“U-um,” Nanao stammers, fingers flying over the keys and switches to try and figure it out. “I... I'm not sure. There was a weird noise over the speakers and now the camera's dark?”

“Can you hear him breathing?”

Breathing? Nanao frowns, pausing to listen. He can hear the puffs of air hitting the microphone on Eraserhead, a small noise he'd been ignoring, but he does remember the same sort of noise when Present Mic was running around. He'd tuned the noise out, since it didn't really tell him much about the operation, but now...

“Shit – no, I can't hear him breathing,” Nanao says, alarmed. “Do you know what happened?”

There's nothing from Eraserhead for a moment – but as he watches he can see the blip on the sensors showing him pick up the pace through the facility. “... Get medical to the site,” is what the hero tells him. “Now.”

“Y-yes, sir!”

“Don't call me that.”

Very quickly Nanao is rattling off information to his agency and getting medical on the way. Only part of his attention is on the feeds and surveillance now, but as he speaks with the operator on the line he can see when Eraserhead's little blip meets up with Present Mic's. He listens with one ear as the underground hero talks quietly to the unconscious pro, voice soft and urgent and... Intimate in a way that make Nanao uncomfortable listening in.

He needs to, just in case something happens. But with how the man sounds, it feels like he's intruding on something private.

* ~ _ ~ * + One * ~ _ ~ *

Hizashi comes to slowly, comfortable and heavy in a way that tells him that there are drugs coursing through his system. Probably in the hospital or something, if he remembers things correctly. He hums, drowsy, and takes a deep, slow breath. Nothing hurts, not really; the only thing that really sticks with him is how syrupy things seem to feel.

He'd been... Taking on that Stain copy-cat group, right? And he was hunting down the boss... Ah. Right. The boss had a quirk that could steal and use other people's quirks, as he found out rather quickly. Hizashi hums again, shifting a little in his bed and taking a few more deep, even breaths.

It's a funny thing about his quirk that not too many people are aware of: Hizashi needs it in order to breathe.

Well, he's breathing fine now, so obviously the villain take-down was a success. Or something. Didn't Color Blind say something about Shouta being on his way? Maybe he'd used his quirk to stop the villain's quirk-stealing quirk – and just thinking about that makes his head spin with the silliness of it all. It makes him laugh, a small little raspy thing that barely makes noise for how tired he is.

It's more than enough to alert someone that he's awake.

“Hizashi,” comes Shouta's voice from his side, all the incentive that Hizashi needs in order to open his eyes properly. Everything is a blur for a moment until he feels his regular frames being slid onto his nose, and then Hizashi is introduced to the wonderful sight of Shouta's scowling visage.

Such a handsome man.

“Shouta,” he greets, too tired to make a proper enthusiastic greeting. “Hey, man, what's up?”

His friend's scowl gets deeper. Eesh, what'd he do this time?

“What the hell were you thinking?” Shouta asks him, quiet and low and it's only then that Hizashi can see that the bags underneath his eyes are darker than they normally are. That's... Worrying. He's already had a lot to stress him out so far this year, and Hizashi doesn't want to be the cause of more of that. “You could have died.”

“I wouldn't have,” Hizashi says confidently, soothingly. With a bit of a wriggle he's sitting upright, the drugs in his system making him have to prop up against his pillows. “Not a chance. I had you watching my back, yeah?”

Instead of being reassured, Shouta scoffs, turning his head to the side and scrubbing a hand through his hair. “And if I hadn't been there?” he asks, lips twisting unpleasantly. “That villain took your quirk. You know what that means. You're smarter than that, Hizashi. Why'd you keep fighting? Why not hit the button for back-up sooner?”

“Oh, and let that asshole think he'd won?” Hizashi huffs. “It's people like his that led to Tensei getting hurt, you know. I wasn't about to just let him walk away. And Color Blind let me know you were on the way! I knew I was going to be fine.”

“If you had actually hit the emergency back-up button, Hizashi, you know I could have been there sooner.”

Hizashi doesn't wince, exactly. It's true – the design of the button is essentially something of a homing beacon for the other half of it. When pressed, the person on the other side is able to actually teleport to the beacon's location. It's a relatively new technology and only used for high leveled operations and emergencies. Technically, he guesses that losing a rather health-essential quirk might be considered an emergency.

From Shouta's scowl, “might be” actually “is”.

“Sorry,” he says sheepishly. “I just... I needed to do this. With my other jobs, I feel like I haven't really been there for Tensei, and I wanted to make sure that other villains that share Stain's ideology won't hurt anyone else, y'know?”

“They hurt you,” Shouta stresses, looking back at him.

“Not really, I only lost my quirk for a bit – “

“Which was more than enough!” Shouta snaps, smacking a hand to the mattress. He's shaking, Hizashi is startled to realize. “Hizashi, are you really this dumb? You'd already been running after villains for nearly twenty minutes before that – if your quirk gets taken, normally you're short of breath. What happens when you already are? You can't breathe!”

“Shouta, it wasn't that bad,” Hizashi tries to get in. “I still managed to fight that guy no problem – “

“You passed out.” The words are growled, catching Hizashi off guard. “How is that 'no problem'? You're smarter than this, I know you are, but when you take stupid, idiotic risks like this I'm worried you'll die and I'll never get the chance to – “

“The chance to what?” Hizashi asks, bewildered.

“To tell you that I love you!”

Hizashi stares. He knows he's gaping, mouth dropped open stupidly, and he knows his eyes are wide and unbelieving. Because what? What? Does he really...

“... Shouta?”

The other man huffs and turns away again, a hand up to his mouth to hide a grimace. Before his eyes pink dusts across pale cheeks, and the absolutely gobsmacked feeling only intensifies. “I... Just ignore that,” Shouta mutters. “I didn't actually say that, alright? Forget it – “

“Nonononono!” Hizashi quickly yelps out, flailing forward to grab one of Shouta's hands desperately. “No, you can't – I'm not gonna – Forget that? No way! Shouta, do you really – are you saying you...?”

Shouta's hand falls from his mouth and the scowl on his face turns into more of a pout – an expression Hizashi has always thought was cute. “You really are an idiot if you haven't noticed that I... Care... for you.”

“Care?” Hizashi parrots, unable to even comprehend it entirely. “No, I'm pretty sure you said love a little bit ago! Is that – is that true?”

Shouta sighs, as if suddenly tired. “Of course it's true,” he says, quiet. With a gentle move he turns his hand so that he's able to hold Hizashi's hand back, squeezing lightly. “I – I've been in love with you for... Years now. And I know you... Care for me back, but I just... I've never been able to... I've been scared.”

“W-wait,” Hizashi stammers, cheeks suddenly very warm. “What do you mean you know I care for you back?” Surely he hasn't been that obvious.

… Has he?

Shouta fixes him with an exhausted, amused look. “Did you really think you were being smooth and sneaky with your 'Eraser Socializing Time'? I know it's just an excuse to spend time with me.”

How do you even know that's what I've been calling it - “

“Don't leave your scheduling book on your desk.”

Oh my god - “

Shouta closes his eyes and laughs, bending forward to rest his forehead on their joined hands. It's a surprisingly intimate act from the normally stoic man, and Hizashi stops freaking out to simply stare, heart warmed and fluttering in his chest. “You really are an idiot,” the man murmurs into his fingers. “The biggest idiot I know.”

“...Your idiot, though,” Hizashi says, just as quiet. His cheeks ache from the smile stretching across them.

“...Yeah. You are.”