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The growing pains of realizing you're gay

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I

“It’s like, like – I could save so many more people if I just took the initiative!” Uraraka shouts, her fingers curling into twin fists and punching the air. Once, twice, thrice – then finish with an uppercut. She’s stronger than she gives herself credit for: she could knock out most of her classmates easy.

“And I wanted to! I told myself, this time I really will! But when I saw Deku fighting with Overhaul – he was handling the situation so well, I was afraid I couldn’t compare at all. It seems like there’s always someone that can do the flashier things better than me, so I’m stuck doing what anyone could. Do you think I’m just not suited for direct combat?”

Uraraka lifts her despairing gaze to meet Asui’s calm attentiveness, unsure if she wants comfort or honest advice. Uraraka’s back is pressed to the wall, legs bent towards her chest. Asui is leaning sideways in front of Uraraka, one shoulder gingerly touching Uraraka’s knee, chin lifted to an angle as if she expects a grand revelation from Uraraka – Asui treats what people say with the respect it deserves.

They’re close, but not closer than what’s normal for them. Asui’s hand winds around one of Uraraka’s, pries it open to rub a thumb into the pads of her palm. This, too, is within the norm.

Briefly, Asui considers all these little things that she can and does get away with. She gets away with them because she and Uraraka are friends, because they trust and confide in each other and also happen to both be girls. Asui knows all about camouflage.

Asui does not always have the right words, but she has real words: words that do not lie, that are needed but not always welcomed. She thinks logically, even in this situation. Even with the veins of her nervous, smitten heart constricting her tongue.

When it comes to those that are not ready for the reality Asui alchemizes into words, she just hopes that the words will remain somewhere in the niches of their minds, until they can piece together the puzzle themselves.

“No,” Asui answers in a firm, resolute tone, far from her usual aloofness. Still she is grateful for her stoic demeanor, which prevents unwelcome emotions from contaminating the verdict she’s delivering.

“I think you’re holding yourself back. You’re using Deku as an excuse. You don’t just admire him: you envy him. But you won’t let that envy carry you forward.”

So what Uraraka lacks is ambition. Or, rather, she has the ambition but won’t utilize it properly. The revelation frustrates her because she knows it’s true. It frustrates her because she knows exactly what she should do about it, but that’s only in theory, not in practice. All her conviction seems to fall apart when it comes to practice.

She’s also unsure how she feels about Asui reading her so well, though it’s no surprise to either of them. Rather, it’s the question of whether Uraraka wants other people to notice she’s struggling or not. She’s always putting herself last to cheer others on. She spent so many years worrying her parents that now she’s determined to never hold anyone else back with her problems. She’s made sure that people expect kindness and patience and support from her. They expect her to be an emotional sponge. They do not expect her to cry because she wishes she could be the one fighting for others. If she does cry, she knows, she should be smiling, too, so it’s less sad.

Asui understands all of this.

“Argh!" Uraraka shouts, rolling the sound between her tongue and teeth, cutting it into harmless pieces as if it can slide back down her throat and choke her. Such a feeling could, if not kept under check. If she were to allow herself to muster all her anger at once, she would surely act brashly.

“I feel like I’m not allowed to have a real personality! I must always follow the instructions of others, do what they decide is best for me! Deku doesn’t follow instructions – he follows his instincts, like a real hero! But I can’t be that spontaneous or reckless or selfish! I have to think about my future – the future of my parents. I have to do things right so they’ll be happy.”

Uraraka wants everyone around her to be happy. Everyone she cares about: they should not have to worry about her, or look after her, or suffer because of her. Which might happen, if she steps out of line and it turns out to backfire. She doesn’t understand how things seem to always work out for people like Midoriya.

It’s not just Midoriya – Iida, Todoroki, Kirishima: they’ve all got something going for them that Uraraka can’t find. They act like the protagonists of their own stories. Uraraka feels like a supporting character.

“That,” Asui says, slowly so the words will sink into the niches. “Is another excuse you’ve made for yourself.”

That statement, from anyone else, would outrage Uraraka: she’d be offended, and resent it to the point of irrational defensiveness. She would decide that no, she does not want others to know she struggles – she’s been pitied enough throughout her life. But Asui, of course, is an exception. Asui comes from a place of understanding: she isn’t parroting empty sympathy.

“This may not be the right time to say this,” Asui continues, her tone managing to remain unchanged. “But I need to say it. Just as a reminder.”

Something in her has shifted, softened. Stress is gathering in both of them like old, completed homework that they hesitate to throw out. There needs to be some spring cleaning – just a little night spring cleaning, to relieve their heavy heads before they go to bed. It’s not good to fall asleep upset: the upset festers, becoming a worse disease in the morning.

They’ve spent so long conversing that the clock is now approaching midnight. They’ll be expected to wake up for class tomorrow as usual.

This problem can not be fixed immediately, so it must be put on hold. Uraraka recognizes this, even as she lets herself get worked up over it, as if that will solve anything. But talking is a start, and any start is better than none. Now Uraraka looks like she is near tears: angry, self-loathing, but also loathing-towards-others tears. Her face is all scrunched up, like the skin of a peach that is growing bitter with old age. Her body shudders as she bites down on her lower lip to keep from sobbing.

Having come this far, Asui wishes that Uraraka would just let herself go, break down completely so all the negativity in her mind can be vented. But, even in front of Asui, Uraraka has an unfairly high sense of dignity.

So Asui offers this: as a bridge, as a reminder of how valuable Uraraka is. Now’s as good a time as ever – and, anyway, Asui only means to flatter; she expects no further.

“I love you,” Asui says. Blunt, blank, almost as if a question mark is missing at the end of it. It could be a question, but then Uraraka would be entrusted with answering it. Asui wishes it wasn’t that way: she wishes she could just say it, and Uraraka would press all ten of her finger pads to it, so it would float away. Out of sight, out of mind. A confession without consequence.

Of course it has never been like that before: Uraraka always has an answer. Sometimes with shock, sometimes with harmless gratitude. She prepares an answer because that’s what’s polite, what she believes is expected of her.

If Uraraka just left it suspended between them, without pinning it down and defining it, it would be free to morph into a terrible shape and coil around her chest. She would feel the pressure of its weight – she would have to consider a more difficult route around it.

Uraraka does not want to consider what Asui really means: she wants to decide what it means and leave it at that.

Uraraka’s lips stretch into a smile, lifting her cheeks so she squints. This is the only way she can face it: by squinting – seeing only a thin, non-threatening spec of the truth Asui is conveying.

Then Uraraka wraps her arms around Asui’s body, squeezing Asui’s head between her shoulder and neck. Asui holds her breath, then exhales a sigh that tickles Uraraka’s ear. It’s equal parts disappointed and relieved.

This embrace is within the norm, so Asui knows she has failed – failed to force Uraraka to confront the truth. But failure is not so bad: it means Asui can try again, as many times as she wants without losing hope. Being turned away isn’t as bad as being turned down.

“I love you, too,” Uraraka murmurs. She means it.

“You’re my best friend.”

 

II

Midoriya hesitates for a moment. Uraraka’s expression is still bright with anger but he doesn’t know how to argue with her over this. He doesn’t want to risk upsetting her further. Plus, there’s other things they should be doing. Their feelings shouldn’t interfere with their hero training.

Uraraka seems to perceive this, too, because her eyebrows straighten and resignation washes over her. Midoriya mistakes this for a sign that she agrees with him, but in reality she’s disappointed – in herself more than anyone else. Why can’t she find the right words to make him understand?

Asui always understands what Uraraka’s saying.

Before Uraraka can prepare for it, Midoriya leans in to kiss her on the mouth. Their kisses are rarely spontaneous, and when they are it’s because of Midoriya. Uraraka, while sweet with her words, has been lagging behind when it comes to physical affection. She does not know how, or rather does not feel the urge to initiate it. But that’s fine because Midoriya’s shy and doesn’t seem to mind.

Uraraka accepts kissing as a part of dating, both a requirement and an affirmation. She does not take particular pleasure in it, though. Usually she feels little to nothing about it, but in this case it spurs on her irritation. It takes all her focus to avoid seeming halfhearted. She doesn’t want to hurt her boyfriend’s feelings. It must work because he pulls away happy, oblivious to her blank expression.

“I’ll see you after training, okay?” he says, flashing Uraraka a half smile and squeezing her hands one last time before running off. Said hands clench into shaking fists as she watches him go. When she reels around, she’s kicking her leg into the air and grumbling loudly, seemingly unconcerned with who might hear.

Only Asui is present. She takes a couple of steps towards her friend, peering with concern.

Uraraka notices her and immediately explodes. Asui’s always a safe space to vent anything that’s bothering her.

Well, almost anything.

“I just don’t understand why we can’t train together!” Uraraka exclaims.

“Your teamwork is already excellent,” Asui offers tentatively. She isn’t yet sure what the real problem is and she prefers to attack things directly. “He wants to make sure he can fight with other people, too.”

“But what’s the point of our teamwork being good if we never team up?” Uraraka retorts, allowing a hint of dread to slip in. The embers in her eyes are being smothered by their own smoke. “Whenever we get into a real fight, we’re always separated! That’s what happened during the rescue mission! He goes his own way and, and leaves me behind!”

Asui knows what she means: she winds up doing the easier, safer job; she does not risk as much as him, or earn the satisfaction that comes with it.

Still Asui finds it unfair to blame Midoriya for that. He’s only ever done what he thinks is best for Uraraka.

But what people think is best for someone and what that person thinks is best for themself rarely aligns. Midoriya, of all people, should understand the desire to go against safe expectations.

“He’s looking out for the people he cares about. He’d rather be the one hurt than them.”

Crossing both arms over her chest, Uraraka huffs. She might as well be glaring into a mirror.

“And,” Asui adds delicately, “he cares about you the most.”

“So he should understand my feelings!” Uraraka yells. The pain in her voice is gritty, like gravel is stuck in her throat, but she’s too proud to start crying. She wrings the tears her body wants to shed out as if they’re water from dirty laundry. “I want to be treated as an equal! Someday we’ll both be pro heroes and there won’t be anyone to protect me! I just want to prove that I can do, that I can do –!”

She takes a deep breath.

“Everything he can,” Asui finished for her.

Uraraka’s eyes widen with relief. A smile flickers on her face but dissolves the next second.

“Yes! Exactly!”

Raising her eyebrows, Asui regards her friend with a mixture of sadness and surprise. She wonders why Uraraka won’t just say it herself. Is she perhaps afraid of doing so?

Or does she still need someone else to vouch for her?

Heaving an exhausted sigh, Uraraka lifts her hands to massage her temples.

“I’m sorry, Tsuyu. I don’t think I can train with you today.”

 

III

“What the fuck did you say to me, frog face?”

Uraraka looks away from the conversation she’s having with Ashido. Bakugou’s looming menacingly in front of Asui. His hands are suspended in the air instead of tucked safely in his pockets, fingers half curled into rigid fists. A deriding scowl cleaves his already nasty face.

Asui opens her mouth to reiterate her previous statement but Bakugou’s arm swings towards her and she has to step sideways to avoid being hit. She winces at the loud bang in her ear and then the astringent reek of smoke. Asui has sharper senses than the average person.

“I dare you to say that again! And I’ll fucking kill you when you do!” Bakugou bellows.

Uraraka musters a conflicted expression, mashing indignation and dread,  as if she’s debating whether to cross an obviously rickety bridge or steer clear of it. Her heart is punching her rib cage. Her muscles taste adrenaline.

Uraraka catches Midoriya staring at them, too, and he turns to meet her gaze, then lowers his face as shame hardens its features. His frown is decisively defeated. Even if he feels an irrational responsibility for Bakugou’s bad behavior, he can’t afford to interfere in every fight Bakugou starts.

Uraraka was just wondering what Midoriya would do in this situation. She’s often refers to him when she’s struggling to be brave. She knows that in a dangerous situation Midoriya will always step forward to do something about it, but sometimes it’s the little, inoffensive-in-comparison things that are at the root of those bigger problems and need to be dealt with first. It occurs to Uraraka that Midoriya knows this, yet his advice, in this case, would remain the same: stay out of it; more people getting involved will just edge Bakugou on.

Asui can take care of herself, right?

But Asui’s safety isn’t Uraraka’s only concern – though it is, naturally, the most pressing one. Uraraka has watched how Asui deals with Bakugou, and, while there is merit in seeming unaffected, silence just lets him go off like it’s his fucking gift to the world.

Uraraka knows what Midoriya would do, and she knows that she can do better.

“Hey, asshole!” Uraraka yells, stalking over to them and standing in front of Asui. Her fists knock against her hips as she summons her own scornful glare. Asui’s surprised but regards her friend silently.

“You can’t just say whatever you want because you know she won’t fight back!”

Bakugou stares at her like she’s a stupid bird that just flew into a window. He may be pissed at Asui for something she said, but he’s got a personal vendetta against Uraraka. He’s always pissed off at her existence.

“Ha? You want to get blown up, too, round face? You know you’re not even a real hero,” he sneers, his mouth reshaping into a smirk. His hands set off a barrage of explosions, but Uraraka doesn’t even flinch.

“Oh, I’d like to see you try.”

“What was that?” Bakugou snaps.

It’s like he can’t hear anything others says, just feel affronted by it. Uraraka isn’t being intimidated by this textbook bullshit.

“I said, I’d like to see you try!”

Uraraka lifts her fists as she speaks, sliding her left foot backwards to adopt a fighting stance. She has to show how absolutely not scared of this jerk she is.

Bakugou moves as if he’s going to attack but Uraraka cuts in with something that comes as a surprise even to her. Though it’s blurted out in a hurry, it’s framed by an impeccable conviction.

“You don’t scare me! I’ve faced way worse people than you! Actual villains! You’re just some egoistical shithead that couldn’t even pass the provisional license exam! I, on the other hand, –!”

Uraraka lifts her chin and points her right thumb at her chest.

Did!”

Before Bakugou can stop gawking at her, she soaks her vocal cords in cold acidity and whispers, “just try picking a fight with me now. See how it goes.”

Fear catches up to Uraraka as she realizes how spectacularly she’s overdone it. But she meant every last word, so perhaps it’s for the best she’s finally let it out. Not for Bakugou’s sake, not for Asui’s, not even for Midoriya’s – it’s for herself that she’s stepped in. Now everybody knows where she stands. Now she can’t doubt herself.

Uraraka grabs Asui’s hand, mutters, “fuck you, Bakugou,” and storms off with her.

She can’t hear Bakugou screaming after them because Asui leaps into her arms with a grateful embrace and her heart starts pounding loudly in her ears.

 

IV

Asui lies sideways on the couch, her smaller body fitting perfectly into Uraraka’s – the little spoon in their cuddling, as people call it. Asui’s been sleeping a lot lately, a side effect of the darkening weather. Though it’s perfectly balmy inside the dorm, Asui still curls slightly into herself as if in preparation for hibernation. Uraraka responds by wrapping her arms around Asui’s back and rubbing the area between the shoulder blades while she thinks about more pressing matters than slumber. She’s never been good at midday naps, but she’s happy to help her friend get comfortable enough to do some recharging.

It occurs to Uraraka how commonplace this sort of intimacy has become for them. Growing up, she was led to believe that it’s no big deal for girls to hold hands, twirl each other around, share the same bed, and tell each other there’s no one else they’d rather be with. Uraraka doesn’t have to wonder what Asui’s opinion on that is because she already knows. But she pretends not to, so they can get away with doing things like this.

Overcome by a poignant emotion, equal parts miserable and elated, Uraraka nestles closer to Asui and her lips brush Asui’s forehead. Intentionally or accidentally, even Uraraka can not say. Shame pierces her throat like a fishing hook and she screws her eyes shut, lips wobbling.

Asui, on the other hand, must be dreaming something pleasant. There’s a slight smile curling her lips.

 

V

“I like girls and boys!” Kaminari yells, his frustration manifesting as loose sparks all over his body. His eyebrows are furrowed seriously but he’s pouting like some wrongfully reprimanded child.

“Well, why are you telling me that?” Sero retorts, staring incredulously as he crosses his arms over his chest. He’s radiating an air of defensiveness.

Kaminari runs an exasperated hand through his hair, then straight-up slaps it against his face.

“Because I like you, obviously!”

The words are practically an earthquake, opening a fissure under Sero’s feet and swallowing him whole. His complexion blanches.

It takes him a panicked moment to muster a reply.

“Are you – are you serious?” he mutters, then raises his voice again with fresh disbelief. “Or are you making fun of me? Is this some kind of joke? Did Ashido tell you –?”

“Tell me that you’re madly in love with me?” Kaminari cuts in sarcastically. “No, she didn’t – but I sure hope you are!”

Before Sero can process even an ounce of this information, Kaminari reaches for his hand and squeezes it. A nervous but hopeful gesture.

“I really do like you. That way,” he says softly. His gaze is lowered, unwilling to meet Sero’s, but his conviction is sound.

Sero gawks for what feels like forever to everyone present, then grips Kaminari’s hand back. He’s nodding slowly, blushing from embarrassment and happiness.

“Dude. I. Yeah.”

Kaminari looks up in time to see Sero’s wobbling smile. Kaminari practically starts crying in response.

Uraraka watches alongside several of her friends. Ashido doesn’t wait long to leap in and hug both Sero and Kaminari at once. Kirishima steps forward more slowly to pat Kaminari on the back in congratulations. Uraraka wishes she could join in, but she simply can’t see where she’d fit in. There’s a part of her that says she can never belong there.

“Isn’t it great that they’re happy?”

Asui’s voice surprises Uraraka. She’d forgotten that Asui’s standing next to her.

“Yeah,” Uraraka answers, but she doesn’t sound very convinced of it. As if she expects this to be a trick question and she’ll be reprimanded for falling for it.

But Asui insinuates no such unfairness.

“Everyone should be happy like that,” she says. She’s smiling.

 

VI

“I used to think I was in love with you,” Uraraka says with an assembly of conflicting body language: lifting her face to the sky as if she feels proud and folding her knees into her chest and winding her arms around them to convey uncertainty and fear. She says this to her boyfriend, Midoriya. She says this to the boy she’s been dating for six months, that she crushed on for several more before that; the boy to whom she’s said, “I love you” a thousand times and “I’ve never been as happy as when I am with you” at least a hundred. To that boy – the boy she’s held on the highest pedestal for the longest time, told herself she treasures more than anyone else, including herself – she says, “I used to think I was in love with you.” Used to implying that she no longer does; think implying that she never has. It’s as if their affection for each other is an equation they hastily resolved, reassured they were right because they both reached the same conclusion, while in reality they were making the same mistake.

“But, actually, I’m in love with someone else.”

She is not saying that their feelings for each other are not real, but they have been mislabeled. A reevaluation has changed the rules of the game.

Uraraka’s fingers are glued to her face, all but the two that would force her to float away from the school roof. She has a misty look in her eyes, like the photograph of a faraway mountain on a glossy postcard. The wistfulness people feel while gazing at it is there, too.

Midoriya can tell that she does wish she could, quite literally, float away. But she’s standing her ground here, refusing to take the easy route out, because she’s determined to accomplish something important.

Normally he would reach out to embrace her sadness, offer comfort as he best does: by listening and anchoring, being someone with whom she can easily and safely connect. But in this situation a tectonic plate is shifting to divide them. He could leap over that fissure, but it would be futile because his footsteps on the other side would just trigger a new one. He can see it. He has been seeing it for a while. He watched her leap into the sea and, instead of swimming after, he allowed her to reach the shore of a different continent. But persuading her to reconsider would only delay the inevitable. There’s some kind of relief in her being the one to end this, so simply and clearly. A consolation prize for his misplaced feelings, perhaps.

Midoriya suspects what Uraraka will say next, but dares not interrupt. He waits, as still as a trainwreck in a slow-motion film.

“The person I love,” Uraraka says, “the person I love is –”

She gasps, unable to squeeze the word through her trembling lips. Her jaws clench shut so they can’t chatter. With her right arm, she wipes the tears stumbling out of her eyes.

Midoriya places one hand on her shoulder, which, to her surprise, does not feel invasive or uncomfortable or invalidating. He murmurs something. Soft.

“It’s okay.”

 

VII

“I broke up with Deku.”

They’re lying on the floor of Uraraka’s dorm room, hands on their stomachs and eyes towards the ceiling. Soft music pours into their ears through a pair of shared earphones. The crowns of their heads are touching.
Asui removes her earphone before saying, “but you love him.”

The statement stings Uraraka a little, but not for any fault of Asui’s: Uraraka’s just so used to people telling her how she should feel and being wrong but convincing her to believe anyway that now any suggestion of it upsets her. She swallows the lump of shame and indignation that forms in her throat so she can explain herself to Asui. So far Asui’s simply echoed what Uraraka’s told her countless times. The bluntness in her tone didn’t do a good job of masking her surprise.

Uraraka shakes her head, looking wistful and melancholic, but also freed of some great weight. Her pain is finally becoming external: something she can identify and deal with properly, instead of going after the wrong problem.

Uraraka can feel the tension building between them: Asui’s uncertain grief, which is contaminated by excitement and hope; Uraraka’s overwhelming desire to reassure Asui that everything will be okay between them from now on.

Better than okay, in fact.

“I thought I was in love with him. We both… we both wanted to feel that we were in love with the right person,” Uraraka says, “but, in reality… I’ve loved someone else this whole time.”

Uraraka pauses to take some deep breaths, willing her pulse to normalize.

“I think Deku’s the same. Deku also loves someone else, but he hasn’t realized it yet.”

Asui ponders this information for a moment. She can feel her face growing hot, the thinly constricted pitter-patter of her heart, like it’s trying to sneak silently through a dark house undetected. Her fingers are fidgeting nervously with each other. She wants, first and foremost, to ask who Uraraka has realized she’s in love with, but for once that poses too great a challenge. She steers towards a safer route.

“It’s either Iida or Todoroki.”

Uraraka’s shocked by the boldness of this suggestion, but it quickly dawns on her that that’s not completely out of the question. Asui could well be right.

Still she has to ask.

“W, what makes you say that?”

Asui’s shoulders shrug nonchalantly, like her conclusion is the same anyone else would reach, including Uraraka.

“Those are the people he’s closest to. You were jealous of that, weren’t you?”

Another brazen assumption. Uraraka actually gasps this time.

As far as she was concerned, no one had figured that out. Asui truly does know Uraraka better than anyone else – sometimes even than herself.

“Well, of course they’re close: they’re best friends,” Uraraka says carefully, hesitantly.

She attempts to force an easygoing, even joking tone for her following question, but it just amounts to alarmed laughter.

“You don’t think it’s unusual to suggest… that a boy likes another boy that way?”

Asui frowns. Uraraka can’t see it, but she senses the emotional shift.

For a second, Uraraka stops breathing. Her heart feels tightly wound, like her rib cage is contracting and crushing it in the process. It’s so rare for Asui to frown that Uraraka can’t help feeling terrible. Is this her fault? What has she done wrong?

As expected, Asui gives a simple but definitive answer.

“Honestly, no.”

Uraraka lowers her gaze to her stomach, feeling a wave of sadness soak into her skin. Shame. Maybe helplessness.

“Right… you’re right, sorry.”

It’s barely a murmur, but Asui catches it perfectly. She gets the impression that Uraraka’s apologizing to herself more than to Asui.

“Are you –” Uraraka blurts out, then halts because her voice is coming out so high pitched she’s burning with embarrassment. She covers her face with both hands and doesn’t realize when she starts floating.

In a stammering but much more regulated voice, she inquires, “are you going to guess who I love?”

Lifting her body to kneel, Asui reaches for Uraraka’s wrist while exclaiming, “you’re floating!”

The sudden physical contact releases a colony of butterflies in Uraraka’s stomach, making her lose her concentration. She emits a surprised squeak as her back reconnects with the ground.

Still gripping Uraraka’s wrist, Asui inches forward so her face hovers above Uraraka’s. Their eyes finally meet and it’s like staring into a mirror: the same concoction of shock, euphoria, and relief. They realize, simultaneously, that this is happening. They are speeding towards the same destination.

“I can try,” says Asui.

Without even thinking about it, Uraraka wraps her fingers around the hand that’s touching her. An encouraging squeeze.

“Please. I want you to,” is what her determined eyes are saying.

Asui sneaks in a tiny smile. A shiver races from Uraraka’s heart to the rest of her body.

“I don’t know who you love,” Asui says, her face lowering to meet Uraraka’s. “But I love you.”

 

VIII

Uraraka kisses Asui on several places: first, tentatively, on her right hand, then her forehead, next both cheeks, and finally – by which point they’re both holding their breaths in anticipation – the mouth. They giggle in perfect synchronicity as they part, the giddiness buzzing in their hearts pleasantly overwhelming. The smile on Asui’s face looks as sweet as a whole stick of cotton candy, so Uraraka can’t help kissing it again. Asui lifts a hand to cup Uraraka’s chin so she can lean in and kiss the tears cascading from her eyes. Then Asui grabs her long hair, which has been braided for this special occasion – their first official date –, and wraps it around both of their shoulders like some kind of string of fate. Uraraka’s face gains a fresh coat of blush while Asui beams triumphantly. They spend the following five minutes or so just rubbing their noses together and giggling.

Eventually Uraraka offers her hands, palms upright, and Asui accepts without hesitation. Within seconds they are buoyant. Asui wraps her arms and legs around her girlfriend while they gain altitude, then allows Uraraka, who can easily carry Asui even while on solid ground, to swing her around. Their bodies trace happy circles in the sky

Some of these displays of affection are new, some are old, what they had accepted as the norm. But even those have been imbued with a revolutionary meaning, which can be felt propagating with each instance, like the warmth of a dying star diffusing across the entire bodies until each part is equally delighted, and their minds at peace.