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My Hero Academia - A Darklight Screwup

Chapter Text

"This is so dumb." I growled, scowling around at the posh school, shifting the strap of my backpack on my shoulder "Why do have to play the teenager, and you get to be the sexy new teacher the girls are all gonna be drooling over?" snow was falling thick and fast, obscuring our surroundings. The air was still, and our breaths puffed steam. It wasn't especially deep on the ground- yet, but I was still glad I'd worn my boots as I slogged through what had accumulated already.

Nat smirked at me, hands deep in his trench coat we as walked towards the huge main entrance. He'd dressed for the cold, because he actually felt it- unlike me. Still, he barely sank through the powder at all, walking lightly on the top of the fine powder. Bloody vampire. Grumbling, I shifted my heavy bag again. His bag was still in the car. He didn't need to live on campus "Because you can pass for a 17 year old- me? Not so much." Infuriatingly, he was right. Nat was unmistakably a grown male. He was tall, muscular and whipcord built. He moved with leonine grace, and bore himself as only warrior could. On the other hand, even though I was relatively tall for a female, if I wasn't careful, humans wouldn't sell me alcohol in most establishments. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a petite little girly or anything- but when a B-cup was pushing my luck and my powers kept me in my prime, I could pass for anywhere between 16 and 20. In a school uniform? People thought Nat was my big brother.

"Do we know for sure they're targets?" I said after a moment as we approached the looming towers of the school. I ran an eye over the outside of the building, inspecting best it I could, given the weather. I hoped it wasn't all regular glass.

"Fairly certain. No idea which one though, or what they're wanted for." Nat ruffled his hair, unmelted snowflakes falling out onto his shoulders. I snorted. Flying blind was such a pain "It was just a bonus they wanted us for hunting a mole as well. Otherwise it might've just been you in there." I snorted again. Unlikely. Everyone knew we worked better as a team- especially after the last mission I'd been sent on "It certainly helps they're all housed in dorms. Would've been a drama watching three-score different houses." Bloodydamn right- tonnes of legwork on my end it would've been.

We reached the great, glass doors that marked the entrance. I sniffed as Nat effortlessly pushed them open and we stalked inside. The whole place stank of hormones and species that weren't entirely human. Unmistakably filled to the brim with bloodydamn teenagers. Just what I wanted to be spending all my time breathing for the next few months.

It was a weekend, so no kids milled around the main campus. Instead, a figure idly stood, leaning against a column inside the front door. I ran an eye over him appreciatively "Morning Eraser." I said, smirking crookedly "Didn't think we'd remember how to get to the staffroom?" I stomped my boots, trying to dislodge the worst of the slush. I shook my head like a dog- the melted snow dripping to the floor. My shirt was damp, but it was already drying with my body temperature. Nat just brushed his shoulders for loose flakes that hadn't melted- perks of running cooler than most mammals I guess.

Aizawa snorted, face deadpan, his eyes as tired as ever as he took in our appearances. He didn't look at all surprised by my lack of warm clothing, instead raising an eyebrow at what was written on the front of my shirt "I don't trust you not to make a mess on your way there." he turned and started to slink away, and I watched in appreciation. He hadn't changed at all- just gotten more built.

I snickered and followed, Nat chuffing beside me "How's it feel knowing you're gonna be my sensei for the next few months?" I teased at his back.

The hero didn't turn around "I'm thrilled." Still deadpan- but I could feel the sarcasm. My snicker turned into a giggle. I liked Aizawa- and not just because he was more than mildly good looking. Tall as Nat, built like a warrior, he unconsciously moved just like my partner. No, I liked him not just for his fighting prowess, but for his incredible sense of humour and ability to deal with my shite "I'll be able to give you detention as often as I like." Bastard.

"This place has changed." Nat remarked quietly as we moved through the hallways towards the staffroom. I'd noticed too. It had been roughly 10 years since we'd last visited- it looked like there had been some serious renovations since back then. Improved technology was a given, but as I eyed the walls, I wondered what made them change from plain old cement to a compound that could withstand a pulse missile.

"We've had to increase security. You've been briefed on the attacks?" Aizawa glanced over a shoulder to see us nodding "Villains have grown bolder since All Might's retirement- we feel an attack on the school itself is inevitable. And after last year's events, pro heroes have been stretched thin to cover for losses and allow those injured time to recover. Obviously, we've had to outsource for security." I pursed my lips. We hadn't been employed as security, per-say, but it was certainly implied in our briefing. But looking at the new defences...the two of us were good, but we weren't an army. We'd been given permission to let loose if needed, but it was to be avoided if possible.

Finally, we reached the staffroom, and Aizawa waved us in. I recognised most of the scents from last time as we stepped through, but there were a few, faint new ones I'd need to identify. The room was big, and well-lit by huge windows and pleasant skylights- despite the blinding snowstorm. Couches lined the walls under the windows, and a handful of tables held laptops and stacks of paper "Ah, you're here!" Nezu, the little rodent, was as excited as always to see us. I had no idea why- I'd accidentally tried to eat him once. He jumped down from his seat at one of the paper-stacked tables and hurried over to us "It's been too long." I dutifully knelt slightly to shake his paw. His eyes were the same, kind brown, but there was definitely a slight greying around his muzzle. As always, the sight of someone I knew and liked aging hit me in my heart. The curse of long life.

If seeing Nezu's grey muzzle made me sad, when I stood and looked around at the other staff, seeing Toshinori nearly had me bursting into tears- if I was a crier.

Even sitting down, I could see how bad he was. He was practically skeletal- I could've snapped him in half with my forefinger and thumb. His hair was limp and dulled, his eyes in sunken hollows and his cheekbones stood out too sharply. I'd seen ghouls with a healthier glow "Darklight, Dragula, it's good to see you." He said, standing and slowly crossing over to shake Nat's hand. I didn't have to look at my vampire to see he was as shocked as I was. When Toshi came to me, I ignored the offered hand, and stepped to pull him into a fierce hug "Ooof." He smelt like blood and weariness.

I could feel his ribs even through his jacket "Draga miea, Toshi." I said softly, warmly, and pulled back. I couldn't help the worry in my eyes, even as I chided gently "I thought I told you drugs were bad."

Toshi chuckled at my feeble attempt at humour "Not much to look at, am I?" he looked down at his trembling, claw-like hands "I'd forgotten you hadn't seen me since the big fight."

"I'd have kicked your ass for not calling me for backup." I admitted "Torino told us all about it, but he didn't go into details about how fucked up you got." Nezu twitched at my language, but Toshi just laughed.

"I see you haven't changed at all." He patted my shoulder and then went back to his seat "Did you have a chance to look over the profiles for class 3A? What do you think?" I tried not to pay attention to how stiffly he moved.

"She thinks it'll be kinky wearing a school uniform." Nat drawled, leaning nonchalantly against the wall near the door, hands in his pockets. Aizawa snorted- I think it was a laugh.

"I think it'll be creepy." I corrected him, not even bothering to scowl "Ok, I can probably look like a teenager, but how the hell do I pretend I am one?"

"Rhea, you have the maturity of a 10 year old. Just be yourself- trust me, you'll fit riiight in." Nat smirked at me "I'd be more worried about all the ones that will want to date you."

I made a face at my partner "He's right, of course." Nezu chimed in, but didn't specify which bit he agreed to "And I believe you will fit in with class 3A particularly well- assuming you read the profiles-"

I waved a hand "Pffft no- why would I? I can't act for shite; how am I supposed to be all awed and surprised when I already know exactly who and what they are?" I broke in impatiently. It was sound logic, really "Did you read my request? About the space, equipment and dietary requirements?" I'd be damned if I had to hunt from this place- especially in winter.

"For a room in the dorms on the top floor? Indeed. I assume it's so you can Shift unseen?" Nezu cocked his tiny head, ears twitching "So I take it that means you are only going to display your fire as your Quirk?" if he disagreed with my refusal to read the profiles, he didn't say anything. Besides, Nat had read them all. He kept trying to tell me about them.

I huffed "Yes. If the threat is as prominent as you all say, it'll be best that only you three know about my other abilities." Nezu, Aizawa and Toshi were the only staff at the school who knew me and Nat. If we were to help track down the mole as well, playing close to the chest was our best option "And it'll be too hard to sneak out all the time- one of the kids will probably see me, or another teacher."

"I still think you should've picked your other form as your 'Quirk'." Nat said, inspecting a nail "It's much cooler."

"Dude, I set fire to shit constantly- how the hell am I supposed to hide that?" I demanded. It was a familiar argument; we'd been bickering over my choice for days "And still think you should've picked a different course to pretend to teach."

Nat squinted at me "Don't change the subject. You also Shift constantly- what are you gonna say when you flash your fangs, or sniff them? As if any of those annoying little gits aren't going to make you partial Shift!"

"Quit bickering, you two." Aizawa grumbled "Darklight, I agree with Dragula. It won't give too much away if you claim both as part of your Quirk. Another thing, what are we calling you both? I'm assuming you don't want to use your real names."

I sniffed "Ideally not- not if you want us to be undercover agents. I'm Kurai Hikari. I don't care it doesn't sound Irish." I stubbornly crossed my arms "I'm not gonna be able to remember another name, and I'm not losing this accent- I like it too much."

Aizawa snorted "You're literally naming yourself dark-light, you know that, right?" huh, hadn't expected him to pick on that so fast.

"Well, duh. Like I'd pick sommat boring." He rolled his eyes. It would help Hikari had been my nickname for a few millennia- Kurai was more recent, something I'd chosen from my last major assignment.

Nezu was carefully writing the name down "Very well. And what about you, Mr Dragula? And have you decided what your Quirk is?"

I tensed, flashing a look at Nat. Even after all this time, it was still a sensitive topic. But if my partner was affected by the question, he didn't show it outwardly. He just raised an eyebrow thoughtfully "I'll go with Nathan Drake- I agree with Rhea, I hate learning fake names. This one is pretty close to my real one. As for the Quirk thing... I don't know. You know I'm faster and stronger than a normal human, and I can break into people's minds- although I think keeping that secret will be useful if we are hunting a traitor." He shrugged "Does it have to have a flashy name? Surely it won't matter."

Toshi chuckled, and I heard the fluid in his lungs "It'll matter to the kids- trust me."

"Call it Increase, or something- seeing as you get stronger after you Feed." I suggested, shifting to dump my heavy bag on the floor "Not that the spawn need to know that." I cheerfully ignored the disapproving frown Aizawa shot at me for my chosen words.

"Honestly, I think you could just call it Vampire- blood related Quirks are rare, but not incredibly so." Nezu spoke thoughtfully "It would help explain your healing abilities as well." Heh, it would also save my ass when I inevitably slipped up and called him one.

Nat tapped his chin "Fine. Back to Rhea's request for food- did you locate a suitable blood source as well?" we'd considered not bringing it up- but if Nat was constantly having to hunt for victims, he ran the risk of running into the inevitable pro hero. I missed the days one could do away with murderers oneself.

"Indeed. I've even taken the liberty of organising weekly deliveries to your apartment." Nezu sounded proud of himself. Efficient little bastard "What of you, Miss Darklight? What shall we call your abilities?"

I rolled my eyes "Fine. You're right, I'll end up Shifting in front of them eventually- call it 'Dragon', or something. I don't care so long as it sounds cool." I wasn't going to delude myself; I knew I had very little self-control. Also, the kids would love my other form.

"And you'll need these, too." He nodded to a bundle of clothing on the lunch table. Curiously, I stalked over to them and picked up the blue shirt "There are two uniforms; PE and general. You'll need a Hero Costume as well, otherwise it will be suspicious." They smelt new and clean.

"Brilliant." Oooooh I could have fun with that.

"It will have to be made by a local agency."

I eyed at him over my shoulder "Do I at least get to design it?"

He nodded, but despite his cool gaze, I could see the hint of a smile forming. He was enjoying this "Yes, but Nezu and I will have to approve it." Damn. There went that plan. My expression must have given me away, because Aizawa's small lip-twitch turned into a small smirk. Ah well. I'd have to embarrass him some other way.

"Is there anything else we need to know- that you didn't put in the briefing?" Nat asked "Gytran told us that asides from the mole, there was a group of Villains who might try to snatch students, yes?"

Ah yeah, that's right. I'd almost forgotten that was the real reason I was playing a student. There was no way for a teacher to be with the kids at all times; but a student playing body-guard? It would be unexpected. I might even get to bite someone "One of the students was kidnapped a little a year and a half ago ago. They wanted to turn him to their side, but he refused." Toshi broke the quiet "Then there are the Nomu- did you read about those?"

I suppressed a shudder "Yeah. Wish I could've been there to help wipe them out. Surely you practically cleaned the slate of that crew though?" I picked up the blue PE uniform. The material was light and obviously high quality "Do you really think the kids are still in that much danger?"

"Yes. The major players are still at large, and like we've said, they have shown great interest in our students' abilities. Seeing as even the most aggressive of them refused to go over willingly, they may try to simply take the Quirks they want from their corpses." Nezu spoke bluntly, without trying to soften his words. I appreciated that. It made it easier to understand just how serious this was.

Hmmm "Why did they pick the student they did, first off? To try to convince, I mean." I asked, cocking my head "Surely a kid from a hero course would obviously have strong objections to that particular idea?"

"If you'd read the profiles, you'd know." Aizawa grumbled.

"Class 3A has some interesting characters." Nezu said, ignoring Aizawa's comment "Young Bakugo is hot-tempered and erratic. It is not surprising they thought he might be interested in becoming one of them." Sounded like my kind of guy, to be honest.

Nat barked a laugh, noting my interest "I am not jealous you are their home room teacher Aizawa- keep a fire-extinguisher handy."

I scowled, scooping the rest of the uniform up "Bite me." I stalked back to my bag and started jamming the clothes in on top of the rest of my stuff "I'm not actually a 17-year-old."

Nat patted me on the head "I meant for when they try to kill you- you are especially irritating."

"She will have competition." Toshi said dryly "There might be some hot-heads in that class, but there are plenty of annoying kids too."

Straightening from my packing, reshouldering my bag, I put a hand on my hip and eyed them seriously "Now, I don't care I have to take their stupid classes, but I am not doing homework." When nobody said anything, I squinted at them in disbelief "SERIOUSLY? You're joking! Do you have any idea how long it's been since I did TRIGONOMETRY?!" No way could I keep up with a bunch of genius kids at math.

Nat smirked "She's got a point." He knew exactly what I was talking about.

Toshi, at least, had the gall to look a little embarrassed, while Aizawa actually chuckled (a deep, almost evil sound) "They study together and do their homework together pretty regularly; it will look odd if you never have anything to work on outside of class time." He managed to sound at least a little sympathetic "You won't be expected to take any in-class exams, apart from the physical ones anyway."

"Don't worry, Kurai, I'm sure the staff will help you if you have trouble with your maths homework." Nat teased, his smirk now a wide grin.

I eyed him sideways, and my own wicked smile grew "Hey, does that mean Nat has to mark assignments too?" I asked innocently. The vampire's grin vanished as though I'd wiped it off with a rag "Otherwise, how will he maintain his teacher image?"

Chapter Text

"So, did you hear we're getting the exchange student today?"

"Wait, who did we exchange for?"

"No, dummy, they're just coming here- from Europe!"

"Hmmm I wonder if they'll have a really sexy European accent..."

"I will actually cry if it's not a girl."

"Mineta! You are such a perve- can you not embarrass us, just this once?!"

"I heard Mr Aizawa say we are getting a new teacher, from the same school as the new kid! Something about an extra class though...I wonder where they'll find the time for us to take up a new class?"

Midoriya sighed, trying to refocus on his homework. It wasn't a particularly difficult assignment, but he'd left it to the last minute, and so he was trying to finish it off late on a Sunday afternoon. What was making it difficult, was his classmates. Nearly everyone was gathered in the lounge, either relaxing, doing their own assignments, or snacking- at least, that was what happened on a normal Sunday afternoon. He could have gone to his dorm and worked in peace and quiet, but today was special, and he had to admit he didn't want to miss out on anything.

When Mr Aizawa had announced a week ago they were to be housing a student from another hero school, everyone had been excited. And it hadn't just been class 3A to hear the news- virtually the entire school was buzzing. It wasn't uncommon to have students from other schools come and do studies at UA, seeing as it was considered the very best for turning out Pro Heroes, but no-one could ever remember a student from somewhere so far away, and remote as Ireland, visiting. And what was more, they weren't just visiting- they were to be staying with them, Midoriya's class, in their dorms, for at least a few months!

No wonder everyone was restless.

Midoryia had spent as much time, if not more, thinking about the new student and the new rumoured teacher. He'd tried to research schools like UA in Ireland and Europe in general, but the information was remarkably hard to come by. It seemed other countries chose to keep their schools far more secretive and closed-off than Japan did. None of them had anything like the Sports Festival- they all flew under the radar. Which made it all the more exciting, and all the harder to try to concentrate on finishing his blasted homework.

"Of course it's a girl!" Mina Ashido stomped a foot impatiently "Didn't you see Cementoss working on the roof of our side of the dorms? There's like, a whole new floor up there!"

"I sincerely doubt they'd house a male student on that side of the building." Iida agreed "I agree with Ashido- but speculation is a waste of time. Mr Aizawa said they'd be here early this afternoon; we should just wait and see." As usual, everyone ignored him.

Uraraka plonked down on the couch next to Midoriya, sighing loudly "They better hurry up! I'm getting hungry." She announced, and then peered at Midoriya's work "Deku, that's due tomorrow!" she sounded surprised, and he cringed a little.

"I know! I was busy working on a project for Mirio and Eri- time got away from me." He was nearly done, anyway. It hadn't helped how busy he'd been kept in the internship- losing 2 days a week of school time made it even harder to keep up with his study load.

"Looks like nearly everyone is gonna sit around and wait for the new kid to show up." Uraraka observed, tapping her chin thoughtfully as she looked around "Well, everyone except for Bakugo- but it'd be nice if we didn't scare her off the first night!"

Midoriya chuckled softly, but didn't say anything. Glancing up himself, he could see that all but the one of his classmates were all pretending to entertain themselves, finding any excuse to be in the lounge. Even Iida, for all of his words of patience, was barely looking at the game of chess he was supposedly playing with Yaoyorozu, who herself was busy pretending not to glance between the clock on the wall in the kitchen, and the doors that led to the outside world. Everyone had been asking the same questions Midoriya himself had been running through his head since they'd learned the newbie was coming; who was she, what would she be like, and what would her Quirk be?

"I can see someone coming!" Kaminari yelled suddenly from his perch on the couch nearest the entrance. In a rush, everyone except Midoriya leapt to their feet and tried to peer through the glass.

"Honestly! Sit back down! You're all embarrassing!" Iida barked, and started shoving people away from the window. Reluctantly, most of them sank or slunk back to their seats, but no-one pretended to be doing anything but watching the front doors.

Kaminari and Mineta had ignored Iida completely, and were still eagerly pressing their faces against the glass "I call dibs if she's more than a 6." The smaller of the two cackled.

"Riiight, like you'd be able to handle more than a 6."

Midoriya rolled his eyes, and Uraraka sighed "If those two embarrass us, I'll smack them myself." She muttered.

At that instant, the doors finally slid open. Midoriya looked up as everyone tensed, their excitement palpable, and Mr Aizawa stepped into the building, with a cold blast of snow-ridden air, eyes narrowed at the sight of them all "I thought I told you all to make yourselves scarce this afternoon." He grumbled. Yeah, right. As if any of them were going to hide in their rooms.

Nobody was paying any attention to their teacher though, because someone else had just stepped in behind him, allowing the doors to close winter back outside. She was tall, although only for a girl. She was slim, her shoulders relatively broad in her black t-shirt with the English letters C, A, F, and U emblazoned in white. Her muscular arms were bare, despite the literal snowstorm they just stepped from. Did that mean she had a physical Quirk that stopped her from feeling cold? She wore white jeans, ripped at the knees, and black combat boots that came halfway up her obviously toned calves. Her face was almost elfin, high-cheekbones, straight, neat nose and eyes a startlingly vivid blue. Her hair was a mass of chaotic, midnight curls, haphazardly dragged into a bun. Over a shoulder, one hand supported an enormous backpack- but despite its obvious weight, Midoriya saw no strain in her strangely delicate wrist.

She was strong then, and obviously confident enough to stand beside the adult, rather than wait behind him to be introduced properly. Midoriya couldn't see any sign of any physical, outward Quirk from this distance. She looked normal enough, if extraordinarily pale.

As Aizawa reminded them he had told them to be scarce, she looked around at them with marked interest with her strangely bright gaze, seemingly not the least bit perturbed by the 20 plus pairs of eyes staring back, scanning them all briefly, as though marking them all in her memory. When her gaze passed over Midoriya, he felt as though he'd been spotted by some big predator, and suppressed a shudder "Seeing as you're mostly all here, I may as well introduce you and get it over with." Aizawa continued, breaking Midoriya's observations. The girl glanced sideways at the teacher, her expression almost amused, halting her strange examination of the class "Everyone, this is Kurai Hikari. She's the exchange student from Scoil Laoch, in Ireland." Aizawa's tired gaze landed on Midoriya and then moved to Uraraka, who still sat beside him "Midoriya, Uraraka; you two will be responsible for seeing Hikari settle in, and then helping her find her way around the campus." He ignored their stunned expressions "Iida, keep them all in line." With that, Aizawa spun around and slouched away, totally ignoring them all as he left the building and a stunned body of students.

Iida wasted no time, practically leaping forward and bowing deeply to the newcomer "Welcome! My name is Tenya Iida, and I am the class president! I can already tell you will enjoy your time here, and I hope you learn all we can teach you."

For her credit, Hikari didn't flinch or look overly surprised at Iida's enthusiasm. She raised a perfect eyebrow, considering him as he straightened from his bow. Her slightly amused, almost impassive expression morphed and like lightning, she flashed a crooked grin, eyes sparkling, and lazily drew her free hand to her forehead in a sloppy salute "Sup."

In a disorganised wave, the rest of the class surged forward "Aren't you cold?" Ashido demanded, getting to the front of the group first "It's snowing out there!"

"Ashido! Introduce yourself properly!" Iida said, turning, trying to herd everyone away.

Hikari's crooked smile widened in apparent amusement "Nah, I don't feel the cold, usually." She hadn't moved from the entrance. Was she not as confident as she appeared? Her stance was relaxed, but her eyes never lingered on any one of them for too long.

"Awww lucky! I'm Mina Ashido- but please call me Mina!" the pink girl gushed "Your hair is so pretty!"

Then the class degenerates barged in "Denki Kaminari!" Kaminari announced, giving a flourishing bow of his own "I gotta say, your accent is gorgeous! And your Japanese is amazing." He said admiringly. Midoriya had to agree with both observations. Hikari's accent was lilting, almost musical, and despite it, her Japanese was utterly flawless so far. Damn! Nobody had even asked if she was fluent- Iida would be mortified when he realised.

"My sincerest apologies!" sure enough "I completely forgot to ask if you were more comfortable with English or Japanese." He actually wrung his hands in embarrassment.

Hikari gave a shrug, her crooked smirk almost a full-on grin "Be a bit daft to come to a school in Japan, if I couldn't speak Japanese." Mineta looked like he was going to swoon at her voice. Midoriya had to admit it was... very pleasant. He felt his ears warm under his hair.

The purple menace shoved Kaminari out of the way "Uncultured swine! Let me be the first to offer to take the Lady's bag!" another blow to Iida's pride. Unusual for him to miss so many things. The little teen swaggered to the taller girl and flashed a sleezy grin "May I?"

Kaminari groaned as the girls all started to mutter, Iida almost choking in outrage "What a gentleman." Hikari's eyes seemed to sparkle even brighter "As always, the hospitality of you and your countrymen leave a simple lass like myself in awe." With a single, graceful roll of her shoulder, Hikari offered the backpack to Mineta. Was Midoriya the only one who thought it looked far heavier than it was?

Mineta proudly took the offered strap, and Hikari let go, rolling her now unburdened shoulder. Mineta took the full weight of the bag, and promptly fell under its weight.

"Woops! Sorry, I thought a hero in training would be fine carrying it!" Mineta gasped weakly for breath, scrambling under the bag that was nearly bigger than he was himself "Here." Now smiling openly, Hikari scooped the bag up with one hand, and with the other, effortlessly pulled Mineta to his feet "My bad." She said, reshouldering the bag as though it weighed nothing

Mineta was blushing furiously as Kaminari guffawed "What the hell have you got in there?" Mineta demanded. He seemed to have forgotten Hikari had actually touched him to get him up.

"Mineta! You don't ask a Lady what she has in her bag!" Kaminari scolded, and smiled winningly at the 'Lady' in question "Please ignore my idiot friend." Midoriya noted Kaminari didn't offer to take the bag.

Hikari's grin didn't even falter "Don't mention it. Is there somewhere I could dump it for now though?" she was still standing in the doorway.

"Sure! Drop it over here!" Kirishima called, gesturing to the couch where most everyone was hanging around, eagerly waiting to talk to the newcomer "I'm Eijiro Kirishima by the way- nice to meet you!" he gave his trademark, toothy grin.

Hikari sauntered towards them, her steps light and sure despite the burden on her shoulder "Sweet." She swung it onto the couch, Jiro scrambling to make more room. It was a really big bag... but was it all she'd brought? Surely not "Next time, I get one with wheels."

"I can't believe Aizawa just dumped you and ran!" Jiro remarked, shaking her head "Talk about thrown to the wolves- I'm Kyoka Jiro, by the way."

Hikari shrugged "Didn't expect anything else. He knows I can handle myself." She looked around at everyone, seeming to notice how eager they were to introduce themselves, especially the guys of the class.

"Geez, are all the guys gonna drool over her?" Uraraka muttered under her breath. Immediately, Midoriya could have sworn Hikari's grin grew wider, flashing unusually sharp canines. Super hearing as well? What was this Quirk?

"Did Mr Aizawa give you a tour at all?" Iida asked, as he started to shoo people out of the way, trying to make space for the new girl to actually sit on the couch.

Hikari shook her head, loose curls bouncing "Nah. The storm's not exactly pleasant. Figure he'll let you lot show me around." She winked at Kaminari, and Midoriya was treated to the rare sight of the blonde teen blushing an incredible shade of scarlet. Iida finally made a space he was happy with, and Hikari sank smoothly down at his gesture "Thanks. I didn't actually expect a welcoming party." For the first time since she'd arrived, the cocky smirk changed to a genuine smile, and she ducked her head just slightly.

"It's been nice to have something potentially positive to look forward to." Shinso said dryly from his stool at the kitchen bench "Hitoshi Shinso." He added in afterthought.

Midoriya had to agree with him. After the horrific events of later last school year- it seemed like everyone was sitting around for something else terrible or world-ending to happen. It had been nice to have something so mundane to look forward to "Potentially Positive." Hikari repeated thoughtfully, and tapped a clawed finger on her chin. Midoriya's brain was running full speed now. Claws, apparent immunity to cold, and increased strength and hearing? Talk about an interesting combination! "I gotta say, that's actually pretty flattering." Shinso blinked, and his cheeks tinted a slight pink.

He finally drew up the courage to step forward, so to speak, despite the fact he was still sitting on the couch. Sitting his homework aside, he stood and bowed, and noted Uraraka was doing the same "I'm Izuku Midoriya, and this is Ochako Uraraka." He managed to keep the stammer from his voice. Why was he still nervous, meeting new people like this?

Immediately, the vivid gaze turned to him "Ah. You're the ones Aizawa saddled with me, right? Dunno why he did that- but I promise not to be a burden."

Her grin was infectious, and Midoriya found himself smiling nervously in response "Oh! You won't be a burden- not at all! Don't hesitate to ask for anything or..." he trailed off awkwardly, but the girl didn't join in with the laughter of his classmates, she just kept grinning warmly from her seat on the couch. He rubbed the back of his neck and sat back down.

Uraraka giggled "Don't mind Deku. Let me know when you wanna go to your room- Cementoss finished it off yesterday."

"Sweet. I don't wanna impose, but I don't suppose there's any food in that there kitchen? Even if I gotta cook it? We kinda missed lunch." Her smile turned almost apologetic, and she rubbed the back of her neck "My, ah- Quirk makes me eat, like, a lot." she sounded almost embarrassed as she glanced around at them "Don't worry if there isn't! I'll just get my teacher to snag sommat and drop it off later." She added quickly.

"Not to worry!" Iida announced with his usual vim "On weekends we cook our own meals here in the dorm- we can start on dinner now to ensure you don't go hungry." He turned to Midoriya "Midoriya! Why don't you and Uraraka show our new classmate her room, and then we'll start preparing the meal?"

"Sure! That's if, um, you're ready?" he stammered, silently cursing his awkwardness.

"Sure." Gracefully, Hikari rose, and scooped her bag up once more "Lead on!"

 

Chapter Text

After Aizawa left with Darklight, Toshinori watched Nathaniel Dragula thoughtfully as he spoke to Nezu about what he and his partner had been up to for the last decade. Toshi knew that neither he nor his partner where human, but seeing their total lack of ageing really brought the point home. The vampire looked exactly the same as he had ten years ago- young, suave, aristocratic and cocksure. His hair was the same; black and carelessly tousled, his eyes still the same, deep blue, and his accent was still almost British. Hell, even his clothes looked the same- down to the black duster. And Rhea Darklight had been the same. Still erratic, quick to laugh, and almost innocently childish. Toshinori had been beyond pleased to hear they were to be working in and around UA- and not just because he liked the pair personally. They were reliable, even if they were seemingly immature and argumentative.

"I read the profiles you gave us of the Villains." Nat was saying from his lounging position in one of the teacher couches "A dangerous little group, aren't they? Not surprised you had as much trouble as you did in the last few years." His easy drawl did not match the seriousness in his eyes.

"Indeed." Nezu agreed. He had returned to his raised seat at the desk he had claimed "Did you see the individual with the flame Quirk? What do you make of him?"

Nat gave a small smile "You mean; do you think Rhea could handle him, don't you." He didn't make it a question "From the reports, I did see he is one of the heavy hitters of the group- you truly think he'd be so bold as to come here?"

Toshi sighed "One of the students in 3A may, may be related to him. We are not certain, but we think there might be a family connection." No-one was going to say it out loud just yet, but more than a few people were beginning to suspect Dabi's true origins "We've learned to err on the side of caution when it comes to the League and their associates- and their potential targets."

Nat nodded thoughtfully, and ran a hand through his dark hair "I agree. As for Rhea, don't worry even a little. She will be more than capable of being able to deal with this little Villain's flame Quirk. Hell- she'd be able to neuter Endeavour if she needed to." He smirked.

Toshi cocked his head "She's really that powerful?" he wondered. He knew she was strong, and had seen her abilities firsthand- but it had been a small incident and a brief show.

"Against fire? Absolutely. Trust me- there is literally no-one more suited to dealing with those morons," Toshi didn't miss the implied plural "and she'd have a ball doing it too."

"Do you think she'll manage, living with the students?" Nezu asked. Toshi glanced at him. There had been no real debate regarding placing Darklight- no, Hikari, in the dorms. It had been assumed due to her youthful appearance, and her superiors' suggestion, that she would have no issue impersonating a student. Whether or not she could personally handle the scrutiny of so many intelligent youths had not been addressed.

But if they had been worried, Nat's guffaw of laughter broke the tension "Manage? She will be having the time of her life. Despite her complaining, Rhea loves kids- I suppose because she is so like one herself. Trust me; if we regret putting her in there it will because she is managing. Expect house parties, impromptu prank wars, at least one act of graffiti- and copious amounts of reports of disruptive behaviour. I was not joking when I said I wasn't jealous of Aizawa." His grin was merry, and infectious.

Toshi found himself smiling as well. Maybe, just maybe, this necessary evil and inconvenience would have some benefits. Despite the inevitable collective groan that would surely be coming from the faculty at the menace they were apparently unleashing; it sounded like it was going to be at least entertaining. Even if only the students had some fun...they could surely use some levity in their last year.

Chapter Text

I followed the confuzzled teens through the surprisingly plush dorm, trying to keep a grin off my face and failing utterly. Despite my complaining, I was actually kinda looking forward to this part of the mission. Young people know how to have fun. Nobody had reprimanded or growled at me for my little prank with the pervy purple-headed kid- they'd laughed! As I'd intended.

And they were all so unique! It had been a long time since I'd been amongst so many different beings- my last mission had been amongst mainly full-humans. It was truly refreshing that I wouldn't be the only odd ball around. Even the mostly human looking ones had some very interesting scents and mannerisms about them. Take this nervous, stammering teen that had been assigned to 'look after me'. He had the innocence of youth about him, but the extensive scarring on his arms and hands spoke of either a hard life, or extreme combat. His eyes, while bright and excited, held a depth I'd only seen in veterans of battle. Whatever this kid had been through, it had been brutal and terrifying. Which made him interesting, as he obviously hadn't let his trials crush his spirit.

And there was the fact he smelt just like Toshinori. Not in a blood-relation way, but in the burnt ozone, lightning kind of way. Intriguing. Maybe they had similar Quirks? I should probably ask. It might be useful.

The girl that was with us was obviously infatuated with Midoriya as well. She hung on his every word with more than polite interest, and her eyes tracked nearly his every movement. Then there was the fact she had muttered about all the 'guys drooling' over me. Definitely a little protective, and possibly jealous.

The girl herself was relatively unremarkable as far as appearances went. Don't get me wrong- she was pretty enough. Her eyes were bright and intelligent, and her smile was quick and easy. She was nearly my height, and even at her age, already more endowed than I'd ever be. She moved gracefully, and judging by her muscled arms and calloused knuckles, she was at least trained in hand-to-hand combat if nothing else.

My observations kept me entertained as we used the elevator to get take us to the top floor, along with their polite questions. I could tell they were desperate to ask more about me, but neither of them asked anything more than how my trip was, how I was liking Japan so far etcetera. So bloody polite! Lucky I wasn't pretending to be a born and bred local- there was no way I had the patience to pretend to be so polite, and well, patient.

"All the girls live in our own rooms on this side of the building." Uraraka was saying as they led me out of the elevator into the well-lit, carpeted hallway "But it looks like they made you a whole floor- there was only five before this week." There was no jealousy in her tone.

"How many rooms are there to a floor normally?" I asked as we approached the single, navy-blue door. I hadn't expected to be given a whole floor- but it would make it easier to Shift regularly for sure.

"Four. Same for us guys." Midoriya supplied. He'd gotten less nervous in the last few minutes as I proved I wouldn't bite his head off.

We reached the door, and Uraraka politely opened it so I could step in first. I whistled softly "Wow." The room was immense. I could have laid nose-to-tail three times and still not been squished. The carpet was the same dark blue as the hallway and the lounge downstairs. The ceiling was tall- I'd be able to stand up in my other form and my horns would be nowhere near the roof. Downlights were spaced evenly, illuminating the simple double bed, desk, empty bookshelf, open walk-in robe, and kitchenette- complete with a generous fridge, chest freezer and oven, next to a small, open fireplace. They'd taken my dietary request seriously then. Stepping in, I noted the entertainment area, with a black and red couch, mounted flat-screen and my sound system. Thankyou Nat. Finally, in the middle of the room, a silver pole extended from the floor to the ceiling, with a padded mat around the base. Excellent. I hadn't expected that, but I was pleasantly surprised.

"Wow." Uraraka repeated my word. Her eyes were huge, as were Midorya's "This is huge!"

"Even a kitchen? But there's one downstairs?" Midoriya sounded confused, almost hurt "Don't they expect you to eat with us?" I wasn't sure he meant to say that out loud, or to me, at all.

I unceremoniously dropped my bag just inside the door, then deliberately stepped back into the hall as though I couldn't wait to get back downstairs (not a lie) "It's not that." I felt irrationally embarrassed "I meant it when I said I get hungry- this way I'm not waking everyone up when I cook my midnight snack." I found myself smiling apologetically "Sorry, I didn't think it would cause offence."

The pair followed me back out, and I shut the door "No! Don't apologise- it was just a surprise is all." Uraraka said quickly "And now we know you have plenty of space to hide in if we all annoy you too much." She joked.

I frowned "Why would I hide?" did she think I was scared of them all? Surely I'd been alright downstairs?

"We, uh, can be a bit overwhelming." Midoriya admitted rubbed the back of his neck as we got back into the lift "I think that's why Mr Aizawa told us to not be around when you got here. We don't want to make you uncomfortable or anything- we've all just been really excited to meet someone from so far away, from a different Hero School as well!" He spoke so fast! I loved it. Finally, someone who might be able to keep up with me.

"We just want to make sure you feel safe, is all." Uraraka added, but her eyes shifted nervously.

I turned her words over in my mind. Safe. Ah. Right. It wasn't something I needed to worry about- but a normal kid might. Japan had been the epicentre for some serious stuff, and these kids were worried an outsider would be nervous in what was practically a warzone. Suddenly the over-friendliness made a great deal of sense, as did the tension some of them had oozed- unconsciously I was sure. Hell, I bet none of them noticed just how highly-strung they all were. If I'd said 'BOO' they would've scattered- or attacked "Guys, seriously- don't worry about me. I know some scary shite went down around here, but where I come from isn't exactly a safehouse either. I've worked with pros on the streets for more than a little while- I'm not gonna get spooked by a bunch of war heroes." I smiled winningly, trying to hide my canines best I could.

They didn't look convinced, but both of them coloured at my words "We're not. War heroes." Midoriya said softly after a strange moment of silence in the suddenly small elevator.

I snorted, loudly "Um, yeah, you are. I might not know the ins and outs of it, and I'm not exactly big on social media, but what Aizawa and the other staff told us makes you war heroes." I shrugged "If you say you aren't, fine. I'm not gonna gush or fangirl, much, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em." I wasn't sure it translated well. My translation rune often stumbled on slang, and my actual Japanese was rusty- it'd been MANY years since I'd had to speak it fluently without a translating rune after all.

My message mustn't have been too garbled, because they both blushed harder, and Midoriya started mumbling under his breath about how they didn't deserve such titles and honour.

The kids were pretty much as we'd left them, except for the red haired Kirishima, and one of the bigger lads I'd not been introduced to, had taken to the kitchen and were preparing something food related. My stomach growled quietly. I hadn't been kidding- I was bloody hungry. I ate at least four times a day normally, and maybe one more big meal before I slept- the price I paid for my metabolism.

The moment we came into sight, all eyes inevitably turned back to me. I put on my most relaxed grin and looked them all over once more. It was a varied bunch for sure, almost equally balanced between physical mutations and non-physical ones. If I'd not worn my glamour, I probably wouldn't even have raised any eyebrows if it weren't for my scars. That would have either freaked them out- or not. Maybe they'd have realised I wasn't gonna be 'scared away', then. The blonde, Kaminari smiled widely at me, and his little purple friend grinned too- my earlier prank apparently forgotten.

Ashido, if that was her name, was quick to come over, her bubbly personality uplifting "We weren't sure what to cook, so the boys are doing a whole bunch of stuff!"

"Do you like sweet, or spicy?" the larger boy called, busily stirring a pot of something that smelled amazing already.

"Both." I answered truthfully "And don't be scared to skimp on the spice- that is if you guys like hot food." My definition of 'hot food' would likely not be the same as theirs. We fire elementals have refined tastebuds.

"While we wait, would you care to meet everyone?" the tall, overly polite and somewhat overbearing one called Iida came up to me. He was taller than me, but he held himself stiffly. He smelled like metal...and machinery? I wondered if he worked with them at all, or if it was to do with his Quirk.

"Sure." So he started to do his best to overwhelm me with introductions. I struggled to keep track of all the names, scents and their owners. It was a trick I'd learned early on- associate something with the person to more easily remember them. In my case, it was how they smelled. For example, the one called Tsuyu Asui had an amphibian Quirk so her appearance was memorable enough, but she smelled like a frog. So I associated Tsuyu as she wanted to be called, by that. The same went for Mashirao Ojiro- he had a tail but he smelt like cloves and his favourite washing powder (floral, for sure). The invisible girl Toru Hagakure, her seemingly favourite perfume. Fumikage Tokoyami was easy, he smelled exceedingly like the bird of his Quirk (but in a good way- ravens don't always smell like carrion). Kaminari, like hot electronics. Mineta of... aftershave he did not need. I would go on, but you'd get bored.

I lingered on the last of the youths Iida introduced me to. He was quiet and reserved, sitting further away from the kitchen than the others. He eyed me boldly, but politely- there was no nervousness in his mismatched gaze. My eyes skittered over the scar over his left, noting the distinct demarcation in his hair colour. Despite what he probably thought, and what the others no doubt thought, I did not linger because of his scar. I lingered, and even slipped a slight frown, because his scent was...strange. He smelt...a little like a fire elemental- wood smoke and a touch of cinnamon, but he also smelt like an ice elemental, of winter.

"Shoto Todoroki." Iida announced his name, and the youth inclined his head, but his eyes didn't break my gaze.

"Pleased to meet you." His voice was calm and surprisingly deep. Like the rest of his classmates, his eyes spoke of hardship, but he had the same air of a warrior that Midoriya, Kirishima and Iida himself had. This one had fought hard for most of his life, I'd bet my tail.

I couldn't help but cock my head as I answered "Samsies." I didn't let my questions come out, through sheer force of will. But my eyes must have betrayed my curiosity, because the kid broke my gaze and deliberately turned away.

Iida cleared his throat "That's everyone except Bakugo, but he should be down for dinner later on." Was it just me, or was his tone pained? He gestured towards the kitchen "Care to sample what we've made so far?" he sounded so eager I couldn't help but grin and nod. Damn I loved the earnest enthusiasm of youth.

Chapter Text

Midoriya perched on a stool near the kitchen bench, and watched closely as Iida completed introductions with the new girl. True to her word, she looked interested, but totally relaxed. Even though everyone was being careful not to be too...excited, it was hard to act calm and sit still. Hikari didn't seem at all perturbed, and Midoriya sheepishly admitted maybe she was right, and there was no reason for her to be nervous. So, instead of worrying about his new...charge? responsibility? he allowed himself to once more focus on trying to work out what her Quirk was. He could've just asked; he got the idea she would not have minded, but it was almost like a challenge he'd set himself. He'd always done it, as far back as he could remember. His observations and curious nature became an asset once he entered UA, and he hadn't been able to shake the habit.

So, he watched. Apart from the little claws on her fingers, and her canines (that she almost tried to hide by not smiling too widely), there was no obvious marker for her Quirk. There was her apparent immunity to cold, her strength, hearing and an increased appetite. That might be related to her increased strength...and maybe her cold resistance? A high metabolism would definitely mean she'd need to eat more- just like Sato. Maybe she had a similar Quirk to his? Another piece of the puzzle presented itself to him as Iida led her away from Todoroki. Her face had lost a little of it's warm smile, and she looked thoughtful, as though she was trying to work something out. At that moment, Jiro appeared at her shoulder, and asked her something. For a second, Midoriya could see her struggle with Jiro's name, but then her nose flared, and recognition lit up her expressive features.

Heightened sense of smell as well? Hang on...he narrowed his eyes and thought back to each introduction he'd been near enough to watch. Hikari's head had twitched slightly each time, and now he thought about it, her nose had flared each time too. Was she memorising their scents? "Are you memorising our scents?" he blurted as she plonked down on a stool at the bench of the kitchen between him and Kaminari. He clapped a hand to his mouth immediately, and felt his ears burn.

"Midoriya!" Iida shouted, aghast.

"Dude, really?"

Hikari froze, just for a moment. Then, she looked at him, brilliant blue eyes filled not with anger, but with wariness "You have good eyes." She joked, clearing her throat "Um, maybe? It's how I learn who people are." Her smile was apologetic, all cockiness gone. Her sudden change from relaxed and smirking warmth to almost cringing awkwardness was remarkable and Midoriya flushed with shame. Why did he have to say that?

"That's actually pretty cool." Kirishima piped up from the kitchen. His red eyes were wide "You can tell people apart with it, yeah?" Hikari nodded sheepishly "That'd be super useful in investigations! Man, the police would love someone with that ability."

"They already do!" Ashido piped up "Can you like, track people as well?" she bounced to the end of the bench and leaned on her elbows, looking at Hikari avidly.

The other girl's smile brightened a little "Sometimes. The trail has to be fresh, but yeah."

Kaminari whistled "That is so cool. Hey, what do I smell like?"

Hikari blinked "You, uh, want to know what you smell like?" her brow furrowed as she cocked her head, as though she had never been asked that before.

"Yeah! You said you can tell people apart, yeah? So that means we all smell different! So c'mon, what do I smell like?" the blonde sat forward eagerly, even spreading his arms wide, as though he expected her to lean forward and sniff him.

Midoriya literally heard Ashido roll her eyes as Iida choked in embarrassment and shock. Midoriya had to admit, he wanted to know too. It was an intriguing idea- although he suspected it might be a deeply personal one. What if somebody smelled horrible?

Hikari rubbed the back of her neck "Um, ok." She tilted her head slightly and closed her eyes. Midoriya saw the tell-tale flicker of her nose. It was barely noticeable really- he'd only seen it because he had been doing his weird, creepy act of analysing her every move "Hot...maybe burned electronics. Chocolate...with hazelnut?" she opened her eyes.

"Dude...that is actually amazing." Awe filled Kaminari's voice "You could smell my Quirk!"

Hikari frowned "I could? What's hazelnut got to do with your Quirk?"

"My Quirk is Electrification! I can generate electricity and emit it over a short distance." Kaminari happily explained "Makes sense I'd smell like burning circuits." He laughed.

"Explains a bit too." Ashido added playfully, grinning. Kaminari stuck his tongue out at her "Me next!" Hikari looked bewildered. Midoriya got the sense she'd never had this reaction to her ability "What do I smell like?" or maybe it was everyone being overly friendly again, and Kaminari trying to flirt.

Hikari didn't close her eyes as Ashido got closer, spreading her arms expectantly "Sorry, you...kinda burn my nose." She admitted "Is your...Quirk corrosive related?" she wrinkled her nose slightly, as though it really did burn.

Ashido looked crestfallen, but also pleased. An odd combination "Yeah, it is! I can make acid and use it in all sorts of ways." She made a sad face "I hurt your nose?"

Hikari grimaced "Yeah."

"What do I smell like?" apparently everyone was joining in now. Kirishima looked excited as Hikari shifted to look at him, eyes brightening with interest.

"Earthy- kinda rocky...maybe with an aftershave." She screwed up her face "Sorry, I don't know the names of the ones you guys use here."

Kirishima was as impressed as Kaminari "That is actually amazing. My Quirk is Harden; I can make my skin hard as rock." He shot a look at Midoriya "Hey, seeing as Midoriya picked up on it, do him next!"

Midoriya nearly fell off his seat "What?! No, I mean, you don't need to! Sorry I called you out on it!" he was babbling, and everyone was laughing.

Hikari's cocksure smirk was back "Burning ozone. Lightning." She didn't even sniff- had she done it earlier? They had been in the elevator for a while.

Kirishima pointed at Iida, who went scarlet, adjusting his glasses and resolutely turning around so his back was to them "Machines, oil maybe?" next Kaminari dragged Jiro forward "Ummm wood varnish...." She squinted a little "No, not varnish. But you handle wood, and metal... I dunno, sometimes it's hard to put them into words." She smiled apologetically, and then her eyes widened as Kaminari leapt up to find another victim "Really? Don't you find it creepy?"

"Interesting, not creepy." Kirishima said as he lifted the lid from a steamer "Aren't you curious about our Quirks?"

Hikari seemed to consider that as Kaminari dragged Sero over "Yes." She admitted "But I kinda like trying to guess them."

Sato smirked and nodded towards Midoriya "Heh, looks like you've found your soulmate." Midoriya couldn't have gone redder. He was starting to wonder if he needed dinner. Would anyone miss him if he vanished now?

"Craft...art supplies... tape?" she said of Sero, but then looked at Midoriya, head cocked again "Well, you spotted my weird sense of smell. What else you got?" she seemed genuinely interested, drumming a clawed hand on the stone bench-top.

"Don't creep her out!" Sero warned as he retreated from Kaminari. Sato guffawed and even Uraraka grinned. Was he really that bad?

"Um." He didn't want to make it obvious how much he'd been staring, but she didn't seem 'creeped out' "You're strong, that much is obvious. You have heightened senses; at least smell and hearing. You don't seem affected by the cold, and you have what I'm guessing is an increased metabolism as a result." It didn't sound too bad, until Mineta snorted.

"And you all say I'm a stalker." He scoffed.

Hikari didn't flinch or freeze like she had earlier. She nodded thoughtfully, eyeing him with the same weird interest she had when she had first walked in the building "Accurate observations." Midoriya suddenly wondered what she'd noticed about him.

Midoriya was saved further embarrassment by Sato announcing dinner was ready. They firmly told Hikari not to move from her new seat at the table as the rest of them started to set up and serve. Kaminari and Kirishima kept pointing out classmates to see if Hikari could guess their Quirks just by scent alone. Midoriya found himself sandwiched between her and Uraraka, and watched in astonishment as the dark-haired girl served herself an incredible amount of food "Um, coffee and ravens? But not the carrion ones. Oh, tell me if I'm taking too much." She drew back as Midoriya went to grab a dumpling. She'd already eaten more than him and Uraraka combined and showed no sign of stopping "I'll wait until everyone's done and eat what's left." She seemed to be telling herself more than anyone else.

"No, feel free to help yourself!" Kirishima said from across the table, forcibly swallowing his mouthful.

"Do Todoroki next!" Kaminari took advantage of Hikari's pause in eating.

"Really? At the table?" Iida sounded disgusted, but slightly intrigued.

Hikari didn't seem to notice, fully in the spirit of the challenge. She propped her chin up on a hand and focused her vivid gaze on the quietly eating youth down the table. She took longer than she had the others, and for a moment Midoriya thought she might not say anything "Cinnamon, woodsmoke and winter." She listed the three almost thoughtfully "Never had that combination before." She had lingered when Iida had introduced her earlier, and Midoriya had assumed it was because she recognised the name from the current No. 1 hero. Maybe it was because Todoroki smelt different to what she was used to? No! He was being creepy again.

Kaminari cackled "Cinnamon! Hah!"

"I fail to see why that's amusing." The dichromatic youth muttered.

"Here, try some of this." Sato had fetched something from the kitchen, and even though he sat it on Hikari's other side, between her and Kaminari, Midoriya's own nose burned. It was Sato's infamous take on Arctic Ramen. Only Bakugo and Todorki could eat it, the former demanding it at least once a week.

Hikari eyed it with interest and didn't try to hide her deep inhalation. She sighed and closed her eyes "That smells amazing." She eagerly scooped a huge portion into her ever empty bowl.

"Careful." Kirishima warned "That stuff is like eating liquid rocket-fuel."

Hikari wolfed it down. Midoriya was pretty sure everyone watched in amazement as the girl groaned in pleasure, literally inhaling the noodles, and then drinking the broth, without even pausing for a glass of water. Even Kacchan had to pause for the occasional sneaky sip of cold water "Goddess, that was really good." She purred, helping herself to more eagerly.

"How can you eat that?!" Uraraka exclaimed. Her eyes were watering just from the smell.

Hikari froze mid-scoopful "Um, I like hot food? Seriously, this is nothing." She smirked "If you think this is hot, let me cook sommat for you one time. I'll make you shit through the eye of a-" whatever profanity she was about to drop next, despite Iida's gasp of horror, was cut short. Hikari went rigid, sitting back, bolt upright as though someone had jabbed her. Her eyes widened, and her nose flared, mouth opening slightly, as though she was tasting the air as well "What is that?" she breathed, in wonder, almost too quietly for Midoriya to hear, ramen totally forgotten "Blyad."

"YOU BETTER HAVE LEFT ME SOME OF THAT RAMEN!"

Kirishima sighed "There's plenty left." He replied loudly "Good thing you came down now; looks like there's someone else who actually likes that stuff, too."

If Midoriya hadn't spent most of his life watching people, he wouldn't have noticed the next sharp intake of breath the girl next to him took as Kacchan stalked around the table, wearing his usual black tank and baggy grey track pants, to drop into a seat next to Kirishima. The blonde looked angry, as usual. He glowered at Midoriya, and totally ignored Hikari, who was no longer stiff as a board, but she hadn't resumed eating. Midoriya slid a proper glance sideways. She was staring avidly at Kacchan, eyes wide, and was taking slow, deep breaths "What're you staring at?" he snapped at the girl, shooting her a savage glare, and then he noticed the bowl of ramen sitting in front of her "You better not have eaten all of it!" he lunged forwards, and snatched up the main pot from beside the darkhaired girl.

"Kacchan!" Midoriya protested as the other youth sank back and started helping himself liberally.

Hikari seemed to have recovered her poise, but her eyes were still wide, even if she was only looking at her own food now "WHAT? Not like she's gonna be able to get through more than one bowl." Bakugo snarled, before attacking the ramen himself.

Kirishima snorted "Dude, she's had like, three bowls already. Without a drink." He sounded almost proud.

Bakugo snorted, and shot another glare at Hikari, looking her pointedly up and down "Not likely."

Hikari's shocked expression changed. A sly smile, different but the same to her usual crooked grin walked over her lips, and her once wide eyes narrowed "Wanna bet?" she asked archly and twirled a chopstick between deft fingers. A strange light was in her eyes a she watched the blonde aggressively scoop up his noodles. Really, how does someone even eat aggressively?

"Why? You'd just lose." He said after swallowing, not even bothering to look at her.

Hikari's smile started to look a little evil; she wasn't even bothering to hide her strange canines "Sounds like you're afraid." She almost purred.

It was like she knew him. Midoriya resisted the urge to groan as Kacchan lifted his head and eyed the girl with fierce red eyes "Afraid? Of what, a Leprechaun?" he scoffed.

Hikari's smile looked positively predatory now "What's the hottest thing you've got?" she asked Sato sweetly.

"Um, I think I have some ogon pepper...but it's ridiculous." Sato said, frowning, shooting a worried look at Kirishima "Like, I can't even smell it, it makes me sneeze."

"Perfect." Hikari sat back, and crossed her forearms, looking at Bakugo with hooded eyes "How about it, Sunshine? A spoonful of ogon. First to spew loses."

Everyone looked at Bakugo, who was pointedly finishing his bowl of ramen. Midoriya held his breath as Kacchan swallowed and levelled the evillest glare at the new girl he'd ever seen on the youth's face "You're ON."

Five minutes later, much to Iida's infuriation and Momo's protests, Midoriya found himself standing next to Hikari at the kitchen bench with Kacchan opposite them in the kitchen itself. Sato had reluctantly dug out the infamous chilli. Kaminari, who'd squeezed in to lean on the bench next to Kacchan, had started to sneeze explosively when Sato opened the box he stored his spiciest ingredients in.

When two small dishes were placed between the 'competitor's, and Sato carefully measured out two spoonful's, Hikari actually leaned forward, and inhaled deeply, sighing "That's more like it." She sounded pleased.

Bakugo looked like his usual self, scowling at his opponent "Let's get this over with. Deku," he pointed at Midoriya "gimme a count down." He growled "IcyHot, better get some ice ready- Leprechaun's gonna need it." Hikari's grin widened at the sneer.

Ignoring the worried, disapproving look on Uraraka's face (because come on, Hikari had been the one to start it?), Midoriya reluctantly started the count down "Three, two," Bakugo looked Hikari dead in the eye and lifted the bowl, and the girl mirrored his actions exactly "one!' Bakugo licked the bowl just as Hikari did.

Everyone held their breaths collectively, and watched in horrified fascination. Hikari looked calm, closing her eyes as though she was actually enjoying the taste. Midoriya waited for her to flush, or to start sweating, or something, but the girl's odd pallor stayed exactly the same. Kacchan on the other hand, was glaring fiercely at his opponent. His normally pale skin started to...flush. A droplet of sweat ran down his forehead. Hikari opened her eyes, and a smile started to form once more as she deliberately, obviously ran her tongue around the inside of her mouth. Kacchan's eyes narrowed and bulged at the same time "Is he having some sort of seizure?" Mineta whispered loudly.

"That stuff is like, only used in specialty restaurants." Sero commented in an almost scared voice "I had some once, accidentally, and I had blisters on my tongue."

At his words, Hikari slowly, deliberately, leaned forward until she was resting her chin on her palms, elbows on the table. She stared with hooded eyes at Kacchan, who was starting to sweat profusely "One of them's gotta blow." Ashido said in a hushed tone.

Kaminari cackled "I don't think it's gonna be Hikari." He was starting to back away from Kacchan, who had also started to lean against the bench. His hands had started to crackle, as he sweated, his Quirk reacting involuntarily "Hey, Todoroki, maybe get ready to do your extinguisher impersonation again." He sounded like he was joking, but he was eyeing Kacchan nervously, who shot him a feral glare.

Hikari meanwhile, had started to inspect her delicate claws, an expression of utter boredom on her features. Was heat tolerance also part of her Quirk?

Finally, one of them did 'blow'.

Kacchan grunted, closed his eyes and whirled around, lunging for the sink. He retched loudly, and shoved his entire head under the cold tap, drenching his face and hair as he desperately tried to wash his mouth out, cursing all the while. Hikari made a displaying of swallowing, and sighed "Could you tell me where to get some of that? It'd be nice as a dessert." She was met with stunned silence, apart from Kacchan's gurgling and gulping "What?" she looked around at them, trying to fight another smirk "I said I liked hot food."

"FREAK!" Kacchan finally managed to pull away from the sink "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU?!" dripping, he stormed out of the kitchen and rounded the bench, making a beeline for Hikari.

Kirishima grabbed his arms from behind and tried to drag him back "C'mon, Bakugo! She won!"

Kacchan strained and pulled "SHE DID NOT! SHE CHEATED!" he roared.

Hikari didn't look scared or disturbed. She eyed Kacchan with the same avid interest she had at the dinner table, and Midoriya could've sworn he saw her take an extra deep breath through her nose "Sorry I ruined dinner, guys. I'm a little...competitive." She smiled apologetically at Sato and Kirishima "Can I grab those left-overs?" she asked hopefully, now totally ignoring the still raging Kacchan.

True to her word, Hikari literally inhaled everything Sato and Kirishima had started to put away as left-overs. Kacchan had stormed back to his room, spitting savage curses at the 'Leprechaun'. Midoriya couldn't help but watch as Hikari's eyes followed the blonde as he left, her expression unreadable.

"That was not normal." Sato announced quietly as Midoriya helped him pack the dishwasher.

"What, Kacchan?" he was confused. That had actually been less 'Bakugo' than it could've been "What do you mean?"

"That spice, it literally causes blisters. I've used a pinch and the whole dish was inedible. For either of them to last so long with a whole spoonful?" Sato shook his head slowly "Bakugo I get. But whatever Hikari's Quirk is, it must be insane- or she literally has no sense of taste."

Midoriya glanced over his shoulder just as Hikari groaned over the last mouthful of custard pudding "I think she can taste fine." He tried to joke "Maybe her Quirk makes her heat resistant as well?"

Sato shrugged "Seems likely. Wonder if she'd tell us what it is if we asked."

Midoriya wondered as well. She hadn't seemed offended at his observations, but she hadn't asked any of them about their Quirks either; apart from tentatively guessing using her nose. But there was another question burning him more than what her Quirk could be; why had she gone all rigid when Kacchan had first appeared?

By the time Hikari had literally licked the last plate clean, it was getting late in the evening. Momo, Toru and a few of the others had melted away to bed. Kacchan had never reappeared, and Kirishima had rolled his eyes, and left to 'check on him'. He'd waved shyly to Hikari as he left, who'd claimed a seat on the couch and was currently watching closely as Kaminari and Jiro versed each other on the gaming console. The newcomer had given her sloppy salute back "Tell Dandelion nobody likes a sore-loser." She'd called cheerfully. Kaminari had choked on his laughter and Mineta had squeezed his milk-box so hard it burst.

"Ha! Sure. If you don't see me in the morning, check the morgue." Kirishima had joked as he left.

"Do you have an actual death-wish?" Mineta demanded "Do you want to die?"

Hikari raised an eyebrow "What do you mean?" she sounded genuinely confused, if somewhat amused "He calls me Leprechaun; fair that I pick a name for him too." She eagerly accepted the controller Jiro offered her and began to choose her player.

"You can't call Bakugo Dandelion." Sero groaned "That being said, I'll buy you lunch if you do."

Hikari cocked her head "You're seriously all scared of him?" she looked around at them sceptically.

"We're not scared- we're healthily nervous about setting off the living vat of explosives that sits next to us in class." Tokoyami said dryly from his spot on the back of the couch.

"Hey, that reminds me," Kaminari said as the game started and he started whaling on Hikari's character "what did Bakugo smell like? Surely you got a whiff at some point."

Hikari frowned as she tried to concentrate on the game "Does it matter?" she evaded a combo, and launched her own.

"Sure it does. I wanna see if I can tease him about what perfume he uses." Kaminari cackled, then cursed as Hikari hit with her ultimate "Hey, I thought you said you'd never played before!"

Hikari smirked and hit him again "I haven't- but all these fighting games are the same. Master one, master them all."

"You went all rigid when Kacchan came in- was it because you caught his scent?" Midoriya risked asking.

Hikari flinched, and cursed softly as Kaminari seized the opening and caught her in a K.O counter attack. She huffed "Monkeyballs- best of three!" she ignored Iida's comment on her language.

"C'mon; what did Dandelion smell like?" Mineta called, having finished cleaning up the mess he'd made "It must've been pretty bad if it made you go stiff- not even Ashido's acid messed you up."

"If you can call him Dandelion to his face tomorrow, I might tell you." Hikari smirked as Mineta wailed "It's a fair deal."

"No it's noooot. You told us everyone else's!" Kaminari complained, cursing under his breath when Hikari ruthlessly executed his character.

"Yeah, well, everyone else didn't go through trial-by-fire, now did they?" Hikari sat back with a satisfied smirk as her character did a victory dance "Where's the fun if you don't have to work for it?"

Jiro gave an evil giggle "Can I please film this?"

Chapter Text

The tall one told us all to go to bed after the last round. I'd soundly trounced Kaminari, much to his and Mineta's disgust. Apparently, the electrified blonde was supposedly the best of them at the game. Amateurs.

Uraraka and Midoriya had offered to walk me to my room again, but I'd politely declined "It's not like I can get lost." I'd joked kindly. I could see Midoriya was burning to ask me something, probably about my 'Quirk', and Uraraka obviously didn't want him going alone, seeing me as a 'threat'. Me? I wanted some time alone, uncharacteristically. So, the kids had said their goodnights, assuring me they'd meet me downstairs at 8:30 to show me to class, and then I was alone in my new room.

I sighed in relief, shutting the door behind me. Don't get me wrong, I liked them all, even the pervy one, but it'd been surprisingly tiring hanging out with them. My last mission had me interacting with a few hundred people; but not so personally. I hadn't been expected to remember twenty odd names right off the bat. I was sure the kids would've forgiven me if I'd gotten a name wrong, but I hadn't wanted to. So, sensory overload it was. I had been genuinely, and pleasantly surprised they'd showed such interest in my abilities- and they didn't even know half of them, not the cool ones anyway. Still, it had been a shock to be called out on my scenting. The green haired kid had incredibly good observational skills to notice.

No, I was glad to be alone because I needed to pull myself together because of what I'd smelled. I hadn't meant to react the way I had when the angry one had walked in- but he totally taken me by surprise. My sense of smell is good, but not as amazing as the kids made it out to be. Any canid-Shifter would put me to shame, and in my human form I struggled to sort through them as it was. So, when my brain short-circuited in this form due to my nose, I was always taken by surprise.

And short-circuit it did. What could possibly make Dandelion smell like a drool worthy combination of melted caramel, hot molasses and burnt sugar all at the same time? It did not match his prickly demeanour- I'd bet my wings he was the one that got kidnapped. I could understand why.

I unceremoniously tipped everything out of my bag and started putting things away. I'd not brought much. With Nat living off campus, he had most of my gear and weapons. I'd brought my whips, a single sword and one pulse-blaster. I sincerely doubted I'd need any of them, but better safe than sorry. I carefully placed my sketchbook on the desk they'd thoughtfully provided, along with my datapad. I'd only brought a handful of clothes and one other pair of shoes- I could always go shopping if I needed more.

That was it. I stashed my empty bag and started to investigate my new room properly. The fridge was empty, apart from a bottle of milk. The freezer was void as well. Didn't matter- I'd shoot Nat a text and he'd grab me some stuff. I'd eaten enough at dinner to get me through to breakfast anyway. I wandered to the entertainment area and ran a hand along the top of my stereo. I hadn't known Nat was organising this, but I should've. He knew how much I hated sitting alone in silence.

When I'd finally satisfied my curiosity, I threw myself down on the pleasantly firm mattress and stared at the ceiling. Tomorrow would be...interesting. I wasn't nervous, but I wasn't overly keen. It had been a long time since I'd been 'undercover', and this particular role would be even more testing, what with having to pretend to be an academic. I got the idea not all the kids were geniuses, but some of them definitely were. Heh. Maybe the flirty ones would like to tutor me. I grinned at the idea. It wouldn't take long for them to realise I wasn't interested, but it would be fun in the meantime. It had also been a long time since anyone paid that sort of attention to me.

I sat up and pulled my boots off. It was only early in the evening- and I didn't need much sleep as it was. I had time to unwind, and I eyed the pole thoughtfully.

Chapter Text

In the morning, Midoriya found Hikari in the kitchen. Peals of laughter hit his ears as he stepped out of the elevator with Sero and Sato. They rounded the corner to see Hikari practically doubled over at the kitchen bench, and Kaminari sitting next to Ashido, both looking pleased with themselves "What's so funny?" Sero asked as they approached.

Hikari wiped her eyes and straightened, eyes dancing "Sorry, Kami just showed me the Sports Festival." Kami's ears went bright red "Man, I wish I could've seen that live!"

"Which part did you show her?" Midoriya asked curiously "And how long have you been up?" it was unusual to see either of the two less-enthusiastic of his classmates awake and dressed so early on a school day- they were even in their uniforms already.

Ashido shrugged "Not super long- and just part of the cavalry battle so far."

Midoriya looked at Hikari, who was still chuckling as Kaminari put his phone away "You ready for breakfast? Uraraka said she'd meet us there."

Hikari's eyes lit up even more at the mention of food "Sure." She was already wearing her uniform as well, and she certainly looked more like a UA student for it. Although...Iida would have an aneurism when he saw her. If he hadn't known better, he'd have thought she was somehow related to Kacchan- she shared his apparent disregard for neatness.

As she moved from the kitchen, Midoriya understood why Kaminari had been more than happy to be awake so early. She wasn't wearing the school tie, and had the top two buttons undone of her shirt. Her jacket was done up, but she'd not tucked the undershirt in, so she looked more than a little careless. Her skirt was almost too short; Midoriya was reminded of Momo's rueful remarks regarding how the uniform makers didn't account for height. This meant her long legs were clearly exposed, to the knee anyway. Knee-down, she wore converses, the super tall type. The base colour was black, but she'd obviously painted them. Scenes from comics were delicately, intricately detailed all over the expanse of the shoes. Midoriya recognised several panels from his own collection. Her hair she'd kept in the haphazard bun, and he got the sense she only did it that way, because she couldn't be bothered doing anything else with it.

"We going then?" Kaminari broke his train of thought, and his half-smirk showed he knew what had distracted the other teen.

Midoriya nodded quickly, meeting the girl's eyes awkwardly "Um, don't you want a coat or something?" even from the kitchen, the snow was clearly visible outside. It wasn't a blizzard anymore, but it just looked cold. He and the others started pulling on their own winter jackets.

Hikari snorted "Nope. Come on! Need some grub." Without waiting for them, she literally skipped out of the building and into the snow.

Partly in exasperation, partly in amusement, Midoriya rushed to follow. He shivered as the cold air hit his lungs, but he couldn't help but grin at the sight of the darkhaired girl scooping up huge handfuls of fresh powder. That was until she pointedly hurled it in their direction "Ten points!" she shouted as Midoriya managed to duck, but Kaminari was hit square in the face "Score!" she cackled at Kaminari as he scrabbled and yowled as the freezing ice finding its way into his jacket.

To their bewilderment and reluctant delight, Hikari's ridiculous morning persona had them laughing and grinning by the time they got to the mess. Her features lit up even further as Midoriya explained how during the week, they got all three meals from the cafeteria and Lunch Rush "I can eat as much as I want?" she asked shrewdly as they headed towards the non-existent que (nobody was usually up so early on a Monday).

"I guess. They have to cater to all kinds of Quirks- I'm sure you're not the only one who needs more than a normal amount of food." Midoriya answered, looking the selection over thoughtfully "Just make sure you get here early so you have time, and there's still plenty to choose from."

"Excellent." She started to liberally pile her tray high with pretty much everything she could reach.

"Where do you put it?" Ashido whined, eyeing her growing pile of food, and looking pointedly at her slim figure "If I ate that much, I wouldn't fit anything."

They sat down and Hikari started to eat with the same gusto she showed last night "Um, it's like Midoriya said," she said between mouthfuls "my metabolism is mental. If I don't eat enough, I...um...suffer." Midoriya latched onto her words immediately. What did she mean- suffer? He didn't ask though, busying himself instead with his own breakfast.

Despite how much the new girl had served herself, she finished before all of them and managed to steal seconds before Ashido had finished her morning coffee.

"You're right- your appetite is mental." Kaminari was watching in awe as Hikari polished off her seconds and sighed in satisfaction.

"We best get going, we don't wanna be late." Ashido gulped the last of her coffee and leapt up "Come on, we have Aizawa first up." Midoriya didn't miss the sudden gleam in Hikari's eyes.

They were nearly the first to arrive- which was unusual for Kaminari and Ashido. Iida was already there, as well as Momo. They took their usual seats, leaving Hikari to stand somewhat awkwardly as she scanned the room "Is there a dibs system?" she asked, casually.

Midoriya flinched. He'd forgotten this was technically her first day- she seemed so relaxed! Almost like she'd always been around "Over here! Mr Aizawa added an extra station for you!" Iida called imperiously. Midoriya followed Iida's pointed finger. At the very back of the room, there was indeed an extra chair and desk. It was somewhat squashed in the corner; the room had been evenly set out for the of students originally, but when Shinso had joined them at th start of Second Year, the rows got messed up. One more desk station made the room especially crowded.

"Sweet." She sauntered up to the back and slung her small bag unceremoniously under the chair.

The rest of the class gradually filtered in, everyone greeting Hikari in particular. Kirishima gave his signature beaming smile "Hey!" Hikari saluted- it appeared to be her trademark, and then Kacchan stalked in, hands thrust deep in his pockets. He caught sight of Hikari, and his usual scowl deepened.

"How's your tongue?" Mineta teased from the relative safety of his spot next to Iida.

"Shut up!" Bakugo snarled, and threw himself into his seat, ignoring them all.

Midoriya risked a glance at Hikari. She hadn't gone as rigid as last night, but she had definitely tensed. She noticed his staring, and gave a lazy smile, although he thought she seemed to be deliberately relaxing.

At that moment, Aizawa slunk in. He didn't say anything, he just ran his critical eye over the lot of them as everyone stilled and straightened. Midoriya couldn't help but tense under his stern gaze, but it slid away quickly- to settle at the far back left of the room. Even after an entire year and more than half another, he still managed to unnerve everyone "Good. You survived the night." Wait, was Aizawa making a joke?

"I have scars; both physical and mental." Hikari responded gravely "But I was fed- so I shall bear them with honour."

Aizawa snorted. That was practically laughter. What? Did Aizawa know Hikari from outside of UA? Why else would he practically laugh at her backchat? "As I told you last week, we have a new staff member joining us from the same school Hikari came from. I've decided to make the course he is providing compulsory; and you'll be taking it instead of History, at least for the first few weeks. That means it's on now. Grab your PE gear and head to the PE hall in ten minutes." With that, he slunk out of the room.

Hikari sighed audibly as everyone quickly got up, but she hurriedly joined Midoriya as they raced to grab their gear. She pointedly ignored Kacchan's glare, but Midoriya still saw her shoulders tense a little as they passed him "You ok?" he asked quietly.

The girl glanced at him, only slightly looking up. He hadn't noticed he was taller than her "Yup." Her tone was the same, and her smirk was in place, but her eyes were thoughtful. She didn't say anything else, and Midoriya left her to her thoughts. Seeing as his room and floor was much closer than hers, he was back at the entrance faster. Uraraka was waiting for him, as were Kaminari and Ashido. It seemed like the two had adopted Hikari without being asked to "What do you think of her?" Uraraka asked Midoriya as he made sure he had everything in his gym bag.

"Hikari? She seems nice enough."

"I'll say." Kaminari grinned widely "We got lucky. Could've ended up with someone boring- or another Bakugo."

Ashido snorted "Somehow I think he's one of a kind." Midoriya found himself nodding ruefully. Kacchan was an 'acquired' taste- how Kirishima put up with him was a mystery. The explosive teen had mellowed a little since the start of First Year, but he was still volatile.

Hikari arrived, bouncing on the balls of her feet, a bright red gym bag slung over a shoulder "K, all ready!"

They arrived at the last minute, and hurried to get changed. They were at the entrance to the boy's changeroom before Kaminari noticed Hikari was still with them "Dude! Your changeroom's that way!" he exclaimed, pointing at the other girls as they disappeared in the opposite direction.

Hikari looked at them in bewilderment "What?'

Uraraka appeared, and seized Hikari's arm, dragging her away "The girl's changerooms are this way." She said.

As the disappeared, Midoriya heard the other girl say "But's that's bloody stupid? Why are the rooms separate?"

Mineta actually had tears in his eyes when Kaminari told him what had happened "Why did you say something?" the tiny teen wailed, tearing at his head balls "She's European! They have nude beaches!"

Midoriya felt his face flush, and Kaminari looked tortured.

When they emerged, they found everyone else already waiting expectantly, chattering amongst themselves. Hikari and Uraraka joined them soon after, and the new girl eyed the gym with open curiosity. It wasn't as impressive as some of the other training grounds, Midoriya had to admit. It wasn't a mock city, or designed to test their skills in various terrains. This one was simply a large, flat area where they could spar or race undercover.

Finally, ten minutes past the supposed start time, the door to the outside opened, and Aizawa slunk in, followed by someone else. Midoriya strained to see who this newcomer was, and he knew he wasn't the only one.

Reaching the assembled students was someone nearly as pale as Hikari herself. He was taller than Aizawa, but not by much. He was dressed casually, but his clothes looked expensive. He wore a black trench coat that came to the back of his knees, black pants and black military-style boots. A white shirt that looked suspiciously like a tank was shown by his open jacket. His black hair was messily tousled, not overly long, but not short either. His eyes were a deep, warm blue, and a roguish smirk split his aristocratic features. The way he sauntered reminded him of Hikari.

"Everyone, this is Nathan Drake. He transferred with Hikari and he will be taking you Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons for Basic Combat and Tactical courses." Aizawa drawled. Hikari shifted beside Midoriya, and he noted her bored expression "I'll be here Mondays to help, but he is now your main teacher." With that, their mentor slunk away to sink into a chair near the far wall. Midoriya had a sneaking suspicion he was going to be napping.

Everyone turned to their new teacher. He looked young. Younger than any of their other teachers, and Midoriya wondered if he was a pro or something back in Ireland. Mr Drake simply looked them over in silence for a few moments, hands deep in his jacket. Then, in a polished, aristocratic drawl that was distinctly British but still flawless Japanese, he spoke "Right. I know you lot have some cool abilities, but do any of you know how to handle yourselves without them?" did he mean hand-to-hand?

A few people raised their hands hesitantly, Midoriya included. Drake nodded, noting who did and didn't "Right. This class is meant to help you learn how to defend yourselves when you either can't, or are unable to use your Quirks." That explained why Mr Aizawa was staying then- he'd have to erase anyone who reacted instinctively or otherwise.

"Excuse me sir!' Iida put his hand up and spoke "But does that mean we will be fighting you? And what exactly will you be teaching us? Martial arts?"

Drake's relaxed gaze fell on the class rep, and his smirk widened "Martial arts are useful, but not suitable to everyone. I'll be teaching you something a little different, but it's just as effective, and far more versatile. As for who you'll be fighting, it will be myself and Hikari. She is well versed in this form of combat and will assist." He clapped his hands together suddenly "Right! A demonstration. Who among you would be willing to try to 'deck' me?" everyone shuffled nervously, but nobody stepped forward. Drake's dark eyes twinkled "Come now; whoever can get me on the ground gets a free pass for the rest of the lesson." That garnered more interest.

Surprisingly, Uraraka stepped forward "I would like to try." She said, determination in her tone "I had some training during my internship."

Drake bowed fluidly, and gestured for Uraraka to join him on the blue sparing mats "Excellent. Join me." She stepped up nervously, and everyone else jostled and spread out so they could all see. Hikari took a spot next to Midoriya, and stood with her arms folded and a bored expression.

Drake shrugged off his trench coat and tossed it to the side. More than one of the girls sighed softly. Drake was incredibly toned. His shoulders were broad, but his waist narrow. His arms were corded with lean muscle, and criss-crossed with light scars. He was indeed only wearing a white tank. Hikari rolled her eyes "Ponce." She muttered under her breath.

Drake stood loosely, hands unclenched and faced Uraraka, who had adopted a defensive stance "Right. Try to disable me." He said "I won't use my Quirk." Not that they knew what it was "And neither shall you."

Uraraka nodded, steel in her gaze. She moved forward carefully but surely. Midoriya knew she had trained hard to improve her close combat abilities, and he had seen her in action. But when she threw the first punch, it became painfully obvious just how outmatched she was. Drake shifted out of the way, barely moving. He neatly side-stepped the next blow, promptly grabbed her outstretched arm, and flipped her over his hip. Midoriya winced as Uraraka land hard, but she leapt back up easily, and resumed the attack. Instead of dodging, as he obviously could, Drake stepped into her attack and started an ugly flurry with his elbows and short, sharp jabs with his fists. He never let Uraraka back away, he stayed right in her personal space, blocking her defences and raining blows unwaveringly

Finally, he hooked a leg inside of hers, and flipped her over his hip again. She slammed down on the mat, gasping for breath from both exertion, and the continuous blows to her diaphragm. Drake immediately ducked down "My apologies if I hit too hard." He said warmly, kindly, and then grasped a hand and hauled her to her feet "Are you ok?" he ducked slightly to peer into her eyes as though looking for concussion.

"Y-yes." Uraraka stammered, pulling her hand from his "How did you do that?"

Drake clapped a hand on her shoulder and turned to look at the class "It's a form of dirty boxing. Some people call it bare-knuckle, but this style is different as it uses the whole body. Can anyone tell me why it's effective?"

Midoriya and several others immediately raised their hands, but Drake's gaze darted to the one who spoke out "You get up in their grill, and don't give them a chance to get out of reach. They can't rally to fight back." Kacchan growled. Of course he would just speak- Midoriya kicked himself for not just doing the same.

"Observant- and correct." Drake dipped his head towards the blonde, standing next to Kirishima "Now, there is no formal form to this style of combat, which makes it extremely hard to counter. For example, my style is very different to Hikari's, because she is faster than me." Faster? Drake had been incredibly quick! He beckoned to Hikari, who rolled her eyes and grudgingly stepped forward, uncrossing her arms "Would someone care to try their abilities?"

In a normal class, the previous display would have snuffed out any desire to have be so thoroughly flattened. But not here. Everyone practically jumped up and down, clambering for a go. Hikari smirked. Midoriya was one of the more eager. This style of fighting would be incredibly useful- especially when he was able to use his Quirk. Fast, brutal attacks.

But Kacchan seemed to have made an impression, because Drake pointed at him. Midoriya wasn't sure to feel worried for the new girl, or for his classmate. Kaminari leant to whisper "Oh man, Bakugo wants revenge for last night! Can't we have a pretty girl like us for more than a day?"

Sure enough, Kacchan's scowl was almost feral as he stepped onto the mat. Hikari shot Drake a disgusted look that Midoriya didn't think anyone else noticed "Same rules; you get Hikari on the mat, you win. No Quirks- either of you." He shot a warning look at the girl, and she rolled her eyes again.

Then, it was just Bakugo and Hikari on the blue mats. The girl started stretching, reaching her arms above her head, and rolled her shoulders. Kacchan flexed his hands and clenched them into fists, almost pointedly. Everyone knew it was to stop himself accidentally firing off his explosions.

"Drake was right. I'm faster. I'm not a huge fan of this style, cos it doesn't suit my Quirk, but it is useful." She said cheerfully, and started casually strolling towards Bakugo, pausing just out of reach "See if you can get me on the ground." She seemed to hunker down into herself, like a coiling spring.

Bakugo was fast, even without his Quirk. Except for Iida and Midoriya himself, he was probably the fastest in the class, especially in close range. Immediately, he swung a ferocious right hook. Hikari stepped into the attack, just like Drake did. But Bakugo anticipated this, and his left fist was already moving. Midoriya was impressed. Just from watching the previous fight, he had adapted and was already trying to anticipate the next move.

Unfortunately, when Hikari said she was fast, she meant it. She simply ducked the next blow, dropped, and lashed out with her legs. Her converses hit Kacchan's right calf squarely, and he staggered. She was already moving, rolling upwards and back into Bakugo's 'grill'. Unlike Drake, she didn't go just for her opponent's abdomen- she had the time to do more. She landed quick, almost random blows on his sides, chest and belly. She used elbows as well as her fists, and Midoriya noted how careful she was to keep her claws clenched tightly away.

Finally, just as it seemed Bakugo couldn't take anymore, he adapted. Everyone forgot just how good Kacchan was, Midoriya thought. Just because he was aggressive and quick-tempered didn't mean he was stupid or careless.

He proved them wrong once again but grabbing Hikari's next jabbing punch. Brutally, he yanked her inwards, using his height and weight to his advantage. Her eyes flashed in surprise, but she was already responding with her other hand, aiming a vicious upcut at his stomach. But instead of trying to block it, Kacchan stepped forward, hooked his leg around hers just as Drake had, and wrenched backwards with all his strength, roaring in effort.

Everyone gasped, and Kirishima whooped as Hikari was flipped over his hip, just as Drake had done to Uraraka. But, unlike Ochako, Hikari had obviously been training in this style- and whatever her Quirk was, it didn't just make her fast and strong. Instead of landing on her back or side, she twisted in Kacchan's grip, and landed on her feet, behind him. In a fluid motion, mid-flight, she seized his arms, and pulled. Yelping a curse, Kacchan was awkwardly hauled backwards, over her hip. He slammed down onto the mat on his back, gasping for breath, red eyes wide.

Hikari, breathing slightly harder than when she had started looked down at her opponent "Close." She said, and even Midoriya could tell she was impressed, and offered a hand.

Kacchan eyed it, and Midoriya swore he saw his hand twitch as though to take it, but in typical Bakugo fashion, he ignored it, ungainly staggering to his feet on his own "I don't need your help." He snapped, and then gingerly moved away, trying not to favour anything.

Hikari didn't frown or otherwise show offense. She shrugged "This style is particularly useful for us girls, and some of you smaller guys. Villains don't expect people smaller and supposedly weaker than they are to get so close, willingly. This alone will often help you win the fight. There are two things to take into consideration." She held up two fingers "First, only go for soft-tissue; it hurts you less, and winding someone gets them down faster than breaking an arm. Second, push forward. Don't let them get you on the back foot."

"Thank you Hikari, but this is my class." Drake said mildly, stepping back onto the mat. Hikari shrugged and sauntered back to her place next to Midoriya "What she said." Drake said, nodding after his student "Now, team up in pairs. One of you will be the Villain, the other the plucky Hero. In other words, one of you make grabs and the other try what you just saw."

Chapter Text

I moved to stand next to Nat as the kids all pair up "That was dirty." I grumbled in Common. The kids would just think we were speaking in Irish.

"What? Putting you with the angry one?" Nat didn't look away from his 'student's "I thought it was inspired. If you read the reports, you'd know he is the one the Villains tried to convert. He's aggressive and arrogant- perfect for you to take down a peg or two."

I snorted "You don't know anything about teenage pride, do you?"

Nat shot a raised brow at me "Coming from you? I assume from the literal vibes of hatred coming off young Bakugo, you've already made an impression."

I pouted "Possibly. But still." I was desperately trying to ignore the fact my 'PE uniform' was now generously coated in that mind-numbingly delicious scent Dandelion seemed to roll in. Every breath was intoxicating, and my stomach was already growling. Awesome "What's his Quirk, anyway." I asked, crossing my arms, and immediately regretting it. He'd grabbed one after all, and his hands had been sweaty. Damn, it smelt good.

"What, you didn't find out last night?" Nat started to move to the centre of the mat, readying to give pointers.

"No. I didn't actually ask any of them."

Nat smirked over his shoulder at me "Should've read the profiles. Find out yourself- that way your reaction will be genuine."

Git. I stuck my tongue out at his back and turned away myself.

***

"So, what you do think of Hikari?" Kirishima grinned toothily at Bakugo as the two squared off. It had been virtually unspoken agreement that they'd pair up, but Bakugo was already regretting it.

He scowled "What do you mean, 'what do I think of her'? She's a fucking Leprechaun, and annoying." They had moved to the furthest end of the gym, as far away from the two foreigners as possible.

Kirishima chuckled "You're only saying that cos she's beat you twice now." He raised his arms "You ready?"

Bakugo growled "Why wouldn't I be?" he darted forwards. Kirishima tried to 'grab' him, like the Villain he was impersonating, trying to use his slightly bigger build to his advantage. Bakugo's first instinct was to blast him right in the stomach, but he savagely quelled the urge. Instead, he tried to mimic the aggressive, side-stepping movements the Leprechaun had used on him earlier. He ducked Kirishima's grab and slammed a flurry of blows to the other teen's chest and stomach. Immediately, he understood the appeal to this form of combat, especially when there was a size difference. He quickly found a rhythm that let him use his elbows and the backs of his wrists to block Kirishima's frantic defence attempts, while still able to keep up his own assault.

When Kirishima tried to walk forward, in an attempt to make his opponent step back, Bakugo followed his instincts by hooking his leg into Kirishima's forward stepping one, and used the other boy's momentum to wrench him over his hip, and slam him to the ground.

Kirishima yowled in shock and annoyance more than actual pain "Damn! How'd you pick that up so fast?" the red head demanded, and rolled gingerly to his feet.

Bakugo shrugged "It's not that hard. I'm an idiot for falling for it before." He wouldn't admit it, but he just hadn't expected the new girl to be so fast, or to attack so brutally. She'd had a gleam in her eyes he'd not seen in any of the girls of 3A, and only rarely in the guys. She liked to fight- maybe as much as he himself did. But he'd learned far more from having her rush him, than he had watching Drake take on Uraraka. Bakugo was almost certain the teacher had taken it easy "Come at me, Shitty-Hair." He snarled, assuming a defensive stance.

Kirishima flashed his toothy grin, and rushed in. He lacked the grace Bakugo had, but he made up for it with sheer presence. He launched a thunderous attack, and Bakugo found himself retreating rapidly. Gritting his teeth, he resisted the urge to go for his usual right hook, and tried to remember he was supposed to be letting Kirishima get close enough to try out the new style. It was incredibly hard though.

Finally, Kirishima got close enough to be able to land a few blows, adapting quickly and implementing his brawler-like fighting prowess. When a blow finally winded him, Bakugo found himself being flipped, and all of a sudden, he was seeing the ceiling.

"That was super cool! I can see what they mean about being fast- I almost couldn't get you." Without waiting, Kirishima grabbed one of Bakugo's arms and hauled him upright. The red head was grinning even more broadly, but his face was flushed from exertion "Wanna go again?"

"In a minute." He snapped "I wanna see if anyone else can do it." His head hurt and his ears were ringing again. He glared around, trying to ignore the increasingly deafening tone in his ears, distracting himself by eyeing the pair next to him.

It was an interesting mix; Todoroki and Shinso. Neither of them were particularly fast. IcyHot relied too much on his Quirk, and while the purple-haired bastard had obviously been training hard to improve his physical prowess, he had a long way to go. Still, even Bakugo had to admit they were making a good effort of it.

Movement caught his eye, and he saw the new girl chatting to Deku, obviously giving advice, because the green-haired idiot was nodding and looking all determined. As though she felt his gaze, she glanced towards him and Kirishima. Bakugo scowled and looked away. Twice. She'd bested him twice. Not in anything important, but it still stung his pride. She'd barely been here twenty-four hours, and already everyone liked her, even though she was annoying.

"Let's go again." He growled, deliberately turning away "We need to be faster." He couldn't hear what Kirishima said in response.

By the time the end of the lesson rolled around, both Bakugo and Kirishima were panting and dripping with sweat. The redhead had managed to grab him twice more towards the end- Bakugo blamed his growing fatigue. It was surprisingly taxing, keeping up the barrage of attack, defence and looking for openings to take the enemy out. A low thrum of pride kept his spine straight at the knowledge he had managed to floor Kirishima whenever Bakugo was the 'Hero'.

"Well done." Drake called as everyone made their way back to the middle of the room at his word "Next week, we'll take it one step further; the Villain will be allowed to use their Quirk, while the Hero is still handicapped." He had put his jacket back on, and he stood at ease with his hands thrust deeply in its pockets "If you wish to practice, Mr Aizawa has informed me this gym will be open after school hours until 8pm. Feel free to make use of it." With that, he gave a sloppy salute and the class was dismissed.

Everyone headed towards the showers, chatting excitedly, if somewhat tiredly about the lesson "It feels weird, not using any particular style or form." Ojiro was saying "It seems messy, sloppy almost."

"Idiot." Bakugo growled under his breath. Kirishima cocked his head and looked sideways at him "Did it look sloppy when the Leprechaun smashed me in the guts?" he spoke louder, and a dozen pairs of eyes looked warily his way "Just because you can't do it, doesn't mean it doesn't work." He slammed his locker shut, towel under arm and left them to take a shower.

Chapter Text

After the strange new PE lesson, the rest of the day passed quickly. Everyone looked at Hikari with new respect and interest, Kaminari and Mineta with borderline adoration. Midoriya had been impressed with the girl's speed and later with her eager offers of advice, but he was a little disappointed he didn't have any more clues to what her Quirk was.

Their morning tea break was a rushed affair as always- but entertainment was provided by Hikari trying to stuff as much food as possible in her face in the fifteen minute interval they were allowed. They sat outside in the rare sunshine, trying to ignore the cold wind and the slush of half-melted snow at their feet "You know, lunch is only like, an hour and bit away." Ashido remarked mildly, watching with a worried look on her face "Aren't you worried about getting a cramp, eating that fast?"

Hikari swallowed her gigantic mouthful of sandwich, worry making her brows crease "That's a thing?" the raised eyebrows answered her question "Um...no, I've never had one cos of eating too fast. What's up next, anyway? Aizawa gave me a time-table, but I lost it." She resumed inhaling her second sandwich.

"How can you have lost it? He would've only given it to you yesterday?"

She shrugged, chewing happily "It's in my room somewhere- I'll look for it tonight. Only two more classes today though, yeah?"

"Yes. Normally Mondays are all theory; World History first up, then English, and then Hero Law." Momo ticked them off her fingers "Although, I guess for now, mornings are going to be PE." She amended, frowning slightly "A pity it was History that has been replaced- I rather enjoy it."

Kaminari snorted "Not me- puts me to sleep. Only thing that could be worse first up Monday would be maths."

"When do we have that?" Hikari asked, a flash of worry in her blue eyes.

"Tuesday afternoons and second block Fridays." Kaminari grimaced "I'll have to ask Bakugo if he's still happy to help me study again; I wasn't doing too badly until that last test."

"I can always be of assistance." Momo put forward "If you do not wish to confront Bakugo."

Kaminari stretched his hands above his head and groaned "No offence Momo, but your type of studying...and teaching- doesn't work on me. Nothing sinks in!"

"English, huh?" Hikari licked her claws clean, looking thoughtful "Well, that's one subject I won't have to worry too much about- thank fuck." It was remarkable how someone who spoke Japanese as a second language could so fluidly cuss. She nearly rivalled Kacchan.

Kaminari leapt on her like a drowning man, and even Midoriya perked up "Of course! It's your main language, isn't it?" the blonde exclaimed.

"Pretty much. English is like.... the common tongue for most places."

"Can you help me study? The spelling absolutely kills me!" Kaminari was practically begging, and Hikari's eyes widened in surprise as the blonde seized one of her hands, looking at her pleadingly.

"Dude, get a grip! She's only been here like, half a day! And already you're...Minetaing." Ashido smacked Kaminari over the head. The blonde yipped and let go of Hikari to fend for himself.

"I mean, I can try?" the dark-haired girl said doubtfully, ignoring the miniature fight next to her "No promises to my teaching capabilities though."

Midoriya glanced at his watch "We better hurry- class starts in less than five minutes."

English class was its usual infuriating self. Even though they'd been taking it since middle school, it was still compulsory. Present Mic took it for the third years as well as the first and seconds, with his English being surprisingly good. Midoriya figured it had something to do with the radio show the pro liked to do- made sense if he could broadcast in a more commonly used language like English.

Looking at the notes on the board, Midoriya had to agree with Kaminari. Although he understood it to a degree, and could haltingly get through a fairly standard conversation, written English was more difficult. It was just so contradictory! Rules were only followed half the time, and there was no rhyme nor reason as to when or how they were broken. And this term, it looked like they were expected to do the bulk of their work in the written form of the language. Mic even threatened to get the other staff in on it, and have all of their homework assigned to them, and to be done in English. Midoriya literally heard Kaminari's head hit the desk at that particular announcement.

Well, at least the new girl would have an easy ride for this course. Speaking of. Midoriya glanced over his shoulder at Hikari. She was sitting in her spot at the back of the room, balancing on her chair's back legs, staring at the ceiling with undisguised boredom on her features. She hadn't bothered to take any notes- but then, she wouldn't need to. Instead, she danced her pencil between deft claws and blew curls from her eyesight systematically. A leg bounced continuously under her desk.

Maybe there was something to Kaminari's plea for her to help with his homework.

The lesson went quickly, and then it was lunch. Hikari literally raced to the front of the flood of teenagers, darting and weaving so fast Midoriya thought she must be using an aspect of her Quirk. Ignoring the yelps of annoyance and protest, the girl seized a tray and charged down the serving line, heaping as much of everything she could onto the too-small tray. Midoriya didn't even feel Uraraka sidle to his side, it was such a sight.

"Hey Deku!" she chirped, and he jerked in surprise.

"Oh, hi!" he smiled at her, regaining his composure "What did you think of training this morning? You took some pretty hard hits." In his peripheral vision he saw the new girl claim a table and wave.

"I liked it! It'll be cool to learn a new fighting style- and really useful to know how to fight without Quirks." They reached the front of the line "And Mr Drake seems like he really knows his stuff- even though he looks like he only just graduated."

Midoriya had thought that too. If it wasn't the strange scars down his arms and the confidence oozing off the foreigner, Midoriya could easily confuse him for one of last year's graduates "Well, look at Hawks. He's only twenty three and he has his own agency."

Uraraka nodded as she grabbed a pot of jello and a bottle of orange juice "That's what I said to Jiro and Momo. Makes you wonder where we'll be by their age, hey."

Midoriya's gut clenched. It seemed a lifetime away, but so did his old life. He'd only had One for All for a little over two years, and look what he could do with it now! What would it be like in another four, or five years?

By the time they reached Hikari's table, she'd finished her first helping of food. Instead of leaping up for more though, she was chattering happily with Kaminari and Ashido "Looks like she's getting along well with them." Uraraka mused as they approached.

Midoriya nodded "Yeah! Kaminari is pretty easy to get along with, and Ashido has always been really nice too."

They slid into the booth, and were quickly joined by Iida and Todoroki "Hikari! How are you settling in?" Iida spoke, interrupting whatever story Kaminari had the dark-haired girl snorting with laughter.

Hikari turned her vivid gaze to the taller teen, still grinning "Well, I think. No complaints, yet." She flashed a canine "What did you think of dear old Mr Drake?" she was still walking a pencil through her fingers, and a leg was bouncing again. Todoroki was eyeing her like she was about to leap onto the table.

"He seems a very effective teacher. Does everyone at your institution learn to fight that way?" everyone looked up at that, interested.

Hikari shrugged "Some do. Like I said; it's not really my style. It's kinda like a beginner's class- we spend more time developing our own...repertoire." She seemed to struggle for the right word, a frown briefly creasing her brow.

"A beginner's class?" Ashido whistled, rubbing an arm absentmindedly "Wow. We don't do any hand-to-hand here at school, not in PE anyway. It's mostly Quirk training and stuff."

"What's your style like?" Midoriya asked suddenly "I imagine it's speed based."

Hikari tapped her chin with a claw, raising a brow at him, giving her crooked smirk "Might be." She didn't expand on her response, and Midoriya didn't think it polite to push. But he was getting so curious. It was going to be an itch on the back of his brain- and he bet it would be the same for everyone else in the class as well. He had heard Sero and Kirishima talk about a betting pool, trying to come up with a possible list of Quirks the new girl could have. Maybe he'd give them his observations to add to the wall in the dorm...

 

Chapter Text

If there was a more boring subject than 'Hero Law', I hadn't experienced it. I'd thought I'd been bored in 'English', listening to the admittedly interesting teacher rattle on about the brain-numbingly stupid rules of the main Terran language, but listening to Cementoss (a truly inspired name) drone on and on and on about pointless, inane laws and regulations heroes supposedly had to follow had me wanting to claw my ears off.

I sighed under my breath and looked around discreetly. The class was in Three States; attentive, distracted and comatose. It looked like everyone had their roll to play, and knew exactly how best to achieve a state that allowed them to get through the gruelling hour and a half unscathed and relatively sane. It was interesting who was in what of the Three States. I could have predicted a couple of them, but some took me by surprise.

For example; Kami, the entertaining little blonde I was starting to grow fond of, was in the Third state. He was successfully staring at Cementoss with an expression of almost-attentiveness, but his eyes were completely glazed over and his mouth hung slightly slack- something I could see even from the back of the room. He was predictable. So was Midoriya, a strongly suspected nerd if ever I saw one. He was in the First state, dutifully writing notes and looking waaay too focused on the lesson content. I doubted he found it actually interesting, and was more attentive out of a desperate desire to learn everything he could to be the best hero he could be. Ergo- nerd.

So, two predictables. Now the unpredictables were more intriguing. I slyly let me glaze wander to Uraraka. I'd suspected she was a goody-goody, but the glazed expression landed her firmly in the Third state. I resisted the urge to snicker. She was staring at the board, a pen held loosely in her fingers, but nobody was home in her vacant gaze. She was leaning on a hand propped up on the desk by her elbow, and I wouldn't be surprised if her head slipped off or if she started to snore.

Dragging my gaze from the bobcut-girl, I let my eyes drift to another unpredictable. Dandelion had the same look of uncaring boredom he'd during English, but just like then, his eyes were sharp and didn't miss a single detail. He seemed to be drawing idly in his notebook, but I was pretty sure he was actually taking notes. Like I said; intriguing.

I tried not to sigh again; I didn't need any more of his strange, sweet scent clogging up my already cloudy brain. He literally overpowered everything else in the room, until I was breathing a thick, caramel flavoured haze. I looked down at my own notebook, starkly blank. I could not believe I was expected to take notes. How was any of this crap a. important to the 'mission', or b. gonna be at all useful in my life ever? Nat and I didn't follow these stupid rules. Why should we? I sank lower in my chair, walking my pencil through my fingers. I wondered what these kids would say if they knew what Nat and I did for fun at night? Somehow I doubted hunting and killing (and in Nat's case- eating) the scum of the Earth fitted in with their idea of 'hero work'.

I rolled my shoulders and tried not to let my leg bounce too much. I had too much energy for this crap. I shouldn't have played 'teacher' this morning, and let a few kids try to smack me around a bit. I'd need to go for a run or something tonight or I wouldn't be able to get what little sleep I needed.

Hmmmm...tonight....I wondered if Nat felt up for a shopping trip. I needed some snacks.

Turned out Nat had anticipated my cravings, and when I got to my dorm room after an admittingly satisfying feast in the school cafeteria for 'dinner'. I found my fridge and freezer fully stocked with my usual preferred snacks. He'd even bought me a deep fryer. Humming, I changed out of my uniform and snagged a tub of chocolate ice-cream and headed back downstairs. No way was I 'hiding in my room' longer than necessary- I'd have hours alone later tonight when the rest of the class slept. Maybe I could go for a run or something then.

Sure enough, the lounge/common area on the bottom floor was still well occupied. Kami was lying on his belly on the floor near the black-screened tv, Ashido next to him, English homework spread out in front of them. Midoriya was on the couch, frowning intently at his notes, idly chewing an already half-destroyed pencil. Sato (see, I was learning their names pretty quickly!) was in the kitchen, kneading what looked and smelled like biscuit dough. I could smell Uraraka and the frog girl....Asui, but I couldn't see them. Sero and the tall one...Shoji were sitting at the table playing cards, and Tokoyami was working on what looked suspiciously like maths homework.

I dropped down onto the couch behind Kami, and pulled my legs up to sit the ice-cream on my knees. At the sound of the tub opening, a dozen pairs of multi-coloured eyes darted to me. I promptly dug my spoon and shovelled a huge scoop into my gob. Immediate brain freeze.

I squealed with my mouth shut and screwed my eyes up as I frantically adjusted the temperature in my gob to make the ball of pain go away faster. When I could open my eyes, I saw the amused faces of Midoriya and a chuckling Kami. Ashido just shook her head "How can you still be eating?" she asked herself more than me.

I took another spoonful, this one less painful "Bored." I said through my mouth-full.

At that moment, the doors opened with a blast of winter, and a familiar shout filled my ears. I lolled my head backwards, spoon in my mouth, and looked at the world upside down. Kirishima and Dandelion were walking in, arguing about something. They looked like they'd been working out, maybe running? Both of them had bright red cheeks from the cold, but only wore sweat pants and tank-tops. As the door shut behind them, I had half a nanosecond to steel myself before Dandelion's scent smacked me in the brain. Fuck me, his sweat smelled delicious. I let my head flop back to the front, and scrambled to get a grip, quickly shovelling another big spoon of ice-cream into my face, trying to recreate the brain-freeze I'd so desperately escaped a moment ago.

When I opened my eyes, I saw Midoriya looking at me shrewdly, his green eyes far too sharp.

"Heey... Bakugo? Can you help me with maths again this term?" Kami called from the floor as the red-head and angry-blonde walked past, interrupting whatever they were bickering about.

Dandelion didn't even pause "How the fuck can you still be stupid! Stop frying your brain!" and then he was gone, leaving a trail of burnt butterscotch and Kirishima's apologetic grin in his wake.

"Awesome." Kami said happily and went back to mangling his 'English essay'.

I cocked my head, sucking on my spoon "Did I miss something?"

"That was 'Bakugo' for 'yes, I'll help you study'." Ashido didn't even look up, continuing to stare despondently at an English Thesaurus "You get used to it. I like to think I'm fluent by now."

"Ah." I took another spoon, trying not to breathe too deeply. What the fuck was that scent?! I was going to go nuts if I didn't at least find out what was causing it.

"While you're here....could you...show me why this sentence looks wrong?" I glanced down. Kami was doing an admirable impression of puss-in-boots eyes. Nat would be impressed. He held up his notebook. I saw the issue, but explaining it was not something I was confident at- I could reads and speaks the English; but the stupid ass rules were lost on me "'I' goes before 'e' except after 'c' rule only works sometimes- 'science' is an exception." I tapped my spoon on my chin "Actually, most words are exempt from that rule- it's fucking stupid." Midoriya flinched at my expletive. I was amazed he didn't have a permanent twitch what with how Dandelion spoke; my vocabulary was practically refined compared to his. This was something Iida did not agree with, by the way.

Kami deflated and flopped back on the floor in defeat, his notebook falling to cover his face "And people say learning Japanese is hard." He groaned into the floor.

I felt sorry for the kid- I'd cheated. Rune translator spells were no more trouble than getting a tattoo- and BAM you could speak/read/understand whatever language it was designed to translate. I had about a dozen carved into my arm among my glamour runes, and I thanked the goddess for them daily "Um, I can give you pointers- but I'm not actually an expert." I said awkwardly. Kami instantly leapt up, a ridiculous grin on his face. To my dismay, the other two perked up as well, the weird, calculating look gone from Midoriya's eyes, replaced with hope. I cringed, nursing my ice-cream "Just don't ask me to help with the super complex rules! I speak it, I didn't invent it."

So, all of a sudden, I became an English teacher.

Turns out, Mic didn't educate his class on the appropriate usage of classical swears. That was something I could help with.

Maybe a bartering system could be implemented....

The rest of the week passed remarkably quickly. I unwittingly entertained my escort of Midoriya and Uraraka with my perpetual lust for food. Kami and Ashido did an amazing imitation of human limpets after I proved my use with their English homework. Iida shot me disapproving looks- apparently I was supposed to wear that stupid tie. Not bloody likely.

Tuesday came and went with surprisingly little pain. Science in the morning- that was a class of potential. I knew how to make all sorts of interesting substances after all.

Art was between morning break and lunch. Now, this was a subject I could actively enjoy. I may be erratic and short of attention span- but I loved to draw and paint. It kept both my mind and hands busy- something I sorely needed. The teacher was a scantily clad female called Midnight. Her scent was nearly as overwhelming as Dandelion's; but for different reasons. She was more than pleased when I was able to sketch the subject (a fucking vase on a chair- why was it always a fucking vase on a chair), although she left before I started adding personal touches to it due to boredom. Kami got a snicker out of that and I swear I saw Midoriya crack a grin as well.

Shit got interesting when Mineta, deeming it safe with Midnight on hand (her Quirk must be useful for suppression, I guessed) boldly asked 'Dandelion' for his opinion on Kirishima's drawing, happening to be sitting on the safe side of the rock-teen. The resulting event of attempted murder had me in stitches on the floor, and Kami gasping for breath next to me. Dandelion was hauled back by the shoulders by Kirishima as Mineta literally hid behind Midnight. The blonde teen had a good grip on expletives, even if they were a little disjointed in compilation.

When he saw how much Kami and I were laughing, he started raging about the 'Fucking Leprechaun' and how he was going to kill me. I saluted and legged it as the bell rang, followed by a howling Kami and a shrieking Ashido. Midoriya ran after us, looking half stressed, half amused, while Uraraka was fighting a smile.

I do believe I heard the name Dandelion used at least twice during lunch, promptly followed by an explosively loud string of 'fuck's in a very distinct voice.

It looked like I was gonna have to come clean about what Dandelion smelt like- I wasn't going to go back on my word to the little purple perv... even if it had taken an extra day for him to drum up the courage to actually fulfil his end of the bargain.

Maths was...maths. I was relieved the entire lesson was just note-taking, and more than happy to let future-Rhea deal with the actual bookwork and brand-new assignment I'd been handed. I sank low in my chair and did my best to concentrate on the board, but inevitably my mind wandered as it always did when I was sitting still. It'd been three days since I'd Shifted- I'd need to tonight. My leg bounced uncontrollably, and I literally leapt out of my seat when the bell rang, bolting for the fresh air of the corridor. If anybody noted my speedy exit, they didn't comment, but I didn't get far down the hallway before my human limpets were at my side "Keen for dinner?" Kami teased, slinging an arm over me and Ashido. I heard Midoriya and Uraraka hurry to catch us as burning electrics filled my nose.

I shrugged under his arm "Well, duh." He didn't need to know I viewed maths the same way humans viewed cancer.

After dinner, I returned with my 'crew' to find nearly the entire class gathered eagerly in the lounge. Mineta was at the forefront, proudly buffing his nails on his small chest, looking unbelievably smug "I do believe I completed your side of the bargain." He sniffed, trying to look disdainful, but his eyes shone with excitement.

"What is this- a fucking ambush?" I demanded in mock outrage, but then I smirked crookedly "I gotta admit, I didn't think you'd go through with it. Monday came and went..." I shook my head ruefully.

Sero rubbed his hands together eagerly from his perch on the end of the couch "So! C'mon, what does Bakugo smell like?" even Kami and Midoriya perked up beside me, eyes bright.

Iida stopped reading, looking up with a raised eyebrow "Is that why you called Bakugo Dandelion?" he demanded "As part of a bet- a trade? To find out what he smells like?" It sounded dumb when he said it like that.

Mineta, Sero and Kami all nodded unashamedly, not taking their eyes off me "Hikari didn't think I'd have the balls to do it." Mineta drawled, still looking smug.

"Hey, you waited until you could hide behind Midnight to actually do it." Tsuyu croaked in her strange voice "And does it really matter what Bakugo smells like?"

A surprising number of people nodded "Well, yeah! Didn't you see how Hikari reacted when he walked in on Sunday night?" Kami, the traitor, had moved to sit next to Mineta "She went all stiff! Like he smelled really bad or something."

"I don't think that was it." Midoriya said thoughtfully, looking at me with narrowed eyes. I cringed under his sharp gaze "After all, think of what Kacchan's Quirk is." Oooh here we go "Remember, nearly all of our Quirk's apparently give us unique scents- why would Kacchan's be any different?" Bastard. How had he so neatly danced around saying what the kids' Quirk actually was? He didn't wait for a response, instead moving to the kitchen to hunt for snacks in the fridge.

"You can't back out of it now, Mineta filled his end of the bargain fair and square." Ashido said firmly, almost grimacing though, as though the words tasted bad in her mouth.

I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck "Fine. You all really wanna know what Dandelion smells like, that badly?" a dozen heads nodded eagerly; some with reluctance, and few with exaggerated enthusiasm. I made a face "Well, he doesn't smell bad..." I shuffled to throw myself on the couch and made a face, squinting my eyes shut. Without meaning to, his scent memory played back in my mind and I literally started to salivate "Burning butterscotch...hot molasses...melting caramel." I opened an eye "Literally like dessert café." My stomach growled quietly, despite how full it was.

A multitude of eyes blinked at me for a moment, before an explosion rippled through my audience. The gales of laughter were infectious, and I found myself cackling as well. Kami and Mineta were literally holding onto each other for support "Dandelion smells like melting caramel." Kami wheezed, tears in his eyes.

"Bahahaha maybe we should call him Baku-tart instead of Dandelion!" Ashido howled, holding her sides "Caramel tart!"

"I was thinking more, Rage Muffin." I said, rubbing my chin thoughtfully. Apparently, that was the funniest thing they'd ever heard.

I Shifted that night in my room, and slept coiled in my other form on the floor. I could've sworn my extra sensitive nose was filled with burning sugar all night.

The first half of Wednesday was unremarkable. I ate so much for breakfast after my night-time Shifts I was still chewing as we took our seats in English. I entertained myself by doodling the backs of the kids' heads, drawing speech bubbles with what I thought they'd be thinking about. I had to stop myself from sniggering at some of my own jokes. I kept myself awake in Hero Law by countering everything Cementoss said in my head. The nonverbal argument would've been funny to anyone listening in; but I didn't take any notes from the lecture, and the assignment looked hectic. I considered spontaneously combusting the pile before Cementoss gave it out, but I had the 'Don't be Suspicious' loop playing in my head to stop me, both of my legs bouncing uncontrollably.

The only thing that got me through the day was the constant sly remarks about what desserts would be on offer at the cafeteria. Apparently, everyone wanted caramel tarts or butterscotch pudding. Someone must have clued Kirishima in, because he casually asked Rage Muffin/Dandelion what he thought of caramel flavoured deserts. The blonde muttered something about hating sweets. That had the entire class rippling with silent laughter.

I wondered what sort of monster I'd unleashed; and how I could use it for maximum entertainment.

Now, I hadn't actually paid any attention to the timetable Aizawa had given me. So, when everyone eagerly bounced out of their rooms in an assortment of costumes that equated to their Hero gear, I paused "Um, did I miss a memo?" I asked Midoriya as he came up to me, wearing an atrocious blue suit with massive, reinforced boots and thick white gloves.

"Hero Training- did you forget?" he smiled at me kindly. I struggled to get a read on this guy; half the time he looked like he was working me out like a maths problem, and the other half he was treating me like an adopted stray.

"Yesssss. Totally." What the hell was Hero Training? "Um, I don't have a...costume yet?" I could wing it with my jeans and shirt- but I really needed to get my jacket replaced.

"Just grab your PE gear." Uraraka called, wearing an interesting mixture of white and pink spandex and a space helmet.

I split and returned with my PE stuff, finding only Kami, Mineta, Midoriya and Uraraka had waited for me. Mineta sighed loudly when he saw I wasn't wearing anything exciting and had my blue uniform slung over an arm. I promised myself to remind Aizawa I needed a 'costume'. At least I had something to do tonight- maybe Nat could give me ideas for a suitably awesome outfit.

I hurriedly got changed when we got to the gym we were apparently using. I paused long enough to drag my hair from my eyes, tossing my clothes in the locker they'd given me in the girl's change room (I still thought it was stupid we had to get changed separately). A strange sense of excitement filled me as I jogged to meet up with the rest of the class, and I looked around with interest at their gear.

Some of them looked stupid. Some of them looked hardly different from regular civilians. But some of them looked like actual Heroes. I mentally added ideas to my budding design.

Aizawa slouched in and looked a tired eye over us, lingering briefly on my blue clothes. I winked at him. He ignored me "Today we are having something of a scavenger hunt. You will need to complete three laps around the city," the 'city' being the gigantic indoor metropolis built literally inside the equally gigantic 'gym', complete with fire hydrants, powerlines and manhole covers "and find three designated targets. You will need to 'subdue' these targets and bring them with you to the finish line by the end of the third lap."

"What are the targets?" Iida put his hand up and spoke.

Aizawa looked at me dead on, and something glinted in his eye "Three Villains on the run. You will need to subdue them using capture tape. They will resist both arrest and will do their best to escape during the continued duration of the mission. I don't care if you form teams. If you haven't completed the laps before the end of class, with a Villain on hand- you fail." He pulled out a notebook from pocket in his pants "The Villains are; Hikari, Sero and Tokoyami." Oooh he was gonna pay for this.

 

Chapter Text

Bakugo couldn't help the grin that spread across his features as Aizawa gave them their assignment for the afternoon "The Villains will get a head start of ten minutes. They are also to complete the three laps, but they can do so immediately." Bakugo's eyes zeroed in on the Leprechaun. She sighed dramatically in resignation, but that strange glint was back in her eyes as she started to jump up and down on the spot "Villains; you leave now." With that, Aizawa turned and headed towards the observation tower built in the back of the wall of the gym.

"Oh man! So, the whole class is gonna be trying to take us out?" Sero was complaining as he rolled his head on his shoulders, striding towards Tokoyami.

"You better get moving." Deku was saying quietly to the Leprechaun "It's a big city."

The Leprechaun smirked, and patted Deku on the head "Nawww is the Hero feeling sorry for the Villain?" she cackled and winked at Bakugo, blue eyes dancing with mirth "Oi, Dandelion! Don't keep me waiting." And then she bounded away, moving lightly and efficiently, towards the shelter of the buildings.

Sero and Tokoyami followed quickly, both of them using the Quirks to quickly catch and overtake the girl on foot. Bakugo snarled, explosions crackling in his palms. Ten minutes. She had ten minutes to hide.

"Hey Bakugo, wanna team up?" Kirishima cracked his knuckles, grinning toothily.

"NO! You're too slow. I'm gonna blow that stupid Leprechaun's head off!" fucking calling him Dandelion- he knew the purple headed shit wouldn't have thought that up on his own. He didn't care if she was the new kid; she'd pay for that "DEKU! What's the freaks' Quirk?" he roared, pointing at the green haired nerd "You and Pikachu can't leave her alone- WHAT CAN SHE DO?"

Deku quailed under the unexpected onslaught "We don't know!" he yelped, and Pikachu shook his head vigorously.

"C'mon dude, you've seen the betting board in the dorm; none of us know. She's fast, strong and has a super keen sense of smell." Kirishima spoke from behind him.

"I think that's why Mr Aizawa picked her to be a Villain." Deku said thoughtfully "We don't know what her Quirk is, so we don't know how to fight her. We also don't know how she will be able to react to any of our attacks, which means we will have to be extra cautious. There's also the fact she said she has been working with pros on the streets back where she came from- but she didn't say for how long. And Mr Drake looks like he is good in a fight- and we saw how good she was at hand-to-hand. There's also the issue of her sense of smell; we'll only be able to sneak up on her downwind....hang on, there's no airflow in this building- maybe that won't be as much of an issue." The eyes of his classmates glazed over, and Bakugo resisted the urge to smack Deku over the head. But despite how much Deku's rambling monologues annoyed the ever-loving-shit out of him; they were extremely useful. The nerd's analytical skill were almost a Quirk in itself- not that Bakugo would ever tell him that.

"FINE! She's strong, fast, can smell your stink and knows how to throw a punch." He summarised brutally, interrupting Deku's train of half mumbled words. Bakugo sank into a crouch, stretching his thigh muscles and flexing his fingers "I call dibs on the LEPRECHAUN!" the timer went off, and Bakugo launched into the sky, the concussion blast following him and renewing the ringing in his ears. He didn't even hear the exasperated cries of his classmates as they all surged to follow him.

He soared through sky haltingly, propelling himself with fresh blasts until he slammed down on the first of the roofs. He rolled to his feet and launched himself again, and started to scan the streets and alleys beneath him for the head of curly black hair.

Despite what everyone thought of him, Bakugo wasn't an idiot. He knew he had a temper, and impulse control issues; but he was not stupid. So, when it became very clear the Leprechaun wasn't just running down the main streets, legging it to complete the laps in the easiest way, he stopped wasting time watching from roof tops, and instead launched himself into the sky. He could vaguely hear the others catching up. Deku flashed by, the green lightning of his Quirk dancing over his body, his face a stupid grimace of determination. It looked like the nerd had come to the same decision Bakugo had- do the first two laps and then beat up a Villain to take back on the final loop. There was no way the Leprechaun was faster than the two of them, or Iida for that matter.

The city was roughly designed off of downtown; nothing was taller than six stories. Unfortunately, this also meant the buildings were very close together. When it did come time to properly look for the Villains, it was going to take time.

For now though, Bakugo just let himself glory in moving. It felt so good to be moving quickly again. The last few training classes had been about strength building, and even the internship hadn't let him get about as much as he wanted to. He took extra long leaps, landing hard only to launch himself off again. The air whipped through his hair, and he was able to ignore the now constant ringing in his ears as he raced across and around the city. Nearing the 'finish line', a street with a literal racing line painted across it, he didn't fight the manic grin on his features. First. Even Four-Eyes couldn't move as fast as he could, and Deku was still a block behind him.

"The last Villain has completed their first lap." Aizawa's disembodied voice echoed from hidden speakers. Huh. Did that mean the Leprechaun was close? Excellent. He palms tingled as he exploded himself forward, crossing the finish line.

Immediately, he started scanning for movement ahead. THERE! He roared in triumph, and blasted forward, following the dash of colour around a corner- only to slammed in the face by a familiar black shadow.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" he rolled back to his feet, ignoring the flair of pain along his side from smashing into the pavement. In the shadows of the alley, Tokoyami stood tall, an evil sneer on his beak as Dark Shadow loomed over him.

"A bad day for you; Hero." The bird hissed, and his shadow growled in agreement.

"WAIT- YOU'RE THE LAST ONE TO CROSS THE LINE?" Bakugo didn't care he was bellowing.

Tokoyami hesitated, clearly not expecting that response "Uh...yes."

"WHERE THE FUCK IS THE LEPRECHAUN?" he couldn't help the crackle coming from his glove hands. He was coated in sweat, and it all pooled in his hands as it was supposed to.

"I don't know. She's faster than she looks."

Bakugo snarled, and launched himself back into the air. How the hell had she gotten ahead of birdbrain?

He didn't know it, but the others were mostly catching up. Tokoyami put up a good fight, but he was overwhelmed by sheer numbers and Ashido and Aoyama were given the responsibility of continuing their laps with the avian while the others kept moving. They had decided to work together, and then all cross the finish lines with their Villains together; otherwise they'd end up fighting over who got to 'finish'.

Nobody expected Bakugo to do this, and everyone felt more than a little sorry for Hikari.

The next person Bakugo came across was Sero. The 'Villain' panicked the moment he saw the telltale explosions streaking across the sky, but he whirled mid-air, mid-swing and admirably shot tape at the rapidly approaching human-missile. He'd nearly finished his second lap, and Bakugo was the first Hero he'd seen so far.

Bakugo snarled, and smashed deliberately into the taller boy. They both slammed into the roof of the building Sero had been trying to swing over, but Bakugo recovered first. He dodged the weak defensive punch, and blasted the stream of tape out of his face "WHERE IS SHE?" he roared into the other teen's face, shaking him by the collar of his costume.

Instead of answering, Sero flung his arms above his head and with a flash of tape, ripped himself from Bakugo's grasp "Like I'd tell you!" the Villain called, shooting himself away "As if you could catch her anyway!"

"The first Villain has completed the Second lap. Hurry up, Heroes." Aizawa's bored voice made its way through the fogginess of Bakugo's ears. How the hell was she so far ahead? It must have something to do with her Quirk.

He didn't want to admit it, but he was starting to get excited to see just how the new girl was moving so damned fast.

He blasted himself recklessly quickly, barely noticing the strain on his forearms and shoulders, although he'd pay for it later. He scanned the ground as quickly as he could, searching for any mark of the girl's passing.

Finally, horribly close to the later half of the second lap, he saw something. He'd just used a massive explosion to hurl himself over the taller of the buildings so he could see as far as possible, when he saw a tell-tale streak of black and blue. YES! He bared his teeth in anticipation as he fully focused on his prey.

The girl was on a rooftop, somehow. She was running flat out, moving smoothly and aggressively at the same time. She reached the edge of the building and leapt, seemingly fearless. She landed in a roll on the next building, and Bakugo could've sworn he heard her scream 'PARKOUR' at the top of her lungs, before surging to her feet and streaking along.

Okay, she was fast. But not fast enough to be so far ahead. Suspicion raised its ugly head and Bakugo let wariness fill his mind along with his anger. Working the streets with Endeavour had taught him to think fast, but also strategically.

Below him, he vaguely noted the upturned faces of Ashido and Aoyama, looking stunned that they were being lapped. Bloody extras; did they really think they could keep up moving so slowly?

He didn't care about them though, he was laser-focused on the sprinting form below him. Roaring in effort, he propelled himself after her. Hearing his battle-cry, the girl glanced over her shoulder, and waved "Took you long enough!" she called, before jumping down into the darkness of an alley, completely disappearing from view.

Bakugo did NOT follow her down. Instead, he blasted himself sideways, and let himself fall. Air screamed past his face as he plummeted, and the ground came rushing towards him. With practiced ease, he rotated mid-air, one hand reaching to the ground, the other pointing down the alley where he could see the girl racing away on foot "DIE!" he screamed, and let two enormous blasts erupt simultaneously from both hands.

One hurled him up from the ground, stopping him from falling, the other exploded down the alley, the force funnelled by the narrow walls.

He let himself roll to the ground after riding the blast that stopped him from splattering all over the fake road. He gingerly got to his feet, ears ringing fiercely, and peered down the smoking alley suspiciously.

"Holy shit!" Hikari stepped from behind a dumpster, brushing her arms off, ash falling to the ground. Bakugo's jaw slackened as she picked her way out of the ruins of the alley. How had she dodged that? "That explains so MUCH!" she had an almost manic grin, eyes way to bright "Nitroglycerine, right?" she sounded so excited, moving towards him.

Bakugo shook himself and raised his gauntlets and hands, ready to fight "What about it?" he yelled over the high-pitched screaming in his ears.

"Oh, nothing! Just explains a few things!" she was still grinning wildly "Gotta say; I didn't think you'd be able to catch up so quickly- but then I didn't know your Quirk. Bloody cool, being able to ignite your own sweat!" she sank low, almost to her haunches, and her hands splayed, claws flaring "But I'm not losing this race!"

Bakugo snarled "Gonna try that fancy boxing? Give it a go!" he let his palms crackle, itching to cut loose again "I'm not holding back!"

Hikari's smile grew sharp, and he could've sworn her canines started to lengthen "Good. I need a work-out."

Bakugo lunged, bellowing. Hikari darted left, then right, the movements familiar, and blindingly fast. Bakugo recognised the aggressive approach and shot his hands out in front of him, igniting his hands. He blasted backwards, away from the attacking Villain. No way was he letting her in close if he could help it. He'd pound her from a distance with explosions.

But as he flew backwards, something happened. He had accounted for her speed on foot, but he hadn't worked out why she had been so far ahead yet. The instant he let his own explosions shoot him away, he got his answer: she threw her own hands backwards, and instantly, twin blasts of black and white fire erupted behind her, jetting her after him just as quickly as he flew backwards. He cursed ferally as realisation and recognition sank in, just as she twisted her body, bringing her feet up in front of her, aiming for his chest, shrieking wordlessly.

Before he could bring his hands in front of him, her converses smashed into his chest, and he felt the breath leave his lungs in a single wheeze. He barely felt his back slam down on the ground, his hands immediately going to seize her ankles, except she wasn't there anymore. She flipped off him, shooting a short stream of her weird black fire to propel her through the air, to land hard on the tarmac behind him. Bakugo rolled, scrambling to get back up, his gauntlets hampering his movements, chest painfully heaving as he tried to get his breath back. It felt like she'd broken a rib!

Hikari cheerfully, saluted lazily "Nice seeing you, Dandelion." Then she darted away, cackling madly.

"Crazy BITCH!" he howled after her as she vaulted another care unnecessarily, screaming 'parkour' as she went. He braced himself, getting ready to give chase, but the ground started to rumble under his feet. What the....he turned around quickly, and swore as he saw Deku, Icy-Hot and Four-Eyes all streaking towards him "FUCK OFF!"

They ignored him. Deku flashed forward, leaping from building to building. Iida simply charged down the middle of the street "Villain! This is the end of the line! Submit peacefully!" the Four-Eyed moron hollered at the erratically bounding female.

Hikari paused, ducking briefly to the ground, as though she'd dropped something "NEVER!" she shrieked "PUSSIES!" she spun on the spot, almost too fast to see, and something whipped through the air to bash into Four-Eye's face as he closed the distance. The armoured idiot went down like a sack of shit, and a manhole cover clanged away down the road "TEN POINTS!" she'd thrown the heavy steel like a discus, with horrific accuracy. Bakugo resisted the urge to admire the throw, but she was already bolting. He snarled instead and launched himself into the air.

At that point, Icy-Hot decided he'd had enough of the ridiculous laughter echoing down the street, and it didn't look like Deku was willing to take his new pal out with brute force. So, while Bakugo fell in a controlled plummet, Todoroki stomped his foot. The wall of ice that erupted from the road and 'glaciered' the entire street was nearly as outrageous as the one he'd thrown in the Sport's Festival back in First Year. The only difference was it happened faster.

Bakugo howled in victory as the girl faltered in her crazy dash, seemingly dumbfounded by the new barrier until a crazed laugh sounded "NICE TRY, MOTHERFUCKERS!" even from the rapidly shrinking distance, Bakugo saw the black inferno detonate from her hands, and she shot sky-high in a screaming torrent of jet black fire, promptly clearing the wall with one go. As she started to fall on the other side, she twisted mid-air, and gave Bakugo the middle finger, before disappearing from view once again.

"Well, at least we know how she moves so fast." Deku panted as he darted to Bakugo when he himself landed on top of the now useless glacier "Look's like Todoroki's got some competition."

"STOP HOLDING BACK!" Bakugo raged, smacking Dekuo over the head. He could barely hear the other youth "We're going to LOSE!" to his surprise, Deku didn't complain or cringe. Instead he nodded, the familiar, annoying steel flaring in his green eyes and narrowed his eyes at their target.

They moved. Faster than Iida or Todoroki, who were still trying to get around the glacier. Deku zigged and zagged, Bakugo charged. They crossed the finish line at break-neck speed, barely listening as Aizawa announced the final Villain was already past it.

For all her speed though, the Leprechaun wasn't very subtle- anymore anyway. Her black fire flared and surged randomly ahead, getting closer and closer as they neared. And they were nearing. Bakugo realised that although she could use her weird fire to get some serious altitude, she couldn't fly with it like Endeavor could. And she seemed reluctant to maintain the streams for too long, relying instead on short bursts and her admittedly impressive footspeed. Bad mistake.

He smiled viciously as she came into view once more, leaping between buildings, trailing black flames in her wake. She didn't run anymore, she loped. It was aggressive, almost predatory, and damned fast.

Pity he was faster "DIE!" he screamed, aiming ahead of her, where she was hoping to obviously land, and cut loose. The concussive wave alone knocked her backwards, tumbling inelegantly back to the roof-top. Bakugo slammed to the ground, and turned to face her as she jumped to her feet as though nothing had happened. Deku landed behind her, safely out of reach.

She was breathing hard now, but still grinning like an imbecile "Damn...spry for...a pastry, aren't you?" she sank to her now familiar crouch, coiling like a spring, shooting a wary glance behind her. Her pale skin was flushed.

"Can't keep up the fireworks forever, can you?" he jeered, readying himself for attack "Bet you're like IcyHot's old man- overheating!"

Hikari shrugged, flexing her splayed hands "Nah. I don't 'overheat'." Her smile grew wicked "Just wanted you to get nice and close!" she dropped like a lead weight, and lashed out with a foot, exactly as she had during their weird match the other day.

Bakugo's mind worked slower than his body did in that moment, muscle memory exploding to life. Although she was several metres away, and the kick shouldn't have been a threat, something told him to move. With less than half a second to spare, he shot upwards, the blasts uncontrolled. Under him, the wave of black fire scorched the concrete of the roof, sweeping out from the girl's kick. Hikari didn't hesitate, she lashed out with her other leg the instant she could, and Deku had to leapt backwards to avoid a similar attack, but the black flames still engulfed him. Bakugo cursed as the girl started to run away again, pelting for finish line that was suddenly horribly close.

"DAMMIT!" he shot after her, holding nothing back.

They got closer and closer to the finish line. Hikari didn't look back anymore, she could tell where he was by his explosions. Bakugo didn't look anywhere but the back of the girl. The finish line was in sight, only a handful of buildings left.

He could hear Hikari laughing hysterically, a constant stream of flames spewing from her hands, still gasping out 'Parkour!' at the top of her lungs hoarsely. Red filled his vision.

She leapt, apparently heedless of how big a drop it was to the ground. Bakugo unleashed his entire stored sweat reserve "YOU'RE NOT BEATING ME AGAIN!" he screamed.

She was able to spot him, eyes wide in surprise, before he rammed into her mid-air. His gloved fist met with her unprotected stomach as she somehow twisted to meet him, and he felt the breath leave her body in a gasp. Then her curly hair was in his eyes as she folded over his shoulder as his velocity carried her out of her controlled fall. Hands and claws scrabbled desperately at his shoulders as she tried to right herself, but he was already using his other hand to land a blow against her side.

Then the ground acquainted itself with their faces.

He recovered first, used to such hard falls. Gasping for breath, and ignoring his now considerably sore back, legs, chest (and everything else), Bakugo regained his feet. Scanning quickly, he spotted the Leprechaun's limp form not far. He limped over, raising a hand warily. He needn't have. She was out cold, smoking gently, PE uniform charred and battered. He dropped to a knee and clumsily fished out the capture tape.

In proud exhaustion, Bakugo stalked the last short distance to the finish line, his Villain draped unconscious over a shoulder.

 

Chapter Text

I woke up as I was dropped like a sack of shit to the ground "Ow!" I groaned, and blearily blinked my eyes open. Dandelion's red eyes glared down at me, strangely accentuated by his jagged black face mask. I was literally bathing in his smell, and it was as glorious as it was disconcerting "Did you have to make me kiss the pavement?" I went to rub my aching face, but found my hands bound by their weird 'capture' tape.

"Yes." He replied brutally and stalked away. I looked around briefly; we were over the finish line. Damn. Ah well, it'd been close, especially considering I'd had no idea what I'd been up against. If I'd known I'd be racing a nitro-powered rage gremlin, I might have taken it more seriously. Still, it'd been fun while it had lasted. I briefly concentrated on my bonds, and they burst into flames. I dragged myself to my feet and took stock. Nothing was broken, amazingly. Some scrapes, what was gonna be a spectacular bruise on my face and shoulder- surprisingly light damage all things considered. I was positively covered in Dandelion's nitroglycerin sweat and scent though. How had I not recognised that smell? I was such a muppet. I plucked idly at my ruined uniform- guess they hadn't counted for fire-based powers.

Before I had time to think about just how badly I'd been beaten, the other front runners turned up. Midoriya was flushed, smoking lightly (his costume was definitely a little singed on the front) but his eyes were positively glowing with delight "I would never have guessed you had a fire Quirk!" he nearly squealed with excitement. Beside him, the strange dichromatic youth Todoroki was eyeing me with more interest than he had since I'd walked into the dorms on Sunday afternoon. I'd been right; an ice-elemental for sure at least.

I shrugged "You'd have guessed it eventually." I was amazed I'd last nearly a week, to be honest. These kids were brighter than me.

"You had such good control over it- does it burn you to use it? You said you don't overheat; has that got something to do with your metabolism? What about your strength? How is that related to your fire, or is it a secondary Quirk?" he didn't even notice his gloves and sleeves were singed beyond repair as he practically gushed.

I was spared responding by the arrival of the rest of the class. Sero was the only one to evade capture; apparently none of the faster front-runners bothered to chase him- something he was both disappointed and pleased with. Ashido and Uraraka took one look at my face and clothes, and promptly started to drag me away to the change rooms. Turned out the 'finish' line was right near the 'start' line. I tried to explain my face didn't hurt and I didn't actually care about my clothes, but when my top literally sloughed off, leaving me in nothing but my lacey black bra, the girls formed a human shield around me while the boys all went scarlet and turned away (with the exception of Mineta, who fainted when I waved at him).

"Honestly, aren't you lot all eighteen?" I asked in bafflement "How are you all so bloody prudish?"

"Almost eighteen- most of us are later in the year."

"Don't tell me you want Mineta to see you basically naked?" Momo said, the question obviously rhetorical. We made it to the 'safety' of the changerooms, and I reluctantly got back into the 'regular' uniform "Although, with your Quirk I can understand why you weren't more embarrassed; I imagine it must be a regular occurrence, setting fire to things." She had no idea. I also didn't have the heart to tell her that my real Quirk meant I had virtually no concept of modesty, nor any understanding of it either.

When I was suitably not naked, we went back out to see that everyone else had finally arrived to the start line. Tokoyami was devasted to hear he had been the first captured. Iida had been taken straight to the school nurse- I'd given him concussion with my frisbee act. I tried to feel guilty, but it had been too funny to regret. Kirishima was depressed he hadn't been close to any action, and Kaminari was horrified he'd missed out on seeing my Quirk first-hand "No way! I don't think fire was even on the board!" he looked mortified. Heh. I'd seen the betting board; the closest had been Ashido's guess of 'monster', whatever that meant.

"Alright, everyone." Aizawa cruised into view, hands deep in his pockets "As you may have guessed, today's lesson had two points; first, teamwork makes everything easier. Having fast scouts spot and start the process of containment is essential when dealing with villains in a densely populated area. Back-up on foot could be other Heroes or law enforcement- start taking them into account. Second; be wary of attacking Villains with unknown Quirks. None of you knew Hikari's Quirk," how the hell had he known that? "and for the most part, you acted correctly. Bakugo, I saw you hesitate before you assaulted the alley- good thinking trying to attack a different angle." The praise apparently took people by surprise. Dandelion didn't say anything, but I noted his back straighten slightly "But you missed the point of the exercise. It wasn't to finish first, it was to capture and detain the Villain before they could 'escape' from the city limits. Midoriya; you held back. Don't. Villains are to be stopped, and that means you don't go easy on them because they're a pretty girl or you feel sorry for them." Which was I?

Finally, Aizawa looked at me. I waved brightly "And you; take it seriously next time. I know you could've finished much sooner."

I fluttered my eyelashes "Naww sir! I just wanted to have some fun." Fucker. He knew I had no idea what the kids were gonna throw against me.

I shouldn't have been surprised that straight away after class I got a message All Might wanted to see me in the teacher's lounge. Midoriya smiled at me encouragingly, and Kami patted me reassuringly on the back as though they thought I was worried. Dandelion pointedly ignored me as I flounced past, but I couldn't help but salute him as I went. Rage Muffin indeed,

The lounge was vacant except for Toshi and Nat. I closed the door behind me and threw myself onto one of the couches "What the hell are you teaching those kids?!" I demanded.

Toshi raised an eyebrow at my appearance, and Nat snickered "Forget to duck?" the vampire asked, smirking widely.

"I don't think ducking would have helped when the missile was powered by rage and explosive sugar." I growled, rubbing my cheek. The bruise was a delicious purple and yellow- it would be gone in a day or so but it was bloody tender now.

"Ha! So you did make an impression." Why did he look so pleased with himself?

"Bite me." I turned to look at Toshi "And you! Wanna tell my why the green-haired mumbler smells exactly like you and your bloody Quirk?"

Toshi stiffened, eyes wide "He...does? Oh...um..."

I narrowed my eyes, and even Nat raised a brow "He's your bloodydamn successor, isn't he?" the wince confirmed it "That would have been nice to know. I nearly set him on fire!"

"Aizawa owes me twenty." Nat did a victory fist pump "And again; if you'd read the bloody files, you'd have seen that Midoriya has inherited One for All."

"Hang on, why does Aizawa owe you 'twenty'?" I totally ignored the nag about the damned files "Were you...betting on how long it took for me to set someone on fire!?" it was actually a fair betting point. I'd have joined if I'd known they were doing it.

"I said less than a week, Toshi said a fortnight, and Aizawa said a week exactly." Nat said happily "Glad to see I know you best."

"I didn't think it'd be young Midoriya though." Toshi said worriedly "Is he ok?"

I snorted "He's fine. The Rage Muffin flattened me before I could actually get serious."

Toshi raised an eyebrow "I assume you mean Bakugo? He's the one that gave you that bruise?" he didn't sound surprised.

I nodded, scowling, but I couldn't help the smile tugging on my lips "I've decided he gets a new name every fortnight. We're still on Dandelion at the moment, but Rage Muffin is the next contender." It was a very recent decision. Made about the same time as when my face connected with tarmac at high velocity.

Toshi looked uncomfortable for a moment "Um, take it easy on Bakugo, and the others too, if you can. They've had a hard few years..."

"Well, duh. The whole lot of them are a cocktail of anxiety and tension- and I've only been with them for three days. They were worried they'd scare me off! And nearly every lesson is a lecture on how serious the world is. Hell, the only class not related to Hero Law, Hero Combat, blowing shit up as a Hero (science) or learning how to talk to international Heroes is art. And even that is Hero slanted- don't tell me it's not so they can help sketch artists! And don't even get me started on Maths. The poor bastards need to lighten up." Holy shitballs. Lightning literally struck my brain.

My epiphany expression was not missed "What?" Nat barked; eyes cautious "What did you just realise?"

I felt the sly smile crawl onto my face "Oh, nothing. Just had an idea."

"Rhea, the last time you had an idea, and smiled like that, we had to leave the country."

I tried to look at him innocently, and failed dismally "Don't worry, it won't be like last time. I'm just gonna...provide some levity."

I left them with a satisfying mixture of panic and worry on their faces. Good. They deserved it for making me take Maths.

That night, after playfully dodging questions about my abilities, and giving a brief description of my short fight with Dandelion (he hadn't told them about it, which surprised me. I'd have thought he'd take advantage of boasting rights, but he vanished to his room immediately after dinner), I cloistered myself in my room, pleading tiredness.

Then, I opened my notebook, scarily empty of notes from class, and in big runes wrote 'MISSION: LEVITY'. Now, where to begin?

 

Chapter Text

Any worries anyone had over Hikari's recovery were squashed first thing in the morning. Kaminari, Ashido, Uraraka, Iida and even Mineta had all waited for her to turn up so they could go to breakfast. Midoriya was starting to get worried; this was the first time they'd had to wait for the energetic girl. He sighed in relief when she bounded out of the elevator, her usual crooked grin in place. His eyes darted to her cheek- the bruise was a hideous mess of purple, green and yellow, and extended down her neck and to her barely visible collarbone. He winced in sympathy. Why hadn't she gone to Recovery Girl? Surely All Might would have told her too after their meeting?

When Iida brought it up, concerned, she brushed him off "Pffft, why would I bother? It'll be gone in a day, and it doesn't hurt that much." She waved his worry off "C'mon, I'm hungry." Once more, she flounced out into the depths of winter wearing nothing more than her school blazer and long converses.

"Wish I had a fire Quirk." Kaminari muttered, pulling his scarf up to cover his nose. Midoriya grimy agreed.

The day passed quickly. Midoriya came to the conclusion that Hikari could not sit still. Every time he looked back her, her leg was bouncing, her pencil was spinning between her fingers, or she was softly drumming her claws on the desk. After seeing her move in Training, he was starting to suspect she might have trouble sitting still. The only issue with this theory, was she would suddenly freeze, and then furiously scribble in her notebook, but never at a point anyone else was taking notes. Then she'd sit back in her chair and stare thoughtfully at whatever she had written, never comparing it to the board. In fact, Midoriya never saw her take what looked like class related notes. Did she just have a really good memory? For English he could understand, but surely the other classes she couldn't have already done, or be so confident she didn't need to write anything down.

That afternoon was the first time since Monday they'd seen the new teacher. Drake sauntered into the room, wearing the same long jacket as he had before. He threw himself down into the chair and popped his boots up onto the desk in a manner so practiced it must have been second nature. He lazily scanned the class, barely pausing on his fellow exchange traveller before he drawled "What's the most important piece on the board in a game if chess?"

Hand shot up across the room. Midoriya thought for a moment before he joined them. Drake pointed at Momo "The queen." She said firmly.

"Why?" Drake didn't say she was right.

"It's the most mobile piece, therefore the most effective."

"Ah, but I didn't ask what the most effective piece was, I asked what the most important one was." Momo flushed "You, with the tail."

"The king. If you lose it, you lose the game." Ojiro said nervously, said tail twitching under his seat.

Drake nodded thoughtfully "This is also true. Any other suggestions?" again, he didn't say if the answer was correct or not. People had put their hands down, Midoriya included. He frowned down at his desk, running the question over in his head. Most important piece? It had to be the king, right? Or was this some kind of riddle?

When nobody answered, Drake sighed, and gracefully stood "Importance, for lack of a better word, is perceived. It might not be the most valuable piece, it might not be the most effective." He nodded at Momo and Ojiro in turn "Importance is decided by the players- both of them. If decide I'd rather lose the queen than the bishop, or knight, I am perceiving that piece as more important. In turn, my opponent may decide that my pawn is more important than the bishop, and react to it instead." He picked up a piece of chalk, and in elegant English text, scrawled 'Perceived Importance', and underlined it "This concept applies in all real-life scenarios. If you decide something is important, it can change the parameters of a mission- save a life, end a life and so on and so forth. If the Villain decides it's more important to...kill the Hero following them than it is to make a hasty retreat, the Hero may be taken by surprise by the change in priority. The trick is to figure out what the other party perceive as important, and act accordingly."

He stopped talking. Midoriya blinked. The silence behind and around him was a vacuum.

"Nat-Drake, I think you went too fast." Hikari called from the back of the room teasingly "Explain it again, but in terms of food."

Drake rolled his eyes "Just because you can't think past your stomach, doesn't mean other people can't." Bakugo chuckled.

"Sir, if I may; is this concept a method of anticipating what an enemy might do?" surprisingly, it was Kirishima who tentatively spoke, his gravelly voice nervous.

Drake pointed at the redhead "This one gets it. With the correct deductive reasoning, one is able to extrapolate potential goals and their likelihoods of being attempted."

The rest of the lesson swirled into a confusing set of scenarios Drake gave them, where they had to try to work out what the goal of the Villain was, and how they perceived as important. They were given a time limit to argue amongst themselves, and then think on their own. If they got the answer wrong, Drake brutally yet elegantly informed them of the consequences "The child died because the Villain knew you'd stop to try to stop the bleeding. The house burned down and killed everyone in it because you didn't realise the Villain cared more about arson than getting away. Your partner was injured because you focused more on damage control than on neutralising the threat."

Iida raised a hand "But sir, some of the reactions you are suggesting are..." he shifted uncomfortably in his seat "illegal." He almost whispered the word, horrified at himself for even suggesting it.

Drake didn't even blink "Come now, you're telling me you wouldn't break a law if it was to save a comrade? A child?" everyone in the entire class sunk a little low in their seats "I thought as much. In my lifetime, I have worked mainly as an Underground Hero, I believe you call them. Sometimes there is no right call, and sometimes the right call may be perceived as the wrong call. The results are all that truly matter, and whether or not you can sleep at night."

"The ends justifies the means?" Midoriya suddenly quoted out loud, slapping a hand to his mouth once the words slipped out.

Drake's lips twitched into a small smile "In a manner."

"Man, that was heavy." Kirishima groaned on the way back to the dorms.

"It was more like a lesson in philosophy than tactics." Uraraka said quietly. Everyone was a little subdued. Some of the situations had hit a little close to home, as though the suave Hero knew exactly what would push their buttons.

"Is he always so...intense?" Ashido shot at Hikari, who was making a game of not walking in anyone's shadows, seemingly unfazed by everyone's bleak mood "What did he teach back in Ireland?"

"Intense? Who, Na-Drake?" she snorted, leaping wide of Ashido's shadow, landing in a puddle, but not even pausing "Sometimes, I guess. He likes to think he's all 'philosophical', but he really just likes the sound of his own voice. He thinks he sounds sexy." Her lilting voice dipped until it was unmistakably British.

"Hikari!" Iida was aghast "You can't talk about your teacher like that!" while nearly everyone else chuckled or at least smiled a little.

"Why not? He's my teacher after all. As to what he teaches back home..." she precariously balanced on one foot, jumping a particularly long shadow cast by a tree, then immediately sidestepping when Sero's tall shadow moved to catch her "Same sort of Combat training as here, and... Mechanics. The man is a genius with a welder." Midoriya wasn't sure if she was joking or not.

"What are you doing?" Momo asked the girl pausing as she flailed, suddenly off balance.

"Don't stop walking!" she hissed with surprisingly venom "Don't stop-!" Kaminari ran up behind the balancing girl and gave her a hearty shove. With a yelp, she stumbled forward, still desperately trying to avoid stepping in a shadow, and barged straight into Bakugo's back.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Kacchan whirled around, hands raised, explosions cackling in his palms already, murder in his eyes.

"PEACHES!" Hikari shrieked, and literally dove off the path, barrelling headfirst into a half-melted snowdrift.

"What the actual..." Bakugo trailed off, still standing with his hands raised, staring in utter bafflement with the rest of them at the girl burying herself in snow "Is...is she fucking nuts or something?"

"So, let me get this straight, if you touch a shadow, you have to scream out a fruit as loud as you can, and hide? Hide from what?" Hikari was perched on the edge of one of the couches, emitting liberal amounts of steam from her hair and clothes as she used her Quirk to dry herself. Bakugo had vanished to his room. Half the class were lounging around the tv, the other half sat at the table, bickering over Drake's weird assignment on Priorities.

Hikari nodded seriously "The Shadow Monster. It's only scared of fruit."

"That makes zero sense. How do I play?" Kaminari was sitting on the floor in front of her, homework in his lap.

Hikari gently patted Kaminari's head "It's too late for you, my son." She said solemnly, and pointedly looked down. Kaminari was sitting in her shadow, cast by the setting sun outside.

Kaminari looked up, horrified "LEMONS!" he screamed, and dove to the side, book thrown aside, taking refuge in the last of the daylight.

Midoriya shook his head, bemused "I'd say you were nuts, but I think Kacchan beat me to it." He thought for a minute "What happens when it's night-time?"

Hikari shot him a disgusted look "Shadow Monsters don't come out at night." She scoffed, like it was perfectly obvious. Tokoyami looked up at that, a brow raised "They're scared of the Night Pineapple."

Midoriya blinked "You just made that up."

Hikari slowly pulled out her phone, typed something in, and then showed him the screen. Sure enough, there was a Wiki dedicated to the Night Pineapple. Apparently, it was a suburban legend in some parts of Ireland "Hang on, pineapples aren't native to Ireland."

Hikari rolled her eyes and pocketed her phone "It's not a pineapple- it's the Night Pineapple." Like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "We're safe once the sun sets."

"Don't you lot have homework to do as well?" Uraraka demanded from the table, glaring at Midoriya and Kaminari in particular "I know for a fact you haven't done these stupid problems for Drake."

Hikari snorted "If it's multiple choice- pick the second answer every third question, the first answer every second, and the third answer for every first. He's bloody predictable for all his waffle on unpredictability. As for the essay, I guarantee you he won't look past the introduction, and will only super briefly read the conclusion. Just make some shit up for the word count."

Uraraka blinked, and then looked back down at her notes "You're kidding. He's not even going to read these?" everyone else at the table froze, and all sagged in their seats at once.

"Nup. He's a lazy ass. Beats me why he suggested the damned course in the first place."

"Brilliant. Would he notice if I slept through his class?" Shinso drawled, muffled from his face-down position on the opposite couch.

"Wear some sunglasses. I'll distract him if he asks you anything." Hikari said confidently.

"Roger that."

The next morning, the walk to breakfast was surprisingly slow. When Iida turned around, ready to tell them to hurry up, Midoriya shot him an apologetic smile as he nimbly jumped over his shadow. Hikari nodded her approval.

The day passed quickly, with only the occasional scream of fruit. Midoriya was quietly proud he'd only slipped up once. By the time Hero Training came around, the only ones not playing were Iida, Momo and Bakugo, the latter being badgered incessantly by Kirishima, who admitted he was having fun "C'mon dude, give it a go!" Midoriya watched sideways as the redhead nimbly dodged a passing student's shadow "Think of it as agility training." Todoroki was evening playing, albeit with less enthusiasm and more quiet grace.

A lightbulb flickered on in Midoriya's head. Slowly, he looked around. Sure enough, everyone playing 'Shadow's were either leaping around, freezing, or balancing precariously. Surely not...

That afternoon in Hero Training, Midoriya watched the girl closely as she dodged and weaved through the obstacle course Aizawa had set up to help them improve agility and speed. Sure enough, she leapt, bounded and spun in the same strange, haltingly graceful motions she did when dodging shadows, somehow keeping her balance at all times. She never used her fiery Quirk, much to everyone's disappointment, instead displaying unerring physical capability.

When she executed a particularly mind-numbing climb; grabbing a support pole, vaulting upwards with nothing but her arms and core, holding herself horizontal to the ground and then launching herself over the obstacle, screeching 'PARKOUR', he and Todoroki stopped and blinked after her "That was unexpected." The quiet elemental said, cocking his head "She could have just walked under that blockage." There was a large crawlspace.

"Ah, but where would the fun in that be?" Ashido came up behind them, and tried to copy what Hikari had done, but she couldn't haul herself up the same way, and dropped unceremoniously back to the ground "Ow."

By the end of the lesson, everyone but the flighty new girl was panting and dripping with sweat. Still wearing a plain PE uniform (with a new shirt after the last one got burnt off), she skipped along with far too much energy to the change rooms, (still carefully avoiding shadows), chattering animatedly to Tsuyu- the only other one in the class who could match Hikari in her weird displays of gymnastics.

"Mirodiya, Uraraka, stay back once you get changed." Aizawa called after them.

"How is Hikari settling in?" the gym was empty, only the three of them stood at the entrance, watching a slight flurry of snow fall from the heavy sky.

"Well, I think." Midoriya said "She seems to be getting along with everyone."

"Good. Seeing as it's been a week and she's not dead or running scared, don't feel like you have to babysit her anymore." As usual, he didn't mince words. Midoriya blinked. He'd totally forgotten he'd originally been asked to 'look after her'.

"Sir, just out of curiosity, how long will Hikari and Mr Drake be here?" Uraraka asked nervously.

Aizawa levelled her with a tired stare "At least until the end of the school year. Is that a problem?" Both of them shook their heads vigorously. Why had Uraraka asked that? Didn't she like Drake or Hikari? "Good. Now scat." He waited until they walked away before closing the gym behind them.

 

Chapter Text

Friday nights, as it turned out, were savoured. As they should be. I was still buzzing from the Training lesson, and itching to go for a run or something. As far as I could tell though, everyone else was burned out and ready to chill on the couch for the evening. I tried not to hover as Kami threw himself on the couch, not even bothering to dump his bag in his room, and Ashido face-planted on the couch next to him "So, um... what do you guys do on a Friday night?" I did my best not to bounce from foot to foot "And do we eat here or at the cafeteria?" lunch was a loooong time ago.

"Sleep." Came Ashido's muffled reply "Food later."

"Normally we cook for ourselves on a Friday evening." Iida informed me tiredly, gingerly adjusting his glasses. They'd fixed his broken cheekbone and nose, but he was still tender. He didn't seem to hold it against me though.

"Sato! Pleeeease feed us!" Sero groaned as he staggered in the door, followed by the last of the stragglers. Bloody hell- it hadn't been that hard of a training session, had it? There hadn't even been any fighting!

"Feed yourselves." The chunky youth growled good-naturedly, hoisting his bag higher on his shoulder "I'm not hungry." He headed towards the lift. Looked like I'd be hitting my emergency supplies of snacks then. Or....maybe Nat would take me on patrol and we could get take-out? No- this was my first Friday night here, I wanted to make it count. Operation Levity was in effect, after all. Or was it Mission Levity?

"Maybe Bakugo will cook for us." Kami said to the ceiling "It's been ages."

Sero snorted "Not likely. He and Kirishima were gonna go back to the gym. Apparently they've been hitting it every night this week." That would explain why he kept coming back all sweaty- inconsiderate bastard. I resisted the urge to touch my healing cheek. The bruise was nearly gone now.

"Well, I did promise to cook for you." I mused, tapping my chin with a claw. The hopeful eyes that all turned to me would have been intimidating if I was a lesser being "I'm not saying you'll be able to eat it, mind you- I normally only cook for myself." And Nat, but they didn't need to know that. They also didn't need to know that Nat said cooking was a strong word for what I performed in the kitchen.

"At this point, I'd eat that ramen Sato makes Bakugo." Shoji said from his spot at the dining table. The usually stalwart youth was slumped in his chair, extra arms and all, eyes tired.

"We really don't expect for you to cook for us." Jiro said, stretching and giving a small yawn "We normally scrounge and snack after Training- everyone is too tired to stand around in the kitchen for hours." Tsuyu nodded in agreement.

I really did bounce on the balls of my feet then "I'm about as far from tired as you can get. Seriously; I'm only gonna go and cook for myself anyway, I'll just double up." Nobody looked surprised- Midoriya or Uraraka must have told them about my private kitchen.

"Knock yourself out." Kami said, still not moving.

Sheesh. I scampered away, heading for my room. It wasn't until I was in the elevator that I face-palmed. What the hell was I going to cook? I'd planned on just blasting a bunch of steaks until they were crispy on the outside and eating them out of a bowl- somehow I doubted these kids would view that as an appetising meal. What then? My favourite dish, spicy cochinita pibil, or pulled pork pibil, took a good day to cook (when you are cooking by multiple kilos, not grams) and even I wasn't barbarian enough to rush it. Shitbiscuits. What else could I make? When I got to my room, I tore to the freezer and scanned the contents. Well, Nat had remembered my favourite meat- there was pork for days.

An idea came to mind slowly. I didn't want to scare them away by hauling the deep-fryer downstairs-yet. Those days were in the future. I cackled to myself. I wondered if any of them had ever had a deep-fried Mars Bar. I'd need to contact my Valkyrie friends in Australia and get some decent junk food recipes off them. Shelving that idea, I started digging out my emergency-not-raw-meat meal ingredients.

Once I'd made a pile on my bench, I got changed out of my boring PE uniform. My beloved CAFU shirt came out and on, and I pulled on some grey slacks. I didn't bother with shoes. I seized my portable music player, scraped my supplies together, and darted out of the room, using my foot to hook it shut behind me.

Apparently, nobody had actually expected me to cook, because when I reappeared and practically threw my haul out over the bench, everyone jumped. Shaking themselves from their stupors, a handful came over and dropped themselves onto the kitchen stools, watching me blearily, but curiously.

I turned my music player on and connected my phone up. Immediately, my favourite playlist came on. I'm Ready by AJR exploded into life. I used my feminine instincts to find the frying pan cupboard and some chopping boards (don't tell me you've never done the same), and used my claws to tear open the meat packages. About ten kilos of pork loins spewed out over the bench. I snatched a cleaver from the knife block near the stove, and started hacking away, nodding to the music.

"What are you making?" more people started to wander over, their post-Training weariness evaporating with the upbeat tunes. Kami looked almost alert now, and I pretended to ignore Mineta checking out my ass as I moved.

At the last second, I stopped myself from snacking on a piece of offcut, answering him instead "Just a super simple spicy pork fry-up thing." I didn't have a name for it. Man, I really wanted to eat the offcut, it was so wasteful tossing it in the bin behind me.

"That... is a lot of meat." Mineta said, and I was fairly sure he wasn't talking about my ass "Wait, you just casually had like, a whole pig worth of pork in your room?"

I wasn't sure if the question was sarcastic or not, so I shrugged "I did say I eat a lot." I dumped double-handfuls of the meat into a bunch of bowls I'd found. Running through the recipe from memory, I ducked down and started opening cupboards, breathing deeply through my nose as I hunted for the spices I needed "Oi, got any sambal or sriracha?" I called to anybody "I can't smell it past the bloodydamn ogon."

I looked up as I heard someone pad onto the tiles of the kitchen, masking my surprise well. Todoroki quietly opened the cupboard next to me, and pulled out both of the things I'd asked for. Wordlessly, he sat them on the bench, and then moved to take the last spare stool, folding his arms and leaning back, watching me with his strange eyes. I saluted in thanks "Feel free to change up the tunes- just make sure they're upbeat. My passcode is 6969." The phone was school safe- everything incriminating was on my data pad. They'd need a space age hacker to get into that (I had to ask Nat every other month to unlock it for me).

Kami snorted at my passcode, but grabbed up my phone at the same time "Jeez, I've never even heard of these bands!" he said, scrolling through my playlist. I generously dumped the necessary ingredients where I deemed fit, and drizzled in the oils to make up the sauce.

"I suggest Shot Gun." I said cheerfully as I sat a few pieces of ginger on the bench. WHAM! Everyone leapt about a foot from their chairs as I smashed my palm down on the bench. I froze as everyone in the room looked at me "Ah, sorry. Had to pulverise the ginger." I pointed at the now flattened smear of ginger. Bloody hair-triggers. I needed to move Operation Levity forward.

Kami recovered enough to pick the song I suggested, and I immediately started to bawl out the lyrics. Now, I'm a pretty good singer, but this song just begs for exaggerated...everything. Also, I was pumped. I may be a shite cook, but I enjoyed working with my hands. I started to massage the meat in it's bowls, trying to accelerate the marination process, swaying my hips in big motions in time to the music. Heh- it was like charming a pair of snakes; Mineta and Kami's eyes were glued to my motions. My mouth had already started to water as the familiar smell of the dish started to come together "I'll be riding SHOTGUN- rice cooker!" I shouted, spinning to flounce to the sink to wash off the sauce. In private, I'd lick my fingers.

Turning back, I saw it was again Todoroki who came to my rescue, silently fishing out a truly massive rice cooker and setting it on the bench. I flashed him a grin and set about pouring a truly liberal amount of rice into the pot. I'd often skip this part and just eat the meat on its own- but carbs were good for growing kids. I felt so bloody domestic.

My audience watched in interest, save for Kami, who was avidly looking through my playlist, as I started dumping double-handfuls of the pork into the gigantic frying pans I'd found "Um, you might not have enough space to do all of that at once." Ashido pointed out, almost apologetically. True enough; there was only four spots on the cooker, and due to the size of the pans, only two would fit on at once- I had six I needed to do.

I shrugged "I don't normally use a stove anyway." Kami's ears pricked (metaphorically) and along with everyone else, looked at me with anticipation.

"You use your Quirk to cook?" it was Todoroki who spoke though, his voice deep and velvety. I got a few goosebumps. He stared at me intently.

"Sometimes. The other ways take too long." I spread the pans out on the granite benchtop and narrowed my eyes "Just don't touch them." Still bopping to the music, I raised my right hand and clicked my fingers. Straight away, black and white sparks, then flames appeared on my fingertips. I smirked a little at the noises of appreciation, but then I ignored them. This bit was a little tricky "All the meat's gotta be cooked super hot, super quick- like so." I explained, and then I flicked my wrist. My flames increased until I had a palmful. I then tossed some to my left hand, as though the ball of heat and light was made of plastic. Then, I mashed my hands down in two of the pans. My flames eagerly licked into the sauce and meat. A second later, I withdrew my now meaty palms, and moved to the next two pans. I glanced back at the first two as I repeated the process, and glared briefly. The flames surged until they filled the entire metal dishes, searing the meat happily under my gaze. Satisfied, I moved to the final two pans and did it all again. Washing my hands quickly, pelting out the chorus for Sia's Cheap Thrills as the song changedI grooved back to the middle of the bench. I flexed my hands and commanded flames to grow and dance, as though I was conducting an orchestra.

"That's amazing!" Kami gasped as the black and white fire writhed under my influence "How are you still controlling it?"

I grinned, and made one of the pans flare right up high! and back down again "Practice. That's nothing though; watch this." I really started showing off then. In time to the beat, I made each pan flare and retreat. Then, I picked one of them, and made it flicker to the melody. I had the attention of the whole room by then. At some point, Midoriya and Uraraka had appeared, and their eyes were wide in amazement at my show. Unfortunately, I had to cut it short "Sorry guys, don't wanna make charcoal of all this." I clicked my fingers on both hands, and immediately, all the fire flickered and vanished completely.

"That, was literally the coolest thing I've ever seen." Ashido said in a hushed voice.

 

Chapter Text

Bakugo was exhausted, but in a good way. His limbs all trembled, his muscles ached, and his hands and forearms were killing him, but satisfaction made the discomforts faint in his mind. The sheet of sweat he hadn't noticed until he stepped outside into the frigid winter air gave him a ripple of gooseflesh "Awww man! It started snowing again?" Kirishima groaned as he stepped out with him. The gym door clanged shut behind them, cutting off any thoughts of retreat.

Bakugo resisted the urge to shiver "C'mon." he growled "It's only gonna get colder." They started their trudge back to the dorms. Neither of them wore more than light sweaters, and the air was truly biting. The sun had long since fallen, and their route was illuminated gently by lightpost.

"Wonder if Sato cooked anything tonight- I'm starving." The redhead mused into the muffled silence, idly brushing snowflakes from his hair. Bakugo didn't reply, but he secretly hoped the huge youth had cooked something. For the last four evenings, both of them had missed out on the better food in the cafeteria, training as late as they could in the gym. Kirishima hadn't complained once at the scraps and cold left-overs they'd wolfed down late in the evening, and Bakugo was silently grateful. There was no point whining- they both knew they'd be missing out on the better meals on offer. It was more important to train- there was no way the Leprechaun was besting him again on Monday in the weird hand-to-hand Drake was teaching them.

Just thinking about the cocky, moronic female was enough to nearly kill his post-workout buzz. He'd thought Deku was annoying...calling him fucking Dandelion. He'd nearly killed Kirishima when he's said "At least she's creative."

They stomped through the snow in comfortable silence. For once, Kirishima seemed happy to keep his thoughts to himself- thankfully. He talked way too much- not as much as that idiot Pikachu or Pinky, which was the only reason he even considered putting up with him to train more. It also helped the redhead had a Quirk that was perfectly matched to Bakugo's- Kirishima's Harden could withstand all but his most intense attacks. Perfect sparring partner.

By the time they reached the warmly lit dorms, their feet were soaked in their sneakers, and snow had melted in their hair. Bakugo clenched his teeth to stop them from chattering, and resisted a snort when Kirishima shivered visibly "Man I hope there's something warm to eat!" he groaned, increasing his pace. Bakugo huffed and let him race ahead. They were wet already- made no sense to run now.

Kirishima burst into the entrance, and shook his head like a dog, snow-melt going everywhere "Dude! That smells amazing!" the blast of warm air from the open doors hit Bakugo in the face, at the same time as a truly delicious smell did. He sauntered in after his training partner, flicking his head once in a more dignified effort to get rid of the icy water in his hair, and took in the scene before him with growing annoyance.

Music pounded from a red device on the kitchen bench. Everyone was haphazardly seated or perched around the dining table, guffawing and carrying on. The divine smell was emanating from four huge pans of some sort of pork stir-fry, sitting around the gigantic cooker of rice they used when they were feeding everyone "Hey, Sato! You're a real life-saver, man. We're freezing! Mind if we grab a bowl?" Kirishima wasted no time in rushing over, clapping a hand on the larger youth's shoulder.

"'Shima! What the hell were you doing out in a snowstorm?" Kaminari shouted over the music from his perch at the kitchen bench "Don't tell me Blasty had you training this late on a Friday night?!"

Kirishima nodded happily, grabbing a pair of bowls from the stack on the table, and ladling generous scoops of both the amazing smelling pork and rice "Yeah! We're getting ready for Monday. I think Bakugo wants a rematch with Hikari!" Bakugo scowled. Loud-mouthed idiot. He didn't bother straightening from his slouch as a handful of the extras shot appraising looks his way.

"Who wants a rematch?" speak of the Leprechaun. The girl was sitting cross-legged on the kitchen bench itself, shovelling her face with pork from an entire pan, a second full one sitting next to her knee. She hadn't bothered with rice by the looks of it either. Her weirdly bright eyes sought his, and she gave her stupid salute "I promise I'll let you land a hit, come Monday." She said in her sing-song way, grinning wickedly, flashing overly long canines.

Bakugo's scowl deepened, and he snatched the offered bowl from Kirishima "I'll fucking destroy you." He snarled, and stomped to the table. He at least, would eat like a human. Slumping down, he ignored everyone and proceeded to eat methodically, militaristically. Hmmmm. The Sugar idiot had outdone himself- it was surprisingly good.

"The spicy one is over here on the bench, if you wanna try it." Kaminari called, pointing at the second pan near Hikari's leg. Bakugo huffed and didn't look up. But...spicy... The stuff he was eating was good, but a little bland. Grudgingly, he glanced around. Nobody was paying him any attention. Everyone was chattering and eating happily. Kaminari was practically drooling over Hikari's knee, sitting as close as he could without getting on the bench as well. Mineta was scowling from the lounge, idly picking at his own dish, practically green with jealousy over Pikachu's position. Deku was animatedly discussing something with Roudface Uraraka, the Four Eyed git watching and nodding in agreement. Icy Hot was sitting on the other side of the Leprechaun, quietly eating, but glancing her way every so often. Pathetic. Kaminari he could get; the idiot was constantly drooling after any skirt that came his way- but Todoroki? Maybe it was just because the girl had a fire Quirk as well...

Finishing his bowl, Bakugo decided he'd bite the bullet, so to speak. He smoothly rose, ignoring his stiffening, cooling muscles, and slouched to the kitchen. Hikari was fluidly swaying/bopping to the song, her black shirt riding up slightly as she shifted. Tcha- no wonder Kaminari was drooling. Bakugo pointedly ignored them all, and swiftly started ladling chunks of meat from the pan on the bench. They were right- it even smelled spicy. Without a word, he spun and returned to his seat, not even noticing the brilliant blue gaze that followed him away. Scooping up a mouthful, he was pleasantly surprised with the explosion of flavour on his tongue. How the hell the others preferred the plain batch was beyond him- this had so much more taste. It was probably the best thing the Sugar idiot had ever bothered to cook them...except for the Arctic Ramen stuff. That was special.

Eating faster, trying to savour the dish without looking like he was, he noticed Ashido looking at him slyly, her black eyes narrowed "What?" he growled "I'll eat in my fucking room if you keep staring at me."

"Just wondering if you like it." She said, smirking a little "We figured you'd go for the spicy one. Only Todoroki and Hikari liked it more than the rest of this stuff." She gestured at the plain batch around the rice.

He shrugged non-committedly "It's edible." His reply was gruff. There was no way he was saying anything more complimentary than that.

"Hey Sato! You've been holding out on us man; this is really good!" Kirishima, eagerly helped himself to another bowl "How'd you whip up so much so fast? I didn't think we had so much pork on hand." They didn't- they never did. There was easily over ten kilos worth of meat here. Bakugo's frown deepened. Had they sent someone out? He hadn't thought they were due for a food delivery until Sunday morning. He knew, because he was waiting on ingredients.

Ashido had a weird, almost smug look on her face "Oh, Sato's not responsible for this." She waved airily at the table "No offence Sato."

Sato snorted "None taken. Nice not to cook for a change, as much as I like it."

Kirishima sounded confused, but Bakugo had frozen mid chew "Then who cooked?"

Ashido pointed at Hikari, who was currently using her fingers to mop up the last of the sauce in her frying pan "The resident Carnivore." As though she heard her over the blaring, shitty pop-music, the darkhaired girl froze, finger in her mouth.

"You're fucking kidding me." Bakugo managed to swallow his mouthful "That moron cooked? And you all ate it?"

"You ate it too." If Pinky could get any smugger, she'd be a cat.

Bakugo looked down at his nearly empty bowl, and then back up at the freak on the bench. She must have heard them, with her stupidly good hearing, because she hadn't taken her eyes off them. She was still licking her fingers, and smiling cheerfully, and with her spare hand, saluted him. Fury flared. He stood abruptly, and spun away, abandoning his nearly empty bowl. Snatching his duffel from where he'd dumped it, he stormed towards the lift, ignoring the calls of protest from Kirishima and Kaminari as they noticed him leave. He punched the lift button and grit his teeth as he waited, scowling at the button.

"Dude! What's up?" the electric idiot had beaten the redhead "Didn't you like it?"

Bakugo resisted the urge to take a swing "No." he snapped savagely, pointedly not looking at the blonde.

He scoffed "Yeah, right. You ate it nearly as fast as I did- even the spicy stuff. What's the problem- that the new girl cooked it? She's not that bad you know."

Bakugo shot him a foul look "Just because she talks to you doesn't make her 'alright'. You're fucking pathetic. If you're that desperate for some skirt, pay for some- you're old enough." The vitriol spilled easily from his lips, but for whatever reason, his words didn't find their mark.

Kaminari rolled his eyes "Whatever, dude." He strolled away, not looking back.

The lift door opened, and Bakugo slunk in, fuming, slamming the close button. Fine, the food had been good- especially the hot stuff. As the door closed, he heard peals of laughter that had a very distinct accent, and he ground his teeth so hard his jaw ached. Fucking Leprechaun.

He slammed the door to his room shut, and hurled his gym bag to the ground. His anger had yet to dissipate as he yanked his still damp sweater and shirt off, tossing them in the dangerously full wash basket. He'd have to empty that tomorrow- his sweat did weird stuff if left on clothes too long. Nitrogylcerin wasn't the most stable substance, and it decayed to something worse, releasing flammable fumes as well. It was annoying.

It wasn't until he was in the shower that he felt the coils of anger loosen, his muscles finally relaxing. He idly massaged his forearms with his knuckles, not even wincing as he worked out the balls of muscle. They weren't too bad tonight- they were always worse when he had to use his Quirk. His gauntlets helped with the backlash of his explosions, but there was only so much they could do. He was still paying for Wednesday and how hard he'd pushed himself to catch the stupid newbie.

Once he'd stepped out and dried off, he eyed the clock next to his bed. No wonder he was so damned tired. How any of those extras were still so lively was beyond him- the Leprechaun was probably to blame. She was always the last to return to her room, judging by what he'd heard the others all say. He ignored the fact she was nearly always the first up- stupidly eager to get to the cafeteria. She'd be disappointed tomorrow- it was closed.

Finding some satisfaction in that fact, he threw himself on the bed. He still ached all over, but the shower had helped. Wearily, he managed to haul himself under the covers and gratefully let himself drift. All he could smell was that fucking pork.

***

It wasn't until midnight Nat finally saw Hikari's dorm room light come on. He huffed in irritation. He'd been waiting since sun-down for her to go back to her room, but had resigned himself to a cold few hours when he'd heard the familiar beat of her favourite songs. He should've guessed she'd be trying to corrupt her new little friends. Fortunately for him at least, they weren't up to a late night- this time. The moment her lights came on high up on the lone sixth floor, he loped across the empty grounds, and leapt. He managed the first two stories in that single bound, and then easily scaled the walls like a silent spider. His breath puffed in the cold, but he didn't really feel it. Perks of not being human.

He gracefully reached the top floor, and dusted his hands. Looking around, he once more allowed himself to be impressed by the workmanship of the place. Hikari- Rhea, had been given a whole floor, but only three quarters were taken up by the living area itself. The remaining space, they'd made an outdoor area, complete with benches and railing. The floor was tiled- they must have realised wood was a bad idea. There was an outstretched awning that covered the majority of the outdoor space, keeping it clear of the light snow that was once more settling. He supposed it was thoughtful, but knew his partner would merely find it a convenient launchpad where she could more easily spread her literal wings.

He sauntered towards the sliding door, hands in his jacket pockets out of habit than for warmth. He could see her shadow through the drawn shades, and rapped once on the glass. He could've opened the door, but he wasn't entirely certain she was alone. It wouldn't do to have to explain to one of these annoyingly bright kids why her teacher was knocking on her outside window at midnight- or how he'd managed to scale the six floors without tripping any of the alarms (it helped he had the bypass to them all- and he was a freaking vampire).

It only took a minute for Rhea to wrench the door open, and then he was met by her blinding smile "Nat! Was wondering when you'd come by- and actually say hi." She stepped aside and turned away. He let himself in and shut the door behind him. Immediately he was hit by the warmth of the place. Rhea had lit the open fireplace, and she herself radiated immense heat, letting herself relax her usual limitations "Nice place, huh. Yours ok?" having padded barefoot to the kitchen, she plucked a pair of glasses from a cupboard. She was wearing her usual CAFU shirt and grey 'comfy pants', hair loose down her back.

"It's passable. I don't need as much room as you do." He dropped into the surprisingly luxurious couch "I'm not staying long." He warned as she handed him his glass, the familiar scent of whiskey on the air.

She shrugged "Time enough for a drink though?" she sat on the floor in front of him, crossing her legs, and took a savouring sip from her own whiskey "Thanks for dropping all this stuff off- turns out we fend for ourselves on weekends as far as food goes." He took a moment to look her over. He had heard she'd received a beating from the fiery Bakugo, but hadn't paid close attention on Thursday. The bruise was almost gone, and whatever training Aizawa had them doing that evening mustn't have been as fierce as Wednesday.

"I figured having you leave campus constantly was more of an annoyance than simply getting the supplies myself." Also, one should not leave Rhea to buy her own supplies; he'd made that mistake once and they'd been stuck with every known flavour of chocolate known to man- instead of actual food.

She nodded "For sure." Her grin faded and her eyes turned serious "Seen anything out there? All's been quiet here- as far as I can tell anyway." She nodded vaguely towards the outside world.

Nat took a moment to rub his eyes "Nothing. Quiet as a tomb, for several blocks around. It's only been a week though, and they wouldn't have asked us to do this unless there was a genuine concern."

Rhea hummed "I know you're just gonna say 'read the files', but the Villains must be some serious mofo's if this bunch are worried about them. I mean, these kids alone would be enough to make me bolt if they took me seriously. They are not to be fucked with lightly." She sounded almost fond. Blyad- it'd been less than a week...

"Neither are these 'Villains." Nat reminded her "Now, how are you going with your homework?"

Her expression turned sour in an instant "I'd burn it, but they'd just give me more." She eyed her desk with disgust- there was an impressive pile of paper sprawling across its surface "I'll get to it- eventually." She'd ask for help as soon as her pride would allow, he knew. She shook herself, as though ridding herself of the thought of study, and knocked back her whiskey "Want some company tonight?" she smacked her lips "I could use a run."

"Aizawa didn't wear you out this afternoon? I thought you all looked a little run down."

Rhea just looked at him like he was speaking tongues, then she squinted "Finish your drink- I'll get changed."

 

Chapter Text

Shinso didn't really sleep well. Ever. Some nights he wouldn't try, and would wake up only a few hours before dawn, and other times he'd actively try, and end up glaring at the insides of his eyelids the entire length of the night. Nothing really helped. Being exhausted physically and mentally made no difference, nor did the myriad of relaxation techniques he'd been recommended. His brain was just stupidly stubborn. It wasn't like he couldn't turn off his trains of thought, but even then his mind would just hum along in wakefulness.

So, more often than not, he found himself sitting on the couch in the dorm's lounge, mindlessly watching whatever late-night movie he could find, or one of the endless reality sitcoms that seemed to be pumped out of every studio known to man. Occasionally something good would be on, usually on non-school nights- which suited him just fine. It didn't matter if he looked half-dead on a weekend, most students did. Especially the third years; either because of their study load, or because of the 'extracurricular' activities. He knew for a fact some of his classmates snuck to each other's rooms after hours- he liked to watch the lift buttons activate and try to guess who was visiting whom.

This time, however, the lift doors opened on the bottom floor. He looked over his shoulder in bored interest to see who was either up stupidly late, or awake stupidly early, and raised an eyebrow in surprise. Hikari, still wearing her weird CAFU tshirt and grey slacks, cruised down the hall, cocking her head when she saw the tv on, and then her strange eyes caught sight of him "Shinso, right?" she didn't look overly shocked to see him, so he nodded "Nice to know I'm not the only night-owl." She padded towards the kitchen.

"You up for a snack?" he turned back to the tv. How she could be hungry after the amount of pork she ate last night was beyond comprehension. Not only had she finished the entire pan's worth she had claimed for herself, but she had polished off what was left of the second of the spicy batch- once Bakugo stormed off.

"Nah." She opened the fridge, paused for a minute, and then he heard her shut it again "Mind if I join you?" he glanced towards her voice. She was holding a carton of eggs, and nodded once at the other end of his couch.

He shrugged. He'd just leave if she started to annoy him. It was only an hour or so until the pre-dawn weirdos started getting up anyway "Suit yourself."

She folded herself gracefully into the far corner, tucking her feet up under herself like a giant cat. He watched from the corner of his eye as she sat the carton of eggs next to her, pulled out what had to be a sharpie and then opened the egg packet. Pulling one out, she looked at it thoughtfully, and then started drawing on it, with the sharpie.

He couldn't help himself "What are you doing?" genuine curiosity in his voice.

She didn't reply for a minute, and when she did she didn't look up from her work "You guys had a pretty hard last few years, huh?" question evasion?

He nodded slowly "I suppose you could say that- although I was not involved in the incidents of the first year." He was both regretful, and grateful for that. 1A, as they were back then, had faced some truly nightmarish trials during their first year in UA. They had been maimed, kidnapped and terrified. He had been quietly grateful for not being affected by the attacks...but regretful he had not been part of the events that made this class such a strong unit. The bonds they had forged were unlike any the other classes shared- they were almost their own Hero team "What makes you say that?" despite the fact nobody kept the attacks secret, he felt she was bringing it up for different reasons.

She shrugged "You're all jumpy as hell- hair triggers. You only see that in soldiers who've seen the real deal." She looked at the egg held delicately in her left forefingers critically, slightly frowning "Half of you tip-toe around like you're worried about scaring someone, and the other half are a breath away from getting your claws out." She spoke quietly, thoughtfully. Totally different from the brash, irritating female who had sat on the kitchen bench and eaten from the pan like a child.

He didn't reply, and she didn't continue the conversation. He tried to drag his attention back to the tv, but his eyes kept wandering to watch what she was doing. She had apparently finished whatever she had started on the first egg, because she had returned it and picked up another. She squinted at it briefly, and then started drawing on it. Finally, after she picked up a third egg, he broke the silence "So, you're up at four in the morning, on a Saturday morning, drawing on eggs? Sleep not something you Irish do or something?"

Hikari snorted "Sleep is for the weak. I only get three or so hours a night- don't need much more. Leaves a lot of empty hours." She looked sideways at him, pausing in her scribbling "What about you? Judging by the truly admirable eyebags, you're not much of a dreamwalker either."

How could she have so much energy all the time and function on so little sleep? Maybe it was the food... "Sleep is for the weak." He repeated dryly "Seriously though; what are you doing?"

She picked up a fourth egg "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." But then she shifted, leaning over with a hand stretched out "Is it on the left, or the right side?"

It took Shinso a second to realise what he was looking at and, despite himself, he felt a small smile creep onto his face "The left."

She nodded and pulled her hand back "I thought so."

Shinso slowly reached over, and grabbed the egg packet. Glancing up briefly to see if she would say anything, he pulled it over and looked down. His small smile grew into a smirk "You doing them all?"

"Yep."

"Is there a reason for it, or are you just...annoying?"

"Does there need to be a reason?" She flashed her crooked grin at him "Make sure you stick around for the show." Somehow, he didn't think that would be a chore.

She finished the rest of the eggs, occasionally asking for advice, but otherwise seemingly content to work in silence. Shinso alternated between watching the brain-numbing action flick with crappy one-lines and even crappier acting, and shooting the clock glances every now and then. Nearly an hour had passed in remarkably companionable silence. For someone so annoying during the school day, Hikari was surprisingly agreeable company for an insomniac.

Just before dawn, Hikari unfolded herself from the couch and sauntered back to the fridge, carefully replacing the eggs back in their spot "I was never here." She said solemnly, passing back down the hall, catching Shinso's eye.

"But of course." Strategic, leaving the scene of the crime before anyone caught her. She was placing an awful lot of trust in him to keep his mouth shut, but it would be far more enjoyable an event if nobody knew who was responsible for it.

A little over an hour later, the lift dinged again. Shinso glanced over the top of the couch blearily. He'd almost managed to fall asleep.

"Good morning, Shinso!" in the faint light of dawn, flicking the kitchen lights on, Iida moved around with insufferable purpose and vim. Curse morning people "Don't tell me you were up all night again?" here we go. Shinso rolled his eyes and flopped back on the couch, bracing himself for the traditional scolding by the resident father figure of the class "It's not good for your- what....why...?" Shinso felt a smile crack through his scowl s he heard the fridge being opened "Why do the eggs look like that?"

 

Chapter Text

"Stop it! You'll break him!"

"Dude, that's just creepy..."

"Hey, give that back, you can have this one!"

What the? The cacophony of noise that hit Midoriya's senses as he left the lift had his hackles raising and his fists rising. Were they under attack or something? He rushed out of the lift, nearly stumbling on the slight raised step. He raced down the short hall and skidded around the corner, heart pounding. Then he froze, blinking at the scene.

Half of the class were in the kitchen- fighting over eggs. Sato was desperately fending off Uraraka and Ashido, while Sero was sneakily reaching for the packet. Kaminari was gleefully evading Jiro in the lounge room, clutching a pair protectively to his chest, while Mineta was next to Sero, complaining loudly "Serooooooo all the good ones will be gone! Hurrrry up!"

"Oi, you little perv! Hands OFF Momo!" Sato had just noticed Mineta lunge for the egg packet and yank one free. The bigger youth lunged, but the purple-haired menace was too quick.

"Ha! Nice try- but no hogging!" the dimunitive youth darted backwards, not noticing Midoriya standing there until he literally ran into his legs "Oooph! Midoriya!" he leapt back, holding the egg close, eyes narrow with suspicion, looking the green-haired youth up and down "Go and get your own." He scampered away, Sato hot on his heels, apparently giving up on guarding the pack in the kitchen.

"What's going on?" Midoriya asked, totally bewildered, watching the pair charge around the lounge room.

"I was gonna ask you the same thing." Midoriya looked beside him, seeing Kirishima watching with wide eyes, his normally spiky hair flat around his face "Why is everyone fighting over eggs?"

Midoriya crossed the room, ducking out of the way as Jiro tried to use her earphone jacks to seize Kaminari's treasure. Uraraka and Ashido were bickering over the carton still "You can't have both of them!" Ashido cried, trying to grab the other girl's hands "You've already got the one Midoriya- lemme have this one!" what?

"No way! You'll just break him like you did Kirishima!" Uraraka declared, leaping backwards, almost bowling into Midoriya and Kirishima.

"Um, guys? What's going on?" Midoriya almost had to shout over the racket "Why are you fighting over the eggs?"

"We're not." Ashido stomped her foot "We're fighting because goody-goody here won't let me have the Midoriya one! She's already got the Iida one!"

"I told you- I'm not breaking up the Dekusquad!" Uraraka spun and literally ran from the kitchen "You can have the Bakugo one!"

Midoriya watched in stunned amazement as the pink girl snarled and scrambled after her "Heheh, dude, check this out." He turned around to see Kirishima inspecting the egg packet. The remaining dozen or so eggs were relatively undamaged but.... "These are actually pretty good." Kirishima plucked one free "Look, they even got the scowl!" Midoriya stared at the bold, black picture on the egg. Bakugo's face scowled back, intricately drawn with amazing detail.

"That's Bakugo's face. On an egg." He said dumbly "Wait..." he looked back at the rest. Sure enough, the majority of his class were represented in minute perfection, on their own individual eggs.

"Hahah!" Kirishima's gravelly laugh continued "They're fighting over us!"

"Well, not you, sorry." They both jumped a foot. Sitting in the back corner of the kitchen, up on the bench with her legs swinging, was Hikari. She was wearing the same black shirt as last weekend, CAFU in big white letters. Instead of white jeans though, she was wearing torn up black ones "Mina dropped yours, Kiri." She continued brightly "Which was a shame; it was one of the better ones." she nodded at the floor near her bare feet, and sure enough, the sad remains of a broken egg lay "She wanted to have a funeral, but then Kami stole her egg, and then Jiro's. Mina was going on about the 'Dekusquad' attending the funeral, but then Uraraka pinched the Midoriya one. And now..." she gestured sadly at the two girls still fighting "The dirge is yet to be sung." Her eyes sparkled merrily.

"Wait, there's one with my face?" Midoriya yelped, spinning around to see Uraraka vault the couch with ease, hands balled.

"Yup. There's an Aizawa one too- although I think Iida took that one."

"Hahah these are really cool!" Kirishima was still examining the eggs "Hey, there's one of you too, Hikari!"

She snorted, and jumped off the bench, approaching them "Mine sucks. I look like a gremlin."

"Nah, that's Bakugo's."

As more people wandered downstairs, the insanity grew. Midoriya ended up hiding on the kitchen with Kirishima and Hikari, watching and laughing at the madness. Kaminari tripped over the invisible Hagakure, and both of his eggs got smashed. Jiro was devasted, and the electric blonde was accosted by both girls. Mineta had managed to get outside with Momo's egg intact, but Sato and Sero were hot on his heels. Ashido had managed to get Uraraka to give up Iida's egg, but she resolutely refused to say why she wanted it in the first place, instead giving a truly evil smile and disappearing back to her room. Tokoyami and Shoji were horrified at the whole affair until they saw their own eggs were unattended on the bench, and they hurriedly saved themselves. Ojiro thought it all was hilarious, and quickly joined Sero and Sato in trying to catch Mineta. When Momo herself appeared, she stood in frozen shock at the sight of chaos until Hagakure explained why she and Ashido were sitting on Kaminari, and why three of the boys were hunting Mineta outside. At this point, she rolled up the sleeves on her sweater, and went out to holler at them for 'disturbing the peace'. Todoroki was impressed his egg had the scar on the correct side, although a little disappointed at the blank expression.

"Who's left?" Kirishima asked through tears, checking the nearly empty carton "Oh no, Tsuyu hasn't saved hers, and nobody wants Bakugo!"

"I'll take Tsuyu's!" Midoriya managed to gasp out, trying not to hiccup with laughter. He'd not laughed so much in ages! "Wait, Hikari's egg is here still too!" Kaminari looked up from his 'prison', horror on his face.

"Hey! No-way do you get TWO girls!" he hollered "'Shima! Stop him!" he flailed under the weight of his two captors, but he was still laughing too hard to really put up a fight.

"Awwww what about poor Bakugo?" Kirishima picked up the last egg "Look, he's all sad-angry!"

Hikari was literally doubled over with laughter, but she shuffled over and took it from the red-head "Oh, man! Dandelion even looks angry as a baby chicken!" nobody corrected her.

"WHAT the HELL is GOING ON?" speak of Kacchan and he shall appear. Midoriya tried to stop laughing as the blonde stormed into the living area, looking like he was ready to kill someone. If he had expected people to respond, he was sorely disappointed "Why are you all fighting over EGGS?" he roared.

"They're not eggs!" Uraraka yelled from the ceiling, having activated her Quirk to escape the carnage, her 'Midoriya' egg intact still "They're precious and must be protected!"

"Heheh look, Bakugo! See, they've got our faces." Kirishima showed him Tsuyu's egg as he approached, his expression murderous "There's one for everyone in class!"

Bakugo stared at the egg held in Kirishima's trembling fingers "You've got to be kidding me. You're all fighting over eggs, with faces on them?!" his voice got louder with every word.

"It sounds dumb when you say it like that- but hey! Yours is ok; Hikari has it." Seeming oblivious to the literal steam coming off Kacchan's hands, Kirishima hiked a thumb at the dark-haired girl howling with laughter in the kitchen, holding a single egg.

"Hahahah, look! It's got the same expression as you do!" the new girl showed the egg. Midoriya recognised the crazed look in Kacchan's eyes even before Kirishima.

"Hikari, run!" he wheezed, as the blonde literally exploded over the bench at the new girl.

Shrieking with laughter, Hikari leapt away, diving out of the kitchen as Bakugo slammed into the cupboards "GET BACK HERE!" Hikari scrambled away, darting and weaving, feet barely touching the ground as she made her escape out the open door, charging past everyone with Bakugo roaring on her heels.

That got everyone's attention. Gasping for breath, Midoriya and Kirishima stumbled out into the cold morning, almost not feeling the brisk air as they watched Bakugo bowl through Sero and Sato, who had finally seized Mineta "Ah hell, he's gonna kill her, isn't he?" Kirishima was still laughing.

Midoriya thought it was a possibility. Hikari kept just out of reach, leaping and bounding, bare feet sure even on the icy, snow dusted grass and courtyard. Her face was screwed up with mirth and mock horror "But Dandelion! Isn't fighting over eggs dumb?" she slid under a garden bench as Bakugo roared, swiping for her. She darted up and away "Why are you trying to kill me anyway? Go and squash Midoriya's egg!" well, that was uncalled for.

"GIVE ME THAT EGG!"

The whole thing ended incredibly abruptly. Kaminari managed to get free of his captors, and bolted outside. Hikari had just executed an amazing dodge. Kaminari slipped on the icy steps and fell comically, legs everywhere. Hikari didn't see him until too late, despite her frantic scrabbling, and ploughed straight into him, slamming to the ground hard on her ass. Bakugo howled in triumph, and lunged for her. She yipped in terror and tried to get back up, but Kaminari slipped in his own efforts and ended up swiping her feet out from under her. She threw her arms out instinctively to stop from falling, and the little egg flew from her grasp.

Time seemed to slow as everyone watched the egg fly across the yard. Bakugo leapt for it. He missed. The egg hit the iced pavement with a sickening crack, and smashed.

Silence.

"Well, now we have to have a funeral for Bakugo too." Uraraka said, floating at the top of the doorway.

Reality hit like a sledgehammer. Midoriya realised just how bitingly cold it was outside. His hands were cramping, and the familiar fire in the nerves of his wrists and forearms flared painfully. Everyone scrambled back the warmth of the dorm, complaining of numb feet.

"Dibs not cleaning up." Kaminari called.

"They who broke them, clean them." Momo said firmly, but she was still grinning.

"Who the hell drew all the faces, anyway? They weren't there when we went to bed." Sato was saying "Shinso, you were out here first thing- did you anyone up super early?"

Midoriya glanced Shinso. His eyes were tired, but warm. He'd laughed even harder than he and Kirishima. Midoriya had never seen his cheeks flushed like that before "No. I didn't see anyone."

"Hey....who put Mineta's egg in the trash?"

 

Chapter Text

The morning couldn't have gone better. I hadn't predicted that everyone would fight over the eggs- I'd just thought it'd be funny seeing all them react to seeing the faces themselves. The whole debacle had been comedy gold! I felt all warm and fuzzy, seeing them all laughing so hard they could hardly stand; even the glum one I'd spent the early hours of the morning with had red cheeks.

I will admit, the finale had been accidental as well. I had not meant to land on my ass in snowmelt. When Sato had asked Shinso if he had seen anyone fiddling with the fridge early in the morning, I'd nearly flinched- but his reply was flawless, and technically correct. I wasn't up super early- I'd been up super late. Small difference, but it mattered.

I mentally crossed 'Egg Faces' off my Operation Levity task list. I'd add mission notes; mainly that despite their PTSD, they all seemingly had a sense of humour. That meant some of my more daring plans could be undertaken. It also looked like I might have an accomplice, if not simply an advisor. Seeing as all of my plans would be undertaken in the grave hours, Shinso could potentially be my wingman. I'd originally intended to keep it all a secret- but it was somehow funnier if one of them was in on it. Who better than a grim looking insomniac who apparently came to the party of class A late, so to speak? I'd have to find out was his Quirk was, it might come in handy.

***

Another fire user. It was strange, and also strangely familiar. The only difference was that Hikari was about as different from anyone else Todoroki had come across with her type of Quirk as possible. Sure, some of the fire-types at his father's agency weren't all grave, arrogant, emotionless vacuums, but none of them had anywhere near the 'fire' power he and his father had. And that wasn't even mentioning Dabi. Todoroki had silently assumed it came with the territory- to be slightly emotionally unbalanced. He knew himself he wasn't exactly 'normal' in that department.

But then there was Hikari. She was literally the opposite to them. She was almost energetically manic, ridiculously upbeat and mercurial in personality. In one moment, she would be almost child-like; laughing at the smallest thing, and the next she would look at whoever was around her with a calm, calculating expression. Although, there was never anything cold in her gaze, and she was always quick to grin, smirk or smile, even if it did seem a little predatory at times.

Her movements were almost like dances, especially when in combat, which she took to with an enthusiasm only Bakugo could rival. He had watched closely ever since she had displayed her Quirk in that first Training session, and even when flouncing around the kitchen, her motions were the same- fluid and efficient. And then there was her control over her Quirk. The blasts of flame in Training were nothing overly special- apart from the colour. He and his father seemingly had more raw power- Endeavor could fly after all, but he was unsure his father had the control he'd seen the girl demonstrate. The way she had manipulated her fire to cook last night... he'd never seen anything like it before. She hadn't even been touching the flames, and she could command them effortlessly. Was her ability partially telekinetic?

He looked down at his left hand. He had gotten immeasurably better and more confident in his own control over his left side and his flames, but still.... Maybe she would be willingly to explain how she could control it so well?

The rest of Saturday passed in the usual blur of a weekend. He found himself sitting on the couch after dinner (surprisingly uneventful after last night and that morning), with most of the rest of the class watching a movie.

Kirishima had chosen it, which meant it was an action movie, and most definitely American. The girls had made faces until they'd recognised the actor, and then had been surprisingly eager to watch it as well. Seeing as it was also a 'Superhero' movie, most of the guys had been happy with the choice. When Todoroki had admitted he'd not seen any of the Batman movies, he had been seized and forcefully seated between Kaminari and Kirishima, as they declared he was not to be trusted out of sight. He supposed this meant they thought he would not pay attention if not carefully watched.

What had become a tradition of movie nights on Saturdays, was slightly different this time. It turned out Hikari was a verbal enthusiast along with Kaminari and Kirishima. The two guys were infamous for making sarcastic comments or scoffing at things that happened on the screen, something everyone ribbed them for extensively. But movies they themselves chose were special; they were above criticism as far as Todoroki understood it. Even Shinso knew better than to critique their precious action movies, after one entertaining evening last year.

So when Hikari spoke in the middle of the moving death scene of the main character's parents, breaking the solemn quiet, he wasn't the only one shocked "Why is it, everyone but the 'mains die instantly of gut wounds? I mean, c'mon- you get at least five minutes."

Without thinking, Todoroki responded "I think it has something to do with building...emotion."

"Yeah, but it's totally unrealistic-" she was violently shushed by Kirishima and Kaminari, and went silent.

For another ten minutes at least "See, now, his father's dead- why would he care if his kid whacked the guy that offed him?" she didn't even flinch when Kaminari hurled a handful of popcorn at her.

"I don't think it's considered very 'heroic'." Came Shinso's dry remark from the darkness of the other long couch.

"No shit- but neither is snacking on hallucinogenic flowers." She started eating the popcorn she was covered with "Besides, 'heroism' seems overrated to me, half the time."

The silence that met her was almost stunned, not that she seemed to notice, lazily hunting for more popcorn in her hair "What do you mean? It's manly as! It shows he isn't willing to stoop to their level." Kirishima was the one that broke the strange quiet.

"Yeah, but how much drama would've been saved if he'd just shot the git? Same goes for most of these Hero movies. If they just necked the villain first time around, how much time and bloodshed would they save?"

"I take it you're a fan of the Deadpool movies, then?" Kaminari joked, apparently forgetting the law of silence during a movie.

"Damn right, I am."

"But he's more of an anti-hero. His morals aren't exactly.... Above board." It was Midoriya who spoke this time.

"What, and Batman's are? He breaks bones for shits and gigs- do you know anything about the Healthcare system in America? He's dooming those poor plebs to lives of poverty and disability." It was a fair point, when Todoroki thought about it. Come to think of it, Bakugo would probably agree with her observations.

Silence fell for another long stretch. Todoroki wondered if the others were thinking about what Hikari had said, or were simply trying to watch the movie. Then the fighting started "See, now, if I brained you like that- not you Kiri- you'd be a dribbling idiot, then go into a coma and die. But no, this muppet keeps on dancing"

"He is American; maybe their skulls are inherently thicker." Once more it was Shinso.

Hikari seemed to think about it for a minute "Ok, I'll give you that. But I've hit Americans.... all you get is a meaty thwack-" Ashido choked on her drink "when you smack them, and then they drop like sacks of crap. OH! like that guy."

"Will you shut up? How is Todoroki supposed to take this seriously with you two talking smack?" Kaminari complained. Todoroki tried not to smile.

For their credit, the pair stayed quiet until the end of the movie "I've always wondered what I'd see in that fear fog stuff." Hikari mused out loud "I mean, the stuff I'm scared of wouldn't manifest particularly well."

Shinso snorted "Same."

"What're you scared of?"

"The coffee jug running empty." Uraraka barked a laugh.

"Fair. Although, it could be like Ghostbusters, and a giant empty jug could run after you trying to kill you."

"What're you afraid of?"

Hikari drummed her claws on her chest, illuminated by the screen "What, apart from the Shadow Monster?" Midoriya chuckled "Maths tests."

"Wait, what? You're scared of Maths? C'mon, this is a serious question." Shinso teased. Since when were the two so familiar? Todoroki hadn't thought they'd said a word to each other since last Sunday when he'd introduced himself to the new girl.

"Bite me- ok, fine! I reckon I'd see... a giant, angry looking pig, coated in caramel, pledging vengeance for all his mates I've eaten, coming at me with a claymore."

"Why caramel?" for his part, Shinso didn't burst out laughing like Kaminari did.

"Have you ever tried to get the stuff out of your hair? I literally just shaved it all off. Not something I want to revisit." She said fervently.

"Hang on, how did you get caramel in your hair?" Ashido asked cautiously.

"Well, I was playing this drinking game, and Nat dared me to- oh look! I wonder if Dandelion should change to special effects for a career? At least his explosions would be 'manly'."

"Can I please film you telling him that?"

"Speaking of McSplodey Face- where's he at? I thought he'd be all over these kinds of movies."

"Bakugo likes his beauty sleep." Todoroki bit back a chuckle at Ashido's answer "I swear he's an old man in a teenagers' body."

"Seriously? He's in bed at nine pm on a Saturday night? What a waste of youth."

"I wonder if they thought about if the gas was flammable?" Midoriya remarked thoughtfully, changing the subject tactfully "What do you think, Todoroki? Would you be game to use your flames in that smog?"

Hikari rolled her head back so she was looking at them upside down as Todoroki answered, looking at the screen carefully "I don't think I would, no. Judging by the consistency, I'd assume it was either mildly flammable, or it would suffocate my fire completely. There is also the fact that it would blind me and everyone around me- fog can be dangerous with bright lights as you know." One memorable driving experience was enough to ban Midoriya from sitting behind the wheel of a car until he took lessons.

"Hang on!" Hikari rolled over properly, propping her hands up on her elbows "You can use ice and fire? So that's why you smell like smoke!" her eyes were bright with excitement "That is so cool!"

The movie totally forgotten now; Todoroki felt his ears burn "It is?"

"Well, yeah? I've never heard of a duel-elemental like that before. Sure; water and air, fire and earth- but never opposites."

"Todoroki is super good at it, too." Uraraka spoke up, still watching the movie "I don't know how you do it- swapping between the two all the time. I'd get so confused."

"For sure." Hikari agreed "I honestly didn't pick you for a fire elemental." She said, looking him up and down in apparent appreciation from her weird angle.

"What do you mean?" Kirishima asked "The red hair doesn't give it away?" Todoroki resisted the urge to remind him his hair was also red. He frowned slightly- Hikari didn't have red hair at all.

Hikari waved a hand at the other red-head "Nah; most of us I've met are like me- squirrels on Red Bull, with anger management issues and the inability to think anything through." She sounded so cheerful and sure in her evaluation of herself! More than a few people laughed at her description. It was certainly accurate in her case- although she never seemed angry "You're all cool and collected- definitely an ice elemental on the surface."

"Hah! You should meet his dad." Mineta joked from his lair between two of the couches "He's got the cool and the anger management parts down pat!"

"Can someone squash the grape?" Ojiro used his tail to shove his single seat couch closer to the long one, effectively trapping the tiny idiot "Thank you."

"Hang on, is that the one that looks like he's run through a tar pit and then tried to light a barbeque?" everyone looked at her like she was from another planet, although the choked snorts at her description of Endeavor's appearance were nearly universal.

"Dude, don't you know who Endeavor is?" Sero actually sounded a little hoarse.

"Ummmmm nope? I assume he's a pro?" she pushed herself up into a sitting position, crossing her legs "I never really paid attention to who was who, back home." Someone who didn't know who the Pro Heroes were? Todoroki wasn't sure if he was shocked or relieved. Maybe she hadn't lingered on their introduction last weekend because of his name?

Midoriya was actually making squeaking, horrified noises "Someone pinch Deku- I think he's gone into shock." Shinso drawled "Sit tight, Hikari- this lot feel strongly about Heroes."

And Todoroki thought his introduction to 'pop culture' was sudden and brutal- it was nothing compared to how the entire class swooped on the startled exchange student.

 

Chapter Text

Monday came quickly after a comparatively tame Sunday. Everyone still chuckled occasionally at the events of Saturday, especially when the food delivery arrived and there was an extra carton of eggs included. Nobody knew who had been responsible for the strange incident, but whoever they were had apparently been prepared enough to replace the lost supplies.

Midoriya wasn't sure if it was a good thing the eggs had been replaced- it meant the incident had been planned, at least to a degree. It wasn't unheard of for pranks to be carried out in the dorms; it was inevitable with that many youths with so much spare time and creativity- not to mention boredom, would get up to mischief. The usual culprits were the members of the 'Bakusquad'- Kaminari in particular, usually with Sero involved. But this didn't feel like their work, not to mention they were as artistic as a pair of Labradors.

But Sunday was quiet, and Monday morning was bright and cold. Midoriya winced as he flexed his hands in his pockets, walking with the rest of the class towards the gym. Cold mornings were always the hardest on his damaged hands. The nerves felt like they were on fire, and he could barely form fists, let alone write or punch anything. Heat helped- he usually had reheatable wheat packs he could fit in his pockets, but he'd forgotten to replace them after they'd burst last time he'd been on patrol for his internship. He'd been slammed by a Villain with a hammer Quirk; he'd been lucky his fingers weren't all crushed...again.

Everyone was complaining bitterly about the cold- except for Hikari. Once again, as the rest of them trudged along, snuggling into their jackets, she scampered through the snowdrifts off the path. She still refused to wear anything more than her blazer, and she hadn't bothered with the thick woollen stockings the other girls wore either. Even Todoroki had mittens on today, admitting it was too bothersome to constantly try to balance his temperature with his Quirk.

Midoriya wasn't the only one jealous of the girl's apparent immunity to cold. When Kaminari convinced Shoji to sling ten big handfuls at the skipping girl, even Bakugo guffawed when most of them hit "Oi! What was that for?" she yelped as she frantically ruffled her mane of curls "Shit! It's down my bloodydamn top!" she desperately untucked her messy shirt and yipped as more snow fell out "You suck!"

"I thought you didn't feel the cold?" Midoriya asked as she re-joined them on the path, still plucking at her shirt. Kaminari was still laughing behind them.

"Oh, I feel it." She said, her normally pale cheeks were flushed "It just doesn't bother me if I keep my core temp high."

"What do you mean?" he seized on her answer "You can control your temperature?" that's what she'd been implying, surely?

She made a face, as though she regretted letting that slip "Pretty much." She lifted a hand, snow crusted on her claws. All of a sudden, her pale skin started to steam gently, and the snow melted immediately "Damned handy in winter."

"What did you mean; 'the cold doesn't bother you if you keep your core temperature high'?" Todoroki had caught up to them, his tone curious "Midoriya said you don't overheat. Does that mean you can get too cold?"

She looked between them wildly "What is this- the Spanish Inquisition?" Midoriya felt his cold cheeks flush, and he kicked himself "Bloodydamn too bright for your own good, you know? You got me- again." She huffed sourly and blew an errant curl from her forehead "I don't 'overheat', I run out of heat."

"What, if you use too much fire?" she never seemed to care about being cold; what else could cause her to 'run out of heat'? Midoriya barely noticed nearly everyone else in the class had fallen silent, all listening intently.

"Yeah. Or if I get injured, or if I get tired, or too hungry."

Realisation dawned "Is that why you eat so much? Your metabolism is linked to generating body heat after all- it makes sense you would need more to fuel it than other people." Once again, Hikari's eyes widened at his insight "Sorry." He looked away "I really need to stop doing that..."

She laughed, but Midoriya could tell she was nervous "Yeah, if I don't eat enough I burn out- literally."

"So, lemme get this straight, you can adjust your body temperature at will? That is so cool!" Kirishima had quickened to match their pace "It's kinda like my Quirk! I can harden to different degrees, and in different places. Do you have like, a 'normal' temperature?"

Hikari's face had gone from wary and almost anxious, to sheepish, her usual smirk slowly coming back "Normal as in, what I keep it at usually? Or what it is naturally?"

"Wait, you're not normally at your 'natural' temp?" the red-heads' eyes were wide, and even Midoriya started.

Hikari shook her head "Here, this is what I keep it at while I'm around you mortals." She seized the red-heads' right hand, and Midoriya's left with her other. Her skin was warm, exceedingly so- almost feverish. Her hands weren't soft like they looked- he could feel the callouses along her palms. But she was so warm! Immediately, he felt the pain lessen in his own hand "And this is my natural temperature." The increase was not instant, but rose as though her blood was steadily boiling under her skin. It got uncomfortable quickly, then painful, until it was like holding something molten.

Midoriya finally yelped and ripped his hand free. Kirishima was still holding on, grimacing slightly, and he could see the tell-tale ridges of the other's Quirk. Hikari's smirk widened to a true smile "Damn. Not many can stand that." She gently pulled her hand free.

Kirishima held up his own, and Midoriya blinked at the slight darkening of the rock-roughness of his exposed palm "Almost couldn't. I can see why you turn it down though."

Hikari nodded, somewhat ruefully "I forget about it sometimes; I've ruined so many clothes."

"And you manage that level of control at all times?" Todoroki sounded incredulous "Isn't it exhausting?"

She looked at him and shrugged "I'm used to it."

Midoriya was still mulling what she'd said earlier over as he flexed his left hand, his fingers no longer stiff and sore after the heat treatment "But if it takes more energy to function in the cold, and it's dangerous if you get too cold; why don't you dress more warmly? Surely it would conserve energy and be less of a risk?"

Bright blue eyes looked at him shrewdly "Why don't people wear full length wetsuits at all times at the beach in summer, if you're more likely to get skin cancer? It might be dangerous for me to get cold, but I enjoy the feeling all the same."

 

The gym was heated, thankfully. They all bustled in eagerly, sighing in relief at the blast of warmth "Get changed quickly; I want to get started immediately." Drake was already there, standing at ease on the blue mats. He had already ditched his jacket, and was wearing the same military style pants and boots, except this time his tank was dark red. Looking him over, Midoriya still couldn't get any more of a read as to what their newest teacher's Quirk was. Maybe Hikari would tell them if they asked really nicely?

The girls still had to guide Hikari towards their changerooms- the girl was still baffled by the system.

Reassembled, Midoriya was glad to see he wasn't the only one eager for the lesson. The usual Monday morning grogginess was nowhere to be seen; everyone was wide awake and hyper alert, tense even.

"As I mentioned last week, today we are moving forward with basic hand-to-hand I showed you. The ultimate goal of this course is to allow you to switch from your usual fighting style using your Quirk, to a style that does not rely upon it." Midoriya had suspected this was the case. The Quirk-erasing bullets the Yakuza had developed were still fresh in his memory, even over two years later. And then there were Quirks like Erasers'. It would be invaluable to be able to still function if the worst was to happen and their Quirks to be taken or disabled- unexpected as well "Today, the Villain will be able to use their Quirk as they see fit to either keep the Hero at bay, or to get them on the mat and 'disabled'."

Todoroki raised a hand "Are we to use any means necessary to defeat the Hero?"

"Within reason- I'd rather not have to explain why the gym burned down." Drake flashed a fang in his grin "I think a demonstration is in order. Hikari."

"Dude, why am I the punching bag?" the girl whined, stepping up "Just cos you don't know anyone else's name?" she bounced on the balls of her feet, rolling her shoulders as she joined her countryman on the mat.

Drake didn't deny her accusation "I choose you because you irritate me." Bakugo snorted "Any volunteers?"

Of course, Kacchan didn't even put his hand up "I'll do it." He stalked up onto the mat, scowling already.

Drake clapped his hands together "Ah! A re-match. And I heard you and one of your classmates have been training this week past- I expect a good show." Drake nimbly side-stepped the explosive blonde as he moved to take position opposite the dark-haired girl "Hikari, you shall be the Villain."

"Restrictions?" Hikari asked, flexing her clawed hands as Bakugo sank into a ready stance.

Drake seemed to consider it for a minute "Defence only." Hikari's face soured further.

"Cut my feet off too, why don't you."

Drake took a place next to Midoriya, and turned back to look at the pair, crossing his brawny arms "Three minutes- starting now."

The pair both exploded into motion. With a roar, Bakugo charged. The moment he started rushing forward, Hikari leapt backwards, and swiped out with her right hand. Black fire screamed to life, surging in a blindingly dark ark out from her motion, streaking towards Bakugo's head. Bakugo ducked, rolling and then leaping up after the flames travelled onwards. Hikari didn't waste an instant though. The second her flames missed, she dropped, lashing out with a familiar kick, sending another band of inferno towards her opponent. As soon as the fire left her foot, she was up and dancing sideways, and slashing down with her left hand and arm, a new wave of fire searing like a great black cleaver through the air on top of the wave at foot level. Bakugo leapt the lower flames easily, and darted around the second. Hikari didn't stop though. As though assuming Bakugo would evade these attacks, she flowed into another, and another, all the while striving to keep distance between the two, her body seeming to sink into a strange dance.

The heat from the constant streaks of fire reached the onlookers quickly, and several of them moved back nervously. Drake didn't move from beside Midoriya however, and after a nervous moment, he saw why. Despite the heat, the fire never came closer than a few meters; seeming to be sucked away by an invisible force before they vanished. Understanding flooded Midoriya's mind, and he looked on in awe. Despite how fiercely she was concentrating on staying out of reach and maintaining a constant stream of defensive blasts, Hikari was stopping her own flames from hurting the onlookers.

Todoroki's stunned expression caught his eye. The dichromatic youth seemed to have realised the same thing.

***

Bakugo couldn't get close. Every time he thought he had gained ground, or the girl hadn't moved fast enough, a torrent of raging black and white fire forced him to dodge and lose precious momentum. The heat alone was exhausting as it was exhilarating. He was sweating so badly his hair was sticking to his forehead, and his palms crackled involuntarily. One blast, that would be all it would take to close the distance and get past her defences...but no. He would win this fair and square.

Gritting his teeth, he darted forward, feinting a right jump, falling left at the last second, never taking his eyes off the hard, blue gaze of his opponent. She had stopped smirking, her face fallen into an almost expressionless mask of concentration. He remembered what Deku had caught earlier- if she used too much fire she got weaker. How much was too much? He was starting to doubt he could wear her down. Despite her childishness, he did remember she had apparently worked with pros- it was unlikely she was a total idiot.

The feint worked, almost to his surprise. She sent a blast of flames to her left, dancing to her right, dropping down to use a low attack again. But he knew that move. She might be fast, but she had a pattern, and he was learning it. He cleared the lashing fires easily, rolling on landing, and found himself inside the circle she had defended so strongly.

Her eyes flashed as he snarled in triumph, but instead of looking worried, she bared her overlong canines in a fearsome grin, and a familiar glint shone in her bright eyes "I got you NOW!" he rushed in, forcing her to step back as he finally launched his own attack.

His fist nearly connected with her stomach, but at the last possible second, it was batted away. And it burned. It took half a second to register what she'd done and adjust for it. Instead of throwing fire, now she'd simply let it linger around her fists and forearms. Her PE uniform quickly caught fire, and she effortlessly ripped it off without pausing in blocking his next jab, leaving her in a plain blank tank. He didn't let that distract him from his next push forward, remembering not to let her dictate the pace. Both of her pale arms flickered and danced with black fires now, and every time she blocked, pain flared from the heat. He was distantly grateful for his own destructive Quirk, and his years of hardening the skin on his hands and arms to withstand the force of his explosions.

"You're fast." She breathed, almost too quiet for him to hear, batting another jab downwards and away. Her hair had fallen from the stupid bun she'd lazily put it in, and her black hair whipped around as she moved, still trying to put distance between them. Her every motion was timed, fluid- almost like she was dancing- it was obvious she knew what she was doing.

"Don't patronise me." He snarled back.

"I'm not." She backed away under his onslaught, his height and weight giving him the advantage "Stop leading with your shoulders." Again, it was almost too quiet for him to hear "You're not moving your feet enough."

He snarled at her criticism "Don't tell me what to do! And stop holding back!" he knew Drake had said something about 'defence only' to the Leprechaun.

"Move your feet more, and I won't have to!" she growled, narrowing her eyes as she sidestepped a kick he threw out.

"FINE!" Bakugo darted forward, not stopping as he lashed out again and again, drawing up everything he'd learned from sparring with Shitty-Hair all week. He spun and feinted, getting far closer this time, never letting his feet linger in one spot for too long. In response, Hikari's movements got even faster. Finally, finally, he managed to land a hit. He let her block a jab with his left, but followed it up with his right elbow, straight into her diaphragm.

A furious hiss sounded, and her blue eyes widened as breath left her lungs just like it had back in Hero Training last week.

The flash of triumph was brief however, when he felt a vice-like grip on his shoulders. Her eyes never left his as she sank her claws into his shoulders, hands still on fire. A wild look filled her eyes and she flashed a smile that wasn't a smile, before she literally ripped him off the ground. He felt his feet leave the ground, and he immediately, instinctively released his Quirk.

With how much he'd been sweating, the explosions weren't small. His body tensed, expecting to be ripped from her grasp. But he wasn't. The grip tightened the instant his power activated, and then he was hurling through the air- the wrong way. Instead of going backwards like he'd intended, he was thrown upwards, and then down, backwards over her shoulder. Hard.

 

Blackness threatened as his skull bounced on the training mats, despite the padding "Shit." He heard a curse distantly. Gritting his teeth, he groggily fought past the confusion and fog, blinking hard. He was staring straight up, into a pair of stupidly blue eyes, tight with concern. It took a second to realise what he was looking at "You right?" the Leprechaun asked, actual worry in her tone.

"M'fine." He growled, and tried to sit up. His head throbbed horrendously, and he had to close his eyes to stop the world from spinning. Ignoring he pain, he forced his eyes back open and glared at the girl sitting on her haunches near him. The rest of the idiots had started to move over to him, all looking concerned "What're you all looking at? Fuck off!" the world was clearer now, but his ears were ringing fiercely.

Hikari gracefully stood and stepped away, but she never took her eyes off him as he staggered to his feet. Everything hurt; but nothing more than his shoulders. Ignoring the questions and demands to check if he had a concussion, he gingerly reached up and touched the new holes in his PE shirt. His fingers came away bloodied. He raised an eyebrow, looking back at the now quiet girl amongst the clamouring extras. She blinked slowly at him, and that damned crooked smile came back, showing over-long canines once more.

"Damn, dude! That was intense!" Kirishima almost went to clap him on the shoulder, but paused at the last second when he saw the gleam of blood "Ah, dude, I think you're bleeding."

"It's nothing." He snapped, trying not to yell unnecessarily. The world wasn't spinning anymore, and his heart rate was slowing, but he was almost deafened by the ringing.

"Do you need to see the nurse?" Drake hadn't rushed over like everyone else, but his face was solemn.

"No." he replied shortly. There was no way he was seeing the nurse for this. He shoved his way back towards the edge of the ring, pointedly ignoring everyone, heading for his duffel and waterbottle. He hadn't realised how thirsty he was until he'd stopped moving. Draining it quickly, he let himself think about what had happened. He'd lost- again. He hadn't expected her to be so fast- or strong. And then there was her bloody Quirk- even Endeavor couldn't throw his fire around so accurately, especially while moving around so much. His shoulders throbbed as he moved, and the wetness was starting to annoy him, but he wasn't taking his shirt off yet.

He was more bitter about the loss than the injuries. He knew it was stupid to think he could master a new style in a week, especially when he insisted on fighting someone who had used it so much more, but he couldn't help it.

So, he stood on the sidelines, arms crossed, watching the stupid Leprechaun facing off Kirishima- apparently, she hadn't even needed a break. He only now noticed just how toned her bare arms were, and the tattoo that wound around her upper left one. He scowled fiercely as he replayed the match. He'd done everything right; get up close, keep the pressure on- where had he gone wrong? He'd landed a hit that should've winded her enough to make her pause, not get all handsy- clawsy. And that look in her eyes, she'd almost seemed excited that he'd managed to land a hit. Why? Because he'd followed her stupid advice?

He was dimly aware of another presence moving to stand near him "I'm impressed." The British drawl didn't even make his head turn as he continued to glare at the now laughing female, who was neatly dancing up to Kirishima in his hardened form.

"With what?" he grumbled, biting back an insult "I lost."

Drake glanced at him, not having to look down at all "You landed a hit." Like it was a big deal. He gestured to Bakugo's arms "Despite that." Bakugo looked down and cursed under his breath. His forearms were red raw, and starting to blister "Here, this will help." Seemingly from nowhere, the pale Brit pulled out a blank white tube, and shoved at Bakugo's chest , who made no move to take it "Either you put it on, or I send you to the nurse." Then he walked away, and Bakugo nearly fumbled the tube as it as dropped.

Scowling, Bakugo looked down at the tube. Gritting his teeth, he opened it up and sniffed the grey-looking stuff. It wasn't... unpleasant. Gingerly, he squeezed some out on to a finger and cautiously rubbed it into his forearm. He hadn't even noticed he was burned until he spread the weird paste over the red skin. The flare of pain was instant, but brief. He hissed, tensing, until suddenly, it didn't hurt anymore. Carefully, figuring it mustn't be dangerous, he coated both of his forearms and knuckles in the stuff, the small pain nothing compared to the relief after. Once his arms were done, he tried it on his shoulders, reaching down through his collar. Again, immediate relief.

Heh. Figured the Leprechaun's teacher would have a burn cream handy.

 

Chapter Text

"Dude, you've got insane control over that fire of yours." Kaminari gushed as Nat called an end to the training session.

"Indeed. To show such situational awareness as well as maintaining combat efficiently is something you should be proud of!" Iida had been sparring with the electric blonde, and he had been eyeing me with new appreciation since the match with Dandelion had ended.

I squirmed under the praise "Nat said not to burn the place down." It had become second nature to me; ensuring my flames dissipated once they were beyond their target. Unless we were in open combat I had to be very careful- there was a reason Nat and I usually only worked as a pair. I had a well-deserved reputation for collateral destruction "Er- Mr Drake, that is."

Too late; the stupid smart youths picked up on my slip of the tongue (I did say it was inevitable) "Hang on, Nat? You have a pet name for your teacher?" Ashido looked like she wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or squeal. She clapped her hands together in glee "Wait! Is he the Nat you were saying dared you to put caramel in your hair?"

"What's going on?" Midoriya and Uraraka joined us as we started gathering around the aforementioned vampire.

"Hikari calls Mr Drake Nat." Kaminari smirked "And he's the one that dared her to-"

"He didn't!" I barely refrained from snapping "He dared me to-"

I was interrupted by Kirishima's low whistle "Damn; you sure you don't need to go to Recovery Girl?"

"No. They're nothing. Drake gave me something." The gruff reply drew my eyes. Dandelion had moved to join his redhead friend. Sure enough, his forearms were smothered in the too-familiar grey paste of nanite burn cream. I couldn't hide my wince. Even though I'd fought to reduce the heat in my flames, they were flames. I should never have used them once he'd gotten through my defences...I'd been too worried about making sure he didn't think I was holding back. His fiery eyes flashed to meet mine briefly as I mused, and they narrowed into a glare.

"Well, the bleeding's stopped, at least." Kirishima tugged at the blonde's shoulder, shifting his slightly ragged PE gear. If I'd felt guilty about the burns, the reminder of the other damage I'd caused had me biting my tongue. Dandelion irritably batted the other's hand away, but I saw the bloody puncture marks along his brawny shoulders flash under the reddened PE uniform. I dropped my gaze from the youth's blood red eyes, cursing myself anew.

"I must say, I am disappointed." I looked up at Nat, seeing him eye us all coolly arms crossed as we finished assembling before him. Like a psychic wave, the strange, almost elated atmosphere the students were all bathing in, was washed away. The excited chatter of those who'd been eagerly discussing their own smaller matches, and how different it was to fight either using a Quirk against someone who was not, or vice-versa, died away to be replaced with mild shock.

"Sir?" Iida was confused. So was everyone else, except me. I was annoyed, and hungry.

"Except for Kirishima and Bakugo, it is painfully obvious none of you gave last week's lesson a second thought." The vampire towered over everyone despite the fact more than one of his students trumped him in height. At his words, they all wilted further, apart from the two he had mentioned. It was true- nobody else had trained or mentioned the hand-to-hand. I'd barely noticed to be honest, and I hadn't really expected Nat to care. Guess he took this lesson at least a little seriously "I accept this course is unconventional. But I also expect you to accept that your future careers will be equally unconventional. I should not have to explain the importance of this training; seeing as most of you have experienced Quirk erasure at least once in your lives." More than a few of them flinched and dropped their gazes "Therefore, next week, I will be asking Mr Aizawa to implement his own Quirk at random, while you fight." A ripple of shuffling ran through them all "In the meantime, I expect you all to prepare." He waved us off, turning away in apparent frustration.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes as everyone moved away towards the changerooms, all but two heads hung low in chastisement. I lingered, ignoring the questioning glances thrown by Kami and, surprisingly, Shinso. Nat glanced over his shoulder at me "What?" he asked in Common, his face once more smug now the kids were gone. He could deny he had enjoyed that all he liked; I knew him too well "Nice throw- I thought young Bakugo had you there for a moment."

I glared at him, and stalked over, jabbing him in the chest with a claw "Don't make me fight him again." I growled, having to tilt my head up.

Nat raised an eyebrow "I thought he did well. And you looked like you were enjoying yourself."

"That's besides the point. I can't hold back with these kids." Hadn't he seen how close that had been to a serious fight? "They're too good- I'll hurt them."

Nat looked at me thoughtfully for a moment "That is exactly why you should fight them." He raised a hand to cut me off as I opened my mouth angrily "Do you honestly think they've never been injured in training before? You live among them; do they come across as fragile?" I closed my mouth "I didn't think so." He stepped around me, and patted me on the head "If it makes you feel any better, next time they'll be the ones allowed to use their powers."

I growled to myself once more as my partner waltzed off. I hated it when he was right. Still, I was more than slightly worried; I didn't think my friend realised just how hard it had been not to take that little match seriously- and I had nearly lost control at the end. Between my growing battle-lust, frustration at only defending and Dandelion's mind-scrambling scent...it was a miracle I hadn't partially Shifted. I truly hadn't meant to sink my damned claws into the youth. I shot a filthy look at my fingertips. I regretted not organising for my glamour hide those, too. Bloody stupid idea, keeping them.

Sullen, I stalked towards the changerooms. The girls all chattered happily, apparently already recovered from the bout of melancholia after Nat's 'stern' words. I did my best to contain my irritation as I wrenched open my locker- a little too hard. The door bounced off the one next to it, the noise making everyone jump "Everything alright?" Uraraka asked, cocking her head at me.

"Peachy." With effort, I dredged up my usual smirk.

"I didn't realise you had a tattoo." Mina had come up behind me, already dressed. I could feel her eyes on my bare arm "What does it say?"

How they hadn't noticed it before was beyond me- it wasn't like this was the first time they'd seen my wearing so little. Instinctively, I glanced down at the armband of ink "An old nordic prayer." Like I was gonna tell them what it actually said. I pulled on my school shirt, not bothering to take my tank off- wasn't like I'd gotten sweaty.

Leaving the changerooms, I was immediately accosted by Kami and Midoriya once more, followed closely by the half and half elemental. They'd already asked about my tattoo today as well, surprised and excited to learn that yes, it was permanent (ish) "Man, I'm HUNGRY!" the electric blonde declared, slinging an arm over mine and Mina's shoulders "I bet you are too, hey?" he grinned at me "Keen for recess?"

I shrugged (I was ravenous) "Not especially. I was wondering, can one of you point me to the support workshop, if there's one? Before next class?" it was almost like I'd broken out in song and dance, if the shocked looks were anything to go by.

"Wait....you're not hungry? After using your Quirk so much?" I could practically see the gears turning in Midoriya's fluffy head, his huge green eyes wide.

"Who are you, and where's Hikari?" Mina joked from Kami's other side.

I rolled my eyes "Seriously, I can wait until lunch. The support room?" they didn't need to know that I'd barely stretched my legs as far as that little display of power had been concerned.

"I'll show you where it is, I wanted to ask for something anyway." Shinso's drawl came from behind us. I craned my head to look at him, flashing him a grateful grin. My partner in crime's lip twitched in response.

We managed to detach ourselves from the group at the cafeteria. I ignored my complaining stomach, resigning myself to a grumpy second class, and walked in companionable silence with the purple-haired youth deeper into the main building of the school "The eggs were funny." He said finally, the remark casual and off-hand.

"I thought so." We rounded a corner, devoid of students during the break in classes.

He didn't say anything else, until we reached a heavily reinforced door with a sign above it reading 'Development Studio' "Here we are." He reached out and knocked, before shoving his hands back into his jacket.

Before he could even step back, the door was thrown open "CUSTOMERS!" a bundle of boobs and pink hair, wearing what was almost a steam-punk getup burst out, eyes wide with excitement "PLEASE tell me you need something EXTRA special?"

"Hatsume! What have I told you about scaring people off? Get back in here and leave them alone!" I recognised the Hero and faculty member from the super brief personal portfolio Nat had forced me to read; Power Loader was smaller than I'd thought he'd be. He waited impatiently for the buxom girl to withdraw, complaining loudly about her creativity being stifled "How can I help you....?" he asked us, more kindly.

I couldn't see his eyes, but his bearing was friendly enough. He smelled like freshly turned earth and mechanical grease "Kurai Hikari." I supplied.

"Ah, the exchange student! I was wondering when we'd see you. Your costume arrived this morning- want to look it over before taking it? We can make alterations onsite, within reason." Shit, that'd been fast. I'd only emailed Aizawa the design on Friday night.

"I'll come back after school this afternoon, if that's cool. Kinda in a hurry."

"Ah, yeah, I forgot it's only recess. What can I do for you now?" he seemed almost disappointed I didn't want to try on my costume.

"Have you got a belt sander, or bench grinder I could borrow super quickly?"

If he was surprised at the odd request, he didn't show it "Sure, at the back left there." He stepped back and pointed down the length of the surprisingly neat workshop.

I dipped my head and sauntered down the room, eyes taking in the impressive array of tools and machinery. I wasn't surprised had they this much stuff onsite- especially seeing as they offered adjustments to the kid's costumes. I'd have to tell Nat about it; he'd have a field day with some of this stuff. I reached the area where most of the bench-mounted power tools resided. I could vaguely hear Shinso discussing something with Loader about a distortion mask, but my attention was on the belt sander I'd spotted. With practised ease, I flicked the on-switch, and the familiar screeching hum started up. I watched the belt speed up, and I cranked it to full-power. Once it was racing along, I grit my teeth, and shoved my right hand claws against. Shuddering, jarring pain shot up from my fingers, my bones vibrating and complaining. A weird burning smell filled the air as the sander ground at my rapidly diminishing claws

"What are you doing?!" Shinso and Loader, alerted by the smell I suspected, rushed towards me.

"Just fixing a problem." I bit out, shoving my other claws against the belt.

"Stop! You're hurting yourself!" Loader lunged for the emergency off switch, and the machine immediately started to power down. I huffed in annoyance, but the work was done. I examined my fingers, ignoring the sounds of horror coming from Loader, and Shinso's wide eyes "Why...why would you do that?" the adult sounded aghast.

"It's not a big deal- fuckers will grow back in a few days." I shoved my hands into my blazer pockets, hiding the damage "If you don't mind, I'll come back on Friday, before school." I smiled brightly "Thanks!" and I left, Shinso stumbling after me in shock, the teacher speechless.

***

Hikari beat everyone in the school to the lunchroom after second period. She didn't wait for anyone in her class, using her strange speed to dart through the hallways unerringly. Midoriya soon saw why.

She had skipped collecting a lunch tray, and instead, after apparently speaking to Lunch Rush himself, had simply grabbed one of the whole deep-panned dishes of beef stir-fry, bodily carrying it to their regular table. Speechless, their usual group all sat down around her, their own meals nearly forgotten.

"I guess you were hungry." Kaminari choked out eventually.

Hikari, eating surprisingly neatly for once, glanced up from her trencher, and shrugged.

She went to take another scoopful, using a spoon rather than chopsticks. If Midoriya hadn't had such sharp eyes, he would've missed it entirely "What- what happened to your hands?" he lunged, oblivious as she jerked in surprise, and the exclamations from the others. He seized her right hand with uncanny speed, and held her fast. His eyes wide, his own hands trembling, he gently twisted and turned the girl's shockingly warm appendage this way and that "Hikari... what happened?" the others could see now, as well, and they'd all gone quiet again. Where before class, her slim fingers had ended in sharp, shell-coloured claws forming from the nail-bed, now each digit looked like they had literally been ground off and away. The pads of her fingers were dark purple with bruising, and the claws themselves nothing but rough, rounded stubs.

She deftly pulled free, and resumed eating "Just got rid of a problem." She said lightly "S'all good- they'll be back to normal in a few days."

Speechless, Midoriya just stared at her. She ignored them all, focusing on her food. Why had she done it? Is that why she'd asked to go to support? To grind her claws away? What could possibly have made her do that? The answer came quickly, to his mental chagrin.

After the fight with Kacchan this morning, she had been strangely subdued. She had still smiled and laughed, gave advice and helped with their strange new lesson, but she had kept her hands in her pockets and her eyes lacked their usual warmth. But what had happened? Sure, she'd grabbed him, and yeah, she'd punctured his skin- surely that wasn't enough to shake her so badly?

Unable to help looking at her abused hands, Midoriya thought maybe it was.

"Oh-ho! What's this; class A still getting special treatment?" Monoma had appeared, out of nowhere as usual. The youth had changed since First Year- but not by much. He was taller, still blonde, and still infuriating. They'd worked together in joint-class exercises a handful of times, and Midoriya knew he could be decent on occasion, but he still loved to dig at class A whenever the opportunity arose. Midoriya supposed it was fair though- seeing as Shinso had made it his personal mission to do the same in return "Why is it, the promised, delectable beef stirfry was all claimed before lunch even truly started, hmmm?" he looked down his nose at their table, eyeing Hikari with marked interest. Midoriya suppressed a sigh- he supposed it was inevitable the other classes would venture over and try to get a read on the newcomer, but he had hoped it would be Kendo or someone more...palatable.

Hikari looked up from her now nearly finished meal, swallowing deliberately "Well, it was either this or one of you lot- I chose the meal that required the least work." She pointedly worried at a canine with her tongue, dancing her spoon between her battered fingers.

Monoma noticed her injuries instantly though "Seems even the beef put up too much of a fight." He mocked "Why'd they put you in the A class if you can't even catch lunch without such bloodshed?" he snapped his fingers, scornful features lighting up "Oh! My bad- I almost forgot, self-destructive tendencies are a prerequisite for UAs' top class."

Hikari frowned "I can't tell if you're trying to insult me, or compliment me."

Shinso chuckled "I don't think he does either."

Hikari brightened "Oh, a simpleton! I'll remember to speak slowly from now on." She went back to scraping the last of the beef from the steel bucket, apparently dismissing Monoma entirely, the blonde looking at her in confusion.

"Just walk away, Monoma; you're not equipped for this battle." Shinso drawled.

 

That afternoon, after Hero Law, Midoriya visited All Might. It had been a while since they'd had some time to catch up- the former busy with school-work and his internship. So when he knocked gently on the staff-room door, and entered, he was pleased to see his mentor relaxed and drinking what smelled like freshly brewed tea- sitting with their new foreign teacher. As he stepped into the room, Mr Yagi was leaning back, laughing harder than Midoriya had ever heard him laugh before.

And, sitting across from him, slung across the couch like a teenager himself, Drake smirked. Midoriya blinked. The adult looked like he could be a male version of Hikari, their grins were so similar, right down to the over-long canines "It's really not that funny." He was saying, bemused at his guffawing colleague "I thought it was a little tacky, myself."

"But, why eggs?" ah. Midoriya had wondered if that story had travelled. He wondered how Drake had heard about it. Reluctantly, Midoriya cleared his throat.

Drake raised an eyebrow "We have a visitor." He nodded at the youth "After me, or Yagi?"

"Ummm." Midoriya rubbed the back of his neck. Now that the opportunity had arisen.... "Kinda both? I-I mean I wanted to talk to All Might, but seeing as you're here, Mr Drake..." he tried to make his tongue behave itself, mentally bashing his thoughts into order.

"What's up?" Drake didn't sit up, still sprawled on the couch, boots up on the coffee table "Has that muppet of mine burned something down?" All Might started choking on his tea, and Drake's smirk grew.

Midoriya shifted on his feet. It felt wrong, somehow, telling on Hikari's actions, but still...something could be wrong, and he liked his new classmate enough to care for her wellbeing "Um, no. She uh, I think she went to Support after this morning's training session and used some sort of power tool to 'de-claw' herself. Her fingers were all bruised and bloody and her claws were practically gone. I think it's because she hurt Kacchan, even though he's been hurt way worse in other sessions, I think she feels bad about it." He clapped a hand over his mouth "Sorry."

All Might looked pained, no longer laughing, but if Midoriya had expected Drake to be worried, he was mistaken. His teacher sighed and let his head loll backwards over the top of the couch. He muttered something in English, but Midoriya didn't catch it. With effort, the older man brought his head back forwards and rolled his eyes at the other two's worried faces "She's a drama queen. Don't worry, kid. They'll grow back in a few days. Just ignore her- she'll bounce back."

"What Mr Drake means to say," All Might broke in "is it's nothing to worry about."

Midoriya frowned "How is it not? She hurt herself- surely that's something to worry about?"

Drake looked at him for a moment, and Midoriya once again felt like he was looking at a male Hikari- despite the darker eyes, the same almost predatory evaluation emanated from the gaze "Fine." He said after a moment, and looked away, the strange spell broken "I'll check up on her." He abruptly stood, the motion sharp and fast "I'll leave you two to it." Then he was gone, flowing from the room with a swish of his black trench coat.

***

Bakugo resisted the urge to shudder in relief as they got back to the dorms after dinner. The cold morning had never warmed into a nice day- autumn was definitely on it's way out. He stomped his shoes, trying to shake off the worst of the snow-slush before he took them off to bring them inside.

"We training again tonight?" Kirishima was already inside, not bothering to try to gouge off the frozen mud, rolling his shoulders as he shrugged his jacket off "I gotta say, I could use a break!" good. He hadn't wanted to admit it, but his shoulders were still killing him, and he'd been fighting a fearsome headache all day- a combination of the near constant ringing in his ears as well as from the blow he'd taken on impact with the mat that morning. His pride alone prevented him from seeking out the nurse during lunch.

"Fine. But only for tonight." He warned, taking his own jacket off, trying not to wince. The weird paste stuff had helped, a lot, but his arms still hurt as well.

"Still up for study, though?"

"Duh. You'll fail that stupid class otherwise, dumb-ass."

Kirishima grinned happily at him "Kaminari's coming too tonight." Bakugo scowled. Just what he needed with this headache- dunce face Pikachu and his stupid questions.

Alone in his room, he carefully tugged off his shirt, and inspected the damage. Just beneath both collar bones, there was two puncture wounds. The skin around them was inflamed, but the wounds looked smaller than they had immediately after class. Twisting, he sought out the rest of the marks in the mirror. Just over the edge of his back, lined up with the front marks, there were four distinct matching marks on both sides of his body. They didn't hurt more than nasty bruises, but he couldn't but feel grudgingly impressed. The chick was hellishly strong, to be able to throw him around like she had. He wondered what sort of pro work she'd been part of wherever it was she was from. Looking down at his arms, he started peeling off the paste. It had hardened into a weird, gel-like, second-skin and it came off relatively easily.

To his pleasant surprise, the skin beneath was nearly totally healed, only slightly bruised from his blocks of her physical blows, not her flames. Whatever was in that paste was pretty good.

Pulling a hoodie over his head, not bothering with a shirt, he ambled back downstairs, briefly scowling as he left the lift, seeing most of the rest of the class were spread throughout the common area. He stomped over to the fridge, hunting his orange juice. Snatching it up, he cast around for the two morons who needed help with their homework. Kirishima he spotted chatting with Sato, books on hand. Good. Kaminari on the other hand... his scowl deepened when he spotted the blonde imbecile sitting on the couch with Pinky and the Leprechaun. Heh. They could start a band with that name lineup "OI! PIKACHU! You've got thirty seconds- or I'll never help your sorry ass ever again!" he stomped away, not bothering to see if the others had gotten the message.

Back in his room, he watched as the other two spread their shit out on his floor "How're your shoulders?" Kirishima asked, settling his English textbook out across his knees, sitting cross-legged.

"Oh yeah, they must still hurt, right?" the two of them looked at him with actual concern on their faces.

Bakugo snorted "No. They're fine."

"I think Hikari felt hella guilty." Kaminari started chewing on his pen "Have you seen her hands?"

"What do you mean? What happened to them?" Kirishima tilted his head, eyes wide "She looked fine when she was helping me out this morning."

Bakugo had meant to ask what they'd been talking about after their fight- the redhead had jogged his memory. Hopefully some useful tip or weakness he could use next Monday... "Well, at first break, she asked for someone to take her to the support department, and Shinso volunteered." Interesting, he hadn't thought the purple-haired Mind Fuck had really interacted with the newest weirdo "And we think she used a grinder to like, grind her claws off!" Kirishima gave a strangled groan/gasp "I saw them at lunch, it was gnarly, dude- I was amazed she could hold a pen in English and Law."

"Why the hell would she do that?" Bakugo growled, interested despite himself "Fucking moron."

Kaminari shrugged "Like I said; Midoriya reckons its cos she feels guilty." About using them on him? "Apparently they'll grow back." He added in afterthought.

Kirishima gave a low whistle "That's intense. Surely she knows all our training is that risky? Hell, she broke Iida's face last week."

"Dunno. Maybe she thought his helmet would save his nose."

"Shut up and start working." They dutifully obeyed, used to his brusque orders, leaving him in silence to stew over their words. He idly massaged a shoulder. Had the stupid girl really gone and ground her claws off because she'd used them? Weren't they part of her Quirk? What sort of messed-up mindset lead to that?

The next morning, Bakugo paid closer attention to the female. She looked like she was back to her stupid, annoying self, laughing at Pikachu's dumb jokes and prancing around in the cold, but she kept her hands in her pockets, almost pointedly. When they got to class, he watched as she finally withdrew her hands to take out her notebook, and cursed under his breath. Her fingers looked like she'd bashed the tip of each digit with a sledge-hammer, and her curving claws had been roughly ground down until they were nothing but rounded numbs in her nail beds.

He found himself agreeing with Pikachu- how she could stand to hold a pen, let alone dance it between the abused fingers, was unreal.

So was the fact she'd done that over something so stupid as breaking someone's skin in training. Hell, she'd done more damage with her stupid fire! Watching as she cackled at something Pinky said, Bakugo started re-evaluating when he'd assumed about the weird new kid.

 

Chapter Text

Monday night I found a Dremel kit on my bed, with a note from an irritating vampire: "Use the correct tools for self-mutilation, and DON'T involve overly helpful baby heroes!" Awwww, he did care. I let the note vanish in a puff of ash and smoke in my palm, and eyed the kit briefly. If I was determined to keep myself clawless, this was certainly a more elegant way of doing it.

After catching a few hours of sleep, I found myself wandering back downstairs, mission notebook in hand. To my pleasant surprise, I exited the lift and saw that the tv was indeed on, the volume super low. As I silently padded towards the lounge, I spotted the familiar mess of purple hair.

Shinso didn't stir as I gracefully vaulted the back of the couch, and curled up on the opposite end, instead mindlessly glued to the cheesy sitcom on the screen "I think you freaked everyone out." He remarked after a moment. I didn't need to ask what he meant.

"Dunno why- not like its permanent." I opened my notebook and gazed at my to-do list.

"I think it was more the causal brutality of it."

"Less brutal than mauling classmates."

Shinso looked at me, eyebrow raised over tired eyes "Have you met Bakugo? The maniac would probably like some new scars."

"I'm not wallowing in self-pity, if that's what you all think." I frowned slightly "It's more of a worry having the damned things than not- so I got rid of them. Now I don't have to think about them all the time."

The youth shrugged, turning back to the tv "Suit yourself. Just don't be surprised when 'Dandelion' asks for a rematch next week." Knowing Nat, the kid would get what he wanted too "What you working on, anyway? Going to do faces on 3B's eggs next?"

"Nah, got something new in mind." I showed him the page I was working on, trusting my crude diagrams would make up for the fact I'd been writing everything in runes rather than English or Kanji. I couldn't help my smirk as his eyes widened and a smile of his own bloomed on his weary features.

"When do you plan to do all this?"

I leaned back, looking over the page thoughtfully "Saturday night, I think. Don't wanna mess with classes- yet."

The chuckle that came from the purple-haired youth was borderline evil "Let me know if you want a hand."

Perfect. I looked at him slyly "If you're looking for a life in crime; I have another idea, one slightly less involved, but probably just as rewarding. I was gonna wait until after the weekend, but if I have an accomplice who knows the place better than I do...." I trailed off suggestively.

Shinso didn't even hesitate "Why not- not like I sleep anyway."

And then we were two.

***

Tuesday passed without incident. Midoriya wasn't sure why that was remarkable, but it was. Maybe he was nervous because he'd come downstairs at the literal crack of dawn, and found Hikari and Shinso deep in conversation, still wearing their clothes from the night before. When he'd asked if they'd slept at all, both had blinked owlishly at him, Hikari slowly hiding a notebook under her tshirt as though she thought he might not spot it. They'd looked as innocent as Mineta.

Wednesday rolled around, and everyone eagerly waited for the final lesson block- as they always did on days Hero Training fell. It wasn't like every lesson had them fighting or attempting gruelling challenges, but they were almost universally outlets for everyone to vent or just cut loose after tedious hours of mind-numbing theory. Midoriya loved the theory, even the less interesting parts, but like everyone else, his heart started to race as he pulled out his hero gear.

"What do reckon we'll be doing today?" As usual, it was Kirishima practically bouncing on the spot near the door, already in his Hero gear, waiting for the rest of them to finish getting dressed.

"Pretty sure I heard Aizawa say something about search and rescue practice." Sero replied, slipping his helmet on, and then popping the visor up "It's been ages since we did that stuff."

"That's cos it's boring. I mean, I know it's important, but I wanna use my Quirk!" Kaminari shrugged his jacket on, and adjusted his ear-piece as it was jostled "It's been ages since we did any combat stuff, too."

"I feel like we got enough practice with that stuff last year." Ojiro remarked dryly, flexing his tail "It was practically every lesson."

"Last week was fun, hopefully we can do more stuff like that. Maybe they'll bring in cars or something; give us some real mobile Villains to chase!"

"Pffft, Mineta, you didn't even see any of the Villains last week- why would you want another speed related lesson?" Kirishima scoffed. It was a good idea though; and it would be incredibly useful training to have- maybe Midoriya should suggest it for one lesson?

"Man, if we're doing combat stuff, I hope Hikari's hands hold up." Midoriya winced at Kaminari's words. True, two days after, the girl's fingers looked almost normal; even if her claws were still ground back almost entirely.

"Well, maybe she shouldn't have done something so stupid." Kacchan growled, fitting his final gauntlet on "Seriously; what the hell was she playing at?"

"Guilt is a powerful emotion." Tokoyami said seriously, wisely.

Kacchan snorted "There was nothing to feel guilty about- how many of you extras have drawn blood in these damned exercises? She'd better harden up." He stalked out of the changeroom, Kirishima hot on his heels as always. Nothing had changed there since First Year- except maybe there was less name-calling.

This time, they all assembled near one of the huge pre-built urban arenas- similar to the one they had used the previous week but much more advanced. The buildings here soared well over ten stories in some cases.

"They don't do anything by halves, do they?" came an impressed observation. Midoriya turned, to see Hikari and the other girls approaching.

Kaminari whistled "Wow- looks like your Hero gear turned up! I like!" Shinso snorted, but Midoriya was in full analytical mode, barely hearing the electric teen's words as the new girl approached.

She wore mostly black- although from seeing her usual casual attire, there was little surprise there. Her hair was pulled up tightly, although a few curls still escaped to brush her neck and forehead. That was the only normal part of her appearance. A jagged, black mask, not unlike Kacchan's covered the upper half of her face, making her vivid eyes seem to glow. She wore a close-fitting, leather-like jacket, but her right arm was bare from the shoulder, while her left was covered to the wrist, continuing down to her middle finger and obviously under her palm. Her left shoulder bore jagged, black armour, and by the way it glinted in the sun, he knew it must be metal in nature. Her strange top was also very...short. He wasn't unused to seeing his fellow female classmates in revealing garb- Momo's costume was revealing by necessity, but this felt deliberate. It rode above her navel, revealing a toned form, it's zipper ending high under her throat. A dark purple, triangular length of material dropped from her hips at her front a back, coming to her knees almost like a loin-clothe, except jet-black, tight-fitting pants sat beneath it, ending in military style combat boots that reached half-way up her calves. On her hips, were two silver and black handles, holstered in sturdy leather braces.

"It's not bad." She said as she reached them, rolling her shoulders "They wouldn't let me have my sword though." She pouted forlornly "Apparently you lot don't believe in lethal force." Midoriya wasn't sure if she was joking or not, but Shinso's second snort made him suspect she wasn't.

"You look badass, dude." Kaminari flicked her armoured shoulder "Why just the one shoulder?" They all wordlessly started moving towards the entrance to the training ground.

"I really like my tattoo."

"Hang on, you have a sword? Did you use it, back in Ireland?" Iida looked utterly gobsmacked.

Hikari blinked, her black eyeshadow making her eyes vanish for a moment "Sure. Only good Villain is a dead one."

Ok, now Midoriya was sure she was being serious. Were things really so different on the other side of the world? He hadn't considered how laws regarding Villains might be contrary to those of his homeland- All Might had never said anything about it during his time in America either. Did Hikari's words mean killing enemies was preferred to arresting them, where she came from? And if that was the case....his mind flashed back to what she had said during their last movie night, regarding how long it took for someone to die of a stomach wound. Had she...had she killed someone? Deliberately? If so, how could she be so blasé talking about it, and then do something so drastic as use a bench grinder to de-claw herself for breaking a classmate's skin? It didn't make any sense.

"Oh hey, I wanted to ask, what's your Hero Name?" Mina had linked Hikari's unarmoured arm with her own, the pink girl a stark contrast to the comparatively gothic foreigner in her blue and gold leopard print leotard.

Midoriya's dark train of thought was interrupted at the question, and he perked up "Oh yeah! We should probably tell you all of ours too." He grinned at the girl, whose eyes had gone wide.

"Hero Name?" she cocked her head "What, like your callsign?"

"Dude...do you not have Hero Names where you come from?!" Kirishima had caught them up as well, his face aghast in his head-gear. Even Kacchan, who'd followed his friend at a distance, looked intrigued, not even maintaining his customary scowl.

Aware she'd apparently caused some form of consternation, the dark girl cringed under their stares "Kinda, not really? I mean, we have codenames..." it must be so different!

"Wait, is that why you didn't know any of the Pro Heroes?" Midoriya spoke, drawing her bright gaze "Do you not have Pro's back home?"

Hikari rubbed the back of her neck "Not really- at least, none that I knew of. I was more of the... underground type, I think that's what you call it here. I never paid attention to the flashy ones."

Kaminari and most of the other guy's eyes went wide "No wonder you know all that grungy combat stuff!" Mineta said, hands on his hips "Why do all the hot chicks have to like violence so much?"

"Well, what was your codename then?" Kirishima continued to press the original point, red eyes eager.

She blinked again, looking hesitant, and dropped her gaze "I don't wanna use that one, not here. Can I pick a new one?"

Why wouldn't she want to use her old one? "Sure." He did his best to smile brightly "Some of us here have changed our names since we first started school, too."

Uraraka snorted in her helmet "Luckily. I don't think Aoyama could have fit his on a nametag before." A chorus of laughter sounded, and Hikari's grin worked its way back on her pale face.

They reached the doors as Hikari tapped her chin thoughtfully, her blunt claws still disconcerting "I think I'll be... Cinder. 

 

Chapter Text

The training ground that was the Urban setting never failed to impress. Shinso would never forget the first time he had seen it, two and a bit years prior, at his entrance exam. He had known from the briefing beforehand that he had absolutely no chance against the robots they'd had to fight- so he had hidden. It had been a bitter experience, being passed over simply because his Quirk was not combat based, and he would be forever grateful for Aizawa helping him realise his potential later in the First Year.

So, he understood the awe the new girl felt as she looked around, eyes wide in her black mask. Yes, it was similar to the set up they'd worked in last week, but the scale here was immense. UA could house a decent population in the buildings they built simply for their students to knock down.

"So, what, they build this just for us to knock down?"

"Well, for some of us to knock down." Shinso corrected, and Midoriya shot him a rueful glance, his cheeks colouring slightly. He'd flattened an entire block at the start of the year.

"If you're all finished wasting our time, I'd like to get this started." Aizawa emerged from the shadows of the nearest building, looking as grumpy as ever, closely followed by the emaciated form of the former no. 1 Hero, All Might.

"What's the plan today, boss?" Ashido jumped to attention, slapping her forehead with the back of her palm in a horrendous salute "We're yours to command!"

The pro just looked at her with tired eyes "I don't get paid enough for this."

All Might chuckled at his side "It's a little funny." The gaunt hero, still imposing despite his obvious ill-health, looked over them all warmly "Today is something a little different. It will be search and rescue, with a twist." He gestured to the mock-city behind him "The one of the buildings on Main Street has been overrun with Villains. They are threatening to kill hostages as well as detonate a series of explosives in the complex and underground- effectively the entire block. They have made no demands. Your mission, is to save as many hostages as you can, save the building if you can, and arrest who you can." Shinso didn't miss the wordplay, and immediately recognised the nature of the challenge. Priorities.

He narrowed his eyes "Sir, has this got something to do with the new course we are taking with Drake?" he didn't bother raising his hand, and he ignored the startled looks of his classmates. Surely, if he could figure that out, some of them must have as well?

All Might's eerie gaze focused on him and the older man smiled warmly, if a little grimly "Well spotted. As Shinso so quickly noticed, this exercise is to help you develop decision making skills in impossible situations- something virtually impossible to practice in the real world. As most of you are working part-time with pro's on the streets now, these skills are vital. Unfortunately, they are usually only gained through experience...generally experiences that are to be avoided at all costs." He awkwardly cleared his throat at their overwhelming silence. Shinso frowned. It wasn't a bad idea. But the odds of the entire class agreeing on a plan of action were incredibly low- perhaps that was also part of the exercise? "Furthermore, in situations such as these in the real world, an entire city's worth of heroes would make their way to the scene, to offer assistance. For the good of the hostages as well as the safety of the rest of the civilians in the area, teamwork is as important in this exercise as anything else." More than a few people groaned, and broke out muttering amongst themselves.

"Quiet. You don't have all day- decide who your leaders are and make your way to Main Street. You have an hour to resolve the scenario or you all fail." Aizawa spun on his heel and slouched away without a further word. All Might smiled again at them, but then he too, moved away silently.

For their part, the class didn't erupt as they might have.

"Well, um, what do we think?" Midoriya spoke first, stammering as usual.

Hikari shrugged, her new armour glinting in the sun "Fucked if I know. Don't usually have to work with more than one other person so..." she shrugged again "I wanna hit the sewers if anyone fireproof wants to come."

Ashido wrinkled her nose "EW! Surely that would ruin your sense of smell?"

"Ah, but have you ever seen what happens with fire in pipe-lines?" the girl shivered with literal glee "I can guarantee the sewers will be clear sixty seconds after I enter them."

"That could set off any explosives, or kill any hostages." Iida pointed out "We need to determine which goals we are aiming for, before we split up or attempt any part of this mission."

"Four-Eyes is right." Bakugo growled, surprising everyone "It's that stupid Brit's theory in practice- we need to figure out what the Villains want- and then beat the shit out of them when we pretend to deliver it."

Hikari pointed at the blonde "What he said. Very Die Hard."

"So, we approach the building, determine their demands while teams move into position to neutralize any and all threats?" Todoroki cocked his head thoughtfully "We will need to scout the building first; determine how many teams are needed and who should be placed where."

Midoriya was nodding at the dichromatic youth's words "We also need to see what the Villains are- will they be robots? Or teachers like last year's exams?" a collective shudder ran through them all at those memories. Shinso still had nightmares about his final exam of the year.

"Recon it is then!" Kaminari clapped his hands together eagerly "Hey Momo, reckon you could make some of those wicked cool wireless radio things again?" sometimes, just sometimes, the famously dense blonde had some good ideas.

They decided to split into four groups from the start. The leaders were decided surprisingly easily, and the groups formed mostly what you'd expect. Shinso saw immediately the tactical issues, and he was sure at least Midoriya and Momo did as well, but like him, they decided it was useless arguing about groups with so little time on the clock. He found himself following Hikari to stand with what was fondly known as the 'Bakusquad', and consisted of Kaminari, Kirishima, Ashido, Sero, Hikari and Bakugo as the 'leader'. The explosive blonde had looked positively murderous when the new girl had practically skipped over with Kaminari "What the HELL? Why are you here?" he'd growled, ignoring Shinso completely as he ambled to join them as well.

Hikari fluttered her lashes at him "I want to set fire to things- figure you're most likely to let me." She was utterly unperturbed by his glower, and didn't look bothered in the slightest when he started barking orders.

Before the moved away, heading west as loosely agreed with the other groups, Shinso took quick note of how the others had formed up. Deku moved to circle East with Ingenium, Uravity, Todoroki and Froppy. That team wasn't too badly balanced. Momo led the next, moving dead North with Suger Man, Tentacole, Invisible Girl and Earphone Jack. The final group had decided to hit the sewers as Hikari had originally wanted to, and was comprised of Tsukuyomi, Tail Man, Anima, Grape Juice and Twinkles, as he was now known as. How they'd perform in the sewers, Shinso wasn't sure. At least they had Dark Shadow to fall back on worst case...

Shinso made a mental note to look at his own teammates as their hero-counterparts now as well- although he would have to make sure Hikari knew all of their Hero names. She wouldn't have a clue what was going on otherwise. Although...Bakugo was just as likely to have forgotten all of their code-names anyway. He shrugged mentally. At least Bakugo was descriptive in his name-calling, it wouldn't be hard for her to figure out who he was talking to.

Although being called 'Mind-Fuck' all afternoon was sure to get annoying. What a drag.

Thankfully, despite his pig-headed attitude, Bakugo was actually a half-decent team-leader. He made sure to travel in such a way that he didn't lose his less mobile teammates along their way, and he barely grumbled at the relatively slow pace. Shinso grimly assumed working on the streets with pro's and side-kicks had knocked at least a semblance of patience into the explosive teen's famously stubborn skull.

The rough outline of the plan went as such; each team would circle around Main Street, figuring out which building was locked down. They would then contact each other with the tiny in-ear headsets they all now wore and work out what the situation was exactly. It was from there they would work out the best course of action.

When they were a block away from the wide, main street (Main Street) that ran down the entire width of the mock-city, Bakugo had them pause "Tape-face, you go on ahead. Find which building they're in and report back." Sero nodded wordlessly, and launched himself silently into the sky.

Seeing as this was the first time he had actually worked with the class's most volatile member, Shinso was quietly impressed with this call. While extremely mobile, Bakugo's Quirk made him very loud- if they wished to catch the enemy unaware, he'd need to limit the use of his explosions as much as he could "Leprechaun- how good is that stupid nose of yours?"

"Eh?" they looked back. Hikari was defacing one of the prop-cars parked on the side of the street, using her blunt, but apparently still strong claw-nubs, to gouge marks in the paint "My nose?" Bakugo growled impatiently "Good up close and in small areas, less than good out here with no wind."

"So you're practically useless then." Bakugo rolled his eyes and turned back around, watching for Sero.

"Not like I could smell anything else, standing downwind from you, anyway." She muttered under her breath, and Kaminari snickered. That was right- Shinso remembered her saying something about Bakugo having an interesting smell. Was that why she was lingering so far behind in the group?

"Can you guys hear me?" Sero's voice came from within his ear.

Bakugo immediately answered "Loud and clear- what can you see?"

"They're in the fourth apartment building north of the bank- but Bakugo, they're not robots. It's the whole of class 3B. They just scattered the moment they saw me- I don't know where they went."

For a moment, nobody said anything.

"Well, that makes things more interesting." Bakugo's face nearly split with his savage grin.

 

Chapter Text

People often assumed I had issues with authority. These people were partially right. I had issues with people in authority who annoyed me. This was accomplished when they acted like they owned me, or I was somehow beneath them, or when their orders were stupid and demeaning. As I was an irritating individual myself, this meant that I regularly clashed with those 'put in charge' of me. But if the authority figure wasn't a prat, I was more than happy to do as I was told. I didn't like having to make decisions- I had impulse control issues and couldn't be bothered with planning past breaking down the front door. It was one of the reasons Nat and I got along so well as a working team- he loved strategizing and planning, while I liked hitting things and blowing shit up.

So when the youths instinctively split into defined teams with unchallenged leaders, I was more than happy to pick one and follow along. The fact that I chose Dandelion's team hung on two factors; he was the one most likely to let me set fire to things, and most of the teens I got along well with had all migrated to stand with him as well. I was pleased Shinso had come with- even though I got the feeling this was not his usual posse.

As we made our way to the location of our target though, I started to get restless. Dandelion had us moving methodically, carefully and considerately. All of these were good things, but it was all too slow for me. I started to get distracted, mainly by his scent. There was little to no wind in the miniature concrete jungle, but that meant instead of his intoxicating smell blasting me with every breeze, I was stuck walking through it as it lingered on the air after he passed.

I was tempted to run ahead, or to got to the rooftops and roam until I found the target, but I was trying hard to be a 'team player'. That didn't stop my feet from getting itchy.

So when Sero told us he'd found them, and that our 'enemies' were actually students from the other Hero Course, my grin matched that of our illustrious leader. Don't get me wrong, I still had deep-seated reservations about fighting these kids- my blunt claws were a constant reminder, but I couldn't help the adrenaline that started surging through my veins at the promise of combat.

Dandelion led us quickly towards the now known target, alerting the other teams to our discovery.

"Creati here, we've taken position on the roof of the bank next to the target- we haven't seen any Villains yet."

"Tail Man calling in, we've found the underground base- Tsukuyomi is ready to strike. We suspect Vantablack is down here though; we could take a little while."

"Deku here, we can see the main entrance- they've cut the power so we can't see in. I think most of the hostages are on the bottom floor."

I had no idea who anyone was talking about, but they all seemed to know what they were doing. I'd been involved in a handful of situations like these, but again, it had been just me and Nat, with the occasional extra. Nat would scope the place out, find the weak spot unerringly quickly, and cut me loose to punch a hole. He'd then back me up as a sniper while I cleared the levels. We rarely lost a hostage, and Villains rarely escaped, so it worked for me.

I somehow doubted these baby Heroes would approve of our methods though, seeing as the Villains we took out never got up again. And that was why I was slightly anxious about fighting these kids- I didn't take prisoners; lethal force was kinda my thing.

Despite this, I listened half-heartedly to the plan, which involved assaults on multiple fronts "We need to send a negotiator." Midoriya, apparently also called Deku, interrupted the planning "In real life we'd try to talk the Villains out of any rash action." I frowned. Toshi had basically agreed that this whole exercise was related back to Nat's lessons about priorities. That meant that this was meant to test out the kids abilities in figuring out motivations and goals of potentially insane people. Even though I left the planning of this sort of stuff to Nat, I had more than enough experience to notice when something wasn't adding up.

"Heh, just send Shinso in." Kami cackled, flashing a grin at the purple-haired member of our pack.

I cocked my head "Why?" my train of thought broken by a flare of curiosity.

"My Quirk lets me control people, if they answer a question I ask them."

I couldn't help my eyes going wide. That was...an interesting power. Was it like Mind-Breaking? "That is probably the sickest thing I've ever heard."

Shinso flinched like I'd hit him, his eyes hardening but not before I saw the flash of hurt, and the others all frowned, even Kami's normally cheerful demeanour shifting to almost angry at my words "What the actual fuck?" Bakugo looked like he was getting ready to hit me, his palms literally crackling with small explosions. Bloody hell, they were a protective bunch, weren't they?

"Ah shit, guess that term doesn't translate very well." I spoke quickly, holding my hands up "Where I'm from, 'sick' means fucking wicked, hardcore, badass- you get the idea." Slowly, almost too slowly, their hackles flattened, and I mentally kicked myself, and smiled painfully at my insomniac 'friend' "I've got a mate that can break into people's minds and control them that way, but it's a lotta work- your power sounds so much cooler." Nat would be insanely jealous.

Shinso still didn't look happy- there was still hardness in his eyes "Right."

Seeing as I'd already put my foot in my mouth, I decided to voice my other nagging thoughts "Um, seeing as you're all mad at me anyway- I wanna say I think this plan is stupid." My radio must have been on, because the opinions on my words were restricted to the people in front of me. I practically cringed under the onslaught.

"What do you mean?"

"I think it's a sound plan."

"Nobody asked for your opinion." The last one, predictably, came from Dandelion, who had turned his broad back to me.

I shrugged "Suit yourselves. I just reckon there's more to this than just fighting Villains for hostages before a building gets blown up- especially if Drake's involved." Radio silence.

Five seconds later, Midoriya's voice came from my ear "Why would that matter? We understand this is about learning how to prioritise."

"Yep. Have you worked out what the Villain's priorities are? Besides winning, obviously." Once again, radio silence. I resisted the urge to sigh. Damned newbies "Who are the Villains?"

"Class 3B." Kiri said slowly, his previous look of anger at me gone, replaced with confusion, Dandelion had turned back to glare at me.

"Cool. What do they want? Sure, they want to beat you, but what else?"

"They'd...want to humiliate us. We've always been rivals, and our class always beats them." Mina said, her black eyes thoughtful.

"You're saying we should be thinking about how 3B want to beat us, and why?" Todoroki's voice was just as toe-curling on the radio as it was in person.

I scrunched up my face. I didn't like this sort of stuff, psychological intrigue and all that "Think about it this way- what's the most humiliating way they could beat you-us?" if there was one thing I expected from people, it was being humiliated "I only met that Monoma weirdo the other day, but I get the feeling he'd want to rub our faces in a loss."

Dandelion's scowl had faded, replaced with a look of calculation. His red eyes hadn't left my face "How would you do it? If you were them?" his question took me by surprise, as it did everyone else. His usual sneer was gone- he was legitimately asking me.

I blinked back at him "If I were a Villain?" he nodded, his strange eyes intense. I shrugged "I'd have my crew remotely detonate the building, once all the Heroes were inside trying to save the hostages."

Once again, I was reminded these kids were training to be Heroes. I had not been. My past was not heroic. This meant I could think about things from a point of view they simply couldn't. This was one of those things.

"That- that's cold, dude." Kami sounded shaken, his normally cheerful face pale.

I made a face "Dunno if they'd think like that- but it'd be the easiest way to beat us."

"Did you catch all of that, Deku?" Dandelion growled, still staring at me.

"Ye-yes. I think I agree with Hik-Cinder. Sounds like something they'd come up with."

"I agree." I started. They took me seriously? "Nobody enter that building- start looking for their base in a nearby one- try the one directly opposite. Somewhere with a good view."

The next ten minutes were a flurry of activity. Instead of moving on the building containing the hostages, we started hunting our prey in all the buildings around it. I could tell it went against their natures, to ignore the hostages they were trying to save, but it showed they took me seriously- and by extension, Nat. Maybe the vampire's lesson wasn't a stupid one to try to teach? I took for granted the ability to think like the enemy.

My slip-up with Shinso now forgotten, Dandelion sent me and my purple-haired pack-mate to the pretend post-office three doors down from the supposedly bomb-rigged building. I was on hyper-alert, my every sense straining. I loped through the building, low to the ground, breathing in though my nose and out through my mouth, my jaw aching with the urge to Shift in the tension. Shinso followed silently behind me. I had barely noted he wore the same capture-tape Aizawa did, more intrigued by the half-mask he now had firmly attached over the bottom half of his face. It must have something to do with his Quirk.

The building was quiet- too quiet I thought. None of the lights worked, and as we moved away from the windows, we relied on my near perfect night vision. Our careful movements and my extra senses meant when we found the first look-out, we saw them first.

Without a word or hesitation, I pounced- acting on instinct. I bore the shocked youth to the floor with a dull thump, barely noticing the scales his bared forearms had sprouted as I slammed his skull into the floorboards hard enough to leave him out cold.

"Ground Zero, this is team Puppetmaster- we've found them." Shinso breathed into his ear-piece.

We were ordered to leave the building immediately- Dandelion said the heavy hitters would take them out. Part of me bristled at not being deemed a 'heavy hitter', but uncharacteristically, I bit my tongue. We fell back in silence, carefully retracing our steps.

We made it to the main entrance before the trap was sprung "Well, well, well- looks like we have some guests." It was a girl that spoke, standing tall and proud on the balcony of the second floor, looking down at us "Puppetmaster and...Leprechaun, isn't it?" she was tall, and had a strong build. Her hair was auburn and she bore herself with confidence. I couldn't smell anything special about her. I suspected she was the leader.

"Battlefist." Shinso replied dryly "Surprised to see us?" the girl only smiled in response. Huh. They obviously new about his power.

Ignoring his question, she spoke on, looking at me "Seeing as you're not a combat type, I think we're safe to assume your new little friend is." More people started to emerge from the shadows of the room, moving carefully, but purposefully towards us "I must say, I am a little surprised you didn't all go guns-blazing for the main building."

"Can I take them?" I asked my partner, not taking my eyes off the leader "Please let me take them."

"I don't think you can." He breathed back quietly "They are stronger than they look."

I half growled, half whined, the sound loud and keening as I flexed my clawless fingers "Phantom Thief mentioned your new classmate was somewhat odd. Seems class A is good at attracting less than balanced individuals." The girl smiled down at us "Guys? Take them out quietly, please."

Shinso looked briefly at me at her words "They called us psychos- go nuts."

I yipped, the sound not human, and surged into action as the other youths rushed us. I spun on one foot, and lashed out at head-height, sending a wave of black fire out in a screaming arc. I didn't pause to see if it hit, dropping to send another out at knee level with my foot. I dropped forward into a roll, and as I rose, I pulled the first wave of flames back towards me, and hurled it up at the leader. She snarled and jumped out of the way, but then I was moving again. I had no idea what these kids could do, power-wise, but I figured if they were too busy avoiding literal waves of fire, it would keep them from fucking with us.

 

Chapter Text

"Cinder and Puppetmaster have engaged." Bakugo growled at Mind-Fuck's report, but when the radio crackled and nothing further was said, he rallied himself. Trust the Leprechaun to find the enemy first!

"Dammit!" he snarled "Shitty-Hair, ON ME! Tape-Face, get Pikachu to the fucking building and use him to fry any remote detonators!" He didn't wait to see if they'd follow his orders, instead leaping for the window. He let a small blast loose, and the glass exploded outwards onto the street. They were three buildings up from where the Villains were supposedly based- it should only take a few seconds to get there, even if he had to throw Kirishima in the process to get there faster.

"Bak- I mean Ground Zero! Wait up!" Kirishima slammed into the ground just after he did "Shouldn't we wait for the other teams?"

As if his words summoned them, Deku flashed by in a blur of green "DAMMIT!" Bakugo launched himself after the nerd. There was no way he was going to miss out on pounding an extra from class B!
A building and a second away, the glass windows of the post office exploded outwards, the glass followed by plumes of black and white fire "TRY HARDER!" an annoyingly familiar feminine screech sounded, and then Mind-Fuck was leaping out backwards onto the street as well "HAH! you MISSED!"

Deku got to him first, Bakugo soon after "What happened? How many are there?" Deku was talking quickly, not taking his eyes off the building in front of him.

"The whole of class B, I think." Shinso was breathing hard, but didn't look injured, his capture scarf wrapped around his knuckles "Did you get the bombs?"

"Chargebolt is working with Earphone Jack to dismantle them." Deku said, tensing as further sounds of destruction came from within the building, practically glowing with his Quirk "Ready, Kacchan?"

Bakugo raised his gauntlets "The name's Ground Zero," he snarled "try to keep up!"

But before they could charge, a black figure hurled out of the darkened windows, smoke and flames following. The body slammed into Bakugo, knocking him to the ground "Motherfucker!" a familiar voice yowled, curly hair poked him in the eye, and he became aware the body on top of him was soft, and fucking hot.

"Get OFF ME!" he roared, and shoved the burning hot figure away, his clothes literally smoking.

"OW!" the Leprechaun staggered to her feet, hair loose and in her eyes, bare arm covered in small lacerations "The FUCK?! Who hit me?!" she roared, ignoring Bakugo completely, turning to face the window she'd just come through. She clenched her fists, and more black fire erupted around her knuckles, sinking into a crouch, as though readying to jump back into the fray "PUSSIES!" then she seemed to see who she'd landed amongst. She straightened, and her scowl fell back to her usual grin "Oh, hi guys." She looked down at her flaming hands, and the black fires went out "There are many extras in there."

Her light-switch mood had even Bakugo stopped "Right...um, watch our backs." Deku said after a second.

"Just stay out of my way." Bakugo growled, and he strove to ignore her, focusing on the building. He could just make out movement amongst the smouldering flames. Wait, there "HA!" he blasted forward, bracing for the scorching heat of the flames- only to feel nothing. He flew right through the writhing fires, only to feel mild warmth. What the actual...? Wait, had she been throwing fire with no heat?

"The fire isn't real! Just ignore it!" someone, that Kendo girl, was shouting, trying to rally her troops as they scampered around in the aftermath of the Leprechaun's exit.

"Heh- this is though!" Bakugo raised a gauntlet, saw her eyes go wide, and then let loose. The explosion wasn't as intense as he could've made it, but everyone screamed and scattered.

Unfortunately, even the extras had some training. He and Deku managed to capture a handful in the first few seconds, but the majority managed to regroup and start their counterattack.

"Creati to Ground Zero and Deku- we've successfully disabled the explosives and we are now in the process of releasing the hostages; do you require back-up?" she sounded smug as hell. Didn't matter his team had done all of the thinking, and most of the work.

"It would be appreciated." Deku replied, looking around, trying to work out what would happen next. He'd activated his weird black whip Quirk, in anticipation of a counterattack.

As it turned out, they didn't need reinforcements. The timer went off just as the first rumblings of movement could be head above them. Bakugo smirked, relaxing out of his battle stance "Ha! We win."

"A two out of three score, too!" Deku sounded pleased, and Bakugo couldn't help but silently agree. It would've been good to take out the Villains too, but stopping the explosion and saving the hostages were a good a win as any.

The moment the timer went out, all of the black and white fire flickered out of existence. That jogged Bakugo's memory, real fast. Ignoring the now loudly complaining class B as they descended from their lair, he spun on his heel and stormed out of the utterly wrecked post office, vaulting the smashed desks and unconscious ex-Villains.

Hitting the street, he searched furiously for the black figure, spotting her chatting with Mind-Fuck on the other side of the road. Not calling out, he stomped towards them, letting his anger grow with every step, until his palms were crackling and popping. The Leprechaun finally noticed his approach, she had time to widen her eyes before he shoved her backwards, with both hands, hard. Her smirk vanished, replaced immediately with a snarl of her own, the transformation swift. He ignored it, still moving forwards, until he had her back to the wall of the opposite building. He loomed over her, barely noticing he had a good few inches on her in height "What the actual fuck?!" he seethed "Is this all some kind of game to you?"

"Kacchan! What are you doing?"

"Bakubro- not cool!"

"Shut up!" he roared, not looking away from the narrowed blue eyes beneath him. Her teeth were beared, and her canines were definitely not a normal length, but he didn't care. He jabbed her in the chest with a gloved finger "Why the HELL were you holding back?" he demanded.

"What do you mean? Looks like she totalled the place." Fucking Pikachu had appeared now, apparently not having fried his brain while taking out the bomb detonators.

"None of the fire she was throwing had any heat." Bakugo fumed "The Villains thought they were illusions." For her credit, Hikari didn't look away, but she did lower her lip, and clench her jaw.

"Does it really matter?" Deku wondered aloud "It still made them all scatter."

"It looked real to us." That voice came from one of the class B extras "I thought we were gonna die, to be honest!"

"Wait, that was real fire? Why was it black?"

Bakugo snorted in disgust, stepping away from the tense female, clenching his fists as though to stop himself from hitting her "She was holding back, because she was worried she'd hurt you." He couldn't think of a bigger insult.

"I didn't think cooking students was a nice way to end the day." The girl snapped back, finally responding. There was no trace of her cocky smirk anymore, and her eyes seemed strangely pale "My power isn't exactly good for subduing students- I either kill, or I don't engage."

"Then you don't think we're capable of fighting you? Tcha." He looked her up and down, pointedly lingering on her stubby, claw-less fingers "If you're not gonna take this seriously, why the fuck are even you here?"

***

Todoroki watched the exchange with mixed emotions, not that they showed on his face. He hadn't seen the battle they were talking about, having been busy preparing to contain the explosion, but he understood the jist of it. Bakugo had Hikari practically pinned against a wall, and was accusing her of not taking any of them serious enough to use her Quirk properly. She had somehow been using flames that threw almost no heat, sparing the enemy from injury. For her part, she looked unrepentant, and her remark about 'cooking students' made him almost wince in sympathy. It was something he himself had been forced to think about and come to terms with on multiple occasions- it was one of the reasons he was still so hesitant to use his left side in training. The fact she could throw fire that didn't burn, was impressive- so he wasn't sure why Bakugo was so angry. She'd taken the exercise seriously enough to speak up about her reservations regarding their plans- so what if she didn't want to use potentially truly lethal force in a simulation?

But after Bakugo said his final words, and everyone else realised what the explosive blonde was getting at, Todoroki suspected he was one of the very few with this opinion. There was nothing more insulting in the Hero Course than your opponent not taking you seriously enough to throw everything they had at you, it was the height of disrespect- no matter the difference in power. Todoroki thought it was a stupid mindset, especially amongst those who obviously couldn't handle someone like himself at full-strength, but that didn't matter.

As Bakugo stormed away from the glowering girl, Todoroki found himself looking at Midoriya. The green-haired youth was frowning, looking at his feet, deep in thought. Would he agree with Bakugo? It was he who had first demanded Todoroki use his left side, despite the fact it could have killed Midoriya himself- surely he could at least emphasize with the dark-haired girl?

The discontented atmosphere was dispelled when Aizawa, All Might and Vlad King appeared, calling them to gather. Todoroki waited until Hikari started to move, her face expressionless, eyes glued to the ground, before he stepped to stand next to her. She didn't acknowledge him, just stared wordlessly at her feet.

"Well done- to both teams." All Might started "To the Villains, your plan was truly ingenious. You thought carefully and strategically, trying to anticipate and counter in advance what the Heroes would be trying to accomplish. With Villainy so heinous and cruel as it is today, it essential to begin to train yourselves to predict the most despicable acts humans can think up, all the better to prevent them. To the Heroes, I must congratulate you on your quick thinking. You planned for the most likely scenario, and were able to change those plans at the last minute when an alternative scenario was suspected. You adjusted your priorities and succeeded in the most important part of the mission; the safety of the hostages and the dismantling of the explosives." He sounded proud of them all, a smile stretched on his gaunt features.

"Yes. But you all still have much to work on- especially regarding team-work and reacting to changes in plans." Vlad-King shot a glare at his class at his last words "But you are all showing progress. Next week the rolls will be reversed- use the time to think on how you might be able to prepare."

They were dismissed.

"Hikari, a word." Aizawa called out. Everyone else started moving to the changerooms, but Todoroki stopped, and surprisingly, so did Shinso. The girl silently turned and stalked back to where the three teachers stood together.

"Do we wait?" the other youth said allowed, frowning slightly.

Todoroki shrugged "I am. I can sympathize- I refuse to use my own fire in training unless I know my opponent can defend against it. It has nothing to do with disrespect- it is practical. I would never use it against Tsuyu, for instance. Also, how could Hikari know what defences class B had, when she doesn't even know what our Quirks are?" it was the most he had ever said to the relatively new member of class A.

Shinso chuffed "I can see your point, even if I can't emphasize. I think it had more to do with her getting rid of her claws after Monday's fight- she doesn't think any of us are strong enough to face her."

He had almost forgotten about the claw thing. Maybe Bakugo had a point.

 

Chapter Text

"Either you start taking this seriously, or you won't be taking part in these training sessions." Aizawa minced no words. And because Vlad King was standing there, looking all stern, I was unable to let rip like I wanted to. I had to pretend to be the student, getting in trouble by her teacher.

For the second time today, I felt true rage bubble up. My jaw ached as I savagely clenched my subtly warping teeth, and I knew my eyes started to change, because Aizawa narrowed his own. Resisting the growing desire to literally spit fire, I carefully swallowed and chose my words "I am unused to training with individuals I know won't heal from injuries I may deal." He fucking knew I only sparred properly with Nat, who was a bloodydamn vampire, with vampire healing powers.

"I don't care. It's dishonourable and disrespectful to both yourself and the other students for you to give nothing but your all. In the future, I will expect it."

I stared at him "Fuck off." Vlad growled at my words, but I ignored him "Give my all? Do you want a dead kid?"

"Hikari," All Might approached "you underestimate your peers."

"Drake told us about Monday." Aizawa continued bluntly "How you felt the need to declaw yourself for drawing Bakugo's blood. I understand your usual sparring partner cannot be seriously injured. So, either you learn to control yourself so you don't unnecessarily draw blood, or you don't spar at all."

I couldn't help the real growl that bubbled in my chest "I fucking was controlling myself- why else do you think you don't have a class full of barbequed kids in that building?" I jabbed a finger towards the gently smoking post office, not even noticing that said claws were in fact, sprouting back, thick and fast, and that my fingers had fattened slightly.

"You were also ordered to disengage, to leave the Villains to those with Quirks more suitable." Aizawa snapped back.

I fumed, heat rolling off me in almost visible waves "Fine." I hissed "I'll control myself. Is that all?" when none of the two that mattered said anything, I gave my most mocking salute and stormed away.

Shinso and Todoroki were waiting a short distance away, but I barely noticed them as I passed them, nor did I notice I was leaving literally smoking footprints, the soles of my boots melting with every step. How dare they. How fucking DARE they?! They knew, they knew what I was capable of, what I was known for. They knew what my old name was. Control? Bah! I knew control. I didn't like what I was capable of- there was a reason I preferred to use my fangs and claws to my fire in battle. Fuck, maybe I should just Shift and use my other form in these stupid exercises- maybe then they'd appreciate it when I held back.

The two boys followed me in silence. I ignored them all the way to the changerooms, and said nothing as I peeled away to the girls area.

All of the girls left me alone. They shot me looks of worry and confusion as I literally ripped the locker door from the wall, my hands more paws than humanoid, dropping it with a loud clatter to the ground. I grabbed my bag in my newly long claws, not bothering to get changed, and left.

Once I was back in my room, I hurled my bag across the room and stormed outside. The cold air nearly took my breath away this high up as I leant against the railing, the metal warping under my paws from my grip and my heat. I knew I was irrationally angry- and I knew it was more at myself than at Aizawa or Bakugo.

I wasn't sure how long I stood there, looking out across the campus grounds. I ignored my complaining stomach as the sun started to set. My anger had long since burned out- I didn't have the patience to keep it going. My paws had reverted to human hands, and my newly regrown claws stayed. I stood in a daze, hypnotised and soothed by the growing night-life of the city beyond the school grounds.

So when the door knocked, and someone came in, I remained where I was, numb and quiet.

"Um, are you ok?" not the voice I expected. I slowly turned to see Uraraka and Mina standing awkwardly in the doorway to the outdoor area, their faces worried and somewhat apprehensive as they took me in.

I glanced down. I was still in my 'Hero' costume, smeared in ash, dirt and torn in places I'd not dodged enemy projectiles. My hair was a mess, and the steel railing under my hands was warped beyond recognition, the metal half melted around the indents from my fingers "Peachy." I sighed "What's up?"

"Um, we didn't see you at dinner, and we thought we should check up on you." Mina spoke this time "Kaminari was gonna come up, but I know when I'm angry, the last thing I want around is an annoying guy." She smiled, warmly, understandingly.

I sighed again, rubbing the back of my neck "Thanks, but I'm ok."

"We also wanted to see if you wanted to come to the bath." Uraraka added "It's girl's night- we all go together and soak up the steam until the water goes cold." Wait, did they want me there?

I chuckled "Figure out I can keep the water warm indefinitely, did you?"

They looked at me blankly "Um...that's a bonus, I guess- do you not want to hang out?" Mina sounded almost...hurt.

I blinked "Wait, you want me there as like, a girl?"

"Well, duh."

So it was I found myself stripping down, silent in bemused shock, and gingerly, cautiously stepping into the bathing area. The rest of the girls were already in the water, casually chatting and luxuriating in the hot water, the steam thick in the air. Dipping a toe in, I found it surprisingly hot- well, relatively anyway. I let myself sink in, and immediately felt the tension I hadn't realised I still had leave my body.

"Good?" Momo asked, looking at me knowingly from her seat.

I let my head loll back a little "You have no idea." I admitted.

"So how does it work, your Quirk, with heat and stuff? I heard what you said to Izuku about being able to regulate your temperature and cold not bothering you- but how does it work with baths and that?" It was the most Uraraka had said to me- ever.

I blinked, almost sleepily "Um, well, I'm kinda both exo and endothermic. I make heat, but I also need it. For example," seeing as she was so close to me, I reached out, just before her arm, and called. She gasped as she felt me draw all the heat from the water around her "I absorb the heat around me," I released the heat back out, increasing it ever so slightly "but then I can also release it. Seeing as I spend most of my time either absorbing it or preventing it from being released, I can let a lot out without much effort."

"So you weren't kidding when you said you could heat the bath forever?" Mina sounded excited, as I had thought she would have been.

"Pretty much. Becomes a looping cycle; I feed off the heat and release it at the same time." I thought for a moment "Makes me bloody hungry though, so I must be losing out somewhere."

Thoughtful nods and expressions all around, but then a splash came from an invisible source "Enough talk about Quirks! That's not what girl's night's about." I could vaguely see the impression and shadow in the water that betrayed Hagakure's position.

"Damn! Sorry Toru."

"Hang on, you call each other by your first names in here?" there was so much about Japanese culture I just didn't get.

Everyone nodded lazily "No boys. We can just relax." Tsuyu looked particularly happy- I had noted she hated the cold "Mind if we call you Kurai?"

I blinked, my smile not a smirk "Go for it."

"Right! Down to business; have all of you seen the latest photoshoot of Hawks?" Mina sounded like she was conducting a mission briefing, despite the fact she was lolling naked in a bathtub, surrounded by a dozen other equally naked girls.

Momo and Kyoka nodded seriously "Easily a ten."

"I don't think they have a rating high enough."

"I still don't get what you see in him, to be honest." Everyone looked at Uraraka as though she had said something truly horrific.

"Wait, by Hawks, you mean the pro Hero, yeah?" I frowned, trying to remember all of the stuff they'd crammed down my throat last weekend after I'd admitted I hadn't known any of their Heroes.

"Hang on, have you not seen him?" Mina sounded completely outraged "Don't tell me you're a freaking Edgeshot fan?!"

I raised my hands in supplication "I haven't seen him- or any of them!" I said quickly.

The look that bloomed in the pink girl's black eyes would have been scary, if she hadn't been naked. She beckoned me with a long finger "Come hither, and let me corrupt you." She practically purred.

I carefully pushed off from my edge of the bath, warily feeling with my foot for the depth. My slow progress raised eyebrows "What are you doing?" Momo asked, tilting her head.

I huffed, feeling my cheeks flush "I don't like deep water, ok?"

"Wait; you're happy to called Bakugo Dandelion, but your scared of getting your head wet?" Minda barked a laugh, until I shot her a glare.

"Bite me. Ever drowned? It's not a pleasant experience." No way was I going further with that story. My words were enough to dispel the small chuckles as I found the tub got no deeper than my shoulders at the centre. Pleased, I moved forward faster until I joined the other girls as we clustered around Mina's phone.

She opened up some photos, and I cocked my head "That's Hawks?" my voice was a little hoarse, and all of them, even Uraraka giggled.

"Yep. See what I mean about there being no rating suitable?" Momo sighed longing "He's only twenty-four and has his own agency on top of being the number 2 Hero."

I gave a little growl as Mina swiped, earning a round of surprised chuckles "Heh, didn't realise you were a growler." Tsuyu teased.

"I'd more than growl if I got my claws on him." I flexed my hands suggestively above the water "If you know what I mean."

"Hey, your claws are back!" Mina sounded delighted "Wait, does that mean you'll go and hurt yourself getting rid of them again?"

I looked at my talons, and shrugged "Nat-er, Drake got me a Dremel. Not sure if I'll use it or not." Both Aizawa's and Dandelion's words were still ringing in my head.

"Speaking of Nat." Uraraka looked at me somewhat wickedly "Easy, easy ten. How old is he anyway?" all of them perked up, looking at me with eager curiosity.

Heh. How old was he? In vamp years or? "Twenty-five, I think. He's a right ponce though- thinks he's the goddess's gift to womankind."

"I'll say." Mina sighed dreamily "Mind if I ask what his Quirk is?"

I pursed my lips "It's gross." I warned. Hell, it was on paper now, as part of his teacher registration. Wouldn't hurt for the kids to know, especially if he was insisting on teaching us 'combat'.

"Somehow I doubt it will affect his score over-much." Momo teased.

I shrugged, leaning back on the tiles "He calls it Vampire. He gains most of his nourishment from blood, and it gives him nearly super strength and speed, increases his senses etcetera, etcetera." I made my tone as bored and blasé as I could.

I needn't have worried; none of them looked particularly concerned "Wait, so does he like, drink human blood?" Mina didn't even sound all that grossed out.

"Sometimes. He prefers it, but usually just gets animal from local butchers." They didn't need to know Nezu had set him up a supply of human from the local hospital, or that he truly preferred it fresh from criminals we hunted together.

They seemed to absorb this for a moment in silence, the only sound the hum of the lights above "Well, he's still a ten." Toru said, as though that decided the matter "Now, we want your opinion, Kurai." Bloody hell, if I'd thought Mina sounded predatory, she had nothing on the girl I couldn't see.

I almost cringed under the new weight of their stares "With what?"

"We want your ratings- on the boys in class." Mina had a truly wicked smile now, almost gleeful "We've been around them so long, it can be hard to see them objectively."

"We know how annoying they actually are." Tsuyu cleared up "It'll be fun to get a new perspective, before you get to know them too well, that is." They all laughed.

I laughed as well, trying to hide the sudden flare of nervousness. Was this some kind of trap? I'd seen how Ochaco looked at Izuku, and I had smelled Momo on Iida "Um, sure? Not sure how fun it'll be though."

"Ok, who should we do first?" Mina asked her co-conspirators, and I suddenly had the thought they had been working their way up to this conversation ever since I'd gotten in the damned tub.

"Oh, I know- Hanta- that's Sero." Toru added at my flash of confusion.

"Ah, thanks. I remember nearly everyone's names now." I tapped my chin as I thought briefly "I dunno, a four, maybe? I'm not a huge fan of skinny guys. He's nice enough though."

Apparently, this was an acceptable rating, although I got the sense they were surprised by my brutality "Ok, how about Yuga Aoyama?" this time it was Ochaco, who was sitting on a step, the water barely covering her chest.

I made a face, and they all laughed "I don't think I can rate him- maybe a three? On a girl scale he might cut a four."

"Yeah, we're pretty sure we'd almost be safe to invite him to girl's night." Toru joked.

"We'll do the next one to get it over with; Mineta." I smirked when they left out his first name.

"Now, I have a saying: AMV- Animal, Mineral, Vegetable. Amongst us girls back home, it means 'do anything, to anything'. Note; there is no Fruit in that there saying." The laughter was totally unreserved this time, and I grinned as they cackled "Not saying I hate the guy- yet- but he doesn't register on my scale."

"AMV, I love it." Mina was nearly gasping for breath.

"Ok, ok; Rikido?"

"Five- only cos he cooks."

"I thought you said you liked bigger guys!"

I scoffed "I like more than muscles- otherwise I'd be pining after Vlad King."

"Damn, we gotta do teachers next." Mina cursed, as though it was a vital topic we had somehow missed "We'll leave that for next week."

"Moving on! Ojiro."

"Five."

"Shoji?"

"Five."

"Seriously? He has such a nice voice though..."

"Koda?"

I blinked "He's a guy?" I hadn't even been able to tell that with my nose- he'd been too muddled up with all of his animal scents.

"Heh, guess that answers that question."

"Tenya." Momo asked, and she sounded perfectly innocent. If I hadn't scented her on him and vice-versa, I would never have known they were involved.

I shrugged "Too rigid- maybe a five? He's nice enough looking, but not my type." My answer pleased her, and I relaxed a little further. Mission Don't Make the Girls Hate You was a success so far.

"Fumikage." Kyoka took over now.

I pondered the question for a moment "I think he's cool, but not in an attractive way; four." I'd rather him over Iida, but I wasn't saying that in front of his not-girlfriend.

"Denki." Kyoka again, and blow me down, her heartrate increased, just a smidge. If they hadn't all gone quiet to hear my answer, I wouldn't have caught it. Very, very interesting.

I tilted my head a little "He's cute. Funny, puts up with my shit- maybe a seven? But I wouldn't date him." I added quickly at their gasps.

"Wait, you rate Pikachu higher than Tenya?" Toru sounded scandalised "But he's a moron! And a perv."

I shrugged "Calls 'em like I see's 'em." The blonde was a morsel- but I viewed him as a friend I was truly starting to value.

Uraraka had a smug smile now "Hitoshi. I saw how he went to Bakusquad today when you did- and Izuku said he found you two in the lounge, and it looked like you'd been up all night." Fuck me, Midoriya was a bloody gossip!

"We had been- just talking though." Everybody scoffed "Probably a seven as well. He's more mature than some of the others, and he has an actual brain." I thought for a minute "He puts up with my shit too, come to think of it." And he was my silent partner in crime, if he didn't hate me after today "You're all very protective of him." I remarked, remembering my pack's reaction to my blunder with words.

The girls looked at each other "He has a hard time, with his Quirk. People think it's 'Villainous', and he works hard to make sure he proves them wrong." Ochaco sounded fond of my insomniac.

I snorted "That's fucking dumb; how can someone's powers be 'Villainous'? My partn-teacher is a bloodydamn vampire- hell, I've let him drink my blood in a few life-and-death occasions."

Once more, my dumbass let too much slip "Wait, Drake is your partner?"

"Not like that!" I yelped as Mina splashed me "I work with him! We're work partners!"

"I knew he wasn't just your teacher." Momo looked smug, like she'd been proved right "So you're both underground Heroes? Explains why he is so determined to teach us that grunge-fighting style."

"Yeah," I wiped the water from my eyes, shooting Mina a reproachful look "we've worked together for a few years. It's handy he has better healing abilities than normal people, seeing as my Quirk is so destructive."

"Ah, is that why you're so worried about hurting us? You've not had to worry about it before?" bloody hell, these kids were too smart.

I looked sideways at Tsuyu "Pretty much. Nat can take a bullet to the head and walk away, so long as he's well Fed. I've lost count of the number of times I've accidentally toasted him in cross-fire."

"We're off topic again!" Toru yelled "Come on, we're getting to the controversial ones now!"

"Pfft, hardly." Momo rolled her eyes. Of course she thought that; we'd passed her love interest.

"Izuku." Ochaco threw it out there like a challenge.

I tapped my chin with a claw "He's cute as well. He seems strong- although I haven't seen him fight." Stop being a bitch, Rhea. I could practically see the tallies against my name growing in the other girl's head as I complimented her crush "But he's too unsure of himself- not really my type." I finished with a shrug "A seven."

Tsuyu whistled "Harsh." She croaked "Don't think any of us gave him less than an eight."

"Shoto." Most of the girls sighed, faces going dreamy "I think you might have a chance there- seeing as you both have fire Quirks. I catch him staring at you all the time." I wasn't sure if Toru sounded jealous or not.

I blinked "He does?" I hadn't noticed, and apparently, that made me a moron in the eyes of my female companions "Um, yeah, ok, he's dreamy I suppose. An eight?" Mina made a sound of disgust, and some of the others looked at me like I was mad. I had a fair idea of who won these little rating games usually.

Mina shrugged ruefully "Alright, second to last; Eijiro."

I couldn't help myself "Eiiiijiroooo." I really did purr, throwing a little growl at the end. If I had my tail, it would've lashed in the water.

Mina smirked "Looks like we have a winner." Judging by the giggles of agreement, I wasn't alone in my appreciation of the red-head.

"Nine." Even Mina looked surprised by my rating "What? He's funny, bright, likes to fight, and wasn't phased by my heat. Not to mention he's smokin'." I swiped at the water, and licked a fang.

"You like that rock-head more than Shoto?" Toru flicked water at me "You're weird.

"Right! Well, we left the worst until last- Katsuki." Mina said the name like it was half-way between a curse and a sigh.

I didn't mean to, but I froze, the scent memory of butterscotch filling my brain. My mind darted back to this afternoon, when he had trapped me against the building, holding me there with nothing but his eyes. I'd been angry, sure, but a darker part of me had been growling in appreciation at his looming presence and sheer physicality. No, he wasn't as tall, or even as built as many of the others in the class, but he had force to him the others couldn't match. It was one of the reasons I'd been so mad at Nat- it was dangerous because I wanted to fight him- for real. I wanted to see if he could beat me. The very idea had my heart racing and a low rumble fill my chest. Damned hormones.

"Guys, I think we broke her."

Mina cursed suddenly, and splashed away from me, shaking me from my musing "Hey! You're boiling the water!" sure enough, as the others noticed the literal bubbling around my chest, they all started scrambling away "Dude! Don't cook us!" Kyoka actually got out, casting me an annoyed look.

"Sorry." I squeaked, and frowned, concentrating on drawing back the heat I'd unconsciously released "There, should be normal now."

Warily, they all got back in "Jeez, I didn't think you'd be so angry at him still!" Mina said, not sitting as close to me as she had before "Although I guess he did shove you, and yell at you in front of everyone."

"He's a jerk." Ochaco agreed "I don't know how you guys put up with him, Mina. I know he's better than he was in First Year, and even last year, but he's still such a prat."

I'd been sinking in the water with every word, until it was just my nose and eyes peaking out of the bubbles and water. Kyoka did a double take, a smirk growing knowingly on her lips, until she elbowed Ochaco "Heh, check this out."

I blinked at them all as they stared at me.

"Kuuurraaaiiiii..." Mina sang "What do you rate Katsuki? Surely he's not as high as dear Eijiro."

I considered boiling the water to get them all out and distract them. I also considered lying- but I knew they wouldn't believe me. I sighed into the water and sat up "Ten." I cringed, expecting an onslaught, but it didn't really come.

They all just squinted at me "Seriously? You think Blasty Boi is hotter than even Eijiro? REASONS?" Mina demanded imperiously.

I scratched my head "I dunno! I like blondes, I like how he fights-"

"And how he smells." Tsuyu snickered.

"Be bloodydamn hard not too." I said fervently "Seriously, guys, don't you notice it?!"

Most of them shook their heads ruefully "I guess he kinda smells sweet?" Mina said slowly "Maybe a little like caramel?"

I groaned, my jaw aching anew "Burning butterscotch, drizzled with Kahlua and crispy brown sugar."

"Ok, you're making me hungry, describing what Bakugo smells like." I wasn't sure if Ochaco was disgusted or not "Can we please move on to something else? I wanna go to bed soon."

The rest of the 'girl's night' passed in easy conversation, and I was invited to come back next week, much to my surprise "We can forgive your poor taste; because you did indeed keep the bath warm." Momo had teased.

Later, after I'd dried off, I made butterscotch pudding in my room and went downstairs, to find Shinso sitting in his usual spot. I didn't say anything, and neither did he. I assumed that meant he wasn't angry at me anymore, so I ate my pudding, and we watched the sun rise in the morning.

 

Chapter Text

Friday's Hero Training was once more an agility course. Agility was not one of Kaminari's strong points. This meant he lagged behind with the other less athletic of his classmates- specifically, Mineta.

"Girl's Night- more like tease night." The diminutive teen was obsessing over the fact Hikari had apparently joined the other girls of 3A for their weekly bath.

Panting for breath, clambering up the current obstacle, Kaminari shot him an annoyed look. Kaminari used to be reasonably close to Mineta. They'd had the same appreciation for women, the same less than enthusiastic regard for the more demanding parts of being Heroes. But ever since he'd been called upon for the major operation at the end of First Year, Kaminari had...matured. He knew he still wasn't as bright as the others, nor as brave, and yes, he had issues when hot girls were involved; but he had a new understanding of what it meant to be a Hero. So, he worked hard. He studied- even though Bakugo was harsh, he exercised- even though his body protested, and he strove to be a better person.

"Another hottie in the tub with the others!" he cackled in glee "Man, I'd give a limb to have a peep hole, or even a listening bug in that room!"

"I will actually fry you." Kaminari grumbled, sliding down the other side of the equipment "I'm gonna ask her about Saturday, if you're still up for it. Something tells me not to piss that Drake guy off by slacking."

"Oh, I'll be there. Just in case she goes nuts again and burns her shirt off again."

"PARKOUR!" a familiar shout came from behind them.

"OI! GET BACK HERE!" another, more aggressive shout followed, followed by a series of explosive blasts.

"Annnnd, that's our que." With practised ease, the pair dropped and rolled to the side, out of the main path of the obstacle course.

Hikari slammed to the ground on the other side of the obstacle they'd just slid down, eyes wild and cheeks flushed "Hi guys! Ragemuff is right behind me- tell him to hurry up." She winked at them through her jagged black mask, and then she was gone, practically bouncing off the walls and floor, not even bothering to use her fire, simply using her newly regrown claws and strength to flow through the relatively closed in course.

Less than a second later, Bakugo landed where she had, snarling in rage. Throwing caution to the wind, Kaminari spoke "Hikari told you to hurry up."

If the blonde heard him, he didn't respond, instead launching himself after the girl, roaring.

A flash of green, and Midoriya followed "Hey guys! Hikari still leading?"

"Yep." then he too, was gone.

"I wonder what girls see in guys like that?" Mineta wondered as they got back on the course themselves "Apart from the muscles, good looks, skill and personality?"

"Beats me- seeing as I have all those in spades."

***

Saturday came and went in a bloody blur. Shinso had tagged along somewhat apprehensively when he'd heard from Kaminari that Hikari was going to give them some training in Drake's now infamous combat.

"I don't know what the hell Bakugo was complaining about." Kaminari groaned as he pulled on his post-training hoodie "Holding back my ass."

Shinso had to agree- he hadn't hurt so much in so many places since he had started training with Aizawa back in First Year. Hikari may not have used her fire, and her claws may have been freshly ground down, but she hadn't seemed to hold back all that much. The only one of them that had managed to land any hits had been Midoriya, and even then, the girl had seemed to roll with it, flooring the green-haired teen soon after "You nearly had her for a minute there, Midoriya." He found himself saying as he changed his own sweater.

"Almost! Still can't believe how fast she can move- I can't wait to see her fight using her Quirk properly!" he was so damned enthusiastic, eyes glowing with excitement despite the yellowing bruise on his cheek. Damned masochist.

After dinner (Sato cooked this time), they ended up watching a movie Hikari suggested called Blade "See, now I wanna have a rave." She practically whined with want as they watched the opening scenes in the vampire nightclub.

"I want his sword." It was Kirishima who said that, surprisingly "It's so manly."

Hikari scoffed between mouthfuls of popcorn "I tried one with that booby trap trick- accidentally set it off on myself. I spent a week growing my fingers back- do not recommend."

"Have you ever been to a rave?" Kaminari asked, not looking away from the bloodbath on the screen.

"Dude, I help run a night-club back home."

Even Shinso raised an eyebrow "Aren't you a bit young?" Uraraka said from her nest next to the dark-haired girl. She, Ashido and Tsuyu had all clambered as closely as they could to Hikari, nearly sitting on her, proclaiming her the best seat in the house. Shinso figured it was due to her Quirk and stupid high temperature. His arm still burned slightly from where she'd grabbed him during training- bare skin to skin. He almost couldn't see her with Tsuyu literally on her lap, snuggling down in her huge blanket as the other girl casually wrapped a pale arm around her. Mineta had been wacked over the head when he started drooling and complaining about not being able to join in.

"Nah, drinking laws a waaay more lax back home than here. I make a mean drakenjaeger bomb."

"What on Earth is that?"

"A jaegerbomb that I altered- my own personal creation." At the blank looks, she made a face "Have you never had a jaegerbomb?"

"I don't know that anyone here has really drunk alcohol..." Jiro sounded uncertain, but when nobody jumped in, she continued more strongly "It sounds like a Western drink anyway."

Hikari huffed "Bloody eighteen and never had a drink! You've all failed as teenagers."

"We take our education too seriously to engage in something so irresponsible." Iida said firmly, stiffly. Shinso rolled his eyes in the dark. He had gotten drunk of sake before, but nothing more exciting- he couldn't afford to go to a bar or buy anything.

She muttered something under her breath, and it wasn't in English or Japanese- but it sounded like a promise.

The movie finished, and more than one of the girls looked a little pale. It wasn't like they didn't watch violent movies, but the level of gore and Hikari, Kirishima's and Kaminari's constant jeering at the inaccuracies, had the more experienced girl explaining in detail what they got wrong about the bloodletting, had a few of them feeling a little delicate.

Guess underground Hero work in Europe was more intense than here.

Everyone peeled off to bed, except for Shinso. Hikari pointedly went as well, shooting him a wink as he made it clear he was staying up- as usual.

It wasn't until after midnight that the girl reappeared, lugging an immense wrapped package, longer than she was tall. He jumped up, and moved to help, but she waved him off "It's fine- it's not actually heavy."

He watched in amazement as she easily lifted the couches and silently dragged them out of the way "Anything I can do to help?" he had almost forgotten he had said he'd help her with her daft prank, until she had asked him quietly after tossing him to the ground in training earlier that day.

"Sure; make this." She slid her notebook over to him, opened to a page covered in ungodly horrific hand-writing "I'm gonna be hungry after this."

"Your handwriting is truly awful." He said, halfway through the recipe "Did you have to write this in English? I can barely read it."

Hikari grunted, busy rolling the freshly ripped up carpet to the opposite side of the room, exposing the white underlay "Trust me, my kanji is practically unreadable. Just let me know if you need me to read any of it to you."

"This seems like a lot of work- why are you doing it again?" he nodded at her labour.

She shrugged "Cos it'll be funny."

"I think you and the rest of the planet have very different ideas of what's 'funny'."

"Hey, you just wait and see. It'll be so random it's funny." She dusted off her hands "Smells bloody good by the way."

Shinso looked down at the bowl of half-mixed ingredients "It's not even in the oven- can you really already smell it?"

"Yeppers. It's both a gift and a curse." He was starting to bet it was.

The oven went off just as she finished rolling the carpet back, stomping down hard on the edge "Hells yeah! I am literally drooling here."

Shinso carefully got the tray out of the oven as she carefully put the couches back where they'd been, walking as lightly she could, but still unavoidably setting off a few pops "Ok, I admit- it does smell pretty good. This is what Bakugo smells like to you?"

Hikari vaulted from the back of the couch she had just moved, to the safety of the kitchen, pointedly not touching the carpet at all "Pretty much. Makes me perpetually hungry." Shinso's mouth was watering- he didn't know how she could put up with it all the time.

And it tasted even better.

"So, is this gonna be a 'Saturday Night' thing? I thought you said you had an idea for during the week." He said casually, cleaning his bowl of the delicious treat. Who knew butterscotch pudding tasted so good on its own?

Hikari hadn't bothered with a bowl- eating straight from the still steaming glass dish "I did- I got distracted. Next week I'll probably do sommat small- but yeah, Saturday night I'll make the Big Events."

"Please make next week something actually funny- this was just too...random."

She waved her spoon at him, licking her lips "I gotta start small and work my way up- all part of Mission Levity."

"Mission Levity?"

"Yep. You guys have all been through hell and back three times over- I wanna make you all laugh."

Shinso blinked "Why?"

"Cos life sucks, and then you die. Why not squeeze every bit of fun out of it you possibly can? I know I'd be in a far darker place if the people I spent time with hadn't made a point of showing me the light."

Shinso looked down at his bowl "Fair enough. Seems like a lot of work though- especially if nobody finds it funny."

"Ah, but I'll find it funny." She hesitated for a moment, as though chewing on her words "Listen, I'm sorry about what I said- I truly think your Quirk sounds awesome."

Shinso looked at her "You still feel guilty?"

She shrugged, dropping her gaze "The girls explained you have a hard time, what with the astronomical level of fuckwits around the place. I didn't mean to join them."

He snorted, more at her choice of words than what she actually said. He nodded at her hands "Somehow, I think you know how it feels."

 

Chapter Text

"OI! The floor is FUCKING LAVA! What part of that DON'T you UNDERSTAND?!" dawn was too early for this shit.

Bakugo scowled "What the HELL are you talking about?" he moved his foot forward to step onto the carpet, on his way to the kitchen for breakfast. He hadn't expected anyone to be up so early, but the Leprechaun was standing on the couch next to Mind Fuck, who looked quietly amused.

"Bakubro! Seriously, don't step-" fucking Kirishima, who had for once listened to him and woken early to train, was also standing on one of the couches, and was waving frantically at him to stop before he stepped.

"Don't tell me what to do!" Bakugo snapped. Great- Sunday morning ruined by imbeciles. He deliberately stomped his foot down.

Popopopop! He yelped in a totally undignified voice, and jumped back with his Quirk, the explosions loud in the morning quiet "What the HELL?" he roared, eyes wide. The carpet had popped the moment he had pressed his weight down. He looked immediately to the Irish girl "What the fuck did you do?" he demanded, somehow knowing it was her fault.

She looked offended; eyes wide "Me? Nothing! The floor is LAVA!"

"Ooooh, I love that game!" what the hell was this- Get Up Early to Fuck with Bakugo Day? He spun around, fuming, to see Frog-Girl and Iida in their pyjamas still, watching in curiosity as he stood on the edge of the carpet, hands literally smoking.

"Bakugo! Did you just use your Quirk indoors- again?" the Four-Eyed idiot was looking at him all disapprovingly.

"The Leprechaun's done something to the carpet." He snarled, jabbing a finger towards the precariously balancing female.

"I did not! The floor is lava!" she stood on the edge of the couch, hands on her hips, glaring at them petulantly "Not my bloody fault Ragemuff doesn't know how the game works!"

Actual red flooded Bakugo's vision "What the HELL did you just call me?" he hissed.

"Ragemuff. Short for Rage Muffin. It's been a fortnight- you were due for a new name. Dandelion is so oldschool."

"You are so dead." He growled, not caring his hands had started to crackle.

"Bakugo! Ignore her." Iida said firmly, and pointedly stepped out onto the carpet "I refuse to play this childish-" the floor exploded into short lived pops the instant he put his foot down.

Kirishima and the Leprechaun started cackling with laughter as the class rep yelped and leapt backwards "What on earth?"

"Told you!" the foreigner smirked wickedly "That's two down! Looks like we're winning." She elbowed Shinso playfully.

"Hey! I didn't touch the floor either!" Kirishima called, affronted, crossing his arms.

Hikari rolled her eyes "Fine. But you gotta get to the kitchen like we did- and back!"

Kirishima grinned widely "Challenge accepted!"

"Hey, guys? I think I found the problem." Bakugo bit back the savage remark he had been about to hurl at the red-head, and looked down. The frog girl was on her hands and knees, and had lifted up a portion of the carpet. Underneath, between the carpet itself and the underlay- was...

"Why is there bubblewrap under the carpet?" Iida's voice was decidedly higher than normal.

"Fucking Night Pineapple." The looked up to see Hikari looking at them seriously from her perch "Bastard must've been hunting Shadow Monsters here last night." She shoved Shinso suddenly "I told you we should've just stayed up all night!"

"This is fucking stupid." Bakugo snarled, and stomped forward, ignoring the explosion of popping from under his feet, and the idiots' shouts of dismay "I am not playing this stupid game!"

"Heh- guess Ragemuff is the first of the losers."

He stopped, and slowly turned to look at the freak, still standing on the couch "I am NOT a loser."

"Best play the game properly, then." She shot back, grinning so widely her stupid fangs gleamed "Promise I won't tell Midoriya until he steps out first- make you even."

He paused, mid retort. That was...tempting... 

 

Chapter Text

"What the hell did you do with all that bubblewrap?"

"Things." I'd gotten to the gym early Monday morning, hoping to catch up with my partner in person briefly.

"You're losing your touch- unless I should be concerned?"

"Pffft, nah." I waved his 'worry' away "We got a few laughs out of it though." Heh, the game had lasted well into the morning, with a surprising number of people taking it seriously. Nobody apart from Bakugo had alluded I was the responsible party, all too distracted by the very verbal score I had been keeping. The winner, proudly, was Uraraka. Kirishima had managed to shove me and Shinso off our safety spots in his mad dash to follow Ragemuff out the door- bastard. Lucky he was hot.

Nat had a point though- it had been an uninspired idea. I needed to go back to the drawing board and get a little more creative. The eggs had been good because it got everyone involved.

"Is this regarding yesterday's incident?" Aizawa joined us, nursing a steaming cup of coffee, eyeing me with a dangerous glint in his eye "Iida contacted me about something to do with a problem with the carpet in the common area."

I kept my eyes wide and innocent "It was all lava, sensei- I swear I don't know how it happened."

He just stared at me, blinking slowly "If you have time to rip up all the carpet, layer the floor with bubblewrap, and put it all back- you should have time to complete the homework you've been assigned."

Nat barked a laugh, and I felt my cheeks flush "Who says I've not done it?" I demanded.

"All of the other teachers." He sipped his drink carefully "You've been here two weeks- and not handed in a single assignment."

"Hey! I handed in Nat's!"

Nat raised an eyebrow "You gave me your eBay wishlist, with things circled."

"Yeah, it was a list showing my priorities." I thought it was genius- served the bastard right for giving me homework.

"If you wish to keep your true purpose and identity secret from the other staff, you need to start taking the actual school-work seriously." Aizawa managed to sound annoyed and uncaring at the same time.

"I'll have you know I spent most of Saturday whaling on your students for today's lesson." I scowled "I had plans for Saturday." Mainly plotting my next event in Mission Levity.

"The theory is important as well. Consider this a professional courtesy; either start handing in work, prepare to be humiliated by each and every one of your teachers." The threat was not made lightly, I could tell.

I narrowed my eyes "Revenge will be swift and brutal." I'd make Loki look like an amateur.

The door to the gym banged open, and the other students started to flood in "For the goddesses' sake, Rhea, just do the blasted homework." Nat growled in a low voice, before he moved away to greet the rest of the students. I scowled at his back, ignoring Aizawa's look.

As promised, that lesson we had our Quirks turned off randomly. As had become tradition, Nat set me up with Ragemuff first off. He glared at me with his usual intensity "Don't you fucking dare hold back." He growled low enough so I could just hear him. His hands crackled with his Quirk at his words. It was his turn, after all, leaving me the 'Quirkless' Hero. His red eyes practically burned holes into mine as I sank into a crouch, one hand splayed on the ground. I felt my heart pound as my eyes darted over his body, searching for weaknesses and targets. My blood pounded for other reasons as well. I...wasn't going to hold back- as much anyway. I'd enjoyed the last two 'sessions' we'd had, but what he'd said last week still rang about in my head. I wanted to see how he'd fare if I really fought.

He glanced down, noted my lack of claws, and his scowl deepened, deciding I'd already insulted him. I'd gotten rid of them this morning because I didn't want to hurt him- I was almost regretting that now.

"Hikari..." Nat's tone held an unspoken warning. He must be able to see how I was practically vibrating with excitement. He knew me. The kids would take his tone as a warning to 'give it my all', assuming my teacher had been informed of my unwillingness to take this seriously. I knew he was actually reminding me to remember to be careful.

"Yeah, yeah." I bared my fangs at my opponent, something I'd refrained from doing until now, and he flexed his hands in response, a smirk forming on his features. He was getting keyed up as well. I could practically smell his adrenaline building as I took the unfamiliar stance, his intoxicating scent mixed with the spice of bloodlust- I resisted the urge to only breath through my mouth, the better to taste the air.

Bakugo blinked as a drop of sweat trickled from his fringe. Instinct took over- and I attacked.

"DIE!"

As the Hero, it was my turn to rush forward- that didn't stop my opponent trying to explode my face off. I kept low to the ground, flowing in the form of the Second, using my hands as much as my feet, letting my mind fill with the pounding of my heart. I felt the heat from his blasts tickle my ankles and sides as he shot and missed, and I instinctively drew it in, letting it flow through me- my heartbeat increased with the temperature.

Bakugo didn't retreat under my approach, possibly remembering what I'd said the first day about not giving ground. That worked fine by me. I didn't take my eyes off his face as I nimbly dodged and lunged, my body dancing through the form by muscle memory. It was dumb- the whole fight was. None of these kids were learning anything from this- at least not how to fight without their Quirks. What was Nat playing at? He knew Aizawa couldn't make me 'slow'. For his part though, Bakugo was impressive. He kept his blasts focused and deadly, never letting me stay in one place without punishment. Unfortunately, that suited my fighting style perfectly.

Cackling gleefully with the effort, I dove, rolled, and leapt up, lunging to the left and then to the right, going from the balls of my feet to my hands in a breath. I was closing fast, and I couldn't keep the enormous grin off my face. He was working up a serious sweat as he alternated between blasting at me, and firing himself out of reach- and I wasn't going slow anymore. I could smell him even over the charred air around me, and it urged me on. I wanted to really make him work for this.

Finally, half-squinting my eyes shut in the newest blinding flash of his explosion, I got close enough to see the colour in his red eyes "Too fucking SLOW!" I yipped with glee as I darted in, his face an enraged scowl despite his still present smirk, his hands raised and smoking. I felt the tingle of Aizawa's gaze, but seeing as this part of my Quirk was simply part of my muscle and bone, my strength and speed were not affected in any way. Bakugo though, flinched and cursed admirably when nothing happened as he tensed to fire at me. Apparently, Aizawa wasn't biased enough to only try to turn me off.

Hesitation is a sign of weakness. I didn't stop moving, seizing his outstretched arm at the same instance he realised he couldn't activate his powers. If I hadn't ground my claws away that morning, I'd have completely destroyed his forearm, I grabbed him so hard. I hauled back, body twisting as I made to flip him as I had the last two lessons.

"I'm not losing AGAIN!" I stumbled as Bakugo threw his weight forward, into and towards me as I pulled. I snarled, more in shock than anger, recoiling in instinct as he lunged, but he was too fast and strong. The roundhouse slammed into my skull as he lashed out with the arm I wasn't holding, and I saw stars.

Blindly, brain scrambled, I released my grip, and tried to fall away in retreat, ears ringing. He'd smashed me right in the temple. If I wasn't me, it would've dropped me.

Unfortunately for me, Aizawa decided to release Bakugo's Quirk "NOW DIE!" I felt the heat and then the concussive series of blasts ripped through my senses, deafening me as well as blinding what bleary vision I'd recovered. Spinning on the spot, I vaguely felt my flesh take a truly spectacular pounding as I was hit at point blank range with his Quirk- only my natural fire resistance saving me from getting exploderated.

Last thing that registered was the grin I managed before he slammed into me, a blurry figure of blonde hair that smelled like burning caramel and butterscotch, and then I hit the ground with a meaty thwack.

I woke up later that day with a truly outrageous headache. Blearily, I squinted my eyes open, hissing at the bright light of day "Oh, good. You're awake." It took me a second to work out who was talking "They wanted to take you to the infirmary, but Aizawa knew you were better off back in your room." Thank the goddess. Healing Quirks did not work on me the way they were meant to- the last time someone had tried, they'd triggered an involuntary Shift. There was also the fact I was allergic to whatever they put in those stupid healing gummies- they messed me up nearly as badly as silver did. I'd always wanted to ask if they used the metal in the recipe somewhere...

"Thanks." My sarcasm lost its sting when my voice was so hoarse I could barely speak. My vampire gradually came into focus. He was sitting stretched out on the bed next to me, leaning back against the bed head, reading a book "What's the time?"

He glanced down at me "Midday. You were only out for a few hours. You've been given the rest of the day off."

I grumbled and gingerly sat up, gritting my teeth as my head started to pound "Feels like I got trampled by a torosaur." I was still wearing my PE gear, although it was singed in places. Heh, lucky it had survived at all "What happened?"

"You got smacked in the head, and then waffle-stomped by a teenager."

I growled, my brain starting to work properly as more seconds passed "No shit- I didn't lose control or anything did I?" the last time I'd been knocked senseless in combat, I'd let loose an explosion of fire that had left me naked in a small crater of charred criminal.

"Nah. Was worried for a second, but you seemed fairly with it towards the end. Guess even your subconscious doesn't want to kill any of them." I huffed, and he looked at me "What's wrong? I thought you'd be pleased."

I carefully probed the side of my head, wincing at the tenderness "Oh, I am. Can't believe the little bastard got the drop on me like that." How much had that kid been practicing, to be able to fight like that without his Quirk?

"Are you going to start taking them seriously, now?" I shot Nat a filthy look, which he ignored "I did tell you to stop viewing them as weaklings."

"I don't view them as weaklings." I snapped, and closed my eyes when my head gave a particularly large complaint.

"Of course not." Smarmy bastard "Anyway, I have some interesting information I wanted to discuss with you."

I sniffed "Feed me and I'll listen." Least he could do, seeing as he'd made me fight the little gremlin again in the first place. Smirking, the vampire got up and retrieved a brown paper bag from the fridge. Dropping it in front of me, I eagerly dug out the contents- a hamburger. Excellent. Don't get me wrong- I enjoyed the local cuisine, but there was something truly visceral about hamburgers the Japanese simply hadn't mastered yet "K, shoot." I said through my mouthful of cold beef, reheating it as I chewed.

"I've ben keeping an eye on the local crimes around the city, mainly trying to see if the group of Villains we are waiting for have been active in the area. So far, I've not seen or heard anything about them." And he would've, if they were there. Nat was meticulous with his research.

I swallowed hard "That's good news, surely."

"Indeed. However, I have noticed something else." Uh-oh "There has been a strangely abnormal number of suicides and hospitalizations of Heroes and police alike- well, at least a higher proportional number compared to some of the other, larger cities."

I chewed thoughtfully "Could have sommat to do with all the fights in the last few years- PTSD and all that. These kids are all jumpy as hell- wouldn't surprise me if some of the Pros took harder hits than they were able to deal with."

Nat nodded slowly, considering my words "I suppose. I had not thought of that- latent, delayed trauma. Now that it has quietened down somewhat, it would make sense that they only now are trying to come to terms with lost friends and coworkers- not to mention the civilians they couldn't save." We both knew what those feelings were like. We'd lost more comrades than we cared to think about, and the faces of innocents killed had all blurred together for me, becoming one faceless shadow of grief and guilt. We dealt with it by staying busy. Not everyone could do that.

"Did you think there was something else happening?" Nat wouldn't have investigated if he hadn't been suspicious. His instincts were almost better than mine when it came to something 'off'.

But he just shrugged "Not really. I thought it was interesting, but like you said, most of the incidents of the last few years all occurred in this region. Makes sense the statistics would be warped."

I licked my fingers, the burger long gone "I need to go for a run, or for a fly- preferably tonight."

He raised an eyebrow "Is that why you've been irritable?"

I scowled, ignoring the flare of pain as my temple was pulled "I've not been irritable. If I do all that homework like you're making me, then I'll be irritable. I'll need to stretch my legs. Besides, it's been nearly three weeks since I even been outside- properly I mean."

"Are you sure you'd be ok on your own? You did hit your head pretty hard." I just looked at him until he laughed, and nodded "Fair enough. I'll tell Aizawa you'll take the middle patrol; from nine until twelve?" I nodded, satisfied. Made sense they'd have me patrolling- I'd have a good view from the air "Perfect."

He stood and made to leave. But when he opened the door, he turned "Are you are ok?" the question was loaded. Despite his being an ass, Nat cared about me deeply.

I nodded slowly "Yeah...why?"

He shrugged "It has been years since I've seen you bested in a fight like that. I did not expect one of these youths to be able to do so this quickly." He flashed a smirk as I bristled "Maybe next time you will know better than to hold back." Then he was gone.

I huffed and leant back on my pillows. He was right- I did not come off second best in a fight like that very often. Maybe I did need to stop holding back...

A smile broke on my face. Heh. Ragemuffwould be insufferable now he'd beaten me. I couldn't wait for the rematch next week.

 

Chapter Text

He hadn't expected the hits to land. To Midoriya, it was obvious. He knew Kacchan better than any of them, and he recognised the shock in his eyes before the blonde probably registered it himself. The ferocious right hook that most of them had been on the receiving end of at least once in the last two years, slammed into the new girl's temple so hard her head snapped sideways. He heard exclamations and curses around him as it landed "Damn, he's really not holding back, is he?" Midoriya ignored them, every fibre of his being focused on the fight. He could tell everyone else was expecting the girl to fall to the ground- not many of them could walk a blow like that off.

She staggered, eyes wide and unfocused, but then she seemed to shake it off, baring her teeth in a strange half grin, half snarl. Kacchan though, seemingly had expected her to walk it off, and pressed the attack "DIE!" he howled, and his explosions ripped through the air.

Kacchan hadn't expected to win, either. Midoriya could see it in his eyes, despite his competitive nature and determination. So when the girl stayed down after he had grabbed and flipped her, his surprise was all the more obvious.

"Jeez, I didn't think he'd really be able to do it!" Mineta remarked "Guess he's never held back against pretty girls though, huh." Uraraka just rolled her eyes.

Bakugo just stood there, hands smoking, staring almost blankly at his felled opponent, face frozen in a savage snarl. Hikari still wasn't moving.

"Um... is she alright?" It was Kirishima who spoke up.

Midoriya found himself darting forwards, along with several others. He knelt down next to the limp form. Her eyes were closed as she lay on her back, mouth slightly open. Her chest was rising and falling- not that he'd really thought that it wouldn't be...

"Watch out, kids." Drake dropped down at Hikari's head, looking utterly unworried. With practised ease, his had darted out, and he pinched back one of her eyelids. Her pupils were totally blown, and didn't shrink at the exposure to light "What a prat." The teacher muttered under his breath. Midoriya flinched. Surely that was a sign of concussion? "Well, lucky she's fireproof." Her clothes were still smoking, patches burned away in places. Midoriya hadn't even noticed. Drake looked up at Kacchan, who was still standing there, staring with wide eyes "That was a good hit. But remember, the aim is to go for soft tissue- which the head is most certainly not. How's your hand?"

Bakugo slowly looked up "My hand?" he sounded confused.

Drake stood up, seeming totally unbothered by his student at his feet "Yes, your hand? The human skull is a hard thing- you can easily break bones hitting it."

He blinked, red eyes still almost unfocused. He looked down at his hand and flexed it "It's fine."

"Good. Now, seeing as you managed to 'deck' my ditz of a pupil, you get the rest of the lesson off. It's up to you how you'd like to spend it."

"Wait, Bakugo brains one of us, and he gets to bludge for the rest of the class? How is that fair?" Mineta demanded. Midoriya could feel the ripple of agreement and annoyance. Kaminari and Shinso in particular looked...angry.

Drake raised an eyebrow "Because that was the condition I laid during the first lesson- if any of you manage to get myself or my pupil on the ground, you get the rest of the lesson off. Bakugo managed it." He clapped his hands together "Now, I want you to split into teams and wait for your turn to fight so Aizawa can disable your Quirks randomly as he did earlier."

Midoriya cleared his throat "Um, sir? Shouldn't one of us take Hikari to the nurse?" the girl still hadn't moved.

Drake glanced at him "I'll take her in a moment. Don't worry, the little idiot has a thick skull."

Drake's dismissive manner regarding the injury of a classmate had them all a little perturbed "He's even harsher than Aizawa." Uraraka muttered as she and Midoriya faced off.

Midoriya, playing the part of the Quirkless Hero (something that felt uncomfortably too real) grimaced as he darted in, looking for an opening "I guess he knows what is and isn't a serious injury." Still, a concussion wasn't to be taken lightly, and seeing the normally ridiculously energetic girl still and silent was more than a little nerve wracking.

He was just amazed Kacchan had managed to beat her! It had looked like she was taking the match seriously too- despite the fact she had once again ground her claws away (although this time she obviously used something less drastic than a bench sander). But...seeing how she had grabbed Kacchan's arm before he had punched her, Midoriya was starting to think she had pretty valid reasons to get rid of the sharp edges.

Speaking of... Midoriya shot a glance at the blonde. He hadn't left the class as he had been offered, instead he was fighting Kirishima once more. But Midoriya could tell he was shaken. He truly hadn't expected to win. He wouldn't say Kacchan looked guilty per say, but he was letting Kirishima land hits that he wouldn't have normally. Midoriya didn't think anyone else had noticed, but his friend's eyes had been slightly stark when Drake had bodily hauled Hikari's unconscious form away, head lolling around like her neck was broken.

It had been a long time since any of them had been carried away from training like that.

They didn't see the darkhaired girl at morning tea, or in English. At lunch, a few of them went to the infirmary, and asked Recovery Girl if they could see her, and if she was ok.

"Hikari?" the little old woman had frowned, looking at them quizzically "Sorry, but I haven't seen her. Are you sure Mr Drake was bringing her here?"

"Well, it looked like she had concussion, and she didn't come to English." Kaminari said, his eyes worried.

"Well, I'm sure Mr Drake knows what's best for his student, try not to fret." But Midoriya had noted the tightening around the old lady's mouth. If he hadn't been so concerned for his classmate, he would've felt a flash of sympathy for Drake. Recovery Girl was notorious when it came to reprimanding teachers for not taking care of their pupils. He subconsciously rubbed his forearms.

Hikari's seat was notably empty in Hero Law as well. It was strange, but Midoriya hadn't noticed how much noise she made until she wasn't making it. There was no tapping pencil, no irritated sighs, or restless shifts of a seat as the hyperactive female struggled to sit still through the admittedly boring lesson. Now he was getting worried. Where was she? Where would Drake have taken her? Not to an outside hospital, surely?

It wasn't until their walk back to the dorms after a strangely subdued dinner that someone said something "Hey, do you think Bakugo killed her?" the hunched figure in front of them stiffened suddenly.

Midoriya shot Mineta an exasperated look, but Iida beat him to replying "Of course not! You heard Mr Drake- there was nothing to worry about."

"Oh yeah? Well how come she wasn't at the infirmary?"

"Maybe she just spent the afternoon in the dorms? Even if it wasn't a concussion, she'd have a nasty headache." Momo suggested, sounding calm and reassuring. Midoriya glanced at her, and she looked confident enough. He shook himself. There was nothing to worry about. Surely.

They hurried into the warmth of the dorm, all stomping the cold away as they shrugged off jackets and shoes "Hey, Bakubro, I know you said you wanted to go for a run tonight, but can it wait until tomorrow? It's bloody cold out there."

"Heh, looks like Hikari's rubbing off on you." Kaminari joked, picking up on Kirishima's word choice "Next thing you'll be calling Bakugo Ragemuff."

"Who am I rubbing off, and why wasn't I told?"

Midroiya looked toward the unmistakably cheerful voice, noting Bakugo was standing just before the kitchen, stock-still as though in shock.

Louder this time "Oi, tell me who I'm rubbing off! If its Mineta, I'm gonna need to go and roll around in some bleach afterwards." Sprawled on the couch, legs on the armrest and staring intently at the racing game on screen, was their missing classmate.

"Dude! We thought you were dead!" Kaminari rushed forward delightedly, followed by most of the class.

Hikari paused her game, and twisted around to look at them all, surprise on her face "Dead? Why the hell would you think that?"

Kirishima whistled "Damn." He sounded half impressed, half concerned. The bruise was...nasty. Dark purple tinged with yellow spread from her left eye into her hair, even reaching her cheekbone. It looked swollen and tender "Shouldn't you like, go to Recovery Girl or something?"

"Was it a concussion?"

"Mustn't be that bad- she's playing a game!"

Hikari shrugged "Nah; looks worse than it is- and I heal wicked fast. Besides," she gingerly prodded her cheekbone "I'm allergic to all those healing gummies and stuff, and healing Quirks don't really work on me the way they should." She cocked her head, a grin forming "Did you seriously think I was dead?" Wait, how could she allergic to healing gummies?? And Midoriya had never heard of Recovery Girl's power not working properly on someone before (he didn't count). But that must have been the case, seeing as her teacher didn't even bother to take her to the infirmary

Bakugo huffed and stormed away, seeming to snap out of whatever had frozen him. Midoriya noted the girl's sharp blue eyes followed the blonde as he left, her smirk growing wider "Well, you missed lunch, and all the afternoon classes! And when we checked the infirmary, you weren't there..." Ashido trailed off.

Hikari swung her legs off the couch and stood, gracefully and easily, no stumbling or wooziness as far as Midoriya could see. Maybe she really hadn't been concussed? "I didn't wake up until lunch, and Nat said to sit around here for the avo." She hiked a thumb at the tv "Figured I'd adjust all the highscores- you lot really suck at Mario Kart."

***

Stupid Leprechaun. Bakugo angrily pulled on his hoodie and sweat pants, still determined to train despite the cold. He'd been stewing in his room for the past hour, replaying the fight over and over in his mind. She should've been able to dodge that punch- she had for all of his others. Well, except for that one hit he'd landed the other week. He would've stopped the fight the moment his fist connected with her head, except she hadn't gone down! Sure, thinking back, he'd admit he'd noticed something was wrong. Her eyes had gone all glassy and she hadn't been able to focus on him properly, but she'd still lashed out, trying to hit him. He'd never held back against girls in class before- and he couldn't understand his classmates that did. They all wanted to be Pros- why should he treat the girls like they couldn't handle themselves in a fight?

And the Leprechaun was certainly no exception. He'd seen the glee in her face during their fights, especially in todays'. She liked to fight, even if she did insist on holding back like an idiot.

Still, he couldn't pretend it hadn't bothered him, seeing her lifeless on the ground. His heart had stopped momentarily, until Drake had brushed their concern away, all but ignoring his downed student. But there had been seeing her face after school...she'd definitely had a concussion. Maybe Deku was right, and her Quirk wasn't just fire related like IcyHot's old man.

So why was he feeling guilty about seeing her stupid face with the stupid bruise?

Growling at himself, he slammed his door behind him and slouched down the hall. He didn't really care if Kirishima came with him or not- it would be good to just go for a run alone.

The common room was still relatively full- but at least the extras were all doing homework now. He resolutely ignored them all as he trudged past, especially the dark-haired girl sitting at the dining table...even though she was face-first in a book. Nope, he didn't look at her at all "It all the looks the fucking SAME!" he heard her muffled words "How the FUCK is this stupid squiggly line a triangle?" she sat back, glaring with actual venom at her book, before her eyes flickered to see him moving past.

He grit his teeth and kept moving, focusing on the door ahead "C'mon; you managed to answer the other questions- it's the same concept." Fucking Deku, trying to sound all calm and reassuring.

"Fuck off- this one has like, a hundred lines on it, and that one only had one! I swear to the goddess I would murder that Greek prat if he wasn't already dead."

In the safety of the outdoors, Bakugo couldn't help but release a short chuckle. He didn't think anyone else but he told Deku to 'fuck off'- even if it was only a figure of speech.

An hour later, gasping for breath in the cold evening air and coated in freezing sweat, Bakugo got back to the dorms. The lights were all still on downstairs- were they really still studying? Unusual. Normally the nerds had given up by now. Struggling to smooth his breathing, and swiping his sweaty forehead with the back of a hand, he stepped gratefully back into the toasty warmth of the dorm.

"Dude, nothing you just said made any sense. Are you sure you can't speak a third language?"

Sure enough, Deku, the Leprechaun, Round Face, Pikachu and Mind Fuck were all at the table with their books out still. Deku actually had his head buried in his scarred hands, in defeat? Uraraka was shaking with laughter, muffling it with her hands. Bakugo ignored them and went to the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he dug out his clearly labelled bottle of orange juice and started chugging straight from the carton.

"Are you sure you don't have a concussion?"

"Of course I had a fucking concussion- I don't fall to the ground unconscious for fun." Bakugo swallowed hard. Don't fucking laugh, she's not fucking funny "Unless illicit substances are involved, anyway."

"Well, maybe this will make more sense when you're feeling a bit better." Uraraka said soothingly, trying to bite back more laughter "Deku is a really good teacher; I'm sure you'll get it in no-time!" Bakugo bit back a snort. Since when was Deku a good 'teacher'?

Bakugo put his orange juice back in the fridge and started towards the lift "The only thing that would make me feel 'better', is setting this shit all on fire." Heh. Deku was out of his league with this one "Stop looking at me like I'm gonna pass out! Do I need to get a paper bag, or something?"

The next afternoon, earlier than usual, a knock sounded at Bakugo's door. He looked up from his book and bit back a sigh. Well, at least Dunceface and Shitty-hair were taking this seriously for once. He swore they only used these study sessions as an excuse to annoy the crap out of him.

He rolled off the bed, shoving the book under a pillow, and trudge to the door, yanking it open "You better have brought your own fucking dictionary this time, Pikachu-" he stopped.

"Sup."

"No." he slammed the door shut, fuming, glaring at the painted wood.

"Naawwww c'mon Bakubro! Don't be like that!" fucking Kirishima was in on it too? What the hell?!

"Fuck off!"

"Heh, I told you he wouldn't be up to it. C'mon, we'll go back to Midoriya."

Fucking Pikachu. He wrenched the door open again and glared at them. Kirishima grinned brightly at him, with Pikachu looking cheerfully fearless. Behind them, smiling at least a little sheepishly, was the Leprechaun "Why the fuck is she here?" he knew, but he wanted them to squirm.

"Turns out I'm a blithering idiot." The girl chirped.

"We already knew that." He growled back "What made you finally realise it?"

"Well, I think I broke Midoriya."

Bakugo paused mid-retort "I'm listening. What did you do to the nerd?"

She didn't seem to notice her growing grin was crinkling her bruise, even though it must have hurt like hell "He yelled at me." She sounded almost proud. If how 'study session' last night had gone was anything to go by, this one must have been truly hilarious.

"He didn't really." Kaminari broke in "He just shouted out 'how can you not get this?' really loudly, and then ran away saying he was sorry."

Bakugo just looked at them "And why do you think I care?"

"Well, Kami said Midoriya couldn't teach him either, but even he said he didn't make Midoriya cry."

Kirishima's grin seemed to widen "We thought- hoped, you might see this as a challenge. A way to beat Midoriya." The redhead knew him far too well.

Bakugo leaned against the doorframe "Let me get this straight." The three of them looked at him like eager puppies about to be told they were going 'walkies' "You think, because she is too dumb for Deku to teach, that I will be able to." Unbelievably, they all nodded, even happily.

"Yep. Even Kaminari didn't make Midoriya blow his top like Hikari just did. It'll be hilarious if you have more success than he did." Kirishima kept grinning at him. He knew this was going to be a challenge, a competition. And he also knew that Bakugo leapt at any opportunity to show-up Midoriya whenever possible. They might not be as aggressive towards each other as they had been in the previous years; constantly working together as interns, and Bakugo knowing about, and helping with One for All had pretty much smoothed over a lot of the animosity, but they still competed ferociously "Besides, you kinda owe her for making her miss like, half a day of school."

"He doesn't."

"I don't." the girl didn't react when he agreed with her.

"I should've been faster." She just kept grinning at him "It won't happen again." He wasn't sure if that promise was annoying or exciting.

"It had better not." He found himself growling, which only made her grin widen. He weighed his options, looking at the three of them. He knew the girl wasn't as dense as dunceface- she had been the one to work out Class B's deception the other week after all. He knew she had issues concentrating in class, mainly because the urge to punch her grew the longer she was forced to sit still. She was constantly tapping her pencil on the desk, bouncing a leg out of the corner of his eye or shifting around so much he was tempted to ask if there was tack on her chair or something biting her arse. Even now, she was shifting her weight like she couldn't even stand still. Maybe it had something to do with her Quirk. Some of the other fire-partial members of Endeavor's agency acted like they'd had too much energy drink, even though their boss and his son seemed totally unaffected by the chaotic nature of their powers.

"What do you need help with?" he asked, gruffly. Kirishima looked like his face was about to crack in half, and he was almost surprised the bastard didn't do a victory dance. And no, it was absolutely not because he felt guilty her face looked like it had been run over. Who the fuck was allergic to healing gummies, anyway?

"Maths and that Hero Law crap." Well, at least she got straight to the point "The first I view as a form of face cancer that should be burned, the latter is just plain daft and makes no sense." He almost lost a little of his scowl at that. Well, well, well, maybe this would be a decent challenge.

Bakugo huffed, and scowled "I have two conditions." For fucks' sake, anyone would think he'd just announced an early Christmas, the way they all lit up. He held up two fingers "You do as I fucking say, and you don't waste my fucking time."

 

Chapter Text

Wednesday lunch time, Shinso found himself once more sitting with a strange amalgamation of the Deku and Bakusquad that was becoming more and more common- with the uniting factor being a certain accented female. It was a strange group, that couldn't be described as 'little', anymore. Kaminari and Ashido had not relinquished their strange attachment to the (not so) new girl, their senses of humour being uncannily suited to her own. This meant more often than not, Sero would join them as well, and on rare occasion, Kirishima.

In comparison, the 'Dekusquad' was slightly less enthusiastic about joining the more boisterous half of the group for lunch every day. In fact, Shinso was sure that if it wasn't for Midoriya's continued fascination with watching Hikari eat enough to feed a small family, the more uptight group wouldn't sit with them at all. The strange hostility Uraraka had projected for the first week or so had mostly gone, although Shinso had no idea what had started it or why it had melted away. Iida just didn't find any of their jokes funny, constantly going red at the inappropriateness of them, and visibly biting his tongue whenever the Irish girl gave up on using chopsticks and simply shovelled her food with a spoon, or on occasion- her hands.

Todoroki was an enigma, as always, being part of neither group, truly. Shinso glanced sideways at the quiet dual-coloured youth. They had that in common. It wasn't like Shinso didn't get along with his classmates, but he usually preferred his own company- with a few exceptions. But, also like him, Todoroki often quietly gravitated to the ridiculously energetic girl, rarely interacting with the group as a whole. While Shinso had admitted to himself he actually enjoyed the eccentric girl's company, both during the small hours of the morning as well as during lunch and training, it was almost like the duel-Quirked youth was waiting for something, or waiting to pluck up the courage to ask something. Interesting.

Others outside of these groups would occasionally join this strange mix, but the core rarely changed. Today was no exception- the only extra member of the usual group was Asui. She'd only sat with them because it was a particularly cold day, and she wanted to use Hikari as a heater between lessons.

Shinso yawned, and resisted the urge to massage his temples. He hadn't slept at all the previous night. He'd somewhat reluctantly abandoned his customary post in the common area at four in the morning, when it became clear Hikari wasn't going to show. He hadn't realised how accustomed he'd become to her presence- she'd joined him nearly every night since that first one. It wasn't like they talked over-much, she'd just scribble in a notebook and ask for his opinion on something once or twice, or draw in a sketchbook, humming softly to herself absentmindedly. On more than one occasion, he'd drifted off to her soft singing. In fact, he'd slept better on the couch near the strange girl than he had in years in the silence of his bedroom. Even after moving into the dorms, he'd never been able to shake the anxiety of being alone in the dark, defenceless. He knew it was irrational- he'd not been 'defenceless' for a while now, but old fears died hard.

Unfortunately, it was a double edged sword. He hated sleep, but the less he slept, the harder it was not to activate his Quirk accidentally whenever he spoke to someone. The more care he took, the worse the strain on his mind, until he ended up with blinding headaches and eventually, migraines. Aizawa hadn't even needed to ask why one day he'd declined the proposed training session, finding the bright light of daylight too painful. Instead, the Hero that was now his teacher had ordered the installation of special shutters in his dorm room that completely blocked out all sunlight, and gave him special permission slips that got him out of class whenever he felt the oncoming tell-tale pounding behind his eyes.

As they trudged back towards the gym for Hero Training, Shinso grit his teeth in annoyance. His head was properly pounding now, and the lights were starting to make his eyeballs feel like someone was squeezing them.

It didn't help that Hikari was having a heated argument with Kaminari and Kirishima, of all people, just in front of him "No, no, you're not getting it! It can be a verb, a noun, a pronoun as well as an adjective! Trust me, I hate all these stupid English language rules, but I know for a bloodydamn fact I'm right about this."

"You said yourself; you speak it but you aren't an expert at it." Now Midoriya was chiming in "What are you guys talking about, anyway?"

"The correct rules for using the word 'fuck' in a sentence, and how it's the most versatile word in the English language." Hikari informed him matter-of-factly, ignoring his shocked choke and Iida's gasp of outrage "These plebians don't understand its many uses, so I is edumacating them."

"Go on then, seeing as you're the 'bloodydamn' expert; give us a demonstration." Kaminari challenged, grinning widely "All four types, on the double!"

Hikari dramatically cleared her throat, and in business like tone started "Right, so there's 'go fuck yourself'- that's as a verb, then there's 'that's fucked' as an adjective. 'This fuck' as a noun, and 'all of those fucks' for a pronoun. And yes, I will happily submit that as part of next week's English assignment." Kaminari and Kirishima had started to laugh halfway through, and by the end they were bent double, leaving the girl looking down imperiously at them, hands on her hips "Don't ever doubt me again- I am the Master of Fuck."

That had everyone burst out laughing (apart from Iida, who looked like he was about to have an aneurism), and the girl suddenly frowned "See now, in English, that comes across inappropriate."

"Same for in Japanese, moron." Bakugo pushed past the other helplessly laughing classmates, beating them to the door of the gym.

"Dude, I think most of what you say is inappropriate." Kaminari teased, finally getting enough breath to tearfully wheeze.

Her smile was back in an instant, and before Shinso knew it, she'd hooked an incredibly warm arm through his. It wasn't unusual- she was nearly in constant contact with someone in the class- although it was usually Kaminari or Ashido. Still, he felt oddly...included? If his head wasn't pounding so badly he might even have enjoyed it. "Thank the goddess. Was wondering if I'd lost my touch." Shinso didn't respond, but he didn't think he did anything out of the ordinary when she'd grabbed him, so he had no idea why all of a sudden her gaze flashed to his, and she looked at him searchingly, eyes narrowing "You ok?" her voice dropped low and some of the brightness went away from her grin.

Shinso grunted "Headache." She didn't look convinced, and she didn't take her arm away- for which he was surprisingly grateful. She even let them fall back from the main group a little.

"Naawww since when are you two so close?" Ashido had glanced over her shoulder, probably to see where Hikari had gotten to. She still forgot to go to the correct changerooms, much to Mineta's delight, and frustration when she was reminded.

"Us insomniacs do gotta stick together." Hikari replied cheerfully "Club: Sleep is for the Weak ain't gonna run itself." she kept her over-warm arm firmly hooked in Shinso's, right up until they all stopped in front of Aizawa, who was standing ominously in the way of the changerooms, hands thrust deep in his pockets.

Shinso did his best to square his shoulders and keep his eyes open as wide as he could stomach, but the laser-like eyes of his mentor saw through his deception just like every other time "Hey, bossman- gonna let us get changed?" if anyone but Kirishima had said it, it would have sounded disrespectful, but the spikey redhead got away with it, like always.

Aizawa ignored him, like always "Hikari. You won't be participating in Training this afternoon."

"What? Why the hell not? I did that bloodydamn homework!"

Aizawa maintained his deadpan expression remarkably well "You are still recovering from Monday. Drake may not care about the health of his students, but I do. You can either watch from the sidelines, or return to the dorms; I know for a fact you have at least two essays for Hero Law due by the end of the week." Hikari's face was still a mess of sickly yellows and greens- the bruise was healing remarkably fast considering no outside help was involved, but she still looked like she'd been...punched in the face by the resident rage gremlin.

"Don't 'homework shame' me; and I'm recovered as! This is just for camouflage!" she pointed at her cheek with her free hand "Kami- tell him how you didn't see me this morning, when I swapped the sugar out for the salt on you in the kitchen."

"Wait- what?! That was you?"

"See! He didn't even see me!"

"Shut it." Ok, now Shinso was starting to understand why Midoriya had supposedly snapped and yelled at Hikari the other night (the story was still circulating) "You too Shinso." Huh? He made the error of squinting at the underground hero in confusion "I can tell from here you're about to get a migraine. Either go back to the dorm and sleep it off, or go and see Recovery Girl."

Hikari whispered loudly in his ear "I don't think we're welcome here- they know the truth."

"Of course you are welcome here! Mr Aizawa is merely concerned for your health!" If Iida had a single sarcastic bone in his body, it had been broken long ago "And what 'truth' are you referring to?"

Hikari shoved her nose in the air and shook her head imperiously, curls bouncing "Nope! Had your chance, and you blew it. Good luck beating those extras without our mighty brains!"

"I think we'll manage." Kaminari said dryly, grinning "Unless you wanna educate them on the correct uses for the word fu-"

"Finish that word, and you'll be spending tomorrow's lunch in detention." Aizawa growled, eyes narrowing.

"How come Hikari gets to say it, and not us? Talk about favourites!" Kaminari pouted, joining the others as Aizawa stepped aside to let them move towards the changerooms.

"Hikari is incapable of stringing a sentence together without cursing- it would be more annoying trying to deal with her mute."

Shinso didn't miss the girl stick her tongue out, nor the amused eyebrow raised in response "Don't you two have somewhere else to be?"

"C'mon," she stuck her nose in the air, and pulled him imperiously (although gently) around "let's leave the haters to hate."

She didn't relinquish her hold on him even as they got back to the dorms. He wasn't sure how she'd figured out he didn't want or need to go to Recovery Girl, and he was grateful she didn't make him. Although, if what she had said was true and she was allergic or incompatible or whatever to the treatments offered, it may not have occurred to her that someone else could go there successfully. It was hard to tell how her mind worked.

By the time they re-entered the warmth of the dorms, the familiar blurs of colour were dancing in front of his eyeballs "Migraines, huh?" it was the first time she'd spoken since they left the gym "Get them often?"

"Often enough." He bit out, the nausea starting to swell. He grit his teeth fiercely. At least sound wasn't bothering him so much they were away from the constant chatter of the class.

They made their way to the lift "What normally helps?"

"Dark. Quiet. Drugs- sometimes." He hated all three.

"What causes them, do you know?" she still spoke softly, as though she knew loud sounds made it worse. And she was guiding him, as though suspecting his vision was getting more and more blurry. Most people just thought migraines were bad headaches, with no clue as to the extra symptoms. If his head didn't hurt so damned much, he'd find it intriguing she obviously knew about said symptoms.

"Not sleeping. Not using my Quirk." Only a handful of people knew how hard he worked to not accidentally activate his power. Midoriya, who apart from Hikari was the only one who really spoke to him regularly outside of class, Aizawa, for obvious reasons and surprisingly- Kaminari. The blonde idiot had found him in a closet early second year, when a migraine had come on so fast he hadn't been able to get to the dorms. He'd been almost suspiciously sympathetic when Shinso had reluctantly explained why he got the attacks, even going so far as to admit he too, had trouble containing his powers. Apparently, blackouts were common in his home-region; especially when he watched scary movies.

"Using it, or not using it?"

"Not using it." Wait, they were going to the sixth floor? Why? He could just make out the red number illuminated.

"That sucks. I got a friend who has a mind-reading power, and he gets wicked headaches and nausea every time he uses it." The elevator door opened with a soft noise, and then she was leading him forwards "It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, he makes Bakugo look like an overly friendly pre-school teacher."

"Why are we here?" they were definitely on Hikari's room floor. Shinso had overheard Uraraka and Ashido describing the huge dorm room to the others, and how she even had her own kitchen.

"Like I said; I have a friend who gets migraines. I think I might have sommat that can help with yours." Then, they were in her room. Squinting, trying to see past the growing blurs of colour only he could see, Shinso vaguely made out the long, wide room. She gently pulled him to the right, towards the painfully bright glass wall he could only assume lead outside to a balcony "Sit here; I'll close the curtains." He was pushed down, and he carefully fell into a surprisingly plush couch. He was immediately blasted with the smell of Hikari- smoke and something almost peaty- but it wasn't unpleasant.

Suddenly, the brilliance of day was gone, and he sighed in relief, despite the flare of anxiety that came with the darkness "I'm just gonna turn these on..." then, there was a red glow. It didn't cut the darkness entirely, but it chased it away just enough "Right, bear with me- I just gotta find..."

He heard rustling. He leaned forward and started massaging his temples, already he could tell this was gonna be one of the bad ones "Just out of curiosity, does it go away if you use your power?" she sounded like she was behind him. She must be in the kitchen.

"Don't know. Never tried. No volunteers." The back of his neck was hurting now.

She muttered something, but he didn't catch it. Then, he heard water boiling and a strange, herbal smell filled the air "No offence- tea doesn't help." He bit out.

"Hush." And then he could make out her dark outline in front of him, dropping to the ground "Here- watch it though- shit's hot." He semi-blindly reached out, and gingerly took the offered mug? it felt like a mug "Try breathing the steam first, see if it helps."

Trying not to let his hands tremble too much, Shinso raised the mug to his face, feeling the heat of the liquid on his face. Drawing a short, shaky breath, he let the steam into his lungs. The smell was... strange. It was slightly bitter, almost acrid- but there was an underlying wood-like trace that was oddly comforting. Just as his brain registered the weird smells, he immediately felt a loosening at the back of his neck.

He sighed audibly, and without hesitating, took a small sip. The taste was just like the smell. The instant he swallowed it, he felt an almost holy warmth spread up his spine, and it was like a clamp was released from his skull. Hikari hummed "Better?"

Shinso opened his eyes, the colour splotches already fading, his vision already returning to normal. The room was indeed illuminated by red lights- and he could now see the strips of LED's that ran around the entire roof, from corner to corner. His head was still pounding, but it was like someone had hit reverse on the migraine itself. Hikari was sitting cross legged on the dark carpet before him, eyes strangely bright in the eerie lighting. He breathed deeply again, the steam soothing, further loosening his tension "Yes."

"Good!" she bounced up to her feet "Finish it if you can- my buddy says they can come back if you don't. Although I dunno how you can stand the taste- smells like crap to me." Truly? The more he breathed it, the better he thought it smelled "Mind if I put some music on? Oh, do you want the tv on?"

Apparently, she was back to her hyperactive self "Music's fine. Prefer no flashing lights yet though." The red was...bearable. Maybe he should ask Aizawa for something similar in his room- would be better than sitting around in total blackness anyway.

"Cool. The controller's on the couch anyway, if you get bored." She used a remote to switch in the respectable sound system he was only now noticing, and an electronic song started up. There were no words, only the beat and melody. Even that was weirdly soothing.

Shinso sipped again, silently praising whatever 'goddess' it was Hikari swore by. He had to get more of whatever this stuff was- hell, Aizawa would probably want some too "Why don't you sleep? Do you not need much, like me?" he shifted on the couch "I mean, I know you generally don't- but it seems like you need to."

"Can't turn my mind off." He replied shortly. Damn, even the pounding behind his eyes was fading.

"Fair enough. How's the head?"

He'd finished half the strange tea, and could safely say it was back to a normal headache "Better."

"Sweet. So, you must be hella powerful if it hurts that much to hold back."

He found himself shrugging "I guess." Now his mind was starting to clear, he twisted, looking for her "What are you doing?" she was... painting? She was standing at the wall nearest the door. From ceiling to floor, a dark swathe of material was draped, almost like a huge, thick curtain. She'd shoved this aside, and had revealed what had to be her own work. A brush was carefully held in her right hand, and she was gently adding detail...in the dark. Wait- could she see in the dark?

"Well I'm not doing that bloodydamn Hero Law homework, that's for sure." Even in the weird half-light, the piece was amazing. It looked like the room was in the middle of a forest. Tall dark trees were edged with painstakingly painted leaves, although he wasn't sure what colour they truly were. The ground faded away into the 'distance', likewise smattered with foliage. The detail was astounding- he half-expected her to fall through and into it.

"Wow; you really don't sleep either, do you." There was no way she could have painted the entire length of the room in less than a month only in the few hours of weekends and evenings.

She shrugged "Like I said; I only need an hour or two. I get bored watching tv- I need something to do with my hands."

Finishing the tea, Shinso was astounded and amazed that the migraine that potentially would've had him bedridden for the rest of the afternoon and the entire night- was gone. There was no post nausea, no tiredness, nothing "What was that stuff?" he peered at the kitchen, hoping to see a box or something with a label.

"A mixture of some herbs and stuff from back home. If you liked it, I'll get Nat to get some more for you. Only thing is you gradually build up a resistance to it- over like thirty years though, so you should be safe."

"I'd appreciate that." He meant it.

"So...you really have to squash your Quirk that much?"

Shinso stood and cautiously rolled his head on his neck, marvelling at the lack of tenderness "Not always. Only gets that bad once a month or so. Usually, I can use it during training and release the pressure."

"Huh. Can you just make people do as you tell them physically? Or can you make them talk as well?" she hadn't looked away from her painting.

Shinso put his now empty mug down on the dully lit benchtop "Used to just be able to make people do things physically, but I've been working on making people respond. I assume you're wondering if I can make people tell the truth?" most people went straight to that assumption.

"Pretty much. Or if you can make them get really talkative etc. Be bloodydamn useful in interrogations and stuff." He'd already been contacted by the police, asking if he could assist them in the future.

"That's what Midoriya said." The green-haired youth had been the one to suggest the development of that part of his power in the first place, during one of his many appraising rambling sessions.

"That kid scares me. Back to the sleep thing though- why do you sit in the lounge when you can't sleep? Surely the constant comings and goings of night-time idiots like myself would get annoying?"

He hesitated. Would she think less of him if he admitted he didn't like the dark and silence? "I don't like the dark...or quiet."

"Fair enough. I fought a Villain a while ago that could use shadows to move around- I slept with the lights on for waaaaaay longer than I'd be proud of admitting- so I get you." She said cheerfully. Shinso just blinked at her "I wasn't kidding when I was saying there really was a Shadow Monster."

 

Chapter Text

After meeting everyone for dinner, I found myself waiting somewhat nervously outside of Bakugo's door with an overly chatty Kami and Kiri. For some reason, they felt guilty for me missing out on Hero Training, and were busily filling me in on what I'd missed. I burst out laughing at Kiri's recount of one of the Class B's 'Heroes' tantrums when Bakugo exploded their objective rather than let it fall into enemy hands, when the door flew open to reveal said Ragemuff. He glared at us with crimson eyes "You people are ridiculously loud." He growled, and then he stepped out into the hall. I did my best not to visibly drool when he shifted the air and I got a blast of his bedroom. Sweet goddess- now I'd need to eat again. Mercifully, he closed the door behind him before I passed out.

"Um, aren't we studying?" Kami sounded confused, and slightly worried.

Bakugo scowled at the other blonde "Like all three of you are gonna fit on the floor." He snapped "We'll go to the common area."

"My ass isn't that fat." I teased as we all fell into following the grouchy youth as he slouched down the hall "Although I've been working hard on it."

The common area was practically empty. Shinso was reading a book on one of the couches, and he nodded at me when I flashed him a grin. He'd stayed in my room until it was dinner time, even after he'd admitted his head felt better. Nat was gonna kill me for using some of his special tea, but it was worth it. I'd recognised the tension around his lilac eyes, and every predatory bone of my body noticed his distress. It had made me irrationally pleased to see him relax and relieved when the remedy worked.

Bakugo had us all sit at the dining table. I'd been ordered to show him my notes the day we'd approached him to ask if he'd help me, and I'd actually cringed a little under his wrathful gaze. He'd made me swear to take proper notes or he wouldn't help me at all. So, I pulled out my now properly battered notebook and flicked through it to the relevant pages. I snuck a peak at my 'tutor', seeing him watching me closely, crimson eyes noting my scrawling notations. And they were actually notes too- I'd been tempted to bullshit, but I admittedly did need help. And there was no way in hell I was asking Nat for it.

Unfortunately, five minutes in, I started to get bored. We were still working on the bloodydamn trig stuff, and nothing the blonde was saying made any sense- or maybe I'd stopped listening to what he was saying, daydreaming about what his room had smelled like. Would it be inappropriate to admit I wanted to roll around in his dirty laundry? When I started dancing my pencil over my fingers, and jiggling my leg, ruby eyes caught my attention as he levelled me with a ferocious glare "What's your problem now?" he growled "Are you really that dumb?"

"I did tell you I was a blithering idiot." I said back, grinning "I'm bored." Breathing through my mouth did not help, now I could taste him. He'd just had a shower, so now he smelt like fresh butterscotch pudding. I was literally about to start salivating.

He just stared at me, glare turning into a scowl "You've been here for five minutes." He bit out "How the fuck can you be bored already?" I shrugged "Dunce-face- every time the Leprechaun starts fidgeting, zap her."

Kami looked up, aghast "Dude! Not cool!"

I grinned "See now, I'd view that as a reward." The electric youth went redder than Bakugo's eyes. Heh- guess not many girls flirted back at the kid.

Kiri just shook his head, but he was grinning too "I'm not sure if that's scary, or sexy."

I winked at him "Can't it be both?" Kiri was fast becoming my fave of this 'squad'- I did not regret giving him a nine in my ranking. His matching blush with Kami just made me grin wider.

"Look, sitting still is not a strong suite of mine."

"Oh, we've noticed." Kiri chuckled, glancing at Ragemuff's clenched knuckles "How have you still got so much energy, anyway?"

I huffed "I always have this much energy- it's a blessing and a curse." I glared down at my book, unconsciously tapping my pencil to the rhythm of the latest trance anthem I'd been listening to on repeat in my head "And I didn't get to run around or blow anything up this afternoon, like you guys did." Bakugo cursed under his breath, and shoved himself away from the table. He stormed away, shoulders tense as we watched him go in silence. Once we heard the lift ding shut, I spoke "Well, he lasted longer than Midoriya did."

None of us were brave enough to leave seeing as our 'master' hadn't told us the session was over, so we were still safely seated when he returned. Slouching back into his seat, he slid something across the table at me. Metal glinted as I snatched it up instinctively "That should keep your hyper-active ass entertained." He growled. The other two looked over curiously as I turned the little device over in my fingers. It was a metal...fidget toy. A weird combination of smooth chain-links, bolts and joints. Already I couldn't help but run it through my fingers, and something in my brain was immediately soothed.

He was still staring at me with strange intensity when I looked back up "I should be insulted, but it's too pretty." I flashed a true smile at him. Get a dragon something shiny- earn their appreciation.

He grunted and crossed his arms "Get back to work- I told you not to waste my time."

With the (well-oiled) little mechanism in my left hand, I was amazed at how much better I was able to absorb and concentrate on what I was being told. Back when I was being taught by the tutors my adoptive family had given me, they managed my inability to sit still through physical activity. I was made to run or perform the Seven while learning my lessons. It was a laborious process, but effective. This little device was easily as helpful, and kept me sitting at the table instead of doing laps around the campus. Nat would kick himself for not thinking it up himself.

Finally, Ragemuff told us to get lost.

Seeing as it was Wednesday, it was Girl's Night. Girl's Night was my new favourite time of the week, (apart from Monday mornings when I got to wrestle Bakugo); although apparently, my taste in the teaching staff did not match those of my classmates- Dadzawa was too much of a father figure for them to agree with my 'hawwwwt' rating. The entire event that evening became a friendly bicker-session as I tried to defend myself. Just before we called it a night, Ashido asked how the first study session with Ragemuff had gone. I'd shrugged "He's actually pretty good- he got me a fidget spinner when I started to drive them all nuts, and it stopped them from killing me."

Momo had started "Is that what it was for? I thought he had lost his mind when he knocked on my door and asked for the bizarre little thing."

Everyone had blinked and looked from her to me "Wait a hot minute, Katsuki went and asked Momo to make Kurai a fidget spinner?" Mina's eyes were getting wider and wider with every word.

"You made that thing?" I looked at the tall girl, eyes nearly as wide as Mina's.

"Kurai- shut it. That's beside the point. Katsuki doesn't just ask for things like that!" Mina looked like she was either horrified or excited "Momo! What exactly did he say?!"

Momo looked a little flustered "I- he knocked on my door and demanded the 'stupid metal thing you made last year', for those special needs children, remember? I had to make a few for the ones that kept tugging on Tsuyu's hair."

"I'm not sure if I'm more amazed he remembered that, or annoyed he thinks Kurai is 'special needs'." Uraraka shook her head in exasperation.

I chuckled "Well, he didn't run away crying, so I guess he wins the 'tutoring' contest." They all laughed at that, although Uraraka went a little pink at the memory.

Contentedly warmed by the hour long soak, I returned to my room, and promptly made and ate an entire pudding (three guesses what flavour). I didn't dwell on how big of a deal the girls made of Bakugo going and asking for something to be made for me. Hell, if they thought that was a big deal, they'd lose their shite if they knew I'd spent the entire afternoon they were in class, alone in my room, with Shinso.

Licking my fingers, I glanced at the clock- I had ten minutes until I was expected to patrol. Almost giddy with anticipation, I stripped and opened the door to the balcony, and sighed into the Change. Nat knew I wouldn't be able to do it every night- but after so long I was more than a little keen to get into the air.

In no time, I was soaring peacefully in the cool night sky, gazing down at what was quickly ingraining itself in my mind as my territory. During the few weeks we'd been there, neither of us had seen anything suspicious, odd, interesting or even vaguely threatening. There had been no report of Villain activity in the city for weeks, and both of us risked getting bored. Nat apparently entertained himself by looking over morbid statistics, while I plotted annoying pranks and literally climbed (and painted) my walls.

I blame my gross lack of situational awareness on contemplating my next prank, and idly plotting how to steal one of Bakugo's shirts. I was absentmindedly scanning the city streets beneath me, letting my gaze wander over the buildings to catch on anything that moved in the small forest around what I now called my home, considering if it would be easier to break into Ragemuff's room, or simply raid the laundry room, when a voice called out next to me "Having a nice night?"

I most certainly did not yelp, leap out of my hide, and lose ten feet of air before I managed to right myself, wings flailing and tail lashing as a strangely musical laugh rang out above me. Scowling as only a dragon can (Bakugo would be jealous), I twisted my neck and looked around. There, soaring effortlessly in the still night air, was a humanoid figure with bright scarlet wings. Shoot me in the head and stuff me with candy- the Pro Hero Hawks was laughing his ass off at me as I laboriously regained lost altitude. Que the mental wolf-whistle; he was even better looking in person. Man, I wish I could tell my girls about this "Sorry- I couldn't help myself." I grumbled, letting smoke blow from my nostrils, but I cocked my head sideways at him as we flew, now side-by-side "But you really should look up, more often." Fuck off- how was I supposed to know anybody else would be daft enough to go flying in the middle of the night in the depths of winter? "Although, there aren't many things that would be out, flying around this time of night." Jinx.

I huffed again, and shook my head and ruff in agreement "To be honest, if I hadn't seen you come from UA, I'd have thought you were a Villain." Jeez, I was getting sloppy if a bloody kid-Icarus wannabe could stalk me without me noticing "I was not looking forward to fighting you." Ok, ego lifted somewhat. He was exceedingly casual considering I was a good six metres longer than he was tall, with my wingspan twice that of his.

I narrowed my eyes and tossed my head. He nodded, satisfied in whatever response he interpreted. I did my best to get a good look (and whiff) of him without falling out of the sky. He was young- but I already knew that. His eyes were a pleasant golden, and his face had a lazy happiness about it. His hair was messy; fair and carelessly loose. He wore a moulded, yellow visor that suited his face nicely. His wings were impressive- although I'd always had a thing for feathered avians (bat wings are sexy, but girls get all gooey for angels- I was not immune). He bore himself easily, deceptively casually, just as all hunters should. I tried to remember what my classmates had told me about his Quirk- he could control each feather in those impressive wings, apparently. However, the thick dun-coloured bomber jacket did not look warm enough for this altitude, and the protective? flare of annoyance took me by surprise. His smell was...odd. Pleasantly masculine as well as avian, but...I looked closer at his face. His cheeks were almost hollow- not something I'd noticed in all of those amazing photos the girls had of him (and I'd admittedly looked up myself), and even in the darkness I could tell he was pale- with all-too familiar dark smudges under his piercing eyes. I tried to put my claw on the underlying scent, but with that much air-displacement I just couldn't get a good read. Something had triggered my weird flash of protectiveness. Sheesh, he'd said two sentences to me and already I was ready to adopt him.

My bizarre train of thought was interrupted when he spoke again "So, are you related to Ryukyu?" I had no idea who that was "The Dragoon Hero?" ah that's right- I remembered Toshi telling us about another Pro that had a dragon-like power. She wasn't a true Shifter, but from what I'd seen of her other form, she was impressive. I struggled not to beat my wings too much with the Hero so close, as I did my best to shake my head. This was going to get annoying, quickly. I hated trying to talk to people in this form "Interesting. I take it by your silence, you either can't speak, or you're shy." Wait, was he teasing me? And fuck-all; he was as bright as the youths I was forever trying to sneak around.

I pointedly beat my wings hard, and he laughed again as he drew his own in to avoid getting knocked out of the air "Can't speak it is then." Ok, if it wasn't for my increasingly agitated instincts, I'd say this was the most laid back guy I'd met in weeks "Well, dragon-girl, I'll leave you to your evening flight. It was nice 'talking'." He gave a sloppy salute, and then was spiralling away, far more elegantly than I ever could. Also- how the actual hell had he known I was female???

I stared after him stupidly for waaaay longer than was acceptable. Saluting? That was my gimmick! What the... I shook myself violently, and wheeled back towards my territory, doing my best not to look over my shoulder, but admittedly trying to keep my wingbeats steady and my form elegant.

Midnight came quickly as I circled the school from above, deep in thought, wondering if the winged hero was still watching me. Somewhat reluctantly, I fluttered to land on my balcony, and padded inside. As I'd hoped, my horns were a good distance from the ceiling, and I was able to get inside easily. I let the Change flow almost absentmindedly, barely noticing the pain as I replayed my strange interaction over and over in my mind. If I wasn't grossly mistaken, I'd just been flirted with by the number two Pro Hero, in the middle of the night, several thousand feet above the ground. And he'd known I'd come from the school- which meant he assumed I was a staff member. Surely he wouldn't have flirted with me if he'd thought I was a student? Curse it all- I wanted to talk to Mina about this!

So it was I was still sitting buck naked on my floor, fur and horns still retracting slowly, with the balcony doors wide open to the winter air, when someone knocked on my door. I jerked, shocked back to reality "Um, just a sec!" Luckily, my mouth was human as I cursed under my breath and awkwardly got to my still paw-like feet. I stumbled to my bed and dug around for my track pants and shirt, urging my residual Change to hurry the hell up.

I reached the door just as I felt my horns fully retract and glamour reactivate, and opened it looking relatively normal "Sorry, I thought you might have been asleep." Shinso's lilac eyes looked at me a little warily, then his gaze flickered past me "Um...why do you have the doors wide open?"

I looked over my shoulder. Act casual, act casual "I fancied a bit of fresh air." I tilted my head "You ok? Another headache?" surely the herbs would still be working; Nat usually got twenty four hours out of them.

He sighed "Not yet- but I can't sleep." I blinked, and stepped aside. He accepted my wordless invitation as I mentally slapped myself out of my weird reverie. If I wasn't mistaken, I'd been fangirling. Bloody hell- Midoriya was rubbing off on me. Next I'd be obsessing over people's Quirks...oh wait.

Back to Shinso! Another night where he couldn't sleep? I forced my brain to get off the topic of winged hotties and other hotties that smelt like dessert. Hang on- this was the second night in a row I'd not gone downstairs...and my insomniac always passed out a few hours just before dawn- if I was there. Hmmmm...was he afraid of the dark- or of being alone?

I padded around him, and went to the balcony doors, closing them firmly against the admittedly chilly air "Gimme a sec; I'll start the fire. It'll take forever to heat the place up otherwise." The tired-looking youth awkwardly stood in the lounge area as I skipped to the open fireplace. With a click of my fingers, flames happily leapt from my claws and danced into the pre-set kindling, quickly changing from black and white to self-sufficient gold. There wasn't enough wood to last long, but at least it would take the chill out of the air. If needed, I'd just feed it some of my own energy.

"Feel free to crash on the couch," I said casually, stalking to the kitchen "I have the entirety of Battestar Gallactica on that hard drive- binge away." I just assumed he'd find the show interesting- I had no idea what kids watched those days. I started pulling out everything to make more pudding. Cravings- they'll kill you.

"Don't you need to sleep?" he gingerly sank into my couch, and I tried to ignore the satisfaction it brought my draconic instincts.

I could in fact, happily have a nap. Post-Shift endorphins were making my brain all fuzzy- the couch was looking awfully appealing "I'll catch an hour or two in a bit- need my pudding first." I'd forgone putting it in the oven- damned thing took too long to heat up. Instead, I vaulted the couch "Scooch your legs." I commanded. Shinso obediently lifted his feet, and I settled into the end corner, grabbing his sock-bound feet and placing them on my lap. I then cuddled the pudding batter in its glass dish (careful to hold it above the feet on my lap), and let my heat flow directly through it. I could cook a pudding in ten minutes with nothing but excess body-heat.

The show started up "This doesn't bother you?" came the question, reservation in his voice.

I had been huffing the cooking smell, and it took me a second to bring my brain back into gear "What? Battlestar?"

He shifted on the couch "No, having a guy in your room after midnight."

I squinted at him, but he was resolutely looking at my tv "How is it different from sitting up all night down in the lounge?" He shrugged "Besides; it's not like you're Mineta or anything." Goddamn, the pudding was starting to smell amazing. Fuck Bakugo- lucky my teeth healed with each Shift, or I'd lose them all within the month.

"You do realise they're all going to assume we're dating if they find out." There was something in his tone, amusement? Resignation? I couldn't place it. I sucked at interpreting human feelings if they weren't expressed physically- gimme a pair of proper ears to watch flicker, and I was fine. Hell, I'd been able to tell Shinso had been about to get a migraine from his eye-muscles!

"They'll assume we're sleeping together- dating is a bit of a stretch." I remarked dryly, prodding the now rising pudding with a claw. Not much longer! "Seriously though, if you actually do manage to get some sleep, feel free to come up whenever. It's only Wednesday and Monday nights that I'm busy until midnight- otherwise the tv- and couch, is all yours." I'd prefer to keep my Shifting a secret as loss as possible. But if it meant he got some sleep and stopped him from getting migraines, I was more than happy to put up with a constant night-time visitor. 

Gods' dammit, I hadn't brought a bloodydamn spoon with me.

He fell asleep half-way into the first episode, just after one in the morning (insomniac my ass). He was just scared of the dark and being alone. That did NOT do anything to my already dangerously rearing instincts at ALL. I suppressed a growl of satisfaction when I glanced over as his breathing evened, and his face relaxed. Poor bastard. I wasn't sure what it was about my room or presence that relaxed him enough to sleep, but it soothed the growing protectiveness in me, so I was more than happy to accommodate. I'd just have to make sure Nat didn't drop by at some ungodly hour- that would be hard to explain. I sat back, eating my pudding with my fingers, content to watch my show until my 'insomniac' woke up.

Now though, I could go back to my musing over my strange encounter earlier in the evening.

 

Chapter Text

"Hey, Midoriya!" he had about two seconds to register the cheerful call of his name, before a familiar head of raven curls was bouncing at his shoulder.

He was quite proud he didn't jump at the girl's sudden appearance, and he smiled brightly down at his classmate "Oh, morning, Hikari!" they had nearly reached the entrance to the main building on campus, and Midoriya could not wait to get back into the warmth of the heated hallways, and get something hot to eat for breakfast. It was a brutally cold morning, and everyone except the Irish girl was rugged up in their thickest winter gear- even Todoroki. Midoriya clenched his hands in his pockets- once again he had forgotten to heat his heat packs up properly, and his hands were already aching. In contrast, Hikari still wore what was essentially the summer uniform; although this morning her breath steamed so much it looked like she was breathing smoke. Kaminari and Mineta still gawked at the flashing long legs. Something told him she'd be hungrier than usual today.

"I was wondering if you knew much about the Pro Hero Hawks?" she asked brightly, practically skipping along sideways beside him, oblivious to the exasperated sigh from Uraraka.

"Oi, why're you asking him?" Ashido demanded from her fluffy pink and silver hoodie, linked arm and arm with Tsuyu, who was visibly shivering even in her huge red jacket "I'm your resident Hawks expert!"

"Well duh- but I wanna know actual Hero stuff- not his preference in cologne." Hikari rolled her eyes playfully, tossing her curls as Ashido made affronted noises "If you must know- I'm pretty sure I spotted him flying over the city last night, and I was wondering if he patrols near here."

Midoriya frowned, scrunching his now almost cold heat packs in his pockets "Not typically, no. I don't think he's ever patrolled in this city." This was intriguing. He'd not seen any news or message board updates showing the number two hero had changed cities or patrol routes. Hawks usually stayed in the much bigger cities to the south "Wait, you saw him? From your room?" his brain furiously absorbed and analysed this. For her to have been able to see Hawks (who had undoubtedly been airborne, and probably over the city-proper), at night and well enough to recognise who it was, her eyes must be extraordinary! So that put increased visual ability on the board along with heightened hearing and smell, as well as higher than average strength, reflexes- and that wasn't even mentioning her fire.

"Dude, you're muttering again." Kaminari poked his shoulder playfully "Stop creeping Hikari out!"

He jolted and shot a guilty look at the girl at his side "Sorry- I wasn't saying all that out-loud, was I?"

"A bit; most of it was unintelligible anyway. But yeah, I could make out who he was. Just wondering if he was local, is all."

Midoriya was first to reach the door. He bit back a grimace as he was forced to withdraw his aching hand from his relatively warm pocket, and reach out to open it "Jeez, Midoriya, you might need to go to the Nurse's office today- your knuckles are really swollen!" Kaminari was still right beside him, his normally bright face creased with concern.

Midoriya sighed a laugh "It's just because it's a cold morning! They'll be fine once we're inside and warm."

"What's up with your hands?" they trickled inside, only Hikari not needing to pause to shrug off their outer jackets.

"He busted them up all the time in First Year- how many times did you break them and your arms?" Ashido teased from behind them "And then he was like 'I have legs!', and he started breaking those too." Kaminari snorted a laugh.

"C'mon guys- I didn't hurt my legs that much at all after that!" Midoriya protested, feeling his ears start to burn as Hikari looked at him in bafflement "It too me a while to get used to my Quirk." He explained, looking down at his heavily scarred hands and knuckles "I did a lot of damage, and it couldn't all be fixed." He didn't regret it though; he had learned so much so fast, it seemed like a fair price to pay.

Hikari squinted at him, and then reached out, a question in her eyes. Hesitantly, he let her take his right hand in hers, resisting the urge to shudder in relief as her nearly burning skin warmed him right down to the bone in a matter of seconds "Gods above; you've got fucking arthritis- you know that right?" he looked up from where she was gently turning his hand this way and that, probing the swollen knuckle joints with the pads of her surprisingly soft fingers. He'd known there was nerve damage, but arthritis? It would certainly explain the swelling. Instead of her usual smirk, and despite her careful touch, she was scowling "You're eighteen years old, and you have the hands of a fifty-year-old knuckle boxer." She released him, ignoring his shocked expression, her eyes flashing dangerously.

"They're not that bad!" he protested, quickly shoving his hand back into his pocket, trying to retain the heat she'd worked through it, the other one throbbing noticeably "I only notice them when it's really, really cold anyway."

Hikari huffed, and then spun on her heel, heading away from the cafeteria they'd nearly reached "Where are you going? You'll miss breakfast!" Kaminari called after her as she stalked away.

"Not hungry! See you in class!' she called over her shoulder. And then she was gone from view.

Midoriya stared after her in confusion. Why had she stormed away? The last time she'd skipped a meal so suddenly, she'd gone and ground her claws nearly to the bone. But her claws were already blunt- had she gotten upset over his hands? Sure the joints were all knobbly, but it wasn't like he could help it. Why would that make her angry?

"C'mon," Kaminari threw an arm over his shoulder, jolting him back to the present "Hikari is as Hikari does- we're gonna miss out on breakfast too, if we're not quick."

***

"So, Rhea is patrolling at night as well now?" Toshi waited patiently for the vampire to finish pouring himself his coffee, empty mug in hand. It felt almost strange, calling the dark-haired girl by her real name; Hikari had become second nature- as it needed to be.

Nathaniel nodded, and carefully replaced the jug on the stand "Only twice a week- I think she was starting to get restless sitting around all night." He moved out of the way, leaning casually against the fridge "Not that there is anything more interesting to see on patrol." He wasn't complaining- just stating a fact.

"We are grateful for your help." Toshi said, pouring his own drink "And I appreciate how hard it is for you- both of you, to have to adjust so much to suit our needs. Especially Rhea." He'd felt sympathy for the girl when they'd confronted her last week- it had been obvious how hard she'd been trying to stay 'in roll' as Aizawa had berated her. To be honest, he couldn't see why it was an issue if she was refraining from using her full-power. Maybe if she had better acting skills...

"I'm surprised the idiot hasn't Shifted in front of them already. Aizawa is gonna win the bet at this rate." Nat grumbled into his mug.

"Isn't that a good thing? Surely she only does that if she is angered." Toshi moved back to the couch, warming his hands around his now steaming mug.

"Pretty much. I thought we were going to get a show this Monday gone- but young Bakugo knocked her out too quickly." The vampire didn't sound at all resentful his partner had been concussed by the explosive youth "But that reminds me; I overheard some of the kids talking about internships?"

Toshi nodded "Yes. Third years especially, go off campus to work with Pro Heroes at least once weekly. They've been on hiatus for the last month or so but I believe at least some of them will resume shortly." The experience the young heroes gained on the streets was invaluable. The growth he'd seen in each and every one of them was utterly remarkable, and he couldn't be more proud. More than half of Class 3A and B already had job offers once they graduated- not that the teens had been informed. Nezu didn't want them to lose focus on finishing their education, and Toshi half-heartedly agreed.

Nathaniel rubbed his smooth jaw "That could prove problematic for us. We can't exactly run protection if they're all split up." Once more, Toshi was marvelling at the differences between this male and his partner. Nathaniel was definitely the strategist of the pair, constantly planning ahead "Do you have any idea which of the kids is the most likely target?"

Toshi grimaced "Several- and as luck would have it, most of them intern at the same agency. We believe the Villain Dabi is most likely targeting young Todoroki, and by extension, Endeavor."

Nathaniel waved vaguely "Yes, I know the little elemental is Endeavor's kid- you think he is related to Dabi as well? I can see the similarities as far as their powers go- but surely it's too obvious?"

Toshi shrugged "We're not certain, but it would hold a certain cosmic irony. The number one hero's long-lost son turned Villain? I know you don't believe in coincidences- merely the comparing his fire Quirk to Endeavor's has most convinced there is some relation." Very few people knew the less than savory history of the Todoroki family; with Shoto himself requesting it be kept private, despite his open dislike for his father. That being said, everyone in the 'know' would not be surprised to hear this particular theory.

Nathaniel nodded slowly "I agree. Although, what does Dabi plan to do with young Todoroki should they meet? Surely he wouldn't expect the kid to go along with him?" apparently the vampire was talking to himself, because he didn't give Toshi a chance to respond before asking "What of the other possible targets? I assume these are the ones you and Nezu fear will be desired for future Nomu projects."

Toshi looked down at his claw-like hands. Just thinking about those...creatures- made his blood boil. So many lives had been ruined... "Truth be told- I don't think anyone in Class A or B are 'off the radar'- they are all so amazing and powerfully. But yes, there are some I think are more at risk than others. Young Midoriya and Bakugo work with Todoroki at his father's agency. If the Villains want anyone for their disgusting work- those two will be at the top of the list." He barely noticed he growled out the last words "Midoriya, because he is the inheritor of One for All, and Bakugo because of the power he holds in his own right."

Nathaniel's eyes narrowed thoughtfully "That certainly makes things simpler- having them all together. Very well. We will need to approach Endeavor and ensure Hikari is invited to participate in this internship. If she is not accepted, she and I will have to tail the younglings while they are outside of UA's borders." He threw back the last of his coffee, smacking his lips and flashing his fangs "What is the likelihood of the Pro Hero accepting my partner?"

Toshi pondered the question "Honestly- I think he will be open to it out of curiosity. If he hears of her fire Quirk, he may invite her simply to see what she can do. He is always recruiting heroes with fire-related abilities- and then there is the chance he may think she might be able to influence Shoto into using his left side more often." The young hero was more and more accepting of his dual nature, but Toshi knew he still hesitated to unleash his more destructive side. He was another who had come far since First Year.

"Sounds like a charmer." Nathaniel remarked dryly "I'd heard he was difficult to work with- can he be trusted?"

Toshi nodded firmly "I'd trust him with my life." He leaned forward, changing the subject, trying not to let his anxiety show as he asked "In all seriousness- is Rhea coping? I heard she's actually been handing in assignments this week- have you needed to help? Is there anything I can do?"

Nathaniel shook his head, bemused as he ran a hand through his already ruffled dark hair "In all honesty? I think she's doing fine. And no, she's not asked me for help- I suspect she is getting it from one of the students. They seem to have accepted her reasonably well." He didn't sound surprised.

At that second, the door to the staffroom burst open. Toshi jolted, nearly spilling his hot drink all over his lap. Thrown with such force, the door literally bounced off the wall, momentum nearly making it shut again, until an obviously irate Rhea caught it and shoved it away again. Fierce blue eyes caught sight of him "You twat!" He'd not seen her so angry in years- her eyes were even paling! "Your stupid ass Quirk gave Midoriya arthritis, in his fucking hands!" she seethed, her chaotic hair somehow making her look bigger than she was, and he found himself quailing before the school-uniform clad female, such anger was rolling off her "What the fuck All Might?" and then without saying anything else, she slammed the door shut, leaving a stunned silence.

Nathaniel released a loud sigh that was almost a groan as Toshi blinked "It's started, then. I had wondered." He didn't seem at all shocked by the random outburst.

Toshi looked at him with wide eyes, still trying to comprehend what had just happened "What has?" he managed to get out.

"The Mothering- she's starting to get all 'protective'. She won't want any of them out of her sight now." He made a face that bordered between exasperation and disgust.

"Protective? Of the students? Isn't that a good thing?"

Nathaniel sniffed "Not if you ever want her to leave."

Er...Toshi wasn't sure what to make of that. He frowned suddenly "How did she know it was only the two of us in here?" there were no windows that faced the corridor.

Nathaniel looked at him, a brow raised "She didn't."

***

Hikari actually beat them to class. She was leaning against the door, form tense, foot tapping impatiently as Midoriya and the others approached, irritation still rolling off her as she blew a curl from her eyes. Midoriya found himself surreptitiously looking her over, not sure what he was looking for- almost guiltily expecting some sort of further self-harm. But it wasn't like the other day- she hadn't seemed so agitated. Even as they got closer, they saw her snap irritably at a passing First Year, making the smaller student hurry along in apparent terror.

Ashido suddenly snorted a laugh out her nose "What was it you said Kaminari- about getting another Bakugo?" Midoriya could suddenly see the resemblances. The girl looked like she was literally about to set something on fire "I think he's rubbing off on her." Kaminari choked.

"You." She barked as they got closer, blue eyes boring into green ones. She imperiously held out a hand and growled "Gimme those damned heat packs." How could she seem so intimidating when she was nearly a head shorter than he was? Ashido was right- this was like a smaller, darker, prettier version of Kacchan.

Warily, Midoriya withdrew his palm-sized wheat bags "You're not gonna ruin them, are you?" he asked nervously. This was his third pair- the last ones had worn out really quickly. It didn't help he kept wearing them on patrol.

She squinted at him, still scowling "Gimme the bloodydamn packs." Her tone warranted no argument- he wouldn't put it past her to just try to take them off him. He dropped them into her hand and stepped back almost nervously.

She ignored him, turning her savage glare to the small, red and blue striped bags in her hand. She clasped them in both hands, a muscle clenching in her jaw, and released a huffing breath. After a moment, her fearsome expression relaxed slightly. She looked up from her hands back to him, raising an eyebrow at his expression "Weirdo- I'm not gonna bite." She held out her hand, the other falling away "Here." She dropped them in his hand as he stiffly held it out again "That should last until lunchtime."

Midoriya nearly groaned as the packs hit his palms. They were hot- like they were fresh out of the microwave. He quickly stuffed them into his pockets, shoving his hands in after them, and really did let out a sigh of relief "You have no idea how much better than feels." He sighed. Already, the throbbing pain was fading to a bearable level, and he could already tell he had more mobility "Thankyou." He tried not to sound fervent.

Hikari sniffed, still glowering, although not as badly as before "At this rate, I'll be changing my name to Class Medic, instead of Cinder." Midoriya had no idea what she meant by that, but found himself smiling weakly anyway.

 

Chapter Text

Hero Training that afternoon was...different.

Aizawa had them all gather around three unmarked, black vans in one of the mock cities. Midoriya stood nervously, unconsciously flexing his fingers in their thick gloves. As promised, the heat packs had stayed almost uncomfortably hot until lunch, where Hikari had then wordlessly demanded them once more, but lacking the angry glare this time. She'd only handled them for a second before returning them. Her feral mood from the morning had melted away surprising quickly, and by lunch she was back to normal, happily chattering away with Tokoyami, who'd joined them upon hearing the European girl had seen a band called My Chemical Romance live. The gothic avian hung upon her every word as she recounted events that had to be an exaggeration- but judging by Tokoyami's face, maybe they weren't...

Hero Training that afternoon had them practicing intercepting Villains evading arrest in vehicles. There would be small teams of 'Villains' in each van, with goals being to 'escape' the city. The Heroes had to immobilise the vans- without killing the Villains or causing too much collateral damage.

"Now, seeing as very few of you have actual licenses, the drivers will be limited to," Aizawa looked down at a clipboard "Jiro, Koda and Hikari." Everyone was surprised.

"Koda! I didn't know you could drive!" Tsuyu playfully punched the larger youth in the shoulder. He mumbled something shyly, looking at his feet at everyone's curious gazes. Midoriya knew Jiro already had her license- she'd told them all at the end of last year she'd passed the test.

"Ummm I think you should pick someone else." Hikari spoke up. Midoriya looked at her in surprise. She was rubbing the back of her neck, face an embarrassed grimace "I'm not usually allowed to drive- Drake says I'm too scatterbrained." That earned a few chuckles from the class, especially from the 'Bakugo Homework Group'.

"I'm sure you'll manage." Aizawa deadpanned, and the girl pouted, shrugging "Get changed and work out your strategies, Heroes. Villains, find a navigator- you get a five minute headstart. The exercise starts in fifteen minutes."

Everyone rushed to the changerooms, excited. This was the first time they'd had an exercise involving vehicles!

"Heh, Bakugo's gonna find this one hard." Mineta joked, pulling on his yellow gloves "Stopping Hikari's van without blowing it up." He wasn't alone in assuming who Kacchan would be aiming for. Midoriya still found it perplexing, as well as amusing, that his rival had so quickly decided Hikari was one of his 'targets'.

"Shut up!" said blonde growled back, glaring ominously at the tiny youth.

"How are we supposed to stop moving vehicles without destroying them?" Kaminari wondered out loud, strapping on his discharge equipment "I know police use caltraps and stuff- should we get Momo to make some?"

"We should wait to discuss this with the other Heroes." Iida chided, pulling his helmet on "Otherwise we waste time repeating ourselves."

"Who's gonna be on the Villain's teams?" Midoriya mused "They need navigators after all."

"It could be kind of fun, being on the run." Kirishima said with a grin "I feel like this is gonna get really hectic super quick!"

They found the girls already waiting, chatting amongst themselves. His eyes immediately went to the 'drivers', analysing them thoughtfully, trying to work out how they would attack the course from behind the wheel. Jiro was a confident, competent driver, he knew. Koda was an unknown, but he admitted quietly to himself that it was unlikely the shy youth would be overly aggressive behind the wheel. And Hikari...she hadn't want to drive at all. Wasn't she as confident behind the wheel as the others? He sensed it wasn't that. She'd said Drake called her 'scatterbrained'- did that mean she drove erratically?

The driver in question was currently bent over at the waist, checking something on the wheels. Mineta whistled low as they approached "Are you sure I can't join Bakugo's study group, Kaminari? No fair you get to spend more time with that piece of ass than I do."

Kaminari whacked him over the head "Dude! Not cool." But the reaction was slightly delayed.

Midoriya had to admit, as his ears heated under his hair, Hikari was stunning. She wasn't as tall as Momo, nor as...buxom as the other girls in class (not that he really looked!), but she carried herself with a confidence he'd only seen in women like Midnight or Mt Lady. Her legs were accentuated by the tight fitting black pants of her Hero costume, and the dark purple 'skirt' complimented her slim hips. Her visible stomach was completely flat, and very well-toned, as was her bare back. Her shoulders, which he'd first noticed on the day she'd arrived, were broad but not disproportionate, and her arms were muscled without being overly buff. Whatever her workout routine was, it must be intense.

"I feel eyes on my ass!" she hollered without looking around. She straightened, and wiggled her hips suggestively "Get a gooood look, boys! This is all you gonna see as I beat you to the finish line." Gone was the embarrassed vibes she'd given off earlier- she sounded excited as well "Oi Puppetmaster! Wanna come for a drive?"

Shinso actually chuckled "Why not? Not like I'll be much use otherwise." He shambled over, hands thrust deep in his pockets, dark costume suddenly appropriate to his role. Midoriya hadn't noticed they were so close! He'd have to ask Shinso how that had happened- it was good to see his shy and quiet friend so willingly to partner with someone relatively new.

The other navigators ended up being Hagakure with Koda, and Tokoyami with Jiro. They'd both agreed eagerly when asked- apparently more than a few of the class agreed with Kirishima's original thought that it would be fun to be 'on the run'.

The launch of the vehicles was less than dramatic. Hikari's van, which she'd gouged a huge 'X' on the back with her dull claws, causing Kacchan to growl and flex his hands at the blatant challenge, stalled unceremoniously as the others took off. Kirishima and Kaminari snickered, but stopped when it suddenly jolted forward, tires screeching, leaving thick black marks on the concrete, before zooming off way faster than the other two had.

Erratic indeed.

***

Hikari had not been lying when she said she shouldn't be driving. Shinso had never felt more terrified, or more alive, than he did sitting next to his insane 'co-Villain'. He alternated between frantically cycling through the 'city' maps on the car's gps, to holding on to the arm rest for dear life as she literally threw the van around corners at speeds it was not designed to handle, all the while belting out rock ballads at the top of her lungs. It wasn't strange because she was a bad singer (she was actually pretty good), but because half the time she'd accentuate a particularly loud chorus by trying to kill them by throwing them around. If he had to describe her driving- it was as erratic and random as she was as a person. They'd be heading down one street he'd picked out, and at the last second, she'd wrench the wheel to the left or right, mounting curbs and hitting gutters with visible glee, shouting things like "Nope- too obvious! Left we go!" and then continue singing at the top of her lungs.

By the time the initial five minutes were up, Shinso had to admit, it was kinda...fun. While they were going way too fast down the alleys she randomly chose, and the engine screamed in protest with every stomp of the pedal- the close calls were never more than that. While she yelped and squealed in 'horror' whenever they came close to hitting something, she'd always dance the bulky vehicle around it, bursting out laughing everytime. He made the mistake of glancing at the speedo only once- apparently it was possible to do a hundred and twenty in a fifty zone.

The sound of the siren signalling the start of the Heroes' 'pursuit' sounded just as they literally flew over an intersection, landing with a sickening screech of suspension and screaming engine "Whoops! How far have we got to go?" she asked breathlessly, eyes wide with excitement.

Shinso quickly cast his eyes over the overall map "If we keep up this pace, we should get to the finish line in the next five minutes." How the hell were the Heroes going to catch them with such a big head-start? "Pity they don't have to come at us by road- they'll be able to cut right across the top of the city." He had no delusions as to who it would be chasing them- Hikari had made the invitation to Ground Zero blaringly obvious "We're stuck to using the roads."

Hikari barked a mad laugh "Roads? Why the hell are we stuck to using those?"

Realisation, and the start of a plan dawned with a sly smile. No wonder she wasn't allowed to drive normally "Shall we take some shortcuts, then?"

She shot him a truly evil grin "Not like we care about collateral."

***

Bakugo leapt across the sky, leaving his 'team' far behind. It had been unspoken agreement he would streak ahead- this task relied on speed more than anything. The others; Kirishima, Kaminari, Ashido and Sero, would follow as quickly as possible- the latter helping the others catch up. None of the other team 'captains' had argued with his declaration that it was his team that would be going after the Leprechauns'. They knew him too well.

But, just like in the very first Hero Training lesson where he'd been chasing the same girl, he was having trouble finding her. The route they'd figured she'd take was the most direct, but it was also relatively tight, with narrow streets and sharp corners- meaning she'd only be able to go flat out in short intervals. Seeing as he could move as the crow flies, he should have been able catch up to her relatively quickly. Once again though, she proved to think somewhat differently to the rest of them.

If his ears hadn't been ringing so badly from the continuous usage of his Quirk, he might have heard them before he spotted them. He certainly wasn't looking for them in an open aired shopping mall.

He blinked as he spotted the unmistakably marked rear of the black van tearing down said shopping arcade, ploughing through mock benches and robot civilians, before teetering around a corner, two wheels off the ground, disappearing down an alley. Bakugo couldn't help but give a savage grin at the Villain's audacity. Why should she care about civilian casualties or collateral? It would make his job more of a challenge- he couldn't just blow up the road in front of her like he'd planned if she was literally driving down footpaths.

Which she then did. Almost like she could hear or tell he was on her tail, she kept to the sidewalks, completely uncaring of the damage she was doing to the front of the car and the trail of destruction she left behind. Hell, she drove like a complete psycho, like she was playing GTA- right down to the fact the van probably hadn't left top gear since they'd taken off.

"I've got eyes on them!" he shouted into his headpiece. They'd repeated the same strategy as last time, getting Creati to make them all wireless radios "Taking them out will be hard- she drives like a fucking nutcase." He'd admit it if it was the truth.

"Can we still head them off?" came Tape-Face's disembodied reply. He sounded breathless.

Bakugo scanned the city below as he blasted himself high into the sky "Head for Main Street, intersecting with Blue Avenue. I'll force them that way." He growled. It should be fairly straightforward to get the Leprechaun headed the direction he needed her to- but he refused to underestimate her. Something had changed on Monday. Right before he'd clobbered her, a new light had lit in her eyes. He instinctively knew she would no longer hold back. It still pissed him off that she had in the first place, but he was strangely eager to see what she'd throw at him now she'd taken the metaphorical gloves off.

He got his answer when he tried to redirect them towards the interception point. He'd let himself fall from the sky, aiming for the alley he knew she was about to try to duck down. At the last second, he flipped and turned, dropping into their line of vision with his hands outstretched. Bracing himself for backlash, he unleashed a massive explosion, light and concussive blasts ripping out to the front of the rapidly approaching vehicle. He expected to hear screeching tyres over the blasts, and had a brief second of confusion when he didn't- was he really that deaf? The next thing he saw was the dark, reflective glass of the van erupting from the plume of smoke from his blast, the driver not even hesitating as it barrelled towards him. He was able to tuck his shoulder in a moment before the van smashed into him. Breath was smashed from his lungs as he bounced off the apparently reinforced windshield, and pain blinded him as much as the shock did. He practically bounced off the front of the van, and flipped through the air, before crashing to the ground in a mess of battered gauntlets and flailing limbs. Dumbly, he stared at the sky for a moment while his brain rebooted. Had she really just tried to run him over?

***

"Shit, I think Ragemuff is on our tail." I hauled on the steering wheel, stomping the clutch as I brutally pushed the van around yet another intersection.

Shinso twisted in his seat, trying to peer behind us, and out the windows around us "How can you tell?" he was no longer holding on for dear life, seeming to have accepted I wouldn't crash and kill us both (Nat should take notes on TRUST).

"I can hear the crazy bastard coming." Only faintly, but the concussive blasts were unmistakable "Any ideas on how to ditch him?" I was reasonably sure he wouldn't simply exploderate the van, especially seeing as it wasn't just me in it, but I didn't really want to put that theory to the test.

"I can take him out, but I need to be close." He replied confidently "If you can get him on the ground, and within earshot." I shot my co-Villain an appraising look. I'd not seen his Quirk in action yet, and I was getting more and more excited to.

"He'll try to herd us towards the rest of his pack." I barely noticed my slip up with the term "I'll see what I can do." My heart was racing, as it always did during any kind of chase. I'd not had this kind of rush since that first Hero Training lesson, where they'd all been chasing me on 'foot'. Hmmm. I sensed a theme here- or did Aizawa just think I made a good rabbit for his Greyhounds to hunt? Not that a I cared; it was just funny. The fact I knew the explosive blonde was hot on my heels just got me riled up more.

Soon enough, I was catching glimpses of him in the mirrors, high above us, powering over the roofs of the buildings we were forced to charge around. Instinct told me what he was going to do, and I had to suppress a growl of satisfaction as he suddenly fell from the sky directly in front of us, hands outstretched and a savage snarl of glee and anger on his expressive face.

"Shit!" Shinso yelped, grabbing the 'oh shit' handle above his head "Turnturnturn!"

I floored it instead and barked a manic laugh as I gripped the steering wheel tighter "Brace for impact!" I hollered and howled like a moron as we ploughed straight into the flaring explosion. I literally saw Bakugo's shoulder smash into the apparently reinforced windshield as we roared through the blast he meant to use to turn us away "Ha! Five points!" I yipped, and then I jammed on the brakes, Shinso clutching his seat and the handle above his head, face paler than I'd ever seen it as we skidded to a halt. Glancing in the mirror, peering through the drifting smoke, heart still racing, I saw the bulky form of the Hero on the ground behind us "Ragemuff down; do your thang!" I said, a little breathlessly.

"Wait, you actually hit him?" Shinso fumbled with the strange mask draped around his neck "He's down?"

I squinted in the mirror, seeing the body start to move a bit "He's twitching- I only clipped him. Whatever you're gonna do, do it fastlike." I revved the unimpressive engine to reinforce my words.

"Right. Say something." I glanced over again. The mask now sat snugly against the bottom half of his face, distorting his voice somewhat.

"Like what?"

"Anything- I need to sample your voice."

"Ummm....I have no idea how to respond to that."

He twiddled something on the mask "How's that?"

I blinked "Fucking spooky." Then I grinned "I like it."

***

Bakugo coughed, grimacing as his chest pulled. Everything hurt like...hurt like he'd just been hit by a van, actually. He scrambled and staggered to his feet, trying to take stock of his injuries as well as the situation. The van sat not far off, still running, almost teasing him. He tried to rotate the shoulder he'd hit the van with, and choked back a gasp. Fuck! The crunching and jarring pain that shot like daggers into his hand and collarbone did not bode well. Gritting his teeth, he craned his neck, trying to see over his neck brace if anything looked wrong with it. It didn't look broken...but it wasn't sitting right, either.

"Oi, Ragemuff! Need a lift?" the Leprechauns' voice called out cheerfully from the van, and the engine revved suggestively.

"You fucking RAN ME OVER!" he roared back, doing his best to straighten through the complaints of his bones. The moment the words left his tongue, he felt something, like a presence, skim along the top of his brain, and then he was frozen. He couldn't move a muscle. What the hell?! Realisation hit, quickly followed by rage. Fucking Mind Fuck was in the fucking van as well. He must have used that damned voice modulator thing with the Leprechauns' stupid voice! And he'd answered, like a goddamned idiot.

Said Leprechaun was now sticking her head out the window, looking at him with wide eyes "Bloodydamn, Puppetmaster- that's seriously awesome."

***

I pulled my head back in the car and looked at my partner in awe "Just like that?"

Shinso nodded, looking a little smug even with the half-mask on "Quickly, what do you want him to do?" he still spoke with my voice, and it was mildly disconcerting.

I thought quickly "We need to get him to keep on like he has us going the way they want us to. Can you make him continue on whatever route he was gonna force us to down."

Shinso scoffed "C'mon, I thought you'd have a challenge for me." He shifted forward, starting to lean out the window "He is gonna be so mad about this- sore too."

Ah shit "Wait, will he follow the command even if he's in pain?" I asked, making a face.

Shinso paused, and then nodded "Yeah."

"Fuckall." I huffed, and then quickly unbuckled myself "I'll just be a sec- give the order or whatever on my signal." Ignoring his questions, I jumped out of the car, and raced the short distance over to the blonde.

It was unnerving, seeing him standing there so completely still. His red eyes blazed with fury, but his face was utterly blank. It wasn't until I was right up close that I truly appreciated how much taller than me he was. Not as tall as Midoriya, but I still had to look up. I forced my eyes away from his piercing gaze, and focused on his shoulder. I'd been able to guess just from watching him get up, that it was at least dislocated, and up close, I could tell that it was. Ouch.

I looked back into his eyes "I'm gonna fix that- but it's gonna hurt like a bitch." I pointed at his shoulder "You're not much use to us on the ground." He couldn't even blink at me, so I carefully moved a little closer, and set one hand on the front of his shoulder, and reached around to rest my other hand on the back, doing my best not to make it obvious how much I appreciated ho built he was. His skin was warm to the touch, and his scent was making me want to dribble. Grimacing on his behalf, I pushed with one hand, and pulled back towards me with the other, and the resound crunch and pop had me cringing in sympathy. He groaned through clenched teeth, and sagged a little, but remained uncannily still.

I probably should've asked if pain would cancel out Shinso's Quirk. My bad. Thankfully, as I carefully backed away, Bakugo didn't try to brain me or blow me up, so I guessed we were safe "K, we're good!" I called.

Red eyes didn't leave mine as I moved backwards, even as Shinso called out in my voice "Continue the path you wanted us to take- do not contact your teammates." I wasn't sure if it was his Quirk I was sensing, or just hearing my voice come from somewhere else, but my hackles rose at Shinso's words.

Like a robot, Bakugo knelt down stiffly, then with twin explosions, he shot into the sky and away.

Back in the car, I released a breath I hadn't known I'd been holding, and set my Bakugo-smelling hands back on the steering wheel "How'd you know his shoulder was dislocated?" Shinso, sounding like Shinso, asked. I snapped out of the weird stupor I'd been in, and put the car back into gear.

Stomping the throttle, I replied "Experience. Can't count the number of times I've been hit by a fast moving object- he's lucky he didn't break the bone." We surged onwards "How long will that command last?"

Shinso shrugged, once more swiping through the map "Depends. I'm surprised he didn't snap out of when you put his shoulder back- I should've warned you pain can deactivate it."

I made a face "Would've been my face he blew up."

"At least he would've hit you on the left side, this time."

 

Chapter Text

Bakugo was as furious as he was confused. Mind Fuck's damned Quirk had him on autopilot right up to the point where he literally smacked into Sero's face- mid-air. Like a switch had been flicked, all of sudden he was able to control himself again. Swearing explosively, he righted himself and managed to land on his feet. Sero staggered to the ground beside him "Dude! What's up? We're still ages away from Main Street."

"Fucking Mind Fuck!" he spat, then groaned as he was finally able to clutch at his bad shoulder. He was damned lucky it had only been dislocated- although how the girl had known that was beyond him. But it was the look on her face as she'd approached him that still burned behind his eyes. She'd come up to him like he was a wild animal, caught in a trap- which, he supposed he was. Yes, she'd been smirking teasingly, but her gaze had been warm and...sympathetic; which had just made him even angrier. Then she'd just casually pushed his shoulder back into the socket, like she'd done it a million times. Her strength still took him by surprise, even after how many times he'd been bodily thrown by her. But why had she helped him? It only made it more likely he'd catch them again, she had to know that. So why risk victory to help an 'enemy'?

It was a good thing she'd done what she'd did though; he suppressed a shudder at how much it would've hurt to follow that damned purple-haired extra's order with only one arm.

"What's the plan now then? I'm assuming they kept going after Shinso got you." Even as Tape-Face spoke, Kirishima, Pickahu and Pinky rounded the corner, panting for breath as they raced to meet them.

The original plan had been for Pinky to use her acid all over the road to bog the van's wheels down and dissolve the rubber, and then for Pikachu to zap the occupants into submission until Tape-Face could tie them up and get them their victory, with Shitty-Hair providing backup. But as Bakguo carefully probed his throbbing shoulder, he was loathe to admit it looked like victory might be out of their reach- unless he could catch up to them again. Which would fucking hurt. His forearms were already starting to cramp from excessive Quirk use, and the fact his gauntlets were busted from when they'd hit him with the fucking van, just made him tire faster.

"She drives like a goddamned maniac- they aren't staying on the roads. Our only chance is for me to take them out." He growled.

Kirishima made a face "That doesn't sound very heroic." He complained "And we'll lose points if they get hurt."

"Well, we LOSE if they get to that finish line first." Pinky pointed out, uncharacteristically eager for a fight "I say go for it Blasty; just try not to kill them!"

***

The door to the observation area opened, but Aizawa didn't bother turning to see who had entered "If you're going to annoy me; leave."

A familiar masculine chuckle sounded, and then the vampire dropped casually into the chair next to him, eyes lazily taking in the screens. Aizawa resolutely continued to ignore him, eyes darting from screen to screen, taking notes and making observations "Thought I'd come and see how the infamous Hero Training session was going this fine afternoon." The fake Brit drawled, but he looked around with growing interest "They certainly aren't to be underestimated, are they?"

"I repeat; annoy me and you leave."

Nathaniel chuckled again "Merely a complimentary observation. Rhea told me how seriously they all take these exercises. I've seen their dedication in my 'classes'; I was intrigued to see them more in their...elements, so to speak." How could he be as annoying as his partner, using so many more words than she did? "Actually, I was hoping for inspiration. I have some ideas for lessons of my own, and I wanted to see them in action before I go ahead with them." He was bored of his own class. Aizawa had suspected that was the reason he continued to set Rhea and Bakugo against one another- for entertainment. He'd have been disgusted, if it hadn't been so effective. The entire class took inspiration from the savage matches, and they'd progressed in leaps and bounds.

Despite his suspicions, Aizawa couldn't help but take a jab "Getting bored of using your partner as a punching bag for my student?"

For his credit, Nathaniel didn't deny it- he actually barked a laugh "Not at all! It's one of the highlights of my day. In fact, that was one of the reasons I came here today; I wanted to see if their rivalry was limited to my class, or if it extended beyond it."

Aizawa snorted "Bakugo doesn't limit his 'rivalry' to one class- it's all or nothing. See for yourself." He nodded at one of the larger screens, the camera tracking Ground Zero as he blasted across the sky, closing in on a certain 'X' marked van.

"Dear goddess, please don't tell me you let Rhea drive." The vampire said after a moment, his tone aghast.

Aizawa glanced over, seeing the vampire staring in horror at the erratically swerving van "She's one of the getaway drivers- what's the problem?" how could he tell it was her driving, anyway?

"You don't let that madwoman drive- ever." He squinted at the screen "Not if you care for the vehicle or the other occupants. Is there someone with her?"

"Shinso, actually." It appeared the two were surprisingly close. He'd asked the youth if he'd been ok, as far as his migraine had been concerned on Wednesday, and had been surprised to hear him admit 'Hikari' had given him some sort of special tea that had stopped it in its tracks. With some prodding, Shinso had even admitted that she often kept him company in the common area, when he couldn't sleep at night. Having the girl specifically ask for him as a navigator for today's challenge confirmed the theory they were becoming friends. He was a little surprised; Kaminari and Ashido he could understand getting along well with the eccentric female, maybe even Midoriya and his group (although to a lesser extent). Aizawa had not expected reclusive Shinso to be taken under her wing, metaphorical or otherwise.

"Bylad." The vampire swore softly, and fell back in his chair, running a hand through his hair "Well, it appears young Bakugo wants beat her here as well." Aizawa rolled his eyes "Er- you may want to watch this."

Aizawa exhaled irritably "What?! I am trying to assess my students here." he followed where the vampire was pointing anyway. Lucky he did.

They watched as Bakugo confronted the racing van, and release a devastating explosion meant to redirect the 'Villains'. But instead of veering away as both the onlookers, and obviously 'Ground Zero' expected, the van charged through the blast, and mowed right into the Hero. Both winced in sympathy as they watched Bakugo tuck into the impact, and spin to the ground "Your partner has issues." Aizawa found himself remarking as the van screeched to a halt.

"You're telling me? I told you she shouldn't be allowed to drive." Came the wry reply. She'd said the same thing, Aizawa remembered.

"Doesn't matter." He said in a dead tone, watching as the front door of the car was thrown open, and the dark girl darted over to the now standing Hero, who'd obviously fallen for a trap of Shinso's, judging by the way he was still as a statue. They watched in silence as the girl did something to Bakugo's shoulder (Aizawa assumed it had been dislocated, if her ministrations were anything to go by), and then she was back in the van, high-tailing it out of there as Bakugo launched into the sky, heading in the opposite direction.

"Why not?"

"She just lost herself the match."

***

Panting for breath, Mina stumbled gratefully to a halt at the finish line, Kaminari and Kirishima staggering to a stop beside her as she doubled over, gasping "Next time- I'm gonna be in the car."

"I'll fight you for it." Kirishima groaned, stretching upwards, obviously fighting a stitch "Note to self- get some sort of Hero-mobile." She had to agree. It sucked not having a Quirk that helped with mobility- as much as she loved her power, she couldn't help but watch enviously as Bakugo fell out of the sky to land beside them, looking furious, as usual. She couldn't believe Hikari had hit him with the van, but at the same time she totally could.

The rest of their shambles of a 'plan' had come to a crashing halt when Bakugo could barely keep himself in the air with his bad shoulder, despite his fury and desire for vengeance and victory. He could still travel faster than even Sero, but the raw speed he had before he just couldn't achieve with his injuries. Mina suspected he hurt in more than one spot- he was breathing awfully shallowly.

The van with the big 'X' gouged into the back doors was parked haphazardly over the finish line, smoking gently from the under the bonnet, and looking like it had been to a destruction derby. Hikari was sitting on the roof, legs swinging childishly, chattering down at Shinso, who was leaning against the busted driver's door. "Where the hell did you get your license?!" Kaminari yelled as they walked towards the van. As they got closer, Mina spotted the other two vans, parked more neatly in a row, the rest of the class gathered around them. She glumly wondered if the other Heroes and managed to capture their Villains, or if it was just the Bakusquad who'd dismally failed.

The pair looked up, and even from this distance, Mina could see the huge grin on the girl's face "A cereal box!" she called back "We still beat your asses though!" Mina didn't miss the amused look Shinso shot up at his 'partner' as she hollered. Hmmmm...interesting. She'd have to make sure to bring that up, next Girl's Night.

Bakugo was cursing under his breath as they drew level with the van, heading for the others as they started to group around the unmistakable figure of Aizawa....and Mr Drake? Why was he here? Hikari gracefully dropped from the roof of the van, knees barely even bending to absorb the impact. She hooked an overly warm, bare arm familiarly around Mina's and the other, sleeved one, through Shinso's, dragging him to keep up with them as they ambled towards the small crowd "How's the arm, Ragemuff?" Mina wondered if the girl had a deathwish as she smirked at the ash blonde stomping in front of them. Instead of turning around and ripping into her, as Mina expected, he just gave her the bird over his shoulder. Hikari snickered.

Mina shook her head, but started to smile despite herself. At least the girl was fire-resistant. She was kind of like Kirishima that way- Bakugo-proof.

"Did you really run him over?" said redhead jogged to catch them, maroon eyes bright.

"She clipped him." Shinso said in his velvety voice. Mina fought the shivers that ran down her spine. How Hikari could only rate him a seven was beyond her.

"It was a good clipping." Hikari nodded, almost to herself.

They drew curious looks as the merged with the rest of the class. Mina glanced around eagerly, trying to work out who had won. Jiro looked smug- she figured her team must have made it, especially judging by the dejected look on Momo's face. She'd been the leader of the team that had picked Jiro's van. That left Deku's team...sure enough, the green-haired youth looked proud and happy. He must have won. Mina caught sight of Koda's van and raised an eyebrow. It looked like the thing had been hit by a small rhinoceros in the back-left door.

"Right." Aizawa wasted no time waiting for them to stop talking "The results mostly speak for themselves." Mina was looking at Drake though, eyeing him appreciatively. They really didn't get to see the Brit often enough, in her opinion. She had to get Hikari talking about what it was like being partnered to him. He just looked so relaxed! He reminded her a little of Hawks, if in a more dangerous way. He had an almost predatory look about him the tawny Hero didn't have- and a roguish charm gain only through being truly deadly. Hmmm...maybe she could ask to have a go fighting him next Monday?

"Team Jiro- you won your match fair and square. Good job keeping your heads when you were cornered, and quick thinking on using the fire hydrants like that." Jiro looked like she was about to split her face, she was grinning so much, and Mina found herself smiling for her as well "Team Yaoyorozu, your plan was inventive, but you needed to implement it faster." Momo sighed in disappointment, and Iida patted her sympathetically on the shoulder. Mina narrowed her eyes at the gesture. Something else to bring up at Girl's Night?

"Team Koda, you did well, until Midoriya blind-sided you. Remember; be aware of your surroundings at all times. Team Midoriya, you did fine until the van hit that group of civilians- try not to kill the bystanders in real life." Midoriya shuffled his feet guiltily, wilting under Aizawa's fearsome glare.

"Team Bakugo," Mina stiffened, noting the other 'Heroes' did as well "your plan was good, but you relied too much on Bakugo's ability to catch and turn the target. But, you win by proxy, so think on what you could've done better for future situations."

Mina blinked as Hikari stiffened beside her, and Kaminari and Kirishima exclaimed in shocked unison "What do you mean; they won by proxy?" Shinso managed to form a coherent response first, lilac eyes glaring at his mentor "We got here long before they did."

Aizawa's expression didn't change, but Drake had started to smirk "Villains don't stop after running a Hero over, to offer medical assistance." There were a few choked laughs and 'What?!'s going around, but Mina was still confused.

"Medical assistance?" Kirishima wondered aloud, frowning?

"She put back Bakugo's dislocated shoulder after running him over." Shinso supplied, still frowning, but not at Aizawa anymore.

"Not exactly 'Villainous'." Kaminari joked "But do we really get a win just 'cos of that? A technicality?" was that why Bakugo was so mad? Mina almost giggled, just picturing the furious blonde standing like a rock as Hikari manhandled him. Hmmmm... yet more juicy conversation for Girls' Night! If she got all hot and bothered just giving Katsuki a rating, getting her to talk about getting handsy would be hilarious.

"Fuck off- it wasn't medical assistance!"

"What do you call tending the enemy's wounds then?" Drake drawled, still smirking.

"Assault, dipshit- wasn't exactly consensual or welcome, now, was it?" Mina couldn't help her horrified snort of laughter as Hikari called her teacher a dipshit (along with several others in the class) "Anyway, we needed him mobile to lead the others off!" she continued hotly.

Aizawa appeared unmoved by her argument "Irrelevant. In a real chase, you wouldn't stop to offer the enemy aid. The Heroes win because of your idiocy." He very deliberately looked away from them, Mina feeling Hikari practically vibrating anger through her arm, and spoke to Bakugo himself, who was scowling with almost as much anger beside them "Bakugo- go and see the old lady before that shoulder stiffens. Check for cracked ribs as well." Without another word, he spun on his heel and slouched away. Drake winked at Hikari, who was staring irately at the retreating Pro, before sauntering away as well.

"Should've nicked his fucking gauntlets- could've been a mugging then. That's counted as Villainous, isn't it?" Hikari growled darkly as they started to meander towards the changerooms, most of them dejected.

"I'd like to see you try it!" Bakugo roared back at them as he stormed away "I'll kill you!"

"You were a fucking statue! I could've waxed your fucking eyebrows if I'd wanted! Maybe then it'd have been assault!" Kirishima shot Mina an exasperated smile she returned as Hikari shrieked at the enraged blonde. Was there really two of them now? 

Kaminari was scratching the back of his head, looking confused "If that was assault, does giving CPR to an unconscious chick count as rape?"

Mina literally facepalmed.

 

Chapter Text

I wasn't actually mad about the 'loss'- we'd won the race after all, and that was all I cared about. I knew for a fact that if it had been a real life situation, I'd probably have done the same thing. The only difference being, if I'd come across a 'Villain' that smelled as looked and good as Bakugo in real life, I'd probably have licked him before sending him on my way (and possibly given him my number). No, the brief flash of rage I'd felt was more caused by my indignation at the fact Aizawa had taken the victory from Shinso. I got the feeling my insomniac rarely got a victory in exercises like these, and I'd felt his frustration and disappointment. It'd had been my 'idiocy' that took that away from him. I'd have to make it up to him somehow.

"Did you really run Bakugo over?" Uraraka asked as I unclipped my shoulder armour in the changerooms. She sounded impressed, if a little dubious.

"Never challenge me to a game of Chicken." I sniffed, smiling a little, remembering his shocked look as we'd emerged from the smoke. A round of giggles circulated the girls "Heh- you should've seen his face!"

"I wanna know what his expression was when you went over and felt him up, to 'fix his shoulder'." Mina said slyly from her locker, catching my eye. I did not like her knowing look.

I grinned more widely, flashing some fang "Well, he was under Shinso's mind control, so like this." I wiped my face and adopted what I hoped was a suitably vacant, dopey mask, which made most of the girls burst out laughing "What'd he say when he got back to you guys?" I let my face go back to normal as I bent and started to undo my boots "Bet he was mad."

Mina snorted "Understatement, much? I don't think he managed to say anything apart from 'fuck' for the first twenty seconds after he snapped out of Shinso's control. I think he called you a maniac, though." She stood in her underwear, carefully folding up her aqua leotard.

I snickered as I pulled my boots off, jamming them into the locker "I'd thought you would be more upset, to be honest." Momo said from her seat. She'd finished changing already, and was relaxing next to Jiro who was flicking through her phone.

"Me? Why?" I pulled my hair out, shaking the curls loose "I don't give a shite what Aizawa says- we totally won that race." I was still revved up, as well. I'd give anything to go for a run on four legs.

Momo shook her head "You seemed so upset when they told you you'd lost! How can you bounce back so quickly?"

I shrugged "I don't have the patience to stay mad about sommat like that." It took too much energy to stay angry. To be honest, two days out from my last Shift, I was kinda surprised myself I'd managed to snap out of the flash of rage so quickly.

Jiro looked up, that same strange smile on her face from the first Girl's Night "I thought you'd be all guilt ridden and angsty from running Katsuki over." The small girl spoke, her tone teasing.

I paused, and thought about it for a minute. Yes, I felt little guilty; that was the main reason I'd gone and fixed his shoulder. But my brain was a strange thing. I felt more guilty causing damage with my own body, like my claws, than I ever could using something like a van. I had no idea how to really put that into words though "Um, yeah? I mean, it's different when it wasn't me that did the damage, you know?" they just looked at me blankly, but Jiro and Mina were still smiling suspiciously.

"So you're not gonna go and do something weird, like cut your hands off for hurting poor, defenceless Katsuki?" Hagakure teased, totally invisible now she'd taken her gloved and shoes off.

I snorted, feeling my cheeks flush. Ok, taking my claws off had been a little dramatic "Nah. Besides; now we're even for Monday" I tapped my cheek. My bruise was long healed, and my head was no longer tender to the touch. Two Shifts had definitely helped speed up the healing process- not that I'd admit it had been a reasonably serious head-injury. Man, that gremlin could throw a punch!

"You know, trying to read your moods is giving me whiplash." Mina complained, dramatically rubbing her temples. I rolled my eyes, but winced internally. Nat often said the same thing- hence the toddler comparisons.

I was in the process of pulling off my pants when Jiro started to bounce her leg "Man, I'm still all pent up!" she complained, shoving her phone in her pocket, running her hands through her short hair "I haven't gotten to drive like that in ages- now I'm all jittery."

"Same." I admitted "Nat never lets me drive normally-"

"I wonder why?" Mina smirked "You're supposed to stay on the road."

I chuffed "Bite me. I wanted to see if I could jump that hunk of junk."

"Did you?"

I blew a raspberry and then said, "I think we managed ten feet over one intersection." Jiro whistled "Was hard to judge with Shinso squealing in my ear." He'd been remarkably calm, considering through the admittedly insane ordeal I'd put him through.

"Well, why don't we organise a game or something tonight then? It's been aaagggees since we had a Mario Kart tournament." Mina complained, pulling on her school jacket "Someone needs to break Bakugo's winning streak- I'm sick of seeing his highscores every time I have a game."

I coughed delicately "Those were his high scores?" I asked, innocently "I thought you'd let a kid play the time trials."

Everyone looked at me with dawning horror in the eyes "Please don't tell me you wiped them." Mina actually whispered "He will actually kill you."

I smirked, unzipping my Hero jacket and pulling it off so I was standing in nothing but my training bra and my purple 'skirt', along with my jagged black mask "If by 'wiped', you mean I adjusted them, then yes. Remember Monday?"

"We didn't think you were serious." Tsuyu croaked, eyes wide "You really beat all of Bakugo's scores?"

I ran a hand through my curls "With a concussion." I was perfectly happy to boast of my skills- I'd not come across a racing game yet I couldn't annihilate "Racing games are kinda my speciality."

Mina and Jiro looked at each other, their smiles growing almost evil "Ok, girls vs boys tonight then." I brightened. That should take the edge of my itchy feet and sprinting brain. I'd been truly considering going for a run (on four legs) once night had fallen. Now, adrenaline started to coil through my limbs at the promise of an actual race.

"Sweet, I'll go and tell the boys! Wonder if I can beat Bakugo's ass twice in one afternoon." nobody was looking at me as I happily spun on my heel and bounced out of the changerooms

"Maybe we should invite 3B; seeing as the last tournament had them play as well?" Hagakure suggested, a little too hopefully, as I left.

I head as Uraraka laughed playfully "You just want to spend time with Kaibara." An invisible force shoved the brunette and she stumbled, laughing.

"Shut up! I do not!" Hagakure whined.

***

Bakugo's shoulder had faded to a dull, consistent throb, muted by the sharp pain in his ribs. He wasn't sure if they were just cracked or broken, but they hurt like hell. He'd have to go to the damned nurse if he wanted to be able to keep training this weekend, and beat the Leprechaun to a pulp on Monday; a fact that made his bad mood even worse.

A fucking technicality. They'd won because that imbecile had helped him, instead of leaving him. Grudgingly, he'd agreed with her reasons; it did make more sense for him to be mobile enough to lead his team astray for as long as possible, but he could've achieved that without her fixing his goddamned shoulder. He swore he could still feel her burning hands on his bare skin- Kirishima hadn't been lying when he'd said her hands were hot to the touch. And he'd never noticed before, but she smelt like his dad's whiskey- smokey with a touch of something like peat. Not unpleasant, but certainly not what he'd have expected a girl to smell like. Not that's he'd smelt that many girls.

He growled to himself, and shook his head, trying to get rid of the confusing train of thought.

A towel draped around his neck, he tossed his sweaty gear into the wash basin in the middle of the change rooms, scowling anew when he remembered his gauntlets were busted. Great. He'd have to send them off to get repaired- again. He really needed to talk to someone about getting them made in a stronger material- what use were they if they couldn't even get hit by a Leprechaun driving a van?

"I can't believe a girl hit you with a van, and then came over to see if you were alright." Mineta snickered. Bakugo wondered darkly if anyone would complain if he blasted the perv "Next time; pretend to be unconscious- maybe she'll give you CPR. That's what I'd have done!"

"I think if it were you, she'd probably just leave you to die." Ojiro said dryly "Pretty sure most of the girls would, actually."

Mineta sniffed "I am unappreciated in my time. Just you wait and see- once I'm a Pro, you won't be able to keep them off me! Muscles don't count for anything when fame and fortune are involved."

"You have to admit; it was an interesting lesson." Deku said, changing the subject quickly "I hadn't realised how hard it was to stop a moving target without hurting the occupants or anyone around it! I mean, it's different if you know the Villain can take a hit."

"But if you have to choose between harming the Villains to stop their rampage, or the safety of the civilians, the choice is obvious." Pompous Four-eyes said, closing his locker and adjusted his glasses "I would not hesitate to 'take them out' if lives were on the line."

"What if the 'rampage' is amongst said civilians?" the purple headed Mind Fuck drawled, shrugging off his capture scarf and heavy black combat gear, which was basically layers of flexible carbon fibre "Hikari and I made a point of driving down busy arcades and sticking to pedestrian footpaths, because we knew the Heroes would be less likely to attack us there. It all comes back to priorities, doesn't it? Just like Drake says; do you care more about catching the Villain and causing collateral damage, or do you let give them space and potentially allow them to escape if it reduces civilian injuries?"

"Wait, that was deliberate?"

"I swear, that girl's mind runs on a different frequency to the rest of us."

Bakugo found himself rolling his eyes "She's a goddamned underground/black ops wannabe- of course she thinks differently to the rest of us." He growled, and eyed the surprised Shinso "You're training to be one too- bet you weren't surprised when she started mowing down civilians."

Shinso ran a hand through his wild purple hair tiredly "Not particularly." He admitted "I'd been about to suggest sticking to populated areas too- she might be erratic, but she knows what she's doing; most of the time." He nodded at the general direction of Bakugo's shoulder, which throbbed as if to make a point.

"Hey! You guys wanna play Mario Kart after dinner?" someone asked brightly, randomly, from right beside Bakugo's locker. It took a literal second for everyone to register the voice was feminine, and came from the door inside the changerooms. Then all hell broke loose.

"Hikari! You can't be in here, it's the boy's changeroom!" Iida actually shrieked, his voice several octaves higher than normal, as he frantically tried to decide if he should be trying to cover his bare chest, or chase the intruder away.

"Dude! We're like, half naked! Go away!" Kaminari yelped, diving behind his locker door.

"Not cool!"

"Ummmm di-did you need something?" Deku was stammering, his stupid blue hero costume pulled down around his waist, flushing scarlet from his temples right down to his chest.

Then they actually looked at her as she cocked her head in confusion at their frantic yelling "Dude YOU'RE half naked! Go away!" Kaminari had poked his head out from his locker, eyes widening even further. Mineta was standing on the spot, jaw practically at his knees, hands outstretched like a fucking zombie.

Hikari just stood there, eyes wide at the sudden onslaught, in nothing but a tight black training bra, and the dark purple triangles of her Hero costume, her pale eyes stark against her jagged mask. Bakugo just shook his head, and hurled his towel at her "Beat it, Leprechaun!" he snapped "Go and put some goddamned clothes on." She caught the towel deftly, but just stared at it as though unsure what to do with it.

"HIKARI! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" Pinky's pink arm reached out from the behind the corner, and seized the other girl's pale arm, hard "For the love of- COME HERE!" her face a mask of utter confusion, Hikari was bodily dragged out of sight.

"But what's the big deal?" Bakugo could hear her whining "It's no different to going swimming- and it's not like they were actually naked anyway!"

The collective sigh of relief was ridiculous "Baaaakugoooo!" the little freak Mineta whined, suddenly at his elbow, eyes wide "She was right next to you! How come you get to beat her up all the time and then see her practically naked up super close?!"

Bakugo bit back the growing rage as his shoulder throbbed, reminding him not to use his right hand to smack the little pervert "Fuck off, Grape Fuck." He growled, gingerly pulling on his school shirt, trying not to favour his bad side too obviously "It's like she said- it's no different to seeing a chick in a bikini." He slammed his locker door shut and stomped out "And why the fuck were you all panicking? It's not like you've got tits- fucking virgins."

He hoisted his bag over his shoulder as the protests and angry remarks chased after him. Hopefully the action hid the hot red flush he knew had spread over the back of his neck and ears.

It wasn't like he never looked at girls, and he certainly wasn't a fucking one-track minded pervert like Mineta, or obsessed like Kaminari and Kirishima were with girls and women; but he just didn't see the point. The girls in class held no attraction for him- he saw them more as sisters (not that he'd EVER tell them that) if he had to put a label on them- sisters that were rivals in competing for the top spot in the Hero ladder. It was the same, to a lesser extent with the girls of 3B. So why look at dating one of them if all he was going to do was stomp them into the dust on his path to become the best?

But if that was the case, why did the curly haired Leprechaun make his ears burn and mind go blank when she stood in front of him, practically naked? Growling, he stormed towards the nurses' office, doing his best to bury the image of her long, creamy torso, slim waist, flat stomach and burning hot hands deep into the recesses of his memory.

***

I endured the girls' scolding in bemused (and bewildered) silence. Their stupid rules about 'nakedness' made absolutely no sense to me. Besides; all of the boys had been wearing pants (ok, maybe just underwear in a few cases), and it wasn't like they had boobs to cover. For the goddess's sake; Kiri's costume had him shirtless! But the main reason I let Mina drag me away was because my brain was literally reeling in my skull. Bakugo had thrown his damp towel basically in my face, effectively scrambling me. Later, I figured out it was for me to use to 'cover' myself, but at that point in time all I'd wanted to do was wrap it around my face and head and huff on butterscotch and burning caramel.

I didn't care if that sounded gross or creep- ever seen a cat with cat nip?

So I got dressed in sheepish silence, listening to the girls berate me about my own lack of modesty, with the towel draped around my own shoulders so I could surreptitiously breathe in the truly divine scent as I did. I wondered what they'd say when they found out I had to strip to use my true powers? Then Hagakure said something that none of the others had thought of; not even Mina "Heeyyyy guys? Just hold on a sec- don't you see what this means?" they all stopped chewing into me and looked in the general direction of the invisible girl "Hikari's seen the boys. Naked- almost." Why the hell did she sound so predatory when she was (assumedly) human?

The atmosphere shifted like lightning "Ok, I hadn't actually thought about that part." Mina admitted, her black and gold eyes sparkling "I don't know if we can wait until Wednesday- I'm gonna start a group chat."

"Oooooh are you gonna change any of your ratings?" Tsuyu sounded almost excited, eyes wide as she looked at me "I had to re-evaluate my rating of Midoriya at the end of last year when we all went to the pool; he's really grown since First Year." She actually gave a little 'ribbit' after she spoke, and I was pretty sure she caught the death glare Uraraka shot her. So, some of the others knew about that little thing then? Good- meant it'd be less embarrassing (for me) when I inadvertently slipped up and made fun of her for it at some point.

I screwed my face up, pulling my high-tops on and zipping them "Maaaybe one or two got moved around."

"Ew! You still have that gross towel from one of the boys-" I couldn't actually stop myself as Mina went to snatch the offending item from around my neck. In a flash of instinct, I spun, my (thankfully declawed) hand lashing out to grab her wrist with almost bone-breaking force, and a true growl rippled from my throat as I bared my fangs properly.

Everyone froze. I stared into black and gold eyes that had widened in shock, hand held fast in front of me. I barely noticed the grumbling from my throat as the pink girl stammered "Um, ok? I won't touch it."

The scent of fear hit my nose like a blast of cold water. I jerked away, and backed off "Ah, fuck- sorry..." I tried to make myself small while I frantically did a mental inventory. Nope, everything felt human, I hadn't partially Shifted "Sorry." I said again.

Mina rubbed her wrist, eyes still wide "Jeez- did you just growl at me, like for real?"

I cringed smaller "Sooorrrrrrry- but you were gonna take it..." I whined, clutching it close. Fucking dragon hoarding instincts.

Jiro's shocked expression morphed into an almost evil smile "Kuurraaaiiii," she sang, just like she had the first Girls' Night. Everyone looked at her in surprise as she used my 'first' name "who's towel is that?" they all looked back, faces shifting to a range of different shock, realisation and knowing smirks. I buried my nose in the towel I'd nearly taken Mina's hand off for, not able to meet Jiro's hooded eyes "It wouldn't be Katsuki's, now, would it?"

I had no idea I could feel that hot, and not be on actual fire.

 

Chapter Text

The trip back to the dorms was uneventful, if cold. Todoroki was sorely tempted to use his left side to warm up, but he didn't want to risk yet another ruined jacket. It wasn't like he couldn't just buy another one (one of the advantages to having a copy of his father's credit card) but it was annoying when the synthetic material abruptly burst into flames, and it scared his classmates. Although, it had happened on so many occasions in the last two years, he wasn't sure why anyone was still surprised when it happened.

Not for the first time, he felt a mild surge of jealousy as Hikari pranced around in nothing but the girls' summer uniform, seemingly oblivious to the cold as she belted out random snippets from songs he'd never heard of. If only he could control his fire Quirk like she could.

The Mario Kart tournament was to begin immediately after dinner, which, Hikari had announced she was cooking. She seemed completely back to normal after her angry outburst at Drake, and totally unfazed by her misadventure earlier that afternoon, despite the fact more than one of his fellow male classmates went beat red when she addressed them. Todoroki himself couldn't really understand what the big deal had been. As she and Bakugo had said; it was little different from seeing each other at a swimming pool or at the beach.

This strange awkwardness gradually melted away though, as the evening progressed. Most of the class retreated to their rooms to shower and otherwise get out of their school clothes, but Todoroki found himself rushing, strangely eager to get back to the kitchen. He wanted to see if Hikari would use her Quirk to cook again. Apparently, most of the 'Bakusquad' had the same thoughts- although he was fairly sure Kaminari and Kirishima just wanted to ogle the rest of her, while Midoriya was doing his 'creepy' thing again.

Hikari, accompanied by Mina, re-emerged from the lift after going to the dark-haired girl's room, carrying a truly amazing amount of food. Todoroki knew he wasn't alone in wondering just how much Hikari ate outside of mealtimes, and sure enough, Midoriya's face was a mask of contemplation as they bodily dropped what was easily five kilograms of raw pork belly onto the bench, along with her much loved portable music player.

Almost reverently, the Irish girl set the device up strategically, vaguely explaining it needed 'walls to bounce', before proceeding to play yet more of her strange, upbeat music at full volume.

He found himself once more taking a seat at the bench with Kaminari, Shinso (surprisingly), and Kirishima, as Hikari and Mina proceeded to hack up the pork with cleavers, while dancing along to the music. Todoroki wasn't sure what was more impressive- the fact the girls didn't remove any of their fingers, or that they never lost the rhythm of the music.

He took a moment to try to look at the new girl with the eyes of the practically drooling males of the Bakusquad beside him. She was pretty enough, he supposed. She wasn't as tall as Momo, nor as...buxom as Mina or Uraraka. Her skin was almost too pale, but she didn't look pallid. Her eyes were incredibly expressive, as was the rest of her face, which was constantly animated. She wore yet another black shirt with the strange letters CAFU emblazoned, but this one was much looser and shorter, exposing her toned midriff above her loose fitting grey slacks as she moved in exaggerated motions to the music.

"You got some moves girl." She teased Mina, bumping her hip playfully against the pink girl, before spinning on her heel and bouncing to the cupboard to grab out the frying pans.

"I was about to say the same." Mina replied, shooting her an admiring glance "Did you take dance back in Ireland? You could totally do something professionally!" was she really that good? Sure she seemed to be able to keep the beat, but Todoroki supposed he probably wasn't much of a judge.

"I kinda already do- remember I told you I work at a club?" she lifted her hands above her head, and rolled her hips, flat stomach flashing, and smiling wickedly "You're looking at the main source of entertainment."

Kaminari made a sound that was almost a whimper "No way- you're what; seventeen tops! How can you work in a club? I thought you were just, like, a kitchen wench or something." Todoroki wondered if there was something wrong with his throat, he sounded a little hoarse. What sort of club were they talking about, anyway?

Hikari raised an eyebrow as she dropped her arms, still swaying fluidly with the beat of the music as she smothered the pork in marinade "Seventeen, huh? Sorry Kami, but I guarantee you I'm the oldest in this here building." Surely not. The oldest in class A was Bakugo, who'd turned eighteen in the April that had just passed "But it was a nice compliment, so thank you." She winked at the blonde, somehow moving her top half to a different beat than her hips.

"Wow!" Mina moved to dig out the rice cooker "Wait, what's the drinking age in Ireland?"

"As soon as you can swallow."

Shinso actually chuckled, shaking his head "I'm pretty sure it's eighteen." Midoriya had given up on sitting so far away, and was dragging a chair around from the dining table, so he could watch the girl as well, seeming as captivated as the other boys "But Europeans have alcohol embedded much more deeply in their culture than we do." He continued, green eyes wide in wonder as Hikari started to roll her hips to the beat as a new song she obviously liked started to play "May we ask how old you actually are?" even Todoroki knew that was not something you simply asked a female.

But Hikari just laughed brightly "I turned nineteen in January. School works a little differently back home- this year is technically an 'on the job' year as an intern, but seeing as I've been working with Nat for the last couple of years, I got the offer to come here instead."

"Wait, you deliberately took an extra year of actual school, over going out and being an intern?" Kirishima sounded confused "But you hate school!" it was unusual for the redhead to be hanging around with Bakugo, but he was still seeing Recovery Girl.

Hikari made a face "I hate aspects of school." She corrected "To be honest though, this has been way more fun than I'd thought it'd be. I can't believe you beat each other up so much- it's great once you get used to it." They all laughed at that.

She set the frying pan down on the granite bench top, and clicked her fingers. Black and white flames flared to life "Oooh just in time!" she cried as a new song started "I loooove this song." She flicked her wrist gaily and the fire latched onto the meat, dancing up as it caught on the sauce.

"What's it called?" Kaminari picked up her phone with interest as the dark-haired girl start to jump to the beat, curls bouncing "Oh, and I'm totally gonna start following you on Spotify, by the way."

"Spotless, by Martin Garrix." She said happily "I'm going through a techno phase. My usernames' cafu, by the way." Mina snorted and rolled her eyes.

"What's that even stand for, anyway? Do you even have any clothes that doesn't have it written all over it?" the pink girl asked.

"Confused And Fucked Up- it currently describes me as a person, so it's now my brand." Silence, and then they all burst out laughing, Hikari grinning proudly even as she rolled her whole body, hands flexing hypnotically and the fires responded in turn, almost lovingly.

Todoroki was staring intently on the frying pan in front of him, and the black and white flames that were surging to the beat of the music, without Hikari even looking at them- distracted by Mina, who'd grabbed her by the hands, before taking it in turns to drop to their haunches, and then back up. It must have been 'sexy', because Kaminari was literally drooling, Kirishima was nearly as red as his hair and even Shinso's eyes were wide.

More interested in the fire apparently linked to Hikari's very emotions, before he knew it, Todoroki found himself saying "Can you teach me how to do that?" he pointed at the frying pan.

Hikari started, and looked down at what he was pointing at, stopping mid drop with Mina, who pouted in disappointment "What, cook? Sorry dude, but you'll be disappointed. I know how to make two things; spicy pork nachos, and sticky, spicy pork stirfry."

"You know how to make butterscotch pudding." Shinso added dryly, arms crossed as he leaned back on his stool casually, looking as relaxed as Todoroki had ever seen him.

"I know how to make three things; spicy pork nachos, sticky, spicy pork stirfry, and pudding." She seemed to think for a minute "Do cocktails count as food?"

"I don't think Todoroki is talking about the food." Mina joked, butting Hikari with her own hip, who simply let her push her into a new roll of her entire body.

"Oh." She looked at him, cocking her head "What did you mean then?" she was still bobbing along to the music, not an inch of her body not moving in some way. It was quite hypnotic.

"Your control over your Quirk." He said bluntly "You are able to regulate your heat and flame output, as well as the intensity of the fire once it has left your hands. Can you teach me how to do that?" he ignored the surprised looks of his classmates, staring intently at the still bouncing girl in front of him.

If he'd expected her to need to think about it, he was mistaken.

"Sure." Her smile was brilliant "Dunno if you'll learn much- cos I'm a shit of a teacher, but c'mere and give it a try." She beckoned invitingly, still rolling her hips in that strangely amazing way, music still blaring. Todoroki blinked. That was not the response he'd expected.

Kaminari actually clapped him on the back, for some reason, and Kirishima burst out laughing as he stared blankly "Get in there!" the blonde shoved him off the stool, and he stumbled into the kitchen. Mina winked outrageously at him, and twirled out his way. Hikari was still holding out her spare hand, the other flipping pork in another frying pan she wasn't even watching, already on fire. Hesitantly, he reached out himself with his left hand, and then she seized him, and pulled him closer.

All of a sudden, he found himself standing right next to her twitching hips, her bare skin practically touching him as she continued to bounce to the music, and her shirt rode up and down as she jumped around, curls brushing his shoulder. The delicious aura of the cooking pork couldn't cover the strange smoky smell coming off of her, and now that he was so close, he could see the flecks of white in her otherwise ice-blue eyes "Relax." She teased, smiling up at him so widely, both of her strange long canines flashed in the kitchen lights, and then she shifted her grip on him, until her amazingly warm, smaller palm was covering the back of his hand, and her fingers threaded down between his much larger fingers. Her hands were soft, but calluses still rasped across his knuckles. She then guided him until his hand hovered over the original frying pan, where black and white flames crackled away merrily.

A new song came on "Oooooh Alan Walker! I know this one!" Kaminari shouted triumphantly "Spectre is totally my favourite."

Todoroki was acutely aware that the heat emanating from the flames below his hand nearly matched that of the delicate palm covering his "Ok, all I do is think about the music, and the fire, and let the beat flow through me." She said, and indeed, beside them, the fires all  pulsed in exaggeration to the music. He could even feel the twitching of her fingers interlaced with his as she obviously fought the urge manipulate the fire below them as well "Just relax; you should be able to feel it." She sounded confident, despite her apparent earlier reservations.

Todoroki frowned down at the frying pan, trying to focus on both the music and the flickering black and white flames. He tried to ignore the girl that couldn't stand still next to him, and the growing snickers of his classmates. Hmmm. Even without his, or her 'influence', the fires really did seem to 'dance'. Why hadn't he noticed that before? They never stopped, never stilled- much like Hikari, he realised. Forever shifting to some strange beat only it and she could hear. Ok, that sounded daft, even in his mind.

Still... he tried to picture it, the fires moving and surging in time to the beat, rising and falling. He did his best to relax, almost falling to a meditative state as he stared at the flames. He didn't notice that Hikari's hand no longer felt hot on his, nor that the pan below him seemed no warmer than the ambient air around them.

There was just the music, and the fire.

The golden flames.

The beat, seeming to reach through his very fingertips, racing in time to his heartbeat.

Hikari's smoky smell and hips brushing his own. Her hand covering his, pale skin against his comparatively tanned flesh.

"Holy shit." Kirishima whispered "Dude...!"

Todoroki slowly looked up from the golden flames pulsing in time to the beat of the music that ran was running through his head. Five pairs of multi-coloured eyes were staring wide-eyed at him "What's wrong?" he asked, blinking. He was still concentrating on the music, why were they trying to distract him? It was difficult enough as it was.

"Um... look! The fire's a different colour?"

Todoroki frowned again, and actually looked at his frying pan. The flames were still flaring and skittering in time to the pounding music, golden light warm and vibrant, as fire should be "What about it?"

"It's not mine anymore." Hikari squeezed his hand gently, and then she released him, spinning on the spot, giving a random whooping shout "I had NO IDEA that would work!" she crowed.

Todoroki stayed standing where he was, hand still outstretched "I don't understand."

"Todoroki, hun, the fire was black and white a second ago." Mina was leaning against the bench next to Kaminari- when had she moved there? smiling at him gently "Now it's all gold!"

"They're yours!" Hikari started conducting her own fires, having them leap enthusiastically into the air as she spun and twirled on the spot "You're doing it!"

Todoroki looked back down, finally realising. Sure enough, the golden flames pulsed in time to the beat in his mind, flaring if he focused hard, dropping back if he relaxed slightly. They leapt to tickle his palm, hot, but not burning. The pork though, was nearly blackened to a crisp "I think I ruined the pork." he noted, in disappointment.

A hot hand patted his head "S'all good." Hikari winked at him, eyes dancing like her fire, and a different kind of heat rushed through his body.

***

When Bakugo got back from Recovery Girl, exhausted from the healing, hungry, cold, and irritable, he stumbled upon one of the oddest scenes he'd ever come across while living at UA.

He just stood for a moment at the entrance, eyes wide, watching. Nobody had noticed him yet, but he barely noticed that.

Kaminari, Kirishima, Shinso were all sitting, avidly watching the show in the kitchen. Todoroki was standing with his left-hand hovering over a frying pan, golden flames flickering and swirling under his palm, his face a confusing mix of bewilderment and nervousness. Deku was leaning on the bench next to him, his face so close to the fire his eyebrows were sure to burst into flame any second, green eyes stupidly big in apparent wonder.

Music was pounding, some weird techno song... that was surprisingly cool, actually.

But what tipped the pinnacle of weirdness to complete the picture was Hikari dancing with Ashido around Todoroki. Pinky was in her usual sluttesque form, but Hikari was something else. Her black shirt was too small, and too loose, riding up as she lifted her hands to expose her flat stomach, while her grey track pants rode too low, showing off her curvy hips. Her black curls were down, almost long enough to brush the top of her pants. Her face was...alight.

But that wasn't all. They were cooking, apparently. The Leprechaun's damned black fire was surging and rearing out of frying pans all along the bench, apart from the one below Todoroki's hand, all in time to the music. Without her watching, or doing anything more than spinning and laughing and clapping to the music. It was... beautiful. Everyone, even the usually sulky-ass Mind Fuck, was smiling and laughing at IcyHot's obvious discomfort as he stood between the girls, and everyone was moving in some way to the music.

"And you all scream at me for using my Quirk inside." He growled over the suddenly annoying music, snapping out of the sappy train of thought.

For their part, nobody really freaked out like he'd kind of hoped. Instead, Kirishima and the others of the 'Bakusquad' (fucking traitors) spun in their seats (or on their feet, as far as Pinky was concerned), and waved at him happily "Bakubro!" Shitty-Hair called "Check it out- Hikari's making that pork from the other week before we play Mario Kart! You gonna have some?" His face was flushed, as though he'd been up dancing around like a moron in the kitchen, his maroon eyes bright.

So that was what smelt so good as he'd walked in? He harrumphed, eyeing the chaos that were the 'chefs', trying to ignore the growl his stomach gave at the memory of the spicy pork. Todoroki looked like he'd rather be anywhere else, while the Leprechaun had shot him an enormous smile before spinning around to sweep her hands commandingly, causing all of the fire, including IcyHot's, to die in a sudden instant "Sorry, 'Roki, we gotta dish this shit up! Someone wanna call the rest of the plebians down before I eat all of this? We got racing to do!" Wait, had she called IcyHot 'Roki? What the fuck?

Bakugo scowled, and slouched away, not bothering to answer Shitty-Hair. He needed a shower- he was still in his damned uniform. It had taken the old lady more than an hour to fix him- he'd been right about his ribs being cracked, which meant he was drained from the healing as well. All he wanted to do was eat something hot (maybe spicy pork), and then have a nap.

"You know you'll never beat Bakubro- he's insanely good at that game." Shitty-Hair was boasting as he stalked away. His back straightened a little in pride. Damned right he was good at that stupid game.

"Pffftt, watch me. I bet you that entire pudding I just made that there will be a new champ after tonight- and it won't be Fizzler." Bakugo stopped, irritation fighting through his grumpy tiredness.

"Fizzler?" Shitty-Hair sounded confused "I thought you were calling him Ragemuff?"

"I got bored of that- I've got a big list to work down."

Bakugo wheeled around, and stomped back the way he'd come until he could glare into the kitchen. The Leprechaun was still doing her hooker routine in the kitchen, now balancing a huge pile of plates with unerringly grace "I'll hold you to that bet- Leprechaun." He narrowed his eyes at the girl, who'd had to spin to look at him, still smirking like a fucking child "You'll be eating that entire fucking pudding at the end of the tournament."

She rolled her ice-blue eyes "That's a reward for me; at least try to be creative."

Mind Fuck was nodding "It's true- she can eat about a kilo of that stuff in a sitting." How the fuck would he know that?

"Fine- Mind Fuck eats it then." He pointed at the purple-haired fucker. Shinso raised an eyebrow, and looked at the Leprechaun with a now worried expression. Heh.

She considered this for less than half a second "Ok; but when I win, you have to..." she put the plates down, and looked at him for a second, almost thoughtfully "Call me by my actual name- just once! I don't want you to strain something."

He squinted at her. That was it? "That's a fucking stupid prize- but whatever." He whirled back around and headed for the lift. Behind him, he heard a worried Shinso say "I hate butterscotch, you know. You better not fucking lose." He smirked. Payback for the shit earlier with his stupid stunt with the Leprechauns' stupid voice. 

 

Chapter Text

Mina would have done pretty much anything to have been able to video the faces of the boys while she and Hikari had been dancing in the kitchen. Finally- someone who not only loved to move as much as she did to music, but someone who apparently liked to tease their male classmates just as much too! Although, Mina wasn't sure how much of it was deliberate on the other girl's end- she just genuinely seemed to like to dance that way.

Still, the looks on the boys faces were absolutely priceless. Kaminari's reactions were predictable- he might not hang around Mineta as much anymore, but he still had more than a healthy 'appreciation' for girls. So his slack-jawed expression was little different to his normal one whenever a hot girl acknowledged him. No, it was the other two's faces that really made Mina's night (Midoriya didn't count- he was perpetually red always anyway, and Uraraka had already called dibs). Kirishima's eyes were the widest she'd ever seen them, and the flush working its way across his cheeks was hilarious. Shinso, quiet, reserved Shinso, was looking like he was doing his utmost not to be affected, but his dazed expression was almost as funny as Kirishima's amazed one.

But the icing on the proverbial cake, was Bakugo when he walked in. Mina didn't think anyone else had noticed him quietly enter the building, and he certainly didn't think anyone had seen him, because there was no way in hell he'd be caught dead with that look on his face. His red eyes were as wide as Kirishima's, but as dazed as Shinso's. But, it was the fact he didn't look angry that really got all of Mina's womanly alarms and sirens blaring. Hehehe. She really needed to create a Girls' Chat. Mina made sure to give Hikari an especially big, challenging slut drop, knowing the other girl would immediately try to outdo her. In front of Blasty.

She nearly shrieked when Bakugo's eyes followed the movement, as Hikari didn't disappoint, showing off her more powerful, womanly thighs, evening doing that amazing little hip roll she was so good at. Holy shit! Blasty was looking at a girl! Like, really looking! The momentary weakness was blown away when the familiar scowl cut through his dazed expression, and he growled out his complaint about indoor Quirk usage.

And then there was the challenge! Mina didn't really care that Shinso had somehow been dragged into it, but Hikari's 'prize' was something to truly ponder. Make Blasty say her name, instead of calling her 'Leprechaun'? Mina wasn't sure if it was dirty or flirty! She desperately wanted to confer with Hagakure on this.

When everyone started to trickle in after Midoriya and she sent out messages that dinner was ready, and to hurry the hell up, Mina waited with almost baited breath to see if Bakugo would return for food, or just show up at the last minute to play the stupid racing game. She knew he'd be hungry after training and healing, but his reaction the other week when he'd found out the new girl had cooked had been...less than ideal. Not that Hikari had seemed to care.

Mina elbowed Kirishima as he reached for a second helping "Hey, is Blasty coming down for dinner or what?" she was watching Hikari, who had once again assumed a perch on the kitchen bench, eating straight from the pan (Todoroki's burnt batch- nobody else had wanted it), laughing at something Kaminari had said.

"Beats me." The redhead shrugged "I reckon he is though- he actually liked this stuff last time, not that he'd admit it." Of course he'd liked it- the spicy batch was too hot for anyone but him and Hikari to eat! Freaks of nature in Mina's opinion.

"So, are we gonna be playing in teams?" Jiro asked, getting up to take her bowl to the dishwasher "I know we said boys vs girls, but we aren't exactly even numbers." Wow, they hadn't even finished eating and Jiro was already trying to work out teams? Mina liked the game, but jeez.

"Well, not everyone wanted to play last time, anyway. Who actually wants to play?" Midoriya got up, and moved to the white board that served as the dorm noticeboard, shopping board, betting board, and whatever else people could think of using it for, and picked up a marker "Obviously Hikari and Jiro on the girls' team." He started to write their names.

"Call us team Speed Muffs!" Hikari called. Mineta coughed and sprayed water out all over the table, making Ojiro leap up in disgust.

"Dude! What the hell!"

"Why is it, girls can make dirty jokes like that, and nobody SAYS ANYTHING!" he wheezed and shrieked in turn.

Midoriya stammered, ears obviously red as the girls all laughed helplessly "Really? Do I have to write that?"

"It's either that, or Fizzler's Angels."

"Who's Fizzler?" Iida asked, looking confused "And why would you want to be their Angels?"

"Fizzler is Hikari's new nickname for Bakugo. Don't worry about the rest of the reference." Kaminari was literally wiping tears from his eyes, he'd laughed so hard at the suggestions.

Midoriya cleared his throat nervously "Um- all in favour of Speed Muffs?" Tsuyu, and Uraraka put their hands up "And...Fizzler's Angels?" he actually squeaked a little at the one. Mina was happy to throw her hand up, and grinned devilishly when she saw the rest of the girls do the same "Guys, why do you have to antagonise Kacchan so much?" Midoriya whined, but dutifully wrote the team's name above Jiro and Hikari's names.

"Cos it's bloody funny as hell." The Irish girl replied, chewing through another huge mouthful of burnt pork.

"Now we gotta think of a manly as name for our team!" Kirishima declared "Suggestions?"

"Heh- Fizzlersquad." Hikari started choking on her mouthful, eyes squinted shut as she trembled in silent laughter. Mina was quite proud of her suggestion.

"Just call it the fucking Winning Team." Bakugo's drawling voice came from behind them. Mina looked over her shoulder to see him slouching into room, scowling as always. He was wearing his usual black hoodie and dark track pants. Mina wondered if he knew he'd picked the same colours as Hikari was wearing, or if it was just because the blonde didn't have anything but monochromatic clothes in his wardrobe.

"Bakubro! Look, there's heaps of the spicy stuff left." Kirishima, ever cheerful, pointed at the mostly untouched frying pan in the middle of the table. Hikari had been kept occupied with Todoroki's charred attempt at cooking.

Bakugo huffed, and moved into the kitchen, pointedly glaring at Hikari as he passed her "Why the fuck do you keep sitting on the bench? It's gross." He dug out a plate and approached the table.

"Makes me feel less short." The girl replied." Bakugo snorted, but let it drop.

Dinner passed without further incident (amazingly), and teams were quickly decided; which just went to show eager even Bakugo was for the tournament. Playing for the girls; Jiro, Hikari, Mina, Momo, Tsuyu and Hagakure. Uraraka had pled incompetence and hadn't wanted to risk their victory. On the boys team; Bakugo, Kaminari, Kirishima, Ojiro, Sero and, surprisingly, Shinso volunteered "No way am I eating that pudding." He'd grumbled, earning more than a few strange looks. Mina giggled, realising only a few of them knew the 'prizes' for victory. Did that mean the purple-haired youth would deliberately make his team lose? Bakugo hadn't seemed to think of that though, and Mina carefully kept her mouth shut.

The teams assembled on and around the two larger couches, with everyone else fitting in where they could. It wasn't often the entire class gathered like this, and it got squishy very quickly.

"Right," Midoriya had kept his roll of adjudicator, and had drawn up tables for each race "first race will have Sero and Ojiro vs Momo and Tsuyu. Who chooses the map?"

"Hang on," Bakugo interrupted from his corner of the couch, red eyes narrowed dangerously "where the fuck is my time record? Who the fuck is SindR?" sure enough, against every map the blonde cycled through, a new record sat at the top, easily a few seconds better than the previous record beneath it with the name GrndZer0 beside it.

Jeez, Hikari hadn't been joking when she'd said she'd 'adjusted' all of the highscores.

"Oh yeah; I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm really not." The Irish girl piped up from her weird seat. She'd opted to lie with her legs hooked over the back of the couch, head literally upside down and dangling off the edge, hair pooled under her "You're just slow."

There was the unmistakable sound of plastic crunching, and a faint smell of burning. Without preamble, Kirishima fished out one of the many, many spare controllers from the box under the couch, passing it wordlessly to the fuming blonde next to him "I will fucking end you." He snarled.

Mina actually heard Hikari roll her eyes "Patience, padawan. I shall school you shortly."

If they'd thought the commentary on their Saturday night movies was funny, Hikari upped her game when it came to Mario Kart.

"Oooooh getitgetitgit! Fucking aye, how'd you miss it?!"

"Ok, drift that ass like it's Hawks you're riding!"

"Knobjokey! stick that shell right up his-!"

"Can we try to keep the language appropriate?" Iida complained. He and the other non-players were banished to sit in the beanbags on the floor; the couches reserved for the racers.

"Motherfucker! Fuck him up, Momo!" Hikari completely ignored him.

The race was won by the girls, much to the disappointment of the boys "Guuyyys why'd you go and lose so early?" Kaminari whined "Sero, I thought you said you were good at this stuff!"

"I am." Sero grumbled crossly, tossing his controller to Kirishima, who was up next with Bakugo. Midoriya had already worked out the match-ups "I swear this game is cursed- the moment you get out in front the gods smite you down."

"Keep that winning streak going!" it was Mina and Hagakure's turn. Mina was not at all confident- Kirishima and Bakugo were just too good.

The oven dinged just as the race started, and in an incredible display of core strength, Hikari hauled herself up and vaulted over the back of the couch. Mina did her best to focus on the screen, but the divine smell of butterscotch pudding filled her nose "Kurai!" she shouted angrily, barely even noticing she'd used the girls' first name "Shut the damned oven! You're distracting me!"

"Welcome to my life!" she hollered back, the but resounding sound of the oven door slamming shut told of her compliance. Then she was flopping back down beside them, upside down once more "What the- how are you tenth?"

"I got smashed by Kirishima's goddamned redshell a second ago, and now I'm getting hit by everything!"

"See that gap in the fence? Go down there." Mina threw caution to the wind, and did as she instructed. The next second, she was spat out in the middle of the pack.

"Dude...that was totally cheating!" Kirishima said, aghast as Mina passed him in his slipstream.

"Knowing the map isn't cheating." Hikari defended "Get good, scrub."

Unfortunately, the girls' bad luck continued even with Hikari giving them the advice amongst her curse words, and the boys won- barely. Bakugo gave a maniacal whoop of victory, and Kirishima grinned like an idiot "Ha!" the explosive blonde jabbed a finger in Hikari's direction "You're next, Leprechaun." He was waaaay too into this.

Hikari patted Mina on the knee as she growled in frustration "You did us good- your wakes will be full of merriment and fine beverages."

Shinso looked worried at the victory; he still wasn't happy at being involved as Hikari's punishment for losing. Mina still wasn't sure how that had happened- did Bakugo think he'd get to the girl through Shinso? Mina knew they worked together, but were they really that close?

"Ok, last match of the first round." Mina narrowed her eyes at the scoreboard "Jiro and Hikari vs Kaminari and Shinso."

"Well that shits rigged, right there." Hikari said, accepting a controller, still upside down.

Bakugo snorted "What, were you scared of versing us so early?" he jeered "Deku's gone soft- we should be racing you next." Wait, he still hadn't figured out Shinso shouldn't be racing at all?

"Not really- I just figured E.Jack is Jiro, and her time trial records were actually a challenge."

"WHAT!? I have the best records." He tossed Kaminari the controller, glowering at the girl half on the floor.

Jiro snorted "Not on Toad's Turnpike- I OWN that track."

Hikari smirked "Well...not anymore."

Everyone paid more attention to this match, seeing as nobody had actually seen the new girl play the game. Kaminari was no slouch, although Shinso was a relative unknown, and Jiro was incredible at snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. She'd nearly beat Bakugo in the last tournament, and it was clear she wanted to set that straight this time. Mina hoped Hikari was as good as she said she was.

Kaminari chose Walugi, as usual, and Shinso chose King Boo. Jiro's favourite was Rosalina, while Hikari chose Yoshi, and made him black.

"Black Yoshi? I had you pegged for a Toad fan." Kaminari remarked at the choice.

Hikari scoffed "Yoshi is the bomb- totally my spirit animal."

"Why, cos he eats so much?"

"Nah, cos everyone wants to ride him." She stilled "I think that came out wrong."

Her response was met with absolute shocked silence. Then Mineta started to hyperventilate "I think you broke him." Uraraka choked out. Not even Kaminari had a comeback.

They let the game chose a map, because nobody trusted the others to pick one that wasn't a favourite "Are you gonna sit up?" Kirishima asked, looking sideways at the still upside-down Hikari.

The map started to load up as she replied "Nah. Gotta give you plebs some sort of handicap. Don't wanna totally crush your dreams, just yet." Jiro shot a worried look at Mina, and Mina saw Shinso wilt in his seat. She was really going to race upside down?

The race started, and all four of them got the turbo boost start. The random track ended up being Coconut Mall, and they'd opted to go mirror-mode on 150cc. It made Mina's eyes hurt just watching, everything was moving so fast. She wasn't surprised Uraraka didn't like to play- if you were prone to motion sickness this would be hell.

It quickly became apparent Hikari wasn't all talk. She handled the little black dinosaur on his bike with incredible precision, never missing an apex, drifting around every corner at the same time as nimbly avoiding all obstacles. More than once, a weapon was fired by an increasingly frustrated Kaminari, only for her to dodge it as though she knew it was coming "Nice try, asshats." Much to Iida's annoyance, the language deteriorated with each lap and each failed attack.

"HA! Suck it, losers!"

"Nawww YOU MISSED! Eat my ass dust."

"Try the button on the right, dipshit, it'll make you move forward."

She and Jiro managed to stay ahead from the get go, but as usual, the game kept giving their competition handicap after handicap. "Dodge left- NOW!" she barked all of a sudden to Jiro, who responded out of sheer instinct, and a green shell zoomed by "Watch it, two more coming." She warned "Kami's got another three as well."

"How the hell do you know that?" the blonde demanded, cursing softly as his attack missed again, the black dinosaur darting out of the way as though it had eyes at the back of its head "I only got them a second ago!" he wasn't smiling anymore, his face a mask of concentration that matched his purple-haired partner. Shinso was looking stressed, more so than usual, his pride warring with his desire to win. If Hikari's team won, they'd be closer to saving him from having to eat the pudding, but that also meant that Team Boys lost- for the first time ever.

Midoriya suddenly cocked his head, squinting across the distance "Are you- are you looking at all the screens?" he asked "Not just yours?" Trust Midoriya to be watching that closely.

Hikari grunted "Well, duh- why, don't all of you?"

Mina leaned forward, peering down at the girl's face. Sure enough, her sharp eyes looked like they were darting around constantly, not just following just her own character "Jeez! How can you see where you're going?"

"I multi-task. Jiro- redshell fucker incoming- dodge left....now!" unerringly, Hikari braked and fired her own shell, which neatly intercepted the chasing red weapon behind her teammate "HA! Come at me fuck-knuckle!"

"Is it part of your Quirk?" Uraraka spoke up, looking over as well, trying to see.

"What? No! It's just how my brain works." The girl shot back, face tightening momentarily as she wove through the more difficult part of the course. She was constantly being bombarded now, first place being the most dangerous. Jiro was second, with the boys third and fourth close behind.

"No wonder you can't sit still in class, if you can watch four screens at once and react to them all at the same time." Iida sounded interested, despite himself "Do you have a form of hyper activity disorder? Or are you simply high functioning?"

Hikari squinted at the screen "Are you asking if I'm 'special'? If so, then yes. I am a special motherfucker who is about to..." she crossed the finish line "Waffle-stomp you losers to an early grave!" she threw her arms out and up, one hand twisted blindly to face Jiro, who high-fived it after crossing the line herself "Suck it!"

Shinso cursed softly, while Kaminari slumped back in disappointment "You were upside down." He complained as Hikari rolled to sit upright, swinging her long legs around carefully "How did you do that?"

"Chewie over there said it; I'm special." She rolled her shoulders and primly said "Excuse me; I have a pudding to inhale." She bounced off towards the kitchen.

"Did you just call Iida Chewbacca?"

Iida looked up at his name being called, his nose previously buried in a book "What's a Chewbacca?" he asked in confusion, frowning slightly "I assume it is offensive is some way."

"Tall, loud, overbearing and you complain a lot." Kaminari nodded to himself thoughtfully "Yeah, ok, I can see it."

***

As there was three teams left, it was decided there would be preliminaries. Bakugo and Kirishima were to vs Momo and Tsuyu, and then the winners would move on to the final round. The losers would vs Hikari and Jiro, and the winner of that match, would vs the winner of the first match. Bakugo had snorted when Hikari had looked downright confused at the proceedings, but she hadn't argued.

He was reluctantly impressed by the Irish girl- he hated posers, and she was living up to her claims of being a decent player. Beating timetrials was one thing, actively racing and watching the enemy's screens at the same time, and being able to assist her own team mate as well as win the race herself, was remarkable. He'd known her situational awareness was good. If she could do that in real life as well, she would be incredibly useful on a real battlefield.

Didn't mean it didn't annoy the crap out of him.

He focused on the screen as everyone settled down to watch the third last match of the night. Kirishima was taking the race as seriously as he was, for once, but he got the feeling the redhead just wanted to go up against the Leprechaun for a challenge. Bakugo wanted to win. He didn't understand her weird request for a 'prize', but he instinctively knew he needed to avoid it at all cost. Besides, he wanted to watch Shinso choke down one of the truly enormous puddings the weirdo had made.

The race went about as Bakugo expected. He sat back in satisfaction, flexing his cramping arms as Momo and Tsuyu cursed. It hadn't been an easy race, but certainly nothing to stress over, even with the Leprechaun's annoying taunts, comments and stupid shortcuts she instructed the other girls to take. It had backfired on her though, because the boys were all too quick to take up on her explanations, and they utilised the cheats against the girls.

Hikari flounced off to the oven, and lifted one of the enormous puddings out she had made earlier (without any mitts or heat protection). The smell of butterscotch and caramel filled the air, and Bakugo grit his teeth as his own stomach rumbled "Make sure you leave one for Mind Fuck!" He yelled.

"What is he talking about?" Momo asked, sounding confused. The girls had all gone to the kitchen for dessert.

"If Fizzler's Angels lose, Shinso has to eat an entire pudding." The Leprechaun supplied matter-of-factly, not sounding at all concerned "Cos I explained it would be a reward to make me eat one."

Ashido giggled "Well, it kinda would be- seeing as you're obsessed with this particular food and all." The round of girlish tittering had all of the boys on edge, not just Bakugo.

"Well, seeing as the whole night is girls vs boys, we might as well just go to the finals." Deku said, oblivious to the whole situation, scratching his head as he looked at the scoreboard "If you guys are ok with that?"

Momo answered, a little sadly "Of course; we don't want to risk tiring out our teammates before they can claim the championship!" Bakugo rolled his eyes "There is no point us racing against them; we're better off spending the time strategizing!"

"Hey!" Sero exclaimed, frowning over his shoulder at Momo "What about our representatives? They've had to race more than you girls- what if they're tired?"

"If they're tired after one extra race, maybe they should concede now and go to bed." Hikari scoffed from the kitchen, shovelling fresh pudding into her face as some of the other girls dished their own out. She licked her spoon, and then conspicuously looked at the clock "It's after nine pm; surely it's past Fizzler's bedtime?"

Bakugo shot her a filthy look "Get your fat ass over here and pick up a goddamned controller." He growled "Kirishima! You better have your fucking game face on." There was no way he was losing to this irritating creature.

All of the girls gasped "Bakugo! That was uncouth and ungentlemanly!" Iida admonished, closing his book, standing in anger "Apologise!"

"S'all good, Chewie." The Leprechaun called "I've worked hard on said fat ass; it'd be a shame if it wasn't appreciated." There was another wave of girlish tittering as she rolled her hips suggestively "I'll be over in a minute to school you- we are strategizing, don't you know." And with that, all the girls fell into a tight circle.

Bakugo grumbled under his breath, his ears all of a sudden feeling uncomfortably hot. Strategizing? What the hell could they be strategizing about? "Hey!" a voice hissed at his elbow. He looked around, furiously trying to hide how he jumped with a flash of anger. Someone had snuck up on him. Was his hearing really that bad even without the constant ringing?

The little grape perv was leaning in over the arm of the couch, glaring at Bakugo and Kirishima in turn "I don't care if they are all hot- you gotta beat them for the sake of mankind!" he hissed. If Bakugo didn't want to explode the little idiot, he'd have been taken aback by the intensity of his words.

Apparently, he wasn't alone in his conviction, because all of a sudden, several of the other boys approached, crowding around him and Kirishima, serious expressions on their faces as they cast the huddled girls suspicious looks "Yeah man, as much as I hate to agree with anything Mineta says," Ojiro leaned over the back of the couch "we're all counting on you- how are you gonna beat them?"

Bakugo scowled "By racing them, morons. As if they'll beat us." Did they fucking doubt his skills?

"Yes, yes," Kaminari waved his words away, golden eyes serious for once "but it wouldn't hurt to have some sort of plan- some way to throw off their game!"

"Don't you guys think we can win on our own?" Kirishima sounded almost as offended as Bakugo felt "Way to show us confidence!"

Mineta rolled his eyes as Midoriya came over "Please- Hikari is gonna blow you out of the water, we all know it. Personally I'd be happy to just watch, seeing as she might to a victory dance, but seeing as it's us guys' pride on the line, I can put my personal needs aside."

"Terribly heroic of you." Kirishima said sarcastically.

"He has a point." Fucking Deku was frowning, looking over at the girls, who'd all gone back to eating "Kacchan you're amazing at the game, but even you have to admit, she's awfully good."

Bakugo huffed and crossed his arms. Ok, he had to admit, he was a little...concerned; Hikari hadn't even raced looking at the screen the right way up yet "Spit it out then- you've got some sort of scheme worked out." The fact nobody was shocked at his virtual admission that he might not win was a mild blow to his pride.

Deku dropped to sit in front of the couch, and dug out his ever present notebook, green eyes serious "I have been thinking about it, since I saw her race earlier." He didn't even sound embarrassed to admit it "I think the only way you can win is if she gets distracted." He started to flick through the pages, looking for something.

Shinso snorted "Have you been watching her? She doesn't look away from the tv even when it's someone else racing! She's like a cat watching a bunch of birds. She's completely focused." A weird analogy, but ok.

"All that means is that we have to actively distract her." Deku said confidently, seeming to find the page he was looking for "And I don't think it will be all that difficult."

"What did you have in mind?" Kirishima leaned forward eagerly "You sound like you already have a plan."

Deku shot another look towards the kitchen, grimacing, and then his voice dropped to a low whisper. Bakugo had to move forward to hear him "Remember the first night she was here?" everyone except Bakugo nodded "Well, something happened that drew her attention away from the food and everything- and you know how obsessed she is with food!"

Kaminari snorted "Kinda hard to miss."

"Spit it out already." Bakugo growled, starting to get annoyed at all the beating around the bush.

"I was talking to Uraraka about it the other day, and she said something funny happened in the changerooms today as well, that confirms my theory." Why the hell was he looking at Bakugo all nervously?

"Well duh, I think we all remember that." Mineta shot back "I know it's not something I'll ever forget!" he yelped as Ojiro smacked him over the head with his tail.

"I mean after!" Deku said quickly, flushing.

"Can you hurry up and get on with it?" Kirishima looked over his shoulder "We probably don't have long."

"Right." He seemed to steel himself "Kacchan, you can distract Hikari."

Bakugo raised an eyebrow "What the hell do you mean by that?"

"When you walked in that first night, she shot stiff as a board and went all quiet. I think it has something to do with your scent-" there was a chorus of realised hums around them, and everyone else's eyes went wide in understanding.

"My what?" he snarled. What the hell was Deku talking about, his scent?

"Dude, she has an insane sense of smell- apparently you smell like... how did she put it?" Kaminari tapped his chin, exaggeratingly mimicking the Irish girl's habit "Melting caramel, butterscotch and burnt sugar?" he did a horrific impersonation of the girl's accent.

Deku nodded eargerly "Yes! And apparently, when Ashido tried to take away that towel you threw at her this afternoon, she nearly took her hand off! Her eyes went all funny, and she growled at her! Uraraka said it was really strange- scary even." Huh, as if the little Leprechaun could be scary.

Bakugo squinted at them "You're trying to tell me, that freak over there, is obsessed with how I smell?"

"I think it's more that it distracts her- remember that she was always lagging behind that Hero Training with class B? I'm pretty sure she was standing downwind the whole time, and was trying to put some distance between you." Kirishima said thoughtfully, and then his features lit up "Dude! This could totally work! All you gotta do is throw your hoodie at her, and she'll mess up the race!"

Deku tilted his head, looking contemplative "I hadn't thought of that- I was more thinking you could just move to the other end of the couch, or sit on the floor. There isn't much airflow in this room, so it won't carry over like it would if there was a breeze- but if you're relatively close it should work."

Bakugo wasn't sure what was more insane; the fact they were trying to work out how best to use his smell to distract the Leprechaun in a race, or that nobody sounded at all surprised by the idea itself "You do realise that is fucking insane, and gross as hell, don't you?" he snapped "I don't smell- and I sure as hell don't smell like a fucking candyshop!"

Kirishima shuffled next to him "Um, you kinda do, bro." he cringed a little, ribbing the back of his neck awkwardly "Especially after a workout."

Bakugo glared at him "Fuck you, Shitty-Hair, I do not."

"Whatever Bakugo smells like is not important!" Mineta hissed "It messes with the main competition- just shut up and use it already! Or do you want to lose?" for once, nobody argued with Mineta.

This was actually insane. And weird, and gross and just...weird! He thought back, briefly, trying to remember all of his interactions with the weirdo. She'd never gone 'all tense' in their fights... but she had frozen up when he'd thrown his towel at her. Maybe there was something to this stupid idea of Deku's...if that was the case, it might come in handy next time they sparred... No! That was too fucking weird "Fine." He growled "But I'm not doing anything fucking weird- and this is ONLY to win this stupid game." Anything to win, right?

"How attached to that hoodie are you, Kacchan?"

***

"Right, so that's the backup plan then." We came out of our huddle. I didn't really see the point of having a secret plan, seeing as I was more than confident I could trounce Fizzler royally; but the gods of Mario Kart are fickle, and I refused to leave anything to chance- especially when it was Shinso who'd be taking the fall if I fucked up.

Jiro nodded, face shining with excitement, and then we were moving back to the lounge area. The boys were suspiciously tense and quiet, shooting Bakugo strange looks. I risked peering at the blonde. He was resolutely ignoring me, red eyes focused intently on the character choosing screen. Well, whatever they'd cooked up, it wouldn't be anything we couldn't handle.

This time though, I perched on the edge of the couch, as far from the boys as I could get. I'd quietened my cravings and inner dragon by eating an ungodly amount of pudding, but I wasn't risking getting befuddled by a certain blonde's delectable smell by proximity if I could help it. For all my bravado, I was gonna take this race seriously.

I noted the boy's selections carefully, mentally judging their threats. Bakugo chose Mario, surprisingly, and then the GP bike. That meant he would focus on speed and agility, but would suffer if he was hit by anything due to the bike's slow acceleration. Kiri chose Daisy, of all characters, and went for the fastest of the cars. That'd mean he was more of the muscle- he'd shove us other bike riders off the track if he could, and knock us out of corners. I stuck with my Yoshi and went with the GP bike too- I needed to be able to keep up on the straights if needed. Jiro stuck to Rosalina and her heavy bike.

We let the game choose the course once again. I wasn't disappointed with the selection "Damn, this track is so hard." Kiri complained as Rainbow Road loaded up, set to 200cc and mirror mode, as per Finals Conditions. I'd not heard of this rule before, but I approved. Pity it was my favourite track and settings.

My heart started to race as the countdown began, and adrenaline started to surge through my veins. I'd put my music on in the background, not too loudly, just enough so it danced through my head. My jaw actually started to ache- damn I was invested! Jiro looked just as excited, and we both practically trembled with anticipation, and when I risked a glance at the boys, I was overjoyed to see they were sitting forward just as tensely. Kirishima's face was missing its usual hug grin, and Bakugo's face was an intense mask of concentration. Hell, he'd even taken his hoodie off, he was so worked up. Thank the goddess I was sitting so far away.

We were off!

I got the best take off, so I immediately wove in front of Jiro, lending her my slipstream as we'd discussed in our little planning session. My eyes flickered over the boys screens, starting to get a read on their racing style. As suspected, Daisy was acting like a battering ram, clearing a path through the AI to allow Mario to shoot through unmolested, hot on my tail.

This was going to be an interesting race.

The first batch of lucky boxes came and went. I jiggled my leg as I hummed along to the music, waiting almost anxiously to see what I'd gotten- three bananas. Excellent. I deployed them immediately, and straight away, lost two to red shells from Bakugo. I glanced at his screen- he was keeping the third as defence. Jiro had only gotten one banana, and she held that behind herself as well "Ha! Nice try, Fizzler." I growled, drifting dangerously close to the edge of the track so I could maximise the boost upon exit "My ass isn't that big though." He grunted in response.

By the end of the first lap, the four of us had left the AI mostly behind. We racers were strangely quiet, a testament to how hard we were all concentrating. I kept Jiro in the lead. We'd decided it was more strategic for me to shepherd rather than streak ahead, as it heightened the chance of one of us winning if our luck failed. After all- it was a team event; I still technically won even if I didn't come first. Besides, it wouldn't be what the boy would expect. Bakugo was sure to think I'd just fuck off in front, leaving Jiro to the mercy of their weapons until they had a clear shot at me.

Priorities, priorities, boys.

The second lap passed quickly. By the grace of the gods, I managed to maintain the defence enough so that Jiro stayed relatively untouched, until halfway through the final lap, where one of the stupid AI used the lightning bolt. The spectators all gasped as we spun out and were shrunk "Monkeyballs! I'll go on ahead." I hissed to Jiro, who nodded curtly, trying not to lose too much speed. I surged ahead of my teammate, acutely aware of how close the boys were behind us, having not been slowed as much due to the games' handicap system.

We were four turns out when I sensed a real-life presence behind me "Touch me and I will fucking end you." I snarled, dancing Yoshi around a plethora of dropped bananas "Seriously, think toasted marshmallow-!" whoever it was (I suspected it was Kami), in a flash of movement, they jammed something soft down and over my head. Darkness engulfed me for a split second, but I maintained course, spluttering and cursing as I remerged into the light, my hands hidden inside whatever it was they'd just shoved on me "What the actual FUCK?! Did you not hear me?! I will literally cook you-" the flashing colours in front of my eyes lost their sharpness as I breathed in and was smashed in the face with the most heady, intoxicating smell I'd ever sniffed in my many years of life.

My eyes rolled back in my head, and I was vaguely aware of falling bonelessly off the couch, dropping my controller, lifting whatever goddess touched thing it was under my nose to cover my face, giving an actual groan of pleasure.

"Hikari! What the hell did you do to her, Kaminari!? Jiro- QUICK YOU HAVE TO WIN!"

"DIE!"

"FUCK! NO!"

When my skull hit the floor, a semblance of sense was knocked into me. I shook my head and huffed. Looking down, I saw what had messed me up so badly- they'd...they'd put the hoodie Bakugo had been wearing over my head. I was literally swimming in the black material that was so completely drenched in his smell I could barely see straight.

Groggily, I hauled myself back up to the arm of the couch, just in time to see Jiro cross the line, a hair in front of Bakugo. The girl whooped and leapt to her feet "Suck it! We win!" she started flossing, much to the absolute delight of the other girls.

Kirishima had his head in his hands on his knees, and Bakugo was looking almost shell-shocked, red eyes wide "How the fuck did we lose?" he shouted "Goddammit! I hate this game!"

"Hey, Hikari, are you ok?" Kami, the little sneak, was hiding on the side of the couch Bakugo was sitting on, looking at me sheepishly, and warily.

I looked at him, and blinked "I'd say you are dead to me, but you'll be dead to the rest of the world too, so..." I lifted the edge of the colour of the hoodie up to cover my nose. It probably made me look intimidating, but really I was just huffing on butterscotch.

"Is that- is that Bakugo's hoodie?" Mina was at my side, plucking at the black sleeves hanging at my side "Why- what the hell, Kaminari?!"

"They were wanted to distract her." Uraraka said from her seat behind us, sounding uncharacteristically angry "They knew they couldn't win fairly!"

"Well, even with Hikari not finishing, Fizzler's Angels still win with the points." Midoriya actually sounded guilty, and he shot me a look before his big green eyes darted away quickly. Little fucker; HE'D planned this?!

Shinso physically sagged in relief in his spot on the couch, but Bakugo still looked stunned. I hunkered down in his hoodie, letting the smell permeate through my very being. Ok, points for creativity- I've never had my sense of smell attacked during a game before, and Midoriya would've had to do some serious fast talking to get Fizzler to agree to give up his obviously much loved hoodie. Gods, did he sleep in the damned thing?

"Um, Hikari, are you gonna take that thing off?" I blinked, and looked away from staring at the red eyed snack to Midoriya, who'd managed to get in arms' reach of me. I considered him in silence, face half-hidden in the hoodie still, and slowly tensed my muscles, falling into absolute stillness. He glanced nervously at Bakugo, who seemed to snap out of his stupor, and was now looking at me, red eyes piercing.

I blinked again, slowly, and shook my head. I had half a second to coil, and then I leapt backwards off the couch as Bakugo launched himself at me, roaring "GIVE IT BACK!"

I shrieked wordlessly, and pissbolted, nimbly dodging between people and chairs as he simply charged through them all, and everyone else started yelling and carrying on "Fuck off! It's mine now!" I easily side-stepped his clumsy lunge and danced backwards over the couch. The hoodie hung low on me, more like a dress, and the sleeves hung way too long over my hands "I claim at as spoils of victory!" We stopped, on either end of the couch. Bakugo was fuming, his hands literally smoking. I started spinning back and forth, making the sleeves slap across my body.

Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to give up. He straightened, and his familiar scowl returned "Fine!" he snapped "Deku- you owe me a new fucking hoodie!" he spun on his heel and made to storm away.

"Hang on!" I called, lifting my face out from his hoodie "Aren't we forgetting something?" those of the class who'd been present at our little discussion earlier all perked up from their various hiding places. They'd all ducked for cover during the rampage, but now they emerged. Bakugo slowly turned, red eyes burning as he looked at me. I fluttered my lashes coyly at him, not able to help the crooked smile growing on my face "Technically, I won, after all." I said sweetly "Even with your dirty trick." I lifted the hoodie back over my nose and mouth.

He just glared at me for another minute, fists clenching and unclenching as a muscle in his jaw ticked. Finally, he stirred "You never said when I had to do it." He bit out stiffly, gruffly, red eyes dropping from mine, and then he was storming away again.

I didn't even try to hide my real smile as he left, my friends shouting after him hotly, demanding he return and fulfill his promise. I just stood there, swimming in his scent and still-warm hoodie.

 

Chapter Text

23:30

Mina Ashido created a chat.

Mina Ashido changed chat name to Girl's Chat.

Mina Ashido added Kurai HikariOchaco Uraraka, Tsuyu Asui, Kyoka Jiro, Toru Hagakure and Momo Yaoyorozu.

Kurai Hikari changed their name to JaegerQueen.

Mina Ashido: That was quick.

Mina Ashido changed their name to AlienQueen.

JaegerQueen: Like from the movies? Damn, I love those things. Would kill to see what a xenomorph trex would look like.

Kyoka Jira: I will never sleep again- thankyou @JaegerQueen.

Kyoka Jiro changed their name to MusicQueen.

MusicQueen: Keeping the theme going.

JaegerQueen: I like.

JaegerQueen changed Ochaco Uraraka's name to GravQueen. JaegerQueen changed Tsuyu Asui's name to FrogQueen. JaegerQueen changed Toru Hagakure's name to InvisiQueen.

Momo Yaoyorozu changed their name to CreatiQueen.

JaegerQueen: Damn. That's better than what I had picked.

GravQueen: Woah! That was quick. @AlienQueen I was hoping you'd make a girl chat 😊

AlienQueen: Girls' Night is NOT often enough for the amount of goss I have! I will literally explode if I have to wait until Wednesday.

InvisiQueen: ^^^

InvisiQueen: First order of business! @JaegerQueen, are you still wearing Blasty's hoodie?

JaegerQueen: I sense a trap.

GravQueen: OMG you totally are!

JaegerQueen: It's WARM. Leave me alone.

CreatiQueen: You literally wear a tshirt in the middle of winter outside.

JaegerQueen: Welp. Now I'll be wearing this hoodie.

MusicQueen: Plz do- I will actually pay you to wear that allday tomorrow.

JaegerQueen: Nawww! You don't have to pay me 😉

GravQueen: You gotta admit, it's a little weird, isn't it? Keeping it?

MusicQueen: It's a spoil of war. There's no way he's getting it back.

JaegerQueen: ^^^

CreatiQueen: Oh, that reminds me. What did Bakugo have to do if the girls won? I must have missed the prize organising.

AlienQueen: They worked it out before dinner. If the boys won, Shinso had to eat an entire pudding. If the girls won, Blasty had to say @JaegerQueen's real name.

JaegerQueen: Tbh I just wanted to see if he actually knew it XD

AlienQueen: Oh, I think he knows it 😉

InvisiQueen: ^^^

FrogQueen changed their name to FropQueen.

InvisiQueen: Wait @AlienQueen has there been a development?!?!

InvisiQueen: Apart from the hoodie incident.

InvisiQueen: Which is actually adorable.

AlienQueen: There have been MANY developments. @CreatiQueen since when are you and speedy a thing?

JaegerQueen: Wait, it was a secret?

AlienQueen: ^^^ Explain?!?!?

JaegerQueen: Now I don't wanna.

GravQueen: Spill! One of you!

CreatiQueen: We were trying to be discrete ☹ How did you know @JaegerQueen?

JaegerQueen: Sometimes you smell like him. I thought everyone knew XD XD XD

InvisiQueen: Your nose is like a super weapon. Until it's used against you XD

FropQueen: I thought you were having a seizure tonight.

FropQueen: Love how nobody makes a bid deal of @CreatiQueen SMELLING like Iida XD

AlienQueen: tbh we all saw it coming. When are Midoriya and you getting together @GravQueen?

JaegerQueen: I feel like you're gonna have to smack that one over the head. For someone so bloodydamn bright, he's thick as shit.

InvisiQueen: ^^^ with less swearing.

GravQueen: Am I that obvious?

JaegerQueen: I thought you were gonna claw my eyes out when he kept talking to me when I first got here XD

FropQueen: Well, you do kind of flirt with all the boys.

JaegerQueen: :O I do not!

AlienQueen: You literally do XD I've never seen Todoroki blush until tonight.

GravQueen: WAIT WHAT

FropQueen: HOW

InvisiQueen: What the hell did you do???

JaegerQueen: Nothing @AlienQueen wasn't doing 😉

AlienQueen: You were holding his hand for AGES. I just danced a little.

JaegerQueen: I was teaching him! And 'just' danced a little- you totally Slut Drop Challenged me. Like I was gonna lose to THAT.

AlienQueen: XD XD You shoulda seen Blasty's face when he walked in on THAT.

JaegerQueen: Wait what??

FropQueen: Hang on- was Bakugo looking at a GIRL?

GravQueen: And not with Murder Eyes???

CreatiQueen: This is indeed a development 0.0

AlienQueen: Bet you were too busy looking at Shinso to notice 😉

JaegerQueen: I was surrounded by my top three- can you blame me for being distracted? XD

FropQueen: Oooooo have you changed ratings since you saw them all in the changerooms???

InvisiQueen: ^^^

JaegerQueen: Not a whole lot- some got bumped up tho XD had no idea how ripped they'd all be XD 0.0

CreatiQueen: They do all work hard. I've even caught Kaminari at the gym a few times.

JaegerQueen: it SHOWS @MusicQueen jump on that before he gets away XD

AlienQueen: Wait what?

JaegerQueen: Ah.

AlienQueen: JIRO?!?!?!?

GravQueen: WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN???

MusicQueen: NOTHING'S HAPPENED! I don't what you're talking about @JaegerQueen!

JaegerQueen: Sorry! Sorry! I got the vibe you were into him that first Girls' Night!

JaegerQueen: He's totally shredded though.

JaegerQueen: Not that I really paid attention.

JaegerQueen: I could draw it for you if you want.

AlienQueen: Read back over those last few messages, and tell me what's wrong with them.

JaegerQueen: Bite me- I have a really good memory for this stuff.

CreatiQueen: She's not wrong- should see her sketch book in art.

JaegerQueen: Wait, you were looking?

InvisiQueen: Back up back up! @JaegerQueen you're saying you could draw what you saw in the boys changeroom this afternoon?

AlienQueen: Oh boy.

FropQueen: That's way too much power for one person to have. Plz share it.

InvisiQueen: We will ALL bear your BURDEN.

GravQueen: Don't feel like you have to go through this alone.

AlienQueen: @JaegerQueen? You there?

CreatiQueen: I think you embarrassed her.

JaegerQueen: Not possible. I was looking for my sketch book.

GravQueen: What, you're gonna do it now? Not that I'm complaining XD

JaegerQueen: I kinda already started XD I put it away when Shinso got here.

AlienQueen: ???!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

InvisiQueen: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

GravQueen: WHY IS SHINSO THERE?!?!?!

JaegerQueen: Nothing I say will matter XD this is a trap

AlienQueen: SPILL. NOW. How could you keep this from us?! I thought you liked Blasty?!?!?!

JaegerQueen: Seriously, it's not like that XD We used to hang out in the lounge all night, cos I only need like an hour or two sleep, and he has trouble sleeping.

JaegerQueen: Then last Monday when he had a migraine, I gave him this tea a friend uses when HE gets migraines.

JaegerQueen: And Shinso said he only gets them super bad when he isn't sleeping properly.

AlienQueen: So you're sleeping with him to help with his HEADACHES????

InvisiQueen: Bold of you to assume they're sleeping XD

FropQueen: ^^^

FropQueen: I thought you only rated him a 7?

JaegerQueen: Fuck off! He used to fall asleep in the common area, but I wasn't there Sunday night, and I kinda figured out he doesn't like being alone, or in the dark. So I said he could crash on my couch seeing as I don't actually sleep much anyway.

AlienQueen: That is actually adorable. And waaaaay to random to be made up XD XD XD Nawwww poor Shinso.

InvisiQueen: I am so disappointed.

GravQueen: ^^^^ much better catch than Blasty.

AlienQueen: So he's not made ANY moves? The way he was watching you dance tonight, I'd totally expect it! ESPECIALLY IF HE'S SLEEPING IN YOUR ROOM!

JaegerQueen: Nah. It is cute af tho. For someone who claims insomnia, he drops off stupid fast XD

JaegerQueen uploaded a jpeg.

AlienQueen: See, now, HOW ARE YOU NOT INTO THAT?

InvisiQueen: That is literally the most adorable thing I've ever seen in my life. And my cat had kittens over Christmas.

FropQueen: My rating of Shinso just rose one point.

JaegerQueen: Wait until I finish this sketch XD XD

AlienQueen: @JaegerQueen you didn't answer me!

FropQueen: Shinso doesn't smell like pudding XD

JaegerQueen: ^^^

AlienQueen changed JaegerQueen's name to PuddingQueen.

PuddingQueen uploaded a jpeg.

PuddingQueen uploaded a jpeg.

PuddingQueen uploaded a jpeg.

PuddingQueen: These are wip but 0.0

PuddingQueen: Also, I approve @AlienQueen.

InvisiQueen: How did you get all this in less than ten seconds?!

GravQueen: Witchcraft.

PuddingQueen: There was this demon this one time... XD Nah, I've always been good at this stuff.

AlienQueen: Damn, @MusicQueen Kurai's right- snap that morsel up before someone else does! Denk has an ACTUAL sixpack now XD

PuddingQueen: No artistic liberty taken.

GravQueen: Hey, where's Bakugo?

InvisiQueen: Nawww didn't you get a good enough look? >:)

AlienQueen: I reckon she did, she was ogling him HARD when I grabbed her out of there XD

FropQueen: Still a 10?

PuddingQueen: None of y'all are old enough for this pic.

PuddingQueen: Come see me when you 20 odd.

AlienQueen: XD XD Nawwwwww let us see!

PuddingQueen: No.

PuddingQueen: It's mine.

AlienQueen changed PuddingQueen's name to ThirstyQueen.

ThirstyQueen changed the name of the chat to Thirst Chat.

ThirstyQueen: Might as well be honest XD Also, YOU PEOPLE ARE JUST AS BAD AS ME! Why do I get called ThirstyQueen?

FropQueen: Cos you're wearing Bakugo's hoodie and drawing naked pictures of the boys XD

ThirstyQueen: Fair.

GravQueen: I had no idea Shinso was so buff.

ThirstyQueen: ^^^^ thirsty.

CreatiQueen: Can I just go back to the fact Shinso is sleeping in Hikari's room? I know it's technically against dorm rules, but it is incredibly kind of you to take such an interest in another student's well-being; especially when it interferes with your personal life. Shinso has had a hard time at UA, and I think I can speak on behalf of all of us here that we are deeply moved by your gesture.

CreatiQueen: I must say, I do think it a pity you are not considering becoming romantically involved with Shinso; I think you would be a cute couple.

AlienQueen: ^^^ also, wow XD

FropQueen: ^^^ it's like you've adopted him XD

GravQueen: You would be super cute together.

InvisiQueen: And he's SHREDDED.

PuddingQueen: Stop shipping me.

AlienQueen: #Shinkari

GravQueen: #Hikso

PuddingQueen: I will burn these drawings of Midoriya before you get to see them @GravQueen

InvisiQueen: Ok Bakugo XD

AlienQueen: XD XD ^^^

PuddingQueen: Fuck y'all, I'm gonna go and sit in bed in my new hoodie, and draw all of your crushes in various states of undress, with one of them asleep in my room.

PuddingQueen has left the chat.

AlienQueen: that was actually a savage burn.

InvisiQueen: Does she actually like Bakugo? He's so mean to her.

AlienQueen: She practically orgasmed when Denk put that hoodie on her- and did you SEE her face when he wouldn't say her name? That one is crushing HARD.

MusicQueen: fifty yen she wears the hoodie tomorrow.

FropQueen: 100 yen she doesn't, but uses it as a pillow case XD

GravQueen: How the hell are you gonna check that?

FropQueen: I'm good at climbing.

AlienQueen: 0.0 

 

Chapter Text

Bakugo wasn't sure which was worse; the fact they'd lost the race, or the fact he'd lost his hoodie. It was only a stupid race, and he had plenty of other clothes, but it was the principle of it all that had him gritting his teeth the next morning. Why the hell hadn't the Leprechaun given the damned thing back? She'd looked almost feral when he'd tried to take it, that same strange light in her eyes he'd caught a handful of times when they'd sparred.

Her reaction when Kaminari had shoved the thing over her face had replayed in his mind late into the night. He laid awake much longer than normal, sleep elusive. He'd barely been watching, only just managing to steal a glance, but he had certainly seen the girl fall off the damned couch, after Kaminari had retreated, apparently senseless. Hell, she hadn't gone that limp when he'd brained her on Monday- was it really because of his smell? He knew his Quirk made his sweat have a sweet odour- hell, he'd been teased enough as a kid to be well aware of it. But he hadn't given it over-much thought once his Quirk fully manifested.

But then, even after the race, she'd practically buried her entire face in his hoodie, pale eyes wide and wild. Deku had said it would distract her- not that it would make lose her mind. What the hell had that been?

He sighed, and glanced at his alarm clock. The red numbers claimed it was four am. Even for him, that was early. But, as he scrubbed his face with a hand, he knew there was no point in trying to get back to sleep now he was awake.

By five, he was stepping out of the dorms in sweat pants and a light-weight hoodie, breathing steam in the freezing air. The sun hadn't risen yet, and the school grounds were lit dimly by cool, white lights that gave everything an even colder look than normal. Jogging slowly away from the front doors, trying to work the stiffness from his limbs, Bakugo glanced over his shoulder briefly, back at the dorms.

As usual, his eyes wandered straight to the top floor on the left. And, as usual, he was mildly surprised to see golden light coming from all the windows, muffled by curtains. Every morning when he left for his run, Bakugo noticed the same thing; the lights were on in the Leprechauns' room. It didn't matter how early he got up- Wednesday he'd been out here at three am, and sure enough, her lights were on. He wasn't sure if she just didn't turn them off, or if she had a whacked sleeping pattern, but he couldn't help but be reluctantly curious.

He shook his head, and with effort, banished his musings, heading purposefully for the running track.

An hour later, when his lungs literally burned from the frosty air, his limbs shaking and coated with sweat, Bakugo wearily made his way back to the dorms. Despite the discomfort, he truly enjoyed these runs. He could lose himself in the motion, the pounding of his feet driving away all thought, leaving nothing but peace. On nights he struggled to sleep, he'd go for a run. If the day had been especially frustrating, leaving him shaking with rage, he'd go for a run. Sometimes he'd take Kirishima, but he preferred the silence of his own company.

Stepping back into the suddenly hot dorms, he nearly ran into the person bustling out of them "Watch it!" he snapped, bristling out of reflex as the smaller person practically bounced off him. Dammit; he hadn't heard anything again! His ears weren't even ringing this time.

"Woops! My bad." Of all the people to literally run into, he had not expected it to be the dark-haired foreigner haunting his morning thoughts. Hikari flashed her crooked smile, and stepped gracefully back, out of arms reach "Was looking at my phone, not where I was going." She held up the device, headphones dangling from one hand.

He took a split second to take her in. Once again, she was wearing practically nothing; the same black training bra as she'd worn when she'd walked into the boys changerooms yesterday, and a pair of equally black shorts that stopped far above her knees, showing off her muscled legs. Her insane hair was loosely bound in a tail that hung over her toned shoulder, drawing the eye to her strange runic tattoo. At least her trainers were sensible "What the hell are you doing?" he growled, realising too late the answer was obvious, and he'd taken way too long to speak.

She raised an eyebrow, and nodded towards the door behind him "Going for a run; if that's alright by you." He wasn't sure if she was teasing or being a smart arse. Hard to tell with that stupid accent.

He huffed "Whatever." He stepped past her, and faintly heard the door open behind him. Not knowing why, he said "Go left- there's a track at the end of the path." His voice was gruffer than he'd meant it to be.

He risked a glance over his shoulder, to see she'd paused in the doorway, head cocked as she regarded him with strange, pale eyes "Thanks." Then she was gone, practically skipping into the pre-dawn, hair bouncing on her back.

He shook his head, and headed back to his room.

***

Well, that had been fucking weird.

I broke into my ground-eating lope, moving easily in the cold away from the dorms. I had not expected to run into Fizzler so early. I knew he was a morning person, but this was like, extra morning- especially on a Saturday. Hell, I was only up because Shinso was still asleep and my feet had been itchy. I tried to refrain from leaving the dorms without the class in case I was needed to defend it. Not that I couldn't be back there in a flash of a flash, but it made me uneasy all the same. It wasn't like I didn't have faith in the security system, and in Nat (who had the predawn shift of patrol) but it was my lair.

But I needed to go for a run- especially seeing as I'd have to wait until Monday to Shift again. Normally, I tried to manage the Change once a day. I could go a week without it, but I would get... irritable. My skin would start itching after the third day, my bones would start aching by the fifth, and by the sixth I'd be a hair-trigger. There was also the fact that the longer I left it to Shift, the more painful and draining it was. There's a reason werewolves are so notoriously grumpy after transforming- I literally couldn't imagine waiting a full month.

So, not only had I not expected to nearly faceplant into Bakugo's impressive chest so early in the morning, I had not expected him to a) eyeball me like he'd never seen me before, or b) suggest somewhere I could go for a run. In a relatively civil manner, for that matter.

Heh. Maybe I needed to inform the Thirst Chat.

Curious, I followed his admittedly vague directions (ok, I followed his delectable scent trail), and found the running track. Setting off, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was less of a track, and more of a cross-country course. The ground was rough and uneven, with little ruts and decent sized rocks. Trees cut low across it, forcing you to either jump them or slide under them. It ticked all my boxes, and I found myself mildly annoyed I'd not discovered it before now.

I shrugged to myself, and tucked in my headphones. The sun was just about up, and the air still cold enough to be steaming from my lungs. I set off, letting the thrill of the run fill my mind in time to the music.

***

The day turned out to be amazing. The near frozen morning became bright and sunny, and Bakugo could hear people cheering and carrying on outside in front of the dorms, even through his closed windows. Glancing at the clock, he figured he could justify going downstairs at least for some lunch. Besides, he'd finished all his stupid assignments already.

Sure enough, once he got downstairs, he saw it looked like nearly the entire class were all outside, enjoying the sunshine. After a week of windy, cold days, virtually everyone was taking advantage of the nice change.

Shoving his hands into his jacket, he pushed through the doors "Oh, Bakubro! Was wondering of you'd ever come out." Kirishima was sitting on the front step, English homework open on his lap, grinning up at him. Sero was next to him, but he was leaning back, eyes closed, simply lazing in the small warmth offered by the winter sun. Both of them wore only light jackets, rolled up to the elbows, trying to soak in the weak rays.

"Couldn't concentrate with all the stupid noise." The blonde grumbled, red eyes taking in the scene before them.

"You're not wrong." Kirishima laughed "But you can't blame them- it's so nice today."

In front of the doors, a small exercise yard was set up. It only had a few chin-up bar stations, and a handful of balance beams and stumps, but it was handy for a quick work-out. Currently, it looked like the majority of class 3A and class 3B were hanging around it, or in the grassy areas surrounding it.

A handful of people were using said equipment. When he narrowed his eyes, and realised who it was- the casual audience around them and the position Kirishima had adopted directly across from it, made sense "Seriously?" he growled "I thought you were better than that idiot Pikachu and Grape Fuck."

Kirishima shrugged, but he flushed "Naw, c'mon! You gotta admit, it's not exactly unpleasant to watch."

"Didn't take you for such a prude, Bakugo." Sero said from his spot, not even opening his eyes, but smirking.

"Shut up! I just have better things to do with my time than perv at classmates." Most of the girls of both classes were taking it in turns to use the equipment. He couldn't make out what they were yammering on about from where the dorm doors, but the distinctive peals of laughter couldn't be mistaken. Figured the Leprechaun would be in the middle of it all "What the hell are they doing, anyway?"

"Well, at first it was just a couple of girls from class B and a few of ours working out, but then someone started a competition to see who could do the most chin-ups." Kirishima explained, tapping his pencil on his notebook "I'm pretty sure it was Mineta, but Mina took it seriously. From what I can tell, its down to Hikari, Kendo, Uraraka and Tsunotori." He glanced up at the blonde, smiling almost slyly "Kaminari is taking bets."

"Can't believe you put that much on Hikari." Sero laughed, sitting upright, squinting his eyes open "Yeah she's strong, but Uraraka can just use her Quirk."

Kirishima shrugged "I like my odds; besides, they've all agreed not to use their powers."

"Hey, Bakugo!" Pikachu appeared out of a throng of guys who'd been standing just off the equipment area, waving enthusiastically. Then he was running towards them, grinning like an idiot. Bakugo's scowl deepened, and he wondered if it was too late to retreat back inside "Dude! Wanna place a bet!? Kirishima totally thinks Hikari's gonna win, but Midoriya thinks Uraraka's gonna win cos of all her combat training. Kendo is suuuper strong too- I think Sero bet on her, and Tsunotori has mad core strength!" he was practically jabbering, he was so excited, his golden eyes practically gleeful.

"No, I'm not placing a bet." Bakugo grumbled in disgust "Why the hell would I?"

"Well, at least come and watch! You too, Kirishima, Sero! Even Iida's gonna cheer them on."

Much to Bakugo's annoyance, the other two eagerly got to their feet "Might as well." They sounded way too excited "You coming, Bakubro?" the redheaded idiot grinned at him hopefully.

Bakugo made a face "Why the hell would I? Round Face will win, it isn't hard to work out." Hikari might be strong, but Uraraka could easily do a hundred lifts.

"Hang on, you agree with Midoriya?" Sero barked a laugh "Can I go and tell him you said that?!"

Bakugo shot him a filthy look "I will kill you." But his words lacked their usual venom, as he drank in the warmth of the sun. It really was too nice of day to argue.

Kaminari's face suddenly turned sly "She's wearing your hoodie, you know. Monoma keeps asking if you're secretly dating." He didn't even need to say who she was.

Rage flared. First of all, why the hell would she be still be wearing his goddamned hoodie, and why the fuck would that Quirk thieving prick think they were dating?! "Where the hell is he?" he snarled, vaguely aware of his palms crackled as he pulled them out of his pockets.

Kaminari looked practically smug as he pointed towards the equipment "Hanging out near Kendo."

"Right." He stalked down the steps, barely aware that the others were scrambling to follow. Crunching on the gravel, he made a beeline for the larger of the groups, scanning for a head of blonde hair. But as he approached, he found his treacherous eyes slipping sideways, towards the bars. Sure enough, his black hoodie stood out amongst the gaggle of females in their multi-coloured workout gear. Hikari was almost doubled-over, laughing her stupid head off at something one of the class B girls had said. Her dark curls had an almost blue tinge in the sun, loose and wild around her head. She wore those outrageously tall converses that she'd scribbled all over, but her long legs looked deceptively bare from the knee to the bottom of his damned hoodie, which grazed half-way down her thighs. He almost did a double-take; surely she was wearing something under it?

"Speak of the devil, and he shall appear." The smug idiot he was looking for spoke from the crowd, and Bakugo wrenched his eyes from the reason his weekend was ruined, to glare at the taller youth. He grinned at the Bakugo, eyes sparkling with mirth "Did we hear correctly that the infamous nitro-gremlin of 3A, not only lost the much-coveted Mario Kart championship to a team of girls, but was forced to forfeit his clothes as well? I thought you were supposed to get the girls to strip, not do it yourself."

"He's glycerine-powered, not nitro-powered." Kirishima corrected from Bakugo's elbow cheerfully "If you're gonna rib him, at least get your facts straight." Bakugo didn't miss the fact the redhead was resting a hand on his shoulder, in a display of 'camaraderie'. He knew it was so he could be restrained.

"Just cos class A has all the badass chicks." Mineta, of all people, scoffed over his shoulder from his literal seat at the edge of the equipment area "You'd be taking your clothes off too if you'd seen Hikari in action." Bakugo wasn't sure if he wanted to kill him, or egg him on, as Monoma's eyes widened.

"Oh, we've seen a little of her. Pity she wasn't able to join us in Hero Training last week- I heard you put her in the infirmary during Drake's training." Monoma continued, shaking his head slowly, ruefully "I do hope she can join us this week."

"Oi, fuck nuggets! You watching this or not?" just as Bakugo had been about to open his mouth, palms steaming threateningly and Kirishima's hand tightening on his shoulder, Hikari's infuriating voice cracked the air.

They turned, somewhat reluctantly, to see the girls all watching them, eyebrows raised in irritation. Even Uraraka looked grumpy, a strange change from her usual ass-eating grin "Put a stopper in the testosterone, boys. You insist on watching us- at least pay attention." The short girl sniffed, scowling at them with her hands on her hips. Heh. Where was Deku when his little crush was getting all fired up? Ah. There he was. The head of green hair was on the other side of the girl's space, hovering with Four-Eyes and Mind Fuck. They were looking in their direction somewhat warily.

"You tell 'em." Hikari bounced towards the bars "Ok, who's up first?"

Bakugo had no intention to watch, his only objective blowing Monoma away, but he found himself being bustled to stand at the edge of the 'gym', standing between an over eager Kaminari and Kirishima. Mineta retained his position as 'judge' on his camp chair. Why the girls were letting him stay there was beyond him, but he suspected the Leprechaun's hand. It would fit right in with her weird sense of humour.

"Tsunotori and Uraraka, you go first!" the grape-headed idiot called imperiously "Bonus points for showmanship!" Bakugo rolled his eyes. So that was what had everyone riled up. Chin-up competition his ass- this was just a way for the chicks to show off. Why couldn't the hormone riddled morons just keep it in their bedrooms?

Uraraka and the horned girl stepped forward, looking determined but excited "Give 'em the goods, Uraraka!" Hikari hollered "Show 'em class A is mighty!"

"You got this Tsunotori!"

The girls started lifting. Uraraka was smooth and efficient, barely pausing at the top and drop. The class B girl was faster, but she wasn't anywhere near as smooth. Then, all of a sudden, at the top of her lift, she threw herself up, and flipped, now facing backwards on the next drop. A chorus of whistles sounded. Bakugo's eyebrow rose. OK, maybe this would be interesting.

Uraraka bared her teeth, and on her next lift, she threw herself up, clapped, and changed directions as well, earning cheers as well as whistles. Hell, he'd known the girl was strong, but that was impressive without her Quirk. The match continued with various additions of similar tricks, with Uraraka earning the biggest cheer when she managed to slip over the bar on the lift.

Gasping for breath, both girls dropped to the ground, arms shaking visibly when Mineta called time. They shot smiles at each other as Mineta announced the winner to be the class A girl. Despite the boos from class B, the girl Tsunotori high-fived Uraraka and shook her head ruefully. Bakugo couldn't hear what she said, but the blush on Uraraka's face meant it must have been complimentary. Huh. He'd forgotten most of class B were actually decent human beings.

"Man, I'd forgotten how strong Uraraka is!" Kirishima said, clapping along with the others, eyes bright with excitement "Our girls are so manly!" Bakugo rolled his eyes.

"Ok, next up we have the newest member of class A, against the head of class B!" Mineta was really taking his MC roll seriously.

Kendo sauntered confidently to her bar, and looked to her opponent. Hikari skipped to her bar, stupid hoodie bouncing and slipping off pale shoulders as she moved. It swam on her, sleeves dangling down past her hands. She had to shove them up to her slim elbows to even be able to grab at the bar, garnering chuckles from the audience. Why was she wearing the damned thing? She jumped smoothly, smiling crookedly as her clawed hands grasped the metal. She was a good deal shorter than Kendo, who's feet nearly dusted the ground, and the hoodie made her look practically like a child "Hey, judge! Can we have some music?" she called as she hung there, waiting.

Mineta looked flustered for a moment "Why?"

"Cos I wanna school this here lass to a fully sick beat." She sounded awfully confident. The ripples of laughter confirmed Bakugo's suspicions that nobody took her seriously. Hadn't she already gone up against someone to get to the finals?

Jiro called out "I can give you a beat, but nothing else."

"That'll do." The Irish girl replied cheerfully "So long as the judge allows it." She practically purred at Mineta, who visibly gulped.

"Uh, sure, I guess. On the count of three!" Jiro started using her Quirk to play a simple bass beat, thumping through the very ground.

On Mineta's mark, both girls started lifting. Immediately, Bakugo's eyes were drawn to the easy movements of the darker girl. Had everyone forgotten she'd thrown Bakugo the other week? He almost had.

As with the earlier contest, they soon started to spice things up. Kendo executed the same flip Uraraka had done to finish, changing direction as well. Hikari fluidly copied this motion, but faster, never losing time to the beat with each lift "Hey, what's the prize for this thing?" the Leprechaun called, not even sounding out of breath.

"Bragging rights!"

"You can pick tonight's movie!"

"Another one of Bakugo's hoodies!" Bakugo stiffened, and snarled, head whipping around to glare Ashido, who was smirking gleefully at the Irish girl, totally ignoring Bakugo's ire. The whole crowd laughed at her suggestion.

"Why the hell would Kendo want one of Blasty's hoodies?" the black-skinned one, Kuroiro called in mocking disgust.

"It wouldn't fit, anyway. Be too small!" Kendo shot back, slightly breathless as she kept pace with Hikari.

Bakugo's temper flared again as everyone laughed anew, but he knew he couldn't really say anything without making them laugh worse. Why the hell was he the butt of all their jokes today? With goddamned Grape Fuck ordering half-dressed girls around?

"Good enough for me!" Hikari snickered, still sounding fresh, face not even flushed "Watch and learn, kiddos." The next drop, she didn't lift straight away. Instead, she started airwalking, in time with the beat as she rose. When her chin reached the bar, she kept lifting, slowly, still to the beat, until she was straight-armed above the bar. Still smoothly, she started tilting forward, feet still moving, as she shifted her weight while her legs became horizontal with the ground. Shifting her grip, she started to lift herself bodily, continuing to angle herself as her feet and legs rose up, never ceasing in their 'steps'.

Bakugo knew his weren't the only eyes widening in amazement. Kendo was stuttering in her lifts as she gawked. Still, Hikari's feet moved in time to the beat, and then she was doing the world's slowest handstand, painstakingly rising until she was balancing on top of the bar. The hoodie slipped down, revealing the same tight black shorts and training bra she'd worn when he'd nearly run into her that morning. The wolf-whistles didn't just come from the boys. Ashido was literally jumping up and down as everyone, even class B, started to cheer. Kendo had stopped lifting, and was just watching in awe.

Hikari kept airwalking, even as she started a tortuously slow descent, once more shifting her grip when she gained levelness with the bar, and then she was hanging from the bottom. Grinning almost sheepishly, she let go of the bar, and gave a dramatic bow. Even Kendo applauded "Ok, I'm not even gonna try to argue with that." She laughed, and clapped a brawny hand on the smaller girl's shoulder.

"Where the hell did you learn to do that?!" Ashido shrieked, racing forward to throw her arms around Hikari's neck "TEACH ME!"

"Ok, class A wins." Mineta announced unnecessarily.

"No wonder she could flip you!" Kirishima clapped Bakugo on the back, grinning toothily "Heh, I almost wanna ask her for training tips!" he wasn't totally insane in suggesting that. Bakugo still felt a little wide-eyed at the display. The core strength required to do that so smoothly was unreal. He himself could do the handstand part, but only if he got some momentum. She'd done it so slowly!

His moment of awe was broken however, when pale blue eyes caught his, and she winked "Leave my new hoodie at my door!" she called in a sing-song voice to him.

Everyone guffawed as he spun on his heel and stormed away, hands rippling with explosions as his neck flushed.

Chapter Text

As was becoming custom, Sunday morning was met with yet another strange scene. Shinso had known what to expect, but it was still mildly funny. As usual, he was one of the first in the common area. He'd woken up on Hikari's couch once again, warm and surprisingly comfortable, but the girl was nowhere to be seen. Having snuck back to his room for a shower and some fresh clothes, he'd ventured downstairs to kill the early hours of the day playing Kaminari's new Final Fantasy game before the blonde woke up, only to witness Uraraka and Tsui standing with the fridge open, staring at the contents.

"Ok, the eggs were one thing- who the hell has time to do this?" the brunette wasn't asking anyone in particular.

Shinso bit back his smile. He and Hikari had been up late, preparing the latest Sunday morning 'event'. He still didn't pretend to understand the Irish girl's strange sense of humour, but he appreciated the effort she was apparently prepared to put in to achieve her 'pranks'.

So, he had helped her glue googly-eyes to everything in the kitchen; including cutlery and appliances. Uraraka and Tsui were still staring at the fridge, where milk jugs, butter containers, sauce bottles and tupaware containers all stared back with beady black and white eyes.

"It's actually kind of creepy." The frog girl croaked, tilting her head. In a surprising move, she stepped around Uraraka, and opened the pantry "Wow. They were really dedicated." Sure enough, everything in there had eyes as well. The befuddled silence had Shinso biting his tongue. Ok, maybe Hikari had a point with her weird ideas being funny.

Shortly after the girl's discovery, the rest of the class started to trickle in from their rooms. Shinso resolutely kept his eyes on the game, but his ears were trained on the kitchen. With each new exclamation and bark of surprised laughter, it got harder and harder to keep a straight face.

When Hikari finally arrived, stepping in through the front doors wearing training shorts and her tiny training bra, plucking her headphones from her ears, breakfast had dissolved into chaos. He caught her evil grin when Sato exclaimed over the fact even the cutlery had eyes, and she bounced over to flop onto the couch next to Shinso, but she twisted so she could watch the results of their handiwork "Any casualties?" she whispered conspiratorially, wrapping her headphones up.

"I think Hagakure dropped a glass when she picked it up and turned it around." He said, chuckling softly "And Iida refused to use a spoon because it 'looked at him'."

Hikari choked with suppressed laughter just as Uraraka and Momo discovered the vegetable crisper "No way! Look what happened to the carrots!" Kaminari peered over their shoulders, apparently just as eager as the girls to find out to what extent the mystery eye-giver had gone to. Shinso knew for a fact they had been extremely thorough.

"Even the corn?"

"Who does this? This is some serious effort, right here."

"Naaawww look at the broccoli, Uraraka! It looks like Midoriya!" Shinso couldn't help but look over, just in time to see Uraraka make a grab for the vegetable from Kaminari's hand. The blonde cackled with laughter as he dodged away "It's his vegetable alter-ego; Broku!" The green-haired youth in question was laughing so hard he was practically doubled over as Kaminari waved it around, making the eyes bounce and dance, while Uraraka tried, and failed, to casually steal it away.

***

Until recently, Mina had never been a fan of Monday mornings. That had changed when Drake and Hikari had arrived. Now, instead of struggling to stay awake through a boring history lecture, they got to watch Bakugo and Hikari lay into each other, before they themselves got to practice the obscure new way of fighting, all the while they were overseen by the hot Brit.

Mina had to admit, apart from maybe Uraraka, Ojiro, Midoriya, Bakugo and Hikari herself, nobody else really managed to get anything like consistent hits in. That didn't mean the others sucked, it just took them longer to master the constant barrage of assault needed. Mina was getting better at not relying on her Quirk so much, but it was awkward and she wasn't a fan. It didn't help that her opponent, Kaminari, seemed to struggle to really want to hit or block her. It made her sympathise a little with Bakugo's earlier infuriation when Hikari supposedly went easy on him.

But back to Monday mornings as a whole. After the last week of 'revelations', Mina was eager to watch the two hot-headed flirts have at it again, so she could watch with new eyes. She and Hagakure had already discussed how Bakugo had watched with wide eyes on Saturday as Hikari had shown off her incredible strength (Mina was still determined to ask how the girl had learnt how to do that), and they'd texted at length about how the girl insisted on wearing Blasty's hoodie all weekend. Now that Bakugo was aware of the effect his glycerine had on his opponent, Mina was also excited to see if he somehow tried to use it to his advantage in their weekly ritual of trying to one-up each other.

"Today we are going to try something a little different." Drake appeared from nowhere, as he apparently liked to do. If Mina hadn't known he was an underground pro, she'd have had her suspicions with how quietly the hunk moved around. He sauntered through them, hands deep in his stylish trench coat, hair carelessly rumpled as always "It is often the case in combat situations where you are not only limited in how you may use your powers, but also in your other abilities, such as your senses." He gracefully stepped onto the blue training mats, and looked them all over with an almost bored expression "I've watched you fight here, and I've witnessed several of your Hero Training sessions. I know you are all very capable, as I am sure you yourselves are aware of as well. Now that you have a reasonably firm grasp on how to function when your Quirks are disabled, or unsuitable to the situation, I want to try to teach you how to fight and survive when everything else you rely on is also out of reach." In a familiar gesture, he waved Hikari forward, who had a rare look of apprehension on her face "As you may have noticed, Hikari has heightened senses of smell, sight and hearing. I know for a fact she relies heavily upon all three in combat, as do most of you all." From his trench coat, Drake pulled out a large cloth bag with a draw string from one pocket, and from the other, what looked like a spritz bottle.

At the sight of the small white bottle, Hikari physically recoiled "You're a sick bastard, you know that?" she said in disgust. Her eyes followed the bottle as though it was a loaded gun, and she cringed away a little as Drake flourished it "How is this gonna teach them anything?!" what on earth was in that bottle that could make her freak out so badly? Mina had never seen her look so nervous.

"There are some situations, and I know a few of you have experienced them, where you are reduced to nothing but situational, instinctual awareness to survive. Both of us," he gestured to himself and Hikari "have been taken captive, or otherwise disabled, at different stages of our careers. I also happen to know there are certain individuals here, with similar experiences." Mina resisted the urge to look at Bakugo "While I cannot replicate those circumstances, or indeed, future circumstances, I can try to teach you how to rely upon your instincts should they occur- through sensory deprivation." He beckoned for Hikari to come to him.

The girl looked absolutely skittish. She shifted her weight from foot to foot, hands clenching and unclenching, until she finally moved towards her teacher. She was so tense. There were no sexual innuendos over being blind-folded, no sarcastic remarks. Mina had to wonder at the callousness of Drake. Surely he could see how much Hikari didn't want to do this? "You really suck, you know that, right?" she grumbled without a trace of her usual cheer, eyes still not moving from the spritz bottle.

"Quit complaining, and put this on." He tossed her the bag. She shot him a truly foul look, and gingerly slipped the black bag over her head. Mina felt a wave of distaste, and almost anger for her friend as the bag swallowed her curls, leaving her a figure in blue with no identity. Hell, if Drake meant for them all to take turns wearing something like that, she dreaded how everyone would sleep tonight. More than a few of them already had nightmares about being taken...hell, how would Bakugo fair? She risked sneaking a glance at the ash blonde. His red eyes were fixed on the Brit, his face his usual impassive mask when it wasn't set in a scowl, but Mina could see the sudden tension in his shoulders.

"So, we have removed the sense of sight." Drake continued as Hikari stood there awkwardly "Now, I shall remove another sense I know she relies heavily upon." He raised the spritz bottle with almost comical severity. Hikari's entire body tensed, and she looked like she was resisting the urge to leap away. Without hesitating, Drake sprayed a clear liquid right into the front of the bag that hid the girl's face.

Hikari actually let loose a sound that was half-way a whine and a growl, flinching away, hands flying up to pull the bag out from her face. Even from this distance, Mina's nose picked up the distinct aroma. Drake had just sprayed Hikari's bagged head with vinegar "You could've wet the bag before I put it on!" she complained, voice muffled "You got the shit in my eyes!"

"You should've had them closed." Drake replied calmly, lowering the bottle, before he addressed the rest of the class "I have now removed her second sense; smell." Jeez, if Hikari's nose had burned just being around Mina, she dreaded to think how much discomfort she was in just having her face drenched in literal acid "I am not going to remove her sense of sound- Bakugo, I trust you shall manage that just fine." With that, the pro lightly stepped away from his hooded student.

Bakugo wordlessly took that as an invitation to step up onto the mat. His face was still impassive as he took in the sight of his blind opponent, whose head had snapped towards him as he walked forward. Drake wasn't kidding when he'd said Hikari had keen senses. She immediately sank into a crouch, hands flared despite her blunt claws "You really want me to fight with her like that?" he asked, just standing there.

The moment the words left his mouth, Hikari sprang. If Mina had thought she was fast before, she was quickly realising how much the girl had been holding back. Bakugo had half a second to leap out of the way, cursing, as Hikari's clawless hand lashed out where he had just been standing. And then, even as he moved away cursing, the black bag followed his motion, and with a muffled snarl, the girl blindly chased him.

Bakugo was forced to block a savage roundhouse, and then leapt aside as she dropped to try to sweep his legs from under him "There are no countdowns in a real fight." Drake drawled from the sidelines "Would you simply stand around waiting to be hit if you were blinded?"

"Shut up!" Hikari snapped. Mina's eyes widened as she was suddenly casting her head back and forth. Of course; she'd been relying on hearing where Bakugo was landing- Drake's voice had distracted her.

Bakugo realised this, and froze, red eyes wide in realisation. He sank to a crouch, splaying his hands as the girl moved her head back and forth, obviously listening. Tensing, he braced, and then loosed twin blasts, shooting himself up into the air. Hikari flinched, and then randomly threw herself to the right, landing almost animalistically on her hand and haunches, one hand raised, claws at the ready. Bakugo flipped mid-air, and let loose another pair of blasts before he landed. Her head whipped to follow the sound, but she didn't move.

Bakugo, his face missing its usual ferocious scowl of battle, used the blasts to mask the sound of his feet hitting the ground. Hikari was still looking the wrong way, flexing the fingers on her raised hand. Mina didn't realise she was holding her breath as she watched as Bakugo slowly, painstakingly, uncharacteristically, padded softly towards the female. Couldn't she hear him? Surely those blasts hadn't been enough to deafen her just yet?

She very nearly missed the slight twitch of the girl's head as Bakugo raised his hands slowly, palms pointing at the crouching figure. Bakugo certainly did.

With a shriek that was almost a roar, she pounced, barrelling into the blonde, who swore as explosions ripped from his hands, too late. She slammed into his chest as his hands went off, the blasts safely pointed towards the ceiling as she bore him to the ground, practically straddling him, scrabbling blindly to grab at his arms, his wrists.

Even though she'd been quick enough to jump him, her blindness cost her precious seconds she just didn't have. Mina groaned when she missed Bakugo's hands, and the blonde, instead of hitting her like Mina half-expected, shoved both hands to either side of her head, and let loose twin controlled blasts.

They were only small, but Hikari's reaction was not. She shrieked again, cursing in languages that weren't English, or Japanese, and frantically snatched at Bakugo's hands, that still covered her ears.

Bakugo wasted no time. Bucking his hips, he tossed her away, and scrambled to his feet, hands raised to explode him back and away from the raging girl "Motherfucker!" she shrieked in Japanese, clutching at where her ears must have been "Nat! I'll kill you for this!" she was still shouting.

Drake simply smirked "I do believe she just lost her third sense. Now you shall see what happens when you have nothing but instinct to rely upon."

When Hikari didn't reply, and continued to blindly twist her head back and forth even when Bakugo landed with a thud, Mina realised she must really be deafened now. She wasn't sure if she was appalled, or mildly impressed.

Finally though, Bakugo was scowling. He obviously hadn't expected the girl to jump him like that. If Mina hadn't been so surprised, she'd have cheered Hikari on "Now, in real combat, Hikari could simply lash out with her fire. Unfortunately, in situations like these, she would be unable to regulate the flames, and we too would be taken out." Drake sounded so calm. Did he truly not care about Hikari, as Aizawa had implied? Or did he just trust she could take a hit like that and not be permanently injured?

"So she's holding back, again." Bakugo growled. Hikari's head didn't even twitch towards him as he spoke. Jeez, she must be really deaf!

"Well, if you were struck blind, deaf and otherwise senseless in a populated area, would you fire off blasts indiscriminately? Hikari might be an idiot, but she isn't stupid." Drake said mildly. Bakugo's scowl deepened as he stalked around the once more crouching girl.

She had her hands flat on the mats now. Mina wondered what she was going to do this time "Three minutes, Bakugo." Drake called "Hurry it up."

"Right." The blonde rushed forward, but Hikari once more seemed to know where he was coming from. Either she wasn't as deaf as she was appeared to be, or she had some other insane aspect of her Quirk going for her, because just as Bakugo closed in, hands shimmering as he went to blast her away, she sank her apparently not-so blunt claws into the mat itself in front of her, and with savage snarl, yanked it towards her, as hard as she could. Bakugo half yelped- half roared in surprise, staggering for balance, arms windmilling. Just as he went to fire off his Quirk, giving up on trying to regain his balance, Hikari lunged again. Mina had no idea how she zeroed in on the blonde, but once again she slammed into him, bearing them both back to the ground.

Bakugo cursed, and seized her arms, palms practically glowing with the explosion he was about to release. Hikari didn't bother struggling though, she simply rammed her hooded head right into his face.

A sickening crack sounded, and Bakugo yowled in pain and anger, falling flat under her weight. Hikari then scrabbled for his arms as he reeled, successfully managing to seize them. With mind-blowing fluidity and obvious practised ease, she rolled and flipped them both, until she was sitting on Bakugo's back, wrenching his arms up towards his shoulders, not-so blunt claws digging into his forearms. Wait, had she grown them back just now?

He snarled thickly beneath her, nose bleeding everywhere as Drake clapped his hands and called "Time!"

After a second, Hikari released her vice-like grip, and staggered up and away from her opponent. As Bakugo hauled himself to his feet, his face a bloody mask, his nose obviously broken, Hikari ripped the bag from her head and gasped for breath.

Her bouncy curls sprang free as she coughed and gagged. Her eyes were bloodshot, and widely stark, but that didn't distract from the fact that they were white- completely devoid of colour. Mina clapped a hand to her mouth and ran forward "Oh my god! She's blind!" what had Drake been thinking, spraying her in the face with acid?!

"I'm not fucking blind." The girl sneezed explosively as Mina reached her, and sure enough, when her eyes opened again, they were fading back to the usual blue "Just sommat that happens sometimes." She huffed, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve. Then, said eyes darted to look past Mina. The pink girl turned, following her gaze.

Bakugo was standing now, holding his own sleeve to his nose, which was still bleeding heavily. It was definitely crooked. His red eyes blazed in fury "How the hell did you hear me coming?" he growled as Kirishima made to hand him a towel "The concussive blasts should've blown your eardrums."

"If you're asking me how I found you, I can manipulate fire, yeah? Means I can sense it. Your hands practically glow in the dark to me." She spoke too loudly, squinting at Bakugo, obviously half-reading his lips.

"That sounds like some Predator stuff, right there." Kaminari shook his head in amazement.

"You're not far off, actually." Drake said, sauntering over "She can only do it with sources of fire, and only in very short distances. If Bakugo had been more violent, created more blasts, she wouldn't have been able to pinpoint the heat source." He tilted his head, regarding the now scowling female "And she only ever uses the ability when she cannot see, smell or hear properly. Not particularly useful, except in this instance."

Bakugo scowled "And you knew she would use that against me." He growled at the taller male, disgust in his tone.

Drake shrugged "It drives the lesson home; even disabled, an enemy must be viewed as deadly. In our line of work, we have a saying; 'if you are unable to destroy; maim'. Basically, the only 'safe' enemy, is a dead one. If for whatever reason you cannot kill them, maim them sufficiently so they no longer pose a threat." Mina felt her blood run cold at his words. This was not the Hero way- Heroes didn't kill Villains unless they had no other choice. Even then, their actions were reviewed by themselves, their peers and the government, to see if there was any way around it. Drake was basically telling them to outright murder Villains, or cripple them completely. It drew Mina's memory back to something similar Hikari had said the other night; 'the only good Villain is a dead one'. Had she really killed people?

"Alright, time to give it a go yourselves. Break into groups- that box over there has more hoods for you to take turns wearing. Bakugo- go to the infirmary and get that nose set." Mina was surprised when he didn't argue, just turned and stalked off "Hikari!" he raised his voice, and the girl gave him the finger, much to Iida's horror "Go and sit down until your hearing comes back!"

"I am not fat! Fuck you; I'm having a shower." She shouted back, shoving the still reeking hood at the pro's face before storming towards the changerooms "Next time- I'll shove your head in a vat of garlic; see how much you like it!"

Hikari's bad mood lasted to recess. Mina was itching to know why she'd been so badly anxious when Drake had pulled out the hood, but she wasn't brave enough to. Neither was Kaminari or any of the others apparently. She was also dying to ask how she'd managed to grow her claws back in only a matter of minutes! They were back to their full, shiny, sharp selves- and it looked like Hikari hadn't even noticed.

When Mina plucked up enough courage to ask if she was ok, Hikari scowled "Even after a shower, all I can bloody smell is fucking vinegar. It's in my bloodydamn hair!" she irritably yanked at a strand from her face as they waited in line at the cafeteria "I swear, if I had some scissors on me right now, I'd cut it all off!" she wasn't shouting as much anymore- apparently burst eardrums were quicker to heal than a concussion. Although, when she was like this, it was like having Bakugo hanging around, she was so loud and grumpy.

Mina slapped her hand away "Don't you dare! I happen to love your hair- I'd literally cry if you got rid of it."

"What's she complaining about?" Shinso moved to stand with them, looking mildly concerned. Heh. Mina still hadn't come to terms with the fact he was sleeping in Hikari's rooms.

"Her hair still stinks like vinegar." Kaminari was in front of them, and he grinned over his shoulder "At least you can smell; Bakugo still can't, even after Recovery Girl reset his nose. Apparently it could be a few days before he can!" for some reason, Kaminari found this hilarious "I can't believe you headbutted him!"

"Yeah, can we please talk about how you beat him without being able to see him? Why the hell did he beat you last week? Were you really going that easy on him?" Kirishima had caught up to them, looking at Hikari with something akin to awe.

Hikari sniffed, and then looked like she instantly regretted it "Served him bloodydamn right for bursting my bloodydamn eardrums." She huffed "And no, I didn't go easy on him last week. He underestimated me today, and took too fucking long. If he'd blasted my fucking ears out first off, he'd have had me. What the hell was he doing, tip-toeing around like a fucking pixie? As if he'd be able to sneak up on me like that."

Kirishima laughed "Ok, Bakugo." He teased. Mina wasn't sure if Hikari just didn't hear him, or if she was pointedly ignoring him.

She perked up a little as they got closer to the food, but the moment it was in sight, she actually sagged "Seriously? Could this day get any worse?" she groaned, pale eyes scanning the selection.

Mina titled her head "What's up? There's still heaps left, and it's all really fresh! We haven't had fish in ages! It'll be a nice change for sure."

"I hate fish." Hikari growled sourly.

Everyone in class A around them all looked at her incredulously "Wait, you, who ate Todoroki's fossilised pork charcoal, hate fish? Why? How?" Kaminari sounded aghast. He started piling the freshly fried, battered, golden, delicious looking fish onto his plate "It's so good! All crunchy and...fishy."

Hikari eyed it with open dislike, instead heaping her own plate with the hot chips meant to serve as a side "Even through this fucking acid in my sinuses, it stinks. It's slimy, cold, slippery and bloody icky. I hate fish alive or dead- why the hell would I want to eat it?" there was no hint of sarcasm in her voice as they moved to their usual table.

"Well, at least there's chips!' Mina tried to lighten the mood.

"Oh, goody." Hikari sat as far from Kaminari and his huge plate of fish as she physically could, glumly spearing chips "I think I'll eat dinner in my room tonight."

Mina bit her tongue. She'd just been about to ask if Shinso would be joining her. Heheh. She'd just have to ask in the group chat later tonight. There was also the fact Hikari had SAT ON BAKUGO's CHEST during that fight! She hadn't been close enough to see his face, but surely that would leave an impression?

As they headed back to class, Hikari's mood lightened. She still complained about her hair, but with less venom as they approached the doors to class. Maybe she'd just been hangry. She usually seemed grumpy on Monday mornings until after she'd had a decent feed.

Following behind Iida and the rest of the Dekusquad, Mina nearly ran into Uraraka, who'd frozen on the spot, with the rest of her friends as they opened the door "Hey! What gives?" she complained.

"Oh my god." Midoriya sounded hushed, like someone had died.

Mina tried to see past them, at whatever had them all frozen up in the doorway "What? What are you all looking at?" She was too short to see through the boys, but Uraraka could see between them "Uraraka! Tell me what they can see!?"

"How come we aren't going in?" the rest of the class was backing up in the hallway.

Kirishima came to Mina's elbow, and being a good head taller than her and Uraraka, he could see straight into the room "Oh boy!" he barked a laugh "Wait until Aizawa sees this!"

'This' turned out to be the most remarkable of the strange incidents class A had been suffering for the last month. As the class filed into the room, strangely subdued, Mina wasn't sure if she was impressed or terrified. Whoever had done this, was either the bravest soul in the school, or possibly the most insane.

The entire ceiling, and all four walls were completely plastered in a single, repeating, A4 sized photo...of Aizawa. It wasn't just their teacher though; it was a selfie, of him holding a cat. It was adorable and horrifying at the same time. The pictures were painstakingly tiled evenly and neatly. And on every single one of them, a pair of googly eyes were glued over both the pros' and the cats' eyes, giving them an awful, hilarious, bug-eyed expression.

"Ok, if whoever did this gets us all detentions, I am gonna laugh and cry." Kaminari said nervously, looking around wide-eyed.

"Why would someone do something like this?" Momo groaned, cringing under the hundreds of eyes.

"Well, Aizawa does pick on people an awful lot." Hikari said, matter-of-factly from the back of the room "I wanna know how they got the pictures all so bloody straight." She sounded like she admired the prankster.

Mina shot the girl a suspicious look. All grumpiness was gone from her voice, and a cool, calm look had entered her eyes as she admired the pictures around her "Wait; did you do this?" Mina demanded "And the stupid eyes in the fridge this morning?" everyone looked at the Irish girl.

"Pffft no. How the hell would I get into this part of the school, anyway? And as for the eyes," she sniffed, and grimaced "I have better things to do, believe it or not." Mina wasn't convinced, but she made a fair point.

At that moment though, Present Mic walked into the room. He stared around, gobsmacked for a full ten seconds, and then he burst out laughing.

Mina wasn't surprised when the rest of the class joined in.

 

Chapter Text

I'd worked bloodydamn hard getting all of those pictures up. Shinso had no idea this was the actual prank of the week; I'd kept him out of it in case I was caught.

Besides, it was my revenge for Aizawa taking away the win from Shinso on Friday. And, judging by the actual chuckles coming from my insomniac friend, the act had achieved its goal in making him laugh. As Present Mic started to take selfies with one of the Aizawa prints, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for timing it the way I had. If there was one staff member who wouldn't let Aizawa live it down; it was Mic.

My nose burned for the rest of the day, although, judging by the swelling around Bakugo's I wasn't the only one in discomfort. Recovery Girl might've healed his break, but it was obviously still very sore. Heh. My hearing wasn't right yet either; although after the Shift tonight it should get back to normal. I'd expected Bakugo to try something like that, but it had still made me seriously aggravated.

The bag thing had left me...shaken. More than I wanted to admit to myself, and far more than I think Nat could dream of. Sure, he knew I hated the whole sensory deprivation thing, but I'd been very careful not to let him know why that was, nor how bad those experiences had been. Seeing that hood had brought back some particularly painful memories, and it had been all I could do to hold it together enough to put on a good show with Bakugo, without incinerating everything in the vicinity in my panic. As corny as it sounds, even through the awful burning of the vinegar in my nose, I still caught enough of his warm, sweet smell to keep me grounded against the urge to lose my shite. If Nat had put me up against anyone else, the moment I lost my hearing I'd have Shifted in mindless terror.

Then the kids would see what fighting on raw instinct really looked like.

So, I was literally counting down the hours for nine pm when school finished for the day, desperate to get my hearing back, to burn the stink from my hair, and to sink into the security of my other form. I hid my jumpiness best I could, and tried hard not to snap or grumble at Mina and Kami, even avoiding Shinso lest I say something inadvertently cruel. Every inch of me begged for the Change, and every time I caught the smell of my hair, or even Mina's acidic natural odour, my heart raced and I dug my newly regrown claws into my palms.

I bolted for the dorms the moment the last bell went, staying true to my word and skipping the blasted fish in the cafeteria. I had heaps of stuff in my fridge, and I needed to get away from everyone, even if it was only for a little while.

I seized a haunch of beef I'd been defrosting for my midnight snack, and blasted it briefly with fire in my hands. Sitting outside on my deck, I sank my teeth into it, groaning when the blood hit my tongue. Now, I didn't necessarily prefer to eat raw meat, especially in human form, but it'd been nearly a month since I'd had the chance to feast in privacy. I made the most of it.

By the time I'd gone back downstairs, had my little study session with Kiri and Kami (Bakugo didn't show up- I was pretty sure he was still angry about his nose) and gotten back to my room, it was time to Change.

With true relief, I let it wash over me. Five days had me itchy and achy, even without the mornings' trials. I groaned in pain and pleasure as my bones lengthened and my wings grew. The anxiety I'd carried all day melted away as my black fur coated my body, and I relished my newly grown fangs. My edginess and jumpiness simply went away as I became a ten-metre-long carnivore with canines nearly as long as a set of chopsticks, and jaws strong enough to crush the spine of a cow. Why should I be afraid of something so stupid as a cloth bag on my head?

I rubbed the last pins and needles from my snout five minutes later, and then loped out onto my balcony. Breathing the cool air into my now huge lungs, I only barely resisted the urge to bugle in joy as I launched into the night.

This time, I was not taken by surprise when I sensed the presence of someone else in the sky above UA "Wasn't sure if you'd show up again! I nearly gave up." I huffed a greeting as I spotted the familiar scarlet wings of Hawks as he levelled out next to me. He looked genuinely pleased to see me, for some reason. I'd been hoping to see him again too, but I put that down to my weird protective instincts that had gotten all riled up the other night. It certainly wasn't because he was smoking hot.

He drifted under my right wing, until he was almost within claw-reach (brave), and looked over his shoulder at me, tawny eyes warm "I might've made a call after our chat last week; nice to know UA is guarding against the skies as well as the ground." Who the hell had he called that would tell him that?! Could only have been Nezu, Aizawa, Toshinori or Nat (the latter was HIGHLY doubtful); they were the ONLY ones who knew I was out patrolling above the school grounds.

My surprise must have shown, because he laughed, the sound warm and light "Don't worry, All Might made it very clear you were working for the school, and that it was all very hush-hush." Bloody Toshi- we'd be having words. I hadn't spoken to him alone since I'd yelled at him about Midoriya's hands. And no, I didn't feel even slightly guilt about that incident.

I banished that grumpy thought to the back of my mind, and focused on the youth flying under me. Now he was closer, I could clearly see the hollows on his cheeks, and with the light beat of his glorious wings, I finally got a good waft of his scent. Yup, under the avian and masculine aroma, there was the distinct air of malnourishment or sickliness. I couldn't tell which of the two it was, but it had every predatory instinct in my body screaming WEAK, PREY, SICK. Despite this, I had no urge to bite said weak/sick prey, no; I had a sudden, almost overpowering desire to take him back to my lair and feed him.

None of this showed on my draconic face, and none of the signs his body were screaming showed on Hawks' face, either. Instead, he shot me a cocky grin, and held up a bag I'd not spotted in my haste to examine him "I'm hungry- wanna hang out?"

I snorted as the air shifted and my nose got hit with the delicious smell of fried chicken.

He laughed, and wheeled away, heading for a tall apartment block not far from the borders of UA. Was he deliberately headed there so I wasn't far from my assignment? How considerate.

I cast around quickly before following him, eyes scanning the ground. It wasn't like I expected an attack, or an intrusion, but I was technically patrolling. Ah well, my ears were healed; I should hear anything if there was a problem. Besides, we'd only be sitting twenty minutes, tops.

Hawks was already waiting, digging into the bucket of crispy fried chicken as I finally made my approach. His great red wings half-folded down his back, the feathers trailing on the hard tarmac, he truly did look like a rogue angel. Bloody fangirling- shit was contagious.

He watched me with interest as I landed as carefully as I could, doing my best not buffet him with my wingstrokes as my hind legs touched the cold tarmac first. Falling to my forepaws, I folded my wings tightly, and padded to the edge of the roof, where the pro was sitting "I didn't realise; you're not scaly at all!" he remarked as I settled onto my haunches, resting my forepaws over the edge. My ears flickered at his words, and swore I saw his hand twitch. Heh. Humans were all the same. I wasn't quite prepared for a 'pat', yet though.

"Here, catch." He tossed a chicken leg towards me, and I easily snapped it out of the air. It was not even half a mouthful to me, but the grease was certainly appreciated. I hummed deep in my chest as my great molars crunched the bone to nothing. He grinned at me "Nothing beats fresh chicken." Hmmm I would argue with that if I had a human tongue. Instead, I hummed again.

Now we were sitting still, his scent got back into my nose. I stopped my tail from lashing in agitation. Once more, I looked him over without turning my head too obviously. He didn't look sick- skinny, yes, tired, yes- but his eyes were bright and his breathing sounded even and smooth. He was still only wearing that damned bomber jacket, even in the freezing winter air. The beautiful day had turned into one of the coldest nights we'd had yet. He must have been cold- even I was glad for my thick fur hide.

"So, All Might said something about you being an undercover pro among the kids at UA." Seriously? And people said I was incapable of keeping secrets "I take it that's why you took off from the dorm roof."

Shit, he'd seen that too? How long had he been waiting around for me to maybe come out? "They're a good bunch; especially class 3A. I had Tokoyami as an intern a year or so ago- he saved my life." He sounded fond of them- I almost missed the next part, he spoke so quietly "Kid literally pulled my hopeless ass from the fire." Eyeing his wings, I could guess why that had been necessary. There was a reason we fire elementals didn't associate with avians very often- or very well. Wait, did that mean that guy Dabi had been involved? "But you probably already know that." No, no I didn't- back up! "Took ages for my wings to grow back. I only got back into Hero work six months ago." I really wanted to be able to talk now- but why was he so chatty with a stranger? Was it because I couldn't speak that he was so open, or was he just that casual? I suspected it was a combination of the two. That- or whatever All Might had told him about me.

He tossed me another leg, and I hummed my thanks once more. As he stared off towards UA, face relaxed, I wondered why he felt the need to sit alone on the roof of a building with a strange dragon. Was he that lonely? Midoriya had said he wasn't usually based so far north- didn't he have anyone else apart from Toshinori to talk to?

A freezing breeze ruffled his golden hair, and danced through my ruff. Goddess, it was a cold night. Unable to help myself, I relaxed my careful restraints on my bodyheat. Immediately, the frigid air started to steam around me. In only a matter of seconds tawny eyes shot to meet mine, and an eyebrow rose "So, not just a transformation Quirk, huh? I assume it's you making the air warm, and not a summer breeze." I blinked huge eyes at him, and he chuckled "Thanks, but don't waste your energy on me." I grumbled, and shuffled closer, looming over him, ignoring the logical part of my brain that screamed don't scare the bird away by crowding it.

He chuckled again as my breath stirred his hair, but he did flinch a little, wings twitching. I bit back my growl at the sign of his jumpiness. So, the casual demeanour was just a mask, huh? I actively heated the air after that, expending a nearly dangerous amount of energy directly from my very skin. He was sitting just at my shoulder by then, and it wasn't until I saw his shoulders slump slightly as he accepted the warmth that I huffed in satisfaction.

I'm not sure how long we sat there, me sending him my warmth, and he reluctantly sinking into it, chattering away about his week, and the strange people he'd interacted with. I sat there in relative silence, only humming occasionally as I listened.

Without warning, and all too soon, he was getting to his feet "Well, I won't keep you from your patrol." He audaciously reached up, and patted me on the nose, cocky grin back in place as his glove received a blast of hot air from me in surprise "Guess I'll see you Wednesday." Then he let himself fall backwards off the building, gorgeous wings spreading to catch him.

I watched in silent wonder as he soared effortlessly away into the night, away from UA. Wait; he patted my nose. I squinted and sneezed as I got to my feet, licking my chops for chicken grease. I launched myself from the building, hauling myself back into the air.

Running the interaction through my mind, I made a few decisions as I continued my patrol. I really needed to talk to Toshinori. If he was in contact with this kid, and had told him about me and my hidden role at UA, he was obviously close to him, and trusted him implicitly. Maybe he'd know why Hawks smelt and looked like he should be bedridden. Wheeling through the freezing air, I also firmly made up my mind that his bomber jacket was not good enough, and I'd be telling Nat to source something better- I was pretty sure we had some Arctic Griffin fur somewhere that could be turned into a decent coat. Thirdly, I was gonna ask if on Wednesday, I could not be on patrol, and simply go for a fly with the avian. It might do him good to have some fun with a fellow flyer.

Finally, as I dipped out of the sky for the last time that night, swooping to land gracefully on my balcony, I decided to get the kid some proper food- maybe I could con Sato into making a meal pack for a 'snack'. Padding inside, shaking the cold air from my ruff, I nodded to myself. Yeah, all of that should satisfy my weird instinct to care for the little Hero.

So it was in my 'motherly musing', that I didn't notice the impossibly wide lilac eyes and purple head of hair in my kitchen as I was stood in full dragonly glory in the lounge area, until Shinso dropped the mug he was holding.

Ah.

 

Chapter Text

Shinso had accepted Hikari was weird. She was weird in the way they were all weird though, so he didn't really think twice about it, just as she obviously didn't think twice about practically encouraging him move into her room.

On a handful of occasions when it was just the two of them, she'd do or say something that was especially strange, but it only took a moment to adjust that to the reality that was the Irish girl. For instance, her constant eating of caramel products of butterscotch pudding had become almost normal, accompanied by something 'meaty' as she'd say. She hadn't been lying when she said she ate another large meal at midnight.

Even after school hours, she seemed incapable of sitting still for too long. She'd finished painting the strange forest scene on the wall, and had moved on to paint another, similar scene on the opposing side of the room, often sitting on the fridge or fireplace mantel, to reach above and around it, humming or singing all the while. Or, she'd perch on the arm or back of the couch, sketchbook on her lap, happily drawing away, the book held so close he could never see what it was she was working on. That was really the only time she wasn't jittery or shifting about. He'd glanced over at her on Friday night just gone, because she'd been quiet for more than ten minutes, only to raise an eyebrow at her appearance. She'd huddled down in her nest of blankets, with Bakugo's hoodie on, hood pulled over her explosive hair, sketchbook conspiratorially clutched close, hand moving furiously. Her phone started pinging continuously, and he caught her taking pictures of whatever it was she was drawing, snickering to herself. He figured it was just a girl thing.

She perpetually had music playing as well- even during the very few times he'd spotted her actually sleeping. And no, she hadn't been exaggerating when she'd said she only needed an hour or two. She'd pass out in her nest, practically burying herself in blankets, and more recently, Bakugo's hoodie (he was pretty sure she hadn't meant for him to see that), and then wake up like a great cat, stretching almost comically, before bouncing to her private bathroom.

The strangest thing that took some getting used to though, were her workout routines. If the other guys knew exactly what Hikari did for at least an hour every night, they'd either lynch Shinso or demand pictures. It was why he hadn't been surprised to watch her annihilate class B on Saturday, and also why he now had a hefty prize in bet winnings. Hikari liked to pole dance. If Mina had thought it was raunchy watching Hikari dance in the kitchen the other night, she had another thing coming. The first time he'd stumbled in on her upside-down, using only her ankles to hold herself several feet from the ground on the silvery pole near the kitchen, he'd gaped in silence until she'd asked him to change the episode of Stargate she was watching- upside down. Her hands had been busy grounding her claws down with her Dremel.

After that, he barely noticed when she'd start hoisting herself up and performing impossible lifts and acrobatics while he was watching tv. It was no wonder she was so damned strong. Hell, he was tempted to ask for a lesson for himself; it'd certainly help with the arm strength required to manipulate his capture tape.

So when he ventured up to her room a little earlier than usual, the tell-tale pounding of a possible migraine forming after a late night and little sleep, he hadn't thought much of using her spare key to slip inside. He vaguely noticed she wasn't there, but didn't really acknowledge it as odd. She often went out at weird times to go for a run lately, or maybe she was having another bath with the girls. His head hurt too much to really care. He'd totally forgotten she'd asked him to wait until midnight on Mondays and Wednesdays before he came up.

It wasn't until he'd made the life-saving tea that he noticed the balcony doors were flung wide open to the winter air, and by then it was after midnight; it still didn't register he technically wasn't supposed to be there just yet. Just as he was half-way through the tasty migraine cure, the pounding fading, and the cold actually starting to make itself known, he heard something.

Thud, thudthud thudthud. It came from outside. Narrowing his eyes, Shinso cocked his head. They were six stories high; was some sort of bird messing around on the balcony? He was on the verge of investigating, when an enormous shadowy form padded into the light.

He watched in dumb shock as what could only be described as dragon waltzed into Hikari's room. It was utterly jet black, and tall; its shoulders probably at the same height his were. Long, muscular legs flowed into huge paws tipped with gleaming talons that sank into the carpet. He couldn't see much of the rest of the body, except for a gently weaving tail and the tightly curled wings at its side. He was more focused on the head that was held nearly as tall as he was again above him, arched on an elegant neck. Twin ivory horns swept back from its skull amongst a thick black mane that looked like it continued down its neck, almost brushing the ceiling itself. The snout was long, almost wolf-like except much thicker around the muzzle. But it was the eyes that held him pinned like a rabbit, and had him losing feeling in his fingers, letting his half-finished drink slip from his grip.

The eyes were enormous, angular, utterly predatory, and the same ice-blue of Hikari's.

He didn't even hear the mug smash on the ground, but at the sound, the dragon blinked, seeming to finally see him, and velvety looking ears flickered forward to attention. A slow huff escaped its barrel-like chest, and its head sagged.

Shinso's heart was racing as the dragon slowly dropped to its haunches with what could only be a sigh. He stayed rooted to the spot as the great head was lowered gracefully until it was totally flat on the floor. The entire creature now lay across the length of the lounge area, still, apart from the rise and fall of its enormous chest, and the twitching tail. The enormous blue eyes hadn't moved from Shinso's, blinking once every few seconds.

When his brain kicked back into gear, and it became obvious he wasn't about to be eaten, logic reasserted itself. Slowly, he moved out from behind the kitchen counter, until he was directly in front of the pitch-black being. Frowning slightly, and tilting his head, he looked down at the dragon lying basically at his feet, and dropped to crouch in front of the flickering nostrils "Well, your stupid black Yoshi joke makes a lot more sense now." He managed to keep his voice a calm drawl, despite the fact his heart still pounded in his ears.

Huge eyes blinked, and the dragon snorted. Hot air that smelt like smoke and Hikari blasted him in the face, blowing his hair back. In a movement almost too quick to believe, the head reared up off the ground to look down at him, incredulity obvious on its borderline canid face. A deep, humming growl reverberated from the massive chest, and he swore one of its brows rose. He rose as well, noting that even still lying down, its head was still slightly above his own full height "C'mon, Hikari. I think I know you well enough by now to recognise that stupid look on your face." A confident smirk grew on his face at the dragon's wide eyes "So this explains a lot."

Hikari huffed again, and her head once more dropped to the ground, too fast, and her skull bounced slightly, eyes scrunched shut. He actually chuckled as a high-pitched whine came from the long snout, and he found himself eagerly stepping around her head, to get a proper look at her. This explained so much! Why she had to eat so much, why she did weird stuff like growl and grumble, why she had claws, why she continuously dropped to all fours during her matches with Bakugo- the list went on. Oh-ho, Midoriya was gonna have a field day if he ever found out! "So, what, are you secretly related to Ryukyu or something? I mean, you look totally different, but there can't be many people with a Quirk like this getting around." He didn't even care he was rambling.

Hikari grumbled, almost like she was complaining. He chuckled again "Ok, not related to her then. And I take it you can't speak in this form either." Another grumble, the tone definitely bordering on sarcastic. Running his eyes over her, he couldn't help but marvel a little, and his excitement grew. Fear and migraine forgotten, he took in the four, long, clean legs, huge chest and elegant wings. Her tail was stiff and long- holding none of the dexterity Ryukyu's had in her dragon form. She was much smaller too; her body was only about as big as a large horse, if you overlooked the wings and tail. But it was her fur that really marked her different from the Dragoon Hero. There was not a scale in sight- her entire body was covered in short, dense, velvety looking black fur; except for the back of her skull and tip of her tail. A longer, dense ruff protected the back of her head and ran down to her shoulders, and picked up again half-way down her tail to bush out again at the tip.

"You know," he stepped back around to look down at her head "Midoriya is literally going to burst a blood vessel over this." Blue eyes narrowed up at him, and she reared up once more to look down at him. Fear totally a thing of the past, Shinso grinned up at her, and patted her casually on the nose. Her fur was indeed as soft as it looked, and incredibly warm to the touch "But I'd actually pay good money to see Mineta's face, if you came to class like that tomorrow." A weird coughing sound erupted from the dragon, and her eyes closed briefly. Shinso realised she was laughing, and his grin grew wider.

"So, is there like, a time limit or something? Can you change back?" the eyes blinked "Only if you want to." He added hurriedly, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously "I'm here kinda early, anyway." His grin grew a little rueful "I guess this is why you said come after midnight on Mondays and Wednesdays."

The dragon rolled her eyes, the movement completely human, and hauled herself up onto her haunches, until she sat like a great cat, or a wolf. She shook her head in a truly dog-like manner, ears flapping comically.

Then, she started to shrink. It was gradual at first, almost cool to watch, but then it got weird. Really weird. And gross. Bones started to crack audibly as they shot short in random intervals. The great bat-like wings slurped and writhed as they were practically sucked back into her body. She arched her back as her tail made horrible popping sounds as the vertebrae assumedly shot back into her spine. Her neck shortened drastically, leaving the long snout and huge skull mounted awkwardly on the rapidly deflating chest. Her front legs continued with the hideous cracking sound of bones shifting as they reverted, losing bulk, just as her hind legs did. The long snout grimaced, flashing a truly impressive array of fangs, before it melted back into the skull, the bones visibly shifting under her skin. The black fur was sucked back into her skin in a great wave over her mutated body, leaving her still pitch-black, but obviously totally naked in a twisted way.

Just as she fell to her hands and knees, Shinso spun around on his heel, face flaming. A pained chuckle that wasn't entirely human sounded from behind him. He resolutely stared at the messily made bed, that all of a sudden, seemed awfully small.

Finally, the disgusting slurping and cracking and sounds stopped, replaced by rapid panting that slowed every second. He heard the rustle of fabric against skin, and then the girl's wry voice "It's safe." He turned around, surprised despite himself to see her standing there, looking totally normal, if a bit tired, in her usual grey slacks, and Bakugo's hoodie. She flashed her usual crooked grin, much smaller canines flashing "Well, that was a less drastic reaction than I was expecting."

Five minutes later, they were sitting on her couch. She was curled up in her favourite corner, heartily chowing down on a packet of sausages she'd dug out of her freezer. She plucked one out of the packet at a time, blasted it with her black fire while she held the frozen morsel between thumb and forefinger, before swallowing it in two bites.

Shinso watched mild fasciation mixed with amuse disgust as she inhaled the pack of twenty-four "So, you've obviously gone to great lengths to keep all that a secret from the rest of us; why?" he wasn't insulted or angry, he was genuinely curious. She'd been so open about so many other aspects of her life- why keep this, half of her Quirk, so quiet?

She licked her fingers and claws before answering "There's no real reason." She admitted "More of a habit. I'm not particularly useful in a fight in that form; I can't evade attacks as easily, I can't really use my fire properly, and I provide a big, meaty target for the enemy. That's not to mention that I don't fit through most doors." Shinso could see her point. Looking around, it was obvious the room had been built especially to accommodate her 'other form', as she liked to call it "There's also the fact it can take up to five minutes to Change." She fished out the last sausage, eyeing it briefly before searing it with a small flash of flame "I'm practically helpless for that entire time. Not something very practical in a combat situation." The sausage vanished in two swift bites.

"And the fact that you end up naked when you change back?" he asked wryly. Suddenly, her total obliviousness to nudity made a great deal of sense "I assume you can't wear clothes before you...Change, either."

She shook her head, curls bouncing "Nah, they get shredded. I designed that daft Hero Costume so I could get it off quickly if I needed to without destroying it, but odds are I'll forget and ruin it anyway."

He leaned forward, feeling almost sheepishly like Midoriya must as he asked "So, I assume all your extra strength and heightened senses are due to your transformation Quirk- is that why you have claws as well?" something he said had her eyes widening a little "What, did I ask too much?" So that was how Midoriya felt, all the time.

She shrugged and shook her head "No; just not used to people being so interested, is all. To answer your questions- yes and yes. And before you ask, my faster healing is linked as well." She waved a hand around, eyeing the claws "These fuckers grow back on their own pretty quickly, but if I get angry or scared, or if I Change, they grow faster."

So that was why she got them back so fast that morning- but was she scared or angry during that fight? "What about the whole allergy thing? To the healing gummies, and Recovery Girl?"

Tossing the empty packet to the side of the couch, she snuggled down into Bakugo's hoodie, feet tucked up under her haunches "I dunno what's in the gummies that messes with me- but if I eat one it feels like my insides are burning, and I barf it up. As far as healing Quirk's go, they usually trigger an involuntary Shift. Not ideal in a small hospital room." He should think not. She eyed him, pursing her lips "You know, you're awfully calm about this whole thing." She waved at herself "I didn't exactly expect you to 'freak out', but you're acting almost like you've known all along."

Shinso shrugged, rubbing tired eyes. It was after one in the morning by now "No offence, but you're not exactly good at acting 'normal', if there is such a thing. Wouldn't surprise me if Midoriya and a few of the others have some idea. Obviously, nothing so drastic as a transformation Quirk, but they definitely think you've got a secondary one of some kind." He knew for a fact there was still a betting pool running amongst the guys.

She nodded slowly, thoughtfully "I'm not gonna ask you to keep this a secret- I don't have the right- but I'm gonna. Like I said, there's no drastic reason; I actually just have a bet going with Nat and Aizawa as to how long it takes for me to do it accidentally, and I wanna win it." It was such a Hikari thing to say, he actually chuckled.

"Is that why Drake keeps getting Bakugo to whale on you? To make you Shift accidentally?"

Hikari sniffed "The bastard thinks he's being clever- I'll show him."

Shinso chuckled again "Don't worry; I won't tell anyone." If anyone had deserved the right for him to keep a secret like this, it was the girl that kept him company when he couldn't sleep, and helped keep the darkness of long nights at bay.

 

Chapter Text

Nathaniel was bored. He was often bored, but usually he found something to keep his impressive mind occupied, even if was just thinking up new ways to try to get Rhea to implode on Monday mornings. The fact that his partner was proving remarkably resilient to his methods of making her literally burst out of her skin, had him vaguely intrigued; she didn't usually try so hard to keep the more... furry side of herself contained. He suspected it was more out of stubbornness than for any meaningful reason; her Quirk registration form for the school and local authorities had 'Fire Dragon' all over them after all. Perhaps he shouldn't have told her of the bet between himself and Aizawa- she seemed determined to get past both of their estimated 'dragon-day's.

If she managed another week, she'd beat even Toshinori's generous estimate. Since when did she have so much self-control? Nat had thought for sure the sensory deprivation would tip her over the edge, and had been mildly irritated when she'd fought through her anger. And she had been angry, truly angry. She might have blinked it away, but he'd seen the tell-tale whiteness of her eyes that usually led to an explosive outburst.

Heh. They all thought Bakugo had a temper- he couldn't wait to see what they all thought when Hikari lost it.

Toshinori had accused him of being insensitive, especially when he heard through his protégé Midoriya about how stressed Rhea had been during that Monday's lesson. Nat had laughed it off "She knows the game we are playing." Toshinori hadn't been happy with his response, and worried about what would happen if she did 'explode'. Neither Nat nor Aizawa were particularly concerned with that possibility; it wasn't like there weren't nearly two dozen individuals who could be put to the task of restraining her if needed. Nat had to admit though; he was surprised Aizawa didn't seem to care about the risk to his students.

The other thing that kept him 'entertained', was his research. He'd listened to Rhea's theory that the high local death rates of law enforcement professionals were due to events of the past few years, and promptly ignored it. Rhea might be good at picking out bad guys in crowds, but she was less than adept in sifting through statistics and rumours. So, Nat spent the hours he wasn't napping between the end of the school day and his pre-dawn patrol, sifting through every known death and injury of all Pro Heroes, policemen, firefighters, search and rescue members and anyone else who fit his growing picture. The walls in his study were quickly being covered in his findings, and they had him...interested. No way was this a natural spike- there was definitely something else present. Nat's instincts told him to keep digging.

Waltzing into the staff room Tuesday morning, he was more than a little surprised to see more than just his usual tea-drinking companion of Toshinori. Keeping his expression coolly casual, he quickly took in the tense situation before him, while maintaining his most irritatingly cocky mannerisms "Ah, I see we have a guest."

Sitting awkwardly on the lounge, Toshinori nursed a cup of tea beside an impassive Aizawa. Nezu had claimed the single armchair, hind paws dangling off the ground. And across from them, sitting on his own, with his impressively large arms crossed, was the Number 1 Hero: Endeavor.

He looked much the same as he did in all the photos floating around. His eyes were a piercing blue that reminded Nat of Rhea's. His hair was the same red as the left side of Todoroki's, and the scar that marred his face matched his son's as well. He was a huge man, easily a head taller than Nat himself, and twice as broad. His perpetual Hellflames flickered and danced around him, and Nat could feel the heat in the air. Bloody overdramatic fire elementals.

Nathaniel knew a great deal about this particular elemental; and not just what was written in his Hero Profile. He'd sifted through hours of fan and critic claptrap on the internet, scoured local and national papers and reports, and had quietly interviewed a few people on the side. His own profile of Endeavor painted the Pro in a harsh- but fair- light.

All that meant was he was more than prepared to deal with the surly man "I take it you're Drake, then?" the pro grumbled. Heh. If he didn't know better, Nat could swear he was talking to another dragon-shifter. The larger man eyed Drake with judgmental eyes "Aizawa tells me you were an underground pro back in Europe."

Nat saluted lazily, taking a page from Rhea's much used book "Indeed. Of course, I know who you are." He tilted his head, flashing a fang "Although, I thought you'd be taller." Aizawa rolled his eyes.

For his credit, Endeavor didn't bite at the jibe "If the girl is as annoying as him, this might not work out after all." The pro said bluntly, looking at Nezu.

The rodent raised a brow "You came to us regarding young Miss Hikari; surely you must know something of her as a person to request her for an intern?" Ah. So that's what this was. He'd been wondering if any of the staff had taken the time to approach the Hero, regarding getting Rhea to work alongside Todoroki and the others. Toshinori had said something along the lines of the pro possibly already being interested in the girl due to her Quirk, although, the pro approaching them hadn't entered the any of their minds.

"Oh, she's definitely more annoying." Nat said cheerfully, leaning against the wall, hands deep in his trench coat "Think squirrel on Red Bull."

"You're not exactly selling her to me." Nat resisted the urge to grin more widely "But Shoto told me she is capable, and seeing as one of my side-kicks has recently became unable to come in to the office, I am willing to consider offering her a place at my agency as an intern, to start next week."

Nat resisted the urge to blink in surprise. Talk about jump right to the point. Before the vampire could put his foot in his mouth, Aizawa leant across the coffee table, and handed the fiery pro a manila folder "We are glad to hear you are willing to take her on- we honestly hadn't given much thought to placing her in an internship, seeing as she is only an exchange student." Aizawa was an impressive liar.

Nat watched with the rest of them as Endeavor flicked through Hikari's student profile, pausing occasionally to read "Her registered Quirk here is called 'Fire Dragon'- I was under the assumption she had a fire manipulating Quirk?" he didn't look up as he asked his question, eyes still scanning the documents "Why is it given that name?"

"Her Quirk has two aspects, much like your sons'." Toshinori supplied "Fire manipulation and a transformation ability, which on the surface, is similar to the Dragoon Hero Ryukyu. She prefers not to rely on the transformation half of her powers over-much; there are too many disadvantages."

"Such as? Is she a liability in the field?" hell, for someone so deadset on having her, this guy was awfully quick to look for problems with his new potential 'intern'. At least he was thorough.

Nat answered in a careless drawl "It can take up to five minutes for her to complete the Shift, and she is practically helpless the entire time. There was also the fact that in regards to our work back home, her other form was often ill-suited to a larger portions of our missions." It wasn't entirely a lie- having an enormous raging carnivore around was less than ideal when one was stalking elusive human prey. Rhea was about as subtle as a Torosaur in a chinashop when she was on four legs.

Endeavor, for his credit, only nodded curtly "I already saw here she worked with you, Drake, as an underground intern. What are her strengths and weaknesses? Is she difficult to work with?" Would Endeavor honestly value Nat's opinion?

Nat took a moment to 'ponder' the question "Well, you manage to work with Bakugo- she's no worse than he is. She's impulsive, reckless, headstrong, occasionally scatter-brained, prone to fits of rage and has issues with authority figures." Nat ticked the points off with his fingers, ignoring the wince on Toshinori's face as he described Rhea's character. If the flaming idiot wanted her, he'd best know what he was going to be dealing with "But despite these flaws, she is also the only person I know whom I'd personally entrust my life to- in fact, I have done so, on numerous occasions. Give her a target, and she will run it to the ground, regardless of her own personal safety. Give her a civilian to protect, and she will fight tooth and claw to do so." Ok, so he was laying it on thick. Didn't mean he was lying though "She might come across as flighty and childish, but she has seen her fair share of...difficult situations."

Endeavor looked at him for a long moment, face impassive despite his writhing flames. Nat kept his gaze easily "As I said," the other male spoke finally "I am willing to offer her a position as an intern with Shoto and the other two from 3A. If my son thinks she has potential, I am willing to take such a risk." The pro stood abruptly, holding out Hikari's file as the others all followed suit "Inform this Hikari she is to accompany the boys when they come to the office next week." Aizawa took the file, and shook the larger man's hand firmly. Toshinori shook it next, and then Nezu.

Nat watched each interaction closely, taking note on the stiffness in the pro's movements. Then, the pro turned and looked down at the vampire. Nat wasn't at all intimidated by the taller male, but he got the feeling that wasn't what the pro was going for anyway. Endeavor stuck out his hand, which Nat grudgingly took. His grip was firm, and overly warm "You speak highly of your student; I look forward to seeing her in action."

He may be an ass, but Nat was getting the feeling he was trying not to be a prick. He returned the firm handshake, letting a smidge of his own impressive strength sneak through his grip "She won't disappoint."

Once the pro was safely out of earshot, Nathaniel barked a laugh "Oh, goddess! I wish I could watch when those two meet!" he flung himself on the newly empty lounge, at the last minute stopping himself from planting his boots on the table "And he came to us! Talk about opportunistic."

"Do you still think it wise to keep him in the dark regarding the true nature of Rhea's assignment?" Toshinori looked relieved as well, relaxing out of his stiff posture.

Nat shrugged "Something tells me it would be a blow to his pride- but we'll see what happens. If Rhea feels the need to inform him, she will." They all seemed to keep forgetting they were relying upon her in this particular aspect of the mission.

"Strange, I hadn't heard anything about any of Endeavor's side-kicks getting injured." Aizawa mused, frowning slightly.

"Maybe they just got sick." Aizawa didn't look convinced.

 

Chapter Text

Shinso had taken over as my new limpet, usurping a now sulky Kaminari, and overly suspicious Mina. The pink girl eyed me, and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively when he stole her seat as we settled into art class. I rolled my eyes and flipped her the bird- less than discretely apparently, because Iida spent the next few minutes admonishing me. I laughed my ass off as Mina started making faces behind the lecturing teen.

Not long after that, Midnight finally arrived with a grand toss of her hair. Immediately, everyone settled down in their seats. Unlike most of our non-combative classes, we took art (and science) in a different room to our home classroom. This room was decidedly nicer, homely almost. The walls were covered in a rag-tag assortment of paintings, drawings, collages and every other form of 2D artworks one can imagine. From the relatively high ceiling, sculptures, paper mâché and mobiles dangled- randomly enough to be creative. Lit with warm yellow lights amongst the skylights, plants had been grafted to the exposed wood rafters. All in all, I think even Bakugo felt a little relaxed; he was missing his usual scowl anyway. Not that I was looking too closely.

Our seating arrangement was different to other classes as well. Instead of having individual desks, we shared wide double tables spread randomly throughout the room. We didn't even all face the blackboard Midnight wrote our tasks up on, we had to twist and crane our heads to look. I guess she was going for an 'organic' feel, but it just meant hardly anyone paid attention to what she wrote.

"Ok everybody; today we are going to be working on re-envisioning, and then interpreting something we've seen!" the overtly sexual pro looked out over us all with hooded eyes "It can be anything; a person you've met, a place you've been to- let your imagination go wild!" she was way too excited about this.

Dutifully, we all got our sketchbooks out. When I grabbed mine, I winced internally. I'd grabbed the wrong one. This was the unsafe one; clearly labelled in runes that said 'UNSAFE' all over the front. How the hell I'd gotten it confused with the safe one, I had no idea. Ah well. I gingerly placed it down like it was an explosive, and carefully flipped to a blank page.

"So, you said you can't use your fire in your other form; surely you can still breathe it?" I resisted the urge to roll my eyes or chuckle. Shinso had been bombarding me with quiet questions since we'd met up after he'd gone back to his room for a shower and fresh clothes. If he was this bad, Midoriya was gonna talk my ears off.

At least he was being relatively discrete, speaking softly and out of the corner of his mouth "Well duh; I'm a fucking dragon." I breathed, dancing my pencil through my fingers. What to draw? "I can breathe it, but I can't wield it as well." I could set myself on fire, but that was more detrimental than anything; unless I wanted to imitate a bonfire. Useful for calling attention to myself... or warming a small area. An idea presented itself, and I put pencil to paper.

My answer seemed to satisfy him, because lilac eyes focused on his own paper for a while. I didn't watch what he was drawing, I was getting lost in my own. Out of habit, I started to shift away, pulling my book with me, until a random thought popped up "Hey, do you reckon your Quirk would work on me, in that form?"

He paused, and tapped his pencil on the paper thoughtfully "I'm not sure. I've never tried it on someone not in human form- and how would you answer my question to activate it?"

I shrugged "Not with human words, obviously." I looked at him sideways "Wanna try it?" I tried and failed to keep the grin off my face.

He looked at me like I was insane, lilac eyes wide "Wait, you want me to use my Quirk on you?" his voice had gotten a little louder than a whisper, and more than a few people were looking our way, Mina included. I kicked him under the table, lightly, and he winced. Lowering his voice, he leaned a little closer to me "That's not exactly a request I get very often." He hissed.

"Yeah, well, aren't you curious? I would be." His Quirk couldn't be that bad- Nat had taken over my mind before, so I wasn't totally 'virgin' as far as that was concerned. Besides, I was sceptical that it would work at all. Glancing over, I almost had a pang of sympathy, he looked so shocked "Dude, if you don't want to, that's cool. I just thought it'd be an interesting experiment, something good to know." Fuck, if he could control my dragon, could he control a Nomu? That was worth all kinds of discomfort to find out. I bet Aizawa hadn't thought of that.

"No, it's not that I'm not curious." He whispered softly after a moment "You just surprised me."

I looked up from my work, just casting my eyes around the room as was my habit, and Mina nearly leapt out of her seat, trying to catch my attention. I made a face at her What? I mouthed?

She pointed at her phone, black eyes impossibly wide Group chat she mouthed in exaggeration. I rolled my eyes, and jabbed my pencil at my book After. She rolled her eyes, but slipped her phone away. She then jerked her head at Shinso and winked at me.

I shook my head, making a face. She pouted, and then her face grew sly. She subtly gestured at the back of a certain blonde, who was hunched over his book at his table with Kiri. Their table was closer to the front, by the door, as though they wanted to be as close to the escape as possible. She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively again. I poked my tongue out and deliberately looked away, just as Kami glanced up to see why Mina was bouncing around.

I lost track of time, absorbed as I was in my work. Shinso had gone quiet as well. He was surprisingly talented at capturing animal likenesses; who'd have thought he had a thing for cats?

Wait, was that me? My dragon, as a cat?

I wasn't sure if I was flattered, or confused.

So it was my famous situational awareness was blown, and Midnight managed to steal my book from me. I yipped, and made to snatch it back, but I was too slow "Hikari! Let's see how you've gone; I always love looking at your work." Midnight was one of the few teachers I actually got along with. She liked my art, and I liked her attitude. Apparently, I wasn't the only one either. She smelt like Nat's cologne especially strongly that day.

Unfortunately, that was my unsafe book; if she made the mistake of flicking back through it, I would be entering uncharted territory. Even as it was, the drawing I'd been working on was not exactly...classroom suitable. Hey, she'd said to draw something I'd seen recently; wasn't my fault I'd picked a certain avian.

"My, my, my! I'm both impressed and somewhat envious." Luckily, Midnight had a similar tracked mind to myself, and probably Mina. Her sky-blue eyes seemed to drink in my drawing "When did you meet the delectable young Hawks?" if people hadn't been looking at us before, they were after that. Mina's mouth literally fell open, Midoriya's green eyes looked like they were about to bug out of his head, and Shinso looked at me sideways.

I shrugged casually "Not long ago. I was out and about and kinda...ran into him." Not a total lie.

Midnight eyed me slyly, tapping a manicured nail on my drawing "I see he left an impression." She was almost purring. Without warning, she flipped the book, and showed the class. Mina gave the biggest sigh and giggle of the girls, while most of the guys just rolled their eyes. I made a face, and crossed my arms. It wasn't my best work; I'd only been working on it for less than an hour after all. It was a side-profile of Hawks as he'd sat beside me last night. I'd done my best to capture his relaxed, peaceful expression after he'd finally accepted the warmth I'd offered/forced. I'd been unsure at first if I wanted to add the hollow cheeks and tiredness under his eyes, finally opting to ignore them. They made me too irritated "I'm going to assume he's your favourite pro then?" she asked teasingly, sitting up on Midoriya and Uraraka's desk, still showing the drawing.

I shrugged "Sure." He was one of the only ones I remembered anything about- probably because I could put a scent to the name. The gigantic red wings kinda helped too.

"So, why did you chose to draw this particular image? What interpretations can be made from your re-imagining?" Purpose? Re-imagining? What shit was she talking? He was gorgeous and ethereal, and I'd decided to draw him. She seemed genuinely curious, as though I had some amazing wisdom to go along with my rendition.

I scratched the back of my head "Um, he's hot?" more than a few of the girls snickered, and even Kami chuckled a little.

My answer made Midnight smile a little, but she shook her head "But what emotions drove you to create this? What did you feel in that moment when you were talking to Hawks?" fuck me, was she serious? Maybe she was. Mina was choking, she was trying so hard not to laugh. Even Kami, who'd looked up in time to see what was going on, had a red face, he was smothering a guffaw. The rest of them were looking at me with a mixture of pity and 'what the fuck'?

I squinted at her, and tilted my head as though trying to examine the damned sketch "Well, I guess I was a weird combination of hungry and horny- that's why I added the bucket of fried chicken." Mina actually burst out laughing, damned near shrieking to the rafters. Kami joined her, as did most of the rest of the class.

Midnight gave me a truly huge smile, eyes sparkling "Passion! I love it!" to my utter relief, she passed my book back. I did my best not to snatch it away, and I most certainly did not clutch it close. That had been really, really lucky. Mina and the girls had seen some of the other images in this book (apart from a few choice ones), but somehow I didn't think the boys of the class would be as...appreciative of my work.

"Alright class, I want you to split up, pick a new partner, and discuss each other's work!" Midnight called warmly, moving back to the front of the class. Your assignment today is to write an interpretive essay on what your partner's art means to them, and how close your observations match their thoughts." Well, I'd made my thoughts pretty bloody clear- whoever I had to pick was going to have it easy. But who was going to want to write an essay about me being hungry and horny over Hawks?

I needn't have even thought the question. The instant Shinso reluctantly moved away, Midoriya eagerly waving him over as Momo dragged Iida off, Mina practically threw herself onto the newly vacated stool "Please don't tell me that book has those drawings in it?" she sounded both horrified and excited, black and gold eyes wide. How the hell had she known? Was I that transparent in my nervousness?

I cringed a little under her gaze, still holding the book close "Maaaaaybe."

She shook her head, almost sadly "You are totally tempting fate right now, you know that?" she wasn't whispering, but with the dull murmur from everyone else around us, odds were low anybody would hear her.

I scowled "Not like I bloody brought it on purpose. I was distracted, ok?" reeling, more like. I still wasn't quite over the fact I'd blundered so badly last night with Shinso seeing my other form.

She wiggled her eyebrows, grinning "Did a certain someone finally make a move last night? Is that why they're all...clingy?"

I swatted her elbow "No. And he's not being clingy. Stop shipping us." Well, he was being a little clingy, but not for that reason.

Mina laughed "You know that'll never happen." She put her book down, page covered in random little cartoons and squiggles "At least Midnight didn't look through it."

"I thought I was gonna have a heartattack." I admitted "I could've burned it, but I really didn't want to."

"Can I please look at that picture; the one you wouldn't send to the group chat?" she dropped her voice to a whisper as she begged, actually grabbing my arm with her rosy hands. I weighed the risks in my mind. I wasn't actually embarrassed by what was in there; she'd already seen what I could do. It was more my other half demanding I keep that part of the book to myself. Hell, my jaw ached just at the thought of sharing it with my friend.

That just wouldn't do. I may be a dragon with hoarding tendencies, but this was getting ridiculous. I pointedly ignored my instincts, and shoved the book in her general direction. Mina did a little jig on her stool, and I rolled my eyes to hide my discomfort "I promise to only take a super quick peak!" not bloody likely.

She slid me her book, as though to keep me entertained. I started doodling on the corner, trying not to smirk at her verbal Thirsting as she passed some of the pictures. I'd been working on them since last Friday; some of them were coming along pretty well. Uraraka was going to flip when I gave her the Midoriya one "For someone who complains about being shipped with a certain someone, it looks like you spent a lot of time on him." The pink girl giggled softly, admiring my admittedly detailed sketch of my insomniac. She kept going, sighing dreamily over my one of Kiri. My rating of Kiri certainly hadn't gone down. But when she took a sudden intake of breath, I couldn't help but smirk a little wider.

I was particularly proud of that drawing "Told you it wasn't for anyone under twenty." I breathed.

Mina's eyes were wide as she ran her fingers over the image, book half closed to hide it from the table next to us "Never thought I'd say it; but Blasty boi got hawwwt." She looked to the page next to it "Damn, you gave him two!"

"Damn straight." I huffed, proudly "Ok, you've seen it; gimme." Mina looked a little reluctant to give it up, and sighed when I demanded it back.

The temptation to fate was too much, apparently. Mineta, who'd partnered with a reluctant Tokoyami at the table behind us, had noticed our less than discrete whisper session. They say curiosity killed the cat; well, curiosity nearly killed the little git that day. He was bloody lucky I'd Shifted last night, I'll put it that way.

He'd clambered up onto his desk, and had managed to peer over Mina's shoulder "Hey, since when does Bakugo model for nudes?" and because everyone was talking relatively quietly, his voice carried.

Mina slammed the book shut, and spun around to smack the pervert in the face. I snatched the book away as the youth yowled in pain and surprise, falling back and onto the floor with a meaty thud. Midnight spun at the midget's words "What's this I hear? Somebody posing for nudes?"

"Heh, I thought you were a prude! Way to get the ladies, man!" Sero, sitting next to the ash blonde in question, punched his arm manfully, grinning broadly.

"What the hell? WHAT THE FUCK IS HE TALKING ABOUT?" said explosive blonde smacked his friend's hand away, fiery eyes blazing as he glared in our direction. Oh, fuck.

"There's nothing to be ashamed of." Midnight admonished "You have a fine physique; any artist would be honoured to have you model for them." She must have seen me take the book back, because she added "I'm sure Hikari feels the same way; she has quite the eye for detail." I quailed as my now ex-favourite teacher drew me into the fray. Bakugo's hair seemed to almost stand on end as Kiri, Kami and Sero all burst out laughing.

Crimson eyes latched onto me furiously, along with the rest of the class's "Fucking Leprechaun, what the FUCK ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?" I couldn't decide if fight or flight were preferable options.

"Hey, do we get to draw the girls too?" Mineta had crawled back onto his stool, nursing his face "No fair if they only get to do us."

"Don't listen to the little idiot." Mina said angrily, as Bakugo started to storm over "Nobody's modelling; she drew it from memory. You know, last Friday?"

"Yeah! And it wasn't just Bakugo- she drew all of you!" Hagakure chimed in "Although, she wouldn't show us that picture."

I actually face-palmed "Hole-deeper!" I yelled, but nobody heard me, and I started to slide off my stool, heading for the safe space under the table.

"What picture? Oh! The one she wouldn't show us over group chat?"

"Wait, you guys have a group chat?! Man, that is seriously not fair. Guys! We need a group chat!"

"Hang on, Hikari drew all of us naked?" Kami sounded like he was both horrified and awed.

"Oh please; shirtless doesn't count as naked, you virgin." Mina scoffed.

"Do we each like, have our page, or?" I squinted at Kiri at that, and he went beat red "Hey- just professional curiosity!" he raised his hands defensively as all the guys rounded on him.

"Well, a few of you do."

"I think everyone rated above a seven got their own page, if I remember correctly." Momo nodded to herself thoughtfully, ignoring the stunned mullet expression most of the guys were giving her.

Iida shot Momo a horrified/disappointed look "Wait, you knew about this?"

Momo flushed, but held his gaze "I am in the group chat."

"Heh- Momo asked Hikari the other day for a copy of yours."

"Wait- what do you mean, everyone rated above a seven?" Mineta shrieked "You have ratings?!"

The girls all looked at him "Well, duh." Hagakure said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Mineta suddenly looked at me, a wild light in his beady eyes "And everyone over a seven got their own page?! That makes that book the most valuable thing in this room!" I was suddenly reminded of Gollum as I warily looked at the tiny male with grasping hands "Hand it over!"

I held the book closer to my chest "I'd rather burn it." I announced dramatically, earning a round of cheers from the other girls. I did my best to ignore the hole being burned into me from a certain pair of red eyes.

"Ok, everyone; as much as I love how passionate you all are- the lesson is over." Midnight sounded like she was having the time of her life, smiling broadly at us all "Don't forget your essays, and continue to explore this intriguing concept!"

All the boys eyes were on me as I stuffed the now priceless book into my bag. Without any visible prompting, all the girls pointedly stalked to our table, and formed a literal human shield around me and the treasured sketchbook. They firmly marched us out of the room, barging through the protesting boys. Even Bakugo was forced to get out of the way, crimson eyes still glaring at me as we passed. Mina giggled when she noticed, and pointedly leaned in to whisper to me as we passed "Wonder what they'd say if they knew you had two pages for Bakugo!"

Once more, I was amazed at how hot my face could get without spontaneously combusting.

***

Nat found Rhea in a most interesting situation. He'd gone to find her to update her of the new developments regarding her 'internship', and had been informed by Aizawa she should be in the art department. So, he'd sauntered along, already knowing his way there from previous...visits...with the lovely lady Midnight, only to be practically shoved out of the way by the literal wall of female flesh piling out of the door.

Nimbly jumping back and out of the way, he watched with bemusement as his partner, surrounded by some very determined young ladies, was bodily escorted from the room, her pale eyes hooded in sheepishness. There was a great deal of jeering and complaining from the room as they left it; apparently the males had all been pushed out of the way in the same way Nat himself had been.

"Make way for the National Treasure of UA!" the pink girl, Ashido announced loudly "We shan't allow any harm to befall her- oh, hi Mr Drake!"

They'd finally caught sight of him as they milled in a ring around his partner. He flashed them a crooked smirk he knew made their knees weaken "My, my- and what has my dear Hikari done to warrant such impressive protection?"

"Only we womenfolk are qualified to know." Ashido stuck her nose pertly in the air, and grabbed Rhea's arm "You might be working for the enemy." The group of girls laughed, but clustered more closely. They were still blocking the door, and Nat could see more than one of the boys gearing up to simply charge through them.

Thinking quickly, he made a sweeping bow "My dear ladies, it is with great reluctance I must spirit my dear Hikari away for a brief period. I assure you she will come to no harm, and will be returned to you shortly."

Rhea sighed "Mina, leave off. The ponce isn't a threat." Nat straightened in time to see her hand the pink girl her bag. Whatever was in it made the girl squeal "Here; guard this with your life." Rhea spoke with utmost sincerity. Nat wondered what on earth could be in that bag.

Ashido jumped up and down "Don't worry; we will! Come on girls- we have protection duty!" with a flurry of laughter and scornful teasing shot back at the boys, the girls flounced away.

Rhea quickly darted to his side, looking relieved. Just as they started to move in the opposite direction, the boys finally managed to leave the room as well "This isn't over!" the Grapist glowered, raising a hand threateningly "We will find out the ratings!"

Rhea rolled her eyes "Over Mina's dead body." She sneered back, flipping him the bird.

The electric blonde laughed and shoved the Grapist out of the way "Hurry up- we'll miss lunch!" The rest of them quickly left, all but Bakugo. He glared after Rhea as they left, red eyes practically burning into her back.

Nat tore his eyes from the tall youth, and raised an eyebrow at his partner "What in Valkra's name did you get up to?" he asked in Common.

Rhea shrugged "Nothing really. Just some girl stuff." She sounded way too pleased with herself, but her cheeks were flushed. Since when did Rhea blush?

"Riiight. Tell me; why is it young Bakugo looked ready to chase you down and either beat you to a pulp, or push you against the wall and ravish you?"

Rhea made a face up at him "Tell me; why does Midnight smell like she spent the night at your place?"

"Because she did- don't dodge the question." Damn that girls' nose.

She sniffed "Beat me up- maybe. I think I vex him." Nat gave her the 'no shit' look "Bite me. What do you want?"

He'd missed that about her; straight to the point. Maybe it was a fire elemental thing after all "Have an interesting offer for you. Remember how we were brainstorming as to how to get you a spot with Todoroki and the others when they go and intern?"

Rhea delicately scratched under her eye with a claw. She'd not dulled them after her Shift, obviously "Yeah? Last I heard, you were gonna go crawling to 'Roki's old man and try to get me a spot." Damn, she'd already started with the nicknames.

"Well, Endeavor himself showed up this morning asking about you. Apparently, young Todoroki has said some good things."

Ever expressive, Rhea frowned "Really? Huh. So what, am I an intern now?"

Nat nodded, guiding her towards the staff room "You are to join the boys next week. I am curious though; I haven't seen you interact with Todoroki all that much. What would make him speak so highly of you?" he opened the door for her.

"Well, he asked me to show him some fire elemental stuff; I taught him how to cook." She stalked into the room, pale eyes taking in Toshinori and Aizawa sitting, waiting for her.

Nat raised an eyebrow as he followed her inside "You taught him how to cook? You can't cook."

Rhea flipped him the bird over her shoulder with one hand, and with the other, pointed at Toshinori "You!" she barked "Hawks- spill!" her mood shifted like lightning. One moment she was playful and teasing, the next she looked ready to kill. And people thought Bakugo was volatile.

Toshinori wasn't the only person confused. Nat frowned "What are you barking on about?" he moved to the kitchen, keen for another coffee. He'd never had much of a taste for it until he'd started working with Aizawa. He didn't miss the deer-in-headlights impersonation the ex-pro pulled though.

"Ah." He cleared his throat, shifting in his seat as Rhea started tapping her foot, hands on her hips. By all the gods; she looked like an angry mother.

Oh no.

"I'd heard Hawks was in the city; I take it you had a run in with him on patrol?" Aizawa asked, eyeing the girl.

"Damn straight." She growled, still glaring at Toshi "Apparently this one told him all about the mission."

"Truly?" Nat didn't know all that much about the winged hero. He knew he was young, brilliant and a fine warrior. He'd had a bad run in with the same Villain Rhea was here to protect against, and had spent the greater part of a year in recovery "Is he a security risk?"

"What? No!" Toshinori looked aghast at the very suggestion.

"Pffft not bloody likely." Rhea scoffed. Whereas Toshinori's reaction had been expected, Rhea's had not been. They all looked her at her, Nat with dawning exasperation, Aizawa with mild confusion, and Toshinori with...hope? She cringed under the gazes "Oh, leave off! The kid just wants some company." She snapped, eyes flashing "But I do want to know why he looks half-starved." Gods above, she'd adopted another one?

Toshinori rubbed the back of his neck, looking anxious "I don't know; he won't talk to anyone. When he called last week, it was the first time I'd heard from him in nearly a year. I told him about you, how you were an undercover pro- I thought maybe he might something in common with you? I wasn't sure if he'd actually approached you."

Apparently, something Toshinori said mollified Rhea. The blazing anger in her eyes died a little as she scowled, drumming her claws against her ribs "Well, he did. And he wants to 'hang out'." She looked at Aizawa "This Wednesday, I'm not gonna patrol. I'm just gonna go for a fly." It wasn't a question, she was telling them.

"Of course." The pro replied calmly "Hound Dog was complaining of not having enough to do; this should keep him busy."

Rhea nodded, yet more anger draining away, until she looked only mildly annoyed "Right, well, anything else? I'm hungry and lunch is nearly over."

Aizawa stood, hands in his pockets, and looked down at the stroppy female "Next time you plaster something on the walls of my classroom- don't use superglue, or I will personally ensure every group assignment handed to you for the foreseeable future will involve working with Tenya Iida."

Hikari, for she was Hikari once more, physically recoiled, baring her fangs "You wouldn't!" she hissed, almost fearfully. Nat chuckled at her abject fear of working with the uptight youth.

Aizawa's face remained expressionless, and didn't move from staring down his 'student' "Watch me. And if any more of my private pictures are 'stolen', Mr Drake," Nat froze "or my account is 'hacked', I will ensure all food served in the cafeteria is garlic flavoured for the next month. Got it?"

 

Chapter Text

21:35

Denki Kaminari started a group chat.

Denki Kaminari changed chat name to Bro Chat.

Denki Kaminari added Eijiro Kirishima, Hanta Sero, Katsuki Bakugo, Fumikage Tokoyami, Hitoshi Shinso, Izuku Midoriya, Tenya Iida, Minoru Mineta, Shoto Todoroki, Mezo Shoji, Rikido Sato, Koji Koda, Mashirao Ojiro and Yuga Aoyama.

Denki Kaminari: Wow, there is actually a lot of us XD

Eijiro Kirishima: Hell yeah! A chat just for the bros :D

Minoru Mineta: This is no mere chat, this is a vital centre of information and cooperation!

Hanta Sero: If you make this weird, we WILL kick you out.

Denki Kaminari: ^^^

Denki Kaminari: What do girls even talk about in these things?

Eijiro Kirishima: I've always wondered that 0.0

Yuga Aoyama: *~ I do believe they discuss their fellow classmates. Ratings and such. ~*

Denki Kaminari changed Yuga Aoyama's name to ThatFrenchie.

Minoru Mineta: I can't BELIEVE they rated US! That is totally unfair.

Izuku Midoriya: Oh, hi guys!

Eijiro Kirishima: Why is it unfair?

Minoru Mineta: Because it means they've CATEGORISED us. It's demeaning and cruel.

Denki Kaminari: -_-

Eijiro Kirishima: ^^^

ThatFrenchie: *~That may be so; but it means they've discussed us ;) ~*

Denki Kaminari: ^^^ THIS!

Tenya Iida: Do none of you find it demeaning? I find it difficult to believe these 'ratings' would be fair across the board.

Denki Kaminari: Dude... -_- That is SO not the point.

Shoto Todoroki: I do not understand, is there a point being made?

Denki Kaminari changed Shoto Todoroki's name to ThePureOne.

Denki Kaminari: It's ok @ThePureOne, one day you'll understand XD

Mashirao Ojiro: So....is there a point to this chat?

Denki Kaminari: -_-

Minoru Mineta: -_-

Izuku Midoriya: Don't be mean guys, I was kinda wondering the same thing!

Minoru Mineta: We are surrounded by children @Denki Kaminari

ThePureOne: Isn't Midoriya older than you Mineta?

Denki Kaminari: The POINT of this chat is to discuss why Hikari had NUDE drawings of all of us, and ALL of the girls have SEEN them!

Eijiro Kirishima: Ashido said they weren't really nudes?

Denki Kaminari: Hikari has PARTIAL NUDES of all of us, and ALL of the girls have SEEN them!

Fumikage Tokoyami: I don't really understand the big deal. Like @Katsuki Bakugo said on Friday, how is it different to them seeing us at a swimming establishment?

Minoru Mineta: I can't believe I have to explain this to you VIRGINS. What would you all do if I showed you a bunch of pictures of the girls in their bikinis??

Mashirao Ojiro: Well, I dunno about the rest of you, but I'm not a pervert. I'd probably take the pictures and burn them.

Minoru Mineta: *face-palm* you AREN'T seeing the BIG PICTURE.

Denki Kaminari: We're going off topic XD But aren't you guys even curious to know what you're rated, and by whom?

Katsuki Bakugo: Not all of us are desperate losers.

Minoru Mineta: @Katsuki Bakugo I'd have thought YOU of all people would be more invested in this!

Katsuki Bakugo: Why the fuck would I care what those morons think?

Minoru Mineta: .... >:) you would if you'd seen what I saw today.

ThatFrenchie: *~Ah, you are referring to the fact you saw one of these fabled drawings, yes? Was it not of @Katsuki Bakugo? ~*

Katsuki Bakugo changed their name to FuckYou.

Minoru Mineta: >:)

Denki Kaminari: Dude, creepy much?

Denki Kaminari changed Minoru Mineta's name to TheCreeper.

Eijiro Kirishima: Oh yeah! I'd forgotten about that! Was it like, super manly?

TheCreeper: Let me put it this way; if the rest of the pics are anything like that, y'all have been calling the wrong person a pervert XD

Eijiro Kirishima: :0 was it really that bad??!

TheCreeper: I never want to see a guy's chest in that much detail ever again.

ThePureOne: Again, I do not understand why this is a big deal. Hikari is very talented at real-life drawing; why would she not draw Bakugo's chest in a life-like manner?

Denki Kaminari changed Hitoshi Shinso's name to TheLurker.

TheLurker: That was uncalled for.

TheLurker changed Denki Kaminari's name to Pikachu.

FuckYou changed Pikachu's name to Pikafuck.

Pikafuck: :( not cool guys!

TheCreeper: I vote we have our own ratings!

Eijiro Kirishima: Wait, we don't even know their parameters! If we're gonna do it, it's gotta be fair.

ThatFrenchie: *~ I believe traditionally they go off appearance and personality, and rate between 1 and 10. ~*

Tenya Iida: That seems incredibly basic and shallow. I refuse to believe our classmates would stoop so low.

Eijiro Kirishima: @Tenya Iida didn't Mina say Momo asked for one of those drawings of you? XD 

TheCreeper: So who's gonna go first?

Fumikage Tokoyami: Are you really going to dive into this pool of madness?

Pikafuck changed Fumikage Tokoyami's name to TheGrim.

Izuku Midoriya: Wasn't The Grim the big black dog from Harry Potter?

Pikafuck changed Izuku Midoriya's name to TheNerd.

FuckYou: Finally.

Pikafuck changed their name to ThePikachu.

TheNerd: Why are we rating the girls again? What do ratings even mean?

TheCreeper: 'Rating' stands for datability. If you think a chick is super-hot, but has a nasty personality, you take the '10' for hotness and minus the '2' for personality, and you get like an overscore of '8'.

ThePureOne: So it is a maths problem?

ThePikachu: Kind of.

ThePureOne: But I fail to see how this would result in an accurate 'rating'. Does it take into account personal taste?

TheLurker: @ThePureOne don't take it so literally.

Teny Iida: This is objectifying women and I will not stand for it.

TheNerd: But haven't the girls already done it for us?

Eijrio Kirishima: ^^^

Rikido Sato: Can we put things like skills into the personality rating? Like if we admire something they can do?

ThePikachu: Another LURKER! And yes, that is perfectly acceptable :) glad you joined us.

Eijiro Kirishima: But what if we rate someone's crush?

TheCreeper: Irrelevant. Just cos you give a chick a high rating doesn't mean you wanna actually date them XD

Hanta Sero: Yeah XD otherwise @TheCreeper would be alone forever, and @ThePureOne would be mobbed.

ThePureOne: Why would I be mobbed?

Hanta Sero: Dude, I've overheard Ashido and Hagakure; you're like, super high in the ratings.

ThePureOne: I do not understand.

ThePikachu: ^^^ This is why we still have a chance XD

ThePikachu: @Hanta Sero wait, you've heard their ratings?!?

ThePikachu changed Hanta Sero's name to TheProphet.

ThePikachu: @TheProphet give us you wisdom, we beg of you!

TheProphet: XD I didn't hear much! Week before last, I just heard them talking about how they were gonna ask Hikari about 'ratings' at their bath night, and Ashido was saying she bet she'd rate @ThePureOne at least a 7 XD

TheCreeper: @Mezo Shoji seriously dude, I will PAY you to put an ear near the bathroom door on Wednesday nights :(

TheGrim: It sounds like they are incredibly harsh.

ThePikachu: Nawwww what would YOU rate @ThePureOne? ;)

TheGrim: I am merely pondering the severity with which we ourselves should 'rate'.

Tenya Iida: @TheGrim you are seriously considering joining in with these delinquents?!

TheProphet changed Tenya Iida's name to TheSquare.

Mezo Shoji: Accurate XD

TheCreeper: Alright, seeing as you people are bunch of pansies, I'll go first!

TheNerd: Predictable.

ThePikachu: 0.0 ^ since when has @TheNerd got sass?!

TheProphet: Hang on, do we have to give reasons for each rating or?

ThePikachu: Maybe if clarification is required XD

TheSquare: I am ashamed of you all.

TheGrim: That seems unfair; @Koji Koda has yet to participate in this chat.

TheLurker: the true Lurker here.

FuckYou: He actually has better things to do.

ThePikachu: Nawww you're still awake @FuckYou :D!

FuckYou: <-- 

ThatFrenchie: *~ I believe he is lurking to see what the ratings are. I sense a vested interest ;) ~*

FuckYou: Do you actually want to die?

Eijiro Kirishima: I was thinking the same thing @ThatFrenchie ;)

FuckYou: The fuck ShittyHair?

TheNerd: :0 do you have a crush Kacchan?!?

FuckYou: Fuck off, Deku. Why would I waste my time on that stupid shit?

ThePikachu: He didn't say no >:)

TheCreeper: Ashido: 8, Hagakure: 9, Hikari: 7, Yaoyorozu: 10, Jiro: 7, Uraraka: 8, Asui: 7

TheProphet: What's the bet those are just based off cup size? XD

TheSquare: Although I highly disapprove of this entire discussion, I am glad to see you value your classmates so highly.

ThePikachu: XD XD XD

TheProphet: XD ^^

TheNerd: :') Ok, even I'll admit that's funny.

ThePikachu: Ok, I'll go XD

ThePikachu: Ashido: 9, Hagakure: 7, Hikari: 8, Jiro: 10, Uraraka: 7, Asui: 7 and Yaoyorozu: 7

Eijiro Kirishima: Hah! I KNEW you liked Jiro :)

ThePureOne: I thought ratings didn't mean you actually wanted to date somebody?

FuckYou: It's not like the idiot's subtle. He's been making those stupid puppy eyes at Ears since First Year.

TheNerd: I thought you liked Hikari @ThePikachu?

ThePikachu: I do! But she's too crazy XD Too much like a girl version of @FuckYou

FuckYou: The fuck?!

TheNerd: She smiles more than Kacchan though XD

TheProphet: Without looking like a psychopath XD

FuckYou: Did you just call me a fucking psychopath?! I will END YOU!

Eijiro Kirishima: ^^^ not doing yourself any favours dude XD

FuckYou changed Eijiro Kirishima's name to ShittyHair.

ShittyHair: Was that supposed to be a burn? XD

ShittyHair: Ashido: 9, Hikari: 10, Yaoyorozu: 7, Jiro: 7, Hagakure: 7, Asui: 7, Uraraka: 7

TheCreeper: Wait, you gave Mrs Psycho a 10?!

ShittyHair: Hey, she's funny! And really pretty.

ThePikachu: And she held your hand the other week ;)

TheProphet: Asui: 8, Yaoyorozu: 7, Hikari: 6, Jiro: 6, Hagakure: 6, Uraraka: 7

ThePikachu: Harsh ^

TheGrim: Like I said before, I believe the girls would not have 'held punches' simply due to weaknesses such as friendships.

Mezo Shoji: Ashido: 6, Asui: 6, Hikari: 5, Hagakure: 8, Yaoyorozu: 7, Uraraka: 7, Jiro: 7

Mezo Shoji: Also, are we only doing this so we can say we've done it?

TheProphet: @Mezo Shoji this is important research. Also yes.

Rikido Sato: Uraraka: 8, Asui: 7, Jiro: 8, Yaoyorozu: 7, Hikari: 8, Hagakure: 7, Ashido: 8

TheNerd: @Rikido Sato did you mean to put them in an alternating pattern?

Rikido Sato: no..... XD

ThePikachu: @TheNerd you go next!

TheProphet: He won't he's too nice XD

TheNerd: Uraraka: 10, Asui: 8, Jiro: 8, Yaoyorozu: 8, Hikari: 8, Hagakure: 7, Ashido: 8

ThePikachu: ALMOST an invalid argument XD

ShittyHair: How come Hagakure got a 7?

TheNerd: Cos I've never seen her? I really don't like these kinds of things!

TheLurker: Can you please hurry up and ask Uraraka out already?

ShittyHair: ^^^

ThePikachu: ^^^

TheProphet: ^^^

TheGrim: ^^^

ThePureOne: Midoriya likes Uraraka?

FuckYou: Fuck me, are you really that oblivious?

ThatFrenchie: *~ How she has waited this long is truly magical in itself! Mademoiselle Uraraka has harboured feelings for Monsieur @TheNerd since First Year. ~*

ThePikachu: How do you know this stuff @ThatFrenchie, and what more do you know?!

ThatFrenchie: *~ A Gentleman never asks. ~*

ShittyHair: Well, are you gonna give us your ratings @ThatFrenchie?

ThatFrenchie: *~ One does not rate what one does not appreciate ;) ~*

TheCreeper: I knew it!

FuckYou: Again, if it took you nearly three years to figure that out, you are truly thick as shit. Looking at you @ShittyHair.

ThatFrenchie: *~ Monsieur @FuckYou why don't you enlighten us as to YOUR ratings? ~*

ShittyHair: Yeah, Bakubro! Do it! :D

ThePikachu: This'll be good XD

TheGrim: I am actually intrigued.

TheCreeper: Wait, Bakugo likes girls?

FuckYou: <-- I'm not playing this stupid game.

TheProphet: @TheNerd did ;)

Rikido Sato: The only ones left are @TheSquare, @TheGrim, @ThePureOne and @FuckYou XD

TheNerd: @TheLurker hasn't either.

TheLurker: @TheNerd I thought we were friends.

TheNerd: If I have to do it, you do too.

ThePureOne: I do not understand this game.

ThePikachu: I am hereby dismissing @ThePureOne from 'rating' due to lack of comprehension.

TheGrim: Uraraka: 8, Asui: 7, Jiro: 7, Yaoyorozu: 6, Hikari: 9, Hagakure: 7, Ashido: 8

TheGrim: Before you all ask, I do not 'like' Hikari; I appreciate her taste in music.

TheSquare: Uraraka: 10, Asui: 10, Jiro: 10, Yaoyorozu: 10, Hikari: 10, Hagakure: 10, Ashido: 10

TheCreeper: ^^^ Predictable XD

TheSquare: All of the girls in 3A are beautiful and capable in their own right. They all deserve the highest of ratings.

FuckYou: You are such a fucking suckup; they can't see this you know.

TheLurker: Ok, I'll do it to make Bakugo do it.

TheLurker: Uraraka: 7, Asui: 6, Jiro: 8, Yaoyorozu: 7, Hikari: 9, Hagakure: 6, Ashido: 6

ThePikachu: Another one that rates Hikari highest? Interesting.... >:)

TheLurker: She hit @FuckYou with a van. She gets bonus points.

TheProphet: XD XD ^^^

ThePikachu: Your turn @FuckYou!

FuckYou: I told you, I'm not doing it.

TheNerd: C'mon Kacchan, even @TheSquare did it!

FuckYou: Not my fault he caved to fucking peer pressure.

ShittyHair: You really not gonna do it when @TheNerd did it? Isn't that losing? ;)

FuckYou: I win because I'm not playing the stupid game.

TheCreeper: See? I knew he didn't like girls XD

ThePureOne: Is it because you think we will judge you?

ThePikachu: He totally has a crush XD

FuckYou: One more word Pikafuck, and you can find a new study group.

TheProphet: I'm safe, I can say it. Who is it Bakubro? Promise we won't judge XD

TheGrim: Perhaps only minor shipping.

TheNerd: Guys, you know he won't tell you. And any rating he gives will be a lie just to throw us off. Just face it, he's too chicken.

ThePikachu: 0.0 Who are you, and where is Midoriya?!

FuckYou: I AM NOT FUCKING CHICKEN.

TheSquare: You are absolutely not! If @FuckYou wishes to keep his opinions to himself, respect that! Besides, it is hard to admit to oneself that you have feelings, let alone announce them in such a brash manner as a group chat.

Mezu Shoji: Is that why you still haven't made you and Momo public?

TheCreeper: Since when are they TOGETHER?!

FuckYou: Again; fucking obvious.

TheSquare: We did not want to distract each other from school work.

TheCreeper: WAIT. IIDA IS GETTING SOME AND NONE OF THE REST OF US ARE?

ThePikachu: Bold of you to assume he's getting some XD And even bolder to assume the rest of us aren't.

TheCreeper: Seriously!? Even Bakugo's getting more than me!!!

FuckYou: What the actual fuck are you talking about!?

TheCreeper: You get to get all handsy with one of the hottest chicks in class every week! SHE SAT ON YOU THIS MONDAY!

ShittyHair: Do combat situations count?

TheProphet: Yes >:)

ThePikachu: >:)

FuckYou: Its fucking training you deluded freaks.

TheProphet: Fine, if it's just 'training'; rate them! It's just 'research' after all.

FuckYou: I'm not that dumb Tape Face.

ThePureOne: I must say, you had a strange expression on your face last Friday when you returned to the dorms from Recovery Girl. @ShittyHair, is it normal for Bakugo to overheat in the face when he comes inside from training with you?

TheNerd: Todoroki, did you just ask if it's normal for Kacchan to BLUSH after TRAINING?

FuckYou: That's it. I hate you all.

FuckYou has left the chat.

TheLurker: Talk about an obvious escape.

ShittyHair: @ThePureOne please tell me you're being serious :D did he seriously go red when he saw the girls dancing with you?!

TheCreeper: What girls?! Dancing with who?! WHY DID I MISS THIS?!

ThePureOne: His face did look like it was overheating. I believe he stood in the door for a few moments longer than necessary as well. This was before he accused myself and Hikari of using our Quirks inside.

ThePikachu: Dude....does Bakubro have a CRUSH ON HIKARI?

ShittyHair: Well, I doubt it's on Mina XD as much as I love her.

TheSquare: But Bakugo hates Hikari. I've not heard him be so abusive to a classmate since First Year with Midoriya.

ShittyHair: He's been calling me ShittyHair for nearly three years, and I'm supposedly his best friend XD And did you see the look on his face when he actually knocked her out last week?

TheProphet: This is going to be fucking hilarious XD

TheNerd: Don't tease him guys, I don't think Kacchan has ever liked a girl before :(

TheCreeper: And he makes fun of US for being virgins! All except for @TheSquare which I STILL CAN'T believe X0

Mezu Shoji: @TheSquare do not try to defend yourself, it will only make things worse.

ThePikachu: Man, we REALLY need to know what's in that stupid sketch-book XD Wonder what Hikari rated ol' Blasty?

TheNerd: My guess is high if her obsession with his smell is anything to go by.

ThePikachu: I can't tell if that's creepy, or kinda cute.

TheLurker: She practically lives in his hoodie don't forget.

ThatFrenchie: *~ I believe I may be of assistance in this matter. ~*

ThePikachu: WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!

ThatFrenchie: *~ Nothing, yet ;) but seeing as I am essentially a neutral party in these discussions, the girls may see fit to include me in theirs as well. ~*

ShittyHair: Wait, are you saying you'll be our double agent?!

ThatFrenchie: *~ ;) ~*

TheProphet: This could solve a few problems...

 

Chapter Text

For the second time that week, Bakugo woke up in a pool of sweat, his palms crackling dangerously. Gasping, he sat bolt upright, heart racing, tense, and ready to fight. As his racing mind slowed, and his eyes started to adjust to the pale light of the moon peeking through his half-closed curtains, the nightmare faded. Cursing softly, he leaned forwards, nursing his head in his trembling, clammy hands. The night air cooled his bare shoulders, making him feel gross. Running his hands through his matted hair, he snarled at the darkness. It had to be that nightmare.

Shoving the blankets off, Bakugo swung his feet to the thick carpet of his floor. Forcing himself to regulate his breathing, he glared at the shadows cast by the setting moon near his feet. Twice. Twice in a row he'd had a nightmare he'd not had since First Year.

Pushing himself to his feet, he stumbled to his bathroom. Not bothering to turn the light on, his red eyes caught at his reflection as he splashed cold water over his face. Even only with the light of the moon, the mirror betrayed just how bad the dream had affected him, how pale it had made him. The shock of the frigid tap water woke him up more, but it was worth it. Glancing over his shoulder at his alarm clock, he decided with a grumble that it wasn't worth trying to go back to sleep.

Adrenaline kept his hands shaking slightly as he dug around in his draws for his running sweats, and he cursed again. He hated this feeling. It had been so long, he'd almost forgotten how shitty it made him feel. He couldn't even stay angry. His mind just kept replaying it all over and over again.

Once the frozen air of four am in winter hit his lungs, Bakugo finally managed to clear his mind enough to recover a little. He was still jittery as he started towards the running course, but the brisk movement of his body at least got the adrenaline moving properly, and he was able to think clearly.

It wasn't even a nightmare, really. Just a shitty memory on replay in his head.

What was truly infuriating, was that he had a sneaking suspicion as to why his subconsciousness had decided to dredge it up all of a sudden. Because really, what could bring up the memory of his kidnapping better than a training session where his opponent was a 'kidnapping victim'?

His brain had gone on the fritz when the Leprechaun had reluctantly pulled that stupid black hood on. She'd looked nervous before her pale face was swallowed by the cloth, and it was a nervousness obviously born from experience. Bakugo would've been able to tell that, even without Drake prattling on about their life experiences. For the first time, Bakugo had been hesitant to fight her. He'd stood there, almost uncertain, staring at the now faceless girl as she sank into an aggressive crouch. True, he hadn't been hooded when he'd been taken by the villains. And also true, he'd not had to fight for his life so badly handicapped. But there had been something about the raw apprehension in Hikari's eyes that had struck a nerve he'd thought he'd buried.

Then she'd fought him with the ferocity he'd suspected she'd been capable of all along. It made him grit his teeth in anger, even now as he pounded towards the running track, even as he realised she might not have been able to replicate that sheer fury in other circumstances, especially mock fights. As much as he hated to admit, her Quirk truly seemed more suited to devastating, ferocious take-downs. It was similar to his, in a way. And if what Drake had said about never leaving an enemy behind that wasn't killed or maimed, maybe she hadn't had the same sort of training he'd had to ensure he could use his power without causing horrific injury.

It still pissed him off, but he could grudgingly understand her reluctance to fight properly.

Once more, as he moved away from the dorms, he found himself glancing over his shoulder. Crimson eyes automatically darted to the top floor on the left wing. Sure enough, there was a red glow coming from the windows, muted by opaque blinds. Why the lights were sometimes red, he wasn't sure. It would certainly be easier on the eyes, but surely useless for study or any meaningful activity.

Huffing to himself, he jogged on, finally starting to work the stiffness from his limbs as he came upon the start of the track.

Despite the fact the world was only lit by the fading light of the moon reflecting off the puffy white clouds that threatened snow, the running track was partially lit. As it was more of a cross-country track, with obstacles and hazards, the lighting was sporadic and strategically placed to ensure you were less likely to injure yourself in bad lighting. How UA knew the track would be used during dark hours, Bakugo wasn't sure, but he was grateful. He'd never seen anyone else using it at this sort of hour, but people must, late at night or something.

Peeling off the main footpath, he loped easily through the start of the track. Even with the soft glowing white lights in the trees and on carefully placed posts, there were still plenty of dangers to watch out for. Soon, Bakugo's entire mind was focused on avoiding the rocks, tree roots and little ditches that hadn't been smoothed away in an effort to 'tame' the small forest surrounding the dorms and main buildings of campus. He was more than happy to embrace the challenge of keeping his pace without breaking his ankles though, and his thoughts were muted as he concentrated.

So when he felt a presence moving up behind him, it was all he could do not to launch himself into the sky with his ever ready Quirk. Pure reflex, gained from years of combat, had him spinning on the balls of his feet. His crackling palms lit up the shadows as he snarled, lashing out with a savage right hook.

"Friendly!" a familiar voice yelped, and then his swing was being batted aside by something hot "What're you trying to do, take my bloodydamn head off?"

His heart pounding, fresh adrenaline surging, Bakugo puffed, his breath steaming as an irritated looking Hikari watched him warily, now just out of reach. Scowling, he lowered his arms from their raised stance, and forced himself to stand straight "What the hell are you doing? Why the fuck did you sneak up on me?" he demanded. Of course she was out here. First she was the reason he couldn't sleep, bringing up stupid memories with her stupid worried face on Monday, and now she was going to ruin his therapy run!

Hikari blinked at him "I wasn't sneaking; I called out to you, but when you didn't answer I just figured you were ignoring me." She was once again wearing virtually nothing, even in the cold morning air. Her pale skin reflected the light, in contrast to her black shorts and training bra that seemed to absorb it. Her chaotic hair was haphazardly dragged into the messy bun she was insistent on using. Just under her strange tattoo, a thick black armband held her phone, black headphones leading up to her ears.

Bakugo cursed internally. He hadn't heard her? He hadn't heard anything! Nothing but his own breath and pounding heart. Was his hearing really that bad? Or was she lying? But why would she lie? He'd nearly attacked her, and she seemed surprised enough "Whatever." He growled, trying to ignore the flush creeping up the back of his neck, and started to move on. She'd thought he was ignoring her? Fine. He would ignore her.

Out of the corner of his eye, he was infuriated to see her start to move after him "Guess you were just lost in your head, huh." She moved easily to lope beside him, matching his pace.

His scowl deepened "What the hell are you doing?" he repeated, refusing to look at her as he ran along.

Even though she was nearly a head shorter than him, she had no trouble keeping up with his pace "Running. Same as you." She didn't even sound out of breath.

He stopped suddenly, and she overshot for a few steps, before pausing as well. Without a word, he spun on his heel and started to stalk back towards the start of the track "What are you doing?" she called after him.

"Finding somewhere else to run." He growled. There was no way he was going to ruin his morning with her shitty company. He'd just do a few laps around the dorms; that should be enough to burn off his adrenaline. Why the hell had he told her about this track? It had been his, all his- now he had to find somewhere else to go.

"What, just cos I'm using this one?" the freak had bounded after him, and fell into walking beside him.

"Pretty much."

"Look, what if I promise not to annoy you? I'll even go on ahead, if you like. You won't even have to see me."

He paused at her words, and glared down at her as she stopped as well. She didn't look away from his eyes, meeting his gaze fearlessly as always, and he found himself asking "Why do you even care?"

She blinked at his words, and rubbed the back of her neck in a very Kirishima-esque motion "Well, it's your track- I'd rather find somewhere else to go myself, than make you feel like you gotta." She said it without a trace of sarcasm, looking a little sheepish.

That was not the response he'd expected "That's fucking stupid." He grumbled "You were here first, today."

She shrugged "Yeah, but it seems like you need the outlet more than me." She shifted her weight on her feet, and he nearly rolled his eyes at her obvious effort to stay still "So, made up your mind? I'll piss off if you want- I really don't care."

He was pretty sure she truly didn't. So why was he finding it so hard to get the words out of his mouth, to tell her to beat it? It wasn't like he only liked to run alone; normally Kirishima came with so long as the sun was up. And a small, treacherous part of his mind longed for company after that nightmare "Can you keep your mouth shut?" he grunted, raising an eyebrow at how quickly her face lit up. The crooked smirk was back as she nodded her head, miming zipping her lips. He rolled his eyes, running a hand through his spikey hair "I'm gonna regret this- you can stay." He turned back to head away from the entrance, breaking back into a steady jog.

Hikari scampered after him, and before long they were moving side by side.

True to her mime, the girl didn't say a word. She hummed softly along to whatever song she was listening to, but after an irritated minute, Bakugo found he didn't mind. It was almost out of his range of hearing anyway, and her voice wasn't unpleasant. He had no idea what song it was, but it seemed to soothe his still troubled mind.

Out of the corner of his eyes, he found himself watching her nearly as much as he was watching where he was putting his feet. The smile hadn't really faded, but her face had relaxed into it. Again, he was reminded of Kirishima and his seeming perpetual cheerfulness. How someone could always seem so happy was beyond him, but it no longer annoyed him as it had in First Year. She moved lightly, gracefully, hands held loosely but open. She placed her feet down surely, yet utterly silently. Not once did she kick a stone, or step on a twig- it was unnerving. No wonder she had managed to sneak up on him earlier.

Out of curiosity, he increased the pace slightly. There was no risk to him; he knew these paths like the back of his hands. He knew where every gulley, every major tree root system, every loose rock step so well, he probably could've done the whole track in the dark without the assisting lights. But if he'd expected Hikari to struggle to keep up while maintaining her weird, silent, careful steps, he was disappointed. She smoothly matched his speed, and nimbly jumped an outcropping rock he knew was coming up on her side.

After thirty minutes, they were still going. Their breaths still puffed steam; hers maybe a little thicker than his. Despite himself, Bakugo found he was...enjoying the company. Normally by now, Kirishima would've asked for a break, or to slow down for a bit. The redhead was strong, but he wasn't built for long endurance runs. Hikari seemed utterly unfazed by both their speed and how long they'd been at it for. Hell, how long had she been out here before he'd arrived? She hadn't looked tired or worked up- but then, she didn't now, either. Even he was starting to work up a sweat, but her skin looked pale and clear as ever.

Interesting. He increased their pace again. It was almost dangerous now, even for him. They were practically running outright, and it was taking everything he had to ensure he didn't roll an ankle, or run into a low-hanging branch. Once more, eagerly even, the girl sped up as well. And just as if they were ambling along, she unerringly avoided every obstacle with grace and purpose, like some great cat leaping through the darkness. What the hell? He couldn't help but watch properly as they rounded a bend, and she easily vaulted a fallen log even he'd not known was going to be there "Can you what...see in the dark...or something?" he puffed out, breaking the silence for the first time.

She shot a surprised look at him "Er- yeah?" she lightly dodged a particularly rough patch of rocks and roots "Why, can't you?"

Bakugo made a face halfway between a scowl and a look of annoyance "No- why would you even think I could?" they'd slowed as they spoke. Bakugo's chest heaved as he fought to catch his breath a little.

She shrugged, not looking even a little puffed "You seemed to know where you were going, and you're out here at night. You must know this place pretty well if you can't see." Why did the admiration in her voice have the back of his neck heating?

He halted them at the next light post so they could 'rest' for a minute. Almost frustratingly, she seemed barely even winded as he recovered. Why the hell could she see in the dark? It was obviously part of her Quirk. As he fought to even his embarrassingly loud breathing, he looked her over boldly once more. Her eyes caught his attention first off- her pupils were so blown he could barely see the blue of her iris. She was deliberately keeping her back to the small light, obviously to protect her night vision. Her claw tipped hands were still held loosely by her sides, and there wasn't a goose-bump to be seen on her pale skin as they stood still in the cold. How could she not feel the cold, even a little? Even Endeavor had a winter Hero costume, and that bastard kept himself covered in flames perpetually. And why the hell was she so strong? Training could only do so much- there should be no way she wasn't even puffed over their run so far. Bakugo was fit, even for a Hero. Only Deku and Four-Eyes could even hope to keep up with him on foot without their Quirks, especially on relatively long distance runs like this. No way a girl could, without some sort of strength enhancing power "What is your Quirk, anyway?" he grunted, starting them moving again before his limbs could stiffen. They were more than halfway through the track by then.

"For someone who didn't want me to talk; that's the second question you've asked." She replied, her tone lightly teasing.

He huffed "Fine. Don't answer." Fucking female version of Kirishima, all smiles and teasing jabs. No wonder the two idiots got along so well.

"You know, you're the first person to actually come out and just ask me that." She said after a moment as they fell back into an easy jog "I mean, Midoriya is always trying to work it out, and Mina and Kami are bursting to know, but nobody has actually just asked." She sounded genuinely bemused.

"S'not polite." He bit out, almost bumping into her as he avoided a gulley he knew was coming up. Without a word, almost like she'd known he'd need it, she made room for him.

"Yeah, but Kiri said you boys even have a betting pool as to what it is." She sounded almost delighted "I didn't think people would care; let alone actually be that interested."

Hell, he almost regretted asking her about it "If you're just gonna yammer on; don't. Either tell me, or not."

She doesn't say anything for so long, he almost thought she took his words to heart "Tell you what; if you beat me back to the dorms, or you say my name like you were meant to the other week, I'll tell you the name of my Quirk."

Her tone was still teasing, and he looked at her sideways "Why should I bother doing either?"

Her smile widened to her trademark smirk "C'mon; don't you wanna rub it in Deku's face you know what it is before he does?"

Was he really so transparent? That was something he'd expected Kirishima or that idiot Kaminari to say. Because yes; it would be satisfying to be able to sit there while Deku rambled on, trying to piece the puzzle together, knowing exactly what the true answer was.

Quickly, he did a mental calculation. They were nearly at the end of the track. He was getting tired, but his legs weren't jelly yet. She looked practically fresh, but surely she must be getting weary. If he pushed it, he was fairly confident he could beat her, even with her queer speed and strength.

Without a word, he accelerated, smirking a little at her exclamation. Heart pounding in his ears, he threw everything he had into running, relying on instinct and memory to guide him through the remaining obstacles. There was two gullies, one after the other. A tree you had to duck under, some gravel loose on some hidden tree roots and then the home stretch of fifty metres through some trees.

The sun was rising by then, and the pre-dawn light helped as Bakugo raced, making it easier again to see where he was going.

It wasn't until the homestretch that he risked a glance over his shoulder "Careful, you'll stumble." He stumbled with a curse as Hikari loped past him, a huge grin on her face. She laughed, feet barely seeming to touch the ground as she darted away, dancing and leaping from light patch to light patch, avoiding the growing shadows. The sight reminded him of fae, or elves from that damned movie series Kirishima and the others all insisted on rewatching a million times. She was all flashing white legs and twisting motion.

No way. There was no way she could be that fast. Gritting his teeth, he pushed on but it was no use. Effortlessly she pulled ahead, as though she had Uraraka's stupid anti-gravity Quirk. He lost sight of her amongst the trees, and was suddenly alone, panting and huffing.

Finally, he reached the end of the track.

Hikari was stretching, arms above her head, breathing only slightly harder than before, waiting for him. He glowered as he panted, struggling not to double over to catch his breath "Well- guess I win." Her grin wasn't smug though, just cheerful.

"The...hell?" Bakugo heaved, the freezing air biting at his sweat-soaked skin "Did you...use your Quirk?!" he could've done that too, if he'd known she was going to cheat!

She shook her head, curls that had come loose on her forehead and neck bouncing "Nah- I'm just fast. Love to run, could do that track all day to be honest." He believed her.

She waited patiently for him to recover, but never staring directly at him. He wasn't sure if that annoyed him or not. When he felt like he wasn't going to collapse due to lack of oxygen, she moved to walk beside him as he headed back to the dorms. Glancing at his watch, he was surprised to see he'd only been outside for a little over an hour. Normally that track would take an hour and a half to finish- he guessed practically sprinting half of it helped. Heh- with Kirishima it took almost a whole two hours.

"Fuuuuck I hope they have sommat decent for breakfast." The girl suddenly groaned, breaking the quiet of the soft dawn "I'd kill for a literal kilo of bacon, smothered in maple syrup and a side of hashbrowns."

Bakugo made a face "That sounds disgusting." Westerners were truly barbarians when it came to food.

Hikari scoffed, and waved a clawed finger at him, skipping sideways next to him "Don't dig it until you try it- there is literally nothing better on a cold morning than bacon and pancakes, drenched in legit Canadian maple syrup." She shuddered visibly, licking her lips "Don't get me wrong; the stuff here is fine, but sometimes a gal needs calories."

Bakugo felt his lips curl into a smirk "If you seriously call that food, you need to have some real local cooking." He could happily brag he made a mean curry.

She chuckled, the sound borderline musical "Maybe I do." The statement didn't seem loaded, but why did his ears burn all of a sudden?

As they came up towards the dorms, sunlight starting to glint off the rooftops, Bakugo was the one to speak "That wasn't....awful."

Hikari raised a dark eyebrow "What, letting me run with you?" she didn't make it a tease, just a genuine question.

He jerked his head once "You shut up- and kept up."

She nodded, almost thoughtfully "Could say the same about you- after you tried to kill me of course."

Smartarse. They mounted the steps, and she grabbed the door "Are you gonna tell me, then?" he asked gruffly as she pulled it open to go inside.

She looked over her shoulder, and cocked her head "Tell you what?" she looked truly confused.

"Your stupid Quirk- its name." irritation was starting to grow once more, as though the weird spell of companionship was broken now they were back in the reality of the dorm.

Her blue eyes went from wide to shrewd "Well, you neither beat me, nor said my name. Can't give something for nothing, Bakugo." She winked, and went inside, leaving him standing there in the cold as a scowl and flush covered his face.

Well, at least his nightmare was long forgotten.

 

Chapter Text

The infectious excitement for the week's first Hero training had long ago gotten its hooks into me. Not that I wouldn't get keen for any promise of physical activity, but being surrounded by twenty oddly powerful, energetic youths all bouncing in their seats, waiting for the last lesson of the day- how could you not get pumped?

The morning runs I'd started had helped to take some of the edge off my restless nature, and Bakugo's fidget spinner was perpetually in my left hand during the less entertaining classes, but I still struggled to sit still for any length of time.

Hmmmm...I kept thinking back to that morning as I forced myself to take notes during Hero Law. I'd managed to avoid staring at the back of a certain blonde's head through sheer force of will alone, as I reminisced. Bakugo had gone back to ignoring me completely, but I hadn't really expected anything less. The look on his face as I left him outside was burned into the back of my eyeballs though.

That had been the first civilised set of conversations I'd had with the volatile youth since I'd met him. I'd been strangely pleased to see he was just as prickly and irritable in private as he was in public (I hated posers), but there was a definite softer side under the spikey exterior- why else would he tolerate my company? And why had he looked so spooked when I'd accidentally scared him? I'd meant what I'd said about him looking like he needed the run more than I did. He had been vibrating with tension and borderline anxiety. If it hadn't been so early, and if we hadn't been within earshot of the dorms, I'd have offered a sparring match so he could blow off the steam I could practically see coming from his ears.

But, the run seemed to have helped- especially at the end there where he'd really pushed himself. I'd considered letting him win- briefly. But if he had a competitive nature a mile wide, mine could span the width of Japan- especially when it came to racing. That being said, I'd been pleasantly surprised how much I'd had to push to pass him. He was quick, for a human.

Upon entering homeroom after lunch to be told where our afternoon of training would commence, I was surprised, and somewhat suspicious, to see Nat lounging against the wall next to a seated Aizawa. He winked at my narrowed gaze as we all filed in, and I could practically feel my hackles rise. What was my partner up to?

"Oooh is Mr Drake going to be working with us this afternoon as well?" Mina, poor, innocent Mina was looking at Nat like a kid looks at a candy shop. I rolled my eyes as he flashed a dazzling smile at her.

"No. He's bored, and will be watching quietly from the sidelines- possibly taking notes." Aizawa said bluntly. I nearly barked a laugh at the obvious annoyance in Aizawa's tone. What had Nat done today to piss off my 'teacher' so royally? "Today you will be working with class B over in Ground Beta. Head over there and get changed quickly- we have a lot to cover."

That announcement ratcheted everyone's excitement up even further. I got the feeling the competitive drive between the classes was nearly as great as the drives between individual students themselves. Even the class cinnamon rolls like Midoriya and Kami got all fired up at the prospect of facing off against the other Hero class again.

And apparently, after 3A soundly beating the other class during the last few training sessions they were both involved in; 3B was stewing something fierce. On more than one occasion in the cafeteria, when the curiously annoying Monoma called over to rib us, Shinso would utterly destroy him with a lazy remark about how class B sucked as both Heroes and Villains. My insomniac had an incredibly barbed tongue on occasion.

The change rooms were full to bursting as both classes squeezed in to get their Hero gear on. I didn't know about the boys, but the girls were all surprisingly friendly, despite the inter-class competition. I'd gotten the feeling the other Saturday that there was very little true animosity amongst the students of each class, and it was more a friendly rivalry. The bubbly chatter in the change room confirmed my theory.

"I heard you and Iida are finally making it official!" Kendo was congratulating Momo, clapping a hand on the slighter girl's shoulder. She was the leader of their pack, for sure. All brawny confidence and charisma- she was as confident as Iida and Momo were uptight "I gotta say; about time!" I liked her.

Momo blushed furiously as she pulled her hair up "We didn't want it to distract us from our studies, but realised sneaking around was worse than simply being in public."

"And what's this I heard on the grapevine, that someone managed to get the nitro-gremlin to pose for nudes? Midnight would not shut up about it, going on about how class A have such a passionate drive for art!" a green haired girl called Tokage exclaimed as she pulled on a scaly blue leotard. Her words brought on a chorus of giggles "How on earth did that happen, and who managed it?!"

"It wasn't a nude- and he didn't pose!" Mina laughed, slipping on her mask and frizzing up her pink hair "Not on purpose, anyway. Hikari doesn't understand why girls and boys have separate change rooms, and accidentally went into theirs last Friday."

Kendo snorted, but she was grinning as she spotted me "I'm not sure if I feel sorry for you, or am jealous of you!" her words were met with a chorus of agreement "But what about the whole drawing thing?"

I shrugged "I didn't have a camera, but I've got a pretty good visual memory." I smirked "Didn't want to forget anything, so I put it aaallll on paper."

"And not just Blasty Boi, either!" Hagakure, who was nothing but a floating pair of gloves, boasted proudly "She managed to get a good look at all the boys! You should see the book; it's now a national treasure of UA!"

Half a dozen pairs of wide, gleaming eyes turned to me, and their expressions swiftly gained the predatory look I'd come to accept from Mina and a few others in 3A "Don't suppose you could go and 'accidentally' wander in the boys change rooms now, could you?" a nasally voice from a girl that looked like a giant mushroom said "I'd give a leg for a shirtless Awase picture."

Kendo was looking at me slyly "Got a good one of Kirishima at all?" her innocent tone was totally ruined by her smirk "I'll bet he was all manly."

Jiro snickered at that "What did you say, Hikari? That he went as red as his hair?"

"Isn't his Hero costume shirtless?"

"That boy is too wholesome!"

"You're so lucky, Mina! The Bakusquad alone has like, literally, half the hottest guys in Third Year in it! How the hell do you manage to get anything done?!"

"I'll pay you for a drawing of Shoji!" everyone looked at the horned girl Tsunotori, who went beat red "What? He's kinda cute."

"Wait, if you're selling them, can I have the one of Bakugo too? I wanna blow it up super big and tape it to class B's front door!" Kendo's cackle was truly evil, and all of the other girls of 3B joined in.

I didn't even get a chance to growl as a scowl broke my smirk, because Jiro butted in "Oh, I don't think that picture will be for sale- Hikari didn't even show it to us."

I cringed under the combined amused looks of class A and B, resisting the urge to lift my lip and bare my fangs "I told you; you're all too young for that one! I only showed Mina out of a lapse of judgement."

"Not because you want to keep him all to yourself? We heard about the 'hoodie incident'." When I just pouted, Kendo's eyes went so wide I thought they'd pop out of her head "Wait, you do! Oh my god; girls! Someone likes the gremlin!"

"Oh leave her alone!" Uraraka put a protective arm around me as the others guffawed, but even her face was cracked with a smile "She's not had to grow up with the prat- maybe he has got some qualities the rest of us don't see."

Silence, and then explosive, shrieking laughter. Even I couldn't help but join in as Jiro doubled over, slapping her knee, gasping out "Maybe it was the concussion!"

Even with all the chatter and gossip, we managed to get out and ready before the boys did (boys are not better at makeup than girls). Seeing them approach, I cocked my head "Since when does Fizzler wear so many clothes?" Kendo and some of the others from 3B choked when they realised who I was referring to. Heh- guess my nicknames for Bakugo would now spread beyond just our class. I'd have to make sure to keep them updated when I decided to change it.

Mina, standing next to me as always, followed my gaze "Oh! That's his winter uniform. Blasty's always the last to swap his out, cos he doesn't feel the cold as soon as the rest of us."

"Huh." I wasn't sure if I was disappointed or not. On the downside, his impressive, drool-worthy shoulders and arms were now hidden by a close-fitting black uniform, the collar of which came up high, almost hiding the lower half of his pale face. On the upside, he was wearing a close-fitting black uniform that almost hid the lower half of his pale face.

"I think it's supposed to stop his sweat evaporating too quickly." Tsuyu croaked, wearing what were obviously water-proof thermals. She was standing as close to me as possible, trying to steal my warmth as usual.

Mina laughed "Oh man, imagine what that shirt would do to your nose!" a few of the girls from 3B looked at us curiously.

I whined "Please don't make me think about that- I need to be able to think today!" as though he knew we were talking about him, I watched his crimson eyes narrow suspiciously in our direction.

"What are you talking about?" Kendo had remained close to me and the pink girl. I think she liked me too.

"Hikari has like, a super keen sense of smell." Mina said, lowering her voice so only the girls could hear as the boys got closer "Apparently Blasty smells super good!"

"Bloodydamn understatement of the century." I grumbled, casting my eyes around for Shinso's familiar head of messy purple hair "Thank the goddess the rest of you can't smell it- I dunno how you could've lived with it for so long without jumping him." A wave of disbelieving snickers ran through the girls, but those of 3A didn't laugh as much. They'd seen how badly it'd messed me up when Kami had shoved the hoodie over my head. I finally spotted my insomniac, and he saluted me lazily as I waved. Great, another one stealing my trademark greeting. At this rate, bloody Bakugo would be saluting me before long. I tried not to think about what that would do to my poor hormones.

I brutally wrenched my brain from that train of thought, and concentrated on grinning brightly at the approaching sleepy looking youth I was actually friends with.

If it had been easy hanging out with Shinso before, it was damned near relaxing now he knew I was a Shifter. I didn't need to worry about slipping up around him as much anymore, and he was no longer eyeing me constantly, trying to analyse me like Midoriya and the others were. Heh. Poor Bakugo would be infuriated if he found out my Quirk, only for Shinso to have known for ages before him.

Just as Shinso sauntered to my side, closely followed by Kami and Kiri (with a sulky Fizzler trailing behind), Aizawa, Vlad King, who was holding a stack of three yellow boxes, Toshi- no, All Might and Nat arrived. I still found it a little funny that the home room teacher of 3B called himself that, when a literal descendant of THE Vlad was standing within reach. I know Nat got a kick out of it too, if his smirk was anything to go by.

"Today we will be revisiting a lesson from First Year." Aizawa drawled, his eyes bloodshot and exhausted. He smelt particularly strongly of coffee that afternoon- I wondered if Fizzler wasn't the only person on campus who'd been up stupid early. Or stupid late "This is not only a good chance to see how much you've improved, but also to see how well you can adapt to new circumstances." Vlad King shook the boxes he was holding. It sounded like they were full of paper. Something about it must have jogged everyone's memories, because like a wave, everyone perked up even more, looking at each other with renewed enthusiasm "We will be splitting you up into teams, three on each. The members of these teams will be decided randomly, but strategically." Aizawa took two boxes from Vlad, passing one to All Might "Each box has a designated type; long range, close quarters, and 'passive'. This will allow us to balance each team, but also make you think about how to undertake your various assignments, adjusting your fighting style to fit your role."

Vlad King spoke next, as we all eyed the boxes curiously "There is no distinction between classes this afternoon. This exercise is to continue training you to adapt to working with individuals you wouldn't normally work with, and to make you adjust as required to best utilise yours and their Quirks." I sensed Nat's hand in this. It was very...strategic. He'd always wanted a third member to our duo- but seeing as both of us could be long range and close quarter fighters, there was no real need for one. We'd had a few friends work with us over the years, but it always ended up just being the two of us. Maybe Aizawa had been full of shit when he'd said Nat wouldn't be involved with the afternoon's proceedings- or he'd just wanted to throw us off the real purpose of it all.

All Might nodded at the words of his colleagues "Most of you should already have a good idea where your strengths lie. Some of you excel in both long and close range situations, so we picked a single roll for you for this exercise." He looked around at them all, and I noted his gaze lingered momentarily on Midoriya. Gods above, how everyone didn't know about those two, I had no idea "Your mission today as Heroes is to defend a witness from Villain retaliation. Villains, your mission is to remove the witness from protection. You can chose to disable the Heroes or not."

I put my hand up, and grinned when Aizawa's eyes narrowed "Yes, Cinder?"

"When you say 'remove' the witness; does offing them count?" I asked cheerfully. Shinso snorted and Mina just shook her head. Ah well, at least they were getting used to my brash outlook on life.

A muscle in Aizawa's forehead twitched as he looked at me with dead eyes "Yes, killing the witness is also an acceptable condition of winning." Good. I'd never met a 'Villain' who wouldn't kill a witness if given the chance "Now, only one set of teams will be going at a time, and each match must only go for fifteen minutes. We won't get through everyone today, so next Wednesday we will be continuing the lesson. If there are no other questions, we will draw the teams."

Apparently, my sorry excuse for a partner was the 'selector'. He gracefully selected a piece of paper from each box, and then stood before the other teachers to read them out in his usual careless drawl "First Hero team: Puppetmaster, Mudman and Todoroki." Damn. I patted Shinso on the shoulder as he stiffened at his name, glanced at me ruefully, and then slouched over with the other boys, to stand next to Vlad. It was an interesting team; although I had no idea what 'Mudman' could do.

"And for the Villain team: Red Riot, Phantom Thief and Cinder." Who the fuck was 'Phantom Thief'?

"Alright!" Kiri threw an arm boisterously over my shoulder "This is gonna be fun!" I grinned to match his giant smile as he pulled me towards All Might's side.

"Great; at least we'll know who the brains are of this team." Blonde Monoma, hands deep in his literal tuxedo jacket sighed as he made to follow us. Huh. I guessed his Quirk was considered 'passive' then. What did he steal? I assumed his Hero name had something to do with his power.

"Not like you're gonna be the brawn." Kiri joked, totally unbothered by the jibe. I thanked the goddess he was on my team. I was fairly sure I could ignore the irritating blonde, but I'd actually enjoy working with my toothy redhead.

Not to mention he still had an impressively muscular arm over my shoulder, and his bare chest was level with my nose. Mmmm. Earthy and masculine. Not as tasty as Fizzler's smell, but definitely more than slightly pleasant.

 

Chapter Text

Kirishima couldn't understand why Bakugo thought Hikari was annoying. Sure, she couldn't sit still for more than thirty seconds, and ok, she was perpetually humming or singing to herself- but annoying? He couldn't see it. She was quick-witted, daring, friendly to pretty much everyone, had a wicked sense of humour and threw herself into the practical lessons with enthusiasm that matched Kirishima's own.

In all honesty, he was more than a little eager to finally get to work with her.

"Stupid fucking windows- some flog is gonna come crashing through there, and I'll probably get glass in my bloodydamn eye." She gingerly peered down and out, pale eyes narrowed as she scanned the street below "I still think this is dumb; waiting for them to come to us. Strap that doll on my back and I'll lose them in less than a block."

Kirishima thought she had a point. He'd heard from Bakugo and Midoriya how hard she'd been to catch in that first Hero Training session she'd joined them for "You wouldn't get past the first building." Monoma drawled, inspecting the heavy steel door that provided the only (official) entrance to their 'base' "I can guarantee you that."

"Pussy." How she managed to call people such names, and it not sound downright mean, was a skill in itself. She started pacing, walking up and down the length of the room. It was the same design as the one from First Year- the whole building was. The teachers hadn't been kidding when they'd said it was going to be a repeater of that exercise. The room was wide, well-lit and open, the only obstacles being the thick support pillars evenly spaced throughout it. Huge windows lined two sides of the room, and it was these that were making Hikari nervous. She huffed, shooting an irritated glare at the motionless doll sitting in the sole chair that was their 'person of interest'. Kirishima wanted to call it their 'Mob Boss' "Fucking hate protection detail."

"You've done it before, in real life?" Kirishima, asked, his curiosity piqued. Unsure where he should stand, he had assumed a position in the middle of the room, directly in front of the door. If anything came through, he'd be able to charge at them full-speed, giving the others a chance to counter-attack.

Hikari made a face, still pacing like a caged lion "More often than I'd like. And I can tell you now- the times we sat around like this, waiting for the enemy to come to us, we always ended up nearly losing. At least one of us shoulder be out there, hunting."

"We discussed this." Monoma sighed "Can't you get it through your thick skull; their team is too strong to risk splitting us up."

They hadn't really discussed it. Monoma had just said they should stick together. Kirishima had been happy to stay and protect their target, but Hikari had looked like they'd cancelled dinner. He felt sorry for her- she'd obviously been looking forward to 'hunting', as she put it "You lot did this 'mission' back in First Year, right?" she stopped pacing, staring intently out and down, as though she'd spotted something on the street "I get class B wasn't involved, and Shinso wasn't in class A yet, but how did Todoroki go? I assume his team won."

Kirishima chuckled "I think that was the quickest match of the whole day! He totally froze the entire building- none of the Villains could move." Monoma looked at him suddenly, eyes wide, and Kirishima felt his heart sink "Ah- that's really gonna suck." He shifted his feet, as though already feeling the insidious approach of the dual-hero's Quirk.

Hikari waved a hand dismissively "Don't stress about the ice- I can handle that. What about his fire? How'd he use that? How does he use that?" she was still staring out and down, but she'd gone tense. Had she seen something? He itched to go over and look.

Staying where he was, Kirishima grimaced at the memories her question brought up, remembering how...cold Todoroki had been back then. He wasn't exactly the warmest person now, but he was downright cheery compared to back First Year "He never used his left side in First Year, really. I don't think he even likes to use it now. He can't do the controlled stuff you can, that's all I really know."

"Right." She tilted her head "So, it would be bad for them to get into the building, yeah? What's Mudman's power?"

"Softening." Monoma supplied, having finished his inspection of the door "He can soften or harden any surface he can touch, even manipulating it to some extent. He could turn this floor into quicksand if he wanted." He shot Kirishima a sneer "Your strength won't mean anything, and I doubt her little flames will be anything but useless if we're all buried in liquid concrete."

"Do we care about collateral damage?" Hikari asked suddenly, totally ignoring Monoma "I will fucking scream if we lose cos of a 'technicality' like that again." She was still staring down at the street, but had unclipped the identical handle-things she wore on her hips. Were they some kind of weapon?

Kirishima shook his head in bemusement. Jeez, she sounded like Bakugo "Nah; we're Villains!" he punched his knuckles together "We can break whatever we want!" it was refreshing to be sure- not having to worry about property damage- not that he broke things often. But it was always on a Hero's mind "Why?"

"Just making sure Aizawa won't bitch like a girl if we need to redecorate a little." Kirishima snorted, shaking his head again as he grinned.

Truth be told, he hated sitting around as much as the girl obviously did. In his opinion, her suggestion had been a good one. He would've been more than happy to cover her escape with their objective- he was keen to have a go at fighting the Hero team. It'd had been ages since he'd gone up against Puppetmaster, and he was excited to see how much better his classmate had gotten at close-quarter combat. He'd been amazing last year in the final exams, and surely he'd improved a bunch by now.

Unfortunately, he knew Monoma was right; there was no way they'd make it very far outside with Todoroki's ice and Honenuki's ground softening ability. He would cheerfully admit he wasn't the best suited to go up against either of the impressive fighters, seeing as both could make their attacks before he even got close enough to touch them. Not that he wouldn't give it his best try though!

Their plan at that moment was... lacklustre. Monoma had made the point that even though the members of both teams had been given 'assigned' roles, the Villain team was far more limited than the Hero team. Both Honenuki and Todoroki could effectively be long range, and even Shinso as the 'passive' didn't really need to get too close to try to trick them with his brainwashing power. So they'd decided to stay indoors, stay near the target, and force the Heroes to come to them. Then, Hikari could keep them off their balance with her fire and then Kirishima could rush in through the flames in his hardened state, and smash whomever he could. 

Monoma could copy his Harden ability,  so he had a good defence, but Hikari had been adamant the Thief wouldn't be able to use her Quirk. She'd looked downright shocked at the suggestion of the blonde copying and using her power "Dude that is so not a good idea. Either you won't be able to use it at all, or you'll kill everyone in the building, yourself included."

Monoma had raised an eyebrow "I'm not an imbecile- I've copied fire based Quirks before."

She'd shaken her head so hard her curls had bounced "Seriously- don't try it. You'll regret it."

Even Kirishima had been surprised by her vehemence, but he shrugged it off. They didn't even know what her Quirk was- and nobody was bold enough to ask outright (although, at this point, it would be handy to know!).

They weren't even five minutes into the match before the Heroes made their move. The building rumbled under their feet, and Kirishima braced his knees, letting his Harden cover his entire body in a wave "Sounds like Todoroki is building some ice!" the redhead called over the noise, his heart starting to race in excitement.

Hikari leapt back from the windows the moment he spoke- and not an instant too soon. Like a great primordial spear, an enormous ice shard exploded through the windows, smashing them to a million pieces along nearly the entire side of the building "SEE!" the girl roared as glass rained down around them from the intensity of the impact, forcing all but Kirishima to cover their faces "I fucking told you!"

Kirishima was already rushing towards the now open windows "Get ready! They'll be coming!"

"Watch that bloodydamn door!" Hikari barked at Monoma, who'd tapped Kirishima on the shoulder the moment the rumbling had started, copying his power. She did something to her handle-like devices that made them click. Instantly, as if they were full of coiled springs, something that looked like ultra-fine chain sprang from the handles, falling quickly to pool on the floor. She rolled both wrists, and black and white flames trickled down the fine, dangling chains, like an ethereal waterfall, flickering silently and delicately "Kiri, I need you to ignore them." She said, not even looking at him as he eyed the strange devices "I won't hit you. Stick to the plan." She hadn't taken her eyes off the jutting ice.

He had time to grin, nod and say "Right!" before the blue, white and red form of Todoroki was leaping through the window, obviously having used the giant ice spear like a ramp. The moment his white boots touched the ground, ice exploded outwards, moving to cover the floor in a deadly sheet.

It only got a metre out from the Hero though, because with a gleeful shriek, Hikari had surged into action. All of a sudden, the pools of chains were in the air, and Kirishima finally realised what they were. Whips. Whips coated in fire.

He tried to ignore what she was doing, tried to focus on his part of the mission, but it was damned hard. Hikari fell into her weird dance she used when she fought Bakugo, and the whips flew through the air like live things, lashing out and around towards Todoroki, blazing with flames. The dichromatic youth's eyes widened at the onslaught, and he was forced to abandon his attack, jumping back to evade the slashing chains. One struck the ice covered ground where his boots had been, and Kirishima blinked when the chain left a deep, smoking cut through the ice, as well as the top of floor.

Right. No wonder she'd said to ignore the whistling streaks of death. He wondered if his regular Harden could withstand whatever those things were made of.

Shaking his head to clear his mind, he roared as he charged towards Todoroki, who was frantically backpedalling, jumping and twisting with surprising grace as he avoided the singing trails of chain and fire. Todoroki lashed out with his right hand, sending another spear of gleaming ice from the ground towards him as he closed in, but Hikari was all over it. Before it could reach him, a high-pitch whistle raced past his ears, from both sides, and with twin silvery flashes, trailing angry black flames, the ice spear was literally sheered in half twice over, falling to floor and shattering.

He only hesitated for a second before he continued trying to grab the shocked 'Hero', grinning broadly as each and every defensive block of ice was destroyed by lightning fast streams of fire. He had a random thought that he hoped Bakugo was watching- surely even he would admit this was totally badass!

"They're coming through the door!" Monoma's voice broke through Kirishima's thoughts, just as the redhead lunged for the slighter youth. Kirishima cursed as he missed, Hikari's whips saving his ass as Todoroki tried to blast him up close with more ice. He was close enough to see the furrow in the brow of the usually impassive face of his opponent. Good. He was working hard. Even if he used his left side, Kirishima could run straight through the flames, relying on his teammate to keep him safe from the deadly ice.

"Grab him!" the girl shouted from behind him, sounding a little winded.

"I'm trying." Kirishima growled back, his voice guttural from his Hardening "He's too quick!" it had always been a problem, especially when he activated his Quirk. He just wasn't light enough to be nimble- it was why Bakugo so often beat him when they sparred. If he could get close though...

"I need some help over here!" Monoma again! He sounded puffed, like he'd been fighting. Who had gotten in?! Kirishima hadn't heard the door go, and he didn't dare risk taking his eyes off of Todoroki- he was so close.

"We're a little fucking BUSY!" Hikari roared back.

"I DIDN'T SAY IT!" Oh no. At Monoma's frantic scream, from a different part of the room, an instant after Hikari had shouted, Kirishima felt his heart stutter.

"Freeze." A calm voice commanded. Immediately, the singing whips fell silent, and Kirishima could feel the stillness behind him. Before he could even growl in frustration, realising what had happened, Todoroki hurled a final wave of ice at him, teeth bared in the effort. This time, no whips of fire intercepted it.

"DammmmmmIT!" ice engulfed his body, spreading wicked fast, encasing him solidly within moments, until he was a Hardened statue reaching out like an idiot. Todoroki released a frozen breath in obvious relief, and carefully moved away from Kirishima's outstretched, clawed hand "I was so close!" the redhead whined plaintively "Monoma! How'd they get you?!"

He couldn't even turn his head towards the sound of his disgruntled teammate "Shinso's damned capture tape! He came in through the stupid window while you lot were brawling like morons."

Kirishima sighed "Well, that sucks." Judging from the continued silence and lack of swearing, he figured it was safe to assume Hikari was still under Shinso's Quirk "Now what? Do they win?"

"We have to remove the target from the city block." Surprisingly, Todoroki answered his question from behind him.

"All of us have to get out, otherwise we don't get full marks." Shinso, sounding like Shinso, spoke. He also sounded awfully proud of himself. Kirishima heard footsteps, and he grunted, trying to free at least his head from his freezing prison. Damn, it was cold! "Well, Cinder, you were curious about my Quirk. I must say, I thought it would be harder to trick you."

"Guys, only seven minutes left." A new voice, obviously Honenuki, came from the now undefended door. He must have come up that way, trying to pincer move them if Shinso hadn't been able to capture one of them "I'll immobilize them, then we gotta move."

"Agreed." Todoroki again "I will freeze the ground once you are done- I do not know how strong Hikari is, and that should help slow her down.

Two minutes later, Kirishima was neck-deep in concrete. Honenuki had practically melted the entire floor, creating what was basically a gigantic sarcophagus around his frozen ass, and the zombie-like Hikari who, as far as he could tell, was still standing close behind him. A cursing Monoma, held very carefully out of reach, was partially melted into one of the support pillars. There was no need to bury him as deeply as his teammates; Kirishima knew there was nothing he could do to help them, even if he was free.

Shinso was the last to leave, pausing to give a lazy salute "Nice working with you all." His modulated voice waaaaay too smug. Then he was gone, sliding down the ice after the others.

His control over Hikari must have ended as he fled, because she started raging pretty quickly "MOTHERFUCKER! I'll kick your lavender ass! Get back here!" she screeched. Yup, definitely not brainwashed anymore.

"I think they're gone." Kirishima pointed out wryly, biting back a smile. Even angry, she was funny. He tried to move even a finger, but it was no use. The concrete was right up to his chin- he could only just twist his head to look backwards. Hikari was in a similar state, only her furious face exposed in her stone coffin, warped and joined to his. Honenuki had even sunk them down, until they were practically in the floor itself. The only difference to their prisons, was the thick layer of ice surrounding Hikari. Todoroki had apparently frozen the concrete around the raging girl as well. Kirishima was not jealous- at least the ice around him was nearly all melted now.

"I can't believe you fell for that trick!" Monoma complained from his pillar "As if I'd call for help like that!"

"How was I supposed to know? You come across as a whiney ass Karen- not my fault I don't know you." Came the cross reply "Goddess- it's fucking COLD! Sadistic prick! 'ROKI I'M GONNA ROAST YOUR ASS!"

"Are we beat?" Kirishima wondered out loud "I mean, I hate to be a downer, but I literally can't move." Even if he used his ultimate move, if he couldn't get any momentum, there was no way he could bust out. It killed him to admit, but he was pretty sure they'd lost. Jeez, Bakugo would never let him live this down.

"Fuck off." Came Hikari's irritated snap "No way am I letting some floor beat me! We've got five minutes, yeah? Gimme two and then I'mma go and shove my foot up that Mudman's ass."

Kirishima craned his neck, his Harden cracking against the concrete around him "How the hell are you gonna a get out? You're not that strong, surely?" If she was, her Quirk wasn't anything like he'd ever heard of before.

"No I'm not that strong." She grumbled, but she sounded strained.

"Holy...are you trying to melt your way out?!" Monoma sounded equally impressed and disbelieving "Do you have any idea how hot you'd have to make that rock to get it soft?" there was indeed a growing amount of steam coming from the sheening ice that coated the ground around the girl's head. Her brow was furrowed and fierce snarl slashed her features.

"Yes I fucking know- now shut up! I'm concentrating. Kiri! I'm not gonna be able to control how much the heat spreads, so best Harden up." She scrunched her eyes shut with her words.

Dutifully, Kirishima increased his Quirk until he was in his Unbreakable state. Melt the concrete? He knew she could increase her body temperature, but that was plain nuts! Sure, she'd scorched even his hardened skin but still...

Yet, before their eyes, the floor surrounding the girl's head started to....glow. Red.

Within a minute, the whole room stank of burning earth, and sweat from the heat of the very air was starting to roll down Kirishima's rocky face. His back was to the girl, and he was starting to feel....warm. How the hell....?

"Four minutes." Monoma said quietly, looking at his watch.

"Can you feel it?" she grunted suddenly, eyes still closed, face paler than usual "Kiri- the heat... can you feel it?" she sounded anxious as well as strained.

Kirishima was tempted to lie, but in the span of those few moments from when he'd first noticed the warming stone to now... "Yeah- but it's ok. I can take it."

The ruddy reddish glow of the ground spread, until nearly a metre around Hikari was discoloured "If you...think you can take it...I'll melt the ground around you too." She panted "But...you gotta tell me if it's too hot!" She sounded really worried- worried for him?

Kirishima bared his jagged teeth "Go for it! I wanna catch those bastards too!" he hoped he sounded confident and manly.

With a curse in neither English nor Japanese, she seemed to redouble her efforts. Before long, maybe only ten seconds, the rock trapping Kirishima's body grew hot, then uncomfortable, then boiling. He groaned as it started to hurt, but....he could move! Opening his eyes, he looked down to see the concrete around him glowing that awful red "I think I can move!" he bit out.

"Do it." Came the breathy snarl from behind him "Then pull me out too!"

He grit his teeth almost painfully hard, and with all his strength, he tried to move. Slowly, sluggishly, as though wading through thick mud, he managed to drag his rocky hands up and out of the literal magma. Thick globs of the molten stone fell from his equally glowing skin fell back to the rest of the pool around him. It was really hurting now, he felt like he was on fire! How much longer did he have before even his Harden was affected?! No! He wouldn't think like that. With a hoarse roar, he dug his taloned fingers into the floor outside the ring of lava, digging them in. With herculean effort, he brutally dragged himself out, every muscle in his body screaming with the effort.

Finally, he collapsed on his face onto the relatively cool surface of the floor, away from his ex-prison "Ow." He groaned, not needing to look to know his skin was still, literally, glowing "Not fun." Well, at least he knew he could go volcano-diving if he ever needed to.

"Pull me out." He lifted his head, trying to blink away his exhaustion, struggling to maintain his Harden, and looked at Hikari. She looked almost sleepy now, eyes hooded, face practically relaxed "Quick, before I go to sleep." The ground around her was properly lava, with steam rising and everything.

Kirishima staggered to his feet, and stumbled as quickly as he could to the girl "Can you give me your hand?" he huffed out, falling to his knees, not really wanting to test his already strained Quirk any further. How the entire floor of the building hadn't collapsed, he had no idea.

Scrunching her face up again, Hikari lifted out a pale, clawed hand from the sloppy red sludge. It looked utterly unaffected by being submerged in molten rock. Kirishima seized it, almost dropping it when he felt how cool it was. He'd half expected it to be as hot as the lava itself!

With a grunt, he pulled back. Easily, as though it was just water, the girl slipped up and out of her prison. Not expecting so little resistance, Kirishima yelped and fell backwards, Hikari falling to sprawl on top him "Damn! Sorry! Did my skin cut you?!"

To his utter shock and mortification, Hikari didn't shriek or jump away. Instead she nuzzled into his chest "S'all good. You're warm." She said, her small claws practically digging into his still slightly glowing skin. The heat seemed to leech away, much faster than before. Was she absorbing it?!

"Um, three minutes." Monoma called, clearing his throat "And...uh...Kirishima...your clothes are kinda... gone."

What? Kirishima glanced down. Oh no. Nononono.

Turned out, unless specifically requested, Hero costumes weren't rated for lava-diving.

He was currently as naked as a new born baby, his pants long burned away, even his metal shoulder guards melted and ruined.

And there was a girl lying on his chest.

***

Three minutes. I had three minutes.

I growled, not wanting to open my eyes. All I wanted to do was have a nap on this deliciously warm, and pleasantly masculine chest. Why did I need to get up?

Ah, yeah. To kick Shinso's ass.

Kirishima was babbling about something underneath me, but I ignored him. The rumbling of his voice in his chest underneath me was far too pleasant. With reluctant effort, I rolled off him, grunting when I hit the comparatively icy ground. Staggering to my feet, I barely noticed Monoma standing like an idiot, with an arm buried in a support pillar, eyes wide and face bright red. My actual redhead was still jibbering behind me as I started to move towards the shimmering spike of ice. Chase. I needed to chase. Why was the world all fuzzy?

Fuck I was cold.

Turneds out it took a lot of energy to turn solid rock to liquid.

"You can barely stand! How are you going to fight them on your own?!" I finally caught what Karen (as Monoma was now dubbed) was bitching about.

I slapped myself in the face, hard. Shuddering reality came back- mostly "S'all good." I said again, voice clearer this time "Catch up when you can, Kiri."

Without waiting to hear them moan some more, I jumped out onto the ice. Immediately, my legs went out from under me, but the jarring impact of my arse on the ice only served to clear my mind further. Snarling, I threw my hands out to use my claws to direct my fall.

Three minutes.

The cold shocked me, sharpening my senses again. Hell, I'd been really out of it.

Wind rushed through my hair and the ground approached quickly. Todoroki hadn't skimped when he'd made this bloody thing. Would I have enough fire power left to take him? A small part of me doubted it.

Wait, what was that down the street? I squinted. No. Surely not. They couldn't be that dumb, could they? I rolled, almost gracefully, to my feet as I hit the ground.

The three Heroes were swaggering down the street, in the open, the doll slung over Shinso's shoulder. Fuck me, they thought they'd won! Arrogant children.

Two minutes.

Keeping utterly silent, I surged into the loping, aggressive run I saved for the Hunt. I threw every last ounce of energy I had left into moving, my jaw aching as my baser self recognised my need for the kill. Closer and closer I got, my boots soundless, my breathing smooth and quiet. I could smell them; the skull-boy's earthy weird smell, 'Roki's cinnamon and winter aroma, and Shinso, who was starting to smell more and more like a weird mix of Nat's tea he liked and my own smoky self.

I wished I'd had my whips, but they were somewhere back with the others. I'd have to use my hands instead.

They didn't even think to look back as I came upon them. Heart racing with the thrill of the Hunt, I didn't make a single sound as I pounced.

Mid-air, I seized skull-boy's head in one hand, and Todoroki's in the other. They yelped at the contact, but I was already bearing them to the ground, using pure momentum to bowl them over. Brutally, I didn't let go as their faces smashed into the ground, already looking to my next target. Shinso, for his part, reacted quickly- but not quickly enough. As he cursed and reached for his capture scarf with his one free hand, lilac eyes blazing, I had already shoved off the downed Heroes and lunged at my insomniac.

The boy reflexively went to smack me away, instinctively calling up his martial arts skills, but I was too close, and too fast. This was what Nat had been trying to impart on the kids- brutal, close fights where being smaller was an advantage.

Unfortunately, while Shinso was an admirable fighter and bloodydamn quick to learn, he was no Bakugo. I swatted away his defence and within moments flipped him to his back. His breath wheezed out in a groan as he hit the ground "Ow..." Still staying utterly quiet, perfectly aware of Todoroki and skull-boy starting to sit up, I ripped the dummy from the downed Hero, threw it over my own shoulder, and darted away.

I made it to the base of the ice slab before the timer went off.

I let the dummy slip off my shoulder, and then promptly sat down, blinking at the ground dumbly. Goose-flesh danced across my skin as I shivered. I was so cold. Maybe it'd been a bad idea to sit near the damned iceberg? I was too tired to move though. I needed food, a nap and a week in a hot bath- and I wasn't fussed as to what order those fell in.

Ah well. At least we'd won, right?

 

Chapter Text

"I must say, your students have quite effectively tamed my wild young partner." Drake sounded impressed, dark blue eyes fixed on the cameras watching the 'Villains' "I've never known Hikari to resist a Hunt."

Bakugo raised an eyebrow. She didn't look like she was resisting- she was on the verge of leaping out the window. Even he recognised that look she had. She'd spotted something and was coiling up to go for it "This exercise is about teamwork." Aizawa grumbled from his spot next to the Brit. All Might and Vlad King stayed silent.

"Well, of course; but the best defence is a good offence, no?" the whole class was quiet as they listened to the adults politely bicker. Bakugo couldn't remember the last time he'd heard Aizawa so quietly irritated "I must agree, that keeping the target mobile would suit this situation."

"Like Monoma said, that would split the team up. They have no idea where the Heroes are, or how they will attack. Theirs' is a safe plan."

"Boring though." Bakugo snorted softly. He agreed with the Brit "Care to make a wager?" wait, was he asking Aizawa to gamble on the outcome of this lesson?

"We are teaching." The pro growled, and Bakugo didn't miss the scowl he directed at the casual foreigner.

"Exactly- we can teach the younglings the stakes of such matches. I'll wager...a month of grading my Strategy assignments that the Villains win the match- but Hikari passes out at the end." What the hell? Why would the Leprechaun pass out? Bakugo narrowed his eyes at the screen. Was it something to do with her Quirk?

"That's very specific." Aizawa actually seemed to be considering this. Bakugo could almost hear Four-Eyes and his girlfriend choking in dismay across the room "Fine. If the Heroes win by Shinso brainwashing Hikari, you have to clean up any future 'pranks'."

"Oh, you strike a hard bargain. Deal." The men shook hands, and Bakugo resisted the urge to shake his head. Still, it was interesting they were both basing their 'bets' off the stupid Leprechaun. Since when was she the centre of attention?

That moment, the Heroes decided to make their move. Even though the observing classes and staff members had heard what they intended to do, it was still a spectacle.

IcyHot's slab of ice smashed into the Villain's base effortlessly, scattering them perfectly. The dichromatic youth charged up towards the targets, while Mind Fuck slid to the side, heading unnoticed to infiltrate the room through the furthest corner of the smashed windows. Mudman had already started his ascent from the base, intent on attacking through the literal front door.

Bakugo's crimson eyes drank in every detail of the ensuing fight. He ignored the surprised muttering when the Leprechaun immediately attacked, stopping IcyHot from using his trump card of freezing them where they stood "So that's what those weird things were!" Deku exclaimed as the girl used actual flaming whips to counter IcyHot's ice "It makes sense- more energy efficient compared to doing the same with just fire." Seeing her use the weapons was also like watching another piece of a puzzle fall into place- now Bakugo could see why every time they fought, it looked like she was performing some intricate dance. She was used to wielding those strange whips, which required constant, controlled movement.

"You are correct, young Midoriya." The Brit confirmed "In drawn out conflict, it is best to minimise energy consumption."

"Yeah, but surely keeping the fires lit would be draining too?" Pikachu pondered, showing he had a brain for once "I mean, ok, they're much smaller, but still...and not to mention how much jumping around she's doing!"

"Indeed. That is why the chains have very fine grooves down the centre of each link, enabling the use of a fuel source. It means once the flames are ignited, they take very little energy to maintain." Bakugo noted he said nothing on the physical stamina Pikachu had mentioned. Was he avoiding answering, or did he just not think to offer an explanation for her insane energy levels?

Bakugo found himself asking gruffly "What the hell could she use as a fuel, in such small amounts?" He couldn't think of anything off the top of his head, and judging by the silence, neither could anyone else in the combined classes.

As they spoke, the Leprechaun started to create a wall of writhing, silver and black, behind which Kirishima charged, roaring like an idiot as he moved to attack IcyHot. The Leprechaun danced and moved, making it look like she was a goddamned snake charmer or some shit; her whips looked alive as they flickered and snapped, slicing through every single icy attack the 'Hero' could throw at them. But it was her face that caught Bakugo's red gaze. Her face was alight with the same glee she had whenever they fought- at least, when she wasn't wearing a bag. He was right- she loved the fight as much as he did.

It made him want to fight her again all the more. Monday could not come fast enough.

Drake's voice broke his weird train of thought "Ah, here you have stumbled upon an aspect of Hikari's Quirk." As one, everyone in class A perked up, listening intently. Heh, was the Leprechaun's stupid partner going to finally give away her Quirk? "Her blood acts as the fuel source. You may not have noticed it, but when she activated her flames, she rolled her wrists. That was her triggering a series of tiny needles to puncture each of her thumbs, causing a small flow of blood to be drawn through the groves I mentioned."

"Hang on," Pikachu was looking at the Brit with wide golden eyes, as were most of the rest of the class "you're saying she's bleeding all over those things, and setting fire to her blood?!"

"You don't need to make it sound so distasteful." The Brit said mildly "But, yes, that is the general gist of what I was saying. It requires less energy to replenish blood, and heal such small injuries, than it does to create and maintain fire that would do equivalent damage. It is quite an ingenious system."

"That is as gruesome as it is impressive." Tokoyami remarked. Bakugo couldn't help but agree. It begged the question though; how the hell had she discovered her blood was flammable? Glancing at Deku, who was staring so hard at the monitors it looked like he was about to try to dive through them, he knew he wasn't the only one wondering the same thing.

"Who the hell thought that up?" Bakugo muttered to himself, under his breath, and he missed the raised eyebrow Drake shot him. Because on the screens, Mind Fuck was about to make his grand entrance.

Everyone groaned/cheered when the Leprechaun stopped moving, frozen like a puppet whose strings had been cut, strange whips falling limp and lifeless to the ground. Bakugo had rolled his eyes at how easily she was tricked, and then scowled when Kirishima was promptly buried in ice. It put into perspective just how vulnerable the redhead was to long-range attacks. He'd have to make sure Shitty Hair worked on fixing that weakness.

Class B cheered as Honenuki proceeded to bury the two members of class A in concrete, showing off his impressive control. He wasn't as powerful as Cementoss, but he wasn't limited to concrete alone. A ripple of chuckles went through the room when Monoma was unceremoniously trapped by a single arm in one of the support pillars. No sympathy for the Villain team, apparently.

As the Heroes fled, Ashido spoke up "Does that mean Mr Aizawa wins the bet? The Villains are all trapped, and it was all because Shinso tricked Hikari!" how the hell had Aizawa known the stupid Leprechaun was key to the Heroes' victory? They'd taken out the long-range defendant... The others had no response to IcyHot's insane attacks.

"Ah, but the Heroes must escape the city block first." Drake drawled, flashing a fang as he smiled at the pink girl "It's not over."

Even as he said the words, Shinso's brainwashing wore off, and the Leprechaun woke up. Even Bakugo was impressed with the feral curses she threw after the Heroes, and barked a quiet laugh when she went off at Monoma. Karen- he'd have to remember that one.

"How are they going to escape though?" it was the big girl- Kendo who asked the question, just as Kirishima admitted he couldn't move "I mean, I know they're both strong, but they can't move at all!"

They almost didn't hear the words shared between the Villains. Bakugo certainly couldn't hear them "Oi, shut up!" he growled loudly "If you're gonna talk shit, go and do it somewhere else." Immediately, everyone fell quiet. For about ten seconds.

"Dude! No ­way!"

"That's like, some Pro level power!'

"I thought her Quirk was fire- like Todoroki's?"

"Even we don't know what her Quirk actually is."

"Heh- guess the ground really is lava!"

Bakugo stayed silent even as his own eyes widened, impressed despite himself "As I said," Drake sounded smug "it isn't over. Four minutes is an awfully long time."

They all watched as the Leprechaun turned the concrete mess holding her and Kirishima to literal magma. Kirishima's face was contorted in discomfort, even in his ultimate Harden, and most of the girls gasped as his face started to glow from the obvious extreme heat. Fuck, was she going to kill him? Just as actual worry was starting to stir deep in his heart, everyone cheered as the redhead started to haul himself out, straining with the effort of moving through the angry red sludge.

"Oh man!" Pikachu barked a laugh "Looks like Kirishima's Hero costume wasn't Hikari-proof!" there was a chorus of laughter and groans as Kirishima's very naked arse flashed at the camera. Apparently, the redhead hadn't noticed, because he immediately dove to pull the girl from her own prison. The stone around her was so hot it was completely liquid rather than sludge, and she practically flew from it as Kirishima yanked back, obviously expecting much resistance.

The classes dissolved into laughing, wolf-whistling messes as the girl landed on the redhead's chest when he fell backwards "Awwww yeah- go Red Riot!"

"Hahaha reckon he even knows he's naked?!"

"Wait, is she cuddling him?"

"Oh my god! She totally is!"

"Hey didn't she rate Kiri, like, a nine?"

"Hagakure, you loud-mouth! That's classified information!" Ashido smacked the invisible girl over the head, somehow knowing exactly where she was.

Like out of some stupid movie, nine heads whipped towards the two girls "What do you mean, she rated him a nine?!" Grapefuck shrieked "How could she rate him a nine?!"

"That is indeed a high score."

"Damn, was she just being like, kind, or?"

"What the hell are you all talking about?" one of the extras from class B asked.

"The girls 'rate' all the guys in class, and now we know what Hikari thinks of Kirishima." Tape-face sounded down-right gleeful.

Bakugo ignored them all, still watching the screen. So what if the idiot 'rated' Shitty-Hair a nine- why the hell did it matter? It was the whole reason he'd refused to play the stupid game the other night. It was crude, and pointless.

So why the hell was he gritting his teeth so hard, as he watched the dark-haired girl bury her face into Shitty Hair's chest?

Kirishima finally seemed to realise his predicament, but the girl didn't notice, or she didn't care. She rolled off the other Villain, seeming to ignore the babble of apologies the redhead was spewing so loudly even Bakugo could hear it over the bickering idiots around him. Instead, she staggered to her feet, face drawn with obvious exhaustion. Apparently, her clothes had been designed with extreme heat in mind. Even her weird shoulder armour looked unscathed.

She suddenly slapped herself in the face, hard enough to leave a mark, and shook her head violently. She said something to Monoma, who was shouting at her, but Bakugo didn't hear what "Hush, children!' Drake called in an authoritive tone. Immediately everyone fell silent "Watch now." He sounded smug.

Without hesitation, the Leprechaun threw herself out onto the ice slab, using her claws to control her slide. Her face was a mask of concentration- there was no smirk, nor scowl. She was utterly focused. Her landing was less than elegant- she was obviously exhausted. Bakugo had never seen her so move so sloppily.

His red eyes darted to another screen, and his own smirk started to form. The dumb Heroes were casually waltzing down the street, not even bothering to hurry as they made their way towards 'safety' and their victory. Idiots.

"Overconfidence is the downfall of many a Hero and Villain alike." All Might said as everyone watching began to realise what was happening. The Leprechaun had broken into an aggressive lope- there was no other word for it. The screens darted between cameras, trying to keep up as she closed the distance rapidly "If they'd hurried, they could have been in the safe zone by now." Just like that morning, she moved blisteringly quickly, but unlike that morning, there was no playful bounding. Bakugo was reminded of watching a big cat on the hunt.

She didn't make a sound, and her face stayed strangely cold as she came upon the trio. Everyone in the observation room started screaming for the Heroes to turn around, like they could hear them. Surely they'd think to glance around?

"But how can she take them all out? I mean, Todoroki is like, a powerhouse! He's one of the Big Three!" Tape Face cried, eyes wide as he realised just why the girl was pelting towards the trio "Even if she takes them by surprise, how will she beat them?" didn't the idiot remember any of the Monday sparring lessons? That chick was downright deadly in close quarters- IcyHot didn't stand a chance.

Without any sort of warning to the Heroes, she bounded once, then launched herself into the air. With obvious practised ease, she grabbed IcyHot and Mudman by the back of their heads, and slammed their faces into the asphalt of the road, riding their bodies to the ground. Bakugo couldn't help but let out a guffaw, which turned into full on laughter as she then, without pause, launched to smash Mind Fuck in the gut, and throw him to the ground as well. He didn't care a few people were giving him weird looks as everyone else groaned and cried out in horror at the brutality of it. He did see that Drake was chuckling as well, though.

Without saying anything to the downed Heroes, she snatched up the doll, and charged away, not once glancing over her shoulder.

Damn!

Bakugo was still cackling as IcyHot staggered to his feet, blood pouring from an obviously broken nose, looking around in bewilderment "Hahaha look at his face!" he'd have to do something not-mean for the Leprechaun- IcyHot's stunned-mullet expression smeared with blood absolutely made his entire week!

"That was like, super hardcore!"

"Jeez, I'd say that was actually a little scary." Stupid extras, what part of it had been scary? The morons hadn't been paying attention, and they'd been taken out like First Years as a result.

Drake seemed to agree with his train of thought because he said "And that, younglings, brings home the point I made on Monday; the only safe enemy is a dead one. The Heroes immobilized their enemies, but they did not ensure they could not be pursued." Vlad Kind muttered something under his breath, and All Might shifted in obvious discomfort, but Aizawa remained silent. Did that mean he agreed with the Brit?

Bakugo didn't take his eyes off the retreating figure until the timer blared. She skidded to a halt just at the base of the iceberg. Then she sat down. Just dropped to her arse. All movement ceased, the doll was forgotten, and she just sat there like a broken doll, seeming to stare blankly at the ground. What the...?

"Ha! I called it!" Drake clapped his hands together "Villains win, but Hikari is down and out! I'll be sending my grading papers over to you this evening, Aizawa."

"What the hell just happened?" Bakugo demanded, whirling on the gloating adult, red eyes flashing "Why'd she pass out?!" had she really? She still hadn't moved, even if her eyes were open.

"She used too much heat-energy, didn't she?" Deku spoke up, still watching the screens as the Heroes realised they'd just lost somehow "I thought she was finished when Kirishima pulled her out of that prison."

"Goddess no- there was a chase to be had! My dear Hikari would've run those 'Heroes' down even if she'd lost a few limbs on the way. The girl is nothing if not tenacious." He sounded proud "Now, I'd strongly advise you allow her to return to the dorms or cafeteria- unless you want her to start eating the carpet."

***

After the droning announcement Aizawa sent out for all teams to return to the observation room, or Recovery Girl as needed, Shinso said his rueful goodbyes to his bleeding teammates, and went to look for Hikari. He was still in shock, to be honest. And also more than a little embarrassed. They had been schooled like First Years- all three of them. They'd been so confident that they'd beaten the Villains!

But it was the savagery of the attack that lingered in his mind. There had been no warning, no proclamations; only instant, unhesitating violence. And her face! He'd never seen her look so...determined. Her eyes had practically glowed- and not a trace of colour remained. They were utterly white. He'd barely had time to reach for his capture scarf before she was on him, a dark-haired blur of pain. He'd almost welcomed the ground against his back- at least she wasn't hitting him anymore. And he'd thought Aizawa could hit hard.

He wondered if she'd be happy to train with him some more. He wanted to be that good one day.

Shinso had found Hikari, sitting almost in a stupor, on the ground near Todoroki's ice. A flash of worry shot through him "You right?" he asked, eyeing her warily from a distance. Her eyes were still that strange, disconcerting white as before- there was no trace of her usual blue. She'd looked at him for a moment with a cold, blank expression, until something obviously flickered in her mind.

She blinked, and her usual crooked smile slowly come back, even if her eyes stayed white orbs "I will be." She stiffly raised a hand "Gimme a hand?" She spoke slowly, as if each word was an effort. He pulled her to her feet, ignoring the twinge of pain in his ribs and shoulder. She'd really thrown him down hard- not that he'd admit it. He must have shown his pain though, because her smile fell away. She dropped her gaze from his "Sorry. About before- I got...caught up. No hard feelings?"

He snorted "Please, I'll barely bruise. If I held a grudge for that, what happens if you ever do leave a mark?" He was pretty sure he had a cracked rib, but the last thing he wanted was to be the cause of her usual post-combat spiral of depression. He'd seen how guilty she felt after injuring a classmate. He dreaded how badly she'd feel when she saw how messed up Todoroki's face was. 

They carefully moved from the iceberg, quickly spotting the other 'Villains', obviously freed from their imprisonment.

Shinso laughed out loud at the sight of Kirishima. How the hell had that happened? The redhead had Monoma's jacket wrapped around his waist, and his face was as flushed as humanly possible. He wore literally nothing else- no shoulder guards, no shoes- nothing "It's not funny!" Kirishima complained as Hikari started to snicker. Her eyes were nearly back to normal by then. Did it have something to do with the other half of her Quirk?

Kirishima fled to the changerooms as the others peeled off to the observation room. Hikari had threaded an arm through one of Shinso's, and was obviously struggling not to lean into him. He'd started as her bare skin brushed against his- she was almost cold to the touch! "What's wrong?" he asked quietly, watching Monoma, who had moved on ahead.

"Nothing." The girl sighed "I'm just tired."

The next set of teams were told to use a different building for their exercise. Shinso had known Todoroki's ice had caused some damage, but when he saw for himself the state of the room he'd left the Villains in, he just blinked. The damage to the floor was...insane, even from just a camera's point of view. It was amazing the whole level hadn't collapsed. The concrete looked like...cooled lava. Wait, how had Hikari escaped her prison?

He soon got his answer, if in a roundabout way. Even class B were praising the girl for her efforts. Apparently, she'd literally melted the floor, allowing Kirishima to escape, and then pull her free.

Hikari seemed confused by the gushing admiration and bombardment of questions as they entered the observation room, squinting her eyes and cringing away. Shinso could almost picture two velvety ears pressing back against a huge skull, and a great tail lashing in her discomfort "It really wasn't that big a deal." She grumbled, not letting go of his arm, shuffling her feet "You fuckers keep bitching about me 'holding back'- well, I didn't this time. Now bugger off- I'm tired." Everyone in class A looked at her like she'd said something truly horrid. Shinso rolled his eyes and pushed through the gathered students, pulling her with him. The 'crowd' dispersed as Aizawa announced that the next match was about to start.

They made their way to the almost unused row of seats along the back wall. Bakugo sat there alone in silence, one leg bouncing, arms crossed, gauntlets taking up the seats either side of him. His red gaze, accentuated by his black mask that was so like Hikari's, had not once shifted from the pair as they moved to the furthest seats in the row. His usual scowl was absent though, replaced by a grin worthy of the Cheshire cat "Nice moves." He growled as they passed "Good to see you're finally taking us seriously."

"Oh, bite me, Fizzler." Hikari yawned "Or I'll break your nose again."

Bakugo's smirk didn't fade "Bring it."

If Shinso didn't know better, he'd think that the blonde was flirting. Interesting.

Drake sauntered over, dropping into the seat on Hikari's other side as the pair sat "You sure you don't need to go and eat something?" the Brit said almost too quietly for Shinso to hear. His face was still bore his usual careless expression, but his voice was laced with true concern.

Hikari shook her head slowly "Nah- wouldn't be able to now, anyway. Too cold. I'll eat after I Shift tonight." Even her words were spoken more painstakingly, as though her tongue was sluggish. Drake's eyes snapped to her face, and darted to Shinso "S'all good- he knows." She said tiredly "And no, that doesn't count as a win for the bet. He spotted me by accident on Monday night."

Drake pouted, but his eyes gained a mischievous gleam Shinso had never seen before "What do you think of Hikari's Quirk? I assume it was a bit of a.... shock."

Shinso shrugged "Not really. She's not exactly subtle." The girl between them growled deep in her chest, and huffed pointedly. Kaminari and Ashido had started to rush over after finding out they weren't in the next match "See what I mean?"

Drake chuckled, the sound warm and friendly "Indeed. Well, I shall leave you in young Shinso's capable hands then." Fluidly, the Brit stood, hands deep in his pockets.

"Did you do that thing I asked you to do?" she asked, glancing up at her teacher "I need it for tonight."

Drake inclined his head "I left it on your bed- I do hope you don't plan on giving it away? It is worth more than the car, after all."

Hikari rolled her eyes "Like you actually care." She held her hand out expectantly just before he moved away "Gimme your jacket, ponce."

Drake made a face, but without arguing, shrugged his long trench coat off, leaving him in a dark red tshirt, and tossed it to her "Don't lose that one." Then he was gone, nodding at Kaminari and Ashido as they threw themselves into seats next to Hikari and Shinso respectively. Hikari pulled the jacket on, and snuggled back down into it, sighing in relief. 

 

Chapter Text

It didn't take long for me to start to recover. The bone-weary exhaustion that smashed me after the adrenaline wore off when the timer went gradually faded. I was still cold, but Nat's jacket helped. By the end of the lesson, I was almost back to normal, albeit a little sluggish. It had been a long time since I'd had to use that much energy in such a short period of time- I'd forgotten how much it sucked afterwards.

I managed to pay attention to most of the other matches, perking up considerably when it was Fizzler's turn. He was on the Villain's team, along with tubby little Shoda and Tokoyami. They went up against Tetsutetsu, Shoji and Kami (although I was a little confused as to who thought Kami was a long-ranged combatant). Unfortunately, the 'random' selection method meant there was no real way to balance the teams. Ours was the only one where the teams had been even close to level in power- most of the others were wildly out of whack. That didn't mean everyone didn't try their best, but some of the matches were awfully short.

Take Fizzler's match. He did exactly what I'd wanted to do, and had gone looking for the Heroes with the dummy strapped to his back. The rest of his team had gone along, and the resulting fight was short and brutal. Mina complained beside me that she wished she'd been able to go up against the blonde, but I was pretty sure she was only saying that.

Back in the changerooms, there was a lot of excited chatter. All the teams that had won were to verse each other once the rest of the class got their results next week. I got changed quickly, diving back into the warmth of Nat's coat as fast as I could. I'd been tempted to stay in my Hero gear- at least it had long pants and sleeves.

"Isn't that Mr Drake's coat?" Mina asked as we made our way back from the training centre. Most of the rest of the class were eyeing me curiously as well "I thought you didn't feel the cold?"

I shrugged "Melting half a tonne of concrete takes a bit of doing." I'd popped the collar up so my neck was shielded from the biting winter wind, and my hair was out and around my face "Drake feels the cold even less than I do- he wears this thing for show mainly." Also for its bullet-proof properties.

"I don't think I've ever seen you wear something with long sleeves before." Tsuyu croaked. She'd been disappointed when she'd linked arms with me, only to find my body temperature was lower than hers at that moment "It's kinda weird."

"Hey, she wears Blasty's hoodie all the time!" Mina reminded her, bumping my shoulder playfully.

"Yeah, but not for warmth."

"Speaking of boys- we have so much to talk about tonight!" Hagakure's voice came from directly behind me.

"We do?" I wondered out loud. The girls all just laughed at me.

I shocked them all when I said I wasn't coming to dinner, when we reached the split in the paths "But I thought you'd be starving!" Kaminari exclaimed "You used your Quirk so much today!" most of the class were looking at me in confusion (all except Shinso). Even Fizzler had an eyebrow arched, red eyes narrowed.

I shrugged, shifting my weight at the unwanted attention "It usually takes me a while to get hungry after sommat like today- I'd be sick if I ate now."

"What are you, some kind of reptile?" Sero said it teasingly, but the flash of anger that I knew showed on my face had his eyes widening, and his hands coming up in defence "Sorry! Didn't know that was inappropriate." Dammit. Even Bakugo had looked back over at Sero's loud apology, red eyes curious. He'd barely stopped staring at me all afternoon.

I huffed, and I could tell my cheeks were flushing "Don't be sorry. But no, I'm not a reptile. My body just relies too much on my fire." I fucking hated being compared to reptiles. My dragon was warm-blooded, had fur and mammary glands (don't ask). I was not a bloodydamn lizard. I shoved my hands deeper into Nat's jacket "I'm gonna head back to the dorms- enjoy dinner."

"See you in the bath!" Mina called as I spun on my heel and stalked away. I tried not to listen as they muttered amongst themselves about how prickly I got at Sero's words. Shit. Knowing Fizzler, my nickname would be updated shortly. Well, Nat had said there was a week to go for Toshinori's bet. Maybe the kids would get to see the fuzzy side of me sooner rather than later after all.

The girls found me in the bath already. I'd gone straight there, after dumping my bag and checking Nat had indeed left what I'd asked for on my bed. I held it up, satisfied, but frowned when I turned it around. I'd have to doctor it slightly before I went out that night.

I'd already drained and re-run the bath twice, having inadvertently, accidentally, absorbed all the heat from the water until it was uncomfortably cold. By the time they all got there, I was sitting blissed out in the deep end, blinking sleepily at them.

"Jeez! I thought we'd have to go and drag you out of bed!" Mina said, sinking gratefully into the water, sighing in pleasure "You looked like you were gonna be out of it from the end of class!"

I smiled crookedly, leaning against the tiles "Nah. I was informed there was so much to talk about tonight- I didn't wanna miss out." That earned a round of giggles as the rest of the girls started to get in.

Despite their earlier words, they were all too happy to sit in relative silence for a while, letting the hot water soothe tired muscles "I will never complain about theory classes again." Kyoka sighed, massaging her forearms "Do you think it'll be this tiring when we're pro's?"

"Surely you guys have a good idea of what it's really like from your internships?" I asked, letting my hands float to the surface lazily, watching steam come off the water.

"Yeah, but it'll be different when we're actually working, surely?"

I shrugged "Depends, I guess. Nat doesn't really do anything different with me than what he normally would, so I couldn't really say."

"Have you used those take-downs on real Villains?" Ochaco was slowly making her way towards me eyes curious.

"Only a million times." I sighed, staring up at the tiled ceiling "Nobody ever looks up, and nobody ever looks back. I've lost count of how many morons I've brained that way."

Momo chuckled "I think poor Shoto learned today that he should always look back- you broke his nose and fractured his left orbital socket!"

I cringed. Shit. I hadn't meant to do that. Some bodyguard I was "Fuckall, is he ok? I didn't mean to hurt him that badly." The familiar clawing of guilt started at the back of my mind. Curse it all.

They all must have seen my distress, because there was a flurry of laughter "Dude, you don't need to feel so guilty every time you hurt one of us! It's training- stuff happens!" Kyoka said smiling reassuringly "If anything, we're grateful!"

"Yeah, it's been ages since any of us really managed to get ourselves hurt- we all know each other's strengths and weaknesses too well." Tsuyu ribbited, looking incredibly relaxed in the warmth of the water "I think we've all gotten a bit slack, to be honest."

"I wouldn't say slack," Momo interjected, looking thoughtful through the haze of steam "more overconfident. Everyone in class A and B are so powerful, we forget we are not invincible."

"Speak for yourself! I think it's the boys that think they're invincible!" Toru exclaimed.

I chuckled "Well, they don't anymore." Their words had my guilt retracting it's claws somewhat, and my laughter had them all relaxing a little more.

"So, Girls' Night!" I heard hands clapping together, and ripples came from Toru's direction "First order of business; Kuraihow did you find cuddling a naked Eijiro today?"

I slipped off my ledge, and yelped as my head went under water. Spluttering, I came up to peals of laughter, pushing my now soggy hair from my face "What- I didn't- it was unintentional!" I stammered "And I didn't even know he was naked!"

"It looked intentional." Kyoka smirked "Even we could see how you dug your claws into his big, broad, rocky chest."

I growled, but couldn't fight the flush that coloured my cheeks "He was warm, ok? And he smelt good. I was half out of it anyway. Leave me alone!" they kept laughing at me.

"Did anyone else hear how worried dear Katsuki was when Kurai just sat down?" Mina purred during the flurry of mirth "I thought he was getting ready to smack Drake for gloating over winning the bet."

I frowned "Wait, Nat was betting on the match?" Fucking vampire, was he really that bored? "What were the conditions?"

"That you guys would win, but you'd 'pass out' in the end." Ochaco supplied, frowning a little herself "I thought it was a little mean, but he was right, wasn't he?"

"We're digressing!" Toru shouted "Go back to Katsuki!"

"He did actually compliment her too, when she and Hitoshi got back to the observation room." Mina added, almost gleefully

"Funny you should bring that up." Kyoka said, smiling a little mischievously "I happen to have an inside source that states a certain blonde refused to take part in a recent rating session the boys held."

The resulting chaos was borderline hilarious.

"Waaaiiiit they boys rated? When did this happen?"

"How the hell do you know?"

"What do you mean, an inside source? Is there A MOLE?!"

"Shut up and I'll tell you!" the purple-haired girl yelled, but she was grinning widely. Everyone fell silent immediately "I got a message last night, from a certain Frenchman-"

"I knew it'd be Aoyama!" Toru crowed "Wait, is he on our side now?"

"Let Kyoka keep going!" Momo admonished. I was surprised to see how interested the usually proper girl was.

"Anyway, he gave me an interesting offer. Apparently, the boys want him to get in on our side, and give them all our juicy secrets."

"I bet it was the little purple perv that suggested it!"

"Nope- Denki." Hell, she looked almost proud. Heh- a reminder Kami actually had a brain, the sneaky little git "But Aoyama says we've got more to offer than the boys do." She looked directly at me, eyes hooded "In return for inside information on the boy's message group, ratings included, all the Frenchman wants in return is...some artwork."

I blinked "You're kidding. Why the hell are you people all so obsessed over my bloodydamn drawings?!"

"Ummm maybe because they're SMOKING HOT?" Toru mused loudly.

"Surely he will have to feed some information to the boys, otherwise they will be suspicious!" Momo said, frowning. Hell, even she was in on this?

Kyoka nodded "Yeah, unfortunately. He said tonight he needs to know the rest of Kurai's ratings- Toru really screwed the pooch when she blurted out about Eijiro today."

I whirled in the water to stare at the general direction of the invisible girl "What the hell did you say?!" I wasn't sure if I sounded angry or terrified.

"Only that you rated Eijiro a nine, when you were cuddling him." The girl squeaked, at least having the decency to sound embarrassed.

I whined, and covered my face as the others chuckled "Shoulda heard them complaining." Ochaco giggled.

"And now they wanna know all my ratings?" I looked at Kyoka, aghast "Can't I make them up?"

She shrugged "You can, I guess, but they already know Eijiro's. It all comes down to what you want them to know." She looked at me slyly. I knew exactly what she was getting at, and I sunk down into the water, until only my nose and eyes were above the surface.

"Ohhhhhh, I get it." Ochaco said as they all watched me shrink to a mass of floating black hair "Does she want them all to know she rated Katsuki a ten!"

Kyoka nodded smugly, and Mina clapped her hands in glee "Oh, we HAVE to get Aoyama to screenshot what they all say!"

"I still don't get why you like that rage gremlin." Tsuyu complained "I know he's good looking, and he got all tall and muscly, but he's always so mean to you! Have you ever had a conversation that didn't turn into a fight or a insult-session?"

I blinked slowly, and their collective jaws dropped "Nooo...when?! Why didn't you tell us?" Mina practically shrieked.

I rose from the water "I was going to tell you!" I said hurriedly (I so hadn't been going to) "I went for a run this morning, super early, and kinda ran into him. He'd told me about a track the other day, and I didn't think I'd see anyone there so early! I said I'd leave, cos it was his track, but he said if I didn't talk, I could stay." I'd babbled, but I didn't care.

"Wait, wait, wait! Bakugo told you about his super-secret/not secret running track, and then LET YOU RUN WITH HIM?!" Mina really did shriek that time, and I cringed a little at her excitement "THIS IS A DEVELOPMENT!"

"It really isn't." I insisted.

"Wait, did he say your name?" it was Toru who said that, and everyone's eyes widened "Surely he still has to?"

I rubbed the back of my neck "No. He asked me what my Quirk was, and I said if he beat me back to the dorms, or said it, I'd tell him. I beat his ass though, and he still wouldn't say it." I couldn't believe that had only been that morning- it felt an age ago.

"Sneaky little Katsuki!" Mina said fondly, smiling "I never thought I'd see the day he was flirting with a girl!"

I frowned "I'd hardly call it flirting."

There was a communal rolling of eyes "Dude, he is totally Bakuflirting with you. And you know what else? Aoyama said he was the only one who refused to rate, and he literally rage quit the chat when Eijiro asked if he had a crush."

"Ok, that weirdo is worth his weight in gold- Kurai, you gotta give him whatever drawings he wants! Except for Bakugo's of course." Mina added quickly when my eyes narrowed.

I chuffed "Fine- if you think it'll be worth it." Mina fist-pumped the air. I hesitated a moment "You really think Katsuki is flirting with me?" his name felt strange on my tongue, nearly as strange as it had been that morning when I'd called him Bakugo for the first time.

There was a mixture of enthusiastic nodding, and sympathetic winces "I'd be willing to bet... no I'm not that game. He is definitely flirting, but I highly doubt he knows he is." Mina said, tapping her chin with a delicate pink finger. Then she winked at me "But you're not exactly subtle, either."

I pouted "If you're gonna go on about that bloody hoodie, I'mma leave." I crossed my arms defiantly, glaring good-naturedly at them "I'm not flirting with him by wearing it- it just smells bloodydamn good and gets him riled up." Eyebrows rose all around. Fuck. Maybe it was kinda flirty.

"You totally have to go running with him again though." Toru said excitedly, bouncing up and down "Especially if it's the only time he speaks to you!"

I shrugged again "I doubt he'll be out that early again- but I'm going every morning now. I'll see what happens." I would not wait until he showed up. I would not wait until he showed up. I would not wait until he showed up.

"So, are you gonna admit you actually like him then? Or should I tell Eijiro to keep his hopes up? Apparently he rated you a ten." There was a chorus of whistles. Fucking Kyoka, what else did Aoyama squeal about?

"Man, if you have Eijiro, Hitoshi and Katsuki all fighting over you, I think I'll scream!"

"Did you see how red he went when she was lying all over his chest? Poor boy, he is totally a virgin!"

"Wait, what did you mean, Hitoshi fighting over me?" I interrupted head cocked in confusion "We're just friends?"

They all rolled their eyes as one once more "Kurai, honey, lavender boi follows you around like a lovesick puppy." Ochaco said kindly, patted me on the shoulder "I still can't believe he hasn't made a move on you, even though he sleeps in your room!"

Were they right? He'd never said anything, and I'd never gotten any sort of vibe "Nah, I don't think he likes me." Even to me, I sounded unconvinced.

They shrugged, but smiled knowingly "Just make sure he knows you feel like that- don't go hurting our lavender boi." Ochaco teased, but I heard the steel in her voice.

I bristled, and resisted baring my fangs "Believe me; I won't hurt him." I growled vehemently. A few eyebrows rose at my reaction, but I was pretty sure they accepted my response, although I doubted they had any idea just how strongly I felt. Fury coiled in my belly at the idea of someone hurting my insomniac, and my jaw ached. He was pack. Hell, they all were.

My protective fury didn't linger- I was too tired and chilled out from the bath. I promised the girls I'd make copies of my drawings to give to Aoyama in 'payment' before we parted to our rooms, and swore to keep them in loop for anymore 'Bakugo Updates'.

I was still mulling over what they'd told me when I came to my door, and paused. Cocking my head, I looked down at the unmarked, rectangular, aluminium foil container, placed deliberately on my literal doorstep. My nose twitched at the unmistakable smell of something amazing and hot and... butterscotch? coming from the innocent looking box.

A strange warmth filled my chest that wasn't fire related.

There was no mistaking that smell- but why had Bakugo left a curry at my door? And people said girls were cryptic. Remembering my promise to the girls, I quickly pulled out my phone, took a photo of it where it was, and sent it with the message 'This smells like Fizzler- do I read into this?' then I scooped it up, and went into my room.

Shit, if I hadn't been planning to Shift, I'd have wolfed it down in the hallway. Whatever it was, it smelt fucking divine. A mix of spice and Bakugo. I growled to myself as I carefully put it on my bench, before checking the time. Almost nine. I had time to make alterations to what Nat had dropped off, then I needed to Shift.

The smell of the food nursed me through the transformation, without igniting my appetite. That was a testament to how tired I was. If I didn't have a meeting with a certain winged Hero, I'd have happily curled up on my bed and napped.

Instead, I shook the lingering pain from my body, and stretched. Sure, I was weary, and colder than normal even in this form, but the Shift had released a tension no bath ever could. I might not have had much in the way of fire to call upon, but my stamina in this form was something I was a little infamous for. I was also more than a little keen for my flight with the avian.

I padded to my bed, and carefully picked up the package in my jaws. I could've gotten Nat to come over and put my specially designed saddlebags on, but I didn't want to lug the things around all night- nor have to make Shinso get the damned things off when I got back. When I was satisfied I had a good grip on the bag, I wheeled around, and trotted out into the night.

I had to work hard to gain altitude- the air was dead still and bloody cold. The moment I was above UA, I heard the now familiar swish of feathers, and scarlet filled my vision. Fuck, the girls still didn't know about these meetings- would they say Hawks liked me as well, as the other three supposedly did?

"I saw Hound Dog sniffing around the school a minute ago- I thought you had Wednesday night patrols?" the Pro drifted into my line of sight, giving me his usual cocky smile.

I huffed, and headed for the same roof as the other night. Curiosity had him following, as far as I could tell. He didn't ask me anything else anyway. I landed a little less gracefully than I'd have liked, but my paws were nearly frozen. It was a seriously cold night. Folding my wings quickly, I shuffled out of the way, making room for him to land as well. I needn't have worried; he alighted with the grace of a falcon, needing far less room than me "Watcha got there?" he shoved his hands deep into his bomber jacket, but I didn't miss how they shook. Why the hell was he shaking? And was it just me, or did he look like he'd lost even more weight? I bit back my growl savagely. It would only freak him out.

I think I surprised him by dropping the bag, and nosing it over towards him "What, you want me to look?" I dipped my head, and settled onto my haunches to watch. He pulled out the jacket, and I felt a small thrill of satisfaction as his eyes widened.

Griffin fur was strange. It's lightweight, but deceptively thick. The hide was damned hard to cut, which means making clothes out of it was expensive and time consuming. The fur itself was bloody hard to come by- I'd killed one a few years ago, and what Hawks held was the last of that hide. It was also incredibly warm- Griffins had fur similar to polar bears and, strangely, possums from Australia. Each strand of hair was hollow, and a thicker coat of fur was layered at skin level. The combination made coats made from them the warmest you could buy, that didn't have an electric heater inbuilt.

Hawks held up the snow-white jacket, and even though he had no idea how special it was, I could tell he had a sense it was more than some crappy faux fur piece of junk "It's so light!" he breathed, running his hand through the silky white fur on the inside, then stroking the expertly tanned leather of the outside. I'd told Nat it was to be made into a bomber jacket, and whoever he had given it to had done a brilliant job. Suddenly, he paused. He'd found the very distinctive cuts in made in the back- the cuts I'd made myself not ten minutes prior to leaving my room.

"Who would cut holes in something so beautiful....?" Ok, I'll admit, they weren't particularly neat holes "Why?" he looked utterly bewildered fingers slipping in the gashes, familiarly. I rolled my eyes. I was almost tempted to Shift back- shoulda written a bloodydamn note and taped it to the damned thing. Pointedly, I arched my neck forward, and just with my lip, nipped and pulled gently at his too thin jacket, snorting softly. To his credit, he didn't flinch when my admittedly big head got in his 'bubble', but he did stagger a little at my tug "What're you...?" tawny eyes widened, and he looked back at the jacket in his hands "You want me to wear it?" he looked up at me "You cut holes in it, so I could wear it?" his cocky grin was fading with every word, leaving him pale and vulnerable. I'd been about to roll my eyes in a 'well-duh' motion, but I didn't. My heart was too busy breaking.

I dipped my head again and pulled back, giving him some space. He looked back at the jacket like it was some precious, breakable thing. Fuck, had the kid never been given anything before? I grumbled in what I hoped was a meaningful way, and shook my ruff. Wordlessly, smirk still absent, Hawks gingerly slipped his dun coloured coat off. My eyes took in his torso greedily. He was very well formed in a lithe, athletic way. He wore his trademark black shirt, and it moulded to his body very well- a little too well. I could see how lean he was- and not in an overly healthy way. Yes, he had well defined muscles, but his ribs shouldn't have been that visible. Not to mention the moment he took it off completely, I was blasted with the strange, off smell once more. It wasn't sickly, nor malnourished...I couldn't put a claw on what it was, but it was WRONG. I wished I had someone else with my nose to confer with- maybe I'd get Nat to read my mind and get his take on it.

I watched as he pulled the jacket on. My eyes widened in amazement as he shrunk his wings, the feathers floating off with purpose at some unspoken command. He carefully threaded the diminished wing arms through the holes I'd made, and then all the glorious feathers raced back to reattach themselves. That was bloody cool. He sighed, and shivered "Wow, whatever it's made of, its super warm." It fit bloody well too. It didn't look any bulkier than his other one, but it would keep him far warmer. My protective instincts were mollified "But I can't possibly keep this."

I rolled my eyes and got to my paws "Seriously, you don't even know me- this must have cost a fortune!" I ignored him, spreading my wings pointedly, forcing him to duck. I crouched down, and with a running step, bounded into the sky. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stagger as my wings buffeted him.

It didn't take him long to join me, soaring effortlessly while I laboured. Cold, still air really wasn't the best for me, flying wise. Not to mention the fact I was bone weary.

I angled us away from UA, trying to make it clear I didn't need to linger around the school tonight. He caught on pretty quickly, and without needing to ask any questions. I got random surges of satisfaction seeing him in the white jacket- he looked far warmer. Pity I didn't have enough to get him some gloves made as well.

Just as I was starting to get bored, soaring around in silence, he cleared his throat, sounding almost awkward. Where was confident Hawks tonight? "Do you know this city well?" I shook my head best I could, hoping he could see "I found a wind tunnel, between some of the buildings." My ears pricked "I kinda noticed you're not the strongest flyer- I assume you're a thermal rider, normally?" I hummed affirmation "Your wing shape gives it away- too narrow for cold air." Fuck me, I loved it when boys talk flight with me. Not many people noticed how my wings were shaped- but then, I didn't often go flying with other avians "Well, follow me- you get some decent speed if you hit it juuuust right."

So for the next two hours, he showed me every wind tunnel, thermal hotspot and all the best spots to gain slipstreams in the small city. His knowledge spoke of hours and hours spent soaring around aimlessly, and I filed that away in my growing 'Hawks Folder'.

It was fun. I made an effort to be my usual, goofy self, even if I was struggling to keep my wingbeats steady by that time. I let my tongue hang out as we dove, and 'accidentally' tumbled through the air more than once. Gradually, with each fuck-up, Hawks loosened more and more. Snickers became chuckles, and then full on laughter. Seeing as flying came to him so easily, it wasn't hard to show off how hopeless I was at it. He started to truly enjoy himself, glorying in the simple act of flying with someone else. It helped it was easy to hang out with him, nearly as easy as it was with Shinso. If his smell wasn't so disconcerting, I could've relaxed. As it was, my protective instincts were still on high alert.

Finally, midnight rolled around, and I was panting in exhaustion. Reluctantly, I wheeled back towards the building we'd started off on. Hawks eagerly followed, flying overhead, and then dipping to fall beneath me, moving effortlessly. I wasn't jealous, but damn, he made flying look easy.

I landed gratefully, doing my best not to let my head droop. Hawks, still laughing at my near miss with some powerlines, alighted as gracefully as he had earlier "Well, not to be mean, but maybe don't enrol in any aerial acrobatic events any time soon." He joked. I coughed in laughter, running bemused eye over my little Hero. His cheeks were flushed with warmth and mirth, and his hands weren't shaking anymore. I wasn't sure if that was due to actually being warm, or because he'd relaxed a bit, but it made me lift my head with more pride. Still chuckling warmly, he started to take the jacket off.

I blinked. Wait, what? I huffed, and blew a blast of hot(ish) air in his face, dropping my head to his level "What?" he looked at me in confusion, paused in pulling an arm out "I can't keep this." I narrowed my eyes and grumbled deep in my chest. I shoved my nose in his chest, pushing him enough so he stumbled slightly "I can't! You don't even know me- it's too much." I momentarily cursed my non-human tongue. I twisted my head on my long neck and pointedly looked at his wings. I'd cut holes in the damned thing for him "I know you made holes, but I'm sure you could get them fixed." He was bloody determined.

I growled for real this time, but he just kept taking it off, jaw set stubbornly "I won't be able to wear it anyway- it doesn't match my 'Hero image'." He said it sarcastically, but his wings drooped at the same time. Hero image? What the fuck? Wait, did his outfit have to match? Was that why he was wearing that bloody thing? To look good? Regardless of warmth? Why? Wait, was someone making him wear it? Immediate, savage aggression rose, and I had to bite my tongue so hard it bled. Stop it, Rhea.

I looked at my Hero. His face was determined, stoic, but his body language told of his unhappiness. He sooooo didn't want to take the new jacket off. I needed to handle this with tact and care. So, I shoved my nose into his chest, and whined, pleadingly. I was AMAZING at puppy-dog eyes. I stared up at him imploringly. Please keep the fucking jacket.

He looked down at me in bewilderment for a moment, then soft hands were on my head "You know, I almost forget you're actually a person sometimes." He said it so softly I wouldn't have heard it if my ears hadn't been directly under his head "It's so easy being around you- there's no judgement, no real expectations. And you seem to actually care about me, even though you hardly know me." Well, he was partially right in the first instance- I wasn't really a 'person', per say. The chicken and egg question was quite valid in my case. I had no idea if I'd been born human or a dragon. I stayed there for a moment longer, breathing in his worrying scent, 'accidentally' warming him with my breath. Finally, I heard him sigh "Fine, I'll keep it. But I can't wear it all the time- just at night. Ok?"

I chuffed and pulled back. I let my tongue loll out, and bounded from side to side happily, earning one more chuckle from the tawny youth "Easy to please much?" I licked my chops and gave a wolfy grin. He patted my nose once more, smiling gently "Wish everyone was." I huffed and shook my ruff "Ok, guess I better let you go. One of these days, we gotta meet face-to-face. It'd be nice to have an actual conversation." Heh. He may regret that.

I bowed my head, and then launched myself from the building. The brief rest meant I didn't flounder embarrassingly, and I made it back to the dorms safely. I felt the presence of the Winged Hero right up to the point I flared to land. Then he was gone, and I was padding inside.

A familiar head of purple hair greeted me, and lilac eyes watched me with marked interest "So I meant to ask the other day; did you meet Hawks on one of these night flights?" he was on the couch, tv on some random series, a blanket keeping the outside air at bay.

I huffed, using my tail to knock the doors shut before I padded towards him. I flopped to my belly, folding my forepaws and laying my head down. I was totally beat. I didn't even plan on Shifting back before a nap "Want something to eat?" was I hungry? I should've been. It had been a long time since lunch. I breathed deeply, sighing. Bakugo's surprise curry was still on the air. I was keen to try that "I kinda ate the curry on the bench- I figured you mustn't have wanted it. Want me to...toss you something from the fridge?" My ears drooped. He'd eaten my present? Disappointment hit me hard and fast, and I closed my eyes, just preventing an embarrassing whine. I'd really wanted to eat that.

I opened my eyes to see Shinso looking at me with concern "Shouldn't I have eaten it?" he asked, looking worried. I sighed audibly, and blinked. Ah well- my bad for leaving it in the open.

I wondered if I could ask for some more, without it being weird?

 

Chapter Text

PuddingQueen uploaded a jpeg.

PuddingQueen: This smells like Fizzler- do I read into this?

AlienQueen: OMGOMGOMG :D :0

InvisiQueen: No waaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

AlienQueen: BAKUGO COOKED FOR KURAI

AlienQueen: @PuddingQueen: READ INTO THIS

AlienQueen: @PuddingQueen? You there?

FropQueen: I think she's gone inactive? She looked totally beat after the bath.

AlienQueen: I don't think I've EVER seen her yawn before XD

GravQueen: Was she SURE that Bakugo left it there. Why would he do that?

AlienQueen: Pretty sure she's an expert on how 'Fizzler' smells 😉

FropQueen: But why tonight? Kinda random?

CreatiQueen: He did seem particularly impressed when Kurai took down Shoto- perhaps this is some strange form of Bakuflirting?

AlienQueen: ^^^ totes agree. Defs something Blasty would do.

InvisiQueen: XD XD imagine what he would've done if she'd broken Midoriya's nose?

MusicQueen: Probably would've proposed on the spot XD

AlienQueen: There's always next week 😉

InvisiQueen: So I suppose the question is; do we let this proceed at the SNAIL'S PACE it is, or do we speed things up a bit?

MusicQueen: Dude, Hikari's been here like, just over a month XD

CreatiQueen: ^^^ Indeed- things are progressing quite quickly when you look at it that way.

AlienQueen: So we're just gonna watch them tip-toe around like middle-schoolers?

FropQueen: Do we even know how long Hikari's gonna be here? I know it's Bakugo, but wouldn't it be cruel to set them up only for her to leave?

CreatiQueen: ^^^

InvisiQueen: GUYS! It's not like they're gonna get married! They're both adults, why can't they just have a little fun? I know I would, if I got sent to some fancy European school.

AlienQueen: I agree with @InvisiQueen anyway, who knows? Maybe Bakugo would actually GO to Europe if a certain hottie asks really nicely 😉

MusicQueen: If she broke Midoriya's nose, he'd probably go XD

InvisiQueen: Back to @AlienQueen's question; do we leave this all in Bakugo's hopeless hands and Hikari's oblivious ones, or do we STEP IN?

GravQueen: You do realise you'll just ruin any chance of actual romance they have?

AlienQueen: No we won't! We'll just make sure certain things happen 😉 You know, if I told Eiji that Hikari has a CRUSH on his Bakubro, he'd totally give up on his own little crush and give his bro a hand.

MusicQueen: You'd really crush Kirishima's dreams for BAKUGO?

AlienQueen: I don't see Hikari STEALING Kirishima's clothes. I love Eiji, and he and Hikari would look great together, but the SHIP has SAILED. It's Hikugo and Bakukari from now ON!

GravQueen: I thought we were shipping Hikso and Shinkari? Have you given up on Shinso too? :0

AlienQueen: See aforementioned points. Also, you didn't see her drawings of Blasty Boi. Even got all hot and bothered XD that girl has it BAD- even if she doesn't know it yet.

CreatiQueen: So what did you have in mind, exactly? Bakugo will not be easily manipulated, and Hikari is as subtle as a wrecking ball.

AlienQueen: Leave it all to me >:) I think I'll make a new chat though, so updates and ideas can be posted and a certain bachelorette doesn't see it.

FropQueen: Won't she see these messages though?

AlienQueen: Shit.

21:55

Mina Ashido created a chat.

Mina Ashido added Eijiro Kirishima.

Eijiro Kirishima: Oh, hi Mina! :D what's up?

Mina Ashido: Did you know Blasty Boi is crushing on Hikari?

Eijrio Kirishima: .... I suspected XD How did you find out?!

Mina Ashido: She found a mysterious, unmarked container of curry on her doorstep, and swears it smelt like him XD

Eijiro Kirishima: Maaayyyybe, might have, sort of suspected there was something there XD

Mina Ashido: You're not surprised then?

Eijiro Kirishima: Kinda not really. I mean, a little surprised cos he's never looked TWICE at a girl before as far as I know, but not really surprised cos she is basically a nicer, prettier, girl version of him XD But it's pretty serious if he cooked for her- he's only ever cooked for ME like, twice in 3 years!

Mina Ashido: K, well, I can safely say she is crushing right back.

Eijiro Kirishima: Really?! Did she say something?

Mina Ashido: Kiri, she stole and practically LIVES in his hoodie. I also happen to know she rated him a 10 😉

Kirishima Eijiro: Really? Wow XD I can't decide if I wanna tell Bakubro or not.

Mina Ashido: There's more! HE told her about his super-secret/ not secret running track, and then LET HER RUN WITH HIM.

Eijiro Kirishima: Ok, that is MORE than a little serious :0 Damn, wonder why he's not told ME about it?

Mina Ashido: Somehow I doubt even HE knows what he's doing. Captain Feelings of SS. Oblivious.

Eijiro Kirishima: XD XD

Eijiro Kirishima: Well, I can't say I'm not a bit disappointed, I thought I was in for a shot! But a man knows when he's beat, and if I can, I will totally help Bakubro out 😊

Mina Ashido: You really are a good man, Kiri <3

Mina Ashido: But if you really do wanna help us get these two weirdos together, I'll add you to the chat <3

Eijiro Kirishima: Count me in 😊 This is gonna be hilarious!

 

Chapter Text

Like clockwork, Bakugo woke stupid early, growling into the darkness. The nightmare was different; now he couldn't even remember what it was about. It wasn't as bad as the one he'd had Monday and last night- he didn't wake up in a pool of sweat anyway. It was more infuriating. He hated not getting a full night's sleep, but the earlier he tried to go to bed, the earlier he woke up having some dumb nightmare. Hell, he'd been in bed and asleep by nine last night- he'd gone straight there after dropping the curry off at the Leprechaun's door. Maybe he should try going to bed at midnight- he might wake up in time for his damned alarm clock at least.

It was another hideously cold morning, but that was to be expected so deep into winter. It was amazing they'd not had more snow, really. Although, the forecast for next week was truly dismal- he'd be forced to use the tiny indoor gym if he needed a workout in the grave-yard hours.

His breath puffed as he slowly jogged away from the dorms. Once again, he glanced over his shoulder. Like a lighthouse, ever reliable, there was a red glow at the top of the girl's side of the building. He briefly wondered if she could possibly be awake so early, considering how tired she'd looked after class. Kirishima had spent most of dinner remarking how cool it had been to fight with her, and how strange it was her Quirk backlash seemed to get rid of her appetite. Bakugo had been admittedly musing on that far longer than he'd have said. He'd made the excuse to himself that he was only cooking because he wanted to freeze some meal packs so he could eat in his room come the weekend, but the argument hadn't held up when he'd quietly left the little container at the Leprechaun's door. He hadn't knocked, knowing she was at the stupid 'Girl's Night', and he'd timed it so he knew he wouldn't run into any of them. No way was he answering any stupid questions.

If he'd asked himself why he'd done it, he could confidently say it was because he hadn't laughed so hard in weeks. It'd been a loooong time since anyone had bested IcyHot so badly in a fight, and he'd laughed anew when the idiot had showed up back at the dorms, face swollen, one eye black. Apparently, she'd broken most of his face.

He blinked. He was coming up to the start of the track, and under the final lamppost, there was a figure sitting at the base. Not slowing his warm-up jog, he continued his approach, body tense. Who the hell was sitting out in the cold at four in the morning?

As he got closer, his confusion turned into irritated disbelief. There was no mistaking the wild nest of curls, nor the almost glowing pale skin "What the hell are you doing?" he grumbled as he drew up near her. She was reading something on her phone, the light barely enough to see by.

Hikari looked up at him, blinked enormous pale eyes, and smiled sheepishly "Just....chilling." She rose smoothly, rubbing the back of her neck awkwardly. She looked...different to yesterday. Maybe it was the fact she was wearing actual clothes this time- a hoodie with the weird word she was obsessed with, and full-length pants. The dark clothes accentuated the pale column of her neck, exposed with her hair bound in a lazy bun. Large dark circles made her eyes look almost freakishly bright- she looked exhausted.

"Chilling." He repeated, narrowing his eyes "On the ground, near my track, in the middle of the night."

"Hey, it's almost dawn!"

"You look like shit- why the fuck are you really out here?"

She shrugged, winding up her headphones, and slipping them in a pocket "I wanted to go for a run." Was she waiting for...him? Why the fuck would she do that? Wait, how long had she been waiting for him? She jerked her head towards the dim entrance to the track "Still going? Promise I won't talk." She said it jokingly, but he could hear the hope in her words.

He huffed, and moved onwards, past her. He didn't even need to look to know she was following him, and as he surged back into his ground-eating jog, she eagerly matched his pace. He risked a glance over and down at her, and rolled his eyes at her pleased smile. What the fuck was it about him that made happy-go-lucky weirdos gravitate towards him? Shitty-Hair had attached himself like glue back in First Year, dragging the other freaks Kaminari, Ashido and Sero along, and now this bag of crazy was waiting out in the cold to fucking jog with him. He knew he'd regret it when he'd said she could run with him yesterday. Was she going to sit out and wait for him every morning now?

Although, true to her word, Hikari didn't make a sound. They moved in silence for over twenty minutes, nothing but twin plumes of steam coming between them. Was it just him, or were her breaths even less visible than his today? He could've sworn she was breathing like an old steam train yesterday. And what was with all the clothes? He'd never seen her wear so much before, besides when she wore HIS damned hoodie and pranced around in the kitchen "I thought you didn't feel the cold." He grunted, deciding he wanted to know what was with the change. He pretended not to notice it was the second time in a row he broke the silence he desired.

"I never said I couldn't." she replied, not taking her eyes off their path, pupils noticeably huge in the darkness. She was markedly different to yesterday in attitude as well. She sounded almost sleepy, despite the fact she easily kept pace with him "My fire keeps me warm- if I use too much of it, I start to get cold." So she really was the reverse to Endeavor then? He overheated if he used his fire too much, hence the reason he'd 'created' IcyHot, who could regulate his temperature with his left side.

"Why the hell did you do that? If you knew how badly it'd mess you up?"

She looked at him this time, frowning slightly "I wanted to win- figured you of all of people would figure that out."

He snorted, smirking a little "Fair enough. How long does it take you to recover?"

She exhaled loudly, and even then, her breath barely puffed "I should be right by tonight. The biggest pain is not being able to eat properly. Once I can do that, I bounce back." That reminded him, had she eaten his food? He'd not made it overly spicy- part of him reasoned she'd be more interested in 'comfort' food. Not that he'd made it for her specifically.

"Why can't you eat?"

"Takes energy." She was even less talkative today as well.

So why was she out running, when she didn't have enough energy to eat? What the hell? It also sounded awfully reptilian- had Tape-Face been right? He'd seen her face when the idiot had asked if she was a lizard- it was the first time he'd seen her look actually angry at something one of their classmates had said "Why the fuck are you out here running then? You actually look like shit- shouldn't you be getting some decent fucking sleep?"

Her usual cocky grin came back, for the first time that morning "Nawwww is Mcsplodie worried about lil'ol me?" she fluttered her eyes at him, and laughed softly when he scowled.

"Fuck you." He snapped, trying to ignore the burn on his ears, scowling into the semi-darkness.

"I'm out here because running is my favourite thing to do." He was almost surprised when she answered without another stupid joke or tease.

He couldn't help but raise an eyebrow "I thought eating was your favourite thing to do."

She laughed again, the sound musical and warm "Close second." She admitted "Back home, I'd spend most of my days running the countryside. The place I live has some wicked tracks, and I'd lose myself for hours." She sounded...homesick. Bakugo had to admit, he was intrigued. He loved hiking, and he'd seen on the internet the kind of mountains parts of Europe had to offer. He was almost jealous at the idea of the girl beside him roaming epic mountains and forests for days at a time. It must be hard to go from that to being stuck in a dorm all the time.

They didn't talk for a while after that. Unlike yesterday, Bakugo didn't increase their pace. He was content to jog, and if he was honest, he was hesitant to push his strange...companion. He had no doubt she'd match him if he went faster, but she did look weary. It wasn't because he felt sorry for her. No. It was because he knew she'd be too stubborn to admit she was tired and she'd probably hurt herself. Besides, it was nice just to take it steady for a change.

Once more, he found himself breaking the quiet "Why did Tape-Face bother you, yesterday? When he called you a lizard? I've called you worse shit than that."

She sighed "I'd kinda hoped nobody would remember that. Figures you would, though. I didn't mean for it to get to me, but..." she sniffed "It's to do with my Quirk. There are...aspects of it that are similar to a bunch of Villains Nat and I keep coming up against back home. They're a clan of...lizard-like people, I guess. Pisses me off when people compare me to reptiles, when I know what true reptiles are like." He could kind of understand that. His Quirk had been called 'Villainous' for most of his life- something he had in common with Mind Fuck- not that he'd EVER tell him that. Nearly the whole world had been surprised when he'd given the finger to the League of Villains back in First Year. But it begged the question- what the hell was it about her Quirk that could compare to lizard-people, apart from the fact if she she couldn't eat when she got cold? She shot him a look, obviously taking his silence differently "Call me whatever the hell you like- but call me fucking Godzilla and I will wafflestomp you."

He chuckled, despite himself "Noted. And for the record, 'Mcsplodie' is better than 'Fizzler'. Made me sound half-assed." He didn't know why he said it. It was too easy to talk to the weirdo.

Her resulting grin was so wide her strange little fangs shone in the pre-dawn light "Also noted."

Despite how tired she looked, Hikari piled on a massive burst of speed as they got closer to the dorms, and Bakugo found himself responding out of instinct. He couldn't help his scowl, even as he was almost grinning when she proudly spun on the ball of her feet when she got to the door first "Deal's still on, by the way. Beat me or say my name, and I'll tell you my Quirk." She was barring his way, looking up at him with her shit-eating smirk, hands behind her back on the door handle "Seeing as you didn't beat me..." she looked far livelier than she had out on the track. Her cheeks were lightly flushed, and her eyes were bright above the deep circles. He was so close he could smell her weird, smoky aroma.

Bakugo snorted, still trying to catch his breath "Why the hell do you want me to say your damned name, anyway? What's the big fucking deal?" he deliberately took a step back, suddenly aware he was in her bubble, a strange heat filling his belly. What the fuck?

She shrugged, still grinning "Why don't you want to?" apparently, she wasn't about to wait for him to answer. She slipped inside, shoving the door open with her foot to let him follow. An improvement on yesterday, at least.
Yup, this had definitely been not awful.

Unfortunately, they didn't step into the normally empty, post-breakfast common area. Instead, they found themselves bombarded with the sound of the tv. Several of their classmates, including Deku and Kirishima, were glued to the screen of the morning news. Just as Bakugo was about to demand why the hell they were up so goddamned early, the headline caught his eye, and the strange warmth that had been lingering in his stomach froze, spreading like ice throughout his entire body, until he was utterly numb.

"- a sad day for Endeavor Agency as well. Miss Kamiji was a well-known, and much-loved sidekick in the area, and will be sorely missed. If you, or anyone you know requires mental support, please contact your local medical practitioner."

There was no anger- not yet. Completely devoid of feeling, Bakugo wordlessly turned, and slowly walked to the elevator. He vaguely heard Kirishima and Deku calling out to him, but he ignored them. Just as he got in the elevator, and punched the button to his floor, he heard the Leprechaun speak "The hell? Did he know her or something?"

"Moe Kamiji was the sidekick Burnin. She was Kacchan's patrol partner on our internship. They've been working together for nearly two years."

 

Chapter Text

Grief is a special kind of monster. I hated grief. It can be insidious, sneaky and cruel, or it can be loud, heart-wrenching and brash. It could sulk, hidden in corners for years at a time, ready to lash out, or it can poison minds and memories. I hated it in all its many forms. I hated what it did to me, what it did to others, and how it could darken the brightest day and sully the fondest memories.

For example, it turned my normal rambunctious, excitable and energetic classmates into a bunch of morbid, quiet, hollow-eyed shadows. Don't think I was insensitive or heartless- my own heart ached when I managed to read a full article on the bright looking young female, and how she had taken her own life.

So, that day, I got to see how three of my charges dealt with the special monster that is grief.

Midoriya looked like someone had, well, died. His normally bright and cheerful persona was muted and he followed Uraraka and Iida around in silence, green eyes fixed firmly on his feet. I don't think he said more than two words the entire day after explaining Bakugo's reaction to the news that morning.

If Midoriya was quiet, Todoroki was reduced to nothing more than a breathing statue that moved on occasion. Never exactly emotive or overly talkative, even at lunch time he did nothing but eat in silence, and then quietly leave us, disappearing until it was time for the final period. I wasn't sure what I'd expected from the duel-elemental. If he had been like me, all fire, he would've needed to vent- but I had the feeling he was more ice elemental at heart. So, he bottled his feelings up, and froze them. That couldn't be healthy.

Finally, there was Bakugo himself. If I hadn't seen his Quirk in action, I'd have sworn black and blue he was the most fiery fire elemental I'd ever met apart from myself. He was beyond prickly, bordering on downright nasty. Nobody was safe from his sharp tongue and savage red eyes. He made a tiny First Year girl cry when she accidentally bumped into him, spilling her books everywhere. He upgraded my name to Leprefreak (at least he wasn't calling me Godzilla), even though I hadn't gone out of my way to annoy him (I actually had no idea what I'd done), and most of the Bakusquad abandoned him at lunch when he said he'd kill anyone who sat with him. Apparently, they believed his threat that time. By the end of the day even Kiri looked drained and almost grumpy- it was a strange sight. The redhead had seemingly endless patience with the volatile blonde, but after a particularly vicious verbal attack at the start of Nat's lesson, he resolutely turned his back on the blonde and ignored him for the entire period.

Nat asked me to stay back after his class, which had been the final of the day. The moment we were alone, I groaned and dropped to sit on his desk "Long day?" my partner asked, and I nodded glumly. I hadn't even been one of the ones trying to comfort the three difficult youths, and I was drained emotionally.

"Damn straight." I rubbed the back of my neck tiredly, and stretched upwards, feeling my spine crack. I'd pretty much recovered by then, but I still wanted a nap and a hot meal "What's up?" Nat didn't usually talk to me face-to-face like this- we preferred to message on our comm-devices. It was safer in a building full of super-kids.

My vampire looked as immaculate and carefully ruffled as always. He still dressed like the rogue he was, and I was forever hearing the girls of the school cooing after him, especially the older ones. Midnight perpetually smelt like his cologne, even if he never smelt of her "Are you feeling better? I was surprised you still went out last night." He was looking at something on his laptop, eyes not even flickering up at me.

I rolled my eyes "I'm tired, not an invalid. Of course I went out- it'd been nearly six days since my last Shift."

Nat smirked "Sure it wasn't because you wanted to see a certain Pro? I take it that jacket was for him?"

I sniffed "Maybe." On both accounts. But that reminded me "I need you to do some digging for me."

Dark blue eyes looked up finally as he rose a perfect eyebrow "Oh? About what?"

I inspected my claws. I'd not dulled them since I'd Shifted last night "Hawks. Sommat's not right- can't say what exactly, but every bone in my body is telling me to get ready to start biting." I could've done it, but Nat was far, far better at that kind of research- I got bored too easily.

Nat nodded slowly, not looking away from me "I can do that. I'd been thinking about it anyway. Some of the things Toshinori said got me interested." He ran a hand through his hair, losing his 'teacher' aura "How are the younglings holding up? I know some of them knew the dead girl." Don't think Nat was heartless- he just said things as they were.

I sighed, and rubbed my eyes "It's hard to tell. Todoroki is more quiet than normal, and Midoriya is gutted- I think he and Burnin got on really well. But I'm mostly worried about Bakugo."

An eyebrow rose on my vampire's brow "Oh? Why would you be worried about him?"

"He was Burnin's partner for the last few years, on his internship."

"And you think he is taking her death harder than the others because of it." Nat nodded "It makes sense, of course. I thought you were worried about him because you are infatuated with him." He said it so matter-of-factly, like it was totally obvious.

I started "I am not." I willed myself not to flush.

Nat looked at me, a small smirk growing on his lips "Rhea, my dear, you've always had a thing for dangerous blondes."

I deflated under his knowing eyes, cursing under my breath before I denied it again "I'm not infatuated." I muttered, but my heart beat treacherously loud, and I knew Nat could hear it. Warmth still rushed through me, when I thought about the look in his red eyes when he'd loomed over me at the door to the dorm that morning. Would he even remember that moment, after the colossal downer the news had been an instant after? Judging by the new nickname and hate-filled glares he'd shot me, I doubted it.

"Oh please, I saw the infamous 'hoodie' in your bed when I dropped off that blasted jacket- you've not been so scent-smitten since Greece. But- I wonder at the wisdom of it...what if he is the mole we were warned of?"

I bristled, baring my fangs "What if Midnight is? She's practically living in your bed, isn't she?"

Nat waved my accusation off and scoffed "I merely visit her apartment on a regular basis. Like I'd allow just anyone in my apartment. There is too much sensitive information at risk." I knew for a fact he had a Spiders-Wall dedicated to the fire-elemental I was to defend against, Dabi or whatever his name was. Nat had been tracking his movements since we'd arrived, trying to keep us prepared "Besides, I checked her background thoroughly." And she was hot. Nat had never managed a clear mind where attractive women were concerned.

I huffed "Well, Bakugo is as likely the traitor as Toshinori is. Same goes for Shinso." I could safely say that for the rest of class 3A, and probably class 3B as well, but they were the only two I was certain of.

Nat gave me a bemused look "Ah yes, young Shinso. A most promising young man. I was most intrigued he managed to catch you in your other form, and even more surprised to find him regularly sleeping in your apartment. You adopt them awfully quickly, don't you." He didn't ask why I believed the two boys were trustworthy- he'd learned long ago to trust my instincts, and knew better than to argue with me.

I shrugged "You know me." I didn't bother asking how he knew Shinso basically lived with me. It didn't matter.

Nat chuckled "I had something else I wished to discuss with you." He looked back at his laptop, growing serious "Remember what I said, about how the suicide and death rate for Pros and other professional service providers was abnormally high for the area?" I nodded, and he turned the laptop around so I could see the screen "Two others died this week; a policeman, aged twenty, and a firefighter, who had only recently been married. Neither had any history of depression, and both were reported well-adjusted."

I frowned as I read the articles "Three in a week..." I said slowly "Ok, even I'll say that is weird."

"There is more. All three were involved in operations, rescues and such, where civilians were either injured or killed. The media is hinting at guilt being the driving factor to their suicides." It made sense. Not everyone could move past the fact they'd been unable to save someone, but these sorts of professionals usually received training to allow them to compartmentalise and move on.

I scrolled down the news page, looking at the pictures of the recently deceased people. They'd been so young- just like Burnin "So, do you think they were murdered?" Just like Nat didn't question my instincts about my charges, I didn't question his regarding this sort of thing. If he'd continued to dig and pay attention, even after I'd brushed off his thoughts the first time, he thought there was something to be discovered. Usually, these sort of 'feelings' he had, led to a Hunt.

Nat shrugged, and sighed, pulling his laptop back from me "I don't think so. The coroners' reports are all very thorough, and it is quite clear they were all suicides. But my gut is telling me there is something more here. Burnin was a capable sidekick, with many years of experience- why should she be so suddenly affected, when her only recent 'losses' were caused by a building collapsing? As far as the mission report went, she wasn't even on scene when it happened- she was escorting civilians to safety." Goddess, for Nat to have already investigated so deeply spoke of how wrong he thought this all was.

I patted my partner on the shoulder "Whatever it is, you'll find it." I said confidently. The bright, cheery image of Burnin's profile picture that had been flashing on every screen in school flashed in my mind "And when you do, tell me. If somebody is behind this, I wanna do some paintings with their blood."

Nat gave a wry smile, but it didn't reach his eyes "I appreciate your vote of confidence, and I will certainly involve you in the Hunt." He closed the laptop, and stretched languidly "Anything planned for the evening? I wouldn't mind a spar." He slapped a hand to his rock-solid belly "I've gained a whole half a kilo-you may even manage to land a hit this time."

I made a face. It had been an age since I'd sparred with Nat, and I really wanted nothing more than to go and hit him for an hour or two. Instead, I sighed "No, I can't. Supposed to have a study session with Bakugo and his squad, although I doubt we'll do much today." I dragged my claws through my hair, suddenly frustrated "Dammit, Nat, I just wanna help them! It kills me, seeing them so miserable." It really did. This weekend's prank was gonna be sommat truly spectacular at this rate.

Nat stood, rolling his trench coat on his broad shoulders "Well, help them then. You know how to deal with grief- show them how to cope."

I scowled. Easier said than done. I doubted the rest of the faculty would approve of most of my 'coping methods' "Can I get your help, this Saturday night?"

Nat looked over his shoulder as he moved towards the exit "Is it for another of your lame 'pranks'?"

"Maybe."

"Text me the details; if its actually entertaining, I'll consider it."

***

Todoroki always found it hard to express his feelings. It wasn't that he didn't feel, but he always felt words didn't do what he felt justice. Hearing about Burnin's death made him want to scream and cry and rage and curse. It was all so much, so unfair, and he felt so much; he ended up numb, the emotions basically cancelling themselves out. He wasn't sure that was healthy, but who was he to judge?

So, he sat in the dorm's lounge area after school, still nursing his strange emotions as he watched the tiny flames dance in his palm. He'd gotten better at manipulating small amounts of his fire, especially since his 'lesson' with Hikari last Friday. He'd made an effort to look at the fire differently- more like she seemed to. She seemed so connected to her power, revelling in it in a way that went beyond using it as a weapon. He'd wondered if that somehow different view explained how she had so much control.

"You're getting pretty good at that." Speak of the devil. He could feel her watching over his shoulder, and she sounded proud?

Todoroki didn't let the fire die, still staring into the golden light as he urged it to flicker and writhe to the memory of a song he had heard that day "It's simple enough." He said "It's...comforting as well."

"Where the hell have you been?" Bakugo demanded from the table. He was sitting with Kirishima and Kaminari- their 'study group'. Although, this evening, it was more Bakugo's 'abuse group'. He'd been yelling and bashing both boys over the heads since they'd sat down and started. Todoroki was yet to hear of a valid reason for the punishments.

Hikari rolled her eyes, turning to look at the grumpy youth "Nat wanted to see me, and then I went and had dinner. Gimme five and I'll have my stuff ready."

"Don't fucking bother." Came the sneering reply "My first rule was not to waste my fucking time, and guess what- you did. Find someone else to teach your dumb ass." Kirishima and Kaminari made faces, but neither were game to say anything.

Hikari threw her hands up in the air, exclaiming something in what must have been Russian, and then stormed away, black curls bouncing. Streams of the foreign words followed her as she left "Dude, that was a little harsh." Kaminari was brave enough to mutter once they heard the elevator close.

"Shut it- or you can leave too." Bakugo snapped, and then there was silence.

"You sure you don't wanna go and spar? Might do you some good." Kirishima said after a moment. Todoroki was tempted to send a prayer that they go. 'Sparring' translated to Kirishima letting Bakugo blast him with his Quirk until he physically couldn't anymore. He wasn't really surprised at how the blonde had been acting- and he was bemused anyone else was. He had been Burnin's partner, after all. How could he not be the most affected by her death? It didn't excuse his behaviour, but it did explain it.

Midoriya was staring at a book in his lap on the couch across from him, Uraraka rubbing comforting circles on his knee, leaning on his shoulder. It was surprising that he'd not jumped to Hikari's defence; but he had been strangely quiet all day.

Most of the rest of the class had gone to their rooms, either scared of Bakugo, or too awkward to know what to say to the other two. Todoroki supposed he should go as well- there was no point sitting there like he was. He supposed it was just because he didn't want to be alone.

The elevator dinged again "Right, 'Roki, Midoriya, Mcsplodie Grumpyfuck- get your asses to the kitchen." Hikari's brash, musical voice broke the glum silence. She was back to speaking Japanese, apparently. Todoroki let his flames go out, and looked over his shoulder. The girl was marching into the kitchen, a corked bottle in one hand, and a tower of small glasses in the other, and a determined look on her face. He raised an eyebrow. Surely that wasn't alcohol?

"What? Why?" Midoriya looked up as well, confusion in his voice.

"Don't argue with me, and don't ask dumb questions. Ass. Here. Now." She very deliberately placed the bottle on the bench, glasses next to it, and levelled a glare at the boys. Her pale eyes were quite fierce.

Todoroki found himself rising, and saw Midoriya stagger to do the same "Wait, is that whiskey?" Iida, who'd been fiddling in the kitchen, sorting out his personal supply of tea, had peered over the shorter student's shoulder. His eyes were wide "You can't have that! How do you have that?! It's illegal!"

"It's medicinal." Hikari shot back bluntly "Cram it or scram." Todoroki's own brow rose, and he heard a loud snort from the direction of the study table. Nobody but Bakugo had ever spoken to Iida that way before "Don't bother blabbing to Aizawa- he knows I have it. I need it for my Quirk." If that was a lie, it was a very clever one.

She smoothly unstacked the shot glasses she'd placed near the bottle of amber liquid as the two boys sat. With professional practice, she used one hand to uncork the bottle, and smoothly poured out a generous amount of the liquor into each of the four glasses. The moment the liquid was exposed to the air, Todoroki was blasted with a smoky, peaty aroma that was very familiar to Hikari's own smell. Hmmm... maybe she hadn't been lying about it being related to her Quirk? Or maybe she just drank a lot. Weren't the Irish infamous for their alcoholism? "Mcsplodie- ass here, before I come and drag you over." Her ice-blue eyes glared over at the table. She was so small, but so fearsome. His face still ached from the previous day.

"Fuck off. As if you could." Bakugo scoffed, not moving.

Hikari's eyes narrowed dangerously "I will personally tip all of your stupid protein powder down the drain, and replace it with powdered sugar, if you don't get your ass up here NOW." It was no idle threat. She had already swapped the sugar out for salt on more than one occasion, much to Kaminari's dismay.

"I would fucking kill you." Came the seething reply.

"Try me. Ass. Here. Now."

With a stream of savage curses, Bakugo shoved his chair back, and stomped over, hands deep in his pockets, face a vicious scowl. He threw himself onto the stool, and levelled a murderous glare at the girl "What the fuck are you playing at?" he demanded. Todoroki was still busy marvelling at the fact he had done as she'd told him. Was obedience part of the so-called 'crush' everyone was whispering about?

Hikari slid the boys one each of the shot glasses, keeping one for herself, apparently "We are grieving." She announced, picking up her glass.

"How is drinking Talisker grieving?" the blonde snarled. Talisker? Was that the name of the alcohol?

Uraraka, Kaminari and Kirishima had drifted over as well. Kirishima was eyeing the shot glass in front of Bakugo "You're underage..." even Kaminari looked unsure, but his golden eyes were wide with excitement "We could get in a lot of trouble."

"Like I said to Iida- cram it or scram." She levelled her glare at the redhead, who, even being over two feet taller than the girl, gulped and fell silent as ordered. Hikari looked back at the boys "Warriors do not grieve their own in silence. Warriors do not mourn their own alone. And warriors," she looked at each of them individually, eyes cold yet burning at the same time "make sure the gods know they're damned lucky to have someone so special join them." She sounded like she was repeating a prayer, or some sort of strange invocation.

"What shit are you sprouting?" Bakugo sneered "We're not warriors. And what 'gods' are you talking about? Yours?"

"Do you fight for a better world?" the girl demanded, not at all cowed by the blonde's words "Do you bleed for those who cannot? I know I do. I know All Might did. I assume Burnin did as well."

"She did." Midoriya said quietly.

Hikari put a hand up to her ear as though she hadn't heard him "What was that?" she said loudly "I didn't hear you."

"She fought for a better world." Midoriya spoke a little louder that time.

Hikari growled "That makes her a bloodydamn warrior. Now drink." Midoriya hesitantly lifted the glass to his lips, and much to Todoroki's surprise, downed the shot. He made a face and shuddered, closing his eyes. Without hesitation, Hikari poured out another, equal amount into Midoriya's glass as he recovered.

Suddenly, she looked at Todoroki "What?" she demanded "Don't you agree? Didn't Burnin fight for a better world?!" Todoroki frowned, and went to speak, but Hikari growled again "If you agree, drink!" Todoroki looked down at his glass, the amber liquid shining in the light. He distantly heard Uraraka protest, but he found himself lifting the cold glass to his lips, and tossing his head back. Immediately, the burning alcohol seared his mouth, filling his senses with smoke and peat. Struggling not to gag, he swallowed, and warmth chased down his throat. His eyes were watering, but he saw the approval in the girl's eyes.

Hikari's brilliant gaze turned to Bakugo, narrowing "Yeah, yeah." The blonde muttered before she said anything, and Todoroki watched, blinking away his tears as he too, downed the shot. Bakugo hadn't even argued...that was new. He still looked ready to murder the Irish girl, but it seemed even he was caught under the strange spell Hikari was weaving. Was this some strange ritual?

Hikari refilled their glasses "'Roki, tell us something about Burnin." Again, she used the same, authoritive tone as before. He was reminded of a general, rallying troops to battle.

"She was...bright." He murmured "She gave light to the people she saved." Bakugo snorted, but didn't say anything. Midoriya's lip trembled.

Hikari raised her glass, and in one practised motion, threw her own shot back "I best be seeing empty glasses." she scowled as she went to fill her glass up.

Without argument this time, the three boys drank. The second shot was easier than the first, Todoroki found. He was even able to taste the stuff. It wasn't just burn and peat; there was subtle flavour to it as well. Bakugo had recognised the name- was it a well-known whiskey? The warmth remained in his belly this time.

"More! What else should the gods know about Burnin?" why didn't she sound stupid when she said that?

"She always learned everyone's names- even the new interns." Midoriya said, hesitantly, but voice growing stronger. Todoroki had always thought she was nice, too. Even though Endeavor was a prick, his main sidekick was all laughter and brash cheer. Hikari probably would've gotten along well with her.

They drank.

"She was always first to volunteer for a rescue mission." Todoroki said when he could feel his tongue again "Even if she already had an assignment." It had annoyed his father, but also made him proud. Shit, he hadn't even thought to message him, to see how he was going. Wait, why would he care?

They drank. Uraraka had stopped whispering to a fretting Iida, and was just watching, tears in her eyes. Even Kirishima looked pale, his lip trembling.

Hikari was merciless, she refilled their glasses again and again. Todoroki felt his strange numbness being replaced by a different lack of sensation. But his feelings weren't part of it. They were roiling dangerously. The back of his throat was aching, and his eyes were prickling.

"What else?! Tell me, what made her special?" the slight female kept urging them to speak, but Todoroki couldn't work out why. Was getting drunk going to help?

Midoriya was crying openly now, even as his voice stayed strong "She always rushed into danger to save people!" More than half the bottle was gone now.

Todoroki felt warm all over "She could deal with my father's bullshit." Was his voice really slurring?

That drew strangled laughs from nearly everyone present. Hikari smiled brightly, almost too brightly. Were her eyes watering now? "Reckon that alone might get her a seat at Odin's table." Hikari's voice sounded throatier than usual too.

They drank.

"She was always fucking smiling." For the first time, Bakugo spoke. His voice was hoarse, despite its lack of use. Todoroki and the others shifted and turned to look at him. His head had dropped at some point, and was hanging over his glass, face hidden by ash bangs "And she never shut-up." Something splashed on the bench next to the blonde's shot glass.

"Kacchan..." Midoriya half murmured, half-hiccupped.

"Shut it." Hikari growled "Drink."

They all drank once more. Todoroki managed to steal a look at Bakugo's face. Red eyes leaked even as he clenched them shut. He was still scowling, but it was more of a pained grimace than an expression of anger.

Glasses chinked back to the bench. Hikari filled the glasses again "I don't give a shit how you people grieve your losses- but I'll be damned if you don't honour their memories. Burnin was a bloodydamn Hero- make sure the whole world knows it, and make sure they know she left it a better place than when she got here." She downed what was apparently her last shot, then picked up the bottle, and stomped out of the kitchen.

She clapped a hand on Bakugo's shoulder. His head remained drooped, and he flinched at the contact. Then she was gone, leaving them with their final shots.

 

Chapter Text

I didn't wait for Bakugo to go for my run that morning, I was too worked up. My night hadn't improved after I'd forced the three boys to drink half a bottle of Talisker. I'd said what I'd meant to, and as far as I could tell, had gotten them all to break down in the way they needed to. That didn't mean I was happy about it. I'd sat up, watching tv with Shinso, finishing the bottle of whiskey. My insomniac had raised an eyebrow at me as I sat there, necking from the bottle, but he didn't say anything. He'd been surprisingly quiet- maybe he could tell I wasn't in the mood to talk.

I was liking his company more and more... shit, I still had to ask if he thought of me as 'more than a friend'. Great, let's ruin this relationship too. Make it a nice round number that way. Somehow I doubted any of the boys would like me much after I'd made them practically cry in front of their friends.

I'd headed out the moment I'd woken from my short nap. I felt fully rejuvenated and back to normal, despite the weird mood I was in. To be honest, I was surprised it had taken that long to recover- I hadn't thought I'd used that much energy during a stupid training lesson. I'd have to be more careful- if we'd been attacked last night, I would've struggled to be a real threat.

Barefoot, I raced through the darkness, hair streaming out behind me. My music blared in my ears, and I strove to match each footstep to the beat, twisting and leaping, forcing myself to ever more extravagant moves until I couldn't think anymore. Cold air streamed in through my nose, and puffed out in plumes. I didn't feel the frigid winter air though- not anymore. If I'd not Shifted the night before, I'd have thrown myself into one, I was so pumped.

Despite my exertion, I couldn't help but wonder how the boys were. I didn't think they'd have hangovers from the alcohol- they'd only had maybe six standard drinks each. Even light-weights would only wake up thirsty after that much. You may ask if I had a hangover, seeing as I'd finished the bottle. The answer was no. My metabolism made it exceedingly difficult to get drunk, and I rarely managed to wipe myself out to the point I felt it after a good nap. Made me a bloodydamn expensive drunk, for sure. As far as my concern for their emotional states went...well, I couldn't say. I was pretty sure I'd made Bakugo shed a tear, and even Todoroki had looked like he was about to break down.

I growled to myself as I vaulted a fallen log that hadn't been there yesterday, landing flawlessly, my clawed toes digging into the earth as I pushed off again. Fuckall- Nat sucked. Who was I to offer emotional support for kids who were grieving? I was so not qualified. My form of coping involved running myself to exhaustion, hitting things until I broke bones, and then partying myself into oblivion. Guess we'd skipped the first two steps, going straight for the drinking, and toasting. I wondered if any of the kids would care we'd basically had a Viking wake in their kitchen. The only thing missing had been a feast.

I was rounding on my fourth lap, when I caught a familiar scent on the wind. I stuck my landing on the low branches of the tree I'd leapt to, and drew a deep breath, hungrily. My heart was pounding, and adrenaline surged in my veins as I looked out into the night, ears pricked. Burning caramel laced the air, and I could almost taste it.

In absolute silence, I stayed in the trees, and moved on towards the start of the track. He'd accused me a sneaking up on him once- well, I was this time. Like an overgrown squirrel, using the claws on my hands as well as my feet, I darted lightly above the track, headed for the entrance.

Soon enough, I paused once again. A short drop and a few hops in front of me, a head of ash-blonde hair moved. For once, I just allowed myself to watch, and to look.

Bakugo moving was something worth watching. Even when he was just jogging. He moved with a surety and grace that some fighters never achieved, even with decades of training. He was tall, taller than me by a good margin, although shorter than Kiri and some of the others in 3A. His shoulders were broad and extremely well defined, as was the rest of his body, even though it was hidden by his light hoodie and track pants. What skin was exposed was pale and flawless- I suspected his unusual sweat contributed to that. His hair looked soft, despite the way it seemed to naturally spike chaotically around his head, and it looked almost silver in the pre-dawn light. He was about was as attractive as was humanly possible, in my eyes. The fact he was a capable and powerful fighter was just the cocaine laced icing on the cake.

There was also the fact he smelt like every sexual fantasy I could possibly conceive. Nat was right- I was scent-smitten.

I almost announced my presence the moment he entered the track, but something stopped me. He had started singing. Only softly, and I couldn't really make out the words, but I was entranced. He sounded so different; not raging or snarking. His voice was breathy and a little pitchy, but all the velvetier for it. Something warm unfurled in my heart as I listened while he sang, oblivious to his audience. So this was Bakugo when he thought he was alone.

Ok, I was officially admitting I was infatuated.

I decided I didn't want to be a stalker anymore. Instead of leaping to the next branch above him, I let myself drop lightly to the ground, knees barely needing to bend at the impact "Bakugo." I called softly when he didn't even flinch at the sound of my feet hitting the ground. He kept singing wordlessly- humming really, ignoring me.

I cocked my head, and started to trot after him. Why was he ignoring me? Because of last night? I hadn't thought I was out of line, touching his shoulder, even when he had flinched away. Maybe I had really screwed things up. The thought made me almost whine "Bakugo." I said it slightly louder this time, trying to keep the uncertainty from my voice, risking getting a little closer. I really didn't want to have to dodge another right hook, but I wanted a bloody answer as to if he was ignoring me or not.

When he still didn't respond, I blinked. What the actual...? Had I really pissed him off so badly? He kept singing to himself, either pretending I wasn't there- or not hearing I was there.

I nearly stumbled when that thought presented itself to me, my eyes widening. Holy shit. No way. I stared at the back of the blonde's head, struggling to compute. Surely not... but it explained so much. Why he shouted all the time, why he tried to kill me that first morning I'd come up behind him (I had called out to him, much like I had this morning), why he seemingly ignored people when they talked to him, unless they were in front of him...shit, it even explained why he didn't hang around and watch movies with everyone else on Saturday nights.

Bakugo was hard of hearing. I wouldn't say deaf, because he obviously could hear at least a little, but it was definitely enough to stop him from hearing me calling to him, from outside of his line of sight. It was probably a form of tinnitus at the very least. Gods, I wondered if he even knew he was singing out loud.

Was it because of his Quirk? It'd make sense. He'd practically deafened me in one go- I dreaded to think what years of explosions going off in close vicinity did to ones' hearing. It was a bloodydamn miracle he wasn't totally deaf already, the way he let them off.

The realisation did strange things to me. All sorts of protective urges started to clamour to the surface of my thoughts, nearly as vehemently as they did around Hawks. While I brutally squashed those, other, softer feelings melted into my heart.

I mentally slapped myself to quiet my skittering brain. Stop it. Pull yourself together and work out what the hell you're doing. Bakugo was partially deaf. I doubted anybody knew- he wasn't the type to make that sort of thing public knowledge. That meant I needed to not be a dick about it, if I even acknowledged that I knew. He probably wouldn't take me knowing such a glaring weakness well, and he was probably already salty at me.

Maybe... I'd pretend I didn't know about it. That was the safe option. So long as I could stop thinking about how adorably sweet it was, in a sad way.

I sped up, deliberately making noise "Oi, on your left!" I practically shouted as I closed the distance, tensing, getting ready to dodge any defensive swings.

Immediately, Bakugo swung around, hands raised, red eyes blazing. All traces of the softly singing youth were gone as he glared at me as I too, skidded to a stop "What the fuck did I say, about sneaking up on me!" he seethed.

I smiled winningly, a little giddy "Ah, but I wasn't. If I had been, I wouldn't have shouted 'on your left', now, would I?"

He fumed for another minute, jaw working as he tried to find something wrong with my answer "Whatever." He growled, turning away from me, and starting to jog again.

***

Bakugo wasn't surprised that he couldn't get to sleep. Maybe it was because the room was spinning, or because his ears were ringing particularly badly that night. It definitely wasn't because his heart felt like it had been run through a meat-grinder.

His throat still burned (definitely from the whiskey), and his eyes were tired and achy as he stared at the ceiling. It had been hours since the Leprechaun had forced her weird ritual on them before storming off, leaving them with her stupid shot glasses. Deku had been a snivelling mess, and even IcyHot looked like he was about to shed a tear. Bakugo had felt his treacherous eyes leak as the alcohol seared through his barriers, demanding he acknowledge what he'd been struggling to ignore all day. That the bright, happy idiot, with her stupid smile and infuriating bossy voice was...gone. She'd given up. Tossed in the towel, left them all to dry. Half of him raged that she could be so weak, so cowardly to just end it like that- but the other half was just so....sad. She'd been a damned good Hero; how had she gotten so broken she didn't want to fix it anymore? He didn't understand, and that was what had him staring at the ceiling until four in the morning.

Finally, he admitted defeat and got up. He might as well go and clear his head in the freezing air.

It wasn't until he was outside, and habitually glancing over his shoulder up at the 'light-house window' that he felt another unwelcome pang. Shit, he'd really ripped into the Leprechaun last night, too. Enough to make her go and get a bottle of whiskey and basically force them all to drink half of it. He wasn't an idiot; he knew it had been his outburst that had her storming off, cursing in another language. He'd regretted it almost immediately, biting his tongue in anger at himself. He always did that- lash out at whoever was around when he was struggling to deal with shit in his own head. Usually it was Kirishima, who had proved himself time and time again to be just as unbreakable as his Quirk. But even he had turned his back on Bakugo yesterday after a few choice words, and the blonde didn't blame him.

But still, it'd been unfair on the girl. She hadn't even been all that annoying, lately.

He came upon the lamppost where she'd been waiting for him yesterday, and felt another irritating wrench in his chest. The pool of light sat undisturbed and empty. He sighed, and rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn't realised that he'd been expecting the weirdo to just...be there. Fuck, they'd only done this twice, and already it felt strange for her not to be waiting expectantly. It'd been...nice, in an odd way, running with someone who obviously just wanted to run. And surprisingly satisfying that he had yet to actually beat her- there was a perpetual challenge waiting for him and he craved the competition.

Fuck. How long did girls hold grudges for? She'd touched his shoulder before she'd vanished last night- he thought that'd meant things were alright. Maybe he shouldn't have jerked away like she'd burned him...but he couldn't help it. Even Kirishima accepted how he shied away from being touched outside of combat- even 'manly high-fives' were pushing the redhead's luck. Besides, it was fucking weak, almost breaking down like that- especially in front of everyone. And for some reason, he didn't want her to think he was weak.

He moved onto the running track, huffing. He was overthinking again. She was probably just sleeping off a hangover- she'd still looked tired as well.

So, he started jogging. He'd not brought his phone, subconsciously assuming he wouldn't need it. Now that he was surrounded by silence, he found himself humming to himself. He wasn't sure why the quiet disturbed him- maybe it was the dull ringing in his ears he needed to drown out, but it helped soothe his mind.

"Oi, on your left!"

Bakugo whirled, hands raised instinctively, even as he recognised the distinctive voice. He bit back the weird surge of pleasant surprise when his eyes settled on the pale form approaching him, instead falling back into his defensive aggression "What the fuck did I say, about sneaking up on me!" he seethed, while he internally cursed himself. He couldn't even stop himself from being an asshole.

Unlike last night, only a few hours ago really, Hikari didn't respond with a scowl and foreign curses. She shot him her trademark crooked grin, blue eyes sparkling with an almost wild light "Ah, but I wasn't. If I had been, I wouldn't have shouted 'on your left', now, would I?" she shot back, sounding cheerful.

Bakugo's heart, which he hadn't realised was racing, slowed as he took in her relaxed words and casual stance. She looked...feral, this morning. Her hair was loose, wild around her pale face. Her eyes were blown, pupils almost swallowing her iris's completely. She was back to wearing almost nothing- her Quirk must have recovered or whatever. Her breath plumed thickly, and her bared skin practically glowed in the half-darkness. Her Celtic-looking tattoo, black training bra and shorts almost melted into the night around her "Whatever." He grumbled, turning away, feeling the back of his neck heat. Why the fuck did she keep making him heat up? It was so fucking annoying. He started jogging, secretly hoping she'd come.

Hang on, she'd come from the other direction of the track- had she already finished a lap? How long had she been out there already? Maybe she was finishing up...

"How's your head?" came her voice from just behind him.

Shit, she'd come along after all. Maybe she wasn't mad at him? "Fine." He answered curtly, not able to help the scowl he directed down at her "No thanks to you."

She scowled back, but her damned grin was still in place "I knew you could take it. If I'd doubted the Big Three couldn't handle a few measly shots of whiskey, I'd have brought the Malibu down instead." She looked thoughtful, scowl vanishing "Although, I think Midoriya might've preferred a girlier drink."

Bakugo couldn't help the amused snort he gave. Even he knew what Malibu was- although he'd never tasted it.

Without meaning to, he watched the girl out of the corner of his eye as she loped beside him. Even out of combat, she moved exceedingly well. He'd noticed yesterday and the day before as well, but it was still strangely satisfying to watch her. Bakugo had never been one to stare at girls- he didn't see the point. But looking at Hikari, he was starting to understand the appeal. There wasn't an ounce of fat on her frame. While the other girls in class, even the most athletic ones were (apparently) 'growing into their curves' as Grapefuck always put it, Hikari looked like she'd skipped that phase altogether. Her exposed waist was tiny yet her belly firm and almost ripped. Her shoulders were broad for a girl's, but not overly so, and complimented her toned arms. But it was her legs that drew his eyes most. He hadn't realised how much he'd looked at them until he couldn't yesterday morning, when she'd been too cold to expose them. Her legs were long, and looked strong. They completely upheld what she'd said about loving to run. He idly wondered if she could outrun Iida, if the other youth didn't use recipro burst.

His musing was interrupted when his eyes roved down her calves and to her feet. Her bare feet, which were tipped with delicate claws like her fingers "Where the fuck are your shoes?" he blurted out, uncaring it might be weird he'd been looking.

She shrugged "Wasn't in the mood for them. They slow me down." She either didn't notice, or didn't care he'd been looking at her feet.

He shook his head, forcing himself to look back at where they were going "Fucking weirdo." But there was no venom in his words.

They fell into the strange, companionable silence they'd managed the last two mornings. It was obvious the girl had truly recovered, because she apparently grew bored of their steady pace. Instead of accelerating and leaving him behind, Bakugo found himself reluctantly amused when she started to make a game of only stepping in the patches of light along the path, regardless of the obstacles. It was annoying, but also strangely interesting to watch. She kept pace perfectly the whole time. Bakugo started to recognise the rhythm she fell into- was this how she trained to use her weird fighting style? No wonder her movements were so unpredictable and erratic.

"You don't need to find another teacher." The words fell out of his mouth gruffly, and she actually stutter-stepped. He resolutely kept his eyes from her as she regained her balance.

"Say what?"

"For study group- you don't need to find a new teacher." Why the hell was the back of his neck flushing again?

"Oh good." She sounded relieved "Was gonna ask Shinso, but he already told me he'd end up brainwashing me to keep me still."

That brought a scowl to his face "Mind Fuck is as bad a teacher as Deku." He grumbled.

She snickered "Dunno- think it'd be a lot harder to get Shinso to cry."

Ok, that had him smirking. If she got that snarky git to that level of frustration, he'd cook a goddamned feast for her.

Five minutes later, he bit out another question that had her hesitating in her odd dancing steps "That weird shit you made us do...you've done that before, haven't you." He wasn't sure why he said it. He hadn't really thought about it until just now. Maybe it was because she was so different now to before- she was damned hard to predict. It was like she had a whole other personality besides the hyper-active, five-year old persona she displayed usually. Last night had reminded him that she'd been working with a Pro for as many years as he had been interning, maybe even more. Drake might come across as a fool, but even Aizawa seemed to have a level of respect for him. Perhaps there was a valid reason for that. Maybe they were capable Heroes.

She hadn't been expecting his line of thought though, because it took her a minute to respond "Um, yeah. It's kind of a thing, back home."

He mulled her words over briefly. He'd been right in thinking it was a ritual thing then? And she'd been through one before, which meant... "Who did you lose?"

If he hadn't been stealing glances at her, he'd have missed her shocked look- it was gone in an instant "What makes you think I've lost someone?" her tone was just as teasing and playful as usual, but there was a hint of steel underneath it. If he wasn't so used to Kirishima trying to hide his true feelings under his Mr Sunshine exterior, he'd have missed it.

"It's pretty fucking obvious."

She huffed and pouted "Well, you're not wrong. Kinda how I knew how you all felt- how you feel, especially."

He snorted. Not likely "I fucking doubt that."

She cocked her head, not smirking anymore "Why?" the genuine question in her voice had him slow in his steps. She slowed as well, until they were just walking.

"Unless you lost your fucking partner, I doubt you know how I'd feel." He said sarcastically, just refraining from spitting it out. When she remained silent, not meeting his eyes, he felt a strange sinking sensation in his gut "Wait- that's who you lost? But I thought Drake..." way to put your fucking foot in your mouth- idiot.

She shrugged, still not looking at him "Nat wasn't always my partner."

But... surely she was nearly the same age he was, and she acted like Drake had been her partner for years "Did you know them long?"

"Kinda. She was more like a big sister, than a partner. Her family took me in when I was really young, and we bonded. I only went into the Hero gig cos she was already an Underground Pro." There was no sadness in her voice or face, only thoughtfulness. Wait, took her in? Was she adopted? Maybe that was a question for another time...

But it must have happened a long time ago, for her to be so... over it. A weird lump grew in his throat at the mere thought of talking about his early days with Burnin, as tumultuous as they'd been "How did she die?" he asked instead, wincing internally at the bluntness of the question.

"A Villain." Hikari replied, looking straight ahead "It was quick though. There wasn't a body or anything, but there were witnesses. I went off the rails for a bit." She finally looked at him, a sly smile growing on her lips "I was kinda like you, back then." She said, gently shoving his shoulder playfully. He didn't flinch away that time, but she didn't seem to notice "I was an angry little fucker." He raised an eyebrow. Like him, huh? "Still am, really. Nat helped me sort my shit out though."

"Did he work in the same agency?" the Brit must have been close to her first partner to have stepped in so quickly and efficiently. Bakugo had yet to hear who he was partnering with next week, when they went back to Endeavor's agency to resume their internship. He was not looking forward to that.

Hikari shook her head, curls bouncing "Nah- he was her cousin. Mutual grief does wonders as far as 'bonding' goes." She sounded like it didn't bother her at all. Was that what people meant when they said 'time healed all wounds'? He and Burnin had only been partners- he'd never even called her by her first name. Hikari had lost someone she called sister- and she talked about it like it was just another memory .

"How did you move past it?" he asked quietly, uneasily. Fuck, why was he even asking? He didn't even talk about this feeling shit with Kirishima.

"Like I said, I was an angry little fucker. I burnt a lot of shit to the ground, drank a lot of alcohol, and got into a lot of fights. It took Nat to pull me out of it- as a friend." She smiled, this time it was fond, as she obviously thought of her partner "Remember what I said last night; warriors don't grieve alone- we can't. Fucking hurts too much." She looked at him, still smiling that warm smile. An unwelcome burning sensation built behind his eyes "Don't forget; you've got friends who hurt too."

He couldn't help it, he looked away "It doesn't just hurt." He muttered "It pisses me off. She didn't just die- she killed herself. Why the fuck would she do that? Fucking weak." There was the crux of it.

Hikari sighed heavily "I dunno. It sucks- but don't let it tarnish your memories. Nat and I have lost a fair few comrades to that particular darkness; it always leaves more questions than it should. Just...try to remember that no matter how strong someone comes across, we all still have our demons."

They didn't speak for a long time after that, although they did pick up the pace once more. The silence wasn't strained though. It was almost peaceful.

Finally, as the sun started to rise, Hikari cleared her throat "Best of three? I'll even give you a handicap." She lifted a hand to cover one of her eyes, and grinned up at him "I'll only see half of you, as I leave you behind."

Like a light switch, Bakugo was jerked out of the pensive trance he'd been in, and adrenaline flared. He scowled, but smirked, and found himself swatting at her arm "Don't be fucking stupid- I don't need a handicap to beat your skinny ass." Her bare skin had been scolding hot.

She scoffed "I thought you said my ass was 'fat'! Fine- beat me and I'll tell you my Quirk." Then she was off, like a fucking greyhound released after a rabbit. Hell, she seemed even faster with no shoes on.

Bakugo shook his head as he surged after her, still smirking as he pushed himself to his limit. He'd be the last person to admit, but there was no way in hell he'd beat her on foot. Wouldn't stop him from trying though.

 

Chapter Text

22:45

ThePikachu: @ShityHair well... that was intense.

ShittyHair: Just a smidge. You guys right, @TheNerd, @FuckYou, @ThePureOne?

TheNerd: Yeah, I'm ok. Head feels a little funny, and I think the room is spinning...

ThePureOne: My room is spinning as well- is there something wrong with the building?

ShittyHair: I think you're just a bit drunk dude... the buildings' not spinning XD

TheProphet: WHY THE HELL WOULD HE BE DRUNK!?!?

TheCreeper: WHO HAS ALCOHOL? WHERE IS IT??

TheSquare: I'd offer sympathy, but you all deserve to suffer.

ThePureOne: That was unusually cruel, Iida.

TheSquare: You were unusually foolish, Todoroki.

TheProphet: CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED? Seriously, I leave you lot alone for ONE evening, and somehow two of lamest people in our class get DRUNK?!

TheNerd: We're not lame :(

TheNerd: Why did you call us lame and not Kacchan?

TheProphet: Because I like life.

TheCreeper: Speak of the rage gremlin, why isn't he abusing us?

ThePikachu: Maybe he passed out. He looked pretty messed up.

ShittyHair: Can't believe Hikari managed to break him down that much. She's scary :X

TheGrim: I am intrigued, by both the involvement and alcohol and by whatever Hikari did.

Mezu Shoji: Ok, what do you mean; Bakugo broke DOWN?

TheCreeper: Wait, did he CRY?

TheLurker: Did she break his nose again?

TheLurker: Oh wait, I just saw about the drunk thing. I did wonder why she was nursing half a bottle of whiskey.

ShittyHair: Hikari kinda forced Midoriya, Bakugo and Todoroki to do some sort of weird 'grieving' ritual, and made them drink half a bottle of whiskey with her. It was totally hardcore. Am actually scared of her now.

ThePikachu: Hang on, how did @TheLurker know she had half a bottle left- you weren't even there?

TheLurker: I was lurking.

TheCreeper: So Bakugo is an emotional drunk?! XD XD XD Omg please tell me someone took pictures!

ShittyHair: Dude...no. We're actually his friends?

TheCreeper: Oh please, you're just as scared of him as the rest of us.

TheGrim: What sort of ritual?

TheNerd: It wasn't really a ritual. I think it was some sort of pagan wake or something.

TheCreeper: Wait, she's PAGAN?

Mashirao Ojiro: Makes sense; that tattoo on her arm is Celtic or something.

TheSquare: It doesn't matter what she is; it's a violation of school rules to have alcohol on campus.

ShittyHair: But it's for her Quirk :)

ThePureOne: Perhaps I should enquire as to if it would help with training my left side.

TheLurker: Pretty sure you don't have the 'constitution'. The Irish are notoriously capable at drinking.

TheCreeper: Great, a pagan ritual where one of the hot girls got drunk. I MISS OUT ON EVERYTHING AROUND HERE.

TheNerd: Hikari didn't look drunk- quite the opposite. I suspect her metabolism would make it difficult for her to be affected by alcohol.

ThePikachu: How can you be sloshed, and still be so articulate and nerdy?

TheGrim: It is a rare skill indeed.

ThatFrenchie: ~*I apologise for interrupting, but I have had some success in my efforts in infiltrating the Girl's Chat, if you wish to hear some inside information. *~

TheCreeper: HOLY SHIT Aoyama you beautiful bastard! WHAT DID YOU FIND OUT?

ShittyHair: That was a sudden change in topic XD

TheCreeper: Who cares about those idiots getting drunk if there weren't any girls involved! I don't wanna hear about Bakugo blubbing like a baby- I wanna hear about WHAT GIRLS TALK ABOUT!

ThePikachu: You are actually a terrible person...

TheCreeper: Don't tell me YOU don't wanna know what they gossip about! Pillow fights, new panties, comparing cup sizes...oh my god our LIVES ARE ABOUT TO CHANGE!

TheProphet: What did we say about making this weird? Shut up or I'll kick you out.

ThatFrenchie: ~* This information is highly classified. I struggled to obtain it without suspicion. *~

ThePikachu: You are without peer and above value! What did you find out?! :D

ThatFrenchie: ~* For tonight's Salacious Secret; I shall give you the remainder of none of than Kurai Hikari's Ratings! *~

ShittyHair: 0.0 :0 No way!

TheProphet: ^^^ !!!

ThePikachu: Oh my god, and Bakugo's not even here XD

TheNerd: We're still assuming she rated him highly?

ShittyHair: Bet you 1500 yen he's a 9 or higher XD

ThePureOne: But didn't she supposedly rate YOU a 9 @ShittyHair? Is that not also a high rating?

TheNerd: Maybe she is just really nice with her ratings?

ThePikachu: I kinda doubt it XD there's a reason we dubbed her MRS Psycho last chat. Go on @ThatFrenchie lay it on us! We can take it XD

ThatFrenchie: ~* Be forewarned; these are not for the faint of heart! Sero: 4, Mineta: Fruit, Rikido: 5, Ojiro: 5, Shoji: 5, Koda: 5, Iida: 4, Fumikage: 4, Kaminari: 7, Shinso: 7, Midoriya: 7, Todoroki: 8, Kirishima: 9 and finally, controversially- Bakugo: 10. ~*

TheProphet: Wow XD harsh! Like, way harsher than any of us were!

TheProphet: Wait, she rated Bakugo a 10!?!?

ThePikachu: OMG

ThePureOne: Does that mean Hikari likes Bakugo?

TheCreeper: Who cares about fucking Bakugo!? What the hell does 'fruit' mean?!

ThatFrenchie: ~* I anticipated that question, and enquired. Apparently Hikari has a saying: AMV- Animal, Mineral, Vegetable. It means 'do anything, to anything'. Unfortunately, Fruit is not in her saying. *~

TheLurker: I think that means you don't rate.

ThePikachu: Burn XD XD XD

ShittyHair: ^^^

TheProphet: ^^^

TheNerd: I wonder what Kacchan will think of his rating?

TheProphet: Do we still think he's got the hots for her?

TheGrim: He did seemed concerned at the end of Hero Training when Kirishima's and Shinso's match finished.

Mashirao Ojiro: Concerned is probably a strong word XD

TheNerd: For Kacchan, that was concerned.

ThePikachu: You are so snarky in chat @TheNerd it's actually hilarious.

TheProphet: It's cos he can't hide behind those big puppy eyes XD His true inner Snark comes out.

TheLurker: I'd change his nickname, but his current one is too accurate.

Mezo Shoji: ^^ This is true.

ThePikachu: You're being awfully quite @ShittyHair do you know something we don't?

ShittyHair: Nope.

ThePureOne: Even I can sense the lie in that one-word response.

ThePikachu: Wait, you KNOW SOMETHING?

TheProphet: Dude!

TheCreeper: IS BAKUGO GETTING SOME????

ShittyHair: NO! Nothing like that! I only know what you lot know! He's not said anything to me :0

ThePikachu: Sure sure. We TOTALLY believe you, Mr Bestfriendswiththegremlin.

TheSquare: Leave Kirishima alone. Just because he has more integrity than the rest of you degenerates.

TheProphet: He's just sore cos he got rated a 4 XD

TheGrim: So did we...

ThePikachu: So...would it be fair to assume Hikari probably has a crush on Bakubro too?

TheLurker: Probably more than safe.

TheProphet: ^^^ XD Like I said last chat; this is gonna be hilarious.

TheNerd: @ShittyHair do you think Kacchan would check back through these messages?

ShittyHair: Unlikely, but you never know.

ThePikachu: Does it matter?

ThePureOne: Would it not be helpful for him to know his feelings are possibly reciprocated?

TheCreeper: Bakugo only has TWO feelings, and I doubt any chick is gonna 'reciprocate' them.

Mezo Shoji: Angry and petulant?

TheGrim: Rage and hate?

TheProphet: Insecure and enraged?

ThePikachu: Tired and angry?

TheSquare: Self-loathing and insecurity?

ThePikachu: ^^^ that's harsh XD

Mashirao Ojiro: Jealousy and resentment?

ShittyHair: You guys are so mean!

TheCreeper: And all correct XD

TheNerd: He does so have feelings! He's sad about Burnin... :(

ThePureOne: We all are.

TheSquare: We are all very sorry for your loss. Burnin was a fine Hero.

TheLurker: ^^^

TheGrim: ^^^

ThatFrenchie: ~* ^^^ *~

ShittyHair: ^^^

TheProphet: ^^^

TheNerd: Thanks guys.

TheCreeper: That killed the atmosphere really quickly...

ThePikachu: Well...back to the crush thing; @ThePureOne, ask for another training session and we'll somehow get Blasty to rock up when Hikari starts strip-teasing you XD

TheProphet: Hey...can we actually organise that? I need to get a picture of Bakugo BLUSHING XD

ThePikachu: @ShittyHair you're up- wanna help us try to hook Bakubro up?

TheNerd: You guys are actually nuts. Can I help?

ThatFrenchie: ~* I suggest moving any covert operation discussions to another chat, in case a certain someone read back through these messages. *~

ThePikachu: ^^^ Actually worth your weight in gold, dude XD

TheCreeper: If you people don't tell me when Hikari starts dancing, there will be vengeance! I WILL HAVE MY FEAST OF IRISH EYECANDY! I don't care if she HAS got the hots for that yappy Pomeranian.

TheLurker removed TheCreeper from the chat.

TheLurker: It got weird.

ThePikachu: Awfully chivalrous of you ;) but motion agreed and carried.

ThePikachu: Bakugo is actually going to murder him if he sees that XD

TheNerd: ...Do we tell him?

TheProphet: I am both scared, and awed of in-chat Midoriya.

 

Chapter Text

Kirishima wasn't sure if it had been the alcohol, the weird lecture, or a combination of the two- but the next day Midoriya, Todoroki and even Bakugo were all in better moods. He totally understood why yesterday had been so hard, and he didn't blame them at all; he'd been struggling to find reasons to smile. Even the next day, he couldn't really compute that such a powerful and well-liked Hero could...end it all that way. Knowing her personally would've made it so much worse...But even as a sympathiser, it had been a struggle, dealing with Bakugo. He had been particularly...Bakugo yesterday- he wouldn't have been surprised if a few of their classmates never spoke to him again; especially Hikari.

The redhead could've kicked the blonde after he dismissed her in such a harsh manner, when she'd gotten back to the dorms. He knew Bakugo lashed out when he was angry or... 'feeling'- and he knew the idiot would feel horrible when he calmed down enough to realise what he'd said (although he'd never admit it). And that hadn't even been the worst thing he'd said to his supposed crush that day (even if he admitted that). But he'd underestimated the Irish girl. Instead of running off and sulking after the cruel words, she'd risen beautifully to his explosive friends' shitty attitude.

As he watched her force the three to drink, standing over them like a ferocious drill sergeant, he felt both a surge of jealousy that she apparently liked Bakugo, but also a glimmer of excitement for his friend. She was exactly what he needed in a potential girlfriend. Someone who could deal with his horrid attitude, ignore his meanness and see through his asshole act, all the while loving physical activity enough to keep up, and even surpass him. She was smoking hot, an absolute riot to be around, could hold her own in a fight, and was strong. She was so...manly! If she really did have a crush on his friend, and if Bakugo didn't start to notice her properly before long, Kirishima wouldn't put it past her to simply take matters into her own hands. And a small part of him kinda wanted to see her do it.

These were all thoughts he kept to himself. He was tempted to mention them to Mina, but he had a sneaking suspicion the pink girl was all too aware of the situation. She'd made it clear she was intent on 'speeding things up', but Kirishima wasn't sure how'd she'd manage that.

So, with whatever it had been that had happened, either the therapy drinking, or the morning run (which he suspected Hikari had gone along for), Bakugo was a person he could actually deal with the next day. He was nowhere as prickly as the day before, even if he looked like he hadn't slept a wink. Even when Kaminari jokingly asked how he felt after his 'therapy session', he only scowled and ignored the electric blonde.

But if Bakugo was 'manageable', subdued even, Hikari was the total opposite. It was as if yesterday and last night had never happened. She was completely back to her normal, upbeat and borderline childish self- and Kirishima couldn't have been more grateful. It was exactly what they all needed; distraction and entertainment.

"How can you b