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just wanna tell you that you're really pretty, girl

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Jirou is beautiful.

Momo notices it one day completely out of the blue. They’re not doing anything out of the ordinary, and they’re not even necessarily interacting, but—they’re in the library, stacks of books between them, Jirou on her phone even though she’s supposed to be studying, Momo trying to get her work done, when she notices it. Jirou moves so that she’s leaning with her chin in the palm of her hand, letting out a quiet sigh as she continues scrolling, and Momo looks up.

See, Momo might understand why her breath catches if Jirou were dressed up, like for a dinner party or for a school dance or something like that, but she isn’t; she’s only in the school uniform, the same as every other day, her elbows on the table and her bangs crooked and her eyes roaming lazily across her phone’s screen and Momo has the very clear, sudden thought, she’s pretty.

And she knew that before—really, she did. But the thought is made clear to her now, for a reason she can’t fathom.

She can’t finish any of her work for the rest of their time in the library. She tries not to, but she keeps sneaking glances at Jirou just to make sure she isn’t crazy, just to make sure the attraction won’t suddenly go away.

 

--

 

“You have a crush.”

Todoroki says it so plainly, like it’s the only conclusion to come to, as if it’s silly for her to entertain any other explanation. Momo frowns, wondering just how Todoroki—with all his own problems and repressed pining—became a romance expert overnight. She thinks about his answer and crosses her arms over her chest loosely, frowning.

“I…I guess that’s a possibility,” she admits slowly. “But that seems like a bit of a stretch. You… know how I am when it comes to romantic attraction.”

“I know,” he says, nodding. He pauses, closes the book he has in front of him, and sets it on the table gently before turning his eyes to her. With how they’re seated, the side of his face free of his scar faces Momo. “Yaoyorozu, how long have you and Jirou been friends?”

Momo has to think about it for a moment. “Since all of us met, I guess.”

“As first years?”

She gives him a confused look. He obviously knows the answer. “Along with the rest of class 1-A, yes.”

“And you’ve been close with her since then.”

“I guess…”

“Best friends?”

“Well…”

He doesn’t say anything after that. It takes Momo a second, but she catches on to what he’s trying to get at, and it makes her face burn with embarrassment. She huffs, uncrosses her arms only to cross them again, and doesn’t meet his eyes, looking instead at the corner of his book. The jacket cover is old and worn. She wonders if Midoriya leant it to him.

“I get what you’re saying,” she says, “but that still doesn’t necessarily mean that I like her like that. We’re just friends. I can have friends without wanting to date them.”

“I’m just asking that you don’t ignore the possibility.”

“I won’t,” she promises, although she’s still blushing.

“Good.”

She feels him still looking at her from the corner of his eye. She taps her finger on her forearm where her arms are crossed before sighing. “Hey, Todoroki-kun…”

“Hm?”

“Thanks,” she says. “For helping.”

He shrugs. “I don’t know how much I actually did, but…you’re welcome.”

“And if you ever need my help with anything like this, I’d be happy to return the favor,” she offers, smiling slightly.

He grabs his book and stands as if to leave. His face is turned away from her, but she knows him well enough to know he’s blushing.

“No problem.”

She catches that he doesn’t turn down the last offer, but she doesn’t point it out.

 

--

 

Once Momo’s noticed, she can’t stop.

Jirou is—pretty. In all kinds of different ways, and it changes every time Momo sees her again. It’s frustrating, mostly because Momo can’t figure out what it is about her that makes everything she does so attractive. The fact that she can’t figure it out, in turn, distracts her from her daily life, and leads to even more stress from fear of falling behind in school. (Of course, Momo would never actually let herself fall behind, but she gets pretty close, and that’s enough to bother her.)

It’s worse when they see each other outside of school—which is most of the time. Since a few months into their first year, the two of them had been going to cafes on the weekends to do homework and hang out. It had originally started because Jirou wanted help with a subject, but they just kept showing up every week. Eventually it became habitual and morphed from a study thing to a social thing.

Momo couldn’t say she minded. Friends weren’t something she had in abundance growing up. She had known Todoroki prior to entering U.A., but that was it, making him her one and only friend all the way up until high school. In elementary and middle school, people viewed her as a show off, a teacher’s pet, a know-it-all, and so had avoided her, as children tended to do. After coming to U.A., Jirou hadn’t. She’d been apathetic at first, taken a few weeks to actually open up, but she never avoided Momo and she was never put off. And once she had warmed up, well…they’d been friends ever since.

So on days when they see each other outside of school, Jirou’s true sense of fashion shines, free of uniforms or hero costumes. Today she’s wearing something comfortable, some low-riding but stylish sweatpants and a muscle shirt. Maybe she threw it on a few minutes before heading out the door, Momo wonders, and she can imagine Jirou doing something like that, but somehow, she still looks good.

Dammit, she looks good in everything.

Her fingernails are painted purple to match her hair, but the paint is chipping. Momo notices this while Jirou taps her index finger on the lid of her coffee, which is really just eighty percent creamer, ten percent sugar, and ten percent actual coffee. She doesn’t get something every single time they meet here, but it’s ten A.M. on this Sunday morning, and for Jirou, that’s considered far too early to be up voluntarily.

Still, she shows up. Momo can’t help how warm that makes her feel.

“So,” Jirou says. Momo’s eyes flicker from the tapping finger to Jirou’s face, where she’s raising one plucked eyebrow, a small smile on her lips.

“Sorry,” Momo says, and reaches for her own cup—plain black coffee with two packs of sugar. She takes the lid off and blows on the surface to cool it down between speaking. “What were you saying?”

“Nothing. Just wondering what’s got you all distracted today,” Jirou says nonchalantly.

“Distracted?”

“Yeah, you’ve been all spacey all morning.” She makes a vague gesture with the hand that isn’t still tapping on her cup’s lid, motioning to the air around her head as if that will help illustrate something.

“I haven’t been meaning to be,” Momo says. She starts to take a sip of her drink and finds out the hard way that it’s too hot. She pulls the cup away from her mouth, cursing.

“Burn your tongue?”

Momo nods, holding her hand over her mouth. She can feel Jirou’s curious, worried eyes trained on her while she winces, trying to calm the pain in her mouth. She sets the cup down on the table.

“That’s not like you,” Jirou points out. “See: distracted.”

“I’m not,” Momo mumbles, still holding her hand in front of her face.

The other girl grins, as if her friend’s protests just prove her point more. “Is there something going on you haven’t told me about?”

“No.”

“Boys?”

Momo’s heart pounds a little harder in her chest, only because it occurs to her suddenly that Jirou doesn’t know—that she’s never brought it up, or even thought to bring it up. She must take a moment too long to respond, and Jirou takes that as a yes.

“Seriously? Who? What happened?”

“It’s not a boy, calm down.” Momo lowers her hand from her mouth finally, rolling her eyes to make herself look a little more normal, and less like she’s about to combust. She hopes Jirou doesn’t notice how nervous she is when she says, “I have no interest in things like that.”

“What, romance?”

“No. Boys.”

For what it’s worth, Jirou doesn’t look surprised. She only shrugs. Without any sleeves, it’s much more apparent that hero training has finally gotten to her.

“Me too, the fuck,” she says offhandedly. “So, what is it then?”

“Wh-what?”

“What?”

Momo blinks. “You just said ‘me too’ and nothing else.”

Jirou nods. “Yeah. ‘Me too’ as in I don’t have interest in boys either.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

There’s a pause. Jirou takes a sip of her coffee, sets the cup back down on the table definitively, and clarifies, “I’m a huge lesbian.”

“That’s understandable.”

Momo makes the comment with little thought to what she’s actually saying, trying too hard right now to process the rest of the conversation they just had and the fact that she just came out to the girl she—according to Todoroki—may possibly have a crush on. She’s surprised, then, to hear the sudden bark of laughter from Jirou, the sound unfiltered, light. Sincere.

Jirou’s eyes scrunch up slightly when she laughs, her teeth white and straight from years of braces (she’d shown Momo a picture from middle school once, of thirteen-year-old Jirou with badly dyed hair and the ugliest braces possible), and she leans back in her chair just a little bit. Her eyelashes are so long that they flutter against her cheeks with the proximity.

Not for the first time, Momo has that realization: Jirou is beautiful.

 

--

 

“Did you shrink?”

Jirou frowns, crossing her pale arms over her chest, and pushes her way further into Momo’s room. Momo closes the door behind her. It’s embarrassing, how she debates whether or not to lock it after Jirou. She feels her face burn when she recognizes she’s even entertaining the thought and shakes her head to herself. That’s ridiculous, and not at all necessary. Stop it.

“No,” Jirou says from behind Momo, already making herself comfortable on the bed. “I just don’t have my shoes on right now.”

“Really?” Momo leaves the door unlocked and turns back around to face her friend, watching her where she sits on the bed, already looking at something on her phone while she waits for Momo. She’s in a paint-stained tank top and basketball shorts, functioning as pajamas. Her fingernail polish is chipped almost all the way off now, but her toenails are painted to match what her nails used to be, and they look completely undamaged.  

“I’m short, alright?” Jirou shrugs, typing something with one hand, leaning back on the palm of the other. “We can’t all be ten-feet goddesses like you.”

“I’m not ten feet tall,” Momo protests, and ignores how her stomach flutters at the “goddess” comment. Jirou doesn’t seem to notice what the compliment did to her friend, nor does she say anything else on the matter.

“So,” she says, locking her phone and sliding it back in her back pocket, “is it show time or what?”

“Let me get my laptop up.”

“Nice.”

Momo retrieves her computer and climbs onto the bed next to her friend, opening her browser to the tab she’d already had up of the movie they’ve decided to watch, loaded and ready to play. She’d spent half an hour trying to find a free version of this film, one that wouldn’t give her computer a virus, and had finally succeeded when Jirou knocked on her door to announce her arrival.

Tonight, they’re watching some foreign indie film Jirou had recommended, called Yes or No. Momo has little to no idea what it’s about, but Jirou had promised it was good, so she’s decided to trust that opinion and just hope they have similar tastes. This isn’t the first movie night they’ve had together, but it is the first time they’ve watched anything Momo hasn’t seen before.

Like their café days, movie nights are something that gradually shifted to an excuse for the two to hang out. It started out as an all-girls-in-class-1A activity, but Jirou started inviting Momo to watch films and TV shows with her without the others present, and now it’s just something they do every now and then. A best friend thing.

A best friend thing where they get to sit with their sides pressed together, Jirou’s bare shoulder against Momo’s, sharing warmth underneath the quilted blanket Momo throws over them and the heat of her laptop as it starts up the opening scene. She tries very, very hard to focus on the film, she does—but, like it was at the café, it’s difficult. Todoroki’s words play over in her head as Jirou shifts against her, moving so they’re unintentionally pressed even closer together. You have a crush. You have a crush.

For a moment, Momo regrets agreeing to this. She can already feel how she’s going to embarrass herself, how she’s going to freak out over nothing and make a big deal out of a little contact, and Jirou’s going to either know automatically what’s up, or she’s going to worry about it until Momo provides an adequate explanation. Someone who doesn’t have feelings for their best friend does not act as weird as she does about contact, or about compliments, or about anything, really.

But on the other hand, she rationalizes, it is pretty nice like this. She gives herself a moment just to enjoy this, to revel in the butterflies in her stomach, to bask in the feelings of a giddy, schoolgirl crush for once—if that’s what this is, of course. And she hates to admit it, but it’s feeling more and more like Todoroki was right.

Jirou’s thigh is warm against Momo’s. With eight inches between the two, Momo is taller than Jirou even when sitting down. Maybe that’s what makes her decide to lean her head on Momo’s shoulder thirty minutes into the film, her purple hair brushing against the skin on Momo’s neck, smelling like lavender and what might be men’s body wash. Momo wonders if Jirou buys it because it’s cheaper, or if she just likes the scent more. When she glances down, she can see Jirou’s profile, her long, dark eyelashes and the gentle curve of her natural eyebrows, free of any makeup right now since she never wears any during these movie nights.

Somehow, Jirou is both feminine and masculine—buying quite a large portion of her clothes from the men’s section (“They’re cheaper, more comfortable, and the pockets are way bigger. Plus, I just look good in ‘em.”) while still plucking her eyebrows and painting her nails. Her style fluctuates wildly, wearing boyish jeans and a plain t-shirt one day and a dark skirt and full face of makeup the next. The only constant between any of it is that, no matter what, she is beautiful, and no matter, Momo finds herself smitten.

She isn’t paying any attention to the movie anymore.

 

--

 

“I have a crush.”

Todoroki looks up from his phone, his eyebrows raising subtly. “Do you,” he says.

“Yes,” Momo admits.

“On Jirou?”

Her shoulders sag in defeat. “Yes.”

“Well.” He pauses. “At least you didn’t ignore the possibility.”

Momo just lays her head on her desk and sighs.