15 Chapter 15

As if the fact they had been ignoring him all day was a distant memory, Tsuyu and Ochaco approached Izuku shortly after All Might was finished evaluating their performance.

Touching her chin, Tsuyu, wearing a predominately green, frog-themed bodysuit with goggles, remarked, "You really gave it your all, didn't you, Izuku-chan?"

Pumping her fists excitedly, Ochaco, wearing a form-fitting pink and blue bodysuit, oversized pink boots, pink wrist accessories, and a utility belt, added, "I know, right? That was totally awesome! Ah, I'm pumped up just thinking about it...!"

Adopting a somewhat wry smile, Izuku, still-shirtless, replied, "Thanks, Ochaco-san, Tsuyu-chan. I appreciate the compliment. Unfortunately, I still have a ways to go before I can call myself a Pro. If I hadn't lowered my guard trying to show off, I wouldn't be in such a miserable condition."

Though he hadn't sustained any serious injuries, Izuku was looking a bit worse for wear, his hair and body covered in a mixture of sweat, dust, and concrete fragments. He was fairly used to being dirty, but it felt awkward chatting with two girls while he looked like shit.

Exhibiting a surprising lack of shame, Tsuyu gave Izuku's body more than a cursory glance before remarking, "Your condition doesn't seem too bad. That thing that makes your body all shiny must be pretty effective, ribbit. But I'm a little confused. Didn't you say your Quirk was related to boosting your strength, speed, and intellect?"

Suppressing his feeling of awkwardness, Izuku nodded his head and gave his chest a light smack as he explained, "This is one of the side effects of increasing my strength beyond a certain threshold. It would disappear if I shifted my focus to something else."

Reaching the obvious conclusion, Tsuyu asked, "Does that mean you gain other effects by shifting your focus?"

Though a number of his classmates were listening in on the conversation, Izuku didn't hesitate to answer, "That's right. If I focus on enhancing my speed, my legs are strengthened, and my feet can stick to surfaces more easily. If I really push myself, I can even run across water or scale walls a certain distance."

Blinking in surprise, Tsuyu voiced the opinion of nearly everyone present, stating, "That's incredible. Your Quirk is a lot more versatile than I initially thought, ribbit. I'm envious..."

Shifting the focus away from him, Izuku retorted, "The Quirks I'm envious of are Ochaco-san's and Todoroki-kun's. Giving objects the properties of zero gravity and being able to freeze over an entire building is incredible." Recalling her defeat at the hands of the latter, Tsuyu hung her head and became a little downcast. At the same time, Ochaco exhaled a nervous laugh, rubbing the back of her head as she said, "My Quirk isn't anything to be envious of. It's super useful in certain situations, but it isn't as flashy or cool as an emission or enhancement-type Quirk. If I'm unlucky, I could be spending my entire career as a sidekick."

Resisting the urge to explain how batshit-crazy-overpowered even the weakest form of gravity manipulation was, Izuku smiled broadly and said, "You're too hard on yourself, Ochaco-san. We haven't known each other for long, but I can tell you're kindhearted and have a persevering spirit. All you really lack is confidence. Once you realize how truly amazing you are, nothing can stop you from becoming a Pro."

Not expecting such heavy praise, Ochaco's face blushed bright red as a sudden urge to run away swelled within her chest. Fortunately, she wasn't alone, allowing her a chance to collect herself as Tsuyu gazed up at Izuku and advised, "You should consider toning it down a bit, Izuku-chan. Even if you're being one hundred percent sincere, it comes off as disingenuous when you praise people too much, ribbit."

Scratching the back of his head, Izuku defaulted to the tried-and-true method of easing tensions through self-depreciation, expressing, "Sorry, Tsuyu-chan, Ochaco-san. Before enrolling in UA, I rarely had the chance to speak with girls other than my Kaa-chan. This is all kind of new to me, so I apologize if it seems like I'm laying it on a little thick. It's just that all the girls in our Class are super amazing. This is the UA High Hero Course, after all."


Looking as though she had received critical damage, Tsuyu surprised Izuku by abruptly walking away. Things became especially awkward when Ochaco smiled bashfully and followed after her, but at least Izuku wasn't left completely alone. Immediately following the duo's departure, Kaminari and Kirishima approached him, patting his shoulders as they said, "You had a good run..." and "Better luck next time..." with looks of sympathy that were undermined by the glimmers of amusement in their eyes...




After a surprisingly exhausting day, Izuku was seriously considering just going home after waiting nearly an hour outside UA's front gate. Ashido had said she would meet him there after she took care of something, but the sky was beginning to darken and she still hadn't shown up.

Fortunately, while he was a little annoyed, Izuku had plenty of thoughts to occupy his mind. After all, if things continued to develop as they were, the USJ incident would be occurring the following day.

With more than two years to prepare, Izuku had considered hundreds, if not thousands, of methods to prevent the events in canon from getting out of hand. He may have only watched up to the fifth or sixth season of the anime, but that afforded him more than enough knowledge to alter the flow of events in a favorable direction. At the very least, he wouldn't allow his favorite rabbit-theme Hero to lose an arm and a leg...

Interrupting Izuku's thoughts, Ashido finally arrived, waving her hand and calling out to him as she ran over.

Stopping once she reached Izuku's side, Ashido bent over, placing her hands on her knees and struggling to catch her breath. Notably, unlike the other students passing through the gate, she wasn't wearing the grey blazer associated with their school. Instead, she was wearing the red tie and white dress shirt worn underneath, allowing keen-eyed observers to see the outline of her bra and the faint pink hue of her skin.

Though he couldn't help taking notice of these two features, Izuku took care to ensure his gaze didn't wander as he asked, "Is everything okay, Ashido-san? I appreciate that you ran all this way, but I would have kept waiting even if you took another hour or two."

Instead of responding to Izuku's question, Ashido exhaled an exhausted chuckle and focused on trying to catch her breath. She had originally only planned to keep Izuku waiting around fifteen minutes, but she got carried away conversing with the other girls. Then, on her way over, she realized her body was perspiring quite a bit due to their afternoon training, so she ran over to the showers, gave herself a quick scrub, and changed into her backup uniform before rushing over nearly an hour late...

Catching Ashido a little off guard, Izuku extended her a bottle of water he had pulled from his backpack. He generally carried several bottles and a fully-stocked first aid kit for emergencies, so he had plenty to spare as he said, "Here, take this, Ashido-san. It's a bottle of alkaline water with a pH level of 9.5. It may be a little warm since it's been sitting in my backpack, but the flavor is better than conventional tap or mineral water."

Accepting the bottle, Ashido jokingly asked, "What are you, a Boy Scout? Who carries bottled water around in their backpack instead of a tumbler?"

Shrugging his shoulders, Izuku answered, "Someone who doesn't want to feel helpless if they encounter a young child or an elderly citizen suffering from Heat Stroke?"

Rolling her eyes, Ashido removed the bottle's lid and downed its contents in a single go. She was surprised by how fresh it tasted, but she didn't comment on it, returning the empty bottle to Izuku as she said, "Thanks, Midoriya-kun. That really hit the spot. Now, how about we get this party started? The cafe I mentioned closes around 6:30, so we'll need to hurry if we want to make it."

Without waiting for Izuku's response, Ashido grabbed his arm like an over-affectionate girlfriend, intentionally brushing her breasts against him with a bright and cheerful smile.

Contrasting Ashido's expectations, a slight frown marred Izuku's face as he said, "This may be a date, but I don't think we're close enough to walk together in such a lovey-dovey fashion. At least not yet."

Though he didn't really mind it, Izuku could tell Ashido was attempting to goad him. It may have worked if he was a legitimate fifteen-year-old, but he wasn't some inexperienced brat. He was also secretly holding out for a real woman, examples being Midnight, Mirko, or Mt. Lady, so it would take more than a bit of skinship and playful flirting to move him.

Loosing her hold on Izuku's arm but not releasing it completely, Ashido narrowed her eyes and teased, "Wow, look at you. So mature..."

Instead of refuting the assertion, Izuku gave an affirming nod and asked, "Now, where is the cafe? Since you seem determined to cling to me, I may as well escort you properly..."

Turning her eyes up with an expression that seemed to ask, 'Are you for real?' Ashido replied, "It's not too far from the station, around a block or two South. I'll give directions as we go."

Hearing Ashido mention that their destination was South of the station, Izuku's eyes briefly narrowed. Said area was riddled with love hotels and other 'recreational' facilities. If members of UA's body were seen there, it would adversely affect the school's reputation. It was no wonder Ashido had 'forgotten' her blazer...

("This dumbass...") thought Izuku, even as he followed Ashido's directions to a tee. He could simply refuse if she attempted to invite him somewhere compromising, so there was no harm in playing along. Rather, if things did develop in that direction, he could reinforce the notion he wasn't a hungry wolf that would jump at the first opportunity to feed his urges. He held out against Inko, so there was no way he would succumb to a brat with more bravado than sense...




Though Izuku was correct in thinking that Ashido was steering him in the direction of Musutafu's version of a red-light district, the cafe she had in mind was located on the periphery, just outside the accepted 'boundary' of the region. It was the type of place people invited their boyfriends or girlfriends to when they wanted to take their relationship to the next level but lacked the courage to suggest it directly. As a result, the atmosphere within the cafe was palpably tense as Izuku and Ashido sat in a tiny booth intended for couples.

Exhibiting the same sense of unease as someone utilizing the cafe for its intended purpose, Ashido sat close enough to Izuku that her thigh grazed against his as she asked, "So, what do you think? Pretty interesting place, huh?"

Instead of immediately responding to Ashido's question, Izuku scanned their surroundings, inspecting every last person present before turning his gaze to the visibly nervous pinkette and replying, "I imagine it would be a nice place to visit if and when we get a little closer. For now, I think we're both out of our element."

Exhaling an uncharacteristically nervous chuckle, Ashido admitted, "You know, I think you may be right. The atmosphere is a lot tenser than I was expecting..."

Nodding in agreement, Izuku said, "Then there's no reason to hesitate. Let's get out of here."

Rising to his feet, Izuku extended his hand to help Ashido do the same. Their actions drew the gazes of several people, but as they had more to worry about than some random high school students, most looked away fairly quickly. As such, rather than falling into a trap, Izuku ended up in a situation where Ashido was the one embarrassed and forced to thank him when he lent her his blazer...




(A/N: All bark and no bite (O 3 O)...)

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